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

Lousy conditions hamper NAQCC sprint

QRP is a challenge any time, but when old Sol acts up, it can really throw a spanner in the works. Last night’s monthly sprint sponsored by the North American QRP CW Club offered difficult conditions, at least for me. The coronal hole that developed a couple days ago muddied the A index (25 at contest time) and made signals difficult to copy. The flutter and QSB was so bad that it was difficult to copy an entire call sign most of the time. I operated for about an hour, made 5 contacts on 40 and 80, and decided to call it a night. This in contrast to when conditions are good when I’ve made over 50 QSOs in two hours, all QRP and sent with a straight key.

If you’re interested in slow-speed, hand-sent CQ at QRP power levels, check out the NAQCC. It’s a friendly group of operators who embrace the minimalist’s challenge. Best of all, there are no dues for a lifetime membership.

January North American QSO Party, CW

cwkey_250The semiannual NAQP events are fun contests that run twelve hours. You can operate 10 of the 12 hours, and the exchange is simply your name and state. Many operators use a different name in tribute to an Elmer or a club member who has passed away (and most everyone in KP2 and KP4 uses ‘Chacho’).

I got on for a couple short periods in this weekend’s CW running, totaling just under four hours, and made 121 QSOs. Continue reading “January North American QSO Party, CW”

ARRL RTTY Roundup 2016

The ARRL RTTY Roundup is a friendly, fast-paced contest to kick off the new year. Everybody works everybody and the exchange (for NA stations) is simple. Only DX stations send a serial number. If you have gear to do RTTY, it’s a fun way to spend a few hours. Digital contacts are harder to come across than phone or CW QSOs, so it’s a great way to increase your state and country counts.

I’m not really set up for RTTY contesting but I make do with fldigi. It’s less convenient than using my other contest logging software but it gets the job done.

Station: NF8M
Class: Single Op LP
Operating Time (hrs): 4.5
 Band QSOs
 80:  28
 40:  42
 20:  38
 15:  18
 Total: 126 State/Prov = 40 Countries = 7 Total Score = 5,922
Club: Mad River Radio Club

Straight Key Night

The annual Straight Key Night is one of my favorite events of the year. It started out as a New Year’s Eve event (thus “night”), but officially it runs from 0000z to 2359z on 1 January. I made a handful of QSOs during the day using my J38 key (which gets used regularly, not just once a year) and my usual station gear. I’m still hoping I can resurrect my novice transmitter and receiver and put them on the air one of these years, but my rocks are all for the old Novice subbands, which have since been turned over to phone operators, so I’d have to find some different ones.