Knowing that 3Y0Z will take place early 2018, and recently finding out that Glorioso could very well be activated after that, it looks like I have a very good chance of making Top of Honor Roll in 2018 / 2019 – which will be 17 years after I started DX-ing. Just for fun, I Googled the number 17, and found that there are some interesting mentions:

“In the Bible the number 17 symbolizes “overcoming the enemy” and “complete victory.” – now that’s pretty funny – a “dramatic reading of my DXCC #1 pursuit?” . . .

“Insight, responsibility, self-discipline, strength, compassion, spiritual consciousness, wisdom, a desire for peace and love for all of humanity.” – Numerology


The luck of the Irish – St. Patricks day!


VOACAP Online predicts about the same conditions as when VK0EK was on the air – which means it will be difficult, but because its not a polar route, and because South Africa has been easy on 20 and 40M with such conditions – I feel confident that I will get that done.

I’ve mentioned before that when I started DX-ing in 2001 – after being off the air since 1977, that I wanted to get to Honor Roll in 10 years – using nothing but 100 watts and wire antennas. I made it in 11 years, but did have to put aluminum and 500 watts on the air. Now there are 1500 watts available. Why was I in such a hurry?

  1. I knew that I had never stayed active in ham radio for more than 4 years in a row before, so something like DXCC seemed like a real commitment
  2. The world has changed since the days where you could take a Cabin Cruiser to places like Navassa for $200 as Joe Reisert did in the 1970’s
  3. Besides the environmental and political aspects of this changing world – all conspiring against such a “quaint antique program”, there is technological change – some that will arguably change the program
  4. What about DX-peditioners and DX-peditions? Will there be as many? Mega? Small? To very rare places? What about the age of all of us?

Sure enough – I am really tired of DXCC – but the German “stick to it until its done (pig headed nature in me)” is strong. Teutonic maybe? And I must admit – while I really think everyone should play the game the way they want – I fully expect the old days of making these awards from your own back yard is going to be on the wane. I am sure when I retire I won’t have much of an antenna farm – if at all. When I see guys using remotes to make 160M DXCC QSO’s, I feel that the name of the game has already started changing. NOW – don’t get me wrong – I like remotes, but I wanted to complete DXCC before the old ethos of making Q’s from your own back yard becomes some quaint old school masochistic ritual and a memory. I have to admit though – since I missed FT5GA in 2009 – (because I was stuck on doing everything from my own back yard) – if next time around I don’t hear them at all – (as I did not hear a peep out of FT5GA) – I will be the first in line at my neighbors contest station (Oliver – W6NV). Same goes for Bouvet. But that would be my last resort – I would have to admit I “took a Mulligan” . . . . I do kick myself for missing them – and Oliver even offered his station to me in 2009 – and like a dummy, I didn’t take it. I say dummy only because it looks like the next Glorioso activation will be totally “deja vu” – near or at the bottom of the cycle. Arrrrgh! Many in the SF Bay area went to the Stanford Club Station – they were smarter than me – because these things don’t come around but every 15 or more years.

I predict that at the bottom of the sunspot cycle – people will start using remotes more and more as a hedge against Zero sunspots. I think the DXCC program will have a seismic change starting about the time I wrap it all up. And I will be glad I did and living on Top Band – so I can stay as Teutonic as I want to be!

So now I have to wait just over 1 year for Bouvet, and most likely 2 plus years for Glorioso. Since I’m mostly interested in Top Band these days – I have something to do while I wait. And having at least a clue of when I will wrap up this journey means I can even plan for the end of my awards chasing days – several options on how I will finish this come to mind.

I know I will still be living in Orinda (since I will retire and move away in 10 years), and lots of new ideas are popping into my head. I’ve had a hankering to modify my N6BT DXU-32 and turn it into a killer mono bander. Who knows – maybe a 5 element 20M yagi? Or maybe a 40M Moxon? I seriously doubt I can wait that long for either before I do something antenna wise!

Unpredictable Top Band

October 26, 2016


Time flies! Its almost November and time for Thanksgiving – once we get past this God Awful election “season”. Maybe the stink from this nasty and divisive election season will also end the first two months of DX Drought on Top Band. After having a banner summer DX “season” on 160M, it all but came to a stand still – and not what I had expected.

I’m 20 away from DXCC on 160M and 9BDXCC. I have doubts that I will make all 20 in the next year, unless a miracle happens, but I could very well still make it by the time 3Y0Z hits the air. I’m still looking for a Glorioso announcement – and would love to get DXCC over for good early 2018. That’s my #1 goal any way. After that – I will simply tick up my 160M count – not for any award reason, just because each and every new one on Top Band seems so much more rewarding than on any other band.

Here are the possibilities per the ADXO calendar of announced 160M activations – and the one’s I need:

3W2R – 10/20 – 28 – not one spot so far on 160M – very unlikely now

VP2EGR – 10/25 – 11/07 – haven’t seen a spot for them on 160M, but could be possible

ZL7G – 10/26 – 11/09 – should be do-able. I’ve missed other Chatham, but have been hearing JA, VK and ZL pretty reliably lately. A second group is going there too

XU7MDC – 11/4 – 14 – possible, JA’s coming in every day here

PJ4 – 11/6 – 13 – very possible

T30 (West Kiribati) – 11/10 – 16 – very possible – should be easy (hi hi) . . .

V47JA – 11/15 – 12/15 – very possible

FJ – 11/19 – 26 – maybe

ZD8V – 11/21 – 12/1 – possible

This brings us up to the announced 160M operations through the end of the year. Its not out of the question that if all of a sudden conditions dramatically improve – and that these stations actually make a real effort on 160M that I could clinch DXCC within a year. I seriously doubt it will happen before summer 2017, but its not out of the question, but of the announced 160M operations, my batting average might be 60 or 70%, so even entities that seem like a slam dunk – aren’t on 160M.

The RBOG has been very noisy, and this morning I realized that I don’t have a common mode choke on the back of the input to the MFJ-959C, so I need to build one. That’s great since I love having the excuse to build these TB boxes. I think the problem is that the RBOG passes too many neighbors noise makers, and so – maybe the RBOG will act as a great “noise antenna”. If that’s the case, I will daisy chain the NCC-2 that has the 2 RX verticals and then the RBOG and the NCC-2 into the NCC-1 where the RBOG is the noise antenna – in the diagram at the top of this blog.




Beverage Patent Diagram


The ON4UN Reversible Coax Beverage – which I used for my RBOG

DXCC has lost its luster and shine with me – so much so – I have to remember to get excited about it. Luckily, when I got back into ham radio in 2001 and decided to chase DX – I started with wire antennas – and a few had been designed in the 20’s. At that time I swore I would never bother with 160M – and even shunned 80M. Putting in a Beverage on the Ground yesterday solidifies my addiction to Top Band!


Bruce Array Patent Diagram

I lived in Lafayette, California for 10 years and the last handful of years I lived on 5 acres towards the top of a hill. There I put up a 4 element 40M Bruce Array – and that antenna really “sung”. Its one of the first antennas I tried after the dipole and extended double zepp.

Several of these antennas were designed by fellows who worked for AT&T or GE or other east coast companies in the 20’s were they were interested in long distance trans oceanic communication, and the Bruce Array even had a hand in the very early radio telescopes. I grew up in New Jersey – which had a huge Bell Labs an AT&T presence – and knew quite a few friends fathers or other acquaintances who were connected somehow with electronics and communications. There was Armstrong and several others who pioneered systems in NJ. One local fellow – Bob, W2LV, worked for Marconi and later was the first person to install antennas on the Empire State Building. He was the Grand Olde Man in our Sussex County Amateur Radio Club – and that club now has his call.

So – while I am quickly losing interest in DXCC, I still am as excited as ever to experiment with antique antennas – and where I feel a great connection to the past . . .

The RBOG Actually Works!

October 24, 2016


RBOG Feed with two common mode chokes – all homebrewed . .

I’m actually very surprised. I expected very little from this RBOG / Snake antenna. Its not quite as good as the phased verticals through the NCC-1, but using the Stackmatch II to switch between the NE and SW directions – I’m very happy. I will need to see how this plays out over time – but there are enough characteristics that differ between the phased verticals and the RBOG that it will be very interesting to see what happens at night and in the morning.


The creek bed where the RBOG travels through – its roughly NE and SW


Array Solutions Stackmatch II switch


Killer October weekend to get this RBOG up (down?) and running. A very nice weekend indeed – we are expecting rain this coming week – so, its all good timing.



I was able to lay down between 180 and 200′ of RG8X coax along my creek bed – which defines the longest property line in my small – but very triangular lot.


In the bottom left hand pin you see in this Google Earth image – I put the reflection transformer, and tomorrow I will complete the system. Today I built all of the boxes


I’m getting really good at this now – this is the 1:1 common mode choke


The feed point box – which will be fed using a Stack match II switch – so I can switch between SW and NE directions.



The weather today was indian summer, and extra nice since we received more than an inch of rain last weekend.


The Knee Deep Belgo DIPA was trying hard to act like a pumpkin fall color!


And a nice yagi thrown in for a little antenna porn


Tomorrow I get to work with the RBOG – but a great work week ended with a beautiful evening and a wonderful dinner

Happy October Friday!

October 21, 2016


Last weekend was a rainy “Fixapalooza” weekend – where I replaced the garage door opener and the kitchen sink diposal unit. This weekend is supposed to be sunny, so I will ride my bike and get the RBOG set up.


I expect to have the RBOG working for the first test Saturday night. I really have no idea if it will be worth the effort or not – because the two element vertical with NCC-1 is as good as any RX that I have had so far. I have heard mixed reviews regarding the RBOG, but building it is fun anyway, and I have moved on to a point where in ham radio – its all about experimentation. There are big gaps between new ones on Top Band – but I am savoring the slow crawl to DXCC and 9BDXCC.


Its been a great month – the new job is superb, my oldest son turned 25 this week (yikes!), and the QST Cover and Cover Plaque Award is very very sweet indeed – the pinnacle of my one and only DX-pedition work goes. I won’t be signing up for another – but it will always bee a great memory of a job well done. This was a total surprise and there aren’t many things in my life that have been “preserved as a footnote in history” as this is. Very cool!