Sunday, June 27, 2010
Sunday, May 30, 2010
No bother, as operating time was very limited thanks to that stinkin’ great weather. So, in between power washing the deck (amazing what it looks like after blasting off ten years worth of wear and tear), and pulling grass and weeds out of a badly neglected garden, I managed to work a grand total of 50 stations over the course of the 48 hour contest. On top of that the bands seemed to, how do I put this delicately…..well suck, much of the time. I see ole’ Sol was somewhat active this weekend, which may have worked out well for the 6 meter folks, but it didn’t help out 20 meters too much, at least while I was tuning around. Most of the stations worked were the garden variety A, K, N, W & VEs, but I did manage a few DX contacts with I (Italy), 9A (Croatia), a couple from EA8 (Canary Islands), F (France) signing with a TM prefix, CT (Portugal) and CE (Chile) using the prefix XQ.
I’ll have to check the contest calendar for the next good CW or digital contest. Anyone know a good rain dance?
Saturday, May 22, 2010
The first pack contained a number of cards for VE3GJS, my original call…so I knew these were hanging around the QSL bureau’s in-box for some time! Sure enough, most were for contacts made in 2001 and 2002 (I acquired the VE3CH call in 2004). The second batch of cards that arrived just a few days later was for more recent contacts. Last year I blogged speculating whether hard copy QSL cards were a fading aspect of the hobby. I’ve never been an overly active QSLer. While I do my best to respond to cards sent to me, and will take the effort to send a card when I’ve worked a new country, I’ve not felt the need to collect as many as possible. I’m not an award chaser, so maybe that’s part of the reason for my lackadaisical attitude towards QSLing. None the less, it’s always a nice little surprise to get a pack of cards in the mail. Better than the other pieces of mail which seemingly consist of only bills.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
This contest has been around 44 years and is named in honour of Alessandro Volta, an Italian physicist who died back in 1827 but is credited with developing the first electric cell in 1800.
There are a number of RTTY contests throughout the year, and I try to dabble in as many as possible. I’m still a neophyte in this mode, having sent my first ‘ritty’ signal maybe five years ago. As with many of the digital modes tough, I find the operating quite pleasurable, primarily because these modes are well suited to modest stations with lower power. I’m able to make decent contacts, across North America or across the oceans without too much trouble. Running between 60 and 80 watts into my simple windom, I was able to work some decent Dog-Xray from the Hawaiian Islands (KH6GMP) to Poland (SP3GHX), the latter on 40 meters, where I find it difficult to make a DX-haul on phone. I even managed a contact with a station in Sardinia, which according to my logging software is a separate DXCC entity from Italy, so I also got to chalk up a new country (better dust off the QSL cards!).
Hey, I just received two packs of QSL cards via the bureau this past week. Perhaps we’ll chat about that next time.
‘til then 73 & keep the RF pumping.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
It’s May now. Ironically, summer isn’t exactly prime time for traditional HF contacts as the longer daylight hours means less good DX opportunities, especially on bands above 20 meters. Alas, that’s when things at work back off a bit for me and I have a little more time for RF pursuits.
For my throngs of readers out there in the Blogosphere (okay I’ve probably lost everyone with the posting drought, but maybe someone will stumble upon it from one of the hotlinks out there), here are what few radio highlights I’ve had since last fall.
Christmas DX to the North Pole
My little '2nd harmonic' Kaden (turning the big 0-5 in a few weeks!) had a contact with Santa Claus back in December. We even used his callsign VA3KDN for the occasion. No he doesn’t hold the Guinness record for being the youngest licenced amateur radio operator (who is the youngest licenced tot anyway?), Daddy decided to get an auxiliary callsign a few years ago that kinda works with his name. Should he actually want to pursue his ticket down the road, I can transfer the call to him. He may very well not be interested in the hobby (my older son didn’t take much of a shine to it), but imprinting positive ham radio experiences at a young age like a talk with big guy at the North Pole can’t hurt! Kudos to the guys with the ONTARS net who make this very special contact possible every year for many young hammies.
I did manage to spend the odd half-hour here and there making a few contest contacts. The bands were swarming with QRM in March as one of the “biggies” took place…the ARRL DX contest, SSB version. What was the most often heard expression on the air for this one?... “5-9 Kilowatt” I don’t know why the H-E-double hockey sticks I bother with these contests. With a mere 100 watts into a wire, the frustration level often runs high. But every so often, my pip-squeak signal manages to find its was through the ether to a far off land. If lucky, I won’t have to repeat my call sign ten times using every variation on phonetics I can think of…. “Negative, it’s Victor’s Eating 3 Crazy Hamsters!" Then, or course, getting my 5-9 signal report (err, why did I have to clarify my call and exchange 18 times then?). I particularly enjoyed working those seemingly few DX stations that were running just 100 watts (kindred spirits!). Most of the time their signals were maybe S3 or 5 (yes…I gave them a 5-9!), but in most cases they probably had the advantage of a decent directional antenna.
CW vs. Phone & special calls
I’m starting to prefer the CW contests, where it seems I have a much easier time making contacts, although I desperately need a better CW filter than the stock one that’s in my little FT-897.
Hopefully I’ll be able to spare a little time for the Continuous Wave version of the WPX contest coming up later this month. I don’t think there are any special prefixes available to Canadian hams this year. Last year I signed as XM3CH. Actually in the SSB WPX recently I made a handful of contacts as VG3KDN (borrowed the kid’s call!). The special prefix was to commemorate the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Managed to miss the Ontario QSO Party in mid April due to a family commitment. I used to really enjoy this contest, but haven’t seriously taken part in the past few years. I think it was 2002 when I actually managed to scoop the award for my county. Then again, I think I was one of maybe three stations on from ‘HAS’ (Hastings County).
I did a presentation recently at our local ham club on EchoLink. I operate an EchoLink simplex link at the college’s amateur station VE3ALC. It’s been on the air a little over a year now only a few of the local hams had checked it out. Of course with EchoLink you can operate directly from your computer. The local simplex node is usually connected to a small network of other links and repeaters in the greater Toronto area, Niagara region and even to a couple of repeaters in British Columbia. All you need to do is key the mic on the local 2-meter frequency on which I have it operating…and every once in a blue moon, someone will actually come back to you! I’ve noted from the systems electronic log that there have been some interesting users connecting from places like Hong Kong and Indonesia…places I can only dream of working on HF! Unfortunately these stations were connecting in the middle of the night local time, so I doubt that they got a response to any call.