Sunday, August 14, 2022

Contesting and Murphy what a mix!

 Just taking a break from the WAE CW contest this morning (Sunday) and this contest has been an adventure! Issues with S.T.E.V.E (more about this after the contest in another post) and then Murphy showed up. A few days before any contest I get the PC, radio and N1MM+ contest logger going and make sure all is well, and it was. 

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Calling on all U.S. hams...

 In my last blog post, I had a comment from Tom a future ham and he asked me the question posted below. Since I am in Canada and my expertise is not the U.S. band plan for a technician class licence (or any other U.S. licence class for that matter) I asked him if I could start a new post featuring his question.  

The floor is your Tom...

 Hello. I thought this may be a place to get an answer. First, I am taking the test in September for my technician license. I am a CB operator and want to get into the ham world. Navy vet, electrical engineer, love radios and antenna theory. I am struggling with something. I really respect the knowledge of the amateur radio group. My struggle is understanding where the technician can operate. Google searches, YouTube searches, ARRL, Practice Tests, have yielded me the following:
1) Only HF
 2) HF and some bands of VHF
 3) Only 10-meters in HF
 4) ARRL band plan shows more
 5) HF and some bands of VFH, UHF.
Arrrgggg!!! I look at dates when I read things. This question is all over the place. Can one of you experts in here shed some light on this? Did something change? I understand the pool of questions for technician is now new as of July so maybe something changed….
Thanks for any help!!
– A future ham, Tom

 In advance, I would like to thank those who contribute to answering Tom's question. I am also sure we all wish him the best as he writes in September for his Technician licence.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

K7K expedition how did it work out for you?

 It's Tuesday early morning and I am greeting my first cup of java along with some radio time. I found myself drifting off to the weekend of radio operating. I very much enjoyed the Islands on the air contest (IOTA). It was also my plan to get K7K from Kiska island in the log as well. As the saying goes "sometimes things do not work out as planned".

I was keeping an eye on the DX clusters to see when K7K was on air and where. This year is my "year of CW" so I was looking forward to getting them in the log using CW. Again sometimes things don't work out as planned. I noticed once K7K was up and running that FT8 seemed to be their mode of choice for most of the time. I was reading on the cluster posts there were some upset ops... that very little time was spent on SSB or CW. 

I am not here to rag on FT8 and to be honest, I used this mode a great deal last year and very much enjoyed it. But having said that in my humble opinion they operated FT8 about 70-80 percent of the time and left modes such as SSB and CW alone. 

In the expeditions, defence conditions for them could not have been great and the Digi mode FT8 would sure fill their logs up and better than a poor showing in the log book. Also maybe the tide is shifting and with the Dx Peditions to come FT8 and other Digi modes may be the choice of the operators. 

I did notice K7K on their website indicated FT8 would be used but they also included CW and SSB.
There was an occasion CW and SSB were used but on a limited basis. I will chime in and say the only long period of time they used CW was in the IOTA contest. They are indeed an island and rare as well, it was expected for them to take part BUT this seemed to be the only time K7K used CW.

 I checked the clusters during the contest to see where they were. I did notice comments of frustration, K7K was operating split and some contest ops were calling on K7K calling frequency. Other comments indicated stations calling CQ contests in the responding TX frequency. Then I found they went back to FT8 in a very short time during the contest. 

This is just my humble blog opinion regarding the K7K "event" but when you indicate CW, SSB and FT8 on your site giving equal time to all would be a positive thing. From what I read in the cluster comments there were more than a few unhappy campers.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

IOTA contest


 The Islands on the air contest is sponsored by the Radio Society of Great Britain or RSGB for short. This contest is only 24 hours long and hosts some very nice DX from sometimes remote and DXpedition Islands. If memory serves me correctly I found this year to be more work to pull stations out. The QSB at this end was very deep. At one moment England was there at S5 and then gone. I'm not thinking it was just me as many stations I listened to were asking for report repeats. Oh well, it's all part and parcel of the contesting dream. 

I entered the CW-only category at 100 watts and it was the first time using my new Hustler 4BTV vertical antenna. As everyone has told me and it is true the vertical antenna is a bit noisier than my horizontal End Fed BUT I had better results with the Hustler 4BTV. The very small extra noise with the vertical was taken care of with the noise reduction on the Icom 7610. 

For me, this was not a contest where I was running (calling CQ contest) it was 99% search and pounce. The reason for this was Island stations gave you 15 points compared to 2 points for all other contacts. The Island stations for the most part were running calling CQ contest. With this contest I found it harder to move up the band and bang off contacts and the reason for this was island contacts are big points and they are limited in numbers and that equals pile-ups.
Below is the score summary: 


Here are some takeaways of mine from the contest: 

- My CW is improving so the twice-daily practice time is helping. 

- Keeping my butt in the chair even during slow times helped my score. 

- Getting my backside out of bed early on the final day of the contest gave me the rewards of contacting     New Zealand, Austria and Hawaii, along with the 15 bonus points for each.

Contesting with a vertical compared to my End Fed antenna:

- Most all the time if I could hear them I could work them. 

- Omni directional was nice compared to End Fed horizontal directional characteristics. 

-Using the Icom 7610 second receiver to its full potential. I was able to listen to another band with the second receiver. I was not able to do this with the End Fed as I needed the tuner for all bands. I found without using the tuner the receive was very poor with the End Fed.