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Author Topic: At what point does DXing become "hard"  (Read 5856 times)
W1VT
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« Reply #45 on: January 25, 2013, 11:12:37 AM »

Rich,

That is the cool thing about being an engineer--being able to design and build something that works--just like theory says it should!

I've been having a great time with my 80M vertical and 100 watts--now up to 78/48 after working two VKs and a Hawaiian in the past week.

Zack W1VT
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KY6R
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« Reply #46 on: January 25, 2013, 11:19:23 AM »

Rich,

That is the cool thing about being an engineer--being able to design and build something that works--just like theory says it should!

I've been having a great time with my 80M vertical and 100 watts--now up to 78/48 after working two VKs and a Hawaiian in the past week.

Zack W1VT

Absolutely, Zack.

When I started out - I would just build whatever the ARRL Books said to build. But I kept wondering how they really worked.

I am a "data architect" and use data modeling software at work - so the process was easy to learn as far as EZnec was concerned.

After screwing up a feed system on a wire beam - and losing 3 out of 4 rare ones during the bottom of the cycle, I sought some help from a couple of elmers, and WOW - one button (the SRC DAT) in EZnec and how it works and what it says turned me from a 98 pound aspiring antenna designer to one who can model anything and do it right.

And when you then work a rare one - with full confidence that you have controlled all you can controlled - in this "multi-dimensional" problem that you are attempting to solve,

BINGO!

That's been the real award for me. I can't control propagation - but I know how to take full advantage of it - and use the awards as "test cases" to keep me honest.

I also know what claims people make about antennas and what are true claims and which are "fantasy".
« Last Edit: January 25, 2013, 11:21:26 AM by KY6R » Logged
AF3Y
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« Reply #47 on: January 25, 2013, 04:16:08 PM »

GOD Roll Eyes........ We REALLY need some rare DX.

Gene AF3Y
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KY6R
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« Reply #48 on: January 25, 2013, 04:48:59 PM »

GOD Roll Eyes........ We REALLY need some rare DX.

Gene AF3Y

Dream on . . . .  Grin

« Last Edit: January 25, 2013, 05:14:48 PM by KY6R » Logged
WA6MJE
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« Reply #49 on: January 25, 2013, 06:57:35 PM »

And then I got REALLY SERIOUS about DXing....
I had a laugh at this.  I have said that sooo many times.  I guess I am just screwed now and hooked. Every time I thought I got "serious" it ended up child's play to the next time I got "serious", on and on, and on.

I live in an HOA with antenna restrictions. In fact, there is a prohibition against radio transmitters, so I don't have any permanent antennas. I use mostly wire-on-a-stick vertical end-fed antennas that come down when I'm finished operating. Only 100 watts here.
Dave, N6ORB
Dave's story makes me feel great.  He gives me hope. I also am stuck in a HOA hell.  Despite this, I find small ways to improve things and DX gets better for me as time goes by.

In any event, 250 in 4 years with 100 watts and only transient antennas, is incredibly impressive. From the East Coast of the US, I got to 250 in about 4 years too, but without many of your limitations.
Tim.
Tim's story also gives me hope.

A whole new "dimension" unfolded along the way - and I literally walk around in a dazed stupor every day, drooling and marveling about how propagation works and how I can take advantage of that with antennas that I design and build.
Thanks for sharing this.  I thought I was the only one who was in a stupor every day thinking out how to get just a slightly better antenna hidden somewhere and things like that.  I have a bumper sticker now that says "Life is what happens while you are waiting for an ATNO."

CW is the ONLY way to go for modest stations. And of course, EXTRA privileges (as you have) since you can't count on the tough ones being above the bottom of the band.
Ken W7NUW

And the above quote brings me to a question.  After several decades of casual off and on again hamming, my first success in the pursuit of DX came with digital modes, and now JT-65 which is my elusive mode now. But I do have Extra privileges, and have been brushing up on my code and am up to about 20 WPM now. But I have yet to start having CW QSOs. Yet I wonder if it would be more productive to continue to just work JT 65 than CW.  Theoretically JT-65 has better performance.  Then I consider the fact that many countries are more available on CW, BUT, if I look at the JT-65 reverse beacon, there are many ATNOs on the air in the JT-65 segment that I should and cannot hear, and until I find a way to exhaust them, I wonder if my spending the time to get in the CW area would be worth while.  If I cannot hear certain countries on JT 65 I probably would not hear them on CW either. I have just upgraded from my IC 7000 to an Elecraft hoping to improve the receiver side. I have a linear I have never used yet, and am experimenting with every antenna concept I can get away with.  I need to hear them first, and then see if I can work them, and if not fix that.  CW takes more time in the chair than JT-65 since I do not have to tune all over the band from station to station.  Also, JT-65 is quiet, so there is less fatigue I get straining to hear in raspy noise. But, I will go anywhere and do whatever it takes to improve my DX numbers, and if CW is where I need to go I am on my way.  Someone please talk me out of it.

So my question is this? Is CW really where I need to go, or is there still opportunity for me to exploit ATNO on JT 65 that I can see but not hear until there are none left for me?  Or should I do both, setup one of my radios in each segment? 

The posts in this thread made me laugh and encouraged me.  It is nice to know that I am not alone with my craziness about this hobby.

Rene - WA6MJE 
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W7NUW
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« Reply #50 on: January 25, 2013, 11:00:33 PM »

Rene -- I have not tried digital modes. Some of them show very good weak signal performance. But many "rare ones" don't do digital at all, and those that do seem to spend a small fraction of their time at it. CW and SSB predominate, with RTTY a distant third.

The CW exchanges are so minimal -- send your call, hear your call, send "R 5NN TU" -- that anyone even approaching 20 wpm capability should should have no trouble with it.

At a given power level, CW and wires will beat SSB and a beam almost every time.

CW:  more DX more often, with faster exchanges ("whiskey seven november uniform whiskey" takes a lot more time to say than W7NUW takes to send with Morse). So the DX has time for many more of us!

73 and GLDX, Ken W7NUW
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W1VT
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« Reply #51 on: January 25, 2013, 11:03:53 PM »

The theoretical performance of JT65 on 80M is offset by the fact that in general, CW operators have better stations, and that there are more DX stations on CW. Also, the longer QSO time is significant when working short grey line openings.  Nothing on JT65 so far this AM, but I've worked HA8, UT7 (new one), GM3, and ON6 so far... But, I've also worked some stuff on JT65 I have yet to hear  on CW...  Band sweeps on CW are pretty quick--but I can post while waiting for JT65....

Zack W1VT
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K3VAT
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« Reply #52 on: January 26, 2013, 03:07:47 AM »

Very good postings!

It is not really "hard" - it is scarcity.  Sort of the amateur's version of Supply and Demand.  If all 340 entities were active, then DXCC HR could be earned very quickly, relatively speaking.  But that isn't the case.  Certain entities seem to be active only once per decade or more (such as Heard Is); others (N Korea) may be longer.  Arranging DXPeditions to the rare ones is a marathon (see N6PSE's recent & excellent postings on this subject) very time-consuming and extremely expensive.

The guys at HR#1 have been at it for multiple decades ... they had the opportunity to take advantage of the dwindling 'supply'.

GL, 73, Rich, K3VAT
334/334
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KY6R
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« Reply #53 on: January 26, 2013, 04:39:22 AM »

Very good postings!
Arranging DXPeditions to the rare ones is a marathon (see N6PSE's recent & excellent postings on this subject) very time-consuming and extremely expensive.

I also think that CW is by far the most efficient mode for working DX. A really great CW op can get a very high "Q Rate". Also - the signal is much better than SSB. Digital modes are fine - but I've never seen digital pileup "Q Rates" come close to CW - in fact - they always look like "clobber - fests" to me.

I'm working at the warehouse helping pack up TX5K this weekend, and also working on Heard Island - which (as you can see on the Heard Island web site) the expected budget is 1.3 - 1.5 million dollars. (Said in my best "Doctor Evil" voice) . . . . .

73,
 
Rich
KY6R
335/331
« Last Edit: January 26, 2013, 05:18:28 AM by KY6R » Logged
G3RZP
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« Reply #54 on: January 27, 2013, 07:08:07 AM »

It gets really hard when you need that last country #1 Honor Roll........At least, I have P5 and that means I have a chance of getting to #1. Please guys, hurry up with putting KP1 on!
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AD9DX
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« Reply #55 on: January 27, 2013, 07:20:24 AM »

Very good postings!
Arranging DXPeditions to the rare ones is a marathon (see N6PSE's recent & excellent postings on this subject) very time-consuming and extremely expensive.

I also think that CW is by far the most efficient mode for working DX. A really great CW op can get a very high "Q Rate". Also - the signal is much better than SSB. Digital modes are fine - but I've never seen digital pileup "Q Rates" come close to CW - in fact - they always look like "clobber - fests" to me.

I'm working at the warehouse helping pack up TX5K this weekend, and also working on Heard Island - which (as you can see on the Heard Island web site) the expected budget is 1.3 - 1.5 million dollars. (Said in my best "Doctor Evil" voice) . . . . .

73,
 
Rich
KY6R
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A million and a half dollars.  WOW!!!!

And to think my wife complained to no end when I bought and refurbished my Alpha 76A.

I hope at somepoint in my DX career that I can go on a DXpedition, but I am sure the buy-in is probably out of my pricepoint. 
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EX, KC9TRM, KB9IRZ
VK3HJ
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« Reply #56 on: January 27, 2013, 02:58:48 PM »

I hope at somepoint in my DX career that I can go on a DXpedition, but I am sure the buy-in is probably out of my pricepoint. 
Most would suggest for your first dxpedition that you don't try to "buy in" to a high-end team to a top ten rare one.
Why don't you start with an IOTA in your region, or something relatively easy to get to?
My last three trips to Vanuatu each cost each team member in the order of a couple of grand, including airfares, accommodation and meals, so it needn't be expensive! We all read of the mega budgets to the big dxpeditions - most of the cost is travel and freight of gear. Don't be put off dxpeditioning after reading such stories!
Perhaps for you a trip to St Pete's and St Mike's island, or something in the Caribbean would be quite affordable?
And CW is the king of DX modes in my book. SSB and digital is too much like a battlefield! To press that analogy, CW is like a sniper's rifle, SSB a machine gun, and digital an artillery barrage - in the context of a pileup.
Good luck and have fun in the chase.
73,
Luke VK3HJ
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AD9DX
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« Reply #57 on: January 27, 2013, 04:11:32 PM »

I hope at somepoint in my DX career that I can go on a DXpedition, but I am sure the buy-in is probably out of my pricepoint. 
Most would suggest for your first dxpedition that you don't try to "buy in" to a high-end team to a top ten rare one.
Why don't you start with an IOTA in your region, or something relatively easy to get to?
My last three trips to Vanuatu each cost each team member in the order of a couple of grand, including airfares, accommodation and meals, so it needn't be expensive! We all read of the mega budgets to the big dxpeditions - most of the cost is travel and freight of gear. Don't be put off dxpeditioning after reading such stories!
Perhaps for you a trip to St Pete's and St Mike's island, or something in the Caribbean would be quite affordable?
And CW is the king of DX modes in my book. SSB and digital is too much like a battlefield! To press that analogy, CW is like a sniper's rifle, SSB a machine gun, and digital an artillery barrage - in the context of a pileup.
Good luck and have fun in the chase.
73,
Luke VK3HJ

You are right Luke, and CW is my favorite mode.  I haven't even connected my microphone in a week.  Although I almost did earlier heard NU1O, Chris talking to a guy in Portugal earlier on 12m.  I decided not to do it though.  I didn't want to dig the thing out. 

I may be moving here in the next couple of months.  So from my new QTH I will be closer to the ocean and thus do some IOTA work.  The move will also mean more $$$ with my new job, so maybe a Dxpedition for me won't be out of the question.  It is hard at the moment to scrape money up for ham stuff, I am the sole earner in my family and have three kids.  Cool
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EX, KC9TRM, KB9IRZ
NU1O
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« Reply #58 on: January 28, 2013, 12:23:42 AM »


You are right Luke, and CW is my favorite mode.  I haven't even connected my microphone in a week.  Although I almost did earlier heard NU1O, Chris talking to a guy in Portugal earlier on 12m.  I decided not to do it though.  I didn't want to dig the thing out. 

I wish one of you guys would give me a call someday. You must be about the fifth or sixrth to write you heard me but other than a test QSO with Jonathan, W6GX, I have not had a QSO with anybody in the forum.

I had a very enjoyable QSO with the station in Porto, Portugal, CT1BOL. Now that new countries come very infrequently I find myself having more and more ragchew QSOs with DX stations. I find many foreign stations are very eager to talk -- provided their English is good - and I learn something about the other guy, the geography, his station, or whatever.

I've been spending more time on 12 meters of late.  I'd like to have DXCC worked on 12 via LoTW by the end of this year. I have 71 "countries" worked on 12 but only 40 confirmed via LoTW.  I'd also like to get to 300 confirmed on 10 meters before the band shuts down this cycle. I am at 270 so it is doable.

73,

Chris/NU1O

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W1VT
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« Reply #59 on: February 01, 2013, 06:07:20 PM »

Tonight I not only worked GH3IT on CW, but I just worked UN1L on JT65.  Both are new ones on 80--so there is something to be said about running both digital and CW.  Jersey was easy with 579 reports, but at -20/-21 on JT65, that is too weak for CW.

Zack W1VT
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