[HCDX] Cape Cod Vacation DX Notes
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[HCDX] Cape Cod Vacation DX Notes
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- Subject: [HCDX] Cape Cod Vacation DX Notes
- From: Mark Connelly <MarkWA1ION@xxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 27 Aug 2001 10:25:00 -0700 (PDT)
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Cape Cod Vacation DX Notes: 21-24 AUG 2001
Mark Connelly, WA1ION
My wife, my son, and I spent four relaxing days (21-24 AUG) on
Cape Cod at my brother-in-law's place in East Harwich, MA.
Aside from beach-going, nightlife, fish dinners, shopping,
and other diversions, I managed to get some DXing and antenna
testing time in as well.
I'd promised Gerry Thomas a good "road test" of his Quantum QX Pro
loop antenna with its super-sized ferrite head and dual band (longwave,
medium wave) capability. Comparisons were made to the Kiwa loop
(which only covers MW). On medium wave, the Kiwa had SLIGHTLY
better signal-to-amp noise ratio on very weak signals but less overall
output level. With a less sensitive receiver, the QX Pro would
tend to be the winner; with a very sensitive receiver (optimally-
aligned R390A, Drake R8B with preamp on, etc.) the Kiwa would
have the narrow advantage. Both loops have regeneration which
can tighten bandwidth and increase output about 15 dB before
oscillation occurs or audio intelligibility degrades excessively.
Regeneration is very useful with Sony and Sangean portables not
having high sensitivity and great IF filters. With the better
tabletop receivers, you wouldn't use it as often. The East
Harwich location was RF-quiet for serious daytime sensitivity
tests that are difficult to do at home where a stew of local
electrical noises often dogs reception. Longwave performance
of the Quantum QX Pro was good: numerous US & Canadian aerobeacons
could be logged easily and European / N. African broadcasters
came in well at night.
The other big antenna experiment was with the "Phased Kaz" system.
I suspended the top of the Kaz delta with a nylon rope over the
top of a pitch pine tree near the north side of the house. The
dimensions of this antenna were larger than what I'd used at home
for previous testing. The base of the delta was 1.22 m / 4' off
the ground and had a length of 25 m / 82'. The vertical distance
from the midpoint of the base to the apex was 7 m / 23'. The
inverted vee top section, therefore, had an overall length of
28.66 m / 94' (14.33 m / 47' either side of the apex).
At each end of the two lower corners of the triangle, the base
wire and top wire leads were presented to inputs of a termination /
buffer amplifier box. Each of these two boxes consisted of a
selectable terminator (Vactrol or fixed 1K resistor), a 16:1
stepdown transformer (Mini-Circuits T16-6T-X65) to go from about
1K balanced down to about 62 ohms unbalanced, a 1:36 transformer
(Mini-Circuits T36-1-X65) to go up to about 2.2 K unbalanced, and a
high-impedance buffer amplifier card (BUF-E) containing a National
LM6221N integrated circuit. This buffer amplifier has negligible
loading (above 40K resistive, less than 15 pF capacitive) at its
input. The coaxial output of each box was capacitively coupled
to the buffer amplifier card 50-ohm RF output and choke-coupled
to the amplifier's power rail. Each box's Vactrol control was
via a separate terminal fed by wire placed along the ground next
to the coaxial feeder.
In the house I used a dual controller having 1K 10-turn pots between
regulated 10 VDC and ground. This controller fed the two Vactrol
control lines. This unit also had chokes to put 12 VDC amplifier
supplies onto each of the coaxial feeders and capacitors to pass
RF to, and block DC from, the RF-out terminals. The two RF-out
lines were fed to a very simple phasing unit (DXP-3) ahead of the
Drake R8A receiver.
The Kaz antenna was positioned on an east-west axis. Coaxial
and control wires ran along the ground southeast towards the
house from the west end and southwest towards the house from
the east end. Lengths of each feed set-up were approximately
22 m / 72' give or take a bit. The signal received from the
terminator-amplifier box at the east end of the antenna exhibited
variable nulls of stations to the west (NYC, Providence, etc.)
as the bias on the west box VTL5C4 Vactrol was adjusted. In
the same manner, when listening to the signal from the west
box, nulls of eastern stations (Nova Scotia mostly) could be
observed to vary as the east box Vactrol bias was adjusted.
Even with each box set to a fixed 1K termination (rather than
using Vactrol control), substantial differences in pick-up could
be noted on the east box versus the west box.
Usually a fixed 1K termination provided nulls of about 10-15 dB
in a given direction (east +/- 30 degrees, west +/- 30 degrees).
Vactrol adjustment could get 25 dB or so null in some instances.
Things really got interesting when the two RF lines were phased.
Phasing most definitely "kicked it up a notch" (as the famous TV
chef says) with nulls of 40 dB or better on daytime groundwave
and frequently better than 25 dB on skip at night. Big "honkin'"
signals from New York stations on 660, 880, etc. could be dropped
right down into the mud. This large version of the Kaz antenna
with the buffer amplifiers was quite sensitive, perhaps on par
with Beverages. As a point of reference, it delivered a nice
fat S7-S8 noise-free signal on Turks & Caicos - 530 midday
groundwave when the Kiwa Loop was just yielding marginal audio
and the QX Pro barely raised the carrier over the front-end
As this was a family trip and not a DXpedition, I missed the
undoubtedly "primo" sunset openings. Even so, I had a great
deal of luck later at night on both medium-wave Transatlantics
and Latin Americans. The phased Kaz system "boogied": I suspect
that it could outdo the phased northeast and southeast slopers
that were my "top gun" antenna system in previous summers at the
East Harwich site. I left the two Vactrol control knob settings
at positions producing known daytime nulls of midband stations
(WINS-1010 to the west; CKBW-1000 to the east). Trying to adjust
these on night skip probably would have been counterproductive.
Anyway I had phasing for that ... and baby did that work like
a champ ! I'd walk up to one domestic pest after another, twist
the phaser controls, and ... bam ! ... away you go: US junk to
the background, foreign DX goodies to the front. The tight
cardioid pattern that the phased-Kaz produced was vastly more
useful than what any regular loop could offer.
The DX was fun in that I had not heard much out of Latin America
in months. I had not gone to Cape Cod for months either. Hardly
a coincidence. At home in Billerica, conditions almost always
"stink" for the LA's, but even the recent Rockport outings hadn't
yielded much beyond the usual blowtorches like Carupano-1110 and
Caracas-750. Oh what a pleasure to go back to East Harwich and
hear booming signals from the south of the sort seldom experienced
at or near home. It brought me back to the old days (1960's) when
I heard booming South Americans night after night during summer
stays in the Dennis - Yarmouth (Bass River) area and then I'd go
back home to Arlington, MA ... 15 km / 9 miles from my present
QTH ... to hear scarcely anything interesting from the tropics
for many months.
This time in E. Harwich I came very close to a log of Uruguay
(R. Independencia, CX50, Montevideo) on 1529.55. It had a strong
het and, during a lull in the combined strength of the 1530.0
Sao Tome / Vatican / WSAI jumble, some Spanish-language audio.
I don't think anyone in the USA has ever logged this: so far, in
recent history, there are only Newfie DXpedition loggings.
If somebody lived full-time on Cape Cod or on the coast of Maine
with a phased-Kaz system or Beverages, this and many other previous
"US-unheards" would be swiftly bagged. Remember the early /
mid-1980's when Neil Kazaross was in Ogunquit, ME (and also
Narragansett, RI) or the '70s with Marc DeLorenzo & Ernie Cooper
on Cape Cod, George Hakiel on Long Island, and Mike Dunn in Nova
Scotia ... truly the stuff of DX legends. Having a home at a
top-grade seaside location is vastly superior to having to
operate out of a car during hit-or-miss openings during possibly
dodgy weather to the accompaniment of conceivably unfriendly law
officers and other visitors.
Some of the other more interesting things noted during my trip:
Barbados tentative on 790; a Cuban Rebelde topping 810 instead
of expected Colombia or Puerto Rico; R. Calendario - 1020 popping
up during a fade of mighty R. Margarita (I was hoping for Nanduti
but no such luck); Dominican Republic on turbulent 580 (that had
Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and maybe Venezuela at other times);
Colombia - 730 going head-to-head with Charleston, SC; Dominican
Republic - 1040, unID Spanish with "Caribe" mentions on 850 duking
it out with semi-local WEEI; a Spanish-speaker on 620.28 that
may have been Central American (late reception time: 1008 UTC).
There was an assortment of unID hets of apparent Latin American
origin: these included 580.52, 627.5, 649, 652.5, an 812.9 to
813.3 wanderer, and 1041.22. I think a few of these have been
figured out previously by Terry Krueger and some of the other
south Florida guys, but I don't have the information at hand
European, North African, and Middle East stations were coming in
well up to about 1 a.m. local / 0500 UTC. I noted some of them in
the logbook, but since I'd been doing pretty well with these during
Rockport, MA DXpeditions earlier this summer, I spent less time
on these than on the South American and Caribbean area stations.
Loudest TA's were France - 1206 and 1377 all evening and Saudi
Arabia - 1521 at 0300 UTC sign-on. Nothing really rare or
different noted: sunset would have been more interesting, no
doubt. That's when I do best with the eastern Brazilians as
well. The southeast sloper used in prior summers worked magic
with these at sunset at East Harwich: sometime I'll have to
see if a phased-Kaz set-up can do the same.
All in all, it was a good time away from work and home, a chance
to "recharge the batteries" and include a bit of useful antenna
testing and DXing in the balanced mix of activities on old Cape
(A full loggings report and replies to numerous e-mail messages
should be completed in about 2 weeks.)
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