Friday, January 27, 2012

Not quite what I suspected

You know what they say about conventional wisdom - that more often than not, it's wrong.

I got my QSO in tonight on 80 Meters, which was again practically deserted.  Scanning the entire CW portion and only hearing a handful of QSO/signals is depressing.  We have all that beautiful spectrum and it's like no one is using it!

Anyway, after a QSO with Burt K1OIK who lives on Cape Cod, I decided to do a little experiment.  I wanted to find out, using the Reverse Beacon Network, what the difference in performance is (roughly) between the 88' EDZ and the Butternut HF9V on 80 Meters.

Since activity seemed to be light at best, I figured I could call CQ for a good amount of time without any takers.  Unfortunately, my assumption turned out to be correct - even though that turned out to be good for the experiment.  I wouldn't have minded being interrupted in order to have a good rag chew.

I called CQ for ten minutes using the wire and then ten minutes using the HF9V.  I figured that would give ample opportunity to be heard by a variety of skimmers.  My hypothesis was that the wire would be a better performer on 80 Meters.

My hypothesis seems to have been proved wrong.

There were some slight differences, but at most (at most!) the differences were only 1 dB.  And that could have been due to normal QSB as the 1 dB difference was not always the same.  By that, I mean the vertical wasn't always 1 dB lower compared to the wire - sometimes it was 1 dB higher.  Of course, I was comparing reports from the same skimming stations.  Many times the reports were dead even between the two.

My modus operandi up until now was to pretty much use the HF9V for 20 Meters and higher, while using the wire antenna for 30 Meters and lower.  I think that will change.  The Butternut has always been a solid performer and now I think I will be using it on the lower frequencies a lot more than I have been.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!


  1. I don't hear much on 80m either in Atlanta. I manage to make qso's on 40m in evenings but even that is spotty.

    --Wayne, k4wk

  2. Anonymous9:20 AM

    You leave some key information out, like how far away were the skimmers you were picked up by? One might expect the vertical to have a stronger signal in Europe for example than the EDZ. Closer skimmers might show the EDZ being stronger. There's nothing better than having two options (or more). There's times that a vertical will hear better than a wire, and vice-versa, and it doesn't necessarily make sense if you look at a map. If you're talking about from NJ to MA that one thing, NJ to Russia, that's altogether something else. Where were the skimmers that picked you up?

  3. Anonymous,

    Mostly the Eastern third of the US - no DX skimmers were pulling me out. Since all the stations were relatively close and within the US, that's why I had expected the wire to have the edge.

    Larry W2LJ

  4. Larry,

    Though your intuition seems correct, I think it's just too short a haul to say much about the two antennas' performance. You might try 80M WSPR instead and let it run longer on each. I find WSPR a pretty good tool for getting a sense of a new antenna's capabilities.