Monday, April 16, 2012

Quest for Georgia interrupted by Funshine!

Spring in Alaska - 2012
I wanted to chase a few of the Georgia QSO Party stations giving a few the Alaska multiplier. There seemed to be a huge turnout and lots of activity from GA. Even with my small station and 100 watts, I was able to snag a few of the mobile stations roaming the state giving out counties. The only mobile that I encountered that I could never work was N4ZZ. Each and every time, the pile-up was just too big for me to make it through. The band (20 Meters) was not that great anyhow so, that made it even more of a challenge to work the mobile and some of the QRP stations.

Once the dust settled, I only worked 22 stations in Georgia this weekend. Of those contacts, the mobiles I worked the most were AD8J, which I worked three times and W1NN, which I worked twice. AD8J was the easiest to work and had the best signal into my part of Alaska. W1NN was a close second. I also snagged the special event callsigns K4F, K4N and N4A. 

I did not have lots of time this weekend as I had plenty to do outdoors. With local temps peaking into the 50's, it's short sleeve weather in these parts. The snow is beginning to fade as the sun and warm temperatures return. Sadly, this means lots of mud but that's the cycle here. We go from winter season, to mud season and from mud season to skeeter season. Arriving about the same time as skeeter season is tourist season. We experience a brief summer season followed by hunting season and then back to winter season or as I like to think of it, CONTEST SEASON! Since we started camping, our summer season is also known as camping season, or portable operating season.

The photo above was taken with my Android phone as we traveled west on the Denali Park Road on Sunday. We took a drive yesterday and encountered several moose along with a large herd of Caribou. It was a beautiful day for a drive and although I wanted to chase many more Georgia stations, the outdoors was calling me louder than any signal from Georgia on 20 meters. As much as I would like to support every contest, there are just those times that one has to wave the white flag and surrender to Mother Nature.  It's been a long and cold winter and this ham is ready to experience once again, some midnight funshine! 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Mixed Bag of Fun Even With Absorption and Wind!

QRP ARCI Contest Rig
This weekend was one of those weekends where I did not have all weekend to play radio but for those hours I did, I wanted to operate in 3 separate contests. The first of the three was the PODXS 070 Club PSK31 Flavors Contest. This was a rolling contest by local time so the contacts I made were all Search & Pounce (S&P). The second contest was the QRP ARCI Spring QSO Party. I was excited about trying to work stations while running QRP (5 Watts). The bands started out pretty rough and I had stations CQ'n in my face however, 20 meters started to become a bit more cooperative as Saturday progressed and I was able to log a few QRP QSO's. My trusty Icom 703Plus (seen pictured above) was set at 5 watts output to my Mosley TA-34-XL 4 element tri-bander. With the exception of non-members, I don't know how much power the other stations were running. Non-members gave their power output rather than the required ARCI membership number. I recently renewed my membership after having it lapse a few months. I've become interested in running QRP and enjoy running it portable as well. Now that the weather is becoming a bit more favorable, I'm looking forward to some portable operating.

My third contest, I wanted to make an appearance in was the SKCC Weekend Sprintathon. I very much enjoy using my Navy Flameproof CW Key and this was a good weekend to blow the dust off of it. Saturday was by far the best day play in this contest as once Sunday arrived, the bands folded due to ionospheric absorption. It just so happened that an incoming weather system started to once again produce winds which created lots of QRN. So between the solar conditions and the wind, Sunday was a bit rough when it came to adding contacts to my logbook. 

With the Easter holiday, the bands were quieter than normal. We received thee inches of fresh snow on Friday so we are not out of the woods yet for winter weather. April will usually produce a good snow storm or two but once May gets here, it will be time to defrost the camper and get ready for summer fun! I also need to complete my HF radio install in our truck! Antenna has arrived and just a few more small parts are needed and I can begin that creative project. Thankfully, I have an understanding wife and I don't have to "Lobby for the Hobby."