New Ham ops, suggestions for combating poor propagation

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by K9KQX, Oct 29, 2019.

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  1. K1VSK

    K1VSK Ham Member QRZ Page

    We see the same lament every 11 years... and we’re still here. If that’s all it takes for anyone to “give up all hope”, they aren’t very interested in the first place.

    My question to you is - if these “many long time ops” give up every SS cycle null, how are they “long time” ops?
    VK6APZ and WW2PT like this.
  2. WF4W

    WF4W Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've worked 230 DXCC entities in the past 2 years of solar minimum... and got WAS on four bands without really trying... oh, and WAZ (still waiting on that dang certificate)

    And that's on the vaunted 6BTV vertical !!!

    So, yes, persistence, patience, and OBSERVATION. As many have said, you just gotta turn the radio on and scan the bands! 10m FT8 was hoppin yesterday afternoon with SA & EU ... that's rare for 10m at this point in hte cycle. I finally got D68CCC on 15m CW yesterday MORNING - 15m open in the morning - at this point in the cycle - is a little atypical except for fall & spring.

    new hams can't know this stuff based on their experience with a tech license on UHF/VHF and few take the opportunity to use their HF privileges. Clubs should make more of an effort to coach up their techs. I'm thinking about teaching a "Ok, so you've got your license, NOW what?" type class that focuses on operating common sense... just need to find time...
    KP4SX likes this.
  3. KK5JY

    KK5JY Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am also going to second this one. I'm working DX left and right with a 5' STL up 15', running 50W, and even on 40m and 80m. There is nothing wrong with propagation, even at the sunspot low.

    The trick is to learn to use the propagation that is available, when it is available. Studying isn't very popular in 2019, but it pays off big-time if one is seeking low-band DX. Get on VOACAP and learn from pictures, if that helps one understand propagation better. After all, propagation is the one doing the heavy-lifting.

    The idea of "more metal higher" sounds good, but it won't help you at all if you pick the wrong band at the wrong time of day. Learn to better use what you have. It's way cheaper than a tower. :)
  4. N0TZU

    N0TZU Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Good advice, I've gotten a fair number of DX stations by "hunt and pounce", i.e., just tuning around. Often it's soon after they come on the air before they are listed on the DX spotter sites and a pileup starts.

    Since different bands are better at certain times of day to different places, I usually pick a promising band or two and tune them.

    Remember, the DX op has to sleep and work, so pay attention to their local time when they would be likely to be on the air.

    Calling CQ can also work, if you pick a good time and band, and there aren’t many US stations on.
    W4IOA likes this.
  5. K1VSK

    K1VSK Ham Member QRZ Page

    A Che k of the cluster network at 1230z shows all 6 continents workable in NA. “Poor”is in the eyes of the beholder
    WE4E likes this.
  6. W4NNF

    W4NNF XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Better antennas is good.
    Persistence is good.

    But, while some don't like it, an amplifier is also good. Especially if you want to have much success with SSB phone these days. ;)
  7. W4NNF

    W4NNF XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    While I might be able to put up a small tower and beam on my smallish suburban lot...well... Now that I've had my 6BTV for about 6 months, I don't feel as much need to do so. I love DX, but am not obsessive, and like my sleep. Nevertheless I've worked Pitcairn six times on various modes and bands with my Hustler (and a good radial system). That may be a record for me and has got me more interested in/excited about working DXpeditions. Congrats, I got D58CCC on 10MhZ day before yesterday. Called 'em once. Didn't have the amp on, either. :)
  8. WW2PT

    WW2PT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Understanding propagation is key at any point in the cycle, but especially now. Start here:

    Also: LISTEN! There might be a lot of signals down at the noise level that you won’t hear if you’re spinning the dial like you’re on Wheel of Fortune (“C’mon Big Money!!!!”). Wear headphones, close your eyes, and tune slowly.
  9. WE4E

    WE4E Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have a tip that costs nothing. Turn the radio on. If everyone sits around reading the solar reports, lamenting the sleepy sun, every band will be dead every day.

    This past weekend's CQWW contest is a perfect example. Signals everywhere.

    This is phone spots Saturday afternoon (I think).


    I worked 160m phone dx for the first time. Mostly southern Caribbean stations. Why? Because they were on, and because I called them. It would not have happened had those two things not occurred. I'm baffled, because I only have a 160m full wave loop up, and not nearly high enough. Conventional wisdom says it shouldn't work, and yet...

    I worked Pitcairn on 15m off the same antenna, my only contact with them. And a handful of NA stations that I had to hit the attenuator for. Big fun, and I wasn't really on for that long.
    W4IOA likes this.
  10. W1VT

    W1VT Ham Member QRZ Page

    QRP or low power works great for CW if you have a full size antenna. But, some other modes need more power. I'd suggest running 100 watts carrier or 400W PEP if you want to do 75M AM, unless you have a really good antenna for 75 meters. There are online resources for learning CW on a budget. Sometimes you can find old AM transmitters really cheaply, as few hams are willing to deal with heavy iron.

    In the Phone DX contest I was able to work a lot of DX on 40 and 75 with 500 watts to wires. It helped to tune around and work stations calling CQ, before they attracted pileups. I helps to have a lot of experience tuning in stations on SSB.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2019
    WE4E likes this.

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