Juggling QSO parties

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There were a bunch of QSO parties happening this weekend: MI, ND, NE and ON along with the ARRL Rookie Roundup (SSB). I didn't have a whole lot of time to spend playing on the radio this weekend, but I did spend a few hours juggling log files tuning around for QSO party contacts. Caught handful of MI stations and a few ON stations, but didn't hear any ND stations and only a couple very faint NE stations.

Michigan QSO Party
 Band    QSOs    Pts  Mul
     7       3      3    2
    14       5      5    4
 Total       8      8    6
Score: 48
Ontario QSO Party
 Band    QSOs    Pts  Mul
    14       3      12    3
 Total       3      12    3
Score: 36

Tuned around for a little bit during the last half of the Rookie Roundup, but didn't hear too many stations playing. Found four stations wandering around 20m. This will be my last year as a "Rookie", so I figured I might as well take part in the Rookie Roundups while I can.

ARRL Rookie Roundup (SSB)
 Band    QSOs    Pts  Mlt
    14       4      8    4
 Total       4      8    4
Score: 32

Georgia QSO Party 2014

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This past weekend was the Georgia QSO Party, a 2 day affair that I only played for a few hours in. The only activity I was hearing was on 40m again, like with the other nearby state QSO parties I've participated in.

Made 19 QSOs in 18 counties tuning up and down 40m over the two days, including one who was using an /AG suffix as a new General class ham. 

 Band    QSOs    Pts  Mul
     7      19      19   18
 Total      19      19   18
Score: 342

CQ WW 2013 log check

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The CQ WW log check report for my submission dropped into my mailbox last night and it looks like i've got a few busted QSOs. Ended up with 177 contacts and 60 828 points (down from the 185 QSOs and 70 716 points in my initial submission). Turns out there's also a point penalty for QSOs that aren't in the other person's log, or incorrectly copied call signs. 4 of my QSOs got dropped for not being in the other contact's log, which is kind of disappointing because I know at least two of them were clearly copied by both sides (at least I thought so anyway). Another 4 QSOs got dropped because I didn't copy the call sign correctly (either typo'd or heard incorrectly). Rats.

On the other side, 2 stations didn't copy my call sign correctly, and 3 got the exchange wrong.

I like these log check reports. Gives me some things to keep in mind for the next contest.

************************** Summary ***************************

     185 Claimed QSO before checking (does not include duplicates)
     177 Final   QSO after  checking reductions

     498 Claimed QSO points
     444 Final   QSO points

      94 Claimed countries
      91 Final   countries

      48 Claimed zones
      46 Final   zones

     142 Claimed mults
     137 Final   mults

   70716 Claimed score
   60828 Final   score

   14.0% Score reduction
    4.3% Error Rate based on claimed and final qso counts
       4 (2.2%) calls copied incorrectly
       0 (0.0%) exchanges copied incorrectly
       0 (0.0%) band change violations
       4 (2.2%) not in log
       0 (0.0%) duplicates (Removed without penalty)
       0 (0.0%) calls unique to this log only (not removed)

************************* Not In Log *************************

28338 PH 2013-10-26 1626 AB4UG            5 ED5N            14
21303 PH 2013-10-26 2215 AB4UG            5 D4C             35
14247 PH 2013-10-27 0020 AB4UG            5 XP1A            40
14223 PH 2013-10-27 2301 AB4UG            5 NR5M             4

********************* Incorrectly copied *********************

21245 PH 2013-10-26 2101 AB4UG            5 KP4BDC           8 correct     KP4BD       
21285 PH 2013-10-26 2129 AB4UG            5 HI3Q             8 correct     HI3K        
21336 PH 2013-10-27 2040 AB4UG            5 PX2T            11 correct     PX2C        
 7171 PH 2013-10-27 2235 AB4UG            5 SN2T            15 correct     SN2B        

********* Stations Copying Your Exchange Incorrectly**********

28000 PH 2013-10-26 1436 TM7F            14 AB4UG            4  should be 5 
 7182 PH 2013-10-27 0218 ED5N            14 AB4UG            4  should be 5 
14202 PH 2013-10-27 2256 CT3MD           33 AB4UG            4  should be 5 

************* Stations Copying AB4UG Incorrectly *************

21367 PH 2013-10-26 2258 ZW5B            11 AB4U             5
 7169 PH 2013-10-27 0212 RN3F            16 KB4UG            5

PVC mast construction

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To get the 10m Moxon up in the air, I decided I was going to build a mast. My primary criteria for a mast was being able to lower it easily in case stormy weather rolled through. For now I'm not all that concerned about it being a permanent type installation yet. That will probably come later.

With that in mind, I decided to build the mast using PVC pipe. Off to Lowe's I went to pick up a couple of 3" by 10' sections of PVC, a 1" by 5' section that the antenna will mount to, a coupler to join the 3" sections with and caps for the ends of the pipes.

Proto-mastMy original thought was to put the 1" pipe on top with a reducing coupler, but I couldn't find any 3" to 1" reducers in my earlier scouting trips. After looking around the garage to see what parts I had on hand, I decided to use some 4.5" bolts and wing nuts to secure the 1" pipe to the 3" pipe.

IMG_9588.JPGDrilled three holes, but then discovered the lowest hole was too far down the pipe for me to reach. Fortunately it seems secure enough with just the two bolts.

With this I'll be able to get the Moxon up between 20-23' up in the air, and maybe even have enough room for another antenna on there too. Getting the whole thing vertical proved to be more challenging than I expected. I think I'm going to need a ladder to get it vertical.


It definitely needs guy lines so getting those positioned will be the next step. For now everything is back in the garage waiting for my next free afternoon.

So long and thanks for the Etherkit

In a bit of sad news, Jason/NT7S has announced that he's leaving the radio kitting business and putting Etherkit on extended hiatus.

I thoroughly enjoyed putting together the Etherkit kits I purchased, especially the beta version of his CC1. It was my first big kit project, and one of the first using SMT components. It was an educational experience from both the assembly and learning about the different sections that go into a radio. Assembling the CRX1 and OpenBeacon were both equally enjoyable and educational.

Jason's reduced the price on his very excellent CRX1 kit to liquidate his inventory. If you're looking for a nice little CW receiver to play with and want to exercise your soldering skills with SMT components, pick one up.

I'm sad to see Etherkit go dark, but I'm sure running a kitting business is a lot of work and time. Hopefully some time in the future he'll be able to bring it back.

CQ WPX 2014

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Spent a few hours playing in the CQ WPX 2014 contest. Had a few other things going on this weekend so I didn't spend a whole lot of time playing radio. Most of my radio playing was on the last day of the contest. I think I put in a total of about 4 or 5 hours in the chair and got 77 contacts, pretty much all on 10m. Went down to some of the lower bands just to see what I could hear. Found a few other contesters, but it wasn't quite as busy as I expected. Compared to last year, my QSO rate was higher, but fewer contacts.

One big highlight was working a VK4 station (VK4KW) on 10m SSB which I was kind of surprised to hear, and even more surprised when I actually got him.

This is how I finished up the contest.

 Band    QSOs    Pts  WPX
     7       4      4    4
    14       2      6    1
    21       5      11    4
    28      66     181   64
 Total      77     202   73
Score: 14,746

Nothing spectacular, but I think it's decent enough.

Call sign history - AB4UG

Inspired by Alan/W2AEW's most recent video, Ham Radio call sign history, and my QSL card quest and some Twitter posts by W5RST and W0EA, I thought I'd dig into the past of my current call sign, AB4UG. I don't expect it to be as interesting or storied as some other call signs, but it will be interesting to see what I can find out.

I knew AB4UG had been used previously by someone else because of looking it up in the AE7Q database as well as the FCC ULS database. Both list only one previous user for AB4UG from KY, issued 1990-03-13 and expired in 2000-03-13. The AE7Q database suggests a pre-ULS history, but no further details.

A Google search for AB4UG shows mostly my stuff or references to me, but then a couple pages down is a page listing some SK's (silent keys) for the Southern Ohio Amateur Radio Association where the previous AB4UG is listed.

KH6TY Sound card interface v0.3

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Finally took the plunge and reworked the sound card interface. I wanted to make it a little more compact and try to put it into an enclosure.

v0.2 was built on another section of perfboard, but I messed it up and decided to build v0.3 on a piece of half sized Perma-Protoboard.


v0.3 currently half works. Getting sound through from the radio to the laptop seems to be working fine. Getting sound out from the laptop through to the radio doesn't seem to be working that well though. Seems like there's not enough voltage into the 2n4711 transistor to make the collector close the PTT line and make the radio transmit. Kind of wondering if I grabbed the wrong diodes that go before the transistor. I also seem to be getting some voltage loss in the 3.5mm connectors. Given how much they've been soldered and unsoldered, I should probably find new ones to replace them with.

Still some more hardware debugging to do on this latest iteration.

Update: Electronic devices are weird sometimes. You test them out and they don't work. Leave them alone for a while, and then they start working. Not sure what it was I did in the sound card settings or in fldigi, but the interface seems to be working now (at least it triggers the PTT when I put fldigi into transmit mode). Now to see if I can actually make a QSO with it.

Update: Successfully made two contacts with the interface! First one was PSK31 with an op in Belgium on 20m and the second one was the W1AW/7 portable station in Idaho on 20m RTTY. Yay!

Instead of mounting it inside a tin, I mounted the board onto another piece of 1x4 lumber with some rubber shelf liner glued to it. It's kind of neat to see it next to the laptop and imagine the currents flowing around in the circuit while I play.

ARRL DX 2014

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This weekend was the ARRL DX contest. Spent a couple afternoons playing on the radio and managed 103 contacts and 47 countries. 10m was doing so well I decided to stay there for the entire contest.

According to N1MM Logger, my stats looked like

 Band    QSOs    Pts  Cty
    28     103     309   47
Score: 14,523

Managed to work a couple of stations in Hawaii and Alaska, something I don't hear too often here with the antenna. Also heard a station in Guam (KH2L), but he was pretty faint and had quite the pileup going that I wasn't able to break into.

Highlights included:

  • Working a couple of stations in HI and AK
  • Hearing Guam (KH2L)!
  • Hearing Japan (JA7)!

Decided to call it quits about an hour before the contest ended because i got tired of sitting, and was getting hungry. Log submitted as single op, low power, single band (10m) entry.

Need to get that 10m Moxon up in the air...