Thursday, November 30, 2006

Holy cow... Lots to catch up on... Not so much time before I fall asleep.

Tonight. HF was doo-doo and got on too late for SLVARC net or NTS net...

So I set up the Kenwood TS-790 I've had in a box for a month or two.

SWEET!!! Older radio, but it sounds WONDERFUL.

Got it working on two local 2m repeaters and one 440 repeater.

Gee, each band has its own antenna socket. Who would have guessed. Better read the manual some more guy...


Met most all of my goals for Sweepstakes, but worked like a dog in doing so. It took until Wednesday or Thursday to recover. (Staying up until 4:00 am making contacts on 80m probably didn't help...)

Over 6 hours, over 100 contacts. Life was good.


Wanted to work some of the CQ World Wide DX contest, but real life prevented it. Oh well.


Been hunting down RFI to my HF rig. Knocked down the ethernet interference with some help from K9YC. The old "peeling an onion" situation.

OK, that's enough for right now.

73 de WR

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sweepstakes goals:
Contest software seems happy. Need to install and configure history info.
Rig control seems to be working, but does funky things with the two VFOs. Need to ask Greg (or somebody) how to get it into a more intuitive mode.
Got software set up for packet spotting, entered several telnet sites and pre-set the filters.
Somewhat stumped on this one. Ran out of time before bedtime.
4/5 isn't too bad...

Modest, but hopefully doable, starting from zero.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Attended the first 1.5 hours of the Northern California Contest Club this evening. Bob K6XX and Jim K9YC were there.

Got home and 40m was pretty quiet, but did have a really nice QSO with Darron, WA5TCZ.

I seem to have plateaued at about 18 wpm for the moment. That's OK, I'll keep working on it.

In the mean time? I'm having FUN!!!

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Looking at various propagation prediction programs ,30m should be my best band, but I barely hear anything and have only had a couple of contacts on 30m.

My 15m performance in the CQ World Wide (WW) Single Side Band (SSB) contest showed that something was wrong.

Quickly looking at my G5RV Jr antenna analysis results shows that those two bands are the worst in terms of SWR. Above 6:1. Reading some literature shows that those two bands are the worst for most G5RVs.

Hmmm... Time for a 30m / 15m fan dipole?

Then I could take down the G5RV and put up a dedicated 40m / 20m fan dipole. Something to think about.

Oh well... Back to Daddy-dom.

Monday, November 06, 2006


It wasn't esthetically pleasing, but I was on the air for this evening's Spartan Sprint.

Between late at work and having to get home to rescue the babysitter I couldn't do anything formal.

So I pulled off of Hwy 9 in Castle Rock and hooked the Palm Paddles to my Icom 706MkIIG and used the hamstick.

My goal was to 1) get on the air and 2) make at least 2 contacts between 18:00 and 19:15. I made 3. Plus had a shot at two others, but just couldn't get heard.

I don't feel so bad about "throwing myself into a contact" during a Spartan Sprint. The folks are very friendly and not TOO serious about the contest side of things.

So that was my "playtime" for the evening.

73 de WyreRider

Greetings all.

Hope your ears stop hearing CW tone sometime in the next couple of days...

The good news is that I did get about 3 hours in on the contest. Damn that was hard! But I was starting to get the hang of it towards the end.

The main objective was to improve my CW operating.
My CW skills are embryonic and contesting skills are even less than that. But at some point you just gotta "jump in," make mistakes and learn. No time like the present. I've read that contests are great for improving CW speed and my shack could certainly use improvement.
My goals were as follows:
  1. Get the rig, software,etc set up for CW contesting
  2. Get on the air to get the CW contest learning curve started
  3. Make at least 10 or 12 contacts
I had planned on getting serious operating time in on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. XYL and Murphy had other ideas.

Goal 1: Getting the rig, software, etc set up for CW contesting

This was harder than you might think. Murphy was out in full force (see below) but I managed to bludgeon him into submission with perseverance.

Murphy attack number one:
The past week allowed me to get my CMOS-4 keyer attached to the rig and the CI-V rig control running. Unfortunately, the CMOS-4 keyer got REALLY flaky as I was programming it for the Sweepstakes exchange on Friday night.
No problem, I've got a K-3 keyer stashed away as a backup.
Murphy attack number two:
The power connector in the K-3 is a 5mm OD x 2.5mm ID coaxial power connector. One size smaller than my standard. And the K-3 doesn't have an internal battery.
That's OK. I'll eat an hour of operating on Saturday to run down to Radio Shack to get the right connector...
Murphy attack number three:
(You see this coming...)
Radio Shack is all out of that connector.

Punt back to plan C... Use the keyer built into the ACLog variant Sweepstakes logger I have.
The keyer is... rudimentary. Oye. So Sunday afternoon saw me building a keying cable for the computer.
So what I wound up with was as follows:
Icom IC-756ProII into a LDG AT-100Pro autotuner, connected to a G5RV Junior up about 30' in an oak tree.

The Icom was controlled via the front panel, and forwarded its band and frequency to the ACLog November Sweepstakes logging program via CI-V (the Icom rig control interface).

CW keying was done using the ACLog's built in keyer, through a Rascal rig interface, to the Icom.

I initially played with feeding the audio back into the computer for CWget, but that quickly proved to be a losing proposition. Besides, the point was to improve CW skills...
Goal 1 lessons learned:
A better keyer is significantly desired.
See if there is better logging software available.
Goal 2: Get on the air and get the contest learning curve started.
I've piddled around with a couple other contests, but basically at a "oh, there is something going on today, I wonder what the exchange is..." level. I've seriously tried a couple of the Adventure Radio Society's Spartan Sprints, but my CW skills were so poor that they lead to EXTREME frustration. I vowed to improve my CW chops. This is part of that vow.

While Greg (N6CK) and Bob (K6XX) will answer any questions, I really don't have a "hands on" contest Elmer. So I'm starting from zero. That means I'll make EXTREMELY stupid mistakes while figuring things out. (I hate looking stupid...) For instance: I figured that AGN? would be in use. I wasn't really prepared for a NR? CK? or SEC? when they came at me the first couple of times. After a few go-arounds, I got a clue and was able to function. But starting frow scratch... it takes a bit of Lidishness to ramp up...

Well... the "sink or swim" method has strong and weak points, but since I'm still alive, I guess there's hope. ;-)

Goal 2 Lessons learned:
Be ready for segemented AGN? requests.
Throwing myself at a contact isn't quite as painful as I thought it might be. The other operators might disagree.
Goal 3: Make at least 10-12 contacts
Not a stellar goal, but also not bad considering that getting on the air at all is a significant accomplishment for me.

I tried to listen to a station long enough to suss out their exchange data, log it then make the contact. As I got more comfortable I would get to the "screw it, nobody is calling this guy, I'll just hack my way through it in real time" mode more often. I hope that the "serious" contesters would rather deal with my lidishness rather that just call CQ without making any contacts.

Note: Bob, thanks for slowing down for me.
Note: Greg, I heard you on 40m.

So, I made 16 contacts, with 14 sections (Including NJ, which is a new state on CW). My rate was picking up towards the end. Then two cute kids told me it was dinner time and hobby time quickly made way for family time.
73 de WyreRider

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