Posts

ARRL DX contest

I had a good time this wekend with the ARRL DX contest. We've had sunspots the last month, so it appears propogation is finally improving. I managed to make contacts on 15, 20, 40, 80 and even three on 160 last night. As a result, I wound up with over 400 contacts in about 10 hours of operating. I had a great time. With a DX contest such as this, you work different parts of the world on different bands at different times. There is enough activity, that you can really hear the propogation changing and get a better understanding of where in the world a band is open to at a particular time. You use your knowledge of how the bands are, to pick the right bands at the right time. If it all works, it's great. The contest also sold me on the K3. It is just the nicest contest and DX radio I've ever used. I switched to the Icom 756 Pro III for a short period last night, but soon went back to the K3. On another note, the line noise that has plauged me most of the winter seems to have

Fighting line noise

This weekend was the CQ 160 meter cw contest. I ran it a little Saturday night and early Saturday and Sunday mornings, finishing with about 170 contacts. Unfortunately, my S9 line noise has not gone away, and even though both the K3 and Icom 756 ProIII have very good filtering and noise reduction that takes most of it out, it is still just a pain in the ear to work through that type of noise. Yesterday three Commonweath Edison trucks pulled up in front of the house, and the workers made their way through my back yard to the power lines. One told me that a "neighbor was having a problem," but that's all I could get out of him. I told him I'd been experiencing very high noise levels the last few weeks, but that didn't seem to register with him. The four workers spent a couple hours working in the area, and I was hoping my neighbor's problem would solve mine. From what I could see and overhear, they didnt' discover or resolve anything, and my line noise is st

Winter contests, winter noise

Last weekend was the winter North American QSO Party, CW. I usually operate this contest, but came down and discovered S9 (that's very high for you lay-people out there) line noise on all bands. I've had this intermittent noise since I moved to this house, generally when there is snow and ice on the electric lines, like last weekend. I have good enough radios that I can filter much of it out, but it's still bothersome and keeps you from really hearing well, which is a real disadvantage in a contest. Despite that, I made 388 contacts on 20, 40, 80, and 160 meters, and had a good time. The SSB version of the contest was this weekend, but the line noise is still here, despite the weather warming and ice melting off the lines. I didn't want to battle the noise, so took a pass on the contest. I hope the noise goes away. Otherwise I have to start fighting with Commonwealth Edison again. I've had them even come out here a couple times, but of course, when they come, the

Ham radio I phone apps

My resolution for the new year, be a better blogger. I took some time off over the holidays and spent a lot of time playing with the radios. Mostly, it was nice rag chews on 40 and 80 meters, but I spent some time on the Stew Perry Distance Challenge -- a 160 meter contest -- and running mobile on 40 adn 20 meters over New Year's while driving to Memphis. I enjoyed getting back on CW mobile, but I'm afraid my trusty old Yaeseu FT 857 is seeing its last legs on HF. During a contact on the drive south, I unfortunately had stuffed a coat over the radio while packing the car, and the radio overheated and quit operating. It later cooled down and I got back on the air, but it died on me again part way through a contact. I should have known better, and broke one of the basic rules of mobile operation -- watch the ventilation around your radio. I've been discovering a bunch of IPhone apps for Ham radio. Some are very useful, some I wonder about. I can now practice sending CW wit

Chadron, Nebraksa hamfest, 1967

Image
The young man seventh from the right is me, WA0QMZ. My dad, WA0OQX, is eighth from the right in the back row.

Great weekend on 160 meters

This weekend was the ARRL 160 meter contest, which is always one of my favorites. I operated for a few hours Friday night, had a couple of long runs going, and ran for a few hours in the early evening on Saturday. The result was over 600 contests, and I had a great time. Next weekend is the ARRL 10 meter contest, which is really almost the opposite as far a propogation and hours of operation goes. With the low sunspot numbers, I'm not expecting much, but I'll be on. I am learning more and more on contesting. My lesson from this one is, "If you're running a frequency and getting a high rate of hourly contacts, don't quit to go watch a football game or something. When you come back, the contest and conditions will have changed, so don't expect to pick up where you left off. I've read that advice before, but I saw it first-hand Saturday night. If I'd kept operating Saturday night, I could have added another 200 contacts or so, but I went to watch Nebrask

DX contest

Image
I spent some time working the CQ Worldwide DX contest this weekend. I learned a good lesson -- keep checking the bands. The contetst started Friday night, and I tuned around on 40 meters. I could hear a few Europeans, who were being swamped by hundreds of US operators calling them. That wasn't the contest I remembered, so I went upstairs and did something else. Saturday morning wasn't much better. I worked a few Asians on 40 meters to get started, then moved to 20. There I heard just a few Europeans, again being hounded by hundreds of US operators. With my vertical, I don't stand much of a chance in that situation. I made a few contacts, but soon gave up and did something else. Then late afternoon I went back in the shack and listed on 15. I could hear Asians, and made contacts. Then I ate dinner, and came back down to 40 meters. There were the Europeans, all over the band. I spent the night working them. It's still a thrill to hear that faint signal from half-w

CW decoder

I was having a very nice conversation (at 30+ words per minute on cw) with Bill, KA1RVM, this morning. We were talking about radios -- my favoroite subject -- and started talking about cw decoders. I told him I was surprised how well the decoder on the K3 worked, and picked up the camera and shot this quick video of the K3 decoding Bill's last transmission.

KG0GY wins Field Day 2b2

Last summer's Field Day results were just posted, and my cousin, Brad, KG0GY, did all right. We finished third in the section of Nebraska, behind the large operations put on by the Lincoln and Omaha clubs. But to our surprise, we finished first place nationally in our classification of 2B2, a group (not a club) with two stations and two operators. There weren't a large number of entries in that category, and there is Brad's call at the top of the list. I'm not sure how we beat this next year. In a side note, it is 70 degrees in Chicago today, not bad for middle of November. I'm sitting on my deck in the sun writing this.

Slow sweepstakes

Last weekend was the CW Sweepstakes, probably the biggest and most challenging of North American contests. I had planned on making a major effort to work a clean sweep -- all 80 sections -- but discovered I had an old friend and his wife visiting over the weekend. It was hard to tell them "No, don't come, I have a ham radio contest." So instead I did a very modest effort -- in about 2.5 hours of operating I made roughly 140 contacts. I had a good run going on 40 meters Sunday morning, and did some search and pounce just to listen around the bands. Actually, it was a little liberating not to have to try to beat last year's score and make that clean sweep. Maybe next year. Meanwhile, there are plenty of other contests coming up this winter. Maybe I'll make a big effort on the 160 meter contest next month. Phone Sweepstakes is two weeks away, and I'll dabble in that a little, but I just don't see the challenge of working a phone contest. Maybe if I had a be