Contest Update

If it were not for the fact one of our dogs (with the help of another) dug a hole under the backyard fence, I would have start the ARRL DX Contest off very well. After about 61 minutes of operating (all search & pounce) I had worked 51 contacts and 10 countries. By no means were these record breaking numbers, but it was a steady stream of QSOs that provided for an enjoyable time spinning the dial and working what I could hear.

I was not sure where I wanted to start the contest. My first thought was 20M, since that seems to be my best band in nearly every contest. As I started tuning around before the contest I went to 10M and looked west, but the spots I saw, I could not hear. So I moved to 15M, which seemed to be very good, the 30 or so minutes leading up to the start of the contest.

I decided to stay on 15M for the start, which was a good move. I decided to point the Hexx Beam at about 305 my first trip through 15M, this was to work KL7, KH6 and any JAs I could hear. The second time through, I decided to move the Hexx to about 120 to work Central American and South America and if I had luck the Caribbean. I also took advantage of the BigIR and would toggle to that antenna when I came across a JA or another station (9M6 and BA for example). This allowed for the best flexibility and use of my 2 antennas.

As I said, I did not intend on setting any records, so this pace was good and honestly, probably one of my most productive in S&P on SSB. I had hoped to put in 2 hours, the second hour being on 20M, but the runaway dog seemed to cut into my operating time. With any luck I will be able to pick up on 20M and maybe 10M tomorrow around 2230z when I get home from work. At any rate, I will blow right by my previous best, which is all I can ask for.

As for the dog, I drove around for about 60 minutes, the XYL was pissed and having a panic attack, but she luckily found him, not but a few houses away, along the fence line, probably looking for the hole he had dug.

Sunspots! Rejoice!

All signs point to Sol finally waking up after 11+ years of solar minimum. I mention this because on numerous conspiracy web sites the activity of of the sun have “doomtards” running for the hill. Recent M-class and X-class flares have cause some strong geomagnetic storms. For amateur radio operators, the activity on the sun is a welcomed sight!

Never having experienced a high sunspot cycle, recent activity has see me spending a bit of time in the shack, spinning the dial, chasing DX. While I have not had the sort of time I require to participate in a contest, I have started to get my feet wet in 2011 (finally!). There is another 48 hour contest this weekend, the ARRL International DX Contest (SSB) and while I don’t have the antenna farm I will put in some time beginning today (4pm PST) working DX.

The past few days I have worked nothing but DX on CW and RTTY including East Malaysia, Haiti, Senegal, Belize and many other entities worldwide. Hopefully we continue to see the  SFI and SN numbers climb and the A and K-Indexes remain low for this weekend. While I am setting any goals, I will hope to work more than 71 contacts (54 DXCC), which is what I worked in 2010, just under 4 hours in the chair.

The equipment is all in good working order, but I continue to be unhappy with the performance of the BigIR (w/ 80M coil). Maybe it’s I am much happier working 10-20 (5-bands) on my Hexx. It’s nothing but frustration on SSB working 40 and 80M. I might give it a shot tonight, but I know I will spend a few hours on the high bands at the start of the contest. I did have an issue with the FT-1000MP last week, when the radio shut itself down for no apparent reason. I have not been able to duplicate the issue in the past week, but have seen this occur in a prior RTTY contest.