Monthly Archives: August 2011

Goodnight Irene!

Spent Friday evening after work and all day Saturday prepping for Irene, removing everything from the yard, prepping a 5700 watt generator, running extension cords, getting flashlights/batteries ready, etc. The rains started on Sat night and it rained and rained and rained. The winds weren’t bad during the storm when it was running. About 3:30am early Sunday morning we had a series of short power losses and just before 4am we lost power. I went outside, started the generator, plugged the sump pump in for myself and my neighbor and couldn’t go back to sleep.

I stayed up throughout the storm and things weren’t too bad until late morning on Sunday when the water in my backyard started. We have a pond and stream behind our house and only one time before was it an issue – Hurricane Floyd in 1999. The stream overflows its banks and that isn’t so bad until the pond also overflows and then all hell starts. The water started to rise and what happens it will start to hit my detached garage before it hits the house and flows like a river around the garage. It got to the garage, but that was it. It was about 4-5 feet deep in the backyard and the when the rains stopped and it was at its peak, the kids were kayaking in it. Within about 60-90 mins after the rain stopped, all the water had receded and other than debris, there was no sign my property was underwater.

The sump pump powered by the generator kept up and there was no water in the basement and no trees came down. That’s much better than many of my neighbors were they had 6+ inches of water in their basement and one lost the top of a big pine tree, though other than the fence around their garden it didn’t damage anything. I spent the day helping the neighbors deal with their homes. Once the rain stopped, that’s when the wind kicked up and when all the tree damage started. We had dozens of HUGE trees down on our side of town with minimal home damage from what I saw but lots of power lines down and streets closed. We had a few neighbors over for an impromptu BBQ. Around 10pm Sunday the wind felt like it was dying down a bit and the storm was really passed us at that point.

There was still no power when we went to bed but I got a call about 4:30am from the neighbor saying the power was back on. Went and unplugged the sump pump and the refrigerator from the generator and put them back in the outlets and shut down the generator. Without the generator it really would have been a mess.  With all the wind, my G5RV and 10/15/20m dipole were blowing like mad, but stayed up. I did need to drop the fan dipole to untangle 2 wires that had crossed but that took 5 mins this morning.

With not being around much yesterday and helping the neighbors I didn’t monitor the repeaters so I hope everyone in the area was ok. I know my county activated at least 1 shelter as I received an email on Saturday before the storm hit asking for folks to assist with communications, but without power I didn’t want to leave the family at home with the generator. I saw lots of emails on rivers in the area 10+ feet over flood stage and areas around them being flooded out.

I missed out on a few contests this weekend so I hope those that got on the air had fun. I’m not sure if having a lot of folks on the east coast not participate was noticed or not. I guess if folks were prepared, and depending on where they were located, they could have gotten in some air time before the storm hit them. I’ll have to read the lists and see how things went.


2011 RTTY Rookie Roundup

The RTTY Rookie Roundup was the 3rd ham radio contest I participated in this weekend.  I was watching TV and process the logs from the other 2 contests when I realized the Rookie Roundup had started (almost 3 hours earlier) so I got back on the air to participate and see what was happening. There wasn’t a tremendous amount of activity but there were a few stations calling CQ and a few stations coming back to them. I worked whoever was calling and then picked a frequency and called CQ for a bit. It’s a 0 point contact to work a non-Rookie but this contest isn’t about the points or certainly not about the points for a non-rookie.

Some folks had a nice clean exchange and some others stumbled a little which is to expected, especially for folks that are really new at it. But they all got out their exchange and got my report and it was a good contest contact. Some folks had the entire year of their report in the exchange vs just the last 2 digits and N1MM didn’t let me click it to store it in the field.

One of the states which seems to never have enough hams is Mississippi and the 2nd rookie I logged a contact with was from MS. I’m really hoping he enjoys contesting and gets on the air in future contests. I have to say it was really a “feel good” contest and if anyone is near their radio for a Rookie Roundup contest, get on the air and make contacts. After just 1 hour, I could hear thunderstorms rolling in so I disconnected the antennas, etc. It was more like a monsoon than a thunderstorm, but it lasted through the end of the contest so that 1 hour was all I had in this contest.

It looks like I ended up with 23 contacts with 13 being contacts with rookies.

Thanks to all the rookies (and non-rookies) for their contacts!

2011 SARTG RTTY Contest

This weekend had 3 ham radio contests I was going to try and participate in – SARTG RTTY, NAQP SSB & the RTTY Rookie Roundup. SARTG consists of 3 sessions each lasting 8 hours with one starting Fri evening, one Sat afternoon and one Sun morning. Fri night we had tremendous thunderstorms pass through so no operating on Fri evening for session 1.

Saturday I got on at noon local time and started to make contacts. 20m & 15m were active so I flopped back and forth between the 2 bands. 10m was dead with no activity that I could hear.  On the 1st 2 hours I worked 47 stations and then flipped to the NAQP SSB contest to make some contacts as it just started. After 2 hours making SSB contacts I popped back to the SARTG RTTY and made another quick 9 contacts on 20m before I needed to head out to a charity event.  After I got back home, the bands were still active and in just over 1 hour before the 2nd session ended I was able to make another 39 contacts on 20m, 15m and a handful on 40m. Nothing exotic logged but a fair amount of activity which netted me 96 contacts for the session. The NAQP SSB was still active so when this session ended I switched over to SSB and finished the evening out with that contest.

The final 8 hour session started 4am local time and I had no burning desire to wake up any earlier than I normally would. I actually ended up sleeping longer than normal (or going back to sleep after I woke up when my alarm would normally go off) and I got back on the air at 8:30am local time. I sometimes have good luck in the morning and today ended up to be a pretty good morning too. After a brief scan of 15m and 20m I picked a frequency on 20m and started calling CQ. The 4th op to come back to me was a strong JA station followed immediately by 2 other JA stations. I never had 3 JA stations call me before in any contest, let alone 3 calls in a row. Those 3 JAs were 3 different call areas so 3 different mults as an added bonus. After a couple of more contacts the auto-repeat on my CQ was going and going so I switched back to S&P and noticed a station that I had a good copy on sending DV1/JO7KMB which is a station in the Philippines and an entity I haven’t yet worked. The station wasn’t spotted yet and no one else was sending their call except me. He knew someone was there but he couldn’t get a copy on me. He tried hard, but my 100w into a wire dipole wasn’t enough. I then spotted him on the cluster and went to wake my daughter up to wish her a happy 16th birthday.

After my daughter opened her birthday cards and presents, about 45 mins had passed and I got back on the radio. The same Philippine station was still there but there were a couple of other stations calling so I didn’t bother. I tuned around the band and the first station I came across was another DV1 station calling CQ and no one sending their call back. This time it was DV1JM and I had a good copy on him so I sent out my call. He heard someone there, as the other DV1 station did, but after a couple more attempts he had my call and then I send the report a few times and I was in his log! Woohoo! After that 1 contact I took another 30 min break and hung out with my daughter before she was going out for the day. I spent about another 90 mins in the contest making a few more contacts on 20m and 15m and called it a day (until the Rookie RoundUp). I ended the contest with 135 Q’s in the log and a big smile on my face.

I checked LoTW and it looks like DV1JM (Jun) is an active LoTW user so hopefully I’ll have a new one confirmed shortly. In checking the rules, it shows a Single Op Single Transmitter category but I don’t see how to specify it in the cabrillo file so I posted to the RTTY reflector and pretty quickly received a reply from the SARTG contest manager that they will update the page. Once that is done I’ll send my log in.

Here’s a map of the ham radio contacts made in this contest (click to enlarge):

Here’s my N1MM score summary:

 Band    QSOs    Pts  Are   DXC
    7      10     60    3    3
   14      82    880   30   12
   21      42    470   22    6
Total     134   1410   55   21
Score : 107,160


2011 North America QSO Party NAQP SSB Edition

There were a couple of contests this weekend with the NAQP SSB taking place Saturday. Its a 12 hour contest and you can operate for 10 hours, though I spent much less time on the air for this one. Though a SSB contest feels to be the most work, I really enjoy being able to chat with folks, especially those I’ve come to know be it from many contests, comments on my blog or discussion lists, or even some I’ve met in person.

I took a break from the 2nd of 3 sessions in the SARTG RTTY contest and made a bunch of contacts in this contest. When things slowed down I switched back to the SARTG contest for a bit and then came back later. Conditions were dead for me on 10m whenever I took a quick check and 15m wasn’t all that good either, so most time was spent on 20m. After about 2.5 hours I needed to head out for a few hours.

I got back on around 8pm and worked  20m and 40m for another 2.5 hours before calling it quits pretty early. I didn’t work much  on 80m but maybe activity picked up after I ended things on my end. At least on Saturday the weather was ok with no thunderstorms like we had Friday evening and what looks like is about to happen here again as I’m writing this up.

I didn’t notice any oddball names since names are part of the exchange. Sometimes you get some good ones that make you chuckle. All the ops were super friendly and it was nice having a quick hello with the likes of K5ZD, N1SNB, and others.  Looks like I worked about 37 states & 5 Canadian provinces with a few nearby states missed I’d normally/easily work on 80m.  Here’s my score summary:

  Band    QSOs    Pts  Mlt
   3.5       4      4    3
     7      41     41   25
    14      81     81   28
    21      13     13    8
 Total     139    139   64

Score : 8,896

Thanks for the nice contacts!

TY1KS – Benin DXpedition

Right after getting home from vacation, my parents were up visiting for the week. I spent no time on the radio other than a couple of short attempts at trying to log ST0R before they finished up but wasn’t able to get in their log.

Late Saturday evening I noticed TY1KS in Benin Africa posted on 20m SSB so I turned on the radio and the station was coming in pretty well, so I set up to be about 7 up as he was working 5-10 up and after maybe 3 or 4 mins I was able to work him for a new DXCC. Today I checked their online log and I show up just as I would have expected. Once the DXpedition is over which I think is any day now, I’ll use their OQRS to request a QSL card.

I’m not sure of the exact maidenhead locator grid square but for Grand Popo Benin it looks to likely be JJ06ug JJ06vg.


2010 IARU HF Award

I’ve been away on vacation for the past couple of weekends so I haven’t been on the air. I tried for ST0R in South Sudan before I left but the pileups were insane. They are still there for another 2 days so maybe tonight or tomorrow I can try and log 1 contact with them.

When I got home I had a small package of QSL cards from the bureau as well as a larger envelope from the ARRL. In the larger envelope was a certificate for the 2010 IARU HF Championship indicating I came in 1st place in the Northern NJ section for multi-op.  I operated using the DX Cluster which put me in the multi-op category and since there was only 1 other multi-op submission, I came out on top. When I look at the others in Northern NJ that submitted logs, they had some mighty impressive scores.

My parents will be in town this weekend so it looks like the next contest activity for me will be the weekend of Aug 20th and the NAQP SSB contest and maybe some time in the ARRL RTTY Rookie Roundup if I can find some rookies to give out points to.