QRP ARCI adds nifty new way to log awards data

If you’re into collecting awards for QRP operating, consider stopping by a new QRP ARCI site just set up buy Julian – AK4VL. He’s done a very nice job of creating a web page that allows quick efficient data entry for claiming QRP operating awards. Currently, the site is set up for Kilometers Per Watt (KMPW) award. So, if you’re running 5w or less and QSO with stations over about 5,000 Km away (regardless of their power) you can stop by Julio’s site, enter you QSO data and submit the information for an award through QRP ARCI.

He’ll be adding interfaces for more awards soon. Stop by and have a look. He’s done a very nice job.

Julio is also the creator of the HAMjitsu QRP site.

Thanks Julio!

QRP: A (minor) star on Kon Tiki!

I watched the 2012 movie adaptation of the 1947 documentary, Kon Tiki, made by Thor Heyerdahl of his famous balsa wood raft adventure from Peru to Polynesia. The movie was nominated for an academy award and it’s easy to see why. Very well done with some amazing special effects work. I had no idea that for the trip, Heyerdahl’s crew included not one but two radiomen! The film shows the radio receiver, key and headphones used. I wasn’t able to determine the receiver manufacturer, but it looks like they used a J-38 key. Power seems to have been provided by a crank-powered generator of some kind.

During the crossing the movie includes several scenes of the radiomen struggling to get antennas working. In one scene they attempt to get an aerial in the air with a balloon even. Ultimately they appear to have settled on a simple long wire hoisted up along the mast.

The radio is used to report their position during the journey and when they ultimately reach Polynesia you hear the sounds the the BBC coming from the radio and see one of the radiomen cranking the power generator.

It seems likely this would have been a QRP operation start to finish.

The movie is definitely worth watching. I caught it on Netflix.

QRP operating awards

The January issue of QST features an article entitled, “One-thousand Miles Per Watt” which focuses on operating awards the QRP enthusiast can earn. I went back through my logbook and discovered I had more than half a dozen QSOs in 2013 that qualified for the 1,000 miles per watt! Although the QST article talks primarily about NAQCC and QRP ARCI awards, there are many other organizations that offer QRP awards. For example, DXAwards.com list dozens of these awards from around the world (some links have gone stale but the page is actively updated).

This past weekend I submitted the required log info on my Thousand Miles Per Watt QSOs to NAQCC and QRP ARCI. Both clubs give you the option of having the awards sent FREE via email or, for a nominal shipping fee, sent via snail mail. I used info from my LoTW entries, which also includes a QSO confirmation number and date. For the most part the awards are done on the honor system, but I felt better including LoTW proof of my QSOs.

Can’t wait to receive my awards, get them framed and up on the walls of my shack. At 5w or less and with my simple, fixed wire antenna I know I’ve earned each of those awards, so I’m proud to show them off.

How about you?

Additional notes from operating from Maine

After the 2013 CQ WW CW contest I did some additional operating from my vacation location in Ogunquit, Maine on the the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. Operating November 26-28, using the same setup as I used for the CQ WW CW contest (KX3 powered by 8 AA batteries running about 3w CW to a 50-foot longwire wrapped around the porch railing of my second floor hotel room overlooking the beach) I had QSOs with:

  • Jeff – PJ2/K8ND in Curacao on 20m at about 2130 Z
  • Les – KL7J in Alaska on 15m at about 2030 Z
  • Jiri – OK2RZ in the Czech Republic on 40m at about 2215 Z
  • Dave – VP5/W5CW in the Turks & Caicos Islands 15m at about 1300 Z
  • Simon – M0VKY in England on 15m at about 1300 Z
  • KG2A QRV as V25A in Antigua & Barbados on 20m at about 2100 Z

Great fun working QRP oceanside with a simple non-resonant antenna!

2013 CQWW CW report

This year I worked CQWWCW from a seaside hotel in Ogunquit, Maine (FN43QF88). My setup, directly overlooking the ocean, included my KX3 running about 5w into a 50-foot longwire draped over the second floor balcony railing off the hotel room. The KX3 was powered only by a set of 8 AA rechargeable batteries.

Since my stay in Maine was not primarily for CQWCW, I only worked the contest for about 6 hours (Sunday AM & evening). I had flown in from Idaho on Saturday and so didn’t arrive in Portland until late.

Despite the abbreviated operating schedule I notched 105 contacts across 33 countries.

I did not have my laptop so I logged all contacts manually on paper which slowed my QSO rate. But I had no hopes of winning in any category anyway. I focused more on increasing my country count on QRP.

My antenna was broadside to the north which probably explains why I worked almost Europeans, the only exceptions being CN2R in Morocco and P3Z and P33W in Cyprus (technically an EU entity).

QSO breakdown by band:
40m: 3
20m: 46
15m: 11
10m: 45

I was able to add the following to my country list:

OH0V: Ă…land Islands
P3Z & P33W: Cyprus
LZ7I: Luxembourg
ED6A: Balearic Islands

I brought along my Goal Zero solar charger but weather conditions limited my ability to recharge batteries. I must say that the day after the contest I was able to get a full charge on 4 AA’s in an afternoon on a fully overcast day with the unit suspended in front of a sliding glass door from the curtain rod by a pair of shoe laces.

I was satisfied with my results from contest. This was my first time operating from an ocean-side location. Considering my antenna was just a 50 foot length of thin speaker wire up maybe 20 feet from the ground, I think I did well.

Next time, given the chance to operate from a similar location, I would bring my S33 vertical and a better battery power source.

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KX3 setup

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My view out the hotel sliders to the beach on the Atlantic Ocean.

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My Goal Zero solar charging unit suspended from the curtain rod and charging a set of 4 AA batteries.

2013 CQ WW CW contest

I plan to operate the 2013 CQ WW CW contest from Ogunquit, Maine. It’s a beautiful location right at the beach so I’m looking forward to some ocean-influenced propagation during the contest.

Not sure yet what kind of antenna I’ll set up. My hotel room is on the second floor with a nice deck up about 20 feet looking out onto the Atlantic Ocean.

I plan to use simple wire antennas, so I’m bringing about 50 feet of speaker wire and two collapsable 16-foot fiberglass poles so I can rig a longwire, dipole or inverted vee. I’m also packing about 50 feet of twin-lead for a transmission line for inverted vee / dipole setups.

I’ll be running my KX3 at 5w on 80-10m.

Good luck if you plan to compete! Let’s hope the propagation gods are smiling down on us all for the CQ WW CW contest!

 

Code practice: It’s starting to pay off

It’s been many weeks since I began working to increase my code copying speed. This week I noticed that I can now get nearly 100% copy in my head at 25 wpm. I’m at 65-75% solid copy in my head at 30 wpm. At 35 wpm I’m consistently able to copy longer stretches of code. In fact, tonight, while doing my 35 wpm W1AW code practice I began to experience what it feels like when you begin to really hear faster CW as a language and not simply dits and dahs flying past your ear drums. I was actually able to relax a bit and hear what was sent more like a conversation vs. translating as I listened. And, with longer words (e.g. antenna, or communications, or transmitter) once you hear the front end of the word and recognize it sound or signature, you know what’s coming and so can relax a bit and take in the overall context to confirm what it is.

I must say that after all these weeks, it’s very gratifying to get to this point. Of course, the more I read about high speed code, the more I realize that speeds between 25 and 45 wpm are considered below threshold of high-speed. They’re more like medium speed to guys that are real speed merchants. High speed is probably more in the range of 50 wpm and up.

Naturally, just as I thought 30 wpm was way beyond my reach but realize it’s within my grasp, I still wonder how I can ever reach 50 wpm, but the experience I had tonight made me realize that copying in my head is the way to go. You’re free to sit back and just listen and focus on what’s being “said” instead of worrying about being able to read what you’ve scrawled down, or typed on the “mill.”

My ears are gradually getting tuned for higher speeds.

In the end, like many things, it gets down to practice, practice, practice. And then, practice some more.