Boxing Day? More like DX Day

Today’s logbook entries.

I think I managed more DX today than I have before, including one with Indonesia that rivals my other DX record at 8,757 miles and one with Australia at 7953 miles. 28 contacts, averaging about 4400 miles. I also added three new confirmed countries: Australia, China, and Indonesia. 10 and 12m were my workhorses here, though I did hit the other side of the US (Rhode Island) on 15m.

FT8 has been very helpful here to understand propagation characteristics, particularly for 10-12m. Generally, if we’re both in the light and inside of 9,000 miles we can talk. That means Europe has to be hit right around sunrise, while in the afternoon I can hit Asia and Oceania.

Tomorrow I’m going to make an effort to get a confirmed QSO with Europe to get that WAC award. I’m also one confirmed grid square away from the Grid Squared award (100 grid squares worked) and 12 states away from the Worked All States; I have unconfirmed QSOs with Arizona, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, and no QSOs at all with Delaware, Idaho, Kentucky, Maine, Tennessee, Vermont, or Wyoming. I’m slowly working towards this award too.

I got some QSOs with people in my grid square, which feels to me like saying hi to the neighbours.

On an unrelated note, I think someone nearby got a Baofeng for Christmas and loaded it up with one of the prepper loadouts: over the 2m simplex calling frequency, I heard a bunch of kerchunks followed by “Lost 1, this is Lost 3, are you lost too?” Some people monitoring kindly informed them we could all hear them.

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Sixth continent added

Finally got the EU with an eQSL-confirmed contact with F4FDR in France. That makes six continents worked; Antarctica doesn’t issue radio licenses (because it’s not a country), but I think you might still be able to make a contact with someone down there. For the purposes of “worked all continents,” you only need the other six that do issue radio licenses.

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Windfarms Net Control

I’m working towards a Ten-Ten International membership, and fortunately there’s a local net (Windfarms) that meets Wednesday nights. Last week, I checked in for the first time. I volunteered to run tonight’s net and added a new 10-10 number to my list. I saw there’s one in Seattle right after, so I might try to hit that next week.

The thing about 10-10 is you need 10 member numbers from QSO’s on 10m. You get a membership by getting out and making contacts. I like this.

One person checked in with the wrong antenna, and it was interesting how much the signal changed when he switched antennas. All of the checkins were within 10 miles, so I’m going to have to work to get more numbers. I don’t think I did too badly, and I didn’t get any feedback otherwise so there’s that.

Running a net was a great experience, and I recommend everyone do it.


New DX record

Previously, my farthest DX contact has been Japan on FT8, at about 5700 miles. Well, this morning I managed to reach Angola at right around 8800 miles.

Related, I’ve been trying to work Canada on FT8 for some time and I just haven’t been able to do it. Today I managed to do it twice: once to Quebec, and once to the Yukon. Also finally managed to work South America and Alaska, two more places I was gunning for.


Mode Unknown 2023-12-18

I’d like to start a series where I post signals I’ve found that I don’t know how to decode yet. This one was picked up on 2023-12-18 around 1000 UTC on 24.8975 MHz.

The waterfall makes it look like RTTY, but it seems too narrow band for that. Maybe I just don’t know how to decode it.

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Antenna update: it’s a quadrant antenna, apparently

12m is popping around 14:30 PT / 22:30 UTC. Those familiar with the G90 will note that the antenna tuner is turned off.

Previously, I wrote about my cursed antenna. Okay, it’s not cursed, it just looks that way. It turns out it’s resonant not on 10m, like I wanted it to be, but on 12m. I’m not sure if that resonance is because of the way that it’s set up or that I cut the legs a little long. I still have a lot to learn about antennas. Apparently, this type of antenna is called a quadrant antenna, and its propagation pattern ideally looks like this:

Mine is set up like such that the legs are north and east:

The red are the legs (not to scale) and green
is a rough outline of the propagation pattern.

This sort of makes sense, comparing the bearing and distance1 to some of my contacts on FT8 today — all of which were between 15 and 20W of power out of the G90:

  • BL02: 2341.996 miles, bearing 253.5°
  • PM57kl: 5429.074 miles, bearing 308.5°
  • FN41bn: 2750.295 miles, bearing 67.6°
  • EN10nw: 1458.967 miles, bearing 72.7°
  • FK49pk: 3428.521 miles, bearing 96.3°
  • EN71lh: 2075.933 miles, bearing 70.7°
  • EN55hp: 1854.284 miles, bearing 61.6°
  • PM53cn: 5630.352 miles, bearing 305.8°
  • EL83td: 2654.033 miles, bearing 100.3°
  • AH46cc: 4757.746 miles, bearing 230.9°
  • EL99hx: 2484.816 miles, bearing 89.6°
  • EL09sm: 1566.271 miles, bearing 103.7°
  • EN06ph: 1419.404 miles, bearing 57.1°
  • EM73oi: 2210.555 miles, bearing 85.8°
  • BL02hb: 2383.869 miles, bearing 253.1°

The contacts in italics took some work to reach, even on 20W of power. The Korean call (PM57) makes sense as one of the furthest grids I reached. The others I strongly suspect were due to propagation patterns on the antenna. In particular, I had trouble with some of the Texas and other Southern states.

FT8 has been pretty useful for exploring the propagation of both the antenna and the bands based on the time of day and weather conditions, though it’s still not my favourite mode.

  1. I don’t get the full six digit grid to my contact via FT8, so if I can’t get their grid via QRZ I use XXNNmn as their grid via NØUK’s Maidenhead Grid Distance & Bearing Calculator. ↩︎


Chasing waterfalls

In a previous post, I mentioned setting up the SuperAntenna indoors. However, I couldn’t get it tune much of anything. I ended up building a dipole with the legs roughly 8¼ feet long (e.g. for the 10m band), however I couldn’t get it set up fell length indoors, so it ended up with the legs at 90° angles to each other.

This antenna uses an antenna hardware kit I’ve had lying around forever, along with some silicone-coated copper wire I have a couple small 100′ spools of. I figured better to construct the antenna and see what happens. Well, here’s what happens:

This is the antenna tuned up on the 10m band. I need to spend some time thinking about what that SWR graph says about the antenna’s performance, but the point is that the antenna wasn’t bad. I still had a hard time picking anything up, but I tried this in the evening when the 10m band wasn’t so hot. I figured I’d see what else I could see. I’ve mostly stuck to the 40m, 20m, and 10m bands, but there’s a couple more bands in between the 10 and 20m bands (e.g. the 12, 15, and 17m bands).

Turns out I had the best luck on the 15m band.

I was able to receive a couple signals decently enough, including one that I think is a PSK31 signal.

Here’s a short video of the signal:


Apartment radio

I set up the G90 and power supply on my bench, and stuck the SuperAntenna in the corner. It’s not a great set up (my feed line is way too long), but I could receive a little. I think my roof is metal lined though, because I struggle to get much of anything.