DX Stories by Paul M. Dunphy, VE1DX

New Theory on Propagation

One of the Local QRPers was up the hill the other day, this one with a sly grin that was close to a smirk. We'd seen this look before and we were beginning to wish we'd ducked out the back door. "I got it all figured out," he said, "I know how to make honor roll in record time." Although we knew better, we just had to ask what he'd come up with. "How are you going to do that?", we inquired, not really sure we wanted to know. The QRPer looked all around the shack, "Are we alone?", he asked. "Yes", we replied, "just the two of us."

The QRPer was still a bit suspicious. He checked to make sure the rigs were all turned off. Then he turned on the stereo and the taps in the sink. "Can't take any chances on this one," he said, sitting close and looking around. "If any of the other guys find out my secret, I'll lose the edge. Since you got most of them worked, I figure I can tell you. But you have to keep this to yourself, OK?" Making a pact with one of the QRPers sporting this particular grin wasn't our first choice, but we had to admit, he'd perked our interest. Besides, we wanted to him to shut the taps off before our water bill went through the ceiling!

"What's your plan?", we asked. "Well," the QRPer replied, you know all the theory about short skip and long skip, right? And how it depends on the angle of radiation, or take-off angle of your antenna?" We had to agree on this one. "Some DX is easier to work on short skip, and other DX on long skip," the QRPer ploughed on. "The beam manufacturers like to tell us we need a low angle for DX, but that isn't always true, is it? What really matters is that our station and that of the DX are in corresponding skip zones, right?" "Uh-huh," we said slowly, "this is all common knowledge, and you can't change the laws of physics, anyhow. Why the secrecy?" The QRPer looked from side to side and said, "But you can! I figured out how to do it. Got rid of all my antennas at the flea market last month and invested in a 20-metre beam. One of those new 5-element monobanders that are computer designed! Got it on a new 70 foot tower too! I figure the radiation angle is about 5 degrees. Long haul, short haul, it doesn't matter 'cuz it'll be in the log!"

"That sure will break the pileups," we agreed, "but with all that forward gain and low take-off angle, how are you going to work the close-in stuff? And what about the corresponding skip zone theory?" The QRPer grinned at us and his beady little eyes began to sparkle. "It's the rotator," he replied, "I've been studying the ads in QST and CQ this last while and I got it figured out. All you need is the right rotator and you can work anything on the band!" This wasn't making any sense to us. "What's the rotator got to do with it?", we retorted, "as long as it can turn the beam, it doesn't make any difference! Why are you wasting our time and driving up our water bill telling us about rotators?" The QPPer jumped up and said, "Radiation angle, remember? Well, I ordered an azimuth-elevation rotator! All I have to do is rotate the beam to the right heading, then use the elevation to change my take-off angle! Why, I bet I can vary it from 5 to 90 degrees. I'll be able to bring a S1 signal up to S7 or S8 just by adjusting our respective skip zones! For those really close QSOs, I can even point it down and slam-dunk my signal right into the other station on ground wave! Why else would they make rotators with elevation capabilities?"

And with that, he was off down the hill to get his order in so he'd be ready to test it in the CQ WW contest. Son of a Gun! We never figured on this one. We got up slowly and turned off the taps and the stereo. Then we just sat there, staring at the floor. It's not often we are stuck for words, but this time even Albert and the theory of relativity didn't help! Maybe the QRPer was right . . . but we weren't going to order a new rotator just yet!

Best Regards, Paul

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