Sunday, August 5, 2012

NAQP CW August 2012

This past weekend was the NAQP CW Contest. Since the weather was more like fall around here, it was a good excuse to blow the dust off the rig and get in some CW practice. My contacts over the course of the summer have been few and far between. That's okay though as it has been summer (I think) so priority has been on outside activities rather than inside.

When the contest started, the only band that really had any activity was 15 meters. 20 was beyond poor and things did not start to take shape on 15 meters until well after an hour or so after the contest began. I was able to find a clear frequency so I started CQ'n and I was excited to have Steve, N8BJQ be my first logged contest QSO. Always nice to get the home state in the logbook. As it turned out, I worked several of my old friends from the Buckeye State so the ol stomping ground was alive with activity.

The conditions on 15 meters were fair at best. I was not able to get a good run going so I split my time between S&P (Search & Pounce) and running stations (excellent contest practice anyway). By the time all was said and done on 15 meters, I worked all but the following 49 other states; ME, NH, RI, KY, NM, ID and WA. Yes, WA!!? That one surprised me. I was missing most of the Canadian Provinces as well with only NB, ON and MB logged. 

20 meters never began to show any real life until the final hours of the contest. Signals began to get stronger as the afternoon and evening progressed and by the time all was said and done for that band, I worked all but the following 49 other states; RI, VT, NM, OK, WY, MI, IL, WV and SD. And again, most of Canada was missing from my log on this band as well. I found 20 meters to be very noisy and some local QRN did not help. Normally 20 meters is a good band for me to work weaker stations but not during this contest. I did manage to work lots of familiar callsigns and it was great to see everyone again. I have to shout out to Martin, W3MLK who I worked for the first time on CW. Martin, you sounded great here and keep up the great work. Hopefully we will see you as a regular in upcoming CW contests! 

KL8DX Contest Summary
I listened several times on 10 meters but there was not a signal to be heard. I'm hoping that 10 will come back to life this winter as it did last winter. It sure added a level of excitement last contest season. During the CQ World Wide DX Contest last November, I worked just shy of 1,000 stations on 10 meters alone! So, I will keep my fingers crossed.

In the end, my part time effort was just that. I had other things going on so I ended up using a handful of my 30 minute off times. But, it was good to get back on the air and reacquaint my brain with decoding CW. A natural I'm not but I'm naturally addicted. I did QSY a few times upon request for other bands and a few of those were unsuccessful. The most surprising was when I moved to 40 for Dave, K5GN. It was still daylight here and when I arrived on frequency, I could hear him and I was nearly floored that he heard me! Great receiving station Dave as I was 100 watts to an inverted V with an apex at 38 feet or so!

As we get closer to winter (next month if not sooner in these parts) I continue to think about all the work I have yet to accomplish on my antennas. At least I have some of it completed but I need to spend a good day or two focusing on nothing but antenna work. Summers are short so antenna work seems to always get pushed to the bottom of my list of things to accomplish. Do you blame me?

So many of my friends and family in the lower 48 states are dealing with drought and extreme heat. I'm thankful to be living here as our summer has been wetter and colder than normal. With heavy snow last winter, cooler than normal temperatures this summer, seems Alaska is once again on track for continuing to break weather records.  And in speaking of breaking records, with any luck, maybe I can break a few of my personal best contest records over the next several months. As my contesting efforts from Alaska begin to wrap up, hopefully the return of 10 meters as predicted will happen this winter. If the sun stays active and our propagation gets negatively effected by absorption, at least we will have the green lights of the aurora to keep us entertained until the propagation returns.  

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