Monthly Archives: November 2010

CQ WW CW Contest Summary

This past weekend was the 2010 CQ WW CW ham radio contest. The contest started Fri night and ran 48 hours through Sun night but I wasn’t able to operate for large portions of the contest. I didn’t operate at all on Friday night so I got started Saturday morning. I got started on 20m and after the first couple of hours I had 116 Q’s, 56 countries and 14 zones. I switched to 15m which wasn’t anything spectacular but there were more stations and more mults to be worked. I took a real long  break to go practice parallel parking with one of my daughters who is getting ready to take her driving test next month.  When I returned I worked 15m some more and then switched between 15m & 20m before going to 40m around 4pm (2100z). I worked 40m for the next couple of hours with a couple quick checks on 20m to work anyone new that was still there as well as a couple quick checks to 80m, mostly to work multipliers. I was done at 8pm (0100z) for the night as we were heading out to a party. Ended up Saturday with 154k points from 289 total contacts with 5 on 80m, 76 on 40m, 153 on 20m and 55 on 15m.  From some others, I heard 80m was good on Sat night but I was out and must have missed it.

Sunday morning I woke up and grabbed some coffee and fired up the ham radio at 7:15am (1215z).  I worked 20m for the 1st hour and then switched to 15m and was very surprised by what I heard. 15m was booming in early and EU stations were the strongest I had ever heard. As quick as I could turn the dial to the next station I could work them on the 1st or 2nd call. It was unbelievable! I worked 15m until 10am (1500z) when I had to leave and in the hour and 20 mins I had on 15m I worked 68 stations and that includes time for me to get ready to leave. I was heading off the NY Giants football game and I was considering blowing it off and staying on 15m, it was that good! I don’t know how long 15m stayed like that but it was great while I was on.

After the football game I got home and could spend a little more time on the air. I got on at 5pm (2200z) and for 2 hours I made a 33 more contacts between dinner, etc.  The contacts were spread across 20m, 40m & 80m with some new mults in there to boost up the score. I ended up with a lot more Q’s then I thought I would have knowing I wouldn’t have a real lot of time. Conditions on 15m Sun morning definitely helped as well as all those fine ops out there that can pull my weak signal out from the noise.

Here’s a map of the contacts made this weekend (click to enlarge). Unfortunately there weren’t any out to Australia/New Zealand. I don’t think I worked any new DXCC entities either.

And here’s my score summary from N1MM:

  Band    QSOs    Pts  Cty   ZN
   3.5      10     22    8    4
     7      98    267   47   14
    14     201    573   76   23
    21     123    340   71   14
 Total     432   1202  202   55

 Score : 308,914

Thanks for all the Q’s and good Dx,
K2DSL

TS-2000 Auto Mode – Making it work for you

There’s an option on the Kenwood TS-2000 (and maybe on other Kenwood ham radios including the new TS-590) called Auto Mode. It’s an option that will set the Mode (CW, USB, LSB, etc) for you automatically based on the frequency that the radio is tuned to. By default, in the US model I have from 2008, the only “auto” mode it does is switch to LSB when accessing 40m or below and USB when accessing 30m or above. That’s not very precise unless you only operated SSB.  As an example, if I click a spot in the cluster for say 14.043, I would want it to automatically change to CW since USB isn’t the proper mode for that portion of the band.

There’s a way to program the TS-2000 to be more configured to what you want. I’m aware of 2 ways to program the mode based on what frequency is entered – manually and through the Kenwood ARCP-2000 which isn’t free (not to be confused with the MCP-2000 program which is free but doesn’t read/write this set of configurations). Update: I’m now aware of a 3rd programming option using a newly developed Windows program – info at the bottom of this post.

The manual programming method is described in the Kenwood TS-2000 Instruction  Manual on pages 73 & 74 (or enter “page” 81 if you want to jump to it in the PDF version of the manual). The section is called Auto Mode and it describes the process for configuration which involves turning the radio on while pressing the Auto/LSB/USB button. The manual describes how to specify the frequency ranges and the mode to set to within the range.

Using ARCP-2000 is more user friendly if you happen to have the program. Even if you are going to program the radio manually, looking at the 2 screenshots below are probably helpful in illustrating the info you need to specify. Below is the default screen of what it looks like when it isn’t yet custom programmed and how it comes from the factory (click to enlarge):

As you can see in the default, if auto mode is enabled on the radio (Func + Auto) anything below 9.5MHz will be set to LSB and anything above it will be set to USB. Using the ARRL Frequency Allocation Chart (PDF), I programmed in the CW and SSB ranges for each of the bands. As an example with 40m, below 7.125MHz will be CW while above 7.125MHz will be LSB. You can see in the below screen shot (click to enlarge) a snippet of the different frequency ranges and the mode that my TS-2000 will tune to if manually entered on the radio or if sent to the radio via a program such as clicking a spot within Ham Radio Deluxe.

I did not program in the RTTY segments of the band and will just manually press the CW/FSK button if I want to go into RTTY mode. I will use the Auto Mode option when casually operating, but in a contest, I turn auto mode off and manually set the mode based on the contest. The only contest where you might normally switch around modes is a state QSO party and that’s no big deal.

Maybe the above is obvious to all the Kenwood TS-2000 users and I sort of new about it, but today was the day when I did something about it. I was just tired of changing the mode manually when I’m poking around with spots as folks are gearing up for CQ WW CW this weekend and a lot of ops are on the air before the contest working a lot of different bands/modes.

73 & good DX,
K2DSL

Quick update: I was going to post this into the Kenwood TS-2000 Yahoo Group and when I went there I see there is a very recent discussion on this as well as someone creating a Windows program to do what ARCP-2000 does. See http://wf0gm.fpage.com/ts2000automode.htm for details. I haven’t tried it but it seems to be much more user friendly then manually doing it and even if using ARCP-2000.

49 QSL cards received from the bureau

On Monday I received a package of 49 QSL cards from the W2 incoming bureau handled by the NJDXA. There was actually 54 cards in the package but 1 was for the wrong call (and they aren’t listed on QRZ) and 4 more were multiple cards from the same call sign. I went through Ham Radio Deluxe and checked each of them of which maybe 5 or 6 were for contacts I had not sent out a QSL card, so I filled out an outgoing QSL card to send back.

Some of the more notable cards received were:

4U1UN – United Nations in NY. Not a real hard one for me since they are less then 20 miles away, but I wanted the card which comes from HB9

Received a batch from Madeira Island with a real nice card from CQ9U which was an IOTA DXpedition back in July 2008

OL9HQ – representing the 2009 Czech IARU HF Championship team

OM8A – showing a picture of a large antenna farm for their contest group. I count 10 towers with many having stacked arrays.

PY2SEX – The picture is just stellar!

TF3Y – The front of the card has many pictures showing from 1975 on showing the operator as he grew up in front of the radio.

I really enjoy looking at the cards that come in and continue to send out many regardless of LoTW being free and giving me the quickest confirmation for a new DXCC.

73 & good DX,
K2DSL

Creating maps of ham radio contacts

I get asked a lot, both as comments on this site or via direct emails to me on how I create the maps of the contacts I make and embed within posts.  I’m going to describe how I do it using the software and systems I use on a daily basis. There might very well be other programs or methods to do this but I’m just explaining the steps I take. There might also be additional tricks or enhancements that Google has added that I’m not yet aware of, so please comment on this post if there are new tricks.  This is a long post as I’ve tried to go into detail on many of the steps and include a few screenshots where it seemed appropriate and if viewing this on the home page, click to view this post on its own to see all the steps. When I want to run through the steps below after a contest, once the data is cleaned up, it is less then 5 mins from start to finish to create and crop the image I use in my posts.

Here’s an example of a map recently generated  and what follows is how I create it(click to enlarge):


First is getting the data loaded:

I use N1MM for contests but that doesn’t really factor into the maps. After a contest, I export 3 files from N1MM – a cabrillo log file which is submitted to the contest group; a summary file which shows the number of contacts, points and multipliers by band; an ADIF file of the contact info which I then import into my day to day logging program.  My day to day logging program is Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD) by HB9DRV.  After each contest I import the entire ADIF file from N1MM and manipulate the data within HRD. I actually create a contest specific logbook and import the ADIF file into the new logbook. I use this logbook just for cleanup and manipulation of the new contest data without having the other thousands of records involved which might lead to a big OOPS if I inadvertently edit or batch update the wrong set of data. After I’m done manipulating the data in the contest logbook, I export it from the contest logbook and import it into my main HRD logbook that has all contact records.

Continue reading

A little extra sweepstakes analysis

Did a little analysis on this weekends ARRL SSB Sweepstakes.

The exchange for sweepstakes is not short and goes something like this with a fictitious op:
Me: CQ sweepstakes from kilo-two-delta-sierra-lima kilo-two-delta-sierra-lima sweepstakes
Op: kil0-seven-zulu-yankee-xray
Me: kilo-seven-zulu-yankee-xray thank you 123 alpha from k2dsl check zero-seven northern new jersey
Op: k2dsl thanks 234 bravo from k7zyx check 98 new mexico
Me: QSL – QRZ sweeps from kilo-two-delta-sierra-lima

When calling CQ on 80m, my best 10 minute rate was 1.8 QSOs logged per minute using the above as a template for what we each said. That equates to 18 QSOs logged in 10 minutes. My best sustained 60 minute rate included the above 10 minute rate and was 1.32 QSOs logged per minute or 79 QSOs logged in 60 minutes. You don’t really have a moment to even take a drink.

I had voice recordings for my call and for CQ. Next time if I’m going to put in a good effort, I will look to record the repetitive portion of the report and have it played back vs spoken by me each time. I would say the other other ops call and serial number and then press the button to say “alpha from k2dsl check zero-seven northern new jersey”.

In analyzing the sections which I logged, the top 5 sections by number of contacts are:

Section # QSOs
MDC 41
VA 37
OH 24
IL 23
MN 19

The following sections had only 1 contact logged:

Section
MS
ID
SB
SDG
PR
NE
MB
ND

There were 6 DE stations logged and that would mean almost every operator in the state of Delaware was active in the contest. I logged 5 WV stations which seems a lot since West Virginia is usually not as well represented when looking for states/sections. The same goes for the 4 different WY stations logged as Wyoming is usually one you’re desperately searching for. I also logged 3 VI (Virgin Island) stations but one of those was from Guantanamo Bay when I was calling CQ for a short time on 20m.

Lastly, here’s a screenshot of a map showing the contacts made in the 2010 SSB Sweepstakes (click to enlarge):

73,
K2DSL

2010 ARRL SSB Sweepstakes

Sweepstakes is a fun contest. 24 hours long (out of 30 hours total) working any station only once and looking to work all 80 US/Canadian sections. Running low power and no cluster/spotting so I need to find all the stations on my own. I wrote the below during the course of the contest.

Got on Saturday at the start and worked 20m for a bit before it got dark. 15m even had some activity and it was quieter and less crowded then 20m which is typical of a busy phone contest. Switched to 40m when it was well past sundown and ran up and down the band logging all the stations. Switched back and forth to 20m until it was dead. Switched back and forth between 40m and 80m and had a nice run for a bit on 80m on Saturday night. Even 80m was busy and I was up high on the band, but there wasn’t a lot of noise on 80 Saturday evening. Called it an evening at 12:45am (0545z) with 207 Q’s and 61 of the 80 sections logged. What I couldn’t log tonight was Maine and Western PA which could be a problem since 80m is the best band to get those on so maybe I’ll get lucky tomorrow with those two. I heard a Maine station but he was S&Ping when I was too.

2nd contact Sunday morning was Maine on 40m leaving just WPA as a needed nearby section which I found right at 9am (1400z) on 40m. Also got South Carolina early in the morning on 40m. Scanning the band early on 80m and 40m I’m hearing mostly stations I’ve already worked.  At 9am (1400z) I switched to 20m. Within the first hour I was able to log a handful of needed sections as the west coast started to get on the air.

Around 10:30am (1530z) I switched to 15m and there were some stations on and VE8EV from NWT in Canada was booming in and was easy to log. Usually the Northern Territory is a tough one. I heard VE6AO from Alberta Canada on 20m but he has a pile up and found VE6UK on 15m  so I logged all the RAC sections at 10:45am (1545z). After working 20m and 15m though it’s still the middle of the day, I moved to 40m and there was plenty of activity. Worked a bunch of stations and even called CQ for bit.

At 2pm (1900z) I need just MS (Mississippi) and ORG (Orange California). No idea if using the cluster would help here. It might since I’m doing a lot of S&P vs run. Maybe I’ll get lucky in the remaining hours? At 2:50pm (1951z) I found ORG on 15m leaving just MS! On 40m I heard a MS station but it was calling another station and I couldn’t get his attention.

Hit 500 Q’s at 8:29pm (0129z) but no MS yet. I did some CQing in hopes a MS might come back to me but that didn’t happen. Near the end of the contest I was calling CQ on 80m and mentioning I needed MS and one of the ops said there was a MS station at the bottom of 80m so I quickly tuned around and found him but there was a huge pileup so I went back to CQing. With 2 mins left in the contest I went back and he was still there and he came back to me on my 1st call. I logged a N4OGW with 2 mins left in the contest as my last contact and my first sweep!! Wow!!! I will send in for a Clean Sweep Mug.

What allowed me to spend time this year vs the last 2 years was there was no home NY Giants game so I didn’t head to the stadium which usually takes about 6-8 hours out of any contest if that happens. So my # of contacts and total score reflects being able to spend much of Sunday on the air.  Here’s the score summary:

  Band    QSOs     Pts  Sec
   3.5     275     550   25
     7     102     204   13
    14      93     186   32
    21      69     138   10
 Total     539    1078   80

 Score : 86,240

Thank you to all the ops that gave me each of the sections and especially to N4OGW who gave me the clean sweep with MS with 2 mins left in the contest!

73,
K2DSL

DXCC Update – RTTY DXCC #2,597 Awarded

I submitted a combination of LoTW and paper QSL cards to update my DXCC status for the year back in September and I received the updates and my new RTTY DXCC certificate. My current award status is 163 Mixed, 152 on 20m and now 110 entities for RTTY DXCC. RTTY DXCC shows I’m #2,597.

I already have some new paper QSL cards and LoTW QSLs to apply to next years DXCC.

Looking at my award totals, I have enough to apply and receive DXCC for Phone and CW so maybe I’ll apply for those next year along with additional DXCCs for the awards I already have.

Thanks for all the contacts!!

73 & good DX,
K2DSL

2010 WAE RTTY Contest Summary

This past weekend was the 2010 WAE RTTY ham radio contest. My pneumonia is gone and I was able to get on the air, albeit for less then half of the allowed contest time of 30 hours over the course of 40 hours. I did manage 11 hours (with short breaks during those 11 hours) with it mostly being on Saturday.

The contest is different in that it uses QTCs which is the exchange of 10 contacts between stations. In the RTTY contest, I can exchange (send or receive) 10 contacts with a station outside of North America. Though the 10 contacts don’t count for any multipliers, they do count as points so it’s a great way to really increase your score. This year I ended up making 305 contacts and exchanged 220 QTCs for a total of 525 contact points and 162,225 total points. I worked 2x the number of hours last year and did about 3x the number of total points. Maybe next year I’ll be able to work more hours as it is an enjoyable contest to participate in.

Started out late on Fri night making contacts on 40m & 80 for 1.5 hours before I was beat. I had a good run on 80m with about 1 per min for 40 mins calling CQ.

Started at 1pm ET (1800z) on Saturday after running errands and spent a total of 6 hrs 45 mins on the radio on Saturday. 20m was busy and 15m less crowded and quiter so most time was spent flipping between 20m and 15m with occasional checks on 10m. I ended up with 6 Q’s on 10m Saturday and even exchanged QTCs with LV5V in Argentina.  Saturday around 5pm ET (2200z) I started to switch between 20m and 40m until we went out to dinner. When I got back, I spent time on 80m switching back and forth with 40m to pick up anyone new I could hear and called it quits before 10:30pm ET (0330z).

Sunday I got back on the air at 8:40am ET (1340z) and 15m was already busy and I worked 15m for 1 hour before switching to 20m. Worked 20m for about 50 mins, switched back to 15m for 40 mins and then finished up on 20m for 15 min before I was done with the contest at 11:20am ET (1620z). Sunday’s 2hr & 45 min on air time added 61 Q’s and 150 QTCs to my total. Those QTCs sure do help. I set off to the Giants football game, but they played horribly and the lights went out in the stadium twice, once completely. I would have been better off staying home and making more contacts!

During the contest on Saturday night, I took a quick break to log 8J1RL in Antarctica. On Saturday afternoon, VK3TDX in Australia was booming in and I quickly logged him before there was any pile up. I did log 1 Japanese station on Saturday just after sunset here but didn’t hear/log any others, though they were spotted on the cluster. I also noticed that Africa was pretty quiet this weekend with not a lot of activity in the contest, or that I could hear/work.

Here’s a map of the 305 contacts made and you can click on it to see a larger view:


Here’s the score summary from N1MM:

 Band   Q/QTC  QSOs    Pts  Cty
  3.5    QSO    82      82   56
    7    QSO    52      52   81
   14    QSO   107     107   96
   14   RQTC    70      70    0
   14   SQTC    10      10    0
   21    QSO    58      58   68
   21   RQTC    90      90    0
   21   SQTC    40      40    0
   28    QSO     6       6    8
   28   SQTC    10      10    0
Total    All   525     525  309

Score : 162,225

73 & good DX,
K2DSL

8J1RL – Antarctica Japanese Research Station

During the 2010 WAE RTTY contest I saw a spot for 8J1RL which is the Japanese research amateur radio station in Antarctica. I took a moment to tune to SSB and the station was booming in with a true S9 on my TS-2000, much louder then the US station KC4AAA which I previously made contact with on phone. I listened for a couple mins and he worked stations and then identified himself as 8J1RL. I had a feeling since he was ending the contacts with sayonara, but I wanted to be sure so I waited for him to id. I had the headphones out and my wife was listening too. I put out K2DSL and on the first call he came back with K2 so I put it out there again and he came back with K2DSL and gave me a nice 58.

The QRZ detail page lists a different grid locator then listed on the main page which is KC90tx. You can see their location by going to http://levinecentral.com/ham/grid_square.php?Grid=KC90tx and zooming out a little.

KC4AAA was also listed on the cluster and active at the same time and when I tuned to his frequency he was much weaker then 8J1RL. I’ve now worked 4 different Antarctica stations:
KC4AAA – 20m phone – US station
DP1POL – 40m RTTY – German station
R1ANP – 40m RTTY – Russian station
8J1RL – 20m phone – Japanese station

73 & good DX,
K2DSL

No ARRL SS CW Activity

I was looking forward to a weekend of CW ham radio contesting and trying for a sweep. I’ve not felt well for over a week but a visit to the Dr earlier in the week turned up nothing.  Not feeling better on Saturday I went back and after some chest x-rays it shows I have some pneumonia, Antibiotics and rest and hopefully I’ll be ready for the WAE RTTY contest and the ARRL SSB SS the following weekend.

73,
K2DSL

Private