Monday, June 16, 2014

Still struggling to hear....or am I?

I still think something is just not quite right with my setup.  If you remember from a few posts back I installed a 66' ladder fed dipole in the attic.  I thought this would increase my reception ability, but now I am not to sure.

Maybe I am just spoiled by the low noise floor when operating portable in the park, but across multiple weekends and multiple evenings I am beginning to think I just don't hear as well with the attic antenna.

Sure the noise floor is higher, about S5 - which can be helped with the NR and the ATT, but I just don't hear signals like I think I should.

For example, typical weeknight on 40 meter CW about 11:00 pm local time.  I hear maybe 2 or 3 QSO's.  During the weekend days, I have scanned 30 meters thru 10 meters - CW and SSB portions of the band, and hear nothing - may one or two QSO's but that is it.

I read about others working DX and plenty of local stations with an attic mounted dipole.

I have worked people on PSK31 on 20 meters in the evenings - even some DX to South America - but overall the signals in general seem very weak.

It just seems like it is more than the higher noise floor that is impacting my operating.

The thing that has me most confused is that when I don't hear anyone, and then decided to call CQ, I almost always make a contact.

I have not gotten on during a contest, even a QRP sprint, which might be a better way to gauge what I am hearing - I suppose I need to do this.

Am I just expecting more activity than there actually is?


  1. Burke,

    Do get on during a Sprint or a contest. Weekday and weeknight activity is not a reliable indicator of what you are actually able to hear. I find activity during weekdays to be pretty abysmal. Many times, there are plenty of stations, just no one is CQing as you are finding out. The bands can indeed sound dead, even when they aren't.

    The other big thing is location, I guess. Many times, I will watch the Cluster, see someone remark about how loud a certain DX station is, and then I go to that exact frequency only to hear nothing.

    Propagation is a fickle mistress. In reality, only longer term experience will adequately inform you as to your antennas performance, but what you can hear during a contest is a relatively good short term indicator.

    Larry W2LJ

  2. Thanks for the good comment Larry - points well taken. I will get on the air for some of the sprints or mini contests and see what things sound like. I'll let you know how it goes.