Monday, June 06, 2016

DXers Unlimited middle of the week program

Radio Havana Cuba
For broadcast May 31 2016
By Arnie Coro, CO2KK

Hi amigos radioaficionados... listening via short wave and also by means of our streaming audio from with twice daily English language feeds. I am your host Arnie Coro, radio amateur CO2KK now ready to start the middle of the week edition of your favorite radio hobby program...

There are four active regions visible on the solar disk. NOAA solar active sunspot  region 2550 and new region 2551 were responsible for some minor flaring , including a single C1.0 flare (from NOAA 2550, peaking at 13:24).

Here is item one... As anyone monitoring the HF bands will easily find out, the low solar activity continues to limit the chances of short wave propagation on frequencies above 20 megaHertz, even during the best times of the day at any given location. The exception comes when sporadic E layer openings move the maximum usable frequency up past the 25 megaHertz range. Long time RHC listener from Florida Richard
reported his first ever 6 meters amateur band contact via sporadic E with KP4EIT,     one of the most active Puerto Rican VHF operators… Congratulations to both 6 meters operators that will surely continue to enjoy the already in progress sporadic E layers season.

Observations confirm that solar cycle 24 continues to show very weak activity as compared with any of the previous 5 solar cycles .

Item two: You have questions and I do my best to answer them... Yes amigos, every day the e'mail brings in most interesting questions from listeners all around the world... Like for example the one sent by Luis from San Jose, Costa Rica who listens regularly to our 6000 kiloHertz frequency that he picks up way offside of the main beam !!!

Luis asks why it is not possible for him in Costa Rica  to pick up more stations from other countries in the Americas besides Cuba, Argentina and  Brazil, that are the three most active ones… He also reports several low power stations from Peru and Bolivia….

Well amigo Luis, let me tell you that at this moment they are just a  few stations on the air on the short wave bands with high enough power to be heard on a regular basis...
And to answer the other part of your question, I will be back in a few seconds after a short break for station ID. I am your host Arnie Coro in sunny Havana, Cuba...


This is Radio Havana Cuba, the name of the show is Dxers Unlimited, and yes amigos, we do QSL, we do send QSL cards to listeners that report our programs, and this is done absolutely free of charge... Now part two of the answer to amigo Luis , who lives in Costa Rica.

Besides Radio Havana Cuba, that can be picked up, using a rather simple short wave receiving antenna, you may be able also to pick up several stations from Brazil, as well as Argentina Peru  Colombia and Bolivia., that are also on the air , especially on the 60 and 49 meters bands, but the stations are using low power and simple low cost antenna systems because they are intended primarily to provide local or regional coverage.

When HF bands propagation conditions are good, you may pick up several of those low power stations from Peru, Bolivia , Ecuador , Colombia and Mexico... reception of those low power short wave broadcasts , mainly on the 60 and 49 meters band and also at times on 31 meters.... this will usually take place very late in the evening your local time or just before local sunrise.
For both short wave listeners and amateur radio operators the installation of an adequate antenna for obtaining best results within the frequency range from 3.5 to 29.7 megaHertz is quite a challenge to say the least. City dwellers, and especially those who live in apartment building face a great challenge when trying to listen or to operate on the 80 to 10 meters ham bands  ,  because of the severe restrictions imposed nowadays  regarding the installation of external antennas on any type of building and the extremely high local noise levels . The only option left for many Short Wave Listeners and Radio Amateur Operators is to install a magnetic loop antenna and try to place it at the best possible location .

The rooftops of high rise apartment buildings are an ideal location for VHF, UHF and Microwave operation if you happen to be living at one of the top floors, but are quite useless for that purpose if your apartment is located close to the ground requiring the installation of a very long length of transmission line needed to reach a rooftop antenna adding very high losses to both receive and transmit signals add to this if you are fortunate to obtain permission to install a rooftop antenna by the building managers.

But, despite all those difficulties, I very often come across a ham radio operator that with a lot of ingenuity manages to operate, for example, on the 20, 17 15 meters, 12 and 10 meters bands, using different types of compact antennas.

Do notice that also  mention the 12 and 10 meters HF bands despite the fact that the size of antennas for those bands is small enough to make them fit across a balcony rail  ... But 20 , 17 and 15 meters are certainly the most popular DX bands when propagation conditions are let's say, normal or slightly above normal, and that is why people living in housing facilities with severe restrictions as regards to the installation of external antennas, try , in the first place to put up an antenna system that can be tuned to 20, 17 and 15 meters.

One of the regular Dxers Unlimited's listeners , who is also an avid ham radio operator asked about what could be done to install an antenna for the 20, 17 and 15 meters band that could fit into his apartment's balcony that measured from one end to the other roughly 5 meters or about sixteen and a half feet.
His  already in use 10 meters half wave dipole brought some local contacts, and also some DX when the band is open, but as everyone now is fully aware, the 10 meter band openings via the F2 layer are going to become very rare indeed due to the prevalent very low lack of solar activity.

So, here is what I advised him to do...

Go ahead and build a compact  short dipole antenna using two easy to make  loading coils terminated at each end with two end loading capacitive hats, that will make possible to operate on the 20, 17 and 15 meters bands with rather good efficiency, and also on the 30 meters band with somewhat reduced performance. You must use a balun or balanced to unbalanced one to one broadband transformer at the feedpoint of the antenna.

The antenna I suggested fits perfectly into a slightly less than 15 feet or about 5 meters horizontal space, and when fed via a factory made or a  homebrew one to one balun and using a wide range antenna tuner has proven to provide excellent performance. One good advantage of this antenna is that it can be installed in a couple of minutes when you want to operate or listen to the radio, and likewise it can be taken down and placed in storage at a corner of the balcony !!!

The good efficiency of this antenna design despite its
short length, is due to the use of two carefully built high Q loading coils and the nice looking well designed end loading spiders, that act as an effective capacitive load.

The two loading spiders are built using eight wires that are carefully soldered to a circle made of 6 millimeters or about a quarter of an inch copper tubing. Each leg of the antenna is just two and a quarter meters long and they end up connecting to the end loading spiders ... The center insulator supports a one to one balun transformer, and the antenna is fed with a short length of RG213 or RG8X coaxial cable that connects it to the antenna tuner.

And now  at the end of the show, here is Arnie Coro's Dxers Unlimited 's HF propagation update and forecast. Expect sporadic E openings to become more and more during June as solar activity continues to be  very low to low . The night time maximum useable frequency curve continues to exhibit its usual upward  swing that starts after sunset, something typical of the northern hemisphere summer season. Solar flux  around 80 units. And please don't forget to send your signal reports and comments about this and other RHC programs to inforhc at enet dot cu ...
(Arnie Coro/R Havana)