Thursday, April 28, 2011


Who can forget Jim McKay on ABC's Wide World of Sports, using that famous line for the intro on Saturdays.

Well, last weekend was the T31A DXPedition, a new DXCC that I needed. I turned my hex beam at 40 feet to the west, fired up the 500W amp, and started listening on Saturday 23 Apr. Not much going on at the time at 1600 UTC. So I took a break. I came back online at 2300 UTC, saw a spot on 17 meters SSB, and listened on frequency. I saw he was working 5 up. I heard him say QRZ and fired my callsign twice. (Sometimes I get excited and yell into the microphone, so I always keep the gain low to prevent splatter). He IMMEDIATELY came back to me with a 59! I gave him a 55. IN THE LOG! Talk about dumb luck and timing! The stations were only on the air for 24 hours and I got through from the East Coast on SSB, with a modest setup! The THRILL OF VICTORY!

I was using the FLEX 3000 SDR, PSDR 2.2 software, THP 1.2 KFX amp (500 watts), Traffie Hex Beam at 40 feet, and a Yaesu hand-mic that came with my FT817. This has served me quite well in pileups, without anything else in the mix.

I was pretty pleased with myself, and that night worked a new one, Egypt, on 30M CW.

On Sunday evening, before starting a week of travel for work, I worked Egypt on 20 meters also. And I saw a spot for T31A on CW on 15 meters. I got greedy and decided I wanted to get a CW contact in the log also. Again with the hex beam and amp, this time with some fast CW at 27 WPM, the same speed as the op (he was keeping a good QSO rate going). Signals marginal at 449 on my end, but with the FLEX 3000 and DSP software with brick-wall filters, no problems with copying him.

I called for about an hour. The op was following a pattern and I was in the right spot but not the only one who had figured out the pattern. West Coast stations kept beating me to the predicted location that the DX was listening. (For more ideas on this technique, I recommend the books by AC6V and W9KNI). I was about to give up, but decided to try for another 10 minutes. It was now 2300 local and I needed to get some sleep for travel the next day. 5 minutes later he came back to me. But he copied my call as WD4LEG. I replied as WD4ELG and sent 55N. He came back and said RRR 73 WB4ELG TU. I tried to resend "WD4 WD4", but he had already moved on. THE AGONY OF DEFEAT!

I wrote to the stateside coordination station and asked for special consideration. He said I should write to the station control operator and ask for special consideration with the QSL card. I will do that, hope for the best, and make a special offering to the DX gods. Maybe put 1000 foot of beverage wire up, or plant some trees for a future DXer.

Meanwhile, I went to VE1DX's page and read some humorous stories and decided to not worry about the T31A CW QSO.



Friday, April 22, 2011

The Sun is alive and well

Who says this sunspot cycle will be a bust? Some folks predicted another Maunder Minimum. Well, after getting off to a slow start, cycle 24 is going gangbusters. The prediction curve may need to be revised.

The bands are ALIVE. Here's a sampling of DX worked from my location (FM06be) using a 2 element 5-band hex beam (thanks, Mike Traffie, for getting me into the serious DX game).

All over the north pole: BY, 9M2, XV, BX, 4S7 (First time I ever heard 9M2 or XV)

Also, I was working these stations at 2200 local time on 15 meters, 2.5 hours after sunset!

On 10 meters, I can hear EU and AF with sunrise, and I can hear and work VK at least an hour after sunset. That's amazing, I have not done that since 2001.

On 20 meters at midnight local I can hear JA, A6, VK, and ZS.

Also, I busted a bunch of pileups to Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Bragging here: total DXCC count is up to 276 worked/263 confirmed. Closing in on 5BDXCC, 9BDXCC, and eventually Honor Roll.

I have added a couple of logs to the fire of the signal with an amplifier from Tokyo High Power. Talk about an outstanding piece of gear. It gives me 400-500 watts out, which is all I need for the extra "punch."

Hope to hear you on the bands in the pileups!

73 and good DX!