Thursday, April 25, 2019

Worked Mongolia (high power FT8) - JT1BV

I had a little free time so I went in the shack and went QSX on 17m FT8.  I saw Egypt again, but only briefly and was unable to make contact.  I saw Kuwait which I worked before on phone but not on FT8 and after a few calls was able to work them.  I then moved over to 20m FT8.  There, I saw a couple stations in Mongolia!  They were coming in very strong and I was confident I would be able to work them with ease.  I was very wrong!

I tried calling both stations in Mongolia.  I was using my 3 element Mosley Yagi to make sure I had the best chance of working them.  I was very surprised to not get an answer from either station.  In fact, they seemed to call CQ pretty often and not work many stations at all.  I figured that they must have been running an amplifier or some antenna condition that was causing their signal to be much stronger to than they were able to receive.

With this thought, I decided to try my amplifier on low power.  I made sure everything was set so that I would put out only a few hundred watts and called a few times.  Still no answer and both stations continued to call CQ, unable to decode any of the many stations calling them.  I couldn't believe I was going to do this but, I upped the power level again.  I pushed 500 watts to the Yagi on FT8. I had never ran that much power on digital.  In fact, I have never run an amplifier on digital at all.  I called 1 time at 500w and got an answer from JT1BV.  I was super excited to get this new country in my log.  The signal report I was given was not very good even with the excessive power and Yagi.  Thinking about it now, I am not very proud of using 10x the amount of power I typically use on FT8.

There are some take-aways from this experience:

  1. If DX can't decode my signal, I can run additional power as long as I don't exceed the duty cycle rating of the amp or overdrive and distort my signal.
  2. It is much more rewarding to work DX without my amplifier and I typically run a max of 50w.
  3. Nothing blew up, no one complained, and it could be acceptable to run an amp on FT8, but it is typically not needed and I will not likely run my amplifier for FT8.  The FCC says I can run up to 1500w but should use the least amount of power necessary to make the this case it was 500w.  I don't like the deflated feeling I got.  It feels like I cheated in a contest or something.
  4. It occurred to me that it is very possible that JT1BV was working me from the path across Europe and I was working him via the path across the Pacific Ocean which could explain the excessive power I needed to get back to a station with such a strong signal.  If I was working him a different direction than the propagation was flowing...

Mongolia is is a landlocked country in East Asia. It is sandwiched between Russia to the north and China to the south, where it neighbors the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. 

73 and good (but slightly embarrassing) DX de KG4LST sk 

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