2011 Virginia QSO Party

Contest: Virginia QSO Party
Date: March 19-21, 2011
Mode: Mixed
Period: Starts 1800 UTC Saturday, ends 0100 UTC Sunday

20 / 4 / 8 / 1
TOTAL: 13 QSO / 9 Mults
SCORE: 698 (TIME ON: 3 H 30 Mn)

SOAPBOX: I found myself wanting to work the VAQP more than the BARTG RTTY Contest, not quite sure why. Part of the reason was hoping there would be a good amount of participants on for the VAQP, but I found it somewhat discouraging that I only finished with 13 QSOs after some 3 hours spinning the dials.

This was just one of 3 contests I was playing in at the time, but I did have some good fun in the contest. I just wish conditions were better. I had some poor propagation to the East Coast, which did not help. No one was on 15M and 20M was really the only frequency I picked up my contacts on. I would switch between the CW and SSB “suggested” frequencies and could usually find a quick QSO.

I was able to log K4NVA, the club station of the Sterling Amateur Radio Club, which brought in 500 bonus points. My last QSO was a PSK31 QSO from N8RGQ, who was operating QRP. All in all it was enjoyable and just another new QSO party I can say I have participated in.

Erase $70,000 debt (Bogus Story)

A recent statistic I read (from 1990-1997) mentioned 27% of Americans were in debt, but with increase spending and borrowing (credit cards) that percentage continues to rise. I would be included in any recent statistic, as the purchase of my home in 2004 coupled with the crash of the housing market have put me further into “debt” than where I should be. Add to that the purchase of two cars (one used) over the past few years and the birth of my son in 2005 and debt is something I deal with daily.

While I am in no means near bankruptcy or not being able to pay bills, I read an article on Yahoo this morning about a couple who was $70,000 in debt. Now the story seemed quite logical when you read what the couple did to get out of debt.

Yet the real kicker came when it was mentioned the couple made $140,000! Huh? Even after taxes and putting some money away for savings, how could you NOT live off what you took home? Even if you lived in a city like New York or San Francisco?

Up until that point of the story I was already thinking of better ways to budget what my wife and I bring home monthly/yearly. Unfortunately the story lost a bit of luster after I read their yearly pay. It would have been more impressive to see an “average” family making $50,000-$60,000 a year and what they did in order to pay off $70,000 of debt.

Weekend Contesting

While I was hoping to take some time this coming week for CQWW WPX (SSB) this coming weekend, it looks like I will just put in about 4-6 hours during the contest. Since it is SSB and not my strongest mode, couple that with the solar cycle that has been down, compared to what it was just a few weeks back for the ARRL DX (SSB) my commitment level won’t be what I was previously anticipating. Now something could change between today and Saturday, which would allow me more time come Saturday and into Sunday.

Thankfully the weather system that just moved through Northern California did not damage the hex beam or the SteppIR BigIR, but I have some issue looming I will need to address as we move into spring. The hex beam, while at 20′ does an admirable job, but I must tie it off at 3 points to keep it from rotating when the wind gusts.The SteppIR has two problems, the first is the concrete base. Somehow over the 2 years it has been standing the base has become loose and now the antenna will list side to side, even though I have it tied off with guy wires. The second problem to note is the aluminum coupler on the extension support tube seems to have come unglued and was sliding down. I looked it over and I could see no visible damage, so I am hoping I can make it another month of so before I pull the antenna down.

As for this past weekend, conditions were not great, especially on 20M. I decided to split time in a number of radio contests; Russian DX Contest (RDXC), BARTG HF RTTY Contest, Virginia QSO Party and the North Dakota QSO Party, none of which I really put in a big effort, but casually participated.I had a very enjoyable time in the RDXC on Saturday afternoon. I only put in a few hours at most, worked a few Russian oblasts, some JAs and JT5DX in Mongolia on15M, first call! Improved on my 2010 scores. Also found 20m difficult on RTTY on Sunday morning. Mainly worked 20M again, but the noise was terrible, but I did hand out a few QSOs.

I was more interested in the VA QSO Party, which I finished with about 15 contacts including K4NVA! Worked mainly on CW, but found a few stations calling CQ on SSB, even got 1 PSK31 contact! North Dakota was slim, worked all of 3 stations. All in all the main goal (as always) was achieved. I had fun, can’t ask for more.

From now until the end of June I need to pick and choose carefully what I want to participate in. There are some enjoyable events coming in the next few months: JIDX (CW), 7QP, NEQP, CQWW WPX (CW). At the beginning of July I will receive a group of days off in order to use for events starting in July, as well as a week of vacation earned coming in early October.