November 20, 2017
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The 2017 ARRL Sweepstakes was this weekend. I had some personal issues to deal with on Saturday and did not actually start working the contest until Saturday evening, 5 hours after the start of the contest. At this time of day 20m and up were closed down at the QTH. I started by working on 40m and spent most of my time there. The 40m 1/4 wave vertical worked great.I made contacts easily and the exchange was copied 100% about 95% of the time. I tried 80m on both the vertical and the DXtreme end fed and while both tuned up initially, there were problems when it came time to actually make contacts. The auto-tuner would start trying to re-tune every time I went to transmit. I only made one contact on 80m to North Texas. I worked Saturday until about 11:30 pm.
I ran a few more contacts on 40m early on Sunday morning before I left for church service. I picked up again in the early afternoon and started working on 20m and 15m. 20m was very busy and there was considerable QRM. 15m was open but there were significantly fewer stations. I struggled to make contacts initially but after about an hours they started to come in easily. I suspect that this was due to propagation changes. I quit around 5:30pm after making a few final contacts on 40m.
All in all, I worked the contest for only 6 hours and 33 minutes, made 124 QSO’s across 63 of the 83 available sections. I worked enough “rare” states that I completed my ARRL WAS for the phone endorsement using only LoTW confirmations.
- Very pleased with the 1/4 wave vertical, with the IC-7300 and received several complements on my audio quality.
- The Timewave ANC-4 has become easier and easier to setup and use. It is very valuable when noise conditions changes during the day. I am finding it to be effective at reducing shack noise.
- N1MM logger+ is very very handy for contest especially with the spectrum display on the PC with the IC-7300
What I need to improve:
- I don’t have a capability to work 80m and below effectively. This is a problem that I need to address as there were rich contact opportunities on 80m during the evening hours. I thought I could use the DXtreme for this purpose as I did in 2015 but I suspect there is something with that antenna that has changed. It may be time to bring it down.
- My foot gets tired using the foot switch. I switched back to the hand switch occasionally but I need a better switch for this purpose.
- Need to work on adjusting the receiver when there are many stations close in causing QRM.
I don’t really compete in contests for the prizes or fame. I work contests to test my setup over various bands and look for areas that I can improve. I think I was successful in that this year. That being said I was only 20 sections from a clean sweep mug so who knows? maybe next year?
March 6, 2017
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I have been working on getting my awards through the ARRL only using LoTW. This turns out to be a bit of a challenge in itself. I previously received the 50 states award from QRZ but the ARRL WAS has been elusive. I was just missing one state, Vermont. I worked a station in Vermont during the ARRL North American QSO party and he just confirmed our QSO on LoTW. I’ll be applying for my first WAS award from ARRL today!
February 12, 2016
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Checking the bands briefly today before I go on a short holiday and came across a station in New Hampshire working a small pile-up on 17m. Had a QSO after a short while and he confirmed immediately on QRZ. Now have a USA 50 award on QRZ and I am hoping he uploads his logs to LoTW (QRZ says he does). That will close my first WAS award with the ARRL with only LoTW confirmations! Nice surprise!
February 11, 2016
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I am getting close to my first WAS award. I am doing this strictly using LoTW confirmations so it does tend to take a while longer to achieve. Today I made a JT-65 contact with a station in Vermont leaving me with New Hampshire. If I can close that contact I will have a WAS on mixed mode. I am still 5 contacts away from WAS on phone. Would be nice to close this soon.