AA8IA Amateur Radio

Archive for the ‘DX’ Category

DXCC Status

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The DXCC entities are becoming harder to pick off now. I’m currently using a 10/20/40/80m parallel inverted-V up about 40′ and a 10/20/40m dipole up at an average height of 25′. The shorter dipole is better oriented for DXing across Europe. The inverted V doesn’t seem to perform better in any direction. As the solar cycle peaks/declines, there are going to be less opportunities to work DX easily on the high bands. I really need to put some time and effort into getting what I can while I can.

I missed many of the DXpeditions this year altogether. Half of the year I was dormant, and the last three months I guess I’ve been lazy. I should have been able to work 4-5 ATNOs from DXpeditions but for the fact that I just didn’t spend enough [or any] time trying.

My current DXCC count worked is 178, with 166 confirmed either via LOTW or via a QSL card. This really isn’t any sort of accomplishment. I’ve only barely worked more than half of the current DXCCs, and that’s by having operated in many DX contests (CW, SSB, RTTY) over the past two years. So I definitely need to step up and figure out a new strategy.

Along with picking off new DXCCs, I’ve been attempting to increase band/mode slots for DXCC entities that I’ve already worked.

I have a stack of about 150 cards that need to be shipped out to the Bureau sometime. I’ve been sitting on them for a month, and I know the DX who have sent me cards would really like to receive a confirmation from me before any of us die of old age.

I also have cards ready to go for the 12 entities that I need confirmed. What’s holding me back? It’s this whole thing with green stamps, IRCs, postal authorities that cannot be trusted, etc. I’ve pretty much decided that working the DXCC is far less of a battle than confirming the DXCC at this point. I’ve got nested envelopes, plenty of air mail stamps, plenty of 1 dollar bills and IRCs. I probably would have sent all of these out if I could write worth a damned. But my penmanship is worse than a doctor’s. If I were to write out the envelopes, they would stand a good chance of not being delivered because nobody can read what the hell they say. I have a printer, and a damned good one at that, but it’s a royal nightmare trying to get TO/Return addresses printed on them properly. Considering that I really only have about 40 cards that I’d like to send out for confirmations (ATNO or additional band/modes), I probably ought to type them in manually in OpenOffice and print them off one by one.

At any rate, this is a sort of depressing moment for me as I realize that I’m likely not going to increase my DXCC count very much over the next year without improving both my antenna system and my technique.

Written by Mike

October 8th, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Posted in DX,LOTW,Posts,QSLs

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5R8IC Confirmed via LOTW

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This past weekend I logged into my Logbook of the World account and see that Eric 5R8IC has uploaded logs from [apparently] the past year to LOTW. I’ve now got a confirmation for Madagascar!

Written by Mike

October 8th, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Posted in DX,LOTW

Down in the Dumps

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I’m beginning to feel sorry for myself. I don’t like it, but that’s the way it goes. It was about this time last year that I swore I’d make improvements in the coming year and learn to prepare better for contests. Nothing at all happened.

It’s now late October and the first big contest of the season is upon us this weekend, CQWW DX SSB. I still have the same shitty [there is no better word to describe them] dipoles up in the air. What I’ve got is a 100-foot long inverted-V parallel dipole with the apex at 35′ and a 42-foot long flattop parallel dipole with one end at 12′ and the other end at 30′. It’ll do okay for the up and coming ARRL Sweepstakes, but isn’t going to amount to anything as far as DX contests go.

I had high hopes of putting up some combination of a 40/80m inverted-L. A 160m vert is out of the question because I simply don’t have the real estate for a good radial system. Every week this summer I pondered what I should do, but that’s all I did was ponder.

I also thought about trying to find a way to get a Hexbeam at the top of a solid 40′ tree (it used to be much taller until I had the tree guys come and take off the top). But, alas I don’t know of anyone local to hire for such a job. And no, I wouldn’t think to ask other hams to assist. That’d only come back to bite me in the ass if they should fall or get electrocuted — I like my home and prefer to keep it.

I have had tons of time to record audio files to use for the SSB exchanges in N1MM, but I never did it. So I’ll lose my voice two hours into a contest and then be miserable for a few more hours until I decide to throw in the towel.

I’m still plagued by random RF that wipes out my CAT/digital interface. On 80m SSB if I use my Heil headset and handswitch my audio will sound horrible due to RF getting back into the audio chain. I end up having to use a stock mic and my Sennheiser headphones [I prefer them to be honest]. SSB contesting is tedious.

For six months I thought about purchasing the NS roofing filter from ACOC and then sending my radio off somewhere to have it installed, but I didn’t want to be without my radio for who knows how long.

I still haven’t got a proper hole cut through the block in order to bring cables in. So when it’s time to play radio I’m pulling the damned coaxes in from outside and through the sliding glass door. As you can imagine, the electric bill is higher because of this — and in the winter it gets chilly down in the basement with the wind blowing against the sliding glass door that isn’t fully closed.

My antenna mast is more portable than stationary. I can’t raise my dipole to 35′ if there if its windy. It’s not guyed well enough to withstand 30 mph sustained winds let alone 50 mph gusts.

10/15m had been great the past few weeks, but currently the conditions are mediocre on those bands and probably will remain so for CQWW DX SSB. I’ll be trying to make DX contacts against the overwhelming masses of tribanders, monobanders, kilowatt amps and true contest stations.

Really, sometimes I wonder why the hell I do it. I’m a masochist I guess. I’m a pawn on some contester’s chessboard to be sure.

Hope to work you this weekend!

Written by Mike

October 27th, 2011 at 9:11 pm

TX7M from a sea of nothingness


TX7M 2011
Today I fired up the radio anticipating conditions on 10m / 12m / 15m to be as good as they have been for the past few weeks. Well, I was in for a rude awakening. There was very little to be heard. I even hooked up the second dipole to see if i’d hear anything on it that I couldn’t hear elsewhere.

The only exception was TX7M. When nothing else was to be heard, I’d find TX7M on the band. And, in a matter of less than 30 minutes I worked them on 10m / 15m / 17m / 20m CW. Yep, that’s right, four bands in less than 30 minutes. They were hardly strong, and I’m sure i was as weak as could be. But the TX7M guys appear to be on par with the T32C crew. They are all over the bands and have bionic ears.

I’ll jump back on the radio later this afternoon and see if anything has changed, but the A-index is 16 so I’m not counting on much. Things will likely be improving tomorrow.

Written by Mike

October 25th, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Posted in DX

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T32C (Kiritimati / Christmas Island) is QRT

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The record-setting T32C crew are QRT as of 10-24-2011. On that last day I managed to get them into the log two more times, for a total of 12 band-mode combinations. Most of those I didn’t really have to try for. I was simply tuning around on the bands yesterday and found them.

They will be missed, by me at least. They are some fine DX ops. Even during the biggest pileups they seemed to keep it together and maintain their wits. They were omnipresent on the bands. I don’t think there was a time of day or night that a T32C couldn’t be found on the air on some band/mode.

They were excellent listeners, and they ID’s after each QSO [at least when I heard them] and always would indicate if they were listening up or down and if they were targetting a certain geographic area. Until the very end I rarely if ever heard them simplex. They stuck to their plans of operating split [sometimes a very wide split], and it appears that it worked out very well for them and for us [the DXers].

Every time I worked them they seemed calm, polite, and did not rush you to the point that you felt you had to end the QSO before being certain you were in the log. And, if you weren’t in the log, no problem — call them again later on. They’d work you once or 10 times on a band, didn’t matter.

Another bonus is that they will [eventually] be uploading all QSOs to Logbook of the World.

There isn’t much I can really say [that would be worth anything], but if someone where to ask me I’d give these guys the #1 position in my list of best executed DXpedition. From my perspective it was a great success. I thank all of the ops, who took devoted a lot of their personal time and expense and who were diligent in picking out callsigns and exchanges through QRM, QRN, and often deep QSB.

Written by Mike

October 25th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Posted in DX

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10m DX abounds!

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10m activity has been bustling as of late. Ole sol is finally being kind to us all. The past few mornings I’ve turned on the radio and have discovered plenty of CW/SSB action across the 10m spectrum. I easily worked many Europeans during CQ WW RTTY less than two weeks ago. Since then I’ve found countless DX. I haven’t worked them all, nor have I tried. I mostly just tune up and down the band listening to the activity. It takes me back to 1991, when I got my General ticket and was KB8MAZ. I worked all over the world on 10m using a low G5RV and a Kenwood TS-120.

Some of the recent DXpeditions were extremely easy to work when I ran across them on 10m. This includes T32C and OJ0X. I just snagged OJ0X on SSB this morning. I believe it was the reknowned Martti OH2BH at the helm, and he was working by numbers. It was so very efficient. I started listening when he was on the 9’s, and when he finally got back to the 8’s I worked him on my third call. He was humming along working stations like a well-oiled machine. T32C and OJ0X are both doing a superb job. Yesterday I heard John, ON4UN [another reknowned DXer, contester, and the author of ON4UN’s Low Band DXing]. He was S9+ and I’m sure I could have easily worked him, but I sat back and enjoyed listening to the ensuing pileup.

I’m beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t just get a Cushcraft A3S or a Moslely TA-33-M (WARC) and shove it up on a piece of pipe. I’d already have a Hexbeam up if it weren’t for the hideous appearance of that beast.

Anyway, I’m off to work a few more on 10m. If this keeps up, I may end up with a higher DXCC total on 10m than I have on 15m or 20m right now.

Written by Mike

October 6th, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Posted in DX

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IARU HF World Championship this weekend

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ARRL Diamond Logo
The IARU HF World Championship is this weekend, from Saturday, Jul 9, 1200Z to Sunday, Jul 10, 1200Z. I entered this contest last year as SOCW LP and made around 312 Qs in 12 hours. I only managed 42 ITU zones and 48 HQ mults. “Piss poor” is what comes to mind. Looking at past scores, another Ohioan managed 376 Qs, 76 ITU zones and 93 HQ mults, but he was also running high power and likely had at least one yagi. At any rate, I’d sure like to manage something more than 42 zones and 312 Qs.

The problem is that there is no way I’m going to run anywhere near 24 hours. I’m not even sure I can put in 8 hours. My antenna situation is no better than it was last year at this time either. Sure, I have an 80m doublet up now that wasn’t up before, but it’s not going to perform any better than the DX-EE performed last year on 10/15/20. And, on 40/80m neither antenna is a DX antenna. This would have been a perfect contest to try out a new yagi or hex beam — but I don’t own one!

Certainly I’ve learned a few things in the last year. One would hope I could improve upon last years’ score if all other things were the same (propogation, time in seat, antennas). All I know is that I really need to increase my DXCC count. I had spent most of this past year working on various WAS awards and have neglected DX for the most part. I just don’t feel like much of a contester, or amateur radio op for that matter, when I can’t manage to work outside of the US!

Final plans haven’t been decided, and won’t be until the very last minute. The early weather forecast predicts very nice weather [no storms] for the weekend. I’ll have both the doublet and the DX-EE up. But, I’m still trying to recuperate from FD. I predict a bad weekend as far as back pain goes.

I spent too much time on 10m last year with two little reward. Hopefully propogation is favorable for some 10m DX, and hopefully 15m will be booming. Upon looking at last years’ results, 15m/10m were dismal and 20m was the only band worthwhile for a station using low dipoles.

I’ve got a list of things to do to prepare for this one, but it’s all contingent upon my back pain not being too severe. We’ll see.

Written by Mike

July 6th, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Posted in Contesting,DX

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More Holiday Radio Fun

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I figured I’d check out 6m today. Didn’t see any sign of propogation in/out of Ohio on DX Summit or DX Sherlock. I did see that VP9/N0JK was active on 6m, so I “turned the beam” towards Bermuda… remember, I’m just using a Moxon so I’m not sure how much difference it makes. Lo and behold, N0JK was a pretty consistent S9+. I threw out my call and in no time had him in the log.

Later in the evening I tuned around and heard some activity from FL. Although my main interest today wasn’t southern states, I heard K8CQ and WB4VMH and figured I’d give them a call again since I had worked them before. Both sounded FB. Decided I’d turn out west since I was hearing N0LL/B pretty good a little earlier. I then worked K0JY in EN20 on CW, although he was pretty weak. I was unsure I copied the grid correctly, especially since it didn’t match his QRZ grid. Fortunately, later on I heard him on SSB and gave him a call, at which time I was able to confirm he was in EN20 at the time.

For the fun of it I checked out the RBN [ reversebeacon.net ] and said to myself, “why don’t you CQ for a minute or two and see if you get spotted by one of the RBN nodes?” So I did just that. Surprisingly, I saw that the N6EV node had spotted my CQ. I thought, “hmm, i don’t see any activity reported between the west coast and here, but the RBN isn’t going to lie.” So I CQ’d a few more times, and the next thing you know I had NW6R and AA6XV in the log. In an instant I became a believer in the RBN. Absolutely great stuff! The bottom line is this — If you know there is propogation between you and a specific area, start CQing. Things may seem dead, but you could waken things up all by yourself.

Site of the Day:

Thanks to the CA, IA, GA, FL, and VP9 stations that worked me today!

Written by Mike

July 3rd, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Posted in DX,VHF_UHF

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PJ6D 2011 6-meter Expedition


I managed to work PJ6D on both CW and SSB without fanfare. The fact that these guys have set a frequency that they would be on that helps a lot. CW, SSB, or beacon — you’ll know if they are on the air and workable.

I got ’em on CW first, and then on SSB yesterday afternoon. On SSB they worked a great split, 50.105 / 50.155 tx/rx. I set the VFO and called six times while they were calling CQ with no answers. They were S7-S9 and I couldn’t figure for the life of me why they were not hearing me. I investigated and discovered I was on LSB instead of USB. Flipped to USB, threw out my call, and bang they were in the log.

They upload to LOTW, and my two QSOs are already confirmed:

  • AA8IA PJ6D 2011-07-01 17:30:00 6M SSB 50.155000 SABA & ST EUSTATIUS
  • AA8IA PJ6D 2011-07-01 00:32:00 6M CW 50.106000 SABA & ST EUSTATIUS

Of course this made my day. Any 6m contacts I make are very satisfying. PJ-land isn’t far away, but it’s another DXCC on 6m and it’s “exotic” in my book.

Thanks to the guys for working me!

You can check out the latest news at the following website:

PJ6D 2011 6-meter DXpedition

Written by Mike

July 2nd, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Posted in DX,VHF_UHF

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Nice little 6m opening to the Caribbean today

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Had a little time so I fired up the radio and checked on vhfdx.info. Looked like some activity to the south, but none spotted from an Ohio station. I turned the Moxon south and managed to get:

PV8ADI and 9Y4VU on CW as well as KP4EIT and KP4BJD on SSB

KP4BJD, Gabriel, was interesting in that he was about 51/52 when he heard me call him, and then once I repeated my call a couple times he realized I was a stateside station and he turned the beam from Europe to me. Then of course he was 59+. He said I should be happy in that I broke a European DX pileup that he was working. He thought I was a PP station. At any rate, he turned his beam towards Ohio and we talked for a minute. Helluva nice guy. You don’t run across too many people working pileups who take the time out to swing the beam away from the action to work a wimpy stateside station. Thanks, Gabriel. You made my day, brother.

Written by Mike

June 16th, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Posted in DX,Posts,VHF_UHF