Wednesday, February 28, 2007

CW Contesting - another approach

I recently covered some ideas about how to develop your CW Contesting skills in my RadCom column. I had an e-mail from Eddi, DK3UZ who detailed an 'alternative' approach that I enjoyed so much, I thought I should share it...

Dr Tim, om,

morse trainers, programs, Morse Runner, RUFZ, and fuss of similar vein to become competent in contesting?

I passed my licence test on a 21st May (1971 was the year if you wish to know), and you know when IARU Region-I Fieldday is, the one being called NFD on your side of the channel. On a club evening between getting my licence and FD our then chairman pointed his forefinger: "You, you, you, and you are taking part!" One of the "yous" was I.

My objections regarding the not yet dry ink on my licence went unheard. Next weekend saw us freshmen contesting for the very first time, using a straight key! No-one back then had the money to build or buy an el-bug.

We certainly didn't score high that year, but that probably wasn't our chairman's intention. Being thrown into cold water like this, contesting became second nature, not only to yours truly. Provided clubs are prepared occaisionally not to win, they only need to send their newcomers into the fray, and they will emerge matured, and fearlessly face the next contest. 73, Eddi ._._. --

Friday, February 23, 2007

UK Activity during ARRL DX CW

Interesting post from Dave, G4BUO on uk-contest this morning, which I've taken an extract from...

Big US multi-multis K3LR and KC1XX have posted their claimed scores, together with a breakdown by country. W3LPL will post in the near future as well no doubt.

Taking as an example the 20m figures, adding the UK totals together (G, GM, GW, GU etc) and comparing with other major Eu countries, it's no surprise that most QSOs occurred with Germany but we're well ahead of all the others:

UK 167 DL 245 F 82 I 133 OK 108 UA 98
UK 163 DL 223 F 69 I 129 OK 97 UA 126

Contest sponsors like to receive entries - it's the main way that they gauge support for their events - so this is a plea to all UK contesters who made some QSOs in the ARRL contest to send in your log. You never know, you may win a band award!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Kingman Reef

As radio amateurs, I think we tend to have a pretty good knowledge of the world around us. I was intrigued to find the following story about Kingman Reef today.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

VHF conditions on the up?

Had a quick listen on 2m CW/SSB last night and the GB3VHF beacon seemed above average - signals around S9 rather than the usual S6/7. Nothing much further afield. But I did work Rod, M3VMV/M on the M40 around Sutton Coldfield who had a great signal - which is a decent distance for a mobile.

This morning on the way to work, there was some fog over the Thames. If there's fog around, decent VHF conditions are rarely far away - so worth keeping an eye on things, I think.


Anyone who's read my Radcom Contest column over the years will know that one of my favourite HF contests is the ARRL CW. It's a simple format. You just have to work the USA - and it's not difficult to work out when the band's going to be open in that direction! The operators are generally great and there's plenty of activity.

Last weekend saw the ARRL CW. I didn't have too much time to spend, but in a few minutes operating on Sunday, I quickly made about 50 QSOs. Propagation wasn't that great. On Sunday lunchtime, I checked 15m and all that was coming in was South Americans (PY/LU). I was surprised just before sunset though, to find a few east coast US stations around MD, VA, PA coming in, so snagged them quickly! No sign of anything on 10m, of course!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

eQSL Public Profiles

We're trying out the idea of Public Profiles at the eQSL site. See mine here

Nine band DXCC via Logbook of the World

I was impressed to see the following news release on the ARRL's Logbook of the World site regarding my friend, John, VE3EJ:

VE3EJ Achieves 9-Band DXCC via LoTW -- John Sluymer, VE3EJ, has made a lot of contacts! Maybe this cycle he will work on 6 meters! Congrats John. The 9 bander accompanies 251 Mixed countries and 1401 Challenge countries all confirmed with Logbook of the World.

I had a quick look and see that John's worked 1 country on 50MHz. I was trying to persuade him to get going on 50MHz when I was last there, but his view was that it was one more band!!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The RSGB and Wikipedia

It's a scary combination isn't it. But have you looked at the Wikipedia entry for the RSGB? Do! It's not the most accurate entry I've seen! The history section looks particularly questionable to me.

Something to add to a to-do list I guess!

Congratulations to Allan, GM4ZUK

Well-known VHF contester and beacon keeper of GB3ANG, Allan, GM4ZUK got engaged at the weekend. His fiancee is Louise who works in the oil industry in Aberdeen.

Congratulations to you both!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Team Thunderbox

I had a nice QSO with Jon, 2E0DBD over the weekend. Jon's located a few miles to the west of me in Swindon. He kindly included some details of his group, Team Thunderbox and its' blog. Well worth a look.

Actually, the title reminds me of a topic on another forum that Julie and I belong to...

Sunday, February 04, 2007

An interesting weekend

There are times when I wonder if I'm tiring of amateur radio and then something happens that stops you short. There's just so much to do and try, if you only look...

First of all on Friday evening, I was playing around with Echolink as it had stopped working. It turned out that the 'Home Hub' had been upgraded without me noticing (!) and my port forwarding had been broken. Fixed that up and I had a nice QSO with ZL3GSL in Christchurch, NZ who was using a handheld.

At 21z on Friday evening, the FOC Marathon started. FOC is a CW club that I'm a member of. Various things went on within the club last week which rather diminished my initial enthusiasm for the event, so I thought I'd go on and make a token few QSOs and then find something more interesting to do! Well, I made a few QSOs on Friday evening, mostly on 80m. Around dawn on Saturday, I got the chickens up and thought I might as well check out the bands. Worked a few Ws, but best of all, worked V31JP from Belize on 80 CW. I'd worked him before, but it's always a nice contact.

My friend Dave, G8ELH mentioned that he was going to try an Echolink QSO to a friend in Perth, Western Australia through the GB3WO repeater around 9am Saturday. Heard them both, but just missed dropping in to say hello to VK6DK. Perhaps next week.

Back on HF, conditions were obviously dreadful! Very little on 15 or 10, though 7Q7DP was nice on 15. The Ws were on 20, but no higher! Worked a few and decided to try something else!

Having heard Dave, G8ELH link GB3WO using DTMF tones, I thought that might be interesting to try. I'd been hampered by the lack of a DTMF microphone, but suddenly realised with a blinding flash of inspiration (that means it would have been obvious to anyone else...) that I could generate the tones on the PC. A few seconds later and I'm trying to work out what all the tones do! Some odd noises and false starts later, I've managed to link to the W4HAP repeater in Tennessee and make a QSO there. Fun! I also manage to link to the ZL1VK repeater in Auckland and get the whale ID (try it, you'll see what I mean!) but it's the middle of the night, so no QSOs!

On Sunday, I think conditions were worse on HF! Mind you, some fascinating bits of propagation. I've never worked into USA at midday UK time before, making QSOs with W3MC and N3JT. And then seconds later, P40LE is coming through, just on 15!

But that's not all. There's the RSGB 432MHz AFS contest to look at too. Conditions were reasonable, though mostly inter-G. Some nice strong signals from the north, from IO83 and IO93 in particular. Bryn, G4DEZ was louder than I've heard him before on 432. Lots of long distance QSOs from the East Coast, but I was pleased to work some new stations!

That's what makes it all interesting. And having said I'd make a token few QSOs in the marathon, it ended up being a couple of hundred, which is ok for a relaxed weekend's operating


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