Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pursuit of 5BDXCC II - 80m

As I wrote last year, I have DXCC awarded on 40, 20, and 15m, and have more than enough credits for 10m. I'll probably submit for 10m this year. For Five-Band DXCC, that leaves 80m.

Last year, I had 71/70 confirmed on 80m. Today, that stands at 77/76. So, in the entire winter season I only added six additional confirmations. That was only about one fifth of my goal.

The 160/80/40m inverted L has been a great antenna. I've been working the W1AW-portable operations since February. I really don't have much of a problem busting through on these bands even with just 100 watts. In fact, this antenna has really been my ONLY antenna since April, when the 80/40m trap dipole fell down.

So, why did I fail to work 30 entities? Well, part of the problem is that people just can't hear my 100 watts. I had many instances where really loud DX stations could not hear me, even after calling and calling.

I'm once again thinking of the things I can do to push toward that magical 100 on 80m, before fall gets here:

  • Inverted L - currently, it has 24 radials - Eight 125 feet long, and sixteen 62.5 feet long. That's 1500 feet of wire, and at about $45 for a 500 foot spool, it wasn't cheap. Could be that this is my last winter at the Floyd County QTH, so it might be worth putting down a couple of more spools for 32 more 62.5 foot radials.
  • K9AY - I talked last year about building a push-button controller. I've got that about half-way complete. Perhaps I can get that finished. The K9AY loops themselves will likely be suspended under a magnolia tree in the front yard. This would be close to the power lines, so I'll have to test to make sure I'm not picking up noise there.
  • Amplifier - At the moment, the AL-80A is busted. Something went pop and now the grid current meter reads funny. I've determined that the tube appears to be OK - no shorts. I think something in the metering circuit is toast, although it isn't obvious. However, since it is on the bench, maybe I can re-wire it for 120 volts.
  • Being There - While I've been active on the air much more this year than in the past, I don't think I concentrated enough on looking for 80m DX at the right time. I'll try to remedy that this fall. I really didn't make a habit of this last year.
  • Contests - I did work the ARRL DX CW as 80m single band. I've done that before, and I wouldn't be surprised if I win a certificate for my low-power token effort. I may do that again this year, if I don't wind up at NQ4I's multi-multi. Even if I go the all-band route, I do plan to emphasize some 80m operating time. 
Fall is always a very busy time. Wish me luck. If nothing else, I hope to get closer this year.