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Author Topic: The next step...  (Read 733 times)
N3ZQX
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Posts: 10




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« on: July 05, 2006, 12:43:18 PM »

Greetings everyone,

I'm hopeful that this message is in the correct location.

I've been doing the 2/440 thing for a while, and enjoying it, but am looking for the next step towards some DX work.  I'm looking for some suggestions on which direction to go that would be a good starting place (IE..nice yet somewhat inexpensive).

Thank you all very much for any and all suggestions in advance!
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AA4PB
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« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2006, 01:24:34 PM »

Assuming you have access to the HF bands, a used 100W HF radio and a simple wire dipole would probably get you the best "greatest distance for the buck". If I could only work one band it would be 40M because its almost always open to somewhere. Daytime around the states and at night other countries.

6M SSB is pretty interesting but you have to wait around for a band opening, most of which require a decent yagi antenna at a reasonable height.
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2006, 03:35:06 PM »

HF rig + dipole = working DX.

The antenna's more important than the "rig," I'd work on that first.  Get help, if you need it.

WB2WIK/6
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N3ZQX
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Posts: 10




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« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2006, 08:30:06 PM »

Any thoughts on 6 or 10 meter bands?
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W8JI
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« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2006, 12:44:16 AM »

When you work SSB or CW on six or ten you are primarily limited by propagation, not the gear.
Even a cheap poor performance rig will work a lot of DX **if** a band is open.

If you want to work long distances without band openings, it takes high power and a big antenna. With big enough antennas and very high power on both ends you can force openings through scattering or even moonbounce (on six meters or higher frequencies).

I have 5 over 5 at 160 feet on six meters and a kilowatt output or more and can work other stations with large antennas and high power 200-500 miles away when the band is "dead" and all over the world when the band is open. Open might be in three years, however :-)


73 Tom
 
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N3ZQX
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Posts: 10




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« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2006, 05:48:33 AM »

Thanks for the information...

Kinda figure i'm going to be at the mercy of the band openings.  Big power is a bit out of my price range, and bit antenna is a bit out of my space limitations.  

Anyone have a good 10m or 6m gear suggestion?
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AA4PB
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« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2006, 07:18:45 AM »

10M will be open more than 6M but both are pretty dead in most areas when the band is not open. If you are planning on upgrading the license at some point, I suggest one of the new all band rigs that will cover 160M thru 440MHz. You can use it on 10M and 6M now and the other HF bands when you upgrade.

If money is a major issue then perhaps a used 10M only rig.

You might also want to check with some of the local guys to see if there is any local activity on one band or the other. Sometimes you find a weekly net that brings a little local activity to the band. Or, you may want to see if you can start one. It can get pretty boring listening to background hiss waiting for an occasional 20 min band opening Smiley
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2006, 08:48:00 AM »

If you're interested in getting your feet wet with "DXing," I wouldn't invest a nickel in 10m or 6m right now.  6m and 10m are experiencing some very nice sporadic-E "skip" openings this time of year, but they can be brief and will stop occurring for the most part in another 2 weeks or so (E-skip peaks in June every year).  10m is a fantastic DX band for F2-layer propagation, but not at this point in the sunspot cycle.  Wait 'til about 2009-2010, and it should get good again.

For *right now*, I'd invest in antennas/equipment to work 17m, 20m, 40m.  If you like CW and digital modes, then also 30m.  For SSB, 17m, 20m, 40m.  When the days get short and the weather gets colder, then add 75m/80m.

At this point in time, 10m-12m-15m are not open with any regularity, and unless your operating schedule is extremely flexible (meaning you can drop everything and operate, at the whim of conditions), you'd be much better off on 17m-20m-40m.  Those, plus 30m (CW-digi modes only), are the "king DX" bands at this point in the cycle.  We are just about at the very bottom of Cycle 23 and haven't quite begun Cycle 24 yet.  When it starts, it might climb rapidly but I wouldn't expect much from 10m until at least Fall 2008.

WB2WIK/6
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10CVALLEYVOL
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Posts: 43




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« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2006, 10:32:55 AM »

Thanks Steve for the very informative reply to this topic. That is why I like this forum, especially as a new comer to the Hobby. Is there a good source to go to to learn more about how each of the bands HF are generally affected by the cycles change?
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2006, 04:09:41 PM »

A great source is this one:

Radio Propagation -- Principles & Practice
-- by Ian Poole, G3YWX

Available from the ARRL Bookstore at http://www.arrl.org

WB2WIK/6
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KB9CRY
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« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2006, 08:22:43 AM »

I agree with Steve.  You need to jump in now and get your feet wet with HF and DX and not wait for 10M to come back.  And, IMHO, 6M is a very spotty band and I wouldn't recommend it as a primary band regardless of the propagation.

When 10M does come back, and it will, you will be able to work tons with only a wet noodle and galvanic cell.  My first rig, purchased at the height of Cycle 21 was a Radio Shack 25 watt 10M mobile rig which worked like a champ.  Still have it and use it when that band is open.  So you'll be able to work tons with very little investment.

There are not many or no dedicated 6M rigs; all I know about are multi-band rigs which means more money to be spent.

I agree with 40/20/17 as where the action is at these days.

Phil
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N3ZQX
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Posts: 10




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« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2006, 10:35:33 AM »

Thanks for the info everyone...

I believe that I have alot of thinking, planning, and budgeting to do.
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AB9LZ
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Posts: 198




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« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2006, 11:56:41 AM »

Also, keep in mind that a lot of it is skill and experience, i.e. the greater the skill, the more primitive of a setup you can get away with.

Start with a simple HF setup and work as many contacts, DX or not, as possible. Eventually you'll get a feel for how the propogation reports correlate, what times of day are good for certain regions, operating habits of hams in various countries etc.

The guys that are really good get by with ten watts (or less) and a simple antenna.

73 Mark.
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K7VO
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Posts: 1010




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« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2006, 02:27:36 PM »

Hi,

You don't need to spend a lot of money to get into HF DX.  With a decent antenna a 10W radio will do just fine.  The 10dB (~2 S-units) offered by a 100W radio can be more than compensated for by improving your antenna.  I started with a 10W radio and have never been impressed by more power.  More antenna, OTOH, can give me more ERP (effective radiated power) than a 100W station with a less than brilliant antenna.  Bottom line:  with a 10W rig and a Cushcraft R-4 vertical I am working the world on a regular basis.  Do I bust pileups?  Heck, no!  Well... not often, and I rarely try.  Do I work people in interesting parts of the world?  Yep.

The best bands for DX right now are 20 and 17 (SSB) and 40, 30, 20, and 17 (CW/digital).  A new Icom IC-703Plus HF/6m rig is under $600 and includes a built-in autotuner.  It has a far superior receiver to it's big brother, the IC-706MkII, thanks to a pretty much complete redesign and superior filtering.  A small 4.5A power supply is all you need to run it.  Used HF rigs, good ones, that run 100W, 50W, or 10W, can be had in the $200-$300 range.  A big budget is certainly not required.

Between 6m and 10m at the bottom of the cycle (where we are now) you'll find that 6m is open more than 10m since it's more prone to sporadic E.  However, DX happens very irregularly and while it doesn't require a lot of power a good antenna (read beam, as high as possible) is a must.  The occasional low power or modest antenna DX CW QSO is possible and I've done it on multihop Es, but it's really something you might get a chance to do once or twice a year at most.  An F-layer (international DX) opening is still far more likely on 10m.  Most 6m enthusiasts a very happy to work halfway across the country at this point in the cycle.  We're years away from worldwide openings worked with peanut whistle stations.

Most monoband 10m rigs are warmed over CBs.  Quality of rigs by Ranger and MFJ, the folks who stil make monoband 6m SSB/CW rigs, is questionable at best.  For the same money you can get a good used HF rig and have far better results.

73,
Caity
K7VO
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