Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Digital DX heard on 80m

I'm still recovering from the flu. My head feels stuffed with cotton wool, I get tired after even some slight activity and my throat is dry and prickly. So I have not felt like making any contacts on the radio. Instead, I've been doing a bit of WSPR or leaving the receiver monitoring the digital sector of one of the bands and reporting spots to PSK Reporter.

Although I like WSPR because my low powered signals can be received in some surprisingly far away places, in some respects I prefer spotting to the PSK Reporter. I think the reason is because what I am spotting is people making actual two-way QSOs using a normal digital mode, not something designed to be dug out of the noise by a computer. The stations I receive are stations I could probably have a contact with. I've been spotted in Tasmania on WSPR using 2 watts to a magnetic loop, but I'd be extremely surprised if I could make a CW contact over that distance using the same power and antenna.

Last night I left the K3 and Fldigi running on 3.580MHz, and the screenshot above shows all the stations I spotted in that period. I was extremely pleased to see that I spotted KB1OIQ in Massachusetts and KP4ED in Puerto Rico, both in the early hours of the morning, especially as no other G station active at that time reported any activity from across the Atlantic. My 80m antenna is a 50 foot (16m) long end loaded dipole with about 30KHz 2:1 SWR bandwidth, zigzagged into my attic with the middle section at about 25 feet (8m). I would not expect it to produce very much in the way of DX, and even with the necessary assistance of the MFJ noise canceller the noise level is quite high on that band.

I'm not much of a night owl and the thought of hauling myself out of a warm bed in the small hours to see if I can work some transatlantic DX on 80m does not fill me with a lot of enthusiasm. But if I find myself unable to sleep one night, perhaps I'll try it just to see if it's possible.
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