Monday, December 28, 2020

Beverage vs 1/4 wave ground plane with elevated radials on 30m

This month 12/2020 I've been spending time working DX on 30 meters (10.136 Mhz) FT8 mode.  I started the month with 48 DXCC confirmed via LotW.  And now I have 140 DXCC confirmed via LotW and about 4-5 unconfirmed still.  SO I worked almost or right around 100 new countries.  Places like VK6 (South Western Australia) which is the furthest away from me that I've ever worked.  That's nearly 19000 km.  Close to being on the opposite side of the world from here.  

So I was under the impression that my little 1/4 wave ground plane with 4 elevated radials was hearing and being heard really well.  And I would say that for what it is.  Considering I'm running about 170 watts on 30 meters.

Yesterday I installed my first ever "Beverage" antenna.  This is about 800 feet of galvanized steel fence wire at an average height of about 12 feet.  Some places it's more like 8-10 and some it's around 15 or so.  It's higher than most beverages because in places I have to drive my tractor under it.

I've just discovered that my beverage is hearing about 13db better than my 1/4 wave GP antenna.  So the GP has a noise floor around -135db and the Beverage has a noise floor around -148 to -150db so 13 to 15 db better on the Beverage antenna.

Here's a sample of what I'm talking about.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

800 foot Beverage - first impression

 I've been working on a new RX only antenna called a "Beverage" antenna.  My first one is about 800 ft long and ranges in height from 10ft to 15ft (which I think is high).  I put mine up higher than normal because I drive my tractor through some of the areas it runs through.  I wanted to make sure it would clear ok.

I will post the actual details on how I built it later this week.  But for now I'll share this video...

This is 80m, 160m was a real eye opener for me.  I was decoding A45XR at -7 LOL.  I've maybe heard 6 dx stations outside North America on 160m in my life.  I just never had a decent RX antenna for the band.

Now I really have to get working on TX antennas for 160-40m.  Now that I can actually hear what I've been missing.

Friday, November 20, 2020

30m: T6AA - Afghanistan (ATNO)

 My first time working Afghanistan on any band.  Using my new 30m junk-box 1/4 wave vertical.  When confirmed this will be my 99th DXCC country on 30m (confirmed).  I checked today and I actually have 132 worked on the band, but I'm missing quite a few confirmations apparently.  I never QSL for HF I guess that's bound to happen.  Anyway seeing and working T6AA was a major thrill for me!

(woot!  there it more please :-) )

Thursday, November 19, 2020

30m - "and now...for something completely different!"

(24 hrs of 30m on this new antenna)

A few days ago I decided instead of just turning my radio's off for the whole winter as I have in the more recent past 20+ years, instead I would try to fill gaps in my HF DXCC.  I spoke to a good friend of mine K1CP (Clif) asking him abound suggested antenna designs for 30 meters (10 Mhz) among other things and he suggested that I do a simple "1/4 wave Ground Plane".  These are nice and simple, and don't even require any matching network.  So in the course of about 30 minutes I raided my junk box and gathered enough bits and pieces to put something together.

Another 1 hour later and it was done, and hanging in a tree outside my Ham Shack.  

Now I started out with 48 DXCC on 30 meters, all done with CW from year gone by whenever I happened to feel like getting on HF.

It's now been 24 hours and I actually pulled an all-nighter.  I stayed up 36 hours working DX on 30m using this new antenna.  My DXCC count is now up to 92!  Confirmed.

Here's a few pix of it as-is.

BTW I added an HF Choke at the bottom so I could tune it up on 40m without getting RF in the shack.  (it doesn't seem to work so well on 40m tho!  I think when I get to 100 confirmed on 30m that I'll just extend this antenna another 10 ft and work on 40m!)

Friday, October 30, 2020

Just a NOTE about Europe in October on 50 Mhz

 If you ask any of the old timer 6m (50 Mhz) folks about hearing or working EU in October, you likely won't hear any of them regaling you with grand DX QSO stories.  In fact, those I know who've been on 6m longer than 20-30-40 years have never heard of it happening.

So what we're witnessing is indeed unique / first.  

Based on hearing VO beacons and no 'band noise' I suspect this is Pure foEs.  But I'm not a prop-mode expert.  I am fairly knowledgeable at finding DX on 6m tho!

Anyway, in case you were wondering "what's all this October excitement" - we're witnessing 6m history.

I suspect FT8 is a big reason why this is being noticed NOW, and not in the past since the digital mode "FT8" has really shown us a LOT of previously unknown things about what's possible.

So that's it kids...history right before your very eyes :-)

Thursday, October 29, 2020

EU in October (10/29)

 Furthest I got today was ON4GG seen on the right.  Opened at 14:19z and closed about 16:18z.  I had GB3MCB/b in IO70 in here for a lot of this time as well.   I'm told this beacon uses 25w to a folded dipole, although I'm not sure on it's AGL.  The following video has a good audible section 1/2 way through it to hear it's CW.  It's starts however with it's PI4 digi-mode.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

EU in October (10/25)

For the second day in a row we had another very strong opening into Europe.  This one was even more intense and more steady at high signal levels.  HA2NP was the best one of the day for me today, worked him FT8, FT4, and CW.  He was in for well over 1 hour.  The opening began at 14:56 and ended at 16:26.

EU Beacons heard: F4ZKY/b, EI0SIX/b, PI7SIX/b

I worked quiet a few on FT4 @ 50.318 Mhz as well.

And on FT8

EI3GRB - IO52 - Ireland


Saturday, October 24, 2020


 SNO/b started here off the back of my yagi @ 2202z and continues at 2240z between S1-6

EU in October (10/24) - a first?

An unusual opening occurred this morning between North America and Europe.   I woke up late today.  I came into the shack, turned my computer monitor on, and noticed VO1FRR/b was in.  My antenna was still pointed to SA from yesterday.  I have two antennas one is about 21 ft up fixed on EU, and the other is about 43ft up, and I can switch them using BIP/BOP and top only.  In this case the top only was on.  I switched them into BIP and brought the bottom one which is fixed on EU online with the the top one, and the VO/b picked up, so I started to turn the top antenna to align with the EU directed one.  Suddenly I decoded 20201024_131530 -20  0.5 1258 ~ CQ EA3ERE JN11.  Shortly after that I was called by F4VPC and worked him as shown below.

It looks like this started around 13:10z and lasted for two hours at 15:10z.

Then came G0GGG, and a whole raft of others EU stations for about the next 1.5 to 2 hours.

My best spotting ME was OK1FRG in JN79 at a distance of 6064km!  For October this is probably extremely rare.  

K1TOL who has been on air here in Maine for a very long time (20 years +) has never seen EU in OCT before.