Monday, March 7, 2011

2011 ARRL DX Contest - Phone Results

Sonovista, my friends! I know what you've been thinking: a new ham radio blog post? I thought she was dead! Well, neither dead nor forgotten, I AM still licensed and still manage to fire up the old coal powered spark gap transmitter, every now and then, and do my best to annoy the ionosphere. And this past weekend was an annoyance-fest!

Just by accident (well, maybe I heard someone mention something about it at the last Northern California DX Club Meeting) I happened to turn on my radio on Friday night and heard the sweet cacophony of well mannered Hams stomping all over each others signal - and that could only mean one thing: CONTEST!

Now the antenna situation at the Casa Del Schnauzer is close to non-existent, the Buddipole having come down last year for Field Day, and the G5RV Jr having come down last year because some fool (me) decided that having an antenna 40ft up in the air took all the fun out of it (groan) and maybe a yank on the end connected to the orange tree would clear up some of the QRM (it didn't). But as you'll remember, once down I did discover that the antenna had started to rust badly at multiple points and was broken clean through at a few more. So with some high temperature solder, silicon and gorilla tape, i managed to get something approaching a G5RV back together - trouble was, getting it back up in the tree wasn't going to happen until the spring, so i slapped together some PVC pipe and rigged up an ugly configuration (parallel to the power lines) in the backyard, about 20ft off the ground.

Less than optimal, for sure, but the Sun she is our mother and all the little sunspots are our brothers and with just 100watts, the electrical equivalent of a backyard clothesline and a dream, I set about twiddling and tuning and drinking and driving (the final amplifier) and by Sunday I managed to log about 30 stations across 40m, 20m, 15m and 10m and put 11 new countries in my log including Barbados, Dominica, St. Vincent, the US Virgin Islands, Argentina, Curacao, Brazil, Surinam, St. Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla and Venezuela.

So thanks to all who were kind enough to dig out my little signal and properly lie to me with a "please repeat, please repeat, please repeat - ok, you're 59 1k". (And shame on the knob heads who used their automagic devices to call 'CQ Contest' 20 times in a row, pausing less then a second before calling 'CQ Contest' again. I've heard that listening was a lost art, but this was ridiculous! Oh, and if at any time during the contest you told someone, on the air, to "learn how to use their equipment", you're a dick [cf. 'knob head'])

And that's all I got - I know I'm not winning any awards for points or style, but it's still a whole lot of fun to talk around the world with 100 watts and a little piece of wire strung up between two painter poles in my urban back yard.

Excelsior and 73!
de Robin (W6RDG)

8P5A Barbados

AA1K Deleware MD
CE4CT Santiago Chile
J7Y Dominica
J88DR St. Vincent
JA1YPA Tochigi Japan
JA2IVK Shizuoka Japan
JA3USA Nara Japan
JA9PPC Toyama Japan
JF2QNM Aichi Japan
JH4UYB Hiroshima Japan
JH8JWF Hokkaido Japan
JN1NDY Tokyo Japan
JO3DDD Shiga Japan
K5TR Austin TX
KP2M US Virgin Islands
LP1H Cordoba Argentina
LR2F Rosario Argentina
LR4E Chacabuco Argentina
LS1D Buenos Aires Argentina
NH7A Keaau HI
PJ2T Bonaire Curacao
PR2B São Paulo Brazil
PZ5P Surinam
V48M St Kitts and Nevis
VP2E Anguilla
WE3C Fleetwood PA
WH7Z Aiea HI
YV5AM Caracas Venezuela

Sunday, October 3, 2010

California QSO Party (CQP) 2010 Round-Up!

Sonovista, my friends! I know I haven't posted in a while (primarily because my G5RV antenna fell down this past summer and an examination showed that after only 6 months it had already started to deteriorate.) In any event, I've managed to get the antenna repaired (or at least back on the air) and have been waiting for our pal, Sol, to get in the game. In the meanwhile, this past weekend was the annual California QSO Party (CQP) Sponsored by the Northern California Contest Club. As I did last year, I headed into the Santa Cruz mountains to operate portable and give folks another shot at a Santa Cruz county station (there are lots of Santa Clara stations).

Saturday I was up on RT 35/Skyline with my Buddipole and had a nice run, though the power lines in the area induced some wicked noise unless i rotated the BP perpendicular to the lines. Sunday I went up to my favorite spot on Mt. Umunhum, unpacked everything, and realized I forgot to bring my coax with the BP banana clips. After cursing into the misty mountain morning for about 10 minutes, I headed back down the mountain to my home, with a brief stop for coffee and donut to bring me out of my funk. A few hours later I took another shot, and with cable in hand, headed back up to Mt. Umunhum and worked for another couple of hours, (breaking one of my BP masts in the process, pulling it out too hard.)

Skyline Drive - Santa Cruz Mountains

Mt. Umunhum - Santa Cruz Mountains

Not as many stations as last year, though on Sunday I did add two DX contacts - OK4U in the Czech Republic, and DL1YD in Germany.

Here's this year's honor roll:
W0BH Kansas; KI6BEN Alameda County; K5WMH New Mexico; N6NZ Maraposa County; KH6LC Hawaii; NY6Y Santa Clara; WB2TFM Florida; KH7Y Hawaii; KI6LDM Santa Clara; KM4RO Kentucky; K9CT Illinois; W6FUV Santa Clara; AL1G Alaska; W1UE Massachusetts; VA7DEC British Columbia; VE3TW Ontario; N6LTU Santa Clara; N8UM Tennessee; KI6YYR Alameda; N60 Contra Costa; VA3GKO Ontario; WA7ADK Utah; W8KNO Ohio; VZ7IR British Columbia; WA1FCN Alabama; N8NX Michigan; VA3YP Ontario; KE1B/6 Santa Cruz; VE6AO Alberta; K6RB Santa Cruz; KX4X Alabama; VC3M Ontario; N2CU New York; N4PN Georgia; WX7P Washington; OK4U Czec Republic; N0QO Colorado; AB4GG Tennessee; DL1YD Germany; K5XR Texas; W0EWD Iowa; NG7Z Washington; K4WI Alabama; N8BJQ Ohio

A lot of sun, a lot of fun, and a lot of bugs. The Buddipole was phenomenal on 15M, but not outstanding on 17M (non-contest) or 20M where I could hear folks but they had a hard time hearing me. I think its worth trying the BP again in a more vertical orientation (perhaps sloping dipole). I also realize that to be a serious contester I need to log my QSO's using a computer (the sheet of paper approach is slow, crude and subject to many errors.) But in any event my Elecraft K3 performed like a champ, easy to set up, easy to run, easy to adjust the bandwidth and passband when the adjacent stations were overpowering.

More stuff coming... Fingers crossed for more solar activity... Go SF Giants!!!
de Robin (W6RDG)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Strike Up The Band(s)!!!

sonovista, my friends! its been a long time, but improving propagation and slightly nicer weather have gotten me back on the air, so time for a quick blog update...

back in December, just before the Christmas holiday, i received a G5RV-Junior antenna from Kerry (W2NAN), the True-Talk antenna guy... we had decided that the shorter version would work best in my location, but the antenna arrived just as the holidays and bad weather were arriving, too, so i left it in the box and waited for the new year... as noted below, i had finally gotten a clean run from the tall tree next to the house, so i used the long wire already up, and pulled my new G5RV Junior into the tree and elevated the whole thing by attaching the other end through an insulator to my 20ft painterpole (which i use as a mount for a Buddipole vertical)...

the result is this:

and with the new propagation openings this week i was able to work UA0IT, Andy, in Magadan Russia (northeastern portion, next door to Gov. Palin), on 20m and this morning my first 12m contact with VE3OZ, Sean, in Orangeville Canada... compared to the Buddipole vertical, i'm usually 2 s-units higher with the G5RV, though it seems to depend on the time of day and location of the other station... the G5RV -does- seem to be nosier than the Buddipole, but knob twiddling on my K3 helps to fix that.

so i'm hopeful that the continuing solar activity combined with my new 'ears' will result in more QSO's (certainly more DX) and for now i think my antenna fiddling is over.

on the digital front, i was reading my twitter feed (@W6RDG) and noticed a few folks commenting positively on the new EchoLink app for the iPhone... i had never had any success with EchoLink (being mostly a Mac gal), but installed the app and, with the help of the very fine folks at EchoLink, was up and running and chatting with some nice hams in Wales and London on their way to work! could be interesting, indeed! if you want to try me, my node is 92357 and i'm on now and then, so feel free to give a shout!

and that's all i got for now... heading off to learn a bit of Ruby so i can tackle a programming/graphic project i've taken on!

oh, and if you're looking for a simple landing point for your iPhone (or other smart phone) to see a summary of all the various Propagation Widgets out there, feel free to check out this page:

W6RDG Propagation Widgets

i update it on a regular basis with new and more useful tools... if you find it useful too, drop me a note!

until the next time
73 and Happy Hammin!
de Robin (W6RDG)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Is This Thing On???

so many distractions, so little time! the more fall-like/wintry weather here in northern california, combined with the holidays and preparation for the end-of-the-year sacrifice has put a crimp in my 'hammin', but i'm still licensed and still warm up the ionosphere from time to time...

so a few quick updates:

1. a few weeks ago i tuned around the ARRL SweepStakes and managed to tag about 10 QSO's... nothing much, just a chance for me to play around with the rhythm of contesting, mess with some antenna adjustments, and give some of the hard core operators one more station... so imagine my surprise when Scott, W6CT, from the Northern California Contest Club showed up at my home and knocked on my door... at first i assumed he was a local neighbor complaining about some interference but when he identified himself as a ham i assumed he was there to complain about my operating procedure (wink wink splatter splatter wink wink)... turns out he was there, much like Harvey Milk, to recruit me to join the NCCC! so i joined on the spot, because as i figure it, you can never have too many oversize engraved plastic badges with your name and call sign! haven't worked any contests under the club banner, yet, and am not sure if i'm going to be able to make it to the holiday luncheon/dinner/thing, but a well regulated militia being necessary to preservation of the hobby, etc. etc. etc... anyway, i'm glad to be member!

2. if you search a few posts below you'll see some photos and the write-up of my experience in launching a wire into a nearby high tree... as you can tell the highest point of the wire is, in fact, at the peak of the tree, but then it gets kind of caught in the closer tree and this makes the vertical portion shorter and causes the wire to flatten out a bit... from a radiation perspective this probably doesn't matter much (though spending so much time in the second tree may well detune the wire) but i was upset that i wasn't able to get a straight run from the top of the tree to the ground... i did try, multiple times, to untangle the wire from the lower tree, but it was in there good, so i figured i was sunk... then on monday of this past week i had a brain storm... what if i tied a second wire, closer to the ground, and hung a weight at the end of this wire, and then pulled both wires back up towards the top of the tall tree... once the second wire, and weight, cleared the lower tree, it would begin to sink and i could grab it and reroute the wire from the top of the taller tree... and that's exactly what i did!!! i couldn't have been happier at my cleverosity!!! so now i have a beautiful clean run from the top of the tree all the way to the ground... the next step is, i think, to replace the long wire with some kind of G5RV and use the first wire as a suspension with an insulator, so that the entire wire doesn't run through the taller tree... this will give me a nicely sloping G5RV type antenna located on my property about as far from any power lines as possible... the long wire i have up there now runs to a 4:1 balun and it seems to hear better on some bands (20m for example) than my buddipole vertical, but also hears more noise... i've been looking at reviews of the various G5RV's and am going to try and find one that has the best rating with the lowest noise.

3. the other big reason i haven't been on the radio quite as much (notwithstanding work, life, medical stuff, etc.) is that i've started up my podcast again. i am a talk radio host and took my show from KSCO to the internet back in 2006. this is a comedy/pop culture/current events/music kind of show that i would rate a strong PG-13 (sometimes an R) and is definitely not everyone's cup of tea... but we do have a couple of thousand downloads every week, and it fills a need to blather on about my life, the world, and how i see things, while laughing all the way, so if you're a howard stern/opie and anthony kind of fan, or don't mind the occasional raunchy/smart/funny kind of improv humor talk show, feel free to check it out... and if you're not, please don't and we'll all stay good friends!

4. i'm thinking there should be something else, but for the life of me i can't remember what... so that seems like a good place to stop.

enjoy the weekend and the happiest of holiday seasons!
de Robin (W6RDG)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Radio Silence...

hey blog-o-sphere... just wanted to put up a quick post... i'm still here and 'hammin it up' but other than the local VHF Friday Morning Talk Net that my friend Kristen, K6WX runs, and checking in to the local Cupertino CARES HF net last week, i've not been able to get on the air... life and health and work and such... plus, it looks like i'm gonna go back in the studio and start recording my podcast again... so more time for one microphone and less time for another... but i'm determined to get my Extra and may well study and try to get my upgrade before the end of 2009.

in the meanwhile, here's a photo of my original, apparently hand-made, SST-T1 antenna tuner... still have it and it still works... you can read the story about the SST stuff, here, on the web (Greg Ginn who probably built my unit later ran SST Records which is still around, and he was kind enough to write back to me when i sent him some photos)... but this is a golden-oldie (with hand transferred lettering, complete with clear nail polish coating) from all the way back to 1972

enjoy and 73!
de Robin (W6RDG)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

An Ode to Henry Wadsworth Longwire

I Shot An Arrow In The Air
It Fell To Earth I Know Not Where...

well, not exactly an arrow... more like a glob of cookie dough, wrapped around 200ft of fishing line...

and i didn't exactly shoot it, either... more like slingshotted (slingshat?) it using a HyperDog Ball Launcher (ask for it by name!)

and after a few failed attempts (ok, not exactly a failure since i did manager to launch cookie dough into random yards around my neighborhood), we arrived at this:

and this

which resulted in QSO's w/KH6RC, Randy, from the southern end of the 'Big Island" and KL6LF, Joe, in Fairbanks, where i spent 4 nights in February of 2002...

and now we know why i don't have a "significant other"

The End

de Robin (W6RDG)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

CQ WW DX 2009 (it ain't baseball, but...)

sonovista, my friends! (yah, i'll explain it sometime)... well, i'm lifting my head after almost 14 days of non-stop work-type-stuff... but over the weekend i -did- manage to flip on the radios a couple of times to dip my toes into the international waters of the 2009 CQ WW DX contest... this was my first, and i was amazed to hear stations on bands i though my rigs and antenna couldn't receive! (wink). friday night i snuck off to try and find a new hilltopping location in the los gatos mountains and wasn't able to discover much elevation, but did run across (not literally) a coyote skulking across the backwoods road, apparently without regret (i love you joni mitchell... peace out!) i had brought along a new (used) Icom IC-7000 and a new (used) LDG AT-7000 tuner and worked a whole mess of Japanese stations, one Canadian station, and a fellow in Wasilla Alaska! (you betcha!)... i also worked KH6/OH7, which doesn't seem to be a valid call, but does appear to be the part number for the left rear taillight on a 1962 Volkswagen Beetle (US model, right rear in the UK)... so i don't know what i got there! (UPDATE: thanks to Jim, K6VAR, we've identified the mystery callsign as OH7WV operating in Hawaii as KH6/OH7WV - thanks Jim!) then nothing on saturday, but sunday afternoon i turned on the K3 in my kitchen and worked a whole mess more Pacific stations, including a bunch in Japan, Auckland New Zealand, and Queensland Australia,and two NEW countries: P43A in Santa Cruz, Aruba and FY5KE in Tallories, French Guiana. so 21 stations in all... two new countries... and japanese stations are becoming so 'easy' to get i'm starting to get bored (no, not really... but how quickly we forget!)

anyway here's the list... next year in Jerusalem (huh?)
more stuff soon
de Robin (W6RDG)

NK7U, Baker City, Oregon
JA3YBK, Kobe, Japan
N5DX, Harrison, Arizona
JI2ZEY, Shizuoka, Japan
W0AIH, Fall Creek, Wisconsin
K5MR, Gunter, Texas
JA7YRR, Aomori, Japan
VK4KW, Toogoolawah Queensland, Australia
ZL3A, Auckland, New Zealand
N2IC, Hanover, New Mexico
K1TTT, Peru, Maine
K3LR, West Middlesex, Pennsylvania
KL7RA, Kenai, Alaska
P43A, Santa Cruz, Aruba
FY5KE, Talloires, French Guiana
VE7SV, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
K7RL, Camano Island, Washington
AL9A, Wasilla, Alaska
JQ1BVI, Tokyo, Japan
JA8RWU, Chitose, Japan
KH6/OH7WV, Hawaii