Saturday, December 31, 2011

WSPR'ing in the End of 2011, SK'ing the Beginning of 2012

WSPR Mode December 31st, 2011
I have been running WSPR for the last 48 hours or so checking propagation to and from Alaska. I find this extremely helpful especially for a small station like mine. Gotta take advantage of the wave of propagation when it flows the best. It's been interesting that on several occasions, I can hear long before I am actually heard. I have been running 5 watts when operating this mode and the results are what I had expected since I have been operating up here for over 8 years now. Funny also is how it's very tough to decode anything over the pole even with a slight hint of aurora. I can see the traces but it just won't decode. I had a sked today on 20 meters for a county hunter who needed his last Judicial District here in Alaska. I'm happy to say our sked went as planned and I was able to give him his last, the 4th. I was checking 20 meters to make sure we could complete our contact.

One of the neatest times of the year is Straight Key Night (SKN). I worked several different modes today and I hung out a bit on the K3UK LOTW Sked Page giving out contacts to those that may have needed Alaska on a certain band or mode. Once the clock hit midnight UTC time and I had finished my digital QSO, I went off to hunt down my first SKN contact.

2012 SKN
While tuning across the band, it was full of straight key activity. January is a busy month for the Straight Key Century Club as they continue with their month long K3Y event. To me, this rings in the new year more so than seeing any ball or walleye drop!
I tuned around and heard my first strong SKN Night CQ. It was from AA8MI. It just so happens that Gene was at Perrysburg, Ohio! I lived and grew up not far from Gene in the small town of Lakeside-Marblehead. Gene was operating his Icom 746PRO and using a Kent Straight Key. We exchanged some great information back and forth including weather, radio equipment, age, ham status, and the fact that Gene and his wife hope to make it to Alaska to see the aurora once he retires. I let Gene know that this was aurora season and if his wife wanted to see the lights of winter, she had better dress warm as it was running -31F to -32F degrees. Our QSO lasted roughly 20 minutes and I signed with Gene.

So, 2011 may be exiting cold but 2012 is entering colder. I have to say, I think working Gene brought me good luck for 2012, as what would the chances be that I worked someone on SKN night who lived so close to my old home. Made my night for sure. SKN continues but we have festivities to attend and friends to share some time with. This last blog of 2011 will be continued in 2012 with probably an overview of my weekend activity. To all who read this blog, thanks for stopping and taking the time to read my ramblings. I am very blessed and I hope that 2012 brings you all that you desire and more. 2012 could be an interesting year for us with some potential changes and travels possibly coming our way. All we can do is wait and see. From a chilly Alaska, we send you our warmest greetings and Happy New Year!!!

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