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.

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