Saturday, July 19, 2014

DXCC #202: 4L8A Georgia, 15m DXCC, and the IARU HF World Championship

Another minimal contest effort with 67 QSOs, all CW. One of them was a new country for me -- Georgia, courtesy of 4L8A on 20m. I'll take it.

The contest also netted me my 100th confirmation on 15m (S567O in Slovenia). I'm now 3/5 of the way to 5-Band DXCC.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

DXCC #201: 9M2TO West Malaysia

Working from home today, and lucked into 9M2TO on 15m around 2pm local time. Not what I would have guessed to be the best time to work into East Asia, but there he was. He last uploaded to LOTW on 21-May-2014, so we'll wait and see...

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

DXCC #200: C5II The Gambia

How sweet it is!
JA1UII and JE1WVQ have been QRV as C5II and C5JA from The Gambia. Until 09-July. That's in a few hours, and time was running out. I had a very weak copy on C5II yesterday evening, too weak to even drop my callsign. I figured that would be my last chance. But by luck or providence I happened to be home this afternoon and saw him spotted first on 20m (no copy at all), and then on 17m where I was able to log C5II for my 200th DXCC entity worked!

Triple Play #149 - One to go!

Rhode Island on phone -- and with it the phone portion of Triple Play -- is in the books! West Virginia on CW is the last one I need.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

DXCC #199: 4J0SFR Azerbaijan

"Safari" DX-activators club station 4J0SFR heard on 15m CW late this afternoon very weak. I had to use almost all of the K3's magic bag of tricks to pull this one out of the static: bandwidth dialed down to 200 Hz, DSP Noise Reduction on the 1-3 setting, RF Gain throttled back, phones clamped to my head in binaural mode... all this made a very difficult to copy signal pretty darn readable. Got him after a few calls, sent my call a couple-three times to make sure he got it and once I heard it repeated back to me correctly I gave my "TU 599 dit dit" and hit the log submit button. #199 worked is in the bag. US QSL manager, no mention of LOTW on his QRZ page.

Of Triple Play and Antenna Maintenance

About time! I worked 13 Colonies special event station K2C in Rhode Island on phone and their QRZ page promises QSL via LOTW! That will be the last one for the phone portion of Triple Play. Now I just need West Virginia on CW. It kills me, I have QSOs in the log for both RI on phone and WV on CW (even have a card for RI), but the Triple Play award requires LOTW verification. Rules are rules. Unfortunately, West Virginia's second ARRL Centennial operating slot isn't until October 22, so to get this done soon I need to find another CW op in WV that uses LOTW. It could happen, I guess...

And another "about time!" -- almost a year after Tarheel sent me a replacement mounting bracket, I finally got around to swapping it out. The new mount fits perfectly. Now I can send the defective mount back and clear my conscious, as I promised to return it to them 11 months ago.

While I had the antenna broken down I did the recommended maintenance -- removed the plexiglass cover, clean the coil with alcohol and a ScotchBrite pad -- and took to the tripod's mast with some sandpaper to remove the black powder coat that I neglected to fully remove when I first set up the antenna in 2009. Now I know there is a good electrical connection between the mounting bracket and the ground radial plate.

I'm still missing a few radials, lost to the lawnmower no doubt, but I seem to be hearing a little better than I have been of late. Maybe it's just coincidental and the bands have simply improved the day I did antenna maintenance. It could happen, I guess...

Either way, I was able to add a few needed countries to my 17m count -- Romania, Belarus, Samoa, Philippines, Greenland -- as well as a few more of the 13 Colonies stations.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

June 2014 Wrap-Up

Not a very productive month for QSLs, though it was nice to see the 9J2T Zambia DXpedition's LOTW upload come through (got 'em on 40, 30, and 20). Azores (CU2BV) and United Arab Emirates (A65BD) brings me up to 99 confirmed on 15m.

DXCC Totals

Five new ones worked, leaving me just two shy of 200...

Last 10 New DXCC Worked
197SAUDI ARABIA7Z1SJ6/22/2014
190SAN MARINOT77C5/18/2014

Still no love from RI on Phone or WV on CW...

Worked All States
Basic *5080M2717M29
Digital *5020M4810M23

...and a few more prefixes. Yawn.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014


I haven't really been keeping track too closely, but it appears that 4Z4AK's eQSL that I received in May was #100 for me on So in the end it took about 6 months longer to reach 100 confirmed on eQSL than it did using LOTW. Haven't decided whether I will apply for the actual award yet.


DXCC #196, #197 & #198: A42A Oman, 7Z1SJ Saudi Arabia, and 9V1YC Singapore, and the All Asian DX CW Contest

Courtesy of the All Asian DX CW contest on June 21-22, I nabbed the three above-mentioned countries for all-time new ones, bringing me even closer to the 200 Worked milestone.

I also worked A65BD, my second contact with the U.A.E., who verified quickly on LOTW to give me my 164th country confirmed; and E20AX Thailand, another country previously worked but not confirmed. Waiting for ClubLog to be updated to see if I made it into the E20AX log OK before sending for a QSL.

My biggest bonehead move of late was to continuously call 9M6XRO, only realizing later that East Malaysia in not in fact Asia but Oceania! Sorry OM!

Update 06-Jul-2014: E20AX is matched on ClubLog. No LOTW, though.

Update 07-Jul-2014: A65BD is matched, too!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Something Old, Something New...

My haul from this years Ham-Com in Plano wasn't nearly as bountiful as the previous two trips (a Tarheel antenna in 2009, and a Flex 1500 last year). Still, I was just as thrilled to see a copy of Martti Laine OH2BH's Where Do We Go Next? I missed out on this years ago, and it's been out of print for a while. I think I saw it on eBay once for an obscene price. The person selling this copy was asking $6. After I got home and sat down to start reading it I saw that it was signed and inscribed by the author to the original owner (I presume), Bill K9IW.

The only other thing I left Plano with, besides an ARRL golf shirt that my XYL bought me, was a copy of Circuit Simulation and Analysis. Been wanting to learn more about using circuit design software for some time. I have LTSpice installed on my PC but have no idea how to use it. I reckon this should show me the way.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

DXCC #195: 7QNL Malawi

Finally heard 7QNL! He was so weak I was less than half-sure he got my call correct -- I heard "WW" and "T", so I figured I'd send an exchange and worry about working him again later if I heard him better. I got a "TU" back from him and logged it. Today the log match came through on ClubLog. Good thing, too, because it appears to be one of Remco's last QSOs from Malawi.

#195 worked all-time mixed, #176 on CW, #81 on 30m.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

DXCC #194: ZA/ON4CCV Albania

A Belgian team is operating from Albania this week. ZA/ON4CCV was about 579 on 20m into Texas this evening and I was able to work him easily, just before a mad pileup ensued. Ten operators, so I expect they'll be all over the bands. No LOTW, apparently.

Update 16-June-2014: I checked ClubLog the other day and saw that I wasn't included in ZA/ON4CCV's log. I hadz sad. But today something told me to check again and...

Happy Dance shall now commence!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

May 2014 Wrap-Up

While May wasn't a very prolific month for me with only 152 QSOs logged, it was rewarding. Closing in on 200 DXCC entities worked, hit the 500 WPX mark, and within spitting distance of 100 countries confirmed on 15m. Just five new ones worked in May, but three of them were confirmed quickly on LOTW (Papua New Guinea, San Marino and East Malaysia), while one other (Ghana) is matched on Club Log. And with W1AW/7 putting Wyoming in the log (and LOTW confirmation pending), I am now two QSOs away from Triple Play (RI on phone and WV on CW).

DXCC Totals

Last 10 New DXCC Worked
190SAN MARINOT77C5/18/2014
184FIJI ISLANDS3D2FJ3/28/2014

Worked All States
Basic *5080M2717M28
Digital *5020M4810M23


Sunday, May 25, 2014

DXCC #192 & #193: 4X4AK Israel and 9Z5GG Ghana, and the 2014 CQ WPX CW Contest

WPX CW: I really planned to make a good effort in the WPX CW test. Honest. But come Friday evening, I was so dog tired that I decided to just poke around a bit and search for new ones. Only 70 QSOs for me scattered here and there throughout the weekend. I scored two all-time new ones (4X4 and 9G5ZZ) and probably a bunch of new grid spots, but I didn't keep track.

4X4AK: Oddly, in 27 years I have never worked Israel! For years I thought I had done so because I had a QSL card, but it wasn't until a few years ago when I started counting for DXCC that I realized it was really for an Israeli op operating from the Democratic Republic of Congo! Propagation from Texas to the mid-east doesn't seem to ever be favorable for me so I was surprised to hear

9G5ZZ:  Arno, DL1CW, operating from Ghana. Been watching for him on the DX Cluster for a while. Finally got him on 20m. Listened for him on other bands after the contest, no luck. No LOTW according to his QRZ page, but the QSO was matched on ClubLog. Not sure whether Arno will use OQRS, though.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics.

Some talk over on one of the Facebook groups about whether anyone is "100% CW."  I honestly thought I was pretty close to 100%, especially these past few months. But statistics don't lie -- ClubLog tells me I'm only 70.52% CW year to date. 

(I only operated June-Dec in 2008, Jan-Mar in 2009, and Jun-Dec in 2013; I was QRT the entire period between late March 2009 and early June 2013.)

I'd say practically all of these Phone contacts were contest QSOs made during NAQP and ARRL DX back in January; I honestly don't remember working more than a couple or three phone contacts outside of a contest, and if you subtracted them from the total I'll bet the CW bar would look a whole lot longer. 

Most interesting (to me, anyway) is how quickly I went from mostly data and little or no CW to the exact opposite while barely even realizing it was happening. I've always loved digital modes, going back to my early years operating RTTY and AMTOR with a Kantronics KAM and a dumb terminal. These days, I can barely stand the sound of it. As for phone... I just get frustrated and give up on pileups I would have toughed out just a short while ago. It's just that I have been so drawn into CW -- finally, after struggling with it for so many years -- that once I overcame by key fright and realized I could work DX without really being a code monster I've all but given up on the rest. For now, anyway. I suppose it's possible that I'll burn out on CW eventually. I hope not.

All those years of people telling me to try CW, to forget about making mistakes and just get on the air, to just keep at it and it will start to come easily after a while, blah, blah, blah... well, they were right! Yes, I started my CW adventure by pushing memory keyer buttons on the K3 -- M1 is "WW2PT", M2 is "TU 599"; pretty much 99.6% or DX QSOs can be completed with nothing else than those two macros. After a while, though, I found myself becoming increasingly conversational,going to the paddles or straight key more and more without breaking out in a cold sweat. I now call stations who are not simply working DX-style "599-73" exchanges, but who are exchanging names, QTHs, and pleasantries, and I'm really enjoying it. A lot. I wouldn't call myself a CW ragchewer, but then I've never been one on phone, either. I still don't call CQ; maybe that will change soon, too. For now, though, I'm just basking in the satisfaction of having met one of my long-term goals of becoming comfortable, and increasingly proficient, with the CW mode.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

DXCC #191: 9M6XRO East Malaysia

The third new one this weekend. Saw a cluster spot for 9M6XRO on 15m CW and QSY'd quickly, heard him S7-S8 on an otherwise dead band, got him on the first call. Technically not a "new" country for me -- I worked 9M6 on OSCAR 13 twenty-something years ago, but that doesn't count.

The march to 200 continues!

Update 19-May-2014: Next-day LOTW delivery!

DXCC #190: T77C San Marino

Another one that's been eluding me. Finally have T77C in the log! Found him fading in and out of the noise on 17m CW at around half past midnight local time (0530 UTC). Never ceases to amaze me how 17m pops to life during the wee hours, then closes up just a few minutes later. This QSO is already matched in the QRZ Logbook and his QRZ page says he uses LOTW, so this will be #160 confirmed for mixed and #131 on CW for me. I shall now proceed to refresh the LOTW page every 30 seconds until he uploads... :-)

Update 19-May-2014: QSO matched on ClubLog!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

DXCC #189: P29NO Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is a country that I haven't heard before except on one occasion as a 15 year old SWL, when I happened across one of their domestic shortwave broadcast stations on the 60m SWBC band while tuning my old DX-160 receiver. I've seen P29NO spotted the past few days and finally found time to get back to the radio this morning -- Naohiro was very strong on 17m and I worked him easily for #189.

Update 19/May-2014: LOTW confirmation received!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

2013 CQ Worldwide DX Contest (CW) Results

I only placed #67 worldwide in the 40m High Power (Assisted) category, but still managed first place in the US 5th Call Area. This is the first thing I've ever actually won in a contest! Not much, but I'll take it. :-)

Friday, May 2, 2014

April 2014 Wrap-Up

Seems like the closer I get to 200 countries worked, the slower they come. After working 24 new countries last November, I only worked 4 in December, 5 in January, 3 in February, and 5 in March. This month the famine continued with just four new ones -- Tonga, Palau, Wallis and Fortuna, and Svalbard. On the confirmed front, I received 31 productive QSLs (by "productive" I mean QSLs which actually count for something); these include 6 new Mixed and 10 new on CW, plus a bunch of new band slots. I finally broke the 100 barrier on 40m, too, and now stand at 102 confirmed on that band.

Last 10 New DXCC Worked
184FIJI ISLANDS3D2FJ3/28/2014

DXCC Totals

Worked All States
Basic *5080M2717M25
Digital *5020M4810M23