Well its not to often I start threads around here, but the subject of poor propagation comes up a lot with the low sunspot cycle, and for good reason its not been easy to work DX. Its discouraging to many long time ops, newer radios with scopes give a quick appearance of dead bands, and many don't bother and give up all hope. For the die hards we say call CQ, the band is probably open somewhere. But if no one is on the air, who's a new ham supposed to talk to. So in the interest of the new hams just experiencing the solar cycle that it is today, maybe we can share some technical tips on cost effective solutions to giving that new ham a fighting chance of working HF and maybe help out others in the process. The fun part of this hobby is trying things new, so why don't we share some positive experiences. For me, one of the things I've been doing of late has been to utilize a magnetic loop antenna I built for receiving, while transmitting at high power on a dipole or inverted L. I find the mag loop does wonders in reducing my background noise on average 3 S units or more allowing weak signals to be heard. I'm lucky that with my rig I have a receive antenna port, but I'm sure a cheap antenna switch could work in a pinch. And if your wondering, during the CQ Worldwide contest, I was working a station in Finland. I could not hear him on my dipole, but I could on the magnetic loop. Much to my amazement he was able to hear me when i transmitted on the dipole. A perfect example of, "you can't work them if you don't hear them". I honestly don't think I can do with out the loop now. As for antennas, my go to antenna has been my fan dipole antenna for 40,20, and 10, while I use an inverted L for 160 and 80. Anyway I'd like to keep this thread informative to help give others ideas on how to improve there station and not go off on a tangent about sucky band conditions or 200k contest stations. We all know the bands aren't like they used to be, so lets move on from there help out the newbies.