Monday, March 25, 2013

WSPR'ing & 29,147 DXCC Certificates Later

WSPR 20 Meters
The bands have been less than favorable but I've left my rig on 20 meters with the beam pointed to Europe. I decided to leave WSPR running for a few days this past week to see how well the European path was doing. WSPR is another mode that will have difficulties when decoding signals if there is an auroral presence. But, as the solar shake up calmed, callsigns were beginning to populate on my WSPR screen. I spent more time listening than transmitting but my power output was 10 watts when operating WSPR. I fed that to my 4 element tri-bander, which normally is parked at the 43 foot level on my tower.

Decoding WSPR
 WSPR is a great tool for weak signal propagation testing. Now that we officially entered into Spring (still looks and feels like winter around these parts) propagation will begin to take a different look when it comes to decoding signals. By May, the snow will begin to melt and it will be time to welcome back the return of the midnight sun. I very much enjoy the 24 hours of daylight in June. This enjoyment will keep me from occupying my ham shack but I've done enough of that all winter. As contest season wraps up, my sights will be on getting our camper ready for camping season. My goal is to head out earlier this year and break my portable station out of mothballs. Nothing better than to be camping in a remote location working DX from an unofficial campsite.

The DX talk of late is the operation of XR0YG on Easter Island. I was lucky enough to work the DXpedition team on 20 meter CW last night. Crazy pile-up but the operator was doing an awesome job. I knew I would have my work cut out for me as the pile-up was pretty big. I tried, gave up, tried, gave up and finally snagged em on my 3rd attempt. I hope to get them on a few more bands and modes before they depart. I heard them on 17 meters this past weekend but with my low antenna and power, they were well out of my reach. 

I've caught up with all of my QSL card requests and my next batch of replies will be headed out to the bureau this week. Activity level and QSL reception go hand in hand. At least from my operation here, as activity level directly correlates to how full my Post Office Box gets. 

Our weekly trip to the Post Office yielded a small tube with my name on it. It seems my DXCC certificate has arrived. My very first certificate, number 28,436, was dated February 10th, 1989. Today, I received my first DXCC certificate from this location, numbered 57,583. I also received two, 150 Endorsement Stickers (I assume the League meant to send me a 125 & 150 but instead, sent me two 150's by mistake). I remember sending my QSL cards via Express Mail and doing all the paperwork by hand. Then, patiently waiting for their return. Now, with LOTW, my certificate was achieved simply with a few mouse clicks and referencing my credit card number. Oh how times have changed.

Computers are pretty old around here and our main "family" computer just bit the dust (again). So, I will be in the market for one. Now I just need to decide if I want to stick with a desktop or transition to a laptop. I'm thinking laptop and docking station but it will come down to what I can afford. Thankfully, I had most of the stuff backed up. I'm still hoping I can retrieve my most recent data off of the hard drive. I had installed a second hard drive which was basically a mirror to the first. I think I might rebuild that computer and put it here in the shack. I need more horsepower that my aged shack Dell's can produce. My world is about multitasking and my abilities have been limited to my processor speed and RAM here in the shack. Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD) is my logging program of choice but it taxes my aging computer to no end. Especially if I'm also running DM780 having fun on the digital modes.

I woke up this morning to find 20 meters in pretty good shape toward Europe. It's been snowing all day and most of the night. Working a few stations this morning and waking up to a nice hot cup off coffee helped start the new week off on the right foot. The DXCC certificate sent it to the next level. Now it's time to bundle up and head out into the single digits to plow snow. The calendar might of said "First Day of Spring" on March 20th but by Alaskan standards, that does not happen before April 20th. Officially it's here but unofficially, we have a month or more.   

1 comment:

  1. Well the snow is still hanging around down this way too! When the warmer weather arrives (and it will) I too am looking forward to getting out and about with the radio. As for the PC situation it is much more enjoyable these days with the way PC's and rigs are interconnected to have a fast running machine.