Hill vs. Ocean QTH - response summary (long)

K3BU at aol.com K3BU at aol.com
Wed Nov 13 23:44:50 EST 1996

Hill vs. Ocean QTH

Those are the notes I have received after posting the Hill vs. Ocean QTH,
which is better? We know that on VHF the hill is the answer. For low bands,
this is not that clear and has been "bothering " me for about 30 years. Just
as I was going to be "convinced" that ocean side QTH is the ONE, Milt N5IA/7
had some remarkable experiences from the Heliograph Hill in AZ. Unfortunately
he had to quit CQ WW phone 160 m operation due to destruction of his antennas
by snowstorm and ice. (See his story posted on Contest Reflector) So I
"opened" the case for the hill. I have strong feeling that it should have an
edge (we are talking hills over abt 6000 ft) over the ocean-side QTH. Then
comes IG9/IV3TAN with his signal that at CG1ZZ was like 30 dB over anything
coming from that direction. I operated from VE1ZZs place, which is right on
the ocean, and it can hear and gets out (see the upcoming story: 160 from
CG1ZZ CQ WW Phone 96), but nothing like the IG9. Is it the combination of the
 Hill/Ocean at IG9? (See the IG9/IV3TAN thread)
I am assembling portable setup, which should be competitive, and planning to
do some comparison tests as well as operate this contest season on 160 from
ocean side and hill site places. We will announce in advance the dates.
I will be off to VE1ZZ place to operate as CG1ZZ in CQ WW CW again on 160. I
would appreciate any comments and observation on my signals as well as on
others, especially if it relates to Hill vs Ocean operation. 
Thanks for comments and interest!
73 de Yuri Blanarovich, K3BU, VE3BMV, P40A, ex OK3BU, op of CG1ZZ

Here are the comments I received so far:

According to what I have heard people driving up the road to the
top of Mount Rainier in Washington state can hear BC stations from
all over the USA during daylight hours when they pass certain levels.
                                       Fred Laun, K3ZO

On Top Band, folks have their signals ducted in the ionospheric valley 
between the E- and F-regions.  You can say that til the cows come home 
but nobody pays any attention; they're too busy puttering around on the 
band.  That's life.
                                        73,Bob, NM7M

I live on a hill, a nice big one. I do well on 160, but I am certain an
ocean or salt marsh location would be better. If you ever get a chance,
purchase and use TA and AO programs to model antennas, you will see the
answer for yourself!
                                          73, Bruce  AA8U

My vote for "Best QTH in the world" is KM1H. 
K6STI's TA program shows Carl to be on top of a hill that Smoothly falls
off in all directions. This topography seems to have the effect of placing
a big, fat lobe RIGHT-ON-THE-DECK, almost independently of antenna height!
I believe that Horizontal antennas with this property will almost certainly
Always outperform even verticals over sea water because of the 6dBi gift of
additive ground reflections.
                                           73 Bill N6CQ/3

Takes more than that because there is a whole bunch more involved.
During the early days of commercial transcontinental radio, RCA and
others did some real comprehensive studies. They did actual path tests,
ground conductivity studies, and on and on. They came up with the
sites that were best suited for the purpose. And - Hilltop or next to
a body of water was not the criteria used.
As I recall, Oroville, California was the best west coast site, altho
the final site picked was in the 'Bay Area because of logistics. (Guess
who ended up with that site!)
I wonder if the study results were ever made public and if they are
available today?   
                                   de KL7HF

Hi Yuri,
I am building a contest station on an island in the Chesapeake Bay 100
miles South of Wash DC.  Being on the water seems to be a big plus on all
freq.  I am experimenting with a 160m vertical with good success so far. 
 CQWW was poor propagation and I was disapointed. but U are right,
IG9/IV3TAN was LOUD . He was surprised when I told him he was really S9+.
 The final hour of the contest he was 9+20! but no other EU was heard,
just him from  zone 33. I got him easy, i think water helps. My  I have a
clear water shot to EU & AF and water all around me as I am on an island.
It is at times similar to being  in KP2.    I also use a 20m & 10M
monobanders. this past Sunday the Ukraine stations said I was 9+50 on
20m, but i found that hard to believe. So water seems to have its
advantages and some times i get the right path and its is deadly strong. 
Many times I hear EU when the inland stations hear nothing.
Of course, when VE1ZZ puts out a spot we dont hear it in W4-land Hi.
He must have a great location. Pse let me know of ur progress and What
was the IG9 using. I'd like to know.
  I have a question for the guys on the water. Do beverages work over and
through a swamp?? some say yes others say no. I  have swamp and need to
make a beverage soon.
                                               tnx 73 Dave  W4JVN

The reason you heard all of Europe when you approached the tower was that
the tower was acting as the receiving antenna and re-radiating to your
hand-held radio.  It would do the same on flat ground.  The mountain effect
needs to be investigated separately.  Would be interesting to know!

                                                73, Tom - N4KG

Hi Bill (and anybody else with experience in this area)... let me pose a
related question to you.

I'm just starting construction of a new oceanfront QTH station from scratch.
Within the next week or so, all of my plans go in for planning board
approval, so this is not idle musing.  Those plans will need to show my
antenna plans as well as house plans.  I just got through spending the last
month hacking out the jungle on Little Cayman to make room for the house and
driveway, so I now feel like I have intimate familiarity with the property.
The cuts and scratches on my hands are proof of it.

I already have 80' of Rohn 45 there on the island, with mast and rotator,
and will also show 2 other 50' towers on my plans.  That's fine for 20 up,
and maybe even 40 up, but it's the low bands I'm curious about at the
moment.  I have a patch of what is called "ironshore" just off the beach on
part of my property.  This is a hard coral shelf right at the water level,
and it sticks out into the ocean about 120'.  Think of it as a platform
approximately 100' x 100' lying right at the surface of the water, though
there are a lot of breaks in the platform which keep it from being
continuous.  At high tide, this is mostly submerged; at low tide, you can
easily walk way out into the ocean on it, though the edges are sharp and
jagged and will tear up soft shoes.  It is not the kind of thing you would
want to use for a permanent antenna installation--I was there when Hurricane
Lily brushed by, and anything on that shelf would have been pulverized
beyond recognition. However, I could walk out at low tide and pour concrete
supports to hold up verticals for weekend events.  What would you do with
this?  Should I put a beam up on my main tower for 40, or stick a bi-square
out there on the ironshore?  It would be a snap to walk out and throw up 40m
verticals.  80m is a little more difficult, but I think I could manage.
(Those verticals are just going to have to be loaded a bit in order for one
person to be able to throw them up in the air.)  160 is beyond the pale, and
I doubt a permanent installation out on the ironshore would even make it
through a year.  For 160 (or 80) I have the option of running a stealth
sloper to a lighthouse about 300' away from my tower.  

So I guess my question really focuses on 40.  Which would you rather have--a
beam at 90', back from the salt water about 150', or a configuration of
verticals out in the water and just above the surface?  And what should that
configuration be?  
                                               Bruce, ZF8BS/AA6KX

Bill N6CQ/3 wrote:

|K6STI's TA program shows Carl KM1H to be on top of a hill that smoothly
|off in all directions. This topography seems to have the effect of placing
|a big, fat lobe RIGHT-ON-THE-DECK, almost independently of antenna height!
|I believe that horizontal antennas with this property will almost certainly
|always outperform even verticals over sea water because of the 6dBi gift of
|additive ground reflections.

I agree 100% with Bill for Yagis above any moderate height, say more than a
half-wavelength. George WB5VZL ran the N6BV software for my hill, and it
shows enhancements of 10-12 dB at 2-4 degrees. I seem to recall seeing even
bigger numbers for the W6QHS QTH in a paper at Dayton? Two comments though:
First, you don't get something for nothing (amazing discovery, huh!). The
higher angle lobes get pulled down too, and in some cases reduced in gain.
For me as a DXer I don't care; I'll take my big low-angle long-path lobes
any day, because I can work the high-angle stuff sooner or later anyway.
However, a contester might care, and might need to fill in the gaps by

For most of us, vertical systems are more practical on 80/160 than Yagis.
Then I would expect the quality of near and middle-distance grounds to
matter more, hence oceanfront QTHs should be competitive, or probably
superior. Confirmation?
                                         John, NT5C.

I don't know that I will ever have the ocean front experience, so
I will have to be content with doing the best I can from the great
southwest.  We do have great mountain tops.  The one I was on, Heliograph
Peak, is one of the sky islands.  The elevation on the Gila River Valley
on the north side of the mountain is 2,800'.  The high peak of the
mountain is 10,720', so there is a vertical rise of almost 8,000' in less
than 15 miles.  There are 7 climatic zones, from Upper Sonoran to
Canadian, over this distance.  It is dry cactus and mesquite bushes down
below, and spruce, fir, pine, and aspen trees all over the upper half of
the mountain. We receive up to 10' of snow during some winters.
                                         Milt, N5IA/7

Hi Yuri,
sorry for the delayed answer, I have fired up again the computer only today,
after one heavy bussiness week, after 2 week of IG9 sand and sun !!!

Well, about our operation, we have covered all 6 band, with a single op. 
efforts, in the next years we are planning a M/S or M/M efforts.

The island is a very flat part of african territories, no hills, no trees,
located around 150 m above the sea level. Albert IV3TAN, was on the
ocean, using a full vertical 1/4 wave for 160m, with 4 elevated radials and
over 1 Km
of radials over the ground and 3 beverage N, N/W, S/W 250m each long. Running
out in a little truck, with limited power supply, IC775, PA homemade antenna
box switch and computer.
He has broken, even doubled, the previous World Score, no final score
still avalaible.

I was on 80m, always over the sea, with a full 1/4 vertical on 80m and 8
elevated radials, two beverage N , N/W over 200 m long and a dipole at least
45 m over the sea in the W direction.
I had operated into a bungalow with Kenwood TS 950, PA, a multifunction
homemade antenna switch that allow to switch independently 6 TX and 6 RX

More history will be available soon on the reflector, if you have
available CQ Contest Feb/96, you can found some pictures and articles of the
1995 operation, in the same places of this year.

Best 73 de Fabio, I4UFH / KF6FBE

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