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Greetings, and thanks for the look up!

MORSE CODE (From never to always): Learning Morse is about setting new habits including regular, consistent, and repetitive practice. If you put some time to it, you can do it!

After the misery of listening to Morse code (CW) practice tapes starting in 1984, I finally took a Novice class in '86 and landed the license in Jan '87. I had a desire to get privileges on the low end of the HF bands, so after some CW practice on the bands, my speed was good 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 20wpm Extra in Sept '87 (9 months after the Novice). Since then, I've seldom had microphones plugged into the HF rigs.

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 with them and then first discovered the importance of antenna height by climbing 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 after passing my final Extra Class license test. I then began pursuing the ARRL DXCC awards on CW which is still a prime interest to this day.

AWARDS: Wall paper in the shack includes the following awards:

  • DXCC-CW: (Oct 1990)
    • DXCC-CW Honor Roll plaque on its way !
    • 160m DXCC: (Sept 2008)
    • 80m DXCC: (Sept 2004)
    • 40m DXCC: (Sept 1996)
    • 30m DXCC: (Oct 2009)
    • 20m DXCC: (Oct 2001)
    • 17m DXCC: (Sept 2008)
    • 15m DXCC: (Sept 2003)
    • 12m DXCC: (Dec 2011)
    • 10m DXCC: (Sept 1996)
    • QRP DXCC: (Jan 2002)
    • 5BDXCC: (Sept 2004)
  • WAS (Worked All States) 160m-CW: (Dec 2013)
    • All confirmed via Logbook of The World (LoTW). http://www.arrl.org/logbook-of-the-world. Thanks to all who uploaded their logs!
    • I've been also working on another WAS-160, this time (QRP) with 9 states worked using 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 award by QRP-ARCI: (Feb 2003)
  • WAC-CW (Worked All Continents): (Mar 1990)

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

  • CW-DXCC (current entities): (334/333)
  • CW-DXCC (including deleted entities): (343/341)
  • 160m: (152/147)
  • 80m: (237/216)
  • 40m: (307/288)
  • 30m: (270/204)
  • 20m: (324/297)
  • 17m: (313/240)
  • 15m: (311/286)
  • 12m: (271/217)
  • 10m: (286/265)

CW Band-Countries: (2471 worked / 2163 confirmed):

LOW BAND DXING FROM A CITY LOT: (152 countries worked 160m): 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 worked and 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 due to the common high QRN found in a city sub division. 160m from a city sub-division can be done, but get used to the frustration of 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 the band and not the amplifier. Its all about signal-to-noise ratios on this band, and if you cant hear them, you're surely not going to work them! If your 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: Ive worked 169 DXCC countries with 5w/QRP and a few dozen worked using only 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. Just remember, there's allot more 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 rare DX on 40m, 80m, or 160m in the evening. A big pile-up pins the S meter and snowballs to 5-20 kHz of stations calling. Skill, patience, DX station operator mind reading, and 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. Theres just something about busting pileups without an amp and knowing theres a lot of power in that pile you just got through! Sometimes it can take a while, but once you make it at lower power its a great feeling. It's gets even better when you work a rare one running 5w/QRP. The QRP pile-up busting contacts are some of the most memorable ones. 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/

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: Some ask if there are big differences between a $500 and a $8k dollar radio. Well, there are car enthusiasts, and there are HF rig enthusiasts in this hobby. Some may purchase a car and look at it only as an appliance to get you from point A to point B. Some look at an HF rig the same way. One analogy is relating an HF rig to a vehicle and usually what you get is what you pay for. Multiply the price of an HF rig times 5, then take that amount and correlate it to what vehicle you could buy with that amount of money. A $2500 car vs a $40k car ($500 radio vs $8k radio); both will get you from point A to B. Some differences though may be lack of fun or much fatigue in the drivers seat on a lower priced HF rig (or car) during long operating/driving periods. Another difference is an annoying receiver front end when digging out small signals in between very large ones. Ergonomics is another important factor. If you're just a casual operator and don't push limits like weak signal work on noisy bands, work pile ups, or don't operate for long periods of time, you will do just fine with an economical HF rig.

We've had a few HF rigs over the years with a favor towards ICOMs. Here's a list of them to share, along with a few comments:

Past:

  • Yeasu FT-757 (1986-1988):
    • Horrible CW filtering; loose front end receive. Ran very hot during long QSOs
  • Yaesu FT-102 (1987):
    • More of a phone rig than CW
    • Watch for relays sticking
    • (3) 6146 finals...nice
  • Icom IC-735 (1988-1991):
    • 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 (1994-1997): 
    • 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 and the optional 250Hz filter 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 (2002-2009):
    • Used as SWL & spotting receiver
    • IC751A was marked improvement
    • QSK not so good
  • Icom IC-746 (2003-2004):
    • So-So.
    • Mediocre front-end selectivity allowing 30+dB over S9 sigs to blow through the 455kHz 250Hz cw filter skirts without the 9Mhz 250Hz 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 (1991-present):
    • Used as General Coverage spotting receiver and 30mtr station.
    • Old school classic with no menus
    • Good CW rig
    • Receiver is sensitive but results in fatigue for long stretches of operating.
    • Shines better on the quieter higher HF bands.
    • 160m QRN without some audio filtering with kill ya.
  • Icom IC-775DSP (1999-present):
    • Primary 30mtr station.
    • A classic big-rig favorite
    • Dual RX could have been done better as it compromises close-in blocking dynamic range without the use of conventional VFO A/B switching
  • Icom IC-7700 (2009-present):

PROFESSION: Sr. Test Engineer: LiION/NiMH Electric & Hybrid vehicle Battery Systems. 

GIVING A HAND: (Helping others with HF operating interests): There are many facets in the HF segment of Amateur Radio, and we're open to support and giving help to 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 an email as I would be glad to help out where ever I can.  We are also QRV in the local Detroit area on 145.780 MHz FM simplex; stop by!

73 de WB8B / Bob

 

1356581 Last modified: 2014-10-17 21:39:30, 24164 bytes

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