Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Just added Anguilla VP2EGR at 1651 on 15m CW
Oct 25 Update
I have never worked an entity this high up on the most wanted list till now - TL0A - Central African Republic which is #16 on the most wanted list. I have been trying to work him for better than a half hour tail ending every other station he worked and the magic finally happened. I had just worked Ghana 9G5AM just before - and I thought surely - propagation is in my favor.
This is especially rewarding with all my station woes. My antenna rotor bit the dust and I have to turn the yagi by the "armstrong" method currently pointed 90 degrees towards Africa.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
TL0A 10/20/16 17:53 UTC 21005 15m CW
TL0A 10/22/16 21:51 UTC 14.005 20m CW
There remains Somalia and Burundi on the continental mainland. The following rare entities also belong to the African continent. Thanks to Matt KU4XO for correctly pointing this out.
Friday, October 14, 2016
Remote Shack Option:
RBC-120REL Remote Control Relay $130 or RBC-9REL 120 Volt 8 Outlet Power Strip $180
RBC-212 $499.95 + $79.95 for the cable kit for the K2. The RBC-212 is the remote box that is needed to interface to the power-on relay and to interface with the control computer. All the features are better explained in www.remoteshack.com. The remote shack option does not make any provision for CW operation unless the software you choose can provide this functionality through software.
Remote shack box + cable = $580
Remote Power switch = $180
Software (Ham Radio Deluxe) = $100
Total Cost = $860
Remote Rig Option:
The "remote rig" option invlves "two black boxes". One black box connects to the remote rig and the other black box connect to the control device. The control device can be a K3 Twin, a K3/0, or a Rig with a removeable head that can function as a "twin" or a computer that runs software such as HRD, TRX Manager, N4PY, etc. The remote box has an input for a remote paddle unlike the remote shack for those that love CW. The cost for the The RRC1258Mk2s remote rig boxes is $499 from Ham Radio Outlet. You still need a device to power on the rig remotely, for this you need the Microbit Webswitch 1216H. The web switch is $184 excluding VAT.
Remote Rig Boxes = $500
Microbit Webswitch = $184
Software (Ham radio Deluxe) = $100
Have my K2 interface directly to a remote computer. The rig is controlled via CAT commands. When I am in the shack I can control my rig through the computer or manually (the old fashioned way) by turning the VFO and the radio buttons myself. The remote functionality is through the internet dialing in to my remote computer via Team Viewer (free). You can also use Logmein which provides the same functionality for $149 per year for 2 computers. The audio is managed through Skype. You basically set up a Skype account for the remote rig. You call the remote rigs computer Skype account and you can hear all the audio from the remote compute. It helps if you have a high end USB microphone like a Snowball available from Amazon.com for $59. SSB is a little tricky and has to be done via VOX and a headset microphone positioned near the computer speaker. The software I am using is K2S. Here is the breakdown of the costs assuming you already have a dedicated computer in the shack that you otherwise use for computer logging and other things:
Remote Power Strip - USB Controlled = $89
Software - K2S - Free
Remote Log-In Software - Teamviewer 11 = Free
Total Cost = $89
Savings over Remote Rig = $784-$89 = $695
Savings over Remote Shack = $860-$89 = $771
Step by Step Instructions:
(1) Dial in to the Remote Computer Via Teamviewer 11 from the Control Computer - establish remote control over the computer
(2) Call the Remote Computer via Skype. Accept the Skype call through the remote interface
(3) Power up the remote radio using a command issued through the remote computer to turn on the power supply circuit. At this point you should be able to hear radio through the Skype audio.
(4) Execute the K2S rig control program
You can now get on the air remotely. You can do everuything to your rig as if you were in front of it. The only thing you can not see is the SWR. In my case I use resonant antennas so that is not an issue.
I will have a YouTube video demonstration in a later blog post..
Saturday, October 8, 2016
I was a part time member of the school of thinking that. "The more watts, the better". I go on further and quote top of the honor roll member Dave K4SV, "It's not how big your watts are but how big your watts appear on the other end". In fact I keep two sets of books - unique DXCC's that I have worked QRO, and unique DXCC's that I have worked QRP
But as you progress and mature and gain experience as a ham, you begin to realize that it's not so much the "watts" as it is what you do with the "watts". Brute power isn't the end all and be all. Operating skill, knowledge of propagation, patience and perseverance - these are what get the QSOs and the DX in the log! And specially rewarding is getting those QSO's with a mere 5 watts.
I've mentioned in several places that I've been licensed since 2009 and started chasing DX in earnest in 2011. I started my HF career as a QRPer because that is all I could afford at the time and my first rig was the venerable Yaesu FT817., I have always been attracted to and have dabbled with operating with low power ever since that first QSO with VK6LC, Mal, in Australia on phone with my FT-817. I joined QRP ARCI and NAQCC and participated in a lot of QRP activities including pursuing my first ARRL QRP-DXCC certificate which I acquired in 2012. I decided to take a hiatus from QRP in mid 2013 and bought my first linear amplifier - the venerable Drake L4B, from which I can generate 500W output easily with 50 watts drive. Since that fateful day in August of 2013, using that linear, I racked up enough unique DXCC's to get 8 Band DXCC (and the 5 Band DXCC Plaque), DXCC Challenge, and 301 confirmed DXCC. Now that the remaining unique DXCC's have thinned out, I have gone back to operating almost exclusively QRP. In fact, I'd dare say that since my QRO days, I've had the most fun I've ever had as a Ham and continue my chase towards 200 DXCC QRP (currently at 159).
Here are a bunch of stats using Qscope that demonstrate that QRP indeed works. The first image is based on 8144 QSOs which were combination of QRP and QRO but mostly QRO. Antenna setup is the same for both situation. A Hexbeam for 20-10, ZS6BKW mainly for 40 and a vertical for 80. The QRO stats are over 6 years of data and the QRP stats are only for 2016 year to date.
How does the above compare to QRP below? Interestingly enough QRP has just as much reach and if anything - on a percentage basis there are longer distances with the QRP QSOs. The comparison is clouded by dupes but interesting nonetheless. The QRP contacts are more evenly distributed azimuth-wise with large concentration to EU, Oceania and Carribean.
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Well as luck would have it, I finally logged 5U7RK at 1754 UTC on 17m 18.083 on 10/5/2016. I first saw spot for him on 12 meter around noon. I quickly deployed my inverted L from my portable setup from my truck while at my parents house and listened on my K2 - nothing heard. I saw another spot on 17m while stopped at a gas station and this time I can hear him. 2 QRMers stayed on the DX transmit frequency while I was 1 KHz up. I heard him answer in the middle of the QRM and returned my reply. The operator, a Frenchman working 100 watts to a wire was a good operator disposing of the small pileup in good order. He uploads his QSO's to Clublog. The QSO has now been confirmed in Clublog.
This was a milestone QSO - for the third DXCC and a memorable one
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
ALAND ISLANDS, OH0B
It is on Wednesday Oct. 05 that OH0B will be QRV for 5-days on all bands from the Aland Islands by Juha, OH1ND, Martti, OH2BH, and Ville, OH2MM/PY2ZEA. Activity will include the Scandinavian Activity Contest (SSB) on the weekend of Oct. 8/9.
MARKET REEF, OJ0B
Then on Oct.23rd it will be time to try a dry landing on Market Reef, West of the Aland Islands, for a 7-day operation, by Toivo, ES2RR, Martti, OH2BH, Pertti, OH2PM, focusing on the low-bands and RTTY. This outing is targeted to cover the CQWW SSB Contest.
Monday, October 3, 2016
Here are some additional tricks to slay that DXing dragon I learned from Brian Smith WO9I. Some are verbatim and some are paraphrases. Some I omitted but most I kept. Some I added to from my own experience. Here is the URL: http://www.ybdxc.net/2014/10/14/25-dxing-tips-for-the-little-guy/
(1) "Sharpen your sword. Never embark on a DX quest without first tuning-up your rig. Make sure your PA is not putting out into a high SWR situation - wasting your meager power into heat as feedline loss. Sometimes you get only one shot at a rare station before the rest of the world catches up with you."
(2) See which bands are open before starting the hunt. Bandconditions.com is a good resource. A reading of 100 for a band indicates that your 1 watt or 5 watt signal stands a good chance of being heard. Yet another way to do it is to listen for the band beacons. Make sure your foray into the ether is worth the effort. WWV (at 5, 10, 15 and 20 MHz) gives propagation info at 18 minutes past every hour. Look at the cluster and listen for on-going QSOs. See how strong the signals are in the cluster spots - even if it is a country you don't need. If you are looking for an entity in the Balkans - see how loud the DX are around your hunting ground.
(3) Never send “CQ DX.” Rare and even not so rare DX station seldom answer such calls, especially when transmitted by weak signals.
(4) Use the contests. If you could operate only a few days a year, I’d pick the weekends of the major international contests such as the CQ World-Wide, the ARRL DX Contest, CQ WPX, and so forth. Ignore your score; the idea is to bag DX,you need for whatever - DX Marathon, DXCC, band slots. These events are like for the little kid in the candystore - except you are truly a little kid (or a small fry). During contests, the bands are crawling with stations, some rare and some not so rare. If you are doing DX Maraton - you need most of if not many. The QSOs are short, and best of all, wide dispersal of the big guns.
(5) After the contest, hang around, to see if rare stations—particulary DXpeditions—want to hang around to see if anyone else wants to work them. The big guns are usually in their holsters by then, which is exactly why you’re still blazing away.
(6) Peek into the DX alleys, which are usually located just inside the General band (14.026 Mhz, etc.). On non-contest days many rare stations hang out here. However, these are also the most congested places of all. But hey, sometimes the propagation gods smile on you.
(7) Know when to quit. Don’t spend your life trying to break pile-ups; when the band’s open, there’s plenty of good stuff elsewhere (usually from the same region), and lots of big guys don’t know how to root it out. How to tell good odds from bad? Good odds: the DX station is booming, the op is working stations quickly, other station from your call area are getting through, and/or you don’t hear much competition. Bad odds: weak DX station, slow op, propagation favours other call areas, pile-up is loud and limitless.
(8) Nail the newcomers. Now for real guerilla tactics: Move to the slow edge of a band and, tuning slowly accross it, listen for the sound of any station coming on the air, such as a “tuning up” signal, “QRL?” or of course, CQ. Should one of these surface, stop immediately and listen for an ID. (Ninty-nine times out of 100 it wont be rare DX, but trust me: that 100th time will more than make up for it.)
Late means wait. As you’re hunting stations coming on frequency, also check for QSOs that are about to end (“73,””TNX FER QSO,” etc.)—and wait for an ID.
(10) Develop DX ears. DX signals rarely sound like statesiders. They’re weaker and more unstable (and those which cross over the North Pole sound “fluttery”). Teach your eardrums the difference.
(11) Be watchful for 10 or 12 meter openings. Ten meters is the little guy’s equalizer. When the surf’s up on 10, the DX comes in waves, and a puny signal (even a 5 watter) floats just fine. Ten meters tend to open to a small geographic area at a time (meaning less competition); also, signal strength can fluctuate wildly within a few minutes. If you find a new one that’s too weak to work, lock on to it and relax. Within 15 minutes its signal may peak, giving you a clear shot.
(12) WFWL (work first worry later). If an exotic-sounding station appears, don’t look up its QTH—pounce! I once heard a 3B8 sending CQ. “What’s a 3B8?” I wondered, but the second he stopped transmitting, I chased him. Only after the QSO did I discover I had just worked Mauritius.
Rehearse. Rare DX stations are sometimes barely audible, or covered with QRM. A trained ear can pull them through, but an untrained ear hears only clutter. So hone your hearing. Practice working common DX stations (such as G’s and JA’s) with faint signals.
(13) Upgrade. Much of the delectable DX swims in the extra portion of the band. Thus reeling it in is often a question of “How low can you go?” Remember, only 7 percent of all American amateurs can operate in these murky depths.
(14) Rock around the clock. DX conditions vary with the time of day, so don’t just operate from 7 to 9 o’clock every evening. Vary your routine: Stay up all night on a Friday, rise before dawn on a Sunday. Remember, sunrise and sunset can produce interesting conditions, so try them often.
Turn lemons into lemonade. “Bad breaks” aren’t always what they seem. Sometimes they even work to the little guy’s advantage. Example 1: While trying to work a weak ZK1 (South Cook Islands) during a contest. I was dismayed when a loud Californian began blasting away on a nearby frequency. Then I realized that because of the W6, most people who were casually tuning around wouldn’t hear the ZK. During brief lull I caught his “QRZ?”, jumped in, and nailed him instantly. Example 2: A T3Ø (West Kiribati) operating SSB dodged a stateside pile-up by QSYing to a U.S. CW-only frequency. Just one American moved with him—yours truly, who fired up a key and worked him cross-mode.
(15) Talk the talk. Even with Q signals, all CW stations don’t sound the same. DX stations favor expressions such as “TKS” (instead of American “TNX”) and “DR” (as in “DR OM BRIAN”). Soviets often close with “DSW” (a Russian good-luck term). And of course, stations whose transmissions alternate between “599 K” and “QRZ?” are often worth working. Familiarity with international callsigns helps, too, as I learned one evening in 1988 when I tuned in Y88POL. Just another East German, right? But wait! East German suffixes usually have only two letters … hmmm. Moments later I worked a new one—Antartica.
(16) Less is Morse. Not only CW is less popular than SSB (decreasing your competition), but it’s more effective in marginal conditions—a plus for weak stations.
Read the news. Serious operators learn about DXpeditions and such by subscribing to publications such as QRZ DX? and The DX Bulletin. And for those with packet capability, lots of DX packet clusters spot rare stations.
(17) Never assume. Once, during a Boy Scout jamboree weekend, I heard a Liberian station with a special callsign, using scouts as ops. No one was answering its CQ, probably because everyone believed the station was working only fellow Scouts. But when I asked, “Are you working only Scout stations?” I was rewarded with a “No, you’re 5 by 6”—and a new one.
(18) Beat the bushes. Many people think all the primo DX hangs out on the low ends, but that’s a fallacy. Ever work Moroco? I did—on a 10 meter Novice CW frequency! And I once heard Zimbabwe on 21.080. Moral: Don’t just look in the clearings; rummage through the high weeds, too.
Listen for swan songs. Normally, when sunspots are high, upper HF bands such as 10 and 15 meters close in the evening. During their final moments, however, strange conditions sometimes occur. Try to catch each band just before it gives out (see whether any signals are audible; if so, tune around). As the band dies, most of your competition will give up and head south. I bagged my first CEØ (Easter Island) under such conditions.
(19) Check and double check the DX call. Don’t just scribble down a DX callsign; make absolutely certain you heard it correctly. On CW I’ve worked lots of ops who can’t tell a “4” from a “V” or an “H” from an “S.” Missing even one dot in a call sign can turn a prize catch into a busted QSO.
Sunday, October 2, 2016
It is not too early to plan for 2017 and the Upcoming DX Season
I know the premier award for DX is the ARRL DXCC program. CQ Magazine however sponsors a year long contest called the DX Marathon. The beauty of this contest is that even those with meager or little pistol stations con compete on a level playing field because there are several levels of competition. I believe Bob ND7J is vying for the Unlimited SSB Class for 2016 which is currently on-going. This way you are competing against stations of similar set-up and power and put more of a premium on skill and not effective radiated power.
Formula Class - Option 1 and 2
Limited Class - Limited to 100 Watts and "Limited" Antennas
Unlimited Class - All Power levels up to legal limit and any kind of antenna system
Option 1 - is Power limited to 5 watts maximum. Antennas limited to those in the "Limited" Class above (description below)
Option 2 - Power is limited to 100 watts or less and antenna can only be a dipole or G5RV or a vertical not to exceed 65 feet. Wire antennas cannot exceed 130 feet in length. No arrays of any kind - horizontal or vertical - super loops are not allowed. Single tower or support for wires antennas - inverted vee or sloper only.
Power is restricted to 100 watts or less and antennas can be any in option 2 of the Formula Class plus any yagi not to exceed 3 elements on a tower not to exceed 65 feet.
Directional antennas such as Yagis and multi-element loop, hex, and quad type antennas on the 20- through 6-meter bands. Directional antennas with no more than 3 elements per band are allowed on the 20-meter through 6-meter bands. Boom length may not exceed 16 feet (5 meters) for antennas with booms. Single element rotatable dipoles are allowed for the 30- and 40-meter bands. Directional antennas and rotatable
dipoles must not be higher than 50 feet (15 meters) above ground and all antennas must be on a single tower or support. (Dipoles must be inverted Vees or slopers)
Just like it means - no limits on power or antennas
The rules are given by the following website
Saturday, September 24, 2016
A second contact was made on 15m on 21015 KHz at 23:00 UTC on 9/27
There does not appear to have any plans to activate 4U1UN in 2016 and it is almost October. So I have removed the possibility of working that station in 2016.
#301 T31T Central Kirabati - October 4 - Oct 30 - 3 Operators led by 3Z9DX
2017 is looking very lean right now with Baker and Howland Island being the only one as a needed country