August 29, 2015
I started DX-ing in July 2001. Right about where that big drop was in the chart above. I made Honor Roll 11 years later. So – what year in Cycle 23 seems to match Cycle 24? (Good news!).
The scale is correct on both of these, which means 2005 and 2016 should be very similar condition wise. I need South Sandwich, VP8STI and Heard Island, VK0EK – which are the ONLY ATNO’s for me in the foreseeable future. So lets look at 2005 and my log and see if anything in the Southern Atlantic or Antarctic / South Indian Ocean areas show up in my log. First, near South Sandwich:
R1ANF – 20M, 15M, South Shetland – this one is a “direct hit” distance and path wise
AY8A – 20M – Argentina (yes, I just realized Buenos Aires, Argentina to South Sandwich is about the same as California to Texas. Not far RF wise, and across salt water!)
XQ1VLY – 20M – Santiago Chile. Yes – like Buenos Aires, not far RF wise!
R1ANN – 30M – Antarctica
And now – lets see if anything shows up that would be good news for working Heard Island:
FT5WJ – 20M – Crozet. WOW – this is a “crown jewell” of rareness. One QSO on ONE band. He had 100 watts and a vertical.
FT5XO – 5 bands – 80 – 17M – Kerguelin They were the “Microlite Penguins” running 100 watts and verticals on the high bands and amps on the low bands. WOW – another “crown jewell” of rareness. Here’s the kicker – they went exactly at the same time of the year and in the cycle that VK0EK will be active. They POUNDED into the West Coast. I had a true Field Day.
R1ANT – 30M – Mirny (Vostok) – Antarctica, but closer to Heard island than South Sandwich . . .
HERE IS THE BEST NEWS: most of the world will have access to BOTH of these DX-peditions on a NON POLAR ROUTE AND MOSTLT WATER PATHS. This is very, very important . . . .
Worst Case Scenario – conditions that match 2006 and 2007
Here are the entities I worked near South Sandwich in 2006 and 2007:
3Y0X – Peter 1 – 80 – 15M. Piece of cake!
VP8LP – Falklands on 12M (wow – hard to believe 12M was open that year, but it was)
and near Heard Island:
3B7C – St. Brandon – 40 – 20M. Significant because I was pointed LP for 40 and 30M, and they were LOUD. Right on the path over the SP to Heard Island.
Right during the Autumnal equinox in 2010, I worked ZS8M on our evening SP. That would be “close” to the path to VP8 and so even in the worst of the worst conditions, good DX could be had – but I NEVER would have worked Pierre if there was a huge pileup. In fact, there was NO pileup. Why? Because while others were whining about bad conditions on eHam ;-) I found the one and only opening to Marion Island that I could exploit – and ironically, it was BECAUSE conditions did suck at that time. Lesson? WATCH THE EQUINOX! This is why I am especially pleased that VK0EK will be on during the Vernal Equinox.
South Sandwich should be very good, actually, and I have never missed anything down near Heard Island – even though VOACAP had predicted those areas would be much harder to contact than they ever were.
As a wacky aside, I worked Kure, K7C on 10 band mode slots and saw DXA for the first time ever and went nuts over it in 2005. Funny that! Kure is climbing on the “Most Wanted” lists as is San Felix – which were two entities last activated by Cordell Expeditions (San Felix with Carlos, NP4IW as leader).
If you can handle the “variability” of the downside of a cycle – you will reap the rewards. BOTH South Sandwich and Heard Island should be “surprisingly” good for much of the world – not just the West Coast. The downside of a cycle will have more ups and downs and even flares – so that’s what I mean by “variability” . . . .
How To Plan . . .
New KY6R yagi for 20 and 40M – the N6BT DXU-32 . . . . .
And full legal power doesn’t hurt . . .
Back in 2005, one thing I knew to do was get serious about the low bands. At that time, 40M was the “low bands” for me, so I built a Christman Fed vertical array. It is still featured on the DX Engineering web site – heh heh:
Well, since then, I did step up my game (and gain) by putting up the N6BT DXU-32, which has a 28′ boom and 2 elements on 40M and 3 on 20M, and went from 200 watts and phased verticals on 40M and a Moxon up 30′ on 20M to the DXU-32 and 1500 watts . . . . I still might add the two 30M elements, but that remains a dream to drool over . . . regardless, I think I’m good ;-)
Building my 17M Moxon . . . . watch 17M in 2016 – it will be quite good!
I think 2016 looks quite good – but would guess that the first 4 or 5 months of 2016 will be the last “good” months of this cycle, and then the “last gasp” will probably be Winter 2016 into Spring 2017. Then you better have something good on the low bands (the sooner the better).
From then on it will get a bit “sketchy”. I think VP8STI and VK0EK will actually do VERY well next year. Its a shame that Bouvet bit the dust – but oh well, that’s DX for ya . . . . sure hope someone activates it before conditions really slide down the chute . .
Good luck in the pileups, and please consider donating to these fine projects!
August 28, 2015
The VK0EK Team and I have been working on several (three to be exact) deals with corporate sponsors, and this is what I keep alluding to with my teasers. Because they are corporate and (potentially) big deals, I have been waiting for the news (and permission) to post logo’s and press releases, but as typical with such deals, they have to “get past legal”.
Believe me, at GE (and every large corporation) I run into this a lot, and I’ve learned you simply can’t rush these things.
I’m really enjoying the corporate sponsorship part of this project. We have several team members all working like a well oiled machine on these projects and the synergy of the effort is just a blast. And its the science part of the project that does the selling for us as far as the “non – ham radio equipment” corporate sponsors go. We have already exceeded $50K in donated goods and services – so – think about it – that’s >$50K we did not have to spend. And these three last deals could add another $20K plus. And I am only talking the non ham radio equipment! Add in the fabulous ham radio vendors, and now you get the picture.
I’m also learning that there are many untapped resources that an expedition can tap into – but it does take time and effort. And patience!
August 27, 2015
My new N3ZN “MiniMite” key. LOVE IT!
It was double boxed and packed unbelievably well.
The plate that came with it. I chose the “Ironman” finish. Tony has some really cool colors, and several models. This is my little “traveller” key now.
This is now the most amazing key I’ve owned and easily ranks up there with my beloved Begali key. I’ll be sure to give it a great rating online.
August 25, 2015
Its time to start waking up early again – I heard HC1PF very strong this morning, and the diversity receive on my upgraded K3 really did make a difference. My K9AY loops do show directionality – but they are mostly for nulling out directions vs. it being a better antenna than my TX vertical. Truth is – the K9AY in the preferred direction is about the same as my TX vertical. BUT – with QSB, that’s when they do help because the diversity and the new synth does seem to make a big difference than what I remember before. I seem to hear more signal and stronger. My K3 upgrade and the K9AY loops (in diversity mode) were a good investment.
I need CE and LU on 160M, and since there are contest stations in both, I’m hoping to snag these two 160M DXCC counters this year. During the summer, the morning gray line would have been better to CE and LU, but with all of the atmospheric noise and just the plain lack of activity (I think due to lack of contests featuring the low bands), summer is not very productive on 160M. But there is no real reason why it couldn’t be more so.
The evening gray line will very soon start becoming good to CE and LU – so I will start paying more attention. The morning gray line will start favoring OC-PAC, and there are plenty of entities I still need there. I’m at 63 now – lets see if I can get to 75 by the time VK0EK is on the air ;->
August 22, 2015
Its off kilter a bit due to their camera angle, but it does show up “prominently” from quite a distance up. I’ve come to learn that while living in a bowl might cut off some low angle DX, the fact that I am surrounded by tall trees for wire antennas and that the neighborhood is not a grid – with houses fairly far apart, that maybe this bowl QTH is a blessing in disguise.
Years ago – two very well known DX-ers got disgusted and moved away from Orinda, because their towers and antennas up on the top of the big hills blocked other neighbors views, these hams were sued. They won – after considerable expense (there are no HOA’s or CC&R’s or height restrictions in Orinda), but that experience soured the DX-ers enough to move away.
I feel lucky to be able to (more or less) be hidden and not block any neighbors views. Even the neighbor across the street (who has a big picture window that would look right at the yagi) has three very large redwood trees completely blocking that view, and I have never heard a peep any way.
August 21, 2015
August 21, 2015
For one year, 1981 – 1982, I lived near Rochester, NY in a nice little town called Fairport. The Erie Canal ran through it, and the Finger Lakes were only a couple hours south – and man, they are gorgeous:
I dug up this license plate – one of a few “artifacts” I have from that time in my life, and it brought back a really good memory. I graduated Lock Haven State College (upper left in picture):
This story is about how I started out with no money to go to college and devised a strategy to overcome that. I started out at County College of Morris in NJ, where even my part time job let me afford what all these years later turned out to be an education that was every bit as good as what I received at Lock Haven State College. (Like Obama – I think Community Colleges are CRITICAL) to the economic success of the US). Then, after 3 semesters at “CCM”- during my visit with my Father to Lock Haven to check out the campus, the admissions staff encouraged me to start right away – in the soon to start semester in January. So – voila! I had to get ready to go away to college that would start in 2 months.
I didn’t really have any money, and my parents pretty much were middle class – paycheck to paycheck, so I did four things to get by:
- College loan for 50% of tuition
- Became a resident of PA and then received a grant for 50% of tuition, room and board
- Joined the Phi Mu Delta Fraternity when they asked me to pledge (rent and beer was dirt cheap – as a major benefit!)
- Worked the maximum 15 hour a week at the college TV studio – doing videos of student teachers practicing their 3rd year – I forget what they called that. The really cool thing is that my boss was a Ham Radio Operator and he and I became great friends
The grant was a bit hard for me – because I had to change residency from NJ to PA, and as a resident and part time worker I was considered being in the lowest income bracket. Yes, I was actually considered poor. I certainly didn’t feel poor, and am so glad that I didn’t have any trepidations about “status” – but was 100% pragmatic. In fact, I didn’t even think at all about “status”. Luckily, very few at Lock Haven were from “privileged” families of backgrounds. That wasn’t on anyone’s radar.
The best part of this story is when several corporations came to Lock Haven State College interviewing Computer Science candidates. I received invitations via “FAX” – old school “telegrams” offering on site interviews to Kodak in Rochester, IBM in Poughkeepsie, and AT&T in Piscataway.
I was flown in a 15 seat Beechcraft from the tiny (but historic) Lock Haven (home of Piper Aircraft) airport to Pittsburgh where I transferred to US Air and onto Rochester for Kodak – and in the opposite direction to JFK in NYC where I was picked up by a black limo from IBM. I never bothered with AT&T because there was no contest – Kodak was easily the best offer and suited my personality the best. IBM was way too “stodgy” for me. I was on top of the world. The Rochester area turned out to not be my cup of tea – so I moved to California to be with my family – who had moved from NJ to Pleasanton my very first semester at Lock Haven. But I at least did things “my way” as far as getting into the “starting blocks” of my career and adult life.
But the power of having to think your way out and strategize cannot be underestimated.
34 years later and with a very successful career, I can feel more proud about this than any other accomplishment in my life. It really did set in motion my attitude that I can do anything that I apply myself to (which was my Father’s “mantra” from when I was a little kid – he was from Stuttgart and also had pulled himself up by his bootstraps).
I can’t say I feel this proud about anything else in my life.
But I sure am thankful for everything.