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My fortune rises and falls with the numbers. And Cycle 24 continues withholding much needed sunspots. However is this a sunspot recession or depression? Is Cycle 24 going down in the historical archives as a bear or a bull?
Today's report especially the solar flux indice (SFI) does not inspire confidence in a possible bullish Cycle 24. I can hope, on the other hand, that the A- and K-index trend toward zero when CQWW DX CW rolls around at the end of this month.
73 from the shackadelic.
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Antenna Case Study | Geoff, KB8UUM commented "Had any luck yet? I am in the same situation here in DC, minus the balcony."
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I recommend HF Antennas For All Locations (link) written by Les Moxon, G6XN. His book is a cornucopia of practical low-profile antenna systems. Moxon describes an antenna system in Figure 15.5, page 247, in Chapter 15 titled Invisible antenna. He stated that an antenna suitable for your low-profile is either a center fed bent dipole or an end fed wire.
On the other hand, one ham who is an awesome RF technologist, gave me an article this morning written by M. Walter Maxwell, W2DU. The title is Another Look at Reflections: Countdown for a Journey...From Mythology to Reality. Wherein obtaining a low standing wave ratio (SWR) is not necessarily needed for efficient transfer of power.
Here is the (link) to W2DU's web page on transmission lines and antennas. I'm very interested in hearing about your apartment antenna system?
73 from the shackadelic.
Percentage of Qs per Band.
- 160m produced 0% of total.
- 80m produced 11% of total.
- 40m produced 53% of total.
- 20m produced 35% of total.
- 15m produced 1% of total.
- 10m produced 0% of total.
- Level 4 (L4) low-power, low-profile sub-optimal antenna at sub-optimal height draws heavily from contest time budget when searching and pouncing (SP).
- SP technique is expensive in terms of producing score profit per band.
- Forty meter data validates L4 signal strength that is less movement, less time between moves, and greatest rate of return (n=53%) using CQ technique (see TABLE 1).
- Stations recycled at a faster rate on 40m versus 80- or 20m.
- Eighty meter data suggests least Q-production versus percentage of time and movement.
- Twenty meter data suggests a near positive return on time and movement per Q.
- Improve personalized band mapping technique.
- Improve station weakness.
- Increase SP efficiency.
- Focus on band strengths.
I reflected on Sweepstakes 75 and my after action report is ready.
After Action Report.
Operating an Level 4 (L4) contest station teaches one the value of strategy, listening, and goal setting. And Sweepstakes is an excellent ground to refine one's contesting skill set. Such skills like copying CW, calling CQ, or searching and pouncing (SP) are continously refined using patience, tenacity, and perseverance. Perhaps no other contest like Sweepstakes pushes the envelope of one's operating expertise?
Cycle 24 produced sunspot number 1007, both the A- and K-index remained stable throughout, and the low bands like 160-, 80-, and 40m demonstrated score profitability. Low band propagation on 40m remained stable and viable throughout Sweepstakes. I took advantage of 40m sunrise and sunset grayline enhancement into Q-markets like California, Washington, and Arizona.
However high bands like 10-, 15-, and 20m especially 20m generally demand a different strategy. That is, until Cycle 24 sunspot production increases and the high bands like 10- and 15m respond accordingly.
Per Band Strategy.
Current sunspot production is not viable enough for calling CQ as a strategy difference maker. And 15m like other bands was SP-only as most Level 1 (L1), Level (L2), or Level 3 (L3) stations would eventually migrate. I basically spun the dial working only 1-Q and that Q-market space was the Pacific on 15m.
Competing on 20m as an L4 low-power, low-profile station using a sub-optimal antenna at sub-optimal height demands a different strategy. Calling CQ into the eastern, mid-western, and southern Q-market spaces is difficult at best. I have a multiplier gap into 1, 2, and 4 lands, respectively. Additionally this maybe a result of geography profile with a 600 foot ridgeline running northeast to southeast of the QTH.
I recognized that L1, 2, 3 stations have better antenna systems and typically operate high power. Therefore spinning the dial in SP mode is my best option.
Forty meters, on the other hand, is a mix between CQ and SP strategies. The difference maker, for me, is the telnet/packet network. An L4 station, once on the network, may see a dramatic rate of return when calling CQ. This return might range from a minute to a few minutes, conversely, one can quickly increase score and/or gain a needed multiplier.
My antenna system performs on 40m and understanding this strength is important. One must chose when to call CQ and what band is best for this technique. As an L4 station, literally, an hour can evaporate without any response. The volume of available Qs on any given band must recycle and hour-to-hour propagation changes increase the probability of better SP returns instead of calling CQ.
I'm learning personalized band mapping results in a propagation snapshot that is relative to signal inputs at my station. Developing my own band map was easy. Likewise I did not have information overload congesting the map as well. An L4 antenna system is not normalized like an L1, 2, or three antenna system. The probability of successfully working a spotted multiplier outside a range of five miles is unlikely.
If I'm not hearing the multiplier then I'm not working the multiplier. My personalized band map is 'who' was heard relative to my QTH. Likewise siphoning network spots is a time expense drawn from the contesting budget. Time was saved using this type of band mapping technique as an L4 station.
What worked for me? Splitting VFO A as CQ VFO and VFO B as SP VFO. I determined using N1MM statistical analysis early in Sweepstakes that SP rate of return exceeded CQ rate of return. I chose high edge on the band when calling CQ. Bandwidth tends to favor L3, 4 stations higher in the bands. Likewise I maintained my personalized band map on the SP VFO and periodically checked my CQ VFO.
Age is a factor and contesting is much like running a marathon. I made a golden mistake Saturday night. Fatigue hit me like a hammer and I hit the rack around nine o'clock. I was up at one o'clock in the morning on 80m. And ran out of gas by noon on Sunday.
Sleep management is really important!
Each successful RadioSport event adds a little more experience. And Sweepstakes 75 was a great teacher.
- Know your station strength and weakness.
- Focus your strategy on station strengths.
- Understand propagation relative to your location.
- Maximize available propagation information using a personalized band map.