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on the Low Bands
I asked Bill, W4ZV to be my critic, guide, counselor and
support for this chapter. As expected, Bill did an excellent
job, and fast as well. Bill needs no introduction to the
active Low Band DXers, but let me just introduce W4ZV to
the newcomers to this playground of our hobby. Bill is one
of the very few hams in the world having over 300 coun
tries confirmed on 160 m, and he was the first to reach
that number, in 1998. That says enough. You don’t
achieve this unless you have a profound know-how. And
Bill was found willing to use his know-how and expertise to
help me with this chapter.
Bill was first licensed at age 12 in 1957 as KN4RID. The
DX bug bit hard as soon as he made his first DX contact
on 15 meters, and he went on to become the first US
Novice Class licensee to achieve DXCC. Bill made the
DXCC Honor Roll seven years later in 1964 while he was
still a teenager. School, work and marriage mostly
curtailed his operating until he got the bug again in 1976
while he was working in Colorado when he became W0ZV.
In 1980, he moved to 40 acres in the country and began
seriously chasing new ones on 80. In October 1984, he
put up a “temporary” 160 antenna for a few multipliers in
the CQ WW SSB and became addicted to the band. Bill
said, “When I first got on 160, some of the locals said I
would do well to make WAC”. By April 1985, he was
issued the first 160 DXCC for the W0 area, and was
Tree, N6TR, considers 160-meter DXing as a disease. But the
symptoms he described apply to the other low bands as well:
• Desire to be on the radio at sunrise.
• Desire to be on the radio at sunset.
• Desire to be on the radio at all times in between Sunset and
• Desire to struggle for months to work a single station in a
• Never being satisfied with the antenna system and con
stantly trying new ones.
• Only comes down to see the family after working a new
country (to gloat). During the rare fantastic opening, will
come down after each new country and hold up fingers
indicating how many new countries were worked so far.
These events are rare and occur about once or twice in a
• Drinks lots of water before going to bed with the sole
Bill Tippet, W4ZV, the first to work 300
countries on 160 meters.
thoroughly addicted to Topband. In 1993, Bill moved back
to his home state of North Carolina and received the call
W4ZV in 1996. Now Bill mostly concentrates his low band
DXing on 160 since he only needs five more to have them
all on 80. Bill is also the skillful moderator of the Topband
Reflector on the Internet.
Thank you Bill!
purpose of waking up in the wee hours of the morning
to see if a new country can be found.
• Has problems getting to work on time during the
• Sends equipment and wire to people in unworked coun
tries, hoping that the end result will be their QSL card on
• Spends thousand of dollars going to rare countries just so
other people can work it.
And these are only some of the better-known symptoms.
According to Rush Drake, W7RM, it’s a painful disease: “To
work DX on 160 you’ve got to love pain.” Earl, K6SE, changed
that to: “You’ve got to love torture...” Who am I to disagree
with such eminent low-band DXers?
One-sixty meters is usually referred to as Top Band, the
band at the top of the wavelength spectrum, the band
with top-notch operators, the band that’s a top challenge
DX-Operating on the Low Bands
2/8/2005, 9:43 AM