Tuesday, July 26, 2011

2011 ARRL DX CW Contest Results

Top 10
One of the most exciting parts of the summer season is reading about some of the previous winters contest results. The August issue of QST yielded some very nice news for this station anyhow. When I saw that the 2011 ARRL DX CW Contest results were listed, it was the first page I turned to. I have to say, I think this was the first time that my callsign appeared in the Top 10 section of any major contest. Now mind you, I was #10 but hey, it gives me a goal to beat in the coming years.

I often times do a 20 meter all band entry for a few reasons. One, it's obviously my strongest band. Second, depending on the contest, it allows me to get some rest in the evenings and spend some quality family time during low rate or no propagation times. And third, I can normally catch some great DX and the propagation path is pretty predictable. With a small station, I don't think I will ever see a plaque end up on the shack wall but a framed certificate is always satisfying wallpaper.

With some great advice from the Alaskan Contest Group, I have watched my scores in contests steadily get bigger. I can never compete with half of the stations here in Alaska but sometimes you just need to pick your entry and run with it. I may not have even received a certificate if I had done an all band entry or even a low power entry. I decide on my entry class normally at the beginning of the contest rather than preparing for it in advance. This is only due to the very challenging propagation for a small station like mine. I am also limited by my antenna's and equipment. So, if the low bands are very favorable and it appears I may be able to make some worthy points there, I will chose an all band entry. But again, I often take advantage of my strongest band being 20 meters and enter single band. I'm in it to have fun but it's also nice to win something from time to time.

Continental Leaders By Category
It's one thing to win your section or state but it's another to win your continent. I'm lucky for sure and it's all due to my operating strategy and of course doing the single band entry and sticking with it. I normally call CQ more than I search & pounce so I'm always thankful for anyone who calls me. It just so happened that we had great propagation during this contest and I was able to log well over 1,100 QSO's and only losing one or two to busted callsigns!  I'm more proud of that than probably anything as CW is always challenging but practice does pay off.  Nope, I'm not a high speed operator by any means and I prefer to stick around 28 wpm during contests as this is where I feel most comfortable. 

I have yet to receive the certificate but you can sure bet it will be proudly framed and placed on my shack wall with my others. I also did pretty well in the CQ WPX RTTY Contest but I will blog about that at a later date. 

Contesting is not for everyone but I find it's a great way to become more familiar with several aspects of this hobby including your equipment, how propagation works, handling pile-ups, operating in favorable to unfavorable conditions, strategy, and more. At the end of the day, it's all about having fun and I can honestly say, I sure did! 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Six & 10

I could not let July slip by without some sort of post!  Yes, it has been a very busy summer but I do get to turn on the radio from time to time. I have Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD) filter to send me text messages when any Alaskan station is spotted on 10 & 6 meters. Now mind you, I had no idea how many Alaskan callsigns were in the lower 48 but I have found out recently when those stations were active on those two bands, not to mention a beacon (I won't get on my rant about that one again) with an Alaskan callsign over on the East Coast.

July 21st yielded some 6 and 10 meter activity for me. It was short lived but a brief opening on those bands are better than no opening any day. My 6 meter antenna is still very low profile and hopefully by winter I can correct that. I did purchase the feedline I need to move that antenna higher so my excuses are getting smaller and smaller as to why I have not yet moved my 6 meter beam. Either way, I made ten contacts on 6 meters and three contacts on 10 meters with the highlight being able to work my long time friend Sean, KL1SF who is now at the Grand Canyon. Sean and his family were here for a week visit prior to me working Sean on 10 meters. It was a memorable week for sure and spending time with friends who are more like family is always great!

With the sun moving south, it won't be long before we see the colors changing to a fall scheme and I will be doing my typical mad rush to get my outdoor antenna work completed before the snow arrives, which normally catches me by surprise. I do procrastinate but only during the summer months as I suffer from acute midnight sun fever and there is only one cure, being outdoors doing fun stuff!