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A random thought about DXing, hearing what you can't work...

Discussion in 'The DX Zone' started by WD4ELG, Oct 19, 2021.

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  1. WD4ELG

    WD4ELG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Many times I hear hams say or read equipment reviews that contain the phrase: if I can hear 'em, I can work 'em. Of course, this is an irrelevant anecdote when it comes to DX.

    Nobody ever talks about HEARING DX that they CAN'T work.

    The goal always seems to be able to hear better...the Sherwood tables and who has the best numbers in the receiver, which architecture is better (superhet or SDR), who has the true lead in sensitivity or NR or NB algorithms.

    I was thinking about 160 meters the other night, and examining my station setup. I am using a HiZ four-square receiving array and an IC-7300 attached to a 1/4 wave inverted L for transmit. I can hear some good DX but they can't hear me even after I spent $$$ on an amplifier. Maybe the DX has high noise, or a modest antenna that does not receive my signal.

    I had considered upgrading my rig to a higher-performance receiver like a TS-890 or (in my dreams) an IC-7851. But if that only helps me to better hear the DX that will never hear me, what's the point of shelling out the money?

    My Elmers told me: maximize the investment of the antenna before spend anything upgrading the gear. WG5G is a great example of this: optimized antenna and QRP and outstanding operating habits get him to honor roll.

    Maybe 160 meters is the exception to what my Elmers told me. Or maybe my assumptions about my transmit antenna are wrong...and it really is a poor choice. Probably something to do with my soil and reflectivity, since I already have a bunch of radials laid down.

    Just sharing some random thoughts as we approach the fall DX contest season...
  2. KV6O

    KV6O Ham Member QRZ Page

    "You can't work 'em if you can't hear them". An obvious first step is to be able to hear.

    Lots of people can hear DX that they can't work - me included! I live in a somewhat rural area and have very low noise, so I hear pretty well. I found that I needed an amp to try to equalize the equation - there were lot of 100W stations that I could hear just fine, but they couldn't hear me because they lived in a suburban or urban setting with lots of noise and a compromise antenna. I might have an S2 or 3 noise floor while they have S7-9. I could easily need 1000W to overcome their local noise while I can copy their 100W just fine. It's just reality.
    WG7X likes this.
  3. W1VT

    W1VT Ham Member QRZ Page

    There is also the pileup effect, in which you need to wait in line. This is particularly bad with a slow digital mode like JT65. CW can be really fun if a great OP at the other end is pulling weak DX quickly out of the pile.

    A great antenna may allow you to work stations when the teeming masses can't hear them. You may be the only one calling.

    Since the line noise went away I've been spending more time listening on my transmit antennas. I could listen for Asia on my flag antenna, but I never work them unless they are loud.

    Zak W1VT
    WD4ELG likes this.
  4. NI0C

    NI0C Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I just came in from deploying a few more radials for my 80 / 40m vertical. The great thing about radials is you can get beat up in the pileups, then go outside during daylight hours to add a few more so you can try again when the sun sets. Makes me feel better anyway, even if my net improvement is only a tenth of a dB. :)

    When I was operating 160m several years ago, I recall hearing some good DX stations that couldn't hear me. Took quite a few attempts to finally work HL5BDS. One that got away was JT1CO-- only heard him briefly, but what a thrill just to hear him. During November 2009, there were a couple of days of phenomenal openings on Top Band. Honestly, it sounded like 20 meters. Watch for such openings-- they are rare!

    73 & good DX,
    Chuck NI0C
    N2IW likes this.
  5. K6CLS

    K6CLS Ham Member QRZ Page

    ...we assume reciprocal propagation, but that is not always true. in fact, it is amazing it is true as much as it is.
    KD8ZRL likes this.
  6. K8BZ

    K8BZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    It's counter productive to make assumptions about why the other station is not responding to your calls. Maybe the other stations receive system is inadequate, maybe you're as strong as others in a pile up and you could help your chances by improving your technique, maybe you're not using enough power, or maybe you just need to be persistent keep trying.

    There have been some DX stations I needed that I have called for very long periods of time and they have heard parts of my call and tried to complete the contact but just gave up. A few times that cycle repeated itself every 20 minutes or so, 3 or 4 times. And then conditions changed ever so slightly and the contact was completed. Sometimes persistence is the missing ingredient.
  7. G8FXC

    G8FXC XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Almost always really, but sometimes you have to be prepared to wait a very long time... I have very poor antennae due to space constraints and at the moment I have real difficulty working any station more than a couple of thousand miles away. I know from past experience that the same antennae can get me to the far side of the world on ten or twenty watts at the peak of a good sunspot cycle - if I persist another five years, I really will work that DX! :)

    Martin (G8FXC)
  8. KS2G

    KS2G Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Sherwood's tests --and ratings-- aren't a measure of which radios "hear better" overall.
    They measure just one key parameter: Close In Dynamic Range -- which, to over-simplify-- is a measure of now well a receiver hears weak signals in the presence of nearby strong ones.

    What is Radio Receiver Dynamic Range

    It's usually more important to contesters --than to DXers-- who encounter that situation all the time because they operate in extremely crowded band conditions.

    WD4ELG likes this.
  9. NI0C

    NI0C Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Dynamic range is of high importance for low band DX'ers (particularly 160 and 80 meters) in pileup conditions.
  10. K0MB

    K0MB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Fot those of us mobility impaired, an improved antenna set-up is out of reach. But I CAN buy a better rig, and have it delivered to my door.

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