Monday, December 20, 2010

A Little RAC, Rookie, JT65A, and QRP's 1000 Miles Per Watt Experience

In looking at the activity this past weekend, there were a few contest type activities that I was interested in operating. But before I get into that, I decided to pull the JT65A software up again since it is a good weak signal mode and the bands don't seem to be open very long these days. Like every good ham radio operator, I read and re-read the directions but found one website to be a bit more informative. My biggest hang up was trying to figure out the software and learned a bit about right click and left clicking callsigns. Once I figured that out, things started to fall into place but not until after I made a contact with KF7CQ, or at least I think I did :0) Anyway, I plan to do a bit more with this mode in the coming weeks.

As far as the contests went, on the top of my list to participate in were the RAC Winter Contest which I participated in last year. This is a fun contest but I normally get skunked when it comes to getting all the Canadian Provinces. I have several VE stations I work on a very regular basis in the major contests so I like to try to send a point or two their way in their RAC. I ended up only making 82 contacts and catching 8 multipliers. I spent the last part of the contest chatting with my long time friend and old neighbor, KL1SF, on 20 meter SSB. I had to take advantage of the good band conditions and we closed 20 meters that evening of the 18th. We ended up chatting for 3 hours, which is the longest I have talked on SSB, ever!

After the RAC contest I also wanted to participate in the ARRL Rookie Roundup and the ARCI's Holiday Spirits Homebrew Sprint. I ended up working only a handful or stations calling "RR" in the Rookie Roundup and all were on CW (very cool). I then tuned up to the QRP section of 20 meters and started looking for QRP contacts. I switched rigs and fired up my Icom 703Plus and set the power at 5 watts. Now mind you, 100 watts can be ever so challenging from Alaska, so 5 watts might be a bit stressful for this operator. Either way, I have wanted to get into QRP operating so I'm reading "Patience 101 For QRP Operators" and I will let you know how it works. Inspired of course by wG0AT!

I set up my camera and shot a bit of video as I have thought about doing another Youtube video. I have one in the works and will hopefully work on it throughout the holidays. But anyhow, I found a few very strong signals operating the QRP contest and the very first was N4BP who just smokes into Alaska. I actually worked N4BP on 15 meters as well. The second strongest QRP signal went to K7TQ. I had a few others that were very close to 599 but these guys were rocking into AK that afternoon. But I have to say the highlight of this contest was my last QSO, HP1AC, who answered my CQ. As 20 meters faded, my  thought went out to one of the possible awards that ARCI offers, known as the KMPW Award. I wondered if the last contact with HP1AC would qualify me for that award. Thankfully, ARCI has an easy way to figure this out on their website. I keyed in the information for my contact with HP1AC. What'cha know, I squeaked by with 10 miles to spare! But hey, I'll take it! Needless to say, immediately after the contest I completed the award form and had it ready for the mornings mail run. Cool! I think I might like this QRP stuff after all. Making the 1000 Miles Per Watt Award kinda made my weekend. My next goal is to obviously make it much farther.  And speaking of QRP, I did chase a few Polar Bears around the bands this weekend! Highlight was working Ron, WB3AAL while he was portable and QRP from way on the other side of the US! I also worked John, N0EVH, Bear Den to Bear Den. But the coolest contact went to working Mike, KD9KC, who was portable atop the "Rough and Ready Hills" in New Mexico. I made a SSB contact with him on 15 meters.

So, even though I did not make hundreds of contacts, this weekend was productive and fun! With the short band openings these days, I will take all the propagation I can get! I think this wraps up my planned 2010 activity other than working a bit of PSK31 to complete my LOTW WAS as I'm down to only needing three more states.  I have a sked for one of those so I will probably be more active on that mode.

I want to take this time to wish any of my small number of readers a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year! I'm looking forward to Straight Key Night and then I will take part in the SKCC's K3Y Anniversary event. I really enjoy my Navy Flameproof keys and as long as my tired wrists can hack it, sending CW the old fashioned way is one of my favorites. I enjoy not only participating in the K3Y event as an operator but also as one chasing the call districts. I hope to do it QRP this year as well, so I have my work cut out for me. Look for me as K3Y/KL7 along with a few of my Alaskan SKCC neighbors who volunteer their operating time as well in the month of January. It's a month long event and sure to get you hooked on completing contacts with K3Y stations in all districts. Remember, CW is the Key to DX success! Just ask me, I'll tell ya.


  1. Hi Phil, congrats with your result in de Canada winter contest. You had a lot of QRP fun on the radio. I'm curious at the youtube video, well I guess it wil take some time. I see that you're doing JT65A with WSJT. I tried it too and made some contacts. But it actually is made for EME. And so I like to use JT65-HF which is a lot easier to use. You can find a download HERE. A interesting page is the RB network for JT65A (HF) though it will close within some time. You can find it HERE registering is necessary.
    Coincidentally I was trying a bit of QRP last weekend too, did have some fun making contacts on 80m with 0,5W. Not real DX, but that doesn't matter. To you and yours I wish you merry Christmas and a happy 2011.

  2. Bas, thanks for the software update! I will check it out. I'm green at this mode so any help is appreciated. I knew it's big with those doing EME and Meteor Scatter, too. I got into QRP as it was an easy way to drag a rig with me to operate in the back country here. You can easily run QRP on a small battery and solar panel. Pretty cool! Merry Christmas my friend and may DX fill your logbook in 2011!

  3. hi Phil-

    Congratulations on RAC, and FB on ur 10mtr Q count!
    We temporarily relocated to Anchorage from the SFO area in Sept.2010, and I'm continuing to learn about propogation at 61 degrees Lattitude!

    Ref- JT65
    I've been using WSJT since the Leonids Meteor Shower of 2001 and find it more sensitive than that of the newer (+easier) JT65-hf by W6CQZ..
    WSJT is quite the weak signal program for 500khz-1296mhz. hi
    I'll send a quick reference doc with some tips on WSJT. There is a new small auto-uploader program written by W6CQZ for use inside of your wsjt.exe folder that is available too.
    ==K3UK Andy's site is a good starting point, however there are some additional and updated tips avail for wsjt users.

    73 Merry Xmas, Eric n6spp/kl7 bp51cf
    ps-thnx for spotting my 10m bcn!!

  4. Howdy Eric! Thanks for the information!! And Merry Christmas to you, too. Yea, propagation sure is a bit different up here. I hope you're enjoying KL7 land! Not many like to hang out this time of year :0)