How to Do 10 Meter DX
Chasing DX on 10 meters is my real passion.
It started because of Novice enhancement in 1987. Novice and Technician class operators gained access to 28.1 to 28.5. It was the beginning of Cycle 22. I started working EU DX in the winter of 1988 with a dipole taped to the ceiling of my apartment and a 25w Uniden HR 2510.
Ever since then I have been chasing DXCC in the Novice band section. As a Tech Plus, I've totaled 250 countries (SSB). I got the free upgrade to General on April 15, 2000 when the morse code requirement was standardized at 5 wpm.The Morse Code requirement came to an end on 2/23/2007. Starting February 23, all Technicians will have CW privileges on 80, 40, 15 meters and CW, RTTY, data and SSB privileges on 10 meters.
CQ DX 10 kilo alpha 6 papa uniform whiskey:
Along the way I've met some of the most dedicated 10 meter operators. Yes, there are few years in the solar cycle in which 10 is pretty much dead but hey, that's what makes it hard. Trying to work DX in zone 21 and 22 is a killer from W6. It's getting over the 1's, 2's, 3's, and 4's in the pileups is frustrating (didn't get 3Y5X) But of course they think the same when there is DX in the Pacific or SE Asia.
On March 3rd 2000 there were some real good long path openings from W6/W5 to the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. It starts around 9:00pm local (0500GMT) and you can still hear the VK's and ZL's ragchewing. Then the southern portion of Africa opens around (0600GMT). Next the Middle East and finally up into Europe. By 0700 signals are faded out. Very happy to work some new DXCC.
Get to know the local 10 meter operators -- you know, the ones you hear when the DX calls any more sixes? Ask them what kind of antenna works for them. What's the best time, and season to get what you need. Ask them what's rare for 10 and whats not. ex: don't ever worry that you can't work JA's on 10. Check the DX bulletins on the internet or at least OH9W DX Summit on the internet.
LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN. Wait for the QSB to be in your favor. Even 25 watt stations have a fair chance in a pileup in the solar peaks. Listen to how the DX operates. Does he allow tailending, does he move up 4 kc's after 5 qso's, is he split, is he slow, is he fast, does he want your full call, let the kilowatt stations go first. Make time to work DX when 10 is hot. Don't stop -- keep calling CQ when the band is open. Are you familar with beacon clock software from the NCDXA(www.ncdxf.org/beacon.htm)? Do you listen to the beacons? Calling CQ blindly does work if the band is open to where you need to go. I haven't run into a situation where the rare DX is blindly calling CQ CQ CQ yet.
Sporatic E even during solar minimum can give many hundred miles opening. For me in So California late August is the best. You can follow the E skip on 6 meters as the 6 meter beacons fade in east (for my QTH the W7-W5 beacons) the 10 meter beacons are S3 to S6. Around 9 pm local time I can still hear a few a VE6 beacons. Probably there is trans-equatorial opening but few stations south on my QTH are QRV. http://www.chem.hawaii.edu/uham/spore.html has a great explanation on 10 meter E skip.
Main and sub band receive. All the newer type HF radios like a TS950, FT 1000, all have the Dual receive function where you can listen to the DX station on the A VFO and listen on the TX split B VFO. This is a must when there is a big pileup. You can confirm your TX VFO is on the right spot where the DX station is listening. You can also tune up and down your TX split B VFO freq. Before with my old TS 440S I have to constantly push the A/B VFO button to switch between VFO's in order to hunt down the DX's listening freq.Which ends up with people just spamming their callsign over and over and over on one frequency hoping eventually the DX station will be listening on that specific frequency. They are just adding to the QRM. Remember most DX operations are using a vertical antenna. Its not pointed at you! So for example the DX station is transmitting on 28.495. He is listening between 28.505 and 28.515. Your A vfo is set to listen to 28.495, and your XMIT B VFO is set to 28.510. (remember to push the split function)On a normal radio all you hear on 28.495 is stuff like "KA6PUW your 5 and 9 QSL?". On a dual receive radio you can hear on the B VFO "3Y5X your 5x9 thank you" you know the DX station is listening on 28.515 NOT on 28.510. Its even harder to find the range or frequency when the DX station says on 28.495 "Listening up!" You don't know the exact range. I have seen 3-4 different rec freq's posted on the DX Cluster in a few minutes span. So try and increase your odds with better technique.
I run a modest station in the middle of the city, fighting the noise, CBers, and neighbors. My average power is 100w. I use a 4 element yagi at about 32' with about 75 feet of 213 coax.
Admittedly I never get the DX right way but after the kilowatt stations get their fill. (Have you heard this before in the pileup? I've worked 3Y before but I just wanted to try again for the fun of it) But time, experience, and patience will put you ahead even if you're a casual operator.
I know it's frustrating when the rare DX is in the General portion of the 10 m band (above 28.5) But most rare DX operations choose to be between 28.490-28.495 so don't despair. The problem is if your still a Novice or Tech plus, the dx stations are usually listening up which means unless your a General you can't transmit above 28.498. So all you can do is watch the cars go by. There are a lot things to go against you like only 2-4 years of good dx, but there are alot things going your way. Like small beam size as compared to a 4 element mono band 20m yagi. You can makeup with a bigger beam like most hard core DXer's. Over 1/3 of the 10m JA dxers use 5,6 or 7 element monoband yagi's. The most exotic was JH1AJT with stacked 9 element yagi's.
No, you don't have to have real estate or money either on 10. When conditions are good there is hardly any difference between 25w and 100watt stations. But as all dxer's know, if you can't hear the DX you can't work them. (I love the ones who call and call with the amplifier/vertical ant combo) If you want to get over 100 DXCC switch to 2 element beam They are easy to make and support. So now you want to go from 200 to 300 DXCC means 4 - 6 elements. 300+ is blind luck hahaha. 10m is a daytime/early evening band. On rare occasions e skip, long path, and crooked path openings can happen but basically it's a point and shoot type game.Equipment. I started with a 25w Uniden HR 2510. Radio Shack followed the boom with HTX-100. They are out of production now for sometime. They can be a good deal when the solar cycle is low, maybe you can get a used one for $75-$120. Easy to use and great for the car. Becareful about purchasing ones who need the final transistor. They are getting hard to find. Sometime ago they were popular as IF radios for 10 ghz or satellites. You can run these types of mobile radios on low power and enjoy HF at a park or camping. Cheaper then a FT 817. CB antennas over 4 feet work ok in good conditions. An 8' 4" vertical will out perform them. Antenna. Yes I started with a dipole in my apartment. I guess IMHO experiment experiment experiment. Wire/coax is relatively cheap. Build your own. 5/8 groundplane, dipole, DDRR, J-pole deltaloop, hentenna, or square loop. Since we went Digital TV in 6/09, indoor HF stealth operation has to peak. There are hundreds of articles on the internet for 10 meter antennas. (cheap CB SWR meters, and CB match tuners work well on 28mhz)QST July 1995, p.65, QST July 1994 p. 70, 73 Amateur Radio Sep 91 P.72, QST Sep 91 p. 22, QST Mar 89 p. 21. These 10m antenna articles are probably the most basic design and easy to make. Confirming the QSO with a QSL card. To me its the most painful thing but most rewarding part of chasing DX. My favorite was the W6GO/K6HHD QSL Manager List - GO List was famous. 12 issues $25 Overseas 12 issues $38. CQ magazine printed QSL manager lists also. Remember DD/ MM/YY and use UTC. I got a note back from one QSL manager with the checkmark on I owe the manager a drink for making him look me up in the log because I used MM/DD/YY. Return postage outside of the USA can be expensive. I usually use at least 4-5 green stamps. I used to use IRC's and would love to hear the pro's and cons. Now with all that it still may not arrive. I read once 2 hams got their QSL cards from Mongolia via registered mail and this trick worked for me. Any suggestions for Pakistan would be appreciated. You can check up on the ARRL's Incoming QSL Bureau at http://www.arrl.org/qsl/qslin.html They are wonderful volunteers who process your QSL cards. The Beijing model 2 IRC's are expired. You should be using the Nairobi ones. QSL managers may reject the old Beijing IRC's. The Nairobi ones will expire in 2013. The USA and UK will no longer sell IRC's. The Universal Postal Union released the new"Water for Life" which will be valid until 2017.
January 2014 we have a postal rate increase, first class domestic 1 ounce will be $.49 + .21 for each additional ounce/domestic postcard $.34. /two ounce international letter is approx $2.15. http://www.k4hb.com/postage.html has an excellent chart explaining the current rates.
Questions or comments? Drop me a line. KA6PUW@ARRL.NET