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Author Topic: Ultimate DX Station Features  (Read 1190 times)
WO8USA
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« on: May 04, 2003, 08:21:07 AM »

What are the ultimate FEATURES (not rigs) that should be included in a good-to-great HF DX setup?  I am re-egineering my station and have never seen any one discussion of what the ultimate features for a DX station should be.

Again, not rigs, etc, but things like: SSB filter bandwidth, Amplifier power, antenna coverage, software needs, etc.  We can always include example rigs/equipment, but not "get a IC-xxxx and a XXX and that's all you need"

I'll try to assemble the results and provide them!
Chris WO8USA  Dayton, Ohio
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AA6YQ
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« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2003, 02:26:26 AM »

If you truly mean "ultimate", then you'll want a stack of N-element monobanders on independent 1.5-wavelength high rotatable towers for each band of interest, and a set of 8 1.75-wavelength broadside Beverage arrays for low-band coverage of each compass octant.

Rohde and Schwartz is probably your best bet for receivers and exciters.

A dedicated amplifier per band will let you QSY to a spotted frequency with no delay; they can share a power supply without too much loss of ultimateness (ultimativity?).

A used diesel locomotive or submarine will ensure that you miss no DX during power failures.

And to provide the necessary automation, you'll want DXLab software -- which fortunately is free.

    73,

        Dave, AA6YQ
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AA6YQ
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« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2003, 02:30:24 AM »

I knew that list looked too short; I forgot the triply-redundant 3Ghz Pentium 4's with a gigabyte of DRAM,  200 gigabytes of RAID-5 disk storage (to store high-fidelity .wav files of your conquests), and a private T1-line for internet access.

    73,

       Dave, AA6YQ
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K0RS
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« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2003, 04:35:04 AM »

I'd start with a competant operator behind the key.  If you can attain that, pretty much everything else falls into place.
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2003, 02:39:07 PM »

Good advise about the competent operator.  Assuming that's in place, I'd sink everything into the antenna systems...the bigger and higher, and more redundant, the better.

I can break through the world's biggest pileups, and win contests, with almost any old junk for equipment as long as the antenna systems are superb.

When I drive around southern California (where I live) and look at hundreds of ham stations, the differentiating factor between the "can do it every time" and the "I wish I had better luck at this" DX stations are their antennas.  It's an easy observation.  My neighbor Neil, K6SMF, uses small gear (FT-900 w/homebrew 400W PEP amplifier much of the time) but has 3L mono @ 75' on 40; 5L mono at 70' on 20; 4L mono (30' boom!) at 90' on 17; etc...on five towers installed on his small suburban lot.  He does exceptionally well, far better than my other neighbors with the latest $50,000 in equipment but lesser antennas.

No comparison.  Antennas are where to put the time, energy and bucks.

WB2WIK/6
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KY6R
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« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2003, 01:54:49 PM »

1) Very good ears / ability to listen to weak signal DX.
2) Patience, tenacity and good sense of humor
3) One horizontal and one vertical antenna. Vertical dipole up 6' and horizontal dipole up 1/2 wave. Switched or tuned resonance at the antenna.
4) Receiver with great S/N ratio, good notch and good filtering
5) Transmitter that can go between 5W - 200W. Then you won't need a linear. Tube finals in the transmitter is still a good option after all these years
6) Good logging system - laptop connected to internet good idea
7) Good room to work DX in - nice large desk and good ergonomic chair, etc
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NI0C
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« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2003, 02:43:39 PM »

Operator traits should include patience, self-discipline, and a sense of humor, in addition to the more technical skills involved in receiving/transmitting.  I am talking about the ability to show restraint when someone else's idiotic/immature behavior costs you a QSO with a new band-zone, for instance.  

As far as the station itself goes,  a good location helps a lot. Relative elevation with respect to surrounding terrain, and distance from human-made noise sources are important considerations when choosing one's QTH.
 
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WO8USA
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« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2003, 07:09:41 AM »

Now that's the kind of response I was looking for!  Practical, realistic.  I really agree with the polarizatrion diversity, but do you think the 1 dipole will get you what you need, or a small beam (rotable)?  I can definitely see this is more pratical on the lower bands though, if you can get the height.
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KY6R
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« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2003, 12:00:59 PM »

Ultimately, you would have one resonant antenna per band with some sort of ability to change direction - but that is not usually feasible at most QTH's, so there are always clever compromises that can be made. All band antennas are OK, but they are pretty big compromises. So its an art trying to get the right "balance" between performance and convenience.

A rotatable beam, quad or dipole would be better than the fixed horizontal dipole. That plus a vertical of some sort (either vertical dipole or a "real" vertical with a great ground plane) would pretty much do it.

If you have high supporting structures you will have many other options available - such as loops with adjustable tuning stubs or Extended Lazy H antennas (2 extended double zepps stacked one on top of the other and phased).

You could also phase 4 verticals and add a switch box controller for directionality. But these are usually band specific - at least the controller boxes that I've priced are - so that didn't work for me. But its all about what your goals are, and what is going on propagation wise - and where we are in the sunspot cycle. Right now it seems to make a lot of sense to try to work what you can on the high bands, but more and more of the DX will be on the lower bands.

You could even have 2 44' or 88' doublets fed with one feedline and a remote switch to switch between 2 broadsided directions, or maybe even switch both in - sort of like a turnstile arrangement.

Cebik's website is full of so many interesting and practical ideas that you could have fun experimenting for years.

Personally, I like trying to get more using less. Not to the point where its painful, but where there's a neat challenge DX-wise.

Since I am at the point where I need entities that are either in the NE or SW direction, a single broadsided doublet (44' - close to a 30M dipole) and a Vertical Dipole will do. That's the best part about having a bunch of entities in the bag - you can pare down your antenna farm . . . and concentrate on just a band or two.

The high angle noise has been so bad that my MA5B minibeam has become useless. Again - you have to build a system where propagation doesn't end up keeping you off the air as far as DX-ing is concerned. In a way, an antenna system is an ongoing dynamic system that can respond to whatever the propagation Gods decide to throw at us.

Just a bunch of random rambling thoughts based on 2 years of reading the Cebik antenna web site and going out and trying new antennas in the field.
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N6AJR
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« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2003, 08:31:27 PM »

I would start with at least 10 acres and a bunch of phone poles , and a couple of towers on a slight hill, and then Hire me to manage the site for you, why heck, I'm so nice I will even live there for you and operate for you....  you are having a great time just ask me..Smiley  73  tom N6AJR
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KC7YRN
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« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2003, 06:49:15 PM »

Everybody's thinking so small :-)

The new big dish at the Green Bank observatory is fully steerable and would give you 18dBi gain at 40 meters.
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