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Tue May 24 1030 - Today is my oldest son's 42nd birthday. No way I can be that old? The weather was just about ideal yesterday (no rain and 65F) for lawn work and I took full advantage. A few more small details to attend to today and then it will rain the rest of the week and that will be fine by me...
Part of my preparation for this weekend's CQ WW WPX contest included getting the IC-7610 ready to go. I have added a new PC along with new software since the last time I used the 7610. The IC-7300 has been the workhorse all this year as I have been experimenting with antennas and prefer its portability. I went through the steps of getting the rig interfaced with the software and tested that configuration. I managed to put 25 contacts in the log in that process and everything seemed to work properly. I'll continue testing the setup this week, around more yardwork and rain drops.
Confirmations received via LOTW this week included: DL8ZBA, HP1RY, LW6EQG, PZ5RA, LX1JH, 4X6GP, PY5DD, YV5DRN, TI5VWR, F4ACR, XI0X, and XE1GK.
Mon May 23 1020 - Home from Hamvention where the temps were much warmer than usual for this time of year, but this morning I woke to 46F. Having returned home from Dayton on Saturday afternoon I expected to participate in the Sunday evening SST but the time got away from me and I missed out. I was really looking forward to it not only for the practice, but because my Friday evening DX Dinner table companions included the operators from K1USN ("Watson") and that was quite the treat!
This week is going to be focused on preparations for the CQ WW WPX Contest (CW) coming up on May 28-29. I don't imagine making a serious dent with my contest score, but it should provide a good opportunity to add a few new ones to my DXCC results.
Wed May 18 1035 - Having completed the lawn mowing for this week, it was almost nice to wake up to a little rain and cooler temps this morning. By this time tomorrow morning I'll be on the road to Dayton (100 miles) to kick-off the Hamvention weekend. This will be my 39th visit over the last 45 years and obviously the first time since the pandemic shutdown two years ago. I'm well aware of the time-limited nature of such life-events and have been fortunate to live nearby and had the opportunity to attend almost every year since I was licensed as a teenager. My first visit was in 1977 when I brought my girlfriend along for the day and despite it being an odd "date" we've been married 43 years!
I plan to travel early tomorrow morning to attend the Four Days in May (FDIM) QRP event. I'll stay with the QRPers tomorrow night then it's on to the fairgrounds on Friday morning and over to the DX Dinner that night. It's back to the fairgrounds again on Saturday before returning home late that evening. I won't post anything here again until Monday. I'll produce a complete trip report with photos next week. I will be sharing photos from Hamvention via Twitter all weekend long. You don't need an account or to follow my account in order to view the photos.
Tue May 17 1107 - Spent several hours trolling for DX yesterday with varying degrees of success. 20 meters again proved why it's both the crown jewel and the workhorse of all our bands. Europe, the Middle East, Northern Africa, and South American stations were logged. I worked one operator in Suriname who told me that for five euros he would confirm our contact via LoTW. I took a hard pass on his offer.
Later in the evening I noticed 4X6GP spotted and could copy him perfectly well here, but after several calls he was attracting a pile and never heard me. Thirty minutes later I had moved up the band when a loud CQ dropped -- it was Victor, 4X6GP who had QSY'd right where I happened to be listening. Lucky for me too, one call and he immediately answered. Is there anything better than late night radio and 20 CW?
Mon May 16 1120 - I jumped into the K1USN SST on Sunday evening (Mon UTC) despite the threat of thunderstorms. Fortunately the storm held off until just after the one-hour sprint ended. The bands were noisy and less productive than I would have liked. It was a 20 meter only effort for me this time and I managed 22 contacts with 13 mults for a claimed score of 286. I did work several new operators this evening and that gives me hope that I'm not just working the same folks over and over again. The problem is in the lack of mults that comes from working a lot of TX and FL stations.
I'll miss the next Friday edition of the SST as I will be in Dayton for the Hamvention. Since I plan to return home on Saturday, I expect to jump back into the fray on Sunday evening with a balanced 20/40 meter approach to see if that improves my score.
Sat May 14 1100 - I skipped the Friday evening edition of the K1USN SST last night. Babysitting a couple of granddaughters took precedence. Looks like there may be no radio today either as thunderstorms, some heavy with small hail, are in the forecast and I want to get the lawn mowed again before that storm system moves across the area.
Confirmations received via LOTW this week included: PY2ATI, HK2N, OX3XR, 4Z4DX, EA1IOK, SA5CDO, AL7TC, LA6OP, YD3ASV, TF2MSN, and VP2ETE.
Fri May 13 1200 - The last few months has afforded me the opportunity to be on the air more consistently. That regular schedule is one of the benefits of retirement. Around noon each day I've been monitoring the 6 meter band and calling CQ into dead air, just in case. This has paid off a few times though nothing big. Yet. For instance, yesterday I worked a fellow in Florida. I heard two other stations in the midwest but they never heard me and that was it, another brick in the wall. But without the time to listen there would be zero chance for success.
That's also how I have been slowly advancing my numbers as a POTA hunter. A couple of times a day I check the active spots and tune around the bands. If I can hear the spotted station I can usually work them and it's not difficult to knock off two or three in short order, ten minutes or less. Doing that on a consistent basis has allowed me to log over 180 activations without breaking a sweat. I think highly of the POTA program and enjoy it greatly. I always spend time after working these field stations studying the parks worked and imagining the operators on the other end who must go to some considerable efforts to make it happen in the field - the least I can do is be there to work them.
Maintaining that consistent schedule for these things has become a little tougher now that the summer season is upon us and the lawn demands to be mowed twice each week, etc. I hate to complain about 80 degree weather and sunshine (and I'm not), but it seems there are really only a few windows of opportunity each year when this hobby can be practiced without interruption and in a guilt-free manner. And it's usually not during good weather.
Thu May 12 0800 - I've had my head down chasing DX lately. That quest is going well enough with the bands offering occasional, much-needed, tasty morsels. It's been easy enough to do by simply hanging out almost exclusively on 20 and 15 meters. That the bands have recovered so nicely after such an extended solar minimum is both a delight and a call to business since this uptick in Cycle 25 could be short-lived. Rag-chewing on the low bands can wait for the next minimum, getting to the DX while the getting is good is the only play. Good luck and good DX!
Tue May 10 1300 - Being a casual radio operator playing in the game of DX can be problematic. For instance, yesterday I saw a station in Anguilla in the waterfall and gave him a call. Certainly I have worked VP2 many times, but the CQ of any DX station is always welcome and enticing. A few hours later he confirmed our contact via LoTW and I noticed my overall total confirmations had gone up by one. Holy crap, Anguilla was an ATNO?!
There are reasons why it has taken me so long to confirm #193 on the most wanted list. First, my log shows I have worked the island eleven times without ever receiving a single LoTW confirmation. Until today. More pernicious is my lack of careful attention to what I have worked and what I still need. Keeping an updated list handy is an obvious solution, but some stalwart DXers have warned that's the first step to obsession. Perhaps that's what is required?
Mon May 09 0230 - Being Mother's Day weekend there was no time for radio, after all, the radio amateur is balanced. But by 0000 on Sunday evening all the kids were gone and things had become awfully quiet in the house so I took the opportunity to jump into the K1USN SST. I was pretty happy with the 25 contacts made even though that was a couple less than last time. I chose to use the N3FJP program for the SST. Up to this point I had been using N1MM+ so it took some time to become comfortable with logging.
I started on 20 and while the band was noisy I did pretty well until I didn't. I managed to work 17 stations and collected 11 mults (OK,ON,CO,NY,TX,FL,MA,PA,VA,MD,AZ). I switched to 40 meters with about 12 minutes left to go and worked 8 more stations and picked up 7 mults (VA,IN,ON,SC,PA,CO,AL) there. That was good for a score of 450 which again, puts me closer to the bottom of the pack of LP operators than I wanted to be, but there's always next time. Same setup as last time, 50 watts into a portable vertical with a single radial in the backyard just off the patio. Next week I'll use the R-6000 and see how things go with 100 watts and the main antenna.
Mon May 02 1400 - Following up on a busy radio weekend. I put a few hours in the Florida QSO Party on Saturday and another hour on Sunday morning before tossing in the towel. 20 meters carried the load though I did try 40 on Sunday morning without much success. When I quit I had 61 Qs and 33 mults, almost half of all the counties in Florida worked. My final score was helped by the extra multipliers for CW only and running low-power. Highlight for me was working Joe Rudi, NK7U. I've worked Joe before, but last time was in 2015 when he was living in Oregon. I submitted my log and scores pronto this time thanks to the excellent N3FJP logging software.
A few hours later... the K1USN SST. Had my best showing to date with 27 Qs and 20 mults in the one-hour event. By this time 40 meters was behaving well so I split my time between it and 20 with decent results. I was using the same setup as I have for the last several weeks. IC-7300 and 50 watts into the CHA MPAS Lite (vertical) stuck in the backyard just off the patio.