Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Low Band DX - 1 - 43 ft Vertical Is Up

Last weekend I took down the Carolina Windom 80, and up went the 43 ft vertical [Zero-Five] in the back yard with 16 x 30 ft radials, and LDG RT-600 tuner at the base. This comes after much internet searching, reading, and many emails with a friend of mine who knows more than I do about verticals and DX. I've yet to finish the radials, need to add more, at least 30 to 40 and bury them.

Left - Close up of base, radial plate - I'll get some paving stones and gravel to make it nice. Right - The lense in my iPhone makes it look "bent", the tree on the right does not lean, nor does the end of the deck or anything else back there that looks like it's falling over. 

Transmitting WSPR, initial results are promising. Near sunset here in the west, my beacons are spotted from the mid west to the east coast - New York, Connecticut and down to Florida. Overnight on 80m they have been spotted in VK5 and VK7, and Costa Rica so far.

Receiving WSPR with the rig band hopping 160, 80, 60, and 40m on receive at night, I spot a few stations from Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Africa. A nice surprise was Indonesia and Papua New Guinea on 60m! Note the "official" WSPR 60m frequency is 5.2872 MHz - this is not one of the permitted 60m channels in the US, so we can only receive here and not transmit!

I plan on using WSPR as a measuring stick to compare changes - since I can leave it running on receive 24/7, and enable transmit when I'm home. Monthly archives in CSV format can be download, I can pull this into Excel/Libre Calc to make some pretty charts.

For a low noise receive antenna after much reading about Pennants, Waller Flags among other things. I decided on the the K9AY loop, direction is remotely switchable, and the well made control boxes can be purchased directly from Gary K9AY. Using known quality makes a good starting/reference point for later experimentation with the loops or other low noise receive antennas.

The K9AY loops need about 30 ft of space. Even with a 1/4 acre lot I'm limited on places to put it out of the way. Emailing with Gary who was very helpful, I learned the loop size can be 60 - 70% of original size and be effective on 80m. Gary is also modifying the filter and preamp for me to allow operation up-to 7MHz / 40m as I'm interested in 60 and 40m DX also. Gary also recommended an INRAD model RX7300, this adds a receive-only antenna jack to the Icom IC-7300. Photos here by K0PIR.

I have ordered the control boxes from Gary, and the rest of the hardware:

  • 13 AWG, 19 strand 40% copper-clad steel wire, polyethylene jacket, (part 531) from The Wireman.
  • 150 ft of LMR-240, INRAD RX7300 and ON4UN's Low Band DXing book from HRO.
  • Diawa antenna switch, RCA manual fit plugs, RCA to PL-259 adapters (easy RX switching between the loop and vertical), 150 ft of cheap CAT5e cable (for the K9AY control cable) from Amazon. 

Next I plan to add a 160 and 80 Meter Matching Network for your 43-foot Vertical [AD5X] for more efficiency on 80m. Ideas for later include adding a movable passive director element [VE1ZAC] for directivity and gain on transmit! And ultimately maybe extend mine to a full 1/4 wave on 80m by getting a wire off the end up into the top of some 65+ ft pine trees I have in the NW corner of my back yard!