Tuesday, December 29, 2009

More fireworks on 40, and a new antenna

Heard JT1BH at sunset local time on 40 CW. I have only heard JT1CO, and it was on 20 meters in the summer. Wow.

I put up an inverted L for 160 with 3 radials. Let's see how that plays on 160. I need to get cranking on the "top band" in order to get my 9BDXCC

73 and good DX

Friday, December 25, 2009

Getting even better on the bands!

40 meters is WHITE HOT.

Heard HS0CZY/4 and 4S7NE tonight. HS0 was buried under EU, I did not want to get into a pileup on simplex frequency for 4S7NE, esp since I already have a card from Nelson on 17 meters.

Seems like 40 is almost always offering some sort of DX! Makes me want to rethink my antenna situation, possibly put up something with more gain on 40. I had been looking at 160 for a basic antenna, and trying to get my hex beam up higher. Maybe I am focused on the wrong bands!

Christmas gifts from Santa included an Arrow Antennas 4 element yagi for 6 meters, a 6 meter handbook, a 6 meter pre-amp. So look out Meteor-Scatter fans, and when those sporadic-E clouds starting forming in April I will be all over that!

73, happy holidays, and good DX!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Things are getting better on the bands

1. I heard HS0CZY/4 on 30 meter CW, Q5 copy on the flex. This was with my Par end-fed half have, oriented all vertical. This operator really knows how to run a pileup. Unfortunately, I did not break through the wall of EU stations (just after their dinner time).

2. I copied VR4VBI on 20 meters JT65A, using the Zero-Five vertical.

Both of these events represent something significant. For the first time in MANY years, I am hearing Asia for real. Not just JA, but further out beyond that. This bodes well for my quest into Asia for additional DX.

Also, put up my 6 meter hex yagi into the attic. Will try for some meteor scatter in the coming mornings.

73 and good DX!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Life is good!

UPS truck delvired my newly repaired Flex 3000 to me today.

Tinkered with it all afternoon, FINALLY set it up so I can send CW using the MixW interface/keyboard...and CW Skimmer works!!! Also using DX4Win to pounce on spots.

Here's what it looks like

A busy screen! SDR for controlling the radio is on the left, CW Skimmer to the right, then Bandmaster. MixW is on the bottom center, with DX4Win on the left side.

My favorite programs, all placed properly on the screen.

Now, the other computer with the screen on the left is my digital/satellite station. It has satellite tracker, WSJT software, web browser, BandMaster and DX Atlas, HamRadioDeluxe sat tracker, and two radios: TS570 for HF, and TS480 for 6 meter CW/SSB and meteor scatter.

This is fun, now that I finally got everything working together!

6 meter yagi arrives on Wednesday for the attic. Still trying to decide what I want to do for Earth-Moon-Earth comms...something in the attic, or rover operations with better access to the horizon. Decisions decisions! What an awesome hobby!

Happy holidays!

73 and good DX!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What is that sound? Could it be....Asia? YES

Last night, at 0100 local, I worked Martti Lane, OH2BH, on 80 meter SSB. No big deal, but it was a real thrill for me. Martti is a DXer of legend, lore, AND fact. He's like Danny Weil, Lloyd and Iris Colvin of the last century...a guy who expemplifies everything that is good in the hobby, has done so much international goodwill with his selfless time and endless energy.

Making a QSO with Martti is an honor and a thrill for me, a junior DXer who hopes one day to reach the honor roll of DXCC. I have worked him on CW before, but never on SSB. It was a medium-sized pileup, and I broke through on the second try only because Martti was (as usual) following a very consistent pattern to the pileup. He waited for the chaos to die down after 3 seconds, then picked the first call he heard. I guessed right and made it through with 100 wats and my dipole at 44 feet! This QSO, combined with the one with John Devoldere ON4UN of Low Band DXing fame, will be two that I will remember for my lifetime.

Anyway...it's 0100 local now Saturday night/Sunday morning, and I am on 40 CW, MINUS MY BELOVED F3K (no worries, the folks at Flex ALREADY have it repaired! Back in the mail this week, AWESOME customer service!). I can see some interesting spots for South Cook (E51), but nothing new. I have the Zero-Five 43 foot vertical online, after replacing the remote CG-3000 antenna tuner earlier today (I think water permeated it, but that's a separate story). Suddenly, I see a spot for JA. Probably from Europe, since they are both about on the gray line this time of year. I check it out, and it's from a W4. So I tune there, hear a watery signal RST 529, copy JA7DLE, call him twice, he gets my call, BAM he is in the log. I have ONE JA QSO on 80, and this is my SECOND EVER on 40 (the other is JM7OLW, have worked him several times on 20 and once on 40). The vertical is WORKING! What is neat about this is that it happens while I can hear EU stations 599 AND South Cook Islands 559. So I am copying Pacific, JA, AND Europe at the same time. ANd still an hour until sunset for JA. WOW, 40 meters is impressive.

That is quite a NEAT situation. I can remember doing that on 20 meters late at night in 1990, when I lived in Georgia, during the solar peak of cycle 22. But that is to be expected on 20, especially at the peak of the solar cycle.

But on 40 meters? With a vertical antenna? Never would have guessed it could happen to me!

So WHAT IS THAT SOUND? It's a JA station...I am working Asia, my intended target for DX!

73 and good DX!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Me without my Flex 3000 is like Linus without his blanket

Apologies to Charles Schulz the great cartoonist of Peanuts, but like Linus van Pelt without his security blanket, I am going crazy without my Flex 3000!

I sent it in for repairs (pre-amp chip failed) and for the warranty fix for the pre-amp overall.

Wow, using my TS-570 is such a travel back in time. I can only use my ears and not my eyes with this rig. I know Flex will take good care and do the fixes right, but I sure hope the rig is back in time for my holiday break! Fingers crossed.

I put up more antennas today: Par End-Fedz models for 40 and 30 meters. These are stealthy, half-wave wire antennas for single-band operation. The models I have are designed for 100 watts. They work quite well, especially on 40 and 30 meters. High efficiency, no ground field needed like a quarter wave. How is the impedance matched at the end of a half wave, for a 50 ohm coax feed? I am GLAD you asked! Here's an excellent article on performance, matching networks, and more details.


The antennas are efficient. Overall performance depends upon the properties of the ground. Some folks claim that common-mode currents are induced in the coax, since the outer braid is serving as the counterpoise. Well, a couple of turns of coax into a lazy man's 1:1 current balun fixes that.

So how did the end-fed antenna work? Well, I worked CE0Y/SM6CUK on the first call tonight. That's not a scientific test, but it does prove that I AM radiating a signal.

73 and good DX!