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