LBI-3 attendees: Bob Galerstein, Dave Hochfelder, Bruce Collier, Brett Saylor, Mark Clark, Bill Harms, Bob Stonier & Russ Edmunds.
I had a good time meeting in person DX’ers whose names I had seen in DX bulletins. Conditions on both nights were fairly good with numerous stations from the other side of the pond being heard (See the master list of loggings). The second night seemed to start out a little better, but the band became "mushy" as the night wore on. By mushy, I mean that hets were present, but it became more difficult to pull out audio on most channels. On both days, we had reception as early as 1500 Eastern time (2000 UTC) starting with the usual faire of longwave stations.
The personal highlight for me was not a TA, but rather the clear reception of CBGY 750, Bonavista, Newfoundland. I had not heard NFL since the days I set up beverage antennas in the Utah desert in the early 1980’s. We heard CBGY at about 1705 Eastern Time the first night with a program preview and a program about raccoons. I was never able to pull out audio on the possible reception of Iran on 1503, although I heard a strong het there.
In order to facilitate communication between the two radio rooms we set-up a secure WiFi system using an IRC (Internet Relay Chat) server and a web server client. This enabled us to exchange live information about our loggings without running up and down the stairs between the rooms. It also provided a record of what was happening live. The web server allowed us to make downloaded copies of radio stations lists such as the EMWG and various country lists available to those with laptops.
This was my first time at LBI and my first time chasing TADX so I was really excited about hearing my first MW from Europe. I didn't have to wait long. Bruce called out a frequency and the rest of us tuned to it. Suddenly a Euro MW was coming out of my R8B at S7 and I was off and running. I spent most of my time listening and learning from the veterans but managed to pull out a few on my own too. My first was Virgin Radio and caught it coming up out of the mud on 1215 and later caught some German stations. No rare DX for me this time, but I'm very pleased with catching what I did. High point of the weekend? Two for me, one was digging the first TADX on my own, the aforementioned Virgin Radio and the second was hearing Phil Collins "Look at me now" blasting out of five radios on 1314 Norway at S9+30! I'll definitely be back!
Bob G. speaks:
When guys gather in a hotel room for a weekend of fun, they're usually blasting some form of music from either the TV or a local FM rock station. What epitomized LBI 2004 was our Saturday pizza and beer/soda dinner at about 7:30 in the lower DX room - the music of choice was the mix being played on two Drake receivers, in 6 khz mode, of a solid s-35 NRK 1314. After frustrating TA conditions during the first two LBI DXpeditions, we hit paydirt this past November. While we didn't log 100-watt United Kingdom stations, we were kids in a candy store, with armchair reception of Virgin Radio 1215 (excellent music) and LW and MW stations from western Europe at times booming in. Sometimes I found it difficult tuning away to listen to some het because I was enjoying it so much.
The biggest disappointment was not logging Kuwait 1548 or Djibouti 1431. Weak hets were constantly heard from both, never with audio. One other item I tried to do was clean up on the Caribbean. It would have been great to log such stations as ZBVI-780 and St. Lucia-660, but conditions to the south were not nearly as good as two years ago, when we logged Panama-860. Of course, Cuba blasted in, though one station from Fidel-land made for a classic phaser demonstration. On 570, WMCA from New York dominated the north wire reception. One tweak of the phaser knob virtually eliminated WMCA, allowing s-30 reception of Radio Reloj. And, from the "power of positive thinking" department - Both Dave and Bruce have never logged Newfoundland. When I told Dave that Newfie was very possible on a couple of frequencies, he gave a verbal thumbs down to the chances. So I said declaratively, "You ARE picking up Newfoundland today!" As Donald Sutherland said in the movie Kelly's Heroes, "Again with the negative vibes." This was repeated about three times. So, as the sun started to set Saturday, we tuned to 750, where a clear CBGY mentioned Labrador, gave Atlantic zone time checks and mentioned CBC Radio. After a quick cheer, we went to the back of the room where shots of Bruce's superb scotch were consumed to celebrate. We then decided, half seriously, to celebrate each new country with a shot. I'll let you determine if that was done. It is certainly a relaxing experience sitting in a roomful of DX'ers, facing the sliding glass doors and looking out towards the ocean at 4pm while England 1089 became the first TA of the day. The comraderie was terrific as usual, raising the bar of enjoyment for what is usually a solitary hobby. Hello LBI 2005......
After reading reports from other seaside DXpeditions, and their voluminous loggings of transoceanic signals, I was pleased to experience what was the best medium wave reception that I had ever heard at this year's LBI. At home, Norway 1314 is a rare catch; at LBI it was "armchair copy." We had carriers on most channels and audio on many of those. It definitely whetted my appetite for future long-distance MW DX’ing. Despite some last-minute panic when it appeared that our DX motel would be either (A) torn down or (B) sold-out for our weekend, the planning and setup went smoothly. As the number of attendees grew, it became obvious that we would need two radio rooms for the weekend. Fortunately, our desired 1st floor room with good beach access (and the room directly above it) were available, which made the running of coax cables to the beach an easy task. Given the number of attendees, we split the group into two rooms, one for "DX’ers with phasers" and one for "DX’ers without" and planned our cable runs accordingly. We purchased three MCL 8-way splitters before the weekend; those, combined with existing MCL 4- and 6-way splitters, gave us enough signal to drive everyone's receivers from all the antennas.
Since many of us are hams, we were able to start the DX talk early on the drive into Long Beach Island, courtesy of the local Manahawkin, NJ two-meter repeater. Deployment of the "beverage under the sand" (BUTS) and phase wire antennas went smoothly. The impact of the variable terminating resistors used on the beverages wasn't clear when we tried to adjust them during daylight on groundwave signals; at night, however, there was definitely directionality on the north vs. south wires, so some termination effect apparently existed. Beverages are fun antennas, but the highlight for me was the use of the Mark Connelly-designed unamplified six-foot broadband loop (BBL). While we didn't have a chance to deploy both the BBLs (both Bruce and I built one), nor did we have a chance to phase it against a whip, some of my best receptions of the weekend were on this loop. I imagine it was due to reduced signals from domestics (both in gain and due to directionality) since the TA signals were weaker on the loop but more in-the-clear. My best catch on the BBL was a tentative Iran on 1503 with presumed Koran in Arabic.
Technology played a role at LBI, both in the pre-DXpedition planning and while on-site. We made extensive use of email and the web in the months prior to LBI to plan and coordinate the weekend; the web site http://www.radiodxing.com contains pictures and logs from this and prior year's DXpeditions. While at LBI, Bill Harms set up a wireless IRC chat room (ala #mwdx) for us to use for communications between the DX rooms. We had four people simultaneously online sharing catches and asking for help in ID’ing new stations via WiFi-equipped laptops. The only missing link was a connection to the Internet at the motel - maybe next year we'll add that to our arsenal of tools.
In the weeks leading up the LBI, DX’ers in North America were experiencing some exceptional TA reception. We held our collective breaths that it would continue until the LBI weekend. It's a good thing that we didn't know at the time how close we came to a complete washout - the day that we left the site, there was a serious solar eruption and the A index spiked to 190 - the highest I can ever recall. This led to a radio blackout that would have been a big disappointment. Fortunately for us, though, conditions held out long enough and reception was excellent. In all, I found the weekend to be great fun, and I look forward to continued opportunities to DX from the shores of New Jersey.
Our 3rd annual outing to LBI was by far the most successful,
in every sense of the word. We had 8 DX’ers on hand, and we took up two
rooms, a first floor room for the 5 of us with phasers and the room directly
above for the 3 DXers without phasers. It was great to see Bob Galerstein,
Edmunds, Bruce Collier, and Brett Saylor again and to meet Rob Stonier, Bill
Harms, and Mark Clark for the first time.
The DX was far better than the past two years too. While it might be "garden variety" DX to some old hands, I got quite a thrill out of hearing the Saudi on 1521, particularly transmitter sunrise enhancement; and armchair copy on Norway, Virgin Radio, Spanish outlets, France, Croatia, etc.; 2 Newfoundlanders (640 and 750) which is my first logging of that province; listenable audio on most all the longwave channels; Switzerland on 765 and Germany on 756; and so on. It's a good thing we didn't decide to do a shot of Bruce's scotch for every country heard; that would've gotten ugly.
I was also pleased that my combination of the Sony ICF-2010 and Quantum phaser performed about as well as everyone else's Drakes with MFJ phasers. I heard most of what everyone else heard, and in some cases I was able to get better audio and to alert the others to a signal. The Quantum phaser is a much better phaser than the MFJ. Still, it was clear that the '2010 is not a Drake; I struggled to get listenable audio on the Saudi whereas Bob sitting next to me handed me his headphones and I could hear them quite clearly on his Drake. Also, I couldn't use our passive broadband loop since the '2010 does not have a preamp whereas the Drake does. After Bob went to bed on Saturday night, I got to play with his R8B a bit and it is a nice machine. I want one in the worst way. We were fortunate in our timing. We seemed to have dodged a real bullet from the sun. On Sunday evening after I returned home there was an almost total skywave blackout with WWV not even present. The Chicago clears and Toronto on 740 were not in and there was only weak audio on WLW. No LA's seemed to be there either. I had a tentative logging of WTKS on 1290 but the band was dead otherwise. The auroral conditions are continuing through Thursday night as I write. We all owe a collective thanks to Brett, who brought every connector and cable known to man; to Bruce and Brett for making up the broadband loops and active whip; and to Bill for setting up our wireless LAN which allowed for instant communication between the two DX rooms. Thanks, guys!
Last year was my first MW DXpedition at LBI-2, and although I enjoyed the camaraderie and experience, the complete lack of TA signals caused by auroral conditions was a little disappointing. It was the 3rd weekend in November, with only the weakest hint of Brit heard on 1215, not even enough to confirm Virgin Radio. This year, we settled on the first weekend in November for a couple of reasons---TA conditions had improved and 8 weeks out we saw some decent openings, with Norway 1314, Croatia 1134, and France 162 coming in well in York (my QTH) and State College (Brett’s QTH). Also, after setting up in 40-degree weather with 40mph winds last year, I was hoping for milder weather! The emails began to fly as we planned the usual long BOGS on the beach, plus Brett and I each decided to build a Mark Connelly 6-foot broadband loop, there was talk of a gutter BOG (300’ or so in the street gutter E-W, which was abandoned), and an active whip for phasing. I had loaded up on 100’ and 75’ runs of coax, as did others. More than one member of the group elicited strange looks from wives/girlfriends/daughters at the request to borrow odd colors of nail polish (to mark adaptors and cables)!
I was majorly stoked this year, because of the excellent receptions I had been getting at home, the solar forecasts were looking great, plus this would be the 1st time to try my Drake R8B at the shore. (My 2010 had gotten nailed by lightning, and although it was fixed in time, I had gone trolling on Ebay and got a great deal on the Drake in July.) A day before we left, Spaceweather.com suddenly predicted a solar flare late Saturday/early Sunday. It looked like this shouldn’t pose a major problem---little did we know how moving to that 1st weekend would be such a fortunate choice! There were a couple of “close calls” this year. When I called to inquire about 2 adjoining rooms for radio rooms, I found out nearly the entire motel was booked for a wedding! All they had were 6 rooms; I immediately put a “hold” on all of them, reserved 2 rooms on my credit card, and emailed the group to tell them they had to book within 48 hours!! The need for a 2nd room was necessitated by our growth to 9 DXers, although Paul Mount wasn’t feeling well and opted to keep his germs at home---thank you! The other close call was conditions---the day we left, the band went straight down the tubes from the flare, and this being the 3rd weekend in November as I write this, the band is absolutely horrid---not a single TA het to be heard, and awful white “auroral noise” everywhere. Thank you, Lord!
I ran behind all week, still buying stuff and making cables the day before. So, it was no surprise that I rolled into the home stretch on NJ Route 72, 40 minutes behind schedule! As I checked into the LBI Dxpedition “net” on the Manahawkin repeater, I found that everyone else was late by about the same amount. Whew! I had pre-fabbed the Eurobog, 750’ of #18 into a 470 ohm resistor to 100 ft of speaker cable w/an extra 30 ft tacked onto one side to try to get a backnull over a wider frequency range. Sounded like a good idea at the time, could roll out in 10 minutes or less. After we deployed both BOGS and the “phase wire”, Russ arrived with the splitters and we all got wired and sat down for a trial run. It soon became apparent the Eurobog was not very directional. So, I grabbed a “fan” I had made up of three 20 ft wires, and at 5pm headed back to the beach and chopped the resistor out and wired the 100’ of speaker cable to the end of the BOG, and ran a variable termination box to the fan, now an 850’ BOG with the radials at 45 degree angles. Much better. This appears to be what works best here; straight-line wire termination and ground rods have been pretty worthless. The difference really showed Saturday late afternoon as we nailed 750 Newfoundland on the Eurobog while the south BOG was mostly WSB.
We only put out one of the 6’ broadband loops, mine, and although the signal level was low, it was a very quiet antenna. It seemed to really reject high-angle domestic skywave, leaving the low-angle TA signals in the clear. We tried several preamps, but all were full of noise and images, so we plan to build Connelly’s amp to go with them---possibly for use in a quick and easy one-night spring LBI-3.5!
Equipment: I’m sure an overview will be posted; I personally had the Drake R8B, with the 2010 for backup, but I never turned it on. I bought two 3-way TV antenna switches from Radshack, and they worked well with the MFJ 1025 phaser. Also added this year was a wireless network/chat server from Bill Harms, so I brought my Toshiba laptop as well, and that was both fun and useful to have---thanks, Bill! Also, we had a loop “shootout” Saturday afternoon, with Russ’s 2 ft homemade box loop, Bob’s Kiwa loop—sweet!!, my old Spacemagnet2 ferrite loop, and Dave’s Quantum and QX ferrite loops. Bob won, but I was impressed by how well the Spacemagnet did…Bob’s KIWA could null deeper and was quieter, but I could hear 80% of what he did.
Biggest Thrill: after last year w/no TA…hearing Bill yell---Friday at 3:30pm EST while we were still carting stuff in---“I’ve got audio on 1134”!! And knowing it was going to be a good night! Getting 750 CBGY, NF w/CBC1, and what we are pretty sure was Iran on 1503, and armchair copy on many nice music stations.
Coolest Moment: The Saturday night pizza run and pepperoni DX session. I volunteered to make the run to Pizza Hut in Manahawkin, about 10 minutes away at 8pm. I wanted to hear what the car radio was like. Was rewarded with solid hets on 610 (612), 620 (621), 1520 (1521), 1000 (999), and others, plus Norway destroying 1310 and 1320 with high-pitched hets. Found out why upon my return, as we ate pizza and listened to Phil Collins “Against All Odds” at 30db over S9 from Norway on 1314!!
Biggest Disappointment: Not hearing Sawa on either 1548 or 1431, and not hearing Iceland on 189—this is a coveted reception that has eluded me.
The Wrap: A great weekend, with good conditions, good friends old and new, and very little Murphy! (knock on wood) Hearing things like 1314 Norway, 1215 Virgin, 675 Holland, and others at entertainment-level 6khz copy.
This is the drawback to being the compiler of the lists, logs and musings – everybody else has pretty much said it all. This was pretty much the first time I’d been able to hear this many TA’s since I moved from North Jersey in 1983, and it was like hearing some old friends again – even with the intervening bandplan changes. An added bonus was the ability to use Bob Stonier’s Drake R-8 for a few hours Saturday night. This was the first opportunity I’d had to work with one, and Bill, who was sitting in the next chair with his R8B filled me in on the differences between the R8 and the R8B. Really a great receiver and worth the money – if I had that kind of money to spend on radio <g>.
The remainder of the time, I used Bob Galerstein’s Sony ICF2010. I’d hoped to have one of my own available, and I did, sort of. I’m in the process of purchasing a rebuilt one, but it had some persistent static problems and it’s back getting checked out again.
It was great seeing many old friends and meeting a couple of new ones – Bill and my near-local neighbor Mark, who lives not far from my son’s new home. By next year I hope to also be equipped to get in on the WiFi net and IRC. Although I didn’t manage to catch Bill’s primer on IRC, the setup more than proved its worth. I was also impr4essed by the performance of the BBL and will be interested to experience the amplified version.
Finally, I want to extend our thanks to Chuck Hutton, who last year sold me two 8:1 splitters prior to LBI-2 and this year generously loaned me two additional ones for LBI-3. They were an essential part of the operation.