9BDXCC and DXCC on 160M: The Last 2 QSL’s Needed

I am waiting for EA8/RW4WR and V47UR QSL’s, or better yet – LOTW credit. I know Bernie is working on it, but have not heard a peep back from Sandy, RW4WR. I sure hope he comes through. I have been checking 160M daily in hopes to snag a few more new one’s, but ironiclly, as soon as I hit 100 QSO’s, the door slammed shut. This is the story about DXCC on 160M from the West Coast – it really is that hard to do.

This is also the reason why one day – in my usual daily 160M “boredom”, I switched over to 80M CW and WOW – there was some great DX on, and it was soooooo much easier to copy. 80M felt like 20M in comparison to 160M.

That’s the moment I decided that I would try a DX Engineering DV-80-P phased vertical array using two 60′ Spiderbeam Fiberglass push up masts with #12 wire inside. They will be easy to set up and easy to tune. I will enhance the part of my radial field for this second vertical, and I have to take down my 160M Inverted L, stat.

I have overlooked 80M for some unknown reason, but now as we slide to the bottom of the cycle, its a band worth checking out – especially with a phased array vs. just a single vertical.

 

The Ever Changing KY6R Antenna Farm

Some of the antenna changes I make are just arbitrary, and some are part of a strategy. More than anything else – the antenna is the one thing that is easy to change and gives the biggest return on effort. It happens to be the one thing I like about the hobby more than anything – antennas and the study of radio wave propagation. Nothing else comes close . . . yes, its an obsession – and an escape in this fellaheen world.

When I put up the Cushcraft D40, it was a test to compare a rotatable dipole at 40′ with the DV-40-P 40M vertical phased array. In the back of my mind I was wondering how the UltraBeam would perform on 40M. The answer – just like the D40. It will beat the DV-40-P on the LP to ZS during our morning, but (probably) won’t beat the DV-40-P to ZS on the SP.

The point of that test was to sacrifice a couple hundred bucks instead of a couple thousand for the UltraBeam and US Towers ALM-31 crank up tower. The higher bands will go dormant – so spending money on the high bands didn’t make as much sense as making sure the UrbanBeam performs at least as good as a rotatable dipole on 40 and 30M. Now that we are shifting from 3Y0Z to 3Y0I, and later this year – at least a couple higher bands (20 and 17M) will be good. I’ll bet 15M suffers a bit from when 3Y0Z would have been on. Anyway, the verdict is that the UrbanBeam and ALM-31 combo was worth trying. But I do need higher band capability for Bouvet and Glorioso. I toyed with just saying – “the hell with the high bands, I’ll just use a remote”, but I can’t do that – I still want to try to work them all from my own shack. A friends super contest station or a remote is a plan B and C – since there may not be another activation after I work them – in my lifetime. In other words, I feel that I will get one last chance at them.

Other things are arbitrary – but follow the end of some strategy. For example, my Inverted L. Its great on 160, 80 and 30M, but I’ve suffered years of “start and stop” DX-ing on 160M. I had a ton of patience, but many times it was months in between new ones. So – since I have very little antenna space – I have to “re-use” antenna space when I might to try something else. Because of this extreme “economy of space” – I end up trying many different things – and it does seem like “thrashing” sometimes. But that’s the point – unlike all the other things in life that are scheduled – I can – at a whims notice – go out back and shoot a line over a tall tree or set up anything I’d like, any time. There is big freedom in that!

The DX Engineering antenna and the phased Wellbrook Loops are two antennas that I will most likely keep up as long as I am here. They just are that good!

The UrbanBeam won’t go up until the end of March – because the ALM-31 has a 5 week lead time. I found out they are made in California.

What will go up next is a phased 80M array – two SpiderBeam 60′ masts with a wire inside, spaced 68.5′ and phased with the DX Engineering DV-80-P. Yes, I love the DV-40-P that I want to try it on 80M.

I will have to move one of the Wellbrook Loops as it will be too close to one of the 80M array elements.

So, within the next 1 – 2 months I will have the 80M array up – followed by the UrbanBeam.

3Y0I: Propagation Predictions With VOACAP Online

Even though conditions at the end of 2018 will be down from where they are now – 20M should still be good. I’m glad I will have the UrbanBeam up on the US Towers ALM-31 at that time. 17 and 15M still could show some life. 40 and 30M will be good.

Jari and his team have added several new features on the VOACAP Online web site that you have to check out. In fact, there are so many new features – you should grab a cup of coffee and play with all of them.

I do see that at the end of the West Coast daylight – we will have a very good 17M opening, a very fast 20M opening, and then a decent 30 and 40M opening.

I’m sure glad 3Y0I is keeping the faith with Bouvet because otherwise I have absolutely nothing new to look forward to DX wise in 2018. Even 160M has lost its appeal since it really has become a lot like watching paint dry. HOWEVER, I do expect that 80M will become a band that will become something I finally like – once I get the DX Engineering DV-80-P phased vertical array up this spring or summer.

 

3Y0I: The Next Best Hope for a Bouvet Activation

The “ham spirit” shown by the 3Y0I Team, plus their professional web site and upcoming live blog convinced me to donate $200. While I know my generous donation to 3Y0Z is lost, I am hoping something good can come out of all of this.

https://bouvetoya.org/?lang=en

The best way I can thank 3Y0I for keeping the Bouvet Candle burning – and very graciously inviting the 3Y0Z to join forces is with a nice donation.

Now my antenna plans are in line – I will have a SteppIR UrbanBeam up 40′ on a US Towers ALM-31, plus two DX Engineering DV series phased vertical arrays – one for 40M and one for 80M.

Phased 80M Array Using Spiderbeam 18M Fiberglass Poles

Photo by Slovenian Contest Club

Its pretty easy to get two of these 60′ fiberglass poles up on my two supports – and 70′ apart. I’m going to start listening to 80M more – because there is a lot more action there than 160M, and I’m starting to feel that making DXCC on Top Band is as good as it gets. Just tape a wire on the outside of each – or even hide the wire inside . . .

Photo by Spiderbeam

I like how they are black – and will blend in with the trees. Its funny, the 72′ version is $200 more than the 60′ version, so I will simply do a small bit of linear loading with the wire at the base – where I will have to trim the wire anyway. $400 extra for 12′ additional is ridiculous – and they are already quite expensive.

One of these will go where my 160M Inverted L is – so it will come down. What I can do for 160M – is create a switching situation where I simply feed the two 60′ verticals bypassing the DX Engineering DV-80-P.

 

The Pedersen Ray and Chordal Ducting

The ARRL Extra Class License Book contains the best explanation of why my DX Engineering DV-40-P 40M phased vertical array out performs the low Cushcraft D40 rotatable dipole up only 40′ to ZS on the Short Path at night (the lower angle goes farther and its launched in the dark at my end).

The “magic” that I experience during the morning greyline to ZS on the Long Path and with a higher angle ray – is called The Pedersen Ray. It is best documented in the ARRL Extra Class Manual, and also an explanation I received from Tom, N6BT of Force-12 fame:

“Propagation on low bands with a high angle radiator – the probable method is the Pedersen Wave. This is from a high angle launch and then is ducted across the path (long path) and then dumped out at the termonal end. Had this happen for many years when I was using a 42′ high 3el 40, comparing to N6RO’s at 140′ (which I put up). We were usually equal on LP, but short path was a different story. His antenna always opened earlier than mine and closed later.”

The ON4UN Lowband DX-ing Book (starting on page 1-17) and the Ian Poole, G3YWX RSGB Radio Propagation book (page 49) both describe this, but curiously do not call it The Pedersen Ray, but “Chordal Hopping” or “Chordal Ducting”.

A fun way to find your Antipode – https://www.antipodesmap.com/

The ON4UN Book does cover this quite well, but one diagram would have really helped. Some take aways:

  1. Higher take off angles penetrate the E Layer which gets the ray into the duct
  2. The antipode from your QTH is where this ducting is most likely to occur, and year round – because when its your sunrise, its their sunset, and vice versa
  3. Ducting seems to work better at low sunspot times because either excessive ionization or auroral disturbances can wipe out these ducts. Furthermore, there are other forms of ionization that happen during a low SSN part of the cycle – galactic and cosmic rays

When Kat and I visited the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, we visited a great show on deep space telescopes and the new research that is being done to measure deep space rays and their influence. What is exciting is that there is still much to discover and learn, and so this is a main reason why I am still a DXer – even after “earning” my DXCC Awards.

 

Phased 80M Array Using 41′ Inverted L’s

I need to tweak the dimensions a little so the gain matches what is expected (3 dB end fire, 1 dB broadsided), but in a way it doesn’t matter because when you tune the verticals for use with the DV-80-P or DV-40-P, you trim to get to a certain frequency. The manual is great this way and foolproof.

The front to back is pretty outstanding. As I tune the verticals I will decrease the F/B and increase the gain. But I still expect to have 20+ dB of F/B

The pattern looks great – both Elevation and Azimuth . . .

I also found that Spiderbeam has 70′ fiberglass poles – that could be used to put a wire in – they are pricey but this could be a good alternative to turning on the radio and usually not working anything on 160M.

There are more stations on 80M, so I will start monitoring and comparing 160 and 80M more.