Every morning on the West Coast, a very strong Long Path to ZS opens up – starting with 40M and then switching to 20M. There are days where this path is open 2 hours past sunrise on 40M. It is _EXACTLY_ the same path as the Heard Island, VK0EK short path. During the North American winter, this path extends all the way to OH and LA and even G countries. The countries in the UK are weaker, but the Scandinavian and Mediterranean countries are very strong.
I worked a very strong UT station at 1500z on 40M using only 100 watts and beaming right over Heard Island. This is LP to UT and SP to VK0EK. Moral of this story – USE YOUR RADIO AND TEST THE PATHS THAT YOU WANT TO TRY TO WORK VK0EK! Start this “study’ NOW. You will be very proud that you did your homework ahead of when VK0EK comes on the air. You also won’t “panic” when you try to work VK0EK, and you will have the greatest of patience and confidence – and THIS is how YOU WILL GET IN THE VK0EK LOG.
I did mention this in an early part in this series, but the point is something that not all DXpeditions understand. Here’s the deal:
It is IMPERATIVE that a DXpedition understand these openings – and they are very counter intuitive. For example, the ZS stations are strong year round on either 40M, 20M or both during the morning grey line. But to exploit this the DXpedition really needs to be beaming in that direction – if they have directional antennas. Things get very, very interesting during the vernal and autumnal equinoxes – a little more “magic” happens – all of a sudden, and for only a few weeks, a real “mix” of stations along the path can be heard.
When I say counter intuitive, what I mean is that if you were simply to look at DX Atlas and expect that the morning grey line is done with at sunrise and just thereafter, you might be right on 160M, less correct on 80M, but very wrong on 40M and 30M.
Please make sure you look at our Propagation Page and study all of the resources there carefully:
There is a real “sleeper” in those resources, and that’s Dean Straw, N6BV’s Propagation Charts:
If you look at the 20M chart, you would think “gee whiz, there is SOOO much competition on 20M”. But then, you might remember that anyone on the East Coast, Central and South America, EU and AF will be beaming short path toward Atlas Cove. This means the West Coast, Rocky Mountain and Central states in the US will have a very good chance by beaming in the opposite direction as those just mentioned. With Spit Bay activated, and Big Ben blocking anything beamed toward Atlas, there should be a very nice separation, and an evening out of possible chances to work VK0EK.
Asia, OC and VK/ZL will be competitors, but having been a DXer since 2001 and making Honor Roll in 11 years – I find the “competition” from the West Coast with all of my Pacific Rim fellow DXers to always be very civil and decent.
This is where all the planning and technology won’t help – and that’s pileup behavior. Besides reading The DX Code of Ethics, its simple – listen, let others make their QSO when VK0EK calls and if you can hear VK0EK, eventually you WILL work them. Be a little patient – your courtesy will make the pileups go that much faster, and hence – you will make your QSO that much faster! In that regard – you help your self by being a good pileup citizen!
On 40M, and during the morning grey line, the West Coast will have NO competition from the rest of the US, SA, AF and EU. Again – it will be friendly competition with other “Pacific Rim” countries.
So – you can play this game yourself. And I hope you now see that by using these data charts – so graciously provided by Team Member Dean Straw, N6BV, you can come up with a strategy that will ensure that you get in the log.
Some last pointers – and these are pretty huge:
- The asterisk denotes a long path route
- Don’t worry about these numbers – they are relative to your antenna situation. With 3 elements on 20M and 2 elements on 40M, I know for a fact that my actually on air listening on the 215 degree path to ZS – which is LP to ZS and SP to VK0EK gives me total confidence that as long as the conditions stay as good as they are today – I will work VK0EK. For me – these predicted signal levels are “wimpy” compared to what I expect will be the actual on air case
Good luck – we hope to see you in the VK0EK Log Soon!