Year End KY6R Antenna Farm Review

2017 Top Band: Last Call – Stew Perry!

My 91st and 92nd Top Band QSL cards are in the mail. (Oddly enough, both of these ops only send hard cards via direct snail mail).

My last chance at a Last Call to try to at least get to 93 or 94 tonight and tomorrow morning is the Big Stew – The Stew Perry 160M contest. Its 24 hours starting at 1500z – meaning just after our sunrise – but EU’s sunset. My best chance for a new one will be to work Vadym, UT6UD on PJ7 and any other “surprises” out there. Boy, I’d love to get to 95, but working 3 ATNO’s in the next day or so would take some supreme luck.

Right now I have only added 8 this past year, but if I do as well this year, I’ll hit 100 and DXCC on Top Band by the end of 2018. I’m just not a big gun on 160M, and suspect my QTH surrounded by hills means if its not high angle – I won’t hear them. I still have only ever heard one EU – Wolf from DL land. Here are some DXpeditions or single op activations that I need happening in 2018 that I should be able to work:

  1. KH1
  2. VP6/D
  3. CY9C
  4. P29
  5. PJ7

There are others like 3Y0Z, and we will have a pipeline there on the higher bands, but like FT5ZM and VK0EK, it would be a Festivus Miracle if I were to work them. I do think I can get to DXCC in 2018.

The best news is that the band should start getting better since the sunspot number is predicted to be half of what we have had in 2017 – hopefully that means fewer disturbances and less noise.

We shall see . . .

Superb Operator Vadym – PJ7/UT6UD

Vadym, UT6UD was one of two operators on VK0EK and who tore up 160M – even breaking some records. While I worked Dave, K3EL at VK0EK on Top Band, I have worked Vadym on other entities in the Caribbean. I am hoping to work him on PJ7 for my #93. That would be a great end of 2017.

What is interesting is that I did not hear him at grey line – but am just starting to hear him just after darkness.

Fingers crossed!

T Marconi vs. Inverted L

Before I commit to adding a relay to my 17M EDZ, I figure I better do an A – B test between my “contorted” Inverted L and the EDZ clip led at the feedpoint as a Marconi T.

Using 100 watts and RBN, the winner is …

For West Coast RBN stations the Inverted L. This makes sense because I am down in the bowl – and so I’m reminded that if the Marconi T has a lower take off angle (which I am 100% sure it does), then that doesn’t help me.

I did listen to farther away DX and it was a draw. 

But, for me, this test is moot – I’ll keep the Inverted L with the slight “aim” at 3Y0Z. This also reminds me that the 92 that I have worked on Top Band could only have been done with high angle propagation at my QTH.

There’s No Antenna Holy Grail

Since 2001 I have tried to find a single antenna that would perform reasonably well in all bands and have gain in a few strategic bands like 40 and 20M.

The N6BT DXU-32 covered the strategic bands, but once you add in other bands like 160, 80 and 30 (required for the bottom of a cycle), you all of a sudden need at least one extra antenna.

If you just wanted to get on all bands where you could work DX, a vertical with a tuner would work, but I doubt you’d get to Honor Roll or Top of Honor Roll, certainly not in one solar cycle as I did.

I’m going to go with two antennas to cover 160 – 20M, which would be the bottom of a cycle minimum in the antennas you would need.

To cover higher bands, you could possibly find an antenna such as a SteppIR yagi that covered all bands from 40 – 10 or even up to 6M.

But I think I have exhausted all routes to having just one antenna.

ON4UN Lowband Books Dislike of the Inverted L

In the ON4UN Lowband DXing book, the Inverted L is mentioned as being inferior to the “T Marconi” with flat top hat wires.

I can see why the Inverted L has some issues. When you have the combined horizontal and vertical parts of the wave, as ON4UN says you get the “sum vector” of the Vertical and Horizontal polarization. With a Marconi T style antenna, you get a classic lower angle, vertical pattern.

Since it only takes a relay to switch my new 17M EDZ from being a horizontal antenna to a Marconi T for the low bands, I will get it wired up and then do serious A-B tests. I’ll keep the default (power off) position to be the horizontal doublet and the power on to be the Marconi T.

Then I can test it on 160 and 80 against the Inverted L that I have.

Hats Off to DX Engineering for the DV-40-P

The DX Engineering DV-40-P is by far the best antenna system that I have ever had.

While I previously thought the N6BT DXU-32 was my all time favorite antenna (3 elements on 20M and 2 shorty elements on 40M), when you factor in the cost of the antenna and then the support required for the 24′ boom yagi, there is no comparison. The N6BT DXU-32 plus a tower is more than 4 times the cost of the phased array, and that was me getting a killer deal on the N6BT and buying a used AB-577 military mast, which I actually think I was crazy to use with the N6BT 24′ and heavy antenna. I did not realize how crazy that was until I took the antenna down by myself and found even just the boom seemed too heavy for that mast. I had checked with a tower expert who said the AB-577 would be fine (and it was up for 2 years), but I would no longer recommend such a light weight tower for that antenna.

40M is by far my favorite band. It is the only band that delivers DX and even Rare DX throughout the Solar Cycle. And throughout each day the band “plays” like this:

  1. ZS on the morning Long Path
  2. The band shortens up but I can hear all hams in the Western States all day long – so its even interesting when the band is short
  3. ZS on the Short Path at night

The band is open before sunset and after sunrise for hours – its the only band that is open for DX for so many hours and throughout the year and throughout the cycle. If I had to decide on only one antenna system and one band, the DV-40-P would be it – hands down.

I had been successful with using an Array Solutions StackMatch II plus Christman phasing lines, but it required T and L coax connectors and an extra delay line, and all of that is handled in the DV-40-P for you. You just need the two coax lines to the verticals, the coax to the shack and the control line. Simple and very effective.

The biggest reason for my change in heart regarding my favorite antenna is that I now can A-B test the DV-40-P against a 40M doublet up 60′ – which is higher than when I had the DXU-32 up. I am sure that the phased array is better than a dipole, and so close to the “shorty 40” yagi that the cost – benefit and ease of maintenance makes the choice very easy in favor of the phased array.

I’m at an age where antenna maintenance is best done on the ground, so the phased array is perfect in that regard too.