Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

aurora-forecast-northern-hemisphere

When planning a DXpedition, one of the many things that the leader worries about is bad luck in the form of poor propagation. I remember vividly during April 2010 when my YI9PSE team was operating from Erbil, Iraq.

Our primary goal was to work the US West Coast and to provide as many ATNO’s as possible. Propagation was cruel to us bringing a CME during the middle of the nine day DXpedition. We experienced nearly complete “black out” conditions during that week and our goal to work the West Coast was not satisfied to the level that we had hoped for.

This past week, poor propagation struck the VK9MA and 9U4M DXpeditions. According to the Solarham website, it’s been a dreadful week for propagation. The nine member of the VK9MA team made just over 43,000 contacts. I listened to their pileups and I know this team made every effort to overcome the poor propagation and fill their logs.

The 22 member 9U4M DXpedition team faced similar challenges. They made 54,955 contacts in ten days of operating. 68.8% of their contacts were with EU stations as they were largely difficult to reach from other continents.

For those amateurs that tend to “beat up” a DXpedition for having not met the amateur’s expectations, I would just suggest that unless you have joined a DXpedition and have sat on a dead band for hours calling CQ, you just really have no idea how difficult it can be to make the contacts necessary to satisfy the global need.

Lets hope that conditions improve for the upcoming 3Y0Z and St. Brandon DXpeditions.

What do you think?

 

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For the love of DX!

Posted: November 9, 2017 in Uncategorized

ap2nk

In my latest installment of “for the love of DX” I want to share with you my thrill in working Nasir-AP2NK a few weeks ago.

I’ve been a DXer for many years and I have worked a lot of rare DX. None of that diminishes the thrill of working a rare entity and enjoying a nice contact.

One fall night a few weeks ago, I was “spinning the dial” and tuning across twenty meters which has long been one of my favorite bands. I heard a very weak and fluttery CQ in relatively slow CW. I listened intently and was thrilled to find Nasir-AP2NK in Islamabad, Pakistan with no pileup what so ever!

I quickly pounced with my 500 watts. I was thrilled when Nasir came back to my call. His signal was very weak, almost ESP copy so it was futile to exchange anything more than signal reports. After I made the contact, I was pleased to see that Joe-W3HNK was his stateside QSL Manager. It does not get any better than that!

So a suggestion for newer DXers, spin that dial, search across the bands. If Nasir had been spotted I probably would not been able to have easily made this contact. There is still considerable value and pleasure in spinning the dial and finding your own DX before the DX Cluster broadcasts it.

What do you think?

 

3C0L

Yuris-YL2GM and Kaspars-YL3AIW have just concluded their 3C0L operation from Annobon Island and are now operating from Bioko as 3C1L.

This has been a very impressive two-man operation. They initially started with two K3 radios however one radio failed and they continued on to keep one radio active on the bands nearly 24 X 7. They also experienced generator failure which again limited their ability to remain on the air. Despite their limitations, not only did they remain active nearly around the clock but they expertly handled their pile ups with a fast, accurate rate often pulling out entire calls in rapid fashion.

Their pileups were huge, sometimes 10 KC wide and often unruly, yet they managed extremely well and continued to work the bands. From my West Coast perspective, I think what is truly impressive about this operation is the skill and stamina of these operators. Annobon is not a comfy relaxing environment. Heat and humidity are extreme.

Probably the highlights of this operation for many was a much coveted 80 and/or 160 meter contact. I managed to work them on 15, 17, 20, 40 and 80 meters. I heard them on 30 and spent some time calling but was not able to get through before they went QRT.

It is refreshing in this day and age of “Mega DXpeditions” to see two highly skilled operators go to a rare and remote place and just completely make it available to the masses.

Yuris and Kaspars can be very proud of their effort to activate these two rare entities in this fashion.  This was a really great activation and I am very surprised and pleased

What do you think?

Elmering and mentoring…

Posted: October 10, 2017 in Uncategorized

NCDXC_Logo

The Northern California DX Club (NCDXC) recently launched their “Elmer Project” which is open to anyone to participate. The goal of the NCDXC Elmering Project is to help other amateurs become active on the HF bands. Their program covers not only DXing but all phases of HF operation, station building, equipment selection and antennas. There is also a track for General License Exam Preparation as well as advanced topics. The classes are provided at no cost over Webex.

I feel that this is a really great way for those interested in amateur radio to learn and possibly becoming licensed “Hams”. They can learn from the comfort of their home and at their own pace. They can watch the presentations as much as needed to fully understand the concepts presented.

You can find out more information about the NCDXC Elmering Project at this link: http://www.ncdxc.org/pages/elmer.html

STEAM Program students learning electronics theory and building kits. 

Another great example of Elmering and Mentoring is the great Youth Program at Dorothy Grant Elementary School in Fontana, California. David Collingham-K3LP and Teacher Beverly Matheson-WA6BK run a program called STEAM, where students are learning about electronics and amateur radio. They are learning about electronics theory and they have been building kits to demonstrate their knowledge.

Dorothy Grant students learning amateur radio operations and getting “on the air” with their K6DGE Club Station.

They have radios donated by ICOM-Ray Novak inside the classroom, complete with a tower and various antennas. They established the K6DGE Dorothy Grant Elementary Club Station and they are active on the air making contacts. Dave and Beverly have also been instrumental in helping some of the students establish their own stations at home.
They have held various mentoring/license preparation events with VE testing. Over fifty of the students have received their amateur licenses!

This is really a great program! You can find out more at http://www.K6DGE.com

What do you think?

Fun with 5T5OK…

Posted: September 28, 2017 in Uncategorized

5t5ok

I’ve really had fun this week working the 5T5OK Czech DXpedition team from Mauritania. For such a small team, they have done a really effective job in giving out contacts from Mauritania on all of the bands. This team was recently active from Togo as 5V7P.

As I write this, they are approaching 42,000 contacts in eleven days of operation. Their signals have been quite strong at times and their Operating team has been quite effective. There was almost no advance publicity (or donations) for this team yet they have managed an effective operation on a small scale and small budget.

5t5ok_2

Their attention to 80 and 160 meters is most appreciated as they have really put the time and effort in on these much wanted bands. On their Facebook page, I can see that they used one Hexbeam, one Spiderbeam and verticals for 160, 80, 60 and 30 meters. They used a four square array for 40 meters and a 17m VDA. Lastly a 5 element Yagi was used on six meters. Quite an antenna set up for a small team.

5t5okteam

Photos courtesy of the 5T5OK Team. 

Overall, a really nice, effective and enjoyable activation of Mauritania by the 5T5OK Czech DXpedition team.

What do you think?

Is the end near for the Alpha 9500?

Posted: September 20, 2017 in Uncategorized

alpha9500

I have owned two Alpha 9500 amplifiers. The first amp was a very low serial number and was a “wild and wooly beast” That amplifier had a mind of its own and I sold it having been dissatisfied with it. A few years later, I bought a used Alpha 9500 and enjoyed it for a few years before moving to a solid state, instant on amplifier.

As ownership of Alpha Amplifiers has changed hands several times, the prices and availability of this amplifier has fluctuated wildly. At its height, this amplifier sold for $7995. In contrast to today where the future of this amplifier is increasingly in doubt among some of us, I have seen used excellent condition Alpha 9500s sell for $4,000.

Last week on QRZ.Com I saw an Alpha 9500 sell for $3,000 as the seller wanted to buy a new solid state amp. With late model Alpha 9500s selling for $3,000 to $4,000 I don’t see how the current owner/manufacturer of Alpha amplifiers can continue to produce or sell them for upwards of $6,995. With the new Elecraft and Expert solid state amps selling for well below that, the big gun tube amplifier such as the Alpha 9500 might be a dinosaur with its future in doubt.

What do you think?

My thoughts on list operations…

Posted: September 15, 2017 in Uncategorized

RareDX

DX comes in many shapes and forms. Some of our favorite DX comes from big “Mega DXpeditions” where we know that we have a good chance to make a rare and wanted contact. Sometimes we have to work the DX station the way that the DX wants to be worked. Some DX operators prefer not to have a large and unwieldy pileup. Sometimes the DX station wants to have a brief chat or exchange of pleasantries in addition to an exchange of signal reports.

Not so common anymore but occasionally there are “List Operations”. The List Operation has a control operator who takes a list of callers wanting to work the rare DX station that may be available. Last week, there was a flurry of activity on 40 meters SSB as David-ZS8Z made daily appearances on a list operation being run by Stan-KE5EE.

There is no question that ZS8Z on Marion Island is a rare and coveted contact. David-ZS8Z is a relatively new DX operator and he prefers not to have a wild and crazy pileup. That is certainly his choice.

Some DXers will argue that these list operations are “spoon fed” DX and will look down upon these contacts. My perspective is that a contact is a contact and if it is the only way you can get this rare DX then you ought to go for it. From my West Coast perspective, it was nice to actually hear David and not have to compete with all of the guys seeking their annual Marathon points and Challenge band slots. The list operation was run in a sane and calm manner that made the contacts fast and easy. I appreciate Stan-KE5EE for running these list operations and for making it possible for many stations to work David-ZS8Z.

 

What do you think?