Propagation 1 – Activity 0

Winter holiday is traditionally my low band activity period. That sounds a lot bigger than it actually is. It only means that I get up around 06.00 local and head to the shack in stead of yawning and turning over to snooze some more. I started this tradition with a simple vertical dipole on 40m (link) late 2003. Then I added a multiband dipole (link) for 80/20/15/10. My modest antenna farm grew from year to year with a tower in 2004. Finally some real antennas and something better (i.e. higher) for 80. But I never had something for 160m. In the end I made a short, coil loaded dipole but that got only up in the air during contests when the tower was up. But now I completed the infamous 80/160 antenna. Guess what? It works. I had a compromise antenna in mind that would work on both bands without the tower having to be fully extended. Now I can be active on 160m during normal daily operation without too much hassle.

Over the last 4 days I was able to work into USA on both 80 and 160m. So I guess my achieved my goal. Working USA on 160m has never been so easy. The Top Band "shorty inverted V dipole" with the apex only 21m high is absolutely not suited for DX. Now I have a serious vertical component and it shows. I’ve called CQ each morning this week and got called by some loud East Coast DX. Loud being S7-S8. That’s loud to me on Top Band…

Unfortunately there has been little US activity around my sunrise (07.45 utc). That’s in the middle of the night over there I know. But still… The timing to work Japan is much easier but then again: the path to Japan is so much harder from here. I worked USA by the dozen on 80m years ago with the low inverted V but it took me a good vertical to work Japan and VK/ZL. It will be the same on 160m. And so much harder since 160m is a tough band by itself.

This aside I’m having a great time on the low end of the HF spectrum and that’s what counts. Coming weekend is the short (8 hr) but enjoyable RAEM contest and a shootout on 160m called Stew Perry Top Band Distance Challenge. Now there’s a contest I never ever have made a single QSO in. Yet another first coming up!

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