Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I'm a 10? Not Really, But I Did Rain RTTY All Over Europe This Morning on 15!

My rate...rates?
So, I happened to stumble across some pretty interesting information this afternoon regarding the 2012 CQ World Wide CW Contest. This page had Valery, R5GA's callsign all over it. He has a listing of stations within their classifications and claimed best 60 minute CW QSO rates. This appears to have been extracted from their submission files. Either way, this was extremely interesting to review.

Now mind you, I'm not a high speed CW operator. I've always dreamed of being able to mentally copy a long QSO at 40 wpm but, that will never happen. Not to make excuses but I think it boils down to how I first learned CW. I feel that if I had learned differently, my copy would be much better than it is 25+ years later. And it's not for lack of practice. I try to get on CW as often as possible and contest weekends are excellent practice! It's possible to work so many great DX stations but also increase your copy speed. I can be rusty on a Friday afternoon when a contest starts but if I try hard and stay focused, by Sunday, I'm ready for a 32 wpm QSO! Well, at least I feel that way. I like to refer to it as Contest Code Overload! It's like eating a bunch of chocolate or drinking several cups of leaded coffee. I'm ready for anything and bouncing off the walls. But as the contest ends, I will push myself away from the radio, exit the shack and take a long break before returning, even leaving the contest program running. I will rekindle my relationship with my wife, our beagle and the cat (well, actually my daughters cat that she forgot to take with her) who frequently visits over contest weekends. 

Anyhow, getting back on can see my detailed break-out here. Or you can click on any of the callsigns on the "All time records" page and it will show you the individual best efforts. My effort apparently shows what a computer decided was worthy of 10th place for my single operator, low power entry. And when I look at the list of stations, there are some great operators! And it makes my key stick just thinking about being listed on the same page with them! Little ol me. 

Other Alaskan stations who are listed are KL2R, KL7RA and NL7G. Of the three, I've only personally operated with Larry, N1TX (at KL2R). I have the utmost respect for Larry as an operator and contester. I only wished I lived a bit closer as I would love to spend more weekends at KL2R and continuing learning from Larry. I've written in previous blog posts about the team at KL2R. A very skilled and focused group of operators, all of which I very much look up to. I've always wanted to head down to Rich, KL7RA's station (been invited) but that is a very long haul for me. I still hope to. Rich has also been very instrumental in helping me become a better operator with advice, suggestions and more. There is a group of contesters here throughout Alaska that I keep in touch via email and a few I have met personally. I feel I owe my wallpaper success stories to them all, as they accepted this "out of stater" and have never made me feel like a "lid." They've answered all my questions and I feel I can ask anything of them, no matter how silly I might think it might be. 

One of the neat things about today's modern technology is, even though I've only personally met about half of the contesters I correspond with, I've been able to gain lots of great advice and insight from them via email. What I'm trying to say is, even if you live in the sticks like we do, you can still reach out and get valuable information and get your questions answered. You just need to ask. I arrived to Alaska entirely as a Search & Pounce (S&P) contest operator / DX'er and I will depart a "Park & Bark", not afraid to dig in and call CQ kinda guy. There are lots of publications available as well, both printed and electronic that give some good advice. In the latest National Contest Journal (NCJ), an article written by Mike, VE3GFN caught my eye. The title read, "The Little Pistol Pages." Mike's focus is more from a small station perspective so I'm looking forward to future reads from Mike in NCJ publications. I have found NCJ a valuable magazine with many articles from many a skilled operator, sharing experiences and advice on how to take operating to the next level. Most of the major magazines (like QST and CQ) and some organizational magazines also get into explaining the ins and outs of operating. Yes, I know, contesting is not for everybody but if you love ham radio and are in any way competitive, a good contest weekend might be just the ticket. 

15 Meter RTTY Contacts this morning - 100 watts
I had a bit of insomnia this morning so I strolled into the shack and found some great European signals on 15 meters! Well, I decided to take advantage of being awake and I worked one station one RTTY then I moved up and called CQ. I was on from 1015z to 1145z and that 1.5 hours flew by! To the right is a graphic illustration of where my 100 watts rained down over points east of me. My RTTY signal seemed to be raining all over Europe! I love openings like that. The only thing that could of made it better was doing the very same thing but on 10 meters! A ham can dream, right? As tired as I am now I hope I don't have a repeat but if so, I can only hope the bands will be open like they were this morning. 

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