The North American CW Sprint

The North American Sprint is a unique contest with unique rules. Sponsored by the ARRL National Contest Journal, a four-hour CW contest takes place twice a year, the second Saturday evenings in February and September. In addition, there’s a half-hour mini-sprint each Thursday evening at 0230z that’s sponsored by the Northern California Contest Club. (There are also RTTY versions of the sprints, and the rules are similar, but this article just covers the CW sprints.) The “Sprint QSY rule” requires that once you call CQ and work a station, you must relinquish the frequency and move at least 1 kHz before calling CQ or working another station. This means there is no “running” – a single station can’t sit on one frequency and work stations one after another as in almost every other contest. The required exchange is: both callsigns, a serial number, your first name and your state. By convention, though, there is a unique order to these elements, making it apparent as to who is the CQer and who is answering. Continue reading “The North American CW Sprint”

N1MM+ on Linux

The N1MM+ contest logging program is among the most popular, if not the most popular, loggers in use by contesters up and down the spectrum. It supports a wide variety of contests and works well with features supporting the largest multi/multi and the smallest “little pistol” alike. It’s constantly under development by a team of volunteer programmers, is frequently updated and is well supported. Best of all, it’s free for the download.

Unfortunately for those of us who choose either the open-source computing life (or are Macintosh users), N1MM+ is only available for the Microsoft Windows operating platform. We have ways, though, Continue reading “N1MM+ on Linux”

Practice, practice

I’ll skip the usual joke about asking for directions to Carnegie Hall, but the advice to practice is just as valid, whether it’s music or ham radio.

With the publication of the 2017 ARRL November Sweepstakes results, I checked the score database and my log checking report to see how badly I was nicked this year. I was pleasantly surprised. Continue reading “Practice, practice”

Solar Eclipse QSO Party

Wikimedia Commons

The total solar eclipse that traversed the continental United States on August 21 was a golden opportunity to study the effects of the eclipse on  ionospheric radio propagation. A rather new organization, the Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation (HamSCI), sponsored a QSO Party on that date to collect data to investigate what happens when the sun goes away for a few minutes.

From all accounts, the experiment was a success in that it confirmed the expected outcome – nighttime propagation conditions appeared, and then disappeared, in the middle of the day.

I took the day off from work and participated by setting up a portable station on my backyard deck. Continue reading “Solar Eclipse QSO Party”

Sweepstakes 2016

novembersweepstakeslogoWell, another ARRL Sweepstakes is in the books, and while I didn’t set any personal bests or come close to a clean sweep, I had fun during the time I had on the air.

In the CW weekend, I made 203 QSOs in 69 sections for 28,000 points in about seven hours in the NF8M shack. Additionally, I put perhaps 50 QSOs in the log at W8SH, my college club at Michigan State University. W8SH made just over 200 QSOs in total.

The phone weekend saw more limited time. Continue reading “Sweepstakes 2016”