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Author Topic: DX openings  (Read 1164 times)
KC0SHZ
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« on: July 13, 2009, 11:28:54 AM »

So on Saturday, we were babysitting and I got on the radio to check into the IARU contest.  During the afternoon, I made a variety of American and Canadian contacts, but at about 1900 CDT, I started to get QSO's from a variety of european stations.  

As I like to get DX stations, how could I find out about conditions like that happening again?
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KB2FCV
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« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2009, 12:11:46 PM »

One way is to check out the DX clusters. I like http://www.dxwatch.com because you can filter out stuff you don't want to see. I generally set it so that I can see what US stations are seeing. You can also set what mode, etc. Another good one is dxsummit at http://www.dxsummit.fi/

I also do alot of listening. I've certainly picked up things that people haven't reported on the clusters.
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WD4ELG
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« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2009, 08:36:18 PM »

What band?  What equipment were you using?


Here ya go:

http://www.hamuniverse.com/hfbands.html


Also

See http://www.emergencyradio.ca/course/ Module 7.

Also, the ARRL Operating Handbook has more info than you can imagine regarding propagation.

For DX info, check out AC6V's book or website.

http://www.hamradio-online.com/propagation.html

http://www.n0hr.com/radio_propagation.htm


Mark Lunday, WD4ELG
http://wd4elg.net
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AA6YQ
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« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2009, 11:04:04 PM »

I would start by learning the basics of HF propagation. CQ Magazine's "The NEW Shortwave Propagation Handbook" is excellent, but there are plenty of online sources that Google will locate for you; check out Bob NM7M's comprehensive (though somewhat dense) tutorial on the topic.

There are two kinds of software tools available to help DXers with propagation:

1. tools that forecast propagation based on ionospheric models and current solar conditions

2. tools that monitor HF beacons (like the IARU/NCDXF beacon network) to assess actual propagation

Since ionospheric models are imperfect, its best to calibrate forecasts with actual propagation.

Classic forecasting tools like IONCAP and the more modern VOACAP require lots of numeric input; IONCAP produces numeric output, while VOACAP produces both graphical and numeric output. These tools are powerful, but daunting to use correctly. To address this, I created an application called PropView "wraps" these engines: in response to your selecting a location, PropView graphically displays all band openings between your QTH and that location over a 24-hour interval; a typical screenshot is shown in

http://www.dxlabsuite.com/propview/PropViewBands.jpg

You can optionally display a bit more information, visualizing the ionspheric properties that are responsble for the predicted openings:

http://www.dxlabsuite.com/propview/propview.jpg

PropView is a member of the freeware DXLab Suite, and interoperates with other members of that Suite - like DXView. By itself, PropView lets you select a location by typing in a latitude and longitude. But if DXView is running, you can select a location by typing in a prefix or callsign (e.g. KH6 or 7O1DX), or you can select a location by simply clicking it on DXView's World Map.

PropView can also monitor the continously operating beacons on the 20m, 17m, 15m, 12m, and 10m bands operated by the International Amateur Radio Union and the Northern California DX Club:

http://www.ncdxf.org/Beacons.html

With DXLab's rig control component (Commander) running, PropView lets you specify a set of beacon locations and frequencies ,and then continuously QSYs your transceiver to monitor the locations and frequencies you selected. Within 5 minutes, you'll have a good idea what's open to where (unless you have a beam to rotate, in which case it might a little longer).

While PropView and the other members of the DXLab Suite are easy to install and use (the VOACAP, ICEPAC, and IONCAP engines are automatically installed and run for you), you'll get a lot more out of them by first learning the basics of HF propagation. Appropriately educated and armed, you'll be able to exploit band openings long before the spot-chasing hordes discover them.

DX spots are quite helpful in determining when and where a needed DX station might be QRV, but if you wait until the station is actually spotted to initate your chase, you'll likely be up against a fierce pileup full of aggressive and desperate competitors; unless you have a great station or lots of patience, this can consume some serious stomach lining.

There's nothing like hearing your callsign come back from a needed DX station via a long path opening that you identified and staked out, and then completing the QSO without a lot of QRM from other callers.

PropView and the other applications mentioned above are all available via

www.dxlabsuite.com

They're all free.

    73,

        Dave, AA6YQ
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N3OX
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« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2009, 11:49:23 AM »

"As I like to get DX stations, how could I find out about conditions like that happening again? "

I recommend spending a lot of time on the radio...


:-)
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73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
XW1B
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Posts: 6




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« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2009, 06:31:48 PM »

I can't add too much to what has already been said.  There are a number of "tn" (telnet) clusters available online as well. As mentioned below one of the best ways to work DX is to listen, listen, listen! By the time the "spot" hits the internet it's oftimes too late - the pile up has already begun.
Remember to look on the long path at your local sunrise/sunset as well.
If all else fails try a CQ - with present conditions I think many folks are tuning the bands, hear nothing, and turn off the rig.  

Good hunting!  73
Bruce XW1B
Near Vientiane, Laos
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AC4RD
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Posts: 1236




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« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2009, 05:02:14 AM »

Another resource is the network of HF beacons:

  http://www.ncdxf.org/beacons.html

I keep the beacon frequency for each band in a memory channel on my HF rig.  When I want to know if one of the bands is open to somewhere, a few minutes on the frequency is all it takes to see what beacons are audible on any given band.

One other tip: the big HF contests (IARU HF, CQ WW, etc.) are GREAT times to work DX.  Lots of contesters go to exotic places for the contests, the locals come out for contests, and they're all EAGER to work you and get that extra point.  So if you want to put some new countries in the log, be sure to get on the air during big contests!

73 and GL!  --ken ac4rd
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KC0SHZ
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Posts: 373




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« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2009, 09:55:45 AM »

The big contests are what I have been hitting.  I really enjoy these and thank the big contest stations for getting on the air for us little guys to talk to.  I guess, what I was asking was how to find the Dxpeditions and other less publicized DX opportunities, and to find out how to predict band openings.

For example, I have been noticing that 20 meters has odd noise conditions of late.  Yesterday at 1730 CDT, I had S7 noise.  At 2030, I had S3 noise and was able to talk to a station on Prince Edward Island.  At 2130, it had S7 noise and no one was audible.

I guess that for a person that can only get on the radio for an hour or so a day (if that), what would be the most profitable strategy for picking that hour?
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KC0SHZ
Member

Posts: 373




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« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2009, 09:56:23 AM »

The big contests are what I have been hitting.  I really enjoy these and thank the big contest stations for getting on the air for us little guys to talk to.  I guess, what I was asking was how to find the Dxpeditions and other less publicized DX opportunities, and to find out how to predict band openings.

For example, I have been noticing that 20 meters has odd noise conditions of late.  Yesterday at 1730 CDT, I had S7 noise.  At 2030, I had S3 noise and was able to talk to a station on Prince Edward Island.  At 2130, it had S7 noise and no one was audible.

I guess that for a person that can only get on the radio for an hour or so a day (if that), what would be the most profitable strategy for picking that hour?
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W5DQ
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« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2009, 10:49:48 AM »

I agree with whats been said HOWEVER here is something to keep in mind.

I take it from your posting that you want to be able to know when to expect DX signals to be heard in your area. The telnet DX clusters will tell you this but in a real time operating mode not in a prediction mode.

If you want to be sure to be in front of the radio when DX signals are being received in your locale, you will need to be able to predict when that time will occur. Sure you could keep checking the DX clusters and when you see the DX you want, jump on the radio and start operating. But if you need to be doing something else and can't get to the computer to check, knowing a time to be ready to operate helps alot. As was mentioned, predicting (or forecasting) propogation from point to point on the globe isn't hard to do but it does take some time to learn the processes, programs and data sources.

I can safely say I am no expert on the subject but I have a good handle on propogation to my QTH. What I would recommend is reading up on the subject of propogation and looking at some of the automated tools available on the internet. A lot of these tools will provide graphical display to help you understand the results. Some specific programs were mentioned in previous posts.

I use the DX Lab Suite of software and find it very useful in doing propgation predicting as well as all the other facets for computerized ham shack (logging, tracking awards, digital modes, call lookups, etc.).

Good Luck.

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
W5ESE
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« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2009, 09:52:35 AM »

> I guess, what I was asking was how to find the
> Dxpeditions and other less publicized DX
> opportunities, and to find out how to predict
> band openings.

If you're an ARRL member, you can download and
print the monthly propagation forcast from the
member's only web page:

http://www.arrl.org/qst/propcharts/

and DXpeditions are often announced at:

http://www.ng3k.com/misc/adxo.html

73
Scott
W5ESE
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