The Man Who Fishes For DX

I live on Anglesey, a mystical Celtic island steeped in the legends of the Druids and lapped by the misty waters of the Irish Sea. There was whispered talk amongst the old people of an elusive man who fished for DX and caught specimens from Borneo, Antarctica and other strange lands.

Actually, it’s only Dave.

Dave, GW4JKR, has an antenna system that you can’t buy from any supplier. He uses a carbon-fibre fishing pole on a metal spike and several acres of saltmarsh. The system is blindingly simple, takes minutes to erect and is devastatingly effective.

“I set up on the 20m band and all was quiet. I put out my first call (SSB) and you know what? I worked Borneo 5/9. Because he was an English ex-pat, I thought he was local until he gave his callsign for the second time! Other local stations here couldn’t even hear him.”

In a similar vein, Dave related how he’s had a 5/9 chat with a chap with a German accent. Only turned out he was on holiday in Guadalcanal. “You’re the only station in Europe I can hear,” he said from his sunny patio.

One of Dave's many QSL cards
The DX takes the bait each time. Reports come in from the Pacific islands, China, Japan, Korea, Antarctica and New Zealand. I think Dave’s witnessed more pile-ups than the M6 motorway.

The antenna system comprises two ultra-efficient parts, making it a genuine ‘killer’ setup. For the antenna, Dave uses a carbon-fibre fishing pole, also known as a ‘roach pole’. He specifies the better quality versions that use high modulus carbon for optimum conductivity. The pole is approximately 12m in length, coming in seven sections. It is featherweight at under a kilogram. The base of the pole mates to a large ‘agricultural’ steel earth spike, which is actually a brutal pummelling device for digging holes in rocky ground. A plastic sleeve insulates the two components. Coax is easily attached by jubilee and croc clips. The second part of the antenna system is the saltmarsh on the edge of an expansive tidal sandy bay. The saltwater saturation, even at low tide, is high. Ask the shellfish.

Red Wharf Bay, Anglesey
Like a latter day St. George, Dave holds the spike aloft and plunges it deep into the salty mud where it stands at the ready. If there’s a small pool of salty water nearby, all the better – in it goes. Wet, sandy beaches work, but not nearly as well as dark, oozing mud it seems. Lovely.

Clearly the vertical radiator, wide open aspect, perfect electrical ground and ultra-low angle of radiation give the best start a radio signal could ever want in in its sinusoidal life. It’s as electrically quiet as a library down on the beach which makes for reception most of us can only dream of.
Base section of carbon fibre
vertical in situ

Follow Dave’s simple formula and you too can become a fisher of men and the stuff of legend.

SAFETY: Dave would like to warn all readers to exercise care when handling a carbon fibre pole in the open. Do NOT venture anywhere near power lines. You may render yourself permanently QRT.

More photos available on Dave’s Flickr site.
Rob Law, MW0DNK, is a regular contributor to and writes from Anglesey, Wales. Contact him at [email protected].

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