NC QSO Party 2024

Got W4BXC on the air again for part of the NC QSO party. Band conditions were about the same as yesterday, although didn’t hear quite as much DX on 10m today as I was hearing yesterday.

As usual, 40m was about the only band I could hear NC stations on. Toward the end of the contest, I started hearing one or two up on 20m, but none I hadn’t already worked on 40m. Did pretty well this year with 58 QSOs, including 4 out of the 6 bonus stations, and 38 counties.

Band QSOs Pts Mul Pt/Q
7 58 116 38 2.0
Total 58 116 38 2.0
Score: 4,458
1 Mult = 1.5 Q's

SC QSO Party 2024

The 2024 edition of the SC QSO Party was a pretty fun time. Had some friends over to put W4BXC on the air for the QSO party and we managed to get a few pileups going, which was a lot of fun.

Band conditions seemed pretty decent, and I was hearing a lot of DX on 10m from as far away as Czechia and Slovenia. There was even a ZS1 station that I heard (first time I’ve heard anything from that part of the world from here), but he went QRT before I was able to try for a contact.

Ended the day with 119 contacts in the log (41 more than last year) including the three bonus stations: W4CAE, WW4SF, and K4YTZ. Changes to the scoring means scores will be a lot higher this year than in previous years.

Band QSOs Pts Mul Mt2 Pt/Q
7 95 274 47 1 2.9
14 19 76 11 0 4.0
28 5 20 2 0 4.0
Total 119 370 60 1 3.1
Score: 26,370
1 Mult = 2.0 Q's

Not sure if the N1MM+ score is accurate but going by the QSO points and multipliers it’s showing, we should have (370*60) + 850 = 23050 points. I’ll have to wait until the official scores are out in a few months.

Kudos to the bonus stations and the mobile/expedition operators who went out to activate multiple counties.

A new ARRL Antenna Book

The 25th edition of the ARRL Antenna Book is on the shelf now, joining the 22nd edition book I picked up when I was first licensed in 2012. 

The cover of the 25th edition ARRL Antenna book
25th edition of the ARRL Antenna book

It’s a pretty big book, and the digital download weighs in at about 1 GB (~1.4 GB uncompressed). About 1GB of that is the supplemental content, software, propagation prediction, and antenna modeling files. By contrast, the CD included with the 22nd edition was just under 650 MB. 

Content wise, it’s pretty similar to the 22nd edition with some expanded sections on antenna modeling and propagation. Where this version shines is in all the extra content provided in the digital download. The supplemental files for each chapter alone accounts for about half the size of the digital download (about 770 MB).

The 25th edition goes for the same simple black cover and silver text as the 100th edition ARRL Handbook.

Looks pretty good next to the 2014 Centennial edition and 2023 100th edition of the ARRL Handbooks.

2014 Centennial edition and 2023 100th edition of the ARRL Handbooks next to the 25th edition of the ARRL Handbook
2014 Centennial edition and 2023 100th edition of the ARRL Handbooks next to the 25th edition of the ARRL Handbook

New Handbook additions

Some new amateur radio handbooks got added to the collection this week.

At a used bookstore with a much larger selection of amateur radio related books than expected, I found a hardcover 1989 ARRL Handbook in pretty good shape and decided to add it to the collection.

Front cover of the 1989 ARRL Handbook
1989 ARRL Handbook

It’s about as hefty as the 1988 ARRL Handbook that was added to the collection a while back. I really like the 1980s and 1990s ARRL Handbooks for all the homebrew projects they have in them.

Thanks to my father-in-law, I also now have a 23rd edition of the Radio Handbook by William Orr/W6SAI, which will go along with the 17th edition Radio Handbook I was given a while back.

Front cover of the 23th edition Radio Handbook by William Orr W6SAI
1997 23rd edition Radio Handbook by William Orr W6SAI

He also gave me a copy of an 8th edition of The Radio Amateur’s Handbook by A. Frederick Collins, from 1940.

Front cover of The Radio Amateur's Handbook by A Frederick Collins
1940 8th edition of The Radio Amateur’s Handbook by A. Frederick Collins
Title page for The Radio Amateur's Handbook.  The left page is a photograph looking up to the top of a tall tower.  The title page reads: A complete and practical g uide to radio construction and repair by A. Frederick Collins author of Wireless Telegraphy.  Eighth edition revised by E. L. Bragdon radio editor of The New York Sun.
Title page of The Radio Amateur’s Handbook

Lots of good info in these books. Going to have to make some more room on the shelves to squeeze these in.

Portable ambitions

Time on the air has been pretty scant lately, mostly because of being busy with other things and partly because of not having a permanent antenna (aside from the ones in the attic).

The 10m dipole up in the attic got some use in the ARRL 10m contest a few weeks ago. I was only operating casually in between working on other things, but managed about 5 contacts or so. Seemed to work reasonably well. That, Field Day and the NC and SC QSO parties have been about the only times I’ve been on the air this year.

For 2024, I think I need to spend more time getting back on the air. To that end, I’ve decided to make learning about and developing skills for portable operations one of my 2024 ham radio goals.

While walking out to one of the mailboxes in the subdivision, I noticed one of the common areas around the mailboxes had a few trees that managed to survive the home construction. Seemed like it would make a good spot to practice setting up portable operations. No tables or chairs to sit at though unfortunately.