So You Think That The Band Is Dead?

Started by RadioRay, December 10, 2012, 09:19:37 am

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December 10, 2012, 09:19:37 am Last Edit: December 17, 2012, 02:24:12 pm by RadioRay
Last Night I had a little trouble sleeping so I decided to call 'CQ' around the center of the 30 meter band on the 'big' rig at 75 Watts.  European stations were finally fading away so that I culd listen 'out there' for the more distant stations, and hopefully to make contact with some fellow hams who are not '599 73 SK' type of operators. My antenna is a 130 foot wire doublet at a bit over 40 feet in the air and fed with ladder line, running roughly NNE/SSW. For those who do not regularly operate thirty, it's a treasure trove of interesting stations, particularly during the off hours when non-US hams can get on the air an not be mobbed. Having operated from overseas many years ago, I remember how it was to be mobbed by rude paper chasers, while I trying to hold a conversation with a friend back in the U.S.  This was in the pre-internet days, so being able to talk with 'home' real-time was a treat!

Last night was one of those memorable nights. We've all had them - or should! The band sounded dead, yet I knew that is not the case, because 'utility' stations in Germany and elsewhere were quite readable on adjacent frequencies.  Besides, the middle bands are usually open to somewhere. With a little bit of calling 'CQ', I had two different South African stations give me a call. A distance of over 8047.6 miles! What a delight to actually have more than a bit of time in a QSO with such an interesting couple of fellows in an exotic place such as the former RSA!  I must say that their code was good, steady and well sent and neither of us required a mega-station to communicate.

The next contact was on the late night/early morning forty meter band with my heavily modified Wilderness Sierra Mk.4 (shown elsewhere). at the BONE CRUSHING POWER of between 2 to 3  Watts. This led to a nice, hour long chat with a fellow named Glen out in Kingman , Az. A distance of 2086.6 miles.  Glen is good on the key, so I was able to 'slide the weight back' on my old Vibroplex original 'bug'  to do a LOT of talking at a brisk but not fast speed ( ~ 28 - 30 WPM ). This allowed an hour of real conversation on a wide range of topics.

So, even a modest station of less than 100 Watts, attached a basic doublet/dipole antenna hung in the trees often yeilds the ability to talk with other hams all the way across the Atlantic ocean before their breakfast is ready in the southern hemisphere. Then QRP to a great CW man two thousand miles away who is also a radio insomniac! Contrairy to what those glossy magazines and web adverts say, you do NOT require a mega-station, huge linear amplifier and a sound-studio voice equalized for 'Hi-Fi SSB' (what a silly idea!) .  A good receiver, a few Watts on transmit and an old Morse key will do the job nicely.

73 de RadioRay ..._ ._

"When we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can."  ~ Matthew Henry


Insonia - the inability to go to sleep' CAN be a ham radio operator's friend. This morning at a bit after 02:20 (2:30 a.m.) I tunred around 20 meter and found it devoid of all but one signal - a digital one, from who knows where.  Except during the lowest of sun numbers, mid-bands like 20m are rarely actually DEAD, but maybe just barely open to somewhere. I decided to call CQ at the bottom of the CW portion.  After a few minutes, loud and clear, I was answered from a Ham on the south Island of New Zealand.  His station?  A grounded loop for forty meters and ten Watts.  We had a delightful conversation, talking radio, immigration from England QRP on field trips  -v- getting older and etc. My rig is a dipole and borrowed 100 Watt rig.  With the signal reports both ways, there is no reason that I 'needed' 100 Watts, but the rig is multi-band and on loan - temporarily. It's probably going back into the box until I build my 20 Watt , class C, external amplifier for the upgraded Wilderness Radio Sierra QRP rig.

Lesson: get on the bands when they do NOT sound loaded and you'd be surprised who is out there and not wanting to be radio-assaulted in some grotesque pile-up, but also wishing for an enjoyable conversation.

"When we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can."  ~ Matthew Henry