AA8IA Amateur Radio

Archive for May, 2011

CQ WPX CW 2011 Summary

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After having weeks of daily severe thunderstorm activity, Mother Nature decided to cooperate by giving us East Ohioans a beautiful holiday [and contest] weekend. I caught up on yard work, spent a lot of time with the family, and was able to put in what I would consider to be a decent effort for CQ WPX CW.

Any storm activity was far enough away to keep the bands relatively quiet. Propagation during any of my operating time was less than stellar. I didn’t experience a single good opening into EU. SA was prominent on 15m. 10m was dead for the most part on Saturday, but on Sunday there was a little activity — again mostly SA.

From the beginning my intent was to operate SOAB-LP. And, up until the very end of the contest I did operate SOAB-LP. But, once I saw that I had a chance of hitting 600 Qs I figured I’d switch to SO(A)AB-LP, meaning that I was “assisted” by the packet cluster. It wasn’t until I did this that I realized that I should have been focusing much more on snagging new prefixes. There were a lot of needed prefixes showing up in the spots, but unfortunately they were mostly gone by the time I got there or were out of my reach [unable to be heard]. Perhaps because it was the tail end of the contest, a lot of those prefixes I needed may have switched to Searching & Pouncing.

I put in 19 hours, which is more hours than I have ever put in for a single contest prior to this one. I felt good; it felt good. I also garnered more Qs than I ever had in any previous contest. This proves what they say about keeping your butt in the chair.

Do I have any regrets? Not at all. I managed to get some outside chores done and spend a lot of time with the family over the holiday. I wouldn’t trade that time for contesting time under any circumstance. And I improved significantly upon last years’ score and my overall contesting methods.

I would like to try and do the following next year:

  • Put more time in, perhaps 24 hours
  • Call more of the weak stations instead of avoiding them thinking we couldn’t complete a valid exchange
  • Run Assisted for the whole contest instead of just the last two hours
  • Pay much closer attention to picking off multipoint contacts and, more importantly, new prefixes

WPX CW is really a blast. Since exchanges are fairly noncomplicated, you can really increase CW speed. I really enjoyed setting N1MM to 34 wpm instead of 28-30 like I usually do, and I thoroughly enjoyed copying the superfast exchanges of many of the contest stations. Of course, I would always QRS when I was working a station sending slower.

I compared my score with handful of other stations that I like to compare with, and I suspect one or two of them were either running Assisted but not claiming so, or they operated many more hours than I did. There are shitloads of ops who are better at contesting than I am, but there’s always someone I have to question when I see their score submission. Oh well, there isn’t anything I can do if anyone is fudging the facts.

Then only thing that really could have made WPX CW more fun this year is some decent propogation to EU and elsewhere on both days, especially on 10m.

Below is my summary…

CQWW WPX Contest, CW

Call: AA8IA
Operator(s): AA8IA
Station: AA8IA

Class: SO(A)AB LP
Operating Time (hrs): 19

Band QSOs
160: 0
80: 138
40: 172
20: 164
15: 128
10: 25
Total: 627 Prefixes = 302 Total Score = 389,882

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Written by Mike

May 31st, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Posted in Contesting

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Contest University: Contesting the Right Way (K1DG)

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At the Dayton Hamvention 2011, as part of Contest University, K1DG gave a presentation on contest ethics. It was great to watch, and probably even better if you had been there in person.

You can view this presentation by selecting it from the list on the PVRC webinars page at http://pvrc.org/webinar/webinars.htm. This was from May 19, 2011.

I’d encourage all contesters, “big guns” and “little pistols” alike, to watch it. It is a great presentation!

Written by Mike

May 20th, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Posted in Contesting

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Less than stellar weekend for radio

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Here in the Ohio Valley we’ve been plagued by a lot of storms since April. Many of them brought mostly rain, but some have been quite severe with lightning acccompanying them.

This weekend is no exception. There has been near constant rain with periods of really nasty thunderstorms. Not only is it very difficult to work a contest with ever-present lightning crashes, but it’s always a risk to do so.

In addition, there has been no decent Sporadic-E on 6m for days — so much for the VHF Sprint tonight. Today there has been pisspoor propogation on the HF bands (at least 10-20), which didn’t bode well for CQ-M, the FOC QSO Party or the Volta RTTY contest.

To add insult to injury, the damned grass is growing ever taller while the forecast indicates no hope for abatement of the rain for a few more days.

This is definitely a weekend I could do without.

On another note, I’m hoping [and planning] to get a decent ground system in, the generator tied into the AC mains, and some lightning protection for my antennas so that I don’t have to take every damned antenna down when there is a threat of a storm. Of course, nothing can guarantee protection from direct lightning strikes, but as it stands right now I have no protection and have to take all sorts of precautionary measures in the event of storms. That’s really a buzzkill for ham radio. A lot of ham radio ops couldn’t care less about lightning strikes, but I’m not one of them. It makes no difference if I have $1000 or $100,000 worth of equipment, and it makes no difference if insurance would cover a strike or not. The bottom line is that lightning is an extreme nuisance, at minimum, and a killer if you’re unlucky. I prefer not to take any chances.

Written by Mike

May 14th, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Contest Tip

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Don’t submit your score to 3830 until the contest period is officially over. Why not? Well, if you’re like me and you never operate a full contest period, you set a specific QSO goal and then stop there. There are a lot of people like you and I. If somebody is putting in just a small effort, they will stop before end of contest period. If they look on 3830 and see you have posted your score and have made, lets say, 150 Qs, they may just hop back on and best you by a handful of QSOs just so that they end up being above you in score.

Written by Mike

May 9th, 2011 at 10:03 am

Posted in Contesting

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7QP 2011

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The 7QP is over. I only managed to put about 5.5 out of 20 hours. I really enjoy working this particular QSO Party. Many of the folks in this QP are ones I work all year in RTTY and other contests. I always look forward to working 7land.

I had planned on working all Saturday afternoon/evening, but some friends came over to help me evaluate installing a proper ground system and putting a tower up. Of course there was a lot of BSing as well. When all was said and done, my sciatic nerve was killing me. Way too much pain down the back of my legs and in my lower back. I had to take a Vicodin and sleep for a few hours.

In the end I worked a handful of stations on 4 bands and quite a few on 3 bands. Total Q count was only 150, with about 53 mults. Wish I would have been active more, maybe knocking out some more mults.

Some say that the 7QP would really benefit from more mobile activity. There’s no doubt that there are a lot of counties unaccounted for during the typical 7QP. On the other hand, it was a welcome change not having to follow the same mobiles all over the states just to get that mult. I’d rather work 100 stations once than work 5 stations 20 times, regardless of mult.

Aside from the short participation period, I had a great time. Thanks to all of the 7QP ops and the sponsors for a great QP!

7th Call Area QSO Party

Call: AA8IA
Operator(s): AA8IA
Station: AA8IA

Class: SOMixed LP
QTH: Ohio
Operating Time (hrs): 5:30

Band CW Qs Ph Qs Dig Qs
80: 15
40: 30 4
20: 36 17
15: 35 13
Total: 116 34 0 Mults = 53 Total Score = 22,048

Written by Mike

May 8th, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Posted in Contesting,QSO Parties

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Breaking News: AA8IA orders QSL cards

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I realize it’s a really strange title for a post. But it is breaking news considering I’ve been wanting to order QSL cards for two years but never put in the effort.

I ordered from Gennady at http://www.ux5uoqsl.com . Being that I lack creativity, I asked Gennady to come up with something for me. He had some much more elaborate suggestions, but they would have required me to actually get off my ass and find appropriate high quality pictures that I specifically wanted on the card. Since I didn’t have anything I felt worthy of being displayed on a QSL card, I asked him to create something simple.

My first batch of cards will hardly be considered unique. But they’ll get the job done. Gennady provides great support for his products. Hopefully, by the next time I order a batch I will have an appropriate unique high-res picture to be on the front of the card.

For anyone out there who has sent me a QSL card for which I haven’t returned the favor, keep your pants on. A QSL will be forthcoming. Give me 4-6 weeks to receive them and I’ll take care of the backlog [maybe a dozen or so]

Written by Mike

May 6th, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Posted in QSLs

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Sporadic-E is on the rise!

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Got my 6m PAR Moxon up just in time. It’s up about 30 ft in the air and is rotated by hand.

Today 6m was open quite a while down into Florida / SC / Alabama areas from here. I worked a few stations in the afternoon but mostly listened.

I worked 9Y4D in Trinidad/Tobago.

Checked the activity out about 10 pm this evening and I was hearing VE4 beacons. I worked VE4EAR, VE4TV and VE4XC, VE4XC on both SSB and CW. The opening up to VE4 resulted in extremely strong signals here. It was fun. I saw some some reports of multihop-ES out to the west, but I didnt’ hear anything past N0LL’s beacon. I’m not running stacked 5’s at 100 feet either !

Also chatted with Joe, NV4I, on 10m SSB for a while today. He was booming in. Of course, it was during the workday for most people, so the bands weren’t nearly as active as they could have been if ops had been at their radios.

It’s only going to get better. Between the increasing sunspots and the fact that it’s the “season” for Sporadic-E, I’m going to have some fun on my favorite bands.

Written by Mike

May 5th, 2011 at 11:46 pm

Posted in VHF_UHF

FT-100 is coming home

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I’ll be meeting up with N8SJS this afternoon [hopefully] to pick up my Yaesu FT-100. The radio and some other associated equipment have been at Jays since last year. I’m wanting to perhaps use the FT-100 for some VHF-UHF and/or mobile work. KB8SFC is intersted in the Signalink USB, so I told him he could use it.

I might actually try to acquire 2m and 70cm yagis to put up and focus on some VHF/UHF operation over the summer. Although I can’t put any of these antennas up very high at the moment, I can put them up in the clear and hopefully have a little fun during the VHF contests.

Written by Mike

May 3rd, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Posted in FT-100,VHF_UHF

Par 6m Stressed Moxon

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I received my Par 6m Stressed Moxon today. Had it together in 10 minutes and up on the mast at about 25′ another 10 minutes later. Now all that is left is to actually hear some activity.

Using the WA3TTS for comparison, with the Moxon pointed towards PGH I was getting an S9 sig on WA3TTS. With my HF wires I would get S2 or less.

I heard K8LEE and another station on tropo today as well as WA4VUT, W2TG and a few others via Es. C6ANP/B was about S9+10 a little earlier. Heard W9DR/B and some other beacons as well.

I only have an armstrong rotor, and it’s a real pain in the neck to find an opening if you don’t have the luxury of easily turning your antenna. The F/B ratio on this Moxon is quite impressive. I might want to make something equivalent to the Par Omniangle for the sake of hearing omnidirectionally.

Hopefully we’ll start seeing some good E-skip pretty soon on 6m and I can try out the Moxon some more

Written by Mike

May 3rd, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Posted in Antennas,VHF_UHF

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