AA8IA Amateur Radio

4th Quarter 2011 Contests

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Usually I post contest summaries after every contest. But, as you can see, I haven’t posted much at all lately. Blogging is a burden, especially if you don’t have anything of interest to post. I typically post my contest results for the sole purpose of having my own online record of the contests I have worked. However, the 3830 reflector does a better job of archiving that kind of information than I could ever hope to.

The contests I’ve operated in [since WAG 2011] are:

  • 10/15/2011 Iowa QSO Party
  • 10/15/2011 New York QSO Party
  • 10/29/2011 CQ WW SSB
  • 11/05/2011 ARRL Sweepstakes – CW
  • 11/12/2011 Worked All Europe – RTTY
  • 11/12/2011 Kentucky QSO Party
  • 11/19/2011 ARRL Sweepstakes – SSB
  • 11/26/2011 CQ WW DX – CW
  • 12/03/2011 Tara RTTY Melee
  • 12/03/2011 ARRL 160 Meter Contest
  • 12/04/2011 10-Meter RTTY Contest
  • 12/10/2011 ARRL 10-Meter Contest
  • 12/17/2011 Croatian CW Contest
  • 12/17/2011 RAC Winter Contest

I have submitted all of those to 3830 except for the Croatian CW Contest and the RAC Winter Contest. I submitted checklogs to the sponsors for those two. Why? I was in it just for fun and didn’t want to worry about what the rules said. I just worked what I heard.

Written by Mike

December 27th, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Slacking off for the Holiday Season

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Usually I post a summary for contests / QSO Parties I enter. If anybody actually reads my blog, you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t posted anything for nearly a month and a half.

Typically I am absent from the airwaves from Thanksgiving to after New Years. This year I’ve been active, but I just haven’t been posting because it’s really not a fun thing to do.

I’ve been focusing on working DX, sending out QSLs to those who have requested them from me, and sending out QSLs for DX that I need for DXCC credit.

I played in the ARRL 160, 10-Meter RTTY, TARA RTTY Melee, CQWW DX CW, ARRL SS CW, ARRL SS SSB, Kentucky QSO Party, WAE RTTY, and one or two others but just haven’t posted a summary for them. They are all on 3830 though.

Logbook of the World seems to be back to normal now, and it appears as though a large number of DX and general contest ops have recently started using LoTW. I’ve gotten a lot of confirmations from countries that I had never expected to see using LoTW. Of course.

I’ve been hanging out on 10-meters and plan to be on this weekend for the ARRL 10-Meter Contest. Hopefully conditions are decent, because my antennas sure aren’t. Since I’ll have long periods of rest during nighttime hours, I’m really going to try to put in a lot of time during the daylight hours. I do like working the DX, not so much NA.

Written by Mike

December 8th, 2011 at 11:34 pm

Posted in Posts

Poor Sportsmanship


This isn’t my usual summary. I might post one later.

I just felt like making a post about an operator I listened to in SSCW this year. I won’t mention his name, location or callsign. That should provide him with undeserving anonymity. Suffice it to say, the guy is a well-known contester. According to his website, which isn’t up to date, he has been contesting for years from his current QTH and previous/other QTHs and is a regular in the major contests. Hell, I’ve worked him countless times in various contests.

Anyway, on to the meaty stuff. I came upon this a-hole [who prior to this event wasn’t an a-hole in my mind] and was preparing to throw out my call after he finished working another station. He was asking the station for repeats or for specific information, and the other station wasn’t understanding that he needed a repeat of the check (ck) or precedence (prec). The other station kept sending him the wrong information. So the contester gets pissed / frustrated and sends out .-.. .. -.. (LID). The guy he was working may not have been a contester – he/she may have been some casual op passing by and wanting to give this contester a Q. The other op wasn’t intentionally giving the wrong info. I think the contester eventually got the exchange he wanted before demeaning the other op. There are LIDs and there are well-meaning people trying to increase your fun by being a point for you but who don’t necessarily know what you need. So that was strike #1 for the contester. Already I was highly disappointed at what “competition” does to a person.

I went on to listen since there were other callers, and one or two callers later apparently another op wasn’t giving this contester proper information, or the other contester wasn’t providing it in a timely fashion. At the end of that QSO the contester send the other op a ..-. ..- (FU).

Seriously, what the hell is wrong with this picture? Sorry pal, but who is the real victor here? Cap’n Contester with his random bouts of Tourette Syndrome? Or the little guys who are there to give him the points he needs? Why must this guy resort to on-air tantrums?

Bottom line — I see this contester’s posts and summary’s often. He’s a cocky bastard, as some good [and not so good] contesters are, spreading his peacock feathers. He’s got a nice SO/SO2R station. But, he’s a piss poor representative of an amateur radio operator. He’s get an F in Sportsmanship. Whether or not he can make thousands of Qs per contest is irrelevant. His name is mud.

Written by Mike

November 7th, 2011 at 1:42 pm

An Embarrassing Event


I fired up the radio today and decided to look for some DX. I just recently switched from using Ham Radio Deluxe for general logging to the DX Lab Suite, which includes DXKeeper.

One of the apps in the DX Lab Suite is SpotCollector, which will automatically QSY you to the spot frequency (and split) if you have the Commander app running as well.

I saw the spot for TX7M on 15m and clicked on it to QSY. RX VFO got set to 21.020 and TX freq got set +1 Khz to 21.021. I then decided against trying to work TX7M since I had worked them already on 15m CW. No sense wasting their time and likely adding to the QRM by keying up when they are already in the log.

I then saw a spot for JW5HPA on 21.305. I manually tuned to 21.305 with the radio dial, tuned up, and proceeded to throw out my call for 10 minutes. No joy. Eventually I realized I was still in “split” because I manually tuned from TX7M to JW5HPA rather than clicking on the spot in SpotCollector.

No harm, no foul, right? Well, I continued trying to snag JW5HPA to no avail. I then checked my email, and lo and behold a kind ham emailed me to let me know that I was QRMing the TX7M frequency with my SSB. Yep, that’s right, I was transmitting SSB on 21.021… probably for 10-15 minutes.

The person who emailed me went on to remind me of the DX Code of Conduct because I didn’t state my full call when I was chasing DX.

1. Calling JW5HPA on 21.021 SSB was a major fail. I plead guilty. Where is the wet noodle?

2. Throwing out a partial call when chasing DX? Well, I am going to have to plead innocent on that one. As a rule I don’t do that. Could it have happened? I guess so. I wasn’t recording it, so I can’t prove otherwise. But I would say it was highly unlikely I’d do this.

At any rate, #2 is simply not good etiquette. But #1 is a QRM issue and an actual violation of FCC rules. Where’s Riley when ya need him? I F’d up on that one. Hey, it happens. I’ll brush it off and move on. But I’ll certainly be more diligent when it comes to transmitting. That’s such a rookie mistake.

Thanks to the “Fun Club” for bringing these things to my attention. I’ll try not to let it happen again!

Written by Mike

October 31st, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Posted in Posts

Down in the Dumps

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I’m beginning to feel sorry for myself. I don’t like it, but that’s the way it goes. It was about this time last year that I swore I’d make improvements in the coming year and learn to prepare better for contests. Nothing at all happened.

It’s now late October and the first big contest of the season is upon us this weekend, CQWW DX SSB. I still have the same shitty [there is no better word to describe them] dipoles up in the air. What I’ve got is a 100-foot long inverted-V parallel dipole with the apex at 35′ and a 42-foot long flattop parallel dipole with one end at 12′ and the other end at 30′. It’ll do okay for the up and coming ARRL Sweepstakes, but isn’t going to amount to anything as far as DX contests go.

I had high hopes of putting up some combination of a 40/80m inverted-L. A 160m vert is out of the question because I simply don’t have the real estate for a good radial system. Every week this summer I pondered what I should do, but that’s all I did was ponder.

I also thought about trying to find a way to get a Hexbeam at the top of a solid 40′ tree (it used to be much taller until I had the tree guys come and take off the top). But, alas I don’t know of anyone local to hire for such a job. And no, I wouldn’t think to ask other hams to assist. That’d only come back to bite me in the ass if they should fall or get electrocuted — I like my home and prefer to keep it.

I have had tons of time to record audio files to use for the SSB exchanges in N1MM, but I never did it. So I’ll lose my voice two hours into a contest and then be miserable for a few more hours until I decide to throw in the towel.

I’m still plagued by random RF that wipes out my CAT/digital interface. On 80m SSB if I use my Heil headset and handswitch my audio will sound horrible due to RF getting back into the audio chain. I end up having to use a stock mic and my Sennheiser headphones [I prefer them to be honest]. SSB contesting is tedious.

For six months I thought about purchasing the NS roofing filter from ACOC and then sending my radio off somewhere to have it installed, but I didn’t want to be without my radio for who knows how long.

I still haven’t got a proper hole cut through the block in order to bring cables in. So when it’s time to play radio I’m pulling the damned coaxes in from outside and through the sliding glass door. As you can imagine, the electric bill is higher because of this — and in the winter it gets chilly down in the basement with the wind blowing against the sliding glass door that isn’t fully closed.

My antenna mast is more portable than stationary. I can’t raise my dipole to 35′ if there if its windy. It’s not guyed well enough to withstand 30 mph sustained winds let alone 50 mph gusts.

10/15m had been great the past few weeks, but currently the conditions are mediocre on those bands and probably will remain so for CQWW DX SSB. I’ll be trying to make DX contacts against the overwhelming masses of tribanders, monobanders, kilowatt amps and true contest stations.

Really, sometimes I wonder why the hell I do it. I’m a masochist I guess. I’m a pawn on some contester’s chessboard to be sure.

Hope to work you this weekend!

Written by Mike

October 27th, 2011 at 9:11 pm

TX7M from a sea of nothingness


TX7M 2011
Today I fired up the radio anticipating conditions on 10m / 12m / 15m to be as good as they have been for the past few weeks. Well, I was in for a rude awakening. There was very little to be heard. I even hooked up the second dipole to see if i’d hear anything on it that I couldn’t hear elsewhere.

The only exception was TX7M. When nothing else was to be heard, I’d find TX7M on the band. And, in a matter of less than 30 minutes I worked them on 10m / 15m / 17m / 20m CW. Yep, that’s right, four bands in less than 30 minutes. They were hardly strong, and I’m sure i was as weak as could be. But the TX7M guys appear to be on par with the T32C crew. They are all over the bands and have bionic ears.

I’ll jump back on the radio later this afternoon and see if anything has changed, but the A-index is 16 so I’m not counting on much. Things will likely be improving tomorrow.

Written by Mike

October 25th, 2011 at 2:37 pm

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T32C (Kiritimati / Christmas Island) is QRT

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The record-setting T32C crew are QRT as of 10-24-2011. On that last day I managed to get them into the log two more times, for a total of 12 band-mode combinations. Most of those I didn’t really have to try for. I was simply tuning around on the bands yesterday and found them.

They will be missed, by me at least. They are some fine DX ops. Even during the biggest pileups they seemed to keep it together and maintain their wits. They were omnipresent on the bands. I don’t think there was a time of day or night that a T32C couldn’t be found on the air on some band/mode.

They were excellent listeners, and they ID’s after each QSO [at least when I heard them] and always would indicate if they were listening up or down and if they were targetting a certain geographic area. Until the very end I rarely if ever heard them simplex. They stuck to their plans of operating split [sometimes a very wide split], and it appears that it worked out very well for them and for us [the DXers].

Every time I worked them they seemed calm, polite, and did not rush you to the point that you felt you had to end the QSO before being certain you were in the log. And, if you weren’t in the log, no problem — call them again later on. They’d work you once or 10 times on a band, didn’t matter.

Another bonus is that they will [eventually] be uploading all QSOs to Logbook of the World.

There isn’t much I can really say [that would be worth anything], but if someone where to ask me I’d give these guys the #1 position in my list of best executed DXpedition. From my perspective it was a great success. I thank all of the ops, who took devoted a lot of their personal time and expense and who were diligent in picking out callsigns and exchanges through QRM, QRN, and often deep QSB.

Written by Mike

October 25th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

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Worked All Germany 2011 Summary

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Weather conditions dictated that my main dipole be down, which would limit me to only having a low shortened dipole available this weekend. I made do with what I had. I intended on trying to make a few Qs in some contest this weekend, but I wasn’t sure which ones.

As it turns out, Saturday morning at the start of the WAG contest 10m was solid. Signals from Germany were strong, and there were tons of DLs on 10m CW. So, I worked a nice chunk of them. When I found no more, I tried 15m and then 20m to make a few quick Qs there. While I was on those bands, I managed a few Qs [a very few] for the IaQP and NyQP.

Sunday morning I jumped back on at 1400z for the last hour of the WAG Contest because I wanted to push my Q-count up above 100. I managed to do that.

The German operators are top notch. They send solid CW. They have bionic ears. And they don’t require repeats. From my experience, this actually seems to be typical of many if not most European countries — not just Germany. But, I give the DL ops credit because their ops are top notch!

I sure wish i could have had my other dipole up. If i could have, I would have tried to work 16-18 hours of this contest rather than 4 hours. Thanks to all of the German ops who provided me with one or more Qs!

Worked All Germany Contest
1500Z, Oct 15 to 1459Z, Oct 16

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

Class: SO Mixed LP
QTH: Toronto OH EN90ql
Operating Time (hrs): 3:47

Band CW Qs SSB Qs Mults
80: 0 0 0
40: 0 0 0
20: 15 0 10
15: 11 8 12
10: 74 2 20
Total: 100 110 42 Total Score = 13,860

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Written by Mike

October 16th, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Posted in Contesting

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Pennsylvania QSO Party 2011 Summary

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I really enjoyed the PaQP last year, and so I figured I’d operate this year as well. I was really hoping to make some 160m contacts, but I could only manage to get the dipole to tune extremely low in the band and was only able to squeeze out one Q. No matter, the rest of the party as a blast. 40m was a hotbed of activity on SSB and CW. I never thought to try RTTY this year. I did manage to work the bonus station, K3SMT, twice.

On Saturday night I found 80m to be noisy and lacking in contacts. I’m not sure if everyone just stayed on 40m much longer than usual or if the noise was so bad that I just wasn’t hearing people. But, typically on 80m I do pretty good into neighboring states. So I’m really thinking the activity was down on that band.

K8MR/M, W3USA/M, N8II/M, WA3WSJ/M, W3NO/M, K3YTL/R, K8RYU/R, N3SW(/R?), W3WPA, WU3U/R, KD8MQ/R, and NK8U/3, WI8T and W3TDF apparently running /P were all worked one or more times. A special thanks goes to these folks for getting out of making the extra effort to put counties on the air.

I believe Saturday night I had all but 7 or 8 counties. So I spent Sunday just hoping I’d run across the remaining ones, although I wasn’t hopeful. After getting some of the needed counties from mostly mobile/rover ops I ended up needing just one county — Sullivan. Then, on 40m on Sunday afternoon I heard W3ZR answering another stations CQ and stating he was in SUL. I broke in and asked if I could contact W3ZR, and the running station kindly obliged. Unfortunately, W3ZR was already gone. Then, I looked for a clear freq down the band a little bit with the hope that I could sit and call CQ and maybe have W3ZR stop in. I stopped in a clear spot, listened for a minute and was about ready to ask “is this frequency in use?” when lo and be hold, I heard W3ZR asking the same thing. I waited patiently for him to determine that the freq was not in use and to start calling CQ. When he did, I pounced. W3ZR in SUL was the last county I needed for a sweep, and I got him! Upon reading the PaQP reflector afterwards, W3ZR wasn’t even scheduled to be operating in Sullivan Co, so it was a stroke of good fortune that I ran into him.

All in all I think I probably made about 40 more Qs than last year. I am claiming a sweep, and I think I was missing 6 or 7 county mults last year. I sure wish I could have found more CW to work. I looked for K8MR, W3USA (both were K8MR but with different drivers) as well as K8RYU, K3YTL and W3NO when I could, but I was hardly chasing mobiles. i should have though, since most of them were on CW. I needed more points, and CW was a way to get it.

Being so close to PA, the only bands really worth using were 40m, 80m and 160m. I heard at least 12 stations on 160m CW when I tuned around briefly Saturday night, but since I couldn’t get the antenna tuned I didn’t work but one station. I really really wish I would have been able to do 160m. I also wish there would have been more ops on CW.

K8JQ and W8TM were omnipresent, so my hope of winning my section were dashed early on. Those guys are running far better antenna systems than I. The contests need a category for “low wires only”!

I had a great time. I’ll be back next year to give it another try, but I doubt I’ll be able to improve upon the score from this year.

Thanks to the sponsors and all to all of the stations who were on the air in PA, especially W3ZR and all of the mobile and rover ops.

Pennsylvania QSO Party
1600Z, Oct 8 to 0500Z, Oct 9
1300Z-2200Z, Oct 9

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

Class: Single Op LP
QTH: Toronto OH EN90ql
Operating Time (hrs): 15

Band CW Qs Ph Qs RTTY Qs PSK31 Qs
160: 1
80: 35 24
40: 115 144
20: 1
Total: 152 168 0 0 Mults = 67 Total Score = 32,024

Club: Mad River Radio Club


Thanks to all of the PA stations — and an extra pat on the back for the mobiles
/ rovers. I had a lot of fun. I am claiming a sweep — we’ll see if that
pans out. That’s eight more counties than I got last year. Sullivan was hard
to come by. Thankfully W3ZR showed up on a frequency that I was about to QRL?
on. Of course I waited for him to CQ and nabbed him ASAP.

I was hoping to do some 160m CW, but dummy me forgot to verify the antenna
would tune. Shows you how much I play on 160m.

I bested last year’s score, but not by a whole lot. Most of the additional Qs
were Phone Qs. I wish I would have made more 80m Qs Saturday night, but it was
noisy as all get out and most people stayed on 40m really late.

Thanks to the sponsors as well.

Written by Mike

October 11th, 2011 at 10:37 am

Scandinavian Activity Contest SSB 2011 Summary

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Saturday morning I awoke and finished preparing for the PaQP. 10m has been great lately, so at about an hour before the PaQP was to start, I went to 10m to see what I’d hear. Lo and behold the Scandinavian countries [and other EU] were very strong on the band. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I had a little time to play, so I fired up N1MM and I answered some CQs. It was really great to work some SSB so easily across the pond, and I was glad to hand out some Qs. In the end I managed 34 contacts in about an hour of casual operating. Heck, that’s a better rate than I usually get in a contest where I’m actually working hard at making Qs.

Even better, a lot of those stations seem to be on Logbook of the World, and so I’ve got many 10m confirmations from those Qs. Thanks to the SAC sponsors and stations for putting on a great test. Now that I think about it, I sure wish the PaQP would have started a few hours later. I really wanted to make some more SAC contacts on 10m through 20m.

Scandinavian Activity Contest, SSB
1200Z, Oct 8 to 1200Z, Oct 9

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

Class: SOAB LP
QTH: Toronto OH EN90ql
Operating Time (hrs): 1:07

Band QSOs Mults
15: 8 7
10: 26 17
Total: 34 24 Total Score = 816

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Written by Mike

October 11th, 2011 at 9:59 am

Posted in Contesting

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