Part-Time Effort

With all the things on my STD list to complete during my days off, I was not able to get my transceiver, the Yaesu, FT-1000MP boxed up and shipped off to Byron, WA4GEG in Tennessee. He is my source for all things concerning my radio, as it has been there two previous times. Unfortunately looking at the calendar there are some enjoyable contests on the horizon that I was hoping to participate in. Thankfully George, K6GT has loaned me his back up radio, which was unused until I get mine repaired and returned.

Next week is CQ WW WPX RTTY and while it was a very strong contest for me a few years back, it will only be a single band effort next weekend, depending on if I get both days off from work. This decision after speaking with SteppIR tech support last night on the phone only to realize I probably did more damage than I thought to the mechanical workings of my BigIR MkIII. So much for operating on the low bands (40M/80M). Much like my amp going out 2 years before prior to this contest, it could be a blessing in disguise.

Looking at the 2011 and 2010 results from WPX RTTY, this would give me the best chance to win some wallpaper (ham speak for an award). My best best will be 15M or 20M, depending on what the propagation is doing next weekend. This means I would operate about 2 hours before sunrise to about 2 hours after sunset. This could go longer depending on sort of activity I would get beaming JA/OC.

It doesn’t get much better as the following weekend is ARRL DX CW followed by NAQP RTTY the week after. I will need to get the “okay” from the XYL before I ask W6ZJH if I can guest op from his shack for this contest. Chances are it will be all of February and a part of March before I get my radio and antenna back from being repaired. Until then, I will have to pick and choose my efforts when it comes to contesting. With any luck, I could have everything back up and running by the time JIDX CW rolls around on April 14.

2011 Japan International DX – CW

Contest: Japan International DX
Date: April 09-10, 2011
Mode: CW
Period: Starts 0700 UTC Saturday; ends 1300 UTC Sunday

BAND/QSO/PRE
15/ 35 / 18
10 / 3 / 5
TOTAL: 38 QSO / 21 PRE
SCORE: 861 (TIME ON: 2 H 09 Mn)

SOAPBOX: I screwed up prior to this contest by not taking Saturday off from work, instead I took Sunday off to participate after work Saturday afternoon into Sunday morning. Unfortunately that was not a wise decision, I should have started the contest instead of ending it. Even then I did not come back to the shack for 40M or a second attempt at 80M.

All but 3 of my contacts were on 15M, which was a great band for JIDX. Unfortunately it got very quiet after I went through the band a few times. I did start to call CQ JIDX, but after 1 reply I gave up and went back to S&P. It looked as if 10M would be good, but after my initial 3 QSOs I did not find any further activity.

Instead of pumping out 1000w, I decided to run low power, unassisted. All in all I did improve my numbers from 2010 by almost 50% in only 2 hours of operating. Not great by any stretch, but still I got some time to participate and make some Qs, which  is always fun.

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.

2010 Japan International DX – CW

Contest: Japan International DX
Date: April 10-11, 2010
Mode: CW
Period: Starts 0700 UTC Saturday; ends 1300 UTC Sunday

BAND/QSO/PRE
20 / 25 / 19
15 / 5 / 5
TOTAL: 25 QSO / 19 PRE
SCORE: 475 (TIME ON: 1 H 04 Mn)

SOAPBOX: I had hoped to put in a better effort in order to work towards some of the JIDX sponsored awards. Unfortunately band conditions, my antennas and externals factors amounted to very little participation.

1976 QSL Card and Upcoming Contests

It has been an interesting week so far, received my collection of bureau cards from Los Angeles the other day and I was surprised to see a card from JA7COI for a contact from 02/08/1976. I missed it the first time around, but when I was matching up cards with my logbook I did a double take and realized this was a contact with my father, when he held the call back in the late 1970s.

I e-mailed Ichiro (JA7COI) and explained the situation, “I am pleased to hear that my QSL arrived to you. And, I am surprised that W6ONV in 1976 is your father’s call sign. The attached picture is a search result for W6ONV on my home made e-log. I checked it carefully, and I found we had duplicated QSO on the same contest hi. It shows that I have sent the QSL to JARL bureau on 2008/Nov/19. “j081119/” shows it.

Ichiro goes on to say, “The reason why I decided to send QSLs for old QSOs is that I wanted to apply to the Yomiuri DX-10000 stations. It needs different 10000 station’s paper QSL including full CQ zones, ITU zones and DXCC. So, I checked my full e-log data since the first day of my ham life. And I sent QSLs for them who have pages on QRZ.com. I am on a half way to the summit now. This is the story.

I think that is a very unique awards and truly an achievement for any operator to fulfill. I did tell him I would get my dad to initial a QSL card and get it in the post to him, along with mine, which are just a bit more recent on RTTY and SSB over the last two years.

In other ham radio news I am looking at some of the upcoming contests and I am getting excited. Next up is the JIDX CW Contest taking place next weekend. Each prefecture is a mult and with 100 watts working all bands I should be able to have a good contest.

Somewhat in line with the JIDX is and award my dad mentioned to me when we were discussing the JA7COI story. He told me back in the late 70s he was working towards the WACA or Worked All Cities Award sponsored by the JARL. My dad never did mention how many cities he had worked, but looking at my log I have 250 JAs, one of the more heavily worked counties in my log after Canada (336). The JARL currently shows 809 cities (Including 23 Wards of Tokyo). Guess it’s time to start filling out QSL cards for my JA contacts as I would like to achieve this award.

The 7QP is coming at the end of the month as well. Another fun contest I participated in last year finishing 21 out of 41 for high power, all modes. I did not put much time into the contest as I recall, nothing that would resemble a true effort, it was more of a leisurely pace working digital, CW and phone.

With warmer weather approaching and the number of contests I participating in dropping off it will be time to start reworking the shack and fit my antennas, along with adding the 6M on the roof. I was also looking to possibly go SO2R when the new contest season kicks off at the end of 2010. That second rig would end up being the FT-857D I have installed in the truck. More on that as we get into summer.