Please Comply With the Dx Code of Conduct
Thanks for looking me up, and thanks to all those I've had the pleasure of working.
First, let me apologize to everyone who has answered my low band CQs but whose signal I could not make out. I have a lot of noise at my urban QTH which remains a serious problem despite my constant efforts to "cut the noise". I keep trying to hear better so please keep calling! My latest effort has been to raise my 320 foot BOG off the ground to about 2 1/2 feet and - what a difference that made! It hears much better than either of my two phased arrays (see below), both of which are a big improvement over my vertical!
I was first licensed as a Novice in 1974 and soon upgraded to General Class (WB6AHQ). My license lapsed while I was in college (I kept my trusty Hallicrafters SX-117 and Heathkit DX100 - for a while). I was reintroduced to ham radio in 1990, first holding N6XLU, then KK6HJ and finally my current call - AA6VB. I am now an avid Dx'er, spending about 99 percent of my time on CW (though my skills could use considerable improvement). I have a microphone, but I'm not sure it works.
Some years ago I got hooked on the low bands and now concentrate on 160 and 80 meters, where I spend the large majority of my operating time. I use a vertical made of aluminum tubing 60 feet high, with a base loading coil 7 inches in diameter made of very heavy guage copper wire. The base of the antenna is three feet off the ground and is fed there.
I have qualified for 9BDXCC, WAS, WAZ, and WAC but never sumbitted the paperwork for any award. I have well over 300 countries confirmed and my long term goal is to qualify for the Honor Roll so if the low bands are closed I will work the other bands looking for new countries.
I am subject to the dreaded "CC&Rs" which prohibit any "unsightly shortwave antennas or supports". While beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder, I don't want to push the envelope and decided not to put up a tower, at least for now. I recently installed a Mosley MP-33 WARC 4 element beam (12 foot boom) at 32 feet (ugh!) on a push up mast. I figured a small beam would help me get the countries I need for Honor Roll, since most are a long way from here and are often difficult to hear. I also use an elevated SteppIR BigIR Vertical at 25 feet with 42 elevated radials (6 for each band) for 40 through 10 meters (works surprisingly well) and a 3 element M2 beam for 6 meters. I had a 55 foot tower at my prior qth with a Force 12 20/40 meter beam, WARC Dipole, and a 10/15 meter beam. That was great fun, but those days are long gone!
The switchbox pictured above allows the low band antenna to shift from 160 meters to 80 meters, and also allows a small amount of inductance to be added or subtracted from the system. This moves the resonant point of the antenna up or down on the 160 meter band, and between 80 and 75 meters.
The antenna has 16 resonant elevated radials (8 for each band) which run from the base upward at 45 degrees to the roof where they run in various directions. The configuration is far from optimum, because the first several feet of the antenna are next to the house, the radials cover only about 120 degrees, and some of the radials for 160 meters are only about 10 feet high - not to mention the fact the system uses base loading for 160! Still, the antenna plays surprisingly well, especially for a small city lot. It lets me operate on 160 with a reasonable signal and, at a full quarter wave, really shines on 80 meters.
For receive, I use a K7TJR Triangular Array, a DX Engineering NCC-1 Active Phase Controller with two Active Antennas as a two element phased array, and a 320 foot Beverage (along the fence line on the golf course behind our house). Some of these antennas can also be fed into the NCC-1 which then uses the SteppIR BigIR Vertical as a sense antenna. This allows me to phase the beverage, the Triangular Array, or a random wire (or any two) against the SteppIR Vertical (in addition to using any one of those antennas alone as a receive antenna) and does a nice job of peaking signals.
In addition, a switchbox (AY Technologies RAS-8x2 Receive Antenna Switching System) allows the output of any two antenna systems, including the two phased active antennas and the triangular array, to be combined and fed to either radio. This really works great at times. Like most city dwellers, I am limited by what I can hear (see above), but the setup does cut through some of the city noise.
My home station includes an Icom 7800/PW-1 for 40 - 6 meters. The recent 3.0 firmware for the 7800 "greatly" improved the APF and corrected what I considered the only real weakness of the rig for weak signal cw work. The photo below is outdated, as the FTdx9000 was replaced with an Elecraft K3/P3 which I use with an Alpha 9500 for 160 and 80 meters at home and for portable use with an Ameritron AL-1500 at our cabin in Mt. Shasta, California.
I plan to do a lot of low band dxing in Mount Shasta where there is no local noise and plenty of room for beverages. A picture of the modest shack at Mt. Shasta is shown below.
The antennas at the cabin include a 1/4 wave vertical made of tapered aluminum for 80 meters (and 5/8 wave on 30 meters) which will eventually support an Inverted L for 160 meters. I also have a 1/4 wave vertical for 40 meters. All antennas are run against a radial field of 57 radials 32 - 110 feet long. The two antennas are shown in the photos below. The 40 meter vertical is on the left and consists of a wire running through a 32 foot tapered fiberglass tube. The antenna on the right is the base of the 80 meter alumimum vertical. The DX Engineering tilt base makes raising and lowering the 80 meter vertical an easy one person job.
The picture above shows just how tall a 60 foot vertical looks!
I have an unterminated 500 foot beverage running East/West and another running Northwest/Southeast. There is almost no noise at the cabin so I should be able to work a lot more DX on the low bands this winter - if the propagation gods cooperate!
On October 8, 2009, after four years of hard work, I achieved my goal of obtaining DXCC on 160 meters. My current 160 meter country total stands at 142 (VK9DLX most recently) - not a great total, but not bad from a 1/4 acre city lot in the black hole of California. I can be found on 160 and 80 meters most mornings at about 5:00 a.m. local time (1300 UTC), or any other time I can manage.
I qsl via LoTW (logs uploaded almost daily), Clublog and happily respond to all requests for QSL cards
I am a member of the Northern California DX Club and the Northern California Contest Club. My contesting is limited to S&P on 160 and 80 meters looking for new band countries.
My other hobbies include triathlon, fly fishing for trout, skiing and scuba diving. I have competed in dozens of Olympic distance races, along with five Ironman distance events (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, followed by a 26.2 mile run). Ironman events are easier than they sound, but they sure make for a long day! Made some great friends through triathlon! I was a National All American Age Group Triathlete (Honorable Mention) and have qualified for the National Age Group Championship in Kansas City.
I love to fly fish for trout, tie my own flies and build my own fly rods. I am semi-retired so I get to fish a lot more (mostly on the Upper Sacramento River near Mount Shasta, California). Pictured below is a 17" Rainbow trout taken on a #16 Bead Head Bird's Nest on the Upper Sac. All trout are released unharmed.
Various volunteer obligations, work, the family, and the triathlon workout schedule keep me pretty busy, leaving only the hours of darkness for free time. Hey, maybe that's how I got hooked on low band Dxing!!!!
I hope to see you on the bands.
73 es good dx,
1468888 Last modified: 2014-11-24 16:28:42, 23893 bytes
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