Has 20 meters been bad for everyone or just me?

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by W5PB, Jul 16, 2021.

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  1. KE0EYJ

    KE0EYJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    As always, the DX is about timing. And that timing changes throughout the year as the planet shifts with the change of seasons. Certain times of the year I can talk from Korea to Australia for several hours. Other times of the year, I have a tough time of it.

    Use VOACAP, plot some points, and learn about what works and when. Different heights on your antenna can also make a very large difference.

    https://www.voacap.com/hf/
     
    K0UO likes this.
  2. W4KJG

    W4KJG Subscriber QRZ Page

    I hope this will not be taken as condensing. It is far from that, and only meant to be helpful to the many who face the same issues you are having. Unfortunately, or maybe very happily, I think you may just need to take on some additional and interesting antenna adventures, along with watching your clock or other time piece.

    A few days ago, in jest, I started a thread called "I hope I didn't damage the ionosphere." It hits at the heart of this discussion.

    I have been using my VERY POWERFUL Ten Tec 505 for WSPR and FT-8 on 80, 40, 20, 15 and 10 meters for the last several days. It will drive an antenna with a massive 2-4 watts of RF if everything is perfect. My present antenna is nothing special. It is just a 53-foot piece of one half of a lamp cord (#14, #16 ??). It is setup as an inverted L, with the vertical part being about 35 high, and the horizontal part also being at about 35 feet high. The real key to this antenna's success seems to be a simple above ground counterpoise.

    What I am suggesting is that any reasonably built antenna does not have to be complicated or a problem in an HOA or apartment. Prior to retiring as a 40+ year RF/Microwave engineer, moving from our beloved farm. and selling our HOA beach home, I spent several years experimenting with many types antenna configurations for those of us who might have to encounter a lot of various restrictions. There are many good alternatives that should not restrict your hobby without the assistance of a lawyer.

    Here in the mid-Atlantic US we have recently had great daily HF propagation. It takes an understanding of how propagation works from 160 meters to 10 meters over a 24 hour period during this part of the sunspot cycle to get the best results. You can't expect much DX on 160 or 80 meters between sunrise or sunset, unless you know how to take advantage of the short period of "grey line" propagation.

    Using WSPR and PSKreporter I've been getting a lot of reports where my my signal has been received at -10 dB to +10 dB on various bands. After sunset this evening I spent about 15 minutes each on 80, 40 and 20 meter FT8. I made a number of successful FT8 contacts in the Scandinavian and western European area. I am located about 100 miles west of Washington DC. PSKreporter showed many reports of my signal being -10 dB to about +20 dB between the southern tip of Florida and New Brunswick, CA.

    Over the years I've done a lot of antenna experimenting, as a hobby and professionally. One thing I can't express enough is the importance of a very good "grounding/earthing" system of radials, or an otherwise adequate counterpoise. This goes for water craft and big ships too. In most cases, it doesn't have to be fancy, elaborate or somehow perfectly matched.

    For most land based systems, I've found that cheap 4-conductor telephone cable can make a great counterpoises if stripped back and cut to different lengths. It is tough and weather resistant.

    I can post more about this if anyone is interested.
     
    KJ7SMO, KO4ESA, W5PB and 1 other person like this.
  3. W5PB

    W5PB Ham Member QRZ Page

    I really appreciate the great comment, and not condescending at all. I did read your post and it was great. I think you are right, and I should say that the reason why I posted this thread is because, even in a less than perfect situation like mine, I had some time in late June where I managed to surprise myself with what I was hearing and the contacts I made. between Field Day, and the week after I worked all along the US, and up into Canada on CW and a little SSB. Then one night, probably through luck, I managed contacts into New Zealand and into Europe. Mostly digital but also CW and SSB. (Working Slovenia on 20m voice was a big shock!). Then, over the past week, from where I am, the bands didn't seem as active. Then yesterday also discovered recently some new QRM, likely from a cheap electronic gadget in the neighborhood. So, the last week has just been a bit of a downer.

    With that said, I am aware my situation isn't optimal, and I'm just thrilled that I'm able to work any HF at all, and under the circumstances I think I have done pretty well. One of the things about this hobby is that if HF isn't working for me, there are plenty of other things I can do to enjoy it, but HF was my first love and I like to keep my hand in the game. I think my best bet for now, antenna wise, is to go back to considering a mag loop. I already have the loop (I built an active rx loop a while back to compare with my W6LVP), and last night I did some work determining what capacitor I would need. So, I'm trying to use my recent disappointment as encouragement to improve my antenna situation.
     
    KO4ESA, W4KJG and N4FZ like this.
  4. K8DO

    K8DO Ham Member QRZ Page

    Umm, $9 is spot on for the waitress. Hard work and having to be polite and friendly with grumpy-arse people, she deserves a little sugar here and there.
     
    KO4ESA, WZ7U and K8XG like this.
  5. KJ5T

    KJ5T Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I don't have much advice on how to improve the situation as you have already done what I did when I was apartment bound for nearly 8 years (wires and a loop). I didn't make a ton of contacts from home over those years but the JT modes have been great to enjoy the excitement of radio with compromised antennas. CW too is pretty amazing, I worked a few Europeans from the apartment with 33ft of wire and 5 watts, not long QSOs just quick exchanges but it counts. I was on the third floor and had a pretty good size balcony but it can be done. Everyone's situation is unique. I think you are doing great, but yeah when the bands are poor it isn't fun to not have big antennas.
     
    W5PB likes this.
  6. WD5GWY

    WD5GWY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    $2.80.
     
    KY4GD likes this.
  7. KA4DPO

    KA4DPO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page


    YOU RUN FT8????? Why I oughta,,,,,,,,oooh I should,,,,,.


    So how is propagation there?:D:D
     
    KO4ESA likes this.
  8. KP4SX

    KP4SX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    See above :)
     
    KA4DPO likes this.
  9. WZ7U

    WZ7U Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ten percent is $1.40, so......
     
  10. KO4ESA

    KO4ESA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Copper artwork can be quite creative.
     
    KA4DPO and W5PB like this.

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