160 Meter Contest, Here We Come!

There may be some of you who’ve never operated on 160 meters. The upcoming CQ WW 160 Meter SSB contest (Feb. 26 – 28th) is a great chance to get your feet wet. Usually operating on 160 meters requires a great deal of real estate to run an antenna. Sure, you can use a smaller antenna with a tuner but you sacrifice signal efficiency for the sake of keeping your rig happy by “load matching”.
Will you make contacts? Yes!
Will you make a ton of contacts? No!
The only good way is to use a full size antenna. It’s simple physics. I don’t care what mis-information you might have read or been told or what “miracle” antenna companies might claim.
The length of a 160 meter dipole is about 260 feet long! That’s a lengthy antenna. You could make a full size loop antenna, like I have at home, which works nice. You could also make a 1/4 wave vertical with 1/4 wave radials at the base. The problem with using a vertical is that it also tends to pickup man-made electrical noise. So, why not take that vertical out of the urban area and into the rural areas of Texas?
That is what we’ll be doing when we drive out 100 miles to Choke Canyon State Park and run a balloon launched 1/2 wave vertical antenna. Less noise out in the “sticks”! This is going to be an interesting experiment, but that’s what the “Bexar Operators Group” does.
  • So, we have the gear.
  • We have the place reserved.
  • We have the antenna.
  • But, we’re not quite finished.
Propagation on 160 meters is a critical matter of time. Due to “D layer” signal absorption, 160 meters is what’s known as a “night time band”.
Upon consulting with the “DX Central” (W and K search) postings on the internet, the best times to operate would be from around 0200 UTC until about 1000 UTC, in other words about an hour after the sun sets until about an hour before the sun rises.
So, our plan of attack is to get to the park in the early afternoon, which will give us plenty of time to set up, test the equipment and fly the antenna then wait until the band “opens” after sunset.
Wish us luck! Listen for W5BOG on 160!
Bob W2IK / W5BOG

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