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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

ZL8X, Kermadec - 19 Nov to 05 Dec

In just 10 days a group of 13 mostly German operators will put ZL8, Kermadec Island, on the air. The 2009 Most needed Country List placed ZL8 at No. 28 so a lot of you guys probably need them on several bands. Since I only have them confirmed on 20-M Phone, you can bet I'll be in the hunt!

They have already shipped 2.5 TONS of equipment to New Zealand and will operate SEVEN stations in two camps about 1 km apart. Antennas will include 4-squares for 30, 40 and 80-M, verticals for 80 and 160-M, and multi-element dipole arrays and yagis for the HF bands. Each station will have a transceiver, amplifier, laptop, interface and Win-Test software. They will be operating in the CQ WW DX CW Contest.

More details are available on their web site HERE. To find what you want, hover your mouse over one of the items in the menu bar on their web site and a "Sub" menu will appear where you can choose a topic. For example, hover over the word "Organization" on the menu and then click on the word "Operating" on the sub-menu. This will take you to the page with the table of their operating frequencies and their Hints for Operating.

They WILL have an online log once the operation starts. GL to all WVDXA Members.

Friday, November 5, 2010

W8JA's Antenna Project

Over the last couple of months many WVDXA Members have been working tirelessly to help Jimmy, W8JA, with a big antenna project. Jimmy lives on a city lot in St. Albans and had a 40-foot American Standard tower supporting his antennas. The goals of the project were to install a sturdier tower, gain 10' in height, and have 2 elements to enhance his 40-M performance. The extra 10' of tower height might also help the performance of Jimmy's 160/80-M trap dipole. A new 6-M antenna was purchased and installed to allow Jimmy to put up a lower yagi for 6-M in addition to the higher, new antenna.

Since I was not in on the project from the beginning, I may not have listed everyone who helped with the project. If so, I sincerely apologize for any omission in advance. However, I do know the following contributed many, many hours of their time, their expertise and their advice to see this project through to completion:

Charlie, N8RR
Mike, NU8LL
Dave, W8IW
Dave, WA8WV
Eric, K8OHZ
Seth, W8FG
Rick, W8ZT
Clark, W8TN
Jimmy's brother, Mike

The old HF antenna was a Force 12 "C-3 S" and it was replaced with a Force 12 Delta 4-XL which has an 8-foot longer boom and 2-L on 40-M. His old 5-L CushCraft 6-M beam was replaced by a 6-L CushCraft about 8 feet above the F12 HF antenna. The new tower is Rohn Model 35 which is half way between Rohn 25 and Rohn 45. It is very sturdy and much easier to climb and work on than Rohn 25. The new tower is 50-feet tall. In addition to replacing the antenna feedlines and splicing on additional rotor control cable, the Phillystran guy cables were replaced with larger ones using pre-formed dead ends to attach the ends of the guys.

Jimmy had Custom Welding make a new house bracket to accommodate the larger tower. Tim, KC8UHE, drilled the concrete patio to facilitate the attachment of the new tower base plate. Rick, WZ8T, fabricated a new roof attachment bracket for the guy cables as well as the tower top plate. Jimmy's mom selected Sherwin Williams Beige as the color for the new tower which several of the guys painted. This turned out to be an excellent choice as it blends the tower in nicely so it does not stand out too much.

A lot of man-hours were spent assembling the antennas in Jimmy's back yard and testing them before they were installed. Still, the F12 40-M antenna needed to be "tweaked" after it was hoisted the first time so that meant pulling it back down, making the modifications, and raising it back up. At least three FULL days of tower work were required to remove the old antennas and tower and install the new ones. It seemed like Mike, NU8LL, was in the air for DAYS!

On the first day when the old tower was to be removed and the new tower installed, I was about an hour late to arrive. Therefore, I missed the Bar-B-Que! It seems Eric, K8OHZ, had arrived early and his car decided to self-destruct and go up in flames right in front of Jimmy's QTH. The fire department was called and managed to extinguish the flames but Eric lost his ride! This was bad news for him but good news for Jimmy's project as with that one incident, Murphy was banished and everything else proceeded without major incident. (Sorry this had to happen to you Eric!)

Jimmy's mom, Oleta, supplied enormous amounts of food to everyone who was there - on every day we were there! Jimmy himself supervised every step of the operation even at the expense of a pretty good sunburn! And, during the project when the New PJ Entities came into existence, it was quite evident that Jimmy was torn between supervising the project and getting in front of the radio to work the New Ones even with Mike, NU8LL, still on the tower!

Above you can see a photo of the completed installation. But, click HERE for the complete photo album of Jimmy's project. On that page, click on any photo to enlarge it. You can then use the Left/Right Arrows above the photo to navigate the album. Or, just click on the Slideshow button at the top left of the first page (the one with all the thumbnail images.)

This was a MAJOR effort on the part of many members of the WVDXA. A lot of personal time and effort was expended to help just one DX'er, but, it's what we do. And for that, I'm extremely proud to be a member of this group!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

ZS8M - Marion Island - Penguin Photos

Bob, WA8VPN, received an email from Pierre, ZS8M today which contained 10 photos of penguins on Marion Island. Bob asked that I post them to the Blog for WVDXA members to view and get some idea of what life is like at this rare DX Location called Marion Island. Marion Island ranked THIRD on the Most Needed Countries List which makes it VERY rare indeed!

Here is the text of Pierre, ZS8M's, email:
Hi All,

Some pics of penguin activity a few months ago.
These penguins are easy targets from seals, killer
whales and shua.

Marion Island

The ZS8M log is online HERE. (Yes, WA8VPN made the log!) You can also read the ZS8M Newsletter HERE. The Newsletter contains a lot of good information about this operation and many more photos.

I have posted all 10 penguin photos to a Picasa web album. You can view them by clicking HERE. Underneath where it says "Marion Island" you can click on "Slideshow" and view all 10 images one right after the other. Click on any images on this Blog page to see them larger, then click on your BACK button to return to this page.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

July 24th Meeting/Picnic

Boy, is my belly full! Even though the temperature was flirting with 100° today, it was hardly noticed by the 16 WVDXA members who convened for a meeting at the QTH of Jim, K4JWA, in Barboursville, WV. This is surely one of those excellent WVDXA meetings that will be talked about for months to come. Jim, K4JWA, and his wife, Mary, KD8IPW, graciously opened their home to the marauding band of hungry DX'ers who descended upon them for several hours. As always with the WVDXA, the food and drink were plentiful and delicious.

To the left you can see K4JWA's new tower and antennas. Above you can see those who attended, with the exception of Phil, W8UV, who managed to escape before I pulled out my camera. Click on any photo to see a larger version and then use your BACK button to return to this page. Left to right we have: W8OI, K4OM, W8IW, N8RR, WA8WV, K8OHZ, W8JA, K4JWA (white shirt), KC8WDT (plaid shirt), KC8UHE, KC8FVE, W8TN, W8QY, WA8ZDL, and W8HC.

W8OI's wife, Nancy, WB8GSD, and W8TN's wife, Evelyn, were also there as well as K4JWA's wife and W8JA's mom. The menu included hot dogs, hamburgers, fresh fruit salad, broccoli salad, macaroni salad, deviled eggs, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, two kinds of baked beans, potato salad, pie and more that I can not remember. Plenty of drinks (leaded and unleaded) were also available. Jim, K4JWA, forgot to tell us to bring our trunks for a dip in the pool but with no shade to be found over the pool, I doubt if anyone would have jumped in.

The big news is that we decided on club shirts with WVDXA logos. Jim, K4JWA, had obtained three different color shirts from Land's End and we decided for the club to go with the "Tan" color and Dark Blue print for the Name/Callsign over the pocket. Orders were taken by Mary and if you want one of your own, contact Jim, K4JWA, with your information (size, shirt color, name, and call.) The price is $51 each which covers the shirts, tax and shipping to K4JWA. If there is any excess, it will go back into the treasury. We also voted to reimburse Jim, K4JWA, for the $175 "Logo Setup" fee he paid to get this project going. You can see the shirt (in white) on the right. Jim did not have on the "Tan" color shirt but the group decided that one looked the best with our logo.

Pete, K4OM, graciously passed on his "I Worked a JA on 6-M" badge to Charlie, N8RR. Charlie brought his JA QSL for Show and Tell and now has the honor of being the most recent club member to work Japan on the Magic Band.

So, we all laughed, ate, drank, told stories, and learned a few things as well. Another fabulous get-together of the WVDXA. If you missed this one, be sure you make it to the next.

Monday, May 17, 2010

WVDXA Shirt Logo

It was discussed at the last WVDXA Club Meeting about having shirts made with the WVDXA logo on them. Jim, K4JWA, has had a sample made and all the guys who saw it at the Dayton Hamvention were extremely pleased with how it looks. You can see a photo of it on the right.

We need to decide what color shirt to place the logo on and what to put under (or over) the logo - such a Callsign Only or Callsign/First Name, etc. So, think about what might make a good shirt color and what you would like to see besides the logo and let's discuss it on the Reflector.

Thanks Jim for taking the lead on this.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May 2010 Meeting of the WVDXA

Saturday, May 1st, 9 members of the WVDXA got together at the QTH of Bob, W8QHG, for a most enjoyable afternoon. As Bob is 93-1/2 years young, it is difficult for him to travel so we brought the meeting to him! Alan, W8OP, traveled the furthest in driving 3 hours each way from Fairmont, WV.

As usual, the food was sumptuous! Bob's daughter, Bonnie, fixed Penne pasta with meat sauce and home-made meatballs, Hal, W8HC, brought some home-made pizza (it was made at the home of Papa John's!), Dave, WA8WV, brought his famous lemon pound cake, Alan, W8OP, came with home-made Apple pie and sweet tea, Jim, K4JWA, brought garlic bread and a marvelous tossed salad with strawberries, Garry, W8OI, brought drinks and I brought chocolate chip cookies. We ate well - as always!

Bonnie graciously brought her laptop with an AirCard so we could access the Internet and Hal, W8HC, brought a projector and screen so everyone could see the presentations. First up we had a demonstration of the new WVDXA chat page and the DeskPins utility to keep any window "Always-on-Top" of other windows. Then, I showed the 2007 DX Forum presentation I gave at Jackson's Mill about "How to Work DX on a Dead Band (6-M.) That proved timely as the 6-M band opened up just 2 days later.

Above you can see a photo (taken by Bonnie) of those who attended. Click on the photo to make it larger and then hit your BACK button to return to this page. From left to right are: W8OI, WA8WV, WA8VPN, W8TN, W8HC, W8QHG (seated), N8RR, K4JWA, and W8OP.

Besides the presentations, several who attended were "schooled" by WA8VPN's single QSL DXCC submission. They then went home and began searching their QSL's for Deleted Entities! During "Show and Tell" I gave a brief demonstration of my new climbing belt on Bob's tower. Even with the new belt, climbing a tower with a cane can be difficult!

From all the good comments, we need to get together again before too much time has passed. It was certainly the best Saturday afternoon I've spent in quite some time.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Print Your DXCC Award Credit Matrix from LoTW

Have you noticed that ARRL no longer supplies a printed "Credit Matrix" of your DXCC Entities when you made a recent DXCC Submission? That happens when your submission contains LoTW credits, because they know you can access the Credit Matrix online at any time. However, there are times when you might like to have a "hard copy" on hand (like when checking through a stack of QSL's to see if you need to submit any of them.)

If you would like a printed copy of your DXCC Credit Matrix, you can get one from ARRL for $3.00 or you can print it yourself. Simply follow these steps and you can print your own right at home:

Sign into your LoTW Account and click on the yellow "Awards" tab.
Click "Select DXCC Award Account" and you will see your "Totals" chart.
Underneath that chart, click on "View Award Credit Matrix"
Now pull down "File" from your browser menu bar and choose Print. That's it.
Prior to selecting "Print" you can choose "Page Setup" and select either Landscape or Protrait mode if you want. You can also choose "Print Preview" to see what the report will look like before you print it. I found that Portrait mode took 13 pages to print and Landscape took 14 pages. It's your own personal preference as to which you choose.

Also, a neat thing you can do with this report is once you click on "View Award Credit Matrix", you can click on the blue "Sort By" link at the top of the Entity column and the list will now be arranged alphabetically by "Entity Name" instead of Prefix. I find this to be extremely helpful when I'm looking for an entity but can't remember the Prefix. BIG HELP! (See Graphic Below.)

Having the Credit Matrix in this form can also be very helpful in searching out those entities you have missed on rather easy bands. For example, you may find you have no QSL for the USA on 12-M. That's pretty easy to correct. In the Graphic below you can quickly see I need Crozet on CW and Cuba on RTTY (and pretty much everyone on the WARC bands!) This can help focus your "hunt" for that elusive DX.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Palestine, E4X, May 28 to June 6

A major DX'pedition to Palestine, E4X, is scheduled for May 28 to June 6. 10 operators, mostly from Spain and France, will put this needed country on the air for about 10 days. According to their web site HERE, they plan to operate 160 thru 6-M, SSB, CW & RTTY. The 6-M antenna is a 28-foot boom yagi and they will have two Acom 1010 amps so it is conceivable we might be able to work them on the Magic Band.

In addition to the two Acom amps, they plan to have two more SPE Expert 1K-FA amps. Also, 4 HF transceivers will allow them to have at least three stations operating at the same time on different bands and modes. Antennas for HF are not that extensive but include a Spider beam, a Hex beam, verticals for 30 & 40-M, Inverted-L for 80-M and a sloping dipole for 160-M.

Palestine ranks 51st on the 100 Most Needed Countries List so I'm sure a lot of WVDXA members will be looking to either pick this one up as an All-Time New One or to at least fill in some needed band slots. QSL info lists only Direct via EA5RM.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

JD1/o Ogasawara Island - 28 March to 12 April

A group of 5 operators (4 from the USA) will be putting Ogasawara Island on the DX bands for two weeks. They have plans to operate 160 to 6-M with CW, SSB & RTTY. Ogasawara stands at No. 94 on the Most Needed Country List however I'll bet a lot of WVDXA members have many bands they would still like to fill in with this one. This operation will basically be a low-power one from what I read on their Web Page. They will have two Kenwood TS-480's and a Yaesu FT-1021 which is a 200-watt radio. 80 and 160-M they will use verticals, 40 & 30-M will be "half-squaes" and 10-20-M will be a Sigma V five-band vertical dipole and an HB9CV five-band yagi. Working them on the low-bands will present a bit of a challenge due to the lack of high power. But with five operators and three rigs, they should be on the air a good deal. The 7,100 mile, near polar path from WV will also make your QSO's a little difficult but I have high hopes that I can add some more Band/Entities for JD1 beginning next week. There will apparently be an on-line log search as well. GL to all WVDXA members who need JD1.

If you miss out on some JD1 contacts with the above group, JG7PSJ will be operating as JD1BMH from 02 May to 14 May. He WILL have a Yaesu VL-1000 amplifier but has not indicated any plans to operate on 160 or 80-M. He has operated several times from JD1 in recent years and his Web Site indicates he will have an online log search as well.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pacific Odyssey - May/June 2010

The Ukrainian DXpeditioners Team (UDXT) has plans to operate from three Pacific DX Entities in June, 2010. They are taking two Elecraft K-3's and two Acom 1010 amps. They plan to be on 160-10-M with CW, SSB & Digital. See their web site HERE. T31 Central Kiribati, Kanton Island, Phoenix Islands Group, is 29th on the Most Needed Country List.

Here are the planned stops on this Odyssey along with Zone and IOTA numbers and proposed dates:

  • 5WØOX, Samoa (CQ – 32; ITU – 62; IOTA OC – 097) 18 May – 19 May 2010
  • T31X, Central Kiribati (CQ – 31; ITU – 62; IOTA OC – 043) 22 May – 1 June 2010
  • ZK3X, Tokelau (CQ – 31; ITU – 62; IOTA OC – 048) 2 June – 6 June 2010
Obviously the 5WØ and ZK3 stops will be short so stay on your toes.

Equatorial Guinea, 3CØC, Delayed

The DX'pedition to Annobon Island, 3CØC, which had originally been scheduled for 15 days in April has been delayed for possibly several months. See their web site HERE. BTW there is a great photo of the island with their proposed location on that web page. Here is the statement describing the delay:

Today we received a statement from Equatorial Guinea where we are told that the coming days, they will start some repairs on the runway on Annobón and therefore can not enter or leave on any flights from the island.

It seems that there is hope that the work will last two to three months. Although we are prepared to leave for Africa at any time, we are forced to delay our stay at Annobón until work on the runway is completed.
They had plans to operate three transceivers with two amplifiers and to be active on 160-10-M. If they delay 2-3 months, it may be very difficult to work them on 160-M.

TNX to Alan, W8OP for this update.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

YI9PSE - Iraq, April 2 - 12

I just voted for what bands/modes I need Iraq on (RTTY plus all bands except 20-M) and I noticed many WVDXA members had also voted. To vote, click on the "Survey" link on their website - YI9PSE. This should be a great DX'pedition to pick up many needed band/mode counters. They are planning to use FIVE complete stations complete with IC-7600 transceivers and Acom amps. Antennas include a 3-L SteppIR, 2-L SteppIR, Force 12 C3S, SteppIR Vertical, 1/4 wave verticals for 30, 40, 80 and 160-M, and a 300-foot Beverage. That's some very workable stations. With Iraq being some 6400 miles from us, it's a little difficult to work but the class of operators and the quality of equipment on this DX'pedition makes it look very good. The website will have an online log and QSL's will be uploaded to LoTW in late 2010. With FIVE complete stations operating all bands from 160 to 10-M (CW, SSB, & RTTY) this should satisfy the demand for Iraq for many folks. GL to all WVDXA members in the pileups.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Watch the Band Edges!

The following is a portion of a post in the January 01, 2010, column "It Seems to Us" by David Sumner, K1ZZ, the ARRL CEO, which appeared in the January 2010 issue of QST. It bears repeating here as many of us get involved in the heat of the chase for the DX and forget that just clicking on a spot may place us outside our band or sub-band privileges. Also, the comments about how close an SSB signal can get and still be within the band is something we all need to keep aware of, lest we stray out of the band.

It's a good idea to post your allowed operating frequencies in a conspicuous place near your operating position so you will be constantly reminded and be able to check whenever you think you "may" be out-of-band.

========== Excerpt of "It Seems to Us" ==========

Watch the Band Edges!

Following the relocation of most broadcasting stations from the 7100-7200 kHz band there has been a significant increase in DX activity by US amateurs on 40 meter phone. Judging from what we're hearing and what others are reporting from around the country, a reminder about band edges is in order.

When in SSB mode, most transceivers display the frequency of the suppressed carrier. This can be a bit confusing, because ideally your station isn't emitting any energy at all on that frequency. All of your transmitter power is going into the voice passband that extends roughly from 300 to 3000 Hz on one side or the other of that frequency.

The bottom edge of the US phone band for Amateur Extra and Advanced licensees is 7125 kHz. Without getting into hair-splitting debates about how wide your SSB signal might be compared to others, if you're operating on lower sideband (LSB) with a carrier frequency below 7128 kHz you're out of the band because some of your transmitter power is below 7125 kHz. For General licensees the band edge is 7175 kHz, so the lowest carrier frequency a General can use on LSB is 7178 kHz. At the top edge, as long as you're on LSB the situation is different; if you're confident that your opposite sideband and carrier suppression are up to snuff you can snuggle up to the band edge of 7300 kHz.

Two other bands where "falling off the edge" is too common an occurrence are 20 and 17 meters, and here -- because upper sideband (USB) is the norm on these bands -- the problem occurs at the top end. Carrier frequencies above 14,347 kHz and 18,165 kHz respectively are verboten. On these bands the lower band edge is not generally a problem because on USB, the carrier and lower sideband are suppressed.

As station licensees and control operators we are responsible for the proper operation of our stations. If a DX Cluster spot lures us out of the US phone band that's our fault, not the spotter's. If a DX station is on 18,160 kHz and is listening "5 to 10 up" it's our fault, not his, if we go up more than 5. And as long as we're talking about 17 meters -- a great band, by the way -- US amateurs must remember that RTTY and data modes are not allowed above 18,110 kHz, even if a RTTY DX pileup extends above that frequency. And remember, too, that if you're generating a RTTY or data signal by injecting audio into an SSB transmitter your actual operating frequency is different from what's shown on your display. How much different? Only you and your software know for sure!

========== "Reprinted with the permission of the ARRL. Copyright ARRL." ==========

You can view the entire "It Seems to Us" column by clicking HERE.