Alaska

Just put Alaska in the log – KL7/VE7ACN was coming in about S7 to Chicago this evening, and I bagged him after about 10 minutes of chasing. To make it extra special, I he was working split on 7.001.5 UP, which makes this both (a) my first use of the Split feature of the FT-767 to work a station and (b) my first use of my Extra class privileges!

Per my New Year’s resolution, I only have 5 states left to work: Indiana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, and Utah. With 9 month’s left this year, I’m feeling confident about hitting all five before 2017’s end.

Hear you on the air!

73

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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

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

QSLing, Physically and Digitally

With my first foray’s into HF in the past few months, I’ve been diligently trying to track all of my contacts, and confirm the ones that are special to me. To that end, I’ve been pursuing the age-old art of sending QSL cards and the new-age art of electronic QSLing.

For my everyday logging, I’ve mostly been using the DXLab suite of software, which includes a fairly full featured logger, as well as rig control capability, DX cluster access, licensee address lookup, PSK modem, and many other features. And its free! For the couple of contests I’ve taken part in (the CA QSO Party, and the AZ and PA QSO Parties), I’ve used N1MM+, which makes entering contest exchanges snappy and straightforward. Also free! Once the contests are done, I’ve been exporting the contest contacts as an ADIF (amateur data interchange format) file and importing them into DXLabs.

n1mm
The N1mm+ interface – simple, clean, and easy to step through without taking your hands off the keyboard.

DXLabs also makes uploading contacts directly to both ARRL’s Logbook of the World and eQSL.cc, two of the most popular digital QSLing services. While the LOTW setup is a little onerous, now that I’ve gone through the process of getting the TQSL verification software setup and confirmed on my computer, uploading logs and confirmations to LOTW is as simple as clicking one button. And for the number of confirmations I’ve received through both services, the setup effort has been totally worth it.

dxkeeper1
The top three buttons on DXKeeper’s LoTW QSL window take care of all of my Logbook of the World needs.

That said, not everyone is interested in being a part of the digital QSLing services. It seems many more hams on HF still pursue the older style of confirming confirmations with QSL cards. I too am diving in the the world of physical QSL cards, and I must say, there’s something delightful about having a physical bit of ephemora to hang on the way, to prove that my handful of watts of RF reached out across the country.

On the sending end of the equation, I designed a basic QSL card from scratch in Illustrator. It includes all the basic information to confirm a contact (callsigns, date, UTC time, band, mode and RST), as well as some fun supplementary information (my rig, antenna, and power for each QSO). It’s not fancy, just to-the-point and designed to be printed on my greyscale printer at home. I purchased a small pack of nice cardstock to print these off as necessary, four to a page.

qslcard

To date, I’ve sent out about a dozen physical QSL cards. Some went to folks in states I’d like to confirm who aren’t on LOTW. Some went to my first contacts on the various HF Bands, or my first CW contact ever, and so on. Some just went to interesting people who I had nice conversations with. Out of those dozen or so cards that have gone out (with self-addressed stamped envelopes enclosed), I’ve gotten five back. And they’re all great!

Now I’m looking for a way to display these cards, and hopefully more that I’ll acquire in the future.

Hear you on the air!

73


For more information on QSLing, past and present, some resources I recommend are:

First 30m Contact, and a Stateside Update

This past weekend, late in the evening, as I was fiddling around with the ATS-4 seeing how the bands were doing, I ran across a particularly strong CW signal on 10.116 MHz, near the bottom of the 30m band. It turned out to be the end of a QSO between KA7OGK and W5IP, the latter of whom was coming in 5-by-8 here in Chicago. When they wrapped up their conversation, I through out a quick call to W5IP, and she came back! I could tell that Carroll (whose name I’d gleaned from the earlier conversation) was heading out, as our exchange was much more perfunctory than conversational. But it allowed me to put my first 30m contact (as well as my first Texas station, as it turns out).

And with that, I’ve now made a contact on every band I currently have access to – 80m, 40m, 30m, 20m, and 15m! So far 40m and 20m have proved to be my workhorse bands, but some late-night exploration makes me think I should be paying more attention to 80m later in the evening.


With the new 30m Texas contact, and one with a nice Louisiana ham this morning (WB5WDC, retired petroleum engineer who used to work not far from Chicago in Crystal Lake), my total number of states worked is up to 10: Arizona, California, Colorado, Louisiana, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia:

WAS Map 10-26.png

Until I can put a longer or more-vertical Antenna in the air, I don’t think I’ll be chasing foreign counties for a little while, but Worked-All-States seems like an achievable short-term goal. Of course, of the 10 states I’ve worked, I only have confirmation from California and Pennsylvania, so there’s a way to go yet. But I’m having a great time acquiring my own “All Time New One” states.

Hear you on the air!

73