Sunday, April 05, 2020

A Brief Summary of The 2019-2020 Season

In the early days of April, the MW season on 71 North is soon coming to an end. The days are already 15 hours long, and northern signal paths are becoming increasingly attenuated. So, maybe time for a little round-up!

On a personal level for the KONG crew, the season started in the worst possible way with the loss of a great friend and excellent DX-er, TJ Bråtveit. TJ was a part of the KONG crew for many years, and will always be missed. The remaining three of us, me, OJ Sagdahl and Ole Forr, will keep up the tradition, which includes two annual gettogethers at Smøla island, and two, including the main KONG DX-pedition, in Kongsfjord.

The Kongsfjord antenna line-up was similar to previous years; four beverage antennas. The dual, staggered beverage to the North American west coast proved exceptionally efficient this season, surely a result of feedline and grounding replacements. Throughout the season there was a steady flow of new California loggings - partly due to conditions but surely also due to "cheating" with daytime power. Our temporary, 1000-metre remote setup at Mount Loran also logged lots of nice stuff for us. It was probably the last autumn we were allowed to use that site. We'll see what to do the coming autumn. "We have a plan"!

One of the new logs this season.

The Pacific DX was.... I wouldn't call it disappointing, but... But yes it was. There were some interesting openings, especially towards Western Australia, but I don't think we ever spotted a truly great opening. Some new stations from Australia and New Zealand were logged though. Personally I got my first Tasmania station, but on x-band so not "really".

The three of us have our own PCs and SDRs running in Kongsfjord and Smøla, and activity levels between us vary quite a bit.  I am certainly the lazy bugger of the team but I did hear a few great stations myself, or with the help from the other two, which can be found in the logbook below. Most common stations omitted. Speaking of which: DX-ers have always shared loggings. Nowadays, the methods of sharing vary a lot more than in the days of paper-based publications. Things have become much more fragmented. My own logs are found in the HCDX Log and I am surprised to see though that many DX-ers these days never publish their logs anywhere - but are more than happy to publish their QSLs. I am somewhat at loss to the logic behind this.

Click here for Bjarne's log.

Weather this winter has been very challenging, much more so than usual. Windy, snowy, stormy. And no sign of spring as I write. Apart from one short outage, the new fiber connection has worked superbly though, even (although with reduced capacity) during a fiber breakage out at sea. Much better than the old 4G connection. Despite the dreadful weather, only one short power outage was noted. Thanks to clever internal power management, all equipment came up again except two KiwiSDRs which needed some extra help.

The beverage antennas will likely be dismantled during the Easter holiday, as the reindeer migration to summer pastures is underway.  I bought an 8-element FM antenna from InnovAntennas recently, and hopefully this summer too will see a few Es-openings. They are exceptionally few on this latitude, but intense! Three SDRPlay RSPdx should provide enough FM coverage.

For MW, the Perseus SDR continues to be our receiver of choice. There are two reasons: 1) The Jaguar software is developed especially for the Perseus. The integration is virtually seamless and Jaguar provides a massive improvement in efficiency over any other software for dedicated MW DX-ers. 2) The Perseus is still in many ways a benchmark SDR. You will find other SDRs with similar or even better specifications (such as the Winradio G33DDC). However, replacing the Perseus and porting Jaguar to a new platform would be a massive cost for many DX-ers. Still, what the future brings nobody knows.

And in late August, another KONG season starts again!

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