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WB8B USA flag USA

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Greetings, and thanks for the look up!

DX: (Something we work a lot of): Here's a great video thanks to Ralph Fedor K0IR about two of the fascinating aspects of Amateur Radio; DXing and DXpeditions. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4dJcK-WVRw

MORSE CODE: (From never to always): After misery of listening to Morse code (CW) practice tapes starting in '84, I finally took a Novice class in '86 and landed the license in Jan '87. I wanted more band privileges so after some months of CW practice on-the-air, my speed was enough to pass the 13 wpm General Class by June of '87. Contacts on the 30m band then became a daily habit that contributed the greatest to a final upgrade to the 20 wpm Extra in Sept '87 (9 months after the Novice). Since then, I've seldom had microphones plugged into the HF rigs. I still have to remind myself how much I actually hated learning Morse code years ago!

THE DX BUG: (How far does the signal travel?): At around age 7, Santa Claus left a few Walkie-Talkies under the Christmas tree. I was intrigued to find out how far I could reach out with them. That's when I first discovered the importance of antenna height.........climbing higher and higher up in neighborhood trees to make farther contacts. The eye for antenna height already began! CB-SSB radio and Short Wave Listening supplemented my curiosity into the 1980's. A World of DX was then found laying at the bottom of the bands after passing my final Extra Class license test. I began pursuing the ARRL DXCC awards on CW which is still a prime interest and habbit to this day.

AWARDS: The wonderfull world of HF operating has much enjoyment to offer in making contacts over the years and spreading international good will in those contacts. Some contacts may just be just a quick signal report and a 73 in a contest, while others contain much detail in long duration rag chews. Awards in the shack help remind all of us of the magnatude in the number of times you can work so many places around the globe across each of the bands. We thank all of those fellow Hams around the globe for all of those contacts:

ARRL DXCCs':

  1. HONOR ROLL-CW: (Oct 2014)
  2. CW-DXCC: (Oct 1990)
  3. 5-BAND-DXCC: (Sept 2004)
  4. QRP-DXCC: (Sept 2004)
  5. 160m DXCC: (Sept 2008)
  6. 80m DXCC: (Sept 2004)
  7. 40m DXCC: (Sept 1996)
  8. 30m DXCC: (Oct 2009)
  9. 20m DXCC: (Oct 2001)
  10. 17m DXCC: (Sept 2008)
  11. 15m DXCC: (Sept 2003)
  12. 12m DXCC: (Dec 2011)
  13. 10m DXCC: (Sept 1996)
  • ARRL WAS-160 (Worked All States 160m CW): (Dec 2013)
    • All confirmed via Logbook of The World (LoTW). http://www.arrl.org/logbook-of-the-world. Thank you to all who uploaded their logs!
    • I've been also working on another WAS-160; this time (QRP) with 9 states already worked using only 1w, and 22 states total using 5w or less. I will deem Hawaii and Alaska as an impossible feat at 5w on 160m; but you never know unless you try!
  • 6750 Miles-per-Watt by QRP-ARCI: (Feb 2003)
  • WAC-CW (Worked All Continents): (Mar 1990)

DXCC COUNTRY TOTALS: single mode (CW), (worked/confirmed):

  • CW (current entities out of 340): (337/336)
    • ​(4) more to go...
      • ​BS7 Scarborough Reef
      • P5 North Korea
      • VK0/H Heard Island (worked)
      • 3Y/B Bouvet Island
  • CW (including deleted entities): (346/344)
  • DXCC-Challenge (current CW 'band country' entities): (2504/2234)
  • 160m: (155/149)
  • 80m: (246/227)
  • 40m: (312/295)
  • 30m: (273/212)
  • 20m: (331/310)
  • 17m: (319/253)
  • 15m: (322/296)
  • 12m: (279/239)
  • 10m: (293/277)
  • 6m: (13/7); (just playing around with 200w and a dipole at 25ft)

LOW BAND DXING FROM A CITY LOT: (155 worked 160m & 246 on 80m): Ive been active on 80m/160m since Dec '02 with an 18 month intermission in between. Some memorable and sometimes repeated 160m contacts have been Australia (VK), Willis Is. (VK9), Japan (JA), New Zealand (ZL), and Asiatic Russia (UA0), along with Mongolia (JT) on 80m CW. Some of the 160m contests have been fun with most 50 states 'workable' at only 100w of power in just one contest weekend if conditions are just average! I've confirmed all states on 160m including HI and AK and all contacts on 80m/160m have been with less then 200w to this point. Caribbean contacts using 5w/QRP on 160m are achievable and makes for some fun on cold December/January evenings. 160m has been the most challenging band to work due to the common high QRN found in a city sub division. 160m in the city can be done, but frustration will settle in when hearing many stateside fellow DXers working stations that you cant come close to hearing. Receive antennas and noise floor levels at ones location on 160m dictate who the big guns really are on this band and not the amplifier. Its all about signal-to-noise ratios, and if you cant hear them, you're surely not going to work them! If you're interested in working the low bands, I highly recommend visiting the website www.w8ji.com by Tom Rauch W8JI. Tom's web site has an enormous amount of information regarding anything about 160m. Another great source of info is the book Low Band Dxing, by ON4UN and published by the ARRL.

QRP: I've logged 169 countries using 5w/QRP, and a few dozen using 1 watt (QRPp). Contacts into Japan on 10m with 1 watt are some not to forget! I've seldom used an amp and have been without one since 2003. Long path propagation on 40m and 80m deep into Asia is about the only times I find a need for more power. One thing to note to fellow QRP enthusiasts is that the guy you're trying to work must have the good antennas and receive to pick 'your' weak signal out of the weeds. There's allot of work on his end than yours to make a low power contact. PROPAGATION DICTATES WHEN AND WHEN NOT TO USE QRP!

DX PILE UPS: (Bust em under 200w!): A good recipe is a rare DX station with 5-20 kHz worth of stations calling. Skill, patience, DX station operator mind reading, and allot of  persistence are all needed for busting through pile-ups. For most 99% of the time, if we can hear them, we'll put them in the log using 200w or less. There's just something about busting pileups without the use of an amp and knowing there's a lot of big guns in that pile you just got through! Sometimes it can take a while, but once you make it at lower power levels, its a great feeling. It gets even better when you work a rare one running 5w/QRP. The QRP pile-up busting contacts are some of the most memorable contacts. Also remember, none of us are perfect, so before you jump into pile ups please read and understand this DX code of conduct that we should all abide by: http://www.dx-code.org/

CW Rag-Chewing: Aside from all of the hunting around for rare DX across the bands, it's always enjoyable to call CQ and get into a nice 15-30 minute chat with other Morse enthusiasts. It's really nice when the station I'm rag-chewing with is also running QSK Full-Break-In. One way for CW operators to get beyond the simple RST/Name/QTH style contacts are to keep asking the other station questions out the ordinary. You would be surprised how many QSO details you can get into when asking, which then results in some pretty lengthy conversations. 

THE DX CLUSTER: I sincerely thank all of the DX Cluster Sysops for the many years going back to the VHF Packet-Cluster days of the 1980s, for the effort, time, and money they have put into the system. These fellow Hams have provided one of the best tools for DXers to use in the pursuit of DX. We all take for granted the present day of connecting via the internet to the DX Cluster Network. There was a lot of work back in the day to make a network of DX Cluster nodes via HF/VHF/UHF Packet radio. Now, of course, many of these fellow Hams have transitioned connections of their nodes to the internet for all of us to use and enjoy. http://www.ve7cc.net/scripts/spider.cgi

THE REVERSE BEACON NETWORK: (http://www.reversebeacon.net/ ): The Reverse Beacon Network is a network of stations listening to the bands and reporting CW stations they hear and how well. In essence, you become the beacon when you call CQ on CW on any HF band! This information is then instantly spotted onto the DX Cluster network. This has been one of the greatest tools for the study of HF propagation that I've run across in years of working HF. I've been amazed at the findings where my signal is heard, such as QRP/5w openings on 160m into the Caribbean, and very common 80m openings in the local mornings into Hawaii (KH6) and New Zealand (ZL) when you think the band is dead. You can compare your antenna systems to see which one does better in various directions on each band. This network is comprised of some of the same dedicated Hams that allow access nodes for the DX cluster, but in this case with the Reverse Beacon Network, they must tie up HF antennas and receivers across the bands at their location. Big thanks go to all of them for the making of this network!

ANTENNAS:

  • 160m: 60ft Shunt-fed tower (ref: http://www.ea1ddo.es/shuntfeedtower80M_160M.pdf)
  • 80m: Half Sloper to 60 E.N.E (for Europe, Africa &Central Asia) at 60ft
  • 80m: Half Sloper to 270 W (for Pacific VK/ZL/JA) at 60ft
  • 30m: Inverted Vee at 50ft broadside to EU and S. Pacific
  • 10/12/15/17/20m & 40m: 7 Element Mosley PRO-67B @ 63ft (2 elements on 40m, 3el on 12,15,17 & 20m, 4el on 10m)
  • 2m/440: Comet GP9 vertical at 75ft to the base
  • 2m/440: Diamond X50 vertical at 55ft to the base

RADIOS: Buy what you can afford! Some wonder if there are big differences between a $500 and a $8k radio. Here's an analogy.... Some use a car only as an appliance to get you from point A to point B. Some use an HF rig the same way. A $2500 car vs a $40000 car ($500 radio vs $8000 radio); both will get you from point A to B, but some differences may be the lack of fun or fatigue in the drivers seat with a lower priced HF rig (or car) during long operating/driving periods. Another difference may be an annoying receiver front end when digging out very weak signals in between very large ones. Ergonomics is another important factor. If you're just a casual operator and don't work much in weak signals on noisy bands, DX pile ups, or don't operate for long periods of time, you will probably do just fine with most economical HF rigs.

I've had a just a few HF rigs over the years with a favor towards ICOMs' but have operated and scrutinized many at Field Days and as guest operating at other stations during contests. I tend to keep rigs quite a long time and use them every day until something else comes along that sparks our interest. Here's a list of them with a few comments:

Past:

  • Yeasu FT-757GX:
    • Horrible CW filtering; loose front end receive. Ran very hot during long QSOs
  • Yaesu FT-102:
    • More of a phone rig than CW.
    • Watch for relays sticking.
    • (3) 6146 finals...nice.
  • Icom IC-735:
    • My many early DX contacts with this one.
    • Simple rig that worked a little better than others on CW in the same price range.
    • Front end receive will fall apart though in big signal pile ups.
  • Icom IC-765: 
    • PBT mod does wonders; see this nice mod sheet by Don Stalkowski VE3HUR http://www.qsl.net/icom/download/765_108.pdf;
    • Decent performer on CW with the stock cascaded 500Hz filters and the optional 250Hz to supplement.
    • Watch the trimmer caps as they will eventually need replacing.
    • TX relays a bit loud that can be annoying on QSK CW.
  • Icom IC-751:
    • Used as SWL & spotting receiver.
    • IC751A was marked improvement.
    • QSK not so good.
  • Icom IC-746 (non-pro):
    • Mediocre front-end selectivity allowing 30+dB over S9 sigs to bleed through the 455kHz 250Hz cw filter skirts without the 9Mhz 250Hz optinal filter also installed.
    • Other rigs like the 751A and 775 with a just a single 455kHz 250Hz filter served better performance.
    • Over sensitive swr power fold back at only ~1.5:1

Present:

  • Icom IC-751A:
    • Used as DX spotting receiver and 30m station.
    • Simple to operate with no menus.
    • Good CW rig.
    • Receiver is sensitive but can promote fatigue during long stretches of operating.
      • Shines better on the quieter higher HF bands.
      • QRN without some level of audio filtering will kill you after a while.
    • Audio output level on RX is louder than any HF rig I've used. (at 8-9 o'clock, it will throw you out of the shack!) 
    • An impresssive 5.0 out of 5 rating from 107 eham reviewers! http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/303
  • Icom IC-775DSP:
    • Used as primary 30m station, secondary 10-40m.
    • Dual RX could have been done better as it compromises close-in blocking dynamic range without the use of conventional VFO A/B switching.
    • Because there's no conventional VFO A/B, the I.F. crystal filter selection is the same for the DX frequency AND the pile up frequency when working Split. A big disappointment as typically you want the DX station frequency locked down in filtering while having a wide bandwidth on the pile up to find where he's working.
  • Icom IC-7700:

PROFESSION: Senior Test Engineer: Electric-Hybrid vehicle battery systems. (Battery systems characterization, thermal management, State-Of-Charge algorithm development, R&D). 

GIVING A HAND: (Helping others with HF operating interests): There are many facets in the HF segment of Amateur Radio, and we're open in giving support and helping fellow Hams, or soon-to-be Hams, with the understanding of antenna theory, operating techniques, station set up, contesting, DXing, propagation, QSLing and paper chasing.

If you need some help or have any technical questions, please don't hesitate to send us an email as I would be glad to help out where ever I can. We're QRV on 145.790 MHz FM simplex; so stop by if your looking for a local chat or want to meet up for coffee somewhere !

73 de WB8B / Bob

 

7192050 Last modified: 2016-03-25 16:05:46, 28949 bytes

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