Posts Tagged ‘awards’

SOTA Sloth

It is always interesting to me what motivates people. Usually it's the simplest things. Challenge a man to task, for the sake of the task and you get few takers, but offer him a patch or plaque and you get stampeded. Such is life and I'm no exception to the rule.

So, I was very pleased to come home yesterday and my SOTA Sloth award was in the mail box. As I have written, I am having a lot of fun with the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program both chasing summits and activating them as well. The SOTA Sloth award is for getting 1,000 chaser points. Summits are assigned a point value from 1 to 10,so for each summit contact made, the chaser gets credit for the points assigned to the summit..

The awards are very nice and each is a little unique. They are made of glass are called Ice Blocks. The certificate if authenticity that comes with the award reads:

Your Ice Block was made entirely by hand in Dingwal,
an Ancient Capital of the beautiful Scottish Highlands.

Using a secret technique, the craftsman create a unique
"running scallop' along each edge of the raw glass.

All corners & edges are then ground to a
matt white finish.
No other Ice Block will ever be the same!

Epitomising the surroundings of their Birthplace,
Ice Blocks emulate the rugged mountains & wild,
rough terrain of the Highlands.

Combined with specialist engraving, your Ice Block
is a Presentation Piece to be proud of.

SOTA Sloth Award - AD5A

Very nice indeed. The next Ice Block Award is called the SOTA Goat Award, for earning 1,000 Activator points.

I am sufficiently motivated.

The weekend

The weekend was busy, with lots of stuff to do in order to get ready for Mother’s Day, as well as actually celebrate it.  Even though I did not have much radio time, I did manage to get some time in behind the K3 and some good things happened.

The first good thing to happen this weekend was a package that arrived through the mail on Saturday:

Yes – my JARC Antenna Launcher Kit arrived through the mail. Thanks you Joplin Amateur Radio Club! This is going to be a tremendous help with portable operations this summer.

Late Saturday afternoon / early evening, shortly after my weekly Echolink ragchew with W3BBO,  Bob sent me an e-mail, letting me know that 15 Meters was wide open and that he had worked Z81X in the Republic of South Sudan.  I had just finished washing the floors, so I put down mop and bucket and ran down (literally) to the shack.  Sure enough, there was Z81X on 21.030 MHz, working split and sounding louder than all get out.  The pile up was tremendous!  So following my tenet of when the pile up is fierce and it’s a new one,  to  “Work ’em first, get ’em QRP later”, I turned the K3 up to 85 Watts.  After a half hour of chasing, I landed them in my logbook.  Z81X was like one of our wiley Foxes in the QRP Fox hunts in that he kept moving his listening frequency.  Once I established the pattern, and inserted myself in his path, it just became a matter of time.  Bob worked Z81X at 23:08 UTC and I got him a mere half hour later at 23:38 UTC.  Bob checked the on-line log this morning; and yep, we’re both in there. Sweet – a new DXCC entity for both of us!

Then today, I got some time this afternoon behind the dial and got two more new DXCC entities, and these I worked at QRP power.  15 Meters was hopping and netted me UN3M in Kazakhstan, as well as RI1FJ in Franz Josef Land.  The pile ups in these two instances were very small, so I tried QRP from the get-go here and was richly rewarded in both instances.  When the competition is not so fierce, you can afford to “be a purist”.

There was another station that I worked on 15 Meters that caught my ear, as it was a long and strange call sign – LZ1876SMB.  I have worked Bulgaria many times with QRP, but this was a Special Event Station to commemorate the Bulgarian Saint Martyrs of Batak.  A little Googling revealed that these were 700 members of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church who were martyred for their faith in an uprising against Ottomans in 1876.

If you go on QRZ, you’ll find out that LZ1876SMB is just one of many stations that will be on the air commemorating the Bulgarian Saints. For us Stateside ops, if we work five of these different LZ Saints Stations, a very beautiful diploma can be earned.

One down – four to go. I am going to keep my ears open for these stations. Bulgaria is usually (although not always) a fairly easy trip from NJ via QRP.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP – When you care to send the very least!

ISS on 20m

No not that ISS! This is station II5ISS which I worked on 20m PSK31 whilst testing some tweaks to KComm.

If you’re interested, you can win an award by working II5ISS on three or more bands before the end of 2013.

The 2012 log book……….

In 2012 according to my log all my contacts were CW and QRP or QRPp type contacts. This is the 3rd year that I have made just CW contacts. The reason being SSB in the past would bother my neighbours and since this is a stealth operation SSB is OUT. As for the digital modes I just have a very low frustration factor not a good combination for setting up digital modes. Maybe 2013 will have me mellow a bit to try the digital modes again.

Club log showing my move from SSB/Data to 100% CW

2012100500CW: 100.00%
Phone: 0.00%
Data: 0.00%

201149258CW: 100.00%
Phone: 0.00%
Data: 0.00%

201025170CW: 100.00%
Phone: 0.00%
Data: 0.00%

200910192CW: 19.27%
Phone: 0.00%
Data: 80.73%

200845495CW: 36.57%
Phone: 0.00%
Data: 63.43%

Club log was great in helping me get a snap shot of my log for 2012. According to Club log I was able to hit 125 QRP DXCC contacts for the year! Unfortunately I was not able to qualify for the ARRL DXCC Jubilee award as they were not counting all the DXCC entities. I was able to accumulate 83 DXCC's toward that award but this award only ran for the year of 2012 so I came up short.
My contacts for the year were 500, I thought it was a lot more but there were times I would forget to log contacts. BUT I almost doubled my contact total from the year before of 258. Seems I have to get away from the soldering iron and on the rig more!!
I was able to make it into 23 CQ zones
Some of my highlight contacts were Gibraltar, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Jordan and ST. Pierre & Miquelo.
Finally I was able to better my 1,000 miles per watt distance to 45,869 miles per watt with a QRPp contact to HA8JV with 100mWs of power.

Does the early bird get the DX…it’s said he gets the worm.

Last Friday we had a "situation" at work that had me working until about 3 a.m. and when I got home I was still all pumped from work and was not ready to jump into bed. The thought came to me about getting on the radio and seeing what DX pileups were out there. I had heard of folks getting on in the wee hours of the morning and catching some rare DX. With great expectations  I turned the radio on....10m dead, 15m dead, 17 and 30 same thing!! Alas on 40m my Elecraft P3 showed some faint signals, I spun the dial to the frequency only to find it was some very weak State side stations. Not that there is anything wrong with that but it's kinda a let down when one is anticipating WILD DX!!!

I did not check the propagation that morning so there could had been a storm brewing or maybe everyone but me was in bed sleeping. As I have blogged about in the past I am trying to get my ARRL Diamond Challenge award (and doing it QRP) at this point I am at 81 DXCC contacts. You only have one year to accomplish this goal and it's now almost December!!!  Having said that I am "really" at 95 DXCC's for 2012 according to Club log. The catch is the ARRL for the Diamond award is not counting ALL DXCC on the list. It is a long story but it's just how the ARRL perculates. I was hoping to bring my K2 or my newly acquired KX3 to work as I was wanting to get some operating time in before work. I am usually in around 5:30 in the morning and I have until 7 to make some contacts. With my Saturday mornings performance I am not to sure if bringing  the rig would be a waste of time.....any ideas out there???

Happenings over the last few weeks

Over the past few weeks I have been able to get on the air during  the evenings for about an hour and this has paid off with some new DXCC's.  I have been finding a spot on one of the clusters (a DXCC I am in need of) from either DX Watch or the data base in DXLabs spotcollector software. Tuning to that frequency but in the past if I heard nothing I just moved on to another spot. Now I have been sitting on the frequency listening whilst doing other things on the this post. I have found that as conditions change the static breaks and the new country comes into focus!! At times I have had to use my Audio Peak filtering (APF) which works great to bring the new contact up from just above the noise level.  There have been times when I should had acted faster, like the time Somalia broke through the static. By the time I "filtered up" it was only static and no Somalia!!! 
 Below is a YouTube By PY1FR showing the APF on the K3 in action.

 Below are some of the contacts I had made along side a little background

D3AA from Angola:  I  had seen for many evenings D3AA on the spotting networks, I found either there was a huge pileup trying to contact him OR he just was not there even after laying in wait on the frequency for 15 minutes or so. Then one evening as I was looking at my Elecraft P3 pan-adapter, I noticed a signal to one side of the frequency I was monitoring. I spun the VFO and to my surprise it was D3AA calling CQ!!! He was just above the noise and I could copy him fine so I called and he came back to me first call with a 559 and he is in the log. 

FP/VE2XB St.Pierre& Miquelon: These are French islands off the coast of New Newfoundland...Here in Ontario that is like next door when it comes to ham radio. It surely would be an easy catch and one for the DXCC  books.....WRONG......The propagation gods were not smiling down on me at all. Most of the time I could hear the pileup trying to work FP/VE2XB but that was it. Every night he was on and the spotting network had him being spotted from all over but could he be heard here at VE3WDM...NO!! It was with this contact I found my new strategy, to just sit on frequency and wait and see. One evening in came FP/VE2XB and after a few calls I got him in the log book.


Here is an audio sample from my K3 of a DX-pedition operating split ( calling on one frequency and listening on another frequency)  using the main and sub-receiver. You can very clearly hear the pileup in one ear and the DX in the other have to have some headphones on to hear this. There is a point were a station is calling on the DX's  calling frequency.
This is just but another feature of the k3 that allows me to snag DX-peditions and add them to my DXCC count.

5N7M Nigeria: This contact was booming in and I called and he came back to me with 599 and that was it. Each night I have seen 5N7M spotted he has been booming, I wish all the DX was like this...oh well it would take the fun and challenge out of it. 

OY1CT Faroe islands: This group of islands is just above England and are Danish. To get this call into the log I had to pull out all the stops. He was fading in and out but when his signal was good it was about an S8 and then moments later just above an S2 noise level. I ended up making the contact when he was in around S3. I found I was watching my monitor that was displaying the feed from the Elecraft P3 pan-adapter. I could see his signal in the waterfall and it was then time to try the Audio Peak filtering along with Diversity receive. That did the trick here at the receive end but was my signal going to make it to him?? I gave him a call and he came back to me........well so I thought.....have you ever have this happen....You want to make the contact so bad that you "think" you hear your call but in fact it's just background noise?? This was what I thought was happening until he gave my call out again and this time he was S7 so the contact then was completed at my end.

Hendricks 41dB attenuator built and added to the mix

Hendricks attenuator in service
It's Friday and the IARU contest is tomorrow, I had been checking out the propagation throughout the week and things seem to be calming down. Well until yesterday afternoon and the sun released an X1.4 solar flare and if that was not enough a CME as well..... Oh did I mention the CME is headed in our direction as well. So far the solar-terrestrial data seems to be ok. What's not to bad about a proportional hiccup is that it affects all of us, not saying that is a good thing but in the contest  the playing field stays level. This past week my Hendricks 41dB attenuator came in. The assembly was straight forward and was done in no time it
Final testing
tested out ok and I was ready to start using it. The attenuator has to go in series with my antenna  I placed it in series with my antenna B port on the K3. Both feeds from the K3 (antenna A port and B port) go to a LDG DTS-4 switch. Here I am able to place the dipole antenna in series with either antenna Port A or B. I did this as I can set up the K3 to have different settings (power output, filter selections, ATU on or off... etc) for each antenna port. So I select either antenna A or B on the K3 and then on the DTS-4 I select either attenuator in or out.

Now when I want to use the attenuator it's a matter of selecting antenna B on the K3 and Ant B selected on the DTS-4 and I am ready to go with all the setting on the K3 done.
My goals for the IARU conest
  1. Have fun and enjoy!!
  2. Look for DXCC's I do not have so I can add to my  ARRL Diamond  count.
  3. See if I can beat my miles per watt record of 45,868 miles.
  4. Have fun and enjoy!!
Some of the extra parts
Back to the Hendricks attenuator for a moment..........the kit did come with some extra resistors and switch also the hookup wire was missing.  I also noticed that the color code for one of the resistors had a misprint in the manual. I emailed all this information to Hendricks last week and up to this point I have heard nothing. Also I did have what I thought to be a problem I emailed Hendricks about it. Their reply was "I don't know" and that was it!! Well I figured out the problem on my own but this being my first kit from Hendricks I was not impressed. Maybe this is just a one off many of you out there have had kits from this company what has been your experience?

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