Building a Remote Station at a Mountain QTH in the Woods

•March 27, 2017 • Leave a Comment

There is one antenna that works like a charm and will stay up easily – which are the two most important things when building a remote mountain QTH station. The width of the antenna would be pretty much a half wave on 80M and the height would be at least 60′. You would have two of these in the trees – one pointed SE – NW and the other NE – SW. You would cover most places in the world – certainly the last two I need – hi hi. This ends up being an Extended Double Zepp on 30M, two half waves fed in phase on 40M (but would perform like a dipole) and you would have decent gain on all of the high bands.

In fact, on 30M it rivals a Moxon or 2 element yagi gain wise. On 80M its a cloud warmer, but you could build a switch like I have in the past – that combines both legs of the ladder line and feeds them against elevated radials (elevated so critters won’t trash the radials). OR – bury them and let the leaves and other falling branches and whatnot cover em’ up.

If you did have this switching arrangement – you would have an omni directional vertical on 160M and 80M. Since that’s easy to imagine, lets start with patterns for 40M and above, and for 3Y0Z – 40 – 20M are most important, but there is a chance 17 and 15 will open up – especially if you are on the East Coast:

40M – its a dipole – “decent enough”

30M – its an EDZ . . .

And there are two side lobes – which is the classic pattern of an EDZ. Rudy, N6LF describes how to optimize this antenna:

But because we want ¬†multi band antenna that is simple and will stay up, we won’t go that route.

You get 3 dB gain on 30M, 1 dB on 20M, 2 dB on 17 and 15M. I doubt 12 and 10 will be open during 3Y0Z and beyond, but you get gain there too. You get really nice low takeoff angles 30M and above – and DX enough on 40M, so if you are on a hill and beaming toward 3Y0Z – you win! You also get 160 and 80 – as long as you do this:

I have several ways to keep that antenna up:

  1. Its important how you solder the center insulator
  2. Don’t use rope that squirrels can eat through at the end supports
  3. Cement a redwood fence post in the ground at the center of the two crossed zepps and use something like this to keep the ladder line from tangling or whipping around too much:

This antenna is what I used for my first 300 DXCC entities, and I only had it up 40′. At 60′ and above its a GREAT antenna.

The End of My DXCC Nostalgia Trip

•March 27, 2017 • 2 Comments

I absolutely cherish my youth as a shortwave listener (1971) and then as young Novice ham radio operator, WN2QHN (1973).

When I got back into ham radio in 2001 I knew I needed to try DXing. This is because I tried to get back into the hobby in 1991 (when I upgraded from General to Extra while having serious “nesting” instincts while waiting for my first son to be born). I tried QRP and built several rigs but after a couple dozen CW ragchew QSOs I was bored. I built the first Elecraft designed rig called the SST (just a few years before Elecraft launched). I went to the Livermore swap and NORCAL QRP club meetings at the Pleasanton California Burger.

I also tried to get back in in 1994 after we moved from San Francisco to Betty Lane in Lafayette, and tried EMCOMM. Big fail, and fast.

Another several years went by and we moved to Burton Valley in Lafayette where I had 5 acres. That’s where I really started experimenting with antennas.

Recently I realized that I need to figure out what’s next. I realize that my crazy DXCC drive has been a nostalgia trip – and a way to catch up with lost time.

The future is what I learned with the VK0EK Team. We combined IT and Ham Radio in a way that just jives with my 37 year IT career.

Mike, KJ4Z has inspired me because he is the first ham to ever have run a remote pileup during a DXpedition.

He was VK0LD, and did this as a demo in conjunction with one of our major sponsors, Elecraft.

One area I will be moving into with Mike is the remote area – there are so many other areas in ham radio that I have not gotten into – because I was in the “maws” of the DXCC shark . . . . My DXCC “nostalgia trip” has been sated, and I no longer live for the “good old days”. ONWARD!

I will be moving into the future.

Conditions Now Remind Me of 2007

•March 26, 2017 • 2 Comments

On 40M this morning – the YB stations are S9 +20 during this weekends contest (which one is it – there are so many now a days – heh heh). Anyway, I use contests to check antennas and propagation. One striking thng I’ve noticed is how quiet 20M is and how crowded 40M is. It very much reminded me of 2007 – when I worked VU7RG on 40M CW and SSB. I literally had about 20 minutes where their signal came up from the abyss and sunk back down into it – but I was in the right place at the right time – and both were during the grey line.

Well, my instincts were right on – the “numbers” are exactly what they were on this day 10 years ago. This is also the same as what VK0EK had a year ago at this time. No wonder 30M was a workhorse band as was 40M. They even did very well on 160M – in fact they did get a lot of praise for giving so many Top Band.

I was also using the same antenna as what I have now. That was the beginning of my DX education regarding a full sunspot cycle. I had been snagging ATNO’s since July 2001 like it was no one’s business and had already passed 300. I finally made Honor Roll in 11 years (2013), but had to learn that 20M and above being closed was NOT the end of the world – but the beginning of a NEW world – the Low Bands. And ever since then, the Low Bands have been by far my favorite. So much so – I just sold my tower and N6BT DXU-32 because this cycle I say “bring it” as far as bottom of the cycle conditions go.

Speaking of Top Band, the noise level is way lower than it had been all Winter, and so I am starting to think we are getting a lot closer to the start of sunspot minimum than we think. Today I busted a very big YB pileup – the spots said he was loud but couldn’t hear – but I beat that crowd with 100 watts and the phased verticals. I am also now convinced that when 3Y0Z and FT/G are activated that anything above 20M will be closed, so my evil plan is a good one.

Of course all of this is making sure I can get at least 1 QSO out of 3Y0Z in what is now only about 10 months or so.


KY6R: Calrad Phone

•March 25, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The latest in the KY6R “Trophy Series” . . .

The bottom part . . .

The top part . . .

Another view – outside

Karmic Justice

•March 25, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I’ve now witnessed three people in this world who after operating on a base of extreme negativity and nastiness got their asses whacked, and hard.

LUCKILY, I have literally witnessed hundreds of people who have been the sweetest, kindest caring people, and they lived very good lives and reaped rewards that they never even sought after. These fine people never thought they were always right – nor were they constantly selling you a bill of goods. They were humble, knew they had flaws, kept trying and in the end got the job done just the same. In other words, they were HUMAN. I strongly believe you can never be kind enough or caring enough. It is not only such a basic core human value, it also makes perfect logical sense. We are only on this earth for a very short time.

What we reap we sow

What goes around, comes around

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Thank God – good will always prevail in the end.


One Year Ago This Week

•March 24, 2017 • Comments Off on One Year Ago This Week

I do love this QSL card, but I had voted for this design:

A year ago I worked my first QSO with VK0EK – on 30M, and Ken, NG2H used my old Begali Key (that I loaned to the team) to give me my first Q and ATNO. A few weeks later my best QSO ever – on 160M happened.

One of my all time favorite DXpedition photos . . .

The Diablo DXers celebrating at a restaurant in Visalia as the team made its way back to Perth on the Braveheart.

I’ll never forget – I was at work and was VERY busy – I had been answering support tickets on the way to work on BART, and then was very busy coding C# programs and all of a sudden I saw a news blurb that Kingman Reef had been deleted. My friend Jeff, K1NSS made this funny commemorative – The Dashtoons Deleted DX Club!

What a week Рone I will never forget. And this week has been fantastic at Credit Karma in San Francisco. Another great week.

These DXpeditions come and go so fast – looking forward to 3Y0Z and “whenever” Glorioso will happen. But no worries – they will arrive soon enough (and then be gone in a blink of an eye).

160M: Good Conditions to South and Central America

•March 24, 2017 • Comments Off on 160M: Good Conditions to South and Central America

This week South America has been banging in with great signals on Top Band. YV1DIG and HK1MW especially. And this has been morning and at night. As you can see, the days are now longer than nights, and I remember last summer that South America becomes more and more workable due to the line up of the grey line. I’m also hearing an A31, but I already have that. He’s not as strong as YV1DIG and HK1MW right now. Actually, HL5IVL is also quite strong too. Very nice conditions – I just wish something was on that I need!

I’m hearing the lightning they are getting in Colorado – but the signals are much louder and so the lightning is of no real consequence.

Its Spring and that means lightning and tornadoes for some parts of the country. I was very surprised how last summer – when the rest of the US had lightning storms on a daily basis – DX on Top Band was still possible and quite good.

I still need these South American entities – CE, VP8, ZP, CP, 8R, FY and OA – plus several in Central America and Caribbean. That combined with OC-AS, and I will certainly make DXCC on Top Band in the next year or two – as I have 14 more to go.

At this point its a lack of 160M activity in most of these entities that is what has the going so slow, plus the fact that from the West Coast its a lot harder to work all of those entities that those East of us can (EU and AF especially).

The noise floor is very low today – and my DX Engineering DV-40-P 40M phased array – when used as a 160M RX antenna is as good as the K6SE loop with the NCC-2, which was a very happy accident. Maybe when I’m done with HR #1 I will just hang out on 160M and use the 40M array as a dedicated 160M RX antenna.