Friday, November 27, 2009

Around the world in milli-seconds

Today, I was listening to ST2AR (Sudan) on 17 meters at 1600 UTC, working a nice pileup.

Something was weird about his signal, though. At first I thought it was flutter, but that's ridiculous - the path is 080 short path. Then I thought someone was intentionally interfering. But it was simultaneous; started as son as he started, and ended immediately after he ended. Fast CW, no way it was intentional interferece...too closely timed.

Then it hit me; I was receiving short path AND long path AT THE SAME TIME! Never would happen with a directional antenna, but I was using the off-center-fed dipole at 64 feet. I was hearing BOTH signals at the same time, the long-path one just barely delayed and sounding like interference!

5798 miles short path, long pah 15782 miles. I listened for a few minutes and was fascinated! I had never heard this before, at least not that I could recall!

At about 1615 UTC, the short path took over and the interfering long path signal decreased quickly until it was gone.

Using some quick calculations, the time to trave short path is 31.2 msec. Long path is 84.5 msec. That would explain the noticeable overlap.

Wow, propagation never ceases to amaze me.

73 and good DX!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Let's go to the instant replay tape!

I have been hamming a lot since the last post.

On Saturday night, I put up the 43 foot vertical.

On Tuesday, I put up a 160-10 off-center-fed dipole from Buckmaster up at 64 feet, beaming 330/150 broadsied. I used a secret weapon to put up the antenna. Whoa, this thing is a DREAM! Worth every penny!

Today (Thursday), I put up the 20 meter hex beam...only at 32 feet for now...need to have it up for the CQ WW CW contest this weekend.

I took down the 80-10 off-center-fed Buckmaster, I will re-orient it next week on an East/West heading.

So, what results have I achieved so far?

Well, the new QTH continues to be VERY quiet. On 20 CW, I heard JA1NUT 579, VR2MY 539. Did not have time to try and break the pileup.

What have I worked, that is interesting?

12 meters: ZL1BYz, CE0/SM6CUK
15 meters: A25NW, ZP6CW
17 meters: V51AS, A25WN (CW - 10 min; SSB, huge pileup, 30 min of attempts), 9L1NH
20 meters: 9G5TT, A25NW
30 meters: CE0/SM6CUK, A25NW
40 meters: 3B8CF, RW0CN
80 meters: 4L6AA
160 meters: PJ2/K8ND (easy), need to get some EU DX to work towards 9BDXCC

Kudos to Tom, K9NW, down on Botswana with the A25NW call. What a fantastic op. The SSB pileup on 17 meters was a real zoo, but he kept it moving and never lost his cool.


1. The 43 foot vertical is working well with 10 radials down, each 50 feet in length. I need to add another 10 radials. The remote tuner is, as always, essential

2. The total coax run is about 250 feet to each antenna. I need some lower-loss coax, I suspect, althouth the RG-213 is not hurting me all that much.

3. The Buckmaster at 64 feet has the ends drooped, to form a two-element broadside phased vertical pattern.

4. The 20 meter hex beam is BACK ON LINE.

I am ready for the contest! Hope to work at least three new ones.

Next steps:
  • Get the remote antenna switch in place.
  • Get the 80-10 Buckmaster up and running.
  • Get the satellite station back online.

73 and GOOD DX!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Location, location, location

What a difference 80 km can make! My new QTH has provided some very interesting results in terms of what I can hear on the bands.

I have been very busy with work since the move on Oct 29, and this morning was my first opportunity to listen during gray-line propagation in the morning. This time of year, there are no thunderstorms about and the nighttime is more favorable for 40 and 80 meter propagation to my intended target - ASIA!

So far, the only antenna I have up is the off-center-fed dipole with the ends vertical. This acts as two 1/4 wave verticals in phase with a broadside pattern. It's my favorite basic antenna, and has served me quite well over the years.

It works surprisingly well at 1/4 wave height on 40...of course, a LOT better than a straight dipole at that height. I had some challenges getting it up in the trees (hammer throwing is not the most efficient way to raise an antenna, and it damages the shoulder, but it's quick and it gets the job long as the hammer does not get caught in the branches! That's another post, though)

Anyway, I have the antenna oriented for maximum radiation towards about 330 degrees, direct towards SE Asia. At the old QTH, I really struggled to hear in that direction. Regardless of the antenna, it was ALWAYS a challenge...even to work and hear JA. I always suspected some sort of natural terrain was reflecting/deflecting the signal, but the terrain seemed favorable. It was NOT a problem with the antennas - Africa and South Pacific and VK/ZL were easy to reach on all bands - even 80 with my much-maligned 43 foot vertical. But I never could hear Guam, Phillipines, Brunei, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, etc. Only once did I work Taiwan and China...and only on 20 meters with the 2 element hex beam. JA was very infrequent.

So I had high hopes that things would get better after the relocation to the new QTH.

After working 3B8CF (Jacky always has a strong signal), I knew that the antenna was fundamentally working fine.

So this morning, after taking out the dog, I sat down at 0600 local and flipped on the rig.

Mongolian DX contest in progress: I heard JT1CO on 40 CW. I worked him twice over the years on 20 CW. Weak at this time, but NO BACKGROUND NOISE! Great band conditions! Called him for 10 min, but he never heard me. But....this is the first time I ever heard Mongolia on 40. Also heard several JA.

Tuned around and heard RWoCN (Mikhail) in PN87, definitely in the desired target area just above Korea. About 10 stations calling, pileup in progress, nabbed him on the 4th call. SWEET!

Tuned around some more, and I heard DU/OH1RX working a medium-sized pileup, simplex (West Coast and South America, but he was mostly working JA). But I had Q5 copy for the entire time. Unlikely to break through; he was already well-spoted on the DX cluster. But I could copy him 100%! NEVER had that happen before!!

Tuned around some more on 40, and could just barely copy P29CW. That's a new one for me. Not going to try and work him, big pileup in progress, but nice to know I can hear him.

And the icing on the cake, heard WH2D on CW on 40, and KH2L on 40 SSB. Now all I need is to get some directional antennas in the air and point them that way!

I decided to see what was going on for 80 meters CW. Already past sunrise at 0730 local, I heard TX3A working a huge pileup, he was Q5 copy. Tuned around and heard some JA stations as well - weak but Q5 copy. AMAZING - I NEVER heard that at the old QTH! Not bad for a dipole at 32 feet!!!

I think I am going to be VERY happy with the DX from this QTH. I hope to get more antennas in the air over the coming Thanksgiving weekend, and see what I can do for enw DX in the CQ WW DX Contest.

73 and good DX!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Putting together a new station

Wow, I forgot how painful it is to move. My aching back! Lifting all those boxes AFTER the movers drop them off. Well, that's what Motrin is for...pain relief.

Also, work has kept me on the road for the past two weeks.

I did put together the shack on the weekends, all I need to do now is put up the antennas.

The shack has the TS570 for digital/search and pounce/backup, with the Flex F3K as primary CW/SSB.

The two FT817ND rigs are in place for satellite.

I will put up the 2 meter FM rig also, for weather monitoring and any 2 meter repeaters in the area.

I have the TS480SAT in the car, although I don't expect a lot of driving...mostly air travel.

The priority for my antennas:

(1) get the coax in place - 200 foot run of a single coax
(2) get an all-band wire up to begin with. This will be the Buckmaster off-center-fed dipole for 80-10.
(3) get the HF yagi up - this will be the hex beam for 20 meters on the 32 foot mast
(4) get the antenna switch out there so I can run multiple antennas
(5) get a second run of coax, and a second antenna switch
(6) get the 160 meter wire antenna up (in time for the 160 meter contest)
(7) get the 43 foot vertical up and put down radials (getting colder, maybe wait until spring!)

That's enought to keep me busy over the holiday break!

73 and good DX