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Well this was a first for me!

 


Most any Ham you talk to have heard or taken part in Field day that takes place each year in the summer. Over the years I have read blog posts regarding Winter Field Day but had not paid too much attention to it. I am not one to spend time outdoors in the winter on the radio. Winter is nice but not that nice, but this year I did some reading and there is a category for working this event from home! Now my wife did give me some advice telling me to at least open the window and rough it a bit with some cold air. Sorry, not for me I am a summer/warm-weather guy!
I entered CW only as my category and I found the event well attended and very relaxed compared to major CW contests. It is an event that I will add to my contest calendar for next year.







What say you?

 


Here at VE9KK's household, my XYL has returned to part-time work from home and involves a computer and the internet to communicate regarding work. Last week while she was working and I was on the radio she told me her LAN connection kept dropping out. I did some experimenting and sure enough, it was my CW signal on 15m that was doing it. I quickly grabbed my last FT240-43 toroid and wrapped the CAT6 cable around it which did the trick! 

I then did some reading and learned that the CAT cable should be loose around the toroid and not tight as this affects the small wire inside the CAT6. I also read that 7 turns were the magic number of turns. Finally and this is the question to my readers I read two thoughts on wrapping CAT cable around a toroid. One school of thought was it is perfectly fine and the other was it slowed down the internet speed? I never did a speed check on my wife's connection with and without the toroid. The reason for this is she never complained the speed dropped so why poke the bear! Has anyone out there had an issue with your HF signal dropping internet connections at home and what did you do about it? 

The 1:1 isolation choke do-over.

 

New 1:1 choke with RG316 coax

 I have the Hustler 4BTV vertical antenna and have a 1:1 choke at the base of the antenna made by Balun designs. Some time ago I made a second choke that was placed at the radio end and posted the build here on the blog. I had a few comments regarding the coax that I used (RG8X) and that there could be an issue with the bending radius of the coax around the core. I was informed that over time the centre conductor could migrate toward the braid.

I also did some internet searching and found that the bending radius could pose an issue and I know the "issue" if and when it happened would do so at the most inopportune time. I decided to make another 1:1 choke from a thinner coax. I did have some RG316 coax from a mobile antenna mount I was not using and it would be ideal for the tight turning radius.

 On one end of the coax, there was a mini-UHF to PL-259 adapter which meant I only had to add one PL-259 connector. I will be using again an FT240-31 core with 10 turns. I decided on 10 turns as this will afford me decent characteristics on the HF bands. Using the RG316 coax the bending radius is no longer an issue. 


 

Bonehead move on my part

 

With SPLIT on and not just DUAL

This afternoon I spent some time on the radio and I noticed on the DX Heat Cluster the DXpedition TK8N was being spotted in the CW portion of 15m. So over I went and there was a large pileup I thought it would be interesting to polish my skill in finding out how they were working the pileup.


 I set my Icom to dual receive which allows me to hear VFO A (the DXpedition station) in my left ear. In my right ear, it's VFO B ( the pileup). I wanted to see if I could figure out how he was working the pileup. Was TN8K moving up or down the band as he made contacts and was he moving in large or small increments? 


In time I figured out what TN8K was up to and I found myself on a segment of the band to which I was sure he was listening so I threw my call out and on the second time a very loud "VE9KK UP UP!!. I thought WHAT and I realized I was still in dual receive which is fine BUT I did not put my radio in SPLIT!!! 


I was transmitting my call right over the top of TN8K on his transmit frequency!! What a bonehead move.

Day one of 2023!!


 

 Well, it's day one of 2023 and I am relaxing with my mid-morning coffee. I say mid-morning as for us retired folks who usually hit the sack around 10 pm venturing into midnight is a once-a-year endeavour. So a bit of sleeping in was in order. No hangover here as we just enjoyed a bottle of champagne to help welcome in the New Year. As for overindulging never did it.  I never wanted to waste the next day with the booze flu.

As for 2023, I want to keep on my CW adventure as 2022 was a great learning curve for the art of CW. I find it kept my mind sharp, kept me occupied and always a new skill levels to master. 


In 2023 I would like to master....or let's be more realistic and say get a grip on CW head coping for QSOs as I have always wanted to do this.
One thing in 2022 that lacked was my reading. 

I want to put more time toward reading both technical, fiction and the magazines I subscribe to. All related to ham radio and to mix it up with some not!

 One dream of mine has been vinyl records, a turn table and Jazz music all mixed together! 


Finally just to continue with my CW contesting and learn more about technique, how to effectively handle a pileup and continue to have fun. 


Happy New Year to my readers and all the best to your health and ham radio adventures.

Closing out 2022

 

A great way to close out 2022

 I can't say this year just flew by it was more like a consistent movement in the right direction. Once again for another year, we managed to avoid getting COVID. We are all up to date with our COVID booster shots, flu shot and our first dose of 2 of the Shingles shots. Very thankful for no major health issues in our family.


I became a grandpa for the first time to a beautiful healthy girl. I am heading into my 4th year of retirement and I can finally say the retirement gig is kicking in for me. Last year at this time I thought I had made the shift but looking back the shift was still in progress. Over the year I was able to responsibly manage home chores, renovations, exercise and ham radio. I have come to the realization I am not as young as I used to be and that slow and easy wins the race. 


Let's move on to ham radio....my major hope at the start of 2022 was to move in a CW direction. I had worked very hard learning the code as it was a requirement when I went for my licence. I very much enjoy contesting and toward the end of 2021 I started to run in CW contests. I am pleased to say that I ran in the majority of the CW contests in 2022.  


The best way to learn is to do I always say so I did a nose dive into CW! Being confident in your CW speed is important when you want to run in major CW contests, I started small and fast! The CWops group has in my time zone 2 mini 1-hour contests a week held on Wednesdays. The minimum CW speed is 25wpm and up and I mean in some cases way up! For increasing your speed and more importantly your accuracy live CW work is the best. I do use computer programs like G4FON contest trainer but there is nothing like live training. 


My first CWops mini-test earned me 14 contacts and a score of 196. I was thrilled I copied that many calls and exchanges. In 2022 I took part in 61 mini CWops 1-hour contests and my best score was 54 contacts and a score of 2754. I am now consistently in the mid-50s to high-40s in contacts. In this contest I am still doing search and pounce and who knows what 2023 will bring maybe running in the CWop mini-tests?


A new 1-hour contest was launched on May 2 2022 called the MST or medium speed CW contest. The maximum speed is 25 wpm. This contest is run by ICWC and is held in my time zone on Mondays. This is a great contest for me to run in as it gets me real-time practice. I can run at a low relaxed speed (under 25 wpm) and I have taken part in 17 of these mini 1-hour contests. 


Finally, on Fridays and Sunday evenings the K1USN CW club runs a SST or slow speed test. The max speed here is set to 18 wpm and it is a 1-hour contest. This is a great contest for me as I can slow down and give back to upcoming CW contesters. 


In short, some of the 2022 VE9KK's ham highlights are:


- At the end of June, I finally migrated my blog from ve3wdmblogspot to ve9kkblogspot. 


- In the spring I purchased and installed a Hustler 4BTV vertical antenna. 


-I was asked to join the CWops group which requires 25wpm, being nominated by a member and sponsored by 3 other members. I was asked earlier in the year but I declined as at the time my contest speed met their speed but not my QSO speed and I wanted to make sure I had both before accepting a nomination. I did just that later in the year and received club member number 3265. 



- I entered 18 large CW contests and ran in all of them. My contest score improved over 2022 from 227 contacts and a score of 44,721 to my final large CW contest of 1,134 contacts and a score of 454,030. 


- It would seem I have all my RFI issues under control in the shack (famous last words). 

- One of my highlights is at the top of the post my CW count for 2022. My plan was to only operate CW for the year and that was done. I also had the most ever CW contacts in a year. 


So what are the plans for 2023 you ask well that is going to be another post as I have gone on way too long in this one?



 


2022 RAC contest in the rearview mirror

The Radio amateurs of Canada (RAC) winter contest has come and gone for 2022. This contest is both CW, AM, FM and SSB. As for me, it was the same old same old just CW. The propagation gods were smiling on this contest and conditions were great. I operated 7 hours on Saturday they were 1-hour sessions with about a 10 min break at each end of hour. I find this works best for me and I set in a lunch and or dinner time as well.


The radio, software and antenna worked great no complaints at all. The system I find works best for me is to start out searching and pouncing contacts. This gets in the log those who are only running in the contest and also it gets my ears warmed up to the code speed. I then move on to running which in this contest I did about 90% of the time. The participation was great and while running my best 1-hour count was 91 QSOs which kept me very busy and the hour flew by.
There were nice openings on all the bands my Hustler 4BTV provided for me 10,15,20 and 40m. The settings I find that work best for me on the Icom 7610 are;
Filter set to 400Hz so I can hear those that call a bit off frequency I find that 250 or less a bit too narrow. Now having said that during the "biggy" contests 250Hz is required due to the close proximity of signals.
I keep my APF (audio Peak Filter) on and set it to wide.
I keep the NR (noise reduction) on and set it to a low range.
I use the CW full break in and it does take some getting used to. As you transmit dits and dahs your rig goes back and forth from receive to transmit. This allows me to hear if anyone is trying to contact me while transmitting. You would be shocked at how many times I hear someone. Also when searching and pouncing as you call a station it allows you to hear if another station is also trying to make contact. In that case, I just stop transmitting as it would be just a mixed mess being sent to the station. Also, it allows you to hear if the running station is contacting someone and then you just stop transmitting as you don't want to QRM.  
Below are the end results of 7 hours on the air I am very pleased with the numbers and I am getting more confident in my contest running abilities. 





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  • Matt W1MST, Managing Editor