Tuesday, January 17, 2017

New Mission For 2017 - 160m DXCC

There - I wrote it down to hold myself accountable for it.  The inspiration, wake up call, challenge, or whatever you might call it came from fellow ham and friend KU4XO.  He finished his assault on 160m in 2016 and is now on the verge of 9 band DXCC.  He did it without a listening array and a transmit antenna for 160m built on a small lot.   It reminded me of a similar assault I made on 80m during the winter of 2013-2014 during which I rocketed my DXCC totals from 20-116 witha somewhat inefficient inverted L.   (It had to be inefficient because my impedance was close to 50 ohms and you had to be at 36 ohms to get to 100% efficiency.  Unfortunately you had to lay down 120 1/4 wave radials to get there.  I only had 1/8 wave radials numbering about 30).   Despite this handicap I succeeded.  I actually plotted the timeline as shown  below:

KU4XO had a similar handicap on 160m yet he succeeded - through effort and patience.

During all of 2016 I had not done much in the low bands.  In fact I took down my inverted L as I was concentrating on the DX Marathon Formula 5W and managed a score of 201.  I put up a 30m delta loop instead.   It was a decent effort on the DX Marathon but not good enough to break into the top 5 world wide.

Now it is time to renew the assault on 160m.   I just called the Wireman for 130 feet of 12 gage copper for the folded counterpoise proposed by K2AV and W0UCE.   I also ordered the specially constructed isolation transformer for this counterpoise design from Balun Designs.   I should have this antenna up in the air by this weekend.  Wish me luck.

Just to be clear, I am not starting from scratch (35 confirmed out of 41 worked) and it is kind of getting late in the winter.  Here are tips from KU4XO for posterity:

"New country 2016 mode break down 68 CW, 14 SSB, 16 JT65

  • Make sure to be on @ 12am -3am peak time if you can be on before then great but these are the hours that consistently put new ones in the log for me.
  • Be open to all modes, watch the reverse beacon network on 160m CW exclusively http://www.reversebeacon.net/
  • Have JT65 up and running at all times with radio tuned to 1.838 when not in QSO CW or voice.  Have Hamspots.net open to see what DX is being spotted on the digital modes.
  • Watch the DX cluster for SSB contacts I use http://www.dxsummit.fi/ but whatever cluster you prefer as long as it can show all modes 160m only.

This was the trifecta for me reverse beacon network for CW, JT65 for digital, DX cluster for voice. Using this method I was able to cover all modes at once.

The very most important point is (I know you probably already know this) there is DX out there on CW that never gets spotted on the DX cluster. This is where the reverse beacon network comes in. If anyone calls CQ the skimmers will pick it up before anyone has a chance to work em. That’s your chance to be the first to work em before the pile builds assuming it’s rare enough for a pile to build.

More about timing………4:30am – 8am
If you already have these four countries Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Asiatic Russia then you can sleep in unless there is a DXpedition to the pacific you can feel safe that you probably not going to miss anything. If you don’t already have these four then it is the perfect opportunity to pick em up or work the DXpedition.

Things you may not want to do:

  • checking the spectrum analyzer for signals and tuning the VFO (hunt and pounce) because you might miss something on JT65 let the cluster do the work for you. New ones on SSB are rare unless in a contest.

Another thing that helped me is having something to do while waiting for the DX to roll in. I listen to talk radio in the shack it helps me stay focused and awake ready to pounce when that new one comes along."

Thank you Matt (KU4XO) for these tips.

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