10

There are many phases to a successful Dxpedition. From the Idea or Concept phase, all the way through the planning and execution or operation phases ending with the wrap up or conclusion of the Dxpedition which culminates in the mailing of QSL cards, LoTW uploads and the preparation and storage of the equipment for the next Dxpedition.

My favorite phase of the Dxpedition takes place just after setup and operations begins. Typically, during my first 3-4 shifts on the bands, I am making notes of which bands are open to which continents during certain times. I really enjoy operating on the higher bands while my other team mates relish operating on 80 and 160 meters.

I love to watch the effect of propagation as it rolls like a large Ocean Wave from continent to continent. When operating from places in Africa, such as South Sudan and Eritrea, I have seen where at our sunrise, the propagation moves westward across the globe. Africa and Europe are open as the sun rises and within a few hours the first North and South American stations receive propagation. This was also apparent from Iraq in 2010 and Yemen in 2012. I noticed that as I was working stations in EU that every once in a while, I would hear a weak W1 or W2 station. Within a few hours, the W1, VE1 and W2 stations were almost as strong as the European stations. As the W1/W2 stations grow in strength, you begin to hear some W4, W3 and W8/W9 stations.

Soon, the signals from the East Coast peak and begin to fade as the W8/W9 signals become stronger. The effect of the Ocean Wave rolling westward continues and the W0/W5 signals begin to get stronger as the W1/W2 and W4 signals begin to fade. As my shift continues, I begin to hear the W6/W7 signals. From Africa and the Middle East, W6/W7 contacts are not strong and have only a very short window of propagation. As the W8/W9 signals are fading out the W6/W7 signals begin to peak. Within a short time, the W6/W7 signals are fading as the KH6 signals are becoming stronger.

When I operated from Myanmar in 2013 during the XZ1J Dxpedition, I saw much different propagation. Surprisingly, one of our toughest area to work on the high bands was the US West Coast. In contrast, we had very good long path openings just after our sunrise to the US East Coast. During those long path openings, propagation would move westward across the USA but would die out completely before it reached the US West Coast.

Sometimes, during a Dxpedition, we experience anomalous propagation behavior. During the VP8SGI Dxpedition, I was operating on ten meters SSB one late afternoon and I experienced several hours of “spotlight propagation” to North America. By spotlight propagation, I mean that the band was only open to small areas at any one time. Sometimes, the propagation was one way. I was hearing stations well that were calling me (split) but they were not always hearing me.

Some DXpeditioners become very distracted by the remote station users. They pause and think how can that be?  A station calling me with a strong signal when he should not have propagation?

Unless one has the QRZ.com/Callbook database memorized, it’s not worth the time or effort to address the issue of remote users during the DXpediton. The ARRL has thoroughly covered this issue and I won’t address it further in this Blog entry.

So, for me, my favorite part of the Dxpedition is anticipating and experiencing the propagation band by band, day by day to see how it changes by time of day. While propagation can be predicted, many times I have seen where there were good openings where no opening was predicted.

 

What do you think?

Advertisements

In Awe of Contesters…

Posted: August 14, 2017 in Uncategorized

contesting-collage

My amateur radio activity primarily involves DXing and participating or organizing DXpeditions. I have dabbled in Contests over the years while mostly seeking new band/country contacts.

At times, I have been frustrated with the frequency of contests and the behavior of contesters on the bands. Many times, I have been trying to work a DX station only to have a contester plop down on top of the DX station and start calling CQ Test. I have often wondered if contesters and DXers could co-exist on the bands.

As time goes by, I have come to recognize the many contributions to amateur radio that the contester community makes and I also recognize the skill, stamina and knowledge that most contesters possess.

In fact, by and large the best Dxpedition operators are contesters. They can operate with great accuracy and a fast rate for many hours at a time. Their contesting skills are like a muscle that has been exercised and well developed. They can simply go faster and farther than many DXers that don’t participate in contests.  The best Dxpedition team are largely comprised of experienced and top contesters.

Whenever I have a complex technical challenge or a question about a logging program, I always look to the contesting community for help and I almost always get a multitude of well thought out and informative responses is short order.

If you look at “cutting edge” amateur radio gear, the vast majority of it has come from advances made by the contest community. They are constantly trying to find new, more efficient ways to operate and make rapid fire contacts.

So, I am grateful for contesters and the many contributions they have made to this great hobby.

What do you think?

eham-logo284x90

One aspect of Amateur Radio that I don’t particularly care for are the various unmoderated forums where the misinformed, opinionated and self righteous can converge and discuss their views without any regard to fact, fairness or any sort of Goodwill.

The DXing forum on Eham.net is one such place. Due to its lack of moderation, it has become the “bad neighborhood” on the internet just as we have 14.275 and 14.313 on twenty meters. It is a place where men that have done nothing for the DX Community sit in their underwear and dirty T shirt and boldly state any of their opinions as fact. It is a place where the alcohol and drug addled can espouse their views and trash anyone/everyone as fair game. I came to realize this not too long ago and have stopped posting in this forum, however the trashing and bashing continues.

This past week, my access to Eham. Net became blocked for some strange reason. I contacted Eham and they told me that my IP address was mysteriously blocked. Once this blockage was removed, I could see that once again NU1O and his ilk are bashing me in the DXing forum based on my past efforts to activate the DPRK (North Korea) and other rare places. For the record, I have abandoned any efforts to activate the DPRK and at the end of the day, I was unwilling to pay their fee for permission to bring a team and operate.

These “keyboard cowards” are calling me a traitor for trying to make a rare activation. I bet none of them has the courage to call me a traitor to my face. None of these guys have the courage to go to North Korea, Iraq, Yemen, Iran, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea as I have in an effort to give contacts to the Global DX Community. The guys that run Eham.net ought to spend some time reviewing the content of their forums and set the tone for reasonable decorum rather than the mosh pit of garbage that it has become.

This Blog is copyrighted and may not be reproduced without my permission.

What do you think?

GDXF_Award

GDXF President, Franz-DJ9ZB and VP8 Team member, Axel-DL6KVA.

The Intrepid-DX Group’s VP8STI/VP8SGI Team is very proud to be honored as the German DX Foundations DXpedition of the Year at Friedrichshafen, Germany. The entire team worked very hard to make these activations and we are working hard on our next rare DX adventure!  We hope to have some news soon!

Thank you,

Paul N6PSE & David K3LP

Co-Leaders of VP8STI/VP8SGI

 

The Curmudgeon factor…

Posted: July 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

ClintEastwoodCurmudgeon

When Hams gather, we often talk about ways to bring young people into the Hobby. I think one of the factors we fail to address is the Curmudgeon factor. Whenever you look at photos of a DX Club meeting, take a look at the faces in the crowd. How many of them are smiling or have a grin on their face? Chances are that most of us have a big frown on our face.

DXers by nature seem to be introverts and are not the “life of the party”. I feel that many amateurs are surely and just plain unfriendly to new comers.

When I was in Elementary school. There was a house on my route to school that had a big tower and an antenna. I had an idea that the owner was a Ham and I would have loved to have talked to him about his station. The owner was often out in his yard, garden hose in hand and no one wanted to get too close to him. He always had a surely look and was not in any way approachable. I walked by his house for six years and never felt that I could approach and talk to him.

Many years later, when my friend George-N6NKT and I visited our local DX Club for the first time, we both came away with the impression that the gathering was full of Curmudgeons and was not at all friendly or welcoming to new comers. We let a few years go by and made another visit and found the Club more welcoming. We joined the club and have been members ever since.

I think the point that I am trying to make is that many of us because of our personalities can turn young people off before they even get a chance to see the “magic” of radio or learn how exciting and fun it can be. First, they have to get past the Curmudgeons.

Are you a Curmudgeon?  What can you do to make the hobby more welcoming to newcomers?

What do you think?

Backup those logs!

Posted: June 16, 2017 in Uncategorized

Backup

I am not the QSL Manager for any DXpedition. I don’t keep a copy of our logs as that is the role of the QSL Manager. I am frequently astonished at the number of amateurs that fail to keep a proper backup copy of their logs. I am regularly contacted by amateurs that have suffered some form of data loss and they ask me to provide them with their contacts to a particular DXpedition. Sometimes these contacts were made many years ago. I believe that most QSL Managers have strong ethical objections to providing amateurs with their contact data so that they can then seek a QSL confirmation.

As with most problems in life, data loss is preventable by simply backing up your data. Don’t use a USB thumb drive as a backup as those are plagued by static discharges that can corrupt the data within. Instead, use an optical drive such as a CD/DVD drive or an external USB hard drive or solid state drive to back up your logs. The few minutes you spend today to back up your log will save you hours of grief down the road.

Happy DXing!

 

 

KurdFlag

If you follow the Intrepid-DX Group, you know that we visited Erbil, the capitol of Iraqi Kurdistan in April 2010 and conducted the YI9PSE DXpedition.

Since that time, we have maintained our relationship with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and have followed their plans for independence. The KRG has welcomed us to return for additional amateur radio activities.

On June 7, 2017, KRG President Massoud Barzani announced following a meeting of the Kurdish political parties that the Iraqi Kurdish region will hold an independence referendum on September 25th, 2017 as the first major step towards independence.

The Intrepid-DX Group will continue to follow developments from the KRG as they move towards independence. If they declare independence and all conditions are in place for UN acceptance, we will again hope to join forces with our friends the Tifariti Gang (www.dxfriends.com) and activate Kurdistan together just as we joined teams to activate the new Republic of South Sudan in 2011.

You can follow our progress at http://www.Intrepid-DX.Com or on our Facebook Page.

What do you think?