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Author Topic: The Kilowatt Curtain  (Read 3554 times)
KE5OKQ
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« Reply #30 on: July 07, 2008, 09:03:57 PM »

Hi Ed:

Thank you for departing from the topic at hand to point out my reading comprehension deficiencies and to offer guidance on manhood.  Perhaps you could serve as my life coach?

Back to the topic:  It is easy to be dismissive of the concerns of one's 100 watt middle-America bretheran when one is pushing a kilowatt and a half to a beam perched atop a 70 ft tower.  There are no shortage of hams who are of the belief they possess extraordinary DXing skills while failing to acknowledge the fact they are operating a high-power super-station (present company excluded of course).  It doesn't take a particular abundance of skill to make a DX contact when your a kilowatt plus big- gun.

The kilowatt curtain exists, albeit in a porous form.  You are correct, with skill and persistance us little guys can and do make it through.  Frankly, I enjoy the challenge.  Merely stating the obvious is not whining.

So pump up the wattage to the maximum allowed and swing those big beams, but please don't tune up your amps on frequency in the middle of a DX QSO!  
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KE5OKQ
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« Reply #31 on: July 07, 2008, 09:07:05 PM »

By the way:  there is no such thing as an "ex Marine".
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SCUBA
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Posts: 74




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« Reply #32 on: July 07, 2008, 09:09:47 PM »

Appreciate the replies; I had no idea this thread would go to 3 pages.

Actually the ham who first told me about the kilowatt curtains is an Extra class who runs full legal power on a tower mounted beam. I should have clarified.  He wasn't complaining about it, he just "matter of fact" told me about it.  Others confirmed the existence of the kilowatt curtains.

I'm guessing that with his linear and 40+ years on the air, he can probably plow through either curtain whenever he wants to (or, at least, mix it up with em).

As a "novice" with a Gen class license (very low time on the air, mostly listening), I have no fear or anxiety about the kilowatt curtain any more than I would fear propagation or weather.  The point is, it's there and it's real.  

Re: QRP.  Personally, I would like to get into QRP (preferably on CW or TTY), and let the antenna do most of the work, and see what happens. I think a 5 watt overseas contact would be (will be) really cool, and it would speak highly of the MA5B if it ever shows up.

Do you think, that in the future, that QRP will be re-defined to mean 100 watts or less?

Cheers,
Jack
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AA6YQ
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« Reply #33 on: July 07, 2008, 10:06:33 PM »

KE5OKQ says "It doesn't take a particular abundance of skill to make a DX contact when your a kilowatt plus big-gun."

If that were true, every DXer with a kilowatt plus would be at the top of the honor roll.

You'll figure it out some day...

    73,

        Dave, AA6YQ

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AA6YQ
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« Reply #34 on: July 08, 2008, 02:45:46 AM »

Jack said "I'm guessing that with his linear and 40+ years on the air, he can probably plow through either curtain whenever he wants to (or, at least, mix it up with em). As a novice with a Gen class license (very low time on the air, mostly listening), I have no fear or anxiety about the kilowatt curtain any more than I would fear propagation or weather. The point is, it's there and it's real. "

You're just getting started, Jack. With an extra class license, a good understanding of HF propagation, and a reasonable antenna, you can work your first 200 countries without ever setting foot in a pileup -- especially with CW and RTTY in your quiver.

Yes, you could wait around for needed DX to be announced on the cluster, head for the spotted frequency with the rest of the lemmings, bang your head against the wall for a couple of hours, and walk away with nothing but the conviction that your were done in by the east coast curtain or the JA wall.

Or alternatively, you can find and work the DX station before he or she is spotted and the cluster hordes descend. How?

1. by understanding propagation between the DX and your QTH

2. by understanding propagation between the DX and other large DXer populations (EU, JA, NA)

3. by learning the DX station's operating patterns and habits

Armed with this knowledge, you can stake out the DX when there's band opening favoring your location. If you don't have an antenna for the optimal band, then set up a temporary wire antenna; the WARC bands are are great for this, as beams are less common there so you'll have less competition. There's a Northern Californian DXer who lives in a canyon that blocks his short-path to the African countries; he used the long-path to work some of them, and got the rest on 10m mobile by driving his car to a ridgetop during likely openings. Where there's a will, there's a way!

DX Contests are another effective way to pickup needed DX without wasting time in pileups. Learn the exchange, and cruise the frequencies open to the countries you are hunting. The second day of a contest can be particularly productive, as QSO rates are down and DX stations will spend more time digging out your signal for the additional point.

   73,

       Dave, AA6YQ



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KY6R
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« Reply #35 on: July 08, 2008, 11:18:31 AM »

Do you think, that in the future, that QRP will be re-defined to mean 100 watts or less?

No. I think QRP will always be 5 watts or less.

IMHO - any ham that has more than 300 entities confirmed at the 5 watt level is a serious "Big Gun" dx-er.

And think about it - the hams that have achieved this will not have to say much more than they achieved this goal. The accomplishment itself is the entire story. It would be easy to figure out that the operator has the highest skill level in all regards, a decent antenna system and a decent receiver.
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SCUBA
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« Reply #36 on: July 08, 2008, 04:34:51 PM »

Yes, thanks.

I'm sitting here listening to the East Coast Kilowatt Curtain in action; a SV station is up on 14.262, and the big guns are after him like news reporters in a news conference (or sharks in a feeding frenzy).  The SV station is handling them very graciously and politely, but I really don't detect the same amount of courtesy coming from the pileup stations.  Each time he gets through talking to one, the pileup seems to increase a lot.  I'm amazed they haven't jammed him already.

73/Jack
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KE5OKQ
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« Reply #37 on: July 08, 2008, 05:07:32 PM »

Heard the same pileup!  I guess its our imagination.  Don't give up though.  I got thru after a half hour.

You could run out an buy a legal limit amp to compete. I'm more inclined to do it the hard way. I enjoy the challenge. I guess i'm stubborn.  I still bowhunt hunt deer rather then use a high powered rifle.  Some of the rifle hunters complain us bow hunters get an unfair early crack at the prey every season.  I disagree, but I don't call them whiners!  
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AA6YQ
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« Reply #38 on: July 08, 2008, 05:20:00 PM »

That's Mike SV9CVY working simplex. He made a directional call for west coast stations -- which was honored -- and then worked K5YHN (Texas) and N0AZZ (Missouri), the latter running 10 watts. Yes there are many callers, but the rate is slow and the style is conversational, with discussion of audio quality and family medical history.

Is this a station you can work first call with 5 watts and a dummy load? No, but with good timing you'd have a reasonable shot with 100 watts and a dipole at 35'.

However, if you need Crete and don't get through after 15 minutes, I'd move on; there are plenty of hams in SV9, they are frequently QRV, a CW QSO would be much easier to manage with multiple callers, and your best 20m opening to Crete is around 18-19Z, At this moment you're at the tail end of the opening, and signal levels are way down.

KB6CC in Colorado just worked Mike and got a report of 10 over S9...

     73,

         Dave, AA6YQ
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KE5OKQ
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« Reply #39 on: July 08, 2008, 08:13:43 PM »

Good advice Dave. SV9CVY is a class act.  I have worked him a couple of times and he manages a pileup like an air traffic controller.  Unfortunately thats a rarety.
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N3OX
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« Reply #40 on: July 08, 2008, 09:51:29 PM »

" I have worked him a couple of times and he manages a pileup like an air traffic controller. Unfortunately thats a rarety.
 "

Pileups get worse if everyone in them thinks they're actually fighting impossible odds.  In fact, they get much worse.  People get desperate when they shouldn't.  If we foster the idea that there are impenetrable curtains all over in DXing, we're just going to breed worse pileups.

I've been in (and broken) a lot of pileups over the years. I've never had anything on HF that was higher gain than a Cuschraft A3S (generous gift of present company, in fact) at 28 feet.  I've never run more than 100W.  For several years I lived in an apartment with an "invisible" magnet wire antenna; I worked 133 DXCC from that apartment; most of those were not all time new, but at least 10 or so were.

It's all about timing.  It is possible to be the weakest guy in the pileup and still get through.  Bet NU4B is an expert at that.

-=-=-=-=-=-

In my opinion, antennas and power come in the most in one simple fact.  You absolutely, positively must be loud enough for the DX to hear you when no one else is calling.  That's all.  Very simple.  Pileups have holes.  You can find them, you can get through them.

But even if the curtains existed, you can't get through them if you can't manage to get through the wide open window.  

Once, in the DX doldrums of the last couple years, I was tuning across the dying 17m band and heard YB1A calling CQ.  Didn't really need him but Indonesia is good, fun DX, so I called him, didn't get through the first time.  Each time I had the opportunity to call I got shut out!   Was he coming back to other stations?  Naw.  Every time I let go of the paddles, I heard "CQ CQ de YB1A YB1A K."  He CQed in my face every time.

Even worse was my 160m almost-QSO with TX5C, which would have been a great one.  There was a little pileup but then there was a big hole with no callers; I seized the opportunity and got TX5C's attention, but they came back to N3MX.  Well, no one came back to that, so I knew it was me, with a busted call, and went back and forth sending my call over and over, fingers slipping off that windowsill.  That old West Coast curtain must have been wiiide open to let a faint N3's fingers through, but I never made it into TX5C's house.

This is the real danger of being too weak.  You come across some great DX in the clear, no pileup, no so-called "curtains" and you can't get through anyway.  And can you really tell the difference?  I still don't always know.    That's what a kilowatt and a big beam on a huge tower will clear up for me someday.  I'll know I have signal parity with the station on the other end.

73,
Dan



















 
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73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
AA6YQ
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« Reply #41 on: July 08, 2008, 10:18:00 PM »

Dan N3OX said "In my opinion, antennas and power come in the most in one simple fact. You absolutely, positively must be loud enough for the DX to hear you when no one else is calling. That's all. Very simple. Pileups have holes. You can find them, you can get through them."

Excellent point, Dan. And those holes exist in two dimensions: time and frequency. SSB doesn't provide much in the way of frequency holes -- if there are multiple simultaneous callers on the frequency, the DX station can generally only copy the loudest at any instant in time.

In contrast, CW provides holes in both time and frequency. A good op can copy callsigns from multiple simultaneously-calling CW stations if their signals are sufficiently offset - but still within the bandwidth of the DX station's receiver. Calling "high" or calling "low" will often distinguish your signal from the zero-beat jumble, enabling the DX station to pick out your call. But this only works, as you point out, if you have enough propagation, antenna, and power to be heard if you were completely in the clear.

In either mode, learning to drop in your call at just the right time is an essential skill.

   73,

       Dave, AA6YQ
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W5GA
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« Reply #42 on: July 09, 2008, 12:43:59 PM »

Dave AA6YQ said "In either mode, learning to drop in your call at just the right time is an essential skill."

This is probably the most single crucial skill there is behind knowing propagation, and having your transmitted signal above the DX's hearing threshold.  I can't count the number of times I've gotten through (in *any* mode)due to good timing with only 100w.  And believe me, a ground mounted 4-BTV vertical is no barn burner of an antenna, but it does work an order of magnitude better than what you are currently using...and probably not as well on the higher bands as an MA-5B.  It does a pretty good job on 40m though, which you are currently lacking.  Plus it's cheap and simple to install.  You might look into it.

GL,
Doug W5GA
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W7ETA
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« Reply #43 on: July 13, 2008, 09:36:47 PM »

East Coast stations will have an advantage over Texas when they are closer to the DX and when their sigs bounce off the ocean while yours hit land.

Same for West coast stations.

You have an advantage with DX that is closer to you.

Any station with a more efficient antenna than yours has an advantage over you.  Certainly, any station with a beam antenna has an advantage over you.

At times, you'll be competing with JA and Carrib stations for DX.

You can also call them the JA wall or Carrib curtain, but it is simply location, location; and for now, low efficiency against gain antennas.

73
Bob
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NE5C
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« Reply #44 on: July 14, 2008, 03:35:17 AM »

This post leaves the door open, for some interesting thoughts, and remarks!

There is an age old saying which asks the question of; "Why would you knowingly even desire, to bring a pocket knife, to a GUN-FIGHT???"

DXing (to me) is the absolute oldest "Contest" in Amateur Radio. Of course we all show up, never knowing how bad the PileUp may be...all desiring, to hear that DX operator repeat our call sign, after we call, and get in their Logbook.

Some fellas put alot of time, Money, and special equipment, into building and Operating a Station which is quite well suited for DX work. If that somehow makes them a "Big-Gun" then So-Be-It!

Some would agree that if YOU have the best propagation on a given day and time...Then it really won't matter, if there is a Kilowatt Curtain, and you are using 100 Watts, as the DX Operator will respond that day, to what and who - they can hear!

As for myself...I believe that I have listened enough, over the years to be able to observe or understand when the propagation is really FAVORABLE for one area, or another. Understanding why - some fellas seek out and listen first - to Beacon Stations (even if a CW Beacon) or, where the Grey Line is located helps YOU in so many ways for "TIMING and PLANNING" on working different DX entities. Like many fellow DX Operators, I know there are days when I listened to a DXpedition early in my area (Texas) - Barely hearing them at all - Yet later, see their signal BOOMING IN at 20 over - Then - WORK THEM!

Quite an interesting post..."The Killer-watt Curtain"
but one thing is for certain?

If YOU love chasing and working DX??? "Nothing will stop the pleasure and enjoyment you get from "THE PURSUIT" or "THE FUN" of looking for DX, and getting it!

Ahhhhhhhhhh...."The Hunt" goes on and on!

God Bless and 73
8-)
Jerry

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