Operating Notes: 3/7/11

DX contesting
Saturday night, my XYL was working, and I had nothing else to do, so I turned on the radio. I made a couple of CW contacts on 40m, then remembered there was a big DX phone contest going on.

I tuned around a bit and heard quite a bit of DX as the band was in pretty good shape. I didn’t want to really spend a lot of time doing this, but I did want to play around a little. What I decided to do was to make  one pass through the band 7.200 MHz to 7.125 MHz.

This took me 40 minutes to complete, and in that time, I worked 12 stations: TI5N, IO5O, TA7KW, EI7M, HK1T, EA3BOX, TM6M, PJ2T, S51YI, YT8A, CO8CY, AND ZF2AH. It was amusing, and I think I did alright for just having 100W and dipole. Also, if you notice, I bagged another station whose callsign spells a word (EA3BOX).

Cayman Islands
I’ve worked several Cayman Islands stations in the past, but you don’t really hear all that many on the air.  There are more PJ stations on the air than there are ZF stations, for example.

That’s why I was kind of surprised to work another ZF2—ZF2LC—this evening. The signals were quite strong on 30m tonight, though, and maybe this guy was winding down from the contest over the weekend.

Sable Island
There was a station on from Sable Island this evening, too. There was a huge pileup on 30m the other night when a Sable Island station came on the air. So big that I couldn’t break in.

Tonight, though, it was a different story. I worked him on my second call.

I don’t know what all the fuss is about, though. Sable Island is really not that far away, nor is it very hard to work.

DXCC
As I reported the other day, I now  have 89 countries confirmed via Logbook of the World (LOTW). Tonight, I checked my paper cards against the LOTW confirmations.

I came  up with 16 more, including Samoa, the Slovak Republic, and Bolivia. That brings me to 105 confirmed, enough for DXCC! I know that’s not a big deal to a lot of you, but it’s something. :)

Miscellaneous Notes: LOTW Update, E-Books, W8AO/W8IO

LOTW Update
My last posting on my experiences with Logbook of the World (LOTW), “Is LOTW More Trouble Than It’s Worth,” was one of my most popular posts, in terms of the number of responses it generated. I published that in November 2009. Since then, I again changed computers in my shack, and not wishing to go through the hellacious process I went through last time, I just haven’t bothered getting LOTW up and running again.

A couple of days ago, however, a fellow graciously asked me if I would QSL via LOTW. He asked so nicely, I could hardly refuse. Besides, it had been more than a year since I last uploaded my log to LOTW.

Fortunately for me, this time the installation process went without a hitch, and I had it all up and running again in less than 15 minutes. I uploaded my latest QSOs in short order too.   As of Sat, 5 Mar 2011 UTC, I have  10,133 QSOs uploaded and 1,507 QSOs confirmed, including 89 countries. This is compared to 8,928 QSOs uploaded and 1,160 confirmed, including 81 countries on Nov. 30, 2009. I’ll have 90 countries as soon as S9DX uploads their logs.

E-Books
As I mentioned before, I’ve started selling Amazon Kindle and B&N Nook e-book versions of the No-Nonsenses Technician Class License Study Guide. While it’s not in any danger of breaking any sales records, I have been somewhat amused. In two and a half months, it’s sold about 20 copies.

W8AO/W8IO
Last Saturday, down at the museum, I worked W8IO,  who lives in Macedonia, OH. About an hour later, I get a call from W8AO, who lives in Wooster, OH, only about 50 miles away from Macedonia. During the course of our conversation, I mentioned that I’d worked W8IO earlier that morning.

On his next transmission, W8IO tells me that he used to work W8AO all the time, but that he hadn’t heard him in quite a while. (That’s not too surprising, actually–they’re only 50 miles apart.) He asked me to convey his regards next time I worked him. I just thought it was quite a coincidence to work both these guys so close together, and that they knew one another.

One of the Dumbest Things I’ve Ever Done in Ham Radio

Mark, W8MP, and I often argue about what’s dumber—his county hunting or my collecting QSL cards from stations whose call signs spell words. It’s one of those arguments that will never be won. When you get right down to it, they’re both pretty dumb.

Well, Wednesday morning, I got a call from my friend, Mark, W8MP. He asked, “Hey, want to do something really dumb tonight?” When I asked what he had in mind, he replied, “Well, one of my county hunter friends, Tim, W8JJ (he’s the guy looking nervous in the black cap below), claims to have confirmed all 3,077 counties. He needs at least two General Class (or higher) hams to check his QSL cards and sign off on his application for the USA-CA award sponsored by CQ magazine. I guarantee that this will be one of the dumbest things that you ever do in ham radio. I also guarantee that it will be a lot of fun.”

Checking Tim's Cards

Tim, W8JJ (left) sweats bullets as Clark, N8CBW (middle), points out a possible problem to me (right).

With a recommendation like that, how could I refuse? Mark said that he’d also invited Clark, N8CBW, another nut, errrrrr I mean county hunter, and that he was going to prepare dinner for us.

After a fine salmon dinner with some very chewy noodles (that Mark claims his son, KD8EEH insisted that he make), we cleared the table, and Tim got out his box of cards. Mark then explained how we should proceed. I was kind of curious about this, as it’s clearly impossible to check all 3,077 QSOs in a single evening.

Basically, what the two checkers are supposed to do is to check random contacts until they are satisfied that the applicant does indeed have a QSL from all 3,077 counties. To select the contacts, you might choose counties where you lived, or counties that you have visited. I hit on the idea of having Tim produced the confirmations of all 16 counties in Massachusetts. Clark, who is more familiar with which counties are the most difficult to confirm, asked Tim to produce cards from some rare counties in Colorado and Hawaii.

Above all, though, the idea is to give the applicant as much grief as possible during the process.

Mark came up with the idea of calling several county hunters that he had phone numbers for and asking them to verify in their logs some of the QSOs that Tim was claiming. He first phoned Jim, N9JF, and we asked him about a 44 report that he’d given Tim seven years ago. He wasn’t near his logbook, but he said that he did remember that contact and even rattled off the county (Wahkiakum, WA)!

Next, Mark phoned Guff, KS5A, who confirmed a contact, but was off by almost seven minutes. A long discussion ensued regarding the details of how a mobile logs contacts while out driving. In the end, we accepted the seven-minute discrepancy.

Finally, Mark phoned Larry, W0QE, to confirm a few of the MRCs that Tim had from him. (MRCs are records of multiple contacts. Using them instead of QSL cards makes the process of managing all these QSLs a lot easier.) Mark joked that it looked like one of the MRCs had a forged signature. Larry replied that all of his MRCs are stamped.

“Aha,” Clark exclaimed, “this MRC doesn’t have a stamp!”

I don’t know what was going through Tim’s mind at this point, but it probably wasn’t good. Larry then explained that he probably sent out that MRC before he got the stamp. When we confirmed those dates, I think Tim breathed a little easier.

In the end, Clark and I signed off on Tim’s application. And, even though Mark and I joke about how dumb this activity is, it’s really only a joke. In my mind, it’s quite an achievement. It takes a lot of persistence, too. It took Tim nearly ten years to do it.

Another cool thing about the county hunting sub-culture is the camaraderie amongst the county hunters. It’s the nature of the beast that you’ll be contacting many of them multiple times, and it’s inevitable that you’ll make friends with many of them.

As we were leaving, Tim said, “My wife asked me the other day if I could get now get rid of all my radios since I’ve talked to everybody.” She obviously doesn’t understand this ham radio sub-culture. Tim’s only just begun.

IARU Awards for Worked All Continents

This is from the IARU E-Letter for March 2010…Dan

==> IARU OPERATING AWARD FOR WORKED ALL CONTINENTS (WAC)

The IARU issues Worked-All-Continents certificates to amateur radio stations around the world that work all six continental areas.

Qualification for the WAC award is based on an examination by the International Secretariat, or a member-society, of the IARU of QSL cards that the applicant has received from other amateur stations in each of the six continental areas of the world. All contacts must be made from the same country or separate territory within the same continental area of the world.

All QSL cards (no photocopies) must show the mode and/or band for any endorsement applied for.

Contacts made on 10/18/24 MHz or via satellites are void for the 5-band certificate and 6-band endorsement. All contacts for the QRP endorsement must be made on or after January 1, 1985 while running a maximum power of 5 watts output or 10 watts input.

For amateurs in the United States and in an area without IARU
representation, the WAC application forms are available in MS Word and Adobe PDF format. Once completed, applications should be directed to the WAC Awards Manager, ARRL, 225 Main Street, Newington, CT USA 06111. After verification, the cards will be returned and the award sent soon afterward. Also, approved DXCC card checkers can verify WAC program applications. For the latest list of DXCC card checkers visit the ARRL website. There is a $13.00 fee for US applicants. Sufficient return postage, or, a self-addressed stamped envelope, is required for the return of QSL cards. US amateurs must have current ARRL membership. At the present time credits in the ARRL LogBook of The World (LoTW) system cannot be claimed for WAC credit. Applicants who have a current DXCC award in the DXCC computer system can apply for WAC by completing the WAC application form and sending it to the address noted above, listing credits to be claimed on the application form. In this case QSL cards are not required. Send questions to wac@arrl.org.

For all other amateurs, applicants must be members of their national amateur radio societies affiliated with IARU, and apply through the society.

More Wallpaper

Also arriving in yesterday’s mail was an attractive certificate from the Washington State Salmon Run, a contest sponsored by the Western Washington DX Club. It seems as though I finished second in Michigan in the low-power, CW category. I don’t recall making all that many contacts, so I was probably second out of two. :) I checked the contest website, but they haven’t yet posted the final results.

soccertificate.jpg

A week or so ago, I received my Second Class Operator’s Certificate (above), confirming my status as a member in good standing of the Second Class Operator’s Club (SOC). The motto of the club is, “Because so few are really First Class.” If you’re feeling bad about not making the cut for the First Class Operator’s Club, be aware that there will always be a place for you in the SOC.

UPDATE 4/16/07: In today’s mail, I got yet another certificate. This one for placing first in Michigan in the single-operator, low power category of the 2007 Virginia QSO Party. I did this one all on 80m CW. Thanks, guys!

Be Prepared for this Scouting Award

The Scouting 100 Radio Award is awarded for contacting Scout stations during 2007, the Centenary year of Scouting. This is an International award, available to any operator – it is also available on a listener basis, with the same requirements as the operator award.

Objective:
To help celebrate the centenary of Scouting through the medium of radio. To help publicise the Centenary, and to provide radio amateurs the opportunity of gaining another Award. Although not intended for profit, any surplus made will go to support Radio Scouting in developing countries.

Duration:
The Award will begin at 00:00:01 on January 1st 2007 and finish at 23:59:59 December 31st 2007.

Bands and Modes:
The Award is available through all bands and all modes, within the terms of the individual’s radio licence. The Award is also available through Echolink and IRLP modes. The Award can be endorsed for any special modes or bands ie ‘All satellite contacts;’ ‘all QRP contacts,’ etc. Activity for the Award should be focused around the Scout frequencies.

Requirements:
Stations are required to contact Scout and Guide stations to count for
points as follows:

  • Each ordinary Scout station counts one point.
  • Special Event Scout stations count 2 points.
  • The World Jamboree, Gilwell Park and Brownsea Island stations count 5 points.
  • Your logs should be verified as accurate by 2 other local radio amateurs.
  • Normal log information is required with the following additional information: Name, Scout details and age of the operator of the station you contact. Your age should also be submitted when applying for Awards. Female operators send `YL’ as their age!

Website:
The Award is supported online by a website – full details of the award are available at www.scouting100award.org. An Honour Roll of Award holders will also be published on the website.

Contact: info@scouting100award.org

I Finally Bit the Bullet…

…and signed up for Logbook of the World. According to the ARRL website, Logbook of the World (LOTW) is

is a repository of log records submitted by users from around the world. When both participants in a QSO submit matching QSO records to LoTW, the result is a QSL that can be used for ARRL award credit.

LoTW began operation on September 15, 2003, and as of this very minute, it has 14,248 registered users, 113,893,273 recorded QSOs, and 6,902,497 QSLs.

The signup process wasn’t difficult, but it seemed rather convoluted. First, you have to download some software from the ARRL website, then install it, and request a “certificate” from the ARRL.

Then, they send you a postcard in the mail, and you have log in and type in the code on the postcard. Since they send it by mail, this step takes three or four days.

Finally, once you’ve done that, they send you a certificate via e-mail. You install that on your computer, and then you’re finally all set to upload your log. This whole process took nearly a week.

I use N3FJP’s ACLog logging software, and this software is supposed to interface to LotW. I don’t know why exactly, but I had some trouble uploading my log via ACLog. I suspect it was because I was trying to upload over 5,500 QSOs.

Fortunately, LotW allows process ADIF files. To accomplish the upload, I created an ADIF file with ACLog, then digitally signed the QSOs with the TQSL . This created a .tq8 file, which I then uploaded via the LotW website. That worked like a charm.

The upshot of all this is that I have 5,562 recorded QSOs, 453 QSLs, with 50 of those being good for DXCC. Combining my 50 LotW QSLs with some of the “real” QSLs I have, I may just qualify for DXCC. :)

HA Stations to Use Special Call Signs

Just now, I heard a station on 30m signing HA506NF. That’s pretty weird, I thought and looked him up on QRZ.Com. Here’s what his entry has to say:

Fellow Radio Amateurs!

The Hungarian Radio Amateur Society wishes to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the revolution and freedom fight of 1956 in an appropriate way. Hungarian radioamateurs may use special callsigns between October 1, 2006 and December 31, 2006. The first part of the callsign is either HA or HG, then the number 50, followed by the number-letter combination of the suffix. For example, my callsign is HA6NF, then, I want to make use of the opportunity provided by the licence, my callsign will be HA506NF. As you can see from the example, callsigns will range from 500 to 509.

Please note that use of the occasional callsign is not compulsory for Hungarian stations.

The Hungarian Radio Amateur Society established an Award for the world’s radioamateurs, to commemorate the celebration.

……………………………………………………………………. ..

AWARD in memory of the revolution and freedom fight of 1956

Click here to see Award picture! http://ha1dae.atw.hu/award.jpg

In order to receive the Award, participants must contact 25 different Hungarian radioamateur stations – out of which the call signs of 5 stations must begin with HA50… or HG50… Contacts made with the same station in a different mode or on a different band are acceptable. All licensed bands and modes are available for use, but only direct contacts between two radioamateur stations count. Contacts made by utilizing digital repeaters and/or other non-direct communication modes do not count.

The price of the award: 5 Euros, or $7, or 10 IRCs

Please send either the Award request verified by two licensees or the log extract along with the price of the Award to the following address:

MRASZ 1074 Budapest Szövetség u. 9.

Board of the MRASZ

……………………………………………………………………. …

Short History

The Revolution and Freedom Fight of 1956 – The armed insurrection of a considerable part of the Hungarian people against the Rakosi dictatorship and the Soviet occupation. It began on October 23, 1956, with the peaceful demonstration of the students from Budapest, and ended on November 10-11 with the crushing of the resistance of the armed insurgents. Its political leaders were partly the reform-communists of the MDP, and partly the party leaders of the coalition period. The several times transformed government was controlled all along by Imre Nagy, the only one of the communist leaders who was a dedicated supporter of reforms. The army of insurgents, that, after October 23 faced the attacking Soviets once again on November 4, was mostly made up of young workers. Neither the fighters, nor the participants of the demonstrations possessed a uniform ideology, as both communists and anticommunists could be found among their ranks. However, the recovery of national independence and the destruction of dictatorship were goals of all groups. The demonstrations resulted in many casualties, altogether some 2500 people lost their lives, 78% of whom were from Budapest, 58% blue-collar workers, and 44% younger than 25. During the retributions following the downfall some 22 persons were sentenced to prison, and 229 to death. Among the ones executed was Imre Nagy. Some 200.000 fled abroad. Despite its failure, the revolution and freedom fight proved to be an event of utmost influence in Hungary’s post-WW2 history. It opened the eyes of the majority of Hungarians to the fact that they could not count on the help of the West, and showed the Soviet leadership that for the sake of stability they have to increase Hungary’s domestic freedom.

You Can Now Use LOTW for WAS

From the ARRL Letter of 3/24/06:

==>LOGBOOK OF THE WORLD NOW SUPPORTS WORKED ALL STATES AWARD

Users of the ARRL’s Logbook of the World (LoTW) now may apply their LoTW credits to applications for the League’s Worked All States (WAS) award. Once registered and logged in, users may set up a WAS account on the Logbook Awards page, configuring the account to automatically select QSLs to use or selecting them manually via the Your QSOs page.

LoTW is a repository of logbook records submitted by users from around the world. When both participants in a contact submit matching QSO records to LoTW, the result is an electronic “QSL” that can be used for award credit.

As part of this addition, administration and maintenance of all WAS awards is now perfomed using an LoTW module. US Amateur Radio licensees must be ARRL members to apply for the WAS award. In addition to WAS, LoTW supports the ARRL DX Century Club (DXCC) award.

Since its inauguration in September 2005, LoTW has more than 95 million QSO records on file, with nearly 5.15 million QSL records resulting. The system boasts just over 12,000 registered users, and there are more than 18,100 certificates–each representing a particular user call sign–on file.

It’s about time. This may even spur me to sign up for LOTW.