Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m a day early, but had such a great day at work yesterday that I’m feeling thankful.

I thought yesterday and today would be very quiet and not much would get done with many people out of the office, but it turned out to be one of my most productive days and a day where my team solved two big problems.

While our politicians show us how not to be, I can count on family, friends and co-workers to show the positive side of humanity.

And I’m thankful for the comedians who make fun of the politicians, so it’s easy to stay focused on the good in life and laugh at the bad.

160M – My Progress So Far

DXCC Entity 160M
ALASKA KL7J
AMERICAN SAMOA W8A
AMSTERDAM & SAINT PAUL ISLANDS FT5ZM
ANGUILLA VP2EGR
ARGENTINA LU5OM
ARUBA P49X
ASIATIC RUSSIA RA0FF
AUSTRAL ISLANDS TX5RV
AUSTRALIA VK3ZL
AZORES CU2KG
BAHAMAS C6AGU
BARBADOS 8P5A
BELIZE V31YN
BERMUDA VP9/WW3S
BONAIRE PJ4/K4BAI
BRAZIL PY2RO
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS VP2V/SP6CIK
CANADA VE7ZBK
CAYMAN ISLANDS ZF2AH
CENTRAL KIRIBATI T31A
CHATHAM ISLAND ZL7G
CHINA BY5CD
CLIPPERTON ISLAND TX5K
COCOS ISLAND TI9/3Z9DX
COLOMBIA HK1T
CONWAY REEF 3D2C
COSTA RICA TI5XP
CUBA T48RRC
CURACAO PJ2/W8WTS
EASTER ISLAND XR0YG
EASTERN KIRIBATI T32C
ECUADOR HD2A
EL SALVADOR YS1/HR2DMR
FIJI ISLANDS 3D2RA/P
FRENCH POLYNESIA FO8RZ
GALAPAGOS ISLANDS HC2RMT/8
GRENADA J38XX
GUADELOUPE FG/UT6UD
GUAM KH2/N2NL
GUINEA 3XY1T
HAWAII N6KB/KH6
HEARD ISLAND VK0EK
HONDURAS HR9/WQ7R
JAMAICA 6Y3M
JAPAN JE1SPY
KERMADEC ISLAND ZL8X
LORD HOWE ISLAND VK9HR
MARQUESAS ISLANDS TX7M
MARSHALL ISLANDS V73RRC
MARTINIQUE FM5CD
MEXICO XE2S
MICRONESIA V6WW
MONTSERRAT VP2MSW
NAMIBIA V5/DL3DXX
NEW ZEALAND ZL3IX
NIUE E6GG
NORTH COOK ISLANDS E51MQT
OGASAWARA JD1BMH
PALMYRA & JARVIS ISLANDS K5P
PARAGUAY ZP5/NX4N
PHILIPPINES DU7ET
PITCAIRN ISLAND VP6J
PUERTO RICO NP4A
REPUBLIC OF KOREA HL5IVL
REVILLAGIGEDO XF4DL
ROTUMA 3D2GC/P
SABA & SAINT EUSTATIUS PJ5/N5WR
SAINT MARTIN FS/UA4CC
SAINT PIERRE & MIQUELON FP/G3ZAY
SAINT VINCENT J88HL
SAMOA 5W8A
SAN ANDRES ISLAND 5J0P
SOUTH COOK ISLANDS E51NOU
SOUTH SHETLAND ISLANDS RI1ANF
SPRATLY ISLANDS 9M4SLL
SURINAME PZ5K
SWAINS ISLAND NH8S
TAIWAN BU2AQ
TEMOTU PROVINCE H40GC
THAILAND HS0ZIA
TOKELAU ISLANDS ZK3T
TONGA A35T
TUVALU T2GC
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AA7CQ
URUGUAY CX6VM
US VIRGIN ISLANDS KV4FZ
VENEZUELA YV1DIG
WAKE ISLAND K9W
WALLIS & FUTUNA ISLANDS FW5RE

These are 91 worked – and 89 confirmed. I have Antigua and St. Barts that I just worked, but need the confirmation, which will happen soon.

Looking back, that’s pretty good considering I have only been seriously chasing Top Band DXCC for the last 3 or 4 years, but before that used an 80M antenna with a tuner just because a DXpedition would be loud on 160M and on a whim I worked them. At the time I was participating in DXCC Challenge but I gave that up because it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

There are no EU, but I do have AF, NA, SA, AS, OC – which is pretty darn good for a small lot down in a bowl. The “big prizes” are VK0EK and FT5ZM.

 

Top Band Gold Mine? CQ WW CW This Weekend!

This weekend is the CQ WW CW Contest, and its lining up to be a potentially great weekend for me and my 160M DXCC pursuit. Here are the entities that I need that will be on the air and that are (usually) easy (when conditions allow):

  • Nicaragua
  • Turks and Caicos
  • St. Kitts and Nevis
  • Antigua and Barbuda (I have this but my call was busted in the ARRL DX SSB Contest – and while its probably a good counter, I will go for a non busted QSO
  • St. Lucia
  • Trinidad and Tobago

Here are the one’s a little bit trickier, but I have worked others in this part of the world on 160M:

  • J5T – Guinea Bissau
  • Canary Island
  • Cape Verde
  • Azores
  • Madeira
  • Senegal

So – there are quite a few more than the 9 that I need to get to 100, and the best part is that they will be active before and maybe after the contest.

It would be great to “sail into” 9BDXCC!

Top Band: The Race to 100!

I’m not sure what it is – when I was 9 away from Honor Roll, I was kind of “annoyed”. I guess making over 300 ATNO’s made me feel I already was a “serious DXer”. Its kind of like that last semester at college – where you already have a job lined up and know where you are going and what you will be doing – it looms so much larger than being at school – finishing the last semester is a pain in the ass.

Top Band is not a band you can rush through. You can “sprint” to Honor Roll in 11 years easily – I did it with a very modest station and not so great QTH. Top Band has a way of forcing you to have patience – its almost impossible to know when you will have favorable conditions, and there are no prediction engines that even let you guess. I have had days where its is dirt simple to work a new one followed by months with nothing.

I’m surprised at how excited I am to only have 9 more to go before I get to 9BDXCC and DXCC on Top Band. I am actually enjoying this more than I did working the last 9 toward Honor Roll. I’m guessing because its a real achievement – and also that I have the patience to savor it instead of being in a rush.

I am not at all regretful that I rushed to get to Honor Roll. I’m very glad I don’t need BS7, P5, EZ and at least a handful of others – those could turn out to be once in a lifetime achievements.

TO2SP: Top Band #91

I was pretty confident I’d get this one – mainly because these guys are great operators and they would be there until the end of the month. In fact, they already seem to be getting bored. now I also see many West Coast getting through.

The signal was Q5, but not as loud as I would have expected. Conditions have been really weird on Top Band lately – last month I snagged two very easy one’s in succession and they were loud – now its a struggle even to work the stuff that should be easy. But I even hear J5T, but not with that “confidence” that makes you jump in the pileup.

The best thing is to hear your call come back very clearly – quite often you don’t get that on 160M – at least not with the really distant ones. Of course, now that I have worked him – his signal will come up and it will be so easy it will be a joke. In fact, his signal is now rising to the point where I can hear him through the noise on the TX antenna.

 

Offa Rex

This is an amazing and “hauntingly beautifully” album.

We had a fantastic bike ride today – 35 miles, which is just enough for me to be considered “serious”. All along the ride I was hearing this album – with several songs taking their place in my mind as I looked at stunning fall colors of yellow, gold, red, orange, crimson, rust and anything else possible.

Last week I wrote about Widdecombe in the Moor – and that was triggered by hearing “The Old Church Yard” by Offa Rex.

The ride goes from Orinda through Lafayette and to The Forge in Danville – where we had one of the best thin crust pizzas and an amazing hoppy beer by Fieldworks of Berkeley.

The air was quite “snappy”, but the sun and fall light was just gorgeous.

Oh – and before we left I got the 20M yagi positioned and ready to go up in its new place. Tomorrow is antenna day this weekend!

A Tree and a Wire

This is one of my favorite ham radio memories.

Jack, K6JEB, one of the nicest and fun hams I know, combined with another best friend, Peter, W6DEI and other Diablo DXers have helped me launch wires in trees. This is the Blue Spruce Tree that I just moved my 160M Inverted L top wire to, and the tree is more than 60′ tall, and its base is 10′ higher than the Inverted L’s 41′ mast, but to keep the wire from touching the tree – you have to go out from the boughs, which means you can’t go all the way to the top.

That launch is what got me to Honor Roll on New Years Eve 2013, and that launch was just after Thanksgiving. That launch was for a 40M dipole that ended up being 60′ at the low end, and 70′ at the high end, and which worked Monk Apollo, SV2ASP/A for the win!

So – now that I am again closing in on another big DXCC goal (9BDXCC and DXCC on 160M), I wax reminiscently about a tree and a wire!