While there will be thousands of experienced Hams worldwide who will be attempting to make contact with Bouvet Island 3Y0Z, they will undoubtedly be joined in the pileups by scores of first-time DXers. As a service to those who are new to this exciting part of Amateur Radio, DX Engineering is posting a series of articles you can use to get started on the right foot.

What is a “Pilot” station and how can it help me?

Pilot stations are members of the DXpedition who operate from populated areas and are in regular contact with the DXpedition. Their job is to report on how things are going from their location and act as liaisons between the DXpedition and Hams in their region. For the Bouvet Island DXpedition, there will North American and European pilots, a Japanese pilot, and even a special pilot for younger Hams, Bryant KG5HVO. Listen to the pilots! They will give feedback from the DXpedition, such as changes in schedules or conditions and requests to follow certain instructions. Use their firsthand knowledge to make a successful contact.

Learn more about the Bouvet Island 3Y0Z’s “Off Island” team of pilots here.

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While there will be thousands of experienced Hams worldwide who will be attempting to make contact with Bouvet Island 3Y0Z, they will undoubtedly be joined in the pileups by scores of first-time DXers. As a service to those who are new to this exciting part of Amateur Radio, DX Engineering is posting a series of articles you can use to get started on the right foot.

So what’s the proper etiquette for making a contact?

If you’d like to try for a Bouvet Island contact, you’ll need to operate appropriately. Be courteous. Many Hams will be trying to capture this rare contact, so keep your attempts short and sweet. Others in the pileup will appreciate your brevity.

When calling, send or say only your call sign. Don’t transmit the DX station’s call sign–they already know who you’re calling!  Send your call a couple of times and then stand by, listening to see if the DX station heard you and is now calling you back. Here is an example (see use of phonetics for how to make your call more effective):

DX: This is 3Y0X, QRZed (meaning “Please call now.”) You: N8DXE N8DXE          (Listen–If no response from the DX station in two or three seconds, call again repeating the          pattern.) DX:   K3LR you’re five-and-nine on Bouvet (Rats! They didn’t hear you this time, so stand by) K3LR: K3LR, thanks, you’re five-and-nine in Pennsylvania, good luck! (“Five-and-nine” denotes a clear,            strong signal) DX: Thanks, this is 3Y0X, QRZed You: N8DXE N8DXE DX: N8DXE you’re five-and-nine on Bouvet (You made it!) You: N8DXE (to be sure the DX station knows it’s you responding), thanks, you’re five-and-nine in Ohio! DX: Thanks, this is 3Y0X, QRZed

That will suffice. No more, no less. It’s not necessary to give your name, power or a weather report. Now log your contact and bask in the glow that comes from making it through a pileup!

Should you use phonetics?

Using the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, recognized by most Hams worldwide, can help avoid confusion that results because many letters sound alike. Phonetics are words that are said in lieu of a letter (e.g., Alpha for A, Z for Zulu). It’s a good idea to become familiar with standard phonetics and use them when operating in SSB (single sideband) mode. In the preceding example, the caller, N8DXE, would identify herself as November 8 Delta X-Ray Echo. Always stick to standard phonetics that will be familiar to the DX station. Neptune 8 Denzel Xavier Euphrates won’t cut it! Give yourself every advantage possible by using words the DX station will be listening for.


Many hams equate frequencies and bands with colloquial usage. Therefore VHF is 2 meters, specifically 144 to 148 MHz, and HF is 160 through 6 meters, just like on our HF radios.

Oops. VHF refers to Very High Frequency, and is a chunk of radio spectrum from 30 to 300 MHz- all inclusive. That places 6 meters, 2 meters and the 220 MHz band all in VHF. Therefore, 6 meters is NOT an HF band.

OK, then 160 through 10! –Nope-. Technically, the bands within 300 kHz to 3 MHz are Medium Frequency, or MF bands. Since 1.8 to 2 MHz falls squarely within this range, 160 meters is an MF band- NOT HF.

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) radio bands are designations defined in the ITU Radio Regulations. Article 2, provision No. 2.1, states that “the radio spectrum shall be subdivided into nine frequency bands, which shall be designated by progressive whole numbers in accordance with the following table.”

VLF: Very Low Frequency; 3 to 30 kHz, 10 to 100 km wavelength

LF: Low Frequency; 30 to 300 kHz, 1 to 10 km wavelength

MF: Medium Frequency; 300 to 3000 kHz, 100 to 1000 m wavelength

HF: High Frequency; 3 to 30 MHz, 10 to 100 m wavelength

VHF: Very High Frequency; 30 to 300 MHz, 1 to 10 m wavelength

UHF: Ultra High Frequency; 300 to 3000 MHz, 10 to 100 cm wavelength

SHF: Super High Frequency; 3 to 30 GHz, 1 to 10 cm wavelength

EHF: Extremely High Frequency; 30 to 300 GHz, 1 to 10 mm wavelength

THF: Tremendously High Frequency; 300 to 3000 GHz, 0.1 to 1 mm wavelength

There are the radio bands in a nutshell. So, where does 70cm fit in? UHF, of course! It’s there, along with 33cm, 23cm and 2.4 GHz (12.5cm).

Simple, isn’t it? So, memorize it for a test next Monday.


Many amateur radio projects use fiberglass tubing and there are some precautions you should take when handling it.

When the tubing arrives – before you open the box – be prepared. There may be fiberglass dust, slivers or particles present when the fiberglass parts were manufactured. Your best bet is to open the box outside, not in your dining room……

The use of typical fiberglass handling safety gear (gloves, dust mask, eye shield, clothing, etc.) when handling and working with fiberglass is highly recommended. Use a disposable damp rag to wipe the parts.

Do NOT use compressed air to clean fiberglass parts. The loose fiberglass particles and dust will fly all over the place.

When working with fiberglass, take precautions, especially when cutting or slitting the tubes. A hand saw or a power saw will make fiberglass dust. Wear protective gear to ensure you do not get any of the particles or dust in your eyes or in your hands. Wear a good dust mask to ensure you do not breathe in any of the particles or dust.

Measures can be taken to reduce exposure after a person has come in contact with fiberglass. Eyes should be flushed with water and any area of exposed skin should be washed with soap and warm water to remove fibers.

Clothing worn while working with fiberglass should be removed and washed separately from other clothing or just disposed. If you do wash the cloths, the washing machine should be rinsed thoroughly after the exposed clothing is done to ensure any loose particles are rinsed away.

Check with your local or state safety and/or environmental agencies for more detailed precautions. The easiest way to find out more information is to Google “Fiberglass Safety”.

 


An antenna analyzer is a useful tool for adjusting commercial as well as homemade antennas.

The primary use of an antenna analyzer is to determine the current resonant frequency of an antenna to allow adjustment to the desired frequency; however antenna analyzers can also be used for other tasks, including:

* SWR, Complex Impedance, Vector Impedance measurement
* Return Loss, Inductive Reactance, Capacitive reactance
* Electrical length of a section of coaxial Cable (Select models)
* Feedline loss of a length of Coaxial cable
* Frequency Counter and signal generation
* Graphing display (Select Models)
* Memory for storing graphs (Select models)
* Multi language display (Select models)
* Frequency range scanning (Select models)

A table of Antenna Analyzers and available features can be found at the following link:

https://static.dxengineering.com/global/images/chartsguides/c/cma- caa500markii_it.pdf

Selection of an appropriate analyzer is primarily based on the range of RF frequencies that you need to measure.
Secondary consideration would be the need for features that are available only on certain analyzers.

In general, HF only analyzers are less expensive than those that also include VHF,UHF
and microwave capabilities. Some analyzers can handle reference impedance SWR measurements
for standard impedances other than 50 ohms, such as 25,
75 and 100 ohms. Depending on the analyzer, the RF connector may be
BNC, PL-259 or N connector; some include N to PL-259 adapters.

Some analyzers have memories and the ability to connect to a USB port on your computer to download memorized measurements for later reference and analysis.
This can be very useful for “what has changed” investigation.


For many decades there was only one choice. Power supplies had heavy iron transformers to convert house current (110/120 volts AC) to the lower voltage required by many solid-state devices. As the demand for more and more current increased so did the weight of the transformer and the complexity of the circuitry making the DC. These are referred to as linear power supplies.

Then a strange thing happened: The heavy transformer went away. Switching power supplies (also called switch-mode power supplies or SMPS) arrived and changed how DC was made. Without the heavy transformer (solid-state devices are used) power supplies could be made smaller and lighter while providing the same output current.

So… which method is best?

The answer to that question depends on your intended application. In applications where size and weight are major considerations the switching supply wins, hands down. Because large iron-core transformers are also expensive, switching supplies can be less expensive than linear supplies. Size weight and cost are three BIG advantages!

In applications requiring a low-noise highly regulated DC output, such as laboratory equipment, sensitive radio receivers, test equipment and bio-medical equipment, linear power supplies still have a slight edge. The requirement for completely noise free output overrides the advantages of the switching power supply in certain circumstances.

Noise?

Switching power supplies use high frequency switching transistors to make the output current. The generation of high-amplitude, high-frequency energy requires that a low-pass filter must block the high frequency noise at the output to avoid electromagnetic interference (EMI) and ripple voltage at the switching frequency and its harmonics. Very complex filtering developments have almost completely eliminated this problem. Very low cost SMPSs may couple electrical switching noise back onto the AC power line, causing interference with Audio/Video equipment and any other electronic equipment connected to the same AC phase. This is still a major problem in poorly designed, cheaply made SMPS units flooding into the US market from overseas.

What’s the bottom line?

Dollar for dollar switching power supplies usually provide more power for less cost. They are also smaller and lighter than standard iron-transformer linear power supplies. In applications where switching noise is not an issue, they are clear winners. Most switching power supplies sold for Amateur Radio use by reputable companies are noise free. Where size, weight and cost are secondary to high-quality low-noise DC output, linear supplies still have an edge.

Understand the requirements for your application and read the specifications for the available power supply types that meet your need. Then make your choice carefully, keeping your application solidly in mind.


 

Choosing the right coax may seem complicated given the wide variety of cable types, their specs and costs. When we talk about coaxial cable loss, keep in mind that it affects transmitted energy as well as received signals. At 38 cents per foot, RG-8X is attractive, especially when putting up a new antenna system.   However, at 150 MHz, 100 feet of RG-8X has 3.8db of loss. So on the 2 meter band with 50 watts transceiver output, you would lose more than half of your transmitted power! Your station’s receive performance would suffer as well.

DX Engineering 400MAX is a better choice for VHF base applications. At 150 MHz, the loss of  100 feet of 400MAX is only 1.8db. RG-8X is fine to use for short coax jumpers and in mobile applications. You have probably noticed that most mobile mounts use either an RG-58 or RG-8X.  That is because at such a short run the loss is negligible. For HF base applications RG-8X is a popular choice with only 0.9 dB of loss at 10 MHz and 1.4db at 30 MHz for every 100 feet. It is certainly acceptable to use higher quality low loss cable on the HF bands. Many amateurs choose DX Engineering 213 or 400MAX because both are suitable for direct bury applications.

Feel free to contact DX Engineering anytime you have questions about the right cable for your application.