We did a lot of work over the past two months to prepare for the 2014-15 contest season. For one, we added a two-element, phased vertical array for 40m. It is a well-engineered system (mostly) from DX Engineering components and proved to be a great listener. The 20-30 dB front-to-back is impressive, and it has compared very favorably to a Force12 EF-140 dipole at 120 feet for receiving. Casual contacts have shown it to be very effective in busting DX pileups as well as ragchewing between here and the Lower 48.
A second addition is the FTdx5000MP, which was previously owned by long-time member Gary NL7Y. The operators had some learning curve, and we learned quite a bit more about its functions. The receiver does not leave you fatigued. To reduce the likelihood of operator fatigue in general, we rotated ops every hour. "On deck" meant they were tuning The FT-950 for multipliers on the second position.
Since the FTdx5000MP has the SM-5000 Station Monitor, we moved the FT950 + DMU-2000 combination to position #2. Both radios with band monitors is extremely helpful.
Fun and fellowship. At one point we had six people in the shack, 100% over capacity. New-new guy Wes KL3WY stopped by and introduced himself Saturday afternoon. Elaine KL6C got us out of the gate on 10 and 15. KL1JP had a very good run, and KL3WY jumped in and lent a hand as well. KL3UI got plenty of air time, and Carl WL7BDO rounded out the heavy lifting. Each one of the 419 QSOs was hard-won.