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

    Every once in a while, someone posts a comment here which succinctly and eloquently states the fundamental solution to some common theme often cited about which people seem to complain. This one is worth quoting
  2. K3MZM

    K3MZM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I’m also a new guy. There’s plenty of activity every time I turn on my radio and spin the dial across 40M and 75/80M. If it weren’t for everyone bitching about propagation, I wouldn’t know things were so bad.
    NN4RH and K1VSK like this.
  3. K3MZM

    K3MZM Ham Member QRZ Page


    Even as a beginner, I’m almost always able to find another station to shoot the bull with by calling CQ. Most of the time someone replies with in 30 sec to 2 min of my calling. So much for a the bands being dead....

    With that being said, I’m not trying to chase DX, although those contacts have been fun too. I’m happy to chat with someone across the US, a few hundred miles away, or on the other side of town. It’s all fun to me at this point.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2019
  4. W4NNF

    W4NNF XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yep. I do love my 6BTV. Good performer on DX. I've worked a good number of ATNOs in the 6 months or so I've had it. However, these days I find I do sometimes apply 600 - 800 watts to it. Makes a ragchew on 20-meter phone a lot easer. :)

    Otherwise, what can you do to help with the DX?

    Integrate FT8 and FT4 into your station. No, you don't get to exchange pleasantries, but how many pleasantries to you exchange with a DX contact usually? "599, 73, TU." You can find DX to work on FT8/4 when there ain't much else out there. The only drawback to the modes for me? Once you've worked somebody, there's not much impetus to work them again. But, if we're talking DX, once you've got a country confirmed, you don't usually have much reason to work them again, either.

    Use spotting networks, but don't rely only upon them. Tune across the bands and listen carefully. By the time a good DX station pops up as a spot, it will have a pileup to go with it. ;)

    Learn your rig's capabilities and features and use them to your advantage. I had my little 7300 for a couple of years before I realized I was only scratching the surface of what it could do. I finally sat down with the <choke> manual and learned my rig.

    What I have finally learned means more than anything else? Persistence and the willingness to do the inconvenient if you want to work DX. Like getting up before dawn and checking 80 and 40, for example. :)
  5. N2SUB

    N2SUB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    How do you tune the mag loop? The antennas are cheap and easy to make, but the narrow bandwidth is the limiting factor using it as a receive antenna. How were you able to make that work? I'm intrigued.
  6. K9KQX

    K9KQX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm basically remotely controlling a variable capacitor using and Arduino interface, and a stepper motor that has a 19:1 gear reduction on the output.

    I did have to learn Arduino programming and build it. But there are many examples of how to do this with a DC motor connected via 2 wires and a fwd reverse switch in the shack. Id recommend using some kind of gear reduction as it's pretty sensitive when tuning. So any means of slowing down the motor is needed. Also use of a plastic coupler on the motor shaft to capacitor should be installed to prevent any high voltage from arcing or energizing the motor shaft.

    My qrz page has pics of the controller, but the motor shown in the box was an earlier attempt with just a DC motor driven with a PWM signal to slow it down further. Originally I only had a 5:1 gear reduction and it was still too touchy on tuning.

    Email me if you want a copy of the Arduino code to modify.
    I've been meaning to write up some how to docs for our local club.
  7. KC3SWL

    KC3SWL XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Part of the focus of our hobby is to experiment.
    So if that dipole isn't working at 10 feet off the ground, try raising it, try a longer length, try an off center fed version, an end fed version.. Try a vertical, try a sloper. Try a rooftop tower with a minibeam made out of aluminum conduit. try a wire beam.
    I have a portable vertical set up on a camera tripod that was good for working VK station on long path the other day
    and was good for South Africa one night.
    I have a more permanent off center fed dipole good for 130 countries.
    Experimentation to get the best results is the name of the game.
    Try calling CQ on quiet bands. Try on ranges of the bands you are licensed where you normally don't hear anything.Try digital modes or CW modes . Lots of contacts to be made on digital mode especially when you are using FT8 which is a weak signal mode of comms made just for these situations. It's been good for 75 countries for me so far and I don't work digital modes exclusively.
    Last night I set up my voice keyer to call CQ on lower part of 40 and after a few minutes I got a response that turned into a 20 minute or so QSO.
    Try a different microphone, try a different rig if possible.
    Above all just try anything just to see if it works.
    You just might be surprised.
  8. KI7HSB

    KI7HSB Ham Member QRZ Page

    In an effort to improve my rig's performance, I think I'll get out the micromesh and give each and every active element on my R-6000 a mirror-like polish.

    No idea if it'll help performance, but it'll look pretty bitch'in. Like a big chrome pickle fork...
  9. W5LZ

    W5LZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    You can't fight propagation. If it's not what you want, wait a while. Don't want to wait? Get out of the hobby.
  10. W1VT

    W1VT Ham Member QRZ Page

    A big antenna certainly helps. I heard a bunch of big stations work Bhutan on 30M this morning. I heard the Bhutan station but they were hearing about 9 dB better.

    I did work Bhutan a few years ago on 20M SSB with a half wave dipole at 35 feet, even though I have yet to work Bhutan on digital.

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