Tuesday, October 25, 2016

New Ones for QRP DX Marathon

Oct 26 Update

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


#301   T31T 10/8/16 02:03 UTC 17m CW and several other bands Central Kiribati  - finally uploaded  their logs to Clublog and they show me confirmed on 17m and 12m

#302   TL0A 10/19/16 01:05 UTC 7005.1 40m CW Central African Republic
           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.


ARRL DXCC Rules Involving Remote Stations & CQ DX Marathon Rules About Station Location

I am posting this as it relates to my remote operation of my own station.  This has been copied from the ARRL website covering the applicable rules:

9.  Station Location and Boundary:

a) All stations used to make contacts for a specific DXCC award must be located within the same DXCC entity.
b) All transmitters and receivers comprising a station used for a specific contact must be located within a 500-meter diameter circle.
c) QSOs made with legally licensed, remotely controlled stations are allowed to be used for DXCC credit.

10.  All contacts must be made using call signs issued to the same station licensee. Contacts made by an operator other than the licensee must be made from a station owned and usually operated by the licensee, and must be made in accordance with the regulations governing the license grant. Contacts may be made from other stations provided they are personally made by the licensee. The intent of this rule is to prohibit credit for contacts made for you by another operator from another location. You may combine confirmations from several call signs held for credit to one DXCC award, as long as the provisions of Rule 9 are met. Contacts made from club stations using a club call sign may not be used for credit to an individual's DXCC.

11.  Issues concerning remotely controlled operating and DXCC are best dealt with by each individual carefully considering the ethical limits that he/she will accept for his/her DXCC and other operating awards.  As the premier operating award in Amateur Radio, DXCC draws intense scrutiny from its participants.  As DX chasers climb up the Standings there will be increased attention given to these achievements and the owner of these achievements needs to be comfortable standing behind his/her award and numbers.  Peer attention has always been a part of awards chasing, of course, but in these times with so many awards and so many players it is more important than ever to 'play the game' ethically.

Technological advances, while welcome, also add to the difficulty in defining rules for DXCC, but the intent of the rules is what is important.  It is never OK to remotely use a station outside of the 'home DXCC entity' to add to the home-entity DXCC totals -- just as it is never OK for you to ask someone else at another station in another place to make QSOs for you.  Remotely controlled stations must be properly licensed if they are to count for DXCC.  It will continue to be up to the operator to decide what types of legal remote control operating he/she will use (if any) to contribute to an operating award.

CQ DX Marathon Rules

General: Each entrant in the DX Marathon may submit one log each year per operating location. Participants submitting logs for single mode or single band entries must include only those contacts in their submission. Logs submitted with multiple mode or multiple bands will not be considered for mode and band awards. Entries with two or more callsigns will only count as a single entry if all contacts were made by the same (single) operator at the same station using the same antennas. Remote operation is permitted if all transmitters, receivers, and antennas are at a single physical location. A remote station in a different country than the entrant’s country of license must comply with all local laws and regulations. If an entrant operates from both a primary station and a remote station, separate entries for each location may be submitted. Entries that include contacts made with the assistance of remote receivers and/or transmitters in addition to contacts from a primary station are not permitted.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Video Demonstration - Remote Control of a K2

A short 5 minute video showing how establish a connection for audio and remote control of an amateur station connected to the internet.  This is legal within the rules established by the FCC for radio amateurs.  The radio is a K2/100 with a KAT100 autotuner.   The remote computer is an old Dell Latitude laptop running Windows 7.   The control computer in this case is Toshiba laptop running Windows 8.  I can also connect to the remote computer with Surface tablet running Windows 10.  The rig is connected to the Dell via the Serial RS232 port.  Keying is via the internal keyer in the rig.  I can also run N4PY but a lot of the functionality for the autotuning will not be available.  Also a USB port would have been necessary for CW keying.   That is the beauty of the K2S software by Dahn Le which was written in 2002 because it has all the functionality of the radio - just remotely.

The audio is via Skype and the remote connection is established via Teamviewer 11.  The shack is powered up remotely via the internet through the remote computer during the remote connection.

Complete Control of My K2 From A Site Far Away from Home

Well, I finally was able to successfully remote the K2 for the grand total price of $89.  The only thing that cost money is the USB controlled power strip that can be used to remotely turn the rig via a computer command.  Here are the cost savings compared to several options I have researched:

Alternative Options:

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

NY4G Option:

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

Does QRP Really Work?

I have heard the saying so often "Life is Too Short for QRP".  For some reason, many radio amateurs refuse to embrace and even eschew low power (I mean really power - 5 watts or less).  In their minds, you just can't work much DX with that low a power.  That is definitely true if one does not have efficient antennas, or lack of knowledge of propagation.  If you have worked your entire ham career with 100 watts or more, your habits are most likely going to affirm that 5 watts is simply not enough power.

 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.

Great Saturday for QRP - S9YY, ZD7BG, E74A

The K2 was in full QRP attire without the PA deck.  The bands have been crappy all morning, the stations I need are out there but not strong enough to be workable QRP.  Things changed for the better in the afternoon as I was able to work S9YY Sao Tome and Principe Islands in a pileup on both 12m and 17m.  S9 was also a new zone so a double bonus.Thanks for digging me out - op for the S9 station.   ZD7BG was all alone with no pileup on 20m and he was able to answer me right away in response to his CQ.   E74A was an addition from late last night.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Why is QRP DXing an Adventure?

I liken the pursuit of amateur radio contacts to the analogy of flying a commercial plane to go somewhere versus flying your own plane to go to that same place.  On the one hand, it is so much more convenient to pay some airline company to fly you there.  However, there is something in one to challenge one self to study, take the instruction to learn how to fly, take the tests, pass the tests and one can then have the privilege of flying there while piloting a plane you either own or rent.  It is your own mind and hands that guide the plane to get you there.   Similarly, for amateur radio, why study to operate equipment, pass certain tests and be given a license to operate and transmit when you can more easily and conveniently call someone on the cell phone?   The answer to both questions is adventure.   In an adventure, there is the element of uncertainty.   The higher the uncertainty, the greater the reward.   The same thing in flying even among private pilots, one can certainly rent a Cessna or one can build an ultralight.  The one who flies the ultralight will perhaps experience the greater emotional reward or sense of accomplishment  because reaching the destination requires not only the skill to pilot a plane but also the skill to build the plane in the first place.   In amateur radio, the greater level of uncertainty lies with those who pursue making the contact with power of 5 watts or less - otherwise known as QRP, because there are more variables at play to overwhelm such a diminutive signal.  Even with all the knowledge of signal to noise ratio, the prevailing A-Index, the propagation path, the band, the time of day, the solar flux intensity, the certainty is quite unknown.  Yesterday, I spent a half hour chasing an amateur station in Benin in Africa - bearing about 93 degrees from due north.  His signal was strong enough, maybe S4 without the preamp, and I was on my 2 element beam, and the noise from atmospheric static was low on 17m.   Could he hear me?  I was not sure, yet I kept trying with the belief that if I can insert myself in between the much stronger station, perhaps he can hear me.  As long as he was going to call CQ, I was going to keep trying.  He announced that he was quitting - or as they say in amateur radio vernacular in morse -  QRT.  He then disappeared.  I humbly accepted it was not my day.  I saw another spot on the same station perhaps an hour later.  He was back.  I said maybe, just maybe, I can get through this time.   He kept working stronger stations one by one.  Each time when he finished his QSO, I would send my call.  Call it timing or call it luck, my signal went through.    He called in Morse, NY4? NY4? I replied NY4G twice.  He replied NY4G NY4G 5NN.  I replied TNX, UR 599 OP ARIEL TU 73.  He replied TNX QSO OP NICO 73.   I was happy because my adventure had a good outcome and another contact with a needed station for my DX Marathon.   Somedays, like tonight, it is just futile to get on the air with such little power because the band noise is high on 40 meters and the higher bands are dead for any needed contacts from the east coast where I live.  Under such conditions, the possibility of a contact is not only uncertain, but practically impossible.  Yet band conditions change because of the nature of the physics that enable the ionosphere to be a refractor of radio waves.  You are at the mercy of the vicissitudes of ionospheric propagation.  Therein lies the adventure.  Then there are those, in the amateur ranks who reduce the uncertainty by building large antenna arrays and running gobs of power through linear amplifiers.  Yes they can improve their odds and their DX counts are most certainly higher than mine.  Yet I enjoy the self imposed power limitation, because with greater uncertainty comes greater reward.

ATNO #300 5U7RK

I have placed Yves Collet F5PRU who operates out of Niger as 5U7RK on my watch list.    I programmed my phone to receive text messages once he is spotted by someoe in one of the many DX clusters.  (how is that for the new technology?) I may have received 3 or 4 spots in the last few weeks but it has never been convenient to look for him since I am still a working man - working the typical 8 AM- 5 PM routine with an hour commute at each end.  

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

TY2AC Benin and TZ4AM Mali

I have seen the TZ4 lurk around the bands but either have not the opportunity or not have the propagation with my 5 watts.  This time it was different.   He was fairly strong maybe 569 and working split 1 up on 20m and it took but a few calls.  

TY2 was altogether different.  He was perhaps S4 on 17m but the noise floor was low.  He just kept working stronger stations.   I kept trying until he announced he was going QRT.  Having announced that he worked a couple more stations leaving me wanting.  I walked away for about 30 minutes and saw a fresh spot - he was back and started working stronger stations.  He was working simplex and my signal was being stepped on time after time - then part of it made it through.  He responds NY4 NY4? in CW.   I replied with my call TNX UR 599 OP ARIEL 73 and he replied I was 579 and that he was Nico and said TU 73.  

Two more to add to my Marathon collection.

DX Marathon - Two more new ones to look for


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.



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

DXing Tips For Little Pistols Like Me

OK I admit it I am more often than not a little pistol.  More than likely, I am trying to make a contact at 5W.   Keep in mind two things - the heavy lifting is done not by you but by the DX who is trying to dig you out of the mud.  Some are more willing than others.  Of course, the second thing is your persistence.  If you don't go away after he has worked stronger stations - chances are he will try to work you.

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

DX Marathon for 2017

Hello Fellow DX Chasers

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

Formula Class

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.

Limited Class

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)

Unlimited Class

Just like it means - no limits on power or antennas

The rules are given by the following website


Saturday, September 24, 2016

ATNO #299 H44GC Solomon Islands

The latest ATNO #299 H44GC Solomon Islands  is in the log.  Emil DL8JJ was coming in workable  into 4 land on 20m CW about S2 with th pre-amp off but noise floor was low.  I worked him long path.  I was able to get him with one call at 21:06 UTC on 9/26.  VOACAP did not predict propagation on 20m long path.  I actually had the antenna pointed at 36 degrees which is really a skewed path since long path is about 100 degrees.   The contact is confirmed in Clublog.

A second contact was made on 15m on 21015 KHz at 23:00 UTC on 9/27

On Deck:

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.

#300 5U7RK Niger - September to November 2016
#301 T31T Central Kirabati - October 4 - Oct 30 - 3 Operators led by 3Z9DX
#302 XU7MDC Cambodia - November 4-14, 2016'
#302 XU7AEC Cambodia - Russian team Nov 16-Dec 5, 2016
#303 TL8AO Central African Republic - November 10-22, 2016
#304 Nepal being planned second half of October - with SP9FIH as 9N7CC, SP2FUD as 9N7FD, SP9FIH as 9N7WE.

2017 is looking very lean right now with Baker and Howland Island being the only one as a needed country

Monday, September 12, 2016

ATNO #298 Bhutan A5A

I have been trying for days with no luck.  My luck turned - finally on 9/13 at 02:16 on 18076 CW.  Zorro, JH1AJT team leader of the A5A expedition shown below operating SSB