160 Meter Random Comments

Bill Garwood

Hi Folks,

Been checking 160 recently and working anyone I find that is not in the log already.  Email me if you are in the Eastern half of the US and Canada and need me for the Top Band Award.  I'm using a Carolina Windom 160 ocf dipole on all bands.  It loads up and does a decent job on 160.  They recommend it to be installed at least 50 feet or higher.  Mine is more of a sloper at 20 feet height at one end and maybe 40 feet at the other so it is not maximized but it is what it is.  On PSK31, I usually run 80 watts on 160 meters except in the contests that restrict me to 50 watts.  (I check with an IMD meter and my TS-590SG has a low IMD at 80 watts with ALC = 0).  If I can hear a station, I usually can work that station.  In other words, adding  a BOG receive only antenna would probably not benefit my station with my current set up.  I do have a Wellbrook active receiving loop and it does not hear any better than my Windom on 160 but it can be rotated to null some electric fence noise that is in my neighborhood from time to time.  I have 25 states and Canada confirmed on 160 meter PSK31.  1000 miles is about it.   I have never worked or seen the west coast with that mode.  Propagation seems to vary a lot from day to day and even minute by minute when in some of our 070 contests.

The 160 meter DXers are usually running hundreds of watts or more up to 1.5 kW, usually with CW.   They need a good receive antenna as their high power goes farther than they can receive using a noisy vertical or whatever they are using to transmit.

In the old days, back in the middle of the 20th century, 160 meters was a shared band and most of the commercial tube rigs did not offer 160 meters.  Top band operators built their own transmitters and antennas.  The old FCC rules restricted ham use to certain parts of the 160 meter band depending on where you lived.  There were also restrictions on how much power you could run during the day with restricted power at night.   All of this was due to the LORAN A navigation system.   LORAN A was phased out maybe 35 years ago and the hams finally got the full 160 meter band.  Technically it is in the MF band along with Standard Broadcast and not an HF band as HF is 3.0 to 30 MHz.  160 meters is a challenge.  DXCC and WAS take a lot of patience and operating at wee hours of the morning along with sunrise and sunset.  If you've ever done some AM broadcast band DXing, this is similar to how 160 meters behaves.  Some of you might want to have a sked on a weekend or holiday well after midnight local time or western stations see if you can get some east coast stations to fire up their 160 meter PSK31 rigs  around local sunrise on the east coast. 

Happy Radio!

Bill N4GBK #1688 in FM16 NC

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