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!

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