Top band DX-ing is real ham radio challenge. 160m is also referred as the "Gentleman's band"...
160 meters - DX-ing on the Edge...

Prosinec 2006

Low band noise problems...

30. prosince 2006 v 23:35 | Petr, OK1RP |  Technical topics
Noise flooding in suburban areas
In this world of microprocessor-based toys and gadgets, there are many sources of RF noise that find there way into the best shortwave receiver setup. While having a good quality receiver and antenna system is a great start, it will be well worth the effort to locate and reduce any local RF interference that you have control over.

Modern homes are flooded with devices that generate RF signals. Many small electronics devices are passed by the country Regulations for emmisions but they can still radiate RF for a short distance at levels your quality receiver will pick up. Here is a list of possible sources of noise:

* Florescent Lighting
* "Touch" Lamps - Even when the lamp is off, the control circuitry is still operating in the background and can generate RF noise.
* Automatic Outdoor Lights
* Automatic Indoor Night Lights
* Standard Light Bulb that is going bad
* Holiday / Christmas Tree Lighting
* Electric Blankets
* AC Powered Smoke Detectors
* Kitchen appliances
* Bug Zappers or Electronic Pest Control Devices
* Standard Electrical Switch that has bad contacts
* Televisions
* Radio / Police Scanners
* Bad Insulators on powerlines
* Computer Systems and Accessories
* Anything with an AC wall adapter - sometimes these wall adapters are poorly constructed and the diodes inside for DC conversion generate RF noise.
* Portable Games / Electronic Kids Toys
* If you live in an apartment, any one of the above mentioned items may be your cause.

Another source of noise not normally considered is the grounding in your antenna system. It is very convienent to have a ground rod mounted right next to your home but this may also be a source of noise coupled into your receiver. The above mentioned items may transfer noise into the AC wiring in your home and couple down to the ground rod you are using. This is especially true if your radio ground is in close proximity to the AC mains grounding system. You may want to consider mounting your ground rod as far from electrical noise sources as possible. Also it is highly recommended to use coax to feed your receiver from the longwire. Further improvements are to use a matching device like a longwire antenna match to improve reception.

The list goes on and on, but hopefully this will give you an idea of what to watch out for to enhance your listening enjoyment. These sames items also apply to the AM broadcast band as well.

You can make a simple detector by the use of a battery powered AM pocket radio set where there is no station (loudest background noise). When you get close to the noise source, you should here an increase in the background noise of the radio. Some noises are too small to detect this way and require a more sensitive detector to find the source but this is a good way to find most culprits of RF noise.
73 Petr, OK1RP

11th STEW PERRY TOPBAND DISTANCE CHALLENGE

30. prosince 2006 v 20:29 | Petr, OK1RP |  Home
RULES
11th STEW PERRY TOPBAND DISTANCE CHALLENGE

1. Contest period: 1500Z December 30th to 1500Z December 31st, 2006. Operate for a maximum of 14 hours. Off times are 30 minutes minimumand a maximum of four off periods are permitted.

2. Bands and mode: 160 meters CW only.

3. Categories: Single operator or multi-operator. Remote or Cluster spotting shall not be used. All transmitting and receiving antennas used must be within 100 km of each other.

4. Exchange: Four character grid square (i.e. CN85).

5. QSO Points: The number of QSO points for each contact depends on the distance between the two stations. This is computed by taking the distance between the centers of the two grid squares. Count a minimum of one point per QSO and an additional point for every 500 kilometers distance. For example, a QSO with a station 1750 kilometers away will count for 4 QSO points. No additional distance for long path is allowed.

QSO Points are multiplied by 2X if you work a low power station and 4X for working a QRP station. This is done based upon received logs and is computed automatically during the log checking process.

Do not worry if your logging software does not compute the QSO points. Our automated log checking software does this.

6. Score: Final score equals the total number of QSO points. There is no multiplier for different grids worked. Stations running 5 to 100 watts output multiply their score by 2. Stations running less than 5 watts multiply their score by 4. Scores will be grouped by category.

7. Reporting: Your log can be sent via the internet to TBDC@CONTESTING.COM using the Cabrillo format before January 31st, 2007. Paper entries can be mailed to BARC 15125 SE Bartell Rd; Boring, OR 97009. If possible, please provide an electronic copy of your log. You can use the tool INSTEW.EXE to generate a Cabrillo log from your paper log. It can be found at http://web.jzap.com/k7rat/stew.html.

8. Plaques will be awarded for categories we have sponsors for. To volunteer to sponsor a plaque, contact Lew Sayre, W7EW at Lew@dsl-only.net. A list of the plaques sponsored can be found on the web at http://jzap.com/k7rat/stew.html. Certificates will also be sent to the high scores in each grid field (first two letters of the grid). This service is provided by Jim, K1PX.

9. Results are published on the web in September or October. Look for an announcement on the topband and contest reflectors.
...so do not worry that You have not kW and Beverages in 30 deg each and lets go on Top band now!
73 Petr, OK1RP

Receiving loops - part III. (by Bob, GU4YOX)

30. prosince 2006 v 19:40 | Petr, OK1RP |  Antennas
GU4YOX Shielded Loop for 160M
I have suffered from high noise levels on 160M for years, with 9+20 being usual. The source of noise is unknown but I think it is just an electrically noisy location on topband. I'm around 10 wavelengths from the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast of Guernsey and it is largely a rural area with some small growing businesses nearby. About 4 years ago, I managed to run two Beverage antennas to the south and west which have enabled me to work many new countries on 160M. I specifically recall in October 2004 being called by KH6AT and KH6ZM for new countries and States for me. This is a difficult shot from Western Europe and I really enjoyed my time at work that day. The volume was very high and the noise just bearable on the Beverage antennas. I use a Yaesu FT1000MP Mk V and a VL1000 Amplifier usually, and my transmit antenna is an Inverted L. This can be anywhere between 45' and 86' high, dependant on weather conditions. There is around 4500' of ground radials connected to the base of the antenna assembly.
I have read with great interest many articles and heard several stories regarding loops and I thought I would try my own out as an extra string to my bow for CQWW 160M in January 2006. Well, I finished it in time and it worked a treat for me with good results. I managed to log 963 QSO's of which over 300+ were with US stations (Thanks!). So how is a loop like this constructed ? Let me explain how I built mine for simplicity and solid construction.
Firstly, I was given some ex-GSM antenna coax LDF5-50 This is a heliax antenna type coax of 50 ohm impedance and it is solid in construction. Its loss characteristics are excellent and it is not that difficult to obtain a short length to make a loop like the one I describe. I used a 20' length in total and formed it into a circle, taking care not to get the shape un-circular. The diameter is just over 6' when the loop is closed. The loop was measured exactly for its centre point and at the top of the loop a 1" section cut out of the outer conductor only.
The loop of coax was then secured to a timber 2" x 2" cross frame assembly and clipped with plastic cable clips (available from your electrical wholesaler or horticultural stockist). I screwed the clips using stainless steel screws as the salt air in Guernsey can corrode galvanised components easily. The bottom of the loop is comprised of a 6" x 6" galvanised box which can accommodate a pre-amplifier in the future if required. I used some 28-42 mm plastic weather sealing glands to stop the rain getting in. Across the two inner cores of the coax is around 1000pf of capacitance at setting value. I used two 300-1000pf trimmer capacitors in parallel and tuning was carried out later. The outer sheaths are connected together and to the coax back to the Rx. The inner core is also connected to the inner of the coax back to the Rx as can be seen in the photos below.
When your loop has been constructed and you are ready to tune the loop, I found it easier to take a very long 2 core cable out plugged into the headphones whilst tuning the loop for a peak "noise" in the middle of the day. You could also use hand held or GSM phones if you have "Free" minutes on a couple of mobiles! Anyway, it will tune for maximum noise and that is where to finally leave the setting. I used 50 ohm coax back to the shack and I did not have any broadcast interference problems with the loop. I select the Rx button on the Mk V and select between Beverages and the Loop. The loop is by far the quietest and the signal levels only drop around 20dB. I showed my friend and great DXer Mike GU4EON and he could not believe the difference from the Inv-L. I also mounted a rotator on the ground post and it did not seem to make any noticeable difference except for reducing noise. Noise was loudest end firing and this tended to be towards the house area. I left it perpendicular to the house end firing to the US and EU.
There is nothing original here, it just works for me .Good Luck with your new loop!
73 Bob, GU4YOX
...will be continued

Receiving loops - part II. (comments by Tom, W8JI)

30. prosince 2006 v 19:21 | Petr, OK1RP |  Antennas
There is an unorthodox connection method shown in Merv, K9FD article.
While the loop might indeed receive signal, this would not
be a very desirable connection arrangement.

If you look, the inner wire make a complete circle with both
ends tying to the feed.

The result of this is unbalanced currents caused by physical
imperfections would primarily excite the feedline, not the
desired predictable loop currents!

A better arrangement would be the inner conductor grounded
to the loop shield at the return point through a capacitor,
so the parallel capacitor causes a high impedance parallel
circuit across the coax and the capacitor to ground causes a
series effect. The ratio of those two capacitors in
combination with resonating the center coupling wire would
set the SWR. The other circuit may work after a fashion
through accident, but it would depend on having accidental
balance errors to work.

73 Tom, W8JI
...for more information please visit web pages of Tom, W8JI on http://www.w8ji.com/magnetic_receiving_loops.htm where You can find more details about the shielding, balance, impedance, feed line etc.
...will be continued

Receiving loops - part I. (by Merv, K9FD)

30. prosince 2006 v 19:07 | Petr, OK1RP |  Antennas
Hi,
one of the best chance how to improve the receiving performance in suburban areas where is not possible to install Beverages or even Delta etc. is making the receiving loop.
Which design, which size, how to make it, is the pre-amp needed and other FAQ I will try to reply in an articles about the receiving loops as follows...
Be sure that I tested all of them step by step and performed very well. I will try to put some comments for each nor let You know how it worked in my QTH.
The K9FD Receiving Loopby Merv Schweigert, K9FD

Editor's note: Merv Schweigert, K9FD, has been working jusl about everything on the 40, 80 and 160 meter band" this season. In this article he shares some of his experiences with receiving antennas. lf you live on a typica! suburban lot you might want to read this article carefully as you won't need forty acres to use this antenna. A few months ago I lost access to my faim neighbor's corn field that I used to utilize for Beverage antennas in the winter months. In the past I would erect a few terminated Beverage antennas towards the east and south to enhance my receiving capability on the low frequency bands. After losing this superior receiving capability, I set out to find some kind of replacement system that would again allow me to be viable on the low bands.
Early Receiving Antenna Trials
My first attempt at improved reception was a low dipole for 160 meters. This antenna was installed at the 8' level. After trying it for a few months, I abandoned it as copy was typically better on my transmit antenna, an inverted L at 75'. The search for Q5 copy continued.

My next receiving antenna project was a 2 wire Beverage that is described in the Beverage Antenna Handbook, written by Victor Misek, W1WCR. This antenna is 238' long with the wires about 6' off the ground and utilizes a tuning network that changes the phase angle to null the noise off the rear. This antenna worked fairly well, to the south, but because of some power line noise to the north that always seemed to surface as I was trying to make a DX contact this system was also setaside.

The third attempt at improving my receiving capability was to try a receiving loop. My information said that the loop has a terrific null off of the side and if shielded can be quite effective. The first receiving loop I tried was made with RG-59 coax, as recommended and it did work rather well. You could rotate the loop and null the noise down to zero and still hear signals. The problem that I encountered with loop nr.l was that the signal strength was low and a preamp would be required to correct this condition. When you run a kilowatt in close proximity to a loop you can imagine what will happen to the preamp unless switching considerations are taken. This switching concept is certainly possible, but a more elegant solution with less complexity was tried.

The next loop I constructed was similar to the RG-59 loop except that I used 3/4" 75 ohm TV hardline in the construction. This cable has a much larger center conductor. I am very much impressed with the results. The signal gain is much better than the RG-59 loop and no preamp is required. This loop works well on nulling powerline noise and can also help you null out the noise produced by approaching thunder storms.
Update: Some readers complained about the loop wiring. The wiring is as just the same, as in other loop antennas. The coax braids are connected via the small metal box. I suggest to mount PL-259 connectors on each end of the hardline, if a 1/2" hardline is used, it is quite easy. Mount 3 pieces of SO-239 receptacles into metal box and finished!
And what new is on this antenna? Such loops are mostly made of a length of RG-58 on a wooden cross arm holder. This loop is made of TV hardline and is nearly circular. The result is much stronger output, therefore no preamp needed!
Constructing the Loop
This receiving loop is constructed from a 20' long length if 3/4" diameter 75 obm cable TV hardline. Form the length into a circle and using a pipe cutter, cut through the shield at the top center of the loop in two places about 1" apart. Then, using a hacksaw, carefully split the 1" section from the hardline and peel it off. To strengthen this gap, place a 6" long piece of (split) 1" PVC pipe over the gap and secure it to the cable using a couple of hose clamps.

You can house the trimmer capacitor in either a metal or plastic enclosure. Use a grid dip meter to tune the loop for resonance on the band of your choice. I used a 400 pf. fixed mica capacitor with a 400 pf trimmer in parallel for the system at K9FD. Conclusion - In using this loop I sometimes see some directive properties on DX signals. Some publications say that the loop is omnidirectional to sky wave and only has directional properties to local noise. I have no answer to this as it is not apparent on every DX signal. What I do know is that the use of the 3/4" diameter 75 ohm cable TV hardline for constructing the loop receiving antenna makes a huge difference.

You will also find that the hardline loop will require less of a support structure. When placing your loop in your yard try to locate it as far away from your transmit antenna and other structures as much as possible.

This antenna is not a substitute for an 80 acre Beverage farm, but if you are on a small lot and are plagued by power line or other man made noise this receiving loop will improve your receiving capability on the low frequency bands. You won't work all of the DX, but you will get a much bigger share than before.
73 Merv, K9FD
(orig.published in The Low Band Monitor in Nov 1994)
...will be continued

Japanesse evenning on 160m

27. prosince 2006 v 23:50 | Petr, OK1RP |  Band reports
Hi,
nice conditions to Japan on Top band makes chance to lot of Europeans work there mni of JA's this evenning.
Map of Japan
...JA6GCE, JH2FXK, JA5BIN, JA5DQH, JA4LKB, JA3FYC and mni others are active on the 160m band now around 22:30Z.
Just for example at 22:20Z on 1811.6 I heard JA6GCE giving CQ with 579 sigs on my Mini Diamond, W2PM receiving antenna and even on low and noisy linear loaded inverted V up 6m only I copied him 349.
73, Petr OK1RP

Merry Christmas !

24. prosince 2006 v 16:34 | Petr, OK1RP |  Home
Dears,
Christmas event coming quickly...
(in European countries even this evenning on 24th Dec) so I hope that You have everything arranged...
and ready for Santa Claus (Noel, Jezisek etc.) visiting at Your home as he is on the way already...
I would like to wish the MERRY and HAPPY CHRISTMAS, healthy and relax time with family and if You was quite nice...
then even some xmas gifts for You !
Best regards,
73 and DX on Top band,
Petr OK1RP

World's Top Band DXCC ranking updated...

19. prosince 2006 v 23:42 | Petr, OK1RP |  Home
Hi Topbanders,
I have to say that the Top Band DXCC rank is changed on the top place and I am happy to send big congratulation to Jarda, OK1RD who beated "big" John, ON4UN in the World's Top Band DXCC/Europe ranking after long time !
Wow, 298 DXCC countries in 40 zones on Top Band, CW…is it dream or what? No, its not the dream, just hard work, lot of work hours on an antennas, hardware etc. instead of TV watching. Big investment of the own holiday time, relaxing time and mainly family time to the ham radio hobby which giving results like that.
Some weeks ago I wrote there on the blog about The 4SQR for 160m a'la K8UR by OK1RD. Well it's the part of his antennas field. If You are interested in more informations nor details then do not hesitate to visit www.ok1rd.com.
My big congratulation to Jarda, OK1RD again and see You soon on the air,
73, Petr OK1RP

1A4A - The Sovereign Military Order of Malta

18. prosince 2006 v 13:10 | Petr, OK1RP |  Band reports
1A4A - The Sovereign Military Order of Malta
Photo
1A4A : Starting from Jan 2007 a new Amateur Radio Station license has been issued from the SMOM, The Sovereign Military Order of Malta. The license is hold from the S.M.O.M. and its managing is in charge to Giorgio IZ4AKS. The first activity of this station will be from 2 January 2007 to 8 January 2007, from the extraterritorial zone of the Magistral Villa on the Aventine hill in Rome. The operators are IZ4AKS, IZ4DPV, I4UFH, IK4UPB and HV5PUL (IW0DJB). Activity will cover from 2m to 160m, SSB/CW/RTTY mode. Three stations will be active at same time, DX areas, as Japan, South America and West coast, especially on lowest bands will be empathized.
QSL MANAGER: IZ4DPV MASSIMO CORTESI - P.O.BOX 24 - 47100 FORLI' CENTRO (FC) - ITALY.
Magistral Villa
The license has been granted into a fundraising program to support the worldwide relief activityes of the Order of Malta. The Order follows its historic hospitaller mission providing help to the needy and the sick. Today the Order of Malta is a major global, professional organisation in terms of the humanitarian aid, medical care and emergency medicine it provides, in its management of hospitals, specialised homes for dependent elderly people, socio-medical care centres, the collection and transporting of medicines and the training of workers and ambulance staff. The Order currently has medical and humanitarian programmes in more than 120 countries.

1A4A (One Aid 4 Africa) first activity is finalized to collect founds to build a school for young girls, as part of a support plan for the rebirth of South Sudan, coordinated by the Order of Malta, together with the Italian govern.
Below is the results of poll by S.M.O.M - interesting for TOP banders, isn't it?
Question
In witch band do You need a QSO with 1A4A?

Answers
- 160 mts (67 votes)
- 80 mts (50 votes)
- 40 mts (29 votes)
- 30 mts (43 votes)
- 20 mts (38 votes)
- 17 mts (39 votes)
- 15 mts (37 votes)
- 12 mts (40 votes)
- 10 mts (25 votes)
- 6 mts (44 votes)

Total votes
412 (updated till 18Dec2006)

Chart
160m 80m 40m 30m 20m 17m 15m 12m 10m 6m
Updated information's and details about the DXPedition could be found at www.1a4a.org.
To know more about The Order Of Malta, visit www.orderofmalta.org .
73, Petr OK1RP

YV1NX on 160m - 18Dec06

18. prosince 2006 v 3:44 | Petr, OK1RP |  Band reports
Hi,
at this moment is 18Dec06, 02:25U and on 1832.1 kHz is YV1NX.
Who is YV1NX? F.Fergus Walshe operating from now on 160m band from Zulia, Venezuela. Fergus is great CW operator, member of FOC and excellent friend. Its pleasure to work him anytime on the air specially on low bands. He is able to producing for example on 40m so good signal that he is readable on low dipole as local station.
Well, tonite I am flustrated as my receiving antennas are out of order and I am not able to hear him enough on low inverted V to seriously thinking about QSO with Fergus. Just partly "229" I heard his few beeps on frequency. Also Fergus giving longer time CQ with no takers so seems that not so mni op's reading his sigs.
If You are not able to hear him then let's try to QSY to 1836. There is Tom, W8JI ! Yes, big Tom - low band guru and TOP band "Mr." operator.
Best regards,
Petr, OK1RP

Telescoping Fiberglass Mast - part IV. (addition)

18. prosince 2006 v 3:30 | Petr, OK1RP |  Antennas
Hi,
as I promised last time I am continue looking for another suppliers nor chance to get another source for Fiberglass masts or poles to use it as support of receiving Delta or inverted L etc.
Well last week I found few another nice opportunities and an article is under preparation now. Also I got few good tips from friends using the Fiberglass materials for their different hobby.
Another tips comes from Tod, K0TO:
I had the good fortune to acquire about 15 windsurfer fiberglass masts a low cost when a manufacturer discontinued operation. The bases accommodate a 2 inch diameter aluminum tube. The mast (which is tapered) comes in two 8 foot pieces and is just about 16 feet when assembled. It is possible [since I do it] to combine two of the masts to achieve heights of 27 feet or more. I use such a combination as the central support for my dual K9AY loops.

The opening at the top is larger than 1 inch. The wall thickness is at least 1/8 inch.

I suspect that such mast sections may be available in other places. The rather nice thing is that they break down to 8 foot sections which can be shipped or transported easily. However, I would not choose to use such a mast as the vertical support for an inverted L without using back guys.

Additional sources of large diameter fiberglass tubes are high school or college track teams. The pole vaulters train using 2 inch diameter poles that are not tapered and are longer than 8 feet. I was given 'discards' by the local high school and find that one can make them longer by finding aluminum inserts that can be epoxied into one end of the tube and which allow another tube base to slide over them. Again, although the poles are quite strong (but flexible), rational guying is desirable.

Tod, K0TO
I will be happy to get any comments from You as for sure You have also some good ideas about the supports for inverted L, Delta's etc.
Best regards,
Petr, OK1RP

Telescoping Fiberglass Mast - part III. by Gary, K9AY

12. prosince 2006 v 0:27 | Petr, OK1RP |  Antennas
Hi folks,
well as the last part of the Telescoping Fiberglass Mast suppliers tour You can read some comments and recommendations from Gary, K9AY as follows...
Gary, K9AY wrote:
I have used fiberglass poles for antennas since 1972 -- here a few notes from my experience:

1. Yes, only a few types of fiberglass poles will handle a large side load such as the top wire of an inverted-L. Some that are sufficiently strong include masts from The Mast Company
which You can find there:
and wind sock poles from companies like Jackite
which You can find there:
They have 28 and 31 foot poles, as well as shorter ones. Of the easy-to-find 20-ft fishing poles, the graphite SD-20 from South Bend is probably the strongest -- I've used these for the top 20 feet of portable DXpedition inv-Ls with aluminum tubing bottom sections and a #18 top wire.
I have also made sturdy masts using telescoping 1/8" wall fiberglass tubing sections from Max-Gain
which You can reach there:
www.mgs4u.com

2. Even the lightest poles like the MFJ 33-footer are OK for verticals if you run the wire inside. Cut back the tip section until you expose a large enough inside diameter to push the wire through. I've used #18 and #14 bare copper wire and 1/8" flat braid as the conductor. The size of the wire makes little difference if the full length of the antenna is the same size wire. But, when the pole with inside wire is beyond a loading coil, the greater capacitance of larger size wire or braid will reduce the required loading coil inductance. Over the years, I've made three 2-element "short-forty" beams using SD-20 or similar poles. The first was up 4 years in Colorado with no problems. The current generation model was up for 3 years in GA and is waiting to be installed again here in WI.

3. The only "trick" I've developed is epoxying a short section of aluminum tubing over the thick end of the fiberglass pole. This provides reinforcement and gives you a standard-size interface to mounting hardware or additional lengths of aluminum tubing. This and other notes were published in QRP Quarterly -- Winter and Summer 2006 issues.

73, Gary
K9AY
OK guys > still You have not enough sources nor informations to find Your favourable supplier to buy and make some Flag, Inverted L or top loaded vertical antenna to be QRV on 160m ? When I will find some another supplier or interesting informations then I will put it over here.
For more discussion You can check the Top band mailing list. Do not hesitate to ask me if any quoestions or I will be happy to read Your experiences, comments, tips, tricks, hints or what ever...
Best 73 Petr, OK1RP

Telescoping Fiberglass Mast - part II.

11. prosince 2006 v 23:52 | Petr, OK1RP |  Antennas
Hi folks,
well lets continue with the Telescoping Fiberglass Masts suppliers tour over here...

Custom Telescoping Poles and Adjustable Masts
8' to 40' Fiberglass Pole for , Antennas, Ham Radio, Wireless operations, Camera & Video equipment, Signal Pole for Emergency and React Teams, etc*.

Features:
  • Retracted size 8', extended size 40'.
  • Circumferentially wrapped fiberglass.
  • Twist lock handles for height adjustment
  • Weights only 14 lbs.
  • Ships UPS

    This pole is used by Ham Radio persons, and others who have a need for a pole that will telescope from 8' to 40'. If the pole will be erected for permanent use it is advisable to pin open the sections to prevent slippage over time due to weather, use, or other site conditions.
    We recommended that you guy this pole, and do not raise it within the fall line of persons or property.
40 foot hight Wonder Pole
According to all informations which is possible to find on the web pages of the supplier it sound as strongest Fiberglass mast we talked about untill now. Its different colapsing system (not the fishing one) The bending is expected in high wind also but it will not be in top section as preview ones but a bit of all pole.
Telescoping Wonder Poles are super strong.
6-ply Laminate Lay Up
Engineered Composite.
Only the Wonder Pole is
Our exclusive "Circ" wound poles are the strongest in the industry. The method of construction prohibits the line cracking of the fiberglass pole which is common in poles with only longitudinal strands. Like a crack in your windshield, it will keep going until the pole fails. The Wonder Pole will not. The high quality Nexus® Veil prevents fiber bloom (fiberglass slivers). We also include a UV inhibitor. Our "Sure Lock" grips are factory molded, and press fitted on the pole. No glue or rivets are used to hold the fittings on the pole. Wonder Pole®, the best fiberglass telescopic pole made today.
Telescopic nesting sections use no glue.
"Sure Lock" grips for instant adjustment to variable heights. Stop markers indicate maximum draw length of each section of the pole. Nesting sections provide for fast take down and storage of the Wonder Pole®
As I checked all of the versions they are producing the best one should be
8' closed opens to 40' High - In Stock
(2" base, six sections, top mast 3/4")
Well the price is quite different from preview ones as it cost 250USD + shipping but the performance seems to be the class higher and also reports sounds pretty good. You will have what You paid...
Mike, W4EF wrote about that:
I bought one of these Wonder Pole recently to hold up the far end of my top loading wire for my 160 meter inverted-L.
It is a bit flimsy when fully extended to 40', but not so bad that it wouldn't hold if my top loading wire without guying. If you partially extend each telescoping section the mast is pretty stiff. The great thing is that each section has a knurled twist-lock so the sections won't collapse if there is significant vertical load. I keep my extended about 20' in case the Santa Ana winds kick up while I am at work. If I want to do some serious topbanding, I can have it fully extended to 40' in a few minutes (mine is setup on my 2nd story front-porch so the overall height is ~50' when fully extended).

I just got mine, so I can't report on longevity in the California sun and smog yet. BTW, be prepared to spend some money. These things aren't cheap.

73, Mike W4EF
OK, somebody will not like that as its a bit expensive and also it will be bended completelly in windy WX so it will not hold the wires enough...
Telescopic Wonder Pole in storm.
But if somebody would like to read more about then do not hesitate go to: http://www.wonderpole.com/custom_telescoping_poles.html
Banax Fiberglass - TELOSCOPIC RODS & POLES Series : REACHMASTER 9M POLE
Another chance to put up Your Inverted L or another antennas is to use telescopic rods from Banax.
Not native to Australian fishing, telescopic poles are favoured by both Asian and European anglers and are now widely used in Australia. These poles are high quality, at very modest prices. As a rule of thumb the sections are generally 1m long - so 7 sections = 7 metres, 9 sections = 9m. The graphite composite sections are light and strong. Note: Telescopic poles are not warranted and replacement tubes are not available.
The only one advantage of that is the price (35USD) as the top section has few milimeters also and tickness will not be much. There is not so many informations on the web pages as its originally used for fishing but lets try to check:
The bending of that 9m pole will be probably high on the top (just few milimeters top section) when side loaded by wire but what can be helpfull is to not use last 1-2 sections (it will make just 7m height only) and use it as support of the Flag for receiving on 160m. There is 5.2m neccessary height so 6-7m pole is OK for sure.
will continue...
73, Petr OK1RP

Telescoping Fiberglass Mast - part I.

11. prosince 2006 v 22:18 | Petr, OK1RP |  Antennas
Hi folks,
as most of TOP banders also I am looking long time for usable material to make some support for receiving nor even transmitting antennas on 160m. Well on the market is possible to buy lot of fishing poles where its possible to put it up to 12m but most of them has pretty low tickness of last few sections and also it has only few millimeters which makes big bending of that end.
Just a few days ago I started very interesting discussion on Top band mailing list by replying to Dave's, WX7G email as follows...
Dave,
as I am looking long time for usable mast for flag RX ant I am interested in that. BUT what about bending the smallest part ? Is it enough thickness over there?
Petr, OK1RP

> ------------ Původní zpráva ------------
> Od: <Telegrapher9@aol.com>
> Předmět: Re: Topband: Telescoping Fiberglass Mast
> Datum: 08.12.2006 12:21:01
> ----------------------------------------
> Mike,
> The Wireman stocks two lengths of the Spiderbeam fiberglass masts. 40' and 60' for $99 and $279. I recently bought the 40' version and I am very impressed with it. I plan to buy the 60' and give it a try. They can be extended to a shorter length of course.
> Dave WX7G
Dave, replied to me an interesting informations...
Petr,
the 12 meter mast is made up of 12 sections. The top section has a diameter of 8 mm. The bottom section diameter is 55 mm. The wall thickness of each section is 1.4 to 2.0 mm. There is no wind survival rating on this mast. And, the sections do not lock - they stay where they are by friction and it is reported that the sections will loosen in a wind. I bought it for something that can be pushed up and used on a few hours and then taken down. The mount the mast I use two 2" I.D. PVC couplers that are bolted to the fence. The mast simply slips through these and is secured. If a wind comes up and blows the thing over it will remain on my property and I don't expect that it will damage anything. So I put it up without guy wires and hope for the best. The 18 meter mast is made up of 12 sections, with the top section having a diameter of 3 mm. That is thin and even for a thin vertical wire I might not extend the upper section. To put the 12 meter mast on 160 meters I slipped a thin PVC T on top. I drilled holes 7.5 cm apart on the horizontal part of the T and ran two #26 AWG wires into the shack window. These terminate into a 75 uH inductor sitting on the desk and then into an MFJ tuner. The six 15 meter radials terminate into a 30 uH inductor sitting on the desk and then into an MFJ tuner having a ground tuning feature. Measurements show a radiation efficiency of 15%. Good enough for what it is. I have adjust one of the MFJ tuner knobs every 10 kHz.
73, Dave WX7G
Spiderbeam Fiberglass Mast
Well, if anybody would like to check this product then here is a link to the Spiderbeam page:
Spiderbeam HD 12m fiberglass pole
I can recommend the 12m version as it has still 8mm diameter/1.4mm thickness of the top section and the price is still resonable. More detailed parameters as follows:
High strength professional telescopic fiberglass pole
fully extracted length (height)
12m (40ft)
transportation length1.18m (3ft 10")
weight
3.3kg (7lbs)
bottom diameter55mm (2 1/6")
top diameter8mm (1/3")
wall thickness1.4mm - 2mm
(1/18" - 1/12")
number of segments12
pole materialblack fiberglass, UV protected
specially reinforced multilayer winding
The most interesting informations are that even the top segment is 8mm in diameter (and 1.4mm wall thickness), so the poles can be used to their full 12m length - unlike other poles where the top segment is very thin as a whip. During our tests we were able to put 80m inv vee dipoles (made from 1mm diameter enameled copper wire (AWG 18) and open wire feedline) right at the top of the 12m pole.. No way you can do this with a regular "fishing rod"! At 9-10m height, the poles can easily support small VHF / UHF yagis.
OK, its the Spiderbeam supplier but what about others?
Another possibility is the Kelemenantennen Fiberglas Mast supplier in Germany.
mast glass fiber 12 m
Item N°: GFK-MAST-12
Mast is made of glass fiber for light antennas
hight: 12 m
12 x 1,10 m segments
length for transport: 1,18 m
weight: approx. 3 kg
diameter at the top: 9 mm
diameter at the bottom: 53 mm
As You can see its the 12m Fiberglass mast also where few parameters are a bit different. Last top section has still 9mm (instead of 8mm in Spiderbeam mast) but no tickness info on web pages.
The concept of the mast and even the design seems to be the same. Also there the bending at the top part is expected. More informations You can find there:
http://www.kelemenantennen.de/Kelemen-Shop_eng/index.html
Third supplier of the Fiberglass Masts by DK9SQ.
image14.jpg (100573 Byte)
This version of the Telescoping Fiberglass mast has 10m. The same design and diameters of the top and bottom sections sounds like its made by one manufacturer only.
image27.jpg (100005 Byte)
I have purchased two masts few years ago and from my experience I can not recommend to use as support of an Inverted L or the vertical for permanent usage. The bending of the last few meters is so big that in the windy WX will be 40% of the mast bended down. Well maybe for short mast to support Flag in 5.2m height should be usable but I did not tried.
Price of the both preview masts is quite same for 12m version. In case of the DK9SQ the price is couple Euro higher but for 10m mast only.
Informations for that mast You can find (in German) there:
http://www.qsl.net/dk9sq/
OK, its all for part I. about the Fiberglass poles. I am promissing that it will continue in part II. with another suppliers. Finally we will find good pole for our receiving Flags or even for Inverted V nor verticals on 160m...
73, Petr OK1RP

TOP Band Contests records by Yuri, K3BU

11. prosince 2006 v 21:53 | Petr, OK1RP |  Home
Hi Gentlemen,
160 meter band, also known as a Top Band, bordering on medium waves, is the most difficult Ham band in HF spectrum. Plagued by atmospheric and man made noise, unpredictable propagation, it is the most challenging band to operate. Antennas and equipment require special considerations. Some (DXers) specialize in chasing the countries and zones, some (contesters) specialize in operating contests. While DXers are trying to work as many countries as possible and have no time limit, contesters have to work as many stations as possible in short time. Sometimes it takes few years trying to catch good propagation conditions during sunspot minima in order to beat that record. Here are the listings of the world's best Top Band operators researched and kept by Yuri Blanarovich, K3BU (also VE1BY, VE3BMV, C6AYB) e-mail K3BU
Top Band Contest records have been updated, including 2006 CQ WW 160 m Contest.

Please check it out at
http://members.aol.com/k3bu/160Records.htm

Congratulations to all the new record setters!

If there are any errors or omissions, please let me know.
Should we include 160m scores from M/M or any other new categories that are getting busy?

73 Yuri, K3BU@optonline.net

(original published in Topband mailing list)

A Practical Antenna for 160m by Alan, G4ERZ

3. prosince 2006 v 1:55 | Petr, OK1RP |  Antennas

A Practical Antenna for 160 Metres

Antenna for 160 Metres
This aerial is one I have used for top band (160 metres) - it was suggested to me by Alan G4ERZ, also of Hull.
It consists of 140 feet of insulated wire, the first half of which (70 feet) is space wound on an insulated tube. I used glass fibre tubing which was to hand, but PVC may be used also. My tube is 1 1/2 inches in diameter and about 5 feet 6 inches long. The turns are about 0.5 inches apart. The other 70 feet of wire acts as a loading wire and slope down from the top of the coil to near ground level. The system is coax fed to the base of the coil, with the shield or braiding going to earth.
It appears to work very well, apparently giving some horizontal and vertical polarisation.
One great advantage is the system can be tuned without having to lower the mast - by pruning the loading wire to resonate on the required part of the band. Bandwidth is also good - mine is about 30 kHz either side of resonance. I found the MFJ Antenna Analyzer MFJ-259 invaluable for this project, as well as many other experimental systems. Ensuring an efficient earth system will add to the effectiveness of the aerial I still have to improve my earth system, currently it consists of two 140 ft radials and connections to some buried guys stays. Alan, G4ERZ, has a far more elaborate and efficient ground and his results prove what we all know - the ground (or earth system) is all important. He is a tremendous signal on 160 DX wise. He still gets the same band width as I do, though.
I have worked a few DX stations with it since erecting it only a short while ago, and I think it has a lot to offer, especially for those of us blessed with relatively small gardens.
If you try this idea out, please let me know how you get on with it.
Alan, G4ERZ
(originaly published by Frank, G3YCC on his web pages)

The Myths of Low Band DXing by Gerry, VE6LB

3. prosince 2006 v 1:42 | Petr, OK1RP |  Operation topics
The Myths of Low Band DXing by Gerry, VE6LB
"VE6LB, you're 58 on Norfolk Island, over" "VK9NS, thanks Jim you're 59 here in Calgary, 73s". Sounds like a typical 20 meter exchange doesn't it? The exchange is typical, the DX is semi-rare, but the band is 80 meters.
I was surprised at the number of amateurs who have comment that they have never heard DX on 80 meters much less work any. The purpose of this article is to dispel some of the myths of working DX on the low bands.
As the sunspot cycle declines and propagation on the higher frequencies diminish, there will be more of an operating focus on the less solar effected low bands (40, 80 and 160 meters). The prospects for working DX on these bands will increase due to the increased activity, as the higher bands will be closed more often, and the lower atmospheric noise because of lower levels of solar activity. My examples will refer to 80 meters although the same basic apply to the other low bands.
Myths
There are a number of common myths about low band DXing that I hope to dispel. These are:
1. There is no (or little) DX on the low bands!
2. You need a big antenna and high power (it's only for the big guns) to work DX on the low bands!
3. DX is so scares that you need to spend many hour (mostly late at night) to find DX on the low bands!
4. Any DX to be found on the low bands is on CW!
5. There is no low band DX during the summer!
6. The low bands are too noisy to work DX!
Before attacking these myths, I'd like to relate my success in working DX on 80 meters with modest means.
Over the last three years, I've worked over 100 80 meter countries over all continents split about 40% SSB and 60% CW. The first 50 counties where worked with a garage roof mounted GAP DX VI and 100 watts. The balance where worked using and inverted "L" wire antenna stapled to our two story wood frame house with a wooden pole twelve feet long above the roof to get the antenna apex up to 35 feet. The balance of the antenna length, 30 feet, was tied back to the far end of the house at a slight downward angle. The power was also increased to 500 watts for the second (and tougher) 50 countries.
De-Myths
Now, to dispel the myths, point by point, and then provide some tips on low band DXing, then to get on with successful low band DXing.
1. There is a surprising amount of DX on the low bands, the secret is to know when and where to listen for it (this also applies to the high band). During the hour of darkness the low band are often open to various parts of the world depending on the time and season. More on this in the following tips.
2. Simple vertically polarized wire or tubing antenna, with a good ground, will do a surprisingly good job. The vertical polarization will provide a low angle of radiation and minimize the path losses to the DX station. These types of antennas will not be a star performers for short hop work.
3. You don't have spend your life in front of the rig to work low band DX (this applies equally to high band DXing). The secret is to make effective use of your time by being in front of your rig when there is a high probability of the DX also being there. By understanding propagation characteristics and the operating habits of your target DX you can be in the shack at the time when you have the best chance to work DX. It is true that to be wildly successful at low band DXing you will have to give up some sleep late at night and early in the morning to be at the rig. I had the good fortune to have a dog who understood my need to catch a few new ones and scratched at the door to go out in the wee hour. She became known locally as "the DX dog" as more often than not there was a new one on the air during her nocturnal trips.
4. There is lots of DX on both SSB and CW but you have to know where on the band to find them. On the low bands the DX frequents specific areas of the bands, sometimes by convention and in some countries, by regulation. More on this in the following tips.
5. There is considerable and unique DX on the low bands during the summer. Although the low bands are noisier due to summer static and electrical storms, there are still excellent openings especially in the morning hours when the bands quite down. Also, there is a different selection of DX opportunities in the summer due to the unique alignment of the Gray Line, and therefore the Global darkness pattern, compared to winter propagation patterns. Don't forget, Summer in North America is Winter in Australia.
6. Yes, the low bands are generally noisier than the higher bands but that noise comes from two sources. One being atmospheric noise, storms, static, etc. and the other being local man made noise. The good news is you can often reduce the man made noise with a bit of detective and corrective work. Much of the "noise" is man made and is likely within or near your home. In my case the major source of "noise" was a couple of older light dimmers that put out significant (S9 on 80) interference.
Tips to Successful Low Band DXing.
1. When to Listen:
Openings to South America and the Caribbean start at our sunset and continue until our or DX local sunrise. Openings to the Pacific start after our sunset and after sunset at the DX's location. The most valuable tool to predict when the band may be open in a computerized (DX Edge, Geoclock, Miniprop Plus, etc.) or paper (DX Edge) tools that shows the Gray Line. The Gray Line is the period of semi-darkness that is created as the Earth rotated from night to day and day to night. This Gray Line or "Terminator" changes with the seasons as the tilted axis Earth rotates around the Sun. This change in Gray Line patterns with the seasons has a major effect on what DX can be worked when.
2. Coincident Gray Line openings.
The optimum time to work East/West (including N/E, S/E, N/W and S/W) DX is when both ends of the path are in near darkness which is when they are both in their respective Gray Lines. This is due to a refraction effect in the Ionosphere that "ducts" the signals between the coincident Gray Lines. This includes the long path when, as an example, fall and early winter offers some great long path openings to Europe around our sunrise (their sunset).
3. Contests and DXpeditions:
Many times the low bands are open to some exotic location but due to their time of day, nobody is on the air. During contest and DXpeditions there are good opportunities to increase your low band country count as these operations are on the air at all hour and on all bands that are open. I've worked at least 50% of my low band DX during contests. These operators know when it is sunset/sunrise in North America and specifically look for us. "QRZ North America only" can be often heard from the DXpedition.
4. Low Band Openings:
The opening on the low band can be very localized. I have experienced many occasions when rare DX (eg. 6W6 or AH5) will be calling CQ and few or no stations coming back to them. In these cases, working them was quite easy.
5. Information Sources:
There are many good sources of information on DX. DX Packet Clusters, packet DX bulletins (LS DX), various general amateur publications (QST, CQ, etc.), DX bulletins and magazines (QRZ DX, DX Bulletin, DX Magazine, Canadx, etc.), DX Nets (INDEXA 14.236 @23:30Z daily) and on air discussions with other low banders.
6. Intelligence:
One sure way to improve your success in low band DXing is to gather as much intelligence about DX stations operating the low bands as possible. From various sources of information as discussed previously, determine the operating habits of the target DX, when and where they have been heard in your area, and plan your operating plan accordingly.
7. WWV:
Understand how the propagation information broadcast on WWV, at 18 minutes after the hour, effects the low bands. Basically a low K index (0-2) and quite or better solar forecast improves your chances of hearing low band DX.
8. Where to Find DX:
Low band DX can be found in very specific places on the band, more specifically than the higher bands.
On CW: Most DX frequent the every low end of the bands, usually the bottom 10 KHz. The exception to this is contests, where up to 30 KHz may be occupied and DXpeditions, which will specify specific frequencies.
On SSB: Most of the SSB DX operates in specific "window" in the low bands.
40: 7050 to 7100 but mostly nearer 7050 with the DX listening on their frequency and/or a declared split in the US phone band.
80: The DX window is 3790 to 3800 and this is where most of the activity happens. Many countries do not allow Amateur operation above 3800 KHz although some DX such as South America and some Pacific can be found above 3800 and down as low as 3775. The area of activity expands during contests.
160: 1800 to 1850 for both CW and SSB as many countries only allow amateur operation in this narrow window.
9. Noise: As mentioned earlier, noise can be a problem on the low bands. There are several ways to reduce the noise component of the wanted signal such as noise blankers, external (audio) bandbass/noise filters, adjustment of tone and IF shift controls. One trick is to run your AGC off or fast and turn back your RF gain. Also, the use of your highband antenna for receive can often improve the signal to noise ratio.
There is not a lot of information published about subjects related to low band DXing. The following is few publications that I have found useful, all of which are available from RAC:
- Low Band DXing by ON4UN
- All About Vertical Antenna Handbook by W6SAI/W2LX
- The Compete DXer by W9KNI
- Radio Frequency Interference: how to find it and fit it by ARRL
Similar operating strategies apply to the high band. In the last 3 years, I have been successful in working over 300 countries and 5BDXCC using simple wire and vertical antennas such as the R5/GAP and conservative power of 100 and 500 watts.
One of the greatest feeling, even for an old high band DX hound, is to work even a semi-rare one on 80 meters. It can be done and it doesn't take big antenna, high power or living in your shack. It does take working smart.
Happy and effective low band DXing.
Originally published in CQ, TCA and Key Klix in 1993/1994
Update: November 1997
Since this article was written in 1993 I have been focusing on 160 DXCC using for the last 2 Winters using an unmodified Cushcraft HF-2V with their 160 meter base load kit plus an AL80A linear. This antenna is commonly referred to by the Top Band community as a inefficient dummy load. To date I've managed 65 countries with the HF-2V plus 7 more since I've modified this antenna by adding a small "top hat" and an 8 foot section with a large loading coil near the top. The improvement has been dramatic in that I went from waiting in a pile-up until I was amongst the last to call and thereby had a clear frequency to being able to break European pie-ups in the first few calls. The good news is that this modest 160 antenna work much better than expected, I suspect largely due to the 20 32 foot radial around it's base. The bad news is that "DX Dog" doesn't have a clue about 160 propagation. On the odd occasion she does get me up in the middle of the night, 160 is barren. Must have been a single band dog.
The methods used on 160 are certainly the ones outlined above plus a few new ones learned such as timing your call to help the DX hear at least part of your call with a minimum of competition and calling a couple of hundred cycles high or low from the DX's frequency.
Update: October 1999
In June, 1999, VE6LB was awarded 160 DXCC #800, the 1st. VE6 to achieve 160 DXCC.
(published first by Gerry, VE6LB in CQ TCA and Key Klix 1993/1994)