Topband: Top Band Magic on Wednesday Evening

charles Lewis s9ss160m at
Fri Nov 24 05:25:46 EST 2006

Wednesday night on 160M was very unusual.  The rare magic was there in force for a while.  I have not experienced anything like it since my last year as S92SS back in '97.  For a little while, the band sounded almost like 40 or 30 meters.  There were plenty of signals strong enough to overcome the noise, and for a good while my QSO rate was pretty good (for slow me) on 160M.   However, I still did not hear a pileup. There was just a steady succession of stations walking into the spotlight.  The period of 0000 to 0100 was the best for NA.  Thanks to the Thanksgiving holiday, I was able to stay up late on a week night.  I am usually limited to Fridays and Saturdays.

I worked about 120 stations, not counting several dupes.  Of those, 88 were North Americans coast to coast.  Among them were at least one CA (NI6T), a WY, and a couple of MTs.

By 0300 UTC, the six high power VOA transmitters on the site where I live were firing up and copy became much more difficult due to the raised noise floor.  I gave up on it at 0320.  I had been on 20M SSB earlier, and by 0300 I had been sitting at the radio for seven hours straight!   I was very tired.

Wednesday night's results would have been impossible without my pennant receiving antenna.  The QRN was so bad on the "T" that I had great difficulty copying even the strongest signals.  On the pennant, it sounded like a different band.  That is not always true, but it was very much the case that night.  There have been times when I have heard better on the "T" than on the pennant, and there have been times when I couldn't tell much difference.   
An aside:  The first NA station I worked among the Europeans was K1GUN.  I have worked him many times before; but I was happy, as always, to hear him.  It was a sign that more NA stations might be coming out of the noise before long, so I should stick around.  (I don't need to stay up late just to work Europeans.  I can usually work them well much earlier.)  So, don't get fussy when you hear a "big gun" work a DX station you know he has probably worked before.  It is often beneficial to the DX station and, ultimately, to you.
I am planning to take the 160/80M "T" antenna down over the Christmas holidays.  I need to disassemble my tuning networks in the "doghouse" at the antenna feed point so I can pack the components for shipping.  They contain heavy duty inductors and vacuum capacitors that I want to keep.  We are hoping to get our personal effects on board a ship that is scheduled to be here on January 8. 
I will retire to the US at the end of February at age 65 after 18 years continuously assigned overseas in the Foreign Service with VOA. 
Charles Lewis - S9SS

(Just a few months shy of half a century as a ham now.)

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