DX from the Pine Woods

By Jim Cluett
Photos by Hanz Busch

Late in the afternoon Hanz W1JSB and I decided to go
for a quick outing. We packed up our gear and
met at 5:30 in the afternoon for a walk in the
Pine Woods not far from the Sanbornton dump.
What a time we had! Between us we worked
a dozen countries with just a few watts.

We headed east along a trail that goes to Giles
Pond. Past Larder's field we  entered a pine woods.
Soon after, Hanz asked to me stop for a minute.
There was something on my pants... actually more
than ten of them...  big ticks! Where they came
from was a mystery, but I soon flicked them off and
headed on again.

Before descending toward the pond we spotted some
tall trees and enough open space for the 44 foot dipole
that I'd brought. We made a couple of throws with the
water bottle and soon had a pretty good looking antenna.
The dipole is fed with 30 feet of 300 ohm ribbon. We pulled
it just high enough so that the feedline was barely touching the
ground. I used the Hendricks balanced line tuner.

Twenty meters had been dead most of the day, but it was
just coming alive as we started operating. I had the first
kick at the can with my little Chinese HB-1A. The rig puts
out 4 watts with my 12v battery.

Right away I worked Romania and Russia and handed the
antenna over to Hanz. He had his beautiful Small Wonders
SW-20 rig. He's mounted the kit into a clear waterproof box.
He's added a touch keyer, a digital frequency readout, and
a digital battery monitor. The thing is fantastic.

Hanz made two quick contacts... the first with the Ukraine
and the second with Russia, and he handed the antenna back
to me. We passed it back and forth in this fashion for over an
hour. Between us we worked Austria, Guadeloupe, Florida,
Greenland, Spain, Slovenia, Romania, the Ukraine and
Asiatic Russia.

During one of my operating turns, Hanz wandered off
to take some pictures. Soon I heard him calling me.
"Jim... you better take a look at this." I had a feeling
it was something big... and it was. A pile of moose bones.

We couldn't tell how old they were, but they'd certainly been
there at least a year. Before the sun set, we packed up and
hiked back to the road. We didn't see any signs of ticks and
couldn't figure out how they'd gotten all over my pants.

We had such a fantastic time, we headed out near the same spot
the next afternoon. But this time we were on a mission. We wanted
to compare antenna performance between the half wave vertical
we'd both been using over the last year with the 44 foot dipole
we'd used the evening before.

So we set up right next to each other with the two antennas. Hanz
put up a 33 foot wire using the Par Electronics match box as a tuner.
I used the 44 foot dipole with the Hendricks BLT tuner.

First Hanz worked W0CGR in Ft. Collins, Colorado. Gary gave Hanz a
449. Hanz was running two watts with the SW-20. Then I worked the
same station with the HB-1A. Gary gave me a 569... but I was running
4 watts... not enough of a difference to account for variation in reported
signal strength. From NH to Colorado, the dipole outperformed the

So we went farther afield and worked a Swiss station, HB9CVQ. Andy
gave us both a 449. My guess is that since I was running twice the power,
Hanz's vertical actually outperformed the dipole at the further distance.
This was pretty much what we expected. For DX, go for the vertical. For
closer in, the dipole wins. I'll probably stick with using the vertical, as I
have been for nearly two years. The convenience of throwing a single line,
of not having to bring a tuner, and the speed of not have to twiddle the tuner
dials before operating wins in the portable convenience test.

This evening the mosquitoes feasted on us during our outing. We'll probably
stay out of the woods for the next couple of weeks.

73 for now. Jim W1PID