(Visitors of this page since 12/2013)
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 a 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 COUNTRY TOTALS: single mode (CW), (worked/confirmed):
DXCC Challenge: (2461 worked / 2130 confirmed): Even though the DXCC "Challenge" award is currently a mixed mode type award, our totals are single mode CW only. Maybe someday this award will be "mode" selective?
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, youre 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 using 5w/QRP power and a few dozen worked using 1 watt (QRPp). Contacts into Japan on 10m at 1 watt are some not to forget! I've seldom used an amp over the years 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 operating skills to pick 'your' weak signal out of the weeds. Just remember, there's allot more work on his end than there is on yours to make a QRP 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 massive pile-up pins the S meter and snowballs to 5-20 kHz worth of stations calling. These don't happen often, but when they do, you will find out quick if you have a good receiver front end! Skill, patience, DX station operator mind reading, and persistence are all needed for busting through pile-ups. For 99% of the time, if we can hear them, we'll put them in the log at 200w or less. Theres just something about busting big 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 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!
RADIOS: Many ask if there are big differences between a $1000 and a $8000 dollar radio. One analogy I've used is relating it to car prices and what you get for the money. Multiply the price of an HF rig times 10; take that amount and correlate it to what car you could buy with that amount of money, then think to yourself what the difference is between them. A $10k vs $80k car; both cars will get you from point A to B. The differences arewell, you be the judge, it's your money! If you wouldn't really notice a difference, then keep the money in your pocket! Some things to watch out for is fatigue in the drivers seat of an HF rig during long operating periods. Another is a rig with an annoying receiver front end that cant provide the selectivity required to dig small signals out in between very large ones. Ergonomics is another important factor. If you're just a casual operator, and don't push things to the limit to make QSOs, or don't sit in front of the radio and operate for long periods of time, you will probably do just fine with most economical HF rigs in the market.
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:
PROFESSION: Senior Test Engineer: Hybrid and Electric vehicle battery systems. Stationary power back up applications.
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 help 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 help or have any technical questions, don't hesitate to send an email as I will be glad to help out where ever I can.
73 de WB8B / Bob
Last modified: 2014-04-18 10:52:01, 19717 bytes
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