More callsigns that spell words

WB6THE QSL

About a week ago, I worked WB6THE, yet another station whose callsign spells a word. When I explained my collection, he said he’d put one of his cards in the mail right away. I got the card above a couple of days later. This one was particular cool because it’s my first “THE” card.

Yesterday, I participated in the MI QSO Party for a couple of hours. In that short time, I made 76 QSOs, including ones with W8CUB and W8HOG. I’ll be putting my card in the mail to them tomorrow. There are my first “CUB” and “HOG” as well.

How can I refuse such a polite request?

Dear WA2HOM!

Russian DX Contest team has a great pleasure to invite you for taking part in RDXC-2012 held March 17-18, 2012 at 1200z-1200z.

We would like to see you among increasing number of RDXC participants and we promise you great activity of Russian stations from almost all Russian regions.

We remind you that logs` dead line is 14 days since 2011. But for those individuals and clubs who aim a spot in the Top 3 list, logs` dead line is 36 hours after the end of the contest. They also must indicate the frequency of every QSO made with a minimum resolution of 1 kHz.

Our e-mail for logs is logs@rdxc.org. The robot will check your log and you will receive confirmation e-mail. You can also check log`s receiption at http://www.rdxc.org/asp/pages/logs.asp

At our WEB page http://www.rdxc.org/ you can find news, rules, trophies list, tips&hints and a lot of useful information about RDXC. The contest rules are presented on 15 languages. You will also find results from 1997 till 2011, contest FAQ, some important analysis, articles, contest records, announced operations, photo gallery and much more.

RDXC contest rules are very democratic – you can work anybody and make your best score within 24 hours time format.

We offer participants RDXC-2012 to add their results and monitor the results of other competitors online http://www.cqcontest.ru. Final results and impressions of the contest, you can add to our site http://www.rdxc.org

We hope to have your signals in forthcoming RDXC-2012.

RDXC committee: RW1AC, UA2FZ, RC5A, RA3AUU

http://www.rdxc.org/

Extra Class question of the day: contesting

Contesting is one of the most popular activities in amateur radio. While the rules differ from contest to contest, in general, the goal is to make as many contacts as possible in a given time period.

To enter a contest and be considered for awards, you must submit a log of your contacts.  The contest organizers will check the log to make sure that you actually made the contacts that you claim. To make this easier to do, most contest organizers now request that you send in a digital file that lists your contacts in the Cabrillo format. The Cabrillo format is a standard for submission of electronic contest logs. (E2C07)

In contest operating, operators are permitted to make contacts even if they do not submit a log.  (E2C01) If you do not submit a log, you obviously cannot win a contest, but there are several reasons why you still might choose to participate in a contest. For example, for big DX contests, some amateurs travel to locations where amateur radio operation is infrequent. Making contact with those stations during a contest gives you an opportunity to add countries to your total.

Another reason is that it will give you a good idea of the capabilities of your station. If, for example, during a contest, you need to call repeatedly before a DX station replies, it might mean that you should improve your antenna system.

There are some operating practices that are either prohibited or highly discouraged. On the HF bands, for example, operating on the “WARC bands,” is normally prohibited. Therefore, 30 meters is one band on which amateur radio contesting is generally excluded. (E2C03). The other “WARC bands” are 17 meters and 12 meters.

Another prohibited practice is “self-spotting.” Self-spotting is the generally prohibited practice of posting one’s own call sign and frequency on a call sign spotting network. (E2C02) The reason this is prohibited is that doing so would give you an advantage over other operators.

During a VHF/UHF contest, you would expect to find the highest level of activity in the weak signal segment of the band, with most of the activity near the calling frequency. (E2C06) VHF/UHF contesters stay away those portions of the band that are normally reserved for FM operation. That being the case, 146.52 MHz is one of the frequencies on which an amateur radio contest contact is generally discouraged. (E2C04) 146.52 MHz is the national FM simplex calling frequency.

Are contests good or bad for CW?

This afternoon, I got to make a few contacts in the ARRL DX CW contest. I was on 10m, using my new loop antenna, and propagation was pretty good to Central and South America. I worked a bunch of countries including Argentina, Barbados, Costa Rica, Colombia, Brazil, Virgin Islands, Aruba, Belize, and Surinam.

After about an hour, I got bored with that, and decided to QSY to 30m, where I heard a guy I’d worked many times calling CQ. I told that I’d been playing in the DX contest on 10m, and had gotten bored with it, so I was down here looking for a ragchew. He told me that he never works contests, to which I replied that I thought that contests might actually be good for CW in that it might get more hams to work CW on a regular basis.

That comment got him going. He noted that he’d seen an increase in operating practices that we use in contests in normal operation, and he didn’t think that was a good thing. The two examples he gave were responding to CQs only with one’s callsign and not using the K prosign to signal the other operator that it’s his turn to start sending.

To be honest, I have also noted an increase in these behaviors, especially the first. I’d never thought about contests as encouraging these poor operating practices, but I think he has a point.

I don’t know how we encourage operators to not use contest procedures during normal operation, but I think we should talk about how to do so. One idea that he had was to send QRZ? whenever an operator responds to a CQ with only his callsign. I’ve done this in the past, and think this is a good idea, but I’m not sure that it gets the point across as well as we think it does.

What do you think? Do you think these practices are bad for CW? If so, what can we do about it?

Extra Class question of the day: contesting

E2C01 asks, “Which of the following is true about contest operating?” The correct answer is “Operators are permitted to make contacts even if they do not submit a log.” This is a fun way to get your feet wet in contesting and helps the operators participating in the contest to achieve higher scores.

Having said that, you should submit a log, even if you only make a handful of contacts. At WA2HOM, we participated in the CQWW SSB contest last fall. We only operated for a short time, as we can only operate when the museum is open. Even so, we recently received a certificate for being the highest scorer in the single transmitter, multi-operator category in the 8th call district. As it turns out, we were the only entry in this category, but so what? We’re champions!

Now, let’s look at the wrong answers:

  • Interference to other amateurs is unavoidable and therefore acceptable. It’s bad practice–as well as illegal–to cause harmful interference whenever you’re operating, even during contests.
  • It is mandatory to transmit the call sign of the station being worked as part of every transmission to that station. Part 97 requires only that you identify your station, at least once every ten minutes during a contact and at the end of a contact. Even during normal operation, you don’t have to give the callsign of the station being worked.
  • Every contest requires a signal report in the exchange. Many contests no longer require a signal report in the exchange.The reason for this is that the signal reports exchanged are rarely true signal reports. That being the case, why bother to exchange them?

WA2HOM: Championship Contest Station?

In the mail today, I received something totally unexpected—a certificate proclaiming WA2HOM to be the first place finisher in the multi-operator, single-transmitter category of the 2011 CQ World Wide WPX contest.

CQ WPX Certificate

With such a low score, I don’t supposed that we had many competitors in that category, but it’s still pretty cool.

Contest were the order of the day this weekend

Contesting was on the amateur radio schedule this weekend.  In typical KB6NU fashion, however, the contesting was very casual.

On Saturday, I didn’t get down to WA2HOM  until noon, and shortly after I fired up the rig, Ovide, K8EV, showed up. We talked for about an hour, during which we made no contacts. After Ovide left for lunch, I made a few contacts in the Ukranian DX contest. Nothing spectacular except for an A65 station. That’s a new country for the WA2HOM log.

In the evening, I got on 40m and made 100 Qs in the ARRL Sweepstakes. I wasn’t going to stay up so late, but as my totals began to climb, I decided to stick it out until I made 100 contacts or scored 10,000 points. At 1am, I hit the sack with 100 contacts and nearly 11,000 points.

On Sunday, I had a couple of things that I wanted to do besides working the contest. One was to practice my bowling. I’ve just been terrible for the past couple of weeks, and it’s been embarassing. Another was to build a 10m loop antenna.

Well, I couldn’t resist. Before going to the bowling alley, I made several contacts on 15m. When I got back, I ate some lunch, and then actually built the antenna.  Before I got around to hanging it up outside, I got sucked into working some more of the contest. I spent the next several hours working the contest, quitting at 4pm to make dinner. At that point, I had 150 contacts.

After dinner, I watched a movie with my XYL, but when the movie was over about 8:30pm, I went down to the shack again. I was surprised to hear the contest still going on. I had assumed it was just a 24-hour event, but Sweepstakes is a 30-hour contest. So, of course, I had to work the last hour or so.

It was fortuitous, too. I managed to work three or four new multipliers during that last hour and a half.  When all was said and done, I ended up with 189 contacts, 66 sections, and a total of 24,948 points. I think that next year, I’m going to try for a “clean sweep.”

A CQWW Story

I got this story from Bill, NA8M, in this morning’s e-mail:

Sunday, I heard XP1A working stations right and left,  passing out “59 40″ like there’s no tomorrow.  He was funny in that he had his mic on VOX and got tangled up in the call signs occasionally.

Then he said, “Gentlemen I need to take a break.  My butt is getting too flat.”  He went away.  Since I didn’t have zone 40 yet, I hung around.  Then he returns to the mic and begins a round of endless, “XP1A XP1A XP1A XP1A XP1A …” and won’t listen for anyone.  I get frustrated and put him in a memory slot and dial past.

A bit later, my curiosity gets the better of me and I QSY back to XP1A’s frequency. Again, he’s passing out “59 40″ like crazy.  I climb into the pile-up and give him a call.  Well, actually, lots of calls.  No joy.

Then, out of the blue, he says, “I’ve got to clean the frequency.  XP1A XP1A XP1A XP1A XP1A XP1A …” without coming up for air.  It was so funny!  I had to walk away.  Just when you think you’ve heard it all, you run across something like this.

This was my first frequency cleaning.  Even though I never did work him, it was entertaining!

A Downsized Field Day

It seems like everyone (except for maybe Google) is downsizing these days. With that in mind, I thought that I’d downsize my Field Day. Instead of participating in the large 5A ARROW Field Day operation, the guys that hang around WA2HOM, our club station at the Hands-On Museum, decided to set up a much smaller operation.

Our first idea was to set up outside the museum. That seemed like it was going to work out until Quentin, KD8IPF, informed me that he couldn’t attend, as his wife was going to be out of town, and he needed to take care of his kids. I was concerned that without Quentin that we wouldn’t have enough operators to have two people there at all times.

Then, Quentin volunteered his backyard. This turned out to be a great venue. He has a fairly large, with a couple of big trees. Not only that, he lives next door to his mother-in-law, and she’s volunteered her trees as antenna supports. You gotta love a mother-in-law like that!

One of the advantages of downsizing is that you don’t have to spend so much time setting up. Instead of setting up antennas for five HF stations, a GOTA station, and a VHF/UHF station, all we had to do was set up antennas for our two HF stations. And, since we planned on using Quentin’s already-installed, multi-band dipole, we only really had one antenna to worry about.

That being the case, we decided that we really didn’t need to start setting up until noon on Saturday. Jim, K8ELR, and I actually arrived about 11:30 am, and that proved to be more than enough time. Jim brought with him a 40m dipole and a 30m, end-fed half-wave antenna, while I brought my BuddiStick. We quickly decided to put up the 40m dipole, and by 1pm, we were already on the air.

A Tale of Two Antennas
Of course, it wasn’t really as simple as all that. When we started operating, the two stations interfered with one another something terrible. So much so that my KX-1 was even causing Quentin’s LDG autotuner to retune itself when I transmitted.

The problem was that the 40m dipole and the multi-band dipole were running nearly parallel to one another. I should have known that this would occur, having been involved with more than a few Field Days by now, but it never even crossed my mind.

Fortunately, the solution was relatively simple. All we had to do was to take down the multi-band dipole and hang it from two different trees, one of them in the adjoining yard. After we did this, the two antennas were nearly perpendicular to one another, and the interference just went away. The phone station could not hear my little peanut whistle signal at all, and while I could hear the phone station transmit, it really didn’t affect my ability to make contacts.

I really didn’t think that this was going to work, but Ovide, K8EV, was quite confident that it would. I was the one that ate crow.

Did You Really Use a KX-1?
So, I can hear a lot of you asking, “Did you really use a KX-1 for Field Day?” Yes, I did. Our original idea was to run all QRP. The thinking behind this is that if you run all QRP, then you get 5 points for each QSO.

The other reason for doing this is so that we could run off batteries. Quentin had access to two, 66 Ahr batteries, and we’d planned to use these two batteries as our power source. I figured that with the 12V gel cell that I have for my KX-1, that would be plenty of power.

Unfortunately, that didn’t work out. Quentin and Ovide were just not having any luck making any contact at 5W—and consequently not having much fun—so they decided to increase power. That blew our QRP multiplier, but what the heck, it multiplied our fun factor.

Plenty of Power
As it turned out, just one battery provided plenty of power for the phone station, even at 100W. Granted the station was off the air from about midnight Saturday through 9 am Sunday morning, but there was apparently plenty of juice to power that station throughout the entire 24 hours.

Likewise, my little gel cell provided enough power for the KX-1 over the 12 hours that I had it on the air, and I’d guess that the charge would have been good for the entire 24 hours. I have yet to run down that battery so low that it failed to power the radio.

What Did We Learn?
We learned several things from this Field Day:

  1. A downsized Field Day can be as much or more fun than a full-blown operation. Without a big crowd vying for just a few positions, everyone got a chance to operate. Plus, setup and teardown times were a lot shorter.
  2. You still have to pay attention to your antennas. If we’d done a little more planning and thinking about our antennas, we would have avoided the interference we experienced and possibly even been able to run QRP on phone.
    How, you might ask? Well, if I’d thought about rigging up some kind of wire beam or a Moxon beam for the phone station, they may have been able to run QRP and still make contacts. This is certainly something to think about for next year.
  3. The batteries worked great. Not only did they provide enough power for a 100W rig for more than 12  hours, they were quiet. The noise of a gas-powered generator can really get on your nerves over the course of a Field Day.
  4. While I probably wouldn’t want to run the KX-1 in a big DX contest, it worked pretty well for Field Day. I made more than 160 QSOs with it in about 12 hours of contesting.

So, What About Next Year?
Since it’s never too early to plan for next year’s Field Day, we’re already kicking around a few ideas:

  1. Find a campground to have Field Day at next year. The upside is that the scenery might be nicer. The downside is that we might not have the nice antenna supports, errrr trees, that Quentin has in his backyard.
  2. Be more competitive. Joe, N8OY, came by late Saturday evening, and racked up a bunch of points for us on 20m CW. He suggested that we organize some of the local hot-shot CW operators around here and set up a real competitive operation. The upside is that scoring a lot of points is fun. The downside is that being competitive excludes the less-experienced operators.

One thing is for sure. Running a smaller Field Day event in no way diminishes it as the “quintessential” amateur radio event. We still enjoyed all the camaraderie as well as all the technical aspects of  Field Day. Now, I can’t wait until next year.

WA2HOM: Adding Countries to the Log

I’m usually not one to work the big contests, but there are some advantages to participating, even if you don’t have a lot of time or plan to submit a log. One of the advantages is that there are a lot of countries on, and you can add to total of countries that  you’ve worked.

This weekend was the CQ WPX  CW contest. I only operated for about three hours, the bands were kind of lousy on Saturday, and I only worked 15 meters, but even so, I managed to add eight countries to the WA2HOM log. They include:

  • HK1R – Colombia
  • SZ1A – Greece
  • 6W/RK4FF – Senegal
  • HQ9R – Honduras
  • EF8M – Canary Islands
  • J7A – Dominica
  • J39BS – Grenada
  • HC2SL – Ecuador

It’s nothing real exotic, but new ones nonetheless.