Friday, March 10, 2017

Friday, February 17, 2017

Yes, I should be working...

...but it's more fun running JAs on 15 meters from some random conference room at work using the W6VMW club station remotely!


EDIT:

Yes, you can also make QSOs from a Starbucks:


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Goal: 500 QSOs and a sweep in SS CW

I'll set a goal of 500 QSOs and a clean sweep in this weekend's CW Sweepstakes. I am totally unprepared, other than having gotten N1MM all set up last night. I'll aim to throw up the wire dipole Saturday morning. Right now there are no sunspots, the A Index is 18, and the K Index is 4. Getting the sweep may be hard!

-- Update --

Well, not quite. I did make the sweep, but only 451 QSOs. Motivation was a bit lacking. But for those of you in my log, thanks for the Qs!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Goal: 500 QSOs in CaQP

The California QSO Party is this weekend, and I'm aiming for at least 500 QSOs. There, I said it.

(edit)

And I made it:
 Band   Mode  QSOs     Pts  Mul  Pt/Q
   3.5  CW      55     165    0   3.0
   3.5  LSB      6      12    0   2.0
     7  CW     104     312    3   3.0
     7  LSB     16      32    0   2.0
    14  CW     164     492   14   3.0
    14  USB     17      32    0   1.9
    21  CW     131     393   32   3.0
    21  USB     24      48    1   2.0
 Total  Both   517    1486   50   2.9
Score: 74,300
1 Mult = 10.3 Q's


Friday, April 15, 2016

My First Sprint

Last night I did my first-ever sprint (NS CW Sprint). I haven't felt this clueless since my first Novice Roundup in 1970-something!

NCCC Sprint - Apr 15

Call: KM6I
Operator(s): KM6I
Station: KM6I

Class: Single Op LP
QTH: Mountain View, CA
Operating Time (hrs): .5

Summary:
Band  QSOs  Mults
-------------------
  160:          
  80:  6      4
  40:  5      5
  20:  3      2
  15:          
  10:          
-------------------
Total:  14    11  Total Score = 154

Club: Northern California Contest Club

Comments:

My first sprint experience. Felt like I stepped into
the fast lane of the 101 at rush hour. Ouch.

K3, dipole @ 60ft.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Sweepstakes CW 2015

This year I operated from home and put in a nearly full-time effort. All the equipment was the same as last year. And I again strung up my 2-element triband wire yagi. For some reason, it worked very well on 20m, beating the G5RV by 1-2 S-units on most signals I was hearing, but on 15m signals were usually louder on the dipole. I'm not sure why that is. Perhaps there's some interaction between the two antennas, since they hang from the same tree.

In any case, here are the results:


 Band     QSOs     Pts  Sec
   3.5      71     142    3
     7     189     378   13
    14     413     826   22
    21      86     172   34
    28      20      40   11
 Total     779    1558   83
Score: 129,314

Rig: Elecraft K3, KPA-500 amplifier, KAT-500 antenna tuner
Antennas: G5RV inverted vee with apex@60ft, 2-el triband wire yagi@35ft

I opened on 10M, worked most of the stations on the band, then tried CQing with no joy. I dropped down to 15 and did the same, but the band didn't seem to be in very good shape. So this year, 20m was the money band for me. I even had a nice 75/hour run on 20, with some shorter runs with good rate. It's a good reminder that even with a modest station, calling CQ in SS is a good idea.

ARRL SS CW - 2015-11-07 2100Z to 2015-11-09 0300Z - 782 QSOs
KM6I Runs >10 QSOs:

2015-11-08 0008 - 0105Z,   14062 kHz, 74 Qs, 77.9/hr KM6I
2015-11-08 0551 - 0603Z,    7023 kHz, 12 Qs, 58.7/hr KM6I
2015-11-08 1706 - 1735Z,   14029 kHz, 24 Qs, 50.3/hr KM6I
2015-11-09 0014 - 0101Z,   14006 kHz, 36 Qs, 45.6/hr KM6I

I took midnight to 7am local time off, and also ran a few errands in the middle of the day on Sunday, so my total time on ended up being 22 hours.

Rate sheet:

Day        Hr   3.5  7    14   21   28   Tot  Accum 
2015-11-07 21   0    0    0    33   14   47   47    
2015-11-07 22   0    0    1    32   6    39   86    
2015-11-07 23   0    0    59   0    0    59   145   
2015-11-08 00   0    0    75   0    0    75   220   
2015-11-08 01   0    31   7    0    0    38   258   
2015-11-08 02   0    49   0    0    0    49   307   
2015-11-08 03   9    19   0    0    0    28   335   
2015-11-08 04   11   13   0    0    0    24   359   
2015-11-08 05   13   20   0    0    0    33   392   
2015-11-08 06   15   10   0    0    0    25   417   
2015-11-08 07   15   6    0    0    0    21   438   
2015-11-08 14   0    1    17   0    0    18   456   
2015-11-08 15   0    0    43   0    0    43   499   
2015-11-08 16   0    0    20   8    0    28   527   
2015-11-08 17   0    0    35   0    0    35   562   
2015-11-08 18   0    0    0    5    0    5    567   
2015-11-08 19   0    0    33   2    0    35   602   
2015-11-08 20   0    0    22   6    0    28   630   
2015-11-08 21   0    0    26   0    0    26   656   
2015-11-08 22   0    0    9    0    0    9    665   
2015-11-08 23   0    0    32   0    0    32   697   
2015-11-09 00   0    2    35   0    0    37   734   
2015-11-09 01   0    26   2    0    0    28   762   
2015-11-09 02   8    12   0    0    0    20   782   
Total 0    71   189  416  86   20   782  782   


I was worried about getting NT for the sweep, as every time I saw a spot they were S0. But on Saturday night I found them at the low end on 40m with a nice S5 signal and worked them on the first call. EWA, NNY, ME, and UT were also a bit hard to come by this year, but I finished Saturday night needing only PR, which I snagged early Sunday morning.

Sunday got pretty slow, and I ended up CQing while reading W1VR's book on antenna zoning. Next year I'll want to do something more personally challenging, depending on the NCCC's goals for SS. Possibilities include getting off my butt and installing some better antennas, adding SO2R, dropping use of the cluster, using low power, or finding a big station to guest-op at and go for a section/division win again.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Echoes during CW Sweepstakes

On Saturday night local time I experienced some echoes of my own signal on 80 meters that were pretty interesting. Here are the details:

Timeline

0645Z: I'm bouncing between 40M and 80M following RBN spots.
0648Z: I work 4 stations S&P on 80M, and don't hear any echoes.
0700Z: I pop up to 40M to make a couple of S&P QSOs, then call CQ for a bit with no takers.
0703Z: I drop back down to 80 to call K6JS and hear the echoes for the first time. I can hear them so distinctly in between QSK breaks that I think I'm losing a jump ball (that's when 2 or more stations respond to another station's CQ).



(Direct link to mp3, if your browser isn't showing an audio player.)

0706Z: I find a clear frequency at 3571 and start calling CQ. Again the echoes are so pronounced I think I'm doubling with another station.



(Direct link)

0730Z: I pop back up to 40M for a couple of S&P QSOs. No echo there.

0746Z: I send a series of dits on my CQ frequency so I can measure the delay later using Audacity.



(Direct link)

Here's one echo, zoomed in. I've selected the time period from when I send the dit to when the echo is heard. That's reflected in the "Selection Length" text at the bottom on the window, where you can see that the delay is 0.157 seconds (157 milliseconds). 186,000 mile/sec * 0.157 sec ~= 29,000 miles, roughly the circumference of the earth.



0752Z: I work N6RO and the echoes are starting to fade.

0802Z: I hear K6MMM (about 15 miles directly south of me) and hear echo on Rich/Anna's signal.

0804Z: I head to bed.

What was happening?

I'm not sure if it was related, but there was a coronal mass ejection late last week that impacted the earth. If I recall correctly, the A index was about 42 and the K index was 4 at the time I was hearing the echoes. Those numbers represent geomagnetic activity in the unsettled to minor storm range.

I did find another blog post from W2PA about a similar phenomenon (with links to other QST articles about echoes like this, as well as longer-delayed ehoes). My best guess is this was some sort of magnetospheric ducting. I can't imagine around-the-world multi-hop F2 propagation being this strong. The delay of the echoes is consistent with an around-the-world trip, although from reading the articles, it looks like magnetospheric ducts can take the signal away from the earth and back.

The effect seems to have been localized to stations in the immediate area. One station in Sonoma County (K6SRZ), about 70 miles NNW, reported the effect, as well a few stations just to the south of me in Campbell (W6FB), Cupertino (N3ZZ) and Los Gatos, CA (K6MMM). I did not hear the echoes on stations in SoCal, nor did I see anyone other than N3ZZ reporting it in soapbox comments on the 3830 reflector.

My big regret is that I didn't think to hook up my SDR and capture the entire band data. Then I could have gone back and listened to all the other local stations on 80m to see which ones were experiencing the echo. But what a reminder about how cool mother nature can be!