Posts Tagged ‘Radio Sport’

Another First–T32C DXpedition

With the bands heating up like they are, several new “Firsts” for me have been flying into the logbook.  Something I’ve never been able to accomplish was working a major DXpedition.  I tried many, many times to work K5D from Desecheo Island back in 2009.  I could hear them and so could all the other hams trying to bust the pile up.  I guess this is a good problem to have for a successful DXpedition.

I first learned about what a DXpedition was all about soon after getting my ticket in 2007.  At a club meeting they showed the DVD from the 3Y0X DXpedition to Peter I Island.  I think I was just as fascinated with the logistical efforts of getting all the gear and the people onto the island as I was with the radio operations.

Anyway, I learned of the T32C DXpedition a few months ago and I put the dates in my calendar.  The dates were 28 September through 26 October.  While I didn’t intend to wait until almost the last moment, it is just how it ended up.  The first part of the month I had family in town and this led to some long days in the office and other activities. 

Last week I began to get serious about trying to work T32C. After trying and not finding success with K5D, I figured if I could work T32C just once I would be pleased.  So I began what I recently blogged about called “The Thrill of the Hunt” to locate T32C.  The bands have recently been performing really well and fingers crossed the hunt would go well.

I checked DX Cluster and saw a few US stations reporting T32C on 17 meters SSB.  I went down to the shack, turned on the HF rig, the computer and tuned to where the cluster indicated I might find them.  Low and behold, I could hear T32C and I could hear the pile up trying to work them.  I gave my call sign a few times and within about 5 minutes I had been heard.  The T32C operator confirmed my callsign and I logged them in my HRD logbook.  I was excited….I had worked my first DXpedition.

The next morning I checked their online logbook and was disappointed to find when I entered my callsign it returned no results.  I wasn’t 100% certain of just how long it should or would take for their logbook to get updated.  However, I read on Tim Kirby’s, G4VXE blog that he had worked them the same day and he was able to confirm his QSO.  While I knew I worked them, I also wanted the confirmation via their website and also I wanted their QSL card to document this special occasion.  By the way, the T32C website indicated that if you didn’t see you callsign on their online logbook to try them again.  This is exactly what I planned to do.

The next day was Wednesday and I routinely work from home on Wednesday and Fridays.  Between the conference calls and a few other urgent tasks I needed to complete, I kept an eye on the DX Clusters and saw them being reported on several bands, but not on 17 meters.  I took a short break in the afternoon and found them on 12 meters with very few takers.  They heard me on the first call and once again T32C was in my log, but on 12 meters. 

Later that evening I went back downstairs and quickly worked T32C on 15, 10 and 20 meters.   I was excited and pleased to have worked this DXpedition four times on four different bands in one day.  But one thing didn’t feel right..I wanted to get them on 17 meters.  I still had several days and would just have to keep trying. 

Friday afternoon between conference calls I managed to work Italy and a new DX entity of Netherlands on JT65.  Then when spinning the dial on 17 meters, I heard T32C calling CQ.  Once I worked out the split frequencies, I replied to their CQ and heard them answer me.  I carefully listened to make sure he heard my callsign correctly.  QSL….he had.

On Saturday morning I checked and YES….the 17m QSO was showing.  As you can see below, I successfully worked T32C on 10, 12, 15, 17 and 20 meters.  I’ll call this the T32C Sweep.  I’ve gotta admit that I’m somewhat glad my first 17m QSO didn’t end up in their log.  I’m afraid I might not have been as motivated to keep trying.



A long story short, I’m really delighted to have worked the T32C Sweep and I look forward to working more DXpeditions.  My next goal is to work TX7M.  Will you join me?  Now I need to go so I can try to find TX7M on the bands. 

Until next time,

73 de KD0BIK

The thrill of the hunt

I often think of amateur radio as if I’m on a hunting or fishing expedition.  I know for younger and perhaps less patient individuals, this thrill may or may not be shared with the same excitement and enthusiasm.  When I walk down the fourteen steps into my basement ham shack or drive up to the mountains for a few hours of portable, outdoors operating….I don’t always know what is waiting for me on the bands. 

I’m reminded of an interview I did with Duncan McLaughlin, KU0DM back in episodes 28 and episode 29.  I hope you’ll listen to those two older episodes.  Duncan and I discussed the possible challenges of attracting todays youth into the hobby.  The youth of today are growing up in the information age where everything is instant and immediate.  Want to talk to someone on the other side of town?  They probably have a cell phone.  Want to talk to someone on the other side of the planet?  They probably have Skype.  Duncan believed the possible ice breaker was in the area of Radio Sport or contesting.  Duncan described his philosophy as the difference between fishing and fish sticks.  One can take a fishing pole to your favorite lake, pond or stream and may or may not catch a fish….but chances are the local grocery store will be well stocked in boxes of fish sticks.  This simple, yet truly interesting way of looking at things is really what amateur radio is all about and in my opinion what makes it special.   

While amateur radio requires a license in order to operate on the bands, what amateur radio gives us in return is a license to learn.  What we learn might fall into the category of electronics, antennas, solar propagation etc. and these are all important.  However, just as important, I enjoy learning more about the geography of those new DX stations I’ve been working. 

Of course, when I see a station call sign such as a M0, ON or JA I do recognize them being geographically located in England, Belgium and Japan respectively.  However, I’ve also really enjoyed learning more about the callsigns I’m not as familiar with such as UT, CT3 and my most recent DX entity of T32.

Yes our planet is large, but our wonderful hobby of amateur radio can make it much smaller if we let it.  As most have probably heard, band conditions are getting better and better.  Even for US technician class operators, the 10 meter band has been booming with lots of excellent DX opportunities.  Go to your ham shacks and get those rigs fired up and enjoy the thrill of the hunt.

Until next time….

73 de KD0BIK (Jerry)

QSO Party Texas Style

Just a few weeks ago I blogged about QSO Party Colorado Style, being that Texas is my birth state and where I lived until around the age of 32 (I’m a few days away from 45) I decided I would spend some time operating in the contest.  While I do realize after operating in two QSO parties in less than four weeks, what I’m going to say next may not make sense, but I don’t consider myself a serious contester.  In the four years I’ve been licensed, I’ve only ever operated in a handful of contests and have only submitted logs two or three times.  Perhaps I’m more of a casual contester. 

The reasons for my lack of contest involvement could be the same as anyone else’s.  I don’t always have hours and hours to dedicate to operating a contest and when I do I may not want to spend all the time operating in a specific mode or band.  But both the Colorado and Texas QSO parties occurred when I had several hours to devote and I enjoyed operating in both to represent my home state and birth state proudly. 

Unlike the Colorado QSO party, the Texas QSO party is two days long (12 hours on Saturday and 6 hours Sunday).  Of the total 18 hours, I estimate I operated about 5-6 with the majority of that time spent on Saturday.

Being the casual contester that I am, I eased into my Saturday morning just like any other Saturday.  I grabbed my first cup of coffee and followed up on the news.  Of course the BIG news was where did the bus sized satellite crash?  Since I didn’t hear anything crash through my roof I assumed it was not anywhere near Colorado.  I quickly read through my Facebook, Twitter and Google+ threads and by that time it was time for cup-o-coffee #2 and a more suitable time to turn on the HF rig and get the computers fired up. 

Over the past few weeks, HF conditions have been extraordinary and the week leading up to the Texas QSO party weekend was no exception.  I’ve read tweets and other blog postings talking about openings on 10, 12 and 15 meters.  This is great news for those US technician class hams who have an HF rig.  Remember you have HF phone privileges on 10m from 28.300 to 28.500.  Listen around the 10m calling frequency of 28.400.   In addition to phone, you also have RTTY and data privileges from 28.000 up to 28.300 including the JT65 frequency of 28.076.  There is no reason you can’t get in on the fun as well.  Want to know more about JT65?  Check out my practical amateur radio podcast episode #46 you’ll find tips and links for this awesome mode.

Anyway, as I said HF conditions have been amazing and fingers crossed I would have no trouble working Texas from Colorado.  As I was applying my second cup of coffee, I tuned around 20m listening for other Texas stations.  I figured I would start off by using the “search and pounce” method and then find an open frequency and “run” for a while.  As I tuned up the band and then back down all I heard was static and the occasional high powered net controller running whatever net happened to be taking place at the time.  I checked Twitter and even tweeted that it appeared band conditions were really poor and the contacts were just trickling into the log book.  Keith, G6NHU shared with me a blog article he had written earlier explaining why the HF bands weren’t playing well.  By the way, if you don’t follow Keith’s blog….you should.  Keith has an ongoing project called QSO 365, as he strives to have at least one QSO per day in 2011.

After stepping away for a few hours to get a few projects done around the house, I returned to find the afternoon conditions much improved.  I quickly worked the stations up and down 20m and then found me a spot around 14.280 and began calling CQ Texas.  I found I could get brief runs going, but it was mostly still slow going.  At the end of Saturday evening I had managed to work 40 Texas stations in 28 unique counties.  The stations I worked all commented on my strong signal.  I was running 100w into my hamstick dipole.  I must also admit their signals were all fairly strong as well with true 59+ readings.  I only had trouble with a couple of mobile stations, but worked them in the end.

My two most memorable stations worked on Saturday would have to be NA5DV and NU5DE but of course for two different reasons.  NA5DV was operating from the Battleship Texas which is anchored just beside the busy Houston ship channel and near the San Jacinto Monument.  As a child we would visit the Battleship Texas every few years and I have very fond and dear memories of climbing on and exploring around this incredible ship.  The Battleship Texas was commissioned in 1914 and served proudly defending the United States of America and representing the great State of Texas in both WWI and WWII.  Working a ham station on board this beautiful lady and eventually getting the QSL card for my collection was the highlight of the day. 

Yes, I said I had two memorable moments on Saturday, NU5DE (yes that is a vanity call sign) is a naturist amateur radio club near Austin, Texas.  After working this station, I tweeted “Just worked NU5DE.  This is a naturist ham club.  I’m not sure how they were dressed, but I kept my clothes on”.   Hey…amateur radio is for anyone and everyone.  If this is the lifestyle they enjoy…then I’ll only take my hat off to them.  ha ha


After a somewhat sleepless night and getting up/staying up from midnight to about 3:30 AM, I worked some RTTY stations and then got started with the Texas QSO party again on Sunday mid morning.  I worked another 15 stations to top out at 55 total stations worked and earning a total score of 3,740.  My total Texas county count was 32 of 254.  I did manage to work my birth county (Henderson) and the county where I grew up (Anderson) along with counties I’ve lived in including Smith, Dallas, Travis and Williamson.  But I’m not really a county chaser.  Smile

I’ll have to check the contest calendar to see what future contests catch my eye and match my available time.  But the Colorado and Texas QSO Parties are a must for 2012. 

Until next time…


73 de KD0BIK

QSO Party Colorado Style

CO Flag

I’ve worked contests before.  Typically if I hear a contest taking place on the bands I’ll tune around and answer a few CQ’s to give points away.  However, I’ve never been serious enough about it to spend several hours working a specific contest and do most of it while running a specific frequency.  Most contests (excluding Field Day) I generally use the search and pounce method of scanning up and down the bands listening for contest stations calling CQ, then pounce and answer their CQ. 

I’ve had the Colorado QSO Party on my calendar for a few weeks now and coordinated the time with my wife so I could work the contest.  From the beginning I decided I wanted to try my hand at contest operations and I would log my contacts in a suitable logging software and submit my log.  I really had no expectations of just what the outcome would be.  My goal was to have fun and represent my state of Colorado as proudly as possible on the amateur bands.

The Colorado QSO party was scheduled to start at 6 AM (local) and run for 16 hours until 10 PM (local).  The work week prior had been difficult and I decided I wouldn’t get started too early of a start.  I had my priorities in the right order and made sure to switch on the coffee pot before the HF rig.  With coffee in hand, I turned on the computer and the HF rig just a little after 8:30 and positioned myself on 14.280 and began calling CQ contest. 

The Q’s began flying into the log book and I probably had logged 30 or so within what seemed like no time at all.  I quickly recharged my coffee cup and logged another 30 or so before lunch.  I took a short break for lunch and then things slowed down.  20m had been hot in the mid-morning hours, but all that changed after lunch.

The best laid plans, well…are not always exactly what you want them to be.  We’re trying to get new windows installed on the ground level portion of our house this year.  The salesman was dropping by for the contract signing and this took a little longer than planned.  After about 90 minutes the changes were incorporated (gotta keep the wife happy) and I was back on the air.  But I would have another 2.5 hours off the air as we agreed to attend a neighborhood BBQ (gotta keep the wife and neighbors happy).  I got back home and got back on the air for the last 90 minutes of the QSO Party. 

The final 90 minutes was slow and I switched between the 40 and 20m band and managed to work an additional 10 QSO’s.  All-in-all it was a lot of fun.  I worked a total of 138 QSO’s for a total of 8004 points. 
























My setup for the Colorado QSO party consisted of my Yaesu FT-950 (I really love this rig), a Heil Pro-Set headset with the HC-4 mic and for true hands free operation, I dusted off my Heil footswitch.  I also logged using N1MM software for the first time.  I had searched for logging software which would work for the Colorado QSO party.  This did the job and I look forward to using it again for other contest logging. 

In closing, I’m not sure where my numbers will rank in the totals.  I know others who participated scored much higher.  I didn’t begin it to win it, I did it to have fun and mission accomplished.  I do look forward to the next contest and of course next year for the Colorado QSO party.  Radio Sport is fun, exciting and ham radio.

Until next time…

73 de KD0BIK/AE

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