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Author Topic: 160 METERS - SAME OLD ANSWERS? NO LONGER BELIEVE THEM!  (Read 5296 times)
K7NSW
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Posts: 58




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« on: January 26, 2013, 09:45:08 AM »

As I type this the 2013 CQ WW CW Contest is now in progress.  I listened this morning.  A very wide band of solid workable signals.  Sounds like a bee hive.  When no contests are going on the band is almost always empty.  I tune 160 daily when the prop reports say it is open. I typically hear one or two CW ops calling CQ DX plus the usual two or three guys rag chewing on SSB around 1860 khz.  WWV at 2.5 Mhz is 16db over S-9 on my receiver.  So I know the band is open to somewhere in North America when I listen.  Why no casual operating on 160 like the other bands?  Most all of the entry level awards include 160 meters.  The hf clubs like SKCC have 160 freqs. So why is 160 empty?  The historical explanations I have heard during my 52 years on hf are two: (1) the rigs do not include 160 mtrs - well, they do now (2) no one has room for a 160 antenna - baloney.  During the contests you can hardly find a place to jump in.  There are obviously lots of ops with 160 capability - and now-a-days lots of them are retired.  I hear them on the other hf bands when 160 is open.  So why no daily casual operation on 160?  By casual, I mean the stuff I usually hear plenty of when I turn on my rig here in Idaho: North America hams talking to other North America hams.  My rig is a Ten-Tec Omni 7 and the big 45 foot tall GAP Voyager vertical that covers 160.  My question excludes DX because I do not hear them so I do not know what they are doing.  So, what do you think?
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W8JX
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Posts: 6030




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« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2013, 10:07:57 AM »

I was disillusioned with 160 many years ago. It seemed then that if they did not know you or you were not part of a group that they would not talk to you especially on SSB.
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W8GP
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Posts: 215




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« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2013, 11:33:58 AM »

Do you ever call CQ, and if you do, what is the result?  And I mean call like you mean it, not just a couple of short calls and then give up. I usually get a response but I might have to call for 10 minutes or so.Either it takes that long for someone to find me or someone answers me because they feel sorry for me! But your right, it's nothing like it was in the early 80s with a lot of open discussion on amps. antennas and other technical topics, but that's lacking on the other bands as well. By the way, I still need Idaho in the contest, so I'll be looking for you tonight.
                                                           73, Greg
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W4OP
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Posts: 436


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« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2013, 12:12:14 PM »

I'll assume  you understand that because of absorption, 160M is a night time band.
Here in the east the band is crowded end to end every night in the winter.
Do you have a good RX only antenna? I use 2 reversible Beverages and  hear a lot of EU activity at night also. Summer time, it's mostly stations east of the Mississippi I hear- but still a lot of them.

Dale W4OP
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K7NSW
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« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2013, 01:21:12 PM »

(1) I do understand absorption and 160 being a nighttime band.  I usually listen around 3:30 AM to 5:30 AM Idaho time so I am in the heart of the night here.  I have a long wire but I doubt it is a real beverage.  It is up 5 feet along my fences 500 feet long.  Since it goes around my yard it has three 90 degree corners.  It drops the noise level 2 to 3 S units but is probably hearing only high angle stuff.  In fact, I hear signals better on my noisier GAP vertical which is terribly short for 160.

(2) I did not consider long CQ calls.  I grew up in the hobby from 1961 to today on 80 - 10 meters.  All the books, articles, and advice I have received over the years uniformly condemns long CQ calls as unnecessary, wasteful of band space, and is a poor operating practice.  Almost cast as a mortal sin.  Yet, I have also heard 160 is a totally unique band with its own rules and procedures.  So maybe I will get out my programable keyer and toss out some long ones and see what happens.

(3) I suppose it is also a reality that not many people are on the air during my operating hours.  But, I do get nice rag chews on 80 and 40 at those crazy hours.
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K8AXW
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« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2013, 05:13:37 PM »

I don't work 160 but I've found the same thing on the other bands as well.  Perhaps not as bad but very similar.  During a contest weekend it's impossible to do anything but work the contest or find something else to do.

Then come Monday morning............almost dead!  I've wondered about this time and again..... are these people working during the day?  Are the simply weekend hams?  What?

GP has the most feasible answer..... call CQ.  Not the 10 minute CQ that you mention but short CQs but often. 
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KD8TUT
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Posts: 59




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« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2013, 09:42:34 PM »

I have to admit, some of these reports of activity on various bands are somewhat discouraging to me. I've just gotten my General ticket and intend to use my privileges to talk to people rather than contest.

Playing with the tech, learning, and conversing with other Hams seems more compelling to me. Here's hoping there's people on the bands that feel the same way when I have an HF rig up.

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ONAIR
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Posts: 1744




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« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2013, 12:05:25 AM »

For some reason, you sometimes have to make a determined effort to get a contact nowadays.  Calling CQ is an absolute must.  It can sometimes be tiresome, so I just use a tape loop to repeat CQs.  I have found that after several minutes on and off, I will usually get a contact.
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AE5QB
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Posts: 269




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« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2013, 03:37:32 AM »

Nothing personal, but I guess hams, in general, are never satisfied.  One time we say, "I hate contests, the band was so busy I couldn't find a clear spot to call CQ."  The next we say, "What is wrong with hams, no contest this week and the bands are totally dead." Get my point!

I am confident that Greg didn't mean to make a 10 min CQ loop and play it for 10 minutes; that would be very poor practice. He means use a 2 x 2 or 3 x 3 call, but then pause and listen for 10 or 15 seconds - repeat.

If you think you can't find someone to talk to now, try asking them to wait for the end of a 10 minute CQ.
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AC4RD
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Posts: 1235




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« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2013, 05:11:54 AM »

... intend to use my privileges to talk to people rather than contest.
Playing with the tech, learning, and conversing with other Hams seems more compelling to me. Here's hoping there's people on the bands that feel the same way when I have an HF rig up.

All us folks who are writing  messages here on eham are ones who are NOT on the air at any given moment.  Wink   There's plenty of conversation; you just have to look around.  Seventeen meters is always good for ragchews, and on a contest weekend (no contesting on 17!) it'll be full.  Smiley  Don't worry--there's plenty of conversation out there.
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W8GP
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Posts: 215




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« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2013, 05:59:59 AM »

I guess I wasn't clear what I meant by a long CQ. I meant short CQs for a longer period of time, not a 10 minute long CQ! I agree that a 10 minute CQ is unacceptable. Sorry for the misunderstanding .
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ONAIR
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Posts: 1744




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« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2013, 09:39:58 PM »

I guess I wasn't clear what I meant by a long CQ. I meant short CQs for a longer period of time, not a 10 minute long CQ! I agree that a 10 minute CQ is unacceptable. Sorry for the misunderstanding .
   My tape loop only plays CQ when the button is pushed.  It's on for 15 seconds, and then there is a 20 or 30 second interval to listen for replies.  Repeating this interval several times over a 10 minute time period, results in making a contact more than 80% of the time.
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K6AER
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Posts: 3524




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« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2013, 09:57:59 AM »

 "All the books, articles, and advice I have received over the years uniformly condemns long CQ calls as unnecessary, wasteful of band space, and is a poor operating practice.  Almost cast as a mortal sin.  Yet, I have also heard 160 is a totally unique band with its own rules and procedures.  So maybe I will get out my programable keyer and toss out some long ones and see what happens."

I don't know why a CQ waste band space. You would be using the bandspace in a QSO so what is the difference? Also I hear hams calling CQ like they are in a repeater...CQ CQ and there call. Then they listen for 15-20 seconds. No one knows you are trying to start a QSO if you are listening. You need to call CQ for about 30-40 seconds. On the higher band I also give my location so they can turn their antennas in my direction. Not the case on 80-160 meters.
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WA9CFK
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Posts: 95




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« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2013, 08:51:27 AM »

Maybe it is a location thing. I live in north central Indiana and two weeks ago I put up a 5/8 wave Inverted ā€œLā€ at 45ft. I have a dozen or so radials of various lengths.

This is not what you would call a DX antenna, more of a cloud warmer but I have worked into Vermont, New York and down into Georgia on CW; perhaps 500 to 700 miles or so.

Since I am new to the band and pitifully slow on CW I am still at the bottom on the learning curve, I can only say that so far it has been fun.

Though I only get on for a couple of hours each night. My call sequence is three CQs, two IDs, two CQs, one ID then listen ... and repeat. I usually get a contact or two.

Judging from the last CW contest there is no shortage of hams who can work 160 meters but I suspect they prefer the more fruitful territory of the higher bands.

So far I have found 160 to be noisier than 80 meters but I have a loop antenna on 80. At any rate, it is new territory for me and I am enjoying the exploration.

WA9CFK 
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N1ZHE
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Posts: 68




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« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2013, 08:29:49 AM »

I think WA9CFK hit on a good point when he said, "Judging from the last CW contest there is no shortage of hams who can work 160 meters but I suspect they prefer the more fruitful territory of the higher bands."

I work 99% digital modes, JT65, Olivia, etc. JT65 activity can be heard on 160 nearly nightly at 1.838.

Due to my work (2nd shift) I don't get on until after 1 AM EST. During the week it's usually the same folks calling CQ, during the weekends you'll find many more "new" callsigns on.

My current 160 meter antenna is not too good, it's a 124 foot long wire at about 20 feet. I have only managed to snag 5 DX countries (all western Europe or Canada) and 32 states with it.

It all comes down to what mode and what time you're on.
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