I became interested in radio when I was about 10 years old while visiting a friend of my parents who amazed me by showing me a crystal radio that he had built in a pill bottle.
I lost interest in radio through my teenage years when my thoughts turned to cars and girls. Regardless of my hormones, I still managed to graduate from Carnegie-Mellon University with a Bachelors Degree in Mechanical Engineering and got a job with GM while I drove and drag-raced a 1967 435 hp Corvette.
Later when the CB craze hit I vaguely remembered that there was such a thing as Ham Radio. In short order, I got my license, bought my first radio - a Collins S-Line from AES in Cleveland - and began learning how to make antennas since it was obvious that they were the most important part of the station.
I also rapidly learned that receiving the other station was much more important than having a big signal.
Today I have an excellent station with great transmit antennas but I also have the best receiving antennas that I can fit on my property.
This is not based on my knowledge of electronics, rather it is based on noticing that three stations that place at top of the heap in many DX Contests, i.e.,K3LR, KC1XX and W8JI all use DX Engineering Receiving Systems.
So, my receiving setup consists of (4) 700 foot Beverage antennas fed with DX Engineering Reversible Beverage Antenna Systems which I have used to good advantage.
But K3LR, KC1XX and W8JI also use the DX Engineering DXE-RFS-2P Receive Four Square Array Switch which allows a very effective receiving array that doesn't take up much room but basically is every bit as good as my Beverages. So, I also installed a DX Engineering Receive Four Square Array for 80M and one for 160M.
As shown they are active receiving antennas with short stainless whips mounted on top. Four of them are arranged in a square which is a quarter-wave on a side for each band. I could have chosen to use an in-between spacing so that one system would work on the 2 bands but I had the room for the 160M system and I just mounted the 80M system inside the 160M one. Thankfully, no radials are required with the active antennas. The ground rods are sufficient.
They exhibit excellent front-to-back performance and I can hear very well. How well? Well, unless local QRN is a factor, it is rare that I can't hear a station that gets reported on the cluster as being heard by any other US station. Also, I have monitored W8JI when he is on the air making contacts and I can hear 95+% of what he can hear at about the same signal quality level. And since I hate getting up early, I don't make it much of a priority to work low band DX but I have 206 countries worked on 160M, 292 countries worked on 80M and 326 countries worked on 40M.
In addition, my last country for Top of the Honor Roll was Glorioso (#338) which I worked on quite a few bands as shown below. I was #1 in my zone and even managed to place pretty well nationally. No, I didn't work them on 160M but I know of only 3 stations on the East Coast who did work them on 160 - W3LPL, W3UR and W4DR and I am decidedly not near the East Coast and all that salt water.
So, IMHO, antennas are the most important part of your station and receiving antennas are the most important if you want to hear the weak ones!
73, Paul - NO8D
Last modified: 2012-10-25 13:47:27, 4188 bytes cached
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