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NAQP SSB 2011 Summary

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

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

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

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

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

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Written by Mike

August 21st, 2011 at 6:41 pm

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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

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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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NAQP CW 2011 this weekend

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North American QSO Party – CW
1800z August 6 to 0600z August 7, 2011
NAQP Rules and Info

I typically love the NAQP tests. Overall, they are typically among the fairest contests. Perhaps fairest is the wrong word. You aren’t supposed to run high power, so if we assume everyone adheres to that rule, then this contest is about as balanced as it can be aside from any geographical advantage somebody have. It’s a great contest for us “little pistol” stations since it’s a domestic contest. We can work DX, but the vast majority of our contacts will be NA stations.

Unfortunately, I am having an extremely difficult time getting motivated. The last time I played in a contest, there was something going on with the 80m doublet / dipole / whatever you wanna call it. Typically I can tune anywhere on any band 40m – 10m, and I can typically tune 80m CW. But for whatever reason I was having difficulty tuning up anywhere on 40m as well as on 80m, and I could tell the tuner was struggling to tune on some others. Now, there is only so much that can go wrong with a simple wire antenna. If the legs are intact and the ladderline is attached, what else is there? It wasn’t raining over the last contest weekend, so it wasn’t an issue with wet ladderline. The push-up mast was all the way up and everything was taught.

I really don’t even want to mess with it. I’d rather put the damned Alpha Delta DX-LB Plus up, but I have to put it together first…. and that takes motivation. Then, I’d have to use coax, and the only coax I have of sufficient length would have to be robbed from the DX-EE dipole. That coax is 100 feet long [overkill] and probably has water intrusion since it has been up a year, is hanging directly down towards the ground from its apex, and has never been sealed. It’s already on the DX-EE, so for good or bad it does work to some extent. But I’d hate to go through the trouble of putting the DX LB-Plus up and swapping the coax to it only to find that the coax is in bad shape. Plus, I don’t have an analyzer to properly tune for a resonant sweet spot on all of the primary bands it handles, and I certainly don’t have the ambition to do it the hard way.

To add insult to injury, we are supposed to see scattered thunderstorms throughout the weekend. My luck would have it that it would storm throughout the 12-hour period and I’d have to lower the mast, remove the feedlines, and unplug all of the equipment.

I am hopeful that I can be on and that the 80m wire will work in typical fashion, but I’m not going to count on it. The odds are against me.

Good luck to all who participate!

Written by Mike

August 4th, 2011 at 11:39 am

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NAQP RTTY 2011 Summary

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Didn’t plan on operating this test — my focus was on CQ VHF WW. But, after
experiencing poor propogation there, I figured I needed a fix. So I jumped on
RTTY for a short while.

15m was bust. 20m wasn’t great when I was on. 40m was nice with quiet band
conditions. I didn’t have my doublet up for this contest, so I didn’t want to
put in serious time on 80/40.

Was good to work a lot of the usual RTTY stations. Been a while since I
worked RTTY.

North American QSO Party, RTTY – July
1800Z July 16 to 0600Z July 17, 2011

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

Class: Single Op LP
QTH: Toronto OH EN90QL
Operating Time (hrs): 1:34

Summary:
Band QSOs Mults
——————-
80:
40: 33 21
20: 17 5
15: 1 1
10:
——————-
Total: 51 27 Total Score = 1,377

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Written by Mike

July 27th, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Posted in Contesting,RTTY

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NAQP SSB 2010 – the summary

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At about T-2.5 hours til the end of the contest I got back on the air. 80m was all QRN. Very unpleasant. Of course, without an actual efficient antenna on 80m I just wasn’t being heard over the QRN. Every contact was a struggle. Between 11:30 PM and 12:05 AM I managed 4 Qs on 20m and 7 Qs on 80m. On 40m there were only two stations to be found that I hadn’t contacted previously.

At 12:06 AM I shut it down, with nearly two hours of contest left. I simply felt that I exhausted any possibility of useful contacts. I don’t know where the ops were – Was I just not hearing them? Or did everyone give up early?

My Results


North American QSO Party, SSB - August

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

Class: Single Op LP
QTH: Toronto, OH
Operating Time (hrs): 4.2

Summary:
Band QSOs Mults
-------------------
160: 0 0
80: 7 5
40: 37 23
20: 44 13
15: 0 0
10: 0 0
-------------------
Total: 88 41 Total Score = 3,608

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Written by Mike

August 22nd, 2010 at 4:33 pm

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North American QSO Party 2010 – SSB

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The North American QSO Party SSB contest is this weekend (August 21st/22nd)

1800Z August 21 to 0600Z August 22, 2010 (Third full weekend in August)

Details and rules can be found at http://www.ncjweb.com/naqprules.php

I’m anticipating a lot of activity, and I plan to be active. Hope to see you on!

Written by Mike

August 19th, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Posted in Contesting,QSO Parties

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NAQP CW August 2010 Summary

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Wow, what a great contest. All NA stations, no high power. This is my best chance to compete since I’m using low-slung dipoles and no amp.

10/15m were not what I would consider “open”, although there were certain some contacts to be made. For whatever reason I didn’t rack up nearly as many Qs on 20m as I thought I would. Either I didn’t spend enough time on 20m, operated on 20m at the wrong time, or there just wasn’t good propogation on 20m. I’ll have to look into that some more. 40m was alright, but again not all that I thought it would be. The highlight was 80m. Had I known 80m was going to be so productive, I would have thought to allot enough time on 80m to nab everything available to me. 160m was nice and quiet and I heard a lot of strong stations — unfortunately I could not tune up on 160m. If I could have, I probably would have had 1w ERP.

Thanks to W0BH and K0RF for providing me with a 5-band sweep. I am betting that if I had a 160m dipole up I would have at least been able to work W0BH on 160m, not sure about K0RF. I got K5CM, W0ZA and K0OU on 4 bands.

It was great to finally work some of the fellow MRRC crowd such as W1NN, WB8JUI, W8TM, N8SS, K8MM and K8DD as well as many NCC guys, a few close PA stations including KB3LIX, a few WV stations, and of course K4BAI, who I always look forward to working in a contest.

I think this is a great contest for people just starting out in contesting and/or those with very modest antenna setups (wires and no amps).

As usual, I was gun-shy about CQing. I ended up CQing on 10/15 since I figured there was not much of a chance of a response. As it turns out, I did get a few Qs on those bands by CQing. Probabaly not worth the time I put into doing it though. Once it was time for 80m, I took the plunge and set up shop on a frequency and started CQing well before the masses arrived. I was hoping to slowly be introduced to a pileup. It worked out good. I had my best personal rate, which was about 58/hr over the course of an hour and a half. In any real contester’s mind this rate is mediocre at best. But for me it was great since I never CQ. There were many times when I had multiple stations calling, reminiscent of what I would hear on Morse Runner. It was great to know that while I was working a Q there was another couple waiting for me.

Eventually everyone was migrating to 80m and I could hear other CQing stations very close by me as well as the ops they were working. I figured I may get passed over if the stations were strong enough and close enough on either side of me. It seemed like most stations were never bothering to zero beat [and I always try to when I’m S&Ping]. Because of this I was afraid to tighten up the filters for fear of not hearing some potentially workable stations. So I persisted until I had enough. It was a great introduction to CQing on a larger scale.

Working the NAQP made me realize that I have a long way to go as far as increasing my efficiency and operating skills in a contesting environment…. I didn’t run out of Qs in the NAQP, I ran out of skill and time. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s more fun and easier to improve myself than to improve my antenna situation.

My Results

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

Class: Single Op LP
QTH: Toronto OH
Operating Time (hrs): 10

Summary:
Band QSOs Mults
-------------------
160:
80: 119 29
40: 90 34
20: 82 26
15: 36 14
10: 30 11
-------------------
Total: 357 114 Total Score = 40,698

Club: Mad River Radio Club

Team: MRRC/NCC Team #2

Breakdown

44 states (not AK HI IA OR RI VT WY) – all bands combined

80 meters – 28 states
(AL CO CT DE FL GA IL IN KS KY OH LA MA MD MI MO NC NH NJ NY OK PA SC TN TX VA WI WV)

40 meters – 31 states
(AL AR AZ CA CO CT DE FL GA IL IN KS KY LA MA ME MN MO MS MT NC ND NJ NM NY OK TN TX WA WI WV)

20 meters – 23 states
(AL AR AZ CA CO FL GA ID IL KS LA ME MN MO MS MT ND NM OK TX UT WA WI)

15 meters – 11 states
(AZ CA CO FL GA KS MN NV SD TX WA)

10 meters – 10 states
(CO FL GA KS MN MO NE OK PA TX)

These results do not surprise me. 80/40 by default is going to be best for me east of the Mississippi. But, I should have been able to make more 40m contacts farther out. I think it was a combination of the antenna being too low and maybe not working 40m at the best time.

My 40-10m antenna was a flattop with one end at 25-30′ and the other end at about 13′, with E/W ends and the sides facing N/S. Of course at this low height I suspect it really didnt’ favor any particular direction. If I could get the 40-10m antenna up around 35 feet, then I may have a little more gain broadside — and I should also be able to get some more Qs out farther west.

For the 80m wire, if I could get it into a flattop configuration at 35′ average [and away from the house] I should be able to get some more gain locally. Because of the height limitation, I’m likely not going to improve much as far distance on 80m. I don’t think I’d see a decent improvement in 80m distance unless I was able to increase the height to 60’+.

Operating Times / Bands

20M 2:00 PM – 2:31 PM (17 Qs)
15M 2:34 PM – 3:11 PM (22 Qs)
20M 3:19 PM – 3:42 PM (17 Qs)
15M 3:53 PM – 4:41 PM (8 Qs)
10M 4:43 PM (1 Q)
20M 4:49 PM – 5:23 PM (23 Qs)
10M 5:28 PM – 6:21 PM (29Qs)
– CQ 5:40 PM – 5:50 PM (5/29)
– CQ 6:12 PM – 6:21 PM (6/29)
15M 6:26 PM – 6:34 PM (5 Qs)
20M 6:36 PM – 7:03 PM (16 Qs)
40M 7:06 PM – 7:41 PM (36 Qs)
20M 7:43 PM – 7:53 PM (9 Qs)
40M 7:55 PM – 8:15 PM (19 Qs)
80M 8:17 PM – 11:16 PM (116 Qs)
– CQ 8:38 PM – 9:35 PM (49/116)
40M 11:29 PM – 12:19 PM (35 Qs)
80M 12:22 PM – 12:27 PM (4 Qs)

I have no idea if I was working the right bands at the right times. I’m also unsure whether the time spent on 10m / 15m was worth it given the # of Qs and mults.

What is blatantly clear is that I need to do more CQing. Obviously when the bands are packed, and if I can be heard the first time, S&P is effective. But I suspect that in quite a few cases I may have been better off finding and parking on a frequency to CQ rather than S&P.

Prior to this contest I never had a full size 80m wire up. In fact, this current 80m dipole wasn’t even full size — it was 110 feet, still long enough to be an efficient radiator on 80m and hear well. It is an inverted V with a 38′ apex and the ends just inches from the ground. It is 12 feet away from the back side of a 2-story house. Definitely not the best place for an antenna. But it seemed to work great. Unlike in the past on 80m, this time I rarely had to repeat myself and usually was heard the first time I threw my call out. I realized a few things… (1) 80m is more than doable here, (2) i like 80m with a decent antenna, (3) depending upon the contest 80m is _the_band to be on.

For the OHQP in a few weeks I plan on having the 80m dipole up again on the 38-foot fiberglass Max Gain Systems mast, weather permitting. If I’m able to do this, I’m hoping to significantly improve upon my old OHQP scores. I’m hoping for some great fun then.

My plan, once Fall gets here, is to put an Alpha Delta DX-LB up. This is a 160/80/40m shortened trap dipole – 100′ in length. I plan to have it up as a flattop with center support at 38′ and the sides at about 35′ and 25′. That’s close enough to a flattop to call it one. Plus, it will be much more “in the clear” than the current 80m vee. I’m hoping my 80m performance will be better than with the current 80m dipole by virtue of it being a little more in the clear. I’m also hoping that it will allow me to make a few Qs on 160 during the stateside contests and local QSO parties that allow 160m (like PA). At that time I also plan on moving my current Alpha Delta DX-EE 40-10m shortened parallel dipole so that its more parallel with the ground and up another 15 feet in the air.

Written by Mike

August 9th, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Posted in Contesting,QSO Parties

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