The accidental contester

I was killing some time before dinner last night tuning around to see what was going on down the bands and happened to switched over to 7.070 to see if anyone was doing 40 meter PSK. I was surprised to find many signals across the band, mostly from midwestern states. They were calling CQ TEST, and CQ 40 METER TEST.

Curious. I wanted to work some of these guys so I looked up the contest calendar to see what was going on. Turns out it was the “Firecracker Sprint” a 40 meter-only PSK31 contest that runs from 8 p.m.-2 a.m. local time. I checked the clock and it was 10 minutes after 8. I didn’t have anything planned for the evening, so I quickly rewrote a set of Field Day macros for the sprint (the exchange was simply signal report and state), and started calling CQ.

I’d worked 20 stations in an hour using the FT-847, keeping the power under 50 watts so I could remain in the low power class, mostly running, with a very narrow CW filter in line.  I’d turn the filter off every now and then and see what other stations were on the band and do a quick search and pounce if there were any unique ones. I broke for dinner around 9 and came back 20 minutes later intending to work until 2 a.m.

I’d worked 62 stations total (two of those were not contest stations, and I had to turn away several dupes) when around 12:45 a.m. we suffered an inexplicable power failure that lasted for more than two hours. The laptop was still running on battery and I had my FT-817 charged, but the SignaLink was configured for the 847. I decided to close the laptop and call it a night.

I uploaded my logs from the sprint this afternoon and at the time of this post, I’m around 5th place. I expect I will drop as more logs are submitted and cross-checked. I managed to work 24 different states and one province. I definitely felt like I held my own and I enjoyed this contest quite a bit. Had I not lost that hour near the end, I think I could have improved my standings significantly. This just makes me look forward to the NAQP RTTY contest later this month.

More fun on 6 meters

The midwest was coming in strong Saturday morning, so I aimed the antenna towards Nebraska and worked a couple quick stations on JT65, including another Oklahoma contact. Despite making several contacts to OK, it continues to be the last hold-out for Worked All States Basic on Logbook of the World.


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