Monthly Archives: November 2011

Final thoughts on the 2011 CQ WW DX contest

This was my personal best result yet for a contest. Band conditions on 20m, at least here in northern Idaho, were excellent. The last hour was a mad rush to the finish.

I logged almost as many contacts in the last hour of the contest than I did all the other hours. I finished with 38 contacts. All were made on 20m.

I was impressed that the QRP signal from my OHR-100A was able to punch through several times under messy pile-up conditions. I was amazed at how many times I simply dove in amongst a crowd of signals and still managed to be heard.

Can’t wait for next year’s contest…and perhaps I’ll be active on 15m by then!

2011 CQ WW DX contest

Really enjoying the 2011 CQ WW DX contest. Last year I was only active on 40m since I only had my NorCal 40A. This year, so glad for my Oak Hills Research 100A for 20m. Still, the NorCal 40A is a superior contesting rig as its keyer speed and auto send controls are all on the front panel. The same controls on the OHR 100A are located on the rear of the XCVR making quick use of them awkward. I do like the bandwidth tuning on the OHR 100A, it came in handy on several pileups during the contest.

Not sure why, but even though there was activity on 40m, I have had no luck making any contacts there, yet. Lots of QRN.

20m has been hot and cold, but when it’s been hot, activity has been phenomenal! Signals so loud they practically blew the headphones off my head. …and that was with the AF turned down quite a bit. Stations such as KH7X, N6WM and WX0B were blasting through like gangbusters. I could consistently hear them with the AF almost off.

I’ve worked about 25 stations so far, not bad for my 1-2 watts out to my wrap-around 40m dipole. Made contact with stations in Russia, Japan, the Bahamas, Alaska and most parts of the US, including, Texas, Georgia, and Pennsylvania to name a few.

Still plan to get on for a few more hours if propagation continues to be favorable. Would have liked to get on 15m, as that band has seen some strong activity at times this weekend. But, not 15m gear this year. Maybe next year.

The Novice Historical Society

If you have not seen it yet, be sure to visit the Novice Historical Society web site created by Cliff Cheng, PhD, AC6C and former WN6JPA (1975). The site is dedicated to preserving unique history of the Novice era in Amateur Radio (1951-2000). And what a wonderful time it was for us all back then!

If you were a novice during that time period please visit the site and add your story to the many that have already been published. I contributed my story, which began in 1969 when I was a young teenager.

The site has a full timeline of events from that period.

Cliff is still looking for Novice stories from the 1970s – 2001. He and many others have dedicated significant time to making this a very well-done site. If you can help, please contact Cliff.

Antennas: Theory vs. Practice

One of the things I enjoy most about amateur radio is the fun of experimenting. I’ve always enjoyed trying new things with antennas to see whether I can improve signal reception and transmission. Recently I purchased an Icom 2m monobander and, along with it, an Arrow yagi antenna. I really like the antenna as it is very light, easily to assemble and disassemble and comes pre-tuned.

My QTH presents several challenges as it is located in a fairly deep “bowl” out of eyesight of local repeaters. On top of that there are significant restrictions on putting antennas up so I need to bear that in mind when considering installation. For my new 2m antenna I decided to try it inside the house initially to see what reception would be like. I was able to just barely get a signal from the repeater with the antenna mounted on a 5 foot pole and then lashed to a five foot ladder.

Last evening I decided to put the antenna up in the attic to see whether the additional height might improve reception. I crawled up into the attic amongst the beams and suspended the yagi, orienting it about the same as it had been downstairs – making it about 30 feet in the air. To my dismay, reception was worse regardless of the antennas’ orientation! The most challenging part of this work was not having the radio up with me in the attic to be able to observe the S-meter as I changed orientation.

After my XYL returned home I asked her to watch the S-meter on the Icom as I rotated the antenna up in the attic. Same result. no matter how I changed orientation, there was no signal. I should note that the antenna was oriented horizontally, I was only rotating it in a horizontal plane.

So, back to the drawing board.

Next, I decided to try holding the antenna out on the small porch to see if having it outside might improve reception. Again, no signal as I held it away from the porch but in the same horizontal orientation that would be optimum for a yago antenna. As I brought the antenna in to the porch my XYL yelled out, “Good signal now!” Strange, considering the antenna was practically in a vertical orientation.

So, back inside, I decided to throw antenna theory out the window and go with what was actually working. I stood near the radio with the antenna positioned vertically. The S-meter moved to nearly S5! As soon as I oriented it horizontally the signal dropped to S0. Although I do not understand how this is possible, it does remind me of old days when my Dad would climb into the attic with a new TV antenna in an effort to help us get the ABC channel back in Binghamton, NY. He would tell us to yell out to him after he was up in the attic if the signal improved. Invariably, we would start to call out, even before he got all the way into the attic, that the picture looked great. He would always get so exasperated.

Here I was, 50 years later, in the same situation. Which just goes to show that theory only goes so far. At some point you need to trust what experience tells you.