Tuesday, March 17, 2009


This morning I am listening to VP8KF down in the Fauklands. I started listening before his sunrise, and listened while the terminator crossed his QTH. He is 166 degrees south from my QTH. I never do very well on the north-south path from my QTH. He is working a lot of JA's, a few W1's and not much else. The terminator is crossing the W1's about now. I get into the frey halfheartedly for a couple of calls as the terminator passes over his head. He peaks briefly and then heads down into the mud. My band noise is up a little this morning in the -111 dB range. I watch the JA's coming back to him on skimmer they look weak but they are perfectly Q5 on the screen. I can see all the dits and dahs, and I can make out the reports ..... -. -. or ..... ..... -. - ..- Skimmer uses intensity as a cue for signal strength so by studying the look of the signal over time you can tell if the station has key clicks or chirp and how far out of the noise the station is. You can tell if he is using a bug or a strait key as well. The JA's are a solid 5 dBm out of the noise or better. The noise looks amourphous and random in the background.

Every year some of my buddies enter a kind of low band competition. They try and work as many DX stations as they can from the beginning of Sept to the end of March. They usually get up around 170. One of my friends is pushing 180 this season on 80M. I tend to be more of a listener than a competitor so I don't enter, but it is interesting how many DX stations you can work on 80 in a season. You don't really think of 80 as a DX band. All you read about is how the sunspots have killed DX, when are the sunspots coming back. In November of 2004 I workded 100 countries on 80 using a Butternut HF-2V in just 3 weeks. Guess I didn't know the conventional wisdom.

I switch over to JA7NI on 160. He is much better copy. A lot of big signals are calling him but I guess he isn't hearing much because he is CQing right through them with an occasional QRZ? It would be so much fun to be able to tune an RX halfway in between W1 and JA and hear what that sounds like. Looks like he QRT's and I have to do the same

Yesterday I was looking at the crossfire probe antenna RX-4 square on the DXE site. I'm sure this would help. Its an interesting box