My Most Recent QSO's

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

My 115th DX Country - Australia

I worked my 115 th DX Country on March 4 th, 2017
My "straight line distance" to Australia is 10,0007 miles.

That's 2,000 MPW with 5 watts of power. 

I've been hearing VK3CWB in Mildura Australia for several evenings on the 30 meter band; and always at around 22:30 GMT. I rarely hear stations at this distance, and when I do, they're usually far too weak to work. Besides, the solar cycle is near the bottom of the current eleven year lull right now.

I've been a licensed HAM for more than 25 years and I had all but given up on ever putting this country in the log book. My operating locations, in all these years, have been, at the very best, marginal, with indoor stealth antennas. I use five watts of power (QRP) and a 50 ft. piece of Radio Shack speaker wire (indoors) for an antenna. This simple station does have it's limits, or so I thought....

Although I hold both DXCC and WAS awards from the NAQCC Club, previously I've made only three, of what I call "deer in the headlights contacts". I'm very happy to say this new contact makes number four.

Moz -VK3CWB - has an interesting philosophy about working QRP  stations. 

"Its not the QRP which is important, it's the enthusiasm, endeavor, application and belief that things can be done simply which I really admire. And of course, if you run QRP there must be a persistence and a "never say die' attitude which is also most admirable".

This was a pre-arranged contact, the result of an e-mail which I sent him the previous day.

I heard him calling me the moment I tuned to the pre-arranged 30 meter frequency at the appointed time. He heard me the moment I tuned up the QRP rig. He returned my call on the first attempt. We had a short conversation about his 30 meter two element "Moxon" antenna. I expressed my gratitude for his patience and willingness to make a successful contact at this distance.

This was not a "599 and TU 72's QSO" --  Our conversation was a "solid "559(both ways) 

I was thrilled to make such a nice contact but afterwards (e-mail) Moz explained to me that he was using the "long path". I've heard the term, but being a "simple wire antenna person", I didn't fully comprehend it's significance. Australians (and I might add, most of the rest of the world) use kilometers for their measurements. The truly remarkable thing about this contact was that he was pointing his "beam" the direct "opposite" (towards the west) in the direction of West Virginia.

Most operators would have taken the "shortest path".

His straight line distance (long path) was 24,000 kilometers, and if I understand correctly, he must have bounced his radio waves across the Indian Ocean, Saudi Arabia, France, and the North Atlantic before it reached me in West Virginia.

As I noted earlier, the contact with VK3CWB is what I consider my "fourth" eye awakening QRP contact.

My first was several years ago when I worked A45XR in Oman at 7,429 miles. He was using a double element "delta loop" for an antenna. I worked him on both 17 and 30 meters in 2013; and was my most distant contact until now.

My other two "deer in the headlight" stations are ZD8X on Ascension Island. The operator on this "very large pile up" took the time to send me a computer "print out" of his log book. He noted my call sign and drew me a congratulatory "seal of approval".

The other station was R0FA on Sakhalin Island. This operator actually stopped the "pile up" when I spotted him on a DX Cluster. It's amazing the effect "QRP at 3 Watts" can have in the "comments" section. Hi Hi  -  He made a special effort to congratulate me (on the air) and a moment of silence.

In a category "all it's own" was a "portable packet contact" with the Russian Space Station R0MIR. I dropped a letter in it's "mailbox" while sitting in a cow pasture near Charleston WV. I was using a handi-talkie (VHF) with a Hewlett Packard "palm top computer".  At sunset, I visually followed it across the sky with a small 3 element beam.

I have new hopes of working a New Zealand station now, or possibly the Russian Arctic station at the South Pole. I've heard them both but they're much too weak for me to work...  well maybe ?

I continue to be amazed at the kindness and courtesy that some DX operators extend to those of us in the QRP community. Working with 5 watts and simple wire antennas isn't easy. It's challenging but very rewarding. I love it !

Friday, March 3, 2017

My 114th DX Station

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I worked this station on 20 meters this afternoon. Just when I think I've worked all the DX I can, another one surprises me.