Up, Up, Up

I’ve been working on the road most of this year. I leave on Monday mornings and arrive back home on Friday afternoons. Because of that, I’m not going to manage to work all fifty states in the Centennial QSO Party. The window of opportunity is just too narrow. But Friday night, after dinner, I retired to the shack to see what might be about. This week, the two states stirring things up happen to be Montana and Alaska. I found the MT station almost wherever I tuned. Must be a fairly serious operation from the Treasure State. The AK station has been a bit more elusive according to the online chatter, undoubtedly due to poor propagation. I gave up tuning and closed the shack.

But despite paying an ungodly sum of money for a ridiculous number of cable TV channels, there is simply nothing worth watching on “the tube”. So while Mrs. Brenda skipped from something about ‘ancient aliens’ to ‘Flipping Houses in Las Vegas’, I went back into the shack. I made a few contacts on 20 meters — fellow SKCC enthusiasts. Have I mentioned before how handy it’s been having both the straight key and the VibroCube plugged in, side-by-side at the same time? Well, it is. Now when I hear someone call ‘CQ SKCC’ I start slapping at the straight key. For everything else, I use the paddles. Having to manually unplug and plug keys into the rig (like I used to do) is for suckers.

Anyway, I thought to check the DX cluster for any W1AW/KL7 spots and there were plenty. The most recent showed the AK operator calling on 20 meters. I plopped on his frequency, listened, and sure enough there he was. Weak, but copyable. Though with a fairly big pileup screaming at him, as you might imagine. He was working split, as all good operators should in similar situations. You’ve got to get the hounds off the fox’s frequency, so to speak, else no one can hear anything but the pileup. I set the split up 1khz, the way most of the W1AW/p stations have been operating, and settled in to listen a little.

Almost magically, band conditions began to improve and what began as something just above a whisper became an easy to copy signal. Well, easy to copy EXCEPT for those who either don’t or simply won’t understand the nature of split operation. Calling the DX station on his frequency is just plain bad form and while some would like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, I’d like to teach other operators how to transmit and receive on two different frequencies because apparently, that’s a tough concept to grasp for a lot of them…

Despite the QRM, I ended up logging the fellow after dropping my call about twenty times — which would be a lot easier if I would ever get around to programming the keyer. But you know how the clock on some folks VCR and microwave endlessly flash at you? That’s me with the things that could make my life a little easier on the radio. I never program anything, rarely take advantage of software control, etc. I keep telling myself I should do it, but I never do. I’m nothing if not obdurate.

While the /KL7 and the /7 are both in my log, I can’t get them uploaded yet because LoTW is down for scheduled maintenance. No problem, I’ll just wait. Besides, I snagged these two before the weekend really got underway and now I’ll have to find something else to to do keep it interesting. Maybe a nap?

Author: Jeff Davis