DXCC Achieved!

Back in April I wrote a piece called 99 and counting… that left me one confirmed QSO short of my initial ARRL DXCC Award. Just 3 days ago, YT8A confirmed our 20M RTTY contact from last year and that gave me the coveted #100! Just a day later I confirmed OM3LK as #101 and today I submitted the paperwork electronically to the ARRL for my wallpaper.

It’s real exciting for me, as I have now achieve my initial WAS and DXCC. Look at my totals it should be before the year is up that I submit paperwork for my 5BWAS or 5 band worked all states. I have 4 bands that each have 43 or more QSOs already. Hopefully 10M picks up as I only have 13 QSOs on that band.

As for the ARRL Triple Play, I am still stuck on 149 (out of a possible 150) contacts. I am still in search of Delaware on SSB. I might look to make a scheduled QSO, just to knock out the award. This was the recommendation from a member of the NCCC who had good luck with a few operators from DE. I would assume come NAQP in July and August I should be able to work all 50 states on RTTY, CW and hopefully SSB.

The Waterfall

It has been nearly a year since I ceased using the operating mode, PSK31 and decided to focus on RTTY as my main interest.  With recent band openings on 20M I have decided to get back into the PSK31 arena on 14.070.15 MHz and start working domestic (mainly) stations. Although the past two days I have worked Canada, Mexico and France. Along with those DX stations I have worked new stations or states I need for the ARRL Worked All States award using PSK31.

I have also started to send out QSL cards again, some that are nearly 3 years old, already filled out and just sitting in a shoebox waiting to be mailed. I decided to spend $100 on one dollar bills and $40 worth of stamps to send out a few groups of QSL cards. This too stems from my early start on HF working only PSK31 stations.

Since I have gotten into contesting, it is nearly impossible, time wise and financially to send out cards to EVERY contact. While I would like to, it is not really an option at this time. So I will continue to pick and chose and send cards as I see fit. Of course any cards received are immediately answered and sent back (no SASE required).

As it sits now I am about 12 stations short of the WAS using PSK31, there seems to be some good sunspots coming into view, hopefully that will buy us some good propagation for the time being in order to work more PSK31 stations.

NAQP is Coming!

I have toyed with the idea of not participating in the July 17th NAQP RTTY Contest because of all the other responsibilities I have during the summer. Radio is usually not included in many of those. This is the “off season” for many in radiosport, but I have decided to get the day off from work and put in my 10 hours in hopes of bettering my score from the February version of this contest. If you recall that was the contest that spurred me to write, Contesting: Send Your Log In!. I mention this because somehow I forgot to send my results in to the NCJ. If I would have, I would of had a top 10 finish in 6-land and would have bumped my NCCC #2 Team up in the standings. How this happened, I still don’t know.

In hopes of having a good showing for NAQP I need to get on the roof and drag down the 5-band hex beam. I believe I am having issues with the antenna that have not been addressed. Given the current solar conditions, there might be absolutely nothing wrong with it, since I was able to make a good number of Field Day contacts last weekend. At any rate, I am looking to upgrade my DXE Hexx Beam.

Thanks to Al and Rod at DXE, I am going to add a HEXX 5-Band Stainless/Teflon® Rigid Balanced Feeder and feedline current choke as recommended by DXE. I have been cheating and using the vertical feedline current choke.

After placing my order with Rod I spoke to him at some length regarding the new, rigid feeder. Thankfully I have SWR measurements for the hex, but made mention I might need to shorten the wires on the hex near the low ends. We will see if that is indeed needed once I get the new feeder in place. But will that happen prior to NAQP? I doubt it. At any rate I will get on the roof or pull the antenna down and install the new feed line current choke and clean up the wires. It’s looking like a shabby antenna again as the spreaders are either collapsing on themselves or the clamps holding the wires are loosening. Nearly all 5 bands are sagging, which has been an issue since I first built my hex.

As for the contest, I started looking at my February 2010 results that had me log 342 QSOs, 137 mults for a final score of 46,854 points. I had a goal of 350 QSOs, which I fell just short of but exceeding my goal on mults and final score. This will be the first time I have put a full effort in the July edition of this contest. The way solar activity has been damn near nil, I hope it takes a turn for the better and quickly.

One change I plan on making this year is the scheduling of my 2-hours off time. Last year I worked 10 straight and took the final two hours off. I think that was a mistake as I missed out on 40/80M. This year, based on my February results I am going to take 00-02z off since those were the two worst hours I had. If all goes well I could lock up a number of personal achievements: 80M WAS (8 states needed), 40M WAS (5 states needed), RTTY WAS (1 state needed), 80M RTTY WAS (9 states needed), 40M RTTY WAS (9 states needed), 20M RTTY (3 states needed) and if 15M is open then I could add to the 24 confirmed states I already have.

Delaware. Nevada. West Virginia. Maine. Rhode Island. All these states seem to share a common theme because I need them for all the aforementioned awards. What frustrates me more is I have worked many of these states at the start of 2009 (ARRL Triple Play Award), but the amateur on the other end either hasn’t uploaded to LOTW or doesn’t use LOTW. Yeah, I know send a QSL card. I could and I probably should, but LOTW is so convenient and in my experience RTTY operators are the more faithful in uploading their contest logs to LOTW.

So in the coming week I will set my goals for the NAQP. I am looking forward to a quick 10 hour contest and hopefully adding some new wallpaper to my shack.

ARRL Triple Play

A new award created by the ARRL has me excited about 2009, it’s called the ARRL Triple Play. The award is presented to any amateur who works all 50 states on CW, SSB and digital modes. One catch to the award, it began today, so any contacts prior today do not count. The other catch, so to speak is no need to submit QSL cards to the ARRL, but confirm all QSOs through Logbook of the World.

I like the concept and hopefully this award will help me in becoming a better operator, which I think it will. Until last month, I had avoided any SSB contacts, mainly because I am not really set up for good SSB. While I have done as much as I can with my Hustler 6-BTV, I still lack true output needed to make good ’59’ contacts. I was able to secure a handful of US and Canadian contacts in the RAC Winter Contest, so I now know I can be heard, but it will take much work on my end to WAS using SSB.

Much of my logbook is filled with PSK31 contacts, well over 160 confirmed QSOs. Thankfully in November and December, 2008 I was able to add RTTY, CW and Olivia to the logbook. So as it stands now I am well on my way to working all 50 states, but have started back at zero with the 3WAS that will be awarded by the ARRL. I started off on the right foot, but confirming North Dakota today, not always an easy state to find.

In the first month of 2009 there are three contests that could really get my moving towards the award. This weekend is the 2009 ARRL RTTY roundup, which I will be working from N6RO, as well as trying to put some time in at my station. The North American QSO Party CW is the following weekend, which should further add to my WAS total and the following weekend is the North American QSO Party SSB. All of these contests are brief exchanges and many hams should be on the air for all three contests.

While I am not fully sure what to expect, I do know this, it will be an enjoyable time. I am looking forward to the contesting experience I will get this year, operating my own station, as well as taking part at operations at N6RO, now that I am a member of the NCCC (to be confirmed at next meeting as I understand it).

CQ RTTY CQ RTTY

While I am not a serious contester…yet…maybe, I still enjoy sitting down and “playing radio” during contests. This weekend there was a RTTY (Radioteletype) contest sponsored by the Czech Radio Club. I was looking forward to getting a taste of RTTY before the upcoming SARTG New Year RTTY Contest and the ARRL RTTY Roundup, both which come our way in January, 2009.

Until today I have not made a RTTY contact on any of the HF bands. Why? I did not realize I had the radio set up incorrect to active the PTT (push to talk) when I transmitted. Since I use software to transmit a RTTY signal, I had the radio’s [MODE] select button set for RTTY, but it had to be set to [SSB]. Thanks to K0PYB for providing me a light in which to see by. With his input I was able to correct the issue and make my first, actually 31 contacts today during the contest.

Most of the activity was from the USA, but I did make it into Canada on 20m, west to Hawaii, twice and into Japan, again, all on 20m. Prior to the contest ending I was able to snag a few 40m contacts with Arizona. I was able to mark off three more states in Oklahoma, South Dakota and Mississippi as I work towards my WAS Award (these still need to be verified by a QSL card).

So with my feet in RTTY, I look forward to the upcoming activity in January, it should prove to be a great time, even though my participation will be purely for enjoyment and not for the competition.