Dxing.Today Issue 8, 15th December 2017
Editor: Nick VK2DX Co-Editor: Dragan 4O4A

*** Past Week on 80m FT8

Before we go any further, the trophy for the 80m FT8 QSO of the week goes to OH4SS who managed to snatch 9Q6BB. What an amazing contact! Congo is such an awesome DX on any band, from any country, from any continent, let alone on 80m. Well done Matti.

And what a wonderful week it was. Once again, the Europeans had most of the fun, working Caribbeans, African and even Pacific stations, taking full advantage of the peak of the 80m band season. The list of DX to be worked was long; V31MA, YISAL, AP2HA, 5T1R, TR8CA are just some of them. Then, out of the blue, JW2US from Bear Island, Svalbard, came on the band. Erik, LA2US, is staying there for another six months. However, do not assume that you will end up in his log without a fierce fight. There is no question that he deserves the title of the most difficult one to work from Australia.

JT1BV from zone 23 made many chasers happy. He too appeared on 80m for the first time this season and quickly became the talk of the day. He;s only the second station from Mongolia to be active this season for which we are all grateful.

Closer home, things are much quieter. With the propagational path now favouring north. The Russian and Scandinavian stations are coming in loud from as early as midday European time (around 11pm in the evening in Sydney). For VK/ZL's the highlight of the week was a very brief appearance of HC8LUT from Galapagos. The opening lasted about and a few lucky chasers managed to score a new one. But, the rest of South America is as hard as ever with ZP4KFX from Paraguay teasing us all daily. The opening to Paraguay lasts for about 5 minutes and it peaks about 15 minutes before our sunset. Even the Big Ears VK7BO would only see a few decodings of him, so you can imagine how difficult this one is for the rest of us who live in noisy polluted urban areas. All in all, our favourite band continues to reward our persistence.

*** The Essence of DXing

We call ourselves 'DXers' (urban and rural!) DX chasers and DX hunters. There are also QRP DXers and DXpeditioners and a bunch of other amateurs with that DX prefix which somehow describes their main activity. But if you are asked to explain what DXing is all about to an outsider, most would start talking about 'making a contact with someone on the other side of the world'. Which is only partially true.

The very DNA of serious DXing is a bit more complex than making two way distant contacts. In its core, DXing is a serious, focused effort, a well planned journey to an exciting destination. In other words, we know exactly where we are heading but we have no idea how long it would take to reach our destination.

When we started our 80m FT8 'project' we knew exactly what we wanted to achieve: to work 100 DXCc, all 40 zones and all 50 US states. There was nothing random about it! Consequently, the less random we are about DXing, the sooner we'll achieve our goals.

Here is my road map I wish to share with you in the hope that it will help you 'get there' not only faster, but stress-free. If you follow it, there'll be no uncertainty. And most importantly, you will have fun, every day, every morning and every sunset - working DX or not - because you know exactly what are you doing.

1. SET YOUR OWN GOALS. If you are living on a small city block or even a retirement village you can still DX! The trick is to set your goals according to your setup, not the other way around. For example, 100DXCC on 80m is a very realistic goal. Those who are lucky to live in a quiet rural location can go for 200. And if you are blessed with 3 element yagi on 60m tower then your goal is to work them all. But even the smallest station running low power into a stealth antenna, a mag loop or piece of wire underneath the attic can do Dxing. Work all states, or all call areas - or counties in your state. Work anyone - and try to beat your previous distance.

2. WHATEVER YOUR GOAL IS- STICK TO IT Persistence and patience are the two crucial ingredients of successful Dxing! Those who have achieved their goals done it because they knew what they were doing and had the determination to pursue it. If you have to call a rare one 20 times - so be it. Learn as much as you can about the band openings, Gray line, seasonal changes to propagational patterns, sunrise and sunset. Pay attention to the operational habits of DX you chase! For example, if you need 9M2 then make sure to tune in Friday nights because this is when 9M2/JE1SCJ religiously appears on 80m. Some DX stations are active only at their sunrise, other at their sunset - and others after dinner, or after midnight - or at no particular time at all. Some would get on air for 15 minutes, or on the weekend; others do all-night runs. Follow the newsletters and DX news. It is no mistake that we keep a weekly record of 80m WAZ and WAS activity. The purpose of it is not just to keep us motivated and informed but to systematically focus our attention to certain DXCC and states. My last wanted state is Rhode Island and I have attached to my monitor a list of stations from RI who have been active this season on 80m FT8. A quick, simple reminder to keep me alerted and focused.

3. LET TIME DO ITS MAGIC!

Yes, some days are better than others, if you don't work them this sunrise, you'll work them next month -or even next year. Let the time work for you: you WILL work that KH6 and KL7 (or VO2 and OX) sooner or later. 80m band can open really well quite unexpectedly, and while mega openings are rare, they do happen. I have been looking for EI4KF for 4 months, at the time when it should be easily worked, without a single line decoded. And then, one moring he just appeared loud and clear, calling CQ. He got me on a first call and the QSO was completed in two minutes. Miracles do happen. I've seen stormy summer nights when the band was as 'clear as milk' and starry nights with no clouds in miles, yet the band was completely useless with constant crashes from a storm raging hundreds of kilometres away. Nights when the A and K index was sky high, yet the band was open in all directions. Time is your friend, not the enemy of Dxing. And those who want to work them all in no time will soon move to another band or mode, chasing the wind.

4. TOOLS OF THE TRADE

While your micro location, antenna restriction, background noise and nasty neighbours are messing up your DX dreams, there are other 'DX tools' available at your disposal. Invest in a good logging program! Download and use JT Alert, follow the cluster and reporter spots. Organize your daily schedules so you can find an hour or two to play radios. Perhaps, it is the time to invest in a faster dedicated PC - sluggish machines which crashes unexpectedly in the middle of QSO are a pain in the neck. While headphones are not essential for DIGI modes, good headphones will enhance your enjoyment of ham radio. The list of 'tools' is long and covers many aspects - from hardware, software, cabling, internet connection to social relationships with your XYL. Be smart - use them to your advantage!

The bottom line is this: Dxing is not a 100m sprint; it is a 42km marathon. If done the right way, success is guaranteed.

I will leave you now with 3 very practical tips which will IMMEDIATELY take you to the 'next level' of Dxing, without having to spend a dollar. If you implement them today, you will instantly see the difference.

ONE: Declutter your shack! Get rid or store away all the junk around your desk area. Hide the cables which should be hidden (all of them?). Keep your desk clean. Your DX area is not your soldering work bench: move all junk radios and unassembled kit project to another dedicated bench. Piles of QSL cards, never-used antenna tuners, high voltage capacitors, 20 hard drives and 5 kg hammer will not help working a new one tonight so you may as well move them away (like I did the last time I cleared my space).

TWO: Register and start using ARRL Logbook of the World - LOtW. There is absolutely NO excuse for not becoming a LOtW user. Yes it is OK to hate electronic QSLing, but regardless of what you think of it, LoTW is a very important Dxing tool, and an absolute necessity. While electronic certificate could be a pain to install (not really - this is just a lame excuse) you only have to do it once and you are done. Of course after working a bunch of contacts, simply upload to LOtW. Some amateurs upload weekly or monthly but since this takes less than 30 seconds you may as well do it daily. Not only will your DXCC credits be up to date but you will make many of your fellow dxers happy.

THREE: join 80m FT8/JT65 Facebook group 80m FT8/JT65 Facebook group . Yes I know that a large proportion of amateurs are introverts who absolutely have no intention to communicate beyond "599 TU". If this is you then feel free to ignore this tip. At times FB communication can be overwhelming and painful even for FB addicts! However a group like ours is a priceless resource for 80m DX chasers. There is no substitute for real time data and content provided by intelligent humans. No one is an expert in all areas of DXing and your telnet or cluster couldn't care less about you. Successful DXers share and interact - and the direct result is more fun and higher totals. Our group is friendly and topic focused so you will feel welcomed.

Do you have any DXing tips to share? Over to you!

*** Report from Olof 3B9HA

"Attached is a pic of current 80/160 ant looking north. Very good takeoff W through N to E. About 150m from lagoon with terrain sloping down. Using 16m of Spiderbeam 18m pole. For 160m it is a 16m vertical toploaded with 4 light umbrella wires. Resonant below 1.8, Matched with series C and hairpin coil. In parallel an extra long 80m inv L also resonated with a series C. 32 radials.

Plan was to focus on 160 cw after cqww but loss of 160m on my amp made that less enticing.

I started playing with FT8 simply because I had promised to get Robert 3B9FR going on FT8 - you can expect to see him on FT8 on the HF bands down to 30 and perhaps 40 when I have left. Robert has a great HF QTH but antennas for the low bands are difficult.

FT8 with its ability to read signals down in the noise extends the openings on the low bands dramatically. For instance, on 80 there is a LP opening to US at my sunset that sweeps across US from E to W. This happens within a period of perhaps 10-20 mins almost every day. With FT8 that opening is broadened dramatically, perhaps to an hour or more.

For me the ability to watch the propagation physics is appealing. On the daylight side of my sr and ss the atmospheric noise level is low here of course and I seem to be able to copy signals for hours with surprising s/n. If those stations are with night-time prop their s/n on me is poor if they can hear me at all. Basic really but interesting to observe.

FT8 should enable lot's of operators beyond the big guns to work DX on the low bands.

Looks like high activity and continuous callers essentially make my sigs unnecessarily uncopyable at times in the main pop centers. At best of times, when the clockwork performs, 1 min per qso is horribly slow by cw standards and with repeats and repeats where do you draw the line?

Right now FT8 is a promising novelty. I believe the operating procedures, the operating protocol and the user interface need rework to make FT8 live up to its potential as a serious HF mode where high 'productivity' is desired.

I will continue to be QRV somewhat randomly primarily my ss 1416z and sr 0059z +/- , perhaps on cw, perhaps on FT8 through Sunday.

73 Olof G0CKV

*** ZONE 29: Much more than just your VK6!

OK, so you need zone 29. Not a problem! There are a number of stations in Western Australia which are fairly active on 80m FT8 and JT65. However there are other VK's active from this zone: all VK8 from Australian Northern Territory, VK9X Christmas Island, VK9C Cocos‑Keeling Island.

Since the border extends south to Antarctica, some Antarctic stations are also located in the zone. Precisely, three Russian bases: Vostok RI1ANC, Mirny RI1ANB and Progress RI1ANT. Next, Australia's own Casey Base VK0. The American station KC4AAA is located right on the south pole and as such counts not only for zone 29, but also for zones 12, 13, 30, 32, 38 and 39, since all of them converge at the south pole.

And finally, a little gem, the international base Concordia shared between Italy and France. Unfortunately there was no recent activity from the Concordia base by a French operator, however, a couple of years ago IA/IZ3SUS operated from this very sought after location.

Expect the unexpected. Zone hunting is a form of DXing art in and of itself, which makes our hobby very special indeed. Next week, we'll continue our quest to demystify some other zones.

*** Who's Who on 80m JT modes

Our listing continues to grow - and we welcome all newcomers. Remember: this listing is "WORKED ONLY" so no confirmation is required at this stage. Whether you're competitive or not, it makes no difference: do let us know your totals and we'll list you as well. Submissions: mail@DXing.Today

*** And here is one more 'Who's who': ALL BAND Rank List

You've asked for it, and we listen! For those of you who love JT modes but are 'all over the place': this listing is for you!

The top listed station is Cedric, HB9HFN with an amazing all-band total of 210 DXCC, all Zones and all States worked, for a nice round score of 300.

I’ve asked Cedric what was his secret – and he modestly replied: “I’ve got into JT modes early”. The old Chinese proverb says: “The best time to plant an apple tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is TODAY”

When it comes to Dxing and chasing this is so true: start catching them today – or as soon as possible.

To submit your all-band score: mail@DXing.Today

Of course, if you know of someone who is very active on JT modes: please invite them to join us. Any score is good one, so we’ll list all submissions.

*** WAZ Activity Report (all 80m FT8)

This weeks reports were kindly contributed by VK7BO, Edgar SWL from Tasmania and your editors.

Zone CALL
1 WL7SJ, NL8F, AL7TC, KL7HBK
2
3
4 VE5EL
5 VE9RAC
6 XE1UYS, XE1H, XE2YWH, XE2EX
7 TG9ANF, TI2CC, V31MA
8 CO3LT, WP4G
9
10 HC8LUT
11 PY2COY, PY1TS, ZP4KFX
12
13 RI1ANO
14
15
16
17 EX2U, UN9LBZ, UN9GGH, UN7AB, UN7TK, UN1L, UN7JAO
18 UA9YAD, R0WY
19 RD0L, RW0LT, R0CAF
20 TA2JU
21 A45XR, AP2HA, A61QQ, YI1SAL
22 VU2MSA
23 JT1BV
24 BV1EK, BV2FB, BG3UPA, BG3PJT, BD4WN, BG6SNJ, BG3ATI, BG7BDB, VR2XMT, VR2XYL, VR2AJ
25 DS5USH, HL5BLI
26 HS0ZEE, E20FSF
27 DU7EYG
28 YB0MWM, YC1CWK, YE1GD, YC2VYY, YB0EIN, YG3ESW, 9M2TO, 9M2/JE1SCJ
29 VK6DW, VK6DF
30 VK4TUL, VK4CAG
31 WH6HI, AH7DN, AH6U
32 3D2AG, FK1TS, ZL1BQD, ZL4CJF, ZL2RX, ZL3OF, ZL3RJ
33
34
35 5T1R
36 9Q6BB, TR8CA
37 C93PA
38 ZS1A, ZS1JAN
39 3B9HA
40 JW2US

*** WAS 80m FT8, some of the most reported stations

US State CALL
AK WL7SJ, KL7HBK, AL7TC
AL N4DQ, WA4HXC, AK4PR
AR WB5XX, KF5MDY
AZ W7AH, W7TUS, K7GA, N6RW
CA K6KK, NC6K
CO K0YQ
CT KC1CQS, KI1U, K1VG
DE
FL WD4CNO, KP4KD, WB6RAB
GA N4XPZ, KS4OT, AB4CZ
HI WH6HI, KH6U
IA KE0IAT
ID KA7T, N7UVH
IL AI9T, W9IE, WD9HSY
IN WA9THI, W0ALA, KD9HAV
KS KI6DY, WS0I
KY K4CMS, W4WWS, AI4EY
LA W5ADD
MA W1PFZ
MD N3DRX, K3LU, W3MSR
ME K7OP
MI AC8ZT, W8MSP, W8LLL
MN
MO K1USA, K0GK, N7BD
MS WQ5L
MT
NC NC1WX, KW4XL, WD4HAM
ND KG0YL
NE NU0C
NH WW1I, WW1WW, AE1T
NJ W2HTJ, N2RJ
NM KM5SW, KT4ET
NV W6SA
NY NY2NY, AA2DT, NJ1F
OH KB8O, K3DMG, N8DOD
OK
OR W7YAQ, NK7Z, K7ZV
PA KB3JSV, W9HZ, KA3CRC, KT3L
RI K1RI, N1HRK
SC KG6MC, K4RW
SD KE0WM
TN WA4JS, N4QWZ, N4TTE
TX KK7JS, WB5KSD, KG5Y
UT N5LZ, K7XB
VA KK4CB, K3VAT, WS6X
VT
WA K7HV, W7IU, WQ7A
WI AA9A, KC9WPS, K9KEU
WV WB8CQV, KF8KT, K8YYY
WY

*** JTIBV, Naran from Mongolia, Zone 23

I was pleasantly surprised to see the decoding of Naran's signal around 1am local time on Sunday. This was only the second time this season to see activity from the rather rare 23rd zone. Luckily I've made it on JT1BV's log quickly, but in no time he had to deal with a very respectable pileup of Europeans.

Naran's shack is located on 14th floor of 22 floor apartment building in very centre of Ulaanbaatar, Capital city of Mongolia. He said "I have a very simple half size Dipole for 40/80m on the roof of the apartment. Also, a KLM KT-34A for 20/15/10m and Rotating Dipole for 30/17/12m. No room for 160m antenna" (yet!). Obviously, JT1BV is a true Urban DXer so if you worked him on 80m then you got a very special QSO indeed. Good news: QSL via LOtW is not going to be a problem.

*** VR2XMT and VK2XYL, Hong Kong Calling

Ho Chi Ming, aka Charlie Ho is know to ham radio community by his call sign – VR2XMT. In his own words, he has been always fascinated by radio and space. He came in touch with radio at the age of 13, when he made his own crystal receiver. After years of SWL-ing, he finally became an amateur radio-operator in 1982. After years he spent on 50 MHz and above with significant results, we are glad to have him on 80M – as a true Urban DXer.

Furthermore, his beloved spouse – Pansy, is also ham and she holds VR2XYL call sign. Both of them are very active on FT8, all bands. Pansy mostly on upper bands, Charlie is there on lower bands.

Although he has a fairly decent 80/40M antenna – Butternut HF2V – he is struggling with noise, like any other Urban DXer. After demands of the community for activity on 80M, and encouraged by preliminary results, he built a small RX loop antenna which improved reception a little bit. As a result, a few days ago Charlie spent more than 3 hours handling endless pile-ups on 80M. So far, he logged 64 DXCCs on 80M.

As Charlie and Pansy have demonstrated, there is such thing as a perfect ham radio couple. We wish them all the best.

*** The Good Guys: E51WL: Warwick from Penrhyn Attol, Cook Islands

Yes, E51WL still does old-fashioned paper card QSL exchange - and we LOVE him for that. Look for him at his sunrise, 80m FT8.

*** HC8N – Galapagos nostalgia

At the beginning of 1990’s, a group of three – N5KT, N5KO and W6NL decided to build a “super station” on the island of San Cristobal, one of the Galapagos archipelago islands. After a few years of very hard work, the station at El Junco was ready. It comprises 4 towers (each 41m high), with monoband antennas for 40M and above. At the end of 90's and in beginning of the 2000's, even an average active operator could login HC8N in any major contest. Signals on all HF bands were amazing, and that was a good opportunity to log Zone 10 on 160-10M, even on WARC bands – before or after the contest. This location hosted some of the World’s well known contesters: S50A, VE3EJ, N5OT, XE1KK, G3XTT, HA1AG… (I’m sorry if I missed someone). HC8N was in the air for the last time in 2009. After that – silence. Buildings, towers, antennas are still there – operators are missing, though. Ever since, there has only been sporadic activity from HC8.

Alex, HC2AO with a group of Russian hams appeared on the location in CQWW CW 2014. Next year there was activity of LU9EFO/HC8, and this year we could see a group of LU hams under the HC8LUT call sign.

In this video you can see how sad one of the World’s most famous contest locations now looks:

*** IOTA Action

By Peca, YT7DX and Dragan, K0AP

Once again, our IOTA gurus have crunched the numbers and have done the hard work for you by separating activities into 3 distinctive categories: A - ones which simply cannot be missed because they are rarely activated islands, B - 'do your best to get them' but it's not the end of the world if you don't work them this time and C - frequently activated, well within the reach of urban DXers like ourselves. GL !

A

AS-045 HL5FUA/DS5XUA Ulleung island (Claimed by: 28.8% of participants).
Choi i xyl Lee are residents, and they are active on 80/40/30m digi/ssb. If you need this reference, try with sked: https://www.qrz.com/lookup/hl5fua. From time to time HL0YDM is heard.

B

NA-062 K2ZR/4 Key west island (Claimed by: 29.5% of participants)
Richard will spend winter in his other QTH on Florida (DEC 107 to MAY 2018). May be found on 20M CW, operates with KX2 + wire antenna.

OC-144 YE4IJ Belitung island (Claimed by: 26.6% of participants)
Irfan is resident, and mostly active on FT8/JT65 on 30/20M. Also active: YC4FQM, YB4FNN, YE4FPE, YE4FTL, YE4GX, YE4IDL, YB4FN, YF4KHZ…

OC-146 YB8EL Celebes island (Claimed by: 33.1% of participants)
Nur is very active on 20M RTTY/FT8. Also, some other stations active from this island are: YC8: JK, ECB, EXL, FD, YB8: ADX, BEW, BRI, 8C, EDO, EL, EXL, and not forget two great IOTA activators Din - YB8RW - https://www.qrz.com/lookup/yb8rw and Kemi - YB8TK https://www.qrz.com/lookup/yb8tk

C

EU-031 IC8FBU Capri island (Claimed by: 47.9% of participants)
Tony works mostly CW and can he was on 40M. All IC8 stations are part of Capri island, and active residents are IC8: BNR, FJX, AJU, OFW, TEM, SQS, AIK...

EU-072 SV8/DL8MCA & SV8/DL4MHB Skiathos island (Claimed by: 39.8% of participants)
Dick and Anna spend most of the time on this beuatiful island. This island is second home to Gerhardu - DL6NBA, who uses SV0JD call.

EU-171 5P1KZX Vendsyssel-Thy Island (Claimed by: 46.1% of participants)
Michael is active mosly on digi. Also, active calls from this group of islands are: OV2T, OU7B, OZ0D, OZ1JFK…

OC-143 YB5QZ Sumatra Island (Claimed by: 41.1% of participants)
During last few days Anton was QRV on FT8 mode. From this island there are also active some of great IOTA activators: Imam - YB4IR i Donny -YB6LD, YB5BOY, YB5EHQ, xyl YC5VA, YB5OUB, YB6DE, YB6HAI, YB6LD, YC6NE...

*** DX Reports

by Branko, YU1FW

HV0A, Vatican City
Francesco, IK0FVC is often QRV before Christmas holidays as HV0A. Activity was during afternoon hours from 16 to 18 UTC on 3530 CW and 3790 SSB, and later from 21 to 23 UTC on 1827 CW. QSOs were immediately uploaded to LoTW. Paper QSL via IK0FVC.

JG8NQJ/JD1, Minami Torishima
Take, JG8NQG leaves the island mid of December 2017. He is mostly QRV only CW 10-20M. QSL via JA8CJY via buro or direct.

JD1BMH, Ogasawara
Traditionally for New Year’s holiday, Hary - JG7PSJ - will be active from Ogasawara isl as JD1BMH. This is a good opportunity to log him on many bands since he is QRV from 160-10M, CW, SSB, DIGI. QSL via buro, direct via home call JG7PSJ More info: http://sapphire.es.tohoku.ac.jp/jd1bmh/

6V1A, Senegal
Tafa 6W1KI, Ouzin 6W1PH, Jul 6W1QL and John 6W7JX will be active from Goree Isl (AF-045) from 15 DEC to 01 JAN 2018. Italian DX-pedition 6V1IS was active from this island in November 2016. 6V1A QSL via PO BOX 971, Dakar, Senegal

*** 9M6XRO (SK)

A short tribute to John – 9M6XRO: He was everywhere – from different continents, various bands, to all modes. “Magic band” lovers still remembers his presence on CW, in 2011. He gave something to everyone. RIP John, --… …--

Best 73,

Nick VK2DX

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