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!!!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

County Hunting in 2012, Means Digging Into My Past

6 Meter Grids Worked & Confirmed as KE8RO
I was recently gifted a membership to MARAC by my long time friend and CW Elmer Ed, K8QWY. I have been interested in county hunting for a few years but DX'ing and contesting to increase my DXCC totals has always been at the top of my priority list. I consider myself a DXer by trade and the rest is icing on the ham radio cake! With the additional gifting by K8QWY of the MARAC Logger, I have decided to start populating the database with what I have confirmed to date. Once I get all of my "on hand" QSL cards entered, this will give me a foundation to build on as I strive to achieve the Worked All Counties Award by CQ Magazine, and more.

Anyhow, in digging into my collection of QSL cards, I found some of my old award tracking records. At the time, I was using LogPlus to track my contacts and awards. To this day, I think LogPlus was the best logging program I have ever used. As mentioned in previous posts, the owner decided to throw in the towel on the program and never look back. With that said, I still maintained some hard copy records of my accomplishments and I still have my old version operational for look-ups. The photo above shows the grids I had worked / confirmed on 6 meters. Living in EN81om, it was a great location for UHF/VHF not to mention HF DX'ing! I achieved VUCC on 6 Meters prior to departing Ohio, and I was very close with 2 Meters and 432!

2 Meter Grids Worked & Confirmed as KE8RO
The map to the right shows my 2 Meter contacts. I was running a 13B2 at approximately 60 feet or so and I did manage to have a bit of help (when I needed it) from a Mirage 300 watt amplifier. Living on the shore of Lake Erie made for some great inversion related QSO's. I also enjoyed auroral QSO's as well and when there was aurora, you would always find me on 2 meters with my antenna pointed north. I would be listening for that distinct tone stripped sound of AU CW. I had lots of fun working the various UHF/VHF contests which not only added to my grid count, but yielded some great beam spinning fun! My rotor got a work out as I would hear grids in all directions.

432 Meter Grids Worked & Confirmed as KE8RO
My 432 set up was a 17 element antenna just above my 2 meter antenna. 432 was a bit harder but I did have an amplifier which allowed me to push about 100 watts on that band. My 432 grids are shown to the left and I think this was one of my most favorite bands. I did not have as much QRN (Noise) on this band as I had on the other two, so my weak signal receiving ability was a bit better. I'm looking forward to the day that I can once again start collecting grid squares on 2 Meters and 432. When I arrived in Alaska, I sold off all of my UHF/VHF gear with the exception of my feedlines. I did not see a need to keep it and I figured by the time I got back on those bands, the radios would be a bit better than what I had so what an excuse for new.

So, what do you ask does all this have to do with county hunting? Well, since I don't have these bands keeping me busy, I guess I have some extra time to devote to chasing those I need. I am on the hunt for all of my stateside QSL cards that show counties and I am starting with all that I have confirmed with my 8'land callsign. Once I get those entered, I will then dig into my massive collection of stateside QSL's that I've collected since I began operating up here in Alaska. Since I had 307 countries confirmed by the ARRL prior to departing Ohio, I plan on organizing those QSL cards in a photo album after scanning them. Both great winter time projects.

My DXCC needed List from Ohio
And in speaking of DXCC, I am not chasing countries like I had before as it's so darn expensive just to get a foreign QSL card. I'm a fan of LOTW and I am trying to get as many as possible via electronic means first. When I decide to apply, I will then chase down those I need with hard copy QSL's. I don't expect to ever get as close to the Honor Roll as I was in Ohio. Those remaining on my needed list from Ohio are shown on the right. Even with my 9 years of activity here, I have only just under 180 countries confirmed via LOTW to date. Having moved to Alaska from Ohio, I had to wipe the slate clean and start all over again.

So, my desire to begin 2012 with a new challenge, that of chasing new counties, led me into my stash of QSL cards which led me down the path of memory lane. I have kept every QSL card I have ever received over the years from each and every valid contact. I'm hoping that once the dust clears and I get all of my on hand stateside QSL cards into the database, I will have put a nice dent in the number of counties I need to chase.  I will be a bit more attentive in the state QSO Parties in 2012 for sure. I have been lucky enough to receive some very nice certificates and a plaque from county hunters for helping them with the 4th Judicial District here in Alaska. I'm hoping to be able to do the same someday. But for now, I will be thumbing through old QSL cards from days gone by and looking forward to all those in my future.

The other great side effect of chasing countries all these years is the awesome stamp collection I have! I'm hoping my kids will someday find them as interesting as I do. Like many hams, my hope was to have them interesting in ham radio but sadly, their cell phones are the only communication devices they are interested in. I'm not losing hope though. Since becoming a grandparent, I have a new audience I can focus on in the coming years.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Windy Weekend Leads to New Video and Few RAC QSO's

Well, another windy weekend around these parts! With so much noise and
having to rotate my beam so the wind would blow threw it, my RAC effort was
sadly, minimal. My 50 QSO breakout is below;

Contest         : RAC Canada Winter Contest
Callsign        : KL8DX
Mode            : CW
Category        : Checklog
Overlay         : ---
Band(s)         : All bands (AB)
Class           : High Power (HP)
Zone/State/...  : 001
Locator         : BP53LU
Operating time  : 2h09

  160     0     0    0    0       0  0.00
   80     0     1    0    1      20 20.00
   40     0     0    0    0       0  0.00
   20     0    27    0   10     284 10.52
   15     0    16    0    6     170 10.63
   10     0     6    0    3      62 10.33
   50     0     0    0    0       0  0.00
  144     0     0    0    0       0  0.00
TOTAL     0    50    0   20     536 10.72
           TOTAL SCORE : 10 720

Dupes are not included in QSO counts neither avg calculations

Operators       :
Soapbox         : Checklog

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Since my operation time was short, I decided to put a video together from
the ARRL 10 Meter Contest. It had been over a year since I uploaded a video to my YouTube page so I was long overdue. As Carl, WL7BDO said, it's my "Ten Minutes of 10".

I enjoy doing these videos so hopefully it won't be as long for my next production.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

ARRL 10 Meter Contest - Half the Height, Twice the Fun

Chinook System December 9th & 10th, 2011
My long time friend and old neighbor Sean, KL1SF headed back to Alaska for a week on a work related trip here at Denali. Sean stayed with us and we got to spend a few hours with him last week. Sean arrived after our last blow and departed prior to this one on Friday night. As noted in an earlier post, I watch the Weather Underground Infrared data close for these systems. The last two systems will be ones you will be hearing about in next seasons Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers not to mention maybe Alaska State Troopers and any of the other handful of Alaska reality shows. Weather is always a topic of these shows and winters here are tough on most everything and everyone. Weather can changed very quickly here so I check it several times daily. The map above shows the approaching system as viewed last Friday. I knew my weekend attempt in the ARRL Ten Meter Contest was going to be a challenge.

I started the contest off with calling CQ and working a few stations eventually moving upward doing some S&P (Search & Pounce) only to stop and call CQ again. At about 0205z, I threw in the towel as I wanted to spend a bit of time with Sean, KL1SF before he had to rush north to catch his plane. I also wanted to drop my antennas for the approaching storm. The band was still active with lots of JA's (Japanese stations) as well with West Coast USA stations.

The next morning, I waited for the band to open up and I got my start at 1739z or so. I basically S&P operated until 2004z when I squeezed into a hole and called CQ. The funfest began as it was not long before I acquired a pile-up. I ran stations until 2145z and I was surprised at what I could work with my beam at around the 20 foot level. The winds were cranking and I had lots of QRN (Noise) from local powerlines and other sources but I managed the best I could. Again, pile-ups are nothing like a DXpedition type but when you are not a seasoned contester, they can be brutal at times. Some of the frustrating parts were getting a partial call, then asking for that station only and others just continue to call. I even had a W2 station call me, I sent my report and then he wanted MY callsign prior to sending his exchange! I'm thinking to myself, aren't you supposed to know who you're calling before you call? I sent his exchange again and he once again asked for my call. I manually typed my callsign slowly and sent it twice and he sent his and then moved on. During these runs, I had stations move directly next to me, one a JA7 and another time a W8 station which forced me to finally move off and find another frequency. Not sure how they could not have heard me or the many others calling me. I knew low power was going to be a challenge but adding QRM and then QRN on top of it all made for a stressful weekend.

Saturday was good considering the weather, wind, and band conditions. By the time I ended on Saturday night, I was missing the following USA states; MS, MO, ND, and SD. Canada, I was missing several but that's not uncommon for me as I normally don't come close to a clean sweep of the Provinces. As far as Mexico, I had not even started to work those multipliers! I had the worst luck finding XE stations this past weekend and not sure why. It was not for a lack of looking for sure but I was happy a few called in.

Sunday started out then fell out. I heard W3UA on 10 meters working stations with a marginal signal. I tried call him but no luck so I just listened for a bit. KL2R was the strongest on the band, ironically. I listened to Larry call CQ for a bit with no luck. I then tuned the band and found it flat. It was that way until around 1740z. First station worked was K5KFT and after S&P'ing for a bit, I found a frequency to call CQ again. It was not long before the masses showed up and I was once again faced with working through a pile-up. I wanted to make an attempt to do more S&P'ing in hopes of finding multipliers in between runs. Each time I did, I added a few more to the log.

The highlight for me was working everyone that called! So many familiar weekend friends and it's always a pleasure to hear them on (too many to list). The cool DX contact was 9M6XRO calling me near the end of the contest. Over the course of the weekend I also seemed to have worked several new stations for the first time. Glad to see some new blood enjoying the CW mode.

Some of the lowlights for me are for sure the weather and of course the QRN on Sunday. I was able to put my beam back up on Sunday morning once the winds died down a bit. I had 60 Mph wind gusts here over the weekend so that really stirred up the neighborhood. I had a K9 station park next to me and his station sounded horrible. I could not filter out his very wide and nasty sounding station so I eventually had to move. All in all, it was your typical contest weekend with crowded bands. I always complain about dupes, which I again experienced this weekend and I myself owe N5ZK an apology. I called him after mistyping his callsign into my contest program. I typed K5ZK by mistake and of course, it said I had not worked him before. Well, after working him I realized my mistake. I always work dupes as I know it's gonna happen but the annoying ones are those who just yell and work me after clicking on a bad DX Cluster spot listing me as KL7DX. I think folks just need to listen for a second to verify the callsign before sending. I send my call after 99.99% of my contacts and this time, I even slowed my call down after sending TU after each contact to help pick out the "8" in my call but it seems it did not help. Sadly, I do this for them as it will be the other station most of the time that loses the points or multiplier.

So, Saturday was a blast, half the height but twice the fun as far as my antenna and operation was concerned.  It was great to get my beam back to its normal 42-43 foot mark on Sunday for sure. Oh, and I had to laugh. I had an 8 station call me and his old rig was drifting more than my driveway. I normally lock my VFO and hit my RIT button on my Icom when I'm running stations. I had to tune up the band and follow him just to get his exchange. I noted it in my notes log of the contest and had to chuckle when VE8EV also mentioned the same station in his 3830 post.

Contest overview from Win-test
Before each and every contest I, like I'm sure all the other Alaska stations have to do, is check the rules. Any good operator should check them before each and every contest for changes, etc. Alaska is one of those states that sometimes we are a state and sometimes we are DX. It just depends on the contest. I had a K6 station keep asking me for my "NR" in my exchange since in this contest, the exchange I sent was the canned "599 AK" and not a number like the DX stations had to send. It was frustrating at first but I just wanted the K6 to know, it's confusing to us at times, too.  So, before each contest not only do I check the weather, I check the rules. I would suggest the same :0)

My final score is listed below. I'm happy with it for the amount of time I was able to operate. I'm hoping next year will see a all night opening to Europe! Could be wishful thinking but after working the contest last December, I would have never guessed that this December was going to be this good! Even running low height and low power for most of the weekend, it was still a blast! I did venture up to SSB for a few minutes just to listen. That was enough for me and I headed south for the rest of the weekend.

Thanks to everyone for each and every contact! I want to wish you the safest of holidays and a DX filled New Year! It was one to remember for me and another busy one as well. The QSL's continue to flow in at a steady pace each week so the administrative work is a bit more than I would like, but all part of the fun.

So what's my plans for 2012? Gotta wait and see but we may take a trip back to Ohio and even considering Dayton 2012. I have family who lives nearby so having a place to stay is half the battle. At lot can happen between now and then but since our oldest daughter has made us grandparents for the very first time, I have a desire to head back and right around the Hamvention, would be perfect timing I would say. Just gotta wait to see what plays out with work and life as that's several months away. 73 my friends and thanks for a memorable year!

Contest         : ARRL 10 Meter Contest
Callsign        : KL8DX
Mode            : CW
Category        : Single Operator (SO)
Overlay         : ---
Band(s)         : Single band (SB) 10 m
Class           : Low Power (LP)
Zone/State/...  : AK
Locator         : BP53LU
Operating time  : 15h12

   CW      883   9     16     63     3532      4.00
  SSB         0    0      0       0       0         0.00
TOTAL   883    9      16     63     3532      4.00
         TOTAL SCORE : 279 028

Dupes are not included in QSO counts neither avg calculations

Operators       :
Soapbox         : 10 Meters continues to amaze me!

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Friday, December 9, 2011

What goes up, must come down, only to go back up again.

Alaska Weather via Weather Underground

One of the many weather extremes we deal with here in Alaska is wind. It's not uncommon for places in southern Alaska to see winds exceeding 100 Mph. For my area, winds in excess of 80 Mph is not uncommon, especially during the winter months. We seem to be in this repetitive pattern lately of Chinook systems moving in from the south creating strong winds. This was the case about a week ago. I live inside the northern shadow of Mount Healy, so I don't get the full effect of these south east winds however, I get my share. With the storm pictured here, we saw wind gusts to 65 Mph at my QTH on December 3rd and 4th. As any ham knows, wind does not play well with any type of outdoor antenna. Just knowing we had these weather patterns made me purchase the Hazer system for my Rohn 25 tower.

December Chinook covering most of Alaska
Having the ability to lower my beam and wire antennas helps me sleep at night when we receive these types of weather patterns. The maps at the right are from Weather Underground and I specifically use the Infrared map to track these systems as they approach Alaska. Since living here, this last Chinook was probably one of the strongest we have encountered yet. These will normally last 48 hours before moving eastward. I lowered my antenna to the roof level with the approach of this system. Since I use my Hazer to attach the apex of my wire antennas, a few of these antennas will actually lay on my roof. With storms like this, we will see dramatic temperature changes as the wind brings warmer air! We can go from -25F to +40F in a matter of hours! With this storm system, we received the wind, then as it started to die down, we received rain, followed by brief freezing rain and then snow. It was not long before 12 inches of fresh snow blanketed the area. This left a nice layer of ice underneath all that fresh snow. 

Extreme gust close to my QTH
When it was time to send the beam back up the tower, I found that the resting foot of my Hazer was frozen and I was unable to release it so I could move it upward. I also found my hand crank was frozen, too. Thankfully I keep on hand a few cans of de-icer and with my XYL's help, about 45 minutes later, I was able to send the Hazer skyward. But, my problems did not stop there. My wire antennas were laying on my roof underneath 12 inches of snow and laying in a layer of ice! I also had one leg of my 40 meter inverted V wrapped around several branches in a nearby spruce tree. It took us awhile to get the antennas freed from trees and out from the ice but thankfully we were successful. The antenna was only up for a day and a half before the next system arrived early this week. Needless to say, down came the antennas once again.

As I type this, I see another Chinook moving in for the weekend. My antennas are still nested from this weeks blow which only saw wind gusts here at my QTH to 51 Mph. This next system is forecasted to have 60+ Mph winds yet again, arriving tomorrow (Saturday) late afternoon. Sadly, this will most certainly effect my effort in the ARRL 10 Meter Contest ! With any luck, I will be able to operate the first part of the contest but I'm sure Mother Nature will shut me down yet again before the end of the contest. But lowering my antennas will hopefully ensure that I can once again raise them, allowing me to participate in future weekend ham radio festivities. There should be lots of activity from the 49th this weekend. Best of luck to everyone and with any luck, I might get a few of ya in the logbook!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What could be better than a contest certificate in your mailbox?

ARRL 10 Meter Contest 2010
Contest         : ARRL 10 Meter Contest 2010
Callsign        : KL8DX
Mode            : MIXED
Category        : Single Operator (SO)
Band(s)         : Single band (SB) 10 m
Class           : High Power (HP)
Zone/State/...  : AK
Locator         : BP53LU
Operating time  : 8h10
   CW   311   3  10   35    1244  4.00
  SSB   124   0   5   19     248  2.00
TOTAL   435   3  15   54    1492  3.43
         TOTAL SCORE : 102 948

As the CQ World Wide CW Contest is history for another year (see previous blog entry) it's time to focus on a few contests that are coming up. It's always a pleasant surprise when I make the trip north to Healy and check our Post Office box there. My wife normally walks in to get our mail and when she exits the Post Office with a large white envelope, it gets my attention. When a contest award certificate shows up she normally says, "You got more wallpaper." This past week I received a certificate for my 2010 effort in the ARRL 10-Meter Contest. I knew that this certificate was coming as I read the results in QST but it never dampens the excitement of receiving the award. As my wife sorted through the mail on our drive home, she told me that it appeared I received more than one piece of wallpaper! Once I got home, I opened up both envelopes and I also received my certificate for my effort in last years CQ World Wide CW Contest! I operated all band but submitted Single Operator Single Band 10 Meters. My breakout is listed below.

CQ Worldwide DX Contest, CW 2010

Call: KL8DX
Operator(s): KL8DX
Station: KL8DX

Class: SOSB/10 HP
QTH: Alaska
Operating Time (hrs): 15.75

Band  QSOs  Zones  Countries
  80:    2    2        2
  40:  20    5        4
  20:  698    17      48
  15:  103    10      10
  10:  128    9      11
Total:  951    43      75  Total Score = 245,676

Club: North Coast Contesters

So, there is something better than receiving a contest certificate in the mailbox!  Receiving two of em! 

Monday, November 28, 2011

CQ World Wide CW 2011 - 5 Star Weekend!

Log Snapshot ARS KL8DX CQWWCW, 2011
This past weekend was the weekend of all weekends for DX contests. The CQ World Wide CW Contest took place and contesters from all over the world sent the sweet sound of Morse Code across the airwaves in this 48 hour, Indy 500 style, contest. Stations from all corners of the globe prepare their equipment and stations weeks in advance in hopes of achieving DX contest success. From mult-operators to the QRP, this contest has something for everyone who is willing to send and receive CW (Morse Code) in a contest format. Like any contest, this is fast paced fun and when propagation cooperates, there is not a part of the globe you can't hear on the bands.

Contests are many things to many different people. Some use them only to chase new award contacts such as new DXCC countries or even states. Some get on to actually compete with stations on a regional level or even a global level. There is almost a contest involving every mode available to ham radio operators and like many sports, you either love em or you hate em. From a DX'ers standpoint, I love this contest due to the ability to add new countries (dating myself as they are now called Entities) to my DXCC totals. From a contester in training standpoint, this is the chance to hone those skills that push my CW ability to the maximum (which is not fast by any means) along with learning how to deal with QRN, QRM, and using my equipment to the best of it's ability.

To prepare for this contest, I set up my contest program and got my macros the way I needed them on Wednesday evening prior to the contest weekend. I have a small station so that was the extent of my prep work. I started a bit late come Friday afternoon (contest starts in Alaska at 3 PM local time) but not as late as I had first expected with my first contact at 0032 hours. As with any contest, it takes a bit for my nerves to get settled and for my CW decoding speed to function. My only strategy was an attempt to do a bit more S&P (Search and Pounce) for multipliers and not call CQ as much. Being that I'm in CQ Zone 1, as with all of the CQ Zones, we are a multiplier to everyone. And not only are we a CQ Zone multiplier, we are a country multiplier being in Alaska. I think Zone 1 was well represented this past weekend and I doubt was missing from many logs.

Contest Score Summary for KL8DX
As far as the contest for me, I decided it would be an all band effort. I normally enter in a single band in many of these contests but looking back to last year, I operated all band, high power. My operating time in 2010 was 15h43m running high power and I achieved 951 QSO's (minus dupes) for a total claimed score of 245,676. I was out to beat my previous years score but I was a bit worried as this year, I had to enter low power. My amplifier refuses to put any power out on 10 or 15 meters so I was at the mercy the propagation and the other stations receiving ability. I joke that a low power entry this far north is like running QRP in the lower 48. With that said, there were lots of stations who pulled out my low power signal when I didn't think there was a chance of adding them to my log when I was hunting multipliers. So totally impressed with so many great operators and stations out there!

I began Friday night (technically Saturday in contest speak) by doing mostly S&P. I wanted to look for multipliers early on, expecting none to be finding me when I decided to park and call CQ. So I often feel the contest really begins for me on Saturday morning after I roll out of bed. Yes, I don't operate an entire contest weekend and I normally get sleep during Friday and Saturday nights. I think the reason I don't operate an entire weekend is my low band antennas are far from adequate and those would be the antennas I would use to work stations throughout the night time hours. When I woke up Saturday morning, I checked the bands and looked for a small hole that I could call CQ. The same happened Sunday, looked for multipliers toward Europe and then find a place to park for awhile.

I like the Single Operator format in this contest as anything goes. No restrictions to speak of when it comes to operating off times, band changes, etc. I normally take notes over the weekend so I can refer back to them when doing my contest summary. These are normally one liners on a piece of scrap paper. Some of those one liners were;

  • Local low temperature -26F to start with on Friday, ended up with a high temperature of +18 on Saturday and +15 on Sunday. Research the effects of hot bands on global warming and local temperatures.
  • Saturday night, echo effect on 20 meters was rough! Many stations sounded like they had twins and both were calling at the same time.
  • I like to type because most people can't read my handwriting. I like to send CW in contests using my keyboard since most probably could not read or copy my manually generated CW. I continuously hit the wrong function keys on my keyboard. There is no hope for the contesting public when I get on the bands.
  • What, no Europe on 10? Hearing a few on Sunday morning but nothing workable. 
  • Wait, scratch my last, just worked G3TXF on 10 meters! Awesome!
  • Holy crap, I just worked OH8X, KL7RA, and TM6M on 10 also! I need oxygen!
  • Hearing Zone 27 on 40 meters but can't work any of the stations I hear. They are strong, but they can't hear me. Time to put in a funding request with the XYL for better low band antenna's. 
  • Wait a minute, scratch my last, I just snagged NH2T along with AH0KT on 40 meters with a side order of VK4KW in Zone 30! Damn, there must be some truth to this grayline propagation stuff! Research when time allows but should not be a problem as funding request mentioned above will most likely be denied. 
  • Wonder if I'm the only one who gets CB'ers on my run frequency? Wonder what all those "Extra Channel" freaks are thinking now with all this beeping stuff going on?
  • Must have been spotted as KL7DX again, getting lots of dupes! Corliss will have to use her reject button again. Make note to send Corliss some Christmas cookies for the overuse of her reject button on QSL requests for KL7DX.
  • Okay, this lower power stuff ain't so bad after all! Having to run the space heater in the shack due to amplifier sitting cold and lonely on the table due to operator abuse. Make note to submit funding request with XYL to get amplifier repaired. Probably will get funded due in part that heating the igloo using the amplifier is much cheaper than using the oil fired furnace especially with heating fuel at $4.24 per gallon. 
  • Need to sign up for a Pile Up Management class! How in the heck do some of these DXpedition operators do it? My nerves are about shot and I could really use an Elixir right now.
  • Wow, best effort EVER! Remember to thank all the operators that called in making it possible!
  • Just made my best rates ever working CW in a contest! An endless flow of callsigns on 10 meters!  I love 10 meters!
CW Run Rates for ARS KL8DX
So that was the highlights of the contest with my one liners on my piece of scrap paper. As it turned out, my fears of running low power were put to rest due to the awesome band conditions. I have highly respected the group at KL2R, lead by Larry, N1TX due to their abilities with their low power efforts. With the solar cycle on the upswing, my amp will finally get a well deserved break once it gets repaired. I have always felt that my station is only as good as my antennas and my Mosley continues to impress the dickens out of me! But either way, achieving a personal best rate of 154 Q's per hour just made my weekend! Yes, it's nothing compared to the seasoned contest operator who can easily pull double that but for me, that's something! CW has been challenging for me since the beginning but I will continue to practice and try to learn from each and every contest experience.

In conclusion, this was my best effort EVER in ANY contest I have participated in. The high bands were awesome (glad they recovered from the radiation storm that effected the bands on Saturday / Sunday) and I am so appreciative of everyone that called me or attempted to log me. I'm in these contests to have fun as my station is not big enough to compete. I had 32 dupes total over the course of the weekend. I have not looked at the DX cluster yet but I assume it was due to being spotted as KL7DX. I DO work dupes just to keep things moving rather than to set up a macro that says "Wrkd B4" and go back to CQ'n.

I must apologize to those that were effected by my keyboarding "WTH" moments, with UP2L coming to mind not to mention my hiccups on 20 meters toward the end of the contest. I appreciate everyone's patience and effort in logging or being logged for ARS KL8DX. I'm still riding high and I can still hear the sweet sound of CW in my head. After the contest, I started to catch up on laundry and I could swear my washing machine was sending me a signal report. I will be uploading my log to LOTW soon but will probably wait to see how LOTW handles this batch of millions of QSO's before doing so. And in speaking of washing, I will sure looking forward to seeing the contest results as once my log has been washed of bad or broken calls to see where I actually ended up. I'm sure there is no "Golden Log" here but with continued efforts, I might actually get there someday.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mixed Bag of Digital & Code and Can I Have a SOTA with That?

WAE RTTY Contest November 2011
As we enter into winter, it's much easier to find time to play on the radio. There are several times throughout the winter contest season that one weekend will play host to a few fun contests. I will try to divide my time to play in as many as possible. This weekend was the WAE DX RTTY Contest followed by the SKCC's Weekend Sprint. I decided early on that I was going to participate in both. The SKCC WES is a 24 hour contest during the last part of the weekend so I planned on starting out working the WAE DX RTTY Contest which was all weekend.

WAE RTTY Score Summary
This was a fun RTTY contest due to being able to send and receive QTC's and also not having any continental limits. Q Codes, commonly used in CW and Digital, and are abbreviated ways of asking or answering a question. In this RTTY contest, stations can send and receive a maximum of 10 QTC's, and if accurately sent and received, both stations receive extra points. QTC's can seem a bit intimidating at first but with today's contesting software, it's actually very easy. I personally use N1MM Logger which makes this process a breeze. In short, all you need to do to send and receive QTC's is set up few macros specific to asking or answering a QTC query. In N1MM, hit Ctrl-Z once to bring up the QTC receive screen and hit Ctrl-Z again to bring up the QTC send screen. If your receiving, as the information is passed, you just click on that information in the data window and it will automatically be placed in the proper QTC line in the QTC reception window. The software is smart enough that if there was a decode error, the problematic line will show up RED alerting you to the issue. You can then ask for a repeat of that specific line. When sending QTC's from the sending screen, it's just as easy. This is a summary of how to do it within N1MM only, but doing a search using "QTC" or "WAE" in the N1MM help fill will bring up a well written explanation of how to set up for QTC's.  As you can see from the graphic to above right, I was able to send and receive a few.

The high bands were fantastic this weekend yet again. I set a goal of at least 500 QSO's (Contacts) and I achieve that. As normal, my polar path was much better in the early mornings. I managed to work into Europe both Saturday and Sunday morning but I found this to be a bit tougher using low power. Often times the AU flutter can hinder decoding signals so adding a bit of power behind my low profile signal will often yield fewer repeats. I made 508 actual QSO's by the time I threw in the towel to begin my late entry into the SKCC Weekend Sprint. My total time on for the RTTY contest was 16:23, which left me well below the 36 hour maximum operating time.  

The SKCC Weekend Sprint began actually on Saturday at 3 PM local time (0000z) for me however, I did not begin my participation until Sunday at just before 8 AM local time. My first contact was at 1652z on 15 meters. I made a few contacts on 15 meters as 10 meters had yet to open. My first contact on 10 meters was at 1738z and my plan was to stay on that band until there were no more contacts to be had. That's exactly how it played out! I was lucky enough that the band was so good that I had a steady stream of contacts after calling CQ until 2336z, when I made my last 10 meter contact. Yep, that's 7 hours of using my straight key (Navy Flameproof) and there was not much left of my wrist when I was done. Due to past injuries, I had to wrap my wrist just to make it through, but it was worth every minute of it. When the dust cleared, I made 116 contacts total. It does not sound like much considering that's easily achieved during a CW contest weekend in 1 hour, but when you're manually sending, trust me, it's a few! The highlights were many but it was great to see so many QRP (Low Power) operators make it into my log. I worked several new SKCC operators and many old friends encountered as well.

The main highlight for me this past Friday was working wG0AT, along with N6UHB and KD0PNK, who were running QRP atop Bald Mountain during SOTA (Summits On the Air). They were atop Bald Mountain, FR-093, 39.1377°N / -104.8489°W. I had the honor or operating with Steve early last year from Mount Herman and it was by far one of the greatest highlights of my ham career. Steve made a great youtube video of the event and it can be found here. Kudos to Steve, Chuck, and Naomi on their successful activation and also, thanks for the QSO's!

With our travel trailer deep into its winter slumber, it's great to stay warm by making hundreds of contacts with old and new friends via the HF airwaves on any mode. My next effort will be for CQ World Wide CW at the end of the month. I'm not too far from making my 50,000th QSO since operating here in Alaska. I expect the logbook to reach that milestone sometime before summer of 2012. Sounds worthy of a special QSO confirmation, Alaskan style.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

SS - Can You Give Me Some Space?

Sweepstakes Fun
Last weekend was the ARRL Sweepstakes and I took advantage of the high bands to work a few stations. This contest has a format that can be intimidating due to the required exchange. Stations must accurately copy a consecutive serial number, precedence, callsign, check, and ARRL/RAC section. All this must be copied accurately to obtain credit. It's very hard to "guess" and fill in the blanks if you missed any part of the exchange so it really presses an operator to get it right before moving on. And when you listen to the contest, you will find there are many high speed CW operators that send and receive this data at a mind boggling speed. So when you add speed to a long exchange, it takes contesting to the next level. I'm glad this contest does not sport the normal "5-9-9" useless signal report but it actually throws a curve with the extra exchange information.

My CW (Morse Code) is far from fast so I normally have to ease myself into this contest. It takes me more time to get my flow going on the keyboard between all the fields than it does anything else. The callsign kinda gives you a buffer if you're running a bit behind, more so on S&P (Search and Pounce). I use the default Win-test settings which utilizes the Space Bar to jump between fields. I'm so used to using the tab button, it takes me a few QSO's to just get my mind and fingers to communicate correctly with the Space Bar. But once I get my rhythm, it's all about copying the exchange accurately.

I only had a few stations that sent their exchange data other than what is suggested in the rules. It can throw me off when I'm Space Bar hopping across the fields entering data especially if the other station is sending quickly. But you're gonna have these variables in contesting and in a way, it's good to expect the unexpected from time to time. It's kinda like working a contest at 3 AM and there is not much on the band. You've been calling CQ for what seems like hours with no response and then out of nowhere, a station calls you so loudly that it almost knocks the headphones off of your head and you off your chair.

I did have one station that after I sent my information, he immediately went back to CQ'n. I was left with that empty feeling of, "Am I in his log or am I not." A simple "TU" or "73" or something would of made me feel a bit better before tuning up the band. 

My main personal peeve was when stations would not space between their serial number and their precedence. A cut number is not uncommon in a contest and the most frequently used in this contest was "T" for the number Zero. But when you have the letter "A", which is a possible precedence letter and you don't space between your serial number and precedence, my brain wants to think it as the number 1 rather than the letter A. My brain recovers when the station sends their callsign and I realize the letter was not a number but actually a letter.  For a seasoned CW operator it's probably not a problem but for me, I need some space between those darn things!

I really like the work only once format of this contest as well. Again, something out of the norm as you normally can work the same station more than once as long as it's on a different band or mode. For me, this contest was all about working on my CW skills and trying to get better on the mode I enjoy the most.
I enjoy this contest more and more, especially now since I have participated. I used to avoid it like the plague thinking I would get run over by the contesting freight train. But, the operators are very skilled and repeats are a-okay! It's better to ask and make sure you get it right otherwise, it's a point-less QSO. It may have just been me but my personal observation was that the operators who were sending more my speed hung out a bit higher on the bands. I was not in the contest to work hundreds of QSO's but just to see if I could work all the sections. As the graphic here shows, I missed the following sections;
RI, AR,WI, NL, NE, SD, and NT. I can
understand NT and NL but the rest? Not sure how they escaped me but without using the cluster, it can be like finding a needle in a haystack. The band was there but I once again came up plenty short of a clean sweep! A humble congratulations to all those stations that did manage a full clean sweep. A great accomplishment for sure, especially hard if it was a single band effort! I know I made some errors but with continued practice and participation, I can only get better!

Monday, October 31, 2011

2011 CQ World Wide DX SSB Contest - A Common Theme

CQ World Wide SSB Contest log 2011
I have steered away from SSB contests in the last few years as I really prefer CW and Digital. A personal preference as I guess the bandwidth, splatter, and more have moved me to only giving out QSO's in these contests to friends, contest stations, and our Alaska group. With that said, since 10 meters (28MHz) has been so active lately, I decided to give the CQ World Wide DX SSB Contest a run. I was not in it to compete by any means but my goal was to work as many DXCC countries as possible to help achieve my DXCC on 10 meters. I also wanted to work all 50 states so I would have WAS (Worked All States) on SSB, 10 meters. I hope to snag my WAS with CW on 10 meters if the band allows next month during the CQ World Wide DX CW Contest. I do have 10 meter WAS but it's currently a mixed mode of CW, SSB, and Digital. 

I got a bit of a late start due to employment commitments but when I finally was able to settle down in the shack, I turned on the radio and was extremely thrilled with what I saw on the spectrum scope of my IC-756PRO on 10 meters. I was further astonished at the signal strength of many of the signals I heard! 
The contest started off with some great DX to Asia and the South Pacific! Some very strong and nice signals and several new countries were snagged on 10 meters! I worked the band until my last QSO which was logged at 0210z. I would not return until Saturday morning (AK time) or 1700z.

My goal for Saturday was just to find a clear spot and call CQ toward the lower 48. I was totally surprised at the pile-up I had and it was very tough at times to pick out just one letter or number of any callsign. I picked through and worked as many as I possibly could with my best rate being 234 per hour, which I achieve twice (see photo above)! So many familiar callsigns and many I had worked on 10 meters over the last few weeks! Great seeing so many old and new friends! I worked the daylights out of 10 meters (within my small station limitations of course) until 0159z. After I sat back and had a rethink of the day's activity, I beamed Europe and squelched out my rig and turned the volume up. My hope was, if 10 meters opened to Europe, the sounds of SSB would wake me up.

My plan worked as around 1145z (3:45 am local) I was awakened to a strange sound. That sound happened to be my squelch breaking with sounds of European SSB with a nice dose of AU flutter with it. I made my way from the bedroom to the shack and was excited to see activity on my spectrum scope and hearing Europe starting to roll in. I fired up the AMP and once I got my bearings, I started to S&P (Search and Pounce) on stations in Europe. This was tough as most of the stations I called had a problem hearing me at first or could not hear me at all. Many CQ'd in my face after repeated attempts to gain their attention. The path did get a little better before it closed over the pole and I was able to put 67 European stations in the contest log! My last QSO was at 1421z, and since the lower 48 was still pointed at Europe and signals were weak, I decided to go back to bed and get a few more hours of sleep.

HAARP Data for Sunday
I woke up a few hours later and when I came into the shack, I found 10 meters was flat!  I was totally bummed. It was almost as if I had woke up on Christmas morning and ran down to the Christmas tree to open up tons of gifts only to find a sign on the tree that Christmas had been canceled! What the heck happened to 10 meters? Carl, WL7BDO had posted a note to the local group which explained everything! Some geomagnetic disturbance sent the band silent (see graph to the right). The information from HAARP confirmed that I might as well just go back to bed! I was hearing activity on 15 meters so the MUF (Maximum Usable Frequency) just was not high enough yet to include 10 meters. I kept my fingers crossed that the band would eventually come back and I could continue my hunt for new countries.

I fired up at 1830z and after squeezing in between a few stations, I called CQ ending up working only a handful of stations. I heard a loud "pop" which came in the direction of my amplifier! I heard this even with my headphones on! My ten year old AL-1500, which has been abused heavily while contesting and DXing up here in Alaska, finally decided it had enough of the 10 meter excitement. I was getting no power out and it would not tune on 10. I popped the cover and being electronically challenged, everything looked normal but I knew internally, it was not. I threw in the towel at 1905z and decided to go pull the batteries from our travel trailer. I had been missing a few Zones that I felt were manageable and was hoping to pick them up on Sunday. I was sure I could not compete in those pile ups without a little extra "umph".

After doing some outside work which I needed to get done as I knew our first round of sub zero temperatures were arriving the next day, I ventured back into the shack and started my low power finish. I fired back up at 2230z and after trying to get a few unsuccessful runs going, I hunted down my last few Zones I thought I could add to my list, 6, 10, and 31! Much to my surprise, I found a few Mexican stations that had minimal pile ups which gave me Zone 6. It was not long afterward that I found two Hawaii stations which landed me Zone 31. KH7X gave me a chuckle and he was super loud here so Zone 31, which I could not find on Saturday, fell into my log on Sunday. I never found Zone 10, however I did manage some juicy DX working low power. I would have to say ZK2X was probably at the top of that list for my last hurrah.

ARS KL8DX Score Summary
In the end, this trek to complete my DXCC fell short in I'm tickled to have worked 63 new countries. I'm also pretty happy with my 28 Zones worked. I am hoping I worked one ham in each of the 49 remaining states that uploads to LOTW (Logbook of the World) and it would be great to see that mode completed on 10 meters for my WAS. In reading many of the 3830 posts, I saw a common theme, several commented on the outstanding high band conditions and I also see many stations also took advantage of 10 meters being in the greatest shape in years and like I did, entered as SOSB (Single Operator, Single Band) on 10 meters. I was shocked at some of the number of QSO's worked on 10 meters from the big contest stations. KL7RA here in Alaska kicked some serious propagational butt and several other AK stations posted some awesome scores as well. My 14 hour and 36 minute run on 10 meters was worth every minute. Some of the really great DX heard on 10 meters but not worked was ST2AR, VI6NC, and XV1X! Ah, I can still hope that someday I will get them on 10 meters!

My favorite comment of the contest weekend had to be in response to my calling a station on his frequency and his response was, "Kilo Lima Eight Delta X-ray...hey, I follow you on Twitter"! I might have been giddy after working several hours in the contest but that one made me laugh out loud. Yea, maybe you just had to be there...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

To Infinity and Beyond!

10 Meter Contacts 10.23.2011
To coin the phrase from the very cool Buzz Lightyear, "To infinity and beyond" is how I felt about the 10 meter propagation this weekend! I once again ended up on the high side of 28MHz working SSB which yielded several hundred contacts. The pile ups were simply fun yet frustrating as I did not have time to work everyone that had been calling. Glancing at my logbook between Saturday and Sunday, I made 257 28MHz meter contacts on Saturday followed by an additional 298 on Sunday! So many great contacts with so many great hams! I really have to give credit to those who stuck it out as I was told several times that stations were trying from 1 to 2 hours to work me and I'm probably sure there were others that tried longer.

There were so many highlights from this weekend there is no way I could possibly list them all. It was exciting to work some very young hams, from the ages of 7 (yep, seven) to 13 years of age! I'm envious of those young hams in that I did not discover ham radio until my 20's. But the important thing is that we all did at some point or another. Novice Enhancement opened the world for me, indirectly (covered in a previous blog entry).

Other than persons tuning directly on or near the 10 meter frequency I was using, the pile up remained manageable and most everyone was extremely patient. I made several recordings from the weekend and I'm hoping to put together my next YouTube video with some clips from those recordings. It might amaze you what it sounded like on my end. It resembled a contest weekend for sure, just a much slower pace.

Every once in a while I will get a stronger station asking me to listen up for a friend, smaller station, or a DX station that they can hear but I'm not able to due to the many people that were calling. I have to give a shout out to the ham that gave me the heads up on 6V7Q calling me! I asked everyone to stand by as I listened for the 6V7Q and to my surprise, I could hear him off the side of my antenna. I turned it toward Africa, Senegal in West Africa to be exact, and I had perfect copy. After working him, I went back to my pile up duties toward the lower 48.

I once again was astonished at the propagation pattern. I was hearing literally ALL of the lower 48 the same signal strength. Someone from Maine would call me and they would be 59 and then be followed by a West Coast station who was just as loud. No greyline needed on this band!

The main thing for me is, I'm a small station and I always enjoy handing out Alaska contacts to those that need them. I heard so many times this weekend that I was a persons first contact with Alaska, or they had needed my county or needed a contact with me for some other award. Personally there is no greater satisfaction than to hear the excitement in a persons voice that they made it into my logbook. That is what keeps me in my chair for long periods of time, not to mention experiencing propagation on a band that for years was nothing but static for me. From reading this blog, you might be able to tell that I am just as excited about each and every contact.

With the great propagation this weekend on 28MHz, I was able to finish my WAS (Worked All States) award not to mention with the help of Wes, W1LIC, I was able to get my last state needed (Maine) for LOTW WAS using PSK31. This type of band condition is what ham radio dreams are made of! Now lets hope the conditions hold through the BIG contest coming next weekend. My plan is to stick very close to 10 meters with a side order of 15 from time to time. I know I spoke with many familiar contesters over the weekend who were getting ready for just that. I think they all shared in my excitement about having 10 meters productive which will really help the scores and multipliers!

Again, I appreciate each and every contact and for those that made in into my logbook, you made my day as much as I hopefully made yours. To those I missed, I can only ask that you keep trying when you hear me on as I really do want to add you to my ever growing logbook of contacts. There is so much truth in the saying, "Friendship through Ham Radio" as I have made many friends over the years in this hobby, most of which I have yet to meet personally. I might be bad with names but I can almost immediately recognize a familiar callsign. I'm thankful for many things but most thankful for my wife's understanding which allows me to spend countless hours behind my Icom 756PRO. 

Oh, and before I forget, my most favorite quote of the weekend...

"I found it easier to work TX7M than to work you here on 10 meters". 


Thursday, October 20, 2011

10 Meters Stays Hot While The Weather Gets Colder

Winter Blanket
As winter moves in the cooler temperatures and snow, 10 meters remains active on a daily basis. Even though I can't operate every day, I see the spots of other Alaskan's being heard from various parts of the lower 48 and beyond. I have worked and confirmed 49 states now on 10 meters with Delaware being my only outstanding LOTW confirmation needed for WAS (Worked All States). The quest continues as time allows and I think I saw 40 states confirmed on 10 meter RTTY as well. So, gotta take advantage of the band when it's open. Looks like it could be an interesting CQ WW SSB Contest coming up and I just might operate it if ten meters is part of that weekend excitement! I don't like SSB but it will be fun chasing all those stations from around the world on 10 meters. I'm far from any DXCC award on 10 meters from here but hey, a good weekend in a major contest may bring me that much closer if not taking me across the finish line.

It's great to look at my logbook and seeing all those 28Mhz QSO's and the QSL cards are once again flowing into the mailbox. I just ordered another 1,000 QSL cards and my 2nd order will be taking place in the coming weeks for an additional that I'll use up during the course of the winter. 

If you have not been on 10 meters, you're missing the fun. My chase continues with T32C and I have snagged 20 out of the (now) 34 band slots. I have heard them on 10 FM but I have not been successful in working them on that mode. I'm hoping to get them yet on 10 and 12 meter RTTY but after that, I don't have much more this small station can do.  Now that they have worked most everyone world wide, the catch is a bit easier. Patience often times pays off and waiting for the crowds to decrease has helped to log them on some of the harder bands for me. Not sure but maybe the snow is helping my ground reflect my small signal abroad. Actually, gotta give credit where credit is due, it's the great operators of T32C!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Just As I Remembered You...

10 Meter QSO's from KL8DX Oct 10, 2011
We have been blessed lately with some very good propagation on 10 meters (28Mhz), kinda like the old days when I first got into Ham Radio. Today seemed like the culmination of weekend activities for 10 meters. I did not realize when I first turned on the rig this morning that I would eventually deal with a non stop pile-up for 6 hours. That is exactly what happened between my first QSO beginning at 1817z and my last ending at 0018z. This was a day to remember and it was one for the record books here at ARS KL8DX. Yep, 10 meters has not been this productive for me since moving here eight years ago. We have had openings from time to time but nothing to this degree and this many days in a row. I left the shack exhausted but the log was over 230 contacts bigger than before I started today.

I'm not one for SSB but as I have mentioned before, I can always find much more activity on SSB than I can on CW with 10 meters. For this very reason, I will normally call CQ on SSB when I'm looking to drum up a bit of excitement. Well, today not only did I drum up a bit of excitement, I hit the bees nest of propagation. 
Notice 10 & 12 Meters

It's hard to predict when the some bands will open while others are a bit more predictable. I think that simply living in Alaska takes these predictions to another level. When dealing with the aurora, absorption, weather, terrain, and a few other out of our control situations, predictions are even that much more difficult. I have to laugh a bit when looking at the "Calculated Conditions" at the right. As seen predicted here, 10 meters has been far from "Poor" in my book and if anything, exactly the opposite. When talking 10 meters, I think of the Solar Flux Number first and the A & K Indexes next when predicting when 28Mhz may yield some activity. 

The Google Earth® map at the top reflects most of the contacts that I made from my QTH on 10 meters on the 10th of October, 2011. It just so happens that the 10-10 International Club had their 10 Meter Sprint going on so I actually did something I had not done in ages, give my 10-10 number out several times! This is how I remember 10 meters, all day activities, hearing stations in nearly all directions and exchanging 10-10 numbers while hunting new states. I am working on my WAS (Worked All States) using LOTW only and when I uploaded my log at the end of the day, I had 46 states confirmed. Just a few more to go. I did work those states today but I did not look to see if they were LOTW users. I really appreciated everyone's patience and the pile up did not stray out of control. I know there were many that tried working me that were unsuccessful. I spoke with several stations that told me they had been trying to contact me for over 2 hours! Now, that's a sign of a patient DX'er! Hats off to you'all!

I had a blast today actually talking with many on 10 meters. I operate contests most during the winter so it's nice to exchange something other than the typical contest format for a change. Yes, I could of run 10 meters like a DXpedition and operated split and just gave out signal reports but I have to admit, I do that so often it's nice to take things a bit slower and longer from time to time. I truly appreciate ALL QSO's and ALL that attempted to contact me today, successful or unsuccessful. I very much know what it's like to be on the "other side" of the pile up, trust me. 

My T32C Stats as of October 10th, 2011
In speaking of the "other side" of a pile up, my quest continues to get T32C on as many bands and modes as possible. I am missing two QSO's from what I see reflected in the chart at the left. This could be SLIM activity or a busted callsign. One was 10 meter RTTY so it was tough not to see that one show up. I suppose because it is 10 meters and the openings on that band are not as predictable as I had mentioned earlier. But, the good DX'er has patience and continues the hunt and does not give up. I will do just that! I will watch the spots and hopefully land T32C on a few more modes before they depart the island and head back to civilization. 

I snapped a few quick screen shots when working them on RTTY for both 17 and 10 meters. Because my contact did not show up in the log, I'm assuming a SLIM operation rather than a defect in the logbook. The 10 meter QSO I had with them is shown below. Maybe in the end I will be lucky and find out I did in fact snag them but I'm not holding my breath. My quest continues as it does for many.
As winter has arrived I get excited for what this contest season might have to offer. Something tells me that if this trend continues, this will be one exciting contest season!! I consider myself a seasoned DX'er and a contesting greenhorn. This hobby has something for everyone and days like we had today just keep me coming back for more!

Hello again 10 meters, I have missed you.