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Author Topic: The higher we go, the more difficult it becomes...guaranteed  (Read 9004 times)
WD4ELG
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« on: January 02, 2013, 12:09:46 AM »

I know, I know...it's just a hobby.  My Elmers told me that it gets geometricaly more difficult as we go higher on the DXCC totem pole.

I just got ZL9HR on LoTW for #306 confirmed (thanks, guys!).  With 307 worked, I should get the VU7M card in the mail any day now.  340 entities available, 330 required to be listed honor roll.

Three entities active that I should seek out: S2, EP, FH.  Never heard any of them in 33 years of hamming, but they should be workable.  S2 might be tough over the pole, or long path.

Two entities that have regularly activited: XX9, XW, Spratly.  Never heard them either in 33 years.  More LP hope and wish and offer to the DX gods.

That gives me 312.  The rest are either non-democratic countries (E3, XZ, P5) or restricted/difficult islands. 

* Three of those islands are the FR trio (Glorioso, Juan de Nova, and Tromelin) which are accesible and fair weather climates.  Possibly activated some day.  Good path from US East.
* The VK9 trio of Cocos, Melling and Christmas are occasionaly visited.  But hard to reach near the antipode and through one of the poles.  Also JD1/M.
* Then there are the islands are deep south Atlantic, very expensive to activate, inhospitable (the FT5 trio, the 3Y twins, two of the VP8's).
* Then there are the off-limits ones like Wake Kingman (got Navassa in 1981 before I knew how rare it was).
* Then there are the ridiculous ones like Scarborough Reef (I will NEVER forget the pics from 2007 as long as I live).

So, unless democracy breaks out like a virus on the Asian continent (or that one ham in XZ gets lucky, we hope!), or global warming swamps some of these islands (doubtful), or ARRL changes the rules (already did that in 2000 and improved the rules back then), or Ellison or Gates buys Wake Island...it's going to be a long "dry spell" for this ham.  No need to dream of a TH11 on a 100 foot tower over my hex beam and wires, if nobody QRV there.

So grateful for all the hams who activated ZL9, 7O, HK0/M, PY0S, VU7M, 3C6, 3C0, A5, and all the others...too many to list.  I don't want to complain, and I know patience is a hallmark of every good and true DXer.  I am already driving the XYL crazy with my nervous energy, anticipating where the next ATNO will come from.

* Already, I have switched to the low bands, chasing 9BDXCC with 160 remaining (at 91 worked currently), and QRP DXCC.  Already have digital DXCC and WAZ QSL's. 
* Doing some weak signal VHF when time permits and I get up before sunrise
* Already did the LEO sats
* EME is tough without a phased antenna, but that is a possibility
* I can't stand watching TV...as the Boss (Springsteen) says, 57 channels and nothin' on.
* I am walking briskly daily for several miles with the dogs, so I got the stress reduction covered. 

I guess the next step is to:

1. Make a DXPedition myself (can't take time off from work or put that kind of $$ into a trip...and besides the XYL wants to come along, and she does NOT want to go to the South Atlantic!)

2. Take up cross-stitching as a secondary hobby to pass the time until the next rare one is on

3. Take a cooking class with the XYL

4. Start playing golf again (that is as addictive to me as ham radio, but I am not gifted with a golf club like I am with a CW paddle)

That's one thing I never learned from any of my Elmers...how they passed the time and learned patience as they climbed the DXCC list.  It would be worthwhile to hear from some of the DXers on this list who can share their wisdom. 

I have heard that 10 years was enough to make Honor Roll from 2001-2011.  What about the hams that needed 20 or 30 years to do it?  I read about some guy who did it back in the late 50's by the age of 19 after 5 years.  That's amazing.  I think it might take me another 20 years.  It's worth the wait (anything worth having is worth waiting for).  But what do other DXers do to keep the interest going during the dry spells?

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IK0OZD
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« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2013, 01:06:52 AM »



I guess the next step is to:

1. Make a DXPedition myself (can't take time off from work or put that.  It's worth the wait (anything worth having is worth waiting for).  But what do other DXers do to keep the interest going during the dry spells?


[/quote]


http://www.dxmarathon.com/







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W1VT
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« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2013, 04:09:47 AM »

I'm doing it backwards--I already did that QRP/VHF/homebrewing  Grin  I figured I'd take a break from those activities, work a whole bunch of countries as quickly as possible, and go back to my hobbies as I run out of entities to work. 

I not only have 200+ rose bushes, but have started to grow cold weather camellias.
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KY6R
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« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2013, 04:59:01 AM »

I work band fills toward the DXCC Challenge and am at 1800 - so even that becomes slow going at this level. I also had worked 8BDXCC in the first 3 years of DX-ing. All of these activities help towards DXCC Honor Roll as well.

In my free time I hike, cycle and make "Assemblage Art" I am also into photography and write blogs about DXCC  Grin  I also have started volunteering to be a Pilot for DX-peditions and am helping with TX5C and Heard Island. My XYL keeps me plenty busy painting rooms in the house and fixing stuff too. The never ending "Honey Do" list . . .

I will make DXCC Honor Roll in one solar cycle - somewhere between 11 1/2 - 12 years, and while there are parts of the program I don't agree with, I have had this manical drive to do it. Along the way I have had to learn a lot - so the award means diddly squat - overcoming a QTH in a bowl and having to revamp the antenna farm several times to work those new ones is the real award. I have also spent way too much time blathering on eHam Roll Eyes

I have only ever competed against myself and no one else. Heck - there are many already on Honor Roll, so from that standpoint its not some earth shattering accomplishment. But the way I make the accomplishment is.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2013, 05:11:57 AM by KY6R » Logged
K9NW
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« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2013, 05:25:51 AM »

But what do other DXers do to keep the interest going during the dry spells?


Contests - DX contests in particular.

Provides an opportunity to discover openings that you might not otherwise know about just because lots of stations are QRV.  Provides an opportunity to learn the strengths and weaknesses of your station.  You don't have to "enter" the contest to take advantage of the opportunity.


IOTA

Provides an opportunity to learn propagation to various parts of the world.  Provides an opportunity to learn and keep sharp your pileup skills.  Lots of operations in all parts of the world, though many are with minimal equipment and low power.  You don't have to actively participate in the IOTA program to take advantage of the opportunity.


DXCC Challenge

Provides an opportunity to expand your horizons, learning the characteristics of all the available bands, and what you need to effectively work them.  You don't have to actively participate in the Challenge to take advantage of the opportunity.
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AI0O
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« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2013, 06:10:45 AM »

Since there are no ATNO's left until the next new one is created, I am concentrating on 9BWAZ where I am within 15. Hoping for Z22 on 10M this peak (if you can call it that!). Many VU's active, just can't hear them here. Also need Z3 on 12 and 17, just waiting for LOTW user. The rest are 80/160 so that will take time. Play in all the major contests to keep interest up. Only work DXpeditions on needed bands. There is a lot to do to keep active. Also going back through log looking for band fills. The rig still gets turned on every day because you never know what may pop up.
73,
Rob AI0O
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WX7G
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« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2013, 06:14:39 AM »

The next step could be contesting.

160 meter contests, DX contests, Sweep Stakes, and so on.
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W2IRT
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« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2013, 07:00:14 AM »

I know, I know...it's just a hobby.  My Elmers told me that it gets geometricaly more difficult as we go higher on the DXCC totem pole.
I just got ZL9HR on LoTW for #306 confirmed (thanks, guys!).  With 307 worked, I should get the VU7M card in the mail any day now.  340 entities available, 330 required to be listed honor roll.

Congrats on ZL9. That was a new one for me, too (327 here). Just a small correction, though. It'll take 331 to put you on honor roll, not 330.

Three entities active that I should seek out: S2, EP, FH.  Never heard any of them in 33 years of hamming, but they should be workable.  S2 might be tough over the pole, or long path.
S2 is hard but workable if you have even a modest tribander. Mayotte is on quite regularly and not all that difficult from the east coast. The trick is, they don't always use the FH prefix. You need to keep reading the bulletins because visiting ops will often be assigned one of the generic French TO prefixes, which could be France, Guadaloupe, Martinique, Mayotte or the Marquesas (or something else entirely).

Two entities that have regularly activited: XX9, XW, Spratly.  Never heard them either in 33 years.  More LP hope and wish and offer to the DX gods.
XX9 is hard with wires. XW isn't all that rare but also hard with just wires. Spratly was quite workable last year. All those entities you mentioned, with the exception of Mayotte, are trans-polar and quite simply need more antenna than you have available. If you're not running low-hung wires, and do, in fact, have even a simple tri-bander up 35', then something is possibly wrong with your feedline or radio, or you're just not on the air when you need to be.

That gives me 312.  The rest are either non-democratic countries (E3, XZ, P5) or restricted/difficult islands. 
Good luck with those Cheesy. I have E3 but it was a fluke, my first rare one in 2001--I had NO idea how rare it was! Many of us still need P5 and XZ unfortunately, and both will be extremely difficult unless you've got a large yagi and legal limit once they eventually get on the air. Polar path and ultimate rarity combined.

* Three of those islands are the FR trio (Glorioso, Juan de Nova, and Tromelin) which are accesible and fair weather climates.  Possibly activated some day.  Good path from US East.
Not as easy as you think. These three islands are restricted to active duty French military personnel only. Tromelin hasn't been active since I became an active DXer. FR/J and FR/G have each been activated once and both those activations were by the same op who didn't really like working North America very much at all.

* The VK9 trio of Cocos, Melling and Christmas are occasionaly visited.  But hard to reach near the antipode and through one of the poles.  Also JD1/M.
Cocos-Keeling isn't that hard. Christmas is MUCH harder, even for me. I only have two Q's with VK9X, with a pretty decent array and legal limit. It's another one that's right over the north pole. Mellish is a very rare entity and has only been activated once in my time on the bands (April 2009 by George and Tomi, the same awesome ops who activated PT0S in November). Being near the antipode itself isn't really the problem--Perth, in Western Australia is the closest population center to my antipode and I find VK6 to be relatively easy to work. The real problem is anything over a pure trans-polar path. Zones 18, 19 23, 24, 26 and 28 are difficult to work from the U.S. east coast due to polar region absorption.

* Then there are the islands are deep south Atlantic, very expensive to activate, inhospitable (the FT5 trio, the 3Y twins, two of the VP8's).
* Then there are the off-limits ones like Wake Kingman (got Navassa in 1981 before I knew how rare it was).
* Then there are the ridiculous ones like Scarborough Reef (I will NEVER forget the pics from 2007 as long as I live).

So, unless democracy breaks out like a virus on the Asian continent (or that one ham in XZ gets lucky, we hope!), or global warming swamps some of these islands (doubtful), or ARRL changes the rules (already did that in 2000 and improved the rules back then), or Ellison or Gates buys Wake Island...it's going to be a long "dry spell" for this ham.  No need to dream of a TH11 on a 100 foot tower over my hex beam and wires, if nobody QRV there.
Every year something rare comes up, although at the moment, nothing in that category has been announced for 2013...but it will happen, I'm sure. I assume you worked 7O6T in 2012. Did you ever think you'd get Yemen in the log? I was sure it would be one of my last 3, yet I now have it everywhere except 160. If you'd told me that I'd have Yemen confirmed on 8 bands and 3 modes last New Years Day I'd have called the padded wagon for you <g>. You never know what's coming down the pike. BUT. You need to be ready for it when it does. You don't need a TH-11 at 100', but a decent Force-12 tribander at 40 or 50' would make a massive difference. Ditto a simple 800W amp like an AL-811H. Do you think for a moment that if Scarborough or Bouvet were to come up tomorrow, on a one-week activation, you'd be able to work them with what you have now?

* Already, I have switched to the low bands, chasing 9BDXCC with 160 remaining (at 91 worked currently), and QRP DXCC.  Already have digital DXCC and WAZ QSL's. 
160 is an awesome band, and I assume you're also working on your 6m DXCC as well. The DXCC Challenge is a great pastime as well. I'm over 2500 now and I still scour the bands for a missing bandfill every day.

I guess the next step is to:

1. Make a DXPedition myself (can't take time off from work or put that kind of $$ into a trip...and besides the XYL wants to come along, and she does NOT want to go to the South Atlantic!)

2. Take up cross-stitching as a secondary hobby to pass the time until the next rare one is on

3. Take a cooking class with the XYL

4. Start playing golf again (that is as addictive to me as ham radio, but I am not gifted with a golf club like I am with a CW paddle)

No, it sounds to me like you need to do one thing and one thing only. Start erecting better antennas. Overcome whichever obstacles are there (XYLs can be reasoned with and can be more forgiving than you'd think; HOA/CC&Rs, not so much). Do whatever it takes to put something effective in the air, even if you're just mastering one band in the process (17 or 20 being ideal).

That's one thing I never learned from any of my Elmers...how they passed the time and learned patience as they climbed the DXCC list.  It would be worthwhile to hear from some of the DXers on this list who can share their wisdom. 

I have heard that 10 years was enough to make Honor Roll from 2001-2011.  What about the hams that needed 20 or 30 years to do it?  I read about some guy who did it back in the late 50's by the age of 19 after 5 years.  That's amazing.  I think it might take me another 20 years.  It's worth the wait (anything worth having is worth waiting for).  But what do other DXers do to keep the interest going during the dry spells?

Yes, it was very possible to work HR in the 10 years you mentioned. I got on in 2001 and I missed 5 DXpeditions and one ultra-rare activation (P5) that would have put me over the top. I think today it will be a lot harder to do it in 10 years because of the sheer number of entities that have been closed to human beings in the last decade...all the U.S. possessions in the Pacific being prime examples. Baker-Howland, Johnston and so on. Turkmenistan is still closed and heaven only knows what else is about to become off-limits to us. Not to mention places like Peter-1 that may not see hams back due to the enormous expenses involved for 20 more years.

What you can and should be doing is constantly improving every aspect of your station, from the obvious to the not-so-obvious. Antennas first. Then antennas. And did I say Antennas?! Good quality feedline is a must, too. Hardline if you can, even if your antennas aren't up all that high. Every dB counts. Reduce your noise as much as you can. Buy or build an amp. Legal-limit is the best, but 800W will still cut through a lot of pileups. Next look at your radio. How much noise does the receiver generate? Could you afford a low-noise K3, perhaps? Look at station accessories and software that make working the DX easier and that alert you when that rare one is QRV. I've obsessed about that latter one and finally found a solution that will sound all sorts of alarms as needed. Do you work CW? If not, learn it. Do you use RTTY? Learn how to use that mode, too.

Don't sweat the P5s and BS7s for now. They'll come in time. But just ask yourself, if they were to come on tomorrow, how confident would you be in your equipment and skills that you'd be able to bust the pileups and get 'em in your log?
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N2RJ
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« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2013, 07:01:18 AM »

I guess the next step is to:

1. Make a DXPedition myself (can't take time off from work or put that kind of $$ into a trip...and besides the XYL wants to come along, and she does NOT want to go to the South Atlantic!)


If ever I'm in a position to take off a month from work in one shot I want to do that. That probably means not until I'm retired.
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K8CMO
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« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2013, 07:04:48 AM »

The new ones are few and far between for me now, but I still have a lot of fun working CW DX--even without specific challenges.  I have been licensed for 57 years and started serious DXing in the 1970s.  Honor Roll took me about 15 years, but i have fallen off Honor Roll since where I now live I only have a G5RV antenna. Except for North Korea I have all the Top 20 or more on the most wanted list. I still work most of the serious DXpedition new ones (such as NH8S or ZL9HR but have trouble hearing some of the more casual ones like H40 and XU with my current antenna and location.  The hope is always there for some of the ones I DO still need such as South Siudan and Palestine.
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AF3Y
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« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2013, 07:25:27 AM »

Not as easy as you think. These three islands are restricted to active duty French military personnel only. Tromelin hasn't been active since I became an active DXer. FR/J and FR/G have each been activated once and both those activations were by the same op who didn't really like working North America very much at all.

Peter, are you saying that ALL of the French military personnel didn't like working NA much at all?   I did not have any trouble landing FT5GA on CW on a couple bands. Actually 3 bands, but he busted my SSB call on a third band, and I never bothered getting it fixed.
Seems like to me they were "spreading the wealth(QSOs)" pretty well.  I never looked at their stats, so I could be wrong, but I really did not notice, at the time.

73, Gene AF3Y

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W2IRT
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« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2013, 07:35:15 AM »

Peter, are you saying that ALL of the French military personnel didn't like working NA much at all?   I did not have any trouble landing FT5GA on CW on a couple bands. Actually 3 bands, but he busted my SSB call on a third band, and I never bothered getting it fixed.
Seems like to me they were "spreading the wealth(QSOs)" pretty well.  I never looked at their stats, so I could be wrong, but I really did not notice, at the time.

They'd sit and run Europe for hours, despite openings to NA on every band, only working the strongest NAs. They missed almost every possible greyline opening to NA on the lowbands--and thankfully I was there for the one they didn't. I worked Glorioso on 12, 15, 17, 20 and 80 but that was it, and every QSO Was a major battle. Not a single easy QSO in the lot, and believe me, the AL-1200 earned its keep that week! FR/J I only got on 15m SSB.
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WD4ELG
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« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2013, 08:21:45 AM »

W2IRT/Peter - thanks for taking the time to respond. VERY helpful, just what I was looking for. 

Answers to your questions:

* I have 600 watts to a hex beam on 20/17/15/12/10 at 40 feet, so it's going to be a challenge. Inverted L for 80/160, vertical for 40.  But hope springs eternal, and I will keep making sacrifices to the DX gods.

* 7O6T - I NEVER thought I would work Yemen, at least not in this decade.  What a wonderful surprise.

* If Scarborough or Bouvet came on tomorrow, I MIGHT be able to work them.  If they were on for only a week, it would be a challenge...but I am active on all bands...so it is possible.  I would have a shot, at least.  Like with ZL9, it all happened at the right time (worked them on 20 SSB, 20 CW, and 17 CW all within a 30 minute time span, Sunday night local around 11 PM, the night before I left on a road trip.  This was after a week of activity with no success on my end despite many hours trying to get through, as I recall).

* 17 entities worked on 6 meters, but my 5 element yagi is at 40 feet suspended from an oak tree in between a forest of oaks all at 80 feet.  So there's a challenge here with 6 meters.

* I am incredibly blessed with the most wonderful XYL who tolerates (almost) anything. Fortunately, I have a relatively quiet QTH and flat land around me.  Rig is FLex 3000 with CW Skimmer, DX Lab, Dx4Win, I am subscribing to Daily DX newsletter, I can do 40 WPM CW.  I don't want to sound cocky, but I am confident in my skills and equipment and information at this time.

The room for improvement is always the antennas, like you said.  HOA/CC&R are restrictive so I have to be careful, but I always have options.  KY6R/Rich and what he did with 17 meters is very inspiring...I need to get to work on something similar. 

Besides the transmit antennas, I also have a HiZ 4 square for receiving on 40/80/160 that works quite well.  But I need to get some improvement on the higher bands. 

I'll start researching additional options ASAP.

Thanks again, Peter.
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W2IRT
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« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2013, 09:16:19 AM »

W2IRT/Peter - thanks for taking the time to respond. VERY helpful, just what I was looking for. 
My pleasure!

* I have 600 watts to a hex beam on 20/17/15/12/10 at 40 feet, so it's going to be a challenge. Inverted L for 80/160, vertical for 40.  But hope springs eternal, and I will keep making sacrifices to the DX gods.
OK, there is a reason that most of us in this forum cringe when we hear that a DXpedition to a rare DXCC entity is going to use HexBeams. That is your single biggest limiting factor, IMHO. Some folks swear by them; most swear at them. If I were you, I'd be looking at replacing that beast with something better. Force-12 makes some awesome antennas that would be the difference between night and day...the DXer series, the C3SS, the XR-5, C19 and C31XR are awesome antennas that play like nothing you can imagine. Now, if you have CC&R issues, I somehow doubt they'll let you put up a C31XR (if they do GO FOR IT!!!). I'd recommend the XR-5 if you can do it, or the C3SS if the XR-5 is too big. http://www.texasantennas.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=75&Itemid=90

* If Scarborough or Bouvet came on tomorrow, I MIGHT be able to work them.  If they were on for only a week, it would be a challenge...but I am active on all bands...so it is possible.  I would have a shot, at least.  Like with ZL9, it all happened at the right time (worked them on 20 SSB, 20 CW, and 17 CW all within a 30 minute time span, Sunday night local around 11 PM, the night before I left on a road trip.  This was after a week of activity with no success on my end despite many hours trying to get through, as I recall).
I'd say that you'd have a shot with Bouvet. Based on your never hearing many relatively-easy entities over the pole, Scarborough might not be possible with what you have. I personally worked them 4 times in 2007 (no Clublog, so I wanted insurance for CW and SSB). My station, with other operators, worked them an additional bunch of times. For the east coast, BS7 and P5 will be the biggest challenges you will ever face in terms of path+rarity.

* I am incredibly blessed with the most wonderful XYL who tolerates (almost) anything. Fortunately, I have a relatively quiet QTH and flat land around me.  Rig is FLex 3000 with CW Skimmer, DX Lab, Dx4Win, I am subscribing to Daily DX newsletter, I can do 40 WPM CW.  I don't want to sound cocky, but I am confident in my skills and equipment and information at this time.
I would agree, you have a decent station, but the extreme limitation is your antenna. Everything else, it sure sounds like you're doing it right, or as best you can.

The room for improvement is always the antennas, like you said.  HOA/CC&R are restrictive so I have to be careful, but I always have options.  KY6R/Rich and what he did with 17 meters is very inspiring...I need to get to work on something similar. 
Yes, you do. Absolutely. Do whatever it takes to get something better in the air and all of a sudden you'll start hearing that rare polar-path stuff and will get your counts up another 10-15. BS7 will come back on in time....make sure you're ready for it. Make sure you're ready in case some no-warning DXpedition fires up from North Korea as an extension of international goodwill by the little dictator (after a sufficiently large bribe is paid) or if Simon gets lucky and we see Myanmar come back on the air. All those are over paths that will vex you in your current setup.

Meanwhile, there'll be rare ones coming back on the bands after extended absences. Maybe not new for me, but probably new for you. Once you're over 300, it starts getting difficult. Once you're over 320 it's downright hard!!

Besides the transmit antennas, I also have a HiZ 4 square for receiving on 40/80/160 that works quite well.  But I need to get some improvement on the higher bands. 
Sounds like you're nicely equipped for the low bands. Spend as much time as you can on 160. You can never have enough DX down there Smiley
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WB3BEL
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« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2013, 11:06:14 AM »

...
*
OK, there is a reason that most of us in this forum cringe when we hear that a DXpedition to a rare DXCC entity is going to use HexBeams. That is your single biggest limiting factor, IMHO. Some folks swear by them; most swear at them. If I were you, I'd be looking at replacing that beast with something better...

So I completely and emphatically disagree with this statement.  I have heard some DXers badmouthing both hex beams and spiderbeams due to weak signals from some DXPeditions in the last few years.  I'd be overjoyed for a rare one to use these antennas.  If they take good ops and have some power and time then the game is ready to play...

The hexbeam is a just small 2 element parasitic array and is quite good for what it is.  Yes, a monoband 2 element yagi might have +1~ dB more gain.  A 3 ele yagi would be even better.  In some cases that might make a difference.  But in your case getting a legal limit amp would make more sense if you are hearing the stations, but not breaking the pileups 1500W/800W =+2.7dB .  Spiderbeams are better than many DXpedition antennas and if they are constructed correctly and pointed the right way by operators who know how to work weak openings quickly and efficiently everything would work better. 

I would never ever trade a tribander for a decent directional gain antenna that also has WARC band coverage.  If you have a better than average antenna on the WARC bands you have a significant DXing weapon in your arsenal. 

Your antenna is quite capable of working HR.  Obviously a better antenna might make it easier, but lots of guys have used worse antennas and lower power to get HR.  An antenna upgrade that might be possible depending on your situation would be to have a higher tower.  65 or 70 feet will be much better on tough paths than 40ft even if it is just a hexbeam or other two element yagi it will work better and have stronger signals most of the time on really long paths if it is up higher.  If you want to have more degree of freedom to battle the ground gain nulls that might occur on some paths due to strange propagation, then having a motorized crank up where you can vary the antenna height might make some tough paths easier or help to cancel RX interference.  It might offset the aesthetics issue as well.  But it's pretty expensive for the payback.

The biggest issue is that you need patience for the stations to come on the air at all.  Then you need to put in the chair time to make the Q.  Not everyone can or wants to do this part.  Everyone has other obligations and balance in their lives.  But what is the big rush anyway?  I like to think of it as the journey rather than only the endgame.  If you miss one it will likely come around again.  It may take quite a while for some of the entities but take time to have fun as you proceed.

Learn about propagation and what paths are open at what times of the year and when... For example in my experience S2 is always louder in VA Long path than Short path.  FH should come to you in time.  As will XX9 and XW.  Talk to other active DXers in the same region and try to learn from their experiences.  PS not all OT DXers have good advice.  Some guard their secrets like favorite fishing holes.  Some don't have a clue and never have... just a loud mouth and good station.  Others were top notch DXers at one point but have failing memory or other issues.  So take everything you hear with a grain of salt.
W2IRT has a ton of good advice, I just differ on opinion regarding hex and spiderbeam performance...

So let me make a final disclaimer...I do NOT have HR... I need less than a handful more, and this was done in about 12 years with very small station with some breaks and excursions to other hobbies.  I have had a linear amp for less than half of that time.  It's only an AL80B but it works well enough for me for now.  At present I have a mix of antennas that are mounted in trees and I can change element lengths on them as I want by raising and lowering with pulley system and can point 2 ele monoband yagi (17m Al tubing or add  copper alligator clip to THHN wire element pigtails for 20m band selection) or 3 ele monoband (10m Al tubing or add  copper alligator clip to THHN wire pigtails for 12, 15m band selection) yagi with armstrong method via tether rope on the ground.   This beam is no higher than 30 ft.  So your hexbeam is most likely better than mine on most bands due to height. Maybe on 10/12 my 3ele is a tiny bit better.  Some of my wire antennas are higher... My low band antennas are just wire verticals and short RX antennas.  The trick on my suburban tiny lot is battling RX QRN and QRM from power lines and electronic rubbish.  So you can see that the advice I have given regarding higher antenna and more QRO could apply to me equally, but I have not done so yet...  Wink
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