AA8IA Amateur Radio

Archive for August, 2011

Ohio QSO Party 2011 Summary

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I had originally planned to operate using the N8W 1×1 callsign. However, prior to the start of the OhQP I was working the KsQP and had forgotten to change my station info in N1MM back to N8W. It wasn’t until I had made a handful of QSOs as AA8IA that I realized I didn’t make the change to N8W. So, I simply operated as AA8IA in the OhQP.

Different this year was the switch from the 105′ doublet to an Alpha Delta DX-LB+. I did this figuring that there would be a better pattern on 10/15/20m with the LB+ vs the doublet. Of course, I didn’t anticipate making many Qs on 10-20m during the OhQP since historically the bands of choice are 40/80m. 10-20m has been fairly pisspoor as of late anyway. I did manage a few Qs on 15m and about six dozen or so on 20m.

Last year, 80m was equal if not better than 40m, even with me not having access to 75m last year. Totally different this year. 40m never seemed to go long like it did last year. So I made many more Qs on 40m this year. The LB+ allows me to work nearly all of 40m without a tuner. I also got a Ameritron ATR-20 this year, which allowed me to tune anywhere I needed to go on any band. Initially I had problems on 40m with RF getting into my CAT/CW interface. Relocating the interface and snapping on some ferrite stopped the problem… this time.

As mentioned above, 80m just didn’t have the activity. There didn’t seem to be a lot of stations on 80m. Then again, upon looking over the scores of some other Ohio stations there was definitely more to be worked on 80m. I apparently didn’t show up on 80m at the right times. I had problems initially on 80m SSB (75m) with RF getting into the audio. KW8N brought it to my attention while I was making my first 80m Q. The only thing I could do to get rid of it was swap out my Heil ProSet + Hand Switch with the stock microphone and my Sennheiser headphones. Once I did that, 80m SSB was fine.

For reasons I won’t go into, I can’t use a footswitch. A handswitch is a pain in the rear end for keying the mic, and using the stock mic is even more of a pain. But it was a lot of fun, and a challenge, to continuously swap between the keyboard for logging and the microphone.

I’ve never worked so much SSB in a contest. It was a welcome change, aside from the points disadvantage. [In the OhQP you get more points for CW contacts.] It was nice to actually match voice to some of the people I’m used to working on CW/RTTY. I am longwinded. In a QSO Party especially, I don’t like to be a standoff. I try to be polite, and I try to repeat things an annunciate well enough so that the other guy [or gal] is less likely to need a repeat. I want the people participating to feel welcomed. After all, not only are the ops from other states our guests, but many of the in-state stations are not contesters but jump on an operate because it is Ohio’s own QSO Party.

As far as score goes, it went very well. Below is a comparison between this year and last year.

band/modeOhQP 2011OhQP 2010
80/cw55160
80/ssb5539
40/cw11947
40/ssb1510
20/cw6239
20/ssb130
15/cw51

The 80m CW total was down 66% this year, and the 80m band total was down 57%. The 40m CW total was up 153% this year, and the 40m band total was up 474%. The 20m CW total was up 58% this year, and the 20m band total was up 92%. The 15m total was exactly the same. The overall CW total was about the same this year, while the overall SSB total was up 461%.

Bottom line is that I made about twice the number of CW QSOs as last year and nearly doubled my QSO total by operating much more SSB.

It was great to work more DX this year. DL2HBX, OM2VL, and perhaps another 10 or so DX stations gave me a call on various bands/modes. Although DX do not count as multiplier, I’d really like to work even more next year.

Thanks to many… Kenny, K2KW, for again spearheading the promotion of the OhQP; the Ohio stations, who really stepped up to the plate to put counties on the air; the abundance of out-of-state participation — ya gotta have that!; the DX stations who joined us for the party, and the half dozen or so mobiles, aero-mobiles, and rovers for traveling far and wide [in some cases, from outside Ohio] to make counties available.

Oh yeah — Thanks to the guys who were spotting us Ohio stations, especially K5KG — a sudden influx of stations answering one’s CQ is a great pick-me-up.

Ohio QSO Party
1600Z, Aug 27 to 0400Z, Aug 28

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

Class: Single Op LP
QTH: Jefferson Co
Operating Time (hrs): 12

Summary:
Band CW Qs Ph Qs
——————–
80: 55 55
40: 119 151
20: 62 13
15: 5
10:
——————–
Total: 241 219 CW Mults = 79 Ph Mults = 91 Total Score = 119,170

Written by Mike

August 31st, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Posted in Contesting,QSO Parties

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Ohio QSO Party 2011 — August 27th

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The 2011 OhQP is this weekend, from 1600z Sat, Aug 27th to 0400z Sun, Aug 28th. For those of us in the Eastern Timezone, that’d be Saturday noon to midnight.

Full details can be found at the Ohio QSO Party website including the Rules, a HowTo, the submitted Planned Operations, and an area where you can submit your operation if you are a station operating from an Ohio county during the OhQP.

Oh — one more thing. The Ohio QSO Party does not do Facebook and does not do Twitter. The only official web presence for the Ohio QSO Party is http://www.ohqp.org . Don’t let the impersonator fool you.

Below is a semi up-to-date map of planned fixed, mobile and rover operations. However, this is but a small number of Ohio stations that will actually be on the air. Not all Ohio stations submit their planned operations to the OhQP website. This QSO party is one of the largest / most popular.

Note: Click on one of the counties to see what stations have submitted operating plans for that county. Different colors represent different #s of stations.


View Larger Map

Written by Mike

August 26th, 2011 at 4:39 pm

2011 AlQP — AA8IA SOLP Mixed — #1 Ohio, 2nd US

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Checked the mail today, and lo and behold there was an envelope from Jim / KC4HW.

I opened up the envelope, and inside was a beautiful certificate for getting High Score – OH / 2nd Place US in the SOLP Mixed Category in the 2011 AlQP.

I’m a 44-year-old guy. I’ve accomplished a few things in life, although none of them have been in the realm of amateur radio. And, I wouldn’t consider this an accomplishment. However, I wasn’t that far behind WQ5L, the winner [1st Place] in the same category. It sure was nice to get the certificate — it actually means something to me.

It got me to thinking. I don’t look at it so much as a certificate of any sort of achievement. Instead, I look at it as the ACG guys saying “we appreciate that you thought enough of our QSO Party efforts that you put some time into helping make it worthwhile for all of us who put on event.”

The bottom line is that the ACG (Alabama Contest Group) puts on a great QSO Party, and they go through a great deal of trouble to say thanks to all of the people who participate by issuing Plaques, certificates, etc. What a great bunch of folks!

I can think of many many stations who, if they would have operated in the AlQP, could have totally wasted me. But they didn’t. Why not? They didn’t play in the game. It sure gives me some motivation to put the AlQP on my list of must-do QSO parties for 2012. Who knows… I could actually win in my category next year. I’ll definitely try harder. Even if I receiving nothing for my effort, I’m guaranteed to have a helluva lot of fun!

Written by Mike

August 26th, 2011 at 9:52 am

NAQP SSB 2011 Summary

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Didn’t spend much time on this one, but it was definitely more fun than I had expected. Wish I could have put more of an effort in.

North American QSO Party, SSB – August
1800Z, Aug 20 to 0600Z, Aug 21, 2011

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

Class: Single Op LP
QTH: Toronto OH EN90ql
Operating Time (hrs): 1:47

Summary:
Band QSOs Mults
——————-
160:
80:
40: 9 9
20: 38 19
15: 15 5
10:
——————-
Total: 62 33 Total Score = 2,046

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Written by Mike

August 21st, 2011 at 6:41 pm

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CWops CW Open 2011 Inaugural Summary

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Worked late. Bed at 4 am. Set alarm for 7:45 am. Didn’t manage to wake up til 9 am and so I got a late start. I’m not used to early AM contesting, and so I really didn’t know where to start. I picked 40m. 80m was not operational at all this weekend due to me swapping out dipoles and not being able to tune up on the CW portion of 80m. [low ant, ends within a few feet of fence rail, parallel and 12′ away from the house. I need to get it moved away from the house and the ends raised some more].

I was trying to participate in at least two CWO sessions as well as work some of NAQP SSB. So really it’s a blur to how it went.

What I can say is that for this being the first year, I thought the turnout was really good. Recognized a lot of the stations, but I also noticed quite a number of calls that I do not remember working in any other test. So it looks like some people really came out of the woodwork for this!

The CWOps events are always a lot of fun. Not as hectic as the sprints, and overall a more casual feel than most other tests. Just what i like.

I played in slots #1 and #2, but buttoned everything up before slot #3 since bad weather was forecast.

Thanks to the creators/sponsors of this find test. I’d declare it a success! It was great to work everyone.

CWops CW Open – 1200Z-1559Z

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

Class: Single Op LP
QTH: Toronto OH EN90ql
Operating Time (hrs): 2:50

Summary:
Band QSOs Mults
——————-
160:
80:
40: 16 16
20: 48 36
15: 33 16
10:
——————-
Total: 97 70 Total Score = 6,790

Club: Mad River Radio Club

CWops CW Open – 2000Z-2359Z

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

Class: Single Op LP
QTH: Toronto OH EN90ql
Operating Time (hrs): 1:18

Summary:
Band QSOs Mults
——————-
160:
80:
40: 9 9
20: 36 30
15: 12 12
10:
——————-
Total: 57 51 Total Score = 2,907

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Written by Mike

August 21st, 2011 at 6:32 pm

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Maryland QSO Party 2011 Summary

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I’m not even going to post my full summary. 5 Qs. I just didn’t hear many. One of the bonus stations was heard, but they apparently weren’t hearing me. There was a lot of QRN on 40m, which would have been a good band for this during specific time periods. I was not operational on 80m CW because I couldn’t manage to tune up there, and I actually didn’t even think to try out 80m since QRN was so bad on 40m.

Written by Mike

August 18th, 2011 at 12:40 am

Posted in Contesting,QSO Parties

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Worked All Europe (WAE) CW 2011 Summary

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With the possibility of severe weather Saturday, I only fired up the radio for a few hours here and there. I just swapped out dipoles, and the one I have up now will not currently tune 40m. No time to fix that. Nothing heard on 10m. 15m activity was weak during the short amount of time I was operating, but there was apparently more activity on 15m than last year considering I made a few more Qs there.

Knowing I couldn’t do anything on 40m or 10m, and given the weather, my heart wasn’t into spending time in the chair. Sunday was family day, and so I spent the majority of that time with the family. Got called away later in the day Sunday on an emergency IT call, so I wasn’t around for the tail end either.

This is one helluva fun contest, and the EU folks sure have mastered the skill of sending/receiving QTCs, regardless of speed, sig strength or QRN. My hats off to them for a superb job. This is their contest, and if they are wanting QTCs and willing to copy them, I’ll gladly provide them. If I didn’t like the rules, I simply wouldn’t operate.

Thanks to the sponsors and the EU stations for all the fun!

WAE DX Contest, CW
0000Z, Aug 13 to 2359Z, Aug 14, 2011

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

Class: Single Op LP
QTH: Toronto OH EN90ql
Operating Time (hrs): 4:42

Summary:
Band QSOs QTCs Mults
————————-
80:
40:
20: 52 57 44
15: 14 24
10:
————————-
Total: 66 57 68 Total Score = 8,364

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Written by Mike

August 15th, 2011 at 10:55 pm

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Maryland/DC QSO Party 2011 Summary

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Maryland/DC QSO Party
1600Z, Aug 13 to 0400Z, Aug 14, 2011
1600Z-2400Z, Aug 14, 2011

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

Class: Standard LP
QTH: Toronto OH EN90ql
Operating Time (hrs):

Summary:
Band CW Qs Ph Qs Dig Qs
—————————-
160:
80:
40: 1 4
20:
15:
10:
6:
2:
432:
—————————-
Total: 1 4 0 Mults = 5 Total Score = 160

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Written by Mike

August 15th, 2011 at 10:08 pm

A Rough Radio Weekend

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During the past week I swapped out my ~105′ ladderline-fed doublet for an Alpha Delta DX-LB Plus. I finally got the LB up in the air on Friday, with the help of some family. The LMR-400 I’m using to feed it is heavy, and the LB Plus itself is heavy, so it was causing the mast to bend pretty good without guy wires above 25′. As a stopgap measure I tied a piece a rope to the top section and secured it down in a way that would bring the mast back to vertical.

The LMR-400 was purchased from a place who had premade 50′ sections with N-connectors used for wireless backhauls. Not only do I not need LMR-400 on HF, but I also don’t need N-connectors on HF. This just causes me to have to use adapters to connect it to antennas and radios. The current LMR-400 likely has water breach. The N-connector on one end can easily be twisted, and there is intermittent connection of the ground. I ordered some RG-213/U with PL-259s which should be here this week.

I didn’t get an opportunity to even attempt to tune the 10/20/160 wires. The antenna doesn’t resonate inside the band edges for any ham band. Although, my LDG tuner will very quickly tune up on 10m through 20m. I was also able to tune up on 160 around 1820 khz. I can tune up on 40m as well, but there is RF floating around in the shack. I’m not sure if it is due to the close proximity of the antenna to the shack, the bad shield connection on the coax, or a combination thereof. So I can’t run 100w on 40m right now. I’ll worry about that once I have the new coax in place. I can tune on 80m, but only in the SSB portion. Not good — I prefer CW.

It rained most of the weekend. Fortunately there was no lightning, but there was no way for me to know whether there would be lightning. T-storms were forecast. So it was always in the back of my mind that I may have to quit any contest I was operating in this weekend. The noise on 40/80 was rough.

I attempted to operate in the WAE CW contest this weekend. I didn’t do as good as last year, but I didn’t put the time in either. I missed some opportunities because I couldn’t operate on 40m without the RF taking out my keying interface every time. So it was a 10-20m contest for me. Unfortunately, there was no Europe to be heard on 10m. On 15m I felt the conditions were mediocre at best. I did make some EU contacts, but there is no way in hell I would consider it to be good propogation on 15m this weekend. Others in Ohio who worked this contest wouldn’t agree, but they are also running high [and often directional] antennas and high power. 20m was good though, and that is where I made most of my contacts.

I worked a few MDC stations for that QSO party, but try as I may I just couldn’t find many on the air. I worked what I heard though. The MDC QSO party is like the WVQP — a handful of in-state stations who have all the fun working the casual people who run across them, but in my opinion there aren’t enough in-state MDC stations to make the contest fun for those out of state. Contrast that with the FLQP, GAQP, TNQP, OHQP, PAQP, CQP, and the 7-land QPS, where there is plenty of fun to be had for both in-state and out-of-state stations.

On the bright side, I was offered some help by my niece’s husband to relocate the current antenna support to another part of the yard farther away from the house. We’ll do that in the next month or two. We’ll dig a hole and cement a pipe into the ground and then mount the 50′ Max Gain Systems mast to it. I’ll put the DX-LB Plus on top, and perhaps I’ll stick a single-band wire below it. We’ll get some solid end supports in the ground as tall as I can get them… above 10 feet at least. Hopefully I can figure out how to do this in a way that allows me to use pulleys on it to raise and lower the wire(s) rather than having to retract the mast for maintenancce or during inclement weather. The 50′ mast has 8′ sections, while my current mast has 6′ sections. So, retracted it will be more difficult to work on things using the 50′ mast. And I definitely need to get that DX-LB Plus tuned for resonance inside the band edges of as many bands as I can.

Written by Mike

August 15th, 2011 at 10:08 am

HostICan VPS Order — or not

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On Aug 11 I submitted an order at www.hostican.com for a VPS. When i was done filling out the form and submitting the order, it redirected me to a thank you page. After a while of not receiving an email verification of my order or a welcome email, I called them up. Understand that I don’t expect to order a VPS and have it automatically set up in five minutes. I do expect an instant notification via email that my order was received and put in the queue.

I called them up and they said it was a busy day and they had a lot of orders. I was told that if I didn’t hear from them by 8:30 PM, give them a call. Well, I had other things to do so I didn’t call them last night.

This morning I still hadn’t heard from them so I called them up a little after 9 AM. The person who answered indicated that there was no record of my order in their system. So we ended that call, and I then went and placed the order again via the website. After placing the order I called them to verify they received the order, and they did. They said it should be set up by 10:00 AM.

I received a Welcome Email at 9:30 giving me login instructions to the customer center, where the email indicated I could manage all aspects of my ordered package. I went and clicked on the link to access the VPS, and the IP address was missing.

I opened a ticket via their support system, and a short while later (9:48 AM) the ticket was closed with the response that “It appears that your vps is not setup yet. You need to wait for a welcome email from us.”

I thought I did receive a Welcome Email from them. After all, the email I received had a subject line of “Welcome to Hostican” and it provided me with a customer ID and password to log into their Customer Manager system so that I could manage the product I ordered. Granted, I did not recieve an email providing me with the IP address of my VPS or the root password. Nonetheless, I technically did receive a “Welcome Email” :)

I tried to reply to the email that was sent from the ticketing system, and the email indicated that the address that sent the email is no longer in use and that I must respond via the ticket system. That’s interesting since the tech who picked up the ticket already closed it. So now I need to re-open the ticket.

Needless to say, so far this experience has been irritating.

~11:35 AM – I re-opened the ticket and asked when the VPS might be up. The response probably won’t be the one I’m looking for.

~11:39 AM – I received this response:

Hello,

Yes, that welcome email means your order is confirmed with us. It usually takes upto 12 hours to setup a VPS account after placing a order.

Thanks

According to their website, 15-20 minutes is what it takes to set up an account. Although they give more details here: http://answers.hostican.com/questions.php?questionid=124

So they may have to verify things? Considering I’ve spoken with them on the phone multiple times, the domain associated with the VPS is in my name with my email address, and I’m calling from my home phone providing useful ANI, you’d think that is all the verification one needs.

Who knows, maybe I’ve already been enough of a pain in the ass [not intentionally] to cause them to simply refund my money after 48 hours. That’s not what I’m wanting. I signed up for a reason. I don’t waste my time signing up just so that I can give them a hard time and waste their staff resources.

Guess we’ll have to see what happens next.

~2:44 PM – Received notification that the VPS was set up. I ssh’d into it and did the prerequisite turning off of unneeded services, editing /etc/hosts and /etc/resolv.conf to my liking as well as /etc/sysconfig/network to change the hostname and do a “hostname server.mydomain.ext”.

Then it was on to seeing what packages were installed and installing those I needed. Lo and behold Yum [the package manager] was not installed. Hey, I’ve been a diehard *nix, especially Linux, junkie since 1991. I don’t need no Yum. But, this is a CentOS [Redhat-based] operating system and as such it most certainly should have Yum installed on it.

~6:38 PM – Rather than installing it myself, I figured I’d ask them why they omitted it during installation heh. I mean seriously, no Yum on a CentOS install? That’s just silly. I figured there must be a logical reason, such as that perhaps they have troubles with customers using Yum to install the stock OS packages over top of ones they shouldn’t [such as those ending in .swsoft, since this is a Parallels Containers VPS]. Of course I knew that wouldn’t be a problem. I already run other VPS’ on the same VM platform with CentOS and Yum installed with no prob. They installed it quick enough, and didn’t give me an explanation why it wasn’t included in a basic OS install.

Everything else was fine from there. Working great so far. Of interest is the fact that the same day they set up the VPS [and I paid for a month up front], they have already issued the invoice for the next month of service. It’s not due for a month, but it has been issued now. Go figure. I think I’ll hold off on that one :)

Written by Mike

August 12th, 2011 at 10:21 am

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