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
QTH: MI
Operating Time (hrs): 4

Summary:
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.