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Saturday, March 14, 2020

Which PacketCluster Should You Use?

Do you use a PacketCluster which is displaying ONLY spots posted by U.S.A. or NA stations?  I don't.  I use VE7CC which displays spots from all over the world.  There are many other Clusters you can use which do this but I just happen to like VE7CC.

Why do I do this you may ask?  Yes, I do receive a LOT of spots which do not benefit me at all.  For example, in the image at the Left is a spot (the Blue one) for 9K2HS in Kuwait (6,700 miles away) on 160-M which came in at 1836 GMT.  That's 1:36 p.m. local time for me or 4 hours BEFORE my Sunset.  Absolutely no chance in Hades that I could make this contact on Top Band or even hear 9K2HS at that time.  (Click on any image to see it larger.)

However, seeing this spot alerts me to the fact that there actually is a 9K station operating on 160-M and that is a Band-Point which I need.  If 9K2HS is still there after my Sunset, maybe I'll get a chance to work him.  At least I know he is operating on that band.  And, most importantly, I can be ready for him before anyone in the U.S.A. or NA spots him.  (In this case I did not see 9K2HS show up that day after my Sunset.  But I did work 9K2HN a week later!)

The next morning I got up at 0945 GMT (4:45 a.m. local time) and got on the radio.  I saw some spots for E44RU on 17-M but at that time of day (3 hours BEFORE my Sunrise) there were absolutely no signals to be heard at my QTH on 17-M from anywhere.  Still, I put the radio on 18.095 MHz and set up for FT8 F/H as indicated by the spots I saw and just kept doing other things.

Then, just as the Sun peeked above my horizon - at 1250 GMT I first copied E44RU.  I started calling him at 1253 GMT.  It took me an hour and 23 minutes to finally make the QSO but I did make it running 1,100-watts to a 17-M Inverted-V (no beam.)  And, if you note on the PacketCluster list on the Right, there were ZERO spots from ANY U.S.A. or NA station during that period!  And, while I was trying to work him, I NEVER saw him call or work a U.S.A. or NA station.  Still, he did work me!  I was there calling him because I saw spots from other parts of the world which alerted me to the fact that E44RU was on 17-M FT8 F/H at that time.

Had I been monitoring a PacketCluster which was displaying only spots from U.S.A. or NA stations, I WOULD NEVER HAVE KNOWN E44RU WAS ON-THE-AIR!  As the image at the Right shows, there were NO spots from my part of the world for E44RU during this period - yet, as it turned out, E44RU was indeed definitely workable, in fact I DID work him, and it gave me a New Band-Point for the Challenge!

The end result is that I made the log (see the image on the Left) and scored a New One which I may have totally missed by only watching spots from my part of the world.  Restricting your PacketCluster spots to only those from your area can LIMIT the possibilities for you to work many stations!

This is a "DX Tip and/or Trick" sponsored by the West Virginia DX Association and comes to you FREE with your membership.  Those WVDXA Dues are worth every penny - right?

Thursday, March 5, 2020

WVDXA Supports Club Log in 2020

Upon unanimous consent of the membership, 'da Prez made a donation to Clublog in the name of the WVDXA in the amount of $100.00 U.S. (£74.78 British Pounds).  This will help support the operation of this great resource that many of us use at least weekly (if not daily!)


This 2020 donation has been credited to the West Virginia DX Association.  This brings our total donations to Club Log to $598 since 2013.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

February 2020 WVDXA Meeting

What a MASSIVE turnout at our February 2020 meeting!  The sign-in sheet contains 32 names!  Here are those who attended this meeting: W8TN, Evelyn Stewart, WW8RT, KD8IZK, KD8BZY, N8RR, K8OHZ, NØULL, NU8LL, N8ULL, W8IW, K8RRT, N8DX, WA8ZDL, N4HT, WE5P, W8OP, WA8WV, W8OM, WV8FV, WV8RC, K8BT, K8KT, K8WEE, KB8KIM, W8UQ, W8OI, KD8VNN, AB8RL, W8HC, WB8III, and K8YYY.

That's a BIG meeting for us!  We certainly stretched the new venue (Ryan's) to near its limit.  I suspect the great turnout was due to Hal, W8HC, giving his presentation “VP6R Pitcairn Island 2019 DXpedition” which included many beautiful photos and videos of the trip along with Hal's commentary.

Speaking of the presentation, I have received MULTIPLE comments about how much folks enjoyed it.  Hal, W8HC, gave us a great insight into how a major DX'pedition requires WAY more work than many realize.  A fantastic element of his presentation was the history lesson about how Pitcairn Island came to be settled.  I can tell you the audience was "riveted" to the screen during this presentation as evidenced by the photo on the left.

As a large benefit of our getting together, we almost always have at least one ARRL Card Checker attend since ALL THREE ARRL Card Checkers in WV are members of the WVDXA. And, in fact, this meeting did see all three (W8HC, WA8WV, and W8OP) attend.  I don't know if Alan, W8OP, or Hal, W8HC, checked any cards, but I know that Dave, WA8WV, (seen in the bottom right of the above photo) was kept busy checking cards. A shot of him (and his Green pen) actually checking cards is shown on the left.  Click on any photo to see a larger image.

In fact, Dave made one WVDXA member VERY happy by checking his QSL Submission!  Tim, K8RRT, gave Dave his application and those confirmations put Tim over the 2,000 level on the DXCC Challenge!  You can imagine how happy this made Tim.  And, just to be able to attend this meeting, Tim had to get a workmate to fill in for him so that he could leave work early for the meeting.  Plus, Dave checked a few QSL's for Charlie, N8RR, leaving him needing only THREE MORE confirmations to reach the 3,000 Challenge level!

Those who attended the meeting came from all across the state with several attending from the Far North Enclave of the WVDXA: Wayne, KB8KIM, came from Randolph County, Bill, K8WEE, came from Summers County, Steve, WB8III, and Alan, W8OP, came from Fairmont in Marion county.  In addition, several came from other states: Jack, N8DX, came from just north of Cincinnati, Ohio, Harry, N4HT, again came from Lexington, Kentucky, for his second WVDXA meeting and he brought his friend, Bill, WE5P, also from the Lexington, Kentucky, area for his FIRST WVDXA meeting!  You can see Harry, N4HT, and Bill, WE5P, in the top photo above with N4HT on the left.

Back to the presentation, this was the first time we used the Laptop Projector which was secured for us by Steve, WW8RT.  It has always been a hassle to try and find someone to bring a projector from their work so we can use it.  Now, thanks to Steve, the WVDXA now has its OWN projector!  THANK YOU, Steve!

Who knew that hams used their hands so much when speaking?  As you can see on the left, Alan, W8OP, in the foreground and Dave, W8IW, in the background made extensive use of their hands in their conversations.

And, some were so excited to be here that they had that "deer in the headlights" look.  Steve, WB8III, in the red shirt on the right seemed to always look surprised in any of the photos that Hal, W8HC, and I took.  I just assume that was his excitement at being able to participate in a WVDXA meeting!

Finally, the group voted to make another of our annual contributions to support Club Log.  This is the SIXTH time the WVDXA has made a financial contribution to Club Log.

In the end, everyone left the meeting having satisfied (for a brief time) their desire to talk about DX.  Another extremely successful WVDXA meeting, for sure!

Monday, November 25, 2019

November 2019 WVDXA Meeting

WOW, it was WAY TOO long since our last meeting!  You could certainly tell that by the fact that no one wanted to leave - Hi!  Of course, it might have been the food since we all know DX'ers travel on their stomachs! Note that in the photo of the 14 hams who attended (shown above), I had to add Jimmy, W8JA, as an insert because he was stuck downstairs when the photo was taken.

W8UZ  -  N4HT
Roger, KD8BZY, and Becky, KD8IZK, kindly offered their home for the second time as a location for this meeting.  In addition, they supplied the bulk of the food which included two spiral hams which Roger cooked.  There must have been at least a dozen positive comments about that ham.  WOWZER was it good!!  My biggest regret is that my wife refused to bring any of it home when it was offered - bummer!  (Sure wish I had known that!)  As I recollect, we enjoyed hot baked ham, potato salad, coleslaw, rolls, a shrimp cocktail platter, a veggie platter, deviled eggs, a Kentucky Bourbon cake, craft beer, Mary's Ellis' excellent cake, Evelyn Stewart's brownies, banana nut muffins and cookies, broccoli casserole, and probably some other items I forgot.  What a wonderful spread!

PowerPoint Presentation
We had 17 persons attending: W8JA, W8JA's mom (Oleta Aeiker), Oleta and Jimmy's Caretaker (Brenda Thornton), K4JWA, K8KT, WT8V, N8RR, W8IW, K8RRT, WA8WV, W8TN, W8TN's XYL (Evelyn Stewart), KD8BZY, KD8IZK, W8UZ, N4HT, and W8OI.  Unfortunately, Hal, W8HC, made a critical error with his calendar and just HAD to attend the WVU football game.  Boy, Hal, you would have had more fun here!  Those sharp-eyed among you will notice two calls for hams who have never attended a WVDXA gathering before.  Don, W8UZ, from Woodburn, INDIANA, and Harry, N4HT, from Lexington, KENTUCKY, made quite a long trip to attend!  Both have joined the WVDXA as our newest members and everyone at the meeting was pleased they came.  Their presence enhanced the camaraderie of the meeting immensely. You can see their photo on the right.  [Click on any photo for a larger image.]  And, one WVDXA member who lives in Delaware, telephoned and spoke with some of the group to tell us how he wished he could attend.  Phil, W8UV, your presence was indeed missed but we are SO glad you made a brief appearance anyway!

Discussions Abounded
W8TN, N8RR, and KD8BZY gave a PowerPoint presentation on "Small Station EME."  It is interesting to note that those three are the only known EME operators currently active from West Virginia and all three belong to the WVDXA.  DX is DX!  After the presentation there were many questions from several of those attending.

Karl, K8KT, collected donations for the upcoming W8S, Swains Island DX'pedition.  And, Dave, WA8WV, checked QSL Cards for the ARRL.

On the right is a photo taken by Garry, W8OI, of part of the multiple discussions which lasted all afternoon.  Even the rain did not dampen anyone's enthusiasm.

Now sometime in the near future, possibly January 2020, we will have a really exciting presentation.  Hal, W8UC, will be there to show us and tell us all about his recent DX'pedition to VP6R, Pitcairn Island.  That will be a real "barn burner" for sure!  DO NOT MISS this next meeting.  If you notice in the group photo at the top of this post, you will see Dave, WA8WV, was already sporting his VP6R tee-shirt.  Way to go, DAVE!

Sunday, August 18, 2019

April 2019 WVDXA Meeting

This Post is a "tad" late but still I wanted to report a bit on our April 20, 2019, meeting.  The meeting was held at Golden Corral in Cross Lanes, WV.  I made arrangements with Golden Corral a couple of weeks before the meeting to secure their "Meeting Room" and told them we expected about 20 to 25 people to attend.  Well, it seems that a week before our meeting date, another group asked for (and received) permission to use the same room for a birthday party for a 90-year old gentleman!  So, we "shared" the meeting room for both events.  I think the WVDXA behaved admirably under these circumstances although there was some grumbling overheard from the other group who apparently expected to have the venue all to themselves.

We actually had 22 persons attending: W8TN, W8TN's XYL (Evelyn Stewart), K8JQ, WB8CQV, WB8CQV's XYL (Janice Jones), WB8CQV's son (Jonathan Jones), WV8RC, WV8FV, WA8WV, W8JA, W8JA's mom (Oleta Aeiker), Oleta's Caretaker (Brenda Thornton), N8RR, KD8VNN, K4JWA, W8OI, WW8RT, W8HC, K8RRT, KE8LSK, WA8ZDL and W8OP.

W8TN gave a PowerPoint presentation on "QSL'ing Tips & Tricks." And the new WVDXA.com web page was presented "live" on the Internet.  Also, from the Internet, W8TN presented a brief view and description of the ARRL's Logbook of the World (LoTW) web site and how that system can be used to confirm QSO's without the need for a physical QSL card.  Finally, a brief view of the WVDXA's new Chat Page on Slack.com was presented.  Note: you can click on any photo here to see a larger image.

W8JA's mom, Oleta, and W8JA
Since we were "sharing" the Meeting Room, the Birthday Group asked for us to be quiet for a bit as they recognized their family member on his 90th birthday.  Everyone (including the WVDXA members) sang "Happy Birthday" to him.  The honoree was so thankful to the Lord for letting him live so long that he got up, asked for quiet in the room, made a few remarks and then unhurriedly sang two verses of a hymn of praise.  It was an unexpected special moment that we applauded. Of course, the WVDXA remained silent about the fact that W8JA's mom, Oleta, who was in our group, will celebrate her 95th birthday in just 5 months!

Steve, WW8RT, collected donations for the upcoming T3ØGC - West Kiribati DX'pedition.  Then W8TN noted that the WVDXA has supplied $20,556 to 32 various DX'peditions plus $498 to ClubLog.

Great fellowship and camaraderie were had by all and the joining of our meeting with the Birthday Party made our gathering truly memorable!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Have You Worked UA4WHX?

In the last few days, Vladimir Bykov, UA4WHX, has been operating from Mayotte as FH/UA4WHX.  You can see some photos from his current operation by visiting this DX-World page (https://dx-world.net/fh-ua4whx-mayotte/). FH, Mayotte, is only No. 103 on the Club Log Needed List.  However, I'm sure Vlad is filling in MANY Band/Slots for a lot of folks and even handing out the occasional ATNO!

Do you realize just how prolific this single DX'peditioner has been over the years?  He has operated from dozens and dozens of countries giving New Ones to thousands of DX'ers.  Just during the last month he has operated from the following places.  Click on the callsign to link to the DX-World page describing the operation with photos.  S70VB - Seychelles, 3B8VB - Mauritius, 3B9VB - Rodrigues Island, FR/UA4WHX - Reunion Island, and currently FH/UA4WHX - Mayotte.  Particularly note the write-up on the 3B9VB operation regarding Cyclone Gelena passing right by Rodrigues Island while Vlad was there.

He is a one-man operation running just 100-watts to wire antennas.  Check out his innovative antenna set-up on his QRZ web page.  Note that he also holds a U.S. Amateur Extra Class license - AC4LN.

Unfortunately, Vlad does NOT use LoTW so you will need to QSL him directly.  He has detailed instructions on his QRZ web page about sending for a QSL.  He does accept QSL requests via PayPal so that should speed up the process for sure.

I have scoured the Internet for an exhaustive list of calls for UA4WHX's operations but can not find such a list.  So, I used a few sources to put together the following list.  I plan to check this list against my own log to see if I have some gems just waiting for a QSL from Vlad.  You can see the actual QSL's for many of the calls below at this web site.  Also on that web site is a link to a 2009 audio interview with Vlad by OE1WHC.  You can gain some very interesting insights into Vlad himself and what it is like to operate from these DX locations by listening to this 14 minute interview.

Here is the list of callsigns which I have found were UA4WHX operations:  3B8VB  -  3B9VB  - 3D2VB  -  3DA0VB  -  4K0VB  -  4LOB  -  4O7VB  -  4S7VG  -  4W0VB  -  5H3VMB  -  5H3VNS  -  5R8VB  -  5T5TI  -  5T9VB  -  5W0VB  -  5X1VB  -  5Z4/UA4WHX  -  6W/UA4WHX/P  -  6Y5/AC4LN  -  7P8VB  -  7Q7VB  -  7V7V  -  8P9/AC4LN  -  8Q7VB  -  8R1/AC4LN  -  9A8VB  -  9H3WHX  -  9J2VB  -  9U0VB  -  9X0VB  -  9Y4/AC4LN  -  A25VB  -  A35VB  -  C50VB  -  C91VB  -  CE/UA4WHX  -  CE0/UA4WHX  -  CE0Z/UA4WHX  -  CE7/UA4WHX  -  CE8/UA4WHX  -  CE9/UA4WHX  -  CN2VB  -  CP/UA4WHX  -  CP4WHX  -  AC4LN/CT1  -  CT8/UA4WHX  -  CT9/UA4WHX  -  D20VB  -  D44TVB  -  D60VB  -  E40VB  -  E7/UA4WHX  -  EA8/UA4WHX  -  EA9/UA4WHX  -  ER0VP-UT/UA4WHX  -  ES0VB  -  EX/UA4WHX  -  EY8/UA4WHX  -  F0/AC4LN  -  FH/UA4WHX  -  FK/AC4LN  -  FR/UA4WHX  -  FW/AC4LN  -  H40VB  -  H44VV  -  H7/AC4LN  -  HB0/AC4LN  -  HB9/AC4LN  -  HC2/UA4WHX  -  HC8ART  -  HH2/AC4LN  -  HI8/AC4LN  -  HK0/UA4WHX  -  HK3/UA4WHX  -  HP1/AC4LN  -  HP8/AC4LN  -  HR1/AC4LN  -  HR2/AC4LN  -  IT9/UA4WHX  -  J20VB  -  J3/AC4LN  -  J73/AC4LN  -  J8/AC4LN  -  JT1FDC  -  JY8VB  -  KD4DZH  -  KH0/AC4LN etc.  -  KH6/AC4LN  -  LU/UA4WHX  -  UA4WHX/CX  -  LY/UA4WHX  -  O19VB  -  OA7/UA4WHX  -  OD5/UA4WHX  -  OJ0/UA4WHX  -  ON9VB  -  P29VVB  -  PY/UA4WHX  -  PY0/UA4WHX  -  PY8/UA4WHX  -  PZ5VB  -  R/AC4LN  -  R00BVB  -  R00KVB  -  R00QVB  -  R11PVB  -  RI0BV  -  RI0BV/P  -  RI0KV  -  RI0POL  -  RI0QV  -  RI0QV/P  -  RI44ANT  -  S70VB  -  ST2VB  -  SU9VB  -  T10VB  -  T20VB  -  T30VB  -  T88VV  -  TG4/AC4LN  -  TI1/AC4LN  -  UA4WHX/2  -  UK/UA4WHX  -  UN8/UA4WHX  -  V31BV  -  V51VV  -  V63MB  -  V73VV  -  VK8VB  -  YJ0VB  -  YL/UA4WHX  -  YS1/AC4LN  -  YU9VB  -  YV5/AC4LN  -  Z2/UA4WHX  -  Z38VB  -  ZA/UA4WHX  -  ZK1/AC4LN  -  ZK2VB  -  ZP9/UA4WHX

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Exporting WSJT-X logs to LOGic & other logging programs

My logging program, LOGic, has been promising for many months to add a fix that will allow WSJT-X QSOs to automatically become a part of my LOGic log.  I have been logging those QSOs on paper and then later typing them into the LOGic program.  But I finally got tired of waiting for the fix and decided to learn how to export my FT8 and other QSOs out of WSJT-X and into LOGic. 

I thought that would be simple.  I was wrong.  It took many hours for me (not the most computer literate guy in the world) to finally make these transfers work quickly and smoothly.

WVDXA President Clark Stewart W8TN suggested I put a "how-to" into writing in case others have been having similar problems with their logging programs.  I won't go through all the other methods I used, all of them taking several steps and wasting time before QSOs would finally get into my logging program's log, but here is the explanation of what I finally did.

First, in order to import into LOGic I must click on an "import" tab and then an "ADIF" dropdown tab.  That brings up a window that allows me to browse for a file's location.  I can then browse to most places; like desktop, documents, downloads, etc.  However it will not find the directory where wsjtx_log.adi is located.  Specifically it will not browse me to C:\Users\Garry\AppData\Local\WSJT-X\wsjtx_log.adi.  Even when I typed all that into Logic's window, it would not take me there.  It just kept telling me the file was not found and instructing me to check spelling and try again.  I must have done this 50 times over the past few days.

However, I finally discovered a way to get LOGic to the right location.
I remembered that LOGic's export window always opens at the last place that it found and used an export file.  I figured that LOGic's import window would do the same.  If I could only get it to the right location in the first place, it ought to automatically go there the next time.  So, I went into the WSJT-X program and put my cursor on the wsjtx_log.adi file and right clicked.  That took me to a "send to" button where a dropdown allowed me to send a shortcut to the desktop.  LOGic's import window went there without problem and did the import, and now (voila) every time I call up LOGic's import window it takes me to C:\Users\Garry\AppData\Local\WSJT-X\wsjtx_log.adi automatically.  Eureka!
Whew.  What a struggle.  Now the process is simple as long as I remember to erase the log file in WSJT-X after each export.  That way only the new contacts are added to my log each time I import in LOGic.  Otherwise the QSOs that were transferred before will be transferred again putting duplicate QSOs into my log.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

WeeeeHooooo - September 2018 Meeting

WVDXA Banner from 3YØZ
Steve Gillispie, K8LZ
YES, SIR.  Today's WVDXA Meeting was a Doozy!  We met at Golden Corral in Cross Lanes and had a bumper turn-out of 29 persons including some who had not been to a WVDXA Meeting before or in a long time.  Those attending were:  W8TN, his wife, Evelyn, KD8VNN, KD8BZY, KD8IZK, WW8RT, W8FG, W8OM, WA8ZDL, W8HC, AB8RL, W8OP, AA8WZ, N8RR, K8KT, WV8RC, W8IW, W8OI, WB8GSD, WB8CQV, Jonathan Jones, Jeffrey Jones, Janice Jones, K8JQ, K8RRT, W8JA, Oleta Aeiker, K8LZ, and W8ZT.

Steve Gillispie, K8LZ, brought a box packed with cables and goodies to distribute to the deserving and he did not take any of it home!  This was Steve's first WVDXA meeting in a LONG time.  Steve belonged to the WVDXA during an earlier manifestation of the group!  He was good to share some of his "Al Hix" stories with the group today.  Steve's photo is on the upper-right.  Click on any photo to see a larger image.

In just 11 days, Jimmy, W8JA's mom, Oleta Aeiker, will be 94 years young!  The group wished her a Very Happy Birthday with a great round of applause!  You can see a candid photo of Oleta on the left.
Oleta Aeiker


K8KT, W8OI, K8JQ, Nancy, etc.
On the right is a shot of some of those attending that includes Garry, W8OI, and his wife, Nancy, in the foreground.  Karl, K8KT, is expounding on something to Charlie, N8RR, who is out of frame.  And in the rear, Rick Robinson, W8ZT, (seen standing) is passing on his knowledge to Steve, K8JQ.

Another WVDXA member who has not been seen at one of our irregular meetings in awhile is Steve Courts, K8JQ.  You can see a candid photo of Steve below on the left.  Click on any photo to see a larger image.  W8TN pointed out that back in college he was "blown-away" by watching Steve (who is naturally left-handed) copy code by writing it with his left hand while he sent with his right!  This has made Steve quite the contester!

After everyone consumed a few thousand calories, W8TN narrated a slide show of some 385 slides.  He described the 1985 DX'pedition to Clipperton Island on which he was a team member.  W8TN wore his yellow T-Shirt for that DX'pedition.  As he stated, this DX'pedition was nearly half-a-lifetime ago!  You can see his photo in that shirt on the right.  Click on any photo to see a larger image.

W8TN - FOØXX '85
Steve Courts, K8JQ
The meeting was nominally scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. but by 12:35 p.m. there were 5 to 7 WVDXA members already in the room beginning to eat!  The meeting finished promptly at 3:00 p.m. and there was a half-hour or more of socializing before the room was vacated. 

A lot more people showed up than had posted to the reflector they were coming.  It seems that some had plans that fell through and allowed them to come.  For others it depended on how they felt today.  All-in-all it was an EXCELLENT turn-out and I think everyone had a WONDERFUL time!  From what I saw of the conversations, I think this was a really great meeting!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

July 2018 Meeting

With the temperatures in the mid-90's, it was a great time to gather together some 20 members of the WVDXA for a FANTASTIC meeting.  The venue this time was the QTH of Roger, KD8BZY, and Becky, KD8IZK, near Sissonville.  Roger and Becky have a really nice place and although the parking was a little limited, we still managed to pack their house full of hams.  So many that the cat was totally confused by all the people!  Those attending were:  KD8BZY, KD8IZK, W8TN, WA8WV, W8IW, KC8BFF, WW8RT, K8KT, N8RR, K8YYY, WA8ZDL, W8OM, KA8SYV, Paula Wildi, W8OI, KD8IPW, K4JWA, K8ZDL, WV8FV, and WV8RC.


Food was in abundance and very tasty!  Roger and Becky supplied the hamburgers, hot dogs, buns, trimmings, corn on the cob and even the cold beer!  Others brought a huge fruit salad, baked beans with little wieners, and the dessert table had cheese cake, Mary's (WA8WV's XYL) cake, Evelyn's (W8TN's XYL) brownies, cherry pie, apple pie and probably more things that I can't remember.

For a "program" W8TN gave a brief demonstration of the WVDXA Chat Page using his cell phone and the cell phones of others who were there.  Tim, K8RRT, although stuck at work, responded during the demonstration from his cell phone (PSSSST, don't tell his boss!)  There were about 5 people present who were not signed up on the Chat Page so they got a look at some of what it can do and I expect several will sign up soon.

The first order of business was by Charlie, N8RR.  Charlie discussed the history of the WVDXA "Japan on 6-M" pin.   Pete, K4OM, was (to the best of our knowledge) the first person in WV to work a station in Japan on 6-M.  Club member Phil, W8UV, (then K8UNV) had previously worked Japan on the Magic Band but Phil was living in Ohio at the time.  Pete, K4OM's QSO took place 10-years ago.  At that time, Pete had a badge made that said, "I Worked JAPAN on 6-M!"  He wore it proudly to emphasize his accomplishment.  I believe Greg, W8GG, (also in Ohio) worked a JA in 2009 but I don't know if the badge was passed to him before he became a SK.

Then in 2010, Charlie, N8RR, managed to make a QSO with Japan on 50 MHz. and Pete passed the badge to him to be worn until someone else in the WVDXA worked Japan.  Charlie worked a 2nd station in Japan on 6-M in 2011 but no one else in the group managed to make a contact. 

Well, Charlie has had the "burden" of carrying that badge for 8 years until this summer, with the advent of WSJT-X and the FT8 mode making it a little easier to work the very difficult path to Japan.  You can see Charlie at today's meeting wearing his badge in the photo on the left.  (Click on any photo to see a larger image.)

Then on June 19th of this year, things opened up and Charlie with his big EME array, managed to decode several JA stations and to work JA7QVI.  The next day he hit the "Mother Lode" and worked 13 JA's.  The big antenna system was proving it's worth.  Then, another couple of JA contacts came the following day.

But, things were looking up for the rest of us as Tim, K8RRT, decoded 3 JA's and called some plus his signal was decoded in JAPAN!  This proved that those of us without the EME size array have a chance.

Finally, on June 29th, it happened!  THREE WVDXA members, W8TN, W8OI, and W8HC each worked JA stations on 6-M!  And on July 9th, TWO more WVDXA members, WB8CQV and KA8SYV both managed to score their first 6-M QSO's with Japan on 6-M.

So, in the space of 10 days, FIVE WVDXA members managed that most elusive of 6-M contacts - Japan!  Well, this placed Charlie in a dilemma.  To whom was he to pass the "Japan on 6-M" pin?  As usual, Charlie (a born problem solver), came up with the most elegant solution.  He had badges made for EVERYONE who worked Japan on 6-M!  In the photo on the right you can see three of the five recipients of those badges.  Charlie also planned ahead by having an additional 5 badges made for the next WVDXA members who make the contact!

To summarize, the WVDXA Summer Bash was a HUGE success!  No one left hungry and all had an amazing time.  Our THANKS to Roger and Becky for opening their home to the group and for all the work they did preparing the food and their home!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

April 2018 Meeting

On short notice, the WVDXA gathered together at the Golden Corral restaurant in Cross Lanes, WV, for one of our irregular meetings.  This meeting was to allow the members to view an exciting presentation by Hal, W8HC, on his recent DX'pedition to 3YØZ, Bouvet Island.  Since the date was picked quickly, we were at the mercy of the restaurant as to what times they had available.  The only slot left on Saturday, April 21, 2018, was from 11 a.m to 1 p.m.  But, even with those constrictions, we had a really good attendance.  Nineteen persons signed the attendance list and included: Clark, W8TN, Paul, WV8PR, Tim, K8RRT, Eric, K8OHZ, Marissa Mynes, Seth, W8FG, Charlie, N8RR, Karl, K8KT, Alan, W8OP, Lonny, WA8ZDL, Garry, W8OI, John, WB8CQV, Jonathan Jones, Janice Jones, Steve, WW8RT, Tom, AB8RL, Terry, AA8WZ, Hal, W8HC, and Terry, WV8V.  You can see a few of those attending in the photo at the right.  This was taken during Hal's presentation as everyone was paying apt attention to the screen.  Click on any photo to see a larger image.

The Golden Corral has a very nice meeting room which has doors that can be closed to keep the noise from the rest of the restaurant from being a distraction.  Plus, there are blinds on the outside windows which worked great to keep the sunlight from interfering with Hal's presentation.  A special thanks is due to Becky, KD8IZK, who provided the laptop projector and screen for the presentation.

Upon arriving the members picked their meals from the buffet and we arrived at that time when both breakfast and lunch foods were available.  While eating there was a great deal of interaction between club members.  This is one of the best aspects of the WVDXA meetings.  Lots of good information was shared at this time.

Just after noon, Clark, W8TN, presented the Treasurer's report on behalf of the Club Treasurer, Dave, WA8WV, who was unable to attend.  Once that piece of business was out of the way, he introduced our own internationally recognized WVDXA member and DX'peditioner Extraordinaire, Hal, W8HC!  Hal's presentation included slides and video/audio which detailed the planning and execution of the recent attempt to activate 3YØZ, Bouvet Island.  Bouvet is the second most needed country in the world and this was the most expensive DX'pedition ever mounted with a budget of $750,000. 

It was amazing to see the planning, preparation, staging, moving, traveling, training, and just flat-out effort these people engaged in for the sole purpose of activating a rare DX entity.  Hal gave us a peek into the "behind the scenes" activities which most folks are never aware of but which happen on nearly all DX'peditions.  Hal shared his insight and knowledge freely with the WVDXA and his presentation was very informative as well as entertaining.  Hal shared facts with those attending that were not made available to the regular ham community and the very real dangers faced by this group of intrepid DX'ers was staggering.  To travel to a location where there is simply NO OTHER LAND withing 1,000 miles puts you in a very lonely and dangerous place.  Then to have a failure of one of your two engines followed by a failure of the only spare replacement part, leaves a sinking feeling in the hearts of those involved.  The word used most often by members who attended to describe Hal's presentation was "AWESOME" and that is a fact!

Above, on the left, you can see a photo of one of the slides from the presentation which shows the DX'pedition members onboard the M/V Betanzos surrounding a Banner for the WVDXA.  In addition, all the members of the 3YØZ DX'pedition signed the WVDXA Flag and in the photo below, you can see Hal presenting that to WVDXA President, Clark, W8TN.
I expect that those who saw this presentation will be forever changed in how they view DX'pediitons in the future.  For that, the WVDXA gives a very big THANK YOU to Hal, W8HC.

Monday, December 4, 2017

December 2017 WVDXA Meeting

Who would have guessed that we could have a wonderful get together at the home of Jim, Mary and Hunter Adams?  Well, we did - AGAIN!  This meeting was scheduled on Sunday due to the fact that Jim, K4JWA, was working all available Saturdays.  With a nominal start time of 1 p.m., folks started arriving before 12:30 p.m. obviously anxious to take advantage of the camaraderie that always exists at these events.  When I arrived, Hunter, KD8SZF, met me in the driveway and directed me on where to park plus he carried in my items for the SwapFest.  The Adams' home was ready for the influx of hungry hams with tables set up, a laptop/projector/screen ready to go, and even the Christmas Tree was decorated.

Before the afternoon ended, we had a total of 27 in attendance: W8IW, Janice Poe, K8KT, W8TN, Evelyn Stewart, WV8FV, W8OM, K8YYY, W8HC, K8TW, W8OP, KA8SYV, Paula Wildi, WW8RT, K8ZDL, W8OIW, W8OI, Nancy Ritchie, K4JWA, KD8SZF, KD8IPW, WV8RC, KD8VNN, Connie Hardway, W8JA, Oleta Aeiker, and W4ER.  Unfortunately, 7 folks had to cancel their attendance due to colds and personal issues or we would have had 34 in attendance.  Only 16 folks are shown in the above photo because several had to leave early before we got around to taking the group photo.  Click on any photo to see a larger image.

Note that in the photo above, you can see our Brand New WVDXA Flag!  I was not scheduled to receive this flag until this coming Tuesday but it showed up late Saturday afternoon.  As produced, the flag only had 2 grommets so Evelyn quickly sewed a couple of backing strips to the corners without grommets and my grandsons, Owen & Grant, installed new grommets at those corners.  At the meeting, we presented the flag to Hal, W8HC, who will be one of the team on the 3YØZ DX'pedition to Bouvet Island.  He will take the flag to Bouvet where it will be hung in one of the tents and later signed by the team members!

The food at this meeting was outstanding!  We had pulled pork BBQ with buns for sandwiches, Cole slaw, potato salad, three kinds of brownies, chips, dips, Salsa, white Coconut cake, chocolate chip cookies, French Vanilla and Coconut Creme pies, shrimp cocktail, vegetable tray, iced tea, sodas, and water.  YUMMM!  Believe me, NO ONE left hungry!

We had three presentations at the meeting.  First, Hal, W8HC, showed a video of a helicopter circling Bouvet Island.  This video was just shot just a couple of months ago.  Team SubICE was there drilling the first ever ice core on Bouvet Island, as part of the Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition (ACE.)  Here is the link to to that 6-minute video on YouTube:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zirAkuCK8Jw

Next, Karl, K8KT, and Clark, W8TN, gave a PowerPoint presentation on their trip to Sweetwater, TN, back in August to view the Total Solar Eclipse.  Karl showed a printed photograph of the "Diamond Ring" photo they captured.  See that photo on the right.

Last but not least, WVDXA member, John, W4ER, came from Mobile, AL, and gave a presentation on QRP/Portable operation.  John had a PowerPoint slide show with photos showing several of the places he has operated (43 states and, I think, 8 countries!)  He also brought a half dozen QRP radios that he has used over years and after showing them and describing their features, he passed them around for all to have a "Hands On" experience.  John is Jimmy, W8JA's, brother so with his visit here he was also able to bring their mom, Oleta, so she could be part of our meeting.

Below is the "No Dues" DUES REPORT submitted by the WVDXA Treasurer, Dave, WA8WV, who was not able to attend because of a cold:
Since starting this great group in 2003 we have collected $1800.00 more or less. Thought I would give you an idea of what our "NO DUES" DUES have covered:
-    Placed a brick in The ARRL Diamond Terrace as a memorial to Al, W8AH
-    Made FOUR donations of $100.00 each to Club Log.
-    Purchased W8AH QSL’s  ***Have a few for those who have not seen the cards.   
-    W8AH Incoming  Bureau expenses
-    Paid the W8AH licensing fees
-    Placed a WVDXA advertisement each year in the State ARRL Convention booklet
-    Paid for the WVDXA shirt setup expenses
-    Miscellaneous meeting and club expenses
-    Purchased the WVDXA Club Flag

Today the balance is $170.01
At today's meeting we collected $50 in donations to the WVDXA Club Treasury bringing the current balance up to $220.01 total.  Eight donations were also collected for the K1B (Baker and Howland Islands KH1) DX-pedition.  Roger, KD8BZY, who is collecting those donations was not able to attend so those donations will be forwarded to him.

After the presentations, a door prize drawing was held with W8OM and KD8IPW being the winners!  The door prizes were donated by Tim, K8RRT, who was unable to attend today's meeting because of work.

Finally, the SwapFest met with some success.  Jim, K4JWA, sold a few items (I bought some heatshrink and Evelyn bought a desktop organizer), plus I sold my West Mountain Speakers.  I'm not sure what other transactions may have taken place at the SwapFest but those who did buy or sell something should forward the appropriate "selling" and "buying" fees to Jim, K4JWA.  Yeah, I'm sure ya'll will do that, right?

From the comments that were posted on the WVDXA email reflector after the meeting, I think pretty much everyone had a FABULOUS time - as we always do.  This is such a great group to belong to that we should get some kind of award don't you think?

Saturday, July 29, 2017

WVDXA Fall "Hot Dog" Meeting

WOWZER!  Another fantastic WVDXA Meeting at the QTH of Frank, KA8SYV, and his wife, Paula.  Their hospitality was "second-to-none" and the food (oh, boy) the food was wonderful.  Several members were over-heard to mention they were attending WeightWatchers but I won't tell if those people exceeded their daily Point Count or not!

In the photo at the right (click on any photo to see a larger image) you can see Paula at work making the Hot Dogs and the Hot Dog Chili.  In addition there were Hot Dog buns, coleslaw, onions, mustard, ketchup, etc. plus two different versions of baked beans, potato salad, a vegetable and cheese plate, chips and HOT cheese dip, and I'm sure I'm forgetting even more goodies.

I did notice that Karl, K8KT, took a seat right at the end of the massive dessert table.  I didn't think anything about that until it was brought to my attention that when my XYL, Evelyn, was cutting the desserts, any broken or sub-standard pieces from those desserts were hand-fed by her to Karl.  NOW I understand why he took that seat!  You can see where Karl sat in the photo at the left as Evelyn is cutting the apple pie!

The WVDXA gained two New Members at today's event!  Amanda Ritchie, KN4EBF, and Zach Litteral, K8ZDL, both expressed interest in joining the group.  As per our rules (or lack of same) - BANG, ZOOM, they are both now members of the West Virginia DX Association.  You can see the two of them in the photo on the right.

The presentations at today's meeting were nothing short of Top Drawer!  Frank, KA8SYV, was up first with a PowerPoint presentation on the latest WSJT-X suite of digital programs especially featuring the very latest protocol, FT8. Frank's talk held everyone's firm attention and generated a great deal of questions and comments.  I am certain that he really piqued the interest of anyone there who had not already become a user of the FT8 digital mode.  After the meeting, Frank posted to the WVDXA reflector some NINE links that are what any new user of WSJT-X needs as references.

After the PowerPoint presentation, Frank yielded the floor to Hal, W8HC, who gave an extremely interesting "Show and Tell" about his upcoming DX'pedition to 3YØZ, Bouvet Island.  Hal showed off some of the cold weather gear he has had to purchase for this trip.  He let us see his parka, sleeping bag, boots, socks, outer-wear waterproof overalls, etc. and described more of the specialized equipment he will be taking with him on this trip.  He discussed many of the details of this dangerous trip to a most remote part of the planet and gave us several details that most of us probably never thought about.  Hal, W8HC, sincerely thanked the WVDXA for the substantial donation we made to the upcoming Bouvet Island DX'pedition and noted that the expenses were still in need of more funding.  Charlie, N8RR, was on-hand and is taking up another collection of donations for the DX'pedition.  He said he received several donations today.

After Hal's presentation, Frank, KA8SYV, had his radio and computer set up for an on-the-air demonstration of the FT8 digital mode.  Many folks gathered around the HUGE monitor to watch and ask Frank questions. There was much more information exchanged here than one could shake a stick at!  And, to make sure those folks were well-fueled for this information exchange, Paula left the dessert bar OPEN and many took advantage of her generosity.  Home-made apple pie made with WV apples, cakes, brownies of several persuasions, OH, I'm getting a Sugar Rush just typing this!

As is many times the case, ALL THREE of the ARRL Card Checkers for West Virginia were in attendance at today's meeting.  You can see in the image at the left, Dave, WA8WV, and Alan, W8OP, pouring over an application and checking the QSL cards.

In attendance at today's meeting were: Clark, W8TN & Evelyn, Eric, K8OHZ & harmonic, Lonny, WA8ZDL, Dave, WA8WV, Bob, W8OM, Gene, W8VZ, Charlie, N8RR, Frank, KA8SYV & Paula, Jerry, KD8UWF, Garry, W8OI, Amanda, KN4EBF, Zach, K8ZDL, Tim, K8RRT, Hal, W8HC, Fred, WV8FV, Rick, WV8RC, Larry, K8YYY, Steve, KD8VNN, Karl, K8KT, Tom K8TW, Adam, KE8GNM, Alan, W8OP, and Steve, WW8RT for a total of 26!

I should also note that Gene, W8VZ traveled from Moundsville, Alan, W8OP, from Fairmont, Larry, K8YYY, from Shinnston, and Tom, K8TW, from Pickerington (outside Columbus) for this event.  That's a lot of miles but DX is always worth the effort!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

WVDXA Continues to Support Clublog

At the May 2017 breakfast meeting, the WVDXA voted to send another $100 donation to ClubLog.  That money has been donated under the account of W8AH (the WVDXA Club Callsign.)  It now shows on the ClubLog page as you can see below and will be randomly displayed with other donors after every upload and expedition log search.  ($100 U.S. dollars is £74.6 British Pounds.)  This brings the total donations to Clublog by the WVDXA to $400 since 2013.

We received a nice Thank You email from the creator of Clublog in response to our donation:

    Hi Clark

    Thank you so much! Please do let your members know, once again, how much I appreciate this support from the club. I am delighted to be able to help the West Virginia DX Association with Club Log!

    vy 73
    Michael G7VJR

It is interesting to note that TWO other WVDXA members just made individual donations to Clublog within the last three days!  I'm sure there are others but these just happen to show on the same page as the WVDXA donation.

 

If you have uploaded your log to ClubLog but your call does not appear in the Leagues, it might be that it is "hidden" from the leagues.  This is usually due to being inactive for 12 months or more, but possibly by choice of the callsign's owner.  You can fix that by clicking HERE and following the instructions.

One other benefit of uploading your log regularly to ClubLog is that it provides a backup of the basic QSO information in your log.  If you should lose your computer (AND the backup you ARE making - right?) you can retrieve the basic info from ClubLog.  You will NOT get back things like Comments, Names, Notes, QSL info, etc. but you will get the basic date, time, band, mode, call and QSL status.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

May 2017 WVDXA Breakfast

Well, for a change, the WVDXA had a breakfast meeting.  Seth, W8FG, suggested that we do this prior to the Hamvention and his suggestion was positively accepted by some 15 members.  We met at 9:00 a.m. at Hardings Family Restaurant at the Mink Shoals Exit of I-79 and everyone stayed for almost 2 hours.

May 6, 2017, WVDXA Breakfast Meeting
Those attending (left to right in the above photo - click on the photo for a larger image) were Dave Ellis, WA8WV, Mary Ellis, David Poe, W8IW, Jan Poe, KC8BFF, Rick Cummings, WV8RC, Charlotte Cummings, Philip Groves, N8SFO, Frank Powell, KA8SYV, Seth Lavinder, W8FG, John Jones, WB8CQV, Becky Thompson, K8BT, Karl Thompson, K8KT, Steve Courts, K8JQ, Charlie Young, N8RR.  And, your scribe, W8TN, who was behind the camera.

Why most were not smiling might have been because the food had not yet arrived.  Why Mr. Ellis had his eyes closed - I don't know.  Maybe it was one of his short naps?

The group voted to again support Clublog with a $100 donation from the Treasury.  The Treasurer (Dave, WA8WV) immediately tendered to the President (Clark, W8TN) the $100 in CASH!  It's no wonder we made him Treasurer.  W8TN will take care of the Clublog donation.

A small flea market followed in the parking lot with Seth, W8FG, disposing of some surplus cables.  Absolutely NO ONE left hungry!  And, I do believe a good time was had by all!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Using HFTA for Site Evaluation - Part 3

This is the third and final installment of the article by Charlie, N8RR, on how to use HFTA software.

==========

Other HFTA Studies/Uses

Over the years since discovering HFTA, I have reviewed dozens of sites. 

WT8V:  Bart has many friends in the Middle East.  His large triband yagi at 60’ on a nice ridge-top site was consistently down in signal strength on 20M about 10 to 20 dB from WD8CCC to 9K2GS, with both running equivalent power.    This was much more than the gain differential between the antennas. 

An HFTA review of Bart’s site showed a significant degradation of the main lobe amplitude looking at 40 degrees, while the WD8CCC main lobe was the beneficiary of major terrain enhancement.   Ben, WD8CCC, has long had one of the outstanding beacon signals out of eastern North America. 

HFTA was used to identify the potential terrain factor that was impacting performance at WT8V, and to evaluate optional tower sites/antenna heights to  achieve better results.    It was necessary to move Bart’s new tower location 600’ west of the existing tower site to remove the terrain feature that was degrading performance from the signal path, but the new site worked.   Bart had the opportunity to do A versus B tests on 20M and the antenna performance on the new tower, especially to the Middle East area,  was far superior to the tribander, much more than could be accounted for by the antenna gain differential. 

The tower height was optimized for 20M, and later the tower was modified to optimize the height of a JK 404 Grande 4 element 40M monobander on Bart’s  narrow ridge top.   Bart considered stacking two of these JK antennas, but HFTA predicted a single antenna at 70’ on the optimized tower site would equal the stacks on the non-optimized tower site, the only place where such a tower could be guyed.  Currently, Bart just about owns 40M as can be heard by several You Tube videos from the ME and EU on the net.  Here is a recording of WT8V on 40M by 9K2GS.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSyZZ8PDjgs

K8KT:   My friend Karl K8KT has always wanted a huge 40/20M antenna array and decided to install one.  Karl, who lives in a beautiful WV hillside location, has the most challenging terrain we have encountered on an HFTA evaluation.   Truthfully, this was a case where the terrain was so severe, HFTA did not predict the results Karl got with his new antenna; HFTA understated  the performance.  The software did get one thing right, it said for any of Karl’s potential tower sites that were considered,  the higher the antenna the better.  All of the potential base sites were substantially below the surrounding hill tops and were actually located on the side of a hill.

A 150’ self-supporting tower was installed, with a JK 6 element 20M monobander at 160’ on top of the mast and a JK 404 Grande 40M monobander at 150’ on the mast bottom.  These antennas are high enough to see over top of the blocking ridges.  It is clear these antennas are performing at a high level, again based on the recordings of Karl’s signal that are available on the net.  Here is a recording of K8KT and WT8V on 20M in the Middle East.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIdc2JFSXuU

Karl’s case illustrates the difficulty of modeling the antenna performance in the presence of a severe up slope condition using HFTA.   In Karl’s case, heroic (and expensive) steps were taken to successfully mitigate a severe terrain issue.   HFTA did predict improving performance with height, but significantly understated how good the performance would be.   Not many folks are going to do what K8KT did to overcome a terrain situation.   

General Conclusions Regarding Terrain

HFTA is useful when you have irregular terrain features and options for deploying antennas.   It can be useful for minimizing negative terrain impacts or maximizing favorable terrain features, but only if you have options for placing the antenna. 

Here are some general statements which I believe are supported by experience and HFTA results. These factors can be considered when viewing a site and placing antennas, where there are any options.  Obviously, if there are no options, you make do with what you have.

Sloping Ground: Sloping ground toward the desired direction lowers the elevation angle of the main lobe and provides favorable DX performance in the down slope direction, compared to a flat land antenna at the same height.  This effect can be significant. 

If on a hilltop or plateau, the farther back on level ground from the cusp of the hill the antenna, the less the terrain advantage becomes, and the more height is required to maintain relative performance.  At some point it becomes like a flat land antenna.   The antenna really needs to "see" the down slope in the foreground. 

Any up slope in the terrain immediately in front of the antenna shifts the elevation pattern higher and degrades performance compared to a flat land antenna.  It does not take much up slope for HFTA to predict this performance shift. Generally, if facing a significant up slope in the desired direction, low angle performance can be significantly impacted on an HFTA model.  Going higher with the antenna can compensate somewhat, but cannot completely overcome the up slope degradation.   There is a possibility HFTA results may overstate the negative impact of the up slope in some cases.  See the K8KT discussion above.

If you are looking up hill in a direction, I think you can expect performance in that direction to be down compared to a terrain neutral direction and significantly down from a down slope direction in most cases.   With that said, you will still get out and make Q’s in an up slope direction. 

The optimum location for an antenna in a down slope situation in a given direction is  on the slope, perhaps just past the cusp of the hill.  W3CRA proved this by experimentation back in the 60's.  See "Station Design for DX", a four part article beginning in September 1966 QST.  http://www.rfcafe.com/references/qst/station-design-dx-september-1966-qst.htm
The link is for Part 1.  From the above site, you can link to the other three parts.

A very good description of W3CRA’s terrain situation, including an HFTA analysis, is provided by Bill Tippett, W4ZV here:    http://users.vnet.net/btippett/w3cra.htm

If the antenna can't be on the slope, or to minimize the uphill effect in the reverse direction, put it as close to the cusp of the hill as possible.   To get terrain enhancement, the antenna needs to illuminate the ground slope. 

Although HFTA does not do vertical polarization, my experience is that having a vertical over the down slope in the desired direction enhances performance.  My 4 x 160M inverted L antennas are positioned in each hill quadrant to take advantage of this effect. I usually see several dB of increased signal in the hill slope direction compared to the other antennas.   Sometimes this effect can be dramatic when switching transmit antennas.  

Regarding height over ground, generally higher is better over flat ground or in an up slope situation.  In a really favorable down slope situation, it is easy to be too high.  HFTA predicted this at my QTH.

In a favorable terrain situation, optimum height can be considerably lower than for a level ground installation.

On some hilltop sites, such as mine, stacking is not beneficial according to HFTA.    Due to the poor performance of the higher antenna, the overall performance of a stack is degraded.  On some of the other hilltop sites evaluated, such as WD8CCC, stacking 20M monobanders at 100’ and 50’ worked out.  However, HFTA shows the optimum height on 20M for the WD8CCC hilltop is 70’.  Coincidentally, Ben has a 4 element Steppir antenna on a 70’ tower.  HFTA predicts little if any difference between these two antenna systems, and Ben reports there is seldom any detectable difference in A versus B switching.     The steepness of the slope and the distance to other terrain features seem to determine whether stacking is beneficial or not. 

Overall, I think HFTA despite the limitations was a helpful tool to use for optimizing the antennas on my hilltop site.  In general terms, the antenna performance in the favorable directions is in agreement with HFTA predictionsAfter almost 8 years of DX chasing here, I also conclude the performance in the problem directions is better than the software predicted.  The 12 and 10 meter bands seem most affected in the HFTA models and also in real life compared to the other bands/directions, the difference being I have to wait longer for the prop to favor me, or wait longer in the pileups. When the propagation is marginal, is when the difference between a problem direction and an enhanced direction is most apparent.  I can live with the situation.   

The optimizing work is unfinished.  Several other improvements are planned.  Stay tuned!  73, Charlie, N8RR


Post written by: Charlie, N8RR