WPX CW Contest

The WPX CW contest was on over the weekend.  I had no intention of participating as my slow speed and deaf ear would probably not have been welcome on the bands.  However out of curiosity I had a listen and it was utter madness – even with my narrow filter I didn’t stand a chance of decoding anything with just my ears.  However I installed CW Skimmer on the laptop and noticed something straight away – all the morse was machine generated.  I suppose who in their right mind would take part in a 48 hour contest doing things by hand.  So I decided that if everyone else was doing it why shouldn’t I?  My Icom IC-746 has 4 keyer memories.  I set up 2 of them – 1 to send my callsign and the other to send the report & serial.  At least the radio has a serial counter with automatic increment.  No need to exchange pleasantries in a contest!  So I managed to work 45 countries.  Yes it was necessary to know the code – occasionally I needed to glance at the waterfall to see if my callsign was coming back to me correctly- CW Skimmer is very good but not foolproof. It looks like I might fork out the $75 when the trial period is up.  Anyway I did manage another ATNO – 9M8K (East Malaysia)  so the efforts were worthwhile.  Now to practice my dits and dahs a bit more!!

Another ATNO on RTTY

I just bagged PY0NY Fernanda de Noronha on 12M RTTY for another ATNO.  Thats 189 entities worked so far.  I had worked him earlier in the evening but conditions were not too good and I have a feeling that he logged me as EI5HR.  I went back after a while and he was decoding much clearer and not too busy so I called again and he came back the first time (with the correct call!) so I should definitely be in the log.  He does check for dupes as I had seen him tell a few German stations so its just as well I worked him again.  I know that an email probably would have sorted it anyway.

Stroke portable woes

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Recently I went for a trip up the Slieve Bloom Mountains to try a bit of portable operating.  Band conditions were not good that day due to magnetic storms with almost nothing to be heard on 40m.  I thought I was being clever using a long wire antenna so I could operate on multiple bands but I was taught a harsh lesson.  I could hear some strong stations on 20m coming in from Belarus and Slovakia but when I tried to work them I got RF back into the rig and consequently a QSO count of zero –  “Strong signal – bad modulation”.  The weather was not good as you can see from the picture so I made my way home to double check the rig to be on the safe side.  I had a nice chat with Maurizio IK4BPV who confirmed that the WX was just as bad in Northern Italy and that my rig was fine.

I’m back!

After a quiet few days I had to pull down my 2m/70cms vertical as the SWR was rising.  There was a bit of corrosion inside and maybe the capacitors are gone.  I will leave it on the ground for a while till I decide what to do with it!  In its place I stuck up an old Antron 99 that I rescued from the roof of a church and which I had the intention of putting on the gable end of the house.  Anyway I’m glad I did as I was rewarded with Burkina Faso on 15m JT65 with just one call for an ATNO.