Tag Archives: Contesting

2014 ARRL 10 meter contest

Just took a look at propagation on 10 meters and WOW! It looks like this is going to be an excellent contest this year with worldwide contacts possible. Can wait for sunrise! Good luck to everyone! See you on 10.

Here’s what the band looked like at about 1448Z on 13 Dec 2014

2014 CQ WW DX CW contest

Another CQWWDX CW contest in the book! Propagation, at least for my location in the panhandle of Idaho, was excellent for this year’s contest. Worldwide communication, even for me at QRP power, was possible on 15m and 10m during daylight hours. For me, that meant working 51 DXCC entities and 22 of 39 CQ Zones.

I notched about 80% of my contacts on 15m and 10m. Ultimately 10m was the strongest band for me. Conditions on 40m and 20m were not nearly as good, much more QRN and weaker signals overall.

I operated primarily during daylight hours as band conditions were not suitable after about 8PM PST for me. Both Saturday and Sunday, 10m and 15m came to life at about 1500Z and stayed very active until about 0300Z. I attempted to work 40m at night but QRN was hitting S3-4 which made communication difficult. At any rate, there was very little DX (i.e. non-North American) activity on 40m from my QTH.

Both mornings I was able to work many JAs on 15m and 10m. As the gray line moved on there was more action from the European side.

Propagation into South America was problematic for me. I could consistently hear stations from Brazil, and other parts of S. America, but was not able to reach them except for two contacts, 1 in Venezuela and 1 in Brazil. HK1NA in Colombia was consistently booming in but I was never able to connect with them.

On the other hand, I had no problem working Australia and New Zealand, making multiple contacts during the contest. In addition I was able to work Guam several times, Pakistan and other stations in parts of Southeast Asia.

I even managed to work Finland twice on long path – which seemed amazing given my QRP power. I suspect I heard them on long path and they heard me on short path?

At any rate, I ended up with 166 QSOs for the contest, which I am very satisfied with.

I hope you had as much fun as I did!

2014 ARRL Sweepstakes – CW

I participated as a single op, QRP, non-assisted. I think the ARRL Sweepstakes is one of the more challenging contests from the perspective of the sheer amount of information required for each QSO. There are plenty of ways to go wrong, so you really have to be detail oriented to log each contact correctly 100% of the time.

Propagation was generally pretty good here in northern Idaho. 20, 15 and 10m were the workhorse bands this time out.

I finished with an unofficial score of just above 12,000, well down from my first place finish in the Idaho section for QRP in 2013 of 18,592. In the end, I was my own worst enemy.

Not sure why but I had SWR problems on 20. Since my antenna is a fixed loop running around my roofline it’s not clear what may have caused the issue. At any rate, my internal antenna tuner on the KX3 was unable to bring the SWR down much below 2-1 so I was probably not putting out much more than a watt or two on 20m. That probably hurt my score and I should have checked and corrected this ahead of time.

Right out of the gate I made some mistakes getting my log set up, which was caused by not being completely familiar with a new version of MacLogger on my new Mac. So, when the contest began, the first QSO logged got numbered 000 instead of 001. I would have noticed that had a reconfigured my log view to be showing the QSO number. My new Mac is a desktop, which replaced a Macbook which has a much smaller screen. Instead of maximizing my log view I packed a bunch of other stuff on the screen (DXmaps, timers, etc.) and failed to reconfigure the MacLogger display properly. Don’t get me wrong, MacLogger is a fabulous contesting application. Top notch. I even used the contest helper window which has built-in timers providing information on time between Qs and time on band. Having real-time QSO rate information sharpens your focus and makes it much more obvious when lots of time is slipping by between QSOs, making you realize it’s time to move on or get off for a bit. Live and learn.

I worked about 19 hours of the 24 allowed, but actually made another mistake by failing to check my 2013 log to see how many Qs I made in that contest. As it turns out, I decided to stop once I reached 166 Qs this year because it was getting late on Sunday for me. I believed I was ahead of my count for 2013. Wrong. In 2013 I scored 188 Qs plus nearly 10 more sections. Again, I should have checked beforehand.

My QSO breakdown was
40m – 20
20m – 54
15m – 54
10m – 36

One more learning experience for me was getting up too early on Sunday morning (1200 UTC) to try to catch the band openings. I blew 90 minutes of operating time. I should have gotten off, grabbed a few more hours of sleep and logged by on when things opened a bit later. Activity began picking up around 1330 UTC.

All in all it was a great contest for me. Consistently strong signals from the teams in Hawaii and Alaska, they were blowing my doors off. I ended with 37 sections.

For those who participated this time out, congratulations! For those who did not, I hope to see you next year or perhaps in the upcoming CQWW CW contest at the end of November.

2013 ARRL Sweepstakes update

A few weeks ago I was stunned to receive in the mail from ARRL HQ a certificate with my name and call on it for taking first place in the Idaho section for QRP operators in the 2013 ARRL Sweepstakes!  Looking back on my post from that contest I noted how favorable propagation conditions were, but I never dreamed I would actually win a section.

Well. here I am a year later on the eve of the 2014 ARRL Sweepstakes and looking for defend my humble title. I’ll be running my KX3 at about 5 watts, using the same dipole/loop antenna configuration.

Good luck to all those competing! I just check band conditions and things look great! 10 meters is really hot. I can’t wait to get started!

80th annual ARRL November Sweepstakes

Wow! Really had a very successful Sweepstakes. Propagation conditions were excellent from North Idaho with all bands open at some point: 80-10m. I was able to work nearly 40 states plus several Canadian provinces including two hams, Jay – VY1JA and VY1EI, in Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory, who were booming in throughout the contest. I worked them both on 15m.

Running QRP, I ended the Sweepstakes with 188 contacts. Here’s the breakdown by band:

80m: 20
40m:   9
20m: 76
15m: 73
10m: 10

My contacts on 80m were a first for me as my bent dipole is not really optimized for work on that band. Nevertheless I managed 20 contacts, third best band for me, whereas 40m is usually the workhorse. For some reason, I was not getting out on 40m, although I was hearing plenty of activity. It was nice to see openings on 10m for a change. 10m is usually dead for me in this part of the country.

Score was 22,560. This was my best contest outing ever in terms of sheer number of contacts. I must admit that by Sunday evening I was really exhausted. That said, it was a great experience. I have to say everyone was very patient with my QRP signal, often having to ask for multiple repeats to capture everything in each exchange. That’s one thing about the Sweepstakes, each exchange carries a lot of information.

The one big surprise for me was that I only contacted and heard one other ham running QRP during Sweepstakes: NK6A. It will be interesting to learn how many hams were running QRP during Sweepstakes.

2013 ARRL Sweepstakes – CW

I’ll be operating QRP (5w) for the 80th ARRL CW Sweepstakes this weekend. I plan to work 40, 20, 15 & 10m if the propagation gods smile down on my humble QTH here in north Idaho. Fun begins at 2100Z! Regardless of what happens it will be a blast.

Did a little be of observing this morning from W7UQ at the University of Idaho for the Idaho Simulated Emergency Test – “Hack Attack” which simulated the Internet and grid being down. They were mostly working phone phone but were trying to get digital up as well.

In the meantime, I’m off to get set up for the CW Sweepstakes this weekend. Hope to see you on the air! GL.

2013 Washington State Salmon Run report

Worked the Salmon Run for about 5 hours Saturday evening (7-midnight local time). Quite a bit of CW activity on 40 and 80m from the K7SEL radio shack in Pullman, Washington (Whitman County). Notched about 100 contacts split pretty evenlu between 40 and 80m. Even worked W7DX for extra points!

I worked the contest with John, N7KRW, who concentrated on fone across 20, 40 and 80m. This was his first contest and he did well, notching 100 contacts himself over two days.

Tracked all contacts on paper, so now we need to get it all into the computer and converted to Cabrillo for submission.

Thanks for a great contest WWDX club!