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Author Topic: Scheduled Contacts  (Read 4541 times)

Posts: 6

« on: April 07, 2012, 02:54:07 PM »

I just got my General a month or so ago, and HF has been a blast. I'm a member now of some QSO nets that work towards awards and I'm making progress on my WAS and DXCC.

Sometimes though, I turn on the radio and there is absolutely no traffic. Is this normal? The PSK calling freqs are even dead sometimes. Now, I don't have a huge 82 element beam 200 feet high. My setup is extremely small but IMHO effective. iCom 7000, SignaLink USB, LDG AT-100 Pro II, and an iCom power supply. My antenna is an end-fed zepp 80-10. It's 33' long and has optional ground radials which I optioned once so far and didn't notice much of a difference.

Anyway, the scope of this post is to ask people more experience than I if I'm under the wrong understanding that there's ham activity all the time and I'm just not equipped to receive it or are there down times on HF (band conditions aside). I know people go to bed at night (usually) and if I wanted to make a good old fashioned rag chew, do I just sit and call CQ forever? Or should I attempt a sked with some stations I need? I'm a youngin' but I'm really liking the hobby so far. I'm just noticing a lot of (not bad) differences between HF and the repeaters/V/UHF traffic from being a tech. I probably have the wrong impression of HF also from the "Frequency" movie where the guy sit down at chatted with his buddy (not the time travelling signal to his son but his friend I guess). I'm beginning to think it isn't like that hihihi.

Posts: 13184

« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2012, 04:04:51 PM »

Welcome to hobby. You can learn a lot about just by listening for a while. Different bands react differently to time of day. If you want to listen to PSK, 20 meters is best bet for that around 14.070. It will likely be dead for several hours at night but rest of the time there is almost always activity there.

Ham since 1969....  Old School 20wpm REAL Extra Class..

Posts: 6994

« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2012, 05:12:05 PM »

There are many reasons why a band might seem dead.  My suggestion is to liken it to fishing.  Even if the band is "dead" throw in the bait and see if you get a bite.  Quite often there's another guy just like you setting there wondering why the band is dead!   Grin


A Pessimist is Never Disappointed!

Posts: 6

« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2012, 06:41:43 PM »

Thanks for the replys. I guess I'm learning that a patient ham is a good ham.

Posts: 47

« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2012, 08:45:23 AM »

XEN, I believe the mystique, and unpredictability of contacts are part of the allure of ham radio.
That is probably why I enjoy CW so much. I don't know a single thing about the contact that I just made until he/she tells me.  I can't tell by the fist, if they are 5 years old, or 100, male, or female, local, or exotic DX.
  But hopefully, by the end of a long ragchew, I will have made a ham friend.

The band being crowded today, and quiet tomorrow just adds to the mystery, along with the times that I might call often with no response, then have multiple calls to me after signing off on a contact.

Yessir, not knowing who, or even if, you are going to talk to someone is a good thing.

Of course you can improve your odds of contacts with better equipment, selecting active bands, and times, and I encourage that.
 But try to leave some mystery in it.

Posts: 9930

« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2012, 01:32:15 PM »

Check out something like DX Monitor and see what is happening on the bands.  Look for local area hams and see where they are talking.  For instance I am in northern California and I look for other 6 land calls and see who they are working, ( but some hams in Los Angeles can hear stuff I can't.) and tune around, see what you can see

Posts: 102

« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2012, 05:57:28 AM »

I often see the same thing, but I'm pretty sure that my problem is a "compromised" antenna installation.  Fire up the radio, bands all look dead at my QTH, but the spotter web sites like DX Monitor are reporting current contacts all up and down the HF spectrum.

I can "talk" and "hear" a lot better in some directions than others, though.  For example, I can connect with South America and Latin America pretty much whenever I want. The US east of the Rockies is a breeze, except I never hear anyone from North Dakota (I think there are only about 1,500 hams in ND).  I can often get to Europe and western Asia, about all the way to Turkmenistan or so, and for some reason I can get to the Canary Islands more regularly than England.

But I rarely hear the US west of the Rockies, and I've never (in a bit over a year) heard Alaska, or anything across the Pacific.  The one exception was the day I thought I'd listen in on the 20m RTTY freqs for the first time, and tuned right into my one and only Hawaii contact calling CQ, totally by accident.

Posts: 129

« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2012, 10:23:27 AM »

There are many reasons why a band might seem dead.  My suggestion is to liken it to fishing.  Even if the band is "dead" throw in the bait and see if you get a bite.  Quite often there's another guy just like you setting there wondering why the band is dead!   Grin

I think fishing is an apt metaphor for ham radio in many ways, especially working DX. Both take patience, knowing where and when the fish (or DX) are, and an occasional bit of luck, and you can enjoy both whether you have the latest whiz-bang equipment or something much more modest.

And then of course the metaphor extends to ragchews, bragging about the catches you've gotten and the ones that got away that get bigger over time ("Yeah, I heard North Korea calling CQ just as 40 meters was fading out . . . Well, OK, it might have been a "K"P4 station . . .")

Posts: 3591

« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2012, 10:30:12 AM »

Several years ago, 20M cw was absolutely dead one morning.  No signals at all.  So I called CQ and was answered by YI1BGD in Baghdad -- this was not too long after Vietnam and well before the action in the Middle East of the past ten years or so.  589 both ways and we had a great QSO for about 20 minutes.

As suggested earlier - the reason a band is quiet might be that nobody has tried a CQ.

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