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Friday, August 25, 2017

My favorite part of the DXpedition…


There are many phases to a successful Dxpedition. From the Idea or Concept phase, all the way through the planning and execution or operation phases ending with the wrap up or conclusion of the Dxpedition which culminates in the mailing of QSL cards, LoTW uploads and the preparation and storage of the equipment for the next Dxpedition.

My favorite phase of the Dxpedition takes place just after setup and operations begins. Typically, during my first 3-4 shifts on the bands, I am making notes of which bands are open to which continents during certain times. I really enjoy operating on the higher bands while my other team mates relish operating on 80 and 160 meters.

I love to watch the effect of propagation as it rolls like a large Ocean Wave from continent to continent. When operating from places in Africa, such as South Sudan and Eritrea, I have seen where at our sunrise, the propagation moves westward across the globe. Africa and Europe are open as the sun rises and within a few hours the first North and South American stations receive propagation. This was also apparent from Iraq in 2010 and Yemen in 2012. I noticed that as I was working stations in EU that every once in a while, I would hear a weak W1 or W2 station. Within a few hours, the W1, VE1 and W2 stations were almost as strong as the European stations. As the W1/W2 stations grow in strength, you begin to hear some W4, W3 and W8/W9 stations.

Soon, the signals from the East Coast peak and begin to fade as the W8/W9 signals become stronger. The effect of the Ocean Wave rolling westward continues and the W0/W5 signals begin to get stronger as the W1/W2 and W4 signals begin to fade. As my shift continues, I begin to hear the W6/W7 signals. From Africa and the Middle East, W6/W7 contacts are not strong and have only a very short window of propagation. As the W8/W9 signals are fading out the W6/W7 signals begin to peak. Within a short time, the W6/W7 signals are fading as the KH6 signals are becoming stronger.

When I operated from Myanmar in 2013 during the XZ1J Dxpedition, I saw much different propagation. Surprisingly, one of our toughest area to work on the high bands was the US West Coast. In contrast, we had very good long path openings just after our sunrise to the US East Coast. During those long path openings, propagation would move westward across the USA but would die out completely before it reached the US West Coast.

Sometimes, during a Dxpedition, we experience anomalous propagation behavior. During the VP8SGI Dxpedition, I was operating on ten meters SSB one late afternoon and I experienced several hours of “spotlight propagation” to North America. By spotlight propagation, I mean that the band was only open to small areas at any one time. Sometimes, the propagation was one way. I was hearing stations well that were calling me (split) but they were not always hearing me.

Some DXpeditioners become very distracted by the remote station users. They pause and think how can that be?  A station calling me with a strong signal when he should not have propagation?

Unless one has the database memorized, it’s not worth the time or effort to address the issue of remote users during the DXpediton. The ARRL has thoroughly covered this issue and I won’t address it further in this Blog entry.

So, for me, my favorite part of the Dxpedition is anticipating and experiencing the propagation band by band, day by day to see how it changes by time of day. While propagation can be predicted, many times I have seen where there were good openings where no opening was predicted.


What do you think?

from Mix ID 8229700

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