February 7, 2016
The N6BT DXU-32 and 17M Moxon are pointed toward Heard Island now. Here is what the path looks like from my QTH – up and over the San Francisco East Bay hills:
KY6R is all the way at the left, so you can see there is a steep rise toward Heard Island. For whatever reason, FT5XO (Kerguelin), FT5ZM (Amsterdam) and FT5WJ (Crozet) were all very easy to work. I think this is because the “first hop” gets me over the hill and is a water route – the Pacific Ocean is only about 20 miles away from Orinda, and before that, in 10 miles is the San Francisco Bay.
Its a full on water path, and a very good path at my QTH – defying the terrain.
As you can see – FT5ZM was actually a better path because it went through a notch in the East Bay hills which is above the Caldecott Tunnel. But in the 215 degree path, I can work ZS any morning on 40 and 20M with very strong signals – S9+ pretty much all year around. FT5XO is also more or less at 215 degrees and so I am confident that I can work VK0EK for my next ATNO, and the last ATNO before at least a year before the next one – probably 2 years.
February 7, 2016
Today I changed my 80M inverted vee and turned it into a 75M top fed delta loop – as in Figure (A).
The resonant frequencies are at least “near” these bands:
- 75M SSB
- 40M CW
- 15M SSB
- 12M CW
- 10M SSB
I’m using a 1:1 current choke now – I might tune it a bit more for a better match and SWR, but my Palstar AT2K makes it play on these bands without an issue.
The only thing I do on 80 or 75M is check into an OT traffic net every night, and I have noticed that the antenna is much more quiet than the inverted vee – by a few S units. Signal strengths for the net members are as good – if not a little better than the inverted vee. The top feed does seem to favor higher angles – so this antenna is good for local stuff.
Here’s the really great thing – on 160M as a receive antenna it is a lot better than my K9AY loops and my MA160V vertical. The MA160V always has about S9 noise, where this loop only has about S4 noise! This means I now have a really great 160M receiving loop antenna.
In the future I might play around with shorting the top feed and trying a feed at a corner or at the bottom – but I actually already have DXCC on 80M, so I guess I don’t care much about working DXpeditions on this band anymore. 160M – yes, but not 80M.
February 6, 2016
I took the 30M bobtail / edz antenna I had up – with its switching system and am in the process of replacing it with this antenna – a linear loaded 160M inverted vee. I have found this to already be much quieter on 160M than my MA160V – S5 level noise vs. S9 on the MA160V. The main reason I got rid of the 30M edz / bobtail is because I found that during the VP8 DXpedition, the 20M driver on my N6BT DXU-32 yagi acted as the best 30M antenna in my arsenal. The MA160V was second – and the bobtail / edz was a bit of a stinker.
I generally don’t like inverted vees, but I use this one on 75M to check into the Mission Trail Net, which started in the 30’s and has some OOT’s who I like to listen to since it reminds me of the guys who were my elmers as a kid when I was WN2QHN. In 1973, traffic nets were still viable – today, not so much, except maybe if you like that scene in “Independence Day” – which was a really hokey movie.
What is nice about this antenna is that it also can be used on other bands, although I found that the 17M Moxon works really well as a rotatable dipole on 15, 12 and 10M – I heard the VP8 team on all of these bands but only really tried (and worked them) on 15M for the highest band. A year ago I decided it was no longer worth bothering with 12 and 10M – that everything would shift to 15M and lower, and it mostly has. However, 12 and even 10M have had openings – which surprises me – but they are short and weak as I would have expected.
My “world” and effort to switch to 160 – 15M was a good decision, and what I had plotted and planned a year ago was exactly the right strategy. In only 6 weeks I hope to add VK0EK and Heard Island as ATNO 337 / 342.
After that it will be more than a year before my next ATNO. Maybe I will get really lucky and KH5/K will be Deleted for a “gimmie”? Heck swap it for Kosovo – that’s what I say ;->
February 5, 2016
At 1012z, while the amp was warming up, I worked VP8SGI. I have been calling them for the last 3 nights at and just after our sunset, and while I heard them just fine – they didn’t hear me. I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t sleep, so on a lark called them once with 100 watts while the amp was warming up, and POW! in the log.
This simply validates the old “follow the sun” rule. Always look for the DXpedition at your sunrise or sunset, or the DXpeditions sunrise or sunset. Its like magic, especially on the low bands – but I have seen this happen even on the high bands.
OK – forme, that’s a total wrap of the VP8 DXpedition. I will go out back and rotate my two armstrong rotated antennas and set them at 215 degrees – towards Heard island and VK0EK now.
February 5, 2016
With the VP8STI and VP8SGI DXpeditions, it has been very obvious that the lions share of the best signals happened in and around the West Coast sunset grey line. Lets extend this thinking and see what happened with FT5XO – Kerguelin back in 2005, when they were there at almost exactly the same part of the cycle, same time of the year, and even same sunspot numbers:
For the West Coast, the sunrise grey line will be exactly like it was for FT5XO – where I can still clearly hear their 100 watt signals pounding in each morning. I worked them on 5 bands with really simple antennas – much simpler than what I have today. But look carefully at how LONG the greyline will be. In fact, I predict that we might have decent propagation from 80 – 15M. Hard to say about the higher bands. Spit Bay will no doubt also make a huge difference, and the fact that this is almost 100% water path for the West Coast, I think at this part of the cycle, we will do just fine.
February 4, 2016
This is what my “ATNO Needed” graph will look like by the time Visalia 2016 starts, if all goes well. I just realized that there will be nothing on the calendar that I need after VK0EK – unless we get a miracle announcement at Visalia or Dayton. But even so – I expect that I will have no chance at working an ATNO for more than a year from now.
Kingman Reef is toast, so I will “virtually remove it”. Craig, K9CT also believes it will be deleted after asking for permission to activate it during the K5P DX-pedition. That group has worked miracles with the US F&W and also The Nature Conservancy, and he said they were lucky enough to activate Palmyra, let alone Kingman Reef. However, in a recent interview with K4UEE, Bob said he will start concentrating on Pacific Islands, and I fully expect he will try to leverage his / their past success with the US F&W to activate some places that I know (from inside knowledge) that are also going to be VERY difficult to gain access (Kure, KH7K, Baker-Howland, KH1, etc, etc).
I am going to bet we see these two jump up the list but that real heat and steam will start to boil over regarding Kingman Reef. Watch how all eyes will turn on it at and after Visalia.
So – what will I do while sitting around waiting for the next ATNO? This:
My birthday is in March, and I will ask for a pair of these new Elecraft SP-3 speakers – so I can listen to the K3 using the 2 receivers in dual diversity and in stereo.
I will also continue to try to get my 160M DXCC – I am 30 away, and that also will take years to achieve – probably 5 or 6 more years. So – playing with more 160M antennas will be it. I am set on the higher bands until I retire and then go completely remote with something like the K3/0:
Eric, WA6HHQ and Bob, KK6EK at Elecraft in Watsonville
February 3, 2016
There are two trees near St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California, and when I ride my bike on the Lafayette – Moraga Trail, I see a vantage point view where these knotted old trees offer vistas and profound insights on “the human condition”.
OK – I got a bit carried away there. This one is a witch riding a broom and wearing a long billed ball cap.
This guy seemed to only form in the last year. I’ve always seen Tree Witch, but Quack Minotaur seemed to form from the progress through the seasons in 2015. He’s quite buff and a ladies man, and as local legend has it – Tree Witch and Quack Minotaur bring luck after you’ve had a dry spell.
At least that’s what local folklore tells us anyway . . .