Tuesday, 29 March 2016


Lots of fun over the Easter Weekend taking part in the CQ WW WPX SSB Contest.  It seemed to me that participation was down this year, perhaps due to being held over Easter?

The propagation was also not the best.  The numbers were: SFI=85.  SN=25.  A Index=7, and the K Index=1.  I guess as we get close to the bottom of the cycle we can expect to see more and more poor to non-existent propagation.

There did not seem to be very many "new ones" on the air, but I did manage to put one new country in the log, I managed to work a station in Palestine, never heard them on the air before.  Other than that it was nothing too special.  There was lots of some pretty deep QSB on some of the bands which caused some issues.

Now it's time to do the annual maintenance on the antennas and get ready for the Ontario QSO Party coming up next month.  I also have a couple of island activation planned for May, can't wait to get out and start operating portable with no snow on the ground....

Thursday, 24 March 2016

The Weather.......

Given today's weather forecast of almost 12 hours of freezing rain, I'm hoping that my two wire antennas both hold up and are ready for this weekends CQ WW WPX SSB Contest..........somehow I doubt they will remain in the air, that's a lot of ice coming down.

Rules for the contest, and other information can be found HERE.

I'm hoping that this is winter's last kick at the can before spring really arrives......the propagation also has to improve a great deal before the start time as it's been total crap the last week.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Saturday late afternoon WSPR'ing........

As of 2053 UTC the propagation numbers were: SFI=89,  SN=29,  A Index=8, and the K Index=4. Not the best numbers we have ever seen or worked under, but not the worse either.  I thought I would give WSPR a try and see what I could do.

Conditions were FT-950 at 5w into the 148' Inverted L long wire.   I had zero returns on 10m, 12m, 15m, and 17m after 30 minutes on each band.

Here's what 20m, 40m, and 80m looked like:

20m at 2123 UTC, March 19th.

40m at 2225 UTC, March 19th.

80m at 2359 UTC, March 19th.

Hopefully the propagation numbers will improve a great deal before next weekend when the CQ WW WPX SSB Contest starts........one can only hope and pray !!

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Monday Night WSPR

Given the bad band conditions last night I was surprised to work a pile of stations across the Atlantic, and out to the west coast, on 80m.

The big surprise came at 0340 UTC, again on 80m, when I had a return from V51B in Namibia, that's 15, 844 Km from me......on 5 watts.  Not too shabby at all !!

Radio in use was the FT-950 with power turned down to 5w, and my 148' inverted L long wire antenna.

Monday, 7 March 2016

WSPR - Monday morning

I have a couple of hours to kill before a round of doctors appointments today, so I decided to WSPR for a while.  I really wanted to see if the propagation of the weekend was as good as it seemed.

Here's the screen capture from 1330 UTC, March 7th.  This was on 20m.

And that is my very first VK WSPR contact.  Ian, VK3AXF, live north-west of Melbourne.  So, it looks like the bands are still wide open.  

These contacts were done with at 500 Mw using the 80m OCF antenna up at 40 feet.

What a Contest !!!!

What an incredible 48 hours on the bands!!  It has been a long, long, time since I have done that well in a contest, especially as QRP.  In fact the only part of the world I did not hear, or work, was the middle east.

There were so many stations calling from the US Virgin Islands I believe a discount airline must have had a seat sale to that destination.

I managed to get contacts on every band except 160m, and while I could faintly hear stations calling "CQ Contest" on that band, I could not hear them well enough to work.

10m while not that busy, was indeed steady.  I must have worked a quarter of my contacts here.  It wasn't crowded and the stations were well spaced out.

15m was pretty good.  It started off quiet and then, when operators realized it was fully open, it got very busy.  My 148' long wire inverted "L" worked great here.  In fact I broke through the wall to get a JA station on Saturday evening, not bad for a QRP station !

20m was a total zoo.  Signals on top of signals which were right next door to an extremely loud signal...and so the band went.  Having said that though I found it very easy to make contacts once I kicked in the FT-950's Notch Filter.....not sure what I would have done without that this weekend !!

The downside?  LIDS tuning up on top of stations in QSO, at one point I counted 7 tuner uppers on top of a VK3....all at the same time.  Many American stations operating SSB out of band around 7.060 - 7.090.  You guys know you're not allowed there....so why do you do it?  The stupid thing is they were way out of band and calling with their callsigns, and most of the DX stations were also working split up into the US portion.  Just stupidity at its finest, that rare station isn't worth losing your ticket over!!

My other big bitch is the stations that didn't know the exchange, come on guys, read the rules.  You need to know about allowed band changes, how much time off must you take, the exchange, and a whole other pile of other information.  It was obvious that many had not read the rules at all.  I'm a firm believer that contests like this one is not the place to practice on if you're a beginner.  It's very fast paced and most of the ops seem to have little patience for those who fumble along.

On that subject I have to praise OY9JD in the Faroe Islands, who battled with ops from a certain country who obviously don't know their ABC's or 123's.   I was waiting my turn to call him and was listening to his rhythm as he was calling for "the station with Alpha Juliet".....Holy Cow, the frequency just exploded with every callsign in the book....other than the "Alpha Juliet".  I don't think that op ever made it through the wall, I know I didn't.

That's another basic contesting skill that's becoming very rare: LISTEN to the DX station, he runs the show.  I can't figure out why some ops insist that when the DX Station calls for "Threes", they think it means them.  All you hear is "Nine", "Seven", "Two", and every number under the sun.  LISTEN.

Overall it was a great weekend.  I managed to put 129 countries in the log, which I believe is a record for me during a contest.   We will have to see if we can beat that at the end of the month during the CQ WW WPX Contest.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

ARRL Int DX SSB Contest

Coming up this weekend is the ARRL International DX SSB Contest.  Thus kicks off at 0000 UTC on March 5th and runs till 2359 UTC on March 6th.

Rules can be found HERE.

Things are all set here at the QTH, the FT-950 is working perfectly and both antennas are working very well.  Given the amount of high winds we have had here this winter I'm surprised they're both up in the air!!

I'm just awaiting a leave pass from the "Honey-Do" list and I'll be all set!!   I always enjoy this contest as there is always lots of good DX to be had on just about every band.

Maybe I'll even here, and perhaps work, the ever elusive VA3QV this weekend.....