Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Friday, October 21, 2011
A couple of years ago, I subscribed to the CQ-Contest reflector list. That was back when I was trying my hand at contesting and I thought it might be a good place to glean some pointers and tidbits.
Unfortunately, I’ve been greatly disappointed because many of the threads degenerate into name calling and repetitive gripes about cheaters and what can possibly be done to run off people who aren’t contesters but want to do the unthinkable…like operate on 20 meters during CQ WW.
It also seems a lot like a closed society. Newbies are often run over.
I’ve considered pulling the plug many times but an interesting thread started up recently about using multiple direction antennas and splitters. Not that I would have the capability to ever do that, but I was curious how this might work. No harm in being curious, right?
So tonight I’m following the thread and I read this (and I give credit to the author, who I don’t know from the man in the moon) from N4OGW/5, and I quote:
“In a contest situation once such a lid has started up, it sometime also works to go narrow on the lid :) Point a gain antenna #1 at the lid during transmit, and receive on another antenna #2 pointed in a different direction. Usually antenna #1's pattern has enough leaks in other directions that you can continue to work other stations until the lid moves on.
I also use split stacks of two yagis quite a bit on 20 and 15 during stateside contests from MS (single amplifier of course). From MS the two population centers are northeast and west. If I point a beam at one of these centers, the other is precisely in the null off the end of the elements. I suppose I could use a stack of moxons or similar with a wide forward pattern, but that would sacrifice a lot of dx performance compared to the yagis.
Finally a “real tidbit” that probably shouldn’t have been spoken out loud, don’t you think? What we’re talking about is nothing more than deliberate QRM, aren’t we? Someone gets too close to your frequency, just point towards them, blast them and run them off.
In hamspeak, the term “lid” generally refers to a poor operator. But, between us adults, let’s face it, it means someone being an ass or someone doing something stupid. I see some irony in his decision to refer to another op as a lid.
Now, I’m not naïve enough to think that this doesn’t go on all the time. I’m also not so naïve that I don’t think that people without multiple direction antennas tied to a single transmit signal are the only ones who employ this tactic. I’m sure a lot of contesters and hams in general with single antennas turn them in the direction of a someone to run them off. But I’m thinking that there’s a lot of contesters, both of the courteous and sneaky persuasion, who are probably gritting their teeth and thinking, “Hey man, just keep your trap closed about this tactic.” Is this how to maintain a run frequency?
I’ll be curious to see if anyone posts anything and addresses that.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
In roughly two years of half-way intense DXing with 100 watts, a hexbeam, a 43-foot vertical, and a G5RV, I’m at 272 countries worked. I say “half-way intense” because I rarely make myself wake up in the middle of the night to chase a country (although it has been known to happen), I’m out of town a good bit and, thus, miss a lot of opportunites, and I still put family priorities ahead of radio fun.
If I owned a 70-foot tower and had a lot of aluminum on top of it, I might think that 272 countries doesn’t look very impressive. And it isn’t about looking ‘impressive’; it’s about accomplishing a goal. Even with my very modest station I can work DXCC in one weekend. Now the going is a lot tougher. There’s fewer countries that I need and fewer opportunities to find them on the air.
So, reality has set in. If I want to make 300 countries, which I’ve set as my immediate goal, I’m probably going to have to make some changes. Not changes that involve buying a new radio, the 590 is proving to be one heck of a good choice. I need to make changes in my antenna system AND I need to put more time in. The last part I can control and change right away with not very much investment.
Here’s what isn’t going to happen. I’m not going to buy and install a tower. I’m not going to buy an amplifier. I’m confident that I can make 300 countries without either. Beyond 300, who knows?
So, I’m mostly working with what I have. For starters, with fall and winter just around the corner, I’m installing a beverage antenna. I have the space and it’s something I should’ve done last year and didn’t. That’ll help tremendously on 40 and 80, perhaps even a little bit on 30. When the leaves fall and the snakes hit the road, it’s as good as in. Next, I’m making a dedicated antenna for 30 meters. More on that in another post. Finally, I’m raising my hexbeam. For a very brief time I had it at 40 feet. That didn’t last very long, for several reasons. Bottom line, it’s been sitting at about 27 feet for a year and a half. I have the means to raise it to 45 feet but that’s on hold until my arm heals. I managed to rip my bicep muscle in my left arm and I’ve got about 4 or 5 more weeks of “non-use” following surgery to reattach it. I do, however, believe that the increased height will make a difference. Most tout that 40-45 feet is optimum for a hex. It also needs some maintenance performed when I lower it.
Also, despite the wonderful upsurge in sunspot activity lately, you’ll notice that I’m mostly concentrating on the low bands with winter approaching. I hope that proves to be a wise decision.
Here’s what many of you probably won’t understand, but some will. I don’t want to hit 300 countries right away. That’ll mean that I’ll have to come up with a whole new strategy for the next few. I also don’t want a station that I can turn on and have the DX in my log in 15 minutes (or less). Again, I know that flies in the face of many. I’m not going to explain that because you either know what I mean or you don’t. And if you don’t, you’ll never understand.
I want these next countries to mean just as much, if not more than the first 100 and the second 100 did, and I want them to require considerable effort. Because I know that I could rush out and buy all the items to make it happen really quick. Then I would have convinced myself that I really needed that amplifier and that tower to make it happen.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
I wonder what some of you think about the practice of working DXpeditions on multiple bands and modes. Since I’ve only been mostly active again over the past 2 or 3 years, I haven’t been around enough to judge for myself whether or not this is a trend that’s taken off recently or has it existed all along? I’m sure people have tried to work DXpeditions or rare DX as much as they can, but was the interest of trying to work them on all bands and modes such a popular pursuit as it appears to be now?
I’ve read some banter that indicates that some believe that the popularity of Club Log has caused this chase to explode because anyone can type in anyone else’s callsign and see how many times they’ve worked someone and on what bands and modes. In addition, there’s always a running tab of the top stations to work a popular DXpedition, further filtered by region, country, or call district. Also, as John, AE5X, pointed out in his blog recently, you can even see which operator you worked.
Do you think this is a good thing? Some seem to feel that this activity diminishes the likelihood of Mr. Average DX’er or Mr. QRP being able to work the DX, or, at the least, makes it much harder. Presumably this is due to the increased competition from heavyweight DX’ers to nab as many different QSO’s as they can. Maybe, but I don’t have a good feel for how much more congestion this might add. How many people pursue this aspect? A lot? Just a few? I don’t know.
I can see some merit to the argument, especially for DXpeditions that are short on time, those that aren’t on the air very long. On the other hand, should people who enjoy working them as much as possible be targeted as poor operators or “pig” operators? I certainly wouldn’t go that far. They have as much right as anyone to work the DX. Just like you and me.
And, again, I’m not referring to the stations who repeatedly call on the same bands to let the DX know they’re ‘59’ again tonight, just like last night and the night before that. Those fellers ought to be strung up somewhere. I’m talking about the people who do it fair and square and play by the rules. Get their QSO and move on and don’t cause QRM. I wonder, if I had a station capable of working rare or semi-rare DX all over the spectrum, would I find it fun to try and make 18 or 19 different QSO’s with the same station? Hard to say, but I’m sure the temptation would be there. For the time being that’s not a concern because I usually find time to only make one or two QSO’s. I’m happy with one (especially if it shows up in the online log), the rest are a bonus.
Those who manage to work a DXpedition on, say, 19 different slots, where in the world do they find the time? Especially if they work full-time, how on earth is this possible when 10 meters might only be open for a short time in the middle of the day? I understand that there’s easy explanations that could account for some of the contacts…they run home for lunch and get on the radio. They take the afternoon off. They set their alarm to wake up at 3 am in the morning. That’s not unusual at all for hard-core, dedicated DX’ers. But to get them on ALL bands and modes? That’s pretty fantastic. And if you look closely, it’s generally the same stations that appear at the top of these ‘most worked’ lists.
At any rate, I’m curious what others think of this practice and whether or not it is making life more difficult for average or budding DX’ers, or if it’s just another topic that’s making the rounds on eHam?