I suppose every DXer has a band on which they believe their signal to be at its most effective.
There are several ways in which a DXer might arrive at which band this may be for his particular station. He may:
- Consider the antennas for various bands and conclude that the band with the antenna having the most gain must therefore be the “best” band for that station.
- Consider which band most easily allows maximum power. Some amplifiers won’t load to full power on the higher bands.
- The ease with which pile-ups are dealt with and overcome.
Over the years, I’ve come to realize that the first two methods of determining effectiveness may lead to a false conclusion.
The amount of $$$ you throw at an antenna is not necessarily proportional to its effectiveness and neither is the gain – if your competition has an equivalent station. A few hundred watts either side of a kilowatt (or a few tens of watts either side of 100) is unnoticeable and your band-country count doesn’t take into account the other factors that gave you those numbers – like time spent per band, DX availability, etc.
Even antenna gain may not represent effectiveness the way you think it would (or should). A tri-band Yagi at 60 feet is a great antenna and would be a huge improvement over many a lesser antenna. But in a pile-up, you’re competing with many others who have a very similar set-up.
And here’s what I’m really getting at:
Antenna performance can be measured in absolute terms – dB of gain. Same for an amplifier. They take nothing into account other than the written-in-marble certainties of mathematics.
But band effectiveness contains a variable seldom discussed – the other guys’ antenna, power and geography.
If everyone in a pile-up on 20 meters is using an indoor dipole in their basement and I have a Miracle Whip in the attic, 20 meters will be my most effective band.
But in the real world, if you want to work lots of DX with minimal competition, 20 meters is not the place to be. For most of my ham career, 40 meters has been my most effective band for DXing since I’ve never had a gain antenna on bands where most other DXers do have one.
On the other hand, I have always been able to put up a high, full size dipole on 40 meters while many others – who may have gain antennas on 10-20 meters – cannot. Their lack of that ability has translated into increased effectiveness for me on that particular band, not because of what I have but because of what many don’t.