Michigan QSO Party 2016

michigan-county-mapOne of the highlights of the year for me is the Michigan QSO Party, held on the third Saturday of April each year. It’s sponsored by the Mad River Radio Club and brings the spotlight to the Great Lake State.

Each year I try to do something a bit different – after all, the county I live in (Oakland) is one of the most active counties. I’ve tried in the past to get out and activate another county or help out another operation. This year, I did fewer than a hundred QSOs in a couple hours from home, way down in the pack in the single-op low power category, but spent most of my time at Michigan State University’s club station, W8SH. Continue reading “Michigan QSO Party 2016”

Wallpaper: Canada Day Contest 2015

2015CanadaDayNF8MBart, VE5CPU, just surprised me with a certificate for my entry in the 2015 Radio Amateurs of Canada’s annual Canada Day contest. With 10,640 points, I was first place in the 8th US call area.

I always enjoy working the RAC’s two contests each year – the Canada Day contest, always held on July 1st, and the RAC Winter Contest, usually the Saturday between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Continue reading “Wallpaper: Canada Day Contest 2015”

New rig in the NF8M shack

TS-590SG_672x372My Kenwood TS-690S has served me well for over a dozen years, but it was time to move into the 21st century and upgrade the HF portion of my shack.

After reading the reviews and consulting with some of the world’s top contesters, I decided on one of the 690’s successors, the highly-regarded Kenwood TS-590SG.

Now that some of the initial bugs have been worked out of the 590, and a few features added, it made perfect sense. Continue reading “New rig in the NF8M shack”

ARRL January VHF Contest 2016

I don’t normally expect much out of the January VHF contest, so working just seven stations on six meters Sunday afternoon was all right with me. The best DX was only the other side of the state, but I managed three grids (woo-hoo!) for a score of 21 whopping points.

CQ 160m CW contest

One-sixty is one of my favorite bands. Even though I’m not one of those guys with a converted broadcast transmitter in the shed and a shunt-fed hundred-foot tower, I enjoy the challenge of working distant stations on topband, and the curiosity of using frequencies that are just above the broadcast band. While some BCB DXers enjoy digging out distant 50 kW broadcasters, it’s fun to tell them I worked California using only 100 watts.

Conditions were pretty good this past weekend. I wasn’t on for long, and didn’t run, but managed 130 QSOs and 44 mults over about four hours. Best DX was California, only worked one XE (but heard several Caribbeans) but I didn’t add any new ones.

My setup on 160 is a bit clunky: I don’t currently have a rig with a separate receive antenna input, so I have to use an external relay to switch between the inverted-L for transmit and the shielded loop with preamp for receive. That requires coordination to turn on the external keying relay in the rig and to turn up the delay so as to avoid QSK clatter (and so I don’t fry the preamp again). It also means that I might miss the first two or three dits and dahs of the reply after sending my exchange – normally not a problem if I’m just searching & pouncing.

                    CQ 160-Meter Contest, CW

Call: NF8M
Operator(s): NF8M
Station: NF8M

Class: Single Op LP
Operating Time (hrs): 4

Total:  QSOs = 130  State/Prov = 43  Countries = 1  Total Score = 13,156

Club: Mad River Radio Club