As I try to continually improve my Station, I keep coming back to the antennas. I have a couple very nice Radios, but I am still not very competitive in Contests, especially DX contests. I have always used mainly wire antennas and generally if I can hear them, I can work them. Now I know the problem is that I can not hear enough of them!
I had an opportunity to work a Contest from a world-class Contest station (NR4M) recently. The contest was the ARRL International DX CW. I won’t go into the details of the antenna system there (you can search on NR4M), but let’s just say they have about 65 acres worth of antennas like I will probably never see anywhere else.
I had access to all kinds of antennas on all the HF Bands. One antenna group that really impressed me was on 80 meters. I heard all kinds of DX during the weekend and I even managed to work China on 80 meters. That will not be happening at my Home QTH any time soon. I was using two antennas at the time, in Diversity Mode on a K3. This was quite a new experience. The diversity did just enough to bring the China station’s signal out of the noise enough for me to work him.
So the lesson learned here is that if I really want to improve my station and get to the next level, I have to do something about the antennas. First project is going to be getting a yagi on the roof. I will always use wire antennas, and I will be trying to improve them as well. I recently installed a Beverage antenna for the first time. At a length of about 300′, it is not very long, but I am hoping it will improve my hearing ability on the Low Bands.
Of course another thing I could do is raise my Power to the KW level. I do not plan to do that, mainly due to the small lot I am on and the close proximity of my antennas to the Shack. I think going QRO would result in an RFI nightmare.