LBI-2 attendees: Bob Galerstein, Dave Hochfelder, Bruce Collier, Brett Saylor & Russ Edmunds.
A group of six of us had been planning a two-night outing to the Jersey shore to try to snag some of the fantastic beach DX reported by our New England and Washington colleagues. Unfortunately Mark Clark had to drop out, leaving five of us. We all had high hopes for decent reception conditions, but the sun didn't cooperate. Conditions were mediocre and yielded no surprises except in a couple cases. We had window-rattling copy of ZIZ on 555, and excellent reception of Jamaica on 550; our most noteworthy domestic catch was WZZJ, Pascagoula, MS.
Brett Saylor, Bruce Collier, Russ Edmunds and I arrived at the Drifting Sands Motel at about 3 on Friday afternoon; a very tired, hungry and thirsty Bob Galerstein arrived on little sleep Saturday evening. After getting acquainted Brett, Bruce, Russ and I headed out to the beach to run two 500 foot wires, one aimed at 40 degrees, the other at 220; we hoped to hear some TA's off the north wire but we had nary a peep except for a het on 1215 which Bruce assumes is Virgin Radio. The south wire performed better, if you count hearing "RR" in Morse everywhere. I took to calling it "R. Relog" after awhile. Since we had a bad experience last year with copper ground rods, we decided to run radials. Although we couldn't tune the terminations that well, we still had decent directivity from the wires. We also had a shorter wire for phasing.
Outside of good copy of RJR, ZIZ, and WZZJ, the remarkable events on Friday evening were watching Bruce resurrect his MFJ phaser and a brownout apparently affecting the entire motel. Apparently MFJ is too cheap to put in a ten-cent blocking diode just downstream of the power jack. The voltage drop caused Brett's R8 to drop out. We stuck a meter into the outlet and found that the voltage was about 80 volts; oddly enough, when we turned on the thermostat to start the heat, the voltage went up to about 90. Another technical glitch was that our ICE active 4-way splitters didn't provide good isolation; every time I switched antennas on my Quantum phaser, Bruce had to reset his phaser settings.
On Saturday we decided to lengthen our BOGs out to about 700 feet and to beef up the ground radials. Although this improved the performance on the low side of the band, conditions prevented any remarkable catches. We all hacked around a bit; Bruce went down to LW, and I trolled around 60 meters. I had clean copy of Zambia on 4910
Well, at least we had excellent companionship, good beer (Bruce brought Yuengling; I brought Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest), scotch (Bruce), and cigars (Bruce again). As several of us commented, a bad day DXing beats a good day at work. Despite the poor conditions, we all enjoyed good beer and company. When we do this next time, we'll be smarter about projecting solar conditions 28 days before our target date. We also learned a great deal about the technical aspects of DXing, and we should be able to beat our 3-hour setup time easily next time.
We also would like to thank Rick Kenneally for shipping us two boxes full of long coax runs, splitters, connectors, adapters, and other useful equipment. We couldn't have done it without him.
When Dave Hochfelder posted a notice on the email list about a DXpedition to Long Beach Island in NJ for November, I emailed him back right away and said "if you have room for a newbie, count me in!", which he did. After reading about Newfie, Miscou, Grayland, and others, plus Mark Connelly and Patrick Martin's amazing catches, I wanted to see what it was like to DX on a beverage by the sea (on a smaller scale, of course).
The weeks that followed eventually built up to a crescendo of emails the week of the event---"Do we have enough cable and wire---what about splitters---how about an Africa wire---what connectors are we using again?" A BIG thank you to Rick Kenneally for his "care package" of looong runs of RG58, patch cords, and splitters---he saved us a lot of money and headache! Thursday night while packing, I turned the Sony 2010 on before I packed it, and it was dead! Oh God, that's the main radio! It had been acting squirrely ever since I did the KIWA mods. Strike one up for Murphy! I pulled all the batteries out, set it aside, and sent an emergency email out to the gang to bring an extra radio---Brett replied and said he was bringing several. Later that night, I put all fresh batteries in, and it came back to life!
We decided to add Friday night for a 2-nighter this year, so the four of us rolled in within minutes of each other about 2:30 Friday. After carting the entire contents of all our ham shacks into the "radio room", we hit the beach with the wire, running 500 ft each on 40 and 220-degree bearings, hugging the dune fence. A shorter 175- foot wire was strung south as a "phasing wire". In 40mph winds, thank you---I'm still picking sand out of my teeth! By 6pm, it was radios on and let's see what we have. Murphy rode along with me. We knew going in that the sun was not going to cooperate, and sure enough, it was like the DX gods bought the old iron curtain from the USSR and plopped it down right in front of the Drifting Sands resort---no TA's at all! Only a weak het on 1215. I had brought my MFJ 1025 phaser, and promptly hooked the power up reversed and poof! As Dave noted, "it won't work now, you've let the magic smoke out!" Murphy strikes again! You'd think for a $125 unit, MFJ could've put a 25-cent blocking diode in there, but nooooo! So it was dead for the night. After much discussion of what M.F.J. stood for, and the ancestry, mating habits, and intelligence level of its founder, I tossed (threw?) it aside and got into the radio. Finally, a weak Virgin 1215 appeared just above the noise floor around 8pm, enough to discern a British-accented male announcer, and that was the only sniff of TA we'd get all weekend! We’d even brought Scotch and imported beer in an attempt to attract Euro signals, but apparently we got the wrong brands.
We did get some decent stuff from the south like Colombia and Venezuela, and a couple of stations using their "high school football power" authorization, including 1580 WZZJ from MS. Late Friday night, the lights suddenly dimmed and Brett's R-8 began to complain. A quick look around revealed the entire building and the one next to it were browning out! We hooked up my voltmeter to the AC and had 82 volts! Now here's the scary part---if you turned the heat on, it went up to 91 volts! Exactly the opposite of what'd you'd expect! It never recovered until after we came back from breakfast Saturday morning, and stayed at 122 the rest of the weekend. Funny, in all the helpful advice given by Kaz, Mark C, and others, I don't remember anyone saying "bring a multimeter so you can monitor the line voltage."! We never did find out what was wrong.
Saturday morning it was back to the beach, as we added 250' more to the north wire (750 total) and 350' to the south (850 total), and lengthened the south radials as well. Then a great breakfast at the Greenhouse Cafe. Saturday afternoon, it was off to Radio Shack 6 miles away for more adaptors and parts to try to resurrect the phaser. Got what I thought was blown and returned. The MFJ is all surface mount, RS parts aren't. But I replaced the 1n4001 diode and jumpered the two filter coils on the DC input, plus replaced the two caps in the power circuitry (tacking the regular components to the SMT pads!--scary!!), and after 2 hours, up she came! And it was worth it, phasing out WABC to get WLWL, Rockingham, NC, on late Saturday--- Dave got them w/his 2010 and Quantum phaser as well.
Bob Galerstein rolled in around 6ish after getting stuck in
Tunnel due to an overturned dump truck (Murphy?), we had a spot ready for
him to hook up and go. After last year's apparently awful pizza, we played
this year and went w/Pizza Hut both nights! Meatlovers pizza---a heart
attack on a plate---now that's good eatin! We wrapped up Sunday morning with
good breakfast at the Greenhouse, said our goodbyes, and hit the pike.
As we said throughout the weekend, a bad night of DXing beats a good day at
We're already talking about a possible spring replay, or next fall. Hopefully,
ol' Sol will settle down by then! Thanks to Russ and Dave who did most
of the planning and such that goes into this type of thing, and to Brett for
the matching units (and giving Russ and I each one to keep!). The BOGS
worked---definitely different stations on many freqs on an A/B switch. It was
a great learning
and I'll be there if at all possible next time!
As with Bruce, this was my first experience with a beachside DXpedition, and my first chance to DX with beverage antennas. I seriously overpacked my car with just about every radio- and electronics-related item I had, and headed off Friday on a five-hour drive to LBI.
The setup of antennas went fairly smoothly, thanks to Russ' and David's prior experience at the site, although we seemed to have trouble establishing termination on both beverages. We also had some trouble keeping the antennas buried as they crossed the beach entrances on the first night, one antenna wire was broken by an SUV at a dune crossing. I was surprised at the number of people (mostly fishermen) who are still at the beach in November (now there's a hobby I just can't quite figure out :-)
Another area of difficulty was with the active 4-way ICE antenna splitters that we bought from Array Solutions. While they were advertised as being good from 500 kHz to 30 MHz, we discovered they included a high-pass BCB filter (presumably to prevent intermod at shortwave frequencies.) Although we modified them per instructions from the vendor, we were not happy with their performance. We ended up using passive splitters provided by Chuck Hutton and Rick Kenneally (thanks, guys!) and still had plenty of signal strength to the radios.
While I was disappointed with the lack of any TA action, it was fun playing with phasing of the beverage antennas and receiving the occasional South American station. It was especially entertaining listening to Bruce's "colorful" language as he spent several hours Saturday troubleshooting and repairing his MFJ phaser. Conditions on the second night were so bad that Russ resorted to seeing how many Radio Reloj's he could re-log (what was the final count - over 20?) and several of us resorted to shortwave DXing (until local noise drowned out even that) where we had nearly armchair copy of the 800 watt Guatemalan on 4052 kHz, Radio Verdad, among other Latin American stations.
The highlight of the weekend for me, besides the three Jamaican stations logged, was the fun and fellowship with the other DXers; I learned a great deal from them, and look forward to future opportunities to attend a DXpedition in the area.
LBI 2002 made me feel like the "wide-eyed-intern," plugging a beverage
into my radio, not knowing where to start and gawking at the DX we received.
A DX'Pedition of this sort can also allow maximum use of my Drake R8B. While
the radio's features can help with some loggings at my inland New Jersey home,
the immense noise at times in my condo complex can negate the radio's ability.
In prepping for LBI 2003, I wanted to run circles around the previous year's loggings. I familiarized myself more with what is potentially out there and formed a game plan in my head. This and the extensive planning emails among the participants had all of us frothing at the mouth. India
1566, here we come!
However, Murphy's law struck before I even got there. I had a work commitment in Manhattan Saturday morning. There's usually little traffic when I leave, but not this day. An overturned dump truck on the route that leaves the Lincoln Tunnel held me up for over an hour. (Ironically, a
similar incident delayed my arrival for last year's DX'Pedition.)
Murphy's law, part two, occurred when I got within two-meter range of the LBI participants. Dave informed me that conditions were so bad, they could not log RVC-530. I turned my car radio to 530, and there it was, weakly. Not a good sign when the car radio is pulling in garden variety DX that
the beverages were struggling to do.
It was then that I made my biggest contribution of the weekend. Via the two-meter radio, Dave and Bruce told me that they placed an order at Pizza Hut, and asked if I could pick it up. Gladly!
After arriving, then inhaling the pizza and some great beer, we tested conditions again. Little improvement. So, we essentially gave up on much international DX, and focused on the flea powered southern stations. At one point, we had what was ID'ing as "The Hub Cap Radio Network" on 1540.
Very southern sounding, playing bluegrass. Then came ID time at the top of the hour........Flashback to LBI 2002. When we logged the highlight of the night, Radio Reforma from Panama, we let out a big cheer. It capped what, lack of TA's aside, was a great weekend. ...Back to 2003. The ID came on 1540 - "WPTR, Albany." A pronounced groan from the five of us.
Still, as Bruce said, "A bad session of DX'ing beats a good day at the office." A great bunch of guys is looking forward to doing this again.
There’s really not much more to say that hasn’t been said already. Certainly being pretty much ‘on our own’ this year without having Rick’s beverage antenna and splitters experiences on hand, this year presented the rest of us with valuable experiences which will serve us well in the future, both for future Dxpeditions and for individual ones as well. Most of us have also now accumulated splitters, wire, cable and adaptors we’d not had before which will prove equally valuable. I also want to acknowledge my/our gratitude to Chuck Hutton for at the last minute selling me and quickly shipping two passive 6-way splitters at the point where we were questioning the usefulness of any of the ICE splitters some had bought. In the event, these were the center of our operations, as the amplified splitters proved to create spurious signals and also to amplify and re-transmit interference. They also managed to cause significant signal level fluctuations for the rest of us every time Dave flipped the phase switch on his Quantum Phaser.
We also learned that while perhaps last years 1000 and 1400’ wires might have been more than we needed, 500’ wires weren’t long enough on the sand. We may even go back to 1000’ next time. We’ll also have to work on an earlier arrival time to complete the setup in time for pre-sunset DX. While we’d hoped we could rig up some sort of a sloper, we quickly discovered that we really didn’t have appropriate height and length to make it work, although there may yet be a way to do a shorter wire toward Brazil or Africa.
And, once again, I discovered how great the Sony ICF2010 is. Last year I used one of Rick Kenneally’s, and this year, for Saturday at least, I used Bob Galerstein’s ( while he used the Drake ). For Frdiay, I got to try out Brett’s Yaesu FRG7700 – not a bad radio, but it takes a lot of getting used to, and I never quite did, hi.