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.