T H E 6 T H F L O O R

Life in 6 Land

T H E  6 T H  F L O O R - Life in 6 Land

HMO – Highly Motivated Operator?

While I would like to consider myself an “HMO” (highly motivated operator) when it comes to a full time effort during a contest weekend, the truth is my operating time is dictated by factors I don’t have much control over; work schedule/days off, family responsibilities and limited hardware. Still with these factors I do the best I can, depending on what contest is scheduled will determine my level of commitment.

I was fortunate enough to sit with W6OAT, Rusty as the March meeting and he made mention of a NCCC member who might have a station available to use during contests. His name is John, W6JZH and he lives about 7 miles down the road in the neighboring Pittsburg.

While I probably shouldn’t know of him, I make it a point to go out of my way driving home to view his tower and antennas. I still recall the first day I saw his tower rising above a somewhat residential/industrial type area. I was rather amazed and excited, but at the time did not know of him.

With a quick e-mail to Rusty, he called and spoke to John the other day, made mention of me and the desire to operator from a station other than mine. So now John is waiting in anticipation of my phone call. I think this sort of networking in great! While I just got the e-mail this morning I plan on giving John a call and hopefully end up meeting him and touring his station at his convince. Who knows I might have a “real tower” to use in the next contest.

Speaking of tower, I am chasing the possibility of purchasing a crank-up tower (Tri-EX H-471) for $600 that has never been used and requires a few minor pieces. Not sure this will actually happen, but the wife was not as disagreeable as I thought she would be. I anticipated her answer to my inquiry, but it might be a possibility. Now the last hurdle would be replacing the 20? mast with a 20? (nested) tower. I will continue to explore the idea.

JA7COI: Update from Japan

Even in a very difficult situation, such as japan is suffering in the aftermath of the 9.0 earthquake, devastating tsunami and the continued leak at the Fukishima Nuclear Power Plant, it’s good to get news from afar regarding a friend.

While I have never met Ichiro, JA7COI, I feel I have a unique friendship with him all because of ham radio. It was in 1976 my father, at the time, W6ONV worked JA7COI in a contest and some 30 years late I, as W6ONV received a QSO card.

Since that time I have worked Ichiro on numerous bands using numerous modes and it is always a special QSO. I think even now, as Japan recovers from the earthquake, I have a stronger relationship with Ichiro. Thankfully he updated me and all the other hams he knows yesterday on his QRZ.com profile:

We had extremely heavy earthquake on 2011/Mar/11th. The direct damages were so serious in the area faced to the Pacific. On the shore side in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefecture, 20,000 people or more were swept away by the tsunami. Whole of some cities (people, houses, buildings) was carried away to the sea. Number of victims are not sure yet because the basic resident registers were lost. One of estimated heights of tsunami was 23meters. Huge numbers of victim are still under the wreckage and sea. The search does not go quick because the field is very wide and damaged. The total victims may increase to 40 or 50 thousands. Other big problem is the accidents in nuclear power station in Fukushima. It has serious stage of radiation leak. Huge number of people lost their houses. About 200,000 refugees are taking simple shelters which are hurriedly set in public buildings. The lack of food, fuel and medicine afflicts them. JARL HQ has been taking very quick action to keep the emergency traffic. You can visit  the unbelievable scenes on http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/jishin0311/.

My QTH Akita is located in the opposite side to the Pacific. So, all of my family had no direct damage by the tsunami in spite of very strong earthquake. Heavy aftershocks are still continuing now though half month passed. I check the radiation of atmosphere by GM-counter every day. But I have no abnormal count at all. My ham radio equipment has no damage, but I have been keeping QRT to save energy. We will overcome the disaster. I am alive.

I believe the last sentence holds all that is important, “I am alive.” While I did not QSO with JA7COI during WPX a week ago, it is great to know he, his family and friends are doing okay. I look forward to working Ichiro in the future. Always a special QSO for me. 73.

Support for Radiosport – NCCC

By no means do I consider myself an accomplished contester if I base my success on wallpaper, one would think I have failed in the contests I have entered. But that is not the case. By far the best decision I have made since becoming licensed as an amateur (only 1995) was joining a very accomplished contest club when I moved to Northern California. Not only have I become involved in week contesting being around accomplished operators and a very active club has increased my enjoyment in amateur radio.

Depending on your interest in amateur radio some believe there is a negative connotation surrounding radio contests that take to the bands nearly every weekend. For me, this is the best aspect of the hobby thanks in part to the Northern California Contest Club.

Prior to finding the NCCC I was somewhat without direction in amateur radio. I knew I wanted to be licensed, but without an HF radio or antenna I did not know what direction I wanted to take. Thankfully I received sage advice from Glenn, K6NA about a local “big gun” in Oakley, CA where my wife and I moved. After some e-mails back and I had an eyeball with Ken, N6RO or Radio Oakley, as his station is known.

It was by far the most impressive display of radios I had seen in my short career and I was really excited about meeting him and having the (future) opportunity to operate from RO. It gets better, the group of amateurs that come together for the major contests are some of the best; K3EST, WA6O, K6AW, N6BV, N6ML and N6WM. Many of these amateurs are a wealth of knowledge of the many aspects of the hobby.

It was upon my return from this first meeting that I knew I wanted to get involved in contesting. While I grandiose plans, the reality would limit my ability to put a station on he air. Fortunately with a little bit of legwork and luck I was able to get W6ONV on the HF bands in 2008.

Since that time I have tapped Ken and some of the group for assistance, hardware, including the purchase of my Yaesu FT-1000MP, which is my primary rig and acceptance to the Northern California Contest Club in December, 2008.

While I am still not a major play nor have I really taken advantage of N6RO being so close during a contest I have been able to involve myself in numerous contests through out the year. I accepted the fact I would not always win a contest I entered, but that was not the point of getting on the air during a contest weekend.

After establishing a base line of the contests I entered I made it a point to set personal goals I wanted to achieve in a given contest. Above all I wanted to have fun because if any time this hobby is not fun, then maybe I should rethinking about being part of it.

Fortuantely the NCCC has many different calibers of contesters, from the part time operator to the hardcore, spend every minute with “BIC”. Sometimes it’s actually the participation of the little guns, like myself who could potentially make or break a club competition. So I make it a point to give the best effort possibly when a contest like ARRL Sweepstakes rolls around or the NCCC sponsored California QSO Party (CQP) takes to the air in October.

After nearly 2 years of contesting I do believe I have become a more experienced (and hopefully better) operator. One achievement has been learning Morse code and participating in many CW contests. I also added a rig interface to participate in RTTY contests, which strangely enough has taken a backseat to CW.

If I look at my accomplishments, I was the high score in the 2010 WPX RTTY running low power in California. It was somewhat unexpected to see my call sign in bold type in CQ Magazine. Then again my score of 350,000+ points was well off the pace of the top 10 score. But as I said for me it was not about winning, but participating, having fun and achieving my personal goals I set. Any personal gain (wallpaper) is secondary.

I look forward to a long relationship with the NCCC as 2011 rolls along. If I am ever in doubt, need assistance or even hardware, the first place I will turn for help is the NCCC. By far joining this club has been the best move I made. While I don’t get to attend many meetings or participate as part of a multi effort, but I relish the time I have spent as a member of the club.

2011 CQ World Wide WPX – SSB

Contest: CQ World Wide WPX
Date: March 26-27, 2010
Mode: SSB
Period: Starts 0000 UTC Saturday; ends 2359 UTC Sunday

BAND/ QSO / PFX
20 / 39 / 29
15 / 76 / 60
10 / 28 / 24
TOTAL: 143 QSO / 113 PFX
SCORE: 36,286 (TIME ON: 4 H 21 Mn)

SOAPBOX: I will consider this 4 hour effort a success, as I surpassed my 2010 totals across the board, which was all I shooting for. Only put in few hours on Saturday and Sunday from about 1900z until 2359z completely missing out on the 40/80M.

Propagation seemed to be very good everywhere, now I wish I would of had more time to put into the contest, but I must reserved my days off for contests that I enjoy a bit more than WPX SSB. Nonetheless I had a great time operating, especially on 10M and 15M. For the second contest in a row, 15M had more activity (for me) than 20M. Part of it was not wanting to battle the pileups and splatter on 20M, so I really only spun through the bands a few times in 4 hours.

As expected SA dominated 10M! It was rare I could not make a QSO with Brazil or Argentina, even got Chile and Uruguay this time around. 15M and 20M were dominated by NA. Usually 15M has been very good to JA, but due to limited operating time I did not spend much time with the antenna pointed that direction. EU came in very well on 20M, which was somewhat surprising given the time. Biggest surprise of the contest came when i worked 6V7D on 15M with a great signal and D4C long path when I was beaming JA. Chalk one up for Sol!

I debated running low power, but already being disadvantaged by the 20? high mast for my 5-band hex beam I did not was to add further frustration to my operating. I did however run unassisted this time. In the past I have used the cluster, but this time going purely S&P I figured I would give it a shot and see how well I could do.

All in all I had a great time, only wish I had some more time off from work or a more conducive work schedule that would allow me 20-30 hours to participate. Regardless I continue to improve each contest and hopefully it will all come together in due time to allow me to put in a real effort resulting in a good score.

The Sunday Update

These are posts I should not have to be writing, as a web site transition and hosting should be seamless to the end user. With that said I seem to have got my hosting issues under control for the time being. Last thing I want to do is have to change hosts or correct broken image links in some 1000+ posts I currently have in this database. But, with that said I have decided to remain with IPOWER as my host but will use a redirect my domain name, the6thfloor.com to WordPress.com where I have my “blog” currently.

I have not had good luck using the WordPress.org software that IPOWER has to install any version (or theme) for my site. I ran into issues with image hosting and redirecting the domain name, as well as an FTP to upload the 6th HamCAM to. As I my site set up now is how I intent to keep it. I can use my FTP while retaining the services that WordPress.com has.

The only problem I face now is going through all my posts and editing all the images I currently have on my FTP. While somewhat tedious, it should be done in a week or so. All the pages (Ham Radio, Antennas, 1968 Cougar, About & For Sale) have already been corrected to include the images I previously had.

The only remaining issue is that of my radio logbook that is currently hosted at HRDLog.net uses Javascript, which not allowed on WordPress.com hosted sites. So I am continuing my search and have a few possibility, but I will continue have a link pointing to HRDLog for hams who want to confirm they have made my log after a QSO.

I would love to update my web cam software and get a streaming video or updated images going on the site. I have not really explored my options there. I am just pleased to have the 6th HamCAM up and running on the site. The only way to update the image is to refresh the page. Again, not ideal but what the hell it works!