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A bit of a damper

I awoke this morning to darkness and rain and according to the weather report, it's going to be all day. Over the past week, I have been having a rainy day of the mind. This happens now and then and it happens to everyone who is in the process of stretching the mind. I got up one day and for the life of me when I was doing my CW practising I was lost when it came to hearing the letters S and H. Which was which....I never had this issue for ever and now I am getting very frustrated as when I hear either of those letters I am at a loss which one it is!! At my speed of 34-36wpm if you have to stop and think you lose everything. With my practice simulator, I would replay a call sign over and over and it was only a guess when I committed to either H or S. This also made the CQ WW CW contest at times very frustrating and at times embarrassing for me. 

This has happened in the past and it's nothing new to those who are into Morse code. The word on the street is keep at it and the mind is an amazing thing and it will come around. I am happy to say that as of today for some reason I am back in the zone. I can't explain it but now when I either hear S or H I know exactly which letter it is. Below is one of my practice sessions and the proof is in the picture.


Space weather Kp6-Kp5 bring it on……….


 Due to an active sun which brings us both good and bad conditions today was one of the bad days...or was it. Today I flipped the switch and listened to the bands and what did I find you ask? WI5D (once on 20m and once on40m) as a POTA in a park in Missouri, K3SLH as a POTA in Pennsylvania and LZ600PA as a special event station from Bulgaria. Yes due to the space weather, it was a slow day on the bands. On 15m and 20m one had to watch the waterfall as signals would just pop out and then soon after gone again. The way I look at it any day on the radio is a good day. It was not all glory on the bands I did have some POTA stations lost in the mud after my call out to them.

Parks on the air


 I had the opportunity to get on the radio this afternoon and at the same time, I had called up the DX Heat cluster on my PC to see what was happening on the bands. I noticed a few POTA (Parks on the Air) stations being spotted and I know of a POTA site that gave more info regarding the activations. I was shocked that in all of 10 minutes, I made 3 contacts. From reading my blog roll Parks on the Air and Summits on the Air are very popular. All these contacts I made were CW but SSB is very popular as well. There were more that I heard but was unable to make contact with as they had a pileup and their signal slowly faded away. I give these ops lots of credit, they pick up and go, have a minimal setup and its very cold this time of year as well.

VE9KK the world of CW 2023-11-27 18:05:00


My setup and the VE3WDM is my lic plate from Ontario

This past weekend I was busy with the CQ World Wide CW contest...go figure! The solar weather was not looking good and for most of Saturday, the Kp index was around 6 and for a short time moved to 7. I was shocked the conditions were still decent. On Sunday the Kp index fell to 2-3 which also gave better conditions. I entered as low power (100 watts), all band and unassisted meaning I did not use QSO finding assistance. The bands I operated were limited to my antenna the Hustler 4BTV which meant that was 40,20,15 and 10m. 

Spot in the middle of the Ocean is code garble SN70 I put zero and not the letter O

Some of my highlights were getting a call from fellow blogger Bas PE4BAS, KH7L and V51YJ. I think because of the conditions solar weather wise it limited me from Southeast Asia. I did spend a lot of time in the operating chair and toward the end of the contest I started to get what I call "code garble". I heard a call but it just did not register, I heard a call but entered numbers or letters on the keyboard that had nothing to do with the call and so on. For example, numerous time I had a call starting 9A call me and every time I entered 0A. I kept having to correct it and that meant time and good old 9A wondered what I was up too.  I ended up pulling the plug about an hour before the contest ended. 

My best hourly contact rates were in the 130's and at the low-end 50's. I have been practising handling pileups using N1MM logger. You can set it up to give you pileup simulations. Not that I am a big gun but when you get spotted on the cluster things can get a bit hairy at times.

The final results

During the contest 99% of the time I was calling "CQ contest" or running as it is called. My speed was 32-34 wpm. I find if your calling at 32 wpm you get replies at 25-36 wpm. When calling at 34wpm sometimes the comebacks can be very fast and mistakes happen. In this contest, the exchange is 599 (signal report) and CQ zone and that is filled in by the contest program. This means when your calling CQ contest you can go a bit faster as most slower callers most likely found your call on the cluster. When a serial number is involved a lot of contest stations slow down the serial number part of the exchange.

Overall it was a great contest and I look forward to it again next year. The next contest I am looking at is the RAC Canadian Winter contest in December.

Chances like this only come now and then……….

The bands will come alive


This weekend is the running of the CQ World Wide DX CW contest that runs for the entire weekend. Now those of you who are not into contesting then it's off the SSB portion, digi portion or the WARC band. But you don't have to be a contesting nut like me to be excited about this contest. This is a chance to find and make contact with some very decent DX. It will give you a chance to line your DXCC pockets, work all states award, work all zones award, place your rig in QRP or QRPp power and see how many miles per watt you can do and the list goes on. Not too great at CW you say, well there are some very decent code reader software out there that also send code as well. Chances like this only come now and then.

As for me I am going to be for the weekend and hope to do well and have a lot of fun while I am at it. Cheers and have a good weekend for those in the U.S. Happy Thanksgiving!

The morning MST mini contest


Each Monday morning at 1300Z and 1900z I take part in the 1-hour medium-speed CW contest or MST as it is called. Medium speed is 25wpm or less and the exchange is your name and progressive contact number or serial number as they call it in contesting. During the mini contest this morning I was calling "CQ MST" and as always I also have loaded on my PC screen the reverse beacon network website as seen in the picture above. This allows me to see how my signal of 100 watts is getting out. This morning as I was calling on 20m I was shocked to see my signal strength into ZL4YL New Zealand and MM0ZBH Scotland.

Taking the side road……

This weekend the LZ dx contest was up and running, I have never taken part in this contest and I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of activity. It's a 24-hour contest that started at 8 am out my way and it gave me a nice workout for the upcoming weekend for the CQ World Wide DX CW contest. I took part for about a total of 4 hours and made 120 contacts for a score of 13,110. 

Midway into the contest I was taken down a side road for a pleasant surprise. At some point on Saturday afternoon calling CQ contest was slowing down on 20m. I decided to make a left turn and head down the 10m side road. There were very few LZ contesters there but I did notice a commotion on the waterfall. When I went to investigate it was H44WA DXpedition in the Soloman islands calling CQ North America (CQ NA) and he was all alone. I put the Icom 7610 in split and dual mode (hearing both VFOA and VFOB) and made the mental change from CW contesting to CW DXpedition. After a few short tries, I was in the log. I was glad I made a left turn and took a side road from the contest.

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  • Matt W1MST, Managing Editor