Monday, July 13, 2009


All I can say is, WOW!

The king of multi-multi contesters in Alaska, Rich Strand KL7RA, proposed last year to operate as W1AW/KL7 in the IARU HF contest. Several stations signed up to activate the headquarters station, and the idea began to germinate.

Stream of consciousness...

Rich pulled a million strings, even up to the last minute, to make the knot that held this thing together. WOW! He is far too modest, but I think we all know without this extraordinary effort, W1AW/KL7 would have been a pipe dream.

The HC8N CW team stacked the decks from Rich's new Kenai station. The 3830 reflector is full of comments regarding how strong the signals were. Some good 10m contacts were in the offing, too. Those guys really know how to light up the ionosphere.

Wigi AL7IF gets a blue ribbon for his technical support getting the VPN and WinTest networking going well in advance so we could have a chance to wring things out. Without it, I have a feeling things could have gone very badly.

Corliss AL1G gets my gold star for sheer staying power and making the Voice of Willow a force to be reckoned with, especially towards the end when new stations were not that easy to find. She did a tremendous job keeping alive the memory of Frank KL7FH SK.

Frank WL7O and Debbie KL7OU at Big Lake kept things running and running and running from there on 40 SSB. Whatever it took. And many thanks to them for pictures/words for my documentation effort.

AL7F Kris' 80m SSB signal from Anchor Point was absolutely amazing. That antenna work has paid off.

The odds and ends I contended with at KL2R to get ready were numerous but all relatively minor. Repairs from Field Day, re-cabling, labeling, running 240 VAC for the amp, etc. I dotted the last i and crossed the final t with just under 3 hours left until the start.

Dan KL1JP started the generator at 1150Z and toughed it out for half the contest until work demands drew him away. Thankfully,Gary NL7Y came to the rescue. Both these guys deserve a round of applause for dogged perseverance in less-than-ideal conditions. But we're used to that sort of tenacity, which is what it takes in Fairbanks to compete when the Kp and aurora go high. Lesser ops would have gone to bed or gone fishing.

The technology -- WinTest in particular -- was rock-solid. IARU gave us a chance to exercise some of the multi-multi tools in the software suite. After this, M2 operation at KL2R will be a piece of cake. Partnering was fun to do. Gab kept us awake and entertained, not to mention proved an invaluable coordnation tool. (I didn't receive one phone call.)

I had a huge sense of relief when I powered off the generator at 1201Z Sunday. I had slept barely 3 hours in the previous 48, and as Gary said, I was slowly bleeding. But I went to Snoozeville feeling a great sense of accomplishment, tremendous pride in everyone's teamwork, and above all, real honor in having been invited to participate in such a special event.


  1. When Rich first brought up the idea of W1AW/KL7, my husband Frank KL7FH got really excited. He was so looking forward to it and talked about it a lot. He’d been contesting for over 30 years, participated in hundreds of contests, but this was something extra special to him. He spent a lot of time at our Willow station with help from Randy, KL7Z and Bob KL5E to get the station ready. When he passed away in November, KL7Z and KL5E continued to work on the station, contributing many hours and, as I only just found out recently, some of their own equipment. My thanks to them for their contributions in helping Frank to make the Willow cabin the great station that it is.

    Saturday afternoon KL7Z checked to see that my rig and amp were connected correctly and explained to me how the antenna switch worked. I had been using my home antenna switch that can select only one antenna at a time, so it was a new experience for me to use a switch that can select up to three antennas at once. He worked the contest from 8am to noon on Saturday before leaving for Soldotna to take advantage of the awesome weather to go fishing.

    Thanks to KL5E for contributing the computer that was there and for using VNC from his home in Chugiak to get Win-test running and networked with Kenai. He stopped by the station to see how things were going later in the afternoon on Saturday. He gave me some very helpful tips on tuning the amp.

    Originally the plan was that I would be at my home station in Anchorage for this contest so I had prepared my home computer with Win-test. It was fun testing the log, partner mode, making Q’s, gab, etc, with KL7RA, KL2R and AL2F. I had never used Win-test before so I used it in the Canada Day contest to familiarize myself with the program. I also used it making Qs with KL7DX, working on the LOTW Triple Play Award for that callsign.

    I found the list of HQ stations and the report they’d be using so that just in case of heavy QRM or an accent problem, I would be able to look it up.

    Some highlights of my IARU experience:

    In the first hour of the contest I was pointed North to EU but seemed to be working more JA’s than anything. I mentioned this on the gab and Rich said “Well, point west”. Somehow I thought I wasn’t “allowed” to point west, only north to EU, haha, I take things very literally, so I was glad to find out it was OK to point west. Thanks Rich! :-)

    It was nice that a lot of the stations calling knew it was me and said hello, Corliss when they called to make a Q.

    I enjoyed being a "tag team" with KL2R on 20 meters using partner mode.

    The gab was both entertaining as well as helpful and supportive. It was one of the best parts of this contest experience. In future contesting I will really miss it.

    Rich asked at some point during the contest if I had any help there in the station and I answered no, he said "well you have all of us here".

    The water pump from the well started “water hammering” once every couple of minutes, making a loud clunk and shaking the cabin. Of course it started happening after everyone left! So for the rest of the contest, every couple of minutes..CLUNK…SHAKE. Well I guess it helped to keep me awake :-)

    Though I was having a lot of fun, I felt a little sadness that my Frank, KL7FH couldn’t be there for this awesome event. Going to the Willow station was tough for me, because it was the last place on this earth that he was aware of before going into the coma. It was the first time I had been to the cabin since it happened.

    But then as I worked the contest late into the night, I got the feeling that he was there with me in spirit, watching over me as was his usual way when I was on the radio, looking at the score, checking the amp and the radio. Then squeezing my shoulder, patting my back and a kiss on my head before going back to whatever project he was working on.

  2. From Rich KL7RA:

    Kenai report for Larry's Blog

    Kenai station BP40 located near Nikiski Alaska

    160 1/4 wave vertical TS-850 Alpha
    80 four square Icom 781 Alpha
    40 Full size 3 element (from arrl ant book) Icom 781 QRO
    20 5/4 & 3 element fixed JA Icom 781 QRO (5/5 under construction)
    15 4/4/4 5/5 Icom 781 Alpha
    10 5/5/5 TS-850 Alpha (4/4/4/4 under construction)

    Gator, N5RZ suggested we try for W1AW/KL7 IARU after station visit. Dave, N1NN followed up and sent this to Dave K1ZZ CEO ARRL.

    Received "Go" from ARRL and search for station locations/ops started.

    Review of Windows software via N1TX/N6TV/others and decided on Win-test tunnel mode IARU.

    Lost KL7FH, SK setback but Corliss stepped up and continued.

    Discussion with BCC at Dayton for IARU activities and using Win-test for IARU with DL6RAI who was the KL7 sponsor for the program.

    KL7RA multi-op station stripped of 14 DOS machines and replaced with windows PCs/ Flatscreen, and Ethernet.

    WPX CW shake down with K6AW for WT training and finding excessive heat of the summer was going to be a very big problem. Second rebuild of the station to allow air flow around equipment by removing shelves, etc. and having to remove two homebrew amps. Extra thanks to Ed, K3PN for packing and shipping up 2 amps with little notice.

    Win-test tunnel mode testing starts thanks to N6TV, AL7IF, F6HRY, and multiple e-mails to/from Ben, DL6RAI.

    All stations linked via Wintest to Kenai 10 days before the start for training and practice. We kept the network up for those days for anyone to log on and make Q's.

    Final RF checkout at Kenai with no problems. 40 meter gamma match capacitor failed at contest start but that is expected. Something has to break sooner or later and I worry until it happens. Required three trips up the tower for repair.

    KL7RA open house for station tour Friday by Moosehorn radio club and visitors to show the IARU setup and meet the ops. Tom, K1KI and Ward,
    N0AX representing the league give talks later at Moosehorn radio club meeting on ARRL happenings and the new handbook.

    With no signals head on 15 or 10 a week before we found both bands open during the contest and we often had five bands running with only five ops here.

    20 had all three directions open often, 40 would slow while the 40 at Biglake would run then they would slow and we could run again. I can see this on 10 and 15 but odd for 40?? Ionosphere tilt?

    Using "GAB" we were able to form a working multi-multi team effort on 12 bands/modes all across the state. (okay come-on, that's cool.)

    Thanks to N5RZ K1EA N0AX K1KI, all major contributors to contesting over the last 30 years. K1EA is hall of fame.

    respectfully submitted Rich KL7RA Kenai and Lucy the dog who did nothing to help me. And Jyl who cooked for the team and fixed a super breakfast at 4:01 am for us. She hosted an excursion to Homer for the wives during the contest.

  3. From Gary NL7Y:

    After over 12 hours of fun this weekend in the greatest hobby ever I came home refreshed at 5 am, and resolved to do more of the same and improve my operating. Among the rewards and benefits of Contesting is the isolation from ordinary buzz from the team focus to succeed. Station building and operating are a fun door out of the daily blues we all endure.

    It's good to be back on the Reflector and I hope we've done ok. What a great experience. How you folks put the linking together is a mystery, and just flat amazing.