AA8IA Amateur Radio

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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

Summary:
Band QSOs Mults
——————-
80:
40:
20:
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

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10m DX abounds!

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10m activity has been bustling as of late. Ole sol is finally being kind to us all. The past few mornings I’ve turned on the radio and have discovered plenty of CW/SSB action across the 10m spectrum. I easily worked many Europeans during CQ WW RTTY less than two weeks ago. Since then I’ve found countless DX. I haven’t worked them all, nor have I tried. I mostly just tune up and down the band listening to the activity. It takes me back to 1991, when I got my General ticket and was KB8MAZ. I worked all over the world on 10m using a low G5RV and a Kenwood TS-120.

Some of the recent DXpeditions were extremely easy to work when I ran across them on 10m. This includes T32C and OJ0X. I just snagged OJ0X on SSB this morning. I believe it was the reknowned Martti OH2BH at the helm, and he was working by numbers. It was so very efficient. I started listening when he was on the 9’s, and when he finally got back to the 8’s I worked him on my third call. He was humming along working stations like a well-oiled machine. T32C and OJ0X are both doing a superb job. Yesterday I heard John, ON4UN [another reknowned DXer, contester, and the author of ON4UN’s Low Band DXing]. He was S9+ and I’m sure I could have easily worked him, but I sat back and enjoyed listening to the ensuing pileup.

I’m beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t just get a Cushcraft A3S or a Moslely TA-33-M (WARC) and shove it up on a piece of pipe. I’d already have a Hexbeam up if it weren’t for the hideous appearance of that beast.

Anyway, I’m off to work a few more on 10m. If this keeps up, I may end up with a higher DXCC total on 10m than I have on 15m or 20m right now.

Written by Mike

October 6th, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Posted in DX

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Oceania DX Contest SSB 2011 Summary

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I was too focused on the CQP, plus my setup just isn’t conducive to working much
SSB [or CW] into Oceania for that matter. Thanks for the Qs!

Oceania DX Contest, Phone
0800Z, Oct 1 to 0800Z, Oct 2

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

Class: SOAB LP
QTH: Toronto OH EN90ql
Operating Time (hrs): 00:18

Summary:
Band QSOs Mults
——————-
160:
80:
40:
20: 5 5
15: 1 1
10: 1 1
——————-
Total: 7 7 Total Score = 70

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Written by Mike

October 3rd, 2011 at 12:06 am

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Scandinavian Activity Contest CW 2011 Summary

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Scandinavian Activity Contest, CW

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

Class: SOAB LP
QTH: Ohio, USA
Operating Time (hrs):

Summary:
Band QSOs Mults
——————-
80:
40:
20: 2 2
15: 22 18
10:
——————-
Total: 24 20 Total Score = 480

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Written by Mike

September 19th, 2011 at 11:41 pm

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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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Upcoming Operating Events

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Below are some of the upcoming operating events I am interested in. For full details on any of these [and many others], check out the WA7BNM Contest Calendar

CWops Mini-CWT Test
1300Z-1400Z Wed, Aug 10
1900Z-2000Z Wed, Aug 10
0300Z-0400Z Thu, Aug 11

Hard for me to find time midweek for these short ones, but they sure are fun and help break up the monotony between the weekend tests.

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

Single-op stations can operate up to 36 hours, multi-op up to 48 hours. I forgot all about this one. I had a blast last year, but I struggled learning the whole QTC thing. I don’t think I’ll be any better off in that regard this year. The EU ops are brilliant, patient, and eager to take QTCs.

Maryland-DC QSO Party
1600Z Sat, Aug 13 to 0400Z Sun, Aug 14
1600Z-2400Z Sun, Aug 14

Two time periods. I want to make some Qs in this one since MD-DC is “just down the road” from me and they make contacts in the OhQP for us.

SARTG WW RTTY Contest
0000Z-0800Z Sat, Aug 20
1600Z-2400Z Sat, Aug 20
0800Z-1600Z Sun, Aug 21

This same weekend is the CW Ops Open inaugural and the NAQP SSB. I will have to sit out the SARTG WW this year.

CWOps CW Open
1200Z-1559Z Sat, Aug 20
2000Z-2359Z Sat, Aug 20
0400Z-0759Z Sun, Aug 21

I’m looking forward to this one. I’ve only operated once or twice in the mini tests, and they are great. I want to be there with bells on for this event.

Three separate four-hour tests. Work any or all three slots.

North American QSO Party, SSB
1800Z Sat, Aug 20 to 0600Z Sun, Aug 21

Single-op stations work 10 of 12 hours, Multi-op work all 12 hours.

SSB typically isn’t my game. Mediocre stations make poor SSB contesting stations. However, this is a domestic constest and is limited to 100w, so there will be lots of mediocre stations just like mine operating. I’ll play in this one.

Written by Mike

August 8th, 2011 at 1:13 am

Posted in Contesting,QSO Parties

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More Holiday Radio Fun

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I figured I’d check out 6m today. Didn’t see any sign of propogation in/out of Ohio on DX Summit or DX Sherlock. I did see that VP9/N0JK was active on 6m, so I “turned the beam” towards Bermuda… remember, I’m just using a Moxon so I’m not sure how much difference it makes. Lo and behold, N0JK was a pretty consistent S9+. I threw out my call and in no time had him in the log.

Later in the evening I tuned around and heard some activity from FL. Although my main interest today wasn’t southern states, I heard K8CQ and WB4VMH and figured I’d give them a call again since I had worked them before. Both sounded FB. Decided I’d turn out west since I was hearing N0LL/B pretty good a little earlier. I then worked K0JY in EN20 on CW, although he was pretty weak. I was unsure I copied the grid correctly, especially since it didn’t match his QRZ grid. Fortunately, later on I heard him on SSB and gave him a call, at which time I was able to confirm he was in EN20 at the time.

For the fun of it I checked out the RBN [ reversebeacon.net ] and said to myself, “why don’t you CQ for a minute or two and see if you get spotted by one of the RBN nodes?” So I did just that. Surprisingly, I saw that the N6EV node had spotted my CQ. I thought, “hmm, i don’t see any activity reported between the west coast and here, but the RBN isn’t going to lie.” So I CQ’d a few more times, and the next thing you know I had NW6R and AA6XV in the log. In an instant I became a believer in the RBN. Absolutely great stuff! The bottom line is this — If you know there is propogation between you and a specific area, start CQing. Things may seem dead, but you could waken things up all by yourself.

Site of the Day:
http://www.reversebeacon.net

Thanks to the CA, IA, GA, FL, and VP9 stations that worked me today!

Written by Mike

July 3rd, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Posted in DX,VHF_UHF

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How I wish I were a rare DX station in a contest

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If I were operating from a rare DX location in a contest, the first thing I would do is make sure my exchanges are nice and wordy… I’d personalize things a bit more than the typical contester. I’d have the software automatically look up the name of the station I’m working and the macro would send them a greeting, give them my name, tell them about the weather at my DX location, and then repeat the required exchange ingredients twice. I’d also make an extra effort to respond to the weakest signal that I could reliably copy. The stations with stacked antennae and 1.5 KW wouldn’t be guaranteed priority service. Doesn’t matter though. Everybody wants to work the rare DX mult.

Why would I do this? Because I could. Let’s face it, when you’re rare DX in a contest, everybody’s ears [and eyes, in RTTY] are on you. You could seriously ruin the rate of a contester in about 30 seconds. So many contesters are so concerned about improving their rate, because improving rate will typically improve score. I can’t fault them for that. We all want to see our callsigns in the top ten [or better] on the 3830 reflector. But, in the quest for the best rate some contesters give up contest ethics and common decency, becoming rude and omitting crucial exchange information.

Unlike typical DX, who shorten things up by not providing their call very frequently because they are in a pileup and need to maintain efficiency, I’d be sure and ID after every Q. Imagine, actually giving the people who are trying to work you a fighting chance by giving them your callsign before they work you. Heck, it’d also save me some trouble because once somebody spotted my call incorrectly on the cluster, the station just tuning in as a result of that spot could quickly determine what my true call was and wouldn’t waste everyone’s collective time making an invalid contact with the wrong callsign in the log.

I’d also make sure I’d work only the last 5% of the contest period. All the contesters who have a chance at a top 10 spot would be frothing at the mouth looking for just one more elusive multiplier. And, a Q with me could easily increase their score by thousands of points.

Just the thought of being able to throw off the rate of the fanatics makes me giddy like a schoolgirl. I could actually be the difference between somebody getting the #1 slot and the #2 slot.

Written by Mike

March 23rd, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Posted in Contesting,DX

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Worked All Europe (WAE) RTTY 2010 Summary

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Let me start off by saying that I wasn’t sure I wanted to put a significant effort into this contest. Thursday night we get a call to say we are invited to dinner at my niece’s places on Saturday. She is an hour away and the dinner was set for 4 PM. That put the icing on the cake. I not only couldn’t refuse the generous invitation, but I wouldn’t want to. It’s always a pleasant time up in beautiful Carroll Co. I also knew that Sunday the family would be gathering here, which is what happens most Sundays. Between those two events, that’s 8 hours of daylight missed.

I also didn’t want to force myself to wake up nice and early Sat/Sun just to work the contest. In order to work any DX for mults and to pass QTCs, I needed to work 10/15/20m for the most part. My 80m doublet doesn’t do much DX on 40/80 in contest pileups. Of course, it’s not actually a “performer” on 20-10m either. I do have an Alpha Delta DX-EE that I switch in and out on those bands, and i use whichever one provides the best receive signal on the station I’m wanting to work. However, the DX-EE is even lower (average 20′), which doesn’t cut it for DX.

Because of all of the above, I knew I wasn’t going to get much DX nor pass much QTC traffic. One great thing about WAE DX RTTY is that any station can work any station and QTCs can be passed between any two continents. This provides much more competition since there are many more participants than there would be if you could only work European stations.

Being as ill-prepared as I am, I did not test the QTC system in N1MM prior to the contest, which means that some non-NA station was going to be my guinea pig. That just happened to be DQ4W, who was extremely strong. They sent me 10 QTCs. I copied/pasted them into the RQTC window. I then sent them ALL OK and closed the QSO. After the fact I realized that N1MM would not save the QTCs because one of the callsigns didn’t appear legit [because it didn’t have a number]. I didn’t know at the time that I could hold down CTRL and click Save to save the QTCs, and so I put in a fake call and saved it. But, by that time I was already done with the DQ4W QSO and wasn’t going to contact them again to try and ask for a resend of QTC 8 out of batch ##/##. I don’t like creating undue hardship for other stations who are actually trying to win the contest.

I accepted QTCs four more times, and everything went well each time. I did not get a chance to send any QTCs [although I had many to send]. I didn’t think any DX signals on 10/15/20m were strong enough at the time for me to judge that they would hear my signal adequately to copy 10 QTCs without a lot of fills, so I did not nag any DX to accept any from me.

I have to wonder if conditions just weren’t great this weekend on 15/20m. Certainly there were stations, but they were always the same stations and rarely were S9+20. Of course, I didn’t expect 10m to be booming. I did figure I’d see stronger signals on 15m though.

To be honest, I’m sure a lot of it had to do with the times I was attempting to operate on 10/15/20m. As mentioned before, I didn’t wake up bright and early to work the contest, and I missed many afternoon hours on both days that would have been good hours for working 10/15/20m.

I was ill-prepared for this contest, which is unfortunate since I really love the WAE rules and format, especially the QTC activity. I’m sorry that I missed out on so much.

To be fair to myself, I worked less than 8 hours in this contest [out of a possible 36 hour total]. But even so, I should have been able to do another 50-100 Qs and passed a significantly larger number of QTCs than I did. So, I’m disappointed in myself. I guess everyone has their bad days :)

My Results:

WAE DX Contest, RTTY

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

Class: Single Op LP
QTH: Toronto OH EN90QL
Operating Time (hrs):

Summary:
Band QSOs Pts QTCs Mults
——————————
80: 11 11 0 36
40: 34 34 0 39
20: 5 25 20 10
15: 68 108 40 66
10: 14 14 0 14
——————————
Total: 132 192 60 165 Total Score = 31,680

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Written by Mike

November 15th, 2010 at 9:52 am

Posted in Contesting,Posts

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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

Posted in Contesting

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