Friday, March 13, 2015

Old Call, New Paper

My One & Only MA Contest Submission
The Crater Lake Post Office was good to me today. An absolute surprise finding a large envelope from the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) in my mailbox. My wife opened it as I drove home and I can honestly say, this was a certificate that I had not expected. My entry was QRP and with my situation in MA, I was running a Buddipole antenna set up in the second floor hallway. Morse Code (CW) was manually sent and I recorded my QSO's with N3FJP's logging program. Propagation in MA was pretty darn good, especially to Europe. But this was an entirely new experience for me. Indoor antenna, manual CW (normally let the contest software do the sending) and of course, QRP. 

Letter Of Accomplishment
My initial introduction to QRP would have to be when I stumbled on the adventures of wG0AT on YouTube. It was Steve's videos that planted the seed and when I finally met Steve and accompanied him on one of his adventures, I was hooked. I knew I wanted to give QRP and portable operating a try. Like many, being on a fixed budget, it took some time to put together a portable station. A positive eBay experience on an Icom IC-703+ turned out being my rig of choice. Later came the accessories and antenna's. Now I'm equipped with portable power (battery and solar) and I have accumulated enough to have some fun both indoors and out. My first outings were in Alaska, where I gave my first /p a try. Alaska was a tough place to operate QRP but I felt I was up for the challenge. But when we moved, little did I know that my Icom IC-703+ was going to become my main operating station! Renting property does not afford the same luxuries as owning when it comes to erecting exterior hardware. I was not worried as I've worked many a ham that were running indoor or attic antenna's with limited power. John, N8ZYA's blog is another that inspired my indoor antenna strategy. 

One Of My Denali Highway Portable Operations
Having my portable set up working when we moved from Alaska to Massachusetts, I made sure I had my equipment in my camper. When we got settled in MA, I pulled the equipment out and set it up on the back deck of our house and the world opened up as I had hoped it would being on the east coast. When indoors, I set my Buddipole up in the upstairs hallway and would leave it up for days at a time. Thankfully, I have an understanding ham licensed, contest supporting wife. I had always wanted to enter a major contest running QRP but running and indoor antenna AND QRP, I knew was going to be tough. When the ARRL International CW DX Contest came around, I figured it was as good of a time as any to try to operate a bit of the contest.

AK2MA MA Super QRP Kitchen Contest Station
I did not have all weekend but I dedicated about 16 hours (a large part of which was listening and calling with no success) but I managed to work 150 stations during that time. Again, nothing fantastic as I've worked that many in one hour during previous major contests but under very different conditions. I managed some great contacts and ended up being very pleased with my effort even though it was limited. I stuck with one band just so I did not have to continuously run upstairs to re-tune the Buddipole for another band. I submitted my score and wrote a 3830 summary upon completion of the contest. I wrote a more indepth overview in my AK2MA blog and included some video (which have since been removed when I changed calls and emails). My contest breakout is listed below.

I never expected to get any wallpaper from my effort but it goes to show you, send in your log as you just never know. It always helps the contest committee with screening other submitted logs and you just might be surprised when a large white envelope appears in your mailbox. My first official QRP entry into a major contest and I can honestly say, I'm looking forward to doing it again but obviously, from the other coast. 

AK2MA's Contest Summary Report for ARRL-DX
 Created by N3FJP's ARRL International DX Contest Log
 Version 3.4

 Total Contacts = 150
 Total Points = 25,650

 Operating Period: 2014/02/15 16:53 - 2014/02/16 23:28

 Total Contacts by Band and Mode:

 Band       CW   Phone     Dig   Total       %
 ----       --   -----     ---   -----     ---
   15      150       0       0     150     100
            --   -----     ---   -----     ---
 Total     150       0       0     150     100

 Total Contacts by State \ Prov:

 State       Total     %
 -----       -----   ---
               147    98
 HI              2     1
 AK              1     1

 Total Contacts by Country:

 Country                      Total     %
 -------                      -----   ---
 Federal Republic of Germany     14     9
 Italy                           12     8
 Poland                          10     7
 Croatia                          7     5
 Czech Republic                   7     5
 Spain                            7     5
 Serbia                           6     4
 Slovenia                         6     4
 France                           5     3
 England                          4     3
 Hungary                          4     3
 Aruba                            3     2
 Bosnia-Herzegovina               3     2
 Brazil                           3     2
 Finland                          3     2
 Netherlands                      3     2
 Ukraine                          3     2
 US Virgin Is.                    3     2
 Belgium                          2     1
 Canary Is.                       2     1
 Estonia                          2     1
 European Russia                  2     1
 Hawaii                           2     1
 Japan                            2     1
 Slovak Republic                  2     1
 Switzerland                      2     1
 Alaska                           1     1
 Antigua & Barbuda                1     1
 Argentina                        1     1
 Asiatic Russia                   1     1
 Austria                          1     1
 Bahamas                          1     1
 Balearic Is.                     1     1
 Belarus                          1     1
 Bermuda                          1     1
 Bulgaria                         1     1
 Cayman Is.                       1     1
 Colombia                         1     1
 Costa Rica                       1     1
 Curacao                          1     1
 El Salvador                      1     1
 Grenada                          1     1
 Jamaica                          1     1
 Kazakhstan                       1     1
 Latvia                           1     1
 Lithuania                        1     1
 Luxembourg                       1     1
 Madeira Is.                      1     1
 Morocco                          1     1
 Nicaragua                        1     1
 Portugal                         1     1
 Puerto Rico                      1     1
 Saba & St. Eustatius             1     1
 Scotland                         1     1
 Sweden                           1     1
 Turks & Caicos Is.               1     1
 Uruguay                          1     1

 Total Contacts by Continent:

 Continent   Total     %
 ---------   -----   ---
 EU            114    76
 NA             16    11
 SA             10     7
 AF              4     3
 AS              4     3
 OC              2     1

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