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Measuring Operator Skills

I’m challenged at the moment! My XYL suggested yesterday that I might get a new HF transceiver and that’s a very nice offer so I tweeted the good news in the hope that I might get some useful feedback as to what might be appropriate.

As you might understand, I’ve spent a few hours thinking about this during the last day or so and I’ve come to an impasse with myself. I got a bunch of replies to my good news and the solutions varied from a KX3 through a K3 to the TS-590 and the FTDX-1200.

Now some of these are very expensive wirelesses! But I have to wonder whether I have the skills to use the clearly superior features of some of these. Indeed, have I gained sufficient operating skills over the last 9 months of using my TS-480HX? I don’t want to be the guy who bought a Ferrari only to find that he can barely park a Fiat!

I read often about ‘skilled operators’ who have been operating for years and run all kinds of exotic rigs. It’s very clear that they have spent a long time honing their skills but my questions are: What are these skills and how can they be developed? And the follow on question is: When do you know you have the skills that requires a better transceiver?

I know that someone is going to tell me that I need a better transceiver when I begin to notice things about the TS-480 that limit my operations. But my question would then be, how do I know it’s not just lack of skill and understanding that is my limitation? In other words, how do I know I’m squeezing out the best in what I have?

I’m writing this in order to elicit a debate on technical operating skills rather than DX Pileup running skills. Of course, the context within which I’m looking is my ability to quickly filter the signals I am looking to work from an SSB pileup when there are loud stations all around and I don’t want to lose much of the signal amplitude. I suppose I’m feeling that the 1.8 KHz filter on the TS-480 seems to have very rounded shoulders. Hard to say without something to compare with side by side.

Well, I’ve rather staggered around the question and the problems but the bottom line remains, when will I know if my skills are worthy of a better transceiver and how can I measure that?




  1. Al says:

    I found your blog the other day and have enjoyed reading your adventures. I also live near the shore and am looking at how to best setup antenna for beachside sites. I read an interesting study from one of the major pacific island dxpeditions. i cannot recall which one right now but will find the reference. they did a lot of testing of vertical antennas with field strength meters and also received signal reports and i think they found the strongest signal transmitted was when a vertical is placed +/- 10% of a quarter wavelength from the waterline, rather than right at the waterline. they explain why on their blog so i will search my browsing history and try to find it again.
    al kj3q

    • admin says:

      Ah yes, I have read that one Al, its very helpful. As I am on my own and without a team and my QTH changes sometimes daily, I have gone with the higher bands and have decided to use balanced antennas. I am leaning towards the VDA design (Google VDA antenna) used very successfully by many DXpeds but I see some recently were using single pole vertical Moxons too. The moxon was a very simple design again suitable for single man ops.

      From my perspective, I prefer a simpler design that is robust and easy to put up. It can be quite a struggle in a 20kt wind on your own 😉

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