Posts Tagged ‘Radio Sport’

Colorado QSO Party – 2013


The 2013 edition of the Colorado QSO party is complete and in the books.  Perhaps, with exception to Field Day…the COQP is my favorite on-air radio sport opportunity.  I truly enjoy representing the Centennial State and Denver County in this annual event.

The event is a full 16 hours from 1200 UTC (6 AM local) to 0400 UTC (10 PM local).  In past years I’ve honestly not bothered with setting an alarm in order to get up with the chickens and get on the air.  However, this year…well, my wife and I had just arrived back in the US from two weeks in Europe less than 36 hours before the start of the contest.  Needless to say, I was still on London time and I was awake at 4 AM. 

With coffee in hand, I switched on the computer and radio (my trusty Yaesu FT-950) and began spinning the dial promptly at 6 AM.  Band conditions at this time of the day and in Colorado just weren’t compatible with my contesting efforts.   Having been up due to jet lag for a few hours, I decided a nice morning walk was in order.  After all, I still needed to get in my 10,000 steps.  It was a beautiful morning in the mile high city and I used the time to walk along the DTC and admire the beautiful rocky mountains. 

Energized after the walk, shower and breakfast.  With even more coffee I headed back down to the basement ham shack and resumed my efforts of calling CQ Colorado QSO Party.  Ahhh, 20m was as awake as I was and we were well underway to putting Q’s into the logbook.

My somewhat loose goals for the 2013 COQP was A. Have fun and B. attempt to make more contacts than the previous year.  By the way, this number for 2012 COQP was 281.  The end result for my 2013 efforts would most certainly meet the “Have Fun” goal (after all, this is important) and would unfortunately fall short of breaking last year numbers. 

2013 COQP kd0bik

As you can tell from the screen grab from N1MM logger, I missed my Q goal by 23 Q’s. 

So what was different about 2012?  I decided for the 2013 COQP that I would work phone only versus in 2012 I operated mixed mode to include PSK and RTTY.  But I also believe last year I wasn’t jet-lagged and I was able to give a solid effort in the final hours of the contest.  Unfortunately, this year I was physically out of gas around 7 PM. 

Overall I felt band conditions were just as good (or as good as I could remember them to be in 2012).  Below is a map showing the 258 Q’s I worked during the 2013 COQP.  By the way, I created the map using K2DSL free service


I truly look forward to next year and I hope to work you.

Until next time…

73 de KD0BIK

Planning My New QTH (Ham Radio Station) Part II Of III: Modern Contesting Tools

I’ll be writing a lot in future postings about how FlexRadio’s new 6000 series transceiver technology has influenced my new station’s design.  Today’s post will focus on these rigs’  ‘Slice Receiver’ capabilities.

First, however, allow me a digression on 21st Century Radio-Sport a/k/a “Contesting.”  There are hundreds of radio-sport events spread across the calendar each year from state QSO (QSO = radio contact) parties to major global events such as the CQ World Wide DX Contests (CQ WW DX, ‘DX’ = long distance radio contact) held across two weekends – one for CW (Morse code) and one for Phone (Signal Sideband = voice) –  in the northern hemisphere autumn.  The smaller events have a friendly ‘small town’ vibe.  On the other end of the scale, the big DX contests are hard fought struggles that test technology, skill and endurance (you try averaging two international contacts via morse code per minute for 48 hours straight!).

The big contests have a multitude of classes to parse the competitors.  Single operator, multiple operators with one transmitter, multiple operators with multiple transmitters, high power, low power, really low power (also known as ‘QRP’), assisted and unassisted.  You compete against others in your class in your country and in your class on a regional and global scale depending on your ambition.

I mentioned ‘assisted’ and ‘unassisted’ classes in the previous paragraph.  This can mean various things but the major source of assistance during a contest is the so-called ‘cluster’, Internet resources that reports what stations are active and on what frequencies.  These networks started in the ’80s with hams transmitting short reports of the distant stations they were hearing, generally on the HF (short wave) bands, via the amateur VHF digital networks which were generally local, within a city or region.  These were know as ‘DX Packetclusters’ back then and I used to operate a node in Tiffany, Colorado in the ’90s.

These networks later migrated to the Internet, became interconnected and are now global in scope passing literally millions of ‘spots’ (as each report of a station and its frequency is called).  DX Summit, based in Finland but with visitors from around the world, has reported over 23 million such spots since it launched in 1997!

One of the challenges of big data is finding actionable useful information shooting out of the digital firehose.  The cluster networks go bonkers during the big contests with several spots per second streaming by.  This is not always helpful.  An operator can be overwhelmed by choice; which station do I try to contact?  It’s like getting a restaurant menu with a thousand choices.  And with spots being reported from all corners of the planet much of the data is not actionable.  A station being heard in say Mongolia might not be making it to your shack in Peoria at that time of day on that particular frequency.

I will manage this onslaught of data by disconnecting from the Internet clusters and generating my own spots distilled from radio signals actually being detected at my station in real time.  The data will thus become relevant and actionable.  Many stations are already doing this to supplement the Internet spots that every assisted class station sees.  K3LR and W3LPL, two giants of multi-operator contesting, are doing this effectively using CW Skimmer software written by Alex Shovkoplyas, VE3NEA.  CW Skimmer uses ‘sensitive CW decoding algorithm based on the methods of Bayesian statistics’; in other words your computer listens for Morse code on your radio and tells you who is transmitting and on what frequency.  CW Skimmer, of course, is not much use in Phone (voice) contests.

There are several challenges to using CW Skimmer effectively.  The first challenge at most stations is receiver bandwidth.  Most ham radios can only listen to relatively small segments of radio spectrum at any one time limiting the size of the net CW Skimmer can cast.  If a particular contest has its competitors spread out over say 70-kHz and your radio can only monitor 2.8-kHz you are going to miss a lot of the action.  So called SDRs (Software Defined Receivers) overcome this limitation and can look at much larger chunks of spectrum at once.  An operator using one of these radios (older generation FlexRadios for example) can actually look at a visual spectral display showing where signals are and indicate their relative strength; a CW Skimmer software working with one of these radios can decode and report on the activity of dozens of stations with this set up.

That hurdle jumped, another one looms ahead.  If you are monitoring stations on one band how do you know what’s happening on other bands?  Most contests are spread across several of the amateur radio bands.  Some bands are good during the day, some are good during the night and propagation on all the bands is always changing.  Europe might be good in the morning on a particular band , say the 21-MHz (15m) band, Africa in midday and Japan in the afternoon.  The general propagation trends are predictable but there are large daily variations in propagation that are not predictable (in other words, what signals are being refracted back to earth and where).  Some stations (K3LR, for example) have separate SDRs for each amateur contest band.  Other stations (W3LPL for one) uses the QS1R receiver which can listen to several bands at once.

The Flex 6000 series radios listen (via direct sampling, more on that in a future posting) to 77-MHz of spectrum at the same time.  That is truly spectacular!  With my multiple Flex-6700s (I have two on order and plan on ordering a third unit later in 2013) i will be able to assign ‘Slice’ receivers (each Flex-6700 can have up to eight of these, created in software and 384-kHz) to each amateur band from 1.8-MHz (160m) to 144-MHz (2m) and let them run all the time, during contests and in between.  I will have live, actionable intel on what CW (Morse) signals are propagating to Glade Park, Colorado at any given time on all the amateur bands.  I will be feeding this data out to the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) and using it for my own contesting and day-to-day DXing operation.  (More on the RBN in a future Blog posting.)

How I plan to keep transmissions on one frequency from overloading and possibly damaging receivers listening – and running CW Skimmer software – on other frequencies on co-located (and sometimes the same) antenna will be covered in a future posting.  The Flex 6000 series radios are full-duplex (in other words, they can transmit and receive at the same time) so the listening on the same band I’m transmitting on becomes a possibility but one with significant challenges.

I should point out here that many hams operate without any kind of assistance in contests whatsoever.  These are some of the world’s most skilled and motivated amateur radio operators and I admire this type of contesting.  However, my personal current motivation is to see where I can go with technology in contesting and amateur radio in general.  Assisted, in so many words, but seeking innovation.


2012 Colorado QSO Party Results–KD0BIK

The 2012 Colorado QSO Party is over and I had a fantastic time.  The new ham shack which I scrambled to get ready for the event performed beautifully.  It’s really a comfortable and inviting space which I believe is important when working a multi-hour contest.

At best, I consider myself a casual contester.  I do enjoy operating during many of the contests taking place throughout the year….but for the most part, I am just giving away points to other contesters and trying to add to either my WAS, DXCC etc. etc. 

Last year (2011), was the first year for me to take a serious approach to operating in the Colorado QSO Party.  I operated for approx. 6-8 hours of the 16 hour contest.  I managed to make 138 QSO’s in 2011.  My goal for 2012 was to try to break that.

Before I discuss my 2012 results, I just want to say “Thank You” to my wonderful wife.  Without her organization skills and encouragement to me throughout the summer months, the new ham shack wouldn’t have been ready.  Thank you honey…

Oh…one more thing.  While I’ve mentioned the new ham shack is ready, this is really only partially true.  Yes, the shack operating position is setup and fully active.  But I still have some painting and touch-up work to do in the space.  It is my hope to get this all done in the next several weeks.  Also there is still much work required on fully evacuating the old space and getting everything organized and into its place in the new area. 

Again, my expectations for 2012 was to beat 138 Q’s.  The contest began at 6 AM, but I made a slow start to the day and managed to get on the air around 7.  I was surprised to hear 20m open to the east coast that early in the morning.  The first 100 Q’s seem to fly into the logbook.  I took my first break around 10 AM and had already logged over 100 Q’s. 

As I returned about 15-20 minutes later, the band had shifted and the Q’s were slower to get logged.  I focused mainly on 20 meters.  I would occasionally check 10 and 15 meters, but heard nothing and would go back to 20m after 15-20 minutes of calling CQ. 

My friend Bob Witte, K0NR posted a note to an email reflector about a SOTA activation taking place on Mt. Evans (W0/FR-003).  The activation consisted of several operators from the Colorado QRP Club and one was operating on 146.52 VHF FM.  I worked him for both points in the Colorado QSO Party as well as earned myself 10 SOTA Chaser points.  Not a bad deal for about 60 seconds of effort.

During the afternoon hours, 20 meters came back to life and I had a nice pileup going for almost an hour.  I worked stations all over the lower 48 and Canada.  One call sign I heard answering me sounded familiar.  Kilo, Five, Sierra, Oscar, Romeo. 

As a young child, I would listen to my uncle talk on his ham radio and while I didn’t know any of the other phonetic alphabet names, I knew Kilo, Five, Sierra, Oscar, Romeo.  YES…my Uncle heard me calling CQ from down at his QTH in Texas and answered me back.

While I’ve worked over 70 DXCC, have multiple versions of the WAS awards….the most sought after QSO for me since 2007 has been K5SOR.  Yes, we perhaps could have setup a sked to work each other, but this particular QSO…unexpected…is one that I will always cherish. 

Ok…enough rambling.  My 2012 Colorado QSO results ended up with 281 QSO’s and 25,852 points.  I more than doubled my 2011 results and got the one QSO in my log I had been wanting for a long, long time. 


My station setup consisted of the Yaesu FT-950 running 100 watts into my 20m hamstick dipole.  I received some really great signal reports with this setup and when asked, many found it hard to believe this antenna setup produced the results others were hearing.  The new voice keyer and keypad setup for the 950 really helped as well. 

All in all….I truly had a blast operating and representing Colorado in this QSO Party.  I would like to thank the Pikes Peak Amateur Radio Association for sponsoring this event.  I certainly look forward to next year.

Until next time…

73 de KD0BIK

Colorado QSO Party and KD0BIK’s Ham Shack Grand Opening


It’s time for the 2012 Colorado QSO Party and likewise, it’s time to officially open my new ham shack, home office, podcast studio and general man cave that I’ve been talking about for so long. 

One of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2012 was to finish the basement ham shack and home office.  This was a project that began eons ago (or certainly felt like it), but actually I began framing the walls for the new space in 2008.  While the framing stage went fairly quickly, not a lot of work was done between mid 2009 and 2011. 

My wife has always been supportive of my hobbies, especially amateur radio.  I believe she could sense my frustration in finding the motivation to finish the new space.  Some of the delays had centered around decisions on sheetrock (drywall) or paneling or ???.  We began making decisions and started the sheetrock installation phase in February. 

In the February timeframe I began looking down the road to select a date and goal to work towards.  Let me state that I realize the work I’ve done (even including the framing from 200Smilie: 8) all could have been completed in a very short time.  Perhaps two people could have done everything in a short span of just 2-3 weeks working each day for several hours.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have that luxury.  Sure I could have hired a carpenter, but I wanted to do the work myself.

Anyway, knowing we would still continue to pace ourselves, I figured setting the goal date to be in the new space for the Colorado QSO Party weekend would be safe. 

Of course, as winter turned into Spring and Spring turned into Summer and watching Memorial Day come and go, then Field Day come and go and 4th of July come and go….WHOA!!!!  I woke up one day and it was August and inside of 30 days.  Would I make it?  Could I make it?  What if I didn’t make it?

Of course, nothing bad would happen if I didn’t make my goal.  My New Year’s Resolution was to finish the basement in 2012, the Colorado QSO Party date was somewhat self-imposed or should I say self-inflicted.  In any event, if I wasn’t in the new shack…I could certainly still operate in the contest from my old shack location.  I mean it works…right?  Also, I didn’t want to just move a chair, a desk and a radio into the new shack for 24 hours.  It was either all-the-way or no way.

Thankfully, things really began to click into place in August.  On August 1st (T-Minus 30 days) the sheetrock work was done, the texturing, sanding etc. was done, the paint on the walls and ceiling was dry, the floor was down, the cabinets were in place and the countertop was on the way.  I merely had just a few hours of finish carpentry to complete before the dust creation process was 100% complete.   Once I no longer need to cut trim in the basement area, I could safely begin bringing in my computers and radios into the new space. 

So what’s left to do?  Before I answer that question…let’s take a short walk down memory lane through pictures.  Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of the plain concrete walls, so just use your imagination. 

Framed walls before sheetrock – February 2012

Measure twice, cut once – February 2012


Everything I needed to know to do this I learned in Kindergarten.  Just cut along the line. – February 2012

Getting there… – March 2012

Walls done – March 2012

It’ll need a ceiling right?  – April 2012

You’ll have to trust me that this is a picture of the finished/textured wall. – May 2012

photo (2)

Warp Speed.  From June 1 through end of July we managed to paint ceiling, walls, put down flooring and hang over 20 wall cabinets and drawer cabinets.  – August 2012


Let me pause for a second as I’m getting dizzy.  I worked mostly without any major plans.  I had an idea in my head, but it wasn’t until we reached the cabinet stage that I actually attempted to create some form of plan or layout.   I felt this was necessary so we could really get an idea of how the cabinets, countertop and space would all work.  The image below was done before flooring was complete and before cabinets were installed.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find any models of ham radios in the design software to place on the counter surface.

HBC_Taylor_Office 1_view 1

Now let’s look at the finished product.  This is the brand new ham shack for KD0BIK. 


In the above picture (from right to left) I have my Jetstream JTPS45 power supply which provides all of my 12v DC power.  It connects into a West Mountain Radio RigRunner (mounted below desk).  I also use the PWRGate which provides auto-switching from power supply to a 12v marine deep cycle battery.

Just above the Jetstream power supply I have an old style TV antenna rotator.  This provides a little direction to my 20m hamstick dipole.  Next is the Yaesu FT-950 HF radio.  I use this radio primarily for SSB ops. 

In the center below the two 21” LCD flat panel screens, I have the MFJ-4724 Desktop/Remote Antenna/Transceiver switch.  This allows me to switch between either my 20m hamstick dipole or my Hustler 6BTV antenna to any of my HF rigs in the shack.  No more having to move coax connections.  YAY!!!!

Moving on around, next to the left 21” LCD I have the Yaesu FT-897 HF/VHF/UHF All mode transceiver.  I use this rig primarily for all data modes.  Sitting just below the 897 is the West Mountain Radio RIGBlaster Pro. 

Just to the left is the MFJ Intellituner which I use with the FT-897 and sitting on top of the tuner is the Elecraft KX3.  The KX3 is just posing for the picture.  It’s main role is portable QRP and SOTA operations outside of the ham shack.  Sitting just behind the KX3 (and might be difficult to see) is the IMD Meter by KK7UQ. 

Finally, the radio to the far left is the Yaesu FT-857 which I keep mounted in a TAC-COMM TRC-1 metal enclosure and mainly mobile HF use.  But at the moment it is connected to my V/UHF antenna and what I use for local V/UHF Ops and Packet.  Just below the 857 is the Kantronics KPC-3+.   Just above the 857 are two of the three HT’s I own.  The Yaesu VX-8 is used on the trail and next to it is the only piece of ICOM equipment I own.  It is the IC-92AD for D-STAR operations.

This has been an incredible project spanning many years.  For much of the past six months I have worked for a few hours each weekend.  Now it is time to sit back and enjoy the new ham shack. 

Thank you for reading my blog and I hope it continues to inspire you.

Until next time…

73 de KD0BIK

Planning My New QTH (Ham Radio Station) Part I Of III: Taking Inventory Of My Evolving Interests

We moved to Glade Park, Colorado last November and, unusual for me, I’ve been planning my new QTH before commencing construction (QTH = ham radio ‘Q code’ for ‘location’ which hams use to as a catch all term for their home and ham station).  I’ve had pretty big ‘antenna farms’ over the years in Malibu, California, Tiffany, Colorado and East Topsham, Vermont.  Each time my enthusiasm to get back on air led me to ‘plan’ as I built.  Although each of these stations performed very well on the air, I eventually realized that each station could have been better.  So this time,  it’s different…

My inspiration to be patient and plan has been the detailed and thoughtful strategic planning that my friend Tom Taormina, K5RC, is employing in the updating of his potent ‘contest station’ (a ham radio station optimized for radio contesting a/k/a ‘radio sport’) near Reno NV.  Tom has a club callsign that he uses in contests, W7RN.  If you’re a radio contester you no doubt recognize this callsign.

Tom was a NASA executive during the Project Apollo glory days and today is an author and ‘Forensic Business Pathologist’ using his NASA expertise to advise corporations on employing rocket science – literally – to operate their businesses better.  Tom’s contest station planning is extraordinary in scope and detail.  (Tom’s business Website is and you can learn more about his contest station at

Since re-entering the amateur radio hobby in 1989 I have spent most of my ‘on air’ time operating radio contests on the HF bands (HF is technically ‘High Frequency’ 3 to 30-Mhz, but most hams consider the Medium Frequency 1.8-MHz ham band to also be part of the HF spectrum) and in between contests making contact with as many countries as I could on each different amateur radio band between 1-MHz (’16o meters’) and 50-Mhz (’6 meters’).

By 2003 I passed 2,800 total ‘band-countries’ (total number of countries contacted on each band added together).  2003 was the year my daughter was born and also when my professional responsibilities – then in the music business – multiplied.  Fatherhood and career conspired to soak up my ham radio time and my station, we were living in Vermont at the time, gathered dust for 8 years by which time I had changed careers and moved the family back west.

Most mornings I wake up and gaze at the sun rising east of our 35 high desert acres in Glade Park CO, where we moved late last year.  Glade Park is a small community perched on a high plateau west of Grand Junction.  Its rural, scenic, private, dry, sunny and as far as I can tell, a great place to ‘grow some aluminum’ and ‘work the world.’  Sipping my morning coffee I frequently wonder what signals are being refracted down all around me from the solar energized ionosphere and ponder what antennas I should build to find out.  I’ve also been taking careful of the moon as it traverses the sky above our property, especially moonrises (more on that later).  Gradually, day by day as the sun and moon rise and fall, a station plan has come into focus.

The first step in the planning process was taking inventory of my evolving ham radio interests.  This hobby is a big tent with close to a million licensees in the U.S.A. alone.  Some hams enjoy providing communications as a public service during natural (and man made) disasters – ‘when all else fails amateur radio gets through,’ others enjoy long, ‘rag chew’ conversations with friends old and new around the world, some enjoy building and tinkering with gear, some ‘chase DX’ (make contact with odd bits of geography, the further away and more obscure the better), and some focus their energy on radio contesting.

In the past radio contests and DXing motivated me to get on the air.  My years away from operating my station have given me time and space to meditate on exactly why I love this hobby.  I eventually realized that it wasn’t so much the contest scores or the growing list of countries contacted, although there was pleasure in these accomplishments, my core interest is my fascination with the physics of what makes a radio signal propagate around the world.  Take the energy used by a common household lightbulb, push it down a coax cable connected to a bit of aluminum and, voila! electromagnetic waves are launched into the ether coming back to earth thousands of miles away.  This has intrigued me since I was a teen age ham radio operator in the 1960s.

DXing and contesting activities tend to reveal the most extraordinary radiowave propagation; this I have come to realize is why I enjoy DXing and contesting and why I will continue to contest and chase DX but with changed focus – some of the most extraordinary propagation modes and paths are revealed during radio contests and while chasing DX.

My passion for antennas is direct by product of my passion for propagation.  Better antennas allow you to explore more exotic propagation modes and paths.  At this point perhaps you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that I became a partner in an antenna company last year – InnovAntennas, Ltd. of Canvey Island, England – after becoming enthralled by the groundbreaking antenna designs company founder Justin Johnson (also a ham, callsign G0KSC) was creating.  My passion now = my career.  (More info: for North America and for Europe and ROW.)

I’ll now steer this blog entry back to my station planning.  The ham radio band with the most exotic propagation is the 50-MHz (6 meter) band.  This is adjacent in the electromagnetic spectrum to TV Ch. 2.  Can you imagine tuning into 100+ countries and all continents on your living TV set via its rooftop antenna?  Well, that’s the challenge of 50-MHz.  Most of the time radio waves on this band propagate ground wave, maybe 100 miles, and not much further.  Whereas other ham allocations such at the 14-MHz (’20 meter’) band routinely offer up global contacts, long distance contacts on 50-MHz are always special and much of the propagation at this part of the spectrum is not well understood.

There have been midsummer 50-MHz contacts between Japan and the southern USA – nearly half-way around the globe – in recent years and the propagation mechanism for these contacts is not well explained by the known physics of the ionosphere, yet these contacts are real and happening.  My friend Dr. Lew Sayre, W7EW, made over a hundred contracts all across Europe on 50-Mhz from Oregon late last June.  This is a long, long way and traverses the northern polar regions – usually death for such high frequency radiowaves – how did those radiowaves take that trip?  Incredible!  Dr. Jim Kennedy, KH6/K6MIO, a physicist and a ham, has been presenting papers on ‘extreme’ 50-MHz propagation at ham radio conventions in recent years which are utterly fascinating due to both what is explained and what remains mysterious.

Thus, my new station will be well-equipped with antennas for 50-MHz.  I want to have the capability to access exotic propagation modes that a pedestrian system would never detect.  My friend Dennis Motschenbacher, K7BV is building a MASSIVE 50-MHz antenna system at his Turkey, NC home: a stack of six ’11 element LFA Yagi’ antennas (InnovAntennas models, thanks Dennis!) nearly 70-feet long apiece spread across a nearly 200-foot tall radio tower.  Dennis and I, it should be obvious, are lucky to married to women who in addition to being beautiful are tolerant of our hobbies.  I am thinking about building something similar.

I’m splitting this blog entry into three parts.  This first missive shows how I put a big 50-MHz antenna system on the top of my priority list.  The next two parts will cover (a) why the new Flex-Radio 6700 transceiver (a device that transmits and receives radio signals) has caused me to put all of my other ham radio transcievers – except for my beloved Elecrafts – for sale and motivated my business partner Justin Johnson to develop a new antenna design which will find a home at my station, and (b) why I have become so interested in the moon and why I will be building at least four antennas systems which will be aimed at our planet’s lone natural satellite.

Bill AA7XT


QRP To The Field + SOTA = Contest

sota_logoHere’s a great opportunity for both chasers and activators.  The QRP To The Field (QRPTTF) is an annual QRP CW contest taking place on Saturday,  28 April.  This year the organizers of QRPTTF have joined forces with the Summits On The Air program.  The theme for the 2012 event is “Get High on QRP”.

As I previously stated, this is a great opportunity for both chasers and activators.  While this is a CW contest, I also feel this is a great opportunity even for non-CW enthusiasts to still activate and chase.   You can read more about the specifics of the contest, including the rules below.  Keep in mind that while QRPTTF rules state “any old hill or lump of dirt”, SOTA rules will apply if claiming for activation or chase points through the SOTA program.

I have this on my calendar and will try very hard to activate a Colorado SOTA summit for a portion of the contest period.  Stay tuned for more info.

Until next time,

73 de KDØBIK



“Get High on QRP”


1500Z April 28 thru 0300Z April 29
East Coast Time: 1100 – 2300 EDT (UTC –4 hrs)
Mid-west Time: 1000 – 2200 CDT (UTC –5 hrs)
Mountain Time: 0900 – 2100 MDT (UTC –6 hrs)
Left Coast Time: 0800 – 2000 PDT (UTC –7 hrs)

QRPTTF is an annual event to encourage QRPers to operate portable “from the field,” and of course, have fun. This year, we are joining forces with others who also like to operate from the field – Summits On The Air, or SOTA. This will not change the QRPTTF event – just gives us all more stations to work.

SOTA stations operate from designated summits for points and awards. Out of necessity, most are QRPers. This year some SOTA stations will activate summits for their purposes, AND to participate in QRPTTF. For QRPTTF stations, you work fellow TTF stations or SOTA stations … they all go in the log and add to the score. Plus, each SOTA station worked will count as an SPC – like working a DX station – boosting your multiplier.

Therefore, the theme this year is to “get high with QRP” and operate from a hill. Any old hill or lump of dirt near your QTH, or as high as you want to go. Even a SOTA summit if you feel so inclined. To find the designated SOTA summits near you, go here: and look under your call area. Not all states have SOTA summits.

NOTE: You do not have to operate from a SOTA summit to participate in QRPTTF. Again, any old nearby hill.


QRPTTF Station: RST SPC Name example: 599 OH Jake

SOTA Station: RST SPC SOTA ID example: 599 CO W0/FR-004

SOTA ID = call area plus summit ID; example W0/FR-004 (Pike’s Peak, CO)


Per band: Number of QSOs times SPCs times SOTA stations worked

ADD scores for each band for QSO points

Total Score: QSO points TIMES Multiplier


x1 home station

x2 TTF hill field station

x3 SOTA summit location

RTTY Roundup Fun

If you were within earshot of an HF transceiver this past weekend and especially tuned through the data portion of the bands, I’m sure you heard the tell-tale signs of a digital contest taking place.   You really can’t miss it.  The quick bursts of RTTY signals going back and forth is music to some and a nightmare to others. 

Between a heavily packed weekend consisting of an amateur radio breakfast on Saturday morning, taking the Christmas tree down along with the lights outside before the snow started falling and a few other misc. items on the “honey do” list, I managed to find about 3 hours of spare time to spend in the shack working the ARRL RTTY Roundup.  During this time I logged 79 RTTY QSO’s mostly on 20 and 40 meters. 

I must admit I don’t work a lot of RTTY contacts outside of contests and while I started getting serious about contesting in 2011 and actually submitted logs for several, digital contesting isn’t something I get overly excited about.  This fact may sound odd, especially coming from someone who spends 75% or more of his on-air time working the digital modes. 

In any event, as the title states….I did have fun and this is what matters to me.  I’ve mapped out many of the contests (mostly State QSO Parties) I hope to operate in throughout 2012.  I hope to make 2012 and my involvement in the radio sport  aspect of the hobby a memorable one.  So between many of the upcoming on-air contests and my SOTA involvement.  You’ll be certain to hear CQ CQ CQ from KD0BIK throughout the year. 

Until next time…

73 de KD0BIK

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