Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December 2013 Wrap-Up

DXCC - Not a lot of time spent at the radio this month, what with the holidays and other family business to take care of, but I still managed to work a few new ones -- Zambia (9J2BO), E. Kiribati (T32RC), Senegal (6V7D), and Greenland (OX3XR). I end the month (and the year) with the following DXCC numbers:
  • Mixed: 133 confirmed (171 worked)
  • CW: 73 (119)
  • Phone: 99 (127)
  • Digital: 57 (82)
My first DXCC award for Mixed Mode was applied for and received this month. I've also reached 100 confirmed for 20m Mixed (85 on LOTW, the other 15 on paper). I have not applied for the award, though, because I've not yet had the cards checked. I plan to do that at the HamCon in Plano next June, if not sooner.

WAS - My pursuit of WAS Triple Play is getting close to the end with 129 out of 150 blocks confirmed on LOTW:
  • Phone: 44 (need AK, DE, IA, MI, RI and VT)
  • CW: 35 (need CO, GA, IA, KY, MI, MN, NE, NM, ND, OH, OK, SD, UT, WV and WY)
  • Digital: 50 (worked them all in 2009/2010)
WAS Mixed and Digital awards were applied for and received this month.

2013 in the Rearview - A fairly good year for me, with sporadic operating after getting the station back on the air in June. Foremost, I upgraded to Extra Class after years of procrastinating. I achieved DXCC and started getting serious about CW as I've been promising to do for decades. Some new equipment found its way into the shack -- the Flex 1500 and KPA500; hopefully the former will start to get some use (maybe go for a second Triple Play running QRP?).

Long time coming...
2014 in the Windshield - My main objective in the coming year is to get an antenna on the roof; if nothing else, just my old R-7000 vertical that has been sitting in the garage since 2008. Ideally, though, it would be a hex beam for 20m-6m in addition to the R-7000. Wouldn't mind getting the FT-7800 in the car, either. I'm going to try to work as many of the major contests as time allows. The only equipment I think I need is a auto-tuner that can handle the KPA500. The obvious choice would be the KAT500 if I can gather the scratch. More DXCC awards and endorsements are on the horizon -- I've already enough confirmations for 20m DXCC (once I get the cards checked), I'm one shy of Phone DXCC, I have 73 confirmed on 15m, 67 on 40m, and 76 on CW. WAS Triple Play is close, too. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

A CW milestone for me.

My CW DXCC count on Logbook of the World is now at 67 and equal to my Phone count. Before I got back on the air at the start of June 2013 it was at 6 (three QSOs from 1996, three from 2010). It may have taken me a few years but I've finally made good on my 2010 New Year resolution to work more CW.

Update: Less than an hour after posting this, #68 on CW came through.

2013 ARRL 10M Contest

My first all-CW effort in a contest that was mixed mode. Also the first test in which I used N1MM Logger to generate the CW. This worked swimmingly. No more pushing buttons on the K3 to send my call and exchange from CW memories!

Bad noise the whole weekend -- not just the usual electrical noise (though that was bad enough) but the neighbor's dog would not shut up. And the train... folks, never buy a house across the street from the railroad tracks. Union Pacific is at the top of my shit list this weekend.

QRV a bit under 12 hours total operating time with lots of short breaks. Since the Tarheel only tunes up to 21 MHz, I had to keep the amp off and use the K3's ATU to match the antenna. Consequently, I could only hear and work the loudest signals on the band.

In the end, 22 states (not incl. KL7 and KH6), 9 CanProvs, and 29 DXCC. No new all-time countries for me, but every one of the 29 is new on 10m, a band for which I have exactly three QSOs in the log in 26+ years. Got 8 of the 24 state I need for the CW portion of Triple Play (five already confirmed on LOTW!).

Thursday, December 5, 2013

DXCC from Texas!

This week, without even realizing it, I passed the 100 mark for DX entities confirmed from my Texas QTH! I currently sit at 103 countries verified total out of 151 worked, including 101 on Logbook of the World. This was done in approximately 14 months of operation since June 2009.

(By contrast, I had verified just 68 countries in 21 years while in New Jersey, mostly by accident -- I never really chased DX until now, I just worked them when I could and accumulated a bunch of cards via the incoming QSL bureau. I know I have a couple more verified from working the OSCAR 13 satellite, but they don't count...)

Interestingly, the mode breakdown is pretty even: 56 countries each on phone and CW, and 53 countries on digital (PSK31 and RTTY).

DXCC from Texas -- Yee-Haw!

T32RC Eastern Kiribati

I was checking the 40m CW band around 1230 UTC this morning before work looking for V63XG in Micronesia -- I just barely heard them above the noise yesterday morning, not strong enough for me to feel confident about dropping my call. I doubt I would have heard them come back to me. No sign of them today, however. The hunt goes on.

What I did find, however, was a pileup on 7011. Tuned down 1  to 7010, and there was the T32RC DXpedition on Kiritimati Island (the erstwhile "Christmas Island"), part of the Line Islands in the Republic of Kiribati (better known to WW2 buffs as the Gilbert Islands where the Battle of Tarawa was fought, about 2,000 miles due west along the Equator) and the DXCC entity amateurs know as Eastern Kiribati.

Still half-awake and not yet fully caffeinated, I flipped on the amp and found a clear spot in the pile. Dropped my call once and got him. I think. Lots of electrical QRN this morning. I went about my morning business and came back into the shack about 15 minutes later, when I decided an insurance QSO might not be a bad idea. I generally avoid doing this but I'm not sure I'll have another chance before they go QRT on 10-Dec. Got him on the first call again (how is this even possible, with a screwdriver antenna on 40m? But I digress...). With two QSO's in the log I started to shut down and head to work... but first, I thought, I should check ClubLog just for the hell of it. And there, no more than 30 minutes of my first QSO, T32RC had uploaded their log and I was in it. This is an unbelievably awesome operation.

Did I mention this is another all Elecraft DXpedition? :-)