A random evening of radio

I was all over the place Tuesday night. I nearly missed the Sandlapper 6m SSB net, but it didn’t really matter because I don’t have a mic yet on the K3, so all I could do was listen. Six meters sounded pretty good… I was thinking about hooking up the 847 again so I could use the mic, then I remembered the FT-817 and just used that on battery power with the hand mic. On five watts I got a 57 to 59 signal report from the netcontrol op about 35 miles away. Not too bad.

I’d been trying to use the K3 unsuccessfully on RTTY the last few nights using the MTTY program, but tonight I figured out my problem. Actually, I just followed a really nice tutorial. Long story short, one needs to setup some mark and shift values in MTTY. Once I did that, everything seemed to work fine, and I confirmed it with a QSO with EU7A out of Belarus on 20 meters.

Then it was over to the Sked Page, because someone alerted me via e-mail that a station from Iraq was on there serving up QSOs. I located YI1RZ, Razi out of Baghdad, on the upper end of the 20 meter JT65 frequency and copied him at -13dB. That’s not a bad signal! It helped I was able to cut out some splattering gators nearby using the K3’s roofing filters. When he called CQ again I pounced and we completed the contact, along with exchanging some idle chatter on the Sked Page for good measure. My report was a barely copyable -20, but it was enough to get in his log and we took the QSO to completion and exchanged 73 on-air.

Also on the Sked Page, a gentlemen hit me up for a CW contact on 12 and 10 meters. I tried to oblige, even though I knew the bands were dead. He claimed he heard me calling on 12m, but I hadn’t even touched the key because I was waiting for his call. I’m not sure what he was hearing because there was nothing alive on the bands at my location.

I decided I really needed a mic on the K3, so I pulled out the old Icom mic that came with my Yaesu 847 — it had never worked very well on the FM repeaters and I’d replaced it with an MD-100 in short order. Yes, the Icom mic had been re-wired for Yaesu, and now I was about to rewire it for Kenwood… I studied a few pinouts I located via Google, took the connector apart, desoldered everything and reconnected the leads according to the Kenwood standard.

Yep, it worked. I wasn’t able to get a QSO in for an audio report, but it sounded OK in the monitor. This will be a nice temporary solution for now.

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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.

A new day on 6 meters

After yesterday’s 6-meter bust I was hesitant to even turn the radio on this afternoon. I checked DXMaps.com quickly and saw what appeared to be a very large band opening encompassing the northeast on down into South Carolina.

As soon as I tuned over to 50.125, I heard signals in abundance. I worked my first long range SSB contacts, a quick three in a row — two in New York and a station in Vermont. I made my way over to the JT65 frequency and worked Canada twice. (On my second QSO I somehow forgot to hit the log button, so my apologies to the station, a VE3 I believe. I know it’s a long-shot, but if you look me up and happen to find my blog, let me know and I’ll add you to my log)

I headed down the dial again and made SSB contacts with a station in Ontario, and a station in Ohio. I decided to try some CW contacts and bungled my way through QSOs with WI9WI out of Wisconsin and K8QKY out of Michigan. I hope I made it into their logs, because I was definitely struggling, and my QSO with WI9WI really plummeted into QSB after we first established contact.

It’s 7:30 p.m. now and the bands are quieter. Time for dinner.

Still waiting on the magic to happen

I feel like I’m doing something wrong, because 6 meters isn’t proving to be very magical.

I was home all day today for the July 4th holiday and watched multiple, large band openings happen from 8 a.m. this morning until 11 p.m. tonight. Spinning the antenna in the direction of where the action was happening, I’ve only managed to make a grand total of one QSO, a digital mode contact to New Brunswick, Canada. I also spoke with a local guy on sideband, most likely from ground-wave propagation, as he was probably only 20 or so miles to the west.

I did have good luck Wednesday evening. I soldered up a few PL connectors and ran a length of coax back to my radio room and into the FT-847, I was greeted with booming signals: digital, voice and CW. I worked two CW stations back to back, then switched up to 50.276 and worked a few stations with JT65. Some of those JT signals were the loudest I’ve ever heard on that mode. Then the band started drying up and the fun ended.

The band seemed to open back up later that evening, but I never copied anything else.