Antenna Projects Gone Wild

My project last wkend, April 21-22, 2012, was supposed to be to install the new solid-state rotor controller box that was delivered a few wks ago and is just sitting there on the shack table, doing no good at all unconnected.  However, this trumped by the excitement of building and testing a new antenna for portable ops I learned about 2 wks ago from some SOTA operators in NC.  Called the Iditarod portable dipole it is made from speaker wire (I used 22-ga but the one in the instructions was made with even lighter 26-ga).  Sunday I built the first section, for 20m, tuned it up and made a qso.  Then I built another 6′ or so for 30m, tuned and pruned, and qso’d.  Ran out of time and daylight Sunday so I finished it up with another 10′ on each let to make 40m.  This segment tuned up right away without any pruning!  Made a qso with K3JRR, Larry, in Virginia and he gave me 579 on Yaesu 817 at 2.5 watts, so it must be working!

Working on this project caused me to miss my QSO365 string for 4/23/12, the 2nd one I’ve missed this, except for travel when I excuse myself fm QSO365.  I’ve enjoyed qso365; it’s made me improve my operating skills and diligence, and will still try to keep it up, but will no longer be obsessive about it.

My antenna distractions got worse Saturday at our monthly Decatur Hams and Eggs breakfast when Newt, N4EWT loaned me his Buddipole to try out that he happened to have in his trunk.  Doesn’t everyone ride around with Buddipoles in their trunks?

So, I’ve got to try that out before I have to return it so my rotor controller may stay on my desk with its warrantly quietly expiring while I try new things with due dates.  Meanwhile, my tower is pointing due south so I can make good qso’s with Latin America!

CW many times more effective in getting a signal out

CW many times more effective in getting a signal thru than is SSB. An example was last wkend, April 13, when I was at my cabin in NC testing a homebrew Buddistick I would use the following day on a SOTA activation of a mtn on the Blue Ridge Pkwy. I was particularly interested in 40m so I could communicate with my friends in Georgia so WA4ZXV in Atl agreed to a sked. On SSB it was worthless but on CW he heard me with 2.5w and I got 569 rst.

QSO365 Streak Busted 12APR12

Inspired by the QSO365 Challenge I learned about on a Practical Amateur Radio Podcast in December, I began the New Year making a qso a day everyday I was in town (I had to relax the strict rule a little as I travel a bit on business and do not yet have a good, reliable portable radio setup) and managed it 103 days (minus travel days as discussed), but today I was busted.

I was returning from out of town and at first I didn’t think I’d even get back to the shack by 8pm EDT (2400Z) in time to even attempt a qso for April 12, but I did arrive abt 7:20pm.  After unloading, I was on the air by 7:35, in plenty of time, I thought.  But, Murphy conspired against me and I couldn’t hit anyone.  Tried a couple of Titanic commemorative stations (this wk is the 100th anniversary) but too much QRM and competition from stronger stations.  Finally, I heard K9KU calling CQ on 40m CW with a strong signal abt 7:58pm.  I answered him twice but he didn’t come back!  😦  At 8:01 I heard W8VLN a KHz up and answered him but to be honest with myself, it was after midnight UTC so it was the next day.

However, my reward was one of the best CW qso’s I’ve had in quite a while.  Larry, who lives west of Dayton, has been a ham for 57 years and been to Dayton 55 years!  However, he said he may not go this year.  He was very nice about QRS for me, which I needed as my CW is just plain lame right now.  We went on and talked about Dayton; he told me they had like 44,000 attendees 15 yrs ago but in recent yrs has been more like 18,000.  I went last yr for the first time (and will go agn this yr), and I thought it was plenty crowded at 18,000!  He told me (I think; my copy is ragged) they have 1,000 dealers this yr and 3,500 spaces outside.  Not sure if I copied that rt, tho.

As I received 599 from him, I lowered pwr to 50w and still got 599.  Lowered it agn to 25w and got 579.  Interesting thing to try in mid-qso.  I raised it back to 50w for remainder of qso, just for his ease of copy.

QSO356: will I go back to it or not?  It has been both a liberation and a burden.  A liberation as it has made me get on the air with diligence, and as a result, I have learned a lot more abt the many buttons and features on my rig.  A burden in that sometimes I am tired and returning fm an evening event at 10 or later in the evening and still feel the need to make that qso.  Often, just to make that qso for the log, I have found a DX station and done a quick 599 TU and got it over in a matter of seconds, which frankly is not that satisfying to me.

I think I’ll go back to attempting a qso a day but not be obsessive about it, and stress quality qso’s, like tonight’s, over just getting one in the log.

Bye bye!