Saturday, October 15, 2011

A funny (ha ha) thing happened to me this evening, DX-wise

It was a gorgeous fall evening in central North Carolina. Temp about 72F, low humidity, light breeze, sun low on the horizon, no clouds. I joined the wife on the back porch, where she (a talented painter) was doing some artwork of the back garden. I hooked up my FT817ND QRP swiss army knife rig on the back deck (which I hardly ever do, but I wanted to watch the wife do some of her lovely art work).

No sooner had I fired up the 817 and hooked it to the hex beam than I heard the bands ALIVE. I tuned to 12 meters and heard T32C working split on CW. Second call, in the log! Not a new QSO with T32C, but 5 watts from US East Coast is not too bad!

Then I heard a watery, fluttery signal 1 kHz down. The FT817ND CW, unfiltered is wide as a barn door (which is no problem for me, I can do the signal processing and filtering in my head if needed!). I tuned down and heard the callsign 9M6XRO! Wow, new DX, never heard this one before. I called once with the 817, unsuccessfully (no pileup yet, he was working simplex). So I ran tearing and yelling through the house, upstairs to the shack, fired up the amp, and turned on the Flex 3000. By this time he was working split, so I moved the TX up one and got him on the first call! Number 287 in the log!!!

Kinda neat that I heard him on the 817 on the hex, then ran up to work him on the Flex. I really love those 817 rigs, so versatile and capable. You can do a lot with 5 watts. And thank the DX gods for 9M6!

73 and good DX!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Always remember, it's a hobby....there is more to life than ham radio

Yeah, right! Do as I say, not as I do
I need to follow my own advice.

One way to do that is to get another hobby which is guaranteed to make me take a break from ham radio. What would that be? How about rescuing Golden Retrievers! Exercise, entertainment, and a bunch of fun.

The pic here is of Raj, Maggie, and Boomer. All three are rescued, pure bred Golden Retrievers (many shapes and sizes). We adopted them through Triad Golden Retriever Rescue of North Carolina. No puppy stage, a known quantity in terms of behavior, and each is grateful for being rescued!

A Bing search turns up lots of results, so consider adopting a Golden Retriever. You will be happy you did!

73 and Good DX! And lots of Golden Retriever hugs!

Conditions improving!

I was looking at my logbook for 2011, and I have added ten new DXCC countries this year. Some have never even been heard at my QTH before!

XV (Vietnam) - I remember during and after the Vietnam war, I got my novice ticket in 1977 (age 13). I never thought the day would come when I would work Vietnam! Lots of activity in recent years, but over-the-pole is always a challenge.

AP (Pakistan), T6 (Afghanistan) - ahh South Asia. The most intriguing DX there is for me. The Steppes and mountains of Asia from Kazakhstant to Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, nothing is more exciting than hearing these countries. Working both of these in the fall of 2011 was a highlight of the year.

XU (Cambodia) - another mind-blowing DX contact, who ever thought Cambodia would be on the air? Another over-the-pole DX contact, always a challenge from here.

SU (Egypt) - right before Mubarak fell. Should be fairly easy, but I always seem to miss this one (until now).

P29 (Papau New- Guinea) - first time I have ever heard this one also. Big time luck to catch him alone on SSB.

Other good ones: C2, JD1/O, T31, VP8/O.

Here's a snapshot of progress of countries worked to date. Currently at 286. I really became serious in 2004 and started computer logging (DX4WIN softwware).

One thing I have observed....each time I reach a plateau, I have to step it up a notch.

  • It was fairly easy getting to 100 DXCC with 100 watts and wires on 15, 20, and 40.Getting to 150 required me to step it up a notch, and get on all available bands including WARC. I also started studying propagation and learning about predictions and patterns. Finally, I bought DX4Win software to help me track my progress.

  • Getting to 200 was another challenge, so I started participating in DX contests, reading bulletins, and learning the tricks of the trade. I also got a 2 element hex beam for 20 meters which helped.

  • Getting to 225 was another challenge, which I tackled by putting in even more time on the air listening and learning about propagation. I also started using software (DX Monitor, SpotCollector) to monitor DX station patterns and operating times.

  • The 250 point was another hurdle, and I tackled it by getting a 5 band 2 element hex beam for 20-10.

  • Getting to 275 and higher required me to add another arsenal...I finally broke down and purchased a Tokyo High Power 750 watt amp.

  • The next factor in my favor to (hopefully) get me over 300 is the improving sunspot cycle. Once I get past 300, it's all luck and depends upon somebody going to those rare, uninhabited archipelagos and isolated rocks...or daring to go into a war zone (Yemen) or a totalitarian police state (North Korea) and activate it.

According to the graph, I should hit 300 in the next 18 months. From there onward the chase is littered with the ruined dreams of thousands of DXers who pursued the Honor Roll but languished between 300 and 310 and finally gave up from despair, old age, boredom, or death. I don't plan to be one of those who fails to reach the summit...I intend to achieve Honor Roll status! Why? Because DX IS!

73 and good DX!