Friday, December 31, 2010

QRPp and a Magnetic Loop

W0MRZ had an awesome signal into KL2R this afternoon on 20m PSK31.  He said he was running 500 milliwatts and a magnetic loop antenna just delivered.

Update 2 Jan 11:  We successfully made a two-way QSO on 40m just before 0200Z!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Some New Ways to Use the FT-950

An ah-HAH moment occurred recently with respect to the FT-950 operation with a DMU-2000.  In searching for ways to better use the two, I believe I've improved the effectiveness of operation using VFO-A and -B as well a different band scope settings on the DMU.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

End of Year Activity: SRD, 10M, RAC, RR

I used to get a lot more stressed over the holidays.  All the shopping, decorating, cooking, and dreaded family gatherings interfered with some fun, year-end activities on the air.  KL1BE and I agreed some time back to severely prune the commercialism, and magically there is much more time for radio!

First on the December docket was Skywarn Recognition Day.  SRD in Fairbanks serves as the primary opportunity for the Arctic ARC to activate KL7FWX at the National Weather Service Office.  Dan KL1JP has been instrumental in organizing these events for several years.  This time he focused on heavy automation with Ham Radio Deluxe, his FT857D, a Microkeyer II, and an LDG autotuner.  I helped configure the HRD and MK2.  Echolink driven primarily by Mac Carter KL2GS netted hours of contacts.  Phone, CW, and digital modes worked on HF.  In total, a 10-year best number of stations went into the log.

The ARRL 10M Contest proved a hoot, although some prime operating time was missed due to other obligations.  I haven't made so many contacts on 10 meters in ages.  Later in the month I find the RAC Contest an enjoyable hunt, and this year was more successful than most.  The few hours of Rookie Roundup was enriching, and I worked some good new ops.  December always ends on the positive note of leisurely holiday ragchewing.

So now the look is ahead to the on-air events in the coming several months.  Push onward and upward!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Code-a-rific CQWW

Between October and March, my XYL Connie KL1BE will often ask, "Is there a contest this weekend?"  My answer is usually yes, and she responds, "Of course."  The query is merely perfunctory, and after all these years of gaining momentum, KL2R occupies my off-time a lot.  Having recently moved from engineer to paper-pusher at the office, I find ham radio more rewarding these days.  I can still get my brain engaged and hands dirty solving technical and method problems.

The weeks in and around November, of course, are filled with Sweepstakes, CQWW, and a number of other on-air sporting events proving to be quite popular.  I had mixed feelings about entering solo in CQWW CW this year.  I am always excited to do a CW contest like this, but how would I fare over the 48 hours?  I had been up since 2 AM Friday.  Never mind, though.  I got a late start after helping KL1JP configure some new equipment and software for the KL7FWX special event.  Twenty was alive with JAs and UA0s, then it tanked quickly.  15m was slightly promising to Asia for a while. I tried 40 with only a little success.  I was soon exhausted and had to sleep, but not before I set an end-goal of 1000 Qs and/or 500k points. 

I apparently missed a good 40m opening, but I started Saturday right with some good runs on 15 and 20, plus a few contacts on 10m.  I trudged on most of the day and night looking for good multipliers with the grayline.  The Middle East opened nicely on 20m late in the evening, and I worked Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Qatar.  Europe was steady later on.  Around midnight into early Sunday morning, 40m was just a blast.  I have never seen so many strong signals in 13 years working from Alaska.  I could snag many East Coast stations with one call, a rarity.  I worked into Japan, the US, and Europe simultaneously.  I had one anomalous contact on 15m with an S5 in the middle of the night on 15.  Weird.

At 0330 Sunday, I had to sleep again.  I had planned a three-hour nap, but I failed to set the alarm clock correctly.  I didn't get started again for nearly six hours.  I missed catching the early run of US on 20 and some more action 15.  I pressed on with S&P after only a handful of weak runs.  I found I could keep a rate between 45 and 60 per hour this way.  I had a 240/hour run the day before. along with several periods of 180.  In the end, I made only 3/4 toward my goal.  But with 761 contacts in the log and several new countries, I'm pleased with the results.  I worked ZL8X on five bands, a real highlight.  Africa, the UK, and Spain could have been better represented, but I think this time the path to that general direction seemed lacking.  Check out the Google Earth plots at the website.  It was Worldwide fun, though!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

No Clean Sweep, but Good, Clean Fun

The phone portion of ARRL Sweepstakes using low power from interior Alaska often generates a combination of great excitement intertwined with abject frustration.  Each year, we hope against all past evidence, that this will be the weekend for a clean sweep, working all 80 ARRL and RAC sections.  The strategy is tricky to execute with very limited openings to some of the New England states and eastern Canadian provinces.  Then the stars must align to actually find the odd station in, say, Newfoundland or Rhode Island.  Even if these factors are favorable, chances are their antennas are not pointed to Alaska.  And to overcome the drone of Stateside stations pummeling the rare ones' receivers with desperate calls, our measly 100 watts has to be timed exactly right.  Odds are overwhelmingly against us.  We persevere, though.  The magic of Sweepstakes is just too powerful to resist.

Carl WL7BDO (above), Elaine KL6C, and Dan KL1JP were undaunted.  I turned over the KL2R reigns to them for the SSB Sweepstakes weekend and stood by to bring hot coffee, liaise with KL1BE in the kitchen, and to offer some technical advice as needed.  I was soooo impressed by their teamwork and perseverance.  On top of it all, the weather was bad with heavy, wet snow falling and icy road conditions.  Carl came all the way from Nenana, about a 70-mile drive, only to get stuck in the driveway a few minutes before the start.  Fifteen minutes later, though, we had him parked at the mic on the way to collecting valuable contacts.  Elaine's 6-dB signal booster (her YL voice) drew in stations from all over North America.  Here she smiles having just snagged Iowa:

The method was mostly S&P, but a handful of brief runs boosted the rate and final score to best 2008 and 2009 results.  I discovered donuts were powerful motivators.  Coffee was the  lubricant of choice, and KL1BE's tasty meals provided the necessary calories to keep reaching for the elusive clean sweep against all probability.

The consensus is, as usual, we need an amplifier.  Santa, can you hear us through the pileup?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Fall Guy Discovers 12 Meters

This being fall, we Interior Alaskans find a chill in the air, leaves long gone from the trees, and a few inches of snow on the ground.  October and November bring the fall CQWW and ARRL Sweepstakes contests wafting through the air with a tiny hint of better propagation, and the combination is potent.  Adrenaline starts to pump most weekends.

This is a slow weekend, contest-wise.  I got up early and knocked off a few OK and OM stations in their DX contest using a rough path over the pole on 20 meters.  I called CQ high in the band and had a lot of fun working QRP station N7LWF, who blew me a way with 1.5 watts thanks to grayline enhancement as the sun rose here.  When the European nighttime fell and signals faded, I tuned around after a hearty breakfast and found some DX activity (including the YJ0HA Vanuatu DXpedition) on 15 meters.

Except for a lot of past CW action on 30 meters, I'm a relative newcomer to the WARC bands, so I decided to move on up to 12m to see what the propagation may be like.  The station is limited on 17 and 12, because I have to use a tuner with the C3 tri-banders to punch out a signal.  Just before lunch, I dropped a CQ, and pretty soon I had a decent pileup.  Ten has been largely dead from KL for a long time, so this was downright exciting.  I seemed to work stations in regular increments of distance; i.e., W6/W7, Texas, and Florida, all at the same time with nothing in between.  Allen N5XZ/KL5DX came on frequency from his Texas QTH and convinced me to try 10m CW.  It was tough going, but the path was there enough to complete the exchange.  Afterward, I went back to 12m and tried SSB for a bit more fun.  Let me say that I'm impressed.  Another band has life in it when the usual haunts fail to get the heart pumping.

Mini Stack Match Arrives

A box from Array Solutions perched on my desk one morning a few months ago.  I was excited.  KL2R had just taken delivery of a Mini Stack Match:

The Stack Match principle allows you to phase two, three, or more antennas while maintaining a constant 50 ohms.  A number of configuration options are available, including both-in-phase (BIP) and both-out-of-phase switching for ultimate stack flexibility.  Being on a tight budget, I opted to purchase a two-antenna Mini Stack Match (BIP only) and use 2x1 coaxial switches to switch it in and out of line.

Although I've had limited time to test it, its value became immediately obvious.  I had begun to notice the 20 and 15m paths to East Coast stations were, at times, slightly skewed to the north instead of the normal due east, thus making it difficult to work those stations using the usual NA C3 at 55 feet.  This was particularly true in the early morning and evening. The European C3 pointed north was somewhat better, but I found it frustrating to have to toggle back and forth between the tri-banders to get them to hear me.  When I hooked up the MiniStack Match, voila!  The combination of using both antennas in the stack saved time and trouble of switching, and I could work across the entire US and Canada much more easily.  Another advantage I have found is that I no longer miss those brief openings to EU and AF when I happen to be running US/VE stations on 20m.  It's the best money I have spent in a long while.

Monday, September 6, 2010

All Those JARL Awards

I happened to mention to Ken W6HF on Saturday morning that I was kind of interested in seeing which JARL awards KL2R qualified for.  After over 22k contacts in four years, I had quite a few cards from JA stations.  I had read some information previously about the various Japanese awards.  They were a bit of an enigma, and I had already started to comb out the JAs from the boxes of KL2R QSL cards.  Before you knew it, we were sorting and entering JA QSL information from 350 cards.  Saturday became a blur of on-air action as well as (mostly) playing CSI to figure out JCC, JCG, and other codes.  Ken and I became far more enlightened than we ever thought about Japanese administrative districts, from prefectures to -kus. 

In the end, KL2R remains two prefectures short of worked all.  I have a QSL in the mail to hopefully close one gap in Kyoto.  JCC is a slam-dunk.  Many challenges lie ahead.

Suddenly, I find myself a it obsessed with paper collecting.  DXCC mixed and DXCC 20m are awarded, and various certificates roll in for the usual contests.  Now I am looking at various bits of glitter to be added to the shack walls.  In part, building and operating KL2R has been a Herculean effort by N1TX and KL1JP, and the results speak for themselves.  Those CQ certificates and ARRL plaques on the wall demonstrate the payoff in a well-rounded combination of technology and teamwork.  Now I wonder what other achievements we have made, so I dig, as a paper-chaser does.

Monday, August 16, 2010

NCDXF Beacons: 17 Meters Shows Promise

I have heard Lower 48 hams extol the fun of the 18 MHz band, and I must confess being a bit intrigued.  Several weeks ago I heard a brief European opening in the middle of local night, and I worked a JA at the same time.  Twenty meters was essentially lifeless, and 15m was DOA.  During the solar upset earlier in the month, I was surprised to hear VK/ZL phone transmissions on 17 meters when little could be detected elsewhere.  I decided to download Faros by VE3NEA and spend a few days monitoring the high-band beacon network sponsored by the Northern California DX Foundation.  

The following 24-hour sample shows some surprising (to me) openings on 17 meters.  The vertical axis on each sub-graph represents frequency in MHz.  The horizontal axis shows time starting at 0000Z and major ticks every three hours.  The boxes represent time slots for each beacon, and colors range from dark blue to orange and red to indicate increasing signal strength.  paths are fairly weak.  (Some beacons, like 4U1UN, are off the air.)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

(Almost) All Quiet on the Northern Front

This past week brought a C-class x-ray flare, and the sun sent a coronal mass ejection hurtling toward earth.  The HF prognosis for the first week of August was poor, indeed.  There would be a "solar tsunami" arriving around August 3rd, according to one local headline, while worldwide there were predictions of fantastic auroral displays.  The six-meter gang at the mid-latitudes must have been drooling with anticipation, but HF radio operators inferred a dismal time on the bands.  The HAARP riometer looked grim.  Kp was at 5 and headed upward, plus the aurora scale was pegged at 9.

I would have written off the radio and cleaned the cameras to prepare for the northern lights had it been a week or two later.  The skies at night are still too light to see aurora at 65 North, though.  Instead, I fired up the rig to see what, if anything, I could hear during the onslaught.

I chose to explore 20m around 0200Z, and I heard W1AW with code practice almost ESP-weak.  No other CW signals were audible.  I switched to the 85-foot C3 pointed to Europe, and I noticed  a surprising number of apparently European PSK31 signals.  Although the signals were moderately strong, I could see on the waterfall an unsettling dance of flutter and Doppler.  DM780 could just make out a few prefixes and other tantalizing details.  PSK31 on trans-polar paths is notoriously susceptible to corruption.  I switched to the North American C3 and could begin to see (and decode) several US stations, but copy was still rough. With the Kp index so high, I had little hope of them being able to hear me.  Years of experience have taught me that much.

I quickly scanned the higher bands up through six meters.  I was surprised to hear some weak but readable ZL/VK SSB on 17 meters, but otherwise, they were dead.  Back on 20, I watched the digital waterfall display and saw slightly improving conditions towards the States.  Two very clean PSK signals appeared, which turned out to belong to a VK and a 3D2, both 90-95% readable.  The north-south route was less impacted by the ionospheric turbulence overhead, and I believe grayline enhancement helped things along.  (A short time later I had a nice chat with Aisea 3D2AA and proved the reasonably good path was two-way.)

The signal ID function in DM780 then reported an Olivia 500/16 signal just up the band.  I could barely discern the smeared, faint tones on the waterfall, but I tuned up and changed modes to see what I could monitor.  Lo and behold, it was Peter VE7NBQ having a ragchew with a W5.  Peter had told me of the impressive performance of Olivia earlier in the week, and now I am convinced. As the tones faded from view on my screen, characters continued to print a clean QSO. Olivia's forward error correction makes it far superior to PSK31, and perhaps even CW under some circumstances.  I will have to explore more.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

2010 IARU HF Championship

Last year, the KL2R crew were drafted into service for W1AW/KL7.  For this year's IARU event, however, we opted for a multi-single effort with W6HF, KL1WE, KL1JP, NL7WO, and N1TX operating.  It was a nice mix of interests and experience, and as a 24-hour contest, the pace was relatively leisurely for any one operator.

Band conditions were promising at the start with countless loud signals from Europe on 20 meters.  The 15m band never developed as hoped, but 40m blew the doors open with many loud stations from North America and the Pacific on the dipole at 100 feet.  For a while, we had a pipeline to Brazil.  ZL6HQ on 80 was a nice surprise, too.  QSO breakdown was a pretty even split between Europe and North America at about 40% each.  Africa was all but completely absent from our headphones.  Best DX goes to VQ9 and A71.  This DX Monitor map shows the distribution of all contacts:

We had a special incentive to look for one particular Russian station.  Alaskan contester  and friend Corliss was invited to Moscow and operated R3/AL1G.  We worked her on both CW and SSB on 20 meters.  It turned out to be easier work her there than when she is at home, but it was still a big challenge!  Corliss seems to draw a big crowd whenever she's on the air.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Field Day 2010: Gone but Never to be Forgotten

Despite the poor propagation, this was a banner year for Field Day at KL2R.  Not just a contest, Field Day is a great exercise in teamwork.  Also, to Connie KL1BE and yours truly N1TX, Field Day represents a time for socializing and a chance to "integrate" family/friends with the radio hobby through fellowship and mutual generosity from everyone involved.  This year proved a resounding success in that regard.  We had about 20 visitors, some of whom I had never met before, and several I had not seen for a long time.

The preparation team and operators demonstrated a tremendous amount of enthusiasm, innovation, and sheer determination.  The personal contributions of each resulted in an accomplishment greater than their sum, which was an event far more fun and enriching (and fattening) than I had imagined it could be.

About six weeks of planning in earnest paid off when Friday setup began.  We had many equipment options available and were able to adapt as needed to changes in personnel and time available to test.  By the time Friday morning rolled around, the shack was ready to accept new gear and antennas.  Dan KL1JP brought a portable solar setup with batteries, a Moxon 6m antenna, and a strong arm for slinging lines to put up the two additional G5RVs.  

We had four HF stations set up in the shack with my FT950 and FT100, KL1RL's FT1000MP Mark V, and KL1AZ's TS2000.  Elaine KL6C rolled in an 18-foot trailer complete with table, generator, and Ten-Tec Jupiter for a fifth HF station.  Ken W6HF and Luci KL1WE operated their mobile FT897D briefly as HF #6.  Thank goodness for the effectiveness of W3NQN bandpass filters.  Two Honda 2 kW generators powered the shack, and the solar-charged batteries kept things going in Elaine's trailer. 

The entire layout was networked using N1MM software.  Although basic configuration of multi-multi operation is fairly straightforward with N1MM, I believe this arrangement proved to be the most problematic aspect of the entire weekend.  As with anything, you can do planning to the smallest detail, but only thorough testing can wring out the bugs.  Alas, Murphy was lying in wait in several dark corners once the contest began.  As an example, we painfully discovered N1MM is far more stable in multi-user mode with fixed IP addresses instead of using DHCP.  Fortunately, no fatal errors occurred, and the log did not suffer. 

Mother Nature once again demonstrated her cruel sense of humor by teasing us earlier in the week with decent propagation only to pull the magic ionospheric carpet out from under us on Saturday with high aurora and Kp index  See below.  We hardly heard any east coast stations.  Even our relative proximity to the west coast didn't seem to help much with contacts.  Twenty meters CW was the money band, disappointing as it may have been, thanks largely to the skill and tenacity of Phil KL8DX.  Elaine KL6C tried like the dickens to resuscitate 80m, and John KL1AZ persevered on 10m and 6m.  He netted one QSO on the latter.  Along with digital guy Kevin NL7WO and newcomer Rich W8VK, Elaine and John earned gold stars in my book for exemplary commitment by keeping the CQs going despite few or no prospects most of the time.

Space Weather and Geomagnetic Indices
Results by Band
    Band  Mode  QSOs    Pts
     7  CW       9      18
     7  LSB      4      4
     7  PSK31    3      6
    14  CW     213     426
    14  PSK31    1      2
    14  RTTY     2      4
    14  USB     18      18
    21  CW       1      2
    50  USB      1      1
   144  CW       1      2
   144  FM       2      4
   420  FM       4      8
 Total  Both   259     495

With these contact results, of course, bonus points will play an essential role for any sort of competitive standing.  We had that pretty well covered.  W1AW bulletin?  Check, thanks largely to the booming signal of K6KPH.  Satellite QSO?  No problem, as W6HF and KL1WE have that down to a science.  Public relations?  Done.  Neal WL7NZ even got us a plug on radio station KIAK.  Alternative power?  Yup. KL1JP's solar-charged battery configuration worked with aplomb.   QTC?  Ed AL7N took traffic for me on 2m CW.  Public official?  State Rep. Tammie Wilson stopped by with her SWL husband, Bob, and spent a good long time asking a lot of questions.  Again, planning and teamwork paid dividends.

Food, of course, played an essential role in keeping the team motivated and rolling in the right direction, largely thanks to KL1BE and KL1WE laboring in the kitchen day and night.  The menus included biscuits and gravy, home fries, huevos rancheros, refried beans, tortillas, homemade bread, grilled cheese sandwiches, vegetable pie, pea soup, green salad, bean salad, moose chili, burgers, bratwurst, angel food cake with fresh strawberries, and other tasty treats.  Gallons of coffee, iced tea, sodas, wine, and plenty of water kept us well-lubricated.

Special guest Rich Carstensen W8VK happened to be visiting family in the area and hitched a ride with KL8DX.  Rich spent most of Saturday entertaining us with tales of QRP conquests on Top Band and his time as lead tech at Alinco.  He never missed an opportunity to call CQ on CW when a position was free.  Andre KL7AC, Mike AL7KC, Ruth KL2WR, Larry KL2WS, Eric KL7AJ, Chad  AL2D, John AL7ID, and Fred WL7IJ rounded out the guest list.  (I am sure there are a couple of others I  am not recalling in the post-FD fog, and I hope they forgive me.)

In the end, 2010 brought a Field Day for the memory book.  Even though I'm a competitive sort of guy, the points are secondary.  The published results can hardly reflect the wonderful rewards of camaraderie and good cheer gained from the whole weekend experience.  Thank you, all!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Field Day 2010 Preparations

The shack's radios have been fairly quiet during the past couple of months, save for some odd moments for DX and some lightweight competition efforts.  For the past six weeks, however, we've been planning for a wonderful Field Day with (hopefully) a turn-out greater than ever. 

Many of the Fairbanks-area hams, as most Alaskans, are busy with summertime outdoor activities like fishing and camping, and organized events like Field Day take too much time away from those.  Still others enjoy a trip down to Byers Lake for the annual Motley Group picnic, which happens to coincide with Field Day.  (The Motley Group is a statewide net that meets daily at 2100 local time on 3933 kHz.)

A couple of months ago, Neal Brown WL7NZ, president of the local Arctic Amateur Radio Club, asked Larry N1TX if KL2R would be interested in hosting some AARC operators not otherwise occupied, since it appeared KL7KC would not be participating in Field Day this year. Of course others would be welcome.  FD 2009 was a banner year in terms of participation at KL2R, and the more the merrier!  Thus, the gears began turning.

Initial response to the call for help was very enthusiastic, so we quickly began inventories and brainstorming the possibilities.  Over the past several years, we've been operating primarily as a Class E station (home emergency power) and will do so again.  Generators and batteries are not a problem.  A wide number of rigs are available, too.  We got quite excited about the possibility of checking out NL7Y's Elecraft K3, but other interests pulled him away.  Nevertheless, ICOM, Yaesu, Kenwood, and Ten-Tec should all be well-represented.  Dan KL1JP set about building another solar power unit housed in a large portable cooler.  He also designed and built Moxon antennas for 6 and 20m.  Elaine KL6C (ex-N6PU) has been gathering parts for our educational activity, building some battery systems.  Ken W6HF and Luci KL1WE made the drive north from California and practically demanded to be put to work cleaning out and organizing the KL2R shack to make the place suitable for human habitation.

The press release is finished and ready for distribution, elected officials and fire department staff have been invited, Ed AL7N is standing by for NTS traffic, the menus are shaping up, etc.  So things are looking very good, indeed!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Two Days Full Of Surprises & A Fig Newton Solution

Both N1TX and KL1JP manned the KL2R contest club location for
the ARRL SSB DX contest. Despite an optimistic pre-contest strategy
of hopeful band openings, we were lonely for several hours in the
beginning of the contest; eliciting responses to that effect from the few
stations that responded to the KL2R call. Saturday afternoon, we
finally gained some traction calling CQ on both 15m and 20m before the
sun let loose a x-ray burst and terminated our modest efforts. As the
x-ray burst subsided and the bands started improving, the aurora kicked
up and limited our efforts again. Fortunately, persistence up here in
Fairbanks becomes a way of life and persisted we did, finally racking
up about 250 contacts before 15m and 20m faded into oblivion Friday
evening. The late evening and nighttime efforts by a solo N1TX added
a few 40m contacts but nothing like we had hoped for. 40m becomes a
continually challenging band from the Alaskan interior and again, that
proved true for this contest too.

We were hoping conditions would improve Saturday morning, allowing us to
pick-up the east coast on both 15m and 20m during the early daylight hours.
But again, despite our optimism, our efforts were akin to plunking away; in
either S&P or CQ modes, getting a few here and there. We had hoped for some
limited action on 10m but it never occurred. It was only in the early
afternoon when KL1JP asked Larry for some snacks and fresh coffee that
conditions up here drastically changed. After a handful of relatively fresh
Fig Newtons, things took a turn for the better. After the cookies, KL1JP,
calling CQ added QSO after QSO to the log, achieving a "personal" best rate
of approximately 250/hr. We were told by many "lower 48" stations that we
were "booming" into the lower 48 and KL2R certainly took advantage of that
factor. Although we mostly played the westerly advancing grayline, some
surprisingly and very strange 20m openings occurred, allowing us to pick up
numerous Midwest and Southeast US stations. The arrival of the evening
hours again saw the bands quiet down. Since Dan had to work on Sunday,
Saturday night saw another solo N1TX effort with some contact additions to
our 80m and 40m stockpile.

Sunday morning saw Larry operate when time and patience permitted, adding
another 90 contacts to our log giving us a total of 740 Q's with a total
point count of 176,160 which bettered our previous 2009 QSO count of 663.

As always, Larry was an excellent host; constantly making fresh coffee and
offering to sit in the seat when I wanted a short break. The way we figure,
in the end it came down to having the Fig Newtons in the shack that did the
trick, allowing the bands to open up. Needless to say, fresh Fig Newtons
will be available during any future contests.

Here's the preliminary tally:
Callsign : KL2R
Category : Multi Operator - Single Transmitter (MS)
Band(s) : All bands (AB)
Class : Low Power (LP)
Operating time : 17h59

160 0 0 0 0 0.00

80 4 3 0 12 3.00

40 19 7 0 57 3.00

20 570 54 9 1701 2.98

15 147 16 0 432 2.94

10 0 0 0 0 0.00

TOTAL 740 80 9 2202 2.98

TOTAL SCORE : 176 160

Monday, February 22, 2010

Solo in ARRL DX CW

Rich KL7RA invited me down to participate in this year's ARRL DX CW, but work demands and outrageous air fares between Fairbanks and Kenai kept me grounded.  This was a pity, because I always enjoy operating CW with Rich and Wigi AL7IF.  As a consolation, I decided to press KL2R into service, going it alone.  At the start, I hadn't yet decided to go for single- or all-band entry, but the hopping bands soon convinced me the latter was the way to go.  I'm glad I did.

Band    QSOs Mults
160:      1     1
80:      19     8
40:     119    40
20:     755    58
15:     612    55
10:      12     6
Total: 1518   168
Total Score = 764,568

This was the first time ever KL2R had points on all bands. Conditions were unexpectedly good.

I was never able to hear a significant number of "workable" stations on Top Band. Propagation to the northwestern US seemed to peter out early in the evening. The brief, late morning/early afternoon openings on 10m gave some real encouragement to seek out multipliers, although I had to do it quickly, or overall rate would suffer. On Sunday, 10m seemed to be ducting to the Caribbean and South America with very few US and no Canadian stations heard at my QTH during my band checks.

Alaska was well-represented, especially KL7RA, AL1G, KL8DX, and AL9A loud and clear on most bands.

KL7RA and I had a funny, inadvertent duel of sorts on Friday afternoon. I was running about 130 per hour on 20m when KL7RA rolled in about 100 Hz up from me, apparently unaware of the action I had going.  Suddenly, I realized stations weren't calling me, but KL7RA instead. One CQ from the power house of Kenai, and they took my frequency AND my pileup as well! As I told them by email, I was glad I could "chum the waters" for them.

All in good fun, and I had a really good laugh.

Monday, February 15, 2010

SO2R and Multi-Two that Much Closer

What little time I spent in the shack recently was centered on getting the second operating position, KL2R-B, ready for a chance to try M2 in WPX RTTY.  Alas, a last-minute PC failure on KL2R-A and repair delayed operation in earnest until Saturday morning.  Dan KL1JP did much search-and-pouncing and rode the 15m opening pretty hard.  While he did that, I managed to get KL2R-B on line and Win-Test viewing the spots and the log.  After Dan left, I cleaned up a few and enjoyed working into Europe on 20m around 0600-0800Z.  Aurora and fluctuating Kp caused some declining conditions commencing Saturday night.  Conditions were never great on Sunday to the Lower 48.

Contest         : CQ World Wide WPX Contest
Callsign        : KL2R
Mode            : RTTY
Category        : Multi Operator - Single Transmitter (MS)
Overlay         : ---
Band(s)         : All bands (AB)
Class           : Low Power (LP)
Zone/State/...  :
Locator         : BP64KU
Operating time  : 14h31

  80     8   0    1      34  4.25
  40    14   0   11      60  4.29
  20   293   0  181     654  2.23
  15    61   0   39     141  2.31
  10     0   0    0       0  0.00
TOTAL   376   0  232     889  2.36
      TOTAL SCORE : 206 248

Dupes are not included in QSO counts neither avg calculations

Operators       : N1TX, KL1JP