80M and 40M Short Path to Glorioso

The Short Path to Glorioso may not be impossible as I had previously thought, only because I will have phased verticals on both 80 and 40M. I know that Bouvet will be easy because its not a polar path, and because it is so close to the ZS path I work daily. When I say close I mean “given that the cardioid pattern is as wide as the DX Engineering DV series phasing arrays are”:

I have worked a C9 during the bottom of the cycle on the Short Path on 80M, so this means maybe being at the bottom of the cycle will be good for me and 80M – because how many hams have 2 elements on 80M? Not many. The EIRP for 500 watts at 3 dB gain is very substantial – online calculators, even adding 1 dB loss in the coax show more than 50 dB.

My C9 80M QSO gives me hope for FT/G which Murphy’s Law says that it will be activated at the bottom of Cycle 24 . . . The best news is that based on my D40 experiments, FT/G on the morning Long Path will be great with the UrbanBeam. 30M will also be good and I am sure now – 80M.

The KY6R QTH Mystery

I still wonder why my DX Engineering DV-40-P phased 40M vertical array performs so well to ZS every night on the Short Path. The verticals are oriented NE – SW end fire, and the NE end fire direction is what works best for ZS. That’s a bit odd since the direction should be due east.

OK, this one is easy – the cardioid pattern allows enough signal to the east where its not much down from the direction straight NE. That’s the “azimuthal plane”.

The elevation take off angle models fairly low – about 20 degrees, and while the ridge to me NE cuts much of the low signal off at 14 degrees TOA, I must be just getting over the hill at 20 degrees. That’s the only answer – because ZS6CCY gives me a nightly SP signal report of 59, and many days I’m S9 +10

80M: My Log Says “Variety”

I have 172 entities on 80M, and the variety is really excellent. I was listening to 160M just a minute ago and it was soooo boring. I switched to 80M and I’m hearing 3C3W pounding in. That led me to look at my log and here I am.

I think the deal with post DXCC DX-ing is variety. 80M is still a band that takes some intestinal fortitude and big antennas, but it offers us on the West Coast a lot more than 160M does.

So, I am starting to like 80M a lot – just based on the fact that there is some juicy DX there and often.

Reflections on the ARRL DXCC Program – from the West Coast

Having been WA2QHN, I already knew that there is a serious advantage chasing DXCC from the East Coast. 160 and 6M DXCC are downright easy – as is 10BDXCC as compared to the West Coast – (where 9BDXCC is a really big deal). I’ve worked 101 on Top Band – 100 from my own back yard and one using my friends remote. That one remote experience was AMAZING! It truly blew me away what you can hear and work on 160M from the East Coast. To this day I have never worked an EU on 160 – the closest was EA8/RW4WR. I have worked AF – V51 and an XT. I even worked VK0EK and FT5ZM on Top Band for my personal best(s). (I am not submitting the remote QSO for DXCC – I’ll stay “pure” – hi hi . . .)

I’m now pretty much done with DXCC – even though the supreme icing on the cake will be when I work Bouvet and Glorioso – and will have worked them all. But pound for pound – nothing will match the way I felt when I made regular mixed Honor Roll, and now DXCC on 160M. Honestly, Top of Honor Roll now just feels like “something I gotta do”. It’s just like that last semester at Lock Haven State College, when I knew I’d be leaving and going to Rochester, NY to work for Kodak.

I made all of my DXCC QSO’s from my own back yard, and all were CW or SSB. Times are a changin’ and with remotes and FT8, its a very new world compared when I started DXing in 2001. Being a 37 year IT guy, I also love all of the new technology. But I wanted to close out the “old school” DXCC stuff because I was licensed back in 1973 as WN2QHN. Ward Silver, N0AX, nailed it when he called the old school “Ham Radio V1” and the new stuff “Ham Radio V2”. I love BOTH!

When I got back into ham radio in 2001 I really did have a world of DXing to catch up with. My mentor Larry, WB2KBH (N9LR – SK) who went to college at Bradley University with Craig Thompson – K9CT – tried to get me into DXing way back in the 70’s. I’d be long done with DXCC if I did get into it then. So – from 2001 until 2012 (New Years Eve going into 2013) especially – when I hit Honor Roll – that was my way of catching up. Its like Ham Radio V1 was “wrapped up”.

DXCC has also been therapy – it really made a world of difference through a divorce with children and both parents passing – all within 4 years (2002 – 2006). My DXCC “obsession” really helped keep my mind off of the sad years. And for that I can thank Clinton DeSoto and the ARRL for my personal (hobby) pursuit, and then my world really changed for better when I met my wife Kat.

160M DXCC #99: 9Y4/UA4CC

OK, now I have just made DXCC on 160M and 9BDXCC 100% from my own back yard. Some of you had asked what happened to #99 – well, I had worked one of my 100 using my friends remote on the East Coast. Part was to see what the East Coast could hear on 160M – and believe me – it was an eye opener. It made a lasting impression on me.

I didn’t make a big deal because I knew this QSO would come and I would “fess up”. I’m glad I haven’t submitted for my 9BDXCC and 160M DXCC endorsements until now. Bernie, V47UR did win the highly coveted KY6R 100th slot, and I guess legally you could say 9Y4/UA4CC is my 101st, but I’m staying pure and true to my original goals. NOW I’m really happy!

Thunderstruck by Erik Larson

My friend Tom, K8BKM told me about this book because he knows I love history books that include the human and dramatic side of the story.

I didn’t know that this form of non fiction existed. My wife suggested I buy The Sun Kings after attending a fantastic deep space show at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, MT this past September when we were on vacation. The combination of radio, Telegraphy and solar propagation and drama / suspense takes what could be a very boring history book and brings it to life. In fact, now I wonder why history books tend to be so boring.  Any history worth reading always has a fascinating back story which details the events on a more personal level, and for me, that makes the story all that more compelling. The best history books also give a glimpse of what it would have been like living during that time, and how that time affected the course of history leading up to our time on this planet.

Thunderstruck combines a murder mystery with Marconi’s pursuit of his radio invention (or I might say patent and selling of the radio for practical purposes). It’s a great read. The Sun Kings had suspense in two areas – competition between scientists on key solar physics discoveries and The Carrington Event.

Since I don’t have anything on the radio that I need, I spend my hobby time tuning around, building and testing antennas and reading books such as those listed above.

The Secret to Lowband Radial Installation

A good lawnmower and chicken wire!

I have an electric lawnmower that has a great adjustable height mechanism – that is easy to use, and fast to change. I cut the grass close, then lay down the wire, then put down chicken wire as a lazy mans way to set the radials in place.

I used to staple (I used sprinkler drip irrigation staples) each and every wire to the ground in several places along the wire, then I figured out a much easier and faster way. Lay the wires down – with maybe ONE staple at the end of the run. Then roll chicken wire on top of all of the wires. you can even bend some of the chicken wire fence to hold the wires in place on the ground. Now you need far fewer staples – to hold the chicken wire down.

The chicken wire is not electrically connected to anything, but it holds the wire down and does act as a metal screen. In time, chicken wire will rot away anyway . . .

I use all kinds of wire – because my grass is actually natural grass and this time of the year it grows like crazy. It will turn completely brown (er “gold”) by May or so, so now is the time to lay this down. Even RG8X coax hides easily in the grass and you never know its there in just weeks. The grass “thatch” covers all wires completely – as well as the chicken wire!

It just so happens to be perfect timing to get this done before the Spiderbeam Fiberglass 18M poles get here. I cut the grass today, and will start laying down the radials next weekend. I have one vertical set of radials done – now the second set goes in – and will be bonded to the first set.