Its been a great few weeks for DXing, despite continued low solar activity as we (hopefully) bottom-out of Solar Cycle 24. Recent articles in QST Magazine indicate Cycle 25 might be at our doorstep, but in the mean time reasonably good conditions have allowed many of us to add to our DXCC and CQ Zone counts.
** Wednesday Meeting 3/20/19 **
Many thanks to Rich, Lee, Steve and Glen for an enjoyable presentation last month on their DXpedition to Montserrat, including their entry in the 160M contest. Next Wednesday (March 20) from 7:00pm we will have the pleasure of hearing from Max (NG7M) about a number of topics: his RF-KIT QRO amplifier which he built last year, how to automate your station, and how to optimally ground & bond your equipment. Max has an informative YouTube channel, chock-full of helpful information, check it out:
** 7th Area QSO Party **
May 4-5 will be the annual running of the 7th Area QSO Party (7QP). Those who go out and participate always have a blast! Counties are multipliers, so small teams and single operators go out portable and mobile to activate counties: the rarer, the bigger the pileups! Combine this with some DX stations who are chasing US counties and it is a crazy fun contest! Last year our K7UM team took top score from the Utah/Wyoming corner, and many others in our club went out to activate many counties too.
PLEASE CONTACT ME with your plans for 7QP! I will try to coordinate those who are already planning to go out and seeking more operators, with those who are seeking a team to join. For more information, and to see which counties are planned / needed, go here:
** Calendar **
Many of us will be heading to the International DX Convention in Visalia California, which is being held during April 12-14. Its not too late to sign up if you are interested in attending.
Field Day is June 22-23. As with recent years the club will set up a modest two-station K7UM operation somewhere near the Wasatch Front. Location is yet TBD due to the significant snowpack this year. I know that many of our members are also active with their local radio clubs, and would encourage you to go out and support them on Field Day weekend by providing mentoring on portable HF operations, setting up FT8 in FD mode, CW skills, etc. For many amateurs Field Day is their first experience with HF and our UDXA members represent a deep well of experience for these clubs to draw from.
The ARRL Rocky Mountain Division Convention will be held at Weber State University on August 8th through 10th. There will be an all-day DX University workshop on Thursday the 8th with many of our club members presenting (separate registration and fee required). UDXA is also well represented with presenters at the Friday and Saturday sessions, and keynote speakers include Howard Michel (WB2ITX) ARRL’s CEO, and Bob Heil (K9EID). The convention will feature vendors, forums, a swap meet, test session, a special event station, the infamous Wouff Hong, and much more. Reasonable on-campus accommodations are available too.
** Other Club Activities & Resources **
The club has an active “Slack” online messaging community where we chat about what is happening on the bands. Please contact Bob (WR7Q) to get a login. It’s a terrific resource.
For those getting started with CW we will be trying a little on-air slow-speed practice session this Tuesday 3/19 on 3.555 MHz +/- from 8:00 pm. Please see my post to the e-mail reflector yesterday for details, or contact me for information on the format.
At Wednesday’s meeting we will be announcing what will be a fun on-air challenge for members of the club to participate in over the summer months. For now lets just say that it will be a unique group effort that will be greatly satisfying to all who participate.
** DXpeditions **
I know many in the club have been able to put some of the recent DXpeditions into the log the past month, including:
* Central Kiribati (T31EI)
* UA4WHX’s latest wanderings to Mayotte (FH) and Reunion (FR)
* Gabon (TR8CR)
There is some nice DX on the bands now, and coming up soon, including some fairly rare ones:
* Uganda (5X3C, 5X3E)
* Juan Fernandez (XR0ZRC)
* Myanmar (XZ2C)
* Lesotho (7P8LB)
* Togo (5V7EI)
And there seems to be a real chance that we will see another attempt at Bouvet within days as the 3Y0I “Rebels” are loading diesel into a ship in Capetown to get underway. The sense of our UDXA Board is to provide some financial support for this fickle group once we know the ship has actually sailed!
In the next few days the worldwide DX community will say farewell to Norbert (VK0AI) as he packs up from his nature work on very rare (Clublog #12) Macquarie Island. It may be a few years before this island is activated again.
** The Impact of FT8 on DXing & Spectrum Use **
As I write this there are three 20 meter segments with FT8 activity going on: the standard frequency of 14.074, the 5X3E Dxpedition on 14.080 and the 5V7EI Dxpedition on 14.083. The handwriting is clearly on the wall for more FT8 use in the RTTY segments of the voluntary ARRL band plan, and I wouldn't be surprised if WSJT-X updates include additional pass band settings on each band.
The DXpeditions are using Fox/Hound mode, clipping along at about 100 QSOs per hour as best I can determine – which is about the top rates achieved with a well-handled CW or SSB pileup. I’ve recently logged a bunch of DX on FT8 but to me I must say that the clicking and waiting on the computer to most of the work isn’t terribly rewarding. I would much rather log ‘em after participating in the hunt: figuring out where the DX is listening, finding quiet spots to call, timing my calls, etc.
Best 73 & see you on Wednesday evening.
John Mitton (KK7L)