Discussion in 'The DX Zone' started by WA6MHZ, Oct 28, 2018.
That applies to many things in life.
But....what is "the proper height"? A 40 meter dipole with the center at 50 feet is a different thing from the same antenna at 15 feet. The difference on 80 is even greater. And if you live in a typical residential neighborhood of small lots and houses full of conductors, things are even more....interesting.
73 de Jim, N2EY
Here's another bit of advice:
Don't try to do it all unless you have unlimited resources!
Most "modern" HF rigs will do CW, SSB, and digital modes, either right out of the box or with some accessories. Most will cover 160 through 10, and many do 160-6. And most can be connected to a computer fairly easily.
That's great! But....it can be a trap for many.
What I see all too often is hams trying to set up a station that "does it all" in modes, bands, etc. Which is great IF you have the space, time, and $$ to make it happen.
But all too often, the resources get spread too thin. Lots of $$ spent on compromise antennas that "work all bands" but are inefficient. "Forcing" antennas to work on bands and frequencies they are not designed for, by means of a "tuner". Multiple antennas clustered in each others' near fields, causing all kinds of interactions and troubles. Stations that are a maze of interconnections, switches, boxes, etc. - all done hastily, resulting in failure points. Amplifiers being pushed to and beyond their limits, etc.
IMHO, unless one has unlimited resources, or nearly so, it is best to focus on doing a few things really well, rather than doing a lot of things so-so. It's more fun, gets better results, and costs less (in $, time, effort, and other things).
Choose Quality over quantity.
73 de Jim, N2EY
Lots of good information in this. The one thing I will add is to learn about propagation. Learn which bands will support the contact you are trying to make. If you think a certain band isn't open it does not hurt to spend a few minutes listening on that band. I have made 10 and 12 meter contacts that I may not have tried by simply looking at the solar flux sun spot numbers. 12 meters and 17 meters offer a little less QRM often times so if possible try those. Gray line is your friend. Try to spend as much time on the air during these times. The only way to know what is possible is to listen and try.
FT8 is great for a quick check. No, you don't need to like the mode, even less use it, but the activity on this mode is a much better indicator these days.
All one cares about is the 'noise', no software installation required. All it takes is to tune to the frequency in the band of interest, and monitor it from 30 seconds to 1 minute.
I've been using the FT8 watering holes as beacons. As I have no digital capability yet, I have no idea of the location of the stations I'm hearing, but the signals tell me that the band is not dead and some propagation exists.
And remember.....A good DXer never blames his equipment or other operators if they don't get through.
I've told this story before, but it bares repeating. My Dad (N2SG), Brother (WA2BMO) and I were all in Dad's shack down in Florida. My Brother was new to HF, so Dad dialed in a DX station (South Africa I believe). Dad has a wire antenna farm, nothing fancy, and he didn't put put on the linear. He got through on the first call, then got up to give my Brother a try. We gave him a few tips and he started to try and call.
My Dad and I were both unaware of the difficulty a beginner has trying to time the pileup. Then when he does, his call slowly fallout out of his mouth following a pause after hitting PTT. He called for about 10 minutes, then got up and took a break. When he left the room, I called and got through on the first try....Dad and I never told him.
The point is, different operators in the same shack using the same equipment can be successful or unsuccessful based on their technique. My father and I had forgotten that we had a lot of "tribal knowledge" we gained over the years, but we immediately recognized the frustrated look on my brother's face when he couldn't get through. A super station might improve your chances on making a contact, but the guy at the operating point ultimately has to have the skill to break the pileup.
Most of the above is common sense with apparently one glaring and very simple exception which seems to escape people - push the 'split' button.
The corrolary -if you find yourself spending lots of time in a pileup, you're doing something wrong. Regardless of power or antenna.
my advice is to listen to the pile-up. Make note of the really irritating callers and vow to not be like them... these are the ones who give their call over and over and over again phonetically using very long drawn out words... things like YOKO-HAMA and ZAN-ZEE-BAAAARRR. Don't be that guy.
When DX is running split and says he's listening up 5 to 10.
Here's an example, DX is on 14.250 MHz. He's looking for callers from 14.255-14.260 MHz.
Most of the people trying to work him will set their transmit on some flat 1 KHz spacing from the others, such as 14.255.0, 14.256.0 and so on.
I have found it often helps to "be just a little different." Go to something like 14.256.5. The DX might just be able to pick you out because you're not mixed in with a bunch of others.