Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Year in Review - Out Like a Lion, In Like a...Ham?

NOAA Denali Forecast 
The weather for our part of Alaska has been pretty quiet for several weeks. Or at least, until recently. We have been effected by a Chinook system moving in from the south and it not only brings strong winds, but much warmer temperatures. The warmer temperatures are a welcome break from -20F to -40F that we have been experiencing. But as ham radio operators know, high winds are not ham friendly. That being said, my HF beam has been nested just above my roof level as we were forecasted to receive 80 mph wind gusts, as seen in the forecast listed to the left. Thankfully we did not see gusts that strong but anything above 55 mph has me lowering my antenna. The latest system is exiting but there is another system on it's heels that will bring strong winds once again for New Years day and probably into the night. Since my strongest gust today was only 45 mph, I took advantage of a snow blown roof and warm temperatures to tighten my driven element and then crank my beam back to its 43 feet normal operational level. 

Cell Photo by KL8DX
The view to the right is from the 25 foot level or so (standing on my roof getting a beams eye view) looking ENE from my QTH. As you may notice, the trees around here are not very tall. Also, just visible are the two overhead power lines that cut through the heart of where I would run many of my wire antennas, if I could. Not only do I have these lines which run to a neighbors house to contend with, I also have my own service line which is not seen in this photo. In looking back, placing my tower on the south side of the house would have been a much better choice, for various reasons.

Cell Photo by KL8DX
The view to the left here is looking south toward Mount Healy. Denali National Park has a great information page detailing Mount Healy (Unit 24) and in the top photograph on that page, you can see Otto Lake, or the reverse of what you are seeing to the left. My home is on on side of this mountain and my office is on the other. I took these photos just before noon and as you can see, there is no direct sunlight. This time of year, I can tell by the clouds the sun is there but we won't see direct sunlight here at this QTH until February. The happy thought we keep is that the sun is slowly making its way back toward Alaska and the midnight sun will once again be filling out days with warmth and funshine!

Club Log Stats for KL8DX
When looking at my 2012 statistics available to me using Club Log, I've worked 106 different entities and had a grand total of 8,184 QSO's. As you can see from the graph to the right, I'm not a big SSB operator however, I do find my microphone from time to time. As mentioned in a previous blog posting, I did hit my personal milestone of 50,000 QSO's recently operating from here in Alaska. I've accomplished DXCC but have yet to apply. I've managed to work 203 towards my 2nd ARRL DXCC Award and 177 of those Entities have wonderfully been confirmed via Log Book Of The World (LOTW). With US postage rates climbing again in January of 2013, I'm a firm believer in electronic QSL'ing with LOTW. I will always maintain hard QSL cards. I enjoy receiving them and will return QSL for those who follow my instructions on QRZ, but my days of sending direct for each new Entity worked are long gone. Especially if it requires the always rising return postage fee, typically running $3.00 USD or more nowadays, from outside the United States anyhow. I don't chase new ones like I used to either. After moving to Alaska, my focus has changed to more of a contesting perspective than DX'ing perspective. Not that you can't accomplish both of these at the same time but basically, I spend less time "on air" during the weekdays chasing, and more time on the weekends being chased. Life of a double multiplier can be stressful but fun!

Twitter QSO with Martin, W3MLK today
Bringing in the New Year like a Ham is simply getting on the air and operating and for me, Straight Key Night (SKN) is just the ticket! I love CW anyhow and I've really grown attached to my Navy Flameproof keys. And heck, my Icom 756PRO, by today's electronic standards, is nearly vintage! I don't own anything that will chirp or has tubes that give off a warm glow. But that's what I love about SKN, hearing all that manually generated Morse Code and hearing those old radios come to life. Martin, W3MLK asked me what SKN stood for as I had mentioned it in one of my previous "Tweets". This was my personal explanation to him, highlighting the festivities about to begin in a matter of hours. I had worries of missing it this year due to high winds and a 24 hour bout with the flu bug. Thankfully, it appears I will be making contacts and enjoying a fresh new year enjoying the hobby I'm still addicted to after 25 years! 

In a day of live news feeds that seem to carry mostly bad news, ham radio is a way to escape all that, for me anyhow. Sharing bandwidth with those all around the world who enjoy the same, fun through ham radio. I don't know what 2013 will bring, but it will have its ups and downs I'm sure. We can hope for more ups though, nothing wrong with hoping! I appreciate those who read my ramblings on with this blog as I sure don't do it for me. As long as someone is interested, I will continue to detail my Alaskan radio adventures as I experience them. Thanks for all the QSO's and I'm hopeful for many more in 2013. I'm not sure on a theme for 2013 yet, but I have a few hours left to think about it. Not only does the wind around these parts bring warmth, something tells me change is in the wind as well for next year. Happy New Year my friends!       


  1. Hello Phil,

    Those are incredible numbers there! Congratulations on a great year!! 72's

  2. Hello Phil, when I cycled to my job this morning the sun was still under the horizon. But you could see some clouds glowing, it was almost the picture here on your blog and I had to think about it immidiatly. Thanks for all the nice posts in 2012 and I hope to read a lot more of you in 2013. You shure did your best contesting (or should I say contacting) last year with over 8000 QSOs. I'm also a believer of digital QSL by the way, even the delay is just like paper these times ;-) 73, Bas