Posts Tagged ‘contests’

NA Sprints, ARRL DX, and other notes

February 21st, 2011

February, like November, is a busy month for contesting:  the CW edition of the NA Sprint leads off the month (along with the Minnesota QSO Party), followed by the phone edition of the NA Sprint the second weekend, and of course, the ARRL DX CW contest on the third weekend.

In short…

NA Sprint CW SO-LP:  claimed 162 x 38 = 6156, preliminary 158 x 38 = 6004.  Four busted QSOs is actually better than I felt at the end.  So, that is good.  Still not happy with the numbers, though.

NA Sprint Phone SO-LP:  claimed 28 x 16 = 448 in 1 hour operating time.  As KE3X told me, his NS score was higher that week!  The phone Sprint is more fun from a bigger station, but really suffers from lack of participation.

ARRL DX SOAB-LP:  claimed 544 x 243 = 396,576 in 14 hours.  This should have been a bit better, but I got sucked into trying to make myself heard in EU on 160 before their sunrise.  Killed almost 60 minutes on 15 QSOs there.  Also only operated about 1-2 hours during prime EU time on each of Sat/Sun morning.  Efforts at getting a run started were a complete failure.  Need. More. Firepower. I was very pleased to work ZM1A on 10 meters, though.

Other notes…

After 17ish years of amateur radio, I finally installed my first 30-meter antenna—a dipole at 35ish feet.  First QSO was ST2AR, so I guess it’s working alright.

A box full of goodies arrived from Down East Microwave this week and I started working on buttoning up the 1296-MHz W1GHZ transverter.  Massive thanks to Ben, N3UM, who lives nearby for sharing his construction notes with me.  Not too far along other than punching and tapping a few holes in a diecast box.  The DEMI box also included a couple of LNA boards that I hope to tune up for 432.

High winds (90 km/h gusts, according the forecast) from Friday night through Saturday night did not manage to topple my FO12 and A50-3S from their perch on the chimney.  I haven’t checked the rotator to see if they still turn, though.  This antenna situation needs to change eventually.

Finally, I also managed to score about 250 feet of RG-213 and 10 feet of LMR-600 from a dumpster-diving excursion.  The LMR will make nice jumpers from the 903 and 1296 transverters to their respective antennas and I can use the RG-213 to replace the RG-8X on some of my HF antennas.

Recent tinkerings (9 Jan 2011 edition)

January 9th, 2011

Several people have commented over the years that I should “write more” on the blog.  I usually respond that I could spend my free time tinkering/hamming or blogging, but not both.  Here are a month’s worth of blog posts as freestyle poetry:

  • A section on my workshop has been added to under Engineering.
  • Discovered that although the SoftRock VHF Ensemble II won’t fit (barely) into the Bud CU-473 diecast box I bought for it, it will fit into an extruded enclosure that housed an ancient X-band radar detector I picked up at Dayton in 2002 in hopes of stripping the Gunn diode assembly and getting on 10 GHz.  Bonus points for thriftiness.  Photos will follow once I finish the project.
  • Did not observe Quadrantid meteor pings with the SoftRock VHF Ensemble II, but did notice something interesting about the W3APL beacon.  Need to investigate.
  • Have more CE/K8GU QSL cards again, finally.  Tonight, I might finish the bureau (and, ashamedly one direct) cards languishing.  Some K8GU (and AA8UP, no kidding) bureau cards are sitting here staring at me, too.  Not a big project, though.
  • Operated the NAQP CW on Saturday (8 January 2011) for four hours and twenty minutes and made 318 QSOs x 128 multipliers for 40,740 points before log-checking discounts.  This total is pleasing to me especially considering that it was almost all leap-frogging SO2R search-and-pounce, which can be very fatiguing.  It’s fun to see the rate meter stay over 100 when you’re S&Ping.  Good Sprint practice.
  • Still the best 30 minutes on the radio every week:  I operated the NS Ladder on Thursday (6 January) night and made my customary 30 QSOs x 24 multipliers for 720 points.  Hopefully, adding 160 will give me some momentum to increase this score back over 1000.
  • We had a spell of 50F (10C) weather on New Years’ Eve.  So, I put the 2-meter beam back up on the chimney.  It was formerly mounted on a steel mast that was ratchet-strapped to the chimney.  A strong wind (>50 mph gusts) before Christmas bent the mast (actually a fence top-rail) and I had removed it.  I cut the bent lower portion of the mast off and attached the remaining top portion with rotator to a “girder” constructed from two pieces of treated 2″ x 4″ x 10′ lumber joined with a half-dozen lag screws.  Again, I ratchet-strapped the entire assembly to the chimney.  The present configuration is much stronger and less prone to damage.  The 3-element 50-MHz Yagi is still on the ground until I actually get the transverter finished, which should be soon (as it has been for 12 months now).
  • Repaired a SoftRock v6.2 downconverter for WF1L and learned that you can solder leads back onto SOIC packages if you’re careful.
  • Have had delightful exchanges with KN6X and ZL1CDP about repairing the TS-930S.  Some of these discussions (and their fruits) may make it onto the site at some point.
  • Back in December, I started integrating the W1GHZ transverters using UT-141 semirigid jumpers with pre-installed SMA connectors obtained on attractive terms from Max-Gain Systems.  Mitsubishi RA18H1213G (1296 MHz) and RA30H0608M (50 MHz) modules arrived from RF Parts.  May have a lead on something less expensive with more gain for 903 MHz via HA1AG.  The big remaining tasks in all three transverter projects are the sequencer and IF interfacing.
  • Also in December, I had dinner with NS Ladder father Bill, N6ZFO, in San Francisco at the Hyde Street Seafood House & Raw Bar, which is a favorite of NA Sprint father, Rusty, W6OAT.  Yes, I did feel that I was in the presence of greatness.  (I had their excellent pork chops since I’m not into seafood, especially raw seafood.)  Like most contesters, Bill’s a super, fascinating guy apart from his radio contesting interests.

CW Sweepstakes 2010

November 8th, 2010

(Image credit:  via

After missing the two contests that I hoped would kick off my contest season, ARRL Sweepstakes was next on the list.  I managed a decent showing that would have won the MDC certificate for A-power last year, provided the log-checkers don’t take too much.

Highlights (“Wins,” as we like to say on #wwyc):

  • 80 meters was awesome.  Good conditions and the K9AY helped me keep the noise under control.
  • Everything worked for the most part and everything still works after the contest is over.
  • SO2R CW with TRLog.
  • Working lots of old friends from my time in MRRC, MWA, and SMC.
  • Working lots of new friends from PVRC.
  • Getting my receiver crushed on all bands when I tuned across W4EE who lives less than a mile away.

Lowlights (Fails):

  • RFI to the CO detector waking Sarah up in the middle of the night.  KA9FOX and AA9DY have had this problem.
  • Not spending enough time on 15 meters and missing VY0JA and VY1EI there.  Missed the sweep by 1.
  • Not being able to answer people responding to my main radio CQ while working someone on the second radio.  This only happened about five times.  But, one of these was my Bureau sorter!  Sorry!
  • Getting confused for K1GU a few times.

Here are the numbers…thanks to all for the QSOs.  See you again in two weeks on phone with a different callsign.

ARRL Sweepstakes Contest, CW

Call: K8GU
Operator(s): K8GU
Station: K8GU

Class: Single Op LP
Operating Time (hrs): 17
Radios: SO2R

 Band  QSOs
   80:  367
   40:  243
   20:  100
   15:    0
Total:  710  Sections = 79  Total Score = 111,548

Club: Potomac Valley Radio Club

NS Ladder (20 August 2010)

August 20th, 2010

I used to be an ardent participant in the NCCC Sprint Ladder competition when I lived in the Central time zone.  Now that I’m back in the Eastern time zone, 10:30 pm local is a little late for me.  But, W9RE conned me into doing it.  After some fits and starts last night (including using the NAQP module for TR instead of the Sprint module, which caused me to QLF my first two serial numbers), I had a good time.  Here are the numbers:

NCCC Sprint Ladder - Aug 20

 Call: K8GU
 Operator(s): K8GU
 Station: K8GU

 Class: Single Op LP
 Operating Time (hrs): 0.5
 Radios: SO2R

 Band  QSOs  Mults
 80:   9      7
 40:   8      7
 20:  12      9
 Total:  29     23  Total Score = 667

 Club: Potomac Valley Radio Club

So, I have some work to do.  I was getting up into the 40s of QSOs when I left off two years ago.  More sprints!