Wednesday, January 9, 2013

30 meter band scan

After searching for K3Y stations for better part of the new year, I decided to scan 30 meters and just listen.....(almost) unaided by spotting networks...and call.     It's interesting what you find.  At 0038 UTC after sunset here on the East Coast, 30m was long to Central America and the US West Coast.

10.12245 HP1AVS / B Victor in Panama
10.120 calling CQ.  Don,  KOMLF  in UT came back with a 589 report.   
10.117 high speed keyboard cw beyond my ability
10.115 Station calling ke5sbz ke5sbzj ???
10.1125 I answered a CQ.  Dan de WA6URY 589 Station in Bellflower, CA. Dan was operating remotely from Tokyo, Japan!   The find of the night.   This was my first contact with a remote station that I know of.
10.110  N7EU coming in strong from Central Point OR 579.  Wx 46 degrees.  He was in a good rag chew with another station I couldn't hear, so I decided to tune on down.
10.105 calling CQ at 5 watts.  I tuned to the HAMjitsu Club Spotter.  I was spotted by the Reverse Beacon VE6AO de Calgary Amateur Radio Asc in Calgary, Alberta.  I got one station asking for my call, but we couldn't make it work.  Maybe next time.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My First Spartan Sprint

This was my first Spartan Sprint ever sponsored by the Adventure Radio Society.  I got here through the back door.  I was following the HAMjitsu Club Spotter site for flying pigs to add to my WAP award soaring total of "1".    Larry, W2LJ was spotted by one of the reporting station.  I'm a big fan of Larry's blog, so I wasted no time heading down to 80 meters to hear him calling CQ.  Larry, I appreciate the contact!  I realized from his exchange I'd found the SP, and I heard a number of additional stations calling.  Thanks to AA4GA, KB8U, and K4ORD for the contacts.  Ok...I showed up with 18 pounds of gear, so I "missed the boat" here, but I plan to be back next month with an 817 and small key.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Throwing a Few Things Together in The Snow

After spending the morning cleaning for friends coming on New Years Day, I had several hour of sunlight left, 8 inches of new snow, clear skys and a temperature of 35 degrees.  It was time to get a jump-start on my New Years plan to operate portable each month.

I set out for a short radio hike in Penwood State Park in Central Connecticut, Grid FN31ot.   I began at the park entrance, and hiked 0.5 miles up a moderate grade.  The park has an automobile road from decades past that's no longer used.  It makes a great path for hiking and mountain biking.  The snow was pretty well packed from other hikers and skiiers.  My hunting boots worked OK, and snow shoes would have been even better.  The landscape is very monotone and serene this time of year.

I selected a spot half way up the small mountain, limited by time and a sun already low on the horizon.  I was able to toss a line about 20 feet into a tree to suspend my End Fed 20/40m wire antenna.   Sloping quickly, most of wire was only about 5 feet above ground.  I realized there was a yellow blazed hiking trial right next to my chosen spot, and made sure the wire didn't cross the path of hikers or runners.  

Now this was my fist time radio hiking out in the snow.  I learned quickly I should have brought several items.  A tarp to sit on for starters!  I hadn't thought of keeping moisture out of coax connectors.  More on that another day.    I ended up throwing a few things together in the snow:  FT817 radio, KK-1 straight key, and very heavy and overdone lead acid battery.  

Wow...setting on a small mountain top with wire antenna fed directly to the radio....the signals were really booming in!   I managed to call CQ on 20 meters using thick gloves, the small KK-1 morse code key, all while kneeling over my backpack.  

My First CQ was answered by Stan, AE0SL in Minnesota.   First time, really!  Stan is a Straight Key Century Club friend who I've worked a number of times.  I follow the K3UK scheduling site used by many SKCC members, and note Stan has been operating QRP (low power) quite a bit these days.  I hope our 2-way QRP contact helped with his awards, and I really appreciated Stan's rapid fire reply.  

I decided to drop down to 40 meters and try for another contact at the sun was getting quite low on the horizon (and my hands were getting cold).   KB1PBA, Peter, soon came back with a reply.  While my copy was spotty with QRM (interference) and a cold wind piercing the trees, it was nice to meet a neighbor from Massachusetts on 7 MHz.   A great day in all.  

Note to self: reassess battery situation, bring tarp, extra gloves, hike and operate often.