Be it Resolved: Work More States

Though I’m very late to the ballgame in New Year’s resolutions, it being February and all, I do have one that settled on at the beginning of the year that I’m ready to commit to. 2017 is going to be the year that I get my Worked All States award.

Worked All States, or WAS, is a certificate handed out by the ARRL for those who have worked all 50 states in some form or another. I’ll be going specifically for WAS Mixed, which allows contacts of any type – phone, CW, or digital – to count, though there are individual awards for working all 50 states with each one of those modes as well.

So far, progress is promising. Given that I only got on HF last summer, I’m already within striking distance of my goal. Only 7 states have eluded me so far: Alaska and Hawaii (no surprise), Nevada and Utah (far to the West with small populations of hams), North Dakota and Nebraska (see comment about the sparsity of hams), and Indiana (my signals must be skipping right over them). I’ve actually knocked three states off the list just recently: I picked up Idaho, Delaware, and Wyoming during the two January North American QSO parties.

Beyond that, there are 10 more states I’ve contacted but don’t have official confirmation for: Wyoming, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, West Virginia, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. The other 33 states are in the log and confirmed.

Here’s the current status of things, laid out in visual form (Grey is unworked, blue is worked and unconfirmed, green is confirmed):

_69wSNvu.png

Here’s to 8 more states in 10 more months. Hear you on the air!

Stop Press: Between the time I wrote this post and the time it was scheduled to be posted, I made contact with Hawaii! Specifically with KH6LC on 21.0295 MHz during the ARRL DX CW contest. We’ll see if it gets confirmed, but that means only 6 states left to find. I also received confirmation for Rhode Island in an unrelated JT65 QSO. The map has been updated with these changes.

73

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An Embarrassment of DX – ARRL DX CW 2017

After several months of being on the air, I’ve finally made contact with continental Europe! And contrary to my previous post of JT65 DXing, this one was with good old fashioned CW. At around 0204 on Sunday 2/18, I heard a CQ TEST call from EF7X on 20m , and after several back-and-forths and some resending, I had him in the log. Huzzah!

A few minutes later, I found the US Virgin Islands on the air with NP2P. Then the Madeira Islands off the coast of Morocco from CR3W. Then the Slovak Republic, of all places, via OM7M. Then, then, then….

All in all, I made a total of 55 QSO’s with 29 unique DXCC entities over the course of a few hours of operating on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Of those, 17 were All Time New One’s for me, bringing my total number of entities contacted (though not necessarily confirmed) to 34. I doubled my DXCC progress in one weekend!

The full list of new entities reached includes: Barbados, Spain, the US Virgin Islands, the Madeira Islands, the Slovak Republic, Jamaica, Portugal, Scotland, Italy, Ireland, the Balearic Islands (had to look that one up), the Bahamas, France, Hawaii (!!!), Belize, Cuba, and Cape Verde. The full map looks like this:

arrl_dx_2017

It’s no accident that this string of contacts came along during the ARRL DX CW contest, when all of the international contest stations have their beams and their amplifiers trained on the United States, and are looking for any stateside contacts. Even a relatively-dinky 100W into a random-wire and tuner is a valuable contact for DX stations in this contest. And I’m tremendously grateful to the stations that took the time to dig my signal out of the noise. One of the peculiarities of the ARRL DX contest is that non-US stations have their output power as part of their exchange. Almost everyone I worked was “K” or “KW” (1000+ watts), with a handful of 500 or 100 watt stations thrown in. Makes my 100 watts look like a pebble in a quarry.

My final claimed score is 55 QSOs & 45 mults, for 7425 points. Not too shabby! Here’s the breakdown by band and multiplier:

The ARRL DX SSB competition comes along in a couple weeks – I’ll surely have to be on the air then. Hear you there!

73

Firsts: 17m, Brazil, JT65

Earlier this week, I achieved two firsts in one QSO: my first contact on the 17m band (a  100Khz slice of spectrum starting at 18.068 Mhz), and my first contact with Brazil. Specifically, with PY6JB, JOÃO, in Salvador, Brazil, nearly 5000 miles Southeast of me. I’m not positive, but I think this marks my furthest contact on the air so far.

That I set a new personal distance record with JT65 is not surprising – the mode is designed for weak signals and long distances. It encodes up to 13 characters into a highly compact format of 72 bits. These are then run through a pair of Reed Solomon encoders, which translate the user data into a set of 126 bits for transmission with significant potential for error-correction. Reception of signals more than 20 dB below the noise floor is not uncommon with JT65.

braziljt65

As you can see in the screenshot of the popular JTDX program by UA3DY, even transmitting at around 35 Watts, my signal was still 17 dB below the noise floor by the time it got to Brazil. But that was enough to exchange callsigns and reports, and officially verify the QSO.

So, another new country in the log, and my first ever contact on the 17m band. Not a band way to spend a Monday afternoon.

Hear you on the air!

73

*UPDATE: The same afternoon I posted this, I made another contact with Brazil, but this time on CW – PV8ADI! Woohoo!

CQWW WPX RTTY 2017

This past weekend, I made my first RTTY contacts ever, in the CQ Worldwide Prefix RTTY Contest.

RTTY , or radio teletype(usually pronounced “Ritty”) is a holdover from older days of digial communication, and is based on the interactions of old teletype machines, which would generate the necessary tones to communicate letters and symbols over the air. While the original machines used specialized typewriters and punched paper tapes, today all the encoding and decoding is done via a connection to a computer’s soundcard.

The WPX series of contests is unique in that, rather than earning point multipliers based on geography (say, by individual countries or states), multipliers are earned for each unique prefix of the stations you work. A prefix is the first few letters and numbers of your station callsign – in my case, KK9. This makes it easier for a smaller station like mine to garner interest and be valuable to others as a contact – you don’t need to make yourself heard over any particular distance, so long as your prefix is new to the person on the other end.

My best DX for this contest was 4M1K (Venezuela, ~2560mi) and P49X (Aruba, ~2300 mi), both all-time new ones for me! For brief moments on 20m on Sunday afternoon, I heard both Italy (IQ9UI) and France (F6CXJ) for the first time, but sadly couldn’t make contact with either of them. All in all, I made 18 contacts with 17 prefixes.

Here’s to more countries on more modes. Hear you on the air!

73

Catching Up: CQ World Wide CW, 2016

Having started a new job in October that’s keeping me quite busy, I’ve resolved to care less about the timeliness and length of posts, and to prioritize getting them down.

To that end, here’s a brief recollection on the CQWW CW Competition that I participated in back in November. One of the largest international contests of the year, this was certainly a hopping time on the air. I participated using my repaired ATS-4, at around 3W, and there were a good many stations I could hear but not contact. Nevertheless, I ended up with 17 contacts over 11 countries and 7 CQ Zones. My best DX was ED8X in the Canary Islands – a little over 4000 miles away, for better than 1300 miles/Watt. What a day

I wracked up a host of ATNO’s (All Time New Ones, or new countries in the log), including: Curacao, Dominica, Bermuda, the Canary Islands, the Cayman Islands, Bonaire, French Guiana, Turks and Caicos, and Peru.

cqwwcw-map

I’ll be back on the air for CQWW 2017. Hear you on the air!

73