Wednesday, February 24, 2016

2016 ARRL International DX CW Contest. Minimal Effort, Maximum Miles!

My KEY to QRP Success
One of my most favorite contests occurred this past weekend. The ARRL International DX CW Contest. Thankfully, the bands were favorable for my encapsulated ham shack with some good propagation on Saturday and some darn good propagation on Sunday. The entire weekend was exciting. I got to work two of my Alaska friends, Larry at KL2R and Corliss, AL1G. I heard Gary, AL9A but I was not able to snag Gary on Saturday as the band just did not cooperate. Being on the left coast, anything Pacific does come easier but not totally without challenges. Heck, QRP alone can be a challenge, but less so if I had a beam outdoors or some sort of external antenna. Not the case, so I work with what I got.


KL2R had a great signal on 20 meters. 
I spent what little available time I had on Saturday working a handful of stations on 20 meters. Once Sunday arrived, I decided to give a listen to 10 meters. Central & South America were heard along with stations in the Caribbean. Hawaii, my neighbor to the west, was booming in. But, other parts of the Pacific opened up and before Sunday was over, I worked stations I never expected to work. Mostly because they were patient, had little to no pile-up and of course, had some darn good ears! Sunday is my most favorite day on contest weekends as it's easy to find big stations who will spend an extra minute to pick up us weaker than normal little Q's. But with propagation on my favorite band (10), it was more exciting than I had expected.

I did video some of my weekend fun with one video documenting my Saturday fun and my second documenting my Sunday activity. I used my GoPro as a last minute thought on Sunday. I was unsure on the best angle, so I tried a few. With my trial run out of the way, should I use it again in the future, I know now better camera placement. Not the best video I've shot for sure but hopefully you get to see some of the fun I had. The video below is from Saturday and I have a link to my Sunday fun at the bottom of this blog entry. 



My station consists of an Icom IC-703+, running 5 watts output into my indoor EndFedZ antennas (which you see in this video). Since I'm running indoor antennas, I prefer to use low power so as not to promote any more hair loss since two of my three indoor antennas literally run almost directly above my head. 

I could not imagine life without ham radio and no matter what my situation is, I'll find a way to get on the air. You don't need thousands of dollars in equipment to enjoy this hobby. All you need is a little bit of determination and the willingness to get on the air and take advantage of weekends like this last. Contest weekends are a great way to add QSO's to the ol logbook. My farthest contact with 5 watts was nearly 7,000 miles away. Who was that with? You'll have to watch THIS video to find out. 

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