Poor Band Conditions for VP8ORK

I was watching a quite heated discussion on the cluster today. Yes I know the cluster is NOT for discussion, that was not the point of my post. The content of the discussion was about the fact that many hams cannot hear VP8ORK on the South Orkeny Islands, and one ham implied that “Without money you can’t play in the premier league of DX” saying that you need money to buy big antennas and big amps. Well no I completely disagree. Anyone can play in the premier league of Big Guns even the QRP guys get the chance at some point in the game.

There is also a lot of fortune involved too. My experience this month with friends around the UK who have identical shack equipment is that if you are fortunate to live near the coast the advantage you will have with enhancement from the salt water during these low sunspot days is the difference between hearing the DX and NOT hearing the DX. Living inland in the City the problem I have had, is hearing the DX! I always work on the assumption that if you can hear it, you can work it.

So, it is not down to big money and power. Take M0TNX Kev for example. Kev has made a homebrew top band antenna and is working the DX. Kev has been out Portable near the sea and put up a simple vertical dipole. As Kev found out, the advantage that being next to the sea is probably equivalent to the guy inland with a 2 or 3 element Yagi at 40 feet.

The MUF charts show a story, and if you are in the area located where the MUF chart says “MUF 14 MHz” you are not going to work VP8ORK on 21 MHz even if you have an Optibeam 13 element. There are so many factors that are involved in being able to work the DX or not. Being Portable and adaptable to the changes in conditions, MUF, topography are all in the challenge of the DX’er. 

Luckily I do have VP8ORK in the log on 20m SSB. It was the faintest of signals but just enough for me to work the guys. They are doing a terrific job down in South Orkney Island, if only the Sun would boost the Sunspot Numbers so we can all have another shot. One thing is certain, DX’ing gets very addictive when chasing an expedition such as VP8ORK.
Thank you to the team on VP8/O!

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Tim Beaumont