Carrying on with the tradition of the past two years since moving to this QTH, I’m looking back at entities worked during the year and my dipole’s performance overall in the three years I’ve been here.
(Regarding the asterisk, a 2-week period with a homebrew Moxon for 15m accounts for 1 band-country).
The dipole is (and has been*) my only antenna at this QTH. It is for 80m, fed with ladder line for 10-80m operation and is currently 23m up in the pines, thanks to a homebrew crossbow from way back in the 8th grade.
This antenna continually proves its worth throughout the HF spectrum in both pile-ups and contesting. In so doing, it is my friend and my enemy – my friend because of its performance; my enemy because it’s made it hard to justify a tower/Yagi. But more about towers in an upcoming post… ;-)
I hope others who read this will realize that DX can be worked on a regular basis without the need for expensive store-bought antennas. I can’t count the number of times I see a DX station spotted on the cluster with the associated comment saying “Worked w dipole!” as if a dipole is first cousin to the dummy load and yet some east-coast W has managed to work Germany with one.
The main highlight for the my 3rd year with the dipole is working 5B-DXCC with it in 27 months at the 100-watt level. The first time to work 5B-DXCC took my entire ham career up to that point – 29 years! The second time around, I wiped the slate clean when I moved back to Texas and did it in 27 months.
Why such a huge difference in time periods? Know-how, contesting and a better rig – a K3 vs my “Old Faithful” FT840. The K3 is better for two reasons: QSK and a narrow selectivity – mainly the latter, if I had to choose.
Other highlights for the year are individual entities worked, especially the lowband ones: 4W0B, 9M0L, ST0R and a slew of other African and Pacific entities with associated pile-ups, most of which also involved my QSK kw amp.
If you’re new to ham radio and you’d like to work some DX, don’t let anyone tell you that a measly dipole won’t do it. I chuckle to myself when DXers gather and talk about how they just almost worked the latest DXpedition…if only they had a 4-element rather then their 3-element Yagi…or an 80-foot tower instead of their current 60-footer. Meanwhile, I had the station logged days ago!
A dipole is no slouch, open-wire feedline and tuners are not a disadvantage, a solar peak is not necessary and neither is a kilowatt. The DX is there, waiting.
CW, though, is highly recommended.