Sunday, May 24, 2020

LOCKDOWN NEWS - May 24, 2020

In the workshop untangling the 80m coax dipole

May 24, 2020


Courtesy of The Age
Here in Australia, we have been very lucky with regards to the effects of the pandemic. Both the federal and state governments got onto restrictions, lockdowns and border closures earlier than many other countries for which we are all grateful. As I write this post, Australia has just passed 100 deaths. But, we cannot become complacent as we are heading into the winter flu season here. There may be a spike in the number of COVID-19 contagions. But we are hoping this won’t be the case. I really feel for many other countries that have suffered such high contagion and death rates. It is astonishing that the United States is approaching 100,000 deaths. My heart goes out to you guys!

Because I have a history of heart issues, my wife and I have been hiding out here at home. I have been doing a little house painting, some photography, the garden has been looking very good – although we are now entering the winter season so things are becoming pretty quiet on the garden front. And, of course, there has been some time spent here in the shack playing radio. I have been using digital modes on the ham bands and making monitoring observations on the shortwave broadcast bands. So, lots to keep me interested!


That WAS until THIS WEEK when all the radio antennas came down! Actually, two antennas came down of their own accord. Part of a large gum tree took out my beloved horizontal sky loop antenna some months back. And then two weeks ago, while doing some antenna maintenance up on the roof, the 7 MHz double bazooka antenna gave way from the pulley system I use on one of the antenna masts, and the antenna collapsed on the ground.

Next week, an arborist, a tree remover (....lumberjack? 😁), will come and get rid of some very large branches, a dead tree, and several other trees that are teetering on falling over at any moment. We will still have plenty of other trees on the property, but a bit of a clean-up is long overdue here.

So, in preparation for the visit by the tree man, I needed to bring down some other antennas as well. In the end, I decided to pull down all the antennas and do maintenance, get some new masts up in the air, and maybe reposition some antennas for, hopefully, better reception.

The OZ1BXM designed Delta Loop
So this is a good time to start thinking about what antennas I want in the future. I’d like to get on 160 metres to do some FT8 DXing, so I am considering rolling out a FULL-WAVE horizontal sky loop, similar to the one I showed in this YouTube video. Luckily, we have the room on the property to just squeeze one of those big antennas in there, so with fewer trees, this goal could be possible. And, it will also be usable on other frequencies, too. Also, I am toying with the idea of a Delta Loop cut for 10 MHz. Or perhaps even experiment with an EWE antenna.

I will still keep my double bazooka antennas for 3.5, 7 and 14 MHz because these are working so well for me on both the SWBC and ham bands. These are the antennas made by IAC in the USA and have been up in the air for nearly seven years now. (I did my very first YouTube video on these antennas at It has just clicked over 90,000 views!). When I took the antennas down a few days ago, I was pleasantly surprised just how well they had survived the weather over that time. With the exception of some slight discolouration, the wires and connections were in perfect condition. And my method of wrapping the PL-259 connectors to the centre connector of the antennas is proving to work well at keeping out rainwater. All the connectors and coax were in great shape after seven years out in the weather!

So, I have been doing some thinking and researching, to see just how many antennas I can get up in the air. My wife is not too happy about me using the ladder and tramping around the roof these days. She reckons I'm a bit tottery on the old feet, and that I’ll fall off and land on my head. She keeps telling me to “old man” future-proof the antennas so I don’t have to keep climbing the heights! So I’m starting to investigate various masts and pulley systems that will allow me to adjust and maintain antennas from ground level.

UPDATE: I have just learned that the International Antenna Company (IAC) mentioned above closed its business at the end of last October due to ill health of the owners. This is a great pity as the company made very fine products for 27 years. We wish them well for the future.


Finally, here are a few monitoring observations BEFORE I pulled down all the antennas this week! (Times are in UTC, frequencies are in kHz)

⭐⭐ 6070   CANADA. CFRX - Toronto. This is one we usually hear best in our wintertime. Phone-in chat about powerful public speakers at 0750. Weak signal but it does a great job for 1 kW and a non-directional antenna! Hopefully, it should improve as we get into the winter season.  May 17.

⭐⭐ 6185   MEXICO. XEPPM R. Educación - Mexico City. Jazz quartet music at 0800. R. Educación ID at 0804 and other anncts. Into more instrumental jazz at 0805. A weak signal. It previously signed off after 0500 or around 0600, but it is great to hear it on this new later broadcasting schedule, giving DXers in Australia more chance of hearing it when propagation is better in our late afternoons or early evenings. May 17.

7254.94   NIGERIA. VoNigeria - Abuja. Some seriously distorted and buzzy modulation here at 0720 in presumably the Fulfulde language. Unbearable listening and a poor signal as well on May 17.

⭐⭐ 9670   TAIWAN. Radio Dáp Lòi Sông Núi - Paochung. (Clandestine) S/on 1230 with a clear ID and commentaries in Vietnamese between two announcers. A fair to poor signal strength with the usual Vietnamese Government siren jamming. Interestingly, a check of the target zone reception via a KiwiSDR in Hanoi reveals a booming signal at S9+20 dB with weak and ineffective siren and beeping jamming.

9864   TAJIKISTAN. Voice of Tibet - Dushanbe. Playing leapfrog starting with this freq noted at 1300, then jumping to 9884 kHz at 1306, then disappearing at 1314. After that, not found on its other usual freqs of 9864, 9836, 9814 nor 9714 kHz, on this night, May 17.

9865   INDIA. AIR - Bengaluru. S/on 1328 with exclusively COVID-19 news in Hindi from 1330. Military music at 1340, a Hindi song at 1342 and then suddenly off the air at 1345 mid-song. Still not running with the extended Vividh Bharati programming. Good signal. Nothing heard on the // 9380 outlet, May 15.

OK, so we’ll leave it there. I’m calling this Lockdown News No. 1. Thanks for taking the time to read the post.

73 and have a great weekend everyone!

Rob Wagner VK3BVW

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© Rob Wagner, Mount Evelyn DX Report, and contributors 2012-2020


  1. I am with you Rob...lock down here in Canada. ..I don't go far from the yard. ..over 80 and have had heart attack and stroke in my life. Radio always was my hobby ..can enjoy that more now

    1. Hi! I'm pleased you have the fabulous radio hobby to fall back on. It is a great consolation during difficult times and a fun hobby to be involved in. Best wishes from Australia, my friend! Rob