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Sunday, December 18, 2011

VP6T, Pitcairn Is., 20 Jan. - 4 Feb. 2012

Five operators, three from the TX4T operation from French Polynesia last February, will operate for 2 weeks beginning January 20, 2012, from Pitcairn Island.  In the 2010 Most Needed Countries List, Pitcairn ranked 54th.  There is a bit of a discrepancy in the times they plan to be operational.  In the "Plans" section of their web site they mention spending NINE full days on the island.  They also give the dates of 1/20 to 2/4 which is 16 days.  So, Work 'Em Early and Often!
You can view their web site HERE.  They will be running FOUR Elecraft K-3's and four amplifiers including an Alpha 76A.  Look for them to have decent signals here in WV, just 5400 miles away on a heading of 223° or so.
They plan to upload their logs regularly to LoTW DURING the operation if possible using a satellite phone.  If that is not possible, they will upload the full log to LoTW at the end of the DX'pedition.  They also plan to upload to Clublog several times a day.
Interesting is the fact that this DX'pedition to Pitcairn Island will be taking place at the exact same time as the one to Malpelo, which is ranked 12th on the most needed list.  I predict the bands will be HOT with RF during this period!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Antenna/Tower Decommissioning for W8HC

Well, the WVDXA undertook another antenna/tower project today but this time it was a "removal" rather than an "installation" project.  Hal, W8HC, put out an email on the WVDXA Reflector on Thursday asking for help in taking down his telescoping tower and the HF and 6-M beams on top of it.  He knew this was a last minute request but since the weather looked good for Saturday and since the house was being sold, he needed to get the hardware down quickly.  The response, as usual, was great!  NINE WVDXA Members showed up to assist Hal.  This was outstanding due to the fact that a previous antenna job at the same site did not end well with the tower getting away from the crew.  At that unfortunate event, Garry, W8OI, was nearly hammered into the back yard.  We suspect that when Hal put out this email on Thursday, Garry packed up his motorhome and headed South!  Actually that is not true but just a fortunate coincidence that Garry left town just hours before Hal posted his request.
So, with the promise of Gino's biscuits and hot coffee, the crew, consisting of Dave, W8IW, Dave, WA8WV, Charlie, N8RR, Eric, K8OHZ, Pete, K4OM, Lonnie, WA8ZDL, Clark, W8TN and  Rich, K8VE, all arrived and began the process.  Rick, W8ZT, arrived a bit later due to the fact that he brought everything but the kitchen sink!  
With Hal, W8HC, and Dave, W8IW, on the roof, the rest of the crew man-handled the tower from vertical to horizontal without so much as scratching a single element.  If you think it is easy for 7 guys to grab ahold of a vertical tower at the same time, think again!  Several feet were stepped on but the process went smoothly.  With the tower laid over it was relatively easy to remove the antennas, mast and rotor using an old hacksaw, and brute force.  Notice I said "relatively."  It could have been done much quicker with a good bolt-cutter!  Nevertheless, the antennas were soon on the ground along with the tower.
Hal graciously handed over his VISA card to Pete, K4OM, and Pete took Eric, K8OHZ, Charlie, N8RR, and Clark, W8TN to partake of the utopian wonder of Waffle House.  We were saddened to not be joined by Dave, WA8WV, and the rest of the crew but maybe next time.
Garry, W8OI, - you dodged a bullet!  We hope you and Nancy enjoy the sunshine state.  We'll keep the DX warm for you here.  Oh, and Pete must have misplaced Hal's VISA card so Dave, you really didn't miss anything there!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

K8WAT's New Tower & Antennas

On Friday, November 18, I had agreed to help Tim, K8RRT, and Dana, K8WAT, put the final touches on the installation of Dana's new "tower" and HF yagi.  First, Tim and I met at Tudor's to fuel up at about 9:30 a.m. and to wait for it to warm up a bit above the low 30's!  When we got to Dana's QTH I found that Dana had done a really professional job of installing his Wilson ST-77 telescoping, tilt-over tubular tower.  This involved a lot of work by Dana, Tim and Dwight, W8WDT, over several weeks.  The concrete base was massive - as was the tower itself!  What we needed to do today was to attach the antennas to the tower and crank it up.

First we checked all the measurements on the HF antenna which is a Hy-Gain TH-5MK2.  This is a broadband yagi on a 19-foot boom designed for operation on 10, 15, and 20-M.  It has two fully trapped driven elements which result in a good SWR across the entire band.  No need to set up the antenna for CW, mid-band, or Phone operation.  All the measurements checked perfectly except for one on the reflector which was exactly 1 inch longer on each side.  We decided the previous owner must have had a reason to do that and since we could easily crank it down if it wasn't right, we left it alone.

Next we cranked over the tower and our "Safety Officer" (K8RRT) kept yelling at me to stay out from underneath this mass of steel.  We had no problems at all (for which I am very glad.)  Tim was adamant about keeping us all safe and that's a good thing!  In the photo at the left you can see the relative size of this monster behind Dana and Tim (click on any photo to make it larger.)

Once we had the tower where we could reach the mast, we installed the UHF/VHF vertical, a Jetstream JTB-4, which will cover 6-M, 2-M and 440.  Then we mounted the TH-5MK2.  At this point, Tim, K8RRT, checked out the antenna with his MFJ-259B and declared that the SWR was dang near perfect on all bands.  Once that was done, it was time to "Crank It Up!"  Both Dana and Tim expressed how nice it would be to have a motor to do that job!

Once the tower was vertical and locked in place, Dana raised it to about 50-feet.  The tower will extend to 70-feet but he decided to check it out at this level first.  Finally, we installed a coax connector on the UHF/VHF feedline and re-did the wiring on the rotor control cable.  Once that was done, it was time to calibrate the rotor and put some "fire in the wire."  The SWR was indeed great and signals were coming in from all over the world.

For quite some time Dana had been using the 40-M vertical you see mounted on the small roof tower for all his DX'ing on several bands.  He was stunned to find how well he could null out the QRM off the sides and back of this new antenna.  It was even better than he remembered his quad's performance a few years ago.  So, we now have another WVDXA member with a new or improved antenna system ready to pounce on the elusive DX.  In fact, Dana has been doing that nearly non-stop since the antenna went up!  He has even worked a couple of all-time New Ones already.  So when you hear that big signal in the pileup signing K8WAT, you will know where it comes from.  That is probably the "cleanest" looking HF installation I've ever seen.

NOTE:  Before I could get the above Posted, Tim called to tell me that Dana worked 9N7MD on 20-M SSB tonight!  WHEEE!  Let the DX'ing begin!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

WT8V's New 20-M BIG GUN Antenna

On Friday, October 21, 2011, Charlie, N8RR, called for a WVDXA Antenna Raising Party in order to install a new BIG GUN 20-M beam for Bart, WT8V. Charlie and Bart had been working on this project for about 3 months. Bart wanted to drastically improve his 20-M signal from the Mosely PRO 57-B he currently has at 65-feet on a Rohn 25G tower beside his house. After running many iterations of Bart's QTH through the HFTA software, Charlie determined a good location for the new antenna to be about 700-feet from Bart's current tower.

The antenna chosen for this project was an M2 20M5LGS which is a 5-L 20-M Monobander on a 50-foot boom. It was to be mounted on a 40-foot stick of Rohn 55G (the height being computer determined by HFTA) and turned with an M2 OR2800 Orion rotor and fed through 1/2-inch Andrew Heliax®.

At 7:45 a.m. the "Crew" assembled at Hardings Restaurant for a substantial breakfast but the restaurant was not open until 8 a.m. As soon as we had fueled up, it was on to Bart's hilltop QTH to begin the antenna raising. The "Crew" consisted of: Bart, WT8V, Charlie, N8RR, Dave, WA8WV, Garry, W8OI, Clark, W8TN, Tim, K8RRT, Dave, W8IW, Mike, NU8LL, Bob, WA8VPN, Eric, K8OHZ, Benny, WD8CCC and Rick, K8LUP.

A LOT of work was done, problems were overcome and great comradarie was enjoyed by all. Lessons were shared, techniques were passed on, and DX was discussed at length. Bart's wife, Sue, prepared a delicious lunch for all to help re-fuel the effort. The only thing that was not great was the weather. It was cool and damp but at least the wind which normally howls along Bart's ridge-top, stayed away. We finally saw a glimmer of sunlight just at the antenna was secured to the top of the tower. The last folks left at 8:30 p.m. (well after dark) and Bart had to do another 4 hours of tower work and 3 hours of ground work to complete the process on Saturday.

Of course he HAD to get on the radio as soon as the antenna was up and the early reports were nothing short of phenomenal! Bart says the new antenna is at least THREE S-units better on receive. While in QSO with G3YPZ, Bart was told "your mono-bander is 5 S-units better than your tri-bander!” Charlie, N8RR, says that the new antenna should only be about 1/2 S-unit (2.6 to 3.74 db) better based upon the gain of the two antennas and that the extra improvement is due solely to the terrain enhancement caused by the new location he found by analyzing Bart's QTH with the HFTA software.

I have posted some 27 photos of the day's work taken by Garry, W8OI, on a Picasa web album. You can view all WT8V Antenna Party Photos by clicking HERE. Just above the first photo on that page is a link called "Slideshow" which will run through all the photos and you can control the time spent on each picture.

Listen for Bart in the pileups - but you'll have to listen fast as he won't be calling long before he makes the QSO!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

August 2011 WVDXA Meeting

WHAT a Meeting! WHAT a Group! WHAT a QTH!!! BOY, did the WVDXA pull off another Fantastic meeting! Bart, WT8V, and his wife, Sue, opened their hilltop home yesterday to the WVDXA for a long afternoon of fun, food and festivities. Some 20 members of the WVDXA descended on an unsuspecting Bart, took over his grill, and swapped stories, tall tales and commiserated over the ones that got away. Click on the above photo for a larger view then use your browser's BACK button to return to this page.

Eric, K8OHZ, gave a professional presentation of PSK31/62/125 to a rapt audience. Eric came prepared with printed handouts and CD's of software. By hooking up to Bart's antenna, he actually made some live PSK31 QSO's. Many nice comments about Eric's presentation have been posted on the WVDXA Reflector and several of the members are now working toward being able to use these modes.

This turned out to probably be one of the longest WVDXA meetings as no one wanted to leave. There was some talk about siting a WVDXA Clubhouse on the property and I think I heard someone wondering if Bart would adopt them!

Jim, K4JWA, and Mary, KD8IPW, displayed some samples of the personalized WVDXA apperal. These are ordered from Lands End and have a 100% return guarantee. If they do not fit or the name or call is wrong or whatever, Lands End will take them back. Jim and Mary are putting together an order for more Jackets and Shirts so contact them if you want to join in this order.

This was the first meeting for Dana, K8WAT, and Bennie, WD8CCC. Also, we inducted Mary, KD8IPW, officially into the WVDXA. Glad to see the new faces and welcome all of them into the group.

One sign that the meeting was well received was that before it was over, there was talk about the next one.

Friday, July 29, 2011

HKØNA, Malpelo, January 2012

The upcoming DX'pedition to Malpelo will use the callsign, HKØNA. They plan to be operational beginning January 22, 2012. The plan is to operate 160-M through 6-M, CW, SSB and Digital. The team consists of 15 operators who will man at least 3 station simultaneously. Equipment will consist of Elecraft K-3's and Elecraft KPA-500 amplifiers and they plan a special emphasis on 6-M including 6-M EME. The main web page is located HERE and you can select the bands and modes where you need Malpelo on THIS web site. Malpelo stands at Number 12 on the 2010 Most Needed Countries List and is about 2,400 miles nearly due South of West Virginia so this should be a chip shot on most bands.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

KC8WDT is now W8WDT

Well, Tim, K8RRT, sure started something! Three days after Tim got his new call, Dwight, KC8WDT, received his new call, W8WDT. This means us old dudes are really going to be stressed trying to remember who everyone is now! At least Dwight kept the same suffix so he should be easier to remember than Tim.

On the right you can see a photo of Dwight's recently improved antenna farm (Click on any photo to see a larger image then use your Browser's BACK button to return to this page.) At the very top is a CushCraft UHF/VHF vertical. Under that is a Cushcraft 617-6B at 45-feet for 6-M and below that a Mosely TA-33 w/WARC element at 40-feet. Also shown is an 80-M Inverted-V. All this is on a Glen Martin Heavy Duty Hazer. The above mentioned antenna heights were chosen by Charlie, N8RR, after analyzing Dwight's location and running that information through the HFTA program. You then need to realize that Dwight's antenna base is at about 1,100 feet elevation. Is it any wonder he works all that 6-M DX when the normal 6-M Big Guns of the WVDXA hear nothing?

The Hazer and antenna upgrades were completed in March, 2011. DX'ers who helped on the Project were W8WDT, N8IKT, K8WAT, KC8WDK & K8RRT. Nice job guys!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

KC8UHE is now K8RRT

Tim, KC8UHE, recently petitioned the FCC for a change in his callsign. Today the FCC granted that change and awarded Tim the call of K8RRT. Tim had spent a bit of time a couple of weeks ago looking through the list of available calls and when he saw this one, he fell in love with it. After debating about it for awhile he ran it by Charlie, N8RR, who gave him an enthusiastic Thumbs Up! In fact, Charlie told him "I would have dropped that KC8UHE call a long time ago!"

So today, I helped Tim change his log book, canned CW, RTTY and PSK-31 messages, and helped him request a new LoTW Certificate for K8RRT. After we had all that done, Tim proceeded to get on the air just to hear how the called sounded coming back from the DX. First he worked LZ2HQ on 20-M CW in the IARU HF World Championship contest. The Bulgarian station was running 30+ wpm and Tim had to use the amp to crack the EU pileup but he had a solid QSO. The LZ station was booming in so it was a good test of hearing his call come back from the DX. Then Tim moved to 17-M and worked JX5O on CW for an All-Time New One! I guess "K8RRT" does have some magic in it!

Congratulations on the new call Tim. Now us old timers will spend about a year getting used to who K8RRT really is when we hear that call in the pile-ups.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Andaman Islands - March 15th to 31st

For the last half of March, 2011, the Andaman Islands will be activated by a team of 17 operators. You can view the basic information HERE and on other links at the bottom of that page. Equipment will consist of an Elecraft K3, Two Kenwood TS-2000's, Two ICOM 756 Pro II/III, Yaesu FT 847, and a Kenwood TS-950. Antennas consist of Two Spider Beams (20-17-15-12-10m), SteppIR 3-element Yagi (20-6m), SteppIR Big IR vertical (40-10m), Wire and vertical antennas for low band operation (160-80-40-30m), 18m Spider poles for Low band antennas (160-80m), and a Force12 C3S Yagi (20-10m). And the Amplifier list includes a Yaesu Quadra VL1000 Amp, Kenwood TL-922 Amp, Yaesu FL2100 Amp, Ameritron ALS-500 Amp, and an Ameriton AL-811H Amp.

The beam heading for this DX'pedition is 6° and the distance is about 9,000 miles from West Virginia. With that beam heading, signals will need to propagate directly over the North Pole and the Aurora Zone. Therefore, our best chance is probably via Long Path. Andaman ranks as 29th on the 2010 Most Needed Countries List so this will be a big one.

From the list of operatiors I see that Bharathi Prasad, VU2RBI, will be on this DX'pedition like the 2007 VU7RG operation from Lakshadweep Islands. Maybe Papa November will pick up some more recipes for Curried Opossum from her on this trip.

Friday, February 18, 2011

T31A, Central Kiribati, April 17 - 28, 2011

The Kanton 2011 DXpedition is comprised of an international team of 13 operators from five countries. They will be on the air April 17 thru April 28, 2011, running 6 stations on 160M through 6M (SSB/CW/RTTY). You can view their web site HERE. If they are able to access the Internet from Kanton Island, they will upload logs during the DX'pedition and you will find the log search on this page. T31 ranks 28th on the 2010 Most Needed Countries List so this will be a Biggee! T31 is 6,300 miles from WV on a heading of 267° which makes them just about the same distance to the West that TJ9PF is to the East of us. GL to all WVDXA Members who need this one.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Create an Azimuth Map for Your QTH

Have you ever wanted a map that shows in a single glance the beam heading to any spot on the earth from your QTH? Well, here is a Web Site that will create just such a map for you. You simply need to enter your location (you can use a City name, a Maidenhead Grid, or your Latitude/Longitude) and then answer a few questions about how you want the map to look. If you choose to leave the "Distance" box empty then you will get the entire world shown on the map like the image to the right here. You can choose shorter distances for VHF work and get maps that show cities within whatever distance you choose. This service is provided as a courtesy by Tom, NS6T, and if you find it useful, there is a link on the bottom of the page where you can make a contribution. Once the map is created (it may take up to 30 seconds) you will get a PDF file that you can save and then print.
TNX to Steve, KØCS, for this tip.

TNX to Dave, K8MN, for this Web Site which offers a similar way to produce a Great Circle beam heading chart. To utilize this method you download the software to your computer and set the parameters you want.

And, a similar beam heading method is the Beam Heading Chart provided by the North Jersey DX Association and available HERE. Enter your data on this page and it will produce a DXCC Country List with beam headings and distances personalized to your location. This tip was originally published on this WVDXA Blog August 1, 2008, as a tip from Bob, W8QHG, now a SK. You can view that original Post HERE and see a photo of what the beam heading chart looks like.

Monday, February 7, 2011

4A4A Revilla Gigedo (XF4) March 3-20, 2011

A group of seven, mostly Spanish hams are heading to Benito Juarez Island (NA-030) - also known as Socorro Island, in the Revilla Gigedo group. They expect to be operational for about 17 days. Plans call for them to take 5 transceivers, 4 amplifiers and one 6-M radio. Antennas are unknown. They hope to have 3 stations operational at the same time and plan operation on all bands and modes from 160-M through 6-M. You can visit their web site HERE and vote for which bands and modes you need XF4. They say they will QSL via LoTW automatically. There is a link at the top of their web site for "LOG" and that is your link for their online log during the operation. Click on the link called "The Island" in the left-hand frame for a lot of good information about Socorro Island. Keep your fingers crossed for some 6-M propagation. TNX to Garie, K8KFJ, for tipping me off to this upcoming DX'pedition.