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 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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NAQP CW August 2011 Summary

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I had been keeping an eye on the weather forecast all week. The predictions for Saturday were consistent — scattered thunderstorms with a possibility of severe ones. That forecast loomed in my mind all week.

I did end up checking out the 100′ wire, and everything seemed normal with it. I hooked it up and tested, and sure enough it still didn’t want to cooperate above 7040 kHz. I can’t figure out why a setup that has worked fine for a year suddenly wants to play differently. At any rate, when I heard contacts on 40m above 7040 kHz I’d turn off the autotuner and use the wire with about a 2.7:1 SWR, or I’d switch to the DX-EE. For all intents and purposes, the wires were working okay for this CW test.

I started the contest on time but could never get in a run on any band. 10m was poor, although there were some stations and I did garner some mults there. I expected more out of 15m. 20m was much better for me this year than last year. With the everpresent threat of thunderstorms, I always felt like I was pressing my luck. I took an hour break within the first four hours or so, which was a big mistake. 40m was fair, but I got there late and probably stayed on that band too long. I shut down for good at 0100z, five hours early. I missed 80m altogether, and historically it’s my best band in domestic contests. Of course I don’t have a 160m antenna yet, so nothing happened there.

It was fun, but I was too damned focused on the possibility of rogue lightning that I mentally never wanted to get into a run, since I might have to stop a good one should lightning be present.

As it turns out I only heard thunder once, and that was right before 0100z. When it decided to rain, it was light. There wasn’t a single lightning bolt to be seen. I gave up for nothing. I’m pissed… there is no other way to put it.

Being that last year was my first year playing a lot in contests, I figured I should improve on every 2010 score in 2011. This time I failed miserably. I had nearly the same mults as last year, but I was down 70Qs. Of course, last year I operated for 10 hours instead of the six hours I operated this year.

In calculating the damage, I figured that I should have been able to garner another 120+ Qs on 40m and 80m especially. But, after seeing the reports from other Ohioans regarding the heavy QRN, I probably wouldn’t have. But, I am sure that had I remained on the air for 10 hours, I would have definitely beaten my score from last August.

North American QSO Party, CW – August 2011
Sat, Aug 6, 1800z to Sun, Aug 7, 0600z

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

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

Summary:
Band QSOs Mults
——————-
160: 0 0
80: 0 0
40: 69 34
20: 108 40
15: 84 26
10: 25 10
——————-
Total: 286 110 Total Score = 31,460

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Team: MRRC/NCC #1

The Ohio QSO Party is Saturday, August 27th from noon til midnight EDT. I sure hope I can put in the full effort this year and improve upon last years’ score. Hope to work you in the OHQP!

Written by Mike

August 7th, 2011 at 2:48 pm

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G4ZLP Digimaster PRO+ CW / PTT / FSK / CAT / Digital Modes Interface

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Wanting to operate FSK RTTY to make better use of the available filtering in my radio as well as to eliminate the need for constantly adjusting my audio drive to keep the ALC meter happy, I had been searching for an FSK interface. I already own a CW keying interface from ZLP Electronics and have always had good dealings with Neil, G4ZLP, so I figured I’d check out his site for something new. Sure enough, he has thhe Digimaster PRO+. It claims to handle all digital modes including FSK RTTY and to provide CW keying / PTT and CAT control. This sounded great to me. I placed an order.

The Digimaster PRO+ arrived yesterday [within seven days]. It was packaged very efficiently. There is nothing specular about the look of this interface. It is a small black box with an LED on it and adjustments for TX and RX audio levels. If you were looking for eye candy, you won’t find it here. [to be honest, I have a Signalink USB as well, and there is nothing spectacular about its look either].

The packages included all of the cabling I would need to hook this up immediately to my Yaesu FT-950. When you order the unit, you specify the radio you are using. There was the interface box, a cable with audio in/out jacks to plug into your audio card, a CAT cable that plugged directly into the RS-232 port on the back of my Yaesu, a CW interface cable with a 3.5 mm jack that plugged directly into the back of the radio [after using a 3.5mm to 1/4″ stereo adaptor], a data cable which plugged directly into the PKT/DATA/RTTY jack on the back of my radio, and a cheap and simple USB sound device. The USB sound device is similar to ones I had previously purchased on Ebay from China or Hong Kong for $1.99 a piece plus shipping. Of course, the only purpose for this sound device is to support the AFSK modes, and it has everything you need to do that.

Wiring up the interface to my radio/computer was a no-brainer. All cables that you would have any doubt about were labeled / color coded. Here is the process i used:

  1. make sure the radio / interface are off
  2. plug all cables into the interface
  3. With the PC on, plug the USB sound device and the interface USB cable into two available USB ports on my computer
  4. turn on the Digimaster PRO+ interface

A few seconds later the PC reported that it saw some new hardware, and it found the appropriate drivers for the USB sound device automatically. It did not find the drivers for the USB-to-Serial chipset in the Digimaster automatically. It did give the option to Search the Internet. I chose that option, and it went out and find appropriate drivers and installed them. The LED then blinked red/green a few times, indicating that the drivers were installed and the interface was talking to the computer fine.

I then went into the Device Manager on the computer to check what numbers were given to the comports. In my case, the first comport (the one used for CW / PTT / FSK keying) was COM6 and the second comport (the one used for CAT control) was COM7. [NOTE: On your PC the Digimaster PRO serial ports would likely be assigned different comports than 6/7. This is dependent upon many things, such as what other comports are already in use as well as what USB port on the computer you have the interface plugged into.]

So far so good. The interface is talking to the computer. It’s now time to get N1MM, MMTTY and Ham Radio Deluxe set up to work with this new interface.

A few things I needed to know before setting up software to use the Digimaster PRO:

a. what comport number was assigned to the first [CW/PTT/FSK] interface? COM6
b. what comport number was assigned to the second [CAT control] interface? COM7
c. what is the baud rate set to in my FT-950’s radio settings? 38400

I’ll leave the setup info to my next post.

Written by Mike

October 5th, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Ohio QSO Party 2010 – Summary

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(subliminal message – If you operated the OhQP this year, and especially if you were an Ohio station, please upload your logs to Logbook of the World (LOTW) and eQSL. Many people worked this contest in the hopes of getting a rare Ohio county confirmation. Do your part and upload your logs. It’s not difficult. If you want to know more about LOTW and eQSL, click on the link at the top of this page)

I put a tremendous amount of thought into OhQP 2010 operations from my home this year. That’s not to say that I put enough effort into optimizing my antenna system. I did not. However, I did manage to at least get the 80m dipole up in inverted-V fashion. It sure is a good thing, because I actually made more Qs on 80m than anywhere else.

80m was rocking, both on CW and SSB. Unfortunate for me is the fact that I didn’t take into account how important SSB operations would be if i wanted to reach as many stations as possible. My 80m Vee tuned fine on CW but would not tune on SSB. I could not resist the temptation to operate [at reduced power levels] on 80m SSB even though I couldn’t come anywhere close to tuning the SSB portion. I made quite a few 80m SSB Qs, all things considered. But, next year I will be sure to have an antenna that easily tunes on 80m CW and SSB. Even with my situation on 80m SSB, stations seemed to copy me without a problem.

40m was a bust band for me. Apparently I didn’t know when the right time was to get on 40m. I made some 40m CW QSOs, but I didn’t make any 40m SSB Qs. And I see that a lot of other Ohio stations made significantly higher numbers of Qs on 40m. So I was definitely doing something wrong there. There were RTTY contests going on, and 40m CW was a hard place to operate. I heard some CW mixed in with the RTTY, but in the cases where I did I tried to avoid making a contact. I wanted to be friendly to the RTTY contesting guys. Too bad there was a RTTY contest on the same day as the OhQP though. This did affect things.

20m was alright. On only operated CW on 20m. Not sure why I didn’t bother to seek out SSB contacts.

I made 1 QSO on 15m. 15m/10m were pretty much deader than a doornail.

  1. There were a ton of Ohio stations on the air. Kenny [K2KW] did an excellent job with PR for this event.
  2. Weather was beautiful in all of Ohio for the contest
  3. QRN was at a minimum [at least for me] in Ohio

    I did a lot of CQing. It was effective. The problem is that I obviously didn’t know when to quit. Well, I knew there were many times when I should quit, but I didn’t. At those times I either should have checked other bands or SSB, or I should have QSY’d to a fresh frequency. Failing to adjust when rates were really low was a fatal flaw for me.

    Another fatal flaw of mine was that I didn’t choose the right band for the right time in order to maximize my Qs on all the workable bands.

    I also failed to look for the mobiles until the very end. This meant that I didn’t get a chance to work any of the mobiles/rovers when they were moving around East Ohio. The exception is K8RYU — Ralph did a fantastic job and I was able to work 3 counties on 80m with him. The mobile ops are all fantastic. They can copy fast/slow, without the need for repeats. In the end I was able to pick up a couple of county mults from the mobiles. If I had been on the ball, I’d probably have been able to snag K8MR and KC8YJJ on one or more bands/modes while they were in BELM / CARR / HARR / COLU / TUSC.

    Lastly, I failed to think ahead regarding the significant amount of SSB activity that would be occurring. This is probably because I usually run CW-only and because I usually have a piss poor setup for SSB. As it turns out though, low power aside, I actually have a good SSB setup now. I definitely need to get the 80m Vee to work on 80m SSB.

    In the end, I’m a bit disappointed with myself. Failure to pay attention caused me to not get any Qs for most of Eastern Ohio. I heard COSH and TUSC, but they weren’t CQing when I heard them and I never managed to catch up with them when they were CQing. Not even sure if they did CQ.

    I had a great time this year. I’m sure it is my best ever OhQP score. But even before the contest was over I new I made too many fatal mistakes and that had I given proper forethought to things I could have increased my score a bit and gotten the close counties. I also know there were some errors in my logs. I guarantine it won’t be a prisitine log, which is going to hurt my score.

    I saw the 3830 reports of quite a few out-of-state stations that did a phenomenal job, including working various OH mobiles 10-15 times.

    Thanks to all of the Ohio and out-of-state stations that worked me.

    My Results


    Ohio QSO Party

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

    Class: Single Op LP
    QTH: Toronto OH
    Operating Time (hrs): 12

    Summary:
    Band CW Qs Ph Qs
    --------------------
    80: 160 39
    40: 47 0
    20: 39 0
    15: 1 0
    10: 0 0
    --------------------
    Total: 247 39 CW Mults = 86 Ph Mults = 32 Total Score = 62,894

    What counties I did not work: ALLE , ASHT , BELM , BROW , CARR , COSH , DEFI , GREE , HARD , HARR , HIGH , HOCK , JACK , LAWR , MAHO , MARI , MIAM , MONR , MORG , MUSK , NOBL , PAUL , PERR , PIKE , PORT , STAR , TUSC , WYAN . 28 counties not worked! What the hell? Now, think about how many of those had mobile operations that I missed. I heard a station in BELM (probably mobile) but they were gone before I had a chance to throw out my call and find out their call. I heard [but did not work] COSH and MUSK.

    K9TM reports having not worked 8 counties. And out of those 8 counties he did not work, I worked 3 of them and heard 2 of them. That means that at the very least, there were operations in 85 of the 88 counties. So I missed at least 25 counties that I could have worked but didn’t.

    I worked 35 or 36 states. K9TM worked 47 states. So I wasn’t too far off. I didn’t do much on 40m or 20m. Had I put in more effort on CW/SSB on those bands, I probably could have picked up a few more states.

    I worked a few DX stations including IK2, G3, four DLs, HP9, OK2, and SP5.

    To sum it all up, I should have worked more 40m CW and I should have worked 40m SSB and 80m SSB. I should have made sure the Vee tuned on 80m SSB before the contest started and should have rectified that problem if it didn’t. I should have paid attention to the mobile routes / timelines so as to be able to catch some more mobiles in the “rare” counties.

Written by Mike

August 30th, 2010 at 10:21 am

SSB Contesting – I’m not quite there yet

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I rarely operate SSB in contests [or outside of contests]. There are many reasons for this. The bottom line is that for a very modest station (no amp, low wire antennas), a CW signal is likely to be copied better on the receiving end than an SSB signal. Plus it’s a lot more trouble to get the “best” audio levels on transmit for maximum effect on SSB.

A CW signal typically occupies around 200 hz of spectrum. Depending upon how fast or slow the keying, the occupied bandwidth varies. On the other hand, with most amateur radio equipment an SSB signal occupies around 2.7 khz (2700 hz) of RF spectrum, give or take a little depending upon whether you are using filtering on the transmit side to cut off the upper and/or lower ends of the audio spectrum.

If you have a 100 watt transmitter, more of your power is going to be used to produce a much narrower signal on CW versus SSB. The wider the RF signal, the more power you are going to need in order for that signal to reach the same distance.

For someone with good hearing, they can usually hear audio frequencies between about 300 – 3000 Hz. But there are certain areas within that audio spectrum where we hear better and where the audio is more intelligible on the receiving end under marginal conditions (weak signal, lots of QRM/QRN, etc.).

We all have differing voice ranges. The microphone we are using may not adequately pick up those audio frequencies that are most accentuated when we speak. The audio stages of the transmitter we are using may need to be tuned to produce the most power at the audio frequencies that are best heard on the receiving end under marginal conditions.

I have a stock microphone. I haven’t done any homework regarding the best audio settings in my FT-950 to tailor the transmit audio to my specific voice characteristics. A stock microphone usually doesn’t pick up the best of my voice characteristics. The stock hand microphone is inconvenient in a contesting environment because you have to pick it up and hold it in front of your mouth each time you speak, which means you do not have that hand free to operate the radio or type on the keyboard. It’s best to buy a high quality microphone with an element that can reproduce your voice well while at the same time accentuating those audio frequencies that are best for DXing/contesting and not accentuate those frequencies that are more difficult to hear on the receiving end. Ideally I’d have something like a Heil Pro Set (combination headphones and microphone) and a foot switch so that I can key up without using my hands and I can have good sounding receive audio while blocking out other localized noise in the room, etc. I actually have what I consider to be a great set of headphones already (Sennheiser HD-280 Professional), so I would likely want to get a good Heil boom mic / boom assembly / foot switch. Then I could change the audio settings on the FT-950 to respond most favorably to the audio it receives from the Heil Mic. This would allow for a nice audio response and the best “audio punch” to ensure I’m being heard as good as I can be heard on the receiving end.

If you don’t have your transmit audio optimized, you won’t drive your signal with much power. On my FT-100 with the stock microphone, it was all I could do to get 50-60 watts of RF out when I would speak into the microphone. And what I really want is to be able to get as much of that 100w of power out when I speak into the mic.

So for now, SSB contesting is not very good for me. CW is much more effective. I’ll do it, and I’ll probably do some SSB in the Ohio QSO Party on August 28th and will likely participate [for a while] in the NAQP SSB contest this coming weekend.

Written by Mike

August 19th, 2010 at 3:38 pm

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WAE DX CW and QTCs — the sky is falling

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I’ve been reading dialog on the CQ-Contest “reflector”. Reflector? Call it what it is, it’s a damned mailing list. The software running this list is the same software that has existed for ages [in internet years at least]. M A I L I N G L I S T

Ok, I’m done with that rant. Back to the topic. People — (a few NA contesters) are rambling on about exchanging QTCs, being requested to send QTCs by the EU guys, and possibly trialing a WAE CW whereby QTCs are both sent and received. You’d think the world was coming to the end. They are saying (1) that they don’t want to receive QTCs and (2) that they don’t want to be nagged to send QTCs. Some say they are in the contest just for fun and that being interrupted by an EU station who wants to know if they have QTCs is annoying and ruins their fun. Read the rules — the spirit of the contest involves QTCs. If you don’t want to send any, then don’t. But don’t bitch about being asked if you have any to send by an EU station.

To this I say:

  • If you don’t like sending and/or receiving QTCs or don’t like being nagged for them, don’t operate in the contest. There are 101 more productive ways to spend your weekend anyway.
  • NA isn’t putting on this contest — shouldn’t be our job to make up the rules, just to follow them.
  • Are you afraid that having to reliably copy QTCs would require you to up your skills? This must be it. There are some phenomenal NA contesters. Certainly they are a few who are up challenge, no?

I know what you’re thinking… Who the hell is this Mike guy? He’s running a low dipole and 100w and has been “contesting” for a few months — He sure has some nerve interjecting. Perhaps you’re right. But sit back and think about what I’m saying. I had enough difficulty figuring out how to send QTCs, especially when having to worry about whether the EU station would even be able to copy my weak station reliably enough. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to think about having to copy QTCs as well. You know, some of those guys are sending/receiving at 50+ wpm. I’d have to really up my game, and I’d be hard pressed to do it. BUT, I like the spirit of the contest — passing some sort of traffic instead of just the simple RST SERIAL.

Let’s not forget that sending/receiving QTCs is not a requirement. And if you are wanting to up your score, you certainly benefit from sending/receiving QTCs. If you’re in it just for fun and don’t care about a score, then simply don’t send/receive. But don’t complain about being asked for QTCs by an EU station.

I really liked the idea that by sending QTCs I could increase my points while at the same time I could help, in some small way, the EU stations to do the same. If they are game for receiving them [by far the more difficult of the two], then certainly I’m glad to oblige them. I am at the bottom of the pack as far as score. I’m competing against only myself. I operate in these contests to have fun, improve my code copy, and possibly get some additional LOTW confirmations.

The vast majority of contests require only a minimal exchange, no additional traffic to pass. If you don’t like the thought of sending/receiving QTCs, spend the WAE weekends with your family and have some fun outside of ham radio.

UPDATE: I just read a post on the CQ-Contest mailing list that sums it all up quite nicely. I won’t quote it. Read it here: http://lists.contesting.com/pipermail/cq-contest/2010-August/091329.html . I agree with this contester wholeheartedly.

Written by Mike

August 16th, 2010 at 2:49 pm

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Worked All Europe DX Contest – CW (Aug 2010)

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I first heard of this contest within the past month. I had no intention of working it. At the last minute I decided I would jump on and see what’s up. I had read about the passing of QTC traffic, but I didn’t plan on doing that. I was bored and figured it was a good chance to work some more Europeans.

From my perspective, this is a very active contest. I noticed that a large number of the EU participants were asking “QTC?” I’d just tell them no or nil. I then decided I’d check out the documentation for N1MM to see if I could figure out how to send some QTCs. I didn’t find anything useful. Then I was reading the eham.net forums and saw somebody post a question about sending QTCs using N1MM. KB3LIX gave a detailed rundown of how to send the QTCs. I did a few tests and then started tuning around listening for stations who were likely to ask for QTCs along with the basic QSO.

It was at this point that I realized that I just wasn’t getting good signals into EU for some reason. I don’t know if it was propogation in general or my soggy antennas (from storms this weekend). I was certainly hearing a lot of EU stations well enough to make a contact, but I just didn’t think they would be hearing me well enough to want me to send them any QTCs. Surprisingly, a lot of them were asking.

I still have plenty of QTCs to pass to EUs. But I really don’t want to send 10 QTCs to some EU station and then force them to have to ask for re-sends because of my weak signal. And, in the off chance that they need a re-send, I’m likely to freeze up. In fact, this happened more than once. The last time I had said I was sending 5 QTCs. After the first one the EU station asked for a re-send. I sat there staring at the keyboard, my mind racing with thoughts of what keystrokes I was supposed to hit in order to re-send the current QTC. My mind went blank. (it was ALT-ENTER for the record). Eventually I sent back to the EU station “sri sri nil”. He sent a “tu 73,” which was very gracious considering I made him go through all of that with no gain. What an idiot I am.

I had been sticking to sending only 2 or 3, even though I had plenty in my queue to send 10. I did this because I figured the less I have to send, the less likely there will be a problem.

Sunday comes along. I fire up the radio. I look for stations. All the ones I am hearing are either too weak and they aren’t asking for QTCs, or they are stations I’ve already worked who asked for QTCs the first time I worked them and I declined.

I read where it is perfectly fine to re-establish contact with the station to send QTCs later. One person said to simply make another QSO (a dupe) and then send the QTCs. One of the EU guys on the forum responded indicating that you could just simply establish contact and state that you have QTCs from the onset…. no need to have another dupe. No? Not sure of an easy way around that, at least with N1MM.

Still some confusion here, as well as my cold feet when it comes to trying to send QTCs. I’d really feel much more confident if I knew that I had a good signal. That’s silly, I know. But it definitely affects my performance when my weak signal is always in the back of my mind.

I really like the idea of QTCs… passing additional traffic during a QSO. This is much more difficult for the receiving station in my opinion. In this case that would be the EU guys. I’m thoroughly impressed that the vast majority of the time they don’t ask for repeats, even with 10 QTCs at a time being sent to them. I have to wonder how many of the American ops could perform equally as well if they were accepting QTCs. I know I’d be asking for a lot of repeats. The EU guys are simply very talented and very efficient. They obviously don’t have a problem trying to pass as much traffic as possible even under marginal conditions. My hats off to them.

I’m hoping to jump back on very shortly to try and give away a few more QTCs.

My apologies to IR2C, who had to deal with my inability to pass QTCs under pressure. I said I’d send 5, and after the first one he asked for a repeat and I gave up and said sri. Also my apologies to DL1IAO – I said I’d send 2, accidentally hit CTRL-Z after the first one instead of just hitting enter, and everything stopped. I stumbled. I said sri. He sent back confirmation of 1/1 and moved on. Thanks to S59ABC, who accepted multiple QTCs from me on 40m and 20m with no requests for repeats. I was impressed. I should have sent them 10 and be done with it, but I sent a few each time. OQ5M was weak to me, and I figured I must have been much weaker to him. Nevertheless, OQ5M asked for QTCs – I sent 5, and he required no repeats.

I need a 20m beam for this contest… or at least something directional. I suppose even a vertical for 20m would improve things over my low-slung dipole.

I’ll append my score to this post once I’m finished and have a summary. Great contest. Great ops. My hats off to all of the EU ops. Very professional and courteous exchanges.

ADDENDUM: I got on the air for the last 2-3 hours. I was glad I did. I made a few more Qs and got the nerve to start unloading my QTCs. I got to send two batches of 10 and then a few smaller batches. I also got to reconnect with IR2C and was able to give him 10 QTCs that I had initially tried to do [but failed] yesterday.

20m seemed to be in much better shape this afternoon. Much more fun.

My Results

WAE DX Contest, CW

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

Class: Single Op LP
QTH: Toronto Ohio
Operating Time (hrs): 7.5

Summary:
Band QSOs QTCs Mults
-------------------------
80: 0 0 0
40: 5 3 12
20: 77 84 48
15: 5 0 6
10: 0 0 0
-------------------------
Total: 87 87 66 Total Score = 11,484

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Comments:

First time working WAE. The QTC thing is an interesting concept. Knowing how poor my sig is compared to a contest station's sig, those EU ops did a fantastic job copying my QTCs. Took me a while to figure out what to do with N1MM and sending QTCs -- I found some help on the eham.net forums.

I was skeptical about offering QTCs to the EUs because I figured they'd end up having to ask for many repeats, get frustrated with me, and then nil the whole event. I guess I didn't give them enough credit. They were all patient and courteous during all of my exchanges, and I appreciate their efforts. In the
end I was able to unload nearly all my QTCs and was happy to do so. I wasn't even going to get back on in the last three hours except I felt I needed to try and overcome my fear of going through the QTC process - and I felt I had to seek out those EU guys who I initially tried to give QTCs to and then froze up. I
actually found IR2C and one other one near the end and passed a full ten to each. That made me feel better about my previous tries with them. Really strange how I'm so afraid of failure when it comes to contesting.

Thanks to the EU guys for some great fun. I really enjoyed myself. Hopefully next year I'll have a little more gain and directivity towards EU.

Written by Mike

August 15th, 2010 at 4:52 pm

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CQ WW WPX (CW)

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Just in the nick of time, and with the help of the family, I got the shack table, equipment, computer, etc. set up.

So far I’ve been able to tune up and work stations on 80m, 40m, 20m, 15m and 10m. The Alpha-Delta DX-EE is performing far better than any previous wire I had, even on 80m. And, remember that the DX-EE is a 42-foot parallel dipole. On 40m it has coils and it shortened.

The first hundred contacts were made using a paddle and copying exclusively by ear. On Saturday I built a CW keying interface that runs off the parallel port. I also snagged CWGET, which is a great code copier. I set up N1MM to use the CW keyer interface and it worked flawlessly, although I am not too familiar with using N1MM just yet….been a few years. CWGet is only used to verify what I’ve already heard. I do not need to rely upon it to copy CW, but it certainly helps to have it available.

I was not using any DX Cluster spotting. It would be very useful, but I am not submitting my logs in the assisted category and thus cannot use a cluster.

As of now, I’ve made about 206 contacts. I wonder how many will be invalid. Hopefully not too many.

Station setup currently is:

Yeasu FT-100 (running 100w)
LDG AT100Pro tuner
Alpha Delta DX-EE 40-10m parallel dipole
Computer
Signalink USB interface
Parallel port CW keying interface
CAT control cable
N1MM logger for contest logging (making use of CAT control and CW keying interface)
CWGet (making use of Signalink USB for sound input)
HRD+DM780 (for digital modes and casual logging)

I have no complaints. Everything came together at the last minute and I’ve had a great time working the WPX. Not sure if I’ll fire up the station for any more contacts today. It is family day, so I probably won’t.

I worked a handful of stations on 3 bands and I think one station on 4 bands (not sure about that without looking at the logs).

i definitely enjoy working CW contests more than SSB/digital. The WPX sure was fun.

Written by Mike

May 30th, 2010 at 12:24 pm

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I Love CW

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A little after midnight I was tuning 40m CW portion on my Yaesu FT-100 and Alpha Delta DX-EE (40-10m parallel dipole, shortened on 40m). Given that this dipole isn’t a full size half wavelength on 40m, you’d think it wouldn’t hear very well and you’d think it wasn’t going to do much good on transmit. It has been surprising me all week though.

Ok, I’ll continue… I was tuning around 7000-7025 and came across 8P6ER on 7001.1. His signal was S9. I heard him in a QSO with another ham. I listened for another 10 minutes as he ran through some more contacts. The whole time, when Gary would throw out a CQ, he’d have a pileup coming back to him. I’m sure I was hearing nearly a dozen of them myself.

After one of his CQs I threw out my call along with the rest of the peanut gallery. No joy. I did it a second time, nothing. After another minute or two Gary CQ’d again. I heard stations trying to get back to him and I nailed the paddles on my MFJ keyer. Lo and behold, I hear .- .- —.. ..–.. (translated AA8?), from Gary. I nearly fell out of my chair. I felt like a kid in the candy store.

At that very moment everything on the radio was sounding mysterious – My 300 hz CW filter was kicked in and the attenuator was on to cut down on the nighttime noise. Hearing Gary’s booming CW coming through the speaker (directed at me) was exciting. It was an awesome feeling, and one I hadn’t felt since 1991 when I CQ’d on 10 meters and heard XE1MMJ (Maria) come back to me for my first QSO.

I finished the contact with Gary, logged it, and am now sitting back listening to dead air, with the hollowed out sound of a CW filter kicked in.

What made Gary come back to me instead of the dozen(s) of others calling him? I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with a strong signal. All I know is that it never would have happened on SSB.

Who says CW is dead? Certainly not me. And, there are obviously still some really good folks hanging out on CW who are willing to give the underdog a chance.

Thanks, Gary, for making me feel like a kid again!

Written by Mike

May 24th, 2010 at 1:02 am

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