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)