300 QSOs in 2012

The other day I was staring at my log and realized I was about 15 contacts shy of 300 for the year. I figured if I applied myself, I’d be able to make 300, particularly since I’d be at home for the holidays with nothing exciting to do. Yeah, yeah, 300 contacts isn’t a lot. Some contest and rare DX stations log thousands in a day.  But anyway…

When I got on HF earlier this year I was making contacts every day to exotic locations. I could get home from work and log a half-dozen stations in South America during gray-line propagation. In a few months I had 70+ unique countries in the log. I intentionally decided to slow down a bit to prevent burn-out.

I turned my interest to some other hobbies, hiking, photography, walking as many miles as possible in the evenings, and ham radio took a back-seat. I had at least a month or two where I didn’t log any contacts.

I started hitting the radio hard again back during “Worked All Twitter” in November and I’ve been trying to rally up some fresh contacts since.

Problem is, QSOs have been hard to come by lately. The 20 meter band (my favorite) hasn’t produced anything interesting in a while during the evening hours. 40 and 80 have been active, but I’ve been away from radio for a while, so I have a minor case of mic fright and I’m hesitant to call CQ. Sitting around and waiting for interesting DX wasn’t going to cut it.

I figured I’d go the digital route. I managed to score a few contacts on JT65 on 40 meters, but the experience was frustrating, as people seem to be increasing their power level quite a bit, making it difficult to grab weaker stations. I moved to some of the JT frequencies I’ve never worked before in hopes of finding a different brand of action. 17 meters had low background noise two days ago and produced a single QSO. There just weren’t many folks working on that band.

Last night I went down to 80 meters, and despite background noise of S8 on my meter, I managed to grab another JT65 contact. I scored a voice contact with a gentleman in Mexico on 20 meters before the band conditions degraded.

I needed four more contacts today to hit my goal and I was in luck, as the Radio Amateurs of Canada contest was in full swing. I started at the bottom of the phone portion of 20 meters and spun the dial upwards for four quick, one-shot contacts. I don’t typically work contest stations, but there wasn’t anything else of interest on the air. Plus, one thing that’s great about working contest stations is that they have really good equipment and can pull my little signal out of the ether. This time I actually logged the exchange and serial numbers so I can submit a check log at the end of the contest.

So… 300 contacts are in the log. It’s a small milestone. Hopefully the number will be higher next year!

Here’s what I’ve worked over the last few days:

VA7JW / USB / 20m
VA2EBK / USB / 20m
VA3AR / USB / 20m
VA3SK / USB / 20m
KE1AF / JT65 / 80m
XE1NVA / USB / 20m
W5MHN / JT65 / 40m
AE5XI / JT65 / 40m
W2RTV / JT65 / 40m
KJ7NO / JT65 / 17m
KD8OTT / JT65 / 20m
W3QT / JT65 / 40m
VA3MJR / JT65 / 40m
WB9IIV / JT65 / 40m

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