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Author Topic: DXing from northern Idaho  (Read 3535 times)
AF6D
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« on: November 14, 2017, 07:17:53 AM »

I am planning my retirement move to northern Idaho but much to my surprise I was informed by a couple of other hams that propagation along the Canadian border worldwide is terrible. Is this true? I've worked stations in both Idaho and Montana and South and North Dakota where people say there's very few contacts to be made. I suppose since they have small numbers of amateur radio operators. Where I'm at in California seems to be kind of a black hole for worldwide communications although I can hit North and South Pacific just fine. So what's the scoop? Is Idaho really the black hole along the Canadian border? I know this may sound like a stupid question but imagine being told this by two experienced hands. I will be moving to northern Idaho as a bachelor whose children probably won't bother to come visit him and I'll spend much time on the radio. I want acreage and tall towers. I want stacked SteppIR's...
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VE3VEE
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« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2017, 07:59:58 AM »


 I want acreage and tall towers. I want stacked SteppIR's...


Go for it!

I've never operated in northern Idaho, but my first thought would be that it's not really a matter of it being a "black hole", but rather it's a matter of the further north you go, the worse CONDX you can expect, weaker signals, shorter openings, etc.

Marvin VE3VEE
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WO7R
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« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2017, 08:05:04 AM »

I did not work ham radio in Idaho, but just in case the responders are few, I can say a few words about Minnesota, which is similarly "north".

You basically lose a bit on the high bands, but I haven't noticed a big difference from 20 on down.

If you're moving "just" for ham radio, I'd suggest Maine or some place on the east coast.  The best scoring contest stations are out east and not just because they are next door to a concentration of "W" stations.

It's also true, as you presumably already know, that a lot of DXpeditions shut down about the time propagation makes it to the West Coast.  For a lot of DX operators, they equate the US East Coast with the entirety of the US.

If you want to know what really works, for something like this, ask contesters, not DXers.  Many of them have explicitly considered the problem and have sometimes built stations dedicated to contesting.  But what they have learned would apply just as well to DXing.

Meanwhile, I have to wonder what you are complaining about.  I looked up your QTH and it's at about 6000 feet above sea level.  Other than the aforementioned disadvantages of some DX that equate US with East Coast, I'd say you are very well situated right now.  I don't see a lot of reason to move unless you are in a bowl, relatively speaking.

A lot of hams would love to live in top of a 6000 foot tower.
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W6GX
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Posts: 170




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« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2017, 08:50:19 AM »

I operated from Idaho from May 2009 to Feb 2011.  I had a really good QTH location but a crappy antenna, a lowly 50' G5RV Jr.  Conditions were pretty poor at that time and it took me over a year and a lot of effort to earn my first DXCC.  Since then I've moved to Colorado and I find it much better than Idaho, but of course I have different antennas now and also the bands really picked up when I became active again in Jan. 2012 from Colorado.

If ham radio is the only consideration I would live in either Maine or Florida, period.  With that said life is not all about ham radio.  My other passion is cycling, especially climbing.  I won't find any hills nor mountains to climb in FL Grin

I would say Idaho won't be a significant improvement over CA.  If you are not happy currently I would suggest that you find another QTH closer to the majority of the DX.

One thing I really dislike about Idaho is their harsh winters.  One winter I never saw the sun in a month and the snow/ice remained solidly frozen on the road in the absence of the sun.  Here in Colorado it's day and night compared to Idaho.  We have over 300 days of sunshine a year.  Winter storms pass quickly and the snow melts as soon as the sun comes out.  I ride my bicycle year round.  The abundant sunshine makes the temp. seem ten degrees warmer than the indicated air temp.

If you choose to remain on the western part of the U.S. for reasons other than ham radio, you might consider Colorado.  I will send you a PM.

73,
Jonathan W6GX
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K0YQ
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« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2017, 09:33:43 AM »

I am planning my retirement move to northern Idaho but much to my surprise I was informed by a couple of other hams that propagation along the Canadian border worldwide is terrible. Is this true? I've worked stations in both Idaho and Montana and South and North Dakota where people say there's very few contacts to be made. I suppose since they have small numbers of amateur radio operators. Where I'm at in California seems to be kind of a black hole for worldwide communications although I can hit North and South Pacific just fine. So what's the scoop? Is Idaho really the black hole along the Canadian border? I know this may sound like a stupid question but imagine being told this by two experienced hands. I will be moving to northern Idaho as a bachelor whose children probably won't bother to come visit him and I'll spend much time on the radio. I want acreage and tall towers. I want stacked SteppIR's...

Chuckling as I'm pretty sure in a few years I'll be in the same situation.  Not planning on seeing my XYL or kids either.

Shoot an email to N7UVH.  Pat is a super nice op and I'm sure would be glad to share some idahoan ionospheric info.

I operated from Boise with a 70' stealth wire out the bedroom window and thought generally propagation was fine and better in ID than CO.  Further north might be different.

My very best wishes for your retirement.  I'll move with you if you'll adopt me.  Smiley

PS - I agree with W6GX that the ID winters can get really dreary.
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KD0PO
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« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2017, 09:34:10 AM »

I'd be willing to bet there were no contacts from Northern Idaho in the Heard Island log...

However, the sear beauty of the place, for some would be a reasonable offset.
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N5VYS
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Posts: 1146




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« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2017, 10:19:13 AM »

I operated from Idaho from May 2009 to Feb 2011.  I had a really good QTH location but a crappy antenna, a lowly 50' G5RV Jr.  Conditions were pretty poor at that time and it took me over a year and a lot of effort to earn my first DXCC.  Since then I've moved to Colorado and I find it much better than Idaho, but of course I have different antennas now and also the bands really picked up when I became active again in Jan. 2012 from Colorado.

If ham radio is the only consideration I would live in either Maine or Florida, period.  With that said life is not all about ham radio.  My other passion is cycling, especially climbing.  I won't find any hills nor mountains to climb in FL Grin

I would say Idaho won't be a significant improvement over CA.  If you are not happy currently I would suggest that you find another QTH closer to the majority of the DX.

One thing I really dislike about Idaho is their harsh winters.  One winter I never saw the sun in a month and the snow/ice remained solidly frozen on the road in the absence of the sun.  Here in Colorado it's day and night compared to Idaho.  We have over 300 days of sunshine a year.  Winter storms pass quickly and the snow melts as soon as the sun comes out.  I ride my bicycle year round.  The abundant sunshine makes the temp. seem ten degrees warmer than the indicated air temp.

If you choose to remain on the western part of the U.S. for reasons other than ham radio, you might consider Colorado.  I will send you a PM.

73,
Jonathan W6GX
I'd take your location Jonathan and the takeoff @ 6500 Feet , without the snow of course !

Obie N5VYS
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WO7R
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Posts: 2547




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« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2017, 05:52:29 AM »

Quote
PS - I agree with W6GX that the ID winters can get really dreary.

Winter is a significant consideration here.  In Arizona, I can deploy antennas easily during the prime DXing season.  In Minnesota (and, quite probably, Idaho), there are weeks and even months at a time where you really can't do very much.  String up a temporary G5RV or something?  Sure.  Put up a tower?  Not so much.  I'm not talking about permissions issues, I'm talking about sheer doability.

Ice is a serious negative in some cases, too.

Basically, you have spring-to-early-fall to do your major work.  It's nice to an extent that it is the "offseason" for DXing.  But I would rather be able to deploy stuff when it counts, having lived in both places.

In Arizona, it's the summer that is brutal.  But, even then, you have a good four hours a day in the early morning to do what needs to be done.  Thus, you have some ability throughout the year to keep the outdoor part of your station going.
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K7KB
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« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2017, 01:44:29 PM »

I'd be willing to bet there were no contacts from Northern Idaho in the Heard Island log...

However, the sear beauty of the place, for some would be a reasonable offset.

LOL, I'll take that bet Tongue I live in Spokane which is in the North Idaho area around Coeur D'Alene, Sandpoint, etc. and worked Heard on 20, 30, 40, and 80 meters. So that dispels your theory for myself and many other hams in this area. I will say that DX'ing in the more northern latitudes can be challenging at times as we are affected more by solar disturbances. But you learn to adapt and enjoy the view Smiley

John K7KB
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KD0PO
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Posts: 722




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« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2017, 02:20:22 PM »

I'd be willing to bet there were no contacts from Northern Idaho in the Heard Island log...

However, the sear beauty of the place, for some would be a reasonable offset.

LOL, I'll take that bet Tongue I live in Spokane which is in the North Idaho area around Coeur D'Alene, Sandpoint, etc. and worked Heard on 20, 30, 40, and 80 meters. So that dispels your theory for myself and many other hams in this area. I will say that DX'ing in the more northern latitudes can be challenging at times as we are affected more by solar disturbances. But you learn to adapt and enjoy the view Smiley

John K7KB

you are just far enough west to see around that rotten mountain on heard!  Grin Grin
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KC0W
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Posts: 293




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« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2017, 03:05:07 PM »

I want stacked SteppIR's...

 The Lunatic Fringe is alive & well regarding stacked SteppIR's. I would be interested in knowing the particulars of their phasing lines.

 https://www.arraysolutions.com/ke5ee  

 And, if you click on no other link today click on this one. An antenna array of epic proportions. A TRUE mechanical nightmare!!! From what I recall reading the owner died about 1 year after constructing this setup. Wonder what ever became of all the antennas?  http://www.kkn.net/dayton2006/K9LTN.pdf

                                                                     Tom KC0W


                                                                    
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N5UD
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Posts: 1363




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« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2017, 07:17:10 PM »

Looking at those photos. This is called Amateur Radio ?

Maybe my first HF beam antennas was. Circa 1967 I built a 2 el quad using what a young guy could find cheap. Cane poles cut by me. A wood 2X2 boom. 12X1 wood plank for boom to mast. A few muffler clamps. Stuck it atop an old TV mast attached to the house with an arm-strong rotator. Hey it worked a DXCC in a year.

Now to Idaho. I have not operated from there. Just my opinion. Echoed by some here. Get near an ocean for the DX. This does not mean us landlubbers will not work DX. Just not for as long, and possible paths as the coastal stations will.

73 N5UD
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KC0W
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Posts: 293




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« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2017, 04:19:10 AM »

Looking at those photos. This is called Amateur Radio ?


 I know. It's absolutely asinine, ridicules, overwhelming...............Beautiful & stunning all at the same time.  Smiley

 Lot's of photos so let it load before you give up thinking it's a broken link. http://www.kkn.net/dayton2006/K9LTN.pdf   

                                                                       Tom KC0W
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N5UD
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« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2017, 05:00:10 AM »

Looking at those photos. This is called Amateur Radio ?


 I know. It's absolutely asinine, ridicules, overwhelming...............Beautiful & stunning all at the same time.  Smiley

 Lot's of photos so let it load before you give up thinking it's a broken link. http://www.kkn.net/dayton2006/K9LTN.pdf   

                                                                       Tom KC0W
I was talking about both of those links. I just shake my head.

The biggest antenna I had up was 4/5 el quad on 30 foot boom at 90 feet. The other smaller yagis on same tower...they didn't count.
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N5VYS
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Posts: 1146




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« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2017, 06:55:58 AM »

That's is a lot of aluminum and steel. 7 elements at 40 ft.

Obie N5VYS
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