Sunday (6-1) Ultralight DXpedition to Grayland, WA
Congratulations again to John Bryant for his superb four-day DXpedition to Grayland, and for logging multiple new Ultralight DX countries, with his E100 hooked up to the Wellbrook array. It's also great to know that John was thrilled by this new form of DXing, resulting in a very enjoyable experience for him.
After traveling with the family to Grayland on Saturday, I had a nice talk with John and Guy Atkins, and viewed John's impressive Wellbrook array, surrounding the north wing of the Grayland Motel. I remarked to my wife that we really needed one of these in our back yard, a comment which apparently was not well received.
During this trip the new Amidon 7.5" loopstick-transplant SRF-39FP was brought to Grayland for testing, as well as a stock SRF-T615, and the modified ICF-2010 (with the 19.5" loopstick). The new Amidon transplant model was constructed entirely of commercially-available parts, and has an astonishing performance advantage over the vintage loopsticks, making it competitive with vintage loopsticks over twice its length. Apparently Amidon's claim of optimizing the ferrite bar for the medium-wave frequencies is no exaggeration, and neither is the claim by Dave Schmarder of optimizing the 40/44 Litz wire for AM-DX performance. When these two materials are combined in a loopstick, the medium-wave performance is highly impressive, to say the least.
At John's suggestion, in order to avoid computer-generated RF hash from Room 15's DX Central operation, I left the warm, comfortable Room 14 environment around 0400 local time on Sunday morning (1100 UTC), and set up my usual stand-alone portable operating site at the picnic table on Grayland Beach Road, about 500 feet from the ocean. Thankfully, the weather was not too cold this time, and there were no clam diggers to laugh in ridicule.
Multiple strong DU carriers were observed on the "Monster 2010" from 1130-1200 UTC, but none of them came up to audio level until dawn enhancement, around 1212 UTC. The first to provide audio was 2YA-567 in New Zealand, a station which was also heard on the modified 2010 two weeks ago at Grayland. Unfortunately, this is one of the worst frequencies for the stand-alone Ultralights, with strong KVI-570 splatter that can't be nulled. The results were the same as two weeks ago-- a solid 2010 logging, but only bits and pieces of audio on the Ultralights.
The second DU to come up to audio level on the modified 2010 (around 1215) was a presumed 2YC-657, another New Zealand station with a sleep-inducing music format (similar to 2YA-567). Unfortunately, it also had an un-nullable CISL-650 splattering onto it, making the not-too-selective Ultralights loaded with unwanted vintage rock hash. 2YC's weak, sleepy music was no match for Vancouver's rock splatter.
The final DU audio received on the Monster 2010 was 4QR-612, around 1218. This frequency was relatively clear on the Ultralights, but Brisbane's signal stubbornly refused to come up to a level strong enough for solid Ultralight copy. The stock SRF-T615 had bits and pieces of DU audio, but whenever an mp3 recording was attempted, the signal of course took a dive. 4QR-612 stayed around for an incredibly long time on the modified 2010, with bright sunlight all around at 1240 UTC, and Brisbane still there, weakly, on 612.
Returning to the Grayland Motel around 1300 UTC (0600 local time), I was astonished when John pronounced this morning's propagation as the least favorable of the four days he spent at Grayland. Apparently the "Monster 2010" can make even a bad morning seem good, hi. It was the first time I had received audio from three DU's during one night, in Grayland. Unfortunately, the DU signals levels required something like a superb Wellbrook Antenna array, to make them audible on the Ultralights.
Congratulations again to John, who deserved some exciting Ultralight TP-DX, after all his hard work for the Ultralight cause. For my family. It was worth the trip, to meet him for the first time. The DXing was also fun, at least on the Monster 2010. When I discover a way to hot-rod an Ultralight by adding a Wellbrook Array to it, I'll be sure to let everybody know how.
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