A DX’ing Milestone Reached – 300 DXCC’s Worked

Nepal 9N DXpedition

Nepal 9N DXpedition (Courtesy 9n.dxpeditions.org)

2015 has continued to be my best year for working new DX in my relatively short 4 years as an Amateur Radio operator. I have been trying to reach a personal goal of working my 300th DXCC for several months, and I’ve been just one All-Time New One (ATNO) short for a few weeks. I worked one or more new Band-DXCCs every day in 2015, with a total of 112 new Band-DXCCs worked so far this year. About a week ago, it looked fairly certain that my 300th ATNO was in sight with the 9N DXpedition to Nepal about to come on the air. Just as they did, we had some very strong solar flare/Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) activity which wiped propagation between my QTH in New England, USA, and Nepal. 9N Nepal is a fairly rare one here in the USA (#42 on ClubLog’s most-wanted list for North America) so I really wanted to put 9N in the log while it is active.


VOCAP Propegation Prediction Between 0N Nepal and NH USA

Tools for DX’ing – VOCAP Propagation Prediction Between 9N Nepal and NH USA

I have been listening diligently each day during the periods of best propagation (see the excellent VOCAP propagation prediction website to create custom propagation predictions). This morning the K and A indices were down, and the most up-to-date VOCAP prediction between Nepal and my QTH suggested that today would be better. I went down to the shack early before the start of my work day and found Janusz, 9N7WE coming in strong on 15m SSB. I took just two tries to get him in the log.

At this point, the remaining DXCCs that I need are, for the most part, the rare ones. Both Anita (AB1QB) and I have begun to use the tools provided by the DXLab Suite, ClubLog, various DX newsletters available on the internet, automated monitoring of the spotting clusters, and computer-generated propagation predictions to help us to work the remaining ATNOs as well as achieve our operating award goals. For more on how we use these tools, please see our related DX’ing post here on this blog.

– Fred, AB1OC

2015 DX’ing – DX’ing Tools Produce One Of The Best Years Ever So Far

March 2015 DXpeditions

DX’ing Tools – March 2015 Featured DXpeditions

2015 has been quite a year for DX’ing and working new DXCCs for us. This month is the most productive I have experienced, with more than 20 interesting DXpeditions. We’ve been fortunate to have the chance to work the DXpedition on Navassa Island (#2 on ClubLog’s most wanted list), which took place in February of this year. In addition to those shown above, there are also quite a few small operations, including E51UFF on North Cook Island and VP8DOZ on South Georgia Island (#9 on ClubLog’s most-wanted list) being on. Also, Eritrea, E30FB, which is operating right now, is #20 on ClubLog’s most wanted list. All of this makes for a great opportunity to work all-time new ones and add new DXCC Band-Points. We extensively used DX’ing tools as part of working new DXCCs this year.

Anita, AB1QB has worked 13 all-time new DXCC’s and I’ve worked 5 all-time new DXCCs since the beginning of 2015. Anita has broken the 250 DXCC barrier, and I’m just 2 away from breaking 300. There have also been quite a few new IOTAs for us. Anita has added 11 IOTAs this year, and I’ve added 14. We also added more than 85 DXCC Band-Points each toward our DXCC Challenge Award totals. I have set a goal to work at least one new DXCC Challenge Band-Point each day in 2015 in hopes of getting to the 2,000 DXCC Band-Point level before the end of the year (I am currently at 1,785 worked).

Shack Board

Shack Board – Upcoming Operations and Contests

We use a number of different sources to find out about these operations. Our favorite ones are The Weekly DX, DX-World.net (the source of the graphic above), and DX Publishing’s QRZ DX. These are all excellent sources for finding out about upcoming DXpeditions, small DX operations, and IOTA activations. Working DX contests such as CQ WW DX, the ARRL DX Contests, and CQ WW WPX are also excellent ways to work new DXCCs and new Band-Points. We have a whiteboard in our shack where we record upcoming operations that we need and contests that we want to participate in. This helps us keep track of what is coming up that we need.

DXLab SpotCollector

DXLab SpotCollector

We also use the SpotCollector component of the DXLab Suite to help us identify new DXCCs, Band-Points, IOTAs, and WAZ Band-Zones that we need in real time when they come on. We have also used SpotCollector to alert us when stations we need for the Yearly CQ DX Marathon are on the air.

Spot Sources Configuration In SpotCollector

Spot Sources Configuration In SpotCollector

We have configured SpotCollector (the spotting component of DXLab) to aggregate spots from various sources. Our logs are kept in DXLab, and we program the SpotCollector to filter all incoming cluster spots and CW/RTTY Skimmer data to tell us about high-priority stations we want to work with when they are on the air. The key to this approach is carefully filtering incoming cluster and skimmer spots to only display and forward the most important opportunities.

Award Setup in DXKeeper

Award Setup in DXKeeper

The first step in the filtering is to configure DXLab’s DXKeeper component for the types of contacts we are interested in. This is done in the Award configuration section of DXKeeper.

SpotCollector SQL Filter

SpotCollector SQL Filter

We then use the powerful SQL script capability of SpotCollector to only tell us about stations that we are willing to “head for the shack to work.” SpotCollector is configured to send the appropriate spots as text messages via email to our mobile phones so that we know immediately when something we need comes on. The filter above selects all-time new DXCCs, new DXCC Band-Points, new IOTA’s, and new WAZ Band-Zones which are spotted in the Eastern or Central United States. The filter also picks up new Band-States for the ARRL Worked All States Award.

We hope our readers interested in working DX and IOTAs will be able to find some time to work so of the operations on the air right now. This time period is certainly one that has a lot of potential to put “new ones” in the log. If you use the DXLab Suite, you might try some of the more advanced features of SpotCollector to help you better find stations that you want to work when they are on.

– Fred, AB1OC

2014 Amateur Radio Highlights

2014 Readers Around The World

Amateur Radio Highlights – our 2014 Readers Around The World

It is again time for our annual 2014 Year Amateur Radio highlights post. First, I’d like to thank our readers for their continued interest in our Blog. Our blog was viewed about 100,00 times in 2014 from 165 countries worldwide. You, our readers, have made 2014 our busiest year yet, and this provides Anita (AB1QB) and me with great encouragement to continue to provide content for our readers.

2014 was a very busy year in Amateur Radio for us. Our activities included a continued focus on station building, contesting, WRTC 2014, special events, providing presentations to help others in the hobby learn about new things, attending several HAM Events, progress on operating awards, and most importantly – time spent on the air operating.

microHAM Station Master Deluxe Antenna Controller

microHAM Station Master Deluxe Antenna Controller

This year, we upgraded our fixed station to include a microHAM Station Automation system. This major project added some nice SO2R capabilities to our Multi-one station and automated the sharing of our antennas between our two SO2R operating positions. More of this project can be found here:

Eggbeater Antennas And Preamps SystemsOn Tower

Eggbeater LEO Satellite Antennas And Preamps Systems On Tower

We also added LEO Satellite capabilities to our station with the addition of some new antennas and electronics on our tower. This allowed us to make our first contacts through LEO birds with linear transponders. Our articles on this project include:

Scorpion SA-680 Screwdriver Antenna

Our Mobile HF Station – Screwdriver Antenna

Our final major station-building project was constructing a state-of-the-art mobile HF station in our Ford F-150 pickup truck. We did this project in phases, starting with a simple setup using a 100W radio and HAM Stick antennas through the installation of a Screwdriver Antenna System for the 160m – 10m HF bands and concluding with the installation of an amplifier to enable high-power mobile HF operation. You can view the articles on this project here:

AB1OC Operating In CQ WPX SSB

AB1OC Operating In the 2014 CQ WPX SSB

Anita (AB1QB) and I continued to be active in several contests this year. We both continued to develop our skills as contesters and our scores and place in the rankings reflected this. You can read more about our contesting activities and what we learned in the following articles:

Hollis Site Support Team And Referee

WRTC 2014 Hollis Site Competitors, Support Team And Referee

We were also fortunate to host one of the WRTC 2014 competition sites. Along with our friend Scott Anderson, NE1RD, Anita and I acted as site managers for the only WRTC 2014 Competition Site in New Hampshire. You can read more about our WRTC 2014 experiences here.

13 Colonies Special Event QSL Card For K2K New Hampshire

13 Colonies Special Event QSL Card For K2K New Hampshire

Special event operations were a particularly fun part of our on-air activities in 2014. We operated as K2K, New Hampshire, in the 13 Colonies Special Event, W1AW/1, as part of the ARRL Centennial QSO Party, and as N1FD Celebrating the 35th Anniversary of the Nashua Area Radio Club. It’s great fun to operate in these events and the experience running the pileups that result continued to help Anita and me to develop our operating and contesting skills.

Introduction To The DXLab Suite

Introduction To The DXLab Suite

We prioritize devoting a significant amount of our Amateur Radio time to helping others in the hobby learn new things. In addition to writing this Blog, Anita and I try to create and deliver several presentations each year on a variety of topics of interest to the Amateur Radio Community. This year’s presentation included an update of our presentation on Amateur Radio Station Design and Construction and an Introductory Presentation on the DXLab Software Suite. We are always interested in working with Amateur Radio Clubs to deliver the presentation in person, where practical, or over the web.

Anita (AB1QB) and I with Bob Heil (TBD)

Anita (AB1QB) and I with Bob Heil (K9EID)

We had the fortune to meet some of the legends in Amateur Radio this past year. Anita and I had the opportunity to get meet Bob Heil, K9EID and to appear on his Ham Nation podcast. Bob is an amazing gentlemen and we feel truly fortunate to have the opportunity to get to know him. We also had the opportunity to meet Fred Lloyd, AA7BQ, the President and Founder of QRZ.com. Fred visited our station and did an article about our station on QRZ.com. Anita and I both learned a great deal about HAM Radio and how it came to be what it is today as a result of the time these fine folks spent with us.

Joe Taylor's WSJT Presentation

Joe Taylor’s WSJT Presentation At the ARRL Centennial Convention

Amateur Radio Conventions and HAM Fests were a major part of our Amateur Radio fun again this year. We were fortunate to attend and speak at the ARRL Centennial Convention in Hartford, CT USA this year – truly a once in a lifetime Amateur Radio experience. We also attended the Dayton Hamvention in 2014 where we had a chance to see all of the latest and greatest in Amateur Radio Equipment.

Our 2014 QSOs By Callsign

Our 2014 QSOs By Callsign

We were quite active on the air making almost 26,000 contacts between the two of us. As you can see from the graphic above, about 45% of our contacts were as part of Special Event Operations. We also made a little over 500 contacts from our mobile station, working over 100 DXCC entities in 2014 from the mobile.

Our 2014 QSOs By Band

Our 2014 QSOs By Band

 We were active on all of the HF bands this year. We made our first contacts on the 60m band, and I was able to focus on the 6m band and earn a VUCC Operating Award (100 grid squares worked and confirmed) on that band. Anita and I made our first DX contacts in Europe on 6m in 2014. Anita took quite an interest in the 160m band, and she is working on a Worked All States Operating Award on this band. Our operating time using weak signal and satellite modes on the 2m and 70cm bands was limited to a few contacts this year. I did make my first contacts through LEO Satellites in 2014.


Our 2014 QSOs By Mode

Our 2014 QSOs By Mode

We mostly operated in the SSB phone mode in 2014. Anita and I both continue to work on our CW skills, and we managed a little over 800 QSOs using CW in 2014. Anita was very active in the RTTY mode as part of her RTTY contesting efforts.

K2K New Hampshire QSL!

13 Colonies K2K New Hampshire QSL!

All of this operating resulted in quite a bit of QSL activity. We sent a total of almost 4,200 QSL cards in 2014!

We again made a video showing all of our contacts around the world in 2014. As you can see from the video, we were fortunate to work quite a bit of DX in 2014.

6M VUCC Operating Award

Fred’s 6M VUCC Operating Award

All of this operating helped Anita and me to make some progress on operating awards this year. In addition to earning a 6M VUCC, I completed a Worked All States Award on all 9 HF bands 160m-10m. I was also able to complete several nice regional operating awards (Worked All Europe TOP Plaque, Worked All VK Call Areas, and Worked All Africa) as well as upgrading my DXCC Challenge Award to the 1,500 Band Country level. Anita completed her JARL JCC Award (she worked 100+ Cities in Japan) as well as her Worked All States Triple Play Award (all states on SSB, CW, and Digital via LoTW).

Anita and I had a lot of fun with Amateur Radio in 2014. We look forward to another great year of HAM Radio fun in 2015. We hope to share some of what we learn and our experiences with our readers here on our Blog.

– Fred, AB1OC

What Is DX’ing All About?


QSL Card From Rachid, 3B8FQ, on Mauritius Island

I came across a great video this morning – an excellent introduction to DX’ing. For me, this video really communicates well what DX’ing is all about. Chasing DX is a part of our hobby that provides the chance to meet many new friends around the world, learn about culture and geography and make some amazing contacts. Take some time to watch the video – I think our readers will enjoy it!

– Fred (AB1OC)