Topband: 160m Activity...musings from VE6

VE6WZ_Steve ve6wz at
Fri Nov 2 15:00:59 EDT 2018

This season there has been some discussion on this reflector about activity levels on 160m (or lack thereof) and the possible negative effect of the FT-8 on CW.
Here are my observations.

CW is **very much** alive and well, and DX activity on TB has been exceptional.
Compared to many on this list, I might be considered a “newcomer” to TB, but I have been QRV on 160m for 28 years so I do have a baseline.

I did a .csv export from my log and a pivot table in Excel gave me a quick analysis of my 160m QSO for the one month period beginning Oct 1. Mode- CW only.

Looking at EU-AF only, the log shows 270 total EU-AF trans-polar QSOs. 34 EU-AF DXCC, and 162 unique callsigns.  There are many first time ever callsigns in my log on 160 this season so far.
Three evening sessions stand out, Oct 19- 54 EU qsos, Oct 29 - 76 EU qsos, and Oct 31- 35 EU qsos.
The log shows that 196 qsos or 72 % of the EU contacts were made in the 2 hour period between 0400z and 0600z.

I suspect that one significant contributor to the high level of EU activity were the numerous OC DX-peds…5W, YJ0, VK9X, VP6D etc.  Its likely that more EU operators were compelled to be at their radios early in the AM to try and get a new one.  However, I suggest that to work EU on the low-bands we need to be aware of the local times at the DX end. This may seem like I’m stating the obvious, (and I AM stating the obvious) but to expect a lot of activity at 0300z may be unreasonable. How many EU hams are that dedicated to get up at 2-4 am local time to sit at their radio except during a contest?  During my CQ sessions, I can observe the activity sweep across EU as the sun is starting to rise and the operators are getting up and taking the first sip of the coffee. The same is true with EU expectations of NA. As my log analysis shows the peak time for EU trans-polar QSOs (72 %) is from 0400z-0600z.  That is around midnight local for me. I am on the westcoast, but for the east and central NA boys its 2-3 in the morning.  Sure there are a few dedicated ops, but most are sound asleep.

Calling CQ.  If no one calls CQ, there will be no QSOs.  However, before I moved the station to the new remote set-up, I rarely called CQ for two reasons.
1. I would usually modulated my neighbours stereo and computer speakers in spite of my efforts to fix it. Less TX was better.
2. With my limited inner-city RX capabilities I knew I was an alligator.  There was just too much RFI to hear well.
The benefits of calling CQ for extended periods is to beat the usual 160m QSB.  Short (2X2) CQs allow callers to time the QSB wave and call on a peak. The 160m “cat-and-mouse” game as signals go from 579 to oblivion in 30 seconds.  It can be slow going, but a lot of chair time listening to static can pay off waiting for the callers to get you on the peak.

There is no doubt that this last month from VE6 has been excellent for trans-polar propagation, and I know that its just a matter of time until the aurora door will slam shut and I will be sitting on the sidelines listening to the guys down south working all the DX.
However, my point is that there is still a great deal of CW activity on TB….maybe as much as there ever has been? Not everyone is exclusively using FT-8.

BTW…my log also shows 120 JA-Asia QSOs for the same last one month period.

de steve ve6wz.

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