AA8IA Amateur Radio

Archive for June, 2011

Field Day 2011

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I operated from home again this year, as a 1D station of course. After last years’ FD I had immediate plans to get some AGM batteries, solar panel and applicable charging system in place so that this year I’d be able to play 1E. That didn’t happen. It didn’t even occur to me until a few days prior to the weekend event.

ALL of my antenna system is portable. It is erected for every contest and taken down afterwards. Sometimes an 80m doublet is in the air; sometimes it’s a 6m Moxon; sometimes nothing. And, in the case of this weekend I had a Alpha Delta DX-EE 40-10m dipole, an 80m doublet, and the Moxon all up. The Moxon was up about 20′ on a 30′ fiberglass mast, with the top of the mast supporting the center of the inverted-V doublet.

Now on to my summary…

I started at 1812z on 10m CW. The band was very open. Lots of CW to be had. I spent nearly four hours working everything I could hear on 10m, both CW and SSB. At 2158z i went to 6m and we had propogation to New England. It was awesome. I was working W1/W2 stations left and right. W0/W4/W5 stations were answering my CQs while I was pointed towards NE. Worked some VE stations. At 0005z I switched to 10m and worked some more CW. At 0028z I went to 15m and worked some CW. 0139z I went to 40m and operated some CW. 0202z it was back to 6m for some more phone activity, this time out West. Worked some W0, W6 and W7 stations. 0240z I worked a few 15m CW on my way to 40m CW and then 80m CW.

80m was extremely noisy. There weren’t nearly the number of stations heard that I was expecting. I’m sure some of that had to do with the great conditions on the upper bands, but some of that just had to do with the very high noise level from the storms passing through OH/Wv/PA. I’m sure there were many stations on 80m that I just could hear thanks to the noise. At 0430z I went back to 40m CW for a short period. Then it was time to stop for the evening.

Had some actual “paid” work to take care of for a few hours, and then had to wind down. Eventually got to sleep only to wake up 3 hours later by the alarm clock.

At 1140z I jumped on 80m CW and then shortly thereafter switched to 40m CW, where I remained until 1341z. At that point I jumped on 15m CW for an hour. At 1438z I jumped on 6m, and it wasn’t nearly as open as it was Saturday evening. Worked mostly phone again with a smattering of CW. At 1524z I jumped on 10m and worked CW for about 25 minutes.

At that point I had enough. My back was killing me. I was suffering from lack of sleep. I got up out of the chair and could barely function. I wanted to continue on working 10/6m as it opened to different areas, but I wasn’t sure it was going to and my body was screaming for me to stop. So I ended things at 15:49, with a little over 2 hours of the “24-hour period” left.

In the end I managed 586 Qs, most of them being CW. There was plenty of CW on the lower bands. 6m activity was predominantly SSB. I had some nice runs on 6m SSB and it was a blast. 97 Qs were with 1D stations for which I got no credit. But that doesn’t bother me at all — they are all in my log and I had a great time working them. Had it not been for 6m, I would not have had nearly as much fun.

I was glad to work many stations on many bands on both CW and SSB. Thanks to everyone who worked me. Also thanks to the ARRL for such an awesome event. I only wish I had operated FD all 20 years that I’ve had my license.

ARRL Field Day
June 25-26, 2011
Call: AA8IA
Operator(s): AA8IA
Station: AA8IA

Class: 1D LP
QTH: EN90QL-Ohio
Operating Time (hrs): 14:12

Summary:
Band CW Qs Ph Qs Dig Qs
—————————-
160:
80: 24
40: 93 9
20: 48
15: 87 5
10: 84 39
6: 14 86
2:
222:
432:
903:
1.2:
2.3:
3.4:
5.7:
10G:
24G:
—————————-
Total: 350 139 0 Total Score = 1,678

Club: Mad River Radio Club

97 additional Qs with 1D stations. Thanks to ALL who worked me!

Written by Mike

June 27th, 2011 at 11:05 am

Posted in Contesting,Field Day

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June ramblings

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June is a fun month for amateur radio contesting. But, with the good come the bad. It’s at this time of year that I really find myself thinking about improvements I’d like to make in the station. Unfortunately, it also forces me to think about the difficulties in making those improvements.

  • 1. I still don’t have a tower up.
  • If I did have a tower up, it would be no taller than 40 ft. I’d also be stuck trying to figure out whether I want to put VHF/UHF antennas on it or HF antennas. If I wanted to do VHF, we’re talking about 6m, 2m and 70cm all on one tower. Given the spacing required for optimal operation of yagis on those three bands, it’d be tough to get 3 yagis on a reasonable length mast. It can be done though. Many people sacrifice some pattern distortion in order to do this. But, the bigger problem is that there definitely would not be room for an HF directional antenna, whether that be a Hexbeam or a typical tribander.

  • 2. If I were to acquire the necessary minimum for a VHF/UHF station, can I really justify the cost and hassle?
  • Outside of a few contests a year, regular SSB/CB activity on VHF/UHF is hard to come by. And when it is there, it’s usually between stations running amps, using stacks / arrays per band, and it requires one to get the antennas up as high and in the clear as possible.

    I am quite positive that if I had VHF/UHF DX capabilities, I’d really enjoy them a couple times a year. But, I’m thinking the rest of my time would be spent regretting the lack of a directional antenna on 10/15/20m.

  • 3. Both of my dipoles were put up very quickly and without proper care.
  • There is no lightning protection on either one of the dipoles. One is fed with LMR-400 with no care taken to protect the coax-to-antenna connection from the weather. By now I suspect that there has already been significant rainwater encroachment down through the top of the SO239 / N-to-PL junction.

    No care was taken to waterproof anything at the junction of the ladderline and 80m doublet either. I still don’t have the ends of the 80m doublet off the ground as far as I’d like. I would prefer 10-15 feet at the ends, but right now they are perhaps 3 feet off the ground.

  • 4. I do not have proper shack grounding.
  • I don’t have a shack ground. If I did it wouldn’t be bonded to the AC Mains ground since there is no visible ground rod connection to the AC Mains. I have underground utilities. I’m not sure where the ground is for the AC mains, but there is not a ground rod or ground wire outside at the entrance. Inside there is a ground from the AC to the cold water pipe.

    I have no lightning arrestors. Of course they’d do no good without any grounding.

    As it is right now, when i’m not using the station I lower the mast to deck height and remove all feedline to the house. It just stays outside coiled up and hanging on the fence 10 feet from my shack.

  • 5. I don’t climb. I can’t stand or sit for long periods of time because of my back.
  • Doing antenna work of any kind usually requires a day or two of recuperation after as little as half an hour of antenna work. Mowing lawn I can do. Standing still and upright working on antenna crap, I cannot. Sitting for extended periods on anything but a couch really can ruin a week pretty fast.

Ok, that’s it for the ranting. I’ve cried a river. In the end, I’ll still be in all of the significant contests and I’ll still participate in nearly every QSO Party I can. Even with such mediocrity for a station, I still have a blast every time I get on and can work some stations. Gotta love the addictiveness of amateur radio.

Field Day is next weekend (June 25/26). I’ll be there, with bells on, running 1D (or perhaps even 1E) from the home with a couple of dipoles. Last year I made 359 Qs in 13 hours. I’m hoping for 600 or more in a 24-hour period this year. If I can do it, you can too. I hope to work you!

Written by Mike

June 19th, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Posted in Posts

West Virginia QSO Party 2011 Summary

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My back still hasn’t recuperated from all of the time spent in the chair for the June VHF QP and CQ WPX CW. I couldn’t manage to sit in the chair for any length of time. Also, something is wrong with the 80m doublet. It’s hearing worse on 80m than the 40m wire, and I was having difficulty tuning every band. I did a quick investigation and didn’t see anything wrong, but obviously something is broken — either at the feedpoint or in the ladderline.

West Virginia QSO Party
June 18, 2011

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

Class: Single OpMixed LP
QTH: Ohio-EN90QL
Operating Time (hrs): 1:52

Summary:
Band CW Qs Ph Qs Dig Qs
—————————-
80:
40: 6 11
20: 3 3
15:
10:
—————————-
Total: 9 14 0 Mults = 13 Total Score = 742

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Comments:

Score includes 300 points for working W8WVA three times. I only worked W8OP/m twice, and even worse was the fact that I only worked K8RYU/m once.

The June VHF QSO Party and CQ WPX CW required so much sitting time for me that I’m still trying to get my sciatica under control. I just couldn’t sit for hours searching out the random WV station or wait for mobiles to switch counties. I knew better and didn’t even try.

As you can guess from the 80m total, I must not have been operating in the evening. My heart wasn’t in it by that point. My 80m doublet was hearing less than my 40m wire on 80m. I was having trouble tuning every band on the 80m wire. I lowered the mast and looked over things briefly, and I didn’t see any broken wires. But somehow I had to have lost a connection / broken a leg of the wire. So 80m wouldn’t have been possible anyway.

This is only my second time working this QSO Party, and it was nice to see / hear a lot of fixed stations on. My score doesn’t reflect contact with a lot of fixed stations, but I’m quite sure many more counties were covered than I had heard.

W8OP and K8RYU sounded great on 40m when I worked them. I was really surprised that I was able to hear so many WV stations on 20m in early-mid afternoon.

The operating time is misleading. Like some others, I did tune around periodically on the bands looking for stations.

Thanks to all of the WV ops and the mobile ops for putting on a nice QP.

Written by Mike

June 19th, 2011 at 3:55 pm

West Virginia QSO Party Jun 18, 1600z to Jun 19, 0200z

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The WVQP is happening this weekend.

I plan on jumping on.

Written by Mike

June 18th, 2011 at 11:39 am

Nice little 6m opening to the Caribbean today

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Had a little time so I fired up the radio and checked on vhfdx.info. Looked like some activity to the south, but none spotted from an Ohio station. I turned the Moxon south and managed to get:

PV8ADI and 9Y4VU on CW as well as KP4EIT and KP4BJD on SSB

KP4BJD, Gabriel, was interesting in that he was about 51/52 when he heard me call him, and then once I repeated my call a couple times he realized I was a stateside station and he turned the beam from Europe to me. Then of course he was 59+. He said I should be happy in that I broke a European DX pileup that he was working. He thought I was a PP station. At any rate, he turned his beam towards Ohio and we talked for a minute. Helluva nice guy. You don’t run across too many people working pileups who take the time out to swing the beam away from the action to work a wimpy stateside station. Thanks, Gabriel. You made my day, brother.

Written by Mike

June 16th, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Posted in DX,Posts,VHF_UHF

Received my new QSL Cards from UX5UO

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After a long, long time without QSL cards, I finally took a few minutes to order some QSL cards from Gennady, UX5UO via http://www.ux5uoqsl.com. Being lazy and lacking a creative bone in my body, I left it all up to Gennady. He showed me some samples, and I ordered a batch.

Sure, some people take pride in the development of their QSL cards, and rightfully so. On the other hand, I could care less what mine look like. Anybody who receives one isn’t going to look at it more than once. There is nothing I could put on a QSL card that would really pique the interest of the recipient. They simply want my confirmation of a QSO.

At any rate, I’ve got cards now and I’m very happy with what I’ve got. For those of you who have sent me a QSL card in the past hoping for a confirming QSL, they’ll be on their way this month.

Below is what the front of the card looks like. Gennady does great work, and my inability to relate what I really wanted on a card as well as my inability to provide him with any graphics really doesn’t do his service justice. If you check out his website you’ll see some very high quality, unique QSLs. Incidentally, it was about a 5-6 week turnaround time from the time I ordered to the time I received them.

Written by Mike

June 13th, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Posted in QSLs

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ARRL VHF QSO Party 2011 Summary

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ARRL Diamond Logo
Equipment used this year included the Yaesu FT-950 for 6m and the Yaesu FT-100 for 2m/440; a Par Electronics Stressed Moxon for 6m and a Diamond X300 dual-band vertical for 2m/440. I didn’t really plan nor expect any activity on 2m given that I was running a vertical and there wasn’t a whole lot of local activity. As it turns out, an additional factor in low VHF activity was the fact that 6m was open somewhere all weekend. I don’t remember what it was like last year, but I’m guessing conditions were better this year on 6m. Anyway, it’s obvious by the contest scores of others that a large majority played on 6m for the whole contest period.

I am never any good at recapping what happened during the contest. My mind is a blur after it’s all over. Notable was a nice West Coast opening, PJ2/K8LEE and T48K, and Florida/Texas very strong, all on Saturday evening. The better band conditions along with the Moxon this year (instead of a 40m wire) made for much more fun. Of course, I had to make about 30 trips out to the mast to turn it during the contest. After 6m died down Saturday night I swapped out the Moxon for the Diamond vertical and attempted to find something on 2m/440. I managed a few EN90/FN00 contacts as well as K2LIM on 2m. Heard nothing on 440, but I didn’t expect to and didn’t even try.

Sunday morning I turned the Moxon to FM/FN grids and got and handful or two of grids/contacts. It was great to manage a few contacts in that direction — as it turns out, some of my fellow MRRCers up north weren’t as fortunate into FM/FN. There was a lesser opening to the West Coast on Sunday — Seemed to be a much narrower section of stations available out West. Activity from the south was very poor compared to Saturday. The Heartland of America was out in force on Sunday though. I bet if you look at some of the scores from W0 you’ll see some really nice QSO counts.

Managed to work some locals / some MRRC guys, such as K8MR, N8VV, K1LT , K8MFO, and K8WFN. Worked quite a few other Ohio and MI stations that I had never heard from before this contest.

Had a lot of fun, but I’ll never bother with 2m/440 in a contest again until I have some directional gain antennas up and a rotator.

ARRL June VHF QSO Party
June 11-12, 2011

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

Class: Single Op LP
QTH: EN90QL East ohio
Operating Time (hrs): 13:16

Summary:
Band QSOs Mults
——————-
6: 172 91
2: 4 3
222:
432:
903:
1.2:
2.3:
3.4:
5.7:
10G:
24G:
——————-
Total: 176 94 Total Score = 16,544

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Written by Mike

June 13th, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Posted in Contesting,QSO Parties

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Alabama QSO Party 2011 Summary

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Alabama QSO Party
June 4, 2011

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

Class: SOMixed LP
QTH: Ohio
Operating Time (hrs): 7:19

Summary:
Band CW Qs Ph Qs
——————–
160: 0 0
80: 9 0
40: 63 8
20: 27 7
15: 4 1
10: 1 0
——————–
Total: 104 16 CW Mults = 48 Ph Mults = 9 Total Score = 12,768

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Written by Mike

June 13th, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Posted in Contesting,QSO Parties

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