Monday, April 29, 2013

DENA to BOST and Winter Continues

Cat Map - Luna
This past week has been busier than normal with a few unexpected turns. A medical procedure has set me behind schedule roughly 10 days and I'll be excited to return to full steam  ahead in about a week. Sadly, it will take much longer for my checkbook to recover. But, plans of our cross country trip continue to unfold as dates become more solid. Work is getting busy as well with many of our seasonal staff soon to arrive or already on board. Winter weather keeps pushing us backwards, Spring Road Opening (SRO) is underway but our temperatures are still below average and snow continues to fall. I have yet to remove the plow from my ATV as once I do, it's almost a guarantee of more snow. This is the main reason my antennas will be the last things to be disassembled (shucks).

Each of the National Parks are known internally by their four letter acronym. In talking about other Alaskan Parks, we refer to Denali National Park as DENA, Glacier Bay as GLBA, Sitka as SITK and Wrangle-St.Elias as WRST to name a few. Our next duty station will be BOST, so that is the reason for the title of this blog post. Our W1'land assignment is an exciting one to us but also very stressful. Not only do we have a 13 day trek across country (includes some VY1, VE7, VE6 and maybe some VE5 call area travels), we will need to find a place to live, get settled and become familiar with our new jobs and surroundings. This move effects everyone in our household. As you can see from the photo above, even the family cat fell asleep with the map of Boston! We have an exhausting schedule between now and our first day of work on the other side of the country so there will be no rest for many weeks. To put it into simple terms, it's kinda like going to a local Ford Dealership, picking out that loaded Ford Mustang and after signing your life away, driving it off the lot. It's all fun and you're enjoying that new car smell and life is good. Then reality sets in when the first payment comes due. Then it really sets in when you see how many payments you have left! Well, our reality set in with the "official" paperwork which arrived recently. We signed on the dotted line and it's crunch time!

With that said, I've had little to no time for radio. Often times, I will leave my rig on and monitor JT65, PSK31 or WSPR. This gives me a quick reference check on propagation should I have a few minutes to check the radio. I have plenty more contacts I want to make but obviously radio falls well below many other priorities. But I plan on making time for a few contests / QSO Parties in May. As June rolls around, things will become just to crazy to even think radio. A few weekends in May along with an evening here or there will be my extent of operating. I normally close down the shack by June anyhow as summer arrives and we begin our outdoor adventures. This year will be no different other than the fact that our shack won't reopen in Alaska for the upcoming 2013-2014 winter contest season. Unless of course another ham decides to occupy our dwelling. But for now, we focus on getting ready for our DENA to BOST journey in the coming months. Oh, and now I really have to learn how to spell Massachusetts.   

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Meltdown

Our Cartoon Shack
Could it finally be? A sound I've not heard for many months! Nope, not DX but the sound of running water! We do have indoor plumbing but the water I'm referring to is outdoors. The sound of water dripping into our gutters as the snow melts off the roof. We saw a high temperature on the 19th of 37.9° followed by  a high of 46.2° on the 20th! And if that was not enough, we saw a high of 44.7° on the 21st! I think (as I knock on wood) that spring has sprung! The meltdown is here! Our driveway is already beginning to look like a lake during the day and an ice rink during the night. We are in that thaw and freeze cycle now. Our weather station is showing some dramatic temperature changes though out the day. And believe me, I'm a happy camper!

More Sunshine than DX this past weekend!
And speaking of a happy camper, with such balmy temperatures, I moved our travel trailer batteries from our garage back to the trailer. It's plugged in and the batteries are once again fully charged ready to go. As the bands continue to be a bit of a struggle up here, it's easy for me to be distracted and head outdoors to catch some arctic rays, especially now that we have over 17 hours of daylight! The photo shows the view from our front deck and sunglasses are once again a requirement with all this sunshine and reflective snow giving us a double dose of solar emission. 

Our cluttered shack KL8DX / KL8SU
This was a busy weekend for radio. Several QSO Parties and a few HF contests. I managed a few CQMM European QSO's and even fewer Michigan QSO Party QSO's. I also wanted to make an appearance in the Feld Hell Sprint and the poor conditions only yielded a few Hell QSO's as well. I think the highlight for me was working Dan, W8CAR and Jim, K8MR who were mobile in the Michigan QSO Party. Dan lives only a stones throw from where I used to live in Ohio. I won't be able to make Dayton this year but you can sure bet it will be on my agenda for next year! Since we officially received our EOD date (Enter On Duty) to our next assignment in 1'land, I'm now focusing my efforts on getting ready for our move. We have LOTS to accomplish between now and then but I still have some time to enjoy radio. I need several inches of snow to melt yet before I even think about dropping my antennas and towers. That will probably be one of the final projects but in the mean time, I have plenty indoors to keep me busy. 

My logbook is fast approaching 53,000 QSO's since moving to Alaska in 2003. I used a vertical antenna for the first few years and I can still remember how the world opened up when I got my Mosley TA-34-XL in the air!  It has operated from two QTH's (locations) and has served me well, proving itself in this very harsh arctic environment. So until we make our way back to Alaska, it will once again be packaged up and taking a long rest. I don't expect to have much of a station back east as we are looking to rent. I'm also looking to hook up with a local contest club or stations to operate with. I've very much enjoyed the experiences I've had at KL2R with the multi crowd and I'd like to continue that fun. But we need to find a place to get settled and survive this move first before I begin thinking of operating. Once the station is deconstructed here, it will be portable operating for me only but I love that, too! My favorite portable operating is when we are boondocking many miles away from any available internet or cell service! Introduced to me by our bestest of friends, Sean KL1SF & Mindy KL1MF, out on the Denali Highway. I've been bitten by the bug ever since. 
Susitna River Bridge by KL8DX

One of my favorite places on the Denali Highway is out along the Susitna River. Lots of fond memories for sure. The photo to the right is one that I took from a previous excursion on the Denali Highway. Some of the bridges up here make you hold your breath when you're crossing them. This one however is my favorite. I love walking out onto the bridge. Like in may other places, not a sign is safe in the Alaskan backcountry. Trying to find one without a bullet hole can be a challenge in this neck of the woods. Me, I've personally never felt threatened by a sign so I never felt the need to shoot one. Those who shoot signs rank as low as the few I've heard who hang out on 14.313. Or at least, I'm sure they are related somehow. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Chasing The Germans, Chasing the Lower 48 And The Beginning Our Next Life Chapter

QSO Party & SKCC's WES @ Radio KL8DX
It seems we encountered yet another weekend in which the sun flexed its solar muscle and put a damper on some of the weekend operating. It started out okay and by Saturday, I was thinking we may be safe. As luck would have it, by 0600z on the 14th, the ionosphere got its bell rung by the sun. The impact was reported by spaceweather dot com showing the hit around 2255z on the 13th. But at that time, I was still hearing stations strong and the bands were favorable. I was slightly optimistic that the predicted BIG lower 48 auroral event would not happen. My backup plan was to photograph the aurora (assuming it was going to happen) but even that comes with a challenge these days. I'm a morning person and now that spring is returning to Alaska, we have daylight up through 2200 local. To experience complete darkness, we need to stay up pretty late. I charged the camera battery anyhow, just in case I had insomnia.

5W0M QSO's for KL8DX logged in ClubLog
My activity this weekend was going to be exclusively Search & Pounce (S&P). I was going to chase those in the New Mexico QSO Party, the Georgia QSO Party and finally the Montana QSO Party. I was also going to continue my quest of chasing 5W0M on Samoa. Anything in the Pacific is pretty easy for my little station as there is not much between me and most of the large mass of ocean. Well, one BIG mountain does make a few locations in the pacific tough for me, all 20,320 feet of it! But the Samoa group is sounding great here in the Interior and they are doing a fantastic job as far as DXpeditions go. I wanted to support my fellow SK'ers by getting on and chasing a few SKCC Weekend operators during their monthly WES (Weekend Sprintathon). My Navy Flameproof has felt neglected I'm sure. 

The bands were tough for most of Sunday but by Sunday afternoon, propagation started to return. I stuck pretty much to CW on 20 meters, the only real propagational band for me. The Georgia QSO Party appeared to have the most activity followed by the New Mexico QSO Party. I worked only one station that I found CQ'n in the Montana QSO Party. But, there was a large group of SKCC'ers on so I knew that my limited time on the radio should yield some contacts. I'm dividing my time between a few home projects and radio on the weekends. Auroral events make it much less stressful when trying to decide which to do, radio or work on home improvement projects. 

Secret Weapon at KL8DX. She sniffs out Mults & New Ones
By the time the weekend closed out and the bands feel silent on Sunday afternoon, I added only about 43 QSO's to my logbook. Again, all S&P and when I had a few minutes to park myself in the shack chair. I did have a visitor a few times. When "mom" is gone, she tends to keep me company. She does not mind the sound of CW and I think it actually puts here to sleep. She is 13½, so it does not take much to put here to sleep these days. At times, I will even get a visit from the family feline but that's normally during those very early morning hours when the rest of the household is still asleep. The cat and I are the only ones who normally catch the sunrise. 

©KL8DX Sunrise as seen from my shack window
So, with only a limited number of sunrises left here in Alaska, we begin planning the next chapter of our life. It won't be long now before we begin our journey that will take us over 4,600 road miles east, to our next assignment. That's the beauty of the National Park Service, lots of beautiful places my wife and I would like to experience during the 2nd half of our careers. But don't worry, we have plans of returning to Alaska but for now, our career path takes us across our great country. I have to admit, it will take some time to adjust to traffic, people, driving only a few minutes to the local grocery store and having something I order from HRO (Ham Radio Outlet) delivered to my doorstep. I'm still not tired of the 2 hour drive (one way) to get groceries, to see doctors and get our truck worked on. I have lived the dream and it's a dream I will live again. My activity level will take a short break in the coming weeks but then, my faint signal will once again be heard. The only difference is, there will be a /W1 after my callsign when I'm operating. More on that later but for now, our family beagle has awoke and has decided she wants to venture outdoors. Something tells me she was not dreaming of bass fishing, but I do! What say you, Martin? 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Log Checking Report (LCR) - KL8DX 2012 CQ WW CW Contest LCR

The KL8DX Classroom

I recently received an email from Randy, K5ZD outlining my Log Checking Report (LCR) for the 2012 CQ World Wide DX CW Conest. Logs are public and participants are alerted to their log becoming available. A few feel that revealing of the contest logs should not happen as it would possible give up strategic information, etc. Me on the other hand, it's my Report Card and grades how well I did in the contest. I welcome these reports with open arms and I sure use them to my benefit. I learn from them and then try to fix my problem areas.

My shack is my classroom when it comes to operating. I'm always learning. It could be about propagation, strategy, space weather, greyline or simply how my equipment plays under certain conditions. I also learn from others without leaving my chair. As mentioned in my previous blog, via email or simply just tuning and listening to other operators on the air. I learn what and what not to do this way. 

Anyhow, if I had to grade my operating from the CQ WW CW Contest, I would grade myself at a C+ level. This is simply because my 3.8% error reduction. Had I not lost a multiplier, I would of graded myself at a B-, I think. Let's take a look at the breakout -

************************** Summary ***************************

    1881 Claimed QSO before checking (does not include duplicates)
    1862 Final   QSO after  checking reductions

    4186 Claimed QSO points
    4046 Final   QSO points

     129 Claimed countries
     128 Final   countries

      69 Claimed zones
      69 Final   zones

     198 Claimed mults
     197 Final   mults

  828828 Claimed score
  797062 Final   score

    3.8% Score reduction

       8 (0.4%) calls copied incorrectly
       7 (0.4%) exchanges copied incorrectly
       0 (0.0%) band change violations
       4 (0.2%) not in log
      15 (0.8%) duplicates (Removed without penalty)
       3 (0.2%) calls unique to this log only (not removed)

********************** Results By Band ***********************

             Band   QSO  QPts  Zone Cty Mult

   Claimed   160M     0     0     0   0    0
   Final     160M     0     0     0   0    0

   Claimed    80M    11    23     5   5   10
   Final      80M    11    23     5   5   10

   Claimed    40M    30    76     8   8   16
   Final      40M    30    76     8   8   16

   Claimed    20M   728  1731    19  58   77
   Final      20M   720  1657    19  58   77

   Claimed    15M   913  1896    19  38   57
   Final      15M   905  1852    19  37   56

   Claimed    10M   199   460    18  20   38
   Final      10M   196   438    18  20   38

   Claimed    All  1881  4186    69 129  198  Score   828828
   Final      All  1862  4046    69 128  197  Score   797062

When I looked a bit closer as to the reason why, it was simply my copy. 
In looking at it from another angle, my lack of copying. Let's take a look -
********************* Incorrectly copied *********************

14053 CW 2012-11-24 0247 KL8DX    1 PS1T    11 correct     PS2T       
14027 CW 2012-11-24 0327 KL8DX    1 JF1NSD  25 correct     JF1NHD     
21046 CW 2012-11-24 0840 KL8DX    1 SF3A    14 correct     HF3A       
28065 CW 2012-11-24 1911 KL8DX    1 N7LXU    3 correct     N7XU       
28038 CW 2012-11-24 2340 KL8DX    1 JH1CTQ  25 correct     JS3CTQ     
14065 CW 2012-11-25 0015 KL8DX    1 K1BG     5 correct     K1DG
14040 CW 2012-11-25 2252 KL8DX    1 K7FL     3 correct     K8FL       
21082 CW 2012-11-25 2359 KL8DX    1 JF1NSD  25 correct     JF1NHD

I've always had a mental block with the letters "H" and "S" at higher speeds. 
In looking above, that is what stood out first in my error report. And it did not   stop there. I also incorrectly copied the following exchanges -
*************** Incorrect Exchange Information ***************
21067 CW 2012-11-24 0154 KL8DX     1 7K4XNN   24 correct   25
21058 CW 2012-11-24 1819 KL8DX     1 K7BG      3 correct    4
21048 CW 2012-11-24 1827 KL8DX     1 KH7X      5 correct   31
21098 CW 2012-11-24 1851 KL8DX     1 WX9U      5 correct    4
28063 CW 2012-11-24 2244 KL8DX     1 NG7Z      5 correct    3
21036 CW 2012-11-25 2215 KL8DX     1 W3HDH     5 correct    4
14040 CW 2012-11-25 2249 KL8DX     1 N0EF      4 correct    3

The biggest puzzle for me is how in the heck did I get KH7X wrong! Zone 5 for31? And I gotta wonder about 7K4 as Zone 24 and not 25? That's a bit easier to swallow than KH7X. I've worked Paul, NG7Z in so many contests and I know he  is in Zone 3.

The ones that really effect ones score are the multipliers that are "busted." 
I did just that -
********************** Lost Multipliers **********************
21046 CW 2012-11-24 0840 KL8DX    1 SF3A   14 correct HF3A  
So, I review my results for the next test. What can I do to improve and what
mistakes did I make in this last contest that I need to pay more attention to 
during the next contest? Yes, when one is tired, it's easy to make mistakes but
when contesting, that could be the difference between what I refer to 
myself as framing or blaming, or simply - wallpaper or none.
I've also made an attempt to correct people when they have busted my call. I hope that others will do the same should I bust their callsign. Yell back at me or send your call a few times so I get that "V-8 Moment" and correct it. Sadly,
many bust my callsign because of poor spotting. I often get spotted as KL7DX
and people will click, work, log and move on without verifying my call. 
I correct as many as possible and I make sure I send my call after each QSO if 
I'm running stations. If I'm S&P (Search & Pounce) and someone has
my call wrong, I send it not only once, but twice.  Something like, 
"K8QWY de KL8DX 5NN 01 de KL8DX. 
Here is a look at how many busted my callsign (I removed the call to protect 
those who did) -
************* Stations Copying KL8DX Incorrectly *************
21000 CW 2012-11-24 0148 JH****          25 KL7DX            1
21000 CW 2012-11-24 0158 JF****          25 KL7DX            1
14064 CW 2012-11-24 0517 VE***            3 KL7DX            1
14040 CW 2012-11-24 0745 R***            16 KL7DX            1
14009 CW 2012-11-24 0756 SP****          15 KL8NX            1
14000 CW 2012-11-24 0757 Y***            15 KL9DX            1
21062 CW 2012-11-24 0838 L****           15 KL7DX            1
14065 CW 2012-11-24 1524 S***            15 KL7DX            1
14008 CW 2012-11-24 1625 R***            17 KD8DX            3
14034 CW 2012-11-24 1634 L****           20 KA8DX            4
14059 CW 2012-11-24 1644 N***             5 KL7DX            1
21021 CW 2012-11-24 1823 K***             5 KL7DX            1
21025 CW 2012-11-24 1844 W*****           3 KL7DX            1
21000 CW 2012-11-24 1902 W*****           3 KL8DK            1
21000 CW 2012-11-24 1959 K****            4 KL7DX            1
21077 CW 2012-11-24 2018 K***             5 KL8X             1
21000 CW 2012-11-24 2036 K****            5 KL7DX            1
21077 CW 2012-11-24 2044 N***             3 KL7DX            1
21077 CW 2012-11-24 2047 K****            3 KL7DX            1
21077 CW 2012-11-24 2106 W****            4 KL7DX            1
21000 CW 2012-11-24 2208 N***             3 KL7DX            1
21077 CW 2012-11-24 2210 W***             5 KL7DX            1
21077 CW 2012-11-24 2224 K***             3 KL2DX            1
21000 CW 2012-11-24 2227 VE****           4 KL7DX            1
28000 CW 2012-11-24 2240 K***             4 KL7DX            1
14066 CW 2012-11-25 0004 K***             5 KL7DX            1
14066 CW 2012-11-25 0043 VA***            3 KL7DX            1
14000 CW 2012-11-25 0202 N***             4 KL7DX            1
14066 CW 2012-11-25 0211 K****            5 KL7DX            1
14027 CW 2012-11-25 0302 W***             3 KL7DX            1
14001 CW 2012-11-25 1210 U***            16 DL8DX           14
14015 CW 2012-11-25 1215 R***            16 KL7DX            1
14059 CW 2012-11-25 1225 9***            15 KL8TEX           1
14028 CW 2012-11-25 1227 9***            15 KL7DX            1
14000 CW 2012-11-25 1243 U****           16 DL8DX           14
14102 CW 2012-11-25 1252 U***            16 KD8DX            4
14054 CW 2012-11-25 1448 Y***            20 KL7DX            1
21040 CW 2012-11-25 1515 Y***            15 KL7DX            1
14033 CW 2012-11-25 1546 Y*****          20 KR8DX            4
21000 CW 2012-11-25 2045 C****            8 KL7DX            1
21028 CW 2012-11-25 2058 L***            13 KL7DX            1
21000 CW 2012-11-25 2101 K***             5 KL7DX            1
21000 CW 2012-11-25 2126 V****            5 KL7DX            1
21037 CW 2012-11-25 2135 K***             5 KL7DX            1
21000 CW 2012-11-25 2137 W***             4 KL7DX            1
21037 CW 2012-11-25 2202 N***             3 KL7DX            1
21036 CW 2012-11-25 2203 N***             4 KL7DX            1
21037 CW 2012-11-25 2203 N***             5 KL7DX            1
21037 CW 2012-11-25 2204 N***             3 KL7DX            1
21037 CW 2012-11-25 2205 W/******         3 KL7DX            1
21000 CW 2012-11-25 2212 K****            4 KL7DX            1
21037 CW 2012-11-25 2215 N***             4 KL7DX            1
21037 CW 2012-11-25 2218 K***             5 KL7DX            1
14040 CW 2012-11-25 2322 N***             4 KL7DX            1
21000 CW 2012-11-25 2347 JA****          25 AL8DX            1

Contesting is about speed AND accuracy, and scoring reflects just that. 
A call can be busted for many reasons, fatigue, QRM, QRN, QSB or simply,
just not copying it right. What is loud and clear is my final result and using
that, I will forge ahead and hopefully do better next year. 
But for now, class dismissed...   

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I'm a 10? Not Really, But I Did Rain RTTY All Over Europe This Morning on 15!

My rate...rates?
So, I happened to stumble across some pretty interesting information this afternoon regarding the 2012 CQ World Wide CW Contest. This page had Valery, R5GA's callsign all over it. He has a listing of stations within their classifications and claimed best 60 minute CW QSO rates. This appears to have been extracted from their submission files. Either way, this was extremely interesting to review.

Now mind you, I'm not a high speed CW operator. I've always dreamed of being able to mentally copy a long QSO at 40 wpm but, that will never happen. Not to make excuses but I think it boils down to how I first learned CW. I feel that if I had learned differently, my copy would be much better than it is 25+ years later. And it's not for lack of practice. I try to get on CW as often as possible and contest weekends are excellent practice! It's possible to work so many great DX stations but also increase your copy speed. I can be rusty on a Friday afternoon when a contest starts but if I try hard and stay focused, by Sunday, I'm ready for a 32 wpm QSO! Well, at least I feel that way. I like to refer to it as Contest Code Overload! It's like eating a bunch of chocolate or drinking several cups of leaded coffee. I'm ready for anything and bouncing off the walls. But as the contest ends, I will push myself away from the radio, exit the shack and take a long break before returning, even leaving the contest program running. I will rekindle my relationship with my wife, our beagle and the cat (well, actually my daughters cat that she forgot to take with her) who frequently visits over contest weekends. 

Anyhow, getting back on can see my detailed break-out here. Or you can click on any of the callsigns on the "All time records" page and it will show you the individual best efforts. My effort apparently shows what a computer decided was worthy of 10th place for my single operator, low power entry. And when I look at the list of stations, there are some great operators! And it makes my key stick just thinking about being listed on the same page with them! Little ol me. 

Other Alaskan stations who are listed are KL2R, KL7RA and NL7G. Of the three, I've only personally operated with Larry, N1TX (at KL2R). I have the utmost respect for Larry as an operator and contester. I only wished I lived a bit closer as I would love to spend more weekends at KL2R and continuing learning from Larry. I've written in previous blog posts about the team at KL2R. A very skilled and focused group of operators, all of which I very much look up to. I've always wanted to head down to Rich, KL7RA's station (been invited) but that is a very long haul for me. I still hope to. Rich has also been very instrumental in helping me become a better operator with advice, suggestions and more. There is a group of contesters here throughout Alaska that I keep in touch via email and a few I have met personally. I feel I owe my wallpaper success stories to them all, as they accepted this "out of stater" and have never made me feel like a "lid." They've answered all my questions and I feel I can ask anything of them, no matter how silly I might think it might be. 

One of the neat things about today's modern technology is, even though I've only personally met about half of the contesters I correspond with, I've been able to gain lots of great advice and insight from them via email. What I'm trying to say is, even if you live in the sticks like we do, you can still reach out and get valuable information and get your questions answered. You just need to ask. I arrived to Alaska entirely as a Search & Pounce (S&P) contest operator / DX'er and I will depart a "Park & Bark", not afraid to dig in and call CQ kinda guy. There are lots of publications available as well, both printed and electronic that give some good advice. In the latest National Contest Journal (NCJ), an article written by Mike, VE3GFN caught my eye. The title read, "The Little Pistol Pages." Mike's focus is more from a small station perspective so I'm looking forward to future reads from Mike in NCJ publications. I have found NCJ a valuable magazine with many articles from many a skilled operator, sharing experiences and advice on how to take operating to the next level. Most of the major magazines (like QST and CQ) and some organizational magazines also get into explaining the ins and outs of operating. Yes, I know, contesting is not for everybody but if you love ham radio and are in any way competitive, a good contest weekend might be just the ticket. 

15 Meter RTTY Contacts this morning - 100 watts
I had a bit of insomnia this morning so I strolled into the shack and found some great European signals on 15 meters! Well, I decided to take advantage of being awake and I worked one station one RTTY then I moved up and called CQ. I was on from 1015z to 1145z and that 1.5 hours flew by! To the right is a graphic illustration of where my 100 watts rained down over points east of me. My RTTY signal seemed to be raining all over Europe! I love openings like that. The only thing that could of made it better was doing the very same thing but on 10 meters! A ham can dream, right? As tired as I am now I hope I don't have a repeat but if so, I can only hope the bands will be open like they were this morning. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Beaming Over North Pole Twice for Europe And Later Finding I Took A Continent!

April 1st RTTY QSO's on 20 Meters from KL8DX to Europe
I had high hopes of actually working some of the CQ World Wide WPX SSB Contest this past weekend. Those plans were changed once the solar wind picked up and absorption whet through the roof. I tuned the high bands for a large part of the weekend and from Friday to Sunday morning, I did not hear much of anything. Sunday morning the bands started to come back to life but it was short lived. By Sunday afternoon, I went from hearing some stations to hearing none. I knew my 100 watts would not make it out of the state of Alaska. I'm not much into SSB contests anyhow but compounded with the poor conditions, it was not hard for me to focus my attention on other things. I've worked tough contest weekends before but this one was a bust, from my location at least. Some of the other Alaskan efforts I've seen posted are a small fraction of what those stations normally work. I sadly flew the white flag of defeat for this contest.

In speaking of the WPX contest, there was a small window where I was hearing a few West Coast stations but those signals were not very strong and were accompanied by lots of QSB. One of the highlights for me was listening to 9 year old Emma, the daughter of Andreas, KU7T. I always enjoy listening to the "younger crowd" and Emma was doing a fantastic job! I listened to her for approximately 10 minutes and she sounded like a seasoned contester. She was CQ'n and picked up a few stations during my presence on the frequency. I only wish the band had been a bit better for me to be able to QSO with Emma. Maybe next time! I hope Emma enjoyed the contest and I sure hope to hear her voice again on the radio. We need to do what we can to encourage  younger generations to get involved with our hobby.  Awesome job, Emma! Keep up the good work!

2012 ARRL DX CW results for ARS KL8DX
The graph at the top of the blog gives a graphic illustration of my 20 meter RTTY contacts this morning. I had my antenna fixed to the lower 48 but was hearing some European stations. I saw it was about Greyline for that part of the world and I noticed TF3IG/2 had been spotted on the DX Cluster. I turned my beam and found TF3IG with a respectable signal into Alaska. I went from decoding him on my rig to firing up MMTTY and working Ingi. I had a few stations call me after I worked Ingi (it was his frequency) so I QSY'd up a few and called CQ beaming Europe. I was surprised to find a handful of stations coming back to me. One thing led to another and I eventually had enough stations calling me that I needed to work split. Sadly, I had to shut down, even with stations calling, but I enjoyed the short burst of activity. I worked the band for nearly 1.5 hours.

We made our weekly trip to the Post Office and a large white envelope found a home in our Post Office Box. It was from the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) and my wife was sure it was more wallpaper. When we arrived home, like a kid on Christmas morning, I opened it first. The certificate above is what I found in the envelope. I really like the new design and it has already found itself in a frame and will be hung on the wall tonight. What I'm most excited about is NO SCORE REDUCTION! Yea, I was just shouting out loud. If you look at the score on my certificate and the score on my 3830 submission, they are both the same. I strive for the "Golden Log" with each submission but I rarely get it. Practice makes perfect and I will continue to attempt to "get it right the first time." The other neat part of this certificate is being a "Continental Winner." That just takes this wallpaper up a notch. I've been lucky enough to do this two years in a row. Anyhow, I went into the archives and pulled up my 3830 submission and it's listed below. 

ARRL DX Contest, CW

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

Class: SOSB/20 LP
QTH: Alaska
Operating Time (hrs): 17.75

Band  QSOs  Mults
  20:  828    57
Total:  828    57  Total Score = 141,588

Club: North Coast Contesters


I started out on 15 meters but needed to move to 20 due to line
noise in the direction of the lower 48. The aurora on Saturday
 ended my daily effort but led to some beautiful displays

overhead. Sunday, things were slow in coming back but finally 
propagation got a bit better during the last 3 or 4 hours of the
contest. I had several DX stations call me over the weekend 
probably not knowing we were DX in this contest and not a state.

A more detailed breakout of my effort can be found on my blog. 
Thanks for the QSO's and patience! Contacts will be uploaded to
LOTW today. 

Phil - KL8DX
Denali National Park, AK

For my signal to make it to Europe, it has to cross over North Pole not only once, but twice!  This is the secret to some of my European success stories I'm sure. The double North Pole crossings actually lead to an increase of signal strength by at least 2dB. Even though my amplifier has bit the dust, I realized quickly that I really do not need it. My shack might be a few degrees cooler but my electric bill has dropped significantly. And my European path is, and always will be, my secret weapon during contest weekends, due in part to my double North Pole crossing. 

As we enjoy this first day of April, my thoughts can only be on spring. By next month, I will be planning our camping trips and hitting the campgrounds early. As I mentioned in earlier blogs, I feel that 2013 may send us on some new adventures. We are looking forward to our favorite campground outside of North Pole opening up for the summer. Even though my blog may have a bit of an April 1st twist, it just so happens that the "other" North Pole has a Zip Code of 99705. It actually does not increase my signal strength by 2dB, but I point my HF beam that way for a large part of the winter and I camp there during several weekends throughout the summer. I love camping and I love radio and to combine the two, well that just better than...