My first contest win!

On Easter Monday I took part in the 70 cms Counties Contest.  I entered the low power (10w) SSB/FM section and set up on the top of Tountinna (about 450m ASL).  It is a great location with the added bonus of being able to drive to the top.  I used a Yaesu FT-897 for SSB and an Icom IC-207h for FM.  The FM antenna was a Diamond X300 and I just used the mobile antenna on the car for SSB – yes it seems everyone uses vertical polarization on SSB during contests!  I did bring a 7 element beam but didn’t use it.  I managed 29 contacts in 14 counties and received the top score overall.

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Finally the WAW Award

In theory it should have been easy to work nine Irish special callsigns but the reality was different as inter-EI propagation is virtually nil on bands above 80m at the moment.  But I managed to get them all in the log mixed between SSB & CW.  I didn’t manage any digital contacts yet.  Bands varied from top band to 15m.

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Awol again

Yes I know I should be writing a bit more here but I’ve been busy.  I’ve been to rallies in Coolmine and Limerick and got a few bargains too.  I picked up a Kent twin paddle/straight key combo (unusual) at Coolmine.  In Limerick I picked up a nice little Yaesu FT-50R for 10 euros!  I did need to fix the power button and buy a battery but a rugged little handheld for 30 euros overall is not bad.  I also picked up an antenna analyser at a good price too.

I also managed to get my main HF antenna (an end fed half wave) up a bit higher in the air and also in a fairly straight line.  Its now working without a tuner on most of 80, all of 40, 20 and 12.  It does need a small bit of help from the tuner on other bands although the swr is not bad.  When I get time I will try to get it tuned better but in any case it is working quite well for me.

Recent DX worked includes  C5YK (15m RTTY, 12m SSB), 6W2SC (20m CW, 17m SSB, 17m CW, 17m RTTY), 9Q6BB (15m CW), A45XR (40m CW), VP2V/K6TOP (20m CW), 9X2AW (15m CW), TI2CC (17m SSB), ZP6ARO (15m RTTY), 3B9FR (20m CW), HR5/F2JD (17m RTTY), XT2SE (15m SSB, 17m RTTY), LU5CQC (10m JT65), 5U5R (17m SSB, 17m CW, 17m RTTY,  20m RTTY, 15m SSB) – ATNO, 9N7EI (17m SSB, 30m CW), TU7C (17m SSB, 17m CW, 17m RTTY), YD3PIT (15m JT65), 9G5X (17m SSB, 17m CW, 17m RTTY, 15m CW), JW6VDA (40m SSB), S21ZED (40m CW) – ATNO, 5A1AL (17m RTTY), ZF2CJ (17m RTTY), EK/R2DY (30m RTTY), D4Z (20m SSB), S21ZEE (30m CW, 17m CW), OX3XR (30m CW), HC2AO (40m CW), 3B8MM (17m RTTY, 15m RTTY), 4S7VBG (30m CW, 20m CW), YI3WHR (20m SSB) – ATNO, 5H3MB (20m RTTY) and plenty from Stateside.  Band conditions were not particularly good but as you can see there was plenty to work including our own lads in 9N.

The bands are hopping again

Even though propagation is still poor there is quite a bit of activity on the bands at the moment with a lot of dxpeditions active.  Recent DX include TL8TT (17m CW, 17m SSB, 15m SSB, 20m RTTY), 4S7VG (15m CW) – ATNO, C6AUM (17m CW), P49X (17m RTTY), PZ5RA (20m RTTY), V31VP (15m RTTY) – ATNO, 3XY3D (17m CW), JY9FC (15m CW, 17m CW), V31AT (15m CW), 5J0NA (15m CW), C5YK (15m SSB, 15m RTTY), UK7AZ (15m RTTY), 7P8EUDXF (15m CW), VP6EU (15m RTTY) – ATNO, 3DA0TM (20m SSB) – ATNO, 9M2TO (15m CW), VU2ABS (12m JT65), P29LL (15m CW) – ATNO.  Worth noting is that the past few mornings 12m has been open to Asia/VK  although its mostly JT65.

Its a funny old game – radio

Despite the poor HF conditions I still managed to get 2 new entities today – Pakistan on 15m JT65 and Hawaii on 40m CW.  And I got the KH6 on the first call which was sweet.  It pays to keep ones ears open!  And I got RI1AND on 20m JT65 yesterday for a new band so I’m quite pleased with myself.

Another new one

Yesterday evening  I managed to work ZC4A on 40m CW.  I have been chasing this for a while and signals from Cyprus have not been good on most bands and pile-ups are big – this is one of the rarely activated European entities.  The pile-up was about 2KHz wide rather that the usual 3-4KHz and signals were quite strong so I decided that I was going to stick with it until I got them.  It took around 45 minutes moving around quite frequently trying to keep in an empty space on the waterfall!  And they were confirmed last night on LOTW which is great.  One thing that I noticed was the high level of dupe QSOs that they were rejecting – once is enough to work a dxpedition on any slot – it is only exchanging a 59 or 5NN after all and there are plenty of smaller stations that are being denied a chance because of it.