Sunday, December 14, 2014


I REALLY wanted to get my 10M DXCC totals up before the sunspots go kaput.  My 10M antennas are horrible.  I generally load up a 80M vertical and it either works or it doesn't.

Here is a shot of the 10M pattern of my 80M vertical.  There is low medium and high angle radiation.  I decided to try a vertical dipole cut for 10M which looks like this

Imagine the dotted vertical line is a tree and the dotted horizontal is a branch.  Wire 3 angles back toward the tree and feed line 4 angles over to another tree to try and get as much seperation between the two as possible.  I was able to get the dipole up to about 50ft in the tree using my lead sinker pneumatic canon.  One shot was all it took.  I love this thing for hanging antennas.

The pattern for the dipole is like this

It still has some low medium and high radiation but the reduction in gain is reversed so the max is a low angle takeoff.  The 3D pattern looks like this

I did the analysis with and without the bent leg and feedline in the picture and the pattern skewing was minimal.  It was dark by the time I had things hooked up and the temp had dropped to the 40's and I was using a flashlight to see what I was doing... aka perfect antenna hanging weather.

I fired up the rig and the band was of course dead but I did manage to work FY5KE in French Guiana with a big signal the night before the contest 

I started working stations Sat and the band was pretty good but not outstanding.  A was 21 and K was 3, SFI around 150 

The station I'm listening to is Fred NP2X in the US VI.  The guy has a monster signal and is a monster of a contest operator.  I've known him since our college days at Univ of Ill.  

The band noise was quiet about -137 dBm.  I also set things up so I could A/B my 80M vert vs the 10M vert dipole at a button press.  What I found was pretty much what the patterns predicted.  On US stations the 80M antenna was a little louder.  On medium hall into EU or to KH6 the antennas were pretty much equal and on long haul deep into Asiatic Russia the dipole was a little better.

I could only operate a few of the best contest hours but managed to work 44 new 10 M countries all over the world.  I used every method I could think of to route out stations, spot collector which I set to spot only 10M spots

I used CW skimmer to skim sections of the band for new ones, and I also used the old tried and true method of starting at the bottom of the band and working to the top identifying every little blip on the panfall.  I used write log to do the dupe-ing

I did not setup the writelog band scope.  

As soon as the contest was over, I turned on all the bands in Spot Collector and saw S01WS in Western Sahara on 80M so I switched down there and worked him on the third call

To tell the truth I feel MUCH more at home digging the weak ones out of 80M static than up in nose bleed territory on 10M   Good times!

73  W9OY


Friday, December 5, 2014

So I'm driving to work this morning and glance off to my right and this is what I see:

This thing is a monster!  (I know there is a SDR in there somewhere so it counts :) )

73  W9OY

Saturday, November 29, 2014

6300's turn

Last night I ran my Anan 100D in the contest and had a ball.  I was working only band fills and new ones so I spent my time listening.

Tonight I fired up the Flex 6300.



Using the same antennas as last night.  My radios are set up such that I can pull 2 plugs in the patch panel and switch rigs.  Everything else remains the same including software keyer computer etc.  The bands are about the same as last night.  I ran some test on band noise and the noise is virtually identical

below the band my radio is seeing 104 dBm

This is about 8 khz into the band 

And this one is mid band.  You can see from the wideband shot above there is considerable RF above and below.

My impression is the Flex is a cleaner radio in its operation.  The CW is better and the radio is quieter compared to the Anan and I think the filters are better even though the Anan has more taps.  One thing I miss on the 6300 however is diversity.  I would have to advance all the way to a 6700 to acquire that feature.  The Flex also connects to most of my software via the API as opposed to CAT and this is considerably faster and smoother in operation.  I enjoy either rig, and find them booth superior to my old knob radios like the FT-1000D and the Orion

Here is an example of SDR in action.  The yellow cursor is on V26K who is 3-5 dBm out of the noise.  On either side are stations considerably stronger about 100hz off freq.  V26K is single signal with no QRM QRN or AGC pumping from the other close by stations.  I worked him in a single call.

73  W9OY

Friday, November 28, 2014

6 Centuries and a most wonderful time of the year

I'm sitting here picking off band slots on 80 and 40 in CQWW CW test.  The A is 5 and the K is 1 and SFI is 181.  To say the least things are jumping

For me this is a most wonderful time of the year.  Turkey sandwiches family cheer and DX out the wazoo!!  I looks like it's snowing RF!!

I decided to pull a couple of screen shots which show the S meter reading below the 40 M band 

a few khz into the band 

and in the middle of the CW band

All S meter readings are virtually identical so I guess the RF storm doesn't have much effect on the front end.  These were taken with the front end filters turned off.

I finished off 6 centuries a few days ago.

The saga began when I decided a new direct conversion SDR deserved to see how much could be accomplished regarding DX.  I started on June 6th in the middle of the summer and by Oct 4th had 5BDXCC worked (4 months).  I decided to apply to LOTW and see what had been confirmed in mid November and had confirmed DXCC on LOTW.  I kept whacking at 80M as I had 55 more to go to finish that band.  I completed 6BDXCC a week ago a couple weeks shy of 6 months.  

The Flex 6300 and the Anan 100D both worked beautifully in completion of this task.  About half of of the total QSO's (around 700) was completed with each radio giving me a very good comparison between the two radios.  I pretty much just worked new band slots and spent the rest of the time listening which is my preference.  With the Flex 5000 I had run up my DXCC total to around 287 in 3 years.  With that radio I was pretty much exclusively 160 80 and 40 but it does give a relative idea how well the new radios compare to the older technology.  My antennas are simple verticals but only optimized on 80 40 30 and 20.  17 15 12 10 and 6 were based on tuning the 80M vertical.  I think if I had some kind of beam 9BDXCC would have been easily obtained.

Overall it's been a gas.  Unless I put up some new antennas this is about as far as I'm going to push this project.  I've never been one to chase the paper.  Both radios made making the QSO's like shooting fish in a barrel.  Many contacts even in the big pileups like the FT4TA DXpedition were made in less than 10 calls.  between DXLab suites Spot collector, DXkeeper and DXview, the DDUTIL software, CW skimmer and SDR bridge the whole rigmarole was incredibly efficient.  If you want to change your ham radio life get a SDR!

Hope one and all had a Happy Thanksgiving

73  W9OY  

Monday, November 10, 2014



Off the east coast of Africa next to Madagascar lays a 1 km square island called Tromelin

The entity became active as FT4TA on Oct 30 

The pileups were massive

On 30M which is 50 khz wide the pileup extended a full 20 khz or 60% of the band.  Amazing!  In fact the pileup was so wide it was out of range to be able to click tune the transmit VFO I usually use (VFO B) on skimmer.  To combat the problem I used a different strategy

I switched VFO A and  B sing the A<>B control and chose VFO A as the transmit VFO

I then turned off the audio from VFO A and switched on MultiRX and turned up the audio on VFO B

This put the DX on VFO B and allowed me to click tune on skimmer anywhere on the band tramsmitting on VFO A

This was absolutely invaluable.  Skimmer only allows about 11 khz of the band to be displayed but with this configuration I could place that 11 khz window anywhere.  Using this method and by studying the operators preference I was able to place signal into his receiver passband and my callsign into his conscientiousness in only 1 call.  I couldn't believe how effective this technique was.  I worked him on 30M about 30 min before his sunrise and then saw he was also on 80M.  I switched to 80 and turned on the amp.  He had a good signal and I figured out his pattern and in 15 minutes I had 80M and 30M in the log

I was hoping for a 40M contact but decided I would likely have to be satisfied with 80 and 30.  I listened to him work the pileup for a considerable time while doing other things and soon enough he was spotted on 40M but by now it was deep into his sunrise.  I flipped on 40M and sure enough I could just copy him so I fired things up and in a few minutes I had him on 40 also.

Amazing!  My 30M call was at 1:42 and by 2:53 I had him on 3 bands.  The total number of calls for all three contacts was probably a dozen with careful use of the panadapter, skimmer, and SpotCollector.  This radio rocks!  Today the DXpedition posted their log

I'm not sure how one could accomplish navigating a 20khz wide pileup without the advantage of SDR and skimmer and SpotCollector   None of those are fool proof but each gives a small piece of information allowing one to predict with fairly good accuracy where and when the DX will be listening.  

I also worked him on 80M using my Flex 6300 radio and signal strength and readability were comparable using the same antennas.  The 6300 with 2 panadapters active and 2 skimmers active is a much more efficient setup for this kind of huge pileup but both radios performed FB

73  W9OY


Saturday, October 4, 2014

5 Centuries

The utility of a radio is how much fun you have when playing with it.  Research on attention dates back as far as Skinner, but really came into its own shortly after WW2.  As the study has progressed over the decades it now come to understanding the actual neuro-chemistry.  Attention is a big deal.  It turns out you can only pay attention to one thing at a time.  Multitasking is baloney.  It also turns out that lower center tasks such as flight or flight demand attention over higher level cognitive function.  You may be engrossed in solution of one of the two expressions of Hilbert's 16th problem and if I come in the room and clap my hands hard phhhzt the solution is gone.  We can't safely text and drive.  Even though driving at some point becomes automatic the analysis of the novel data that hits our consciousness every 100ft is higher order, like solving the 16th problem.  It turns out txting is lower order.  It is all bound up in the biochemistry of social interaction.  So when the dinger dings your brain is wired to disregard the analysis of driving and attend to the strongly positive biochemical rush of social interaction.

I think that's why I like DXing.  It requires intense attention trying to tease out a coherent signal from some God forsaken end of creation.  Adjust the phasing, reduce the noise, center the dynamic range, reduce bandwidth, tune to the hz the DX stations freq.... Analyze the pileup, look for the freq where the DX is listening, get another 5 watts out of the amp...  it's like playing an organ and eventually all the pieces come together and you hear your callsign followed by 5nn and your brain floods with dopamine... or you get on freq make one call and put him in the log.

I finished 5 band DXCC this morning with scenario number 2.  I needed one more on  15 for two weeks to close the deal.  I've been hunting T30D and his 12 khz wide pileups all hours trying to complete the task,  Hour after hour of calling. tuning. recalling. analyzing. then SV5DKL shows up on 15 in the GTC and I bag him with one call.  What's the GTC you ask?  I dunno.  I check WA7BNM's 8 day contest website and it turns out to be the German Telegraph Contest.  The exchange for me is RST so I call him confirm his exchange give him 5NN and its done

I started this on June 6th and it took a little less than 4 months to complete.  I'm 55 away from 6 centuries.  I have never been interested in multi band DXCC.  My antennas don't really support it.  If I get my 160 stuff back going who knows...

73  W9OY

PS while writing this I worked LB6B and MI0AHH on 15  Not sure why I was sweating it

Friday, September 26, 2014

It All Makes a Difference

Tonight I was listening and watching the ZD9XF Tristan Da Cunha & Gough Is pileup on 40M

He had them spread out over about 9 khz and was working the entire 9 khz.

The band was fairly noisy.  With 25 hz filters he was virtually un-copyable 

The noise floor was -99 dBm at 25hz.  I decided to give min bandwidth a try

At 10hz I had a -110 dBm reading for a noise floor

You can see his peak signal strength was -104 dBm at 10hz, 5 dB under the noise at the 25 hz bandwidth.  At this level he became readable BUT at this level tuning has to be exact 

3 hz makes a difference.  Tonight I added a FlexControl to my DDUTIL setup giving me the ability to tune easily in 1 hz steps 

The FlexControl marry's with DDUTIL and gives a wide variety of control options to the radio.  Its other feature is it is persistent and does not loose control with change in focus

I was involved in the design of this device and it is quite powerful and plastic to its functionality. 

I use a second FlexControl on my 6300.  I guess there is still a debate raging over knob v. no knob in SDR but for me this device is perfect and I highly recommend it.  

I already had ZD9XF in the log on a few bands including 40M so I didn't turn on the transmitter to add to the QRM.

Speaking of the 6300 I switched the 40M vert over to that radio to see how it compared.  ZD9XS was about equally copyable but the 6300 only goes to 50hz bandwidth.  I used APF and adjusted the AGC-T to compensate.

The signal strength was virtually identical at -102 dBm average, but the noise floor was about -104 dBm with the wider filter so the signal to noise was a bit worse on the 6300.  This is one of those cases where pulling out all the stoppers did make a difference, but I could have made the contact on either radio.

Here is a shot of the pileup in all of its raging glory.

Good times!  I notice 80M is starting to pick up a bit as well as 160M  

73  W9OY

Monday, September 22, 2014


There is the usual controversy over on EHAM regarding the noise blanker performance especially in the Flex 6xxx series.  Since I own both a Anan100D and a Flex 6300 I thought I might publish a picture of the 2 noise blankers in action

(click the pic for increased resolution)

My friend Steve K5FR of DDUTIL fame added a digital readout of the Flex 6300 S meter.  I prefer this to the S meter readout for this kind of discussion since the readings are exact.  The readings on the 6300 are -98 dBm reducing to -117 dBm or a 19 dBm improvement in the noise floor.  In the Anan 100D we see a -20 dBm improvement, -89 to -109 dBm.  A virtual dead tie which is well within the margin between the two radios.  Both radios show a greater than 3 S unit improvement average, 4 S units on peaks.  I tried both noise blankers on the Anan but didn't see a numeric difference between the two.  This data is of NB 1 which is my normal choice.  

This test was performed a 14:30 local on 30M using the same antenna, a full sized 80M 1/4 wave vertical tuned to the 30M band with a MFJ 998 tuner.   Both radios are on CW with a 450hz offset and 100 Hz filters.  No other noise abatement is employed.  The dummy load (no antenna terminated in a high quality shielded 50 ohms) noise floor on the 6300 is -130 dBm and on the Anan 100D, -117 dBm.

FWIW here is a pic of the lightning map in my area at 14:30

I'm on the east central coast of Florida right under that big yellow/red blob of lightning.  I am running the latest alpha version of SSDR and the latest general release of HPSDR/firmware.  Personally I can't kick about being able to receive S0 to S1 signals in the middle of a huge thunder storm.  I present the data unvarnished so you can draw your own conclusions.

73   W9OY

Saturday, September 20, 2014

4th Century

This finishes up 40M DXCC for me.  I hope to hear them on other bands especially 80 and 15.  

They are playing in the Scandinavian contest and plan to be active for a week 

73  W9OY