Friday, September 26, 2014

Winter is coming and it's time for 80 metres!

Birds on a wire . . . Starlings sitting on the apex of my
inverted V system. The 30/40/80 legs are perpendicular to
each other. I trimmed the 80 v for resonance at 3.510.
I know it's still only September. And yes, the weather has been largely very good here in Ireland. We are getting an Indian summer. However, the days are getting shorter rapidly. It's past the equinox now, and as the days contract in length, it's time to start thinking about winter and the lower bands. Yesterday evening, having analysed my nest of V dipoles, I could see that my 80m inverted V was resonant at 3.4 Mhz. Too low. It needed to be shortened. So I trimmed some wire off each end and got it beautifully resonant on 3.510 Mhz. Nice! Time for some winter time DXing on 80 metres.

Yesterday morning, I managed a QSO with YV8AD on the upper part of the band using 100 watts. Hopefully I will be able to work some DX on SSB in future as I now find that even on the upper part of the band the antenna has an SWR of around 4:1. I know this is technically too high, but it means it can be tuned fairly easily, and I might get a few hundred watts out with the linear.

I took this screenshot immediately after working HC2AO on 80 metres.
As you can see, I was almost exactly on the greyline.
I got up at 6am today in the hope that Nigel ZD9XF would be on either 40 or 80 metres from Tristan Da Cunha. Unfortunately he was QRT. So I decided instead to see what DX was "on offer" HI HI. I worked PJ5/OL8R with 100 watts on 80 cw. That was a handy contact. Then 8R1AE popped up from Guyana on 40m CW as a potential new one so I started chasing him. That turned into a mammoth affair as I battled with all the German, French, Czech and other European stations. It was tough going. He is a slow op on the CW key, but had a steady rate and managed the pile-up without too much fuss. At around 7.15am local time, I saw on the Reverse Beacon Network that HC2AO was CQing on 3.504 Mhz. I went straight down there like a shot, but could hear nothing. Damn. Had I missed him again, for a second morning in a row? Then the RBN spotted him again, this time on 3.508. Up I went and sure enough, there he was. He tried to work a SM station several times but eventually had to give up. We were approaching greyline. I knew this was the perfect moment. I pounced with "EI2KC". Immediately he came back with "EI2KC 5NN BK". I gave him the usual five nine nine and I was in the log. Another new one on 80 metres, and it's not even winter yet! That's country #147 on 80.

I went back to 40m to chase the 8R1. It took a long while, but eventually at 7.50am I managed to get him in the log. I think one new one on 80 and one new one on 40 is a very good result for an early morning. I can see myself going to bed early and setting the alarm for 6am more often during the coming winter. It can be very rewarding.

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