All Things HF: March 2017

All Things HF…
Another month of low sunspot numbers, low solar index numbers, high A &K numbers, can anything else go wrong? If you don’t sit down at your station to give operating a try…this is wrong. Yours truly had an interesting month of HF operating and a whole lot of fun doing it. Example, I worked Macau (XX) on CW and Hawaii (AH) today the 20th and in-between, lots of good QSO’s around the US and Canada. There are many resource websites that can help you make the decision of where do you want to go today. WM7D’s Solar Resource page will give you the latest data on SFI and sunspot numbers. Its my very first stop of the day. I don’t get into the deep scientific stuff, just the numbers that tell me what to expect when I hit the foot switch. If you’re looking for the latest DX spots, take a look at the Japanese web sight ‘dxscape’ that I’ve been using for years and find to be one of the best for DX spotting. Now here’s the best resource of all…its you! Get on the air and enjoy this hobby of operating HF radio, meet new people every day. Work new countries…the bands are not great but its out there waiting for you to either work DX or just a heart warming QSO. Take a page out of Nike’s book and ‘just do it’. Here’s the tip of the day for those of you that are newly licensed and have HF privileges: DXpedition operators use a split frequency…please listen before you try to work them. He’s transmitting on one frequency and listening on another…he does not operate simplex. Listen for his instructions of how far up he’s listening. Go to your operators Manuel and it’ll show you how to split your VFO or better yet…get one of the club’s old timers and pick his brain. When the DX operator says ‘listening up’ you can bet its 5-10 up on SSB. If its CW he most likely will be listening 1 up. Remember to sit down at your station and call CQ because someone somewhere is listening for your signal. So long for now from Huntersville.

73 es gud DX de Bob/W0ZPE

All Things HF: February 2017

No sunspots, no problem. DX may be difficult but not impossible so lets get back to the basics. Get the equipment turned on, sit down with a purpose of doing what we do best…rag chew! This hobby is all about communicating so keep that in mind when you call CQ. Last week I was pleasantly surprised to hear a CQ aero mobile on 18.130, it didn’t take me long to answer his call and what a nice QSO along with being informative. It was the co-pilot from 4 land zipping along at 12,000 feet and 450 knots in a Bombardier 300 Challenger. As the operator put it, the HF radio with the rest of the avionics is mounted in a $26 million frame. The crew was taking the owner and his family from New Mexico to their winter home in  Florida. We were able to talk radio while he was munching on a sandwich. The factory mounted antenna is a vertical that is fixed to the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer and what a beautiful signal he was transmitting. HF radios are required on commercial aircraft in case VHF fails. Although this bird is considered general aviation…HF is factory installed. There were other memorable contacts made in the past 30 days with some DX into central America. Tip of the day: Thank you is used often in operating HF so don’t be afraid to say it often. Thank you for the call, thank you for the QSO and thank you for the signal report…its all part of good operating skills. See ‘ya next time and don’t forget to call CQ because someone somewhere is listening.
Bob/W0ZPE

All Things HF (January 2016)

All Things HF
Sometimes to emphasize a point one can best relate to an experience. Case in point…you hear it all the time, the band is dead or there is nothing but noise. Last Wednesday I sat down at my station to work whatever was available. I checked the activity on my spectrum scope and sure enough the scope was flat lined across the 17-meter band. I like to use the phrase ‘nobody can here you listening’ so perhaps there is someone listening. The only way you’re going to find out is to call CQ and after 2 attempts (with my beam due east) a voice came back with a ZS2 prefix. Okay, that’s South Africa and the band is dead or is it?Its just like going fishing and snagging a big one. The remainder of the afternoon was spent doing QSO’s around the U.S. and Canada and I never changed frequency… I only adjusted my beam heading in order to accommodate the mini pileup on my call. Tip of the day: Please be sure to ask is the frequency in use (even though you hear nothing) and be sure to give your call. The FCC and those ARRL frequency cops will send you one of those nasty post cards if they do not hear your call sign. Do the right thing, its good for the hobby. See ‘ya next time and remember to call CQ because someone somewhere is listening.
Bob/W0ZPE