3Y0I – West Coast Prediction – Vernal Equinox

One thing that some “pundits” have missed – and its the same thing that happened with VP8STI – South Sandwich – and that is that West Coast Signals will be coming in from their West – and NOT their Northwest. Why does this matter? Because coming in from the West, we are mostly an all water path, and we skirt around those mountains and the grade up the hill to the Northwest. I distinctly remember VP8STI having really great signals – and I think they also had the same situation – our signals came in at their West, also NOT Northwest.

Even a quarter wave vertical on top of the glacier at their end – could be a great antenna – it is that perfect vertical on an island surrounded by salt water situation.

While the news about their location and antennas (on the Low Bands) isn’t great for the West Coast, with even just a few sunspots – we might do alright. The Vernal Equinox turns out to be a good time propagation wise. And best yet – the West Coast will get prime Grayline conditions on several bands. And right now the SSN is 28 – so pray this holds out a while – we Need a Miracle Every Day for this one.

There might be a Long Path opening on 20M, but my bet is all Short Path, and on 40 – 17M, maybe even 15M. Remember, during the Equinox (Vernal and Autumnal), special conditions do happen. I worked ZS8M with basically the same conditions on a very clear “spotlight grayline” condition back in September 2011 – when we were just coming out of the last cycle’s long and terrible bottom of Cycle 23.

Its nice to see 17 and 15M as possibilities – this is happening because it is NOT the middle of Winter – but Spring. Given that their location and antennas won’t be positioned great for the West Coast – the “consolation prize” is that we get two higher bands that when available for a DXpedition – prove more “productive” than 160 or 80M. But make sure you monitor all times and all paths – the Equinox Times are usually “magic”.

So – given that this is a bottom of the cycle operation – for the West Coast – it turns out to be a good thing that they didn’t go earlier as planned.

Here is another “trick” I’ve learned. If you’ve ever been to my QTH, you’ll know I’m in a bowl. Visitors offer their condolences, but I’ve still made Honor Roll and even DXCC on Top Band. The secret is knowing that for 20 – 30 minutes during gray line, higher angles are supported. This means that if 3Y0I has low horizontal antennas, or if there are any mountains in the way, it is still possible to hear them – but you better pay attention – these openings sometimes last 10 minutes max.

Oh, and 30M sometimes has it’s own magic, especially this time of the year.

My advice – antenna, antenna, antenna and then add some power after that. My bet is also CW, but for those who like FT8 – that could add an avenue for your success. I’ll stick to CW – the exchange (for me) is a lot faster and more enjoyable.

I have just requested that the team please carve out some West Coast Only time – we will have only a few select times to work them – but if these predictions hold up – then it might be a little better than I had expected, actually.

I think this is probably good enough for a prediction, and remember to do a little sunspot dance – and include a safe landing and climb up that glacier – they have to be able to set up, and the weather shows high winds every day but with some breaks – so this sure seems like the hardest entity on earth to activate.

Godspeed to the team.

3Y0I and “Synchronicity”

At about 0600Z today, the Atlantic Tuna left Capetown for Bouvet Island. 3Y0I is now officially under way and I wish them Godspeed. There is no doubt, this DXpedition has been “unconventional”, but the way I’ve always figured it – the team that goes gets to play it their way. I remember with VK0EK, we were considered somewhat unconventional – because we had science as well as Ham Radio on board. It turned out just great and we won DXpedition of the year, and also had superb coverage in the Ham Radio Press – QST Cover, ARRL DXCC Yearbook Cover and most of one of the last DX Magazine’s cover and content which took up > 90% of that edition. We also won the DX Coffee “Best Communication” award – a very thoughtful award that we have learned was started as a result of the TX5K DXpedition.

OK – now we seem to be on “this side of midnight” – or maybe better yet, “this side of Winter”. Winter was metaphorically difficult for me this past season – with a job change, sickness and a knee injury. True to form – and a great seasonal metaphor – Spring is almost here – (in just 2 days), and I have just started my new job and even in my second week I am loving it – and have already delivered a couple big deal things. The vernal equinox just happens to be a good time for DX-ing, even when we are at the bottom of a solar cycle. I’ve had pent up energy since we went to Bend on vacation last October – when things at my last job basically turned stale. I’m not one for sitting around doing nothing – and I pretty much worked my way out of that job – but didn’t jump ship fast – and instead held out hope for the 4th quarter, and then decided that was enough. One quarter of nothing was one quarter too much.

Besides the Winter and Spring metaphor its pretty amazing how 3Y0I and their extended frustrations of trying to get their show on the road coincided almost to the day with my personal struggles. Funny that, but hey – life is funny that way, and I had all the patience of Job, and it seems to be paying off. When I came back from Bend, we had that awful smoke from the Paradise fire – and the 3Y0I team realized just how much work the Atlantic Tuna was going to need. Smoke being yet another metaphor . . .

The 2018 election was one big ray of hope – reminded me not to give up but “keep paddling” . . .

In fact, this is very much a Jungian “meaningful coincidence” – or Synchronicity. 3Y0I’s frustrations and mine were timed such that it really does feel like a textbook case of Synchronicity – which is pretty cool. One notch better than “serendipity” – which ends up carrying me in life and what feels like what Kerouac called “This Fellaheen World”. Its these minor miracles that do give me energy and happiness.

In the meantime – I did take a very cool (and unexpected) detour with the National SW-3 and Collins Gold Dust Twins. I just completed the restore of the Power Supply, and I will bet within days I get a call from Howard Mills, W3HM, that he is sending the RF Deck back. I bet I get it back by the time 3Y0I goes on the air – which will be the very end of March.

Yeah – this one feels like an airtight case of Synchronicity . . .

KWS-1 Power Supply Restore Completed

This is the High Voltage side of the power supply. I have the low and high voltage schematics together, and will go over every change I made and make sure I did it correctly. Then I will turn it on and give it the old “smoke test”. I also need to make sure I have whatever accessory connections – antenna to TR switch, speaker muting, key and mic.

Speaking of microphones, I gave the Astatic D-104 and Shure 51 “Sonodyne” a good cleaning. Both elements inside look fine – so I will test with a guitar amplifier I have in a closet, and order a couple more of the special 2 pin mic connectors – like the one I bought a while back.



I started my Ham Radio path as a Shortwave Listener – SWL, and that was in 1971 – when I was 11 years old and I built a Heathkit SW-717. It wasn’t a great radio by today’s standards, but to an 11 year old – it was the best. It looked pretty sleek and modern, and heck, I built it!

Unfortunately, there are few shortwave stations left on the air, back in the early 70’s, listening to Radio Tirana, Radio South Africa, Deutsche Welle, Radio Finland, Radio New Zealand, Radio Australia and so many more were so exciting.

While the Collins Gold Dust Twins are something to behold – I’ve become so “smitten” with the National SW-3. I was listening to KPIG today on the SW-3 while I was restoring the KWS-1 power supply, so that was a great hour or so of Ham Radio fun in the shack.

Speaking of KPIG – I’m reading a fun book that Ed, AC6CX recommended:

Its a very interesting book that talks about where “Alt-Country” or “Americana” music originated as a radio program and even as a genre. And yeah – since KPIG was started by some of the people from KFAT, I can listen all day long – because I love the variety and the fact that you can hear stuff you won’t hear anywhere else. It seems to me that KPIG is probably very close to KFAT in format and whatnot.

Anyway – radio – that magic box that we all love – including that smart phone – which is a radio. I’ve become partial lately to “radios that glow in the dark”.

KWS-1 Power Supply Restore

I replaced these three paper capacitors and the selenium rectifier with new components:

I used a 1N4007 silicon diode for the old rectifier and used its post to hold a 3 lug terminal strip. I double checked the schematic – just to make sure I got the polarity correct.

The next part is a little bit tricky – but no real big deal. This is because rather than replace the two aluminum (2 section) electrolytic “can” capacitors, I’ll just use four 47 uf electrolytics and tap into the existing ground:

Tomorrow I will move the wires. The two posts on each old electrolytic are the positive side of each 2 section capacitor – so I put the negative of each new cap on a 3 lug terminal strip on the center post – which is screwed into the existing bolt, an the positive sides on the outer two lugs of the terminal strip. I also that one resistor to move as well. I have new new ones as well – so whatever is easiest, I’ll do that.

I saved at least $500 by restoring the power supply myself – shipping alone would have been hundreds of dollars because it would hve to ship freight. While Howard Mills will have restored both my 75A-4 receiver and now the KWS-1 transmitter, and each was completely restored – new powder coating and silk screening, The power supply is not nearly as critical – because not much of it will even show in the shack:

So, yeah its a bit manky looking, but I’m not a collector per se. It actually would be easy to take the cabinet apart completely and send it to a local powder coater, but then there is the silk screening of the letters – nah – not worth it.

OK –  tomorrow I will wrap it up and turn it on and cross my fingers for a successful “smoke test”. Then it will be ready and waiting for the KWS-1 to return – I’m counting before the end of this month.

Turner Dynamic Microphone

One of these babies will grace the KWS-1 when I crank up the transmitter in a couple of weeks. I have been restoring a couple of old microphones, and this cool looking bugger landed in my lap for a song.


Wow, have I been enjoying this fine radio station more than ever lately. I just heard a Folk-Blues artist named Eric Bibb whose song “Stayed on Freedom” is just excellent. I could listen to this type of Blues any day.

I grew up in Sussex County, NJ, and Newton was a town of 7000 that was so close to the Appalachian Trail that my father used to take us kids up on hilltop locations along the trail to places that had ponds, lakes and waterfalls – not to mention panoramic views of acres and acres of woodland.

High Point, NJ

Even though we received all the latest in media from NYC – 60 miles to our southeast, there was a boat house / bar on Swartswood Lake that had “hippie bluegrass” – with really great bands playing Flatt and Scruggs, Bill Monroe, etc tunes. I think we all wanted to hear the “Southern Rock” that was popular at the time, and the joke was some yahoo would yell out “Freebird”, but these long haired bluegrass cats would have none of that. They might delve into something in the Blues or Folk genre, but they were pretty much “Americana” as far as I can remember. This music seemed to match our county – with the Appalachian Trail running through it – it was a sort of theme song.

In the 80’s R.E.M blazed a musical trail that I liked much more than that 70’s “Southern Rock”, and there has been a constant re-invention of what Americana is since then. But that’s what is fun about Americana – there are so many “threads” that weave all over the place, and they are all 100% American and quite unique.

There are so many different takes on “Americana” – the soundtrack to “Brother Where Art Thou” is one of the absolute best examples – and it got me to track back into the original artists – but also appreciate newer artists playing on old themes. I never liked Country Music that much – but then I heard Dolly Parton’s Bluegrass music and Johnny Cash playing modern rock covers in his style – and wow – did I learn not to judge an artist by some past phase that I didn’t care for. Americana is a wonderful “stew”.

KPIG weaves its way through Folk, Blues, Bluegrass, Country and rock and every conceivable type of “Americana” tinged music that you could ever imagine, and in a way that you end up appreciating music you previously might have dismissed or thought you weren’t into that much.

To say I am unhappy about our blowhard wannabe tin pot dictator in the white house is an understatement. But when I hear all of this wonderful Americana music – I realize as a country, somehow we have suffered fools before, and we will suffer fools again.

“Hope” by R. Holoch, 2008

Fir me, Americana music is Hope itself, and KPIG serves it up in a way that keeps the Hope alive.