Monday, March 16, 2015

Wet Weekend Outdoors, Productive Weekend Indoors, And My Minimalist Ham Plan Takes Shape

LOTW QSL Matches
Since I'm waiting for my new shack computer to be built, I decided to go ahead and get started uploading my QSO's to the electronic world. I had to put my QSO's from my manual logbook into my electronic logbook. I upload to Logbook Of The World (LOTW) and HRDlog along with confirming those that have been sent to eQSL. I also went in and checked the status of my previous callsigns on LOTW. I decided to take a look at my latest award totals for my previous callsigns.

WPX Totals For KL8DX
In looking at my LOTW confirmed WPX totals for my old callsign KL8DX, I guess it was pretty good. I don't chase the WPX award but I figured I'd take a closer look at that award specifically. It appears I have 1,100 unique callsigns confirmed toward my KL8DX WPX award. It shows that for a new certificate, I could purchase 1,117 Logbook Credits. It also shows I could get new certificates for CW and digital as well. Those numbers appear not as high, 700 and 750. Again, since I don't chase that award, I'm not sure how those numbers rank in the grand scheme of things. I decided to run it though as if I was going to apply for the CQ WPX award using my LOTW credits. I selected all, as if I was going to take advantage of each and every credit. I was a bit amazed at the total cost of the three award certificates. When I use the credit cost at $0.12 per credit, it totaled in the area of $313.80! Even if I just claimed the Mixed award QSO's, it would still cost me $134.04 (just LOTW fees which exclude any CQ fees). 

WPX Mixed Award, 1117 QSO's at $0.12 Per =
As much as I would love to close the books on my Alaskan operation by adding this prestigious award to my collection, that's wallpaper I certainly can't afford at the moment. I have a few more months before my LOTW certificate expires for KL8DX, so I do have some time.  I think it's great that you can apply these credits toward CQ's WPX award. I suppose the cost of the credits are still probably much cheaper than sending postal mail for each and every card. Either way, I'm getting caught up on my electronic QSL'ing and it was fun to browse my totals for all my previous callsigns. 

JT65HF In Action On 20 Meters
I decided to continue my band browsing of 20 meters looking for JT65A signals. I called CQ a few times and was able to make a handful of QSO's this weekend. The band was far from hot, but my 5 watts and my indoor EndFedZ did pretty well considering. One of the strange things I encountered was with my last JT9 QSO. I worked KE5LLM who was strong on 20 meters. He gave me a report of R-21, so it got me to wondering why my QRP signal report was so weak (5 watts). I was running WSJT-X and as I investigated, I found my rig was only putting out ½ watt! I had it set for 5 watts and even turning the power up to the maximum of 10 watts, it still only put out ½ watt when transmitting a JT9 signal! I then pulled up JT65-HF and made a few contacts on JT65A and my 5 watts out equated to just that, 5 watts out. I'm not sure if it's the duty cycle demand or what, but my IC-703+ does not want to put out anything other than ½ watt on JT9 at the moment with WSJT-X. I suppose some more research is in order. 

Personal Website
One of the other items on my list was getting to work on my personal website. I sometimes feel that this administrative work is sometimes like a contest weekend, requiring excess amounts of butt glue. The weekend was damp around these parts so it was in fact, a good weekend to get started on my ever growing to do list. It's a bit harder to spend time in the shack when it's warm and sunny outdoors. A few QSO's are better than no QSO's. As I still unpack and weed through my numerous boxes and packed shack items, I realize my need to downsize is greater now than ever before. My next big job is sending my Ameritron AL-1500 out for repair, as it's at the top of my excess equipment list. Since I won't have a full blown shack again, it's time to part with tower, antenna's and related equipment that can be better utilized at another QTH. Like when using QRP, I'm becoming a minimalist ham and the official list began to take shape this past weekend.  


  1. Hello Phil, regarding your problem with the IC-703. Did you check your ALC? Normally you should adjust audio that it doesn't show anything, but you try a different setting with a little more audio. Besides that I assume you do both JT65/JT9 at say 14.076. That means JT9 above 2500Hz. Impossible for my small Yaesu FT-817 (also only 1/2 W power out) because of the modulation bandwidth. Though no problem for the IC-706 here! I would suggest JT9 only at 14.078, don't forget to set decode on JT9 only! Hope it will solve the problem. Over here the weather is great and indeed it gives less time for the radio hobby. Although I should try to be portable outdoors one of these days. 73, Bas

  2. Howdy, Bas. I keep my ALC as low as possible but maybe I need to drive it a bit more with JT9?! I do the JT65 on 14.076 and of course, JT9 at 14.078. Thanks for the suggestions as it gives me an angle to try. Our weather is much better for outdoor operating here so I'm looking forward to doing more of it here. Good DX'n and hope to catch you on the digital modes! 72/73!