CW Chirp & Possible Rotator

Last weekend during the 7QP, NK7U commented about a “chirp” when I keyed up on 15M CW. After that a few other operators later on also made mention to me. In the mail on Saturday was a Official Observer Advisory Notice from W7POE in Washington as he happened to listen to a QSO with KX7L and also mentioned ‘frequency instability’ and a ‘chirp’ in our exchange.

During 7QP I actually sent an e-mail to the NCCC Reflector and got quite a few responses rather quickly. Many commented it being related to the DC power supply (Astron RS-35M) I use to power the Yaesu FT-1000 MP. I attempted to confirm the chirp by listening to CW in my truck on my FT-857D. In my opinion it sounded more like a click, but not being really knowing what I am listening for I cannot confirm it for sure.

Hopefully I can investigate a but further today with another club member on the air. Regardless I need to resolve this problem before the start of WPX on May 28.

Not all news was bad this weekend. I am hoping to put the hex beam on the peak of the roof just for WPX, but my problem would be turning it. Currently I have 3 guy wires I use to turn the hex in the intended direction and then tie the guy wires off.

The members at the Hex Beam Yahoo Group confirmed I could use a Channelmaster RC Antenna Rotator System (Model CM9521-A) in order to turn the hex. At $99 from Radio Shack, this is a great deal than sending off my CDE Ham-M off to be fixed and hoping it would be fixed by WPX. Hopefully in a week or so I will add the CM9521-A to the mast and see how it works. This would definitely help me from running in and out of the shack to change directions.

2011 7QP

Contest: 7th Area QSO Party
Date: May 7-8, 2011
Mode: Mixed
Period: Starts 1300 UTC Saturday, ends 0700 UTC Sunday

40 / 10 / 43 / 1
20 / 38 / 65 / 1
15 / 3 / 25 / 0
TOTAL: 51 PH / 134 CW / 2 DIG QSO / 77 Mults
SCORE: 39270 (TIME ON: 11 H 12 Mn)

SOAPBOX: First off, thanks to the organizers and participants of the 7QP. This is only the third year I have participated and like the previous two years, it was a blast! While I did not make my minimum goal of working 12 hours I still improved upon last year’s score. My only issue I have with this contest is that Win-Test 4.5.1 does not support the 7QP, so I loaded up the Texas QSO Party and used it for all three QSO parties (InQP and NEQP) during this weekend. All scoring then is manually computed, I have not made the decision to switch to N1MM.

I was able to start the contest at 1300z and went right to 40M. I was not expecting much but was able to put up my best hour of operating with a 37 rate to start the contest. Things were looking up early and I was very pleased with the activity until about 1430z when I decided to move to 20M. After about 90 minutes I put together 57 QSOs on 40M. I had hoped this was a sign of things to come. Unfortunately on the back end of the contest, I had already made the decision I would not operate into the night, so I would miss 40M/80M when the sun went down.

The next 2 hours were spent on 20M and even though I was able to add another 20 QSOs to my overall activity, it was nowhere near what 40M was earlier. Still, I was able to keep contacts filling the log at a steady rate. In fact all activity in the 7QP was done S&P, I did not attempt to run on any frequency on any mode.

Just after 1600z I decided to check 15M CW and was able to log a few quick contacts, but I spun through the CW and SSB recommended frequencies and activity was just not there, so it was back to 20M. I picked 15M back up about an hour later on CW, where I was able to add another 5 QSOs in quick succession.

Starting at 1800z I would tune through 20M CW and 20M SSB, followed by 15M CW and 15M SSB, alternating between the two bands for the remainder of the contest. Occasionally I would check 10M, but never did hear anyone call on either CW or SSB.

All in all it was another great time in the 7QP. Must say thanks to the guys at NK7U, who I ended up working 6 times. I did notice more activity out of Utah this year than last. The same can be said for Wyoming. I believe I logged 4 WY stations. Unfortunately Nevada was non-existent, with the exception of W7RN, my lone NV contact on 20M SSB. As for Montana I followed K7RE and K7BG, both operating mobile. Still the activity for MT was better than I expected.

Compared to 2010 I saw a 68% in my total score. I increased my CW activity from 53 to 134 QSOs (60% increase), but saw only 5 more phone QSOs this year (51 vs 46). Mults were also up 35% from 2010 with 77 this year (50 in 2010). Of course these numbers would have been even higher IF the decision was made to work into the night, but family responsibilities and my job prevented me from going after sundown. Still, I am very pleased with the operation during 7QP. Thanks to all who heard my “chirpy” CW, see you in 2012!

QSO Party Triple Header

This weekend is a triple header QSO party weekend, as the 7QP, Indiana QSO Party and New England QSO Party are all on the air. I participated in all three for the first time last year and had a a great time in just about 8.5 hours. The main focus was the 7QP and when I came across someone calling from the other two parties, it was just as simple to give them the RS(T) + CA. Made for a wonderful afternoon participating in all three at one time.

I am looking to work about 12-14 hours, on and off in the 7QP. I probably won’t make the later hours of the 7QP because of work on Sunday morning, but working from 1300z until 0200z. My goal for 7QP is to improve on my 99 QSO / 50 MULT effort in 2010. The goal for 2011 is going to be 200 QSO between CW, SSB and DIG and 100 MULTs. This year, like last year it will be a low power effort.

As for the Indiana QSO Party I only made 9 QSOs with 7 MULTs, so increase my final score of 105 total points should not be too difficult. Again, hopefully I can make 30 QSOs this year with 15-20 MULTs. Finally, the NEQP yielded 36 QSO / 21 MULTS last year, I figure we will have some good propagation to the East Coast. Unfortunately based on the 2010 NEQP results it does not look like a submitted a log last year. I assume my score will also be higher this year. Results for both of these QSO parties will be dependent on working for than about 2-3 hours, which is what I participated last year.

Guest Opportunities

The excitement builds after meeting and talking to John, W6JZH on Friday at his QTH in Pittsburg (about 10 minutes from my house). After looking over John’s list of “guest operators” I am hoping to add my call sign to that list starting in May with CQWW WPX CW. The 2010 WPX CW was one of my best efforts to date and a contest I prepared diligently for. Of a possible 36 hours I logged nearly 25 hours of “BIC” time. Looking back at my 2010 WPX Goals, it’s easy to see where I failed to meet my goals, but in the end I will still pleased with my final score.

Other possible guest op opportunities for me also include the 7QP in May, as well as RAC Canada Day in July. But more importantly it will be the NAQP that start the second week in July with RTTY, followed in August by CW and SSB. Those are quick and enjoyable contests that I can participate in. September brings CQWW DX RTTY Contest and then October is CQP.

Learning the ins and outs of the station as well as software is an area I will need to put some time into. The software that is current in use at W6JZH is TR4W and N1MM, neither of which I have used. Both are freeware and easily downloaded and installed. I currently favor Win-Test since it was the first and only software I have used since starting contesting at N6RO back in 2008. I have downloaded and installed N1MM and I know many operators really like this software.

I just got done reading some of the documentation for TR4W and using the limited version of SH5. I might actually give this software a test spin for the JIDX CW next week. Looks like a very simple and effective (but powerful) program that provides some great statistics (with the use of SH5 log anaylsis).

The problem usually associated with introducing a new logging program in a contest is the learning curve. It took quite a few contests for me to learn Win-Test, even now I am not using it to its full potential, but I like what the software offers and it’s ease of use. TR4W, like every other program carries it’s own learning curve.

Down & Out

It’s been a rough7 day stretch as the entire family has been sick at some point. First the wife, followed by my son with an ear infection and then myself with flu like symptoms and either a migraine or sinus headache that persisted for about 4 days. Needless to say, nothing got done last week, as I spent most of my time in bed and only worked 2 days. Too bad some people don’t understand the reason for sick days.

As for the house the process has slowed. We are still waiting for the first allotment of insurance money to arrive, but in the meantime we did receive our personal property check from the insurance company. Now I see why insurance fraud could be so easy to commit. But my wife an I were honest and did not include anything that was not ruined by the water damage. My best guess is August before the house is 90-95% complete.

The world of radio has been rather slow. There is one big contest remaining at the end of this month, CQWW DX CW and then nothing I will participate in until July. My eyes are actually on the CQP, sponsored by our contest club in October. I was able to work some 150 QSOs in the 7QP, IN QSO Party and NEQP. It was a great time participate in 3 contests at once. If I were set up differently I probably could have made some QSOs in the ARI International DX.

The 2010 World Cup is now 32 days away as the world awaits the arrival of the beautiful game. Of course I cannot convince anyone at work that football even exists if it does not include a pigskin. I still believe Italia will have a great showing and hopefully raise the World Cup. Spain has taken a big hit with El Nino injured and not participating, which lessens their hopes. Germany will be strong, as always. England won’t surprise and still need a keeper and Holland could have a nice run into the final four. More on the 2010 World Cup as we get closer.