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Author Topic: So far zero success on HF. What should I expect?  (Read 3245 times)
KB9DNA
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Posts: 5




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« on: November 05, 2012, 08:57:49 PM »

After a long hiatus from radio, I unpacked my TS-570 and set about getting back on the air. Previously I'd only used verticals, but now I'm in a completely different situation now and bought some new gear: a multiband dipole from DX Engineering that I've installed on the ridge of my roof.  Since installing the antenna and getting stuff running, I have to say I'm a bit disappointed. I don't know if it's equipment or just the bands.

My schedule is such that I've only been able to get on the air from around 8-9:30pm, and around that time I hear almost nothing. 20m and up is dead, 30m/40m are high noise. I rarely hear anyone, and have managed zero QSOs so far, despite a lot of listening an CQs.  I don't believe the setup is completely screwed up because I'm able to tune it and do sometimes hear some stronger station (e.g. W1AW), but I certainly don't remember it sounding so empty nor having so little success making contact.

Any ideas?  I've only had the thing up for a few days so it's a pretty weak sample size, but I my memories of youth ham radio were quite different.  Am I just hitting things at a bad time of day and/or year?  Any station troubleshooting tips would be great, as would confirmation that the aforementioned bands are just in a sorry state and that's that!

Thanks,
Jim

P.S. Hopefully within the next week I'll have a little extra daytime play time to experiment on higher bands.
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K7KBN
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Posts: 2801




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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2012, 10:38:10 PM »

The antenna is installed "on the ridge" of the roof -- how far ABOVE the roof?  It isn't just sitting there on the roof itself, right?

What's in the space below the roof?  Attic space or ... ?  Nearby metallic objects in there like vent ducting or metallic shingles?  Foil-faced insulation... piping...

Just guessing here, because you say you can hear stronger stations like W1AW, so the receiver isn't dead.  Some home electronics might be causing the noise on 30/40 meters.  Any local hams/club members who can listen for you?
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
KE5JPP
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Posts: 0




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« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2012, 03:28:58 AM »

You have a problem with your equipment somewhere.

Gene
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WX7G
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Posts: 6030




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« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2012, 06:00:07 AM »

At that time 20 meters and up are dead. But, 40 and 80 meters are open.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2012, 06:06:58 AM by WX7G » Logged
KG6BRG
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Posts: 119




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« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2012, 06:12:37 AM »

Day time 40 meters is wide open, lots of nets and ragchews.  After dark tune across 80 meters and you will find lots of activity there too.  If you don't, check your station set up.  good luck.  cheers. 
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K5LXP
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« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2012, 06:31:35 AM »

confirmation that the aforementioned bands are just in a sorry state and that's that!

It's *not* that.

What is your antenna exactly?


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
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KG6AF
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« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2012, 07:12:55 AM »

I always find "why isn't my setup working" questions like this a little frustrating, because it's tough to get enough details to be of help.  What you need is a knowledgeable local ham who can look at your setup and help you get things going.  You have at least a couple of choices:

 - Hams in your neighborhood.  N4MC's Ham Locator (vanityhq.com, left side of the page) shows 58 hams in your zip code.  I'm just eyeballing it, but it looks like there are at least three General, two Advanced, and three Extra Class licensees within a mile of you.

 - Local clubs.  According to their calendar, the Peoria-Area Amateur Radio Club (http://www.w9uvi.org) meets this Friday, the 9th (Red Cross Bldg, 311 West John Gwynn Jr, Ave, Peoria).  Go to a meeting, introduce yourself, and ask for help.  If you can't get to a meeting, you can contact them at w9uvi@arrl.net.
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NO2A
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« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2012, 07:44:27 AM »

Can you hear WWV on 5 or 10 mhz? How well? How well do you hear local stations on 80m? Even with a high noise level,local qso`s shouldn`t be a problem.
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KB9DNA
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« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2012, 08:11:51 AM »

Thanks for the replies. Here is a bit more information about my setup which might be useful:

- The lay of the land: http://goo.gl/maps/tZL57    I'm running the feedline out of that open window.

- Antenna is a DX Engineering WA-070 (40-10m dipole). I've cut the ladder line that's part of their setup as guided to an odd 1/8 wavelength and it's about 75' long. Unfortunately 3/8 was just a bit short so I had to jump to 5/8 wavelength.  One leg of the antenna is just a couple feet above the roof, and the other is laying on the roof (to answer an early question). Whether that would be acceptable was an early question I had before the purchase, but some searches led me to believe that while not ideal, there was nothing patently wrong with it. I can probably raise that leg up about a foot if needed. The wire itself is 14ga/stranded/insulated.

- There is nothing that I know of that's intrinsically bad about the roof. Underneath is an attic and vaulted ceiling. Not sure about the insulation by the vaulted part, though the attic part is pretty clear.

- Ladder line runs to the recommended balun BAL050-H10-AT.

- I've got 18' of RG-218 running to a Heathkit SA2060 tuner, and then onto the TS-570D.

- WWV comes in well on 5 and 10 Mhz, though 10 dies later at night. I'll run some 80m tests.

I actually am fairly new to the area (OR, not IL though the FCC is slow to propagate the address update), but I'll definitely pull in some local help soon. I'll also be spending some weekend time to get a better profile of things, especially on higher bands during the day. My main reason for posting was to get an initial take on conditions (they're apparently OK), and perhaps awareness of some simple gotchas or things to check while I'm experimenting.


Thanks,
Jim
« Last Edit: November 06, 2012, 08:25:53 AM by KB9DNA » Logged
KD0REQ
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Posts: 925




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« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2012, 09:07:26 AM »

any way you can get some height on that skyhook, even just for testing, and see if you have a signal out?  I'm wondering if it's all being close-coupled and frittered away lying right on the roof.

there's an old temp antenna trick of putting a couple tripods on the roof to hold up the antenna, and drop a sandbag on the cross-bracing of each one so it stays put long enough to work something.  use a couple of Ideal radiator-type clamps to hold long dowels or a piece of PVC pipe to each one, raise the antenna, and recheck conditions.  that should get you 10 feet, and get just barely out of the ground effect to see if your equipment is worth messing with.
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KB4QAA
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« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2012, 09:19:02 AM »

-Antenna laying on the roof isn't helping anything.  The DX antenna itself is a fine one.  Try re-orienting the antenna, and get it off the roof if humanly possible.

Now: what mode(s) are you trying to operate?  CW, SSB, Digital?

-How did you try operating?  Calling CQ?, Replying to CQ's?  Tail ending?

Personally I'm not big on calling CQ, particularly on voice.  I prefer to respond to others or tail end QSO's.  That way you know the other fellow is primed and listening!

Yes, a few nights of operating is not a valid test.  I've been on 80m most nights this last week and it has been quite active.   The upper bands close down at night.  Oh, well, you have to work the bands as they are.  You can't force propagation.

Don't give up!   Making contacts is like fishing, and what makes it interesting. 

73, Bill

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K0IZ
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« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2012, 11:38:58 AM »

20M has been completely (totally) dead after nightfall the last few days.  I wondered if I had a problem.  So don't feel alone.  Re your antenna, I think you have to get it off the roof, if even by a foot or two.  Also make sure your feedline is away from stuff.
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K8AXW
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Posts: 3825




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« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2012, 11:58:58 AM »

How about additional information?  Like power output and SWR.....antenna tuner?  SSB or CW?

I agree with the others that having a wire antenna close to the roof isn't the best option and you should try to get it up or perpendicular to the roof.  Even if the efficiency of the antenna is really bad because of where it's installed you should be able to work someone!

Do a Google search for hams in your area and call one on the phone and ask for his help or perhaps he can suggest who you can call that will help you.

With 100w and a good SWR and you hear signals on the band, you should be able to work someone.

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WB6BYU
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« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2012, 12:39:42 PM »

Quote from: KB9DNA

- There is nothing that I know of that's intrinsically bad about the roof. Underneath is an attic and vaulted ceiling. Not sure about the insulation by the vaulted part, though the attic part is pretty clear.



Foil-lined insulation under the roof might be a problem, but you still should
be able to hear signals.


Quote

- I've got 18' of RG-218 running to a Heathkit SA2060 tuner, and then onto the TS-570D.



That could have a fair bit of loss on some bands, depending on the length of twinlead.
Again, not the end of the world.

But the antenna won't work very well on 80m, and 40m will be better during the day
than in the evening.  Your best results on 40m will be between about 9 AM and 5 PM.

This comes from the LAMP propagation prediction tool provided online from the
Australian Ionospheric Prediction Service.  Click your location on the map and select
"Amateur" instead of "Arbitrary" in the header, and it shows you the predicted bands
for best coverage out to 600 miles from your location.  (Other tools on that site will
show you longer paths, but your best chance for a contact is a relatively local one
on 40m.)


Quote

I actually am fairly new to the area (OR, not IL ...



The Salem Amateur Radio Club would be a good start.  Or ask some of the folks on
the 145.29 repeater who is knowledgeable about HF operation who can help.  I may be
able to come up with a few names in the area if you can't find anyone else.  I'm about
45 minutes NW in Yamhill County - close enough to work on 2m, possibly simplex.  We
might be able to set up a sked during the weekend, but I'll have to check my schedule.

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KB9DNA
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Posts: 5




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« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2012, 09:17:48 PM »

Thanks for all of the advice guys.  I'm going to spend some more time testing things out and will get in touch with the local Ham Club.

If I remember I'll update this thread with how things worked out for the record.


Cheers and 73's,
Jim
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