Wednesday, October 24, 2018

VP6D's amazing performance

After only 3 days on the island the VP6D team has made over 30,000 contacts. And they'll be there 10 more days.

I anticipate long CQ's in a week or so as they search for stations who've not yet worked them. And thanks to FT8, DXers with compromise antennas, poor locations or a lack of CW skill can join the fray and put a rare entity into their logs.

Yesterday, in a light rain, I reconfigured my 80m dipole as a top-loaded vertical for 160 meters. The RF ground consists of one elevated radial about 60 meters long and eventually connected to the chain link fence that runs  across my back yard. Another short wire connects the ground at the feed point to my cold water piping.

This was sufficient to hear VP6D on 160m at an honest 599 and for me to work them on the first call with 550 watts being squirted into the antenna from the Flex/KPA-500 pile-up busting combo.

For CW, I only lack them now on 10 and 30 meters.

FT8's DX mode is fun in a very different way than CW. Working VP8D on CW gives me fulfillment that FT8 does not. If I've worked VP6D on CW, I do feel as if I've worked them. If I only worked them with FT8, I personally wouldn't claim to have that entity "worked" even though the powers that be (ARRL, LoTW, ClubLog, etc) would allow it.

FT8 is like eating a snack and calling it a meal. It satisfies in the short term but is an abbreviation of the real thing.

Nevertheless, I appreciate the technology behind it and enjoy the mechanization of the fox/hound mode, ie seeing my transmit frequency move in response to being addressed by the DX. The very thing others criticize is what fascinates me the most. My life story in summary...


  1. I kinda feel the same 20m CW contact with VP6D somehow felt a little more 'real' than my two FT8 QSOs...Don't know if it's because I copied the CW with my own brain, or because I know that DXpedition mode makes FT8 more like working a robot.
    On the other hand, ALL of those contacts were RF transmitted and received directly between my back yard and Ducie, so it's all good in my book.

    Now, if I can score a Q with Christmas Island on ANY mode with my 100 watts, you bet I will count it :)
    73 de W0ZF

  2. Good morning David - yep, on FT8 as a hound I feel like I'm waiting in line to be answered. There is nothing I can do to increase my chances of being worked other than to keep calling. Like you say, it is all RF so, technically, it's a valid contact.

    I'm up early now looking for VK9XG on 40m via grayline. He was here at this time yesterday - a station 20 miles to my north worked him - but he seems to be on other bands this morning. I was lucky enough to get him on 20 and 30 a few days ago. And let's not forget that Bhutan is now out there!

    It's shaping up to be a nice DX season. 73,
    John AE5X