Chasing South Pacific DX on ULR's


Gary DeBock
 

Hello All,
 
When John Bryant first told me (in early 2008) that it was possible to receive Australia and New Zealand stations on the AM band right in the middle of the static-filled summer, it sounded like science fiction. The concept of chasing "down under" DX 7,000 miles (or more) away seemed too bizarre to be true, especially during the worst possible season of the year. I had already received several Asian TP's on ULR's (from Japan and Korea) during the fall season, but never a trace of anything from the South Pacific. 
 
One of the special traits of John, though, was his great patience in teaching a newcomer how to accomplish a certain task. John had appreciated the way that the ULR boom was bringing new enthusiasm back to the AM-DXing hobby, and I think he had the sneaky idea that if he could turn me on to DU-DXing, my own ULR enthusiasm would get a turbo boost. John invited me to a join a DXpedition at Grayland in July of 2008, during which he would be chasing South Pacific DX with Guy Atkins.
 
Both John and Guy were DU-DXing veterans with decades of experience, and I was a total novice. To prepare for the trip, I scheduled various solo trips to Grayland, trying to hear Australia or New Zealand on the hot-rodded SRF-39FP "prison radios" (with 20" loopsticks). These radios had awesome sensitivity, but awful selectivity. Any DU station within 5 kHz of an audible domestic station (that's about 99% of them, by the way) were covered by splatter. My lack of DU success soon caused my enthusiasm to sink Down Under. 
 
John and Guy (among others) had perfected DU-DXing with communication receivers and large external antennas, but I still felt that the Ultralight radio had a place in DU-DXing-- and John and Guy somehow agreed with me! Together we worked to create the Slider E100 (with Murata CFJ455K5 filter), the first stand-alone Ultralight radio capable of chasing DU's with a reasonable chance of success. I was on Cloud Nine, and found myself finally able to receive Australia, New Zealand and Fiji on the AM band right in the middle of summer, like John had said!
 
Much more than Asian TP-DXing, DU-DXing is an ocean beach pursuit. South Pacific DXing seems to require a healthy dose of salt water for success, at least on ULR's. West coast DXers should head for the beach about an hour before sunrise, and bring along a selective ULR (Tecsun PL-310, PL-380, D96L, or a Slider E100 with Murata filter). DX signal boosters like tuned passive loops certainly raise your chances of success (the bigger the better). To my knowledge, Guy Atkins, Kevin Schanilec, Norm Clark and Colin Newell have all received South Pacific DX on ULR's, and if you are on the West Coast, right now is the peak season for YOU to try it!
 
73 and Good Luck,
Gary DeBock (in Puyallup, WA)                  

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