Posts Tagged ‘10000 Hour RadioSport Challenge’

My 10,000 Hour RadioSport Challenge | 9,398 – 20 = 9,378 To Go

2012 ARRL 10 Meter Mixed Mode Results

Good morning from the #hamr shackadelic zone where I’m listening to Hans Zimmer score from The Dark Knight film. If any one composer can establish a mood for writing then Zimmer’s passionate heroic tracks gets my, “Roger, that.”

RadioSport Pain
Sometimes, RadioSport is a game of pain, when hours seem to punish my lower back, muscles stiffen, and my brain rings from automated CQs generated by N1MM Contest Logger. Meanwhile sunny skies beckoned and I wondered if the challenge is worth my time? This weekend was remarkable because I experienced propagation vagaries especially skewed path toward South America, radio black outs, and long path out of no where.

Friday Night
Friday night was a radio frequency adventure because Australia and New Zealand started populating my log as SL’s five element beam pointed 75 degrees toward the East coast of the United States. Likewise, Japan and China are in sun light however not a signal heard inside the cans. This was the start of strange propagation where I did not beam energy in otherwise normal directions.

Am I logging Victor Kilowatts and Zulu Limas via long path? Where is Japan and China? I have not heard a single Yankee Bravo either? Fascinating.

I paid attention to the position of the sun in the southern hemisphere. It was like a gargantuan magnetic pulling electromagnetic waves over the equator. The rush of energy probably surprised many Papa Yankees, Lima Uniforms, Charlie Whiskeys, Hotel Kilowatts, and Charlie X-rays. My situation was a midwest-to-easterly radio blackout throughout Saturday with zero signals radiating out of the Caribbean basin and vapor out of Europe.

I’m thinking this is remarkable because my normal strategy does not apply.

South American stations carried my log all day Saturday after a brief opening to the East coast shortly before West coast noon. In contrast, perhaps, an E cloud of significant size focused my signal toward the south eastern section of the United States specifically Georgia and Florida. I realized six straight Georgian stations and seven Floridian stations in the log within an hour after sunrise.

The record for consecutive state Qs goes to Florida. Amazing! In contrast, I logged only one 0-land station from Colorado during my 20 hours of operation. It was complete radio silence from the heartland including Texas.

South America Roars
Perhaps mid-western latitude and longitude significantly impacted by the lack of ionospheric ionization created a skip zone between both coasts? Wireless skip did not approach a latitude of 60 degrees or greater throughout Saturday at least from the central coast of California. Additionally, I pointed SL’s 5 elements at 310 degrees in the afternoon instead of 110 degrees or greater and South America roared inside my cans. Skew path is fascinating.

I was grateful that so many in South America kept the game in the game for North America especially for this operator on the central coast of California!

It is evident that the go-to mode this weekend was definitely Morse code. I could not establish any ionospheric traction using single side band and calling human generated CQs was punishing enough. Instead, with less ionospheric absorption soaking up energy, I focused on the code. My hours matched the rush of shooting Class V white water with peaks at 4 Qs per minute or 1 Q every 15 seconds.

In Sum
Yes, as painful as a RadioSport weekend can be this was one, however; let’s not overlook the lemonade from lemons. It was strange propagation that made 20 hours in the pilot’s seat a learning experience. The reward was knowledge gained from practice, practice, practice.

Contest on!       

My 10,000 Hour RadioSport Challenge | 9,415 – 17 = 9,398 Hours To Go

2012 CQ World Wide DX SSB Results

My results from my first ever CQ WW DX SSB event since re-entering our hobby. Admittedly, single side band is distinctly different unlike the mechanically relaxing sound of Morse code. You probably need to acclimatize inside the cans prior to the big event. I find this mode fatiguing especially without using voice memory to generate either a CQ or the exchange.

I’m approaching 50 years of age and my voice box is not geared like my days as a young general class operating as a Delta Victor Two while stationed at Clark Air Base. My voice went for days in front of the Astatic D104 microphone and a Kenwood TS530SP at 100 watts into an elevated Butternut HF6V.

Contest on!  

My 10,000 Hour RadioSport Challenge | 9,436 – 21 = 9,415 To Go

2012 CQ World Wide DX CW Results

Good afternoon from the #hamr zone where a winter storm is raising a little havoc outside the shackadelic sliding doors. On the other hand, the stoke rages on after a sensational last weekend logging DX in the pilot’s seat at my mentor’s shack. I want to thank John, W6SL for the time on the high bands because several new entities and one additional zone went into my computer logger.

Changing The Game
N1MM contest logger function keys were fixed and what a difference maker versus sending callsign from the paddles then pressing an Icom 756Pro function key to send my exchange. Instead, with a fully operational keyboard, I sent our exchange with enter send message (ESM) or using F5 key for partial callsign with question mark.

The F5 key made a difference when a cluster swarm simultaneously pounced on my transmit frequency.

I’m not a qualified electrical engineer but I don’t think a receiver filter is designed for or capable of handling signals driven by cluster technology that is simultaneous ‘clicking’ of tens, hundreds, or thousands of band maps pointed in the direction of one multiplier.

Cluster Pounce
I’d like to cite an example of cluster pounce gone out of control. It was mid-Sunday morning and I was spinning the dial when a swarm of signals exploded on a Zulu Sierra One in South Africa. Perhaps, for many of us, this station was a double-double that is new zone, new multiplier. Africa is difficult enough from zone three and, a double-double, was seriously significant.

I felt for the operator thousands of miles from the Five Cities of California. The swarm was out of rhythm with the Zulu Sierra One therefore throwing out the rhythm for all of us. The moment was cataclysmic because the operator simply could not manage the cluster pounce — too many signals arrived at once with their callsigns sent immediately toward South Africa.

He tried. I was frustrated. And the double-double multiplier in South Africa vanished from the listening frequency.

Stormy Paths
On the other hand, propagation paths into Asia and Europe seemed short lived for this season whereas Saturday was better than Sunday. I enjoyed stable 15m conditions into Asia on Friday night with two hours of 60 plus Qs going into the log. However, 20m was search and log, with 10 minute bursts of rate toward Asia as well.

Twenty meter antenna is 6 elements at 50 plus feet and 15m system is 6 elements at sixty five feet on the left hand tower. Each antenna was manufactured by KLM of late 70s and early 80s fame. Additionally, ten meter antenna is 5 elements, at 60 feet on the right hand tower.

Saturday is everything in RadioSport with the polar path into Europe reasonably stable between 25 and 30 degrees on 15m and twenty meters. I established a decent rate frequency on 15m into EU while mostly searching and logging on twenty meters.

In the meantime, Central, South America, and Caribbean multipliers and zones pumped 10m numbers however; I missed additional multipliers on the same band as Saturday conditions were locally notable.

Overall, RadioSport’s ‘big event’ delivered serious ham radio fun through last week despite stormy conditions and short lived paths toward major continents. I spent more time searching and logging even though my band map was populating with multipliers. Instead, I watched one cluster for band openings and put that information to use, as spotting efficacy is oftentimes sketchy at best.

I recommend spinning the dial starting at the high end of the band and work’em as you descend to the lowest end of the band. Additionally, if using assistance, think about using that information to spot when a band is opening toward a specific continent. I’m sharpening my search and log technique as band maps tend to draw my attention away from the frequency dial.

Contest on!    

My 10,000 Hour RadioSport Challenge | 9,759 – 5 = 9,754 Hours To Go

The whims of Cycle 24 presents a challenge for my low power, low profile station. Likewise, the difference between a vertical antenna and a horizontal wire antenna, is most notable during the summer from my location. The difference is becoming evident in terms of logged contacts during an event between summer and winter.

My production slopes toward the negative or dwells at the bottom in the summer. Winter conditions are favorable for my vertical antenna system and its low take-off angle. Additionally, I recently read W1ZR’s article on Antenna Polarization — What Does it Mean and When is it Important?

I’m curious if my vertically polarized signal takes a beating during the summer? I had a dickens of a time during the IARU HF World Championship against horizontal antenna systems. I logged a stunning 7 contacts in 5 hours of operation on the high bands. Perhaps, my doublet is better at focusing radio frequency energy, during the summer when it is really critical given conditions?

Shackadelic Update.
I thought again about a QSL card and Fred, KI6QDH inspired my approach given time budget and resources. Likewise, neither Global QSL or Cheap QSL, are sponsoring my recommendation. However, I chose Global QSL as my bureau manager for DX contacts and Cheap QSL for their thrifty price per unit (10 cents per card) for 100 cards.

Why our stateside bureau(s) are not moving into the space of domestic QSLing is something to think about given today’s austerity. The cost of confirming a domestic contact would fall dramatically when factoring bulk mailings.

I would gladly trade a little more patience for the price of one pound bulk mail. Would staff at the bureau(s) be willing to help out in driving down cost?

I have a few payments left and the shack relaxation zone will sport a used Kenwood TS850S in the near future. My FT100 will move into a pelican case for portable operations especially for 6m during the summer.

73 from the shack relaxation zone.

My 10,000 Hour RadioSport Challenge | 9,779 – 20 = 9,759 To Go

I’m scanning 20m spectrum space this morning while the event of the summer season is underway. The IARU HF World Championship in addition to the World Radio Team Championship (WRTC) guarantees a lot ham radio fun. I’m waiting for conditions to improve through the morning with a cup of coffee in one hand and my ears inside the cans listening to the music of Morse code.

My thought turns to the competitors in and around Moscow. Conditions are nowhere near epic however reflector chatter suggests heightened sporadic-e activity and not to ignore 15 or 10m this weekend. Likewise, competing with 100 watts against what one might call flat conditions, will certainly push the skill sets of all WRTC competitors.

Signals are beginning to rise above the receiver noise floor and my cup of coffee is nearly drained — first contact is logged!

An Idea.
My field day experience was a great teacher. Our operation, under the umbrella of emergency communications, provided insight into planning an expedition. It is not an easy task assembling equipment, antenna systems, power systems, and operators then operate in the field. The challenge was rewarding and field day opened a new path of ideas.

The charm of 50 MHz presents new opportunities and possibilities to consider over the summer season. Its portfolio of modes, fascinating conditions, and wide open frequency vistas is a relief from the doldrums of the current cycle and spectrum space gridlock. Likewise, 6m does not require a lot of aluminum or power, to enjoy ham radio at its finest.

I prefer the challenge of this frequency allocation because of propagation specifically sporadic-e, back scatter, and meteor scatter. Basically, one sends signal report and grid square, as measure against a fading signal. Potentially, every grid square is a rare grid square, and I enjoy logging each one as well.

Try 6m this summer season and consider CQ WW VHF next weekend because the magic band is waiting.

Meanwhile, teams are competing for the top slot in RadioSport this weekend in conjunction with the IARU HF World Championship, and I’m ready for another cup of coffee.

73 from the shack relaxation zone.

My 10,000 Hour RadioSport Challenge | 9,803 – 24 = 9,779 Hours To Go

I enjoyed CQ WPX CW despite storm conditions that drove the A-index into double digits. It was a first for my low power, low profile station and I suffered through a deplorable Saturday afternoon. Propagation really matters in the game of RadioSport in addition location, antenna systems, station engineering, operator skill set, and strategy.

There is a lot to learn and accomplish within the art and science of RadioSport.

Friday Night Lights.
I did not settle into the chair until mid-evening after returning home from work then deployed my wire antenna system for the low bands. The south leg of the wire antenna goes up later in the evening after 20m shuts down. I stow the vertical when operating on the low bands in the evening because the wire is too close to the second antenna.

Friday night rocked between 0200 – 0500UTC as 39 -Qs went into the log. I jumped a little early from 20m to 40m and it is a habit of mine. I need to pay attention to the play book knowing 40m is generally noisy at this time of the year.

I keep notes on propagation and the receiver floor literally dropped out when the A-index spiked at 28 through Saturday afternoon. I was simply not heard through the noise deciding instead that napping through the day was a better idea. I could not compete against a double digit number.

Sunday Is Different.
I’m noticing a trend that Friday night and all day Sunday really makes a difference in my log. Historically, I have not scored as many -Qs on Saturday however, neither have I experienced a zen-like event when propagation produces epic conditions. It is like surfing, one continues returning to waves time and time again, when all of a sudden the cosmos falls into place.

I know that event is somewhere out there on the time line!

The Bands.
I scored double digits across four bands for the first time ever and called CQ more times than not on the low bands. I did not use memory functions when sending the exchange as well. My biggest surprise was a 10m opening into Oceania and South America late Sunday afternoon. I was thrilled when LU1HF ignited my cans with his stellar signal.

The high bands were fun and 20m produced the best results with 50 -Qs in the log.

I managed a pair of excellent hours on 40m that is 0500UTC (13 -Qs) and 1300UTC (11 -Qs). I was pleasantly surprised on 80m late Sunday morning but my timing on this band was totally off.

Overall, I logged 116 -Qs and 73 prefixes, totalling 15,549 points effectively beating my score from last year. The storm did not help the low bands where I wanted to log as many JA-stations as possible on Saturday morning. They are excellent operators and the noise was too much for low power, low profile into Asia.

There is more fun work inside the shack relaxation zone and many thanks to all who pulled out my signal through CQ WPX CW weekend!

Contest on.

My 10,000 Hour RadioSport Challenge | 9,804 – 1 = 9,803 Hours To Go

The lull between solar cycle sets allowed me an opportunity to configure Ham Radio Deluxe with bandscope capability. I’m impressed with its user interface and continuous scanning. The scope settings range between 6 dB through plus 60 dB in addition I’m monitoring 75 KHz of bandwidth.

QSO Party.
Recently, I operated in the 7th Call Area QSO Party, for an hour prior to a social commitment. The recent downward sunspot trend suppressed most signals, normally, signals from 7-land range between s5 through plus 10dB on the meter. This season seems exceptionally different unlike previous years.

The Beach Boys Amateur Radio Club is wondering where all the sunspots have gone?

Software Control.
I have reached a milestone inside the shack that is additional software controlling of the Yaesu FT100 because of Ham Radio Deluxe. However I have not completed the project that is interfacing my radio because of port issues. My goal is to resolve the conflict at the end of the month although not in time for CQ WPX CW.

Currently, both N1MM Contest Logger and Ham Radio Deluxe compete on port four, which is assigned to the CAT62 cable off of the FT100.

The DM780 program runs in CW mode and I’m fascinated by the spectral intensity of signals. I feel like ham radio moved to another level because, not only am I hearing the signal, it is also visualized on the liquid crystal display. Likewise, one can watch the Morse code interpreter and I’m curious how it will function at the end of the month for example; can I cut and paste a callsign from the interpreter into N1MM’s dialogue box when searching and pouncing?

I’m looking forward to the late Spring mega RadioSport event given WPX growth over the past few years. Likewise, I will have an opportunity at using the bandscope and waterfall although WPX is a rate competition. Perhaps, the big question is, will a set of sunspots flow across the solar disc later this month?

73 from the shack relaxation zone.

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