"Frequent Flyer" Transoceanic DXing-- Ultralight Radios Running Wild

Gary DeBock

Around late 2015 a wacky concept was conceived to shrink the FSL antenna down to an airport-friendly size, thereby allowing DXers to exploit its awesome compact performance during exotic overseas travel. At the time nobody knew if the airport TSA screeners would blow the whistle on the idea, or whether the tiny antennas would provide any real overseas performance breakthroughs on exotic salt water beaches.

Two years later all the bugs have been worked out, and the tiny FSL's are performing like gangbusters. The new ability to enjoy reasonably high gain performance on exotic ocean beaches is a game changer not only for travel excitement, but for the investigation of long range ocean propagation worldwide. During a one week trip to Kauai, Hawaii in November a modified Ultralight radio and a 5 inch "Frequent Flyer" FSL tracked down AM-DX stations in the Middle East, Africa, India and throughout Southeast Asia-- many of which have never shown up on the North American west coast (regardless of how much acreage was used for antennas). Not surprisingly, we now have a quorum of DXers ready and eager for the November 2019 Kauai, Hawaii repeat DXpedition (Craig, Chris and I).

Live DXing with Ultralight radios on exotic ocean beaches is about as thrilling as you can get, but you will never really enjoy the thrills unless you step out of your comfort zone a little. You cannot depend on a computer to track down your DX, and the long range propagation openings around sunrise and sunset are of limited duration. You need to choose your frequencies carefully, based on your own skill and experience. You need to study the exotic station frequencies, and become an expert in long range ocean-boosted propagation. Every single reception you make will be because of your own skill and effort, but the clock is always ticking down during the limited sessions. If you score some awesome long range DX it's all because of you, but if you waste the propagation on useless frequencies it's also your own fault. Are you up to the challenge?

For the November Hawaii DXpedition Craig and Chris will have a little coaching from someone who has experienced both the "thrill of victory, and agony of defeat." :-)  It takes some time, effort and failures to really become skillful at an all-new ocean beach DXing location. The long range AM-DX propagation in Hawaii is awesome, but you can't really expect to "hit the ground running" the first time--unless you have some serious coaching. I guess that's why live DXing is so thrilling-- since you can learn from your mistakes, and come back with a much more skillful plan to exploit the awesome propagation next time. The plan is in place for November... and we can't wait to carry it out!

Gary DeBock (in Puyallup, WA, USA)


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