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Hawaii DXpedition Final Day-- 400w Australian Bonanza!

Gary DeBock
 

     On the final day of last year's Poipu, Hawaii DXpedition exceptional long range Asian propagation hit the Kauai beach, with Oman, Iran, India (2), Bangladesh, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam all received on a 5" FSL antenna. This year's final day also featured exceptional propagation, but from a different direction-- Australia.
     A collection of relatively obscure 400 watt Australian stations are on frequencies from 1611 to 1701 kHz, and although several of these are regular catches with SDR's and large broadband antennas on flat west coast ocean beaches, they are not common fare on small, live DXing FSL antennas-- which tune one frequency at a time, and have a reputation for best performance on the low band. Despite this, on the morning of November 7th the Kauai, Hawaii propagation provided a rare thrill-- multiple 400 watt Australian HPONS stations at great strength on the X Band, including several at S9-- easily received on my portable 5" diameter FSL antenna. To provide even more enhancement, Australian DXpedition partner Chris Rogers was right by my side, providing background information on several of these obscure, flea-power stations.            This was far and away the best Australian propagation of the entire DXpedition, and we had a blast exploiting it! Attached are some photos from the final day morning session, including Chris and I with our respective live DXing gear (Chris was using a Tecsun PL-880 and 20" PK loop while seated at a picnic table, while I was standing up, using a 7.5" loopstick CC Skywave Ultralight and 5" Frequent Flyer FSL on a 5' PVC base). Chris is an awesome DXer who made out like a bandit tracking down South American and African DX in Rarotonga last June-- and he provided a lot of "on the job training" to help Craig and I improve our sunset DXing strategy! 
     
1611   Three Australian Mix   Pandemonium breaks out at 1620 UTC as three low power stations mix together at good strength, one of which is almost certainly Vision Radio Network, according to Chris  https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/mru2w7od0jofcy2d0zu9291fkr3ha104
1620   4KZ   According to Chris this 400w station has the best antenna of any of these HPONS stations, personally installed by Chris' friend Al Kirton (while the other stations' antennas are "nothing special"). The antenna was sure doing the trick at a powerful level during a call-in talk show at 1618  https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/1trwkqq6xc9h9gbymribu8i630gwks6n
1629  UnID    Good level conversation about the release of a music album at 1624--  maybe 2HRN?  https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/xkykqt1ps7k535ab359na99e2x3i242x
1638  UnID   Arabic (?) at very good level at 1629  https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/vvq3dsfpn9erin96z762qr5qmflki79x
1656  Voice of the Australian Chinese (+ UnID)   Chinese music station with S9 peaks at 1631 prevailing over weaker UnID male "talker" station  https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/o7lim33qfmj217xqmgjclnpt0hbgow0v
1665  UnID   Weak male "talker" station rising above the noise level at 1642, with co-channel flutter from something even weaker  https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/mjkrf4g0wdjgkm0jmhpja71fffso62nz
1701  Radio Brisvani   Distinctive South Asian music with S9 peaks at 1614-- definitely one of the stars of the session  https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/yah56zm6cwqplakzpnlhk9800jwzz6cj
           Keeping up its S9 strength at 1648  https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/8xr0pspg13slny760e45gr5009h3atky
1701  UnID   Weak male "talker" co-channel giving Brisvani some temporary competition at 1637, but soon swallowed up by the South Asian music  https://dreamcrafts.box.com/s/3s3mwgi6z2059jhxxzql1c1ufppltn2t

73 and Good DX,
Gary DeBock (DXing with Craig Barnes and Chris Rogers at Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii from November 2-7)
7.5" loopstick CC Skywave Ultralight + 5" Frequent Flyer FSL antenna (on a 5' PVC base) 
            

Dan Merta
 

Wow some great catches there. Well done. 

Gary DeBock
 

<<<   Wow some great catches there. Well done.    >>>

Thanks Dan,

Your comment is appreciated. Wish that you could have been with us!

73, Gary
 

Phil EVG
 

hi 
Did you do any comparisons between the PK Loop and the FSL? 
thanx 
73 de jordan ve7jjd 

On Sun, Nov 10, 2019 at 5:06 PM Gary DeBock via Groups.Io <D1028Gary=aol.com@groups.io> wrote:
<<<   Wow some great catches there. Well done.    >>>

Thanks Dan,

Your comment is appreciated. Wish that you could have been with us!

73, Gary
 

Todd
 

Well done Gary and Chris re the MW exotics logged at Hawaii.

I note that Chris was using a PK loops 50 cm (19.7 inch) diameter loop. Interested to hear what signal gain and directivity differences were experienced for the 5 inch FSL versus the 50 cm PK loop.

I am considering purchasing a 65 cm (25.6 inch) diameter loop for AU $250 including postage from PK Antennas. The 65 cm version is their largest passive (non-amplified) loop that covers the full MW band. My main intended application is taking it away on vacation trips, or to nearby parks, etc. My 102 cm (40 inch) side length square PVC tunable box loop is too big for anywhere but inside the house or outside in the backyard. The smaller 65 cm loop may also be useful for local strong signal null vertical plane tilting at home. 

For anyone that can handle mosquitoes and crocodiles, Northern Australia offers a large variety of exotic signals that could be considered for a future ULR MW DXpedition. Australian DXers Dave Onley and Craig Edwards have already conducted a comprehensive DXpedition to Nhulunbuy, Northern Territory [1].

Regards,

Todd
Sydney, AU

1. https://ozclog.wordpress.com/nhulunbuy-gove-peninsula-northern-territory/

Gary DeBock
 

On Sun, Nov 10, 2019 at 11:25 PM, Todd wrote:
<<<   Well done Gary and Chris re the MW exotics logged at Hawaii.   >>>
Thanks Todd! It was a great honor to welcome Chris to Hawaii, and learn from his experience in African and South American DXing success.

<<<   I note that Chris was using a PK loops 50 cm (19.7 inch) diameter loop. Interested to hear what signal gain and directivity differences were experienced for the 5 inch FSL versus the 50 cm PK loop.   >>>

Since Chris has both of these antennas (and I don't have any PK loop) I should probably defer to him on the relative comparison between these two very different tuned loops. I do know that Chris was using the Tecsun PL-880 and 20" PK Loop combo for most of his DXing in Hawaii, but that he also used the modified CC Skywave and 5" FSL on at least one occasion. By the way, there is a YouTube video posted (not by me) of a direct comparison between a 4" FSL antenna and a 20" PK Loop, at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7y2a4gWoGM
As background information, I should add that the current 5 inch "Frequent Flyer" FSL antenna models have been tweaked into a razor-sharp, High-Q tuning state, which provides an exceptional amount of gain for the antenna size, but with the side effect of requiring very careful tuning to exploit the extremely sharp (and deep) gain peaks. If someone is accustomed to using a relatively broad-tuning PK loop in a DXpedition environment (as Chris was, at Rarotonga in June), it's not easy to switch over to the ultra High-Q tuning system of the current "Frequent Flyer" FSL antennas. On the other hand, if someone has years of practice tuning the new, highly-tweaked FSL antennas (as Craig Barnes and I both have), the thrill of having such awesome compact performance is very habit forming.

<<<   I am considering purchasing a 65 cm (25.6 inch) diameter loop for AU $250 including postage from PK Antennas. The 65 cm version is their largest passive (non-amplified) loop that covers the full MW band. My main intended application is taking it away on vacation trips, or to nearby parks, etc. My 102 cm (40 inch) side length square PVC tunable box loop is too big for anywhere but inside the house or outside in the backyard. The smaller 65 cm loop may also be useful for local strong signal null vertical plane tilting at home.    >>>

As I shared with Chris, a DXer needs to use whatever gear he feels most comfortable with. There are many antenna tradeoffs such as portability and gain, highest Q and ease of tuning, highest Q and DX station audio fidelity, etc. Every commercial antenna has design compromises as the manufacturer attempts to appeal to the largest possible number of customers, and make a profit by satisfying their needs. When you design your own antennas (as I did with the PVC air core loops, and the airport-friendly FSL antennas) you have the chance to choose your own design priorities, even to the point of fanaticism, such as with the 9 foot square PVC loop, the 17" diameter monster FSL or the razor-sharp-tuning 5" FSL antenna. Would everyone feel comfortable using these? Of course not. DXing is supposed to be a fun hobby, so choose whatever works for you, and the fun will naturally follow.

<<<   For anyone that can handle mosquitoes and crocodiles, Northern Australia offers a large variety of exotic signals that could be considered for a future ULR MW DXpedition. Australian DXers Dave Onley and Craig Edwards have already conducted a comprehensive DXpedition to Nhulunbuy, Northern Territory [1].   >>>

That sounds interesting, although the 45 degree heat in places like Alice Springs might be even hotter than the DX you track down? Chris mentioned that Queensland is the currently popular hot spot for Australian DXpeditions, although a lot of DXers either hop a plane to NZ or the Cook Islands. I visited Aitutaki in the Cooks last year in April, and it was awesome!

73, Gary
 

      
         
 

Chris Rogers
 

My equipment used on the trip was a 5" FSL antenna and C Crane "hot-rodded" receiver both provided by Gary and a Tecsun PL880 and a PK Loops 20" amplified loop.
The PL880 was modified to allow the loop to use the external antenna jack on MW which when supplied by the factory only functions on SW. I was very comfortable using this receiver and antenna combination and have dxed for many hours on both. Whilst the PL880 is not a "Ultralight receiver" in my opinion it is the pick of modern portables and performs extremely well.

Having said that I used the C Crane skywave radio at the condominium I stayed at, and the reception from some very desirable Pacific Island stations, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Tuvlalu, etc as well as many of the other stronger US mainland stations were audible at armchair level inside on the modified C Crane Skywave. They were further enhanced with the FSL. The FSL antenna and C Crane receiver together requires a fair bit of practice at getting the best out of it, and in that regard I am just a beginner.

Gary is a wizard at using the FSL's and the Ultralight portables, and the results he gets is absolutely amazing and a credit to his skill both as a dxer and a engineer of both the enhanced radios and FSL antennas.
Most of my dxing carrrer has been done in the past with communications receivers like a Drake R8B and with beverage antennas, and lately with loop antennas as usually on islands where I like to dx from there is no room for a 750m+ beverage antenna in the direction you want to listen to. A FSL or loop antenna is a must if you want to dx successfully in a environment that does not have a lot of room for large antennas.

My results from Poipu beach were numerous, including mainland US stations, various Pacific Island stations, and a few Latin American stations. I logged and identified 74 stations in total. For me there was so much to listen to and just not enough time.

Paul Blundell
 

Excellent information and great to hear how well it works for you.

--
Paul - Moderator
UltralightDX

Gary DeBock
 

Hi Chris,

Thanks for your generous comments, and of course it was our great honour to welcome you to Hawaii!

<<<   The PL880 was modified to allow the loop to use the external antenna jack on MW which when supplied by the factory only functions on SW. I was very comfortable using this receiver and antenna combination and have dxed for many hours on both. Whilst the PL880 is not a "Ultralight receiver" in my opinion it is the pick of modern portables and performs extremely well.   >>>

I certainly agree that your PL-880 performed very well, and its SSB capability probably gave you the edge in tracking weak SSB carriers at sunset in comparison to the rather tricky CC Skywave SSB circuitry, which isn't nearly so user-friendly. When a DXer goes to an exotic new ocean beach location and chases unfamiliar transoceanic DX at both sunrise and sunset, he definitely needs to use the radio and loop that he fells the most comfortable with, and have full confidence in his ability to use them effectively, in all situations. There are already enough challenges with the weather, unfamiliar propagation and the occasional worker turning on an electrical switch at a neighboring swimming pool to kill reception :-)

<<<   Having said that I used the C Crane skywave radio at the condominium I stayed at, and the reception from some very desirable Pacific Island stations, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Tuvlalu, etc as well as many of the other stronger US mainland stations were audible at armchair level inside on the modified C Crane Skywave. They were further enhanced with the FSL. The FSL antenna and C Crane receiver together requires a fair bit of practice at getting the best out of it, and in that regard I am just a beginner.   >>>

The new, highly tweaked 5" Frequent Flyer FSL's are actually a pretty extreme type of antenna, where other factors have been sacrificed in order to get the highest possible, razor-sharp, high-Q gain performance from a pretty tiny antenna. Every single part of the new "Frequent Flyer" FSL's has been given an A/B test with similar parts in order to determine whether they actually do provide the highest possible tuning "Q." The end result is a tiny DXing "firecracker," but with the side effects of requiring ultra-sharp tuning, and tolerating some loss of high frequency DX station audio when zeroed in on the potent, high-Q gain boost. It's kind of like tweaking a compact passenger car into a drag strip queen-- you can make the "hotrod" go extremely fast, but you won't get the best results without some serious practice, and you can't expect the "hotrod" to act like a high-economy passenger car. Craig Barnes and I have both been using these fanatical little FSL's for over two years now, so we both have had lots of training with them in DXpedition environments. You certainly made the right decision in going with the easier-tuning PK Loop in your Kauai DXpedition listening, since precious live DXing time should not be used for "on the job training." On the other hand you now have all the components necessary to assemble the ultimate compact FSL DXing package, which may prove useful for you in the future after a little practice.

73, Gary
       



 

   

William Renton
 

Hi,

I own a PL-880 and can confirm it's a good performer with my PK Loop. However, it suffers from bad overload and spurs at my QTH. There are no problems when listening in an area away from 50 kW blowtorches. 

Great to read of another successful DXpedition! 

Regards,

Will.