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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 FOC QSO Party

I participated in the 2013 First class Operators Club QSO Party on September 14. FOC is a UK-based club and its annual QSO party is small scale and very enjoyable.

I worked my first Scotland station: GM0GAV – Gavin. I was running about 5w to my bent dipole up about 25 feet around the roofline of my QTH here in Moscow, Idaho. Conditions were unusually favorable on 15m during the day, although I worked GM0GAV on 20m. 

The 24-hour event is relatively informal as participants are not required to submit formals logs, just indicate how many FOC members were worked. I ended with 17 FOC contacts and 5 non-FOC contacts, mostly on 15m. I also worked one on 40m right near the end of the QSO party, as 40m (at least out here in the Pacific Northwest) was dead most of the day to my antenna. Notched the rest of my QSOs on 20m, but band condx around Idaho on 15 were much more active for me.

I’m not currently an FOC member, but I’ve gotten my QSO speed up to over 25 wpm now. Just need to gather a few recommendations from FOC members to join the group.

Looking forward to next year’s QSO party.

2013 CQ WPX – My unofficial final tally

I missed my goal of 500 contacts by quite a bit. My unofficial total was 91, working CQ WPX for about 10 hours over Friday, Saturday & Sunday. Surprisingly, 15m was the source of most of my contacts, but just barely. Here are my contacts by band:

15m: 32
20m: 31
40m: 28

15m didn’t really come alive until the home stretch for me. 20m was active the entire contest. That said, propagation was definitely impacted by the 22 May CME, making opportunities for lots of DX slim. Many of my contacts were contacts with the same station across 40, 20 & 15.

All in all, a good contest. I think I might have made my goal had propagation been better. 

The KX3 performed, as always, like a champ. I was often able to work weak stations using PBT and pre-amp settings.

The only one I missed that I wish I could have worked was BY5CD, a Chinese Middle School contest team. I heard them a number of times, but I don’t think their beam was turned my way, the never heard my.

Lesson learned: Use the “stack” function of MacLogger software. Very powerful way to store stations heard but not worked, then quickly jump back to check on them periodically. I scored several contacts using “stack” this time.

2013 CQ WPX update

There was a very brief opening on 15m at about 1730Z which enabled me to work HK1R (Colombia) and two Madeira islands stations: CT3KN and CR3A. Signals for all three were way down but the KX3 managed to dig them out (and I suspect they had to dig me out as well with my 5W and dipole). 80 contacts so far! Will it be enough to win the US 7th call area for QRP for 2013 CQ WPX? Time (and propagation) will tell.

2013 CQ WPX

Very tough propagation condx this year after the CME on 22 May. Working 40, 20 and 15 CW but very slow going. Managed to work ZM1A (New Zealand) and CO2JD (Cuba), along with KH7X and several east coast stations. But other than that, not much DX so far. 

QRPTTF 2013

The theme for this year’s QRP To The Field (QRPTTF) day was “Happy Trails.” I decided to operate from the Latah Trail, a rails-to-trail path I ride on a regular basis.

The 12-mile trail runs east-west between Moscow, Idaho and Pullman, Washington, connecting near the Moscow city limit to the Bill Chipman Trail, which runs 12 miles into Pullman. It’s a great ride with many scenic views along the way. Heading east from Moscow the trail runs across the Palouse until it rises to a “summit” that overlooks the countryside. This is the spot I selected for my Happy Trails operation for QRPTTF 2013.

This was my first QRPTTF and I’d been scouting for a good location a few weeks prior. The Latah Trail was perfect as it offered a bench (see photos below) as well as a small stand of tall pines for me to throw a antenna wire into.

At around 0730 local time I drove my car and bike from Moscow down to Troy, Idaho where the trail ends. From there I loaded my trusty Ortlieb bike bags with my gear and rode the 2.4 miles up the hill on the trail to the summit.

QRPTTF-1-2013

High winds were forecast for the day so I wasn’t sure what to expect. All I knew was there was no precipitation in the forecast. Good news since the spot I chose had no protection from the elements.

Here are two shots from my ride up the hill.

QRPTTF-3-2013 QRPTTF-2-2013

The event began at 0800 local time so I was eager to reach the top and get set up. Having recently purchased an Elecraft KX3 I was excited to see it perform on the trail. The site I chose has a nice bench and lots of tall trees, but it one other feature I did not experience during my earlier visit, which was in much cooler wx: mosquitos and gnats! They immediately swarmed as I started my set up. I ignored them as best I could. Here is a shot of the center point of my dipole in a nearby pine tree (unfortunately not one of the taller trees near the bench).

QRPTTF-5-2013

Once I got the dipole in place it only took a few more minutes to make the KX3 operational.

QRPTTF-4-2013

That’s an 8-pack of AA rechargeable batteries velcro’d atop the KX3.

QRPTTF-6-2013

I went right to work amidst the bugs and started making contacts, which included

  • NA6MG (California) at SOTA W6/CTT14
  • NM5TW (New Mexico) at SOTA W5/SE026
  • WS0TA AT SOTA W5N/PW022
  • WA0ITP (IOWA)
  • NE1SJ (Massachusetts) at SOTA W1/CRT13
  • K7SO (New Mexico) at SOTA W5N/PWT22
  • KU6J (California) at SOTA W6/NS160

I also briefly worked HP0/KN5L/MM. Not sure exactly where he was, but it may have been a Maritime Mobile near Panama.

There actually was no wind for the first few hours, but at around 1100 local time, 15-20 PH gusts kicked up. Great for me as it drove off the gnats and mosquitos!

For me, 20 meters was the only viable band. Not much activity elsewhere. All in all I had a great time and really appreciated the KX3’s ability to dig weak signals out of the ether.

I worked QRPTTF for about 3 hours and enjoyed every minute. Looking forward to QRPTTF 2014 and more trail friendly radio.

Jim
N7RCS