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Author Topic: What was your best DX catch?  (Read 6076 times)
NU1O
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Posts: 2749




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« on: October 22, 2012, 06:32:13 PM »

This is a play on Rich's biggest surprise activation question but let's limit it to just your best DX catch.

In October of 1988 I had been a ham for all of four months.  I had a used Icom 720A and a Butternut vertical mounted against the house with very few ground radials. I did not have an amplifier. My current signal is probably 20 to 25 dB stronger than what I was radiating back then. I really had a lousy signal. I knew it and so did any station who managed to hear me. There weren't any rag chews back then due to my weak signal.

I had recently passed the 20 wpm CW test but I could not copy a whole QSO at 20 wpm and I was still nervous when sending code in a real QSO.  I did have one advantage going for me having just read Bob Locher's very good book, "The Complete DXer" and I was following his system of starting at the bottom of the CW portion of the band and identifying every station, but looking for hints the station was DX.  Polar flutter was what I mainly looked for but I would pay close attention to weak signals and stations using hand keys. Some of the OT CW Dxers were still using hand keys back then. I also learned to zero-beat from that book which helped make this QSO possible. I never had an Elmer so it was learning by books and by trial and error.

I started my nightly routine on 20 meter CW around 8 PM and after about an hour of common stations I heard a very weak CW station sending at about 15 wpm with a hand key. I made out the first two letters in his call (FT) and I knew I had a very rare one on my hands.  I quickly sent my call twice since I was afraid another station would realize this guy was on a rare French island.  If that happened or a pileup developed I didn't have a prayer of working him.  He came back with my call, we exchanged reports (569 both ways) and then I had to research which of the French islands down near Antarctica I had just worked.  I had just worked FT2XE on Kerguelen Island and I although raw I knew it was an extremely good catch.

This was either before clusters or before they were widespread.  They may have been in use on VHF packet but I can't recall. I know I didn't have anything to help me other than the ARRL weekly DX report and word of mouth. It also turns out I worked FT2XE 24 years to the day at 01:48 on October 22, 1988. I have not worked Kerguelen since but I do have his QSL which has a Seal on it.

73,

Chris/NU1O

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K6UJ
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Posts: 325




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« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2012, 07:13:05 PM »

Great contact Chris, I'll bet you did the victory dance all around the shack  Cheesy

I know your question was the best DX contact but
Id like to share my most exciting DX contact, not my best contact but one that I will always remember.   I was 13, a novice, and was on only 40 meters CW.  My receiver was a Hammarlund
HQ-100 and my transmitter was a converted ARC 5 unit modified for 40 meters. (remember the ARC 5's?)  It was crystal controlled.  I had never had a contact outside the US.  Mostly CA and sometimes Nevada, and when really cooking made it to Oregon,  Smiley  This one evening I called CQ and OMG a KH6 called me  !!!
I nervously answered him, my keying was terrible on the J38 but I made the contact.  I barely slept that night, got up several times to check the band, hihi. 

73,
Bob
K6UJ
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AF3Y
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« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2012, 08:27:55 PM »

Probably Macquarie. That was one which I had to try to pick out my callsign in bits and pieces. Finally made it.

73, Gene AF3Y
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K6UJ
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« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2012, 09:06:41 PM »

Now that I have bored you with my most exciting DX contact from the novice days,  I believe my best DX catch was KP1, Navassa Island.   Rare and not an easy contact at all, the pileups were huge. 

73,
Bob
K6UJ
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W2IRT
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« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2012, 09:11:22 PM »

Best catches? Scarborough, Eritrea, Bouvet and my first Q with Macquarie (PSK-31, virtually ESP-level, before it became known that Trevor would be around for months).
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Night gathers and now my watch begins. It shall not end until I reach Top of the Honor Roll.
KY6R
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« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2012, 09:30:07 PM »

P5/4L4FN

I was sitting on his frequency when he started calling CQ on 10 Meters and I snagged him first call. 15M wasn't very hard either.

By far the easiest "rare one" ever.

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K0RS
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« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2012, 09:31:08 PM »

I've had many memorable DX QSOs and hard to pick out a single best.  One day I was working on a Hammarlund HQ-170A trying to the get the dial calibration correct...that's a little joke for those that have owned one.  I was tuning the SSB portion of 15 when I tuned across a pileup.  What's this?  I listened for a bit and (OMG!) it's Ed, P5/4L4FN working simplex.  I ran over to the modern rig, an FT-1000mp at the time, and snap on the amp.  I have to wait an excruciating three minutes for the amp to come online, afraid he's gonna go QRT.  Finally the amp comes up and I can get into the pileup.  I work him for my last needed country.  Holy cow, that's it...the last one!

Other great QSOs were working A51JS on the first activation of Bhutan in many years when Jim Smith was running only 100w to a vertical, an S21 answering my LP CQ one morning on 20 CW, an FT5 on Amsterdam answering another CQ from a Field Day setup when I was testing the rig (a TS-830 w/90w) and antenna (open wire fed dipole), and working VK0IR long path on 80m one morning.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2012, 09:39:10 PM by K0RS » Logged
KH6DC
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« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2012, 10:08:13 PM »

It's all good. Cheesy
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73 and Aloha,
de Delwyn, KH6DC
NU4B
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« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2012, 03:08:05 AM »

It's all good. Cheesy

It is all good! And some great stories!

My best DX catches were VK0JS (Heard) around 1AM on 20 meters and FB8WK (Crozet) on 40 meters. Both were running a HW-101 at 100 watts. No external 2nd VFO then. I can't remember the antenna but I know I didn't have a beam back then. It was much better then. No spotting network an instant spots to create instant pile ups. You could actually DX back then. Now you have W3LPL (and others) DX for you. (Yeah there were repeater networks and land line networks, but nothing like today.)

Since running QRP My best catch (not necessarily the rarest) was 3C2MV -- Equatorial Guinea. This was also before instant spots. I was in a pileup on 10 meters. Then he disappeared. I wondered where he went and then I thought about 12 meters. I went there and there he was calling CQ. I got my contact in - and was out of there before the crowd descended on the freq.
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N3QVB
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« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2012, 04:09:56 AM »

I mistakenly put this under the "most surprising" thread.  JY1 is it for me.  Not that Jordan is so rare, just that His Majesty was the op.  Nice, understated card too.  Plain white on nice stock with the gold crown embossed.  He was a great ambassador for the hobby too.
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NI0C
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« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2012, 05:11:06 AM »

In early January 1990, I worked 3Y5X (Bouvet) from my town house apartment QTH, running 100 watts to a mobile whip mag mounted to the utility transformer box outside my patio door.  I used a TS-520S (with only one VFO) for transmit, and a Sony 2010 SW portable to hear the DX working a wide split.  It was a lucky catch, and I only managed to work this expedition because I was listening carefully.

73,
Chuck  NI0C
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NU1O
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Posts: 2749




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« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2012, 05:58:55 AM »

I mistakenly put this under the "most surprising" thread.  JY1 is it for me.  Not that Jordan is so rare, just that His Majesty was the op.  Nice, understated card too.  Plain white on nice stock with the gold crown embossed.  He was a great ambassador for the hobby too.

He was a Peacemaker and a vital US ally as well. 

73,

Chris/NU1O
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NU1O
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« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2012, 06:06:47 AM »

Other great QSOs were working A51JS on the first activation of Bhutan in many years when Jim Smith was running only 100w to a vertical, an S21 answering my LP CQ one morning on 20 CW, an FT5 on Amsterdam answering another CQ from a Field Day setup when I was testing the rig (a TS-830 w/90w) and antenna (open wire fed dipole), and working VK0IR long path on 80m one morning.

Jim Smith put a good number of new countries into my log, some of which I did not know were by Jim until recently.  I also used to work him often from his home island of Norfolk.  Jim Smith, VK9NS, must be in any top 5 or top 10 list of all-time great DXers for his contributions to the hobby.

73,

Chris/NU1O

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K3NRX
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« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2012, 06:35:12 AM »

Monk Apollo --- 2002

Macquarie --- 1987

Navassa -- 1988 and 1992

Malpelo --- 2012

Thailand--2011 & 2012 --Freak openings to an extremly tough path for me...worked  Mark HS0ZJU this past sunday on 17meters...made my weekend!.....

Laos -- 2002 -- see above comments...I can get to SE Asia if the condx are right and I scream loud enough.....

SMOM 2007

Vatican 1992 (never qsled as op became sk) 1997 & 2011

Socotra Island -- 2012 -- Totally unexpected, which made it that much more gratifying....

V
KA3NRX


« Last Edit: October 23, 2012, 06:40:49 AM by KA3NRX » Logged
K4JK
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Posts: 320




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« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2012, 07:35:42 AM »

I'm pretty new to the DX game, but when I started DXing (July 2010 I think) I had a goal of getting 100 confirmations by February so I could bring any cards I had to the Richmond hamfest to be checked. I had to work harder than you would think because at my previous townhouse QTH I had attic antennas and an IC-735 with no filters. That year I also did a lot of traveling on weekends in the fall, so getting easy new ones in the big contests was mostly out.

There was a guy on Madeira Island (Cedric, I think) who would show up on 17 meters CW or SSB every now and then, but by the time I would come across him he would always have a healthy pileup, and I never got through with my poor working conditions. Now, I know Madeira isn't really rare but for a new guy with 60 countries it's a decent catch.

I had just finished reading W9KNI's book, and realized if I was going to work Cedric I'd have to do it the old fashioned way. So I decided to do some cluster research and try to figure out his operating pattern. I managed to figure out that he would likely show up in a 2 hour window on certain weekdays around a certain frequency. After a couple of weeks stalking him, I heard him calling one day and got him, almost exactly where and when I figured he would be.

Now of course Madeira isn't a rare country, and now that I have almost 200 worked I kind of laugh at how seriously I took it, but I felt pretty proud of that at the time. I've gotten several more countries that way and I'm glad I learned early how putting in a little research and work can pay big dividends.

So maybe CT9 isn't my best "catch" (that was probably 7O) but I look back on that with the most affection because I put a some work and thought into it and made the best of the hand I was dealt.

« Last Edit: October 23, 2012, 07:38:53 AM by K4JK » Logged

ex W4HFK
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