Monthly Archives: March 2010

Order IRCs Online from Post Office

I haven’t used IRC’s when sending direct for a QSL mainly because my local post office doesn’t offer them. I also have had decent luck with sending $2 or 2 greenstamps or 2 GS as they are commonly referred.

In the US we can get an international stamp for just under $1. Return postage is usually $2 though I check QRZ or even email the other operator if they provide and email on QRZ before I sent direct. An advantage of emailing is I can also confirm I am indeed in their log before spending $3.

In most cases, $2 will work but sometimes they don’t want the cash or request an IRC. I had normally sent those via the bureau which are now just slowly starting to come in. For these exceptions or for folks not comfortable sending cash, and IRC is a viable option.

I have read in the Daily DX

that the US post office now provides for ordering IRC’s online. The cost, at the time of this posting is $2.10 each which is the normal price + $1 priority mail shipping. I wouldn’t order just one but 10 of them would cost $22 and you don’t need to go out in the rain. The link, again at the time of this posting is Post Office IRCs. That link looks likely to change over time so you should be able to go to and search for International Reply Coupon and select it from the search results.

So for those folks that want IRC’s and have run into issues in the past at their local post office, maybe this will work out better for you.

73 and good DX,

2010 CQ WPX SSB Phone Contest

It is now the next day and the noise from this past weekends very active phone contest is still in my head. The WPX is very enjoyable because it is an everyone can work everyone contest providing good DX opportunities as well as US contacts. The weather was pretty clear all weekend but a bit chilly and there might have been some light rain Sunday afternoon but nothing that would impact operating.

An extra enjoyable tidbit in a phone contest is being able to, even just for a moment, speak with ops I so often make CW and RTTY contacts with. A quick ‘Hey David’, ‘There’s s familiar call’ or a ‘Nice to hear you’ always makes me smile. A few times the op even took a moment out to have a short conversation. One specific example though there were a few is when KT6YL in the middle of a good pileup she had going stopped and said hello and how nice it was to hear the voice of someone she has made many RTTY contacts with.

I felt the overall conditions this weekend were good and provided for a lot of fun and a reason to stay on the air. A single op can work 36 of the 48 hours so I figured the easiest way was to look at being off those 12 hours between about 12:30am local time and 6:30am local time Fri/Sat and Sat/Sun and that is what I pretty much did.

Friday after a couple long weeks (and weekend) at work I sat down and recorded some audio on the computer to use in the contest when calling CQ.. At 0000z (8pm local) I got rolling on 20m for 1.5 hours and then 40m for 1 hour and then  80m in S&P. After working the stations on each band I spent time moving between the 3 bands and ended the first evening with 121 Q’s at 12:30am / 0430z.

Saturday I woke up and put some coffee on to get things going. I started on 40m and was able to shortly log Japan and Australia on the 1st call to each of them and within a minute of each other. After scanning through 40m I went up to 20m and started working there. I did hear a Kuwait station but the pileup was huge. Before long it was wall to wall noise on 20m. I kept popping over to 15m where it was quieter and more manageable. Saturday I checked 10m a few times and didn’t find anything until later in the day when HC8GR on Galapagos Islands said they were on 10. I couldn’t hear them but I could hear some others. Almost any 10m station I could hear seemed to have no issue hearing me so it is obvious I am weaker on the receiving end of 10m on the G5RV. As dusk approached I started to move to 40 and switch between 40 and 20. 20 seemed to do well into the evening so I popped back there for any new ones. I called CQ a bit on 40 and 80 and though the rates weren’t very high and it was mostly US stations they helped with the totals. I called it quits about 12:45am/0447z with a total count of 453 Qs.

I woke up Sunday morning and made some 80m contacts and then moved to 40. It didn’t seem as active/open as it was on Saturday morning. Because I wasn’t using the DX cluster, I might have not come across the stations unless I could hear them while tuning the band. I moved to 20m
and was already seeing some impressive serial numbers being sent by the big operators. Most of the day was again spent between 15m and 20m with occasional checks on 10m. Probably the highlight on Sunday came at 0523z and was a 10m contact to V5/DL5XL in Namibia Africa.  That is my longest 10m contact by a long shot at 7100+ miles.

On Sunday I called CQ mostly on 40m and even during the afternoon I was able to get numbers, though maybe not a lot of DX, in the log. I did a little CQing on 15m as well but it wasn’t as productive for me. Ah to have a KW and a SteppIR up 100ft :-) But with what I have for power, antenna and location, I’m very happy with my performance. I also qualify, probably for the last time in any contest that has this category, as a rookie. I did well as a rookie in 2009 and I did much better this year so we’ll see how my score stacks up with other rookie SOAB LP entries.

I worked 71 DXCC entities, 24 of the 40 CQ zones and 44 of the 50 US states.  The 671 contacts were with 502 different stations.

Below is my score summary from N1MM.

  Band    QSOs     Pts  WPX
   3.5      70     189   31
     7     217     462  112
    14     216     479  147
    21     149     335   82
    28      19      52    8
 Total     671    1517  380

 Score : 576,460

73 & good DX,

N1MM & SignaLink – Playing Audio Files

I decided to try using N1MM to play my call sign and CQ via audio files. As a reminder, my setup is a Windows 7 computer, N1MM for contest logging, SignaLink USB and Kenwood TS-2000. Here’s what I did:

1) Downloaded Audacity though any audio recording program would work, Audacity has a beta version to download that is Windows 7 friendly so I grabbed that one.

2) With a microphone connected to my Windows 7 notebook I recorded kilo-2-delta-sierra-lima until I was happy with it. I then selected the recording and exported it as a WAV file. I did the same for CQ CONTEST … and exported that. I named the files k2dsl.wav and cq.wav.

3) In the N1MM directory I went to the WAV subdirectory and created a K2DSL directory and placed the two wav files in there

4) In N1MM I edited the SSB buttons config and replaced n1mm.wav with k2dsl.wav for the F4 key. The F1 key was already set for cq.wav and I wasn’t using any other buttons at this time.

5) In Windows 7 Sound Control Panel on the Playback tab I set the Speakers USB Audio Codec device to be the default vs my computers speakers which were the default. The USB Audio Codec is the SignaLink USB.

6) In Windows 7 Sound Control Panel on the Sounds tab I set the  Sound Scheme to No Sounds so no system sounds would come out into the SignaLink and out through the radio.

7) I adjusted the DLY knob on the front of the SignaLink USB box so when playing the audio, the PTT stayed lit the entire time an audio file was playing.  Before I adjusted it, it would drop PTT when the audio was between letters/words. It would click on/off like your ready sounds sending CW. Once the DLY was adjusted, the PTT stayed red the whole time which kept the radio in Xmit.

8) In N1MM pressing F1 sent my CQ wav file out the PC, through the SignaLink connected to my Kenwood TS-2000 through the ACC2 port and out onto the airwaves. Pressing F4 sends my call sign.

I just need to reset steps 5 & 6 after the contest and possibly 7 if it impacts using the SignaLink for regular PSK or RTTY sending.

We’ll see how it works in the CQ WPX SSB contest that starts in 10 minutes.


2010 BARTG RTTY Contest

This weekend at work I had a major platform launch so other then 4 quick contacts I made Sat morning, I didn’t operate until Sunday.

Sunday morning I worked from home and made contacts in between calls that were wrapping things up. I am glad I did as I was able to log a contact with YB0PAH in Indonesia for a new DXCC. Now I just need for it confirmed. I was able to really start operating after things were wrapped up with work after noon local time.

I was stuck inside the past few days and it has been beautiful out so I also took a walk for a while and enjoyed the nice weather. I took a much needed 2 hour nap after a few 18 hour days in a row dealing with work. But, it was great to get on the radio and make some RTTY contacts! Most of the time I was on 20m hopping to 15m from time to time but there wasn’t a lot of activity I could hear and work. I checked 10m twice but didn’t hear anything there.

About 40 mins after making my first contact with a station in Indonesia, I heard a ZL3 station on Tokelau Islands which would have been another new one, but I wasn’t able to make a contact before I couldn’t hear the station any longer. I did make a nice contact with New Zealand and it is always good to log at least 1 Japan station in any contest. I also logged 2 South Africa stations, one of which is a special event station for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, so I will be sending for a QSL card for that contact.

I ended up with 248 contacts but more importantly ham radio contesting is a great way to end a hectic but successful week of work. Here is the score summary:

Band    QSOs     Pts  Cty  Sec  Cnt
 3.5      20      20    2    9    0
   7      61      61    6   14    1
  14     146     146   40   14    4
  21      21      21   11    5    1
Total    248     248   59   42    6

Score : 150,288

73 and happy diddles,

2010 NA RTTY Sprint – 8 Q’s / 14 hour blackout

We had a tremendous storm come through this weekend starting on Friday. We had very high winds of 50+ mph and non-stop heavy rain starting Friday and continuing into Sunday. The NA RTTY Sprint started at 0000z (7:00 pm) Saturday evening. I got on about 10 mins late because of the weather and I made 8 contacts before the power went out. The power stayed off for 13 hours 0000z to 1300z which is 7:20 pm local time to 9:15 am local time with the 1 hour Daylight Savings time change thrown in.

There are folks in my town still without power. There were large trees down throughout the area, massive flooding and property damage. For me, luckily no damage and the G5RV stayed up and weathered the storm fine.

Next weekend I have a large project launch for work so operating in the CP WPX SSB contest will be minimal. If things go well with the launch, maybe Sunday will allow for some operating, when do things ever go well with a large launch?

73 and stay dry,

2010 ARRL DX SSB Summary

This weekend I had a bunch of prior commitments so operating in the contest was limited. Fri night I went out to dinner with my younger daughter while me wife and older daughter were at a friends Sweet 16. After a late dinner I got on 40m and 80m and made 36 contacts before calling it quits.

Saturday morning I operated for a couple hours before being gone from noon to 9:30pm local time – prime 15m & 20m time.  I started out Saturday morning making 2 contacts to Hawaii on 80m which I hadn’t done before. I also had 2 on 40m shortly after. I left on Saturday with 118 contacts. When I got back that evening I again made some more on 40m and 80m before calling it a night.

Sunday morning I got on again for a couple hours before heading out to my radio clubs annual auction. When I returned home I got back on 15m and 20m before moving to 40m and 80m as the sun set.

Bands were active but not like the. ARRL DX CW contest. Only one 10m contact for me which was D4C in Cape Verde but maybe I missed more openings when I was away from the radio. 20m was a zoo where almost any frequency I tuned to I could hear 3 stations. I attribute that to a combination of a wire antenna receiving from all directions, the SSB filters on the TS-2000 and crowded bands. 15m was more spread out so it was usually just a single signal I would hear on any frequency.

Comparing my contacts with last year I made about the same number this year with less operating time and more multipliers to give me a bit higher score. Others from my local club operated as I either heard them on the air, spoke with them at the auction, or they emailed me. Seems to be the most club members I can recall operating a contest which is good.

March is a busy month on the weekends with family commitments and also a big system release at work the end of the month so as I predicted in describing my total contacts for last month an just breaking the 2000 mark, this month will likely be much less.

Band    QSOs   Pts  Cty
3.5      28     84   23
  7      35    105   31
 14      91    273   55
 21      61    183   30
 28       1      3    1
Total     216  648  140
Score : 90,720

73 & good DX!

TX4T QSL Confirmed

Looks like the TX4T DXpedition team that was in the French Polynesia have uploaded their logs and my 15m and 20m contacts with them during the ARRL DX CW contest are now confirmed. Thanks for the 2 contacts and confirming a new DXCC for me. That puts me at 152 confirmed DXCCs.

Maybe there’ll be some new DXCC out there waiting for me this weekend during the ARRL DX SSB contest. I have 2 big commitments this weekend with a competition for 1 of my daughters on Saturday and our club’s ham radio auction on Sunday so I’ll be operating around those. Saturday’s competition with my daughter will probably take somewhere between 8 & 10 hours of time and the ham radio auction probably another 5 or 6 hours.

Happy DXing,

eQSL Awards

I just happened to notice that if I was interested in doing so I could receive the eQSL WAS and eQSL DXCC awards.  I’d just have to become at least a bronze member to print out the certificates.

I upload to eQSL because it is pretty automated from my logging program and it might help others if they are using it but I really don’t use it. I think it would be great if everyone used ARRL’s LoTW for electronic QSLing but I understand some folks have issues with the ARRL or it’s a hassle for them to get it working though I don’t have issues with either.


2000+ contacts logged in February

I happened to notice on Sunday morning after the NAQP RTTY contest that I was just shy of 2000 contacts for the month. Maybe that subconciously got me to make North Carolina QSO Party contacts?

After the NAQP I was about 30 contacts short of logging 2000 for the month. Prior to Feb 2010 the most contacts logged in a given month was 1595 in January 2010 and 1427 in March 2009. I was able to exceed 2000 contacts but not by a lot because February ended 7:00pm local time during the NC QSO Party. Though I logged 76 contacts, 30 of those fell into March giving me 2016 logged contacts in February 2010.

The biggest contributors to the numbers were thew CQ WPX RTTY contest with 860 Q’s, ARRL DX CW contest with 491 Q’s, the NA RTTY QSO Party with 358 Q’s and the XE RTTY contest with 186 Q’s.

I would anticipate that March’s totals will be less and possibly a lot less as we have a lot of weekend activities planned including what couple be some travel / mini vacation over at least one weekend.

Thanks to everyone for all the contacts!


North Carolina QSO Party

On Saturday I participated in the NA RTTY QSO Party and hadn’t planned to do much operating on Sunday. I had a couple of computers dropped off by friends to work on to clean up some viruses that they had. Well while running through cleaning them up, I often have to wait while things run. I got on the air and heard some NC stations so I started to log them. In the end I ended up with 76 contacts during a part time effort.

I was surprised to see that NC has 100 counties. That is a pretty large number of counties. I ended up logging a contact in 46 of the 100 counties in no short part due to the very impressive efforts of a couple of mobile stations including AA4XX, N4C, N5WR & NY4N. Those stations put some serious miles on their vehicles during the contest.

Here’s my score summary:

Band   Mode  QSOs   Pts  Sec
 3.5   CW      23    60   11
 3.5   LSB     17    21    6
   7   CW      26    68   20
   7   LSB     10    10    9
Total  Both    76   159   46

Score : 7,314