Monthly Archives: October 2008

WAS Awards Arrive

Came home yesterday to a large envelope from the ARRL. Inside are 2 shiny new certificates for Worked All States.

WAS #53,075 and WAS RTTY #634

I’ll have to go out and get some frames for these 2 and the certificate I received as being part of the club team in my first contest back in Sept 2007. We were 7th place in the US/Canada and 1st place in the Eastern NY Section for the 2007 September VHFQSO Party.



Got Wyoming for WAS!

During this weekends CQ WW SSB contest going on (I’ll write about that later), I received an email from W7PN (“Skip”) in Wyoming on Sunday morning. Skip is one of the operators I emailed last week looking for someone in Wyoming to have a RTTY contact with. Wyoming was the last state I needed for WAS (Worked All States) His email said if I was around around to go to 20m and see if we can make a contact.

I was in the middle of looking for QSOs on SSB within N1MM so I fired up MMTTY and went to the frequency he suggested. I called CQ a few times before realizing as I rushed to get to RTTY going that I didn’t have my SignaLink on. Powered up the SignaLink interface and called CQ a few more times. Had a DM* station contact me but I told him that I was waiting for someone. A couple of calls later and Skip came back to me for the QSO. Had perfect copy on him. We exchanged a signal report and I probably thanked him half a dozen times before ending the QSO. After Skip uploads his log to LOTW it should show I have all states confirmed in Basic WAS (any mode/any band) and RTTY WAS. I’ll put in for those awards once he’s done.

Many thanks to WP7N for going all out in contacting me and helping me get my first ARRL award!


100 DXCC Entities Contacted

I was cleaning up the underlying database used by Ham Radio Deluxe. It’s a MS Access database so it can be opened and data edited or queries run directly against the database.  In reviewing the data I realized I have made contact with exactly 100 DXCC entities. Not all confirmed, but hitting 100 is a nice accomplishment!

Logbook of the World shows 54 confirmed right now. Too bad everyone can’t use LOTW.  I have 23 confirmed via QSL cards I’ve received.  Combined (there’s some overlap), I have 59 confirmed via LOTW or received QSL cards.



This past weekend was the JARTS RTTY contest.  I wasn’t able to spend a full 48 hours on the air, but I could put in a few hours Friday night (EDT), a good amount on Saturday, and a couple hours at the end of the contest on Sunday in the late afternoon/early evening.

I ended up with 385 QSOs and 90,597 points. Nothing has popped up yet as odd with any of the QSOs so I’ll wait a few more days and submit in the log.

The highlights from this contest were two more contacts with Alaska, 3 more contacts with Japan stations, a few southern Africa stations and the big one being 3B8GT in Mauritius which is an island off the east coast of Africa. That contact is the farthest I’ve made so far at about 9,300 miles. He was calling CQ and I got through on the first try. Amazing!!

On the local front, I was able to make contacts with operators in all the outstanding states other then Wyoming. All those ops have already uploaded their logs to LOTW so they are confirmed. That leaves me with Wyoming as the only outstanding WAS/WAS RTTY state I need. Today I emailed 2 operators in Wyoming which seem to be into digital and LOTW. We’ll see how that pans out.

I’m very happy with how this contest went for me.  I want to work on tweaking the radio a bit to help in filtering out stations above/below the one I’m trying to tune in.


A double contest weekend

This weekend was the Makrothen RTTY contest and the PA QSO Party. Started out with the RTTY contest which featured three 8 hour time slots. I was able to work some of each of the 3 time slots.  I ended up with 134 contacts on 20, 40 and 80 meters. It is a funky contest in where the points for each QSO are calculated as the distance between my and the other contacts grid square. I ended up with 552,332 points. It looks like the 134 QSOs were made into 116 different grid squares.  A big QSO for me was a Montana RTTY which I needed for LOTW WAS and it is already confirmed – thanks WC7V ! I popped over to the PA QSO party on Sunday for a bit and when I came back to the RTTY contest, the bands were pretty empty.

Saturday afternoon, after some RTTY contacts I popped into the PA QSO Party. There were time slots for the QSO Party on Sat and Sunday In the end I had 126 total QSOs on 40m and 80m.  Of the 67 counties in PA, I was able to make a contact with someone in 50 of them. I heard other counties on the air, but they weren’t calling CQ when I heard them and maybe if I needed just 1 or 2, I’d ask the op on the frequency if I could piggy back to make the contact, but that wasn’t the case. The folks I had contact with were really terrific. They were very friendly and appreciative of the contact.

Also, at the beginning of the 2nd break in the Makrothen RTTY contest was a 3rd contest – the NA Sprint RTTY. I looked for a bit but didn’t see anyone so I went back to the PA QSO Party. I didn’t go back and look to see if something finally started up so I’m not sure what I missed. It would have been my first “Sprint”.


K2DSL’s first year in review

I started putting this list together last month to note the highlights of my first year as an amateur radio operator. Here are the highlights.

Aug 2007 – Got my tech license and a dual band Kenwood TH-D7A(G) HT. I spent much over half the year just on VHF/UHF.

I attended my first club meeting with Bergen Amateur Radio Association (BARA). Other then getting my license, the smartest thing I did related to amateur radio. From the first person I met to the weekly nets, Tues night “kit nights” where everyone gets together to the monthly meetings, I look forward to each and every time I get together with the members. What I’ve learned from them in just 1 year is something I couldn’t have found anywhere else.

Sept 2007 – My first contest. The Sept VHF/UHF contest was terrific. From putting up the antennas, setting up the equipment, working station after station, my first satellite contact and just absorbing as much as I could. We ended up coming in 7th place in the US. My first bite of the contesting bug.

Oct 2007 – My first hamfest. I also took the General test and passed.

The next few months were spent on VHF playing around with Echolink, SSTV, APRS, etc.

In April 2008 I borrowed a HF radio and G5RV Jr antenna from a friend and got on HF. Since then, other then local nets or tooling around in the car, I’ve spent little time on VHF and all my on air time on HF.

I needed to return the radio to my friend just before field day so I ordered a Kenwood TS-2000. Great radio!! Speaking of field day, it too was a blast. Besides operating at the field day site, I came home for what I thought was a shower and nap, but I got on the air and started making contacts. I was really bitten by the contesting bug and now, almost every weekend, I’m looking to participate, in some way, in a contest that is going on.

QSL cards were designed and ordered and many, many, many have gone out to those that I have contacted.

I also did some smaller RTTY contests and really liked it. Participated in the CQ-WW-RTTY contest and made a good showing for my first time. Learning the terminology, what “assisted” really means, etc. Still learning every time I get on the radio.

So it’s been a heck of a first year and I’m so glad I made the decision to finally get my license. As for the next year, more contests, studying and hopefully passing the Extra exam, more toys to experiment with, CW to learn (maybe not this year), more time with the BARA folks learning and listening to stories, maybe a HF mobile setup, etc. Who knows, maybe even some sort of beam for 2m and 6m to go with my G5RV. All I know is I’m looking forward to seeing what else I learn in the coming months.

Thanks to everyone that provided me hints, tips, suggestions and guidance. And thanks to all the folks that came back to me when I put my call sign out there.


Hamfest buys

Saturday was my clubs Bergen Amateur Radio Association Hamfest. I knew I was going to purchase the Heil Proset 5 headphones, adapter for my Kenwood TS-2000 and the PTT hand switch so I made sure Gene from KJI Electronics had that with him for me. Well when they were setting up their table early in the morning, I decided I should get the MFJ Voice Keyer too. I’ve been watching it on eBay and figured I’d just get it from KJI. In addition, I grabbed the Gordon West audio CDs for the Extra Class exam so I could start studying.

At the hamfest I helped in administering the VE testing session. I think there were 13 testers with most passing. Since I’m a General class, I can only verify Tech class tests, so it’s yet another reason for me to upgrade to extra class.

When I got home late in the day, I pulled out the Heil headset and I noticed something isn’t right with what looks like a switch on the right ear cup. It’s just a hole and it looks like a tiny spring was sticking out. I looked for a switch or button that should go with it that might have popped off, but I didn’t find it. So I’ll call Gene at KJI on Monday and arrange to exchange it for one that has the switch.

I ripped the Gordon West Extra Class audio CDs to my computer and then loaded them up on my Blackberry so I can listen to them during my commute. There’s 6 CDs with each CD containing a bit over 1 hour of audio, so it’s a lot to listen to. But I’ll listen over and over and it will sink in and when I’m ready (some time before the spring) I will take the test.

I didn’t pull the voice keyer out of the box yet.

Oh, I also grabbed 2 line holders. They would be used to put the line that holds my G5RV up though and it holds the rope tight. Right now I have the rope wrapped around the trunk of the tree a few times, and as it slips a bit each month it isn’t very convenient to tighten it up. That will be especially true in the winter. So hopefully next weekend I can get up on the ladder and get these secured to the tree and then the line through the holder and I’ll be all set.

I also ran into someone that used to live in my town and moved a couple towns away. He has a daughter the same age as my older daughter and they used to be good friends. I didn’t know he was a ham so I looked up his call sign by using his name and it’s N2AXX. He said that his dad was a ham and he was licensed since he was a young teenager. He might even stop in for our clubs monthly meeting tonight.

73, David

Local (US) QSL return rate

So reading a post on K2DBK’s Blog I decided to look at how things shaped up with my rather new HF/QSL experience.

First, all the Hawaii requests that were sent out were responded to. I just had an Alaska contact this past weekend and I just sent out a direct QSL to AL1G.

I’ve sent out 38 direct QSL cards, where each included a SASE in the envelope. Of those 38, I have received 17 responses. That leaves 21 responses I have not received back. All were sent in August. One of them is to the first HF contact I ever made which was K8HGX/M so I’ll follow up with him via email.  it looks like all the rest are all special event stations so they are probably going to come once they get the cards printed/mailed. Or so I hope.

An interesting tidbit is that of the 21 responses I have not yet received, 18 of them have “QSLed” via eQSL and none via LOTW. Since they are special event stations, that is understandable since LOTW isn’t really setup for temporary reusable call signs many special events use.

So for me, it doesn’t look bad, but I’ve only been sending out QSL cards for about 2 months now. It would be much harder for me to check the return rate on the DX cards sent to US QSL managers as I can’t easily filter that out from the data. I use HRD and I’ve made some requests to get additional options for setting QSL states such as Sent direct, sent direct to QSL manager (almost always US based for me if I send direct), sent via bureau and sent via bureau via QSL manager.

Edit: Well I come home from work just a couple hours after making this post and there is a QSL card from K8HGX waiting for me. A QSL card for my first QSO. Thanks Jack!

73, K2DSL

CQ WW RTTY Followup

It’s been a couple days since the contest ended. Lots of work to do AFTER the contest too. I exported the file from N1MM and loaded it into a temp Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD) database. I then use a program from WD5EAE called Ham Radio Deluxe Utilities (HRDU) which allows me to process the file against to pull in as much data as QRZ has. There was only 3 calls signs which QRZ didn’t have and I could find on 2 of the 3. The 3rd was a mistake. I corrected the call of the mistake.  The next day, in checking eQSL, I saw that I received a QSL from someone that wasn’t in my log. I looked and found another incorrect call (missed a letter probably when I clicked it in the input window) which I could correct before submitting my log. I think I’ll wait a bit more before sending in the logs to see if any other inconsistencies pop up.

I also posted on 2 or 3 mailing lists (reflectors) and received a pretty substantial number of personal responses from folks offering their congrats on a respectable score for my first contest.  Folks also offered excellent suggestions for some questions I posed. The biggest question was around my call sign. A bunch of folks came back to me as K2DS and not K2DSL. I came to found that when using certain logging software, it checks from a list of known contesters which I’m not in yet. So it showed me as not in the list but K2DS was. I think there’s a couple instances where I might have gotten logged as K2DS. The recommendation from the experts was to keep putting my call sign out there until the operator comes back with the right call sign. THEN I should should send my report. Some times I sent just K2DSL K2DSL … and then my report.  Live and learn.

Also on these lists, there is lots of talk about optimizing your macros and sending things efficiently. Sometimes it is discussed to the point of obsessive, but for me, it is all a learning experience so whatever I can take away from it, I’ll be able to use in future contests.

After the contest, I’ve probably spent 3+ hours cleaning up the data, tagging the records with the appropriate grid locations, uploading to eQSL and LOTW, discussing the contest via email, etc. Still all worthwhile!

73, K2DSL