A well deserved Butt Chewing by H44G to those who misuse the spot system

All I can say is I wish more high profile DXpeditions would post a similar message.  Way too many people misuse the spot network and think it’s an email system.  H44G

The Case for Contest QRS

I’m a pretty decent CW operator, comfortable contesting in the 28-36 wpm range.  Definitely not a cw star, but I can hold my own with no real problem.  Probably typical of many of the people who enjoy contests.

Over the weekend, in the CQWW CW contest (and in past contests as well), I noticed that most “running” stations were in that range.

However, for whatever reason,  some seemed to be running about 40 wpm or even higher, I’m guessing with the thought that you increase your qso rate by doing so.  Or maybe just to show off.

To me, this seems counter productive, for the following reasons:

1.  While some contesters are comfortable running at that rate, the majority are not. Perhaps hard core contesters are, but according to  CQWW, the majority of logs submitted have 100 contacts or less, which means there is a huge number of casual contesters on the bands.  

  • How many people simply pass by a station they can’t copy.  These may turn out to be missed contacts.  I know I’ve stopped to listen to a station calling cq at these speeds sometimes a half dozen times before I was sure of the call.  If they’d been operating in the “normal” range, I’d likely have called them after the first cq.
  • I try to make it a policy to verify the stations call, even if I see it on the spotting network, because the spots are frequently incorrect.  If I can’t copy it, even with the spot’s help, I’ll move on.  Why waste time?
  • How many times do exchanges have to be repeated because the op slower op didn’t copy.
  • Even in perfect band conditions, these speeds also tend to create logging errors, meaning rejected contacts.  Incorrect numbers, S and H interchanged, B and D and other such errors.
  • These errors tend to be propagated due to the spotting networks and N1MM software’s automatic capability.  If you can’t easily copy the call, there’s a tendency to rely on the call in the spotting network, which very well may be incorrect.  I saw a lot of incorrect calls in spots over the weekend.

2.  Higher speeds are more difficult to copy in tough band conditions.  

  • I typically ran about 26-28 wpm.  But when stations I was calling were having difficulty picking out my call sign, they got it quickly if I slowed down to about 22 for a moment.  That ALWAYS did the trick.
  • Whether it’s weak signals, QRM, QRN,  arctic flutter or any other source of noise or distortion,  high speeds make it much more difficult to copy.

It would be very interesting to take one of these 45 wpm stations and have them change to 30 wpm for an entire contest, and see the difference.  I’d be willing to bet that the supposed shortening to time spent sending higher speed CW is actually working against them.

Remember the Tortoise and the Hare.  The Tortoise wins every time.

Love online logging

In spite of a keyer that was cutting off dashes at 3D2C, I was able to recognize the cadence of my call sign, so I was pretty sure I worked them.

But thanks to online logging, I now have confirmation that it was a good QSO

Country #305, including deleted.

Effort to Activate P5 is Underway

In case you missed it, there is an effort to put North Korea on the air.

K6VAA has been working for over 6 years to plant the seeds, and continues to work towards eventual permission for a 200 watt, cw only, 4 day operation.

For more information, check out the article on DX-World, my favorite source for dx information:



13 Colonies Special Event Stations

13 colonies certificateIf you’re a certificate hunter, there’s a special events operation going on right now.  It’s called the 13 Colonies, and there’s a special call sign in each of the original 13 colonies here in the states.

The callsigns range from K2A to K2M.  Work one, and you can send for a very nice certificate.  Work all 13 (not that hard – I’ve worked 9 of them tonight) and you get a special endorsement.

For more information, see their website at http://www.13colonies.info/

Country #300 – IN THE LOG!

After being a ham over 46 years, I finally worked country #300 tonight – 1A0C.

Of course, there was the 21 year block of time that I was inactive.  But since getting active again in January of 2011, I’ve gone from 260 to 300, and all on 100 watts and a dipole.

The beam is in the works, but progress is slow due to lots of other commitments. But it should be up by the end of the summer, if I can find a tower climber.  Add the SB200 to the mix, and then watch out world.  I’ll finally have a signal I can compete with.

KT-34A Upgrade under way!

This weekend, I finally had the chance to start the rebuild on the KT-34A.  Finished rebuilding the two halves of the reflector element.

This is quite a task, but the results are well worth it.  The antenna is structurally way more sturdy than the initial design, and should last a very long time.

The first half took about 6 hours to take it apart, clean everything, and learn how to reassemble it with all the new hardware.  It’s a bit of a plumbers nightmare at first glance.

But the second half of the reflector only took about 2 hours, since I now know the process, and how all the pieces fit together.  Plus, the second half didn’t have to be disassembled – it was already in pieces.

The rest should go fairly quickly.  I’ve heard the average is about 40 hours from start to finish, including all the matching network hardware.  I already have about 10 -12 hours including laying out the project.

The remaining element were all cleaned about 20 years ago, and the elements all stored inside in warm garage, so they’re not too oxidized.  But they’ll all have to be disassembled and cleaned, so I figure about 3hours per tip, or another 18 hours.  That will put me at 30.  Then carefully check every dimension on every element once again, and finally the assembly process, so 40 hours is probably about right.

But it should be all worth it.  I hear very good reports on the results from this antenna, and I’m anxious to get it in the air.

Still have to check out and maybe rebuild the rotor, and install the tower, so it’s going to be the end of summer before this is all done, I’ll bet.

The rest will go relatively quickly

Northern California Contest Club Webinars – A great resource to stretch your brain!

A friend of mine, Iain, N6ML, pointed me to the NCCC webinars list, and I now know what I’m going to be doing in my spare time when the bands are dead.

There’s a list of  about 18 recorded webinars ranging from using N1MM to using propagation predictions as a strategic tool in contesting.

Since I’m in the process of planning for a tower installation, I’m in the process of watching the webinar on HF Terrain Analysis to see just how high I might want to go (I only have 60 feet of tower, and a limited number of places to put it, but I’m on a very nice hill and may not need to go even 60 feet)

Here’s the link to the NCCC Webinar page http://www.nccc.cc/webinars.html

6O0CW is in the log!

Finally, today, I started hearing 6O0CW, and nabbed them on 17 meters about 0300z.  This is really the first time I’ve even heard them, let alone hearing them well enough to work them.

About 579 here in Oregon, and working only 6′s and 7′s.

Not a new country overall, but a new country and zone for 2012 – #168 and zone 37 for Marathon  well ahead of last year.

One StepTowards Putting The Tower UP.

Now that I’ve tenatively decided where to put the tower – about 15 feet from the shack window, I’ve cleared the spot out and temporarily placed one section of tower to make sure there was clearance for guy wires.

The spot had wood stacked in it, so I’ve spent the day moving that, clearing the weeds that had grown among the wood pile, and placing the tower section – the base section onto which has been welded a very heavy flat steel plate with holes for the j-bolts.

Now, to see if it passes the wife test – see if she notices and objects, since it’s also about 15 feet outside our living room windows.