DXers are weird. Absolutely. Don't let anyone tell you anything else. We spend more time optimizing our stations than anything else! We have miles of ground wire and ground mats (made from chicken wire) buried all around the yard. Not as 1/4 wave radials for verticals, but because we read somewhere that it will reduce sky noise and ground loss. We have every antenna optimized to get the lowest possible SWR . . . and we fret and worry if the resonance point moves 50 KHz when it rains or snows! We won't use anything but RG-213 or better, even though RG-8U is just as good (but we are not 100% convinced!) And RG-11! Blasphemy . . . unless we can get it to match our antenna better 'cuz it's interacting with something that increases the impedance to a point where 75 ohm gives a better SWR than 52 ohm coax! If we can get our hands on hardline or heliax, we use it. One of us got a good buy on some one inch heliax. We used it to feed the 160 metre vertical. Really cuts down the line loss on 1.8 MHz. We read somewhere that hardline doesn't help much below 50 MHz, but we feel better, anyhow!
We all have $3000-$5000 radios. They aren't good enough when they come from the factory. First off, we have to buy all the additional filters at $250-$400 a pop. We aren't satisfied with that, we then buy an outboard DSP unit . . . usually good for another $500. We look for mods that will increase the output power or make the audio more aggressive. Then we discuss endlessly on 2-metres whether the new rigs with built in DSP units at the IF level are worth buying. As soon as one of us caves in and buys one, all the others will have their own in a week! Invest in companies that make HF transceivers with a built in DSP unit. We will be buying them. For sure.
Our transmit audio? Speech processor in all the time, hard over to the right. Of course. Most knobs are meant to be turned all the way to the right. Look at your rig if you don't believe this! Microphones . . . we grudgingly admit one good thing CB OPs brought to HAM radio was the Astatic D-104! Yes sir! And an amplified D-104 too. It picks up all the background noise from the fans, etc. We find we are usually good for 30-40% of maximum output power in background noise alone. If not, we can adjust the mike gain on the base of the D-104 until it is. Make no compromises. Only a D-104 will do the job.
CW proficiency? You bet! We all can recognize our call at 40 WPM when it's 339 in heavy QRN . . . and send "R R TU DE VE1DX 5NN 73 SK" at 50 WPM. However, if someone wants to rag chew at 15 WPM, we suddenly develop deep QSB and heavy QRM. Their might be something up the band that we need for a new one. We aren't going to sit here and waste time!
Amplifiers . . . no DXer would be without one! And no little 500 watt weakling, either. We run full legal power. Always. Even if the DX is 30 over! We dream of amps that will put out 5000 or 10000 watts, sketch out designs on scratch pads of prototypes with four or six 8877s. We wonder if the traps on that Yagi are really only good for 2000 watts. Does the local licensing authority really monitor output power? None of us want to find out, but we dream nonetheless! Maybe we could re-wind the traps with bigger wire?
For that matter, why are we using traps at all. We need monobanders! Invest in companies that sell monoband Yagis. If we haven't bought them yet, we will. You can bet on that. The only investment safer than antenna companies is those that build tall towers. High ones designed to carry a lot of weight and wind load. And we all will be buying more than one of these too. Why? Because if it didn't fall over in that big wind storm last winter, we didn't have enough antennas on it. We'll fix that this summer. Don't bother talking this over with your broker, just invest in towers!
73/DX Paul VE1DX
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