Seriously, guys and gals, this is where the DX is nowadays. Sure, I catch a few on CW (I seldom operate SSB unless there’s a contest), but it seems the action is on FT8, at least for the foreseeable low solar activity period.
Lots of stuff going on … I spent a LOT of time calling VP6D, the Ducie Island DXPedition, to no avail. I was copying them solid on FT8 on 17 meters, but at about a -13db. With all the QRM, I’m afraid it needed a bit more oomph on my end! After that, I put quite a few US stations in the log, as well as JA and VK.
I guess Fall is finally here. The mornings are downright chilly and a light jacket is not unappreciated during the evening. We fired up the heat over the weekend, and it feels GOOD! We haven’t had a frost yet, but it’s just a matter of time. I’ve mixed up a spray bottle of homebrew de-icer to carry around in my cupholder in the truck. I’m ready!!
Even though I didn’t get on the air all weekend (due to other commitments), I’m still hangin’ in there! In addition to my previous contact with Rwanda last week in twenty meters, I made another contact with them last night on 40 meters. I’m still trying to nail Mayotte (TO6OK), but they’re a bit more elusive. I’ve heard them, and seen them spotted, but no luck on CW or FT8.
A note on the TO6 pileups … there are some totally messed up people out there. Anyone who deliberately QRMs any QSO, not just a DXPedition, is a loser in the true sense of the word. Strings of dits, cursing, deliberately calling CQ on top of the DX station, all with no ID … you have to wonder if these folks have any other life! And don’t forget the oblivious ops who have obviously never heard of split operation … not to mention the frequency cops who add their own offering to the chaos.
So what’s the moral of this story? Don’t be a LID! Cut the other guy some slack. Don’t be an antisocial jerk! It’s a lot easier if we all show some courtesy to the other op. Stay cool …
Well, I got Rwanda (9X0Y) in the log on FT8, using the DXPedition mode on WSJT-X. The first thing I had to do was try and remember how to set up and operate in the DXPedition mode, but once I was set up and called Silvano, it didn’t take more than a minute or two to have his contact in the log. I actually never did actually see his signal on the waterfall … but I did copy him. The DX is there!
Propagation this evening was nothing spectacular, but there were FT8 contacts to be made. DX worked included Portugal, Germany, Czech Republic, Italy, Cuba, Netherlands, Canada, and England. Many more were seen … W. Sahara, Ireland, N. Ireland, Wales, Europeans of all flavors … but not worked. Forty, thirty, and eighty meters were crowded … twenty and sixty not so much, but I did make contacts on all of those bands. Looks like the digital modes and lower bands are where it’s at. And remember, I’m using about forty watts and a wire … no big guns here!
I got an early session on the radio as the sun was rising this morning. The solar conditions were shown as “Poor” and “Unsettled”, but there was some good stuff out there. New Caledonia, Australia, and Japan were all seen on FT8 and were making contacts with US stations. The Mayotte DXPedition (TO6OK) was really strong here on the East Coast on FT8, but there were lots of callers worldwide, and I didn’t luck out, though I really tried. I did work a new one (Belize) on forty meters, so my morning efforts were a success as far as I was concerned.
I’m not lacking stations to work, and my best success seems to be on the lower bands (80, 60, 40, 30). I’m not running anything special here … 30 to 40 watts on digital modes through a LDG tuner to a 31-ft vertical wire, through a 100-ft RG-8X feedline, with a 4-to-1 unun at the base of the antenna, and one 31-ft counterpoise laid on the ground. I get acceptable SWR on all the HF bands except 160. The fiberglass antenna support is fastened to a clothesline support with several pieces of stiff twisted wire. Can’t get much more kludgy than that!