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.