The Budget DX'er™

The RADIO WORKS™ is all about being a budget DX'er. I have feedback from hundreds of fellow hams who report amazing accomplishments on the ham bands using inexpensive wire antennas. The antennas used were mostly CAROLINA WINDOMS® followed by SuperLoops™. There are stories about working DXCC in a single weekend. Lots of folks have done that with simple wire antennas. There is another account of someone who put 285 countries in his log with a CAROLINA WINDOM® and used only 100 watts on all bands. Big deal, you say? They worked those 285 countries in less than one year with a CAROLINA WINDOM 80®. There are least a couple of persistent fellows who made it to the DX Honor Roll with CAROLINA WINDOMS® in the air. Just as impressive are the thousands who were and still are able to enjoy their hobby, with great success, and they played in the "fast lane" while staying within their budgets. It is out of these stories that the "Budget DX'er™" concept was born.

It has always been one of my goals with the RADIO WORKS to provide high performance antennas and accessories consistent with the "Budget DX'er™" concept. In fact, up to this point in time (the beginning of Sunspot cycle #24) I've refrained from offering anything but high performance antenna systems, with the exception of high power dipoles with special, high power parts. The G5RV, in a "Plus" version is also available. Offering only high performance wire antennas has a downside in that most high performance antennas are large. This prevented me from marketing antennas that offered reduced size or stealth as the major consideration. An exception to this is the "LP™" series of CAROLINA WINDOMS, but they are still just as long as the standard versions. It is obvious that many folks in the ham radio community need limited-space antennas while not giving up too much in the area of performance. To that end, I will be introducing several new designs or refined "classic antennas" in the coming months. They will mostly be limited-space antenna systems, but there will be a couple of large, high performance DX antenna in the mix. The focus is still on the Budget DX'er™ concept, all of these antennas will have to perform well if it's going to have the RADIO WORKS'™ name on it. We have a lot of hams that are new to the HF bands and have never experienced DX operating. I'm going to do my best to make a Budget DX'er™ out of anyone who wants to wear the title. After all, the RADIO WORKS'™ motto has always been "Where Ham Radio is a Contact Sport"™.

Several years ago, I wrote a book called The Budget DX'er. I never published it because I was not happy with the content. I may rewrite the book in the near future, but for now, I'm just going to dedicate my efforts to the real thing, real Budget DX'ers™. It's fun to write a book, but it's more fun to hear folks working DX and saying "the antenna here is a CAROLINA WINDOM." It's even fun to hear those words when someone says that after breaks through a pileup ahead of me, leaving me standing in line with the hoards of others waiting their turn.

You've heard of Murphy's Law? Well, here is part of the "Budget DXer's™" Law (for working DX).

Budget DXer's™ Law #1 If the SWR is below the lazy 8, it's low enough. (We don't go quite that far, but we don't let SWR set the standard - performance is the standard)
Budget DXer's™ Law #2 You can't work 'em if you don't call 'em.
Budget DXer's™ Law #3 When the QSL is on the wall, no one knows if you were the first station to work a DX'pedition or the last.
Budget DXer's ™Law #4 Don't be intimidated by the size of the pile up. Sooner or later the 'Big Guns' will all shut up and take a breath. That's when you drop your call.
Budget DXer's™ Law #5 You gotta wanna do it.

I'm not so sure about the first Law of the Budget DX'er™ but, the others make a lot of sense. Of course, there is no substitute for operator skill or good propagation. You've got know where to look for the DX. You might even have to get up in the middle of the night to work some rare DX station. There are pages good ideas and techniques for Budget DX'ers™ and DX'er without budgets available in print and on the Internet.

I'll publish some of the stories from Budget DX'ers™ from time-to-time, just to congratulate then, recognize their accomplishments, and let others see that you, too, can enjoy DX'ing, even at the highest levels, without spending a fortune on antennas.

I must confess, that as far as equipment goes, I can't really claim to be a budget DX'er myself. I generally operate what I consider to be very good station equipment. Still, I use only wire antennas made by the RADIO WORKS™ and that includes my ever-present SuperLoop 80™ and, when space permits, my CAROLINA WINDOM 80™. I've added this comment only to say that even with the finest equipment available in the radio shack, it's what's in the air that counts. I would say that 99.9% of the time, I could work just about anything on the air with my vintage TS-930 in place of my ICOM 7800. Of course, it's easier with the newer rig, but the older rig can get the job done. I run a PW-1 linear, but I could do just about as well with one of my Collins 30L-1 linears. My manual tuner is an old Heath Kit tuner that I picked up for a song at a Hamfest. You know, as I think about it, it would be fun to put together a real Budget DX'er™ station and see what I could do with it when the bands offer improved propagation. That would be a fun project. I just need to pull out that old TS-930 and put it up on an operating position with a 30L-1 and that old kW Ameritron tuner that's collecting dust. I'll need a computer to monitor the DX Clusters, but any old, used lap top computer will to that job and cost practically nothing. Let's see, what else would I need? A keyer and paddle ( I still like CW), a microphone, head phones, and a monitor scope. Yes, a monitor scope - I always use one to make sure my signal is clean. An old Heath Kit monitor scope doesn't cost much. Of course, the SuperLoop 80™ and the CAROLINA WINDOM 80® are already in the air. This could be fun. I wonder if I really still work DXCC in a single weekend or 50 countries in five hours on 40 meters?

It sounds like I've given myself a challenge for the upcoming Sunspot cycle.

Budget-wise, it comes down this: You don't have to have a $2500 or $10,000 transceiver, driving a $5000 linear, feeding a $2000 beam, turned by a $1000 rotator on a $2000 tower to have a lot of fun and success in the world of DX'ing. You do have to have a good antenna! That station I outlined above for a Budget DX'er™ station is really quite good and would cost about $350 for the TS-930, $500 for the 30L-1, $50 for the tuner, certainly less than $100 for the keyer and paddle, $10 for cheap headphones, and no more than $100 for the monitor scope. An old lap top computer could probably be acquired for free, but I'll add $200 for that. The current price of a CAROLINA WINDOM 80™ is $130 and 100 feet of RG-8X runs about $35. Add in $50 for all the jumpers, rope, wires, and cables and the total comes to just about $1500. You could knock off $300 for the lap top and monitor scope. Of course, a linear is not necessary, but it's nice to have one. Dropping the linear would save another $500. So, in reality, you could put this perfectly DX-worthy station together for about $700. I'd say that qualifies nicely as a Budget DXer's™ station.

Ultimately, though, it's operator skill, decent propagation and a good antenna that gets the job done. In the antenna department, the RADIO WORKS™ builds the best!

Simple, high performance wire antennas do get the job done. You can count on the RADIO WORKS™ for the latest and hottest performing wire antennas available anywhere.

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