Monday, March 15, 2010

Time for Change - DST that is!

A sure sign that spring is not far away is the adjustment of our clocks to Daylight Savings Time (DST) . Last year or so, some Alaskan political figure attempted to sponsor a bill (House Bill #19) that would allow us to quit adjusting our clocks for daylight savings time. So far, it has not seen the Governor's desk but maybe someday it will. There are arguments for and against but I personally would like to see it go away. I think the 21 reasons listed in the link to House Bill #19 are valid. Not that it has a major effect on my life with the exception of changing the numerous clocks, timers, automatic timers throughout our house and garage. But, there is always the saving grace of ham radio! We use UTC time or Greenwhich Mean Time and that never changes, thankfully! Those hams in the USA who use logging programs and contest programs on computers that display local time need to make sure that they double check their offset. My adjustment is 8 or a 9 hour difference depending on if I'm entering or leaving DST. With the daylight savings time move, now midnight GMT is 4 pm local here in Alaska.

This weekend was a low ham participation weekend for me. My youngest reached her 21 year old milestone and the weather was also very nice so I spent most of Saturday outdoors with close friend Sean, KL1SF! Lots of sunshine with a clear sky and this time of year, with the return of the sun, outdoor activity will trump indoor most of the time. I was interested in the Feld Hell March Sprint (Lewis & Clark) but the higher bands are not open normally that early (1600z). I do begin to hear signals but normally not until after 1700z but that still gives me an hour. My low band antennas are substandard and are better for receiving than transmitting. But, I did manage a few Feld Hell contacts before the contest ended on 20 meters. That was the extent of my operating on Saturday. Sunday I participated in the SKCC Weekend Sprint but I only had a few hours to enjoy that as well. I was able to make just under 40 QSO's but the band (20 meters) was very poor with not a hint of a signal on 10 or 15 meters. When propagation is like that, it's easy to spend time away from the shack.

Probably the highlight for me this past week and weekend was working ZK3YA on 40 meters on March 10th and then getting ZK3OU on 30 meters on the 15th. Great operators with great ears as again, I don't have much on either band. I actually tuned my 80 meter wire for 30 meters to take advantage of a bit more elevation which seemed to help. The 30 meter operator got pieces of my callsign, first the "DX" then the "8DX" and then finally came my entire callsign. Thankfully, 30 meters is one of the few bands were the playing field is somewhat even. Granted, there are stations that have some nice metal for this band but many use wire antennas and with a output power not to exceed 200 watts, it becomes more skill than horse power to snag a DX station. Now, it sure helps when there is not much between me and the DX station but open ocean which is my saving grace working anything in the Pacific. I remember being in Ohio at my station there and having a time trying to work through the West Coast wall to anything in the Pacific. I suppose propagational fair play comes around when those out West attempt to work anything in Europe or Africa, short path anyhow. Either way, I was excited to work a new DXCC Entity and log them, ironically on a few bands that are normally challenging for me.

I've managed to change most of my clocks and work a bit of DX with a side order of some contest activity. All in all, a great weekend with some beautiful weather. As summer approaches plans will be made to repair some equipment, tweak and add some antennas, and enjoy the midnight sun from one of the most beautiful places on earth. From the views I got to experience this weekend, I don't think that 63 degrees is really that far from Heaven.

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