Monday, April 18, 2011

Weekend Forecast from Michigan to Europe

Michigan State QSO Party Counties Worked
This past weekend was the Michigan State QSO Party. The only band that I had good propagation for the contest was 20 meters (go figure). And it was up and down but at least I had a path for most of the contest. My goal was to Search & Pounce only and to work K8MR/M (mobile) as many time as possible. I have worked Jim, K8MR for years in various contests. I also wanted to support the Michigan hams and the other mobiles especially  being a lifetime 8lander myself (Ohio) prior to moving to Alaska. Jim is a fellow Buckeye who has driven thousands of miles activating counties in several QSO Party contests. My surprise encounter was when I worked N8LC and another long time frequenter of my logbook Dale, K8RO was at that key! My old callsign was KE8RO and I would run into Dale often during the UHF/VHF contests. The colored counties reflected in the map above are the ones that I was able to work (stuck with CW for about 98% of my QSO's) so I hit the 50% achievement mark I would guess. Many of these were due to the handful of mobile operators driving from county to county and kudos to them!.

My score summary was:

CONTEST: State QSO Party - MI
CLUB: Northcoast Contesters
SCORE-SUMMARY:    80         0             0
SCORE-SUMMARY:    40         0             0
SCORE-SUMMARY:    20        59             4
SCORE-SUMMARY:    15         0             0
SCORE-SUMMARY:    10         0             0
SCORE-SUMMARY:           -------    ----------
SCORE-SUMMARY: Tot QSOS     59             4
SCORE-SUMMARY: QSO Pnts    118             4
SCORE-SUMMARY: Total Points       122
SCORE-SUMMARY: Multipliers         45
SCORE-SUMMARY: Final Score       5490

I did record one instance of what Jim, K8MR sounded like here in Alaska while he was mobile in Michigan. This recording was when Jim was in Crawford County around 0027z. You can hear this recording in .wma format or .mp3 by just clicking the link of the format you wish to download. You may have to crank up your volume a bit as my recording is done through the headphone jack of my Icom so to save my ears while recording, it's a bit toned down. 

Now that the sun is making a return, so is the longer hours of propagation on 20 meters. The last few nights and mornings have seen some great European propagation on 20 meters. I was also hearing stations on 15 & 17 meters! I listened to 10 meters a few times over the weekend but not a peep. Hopefully as the solar cycle peaks in the next few years, 10 meters will be a band that will yield some activity well into the evening hours.

I have been practicing my CW for years but have never perfected it.  I still enjoy pointing my HF beam over the North Pole and CQ'ing for Europe! I can normally generate a few calling, enough to work split anyhow. I was able to work several stations on Sunday and then again, Europe was booming in on 20 meters Monday morning when I got up! Highlight was working Stan, SQ8X in Poland. I had been chatting back and forth via Twitter and email with Stan for a sked. I sent Stan a note on Twitter that I was hearing Europe on 20 meters yet (1700z) and that we should try. I sent off the frequency and to my surprise, Stan's CW signal came booming through my headphones! I easily worked Stan on 20 CW (Morse Code).  And immediately after working Stan, Andrea, IZ2LSC called from Italy! Andrea was also booming in so two of my Twitter followers were now in my logbook. Nice way to start a Monday!

I had plans of operating portable /QRP in Denali today (at Primrose) but the K index shot up and the Aurora Index hit 8 just prior to my departure. I left the portable equipment at home and my wife and I headed out anyway. It was a beautiful afternoon with a slight haze. We did not get to see Denali but it was still worth the trip to Teklanika Rest Stop.

By this time next month, our RV will be summer ready and the camping season will have begun! I'm looking forward to plenty of portable ham radio fun under the midnight sun!

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