AA8IA Amateur Radio

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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

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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CQ VHF Worldwide 2011 — A major bust

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I started this contest with the plan of operating exclusively on 6m and making a couple hundred Qs. Of course, I had made the assumption that propagation would be at least as favorable, if no more favorable, than it was for the ARRL June VHF test.

I put the Moxon up the night before and configured N1MM. I had gotten plenty of sleep. I had made plans for operating from 2pm til whenever the band shut down Saturday evening and then to work a little bit Sunday morning and then later Sunday afternoon.

The contest started and there was nothing at all happening. I checked the spotting networks, and there wasn’t any sporadic-E reported anywhere into / out of Ohio. I spent most of my time CQing since I was hearing very little [except for W3BD and W3SO].

All day Saturday it was a struggle to make a Q. Given the lack of Es, the only grids I worked were EM89, EM99, EN80, EN81, EN82, EN90, EN91, FM18, FM19, FN00, FN19 and FN21. I gave up at 2300z.

Sunday I fired up the radio just before 1600z and it was more of the same… nothing. I did work EN73 for a new closer grid. From about 1650z to around 1927z I took a break to spend time with the family. When I got back on, I actually noticed that the band had opened a little bit to the south. From 1927z to 2037z I made 30 contacts, mostly down into Florida and vicinity. I did manage to work CO2WF, XE2S and 9Y4D, my only “DX”.

I turned the radio off at that point, figuring the last 27 minutes wouldn’t yield anything new. Based upon VHFDX.Info emails to me and reports I’ve heard from others, the band opened up to many places right after the end of contest.

It was brutal waiting for the propagation that never happened for most of the contest. I was glad to make as many contacts as I did in grids close to EN90, but I really ended this contest feeling shortchanged. Mother Nature be damned.

Oh well, there is always next year. I took the Moxon down Sunday evening right after I ended the contest, and wouldn’t you know it there was some nice activity later in the evening. And, already this morning there is a very nice opening as I write this. I won’t bother raising the Moxon for it though.

CQ Worldwide VHF Contest
1600z July 16 to 2100z July 17 2011
Call: AA8IA
Operator(s): AA8IA
Station: AA8IA

Class: SOSB/6 LP
QTH: Toronto OH EN90QL
Operating Time (hrs): 4:03

Band QSOs Mults
6: 63 31
Total: 63 31 Total Score = 1,953

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Written by Mike

July 18th, 2011 at 11:31 am

Posted in Contesting,VHF_UHF

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CQ VHF Worldwide Contest this weekend

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I had a lot of fun working 6m in the ARRL June test. I’ve been paying attention to Sporadic-E / F2 skip on 6m the past week, and the conditions seem to be pretty good. Hopefully the conditions will be ripe this weekend for a lot of contacts.

CQ VHF WorldWide 2011
1800z Saturday, Jul 16 to 2100z Sunday, Jul 17
contest rules

This contest is not VHF/UHF but rather just 6m and 2m, and all modes are allowed. So if you have 6m/2m capabilities, especially SSB/CW and horizontal antennas, jump on the bands and see what you can work. You might be surprised.

I’ll be on 6m only, and I hope to work a lot of folks this weekend!

Written by Mike

July 15th, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Posted in Contesting,VHF_UHF

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JARTS WW 2010 contest this weekend

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The likelihood of me making a RTTY contact with JA is slim to none. However, we are all fortunate that this contest is open to everyone to work everyone, regardless of where you are at and where they are at. That means that anyone and everyone who operates RTTY or who has thought about it should jump on and makes some contacts in this contest. Details can be found below.

JARTS WW RTTY 2010 – October 16th, 0000Z to October 17th 2400Z

For us folks in the Eastern timezone of the US, that’ll be 8 PM tonight to8 PM Sunday night.

Hope to see you on!

Written by Mike

October 15th, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Makrothen RTTY Contest 2010 – Summary

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My Results:

Makrothen RTTY Contest

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

Class: SO/Single Xcvr LP
QTH: Toronto OH
Operating Time (hrs): 3.5

Band QSOs
80: 2
40: 34
20: 25
15: 5
Total: 66 Total Score = 354,654

Club: Mad River Radio Club


Scored tallied by N1MM. Fun way to start the weekend while waiting for the
PaQP to commence. Thanks to the sponsors and those who worked me!

Written by Mike

October 11th, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Posted in Contesting

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I was eager to work this contest. The antenna situation was better than it had ever been for me, and the weather was beautiful all weekend. Now that I had the FT-950, I was really anxious to put it through its paces.

Most of the time there did not seem to be much of a difference between the 80m V and the DX-EE 10-40m dipole, but once in a while using one instead of the other helped me to pull out a contact. Just knowing how the DX-EE is oriented, I attempted to use it when the stations I was working were to the north or south of me. And it seemed to perform more reliably on 10/15 than the V. This is probably because the DX-EE is a parallel dipole and the high band elements/wires are 1/2w and provide a more consistent and focused pattern.

I was running AFSK RTTY in PKT mode. For a couple reasons this is not best.

  1. I don’t think the frequency displayed is the true mark frequency. Good thing I wasn’t spotting anybody. I would have no idea of the exact frequency I’m on. This can become very confusing if you were hoping to follow someone else’s spots. I wasn’t doing that, I did not take advantage of any spotting.
  2. Although the filtering in the FT-950 is very nice, the filtering setup when in PKT mode are intended for digital modes such as PSK. If you run AFSK RTTY, you have to use IF shift to move the filter passband so that the other stations tones are centered inside your passband even when you are using the narrowest of filters. In some cases, this was successful in keeping the wanted RTTY signal inside the narrow filter range (200-300 hz). But for some reason, this did not always work. I can’t tell if it was band dependent or what. But on some bands I just couldn’t narrow the filter without losing the station completely. And, of course, running a wide filter was useless all by itself since there were times [especially on 20m] when there were RTTY stations every 250 hz or so. Any decent signal up or down from the one I would try to copy woudl be totally silenced when the station on either side would transmit. When I was able to run the narrow filter, I could set it on 200 hz and copy the wanted signal just fine without the signals on either side obliterating it.

If I would have been running FSK instead, the radio would be in RTTY mode, the filtering would be dead-on to begin with, the proper mark frequency would display, and everything would have been much smoother. I spent a significant amount of time narrowing and widening the filter and playing with the IF shift, and at odd times things would not work as expected. All in all, I wasted a considerable amount of time with filtering issues. This also tired me out more, especially at times when I should have been the most productive.

There was absolutely no shortage of RTTY stations to be worked. I worked many countries on RTTY that had I never expected to hear/be able to work. It was a real thrill. I worked stations who weren’t bumping the S-meter but were audible. I think I even worked one station on all five bands! To the average contester that may not be a big deal, but to me it is.

In total I worked nearly 21 hours of the contest, according to N1MM. It was 100% search and pounce. I really wanted to CQ, but I was not confident in my ability to handle the people who may transmit off frequency. I read up on the use of AFC and NET in MTTY, but the one time I turned on AFC and started calling CQ, the first station that replied was far from centered and the AFC didn’t tune to teh station fast enough. In light of me not understanding how to account for this phenomenon, I thought it best to not bother CQing. As laid back and patient as the RTTY ops were, I knew they really wouldn’t want to waste time being my guinea pig during the biggest RTTY contest in the world.

Before any future RTTY contests I have a lot of things I need to read up on. I need to make a ‘short’ exchange and a ‘long’ exchange, and know when to use which one based upon the quality of the signal coming in. Many times I knew that sending an exchange like “K7DX 599 04 OH 04 OH AA8IA” was overkill, and at other times I knew that duplicating data in an exchange would actually shorten the contact if I felt the other station was not going to hear me well… such as “K7DX 599 04 04 04 OH OH OH AA8IA”. I’ve yet to figure out the fine line / happy medium, but I’m sure many of my exchanges were longer than they needed to be.

It’s all a blur now. I wish I could give you an hourly or four-hourly play-by-play, but I really don’t remember what bands I was on or when I was on them.

I had a great time. The RTTY ops were great, especially the DX ops. I’ll definitely do it again, but I have to make some signfiicant changes in my efficiency as well as in what bands I operate and when I operate on them. Even though a 100′ tower and a bunch of monobanders would yield better results, I know that modifying my operating practices during a contest can yield me double the score. So I’ll work on improving myself until I reach the point of diminishing returns. I’ve got a lot of room for improvement.

My Results

CQ Worldwide DX Contest, RTTY

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

Class: SOAB LP
QTH: Toronto OH
Operating Time (hrs): 20

Band QSOs Pts State/Prov DX Zones
80: 83 105 35 7 6
40: 108 200 29 31 13
20: 120 252 21 41 18
15: 86 169 8 30 14
10: 16 47 0 7 5
Total: 413 773 93 116 56 Total Score = 204,845

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Written by Mike

September 26th, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Posted in Contesting,FT-950,Posts

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Colorado QSO Party / Tennessee QSO Party — This weekend

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The Colorado and Tennessee QSO parties are both this weekend. Fortunately, each is held at a completely different time — thus no contention.

Colorado QSO Party 1200Z, Sep 4 to 0400Z, Sep 5
Website: http://www.ppraa.org/coqp/

  • 160-10m (no WARC bands) + VHF/UHF
  • CW, SSB, Digital

Tennessee QSO Party 1800Z, Sep 5 to 0300Z, Sep 6
Website: http://www.tnqp.org/

  • All amateur bands (except WARC bands)
  • CW, SSB, Digital

I will try to make a few contacts. However, my brother and his wife are coming in from CMH this weekend so operating time will be limited. Great WX forecast this weekend here in Ohio…. hopefully I can take advantage for a few hours.

I’m not sure about activity in the CoQP, but the TnQP is a very popular contest. If you are going to work the TnQP you should anticipate a lot of activity.

Written by Mike

August 31st, 2010 at 11:19 am