There are a number of things I'd like to do radio-wise this year. One of them is to get equipped for SSB on four metres.
I have spent quite a lot over the last two or three years on 2m SSB and have very few contacts to show for it. My QTH in the Cockermouth Black Hole seems to be prevented by the Lake District mountains from receiving good signals from other English stations by normal propagation. I don't even experience much in the way of tropo openings here. The only real 2m DX I have worked are a handful of Sporadic-E (Es) contacts into Spain and Portugal. One thing I have learned is that 144MHz Es, which is a pretty rare thing in any case, is considerably rarer the further north you get. I was ill and recovering from my brain operation during the peak of the Es season last year but as far as I can tell from DX Sherlock no Sporadic-E openings on 2m reached this far north during 2011 so I didn't actually miss anything.
Six metres is another matter. I have made lots of contacts on the Magic Band even though my 6m antenna is just the addition of two quarter-wave wire elements to my multi-band attic dipole. Four metres won't be open as often as Six but it should sustain Sporadic-E propagation a lot more often than Two does. And now that many European countries have granted their amateurs 4m allocations I think there could be a good chance of working some summertime DX.
The plan depends on my finding space in my attic antenna farm for a 4m antenna. One of the first home improvements Olga and I will make this year is to replace the central heating boiler and we're advised that the most efficient types available now heat the water on demand and don't need a header tank or pipes in the loft. I'm a bit apprehensive about letting workmen loose in the attic when I'm not sure whether I'm capable of moving around safely up there to check my antennas are OK and repair any damage. But getting rid of the tank and copper pipes will make a bit more space for the antennas and hopefully allow me to mount a 4m Moxon on the rotator where the 2m one currently is.
I will also need a radio for 4m SSB. I guess I'm looking at getting a Spectrum Communications transverter for this. Probably a ready built one as I'm not really sure I can manage to assemble that complex a kit any more. I wonder if anyone has successfully modified an Elecraft XV50 for 70MHz?