Saturday, January 21, 2012

What is luck? With DX, luck is HUGE!

80 meter CW, not for the faint of heart or timid. HK0NA, day 1, 0300 UTC, darkness covers EU and NA, SA and AF. EVERYONE is calling HK0NA. The operator running the pileup is obviously skilled at keeping control, and the poor operators are few (thankfully). But the sheer SIZE of the pileup is immense. I don't remember anything quite like this on CW.

You can see in the picture that I am hearing HUNDREDS of stations calling HK0NA on my inverted L. I can pick out calls from US, SA, and EU...all VERY STRONG. The CW Skimmer is actually unable to decode most of the calls due to the overlap.

I got some AMAZING luck. I saw HK0NA work two stations +3 KHz. I saw a gap +2.85 kHz with noone calling, so I parked it there. After five attempts (about 3 min), he returned my call. LUCK! 250 watts to an inverted L. I need to make an offering to the DX gods, some sort of indication of my gratitude. Some coax in the field or something.

73 and good DX!

Off to a good start this year, DX-wise

12 Jan - 4W0VB, Timor-Liste (UA4WHX, Vlad Boyko)
21 Jan - HK0NA, Malpelo DXpedition
21 Jan - VK0TH, Macquerie Island (thanks to Trevor, VK8TH)

That's 293 worked. Checking the log, I had 14 new ones last year. If I can keep pace, I will break 300 this year. Fingers crossed. The Tokyo High Power amp sure helps, and the Flex Radio 3000 is outstanding.

I also learned how to optimize the SSB audio with the Flex 3000. Like other high end rigs (Yaesu FTDX5000), the operator can configure the TX equalizer for maximum "DX punch" without overload/splatter.

I first read about this in W9KNI's "A Year of DX" but since I am not on SSB that often, I never bothered with it. But I wanted to get a headset, and started asking questions on the Flex Radio owners forum.

The CM-500 from Yamaha is a moderately inexpensive headset with boom microphone. An op recommended it. I tried the Heil Proset Elite first, but the earphones rest ON the ears...not over them. Very uncomfortable for me. So I ordered the CM-500 and the adapter for the Flex, hooked it up, and listened to my audio on a separate receiver (no antenna connected). HOLY COW! What a difference the TX equalizer makes when I follow instructions for optimization. I was only getting half the "punch" before with default settings. And with the optimized levels, many stations have commented on the strength and quality of the audio.

I am really lucky to have a Flex radio. It's making SSB more interesting and fun than ever before!

73 and good DX