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Ham Radio? What’s Ham Radio?

Every once in a while you need a break from Ham Radio.  Hobbies are supposed to be just that, hobbies - right?

I forgot what Ham Radio was while on a weeks vacation to Phoenix for Arizona Bike Week.  Radio was the last thing on my mind.  Temperatures in the 90's, Harley Davidson motorcycles, beautiful women and great friends put Ham Radio on the back burner.  The wayyy back burner.  Although I did ride over to see radio friends Rick (W0RIC) and Hank (W0CZE) and even took a couple pictures with Rick's tower in the background, so I guess there was some kind of Ham Radio connection.  Both Rick and Hank are transplanted Hams now living in the beautiful "Valley of the Sun" (save me a spot someday).

It was another long winter in Denver and it sure felt good to finally ride.  Here's a few pictures of our Arizona Bike Week 2015:

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9N7CC 9N7FD 9N7WE Nepal QRV

Well, that was weird.

I've been chasing the trio of Polish DXpeditioneers in Nepal around the bands for the last few days but I hadn't heard them anywhere - until this morning that is.

Coming off a huge solar storm (A Index was higher than the Solar Flux) where all long distance HF signals were either severely attenuated, or in most cases not even there, I was surprised by the strength of 9N7FD on 20 Meters this morning on the shortpath.  What makes it even more surprising to me was that I saw the DX Cluster spots that 9N7FD was indeed on 14.195, but after sitting on 195 and listening to "nothingness" for over an hour, I went up the band to see if I could hear Indian station VU2DSI that was spotted on the DX Cluster.  Datta was strong, a real S9 over the short path.  I said hello then went back to listening for the Nepal station.  Lo and behold 9N7FD was now S9!  Not more than 5 minutes had passed from when I went up to work VU2DSI and 9N7FD went from S ZERO to S9.  15 minutes after I worked him, he dropped to S2.  Talk about "spotlight" propagation!  I guess you can't win the lottery unless you bought a lottery ticket, and I just happened to be in right place at the right time with my ticket in hand.  Nepal is another point in my 2015 DX Marathon Contest log and I needed that one as you never know how many chances you may (or may not) get to work Nepal.

Here's the recording working 9N7FD on 20 Meters this morning:

N0UN working 9N7FD 20 Meters SSB

 

9N7WE Online Log Check at Club Log

9N7FD Online Log Check at Club Log

9N7CC Online Log Check at Club Log

Nepal DXpedition Website

From DXNews.com: Rafal SQ9CNN, Bogdan SP2FUD, Janusz SP9FIH will be active from Nepal 18 - 30 March 2015 as 9N7CC, 9N7FD, 9N7WE

They will operate on HF Bands.

QSL info:

9N7CC via SP9FIH
9N7FD via SP2FUD
9N7WE via SP9FIH

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9Q0HQ Dem. Rep. of the Congo

9Q0HQ Democratic Republic of the Congo (not to be confused with neighbor "TN" Republic of the Congo) is on the air.  It appears this is a well manned Italian DXpedition with super signals all around (so far).  They hit the ground running on several bands almost simultaneously.  Here's a recording I took working them on 10 Meters:

N0UN working 9Q0HQ 10M SSB

 

9Q0HQ Online Log Check

9Q0HQ Website

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VU4A Andaman & Nicobar

VU4A VU4II was snooping around for some good DX on 15 Meters a few minutes ago and found VU4A from Andaman & Nicobar working a slew of Japanese stations UP 1.  I could barely hear VU4A and the Japanese stations calling them were loud on the shortpath, so I figured I might as well see if VU4A was any better on the longpath and the Japanese stations attenuated some, right?  Down to the Indian Ocean over the South Pole I turned and there he was a little over over 16,000 miles away.  I love it when a plan comes together.  VU4A Andaman & Nicobar in the log!

N0UN working VU4A 15 Meters Longpath

 

VU4A keeps surprising me.  They showed up on 20 Meters Phone a few minutes ago with a great signal on the shortpath.

N0UN working VU4A 20M SSB

 

Special Callsign issued for HAMTECH 2015, International Conference on Amateur Radio Communications organized by the National Institute of Amateur Radio (NIAR), Hyderabad, India.

VU4A : Is operated by Foreign Radio Amateurs

VU4I : Is operated by Indian Radio Amateurs

Location: Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar

Dates: March 6th to the 18th, 2015

QSL via DL4KQ

National Institute of Amateur Radio Website

I do not see an Online Log Check at Club Log yet for VU4A.  If that comes available, I'll post the link here.

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DX Cluster – To Spot or Not To Spot

Well, you've all seen my N0UN DX spots on the DX Cluster.  Some pretty rare DX as well as some pretty average DX too.

There's several reasons I spot DX.  I'm lucky enough my Ham Shack is also my work office so I am near the radio for one and I don't mind spotting what I find when I'm tuning the bands.  For me it's one click from my log and the DX spot is published for the world to see on the DX Cluster.  Pretty easy stuff.

But (there's always a big butt)!

A member of the local DX Club here in Denver mentioned something that struck me earlier today.  He said DX spots, "attract jammers like locusts to a freshly mown field.  Flies to flypaper.  Wouldn't it be something if we could somehow resist the bragging urge and NOT SPOT to try reducing the number of jammers?"

When I first read it, it felt personalPersonal because I spot a lot (thousands) of good DX stations that other guys in the DX Club regularly work after my spots.  Personal because I've received hundreds of complimentary e-mails through the years telling me because of my DX spots they worked an All Time New One (ATNO) or a bandfill.  I appreciate all those messages.  I'm glad to help.  I didn't spot DX to brag about it, I spotted to help somebody.

Homer D'OH!But the problem here is out-of-control pileups, not my DX spots, right? - or is it really the other way around?  It dawned on me a little after reading that message that I was one of the guys causing the pileups.  Yeah, my spots may help Hams get a new one, but my spots are also causing chaos.  Walk this through.  I'm scanning the bands from a great QTH on top of a hill when I stumble across Macao, XX9 calling CQ.  Nobody knows he's there, he has no replies to his CQ.  I call and work him, then I spot XX9 and guess what happens next?  Pandemonium.  First thing within 60 seconds are people calling "blind".  Blind callers not bothering for a second to see if they can hear the Macao station, they just call.  Then comes the carriers.  Idiots tuning their rigs and amplifiers right on the DX transmit frequency.  They don't give a rats ass about anything but themselves working that DX station.  Because people are calling blind, and other idiots are now tuning on the frequency, well who comes next?  Frequency Cops that feel they have to yell at everybody to knock off the shenanigans.  So between all these Lids, kids, cops and idiots - we have utter chaos.  And what started it all?  Yep, MY DX SPOT.

E30FB came on from Eritrea this morning and within a minute or two all hell broke loose.  Lids, kids, cops and idiots all converged on the E30FB transmit frequency.  That same exact thing happens in every pileup.  EVERY pileup.  The frequency cops try to control the chaos.  The DX station tries to control the chaos.  Every damn idiot jammer saw the spot and they head to the frequency to do what they do, jam.  Everybody calls and calls and calls, others are tuning up, cops are in their glory.  The Q rate plummets and the DX station is overwhelmed.  Some walk away.

All because of a single DX spot.

And that is the root of the problem I figure.  So I am done spotting.  No more N0UN DX spots.  Zero, zilch, nada.  You fine people of the worlds Ham Radio Community, you can go hunt DX yourself.  No more Ham Radio Welfare Handouts from this turkey.  You're gonna' have to go earn it 'round here.

It all goes back to a quote from Eldridge Cleaver when he stated, "If you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem."

I do not wish for one second to be part of the problem.  It took awhile but I get it, now do you?

Your comments are welcome below.

N0UN

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VP8DOZ South Georgia On The Air!

VP8DOZ S. Georgia on QRZ

click to enlarge

Denis (VP8DOZ, King Edward Point - DXCC South Georgia Island) showed up on 17 Meters SSB today just as some of the DX Bulletins had predicted.  I was lucky to be one of the first ones to break through and make a QSO with him.  That's DXCC #327 for me.  From the looks of his QRZ page the propagation gods haven't looked favorably on S. Georgia, until today that is!

QSL VP8DOZ via ZL4PW

VP8DOZ on QRZ

VP8DOZ Online Log Check on Club Log

Here's a link to the work Dennis and others are doing on S. Georgia Island:

World's largest rat poisoning project aims to rid South Georgia of its rodents

A couple short recordings of a few folks working Denis (VP8DOZ) on South Georgia below.  I heard WK3N, W3LPL, N2BJ, NN4R, WN4N, K5EK, N4II, N4MPM, KB4HF, N4BRF, W4EMM, VA2EW, KB8VAO, AB6QM, PY5XH, NY9H and N2AJ get through solid before his signal dropped.  There were several other busted calls that I'm not sure Denis logged.  I don't believe he had those calls correct.  I sure wish people NOT involved in a QSO would keep their smart-ass comments, carriers, dits and dahs to themselves.  I'll check the long master recording for more calls later.

VP8DOZ on 17 Meters SSB March 3rd, 2015 - Recording #1

 

VP8DOZ on 17 Meters SSB March 3rd, 2015 - Recording #2

 

N0UN asking VP8DOZ a Question

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3G0ZC Juan Fernandez On The Air

3G0ZC WebsiteLooks like the 3G0ZC Team made it to SA-005 Robinson Crusoe Island (DXCC: Juan Fernandez) and is operational!  I just landed them on 30 Meters CW and 20 Phone and both stations had outstanding signals.  I could barely hear them on 17 Meters phone though.  17 is closed in Colorado right now (0300Z) so we'll look for them there another time.

N0UN working 3G0ZC Juan Fernandez 30M CW


 

The F6KOP Team (23 operators from 7 countries) is expected to be on the air until March 4th.

3G0ZC Online Log Check at 3G0ZC Website

3G0ZC Online Log Check at Club Log

3G0ZC Website

3G0ZC QSL Information

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TI9/3Z9DX Cocos Island DXpedition

TI9/3Z9DX Cocos Island DXpedition Now here comes the Cocos Island TI9/3Z9DX DXpedition straight on the heels of the very successful K1N Navassa Island DXpedition.  I'd say it's a good time to be a DXer!

As I write the Cocos Island DXpedition team is on their way to Cocos Island with their first land based station planning operations February 16th around noon local Cocos Island time (1800Z).  From what I've been able to gather, Cocos Island is -6 GMT.  So high noon there (local time) would be 1800Z.

From the TI9/3Z9DX DXpedition Website, it does not appear that the Online Log will be updated until after the DXpedition.  Quote:  "We will have very very limited access to sat phone.  Any questions, comments suggestions please forward to the pilots stations.  DO NOT ASK THEM FOR LOG ISSUES.  WEB page will not be updated during activation".  It now appears that has changed as they have indeed updated their TI9/3Z9DX online log at Club Log. "1,522 QSOs logged between 2015-02-16 20:00Z and 2015-02-17 17:59Z"

You can track their ship from this link:  TI9/3Z9DX Ship Track

TI9/3Z9DX Online Log Check (Club Log)

TI9/3Z9DX Website and Information

Cocos Island on Wikipedia

Looks like they're planning a six day 'round the clock operation.

See you in the pile-ups!

N0UN working TI9/3Z9DX Cocos Island 40M CW

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N0UN working TI9/3Z9DX Cocos Island 17M SSB

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N0UN working TI9/3Z9DX Cocos Island 10M SSB Simplex

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N0UN working TI9/3Z9DX Cocos Island 17M CW

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N0UN working TI9/3Z9DX Cocos Island 40M SSB

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Well I'll be darned.  270 watts and a 80 meter Inverted L Vertical (through my Palstar tuner) for a QSO on 160 Meters!

N0UN working TI9/3Z9DX Cocos Island 160 Meters CW

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K1N Navassa DXpedition

K1N Navassa Island DXpedition 2015. Online log check and information providedUPDATED (see below):  As I write it's Saturday noon here in Denver, Colorado.  Bands for the most part are dead.  A few DX stations here and there, but overall it's eerily quiet.  That is sure to change in a day or two from now when K1N from Navassa Island fires up!

Navassa is rated THE #1 DXCC Country needed by most around the world.  Number ONE.  It's been 22 years since it was last on the air, and they say it will be another 10 years minimum before it will be on again.  32 years.  Truly, NO HAM anywhere wants to miss this one!

I was surfing the K1N website at NavassaDX.com when I noticed the "DQRM" tab.  Now this could be awesome!  I'm wondering what they may be thinking of putting here.  Maybe a list of known QRMers?  Maybe some recordings of all the knucklehead jammers?  Maybe recordings of all the people that will be calling on their transmit frequencies?  Maybe a cloud map of where the Deliberate QRM (DQRM) is originating?  Nobody quite knows yet what they'll do here, but whatever it is - it is needed!

I have a funny feeling this is going to be a beautiful mess.  From a global location standpoint, this could very well be the opposite of the recent EP6T DXpedition to Iran.  While it was well known that less than 10% of the EP6T overall QSO's were with North America, I watched (and heard) Europe whining on the DX Cluster, whining on the Internet, whining on the air - that the operators weren't listening for EU while they tried to work NA.  I expect the exact opposite behavior with North American stations asked to stand by while K1N tries to work Europe, Asia and Africa.  Some LIDS aren't going to like hearing K1N at 20db over 9 on their G5RV antennas and having to stand by for EU at the same time.  I am sure many will breakdown when they feel it slipping away, and then they'll show their frustration by QRMing.  Because that's what cowardly, non-call, anonymous idiots do.  As for how I'll target K1N, I figure I'll stay away from their sunset/sunset times with EU and Asia and hunt them during the "off hours".  No sense in getting all wound up when it should be just like working any other high power station in the Caribbean, right?  Why put yourself through all those pileup headaches when you can hunt them in off-times?  No reason to be in the way when a lot of people need this one!

And speaking of needs, I need K1N for my #326 DXCC, so I'll see you in all the NA pileups!  Good luck!

K1N Navassa Website with Online Log Check, Information and Status Updated Regularly

K1N Navassa Online Log Check at Club Log

Since Navassa Island is not inhabited, I took the nearest location (Jérémie, Haiti - 46 miles away) for sunrise/sunset times I could find (0635 SR, 1751 SS local time).  Navassa Island is -5 GMT.  So sunrise on Navassa for the next week or so is near 1135Z, and sunset on Navassa is near 2251Z.  Mark that down, you may need that info.

A random thought:  I'm thinking we can call the LIDS, jammers and incompetent folks trying to work this DXpedition - "Navassholes".  I can see some frequency cop saying it now, "there's another Navasshole calling on their transmit frequency".

:)

UPDATED: (Feb 1st, 2014 - 0100Z)

#326 is out of the way, pressure: off

After having to listen to all the Navassholes QRMing K1N (while calling) for over an hour, I finally got them.  Clear as could be too!  It was like the Red Sea parted and there was my call.  Don't ask me what I sent in my first reply because wouldn't you know Murphy decided to show up and my keyer failed.  One quick slam on the desktop though and it was back to normal - just in time for the confirmation!  Whew!

N0UN working K1N Navassa 40M CW

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N0UN working K1N Navassa 80M CW

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N0UN working K1N Navassa 15M SSB

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N0UN working K1N Navassa 20M CW

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N0UN working K1N Navassa 30M CW

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N0UN working K1N Navassa 17M CW

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N0UN working K1N Navassa 20M SSB

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N0UN working K1N Navassa 10M SSB

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N0UN working K1N Navassa 40M SSB

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DXpeditions and “The Deserving”

This EP6T DXpedition interests me greatly. For a couple reasons. Here's some numbers taken from Club Log:

Total Worldwide QSO's: 68,064
Unique: 16,866

Worldwide - 16,866 is 24.8% "Unique" stations of the Grand Total 68,064.

Total North American QSO's: 6,665
Unique: Unknown

If I use the same rate of Unique of Total (24.8%);  that's 1,653 unique North American stations out of 6,665.  And remember Canada and Mexico count as North America so there's another split downward for US stations in there somewhere too.

It is quite possible North America Unique's are a higher percentage of the NA total than Worldwide Unique's, but even if I double that to 50% North American Unique (I doubt it was anywhere near that), that's 3,333 North American stations.  Exactly how many US stations is hard to tell from the data available.

Whatever that number of US stations is that worked EP6T, it isn't what North America as a whole is calling a "successful" DXpedition that I've seen.

Now 42+ years ago when I broke into Ham Radio there was no social media.  There was no DX Cluster.  No email.  No text alarms.  No Remote Ham Radio.  No Facebook, Twitter Dee, or Twitter Dumber.  Nobody handed you a QSO.  Amateur Radio WAS the original Social Media back then.  And if you wanted to be a DXer, you had to FIND the DX, and you had to WORK the DX.  If you wanted to work that rare DX station, YOU had to build a station "that could".  And if you didn't work the DX, well, you went back to the drawing board and you got help from friends to BUILD your station one piece at a time.  Some early Ham Radio friends of mine bailed out.  Ham Radio wasn't worth the effort so they quit.  They thought it too much and moved on.  That was their choice, and I understand their choice.  I can remember all of us saying back then, "this is an old man's hobby, we got jobs and families".  Not many could muster up much time to sit around a Ham Radio waiting for something you didn't even know would (or wouldn't be) there, but we tried.  Nobody knew if a band was open until you heard somebody or you called CQ.  Surely not like today via the information provided on the DX Cluster.  Via the Cluster, we know who, when and where.  Point and shoot.

It takes years of failure to finally achieve.  Each year adding a little something to the mix.  Tower, tri-bander, amplifier.  Maybe even a new Ham friendly neighborhood when opportunity arose.  Whatever it was/is, it took DECADES for a whole slew of us.  It was a progression.  At 13, I vividly remember going over to my neighbors house and asking Mr. Bambeck (W8DFL-SK), "Mr. Bambeck, I can't hear the DX on my 10' high dipole, can I operate your station?" Just to be told, "son, why don't you ask ME to help YOU build your own capable station instead?  Why don't you study the theory, practice Morse Code, upgrade your license and build a beam antenna?"

I guess IF you wanted it bad enough, you found a way.  You prioritized.  You took the long (but steady) road to some level of success.  Just like today, families were raised, kids off to college and most of us still work hard to put the salami on the dinner table.  Nothing has changed there.

Except now it's a race!  A race to Honor Roll.  A race to #1.  And a whole bunch of complaining along the way. DX Clusters are full of people complaining about these DXpeditions.  Frustrated frequency jammers must figure, "if I can't get them with my G5RV, neither will you".  The Internet and Ham Radio airwaves are chock full of Hams spewing hate and discontent because they "can't".  Viscous Blog posts, comments and discussion on Leaderboards?  Hams complaining because Big Guns are stealing THEIR Lil' Pistol QSO's?  Well, let me tell y'all a little something - EARN IT.

Just as all these "entitled" G5RVing Hams can spew all the reasons why they "can't", I push back because I feel "I can".  I took the long, hard road to some success and I shouldn't have to explain myself for being a so-called "DX HOG" because I'm after band-fills or competing in the year long DX Marathon.  I've earned every chance I get.  How 'bout you roll up your sleeves and pull yourself forward too?

In closing, YOU WANT IT?  Well, here's some Ham Spirit for ya' - get off your arse, build your own lil' radio empire, prioritize, focus and GO GET IT.

"I'm N0UN, and I approved this message"

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EP6T Iran DXpedition 2015

EP6T Iran WebsiteI wasn't sure what propagation path would be the best path between Iran and Colorado, but at our sunrise I was thinking Longpath on 20 meters and Shortpath on 17 meters a little later, right?

See what happens when I think?

N0UN working EP6T Iran on 20 Meters SSB (shortpath)

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N0UN working EP6T Iran 17 Meters SSB (longpath)

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N0UN working EP6T 15 Meters SSB (shortpath)

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N0UN working EP6T 40 Meters CW (longpath)

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And this next recording is kind of unique for a couple reasons.  For one, EP6T stood in there for over 2 minutes getting my call right.  In and of itself I really admire their tenacity in NOT giving up.  But it got me wondering WHY it took over two minutes to log this QSO?  All I could think of is from their side, it must sound like thunder and it's almost impossible to pull one single station out of the pile at a time.  I suspect everybody and their brother were continuously calling over me, and all those dits and dahs probably sound like some kind of train wreck "mix" to them.  Easy to give up, but they didn't.  Thanks Fella's!

N0UN working EP6T 20 Meters CW (shortpath)

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And after all that, my call was still busted because although the 40 Meter CW QSO that morning showed up in Club Log, this 20 Meter QSO DID NOT.  So we worked them again this morning on 20 Meters, this time longpath.

N0UN working EP6T 20 Meters CW (longpath)

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If you listened to the end you can hear a jammer trying his best to interfere by dropping a carrier on the EP6T transmit frequency.  Where do these weasels come from?  Hey bozo, you lose as I got'm anyway.  Go back to 11 Meters asshat.

EP6T Online Log Check

EP6T Website

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CQ DX Marathon 2014 “Shrinkage”

Interesting.  For a couple reasons.  First off, do you see anything wrong here, lol?  From the CQ Magazine DX Marathon Website:  "In 2014, all 40 zones were active and 292 CQ countries were active for a maximum possible score of 332."

CQ Magazine DX Marathon Claimed Scores

Here's the top five "claimed" scores in the 2014 CQ Magazine DX Marathon "Unlimited" Class:

Now, that's pretty funny!

I took a look at this years 2014 top five "claimed" leaders claimed versus final score from last year (2013).  Here's how the top five this year, worked out last year:

KC6AWX - Lost 10 points
K2TQC - Lost 4 Points
IK0OZD - Lost 5 Points
EA1DR - Lost 3 Points
N0UN - Lost 0 Points

This information gives me some hope.  Not just for the overall win, but it's also possible I'm still in the running for the North American plaque too.

I discount KC6AWX's score because I have no idea how you could work 8 more entities than anybody else in the world, which is five more than were on the radio?  And since he lost 10 last year, that tells me there's some sloppy logging.  Typo's, busted calls, who knows what happened there?

K2TQC lost 4 last year.  All he has to do is lose one and we're tied.  I'll take my chances on my November tiebreaker.

IK0OZD lost 5 last year and EA1DR lost 3.  I'm not sure what happened with either of these gentlemen because they're both usually on top of their game.

And even though I went over my own log a dozen times, it's always possible there's an error lurking.  I know I caught a few errors the first half dozen times through.  I was so damn tired of checking it, I'd put it down and wait a day or two to check it again.  It was a little less painful that way.  Kind of like a fresh mind to review something you've reviewed before.

I also wonder if any of the leaders claimed EZ (Turkmenistan)?  There was soooo many busted EZ calls (mostly from E7) throughout the year I lost count.  There were hundreds of busted calls claiming EZ.  To me there's no sense in claiming ANY EZ because they don't count anyway.  Just like last year, I did NOT claim EZ in my 328 this year.  With that said, and as last year as a guide - hopefully I don't drop a single point this year either.

So much for "shrinkage", huh?  And here I always thought shrinkage was that funny thing that happened when I was a teenager and got out of the nice warm swimming pool water just to feel that blast of cold air - now that was shrinkage, haha!

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The 2014 CQ DX Marathon Is Over

CQ DX Marathon Contest2014 CQ Magazine DX Marathon log submissions are due in by Jan 10th, 2015.  More information can be found on the DXMarathon.com Website.

It's over.  The 2014 CQ Magazine DX Marathon closed at 2359Z on December 31st.  The 2015 contest has already begun!

Although I gave it my best shot, I'd be lying to you if I didn't say I'm a bit frustrated.  For a couple of reasons.  I got more than a few "rare" entities, but I missed some opportunities too.  But that's the way it goes.  Every contestant is up against it at times, and Nobody is exempt from a miss.  This contest really is a marathon at one year long.  A lot of things can, and usually do happen.

I scored Wake (KH9), North Cook (E5), Mount Athos (SV/A), Pitcairn (VP6), Yemen (7O), Cocos-Keeling (VK9C) and some other hard to get countries, but I whiffed on Palestine (E4), Libya (5A), S. Georgia (VP8SGK) and Central Africa (TL).  I have a gut feeling one of those misses will be the difference between winning "Overall", and possibly dropping to 5th place or so.  It's awful crowded at the top, so if you miss one or two countries (or zones) it's a long way down.  One country missed (or worked) can separate a lot of contestants.

My last country worked was November 30th, 1521Z (7O2A), so I'm in pretty good shape if the tiebreaker rule comes into effect.  I ended up with a total score of 328288 countries, all 40 zones.  I submitted my score in the Unlimited category.  We'll soon see other contestants claimed scores sometime after January 10th.  Then there's what a friend of mine and long time DX Marathon competitor calls "shrinkage".  We've all seen many folks lose points from their claimed to actual final score.  Typos, pirates, bad spots, mistakes and cheats all combine to drop a score.  I saw a couple people that lost 10 points last year!  Hopefully I'm not one of them.

Here's some of my downers this year:

E4 - very low power and antenna, limited to 10 Meters, lack of propagation
5A - low power, limited operating time, lack of propagation
VP8/S - rumor has it VP8SGK logged a total of 35 stations, limited operating time (couple hours), low power and antenna, lack of propagation
TL - the Good Padre only speaks Italian and he and his flock had to flee when death and destruction struck his mission

I suspect my score will fall short on World Unlimited, but the backup plan is to compete for the North American plaque.  We'll soon see how we stack up!

Bring on Navassa!

73!

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2014 CQ DX Marathon Winding Down

CQ DX Marathon ContestWith a couple days left in the year long 2014 CQ Magazine DX Marathon contest, I'm still hoping for a walk-off home run.

I've been going over my scoresheet, and I figured my last new country worked was on November 27th.  Never did I think I wouldn't work a new one in the entire month of December!

Hopefully that changes over these final couple days.

Although having such an early last country worked is great for a tie-breaker, it really has put a damper on the final 30 days or so of the DX Marathon for me.

I still haven't figured out whether to submit logs for a single band, overall, or mode.

It's been a weird month for DXers.

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Ham Radio Callsign Light

Ham Radio Callsign LED LightOK, I'm impressed (click picture to enlarge)!

I was searching for a Callsign light and I hadn't found any I liked until I stumbled across this one on the QRZ Forum - Callsign LED Light.

At $36 shipped - it's affordable, it's nice and bright (even in high-light daytime), and it works perfectly.  They're available in several colors (blue, red, green) too.

Tim (KE8RX) doesn't have a website yet, but he answers his phone & emails promptly and you won't be disappointed with his workmanship.

Makes a great Christmas time stocking stuffer too!

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Just The Way It Is, Why?

When I was a kid if you got good grades the folks would take me to McDonald's for a special treat - a McDonald's Happy Meal.  That was "just the way it is" back then.  Little did anybody know or even care they were nuking your body with loads of fat, preservatives and who knows what else.  Getting that Happy Meal sure made a lot of kids happy (and fat).  A Happy Meal was a REWARD for doing good!  To this day I drive through and grab a burger every once in a while.  Either I need to be rewarded, or they still make me happy I guess, lol.  Earning a McDonald's Happy Meal as a reward was "just the way it is".

Speaking of the Hamburglar (get it?)...

I was abruptly reminded yesterday when I went to update my ARRL DXCC totals in LoTW (Logbook of The World), that the ARRL DXCC program is "just the way it is".  Mind you I let my ARRL Membership lapse a few months ago (more later).  Well, you can't update your LoTW numbers if you're not an active dues paying member of the ARRL.  And that's "just the way it is".  I let my ARRL membership lapse a few months ago because it seemed more and more lately I found myself disagreeing with their path.  They want Ham Radio to go one way, I choose to see it go another.  And I'm tired of them begging for money.  It is past annoying.  I don't need a $10,000 brick with my callsign on it, and I have no plans to leave them money in my estate after I'm gone so I don't need their estate planning services.  Heck, their magazine QST is chock full of paid advertisers - their membership should be free to Hams that buy that stuff.  I don't even want their magazine anymore.  And that's "just the way it is".

But no matter my thoughts on the ARRL, I equate the ARRL Awards DXCC program to a McDonald's Happy Meal - it's "just the way it is" when it comes to Ham Radio DX.  For some reason the ARRL DXCC program keeps its stature as Ham Radio' premier awards program.  Just like a McDonald's Happy Meal!  I guess it makes us happy when we climb the DXCC roster?  Maybe it's some kind of subliminal message I picked up years ago that "ARRL is GOOD", just like "HAPPY MEAL is GOOD" that I was taught?  Who knows?  Really, who cares, lol?

Hey, wait a minute, I guess I do care!  Here's why:  I updated my DXCC totals in LoTW.  I whipped out my credit card for a whopping $62 just to update my totals and nothing more.  No certificates, no special endorsements - just an update.  For a brief moment I thought of all the money these Hamburglers over at the ARRL are making on DXCC, but like that Happy Meal, it's some kind of reward to have DXCC, right?  I pushed, "submit".

And now I am thankful for this message in my LoTW account: "please resubmit application with current membership information. according to our database, your membership has expired, DXCC rules state all US applicants need to be members of the ARRL. once the membership has been updated you can resubmit your application and it will be processed right away."

So since I'm not a member of the ARRL anymore, they never did run my credit card for $62.  That's $62 I had earmarked for the ARRL DXCC Awards program, and what would have been $39 dollars more to re-up my membership for one yearThis may be the best thing the ARRL has ever done for me!

And in sticking with all that subliminal training on McDonald's Happy Meals and the ARRL DXCC Program I've received through the years, I really think I need to be rewarded for saving over $100 USD.  Me thinks I'll head over to McDonald's and grab a Happy Meal (or 30)!

And that's "just the way it is"

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7O2A Yemen On The Air

Dimitry, RA9USU has surprised me a couple times now!  Dimi has operated previously "unannounced" from Yemen in 2013, now he's back in 2014.  And same as last time - completely unannounced.  I didn't hear a single word in the "rumor mill" preceding his operation.  Just wham, here he is!  From DX-World.net, looks like he's on the air until December 1st.  7O2A Yemen Article Here.

He's a helluva' operator too.  He crushes CW, and even in the middle of a phone contest last year, he commanded the simplex pileup like the professional he is.  I wish all ops were like him.

Here's a little snip of audio working Dimitry in Yemen (7O2A) this morning on 10 Meters CW:

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And during the CQWW CW Contest on 15 Meters (what a mess)

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QSL 7O2A via UA3DX

7O2A Online Log Check at Club Log

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Ham Radio Craziness & “Ham Spirit”

This is starting to sound like a broken record.

I turned on my rig this morning, and in a matter of two minutes I heard some typical Ham Radio craziness.  First of all I heard a guy calling, "CQ 10 Meters", I turned the dial.  Then seconds later on 14.224 I heard a station lecturing the Extra Class operator on 14.224 that he was too close to the band edge for Generals.  He told the CQing station that since he was calling CQ only one kHz away from the General portion of the band that he was enticing and inviting Generals to answer his CQ call.  In fact, he went on to say that the last two people he worked were out-of-band Generals.  The CQing station replied that he was run off of 14.227 by a net that came up so he moved down three kHz to a clear spot, but if his CQ was offending anybody and in keeping with "Ham Spirit" he'd move again.  I couldn't for the life of me figure out why he should move at all, but in me also keeping with this thing called "Ham Spirit", I turned the dial - again.  I turned the dial straight into this Ham:

"Squawking" on 20 Meters

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Are you kidding me?  Squawking on 20 Meters?  "And we're standing by" (you got a mouse in your pocket?).  Oh Boy, all this fun in a manner of minutes!

An hour later even more craziness.  I'm scanning the band and ran across an old neighbor and good friend of mine on 14.238.5.  While listening to his conversation with another Ham, they commented that they've been talking on that frequency for an hour and a half but people keep encroaching from above and below on them.  Well, I wanted to say hello to my old friend, so I waited for Bryan to clear his QSO with Claude.  When Claude went to answer his ringing phone, I flipped the VOX on and called my friend Bryan.  It wasn't but a few minutes later the offending QRMer .5 (yep, 0.5) kHz below came up and insisted on breaking our QSO to demand that we move up a couple kHz as we were QRMing them.  At first I ignored the breaking station.  But he was persistent.  Finally I stated, "I'm talking to an old friend and you keep breaking - what is your emergency?"  Well, he didn't like the fact of being ignored, and he didn't like the tone of my voice (I guess), and he didn't like I ran straight over him while he was babbling to talk to my friend Bryan.  He wanted us to move up 2 kHz as to not QRM their conversation (that was QRMing us).  Imagine that!  In between VOX breaks I could hear him state that in keeping with Ham Spirit we should move up.  There's that pesky "Ham Spirit" again.  Just like a little hammer on my funny bone.  After what happened earlier this morning, I was tired of Ham Spirit.  I wanted to talk to my friend I haven't talked to in years and we had every right to converse as the frequency was his for damn near two hours.  I thought to myself, "phooey on Ham Spirit".  I keyed up and flatly refused his request to move.  I also told the breaking station to, "go away".  It took awhile, but Mr. QRMer man finally shut his pie hole and Bryan and I were able to continue our conversation.

All these examples of craziness beg the question, "how did we get to HERE"?  How did Ham Radio get to somebody QRMing a frequency that wasn't theirs.  How did we get to "squawking" on 20 Meters (really, WTF is squawking anyway?)?  How did we get to, "instead of a General Class station knowing their limitations, we should move because we're enticing them"?  How did we get to this thing called, "Ham Spirit" and "turn the dial"?

And the biggest question of them all, "how do we fix it"?

I am N0UN and I approve this message

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Two Close Stations and VU4KV

Man, that was tough, and LUCKY!

Let me paint you a picture.

Up here on the hill in Elizabeth, Colorado we have two stations with tri-band beams on towers with 230' between them.  I have a 10, 15 and 20 Meter Mirage KT-34XA, and my neighbor Jim (also my father-in-law) runs a 10, 15 and 20 Meter Bencher Skyhawk.  There's exactly 230 feet between tri-band beams on similar height towers.  We knew we'd run into problems when Jim was contemplating buying the undeveloped three acres next door to build his dream home on, but we also came to the conclusion that family is more important than Ham Radio and in time we'd figure it all out.  Better to have them nearby!  The land was purchased, scraped and this last summer they built Jim's custom dream home next door.  I must say, it's a real beauty!

After some "lazy" engineering to find the spot, I dug the hole for Jim's tower and I put up the HG-52SS with a Bencher Skyhawk.  Four yards of concrete later I still had a few more months to plan out how to do this "near-field" operating before my wife's parents moved in.  I figured I'd have all the answers by then.  Have I ever told you what happens when I try to "figure" something out?  My friend Keith (K0KE) came over and we ran some tests.  In a worse case scenario - with both tri-banders pointed at each other and Jim running exactly 1,500 watts on 20 Meters, we had 26 watts of RF on my antenna!  You read that right, 26 WATTS!

Figuring the gain of the antennas, the space between them, the power level, etc. we thought we might see 10 watts in a worst case scenario.  When that calibrated wattmeter read 26 watts, Keith and I just stared at each other and in unison sighed a collective, "oh shit".

Back to the drawing board.  There's no doubt 10 watts of RF will wipe out any radio's front-end.  It's also the maximum rating for just about all the front-end savers out there available for purchase.  10 watts is what I planned on, 26 is what I had.

Up until that test I had already "split" the RX/TX antenna through my Yaesu FT-1000MP MK V (RX IN & OUT jacks) and had purchased a DX Engineering RTR1-A Receive Antenna Interface for Jim's Yaesu FTDX-3000D.  I placed an Array Solutions AX-RXFEP front-end saver on each rigs RX antenna input and I also put a 5B4AGN 6 band TX BPF in each stations RX line in.  That would have protected both radios for up to 10 Watts of RF and provided some relief for off frequency inter-modulation.  But now we had 26 watts.  The front-end savers are rated up to 10 watts maximum.  What I thought would work was well underrated for what I had, 26 watts.  I needed more.

I went out for a cigarette where we debated the HUGE issue we had.  Running a PTT control line over 600' between stations came up.  Nulling his receiver when I transmitted (and visa-versa) came up.  Making "operating schedules" came up.  A whole slew of "off-the-cuff" thoughts came up, but none of them were really workable.  Then I blurted out, "what we need is a couple of "RF sensing switches.  When my antenna senses his power, it disconnects my RX antenna, and when I transmit his disconnects his RX antenna".  Keith got on the computer and typed in "RF sensing switch" and wouldn't you know it, MFJ makes one - and it's only $80.  A quick call to Ham Radio Outlet to see if they had a couple MFJ 1708 RF Sensing TR Switches proved they did.  I said, "put'm on the counter John, I'm on my way".

Now we're protected from each other.  When he transmits, my RX antenna opens, when I transmit, his RX antenna opens.  So far with the bandpass filters, front-end savers and RF sensing T/R relays on each rig we haven't had an equipment failure.  In fact, we've been on the same frequency chasing DX when either his or my relay clunks.  It's a little unnerving to hear my RX drop when I'm calling somebody, but we've worked through it.  The same happens for Jim.  Once his RX drops out from me transmitting, he steps aside.  Kind of like a "right-of-way".  No advance notice.  No phone calls.  No wires running 600 feet between the stations.  No operating calendars.  No fighting over antenna switches.  He operates when he feels like it, I operate when I feel like it.

But there is a downside.  And here it is.  Today, I'm on my 30 Meter Inverted L wire banging away on CW trying to work VU4KV when all of a sudden my RX drops!  Jim's on 10, 15 or 20 somewhere but as he's transmitting there, my RF sensing switch kicked me to the curb just as it was supposed to.  Since I only have one feedline for all my antennas, the switch is disconnecting my RX line while I'm transmitting.  Take a listen to my QSO with VU4KV on 30 Meters today.  How they stuck with me I don't know, but I sure am thankful they did!

N0UN working VU4KV Andaman & Nicobar 30M CW

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That sure was a looooong period of silence while Jim was talking!  It seemed like forever!  I called "blind" a couple times hoping Jim was finished transmitting and then maybe I'd hear if they came back to me.  You know the saying, "even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in awhile", lol.

Anyway, everything is working.  Everything is protected.  Everything is hunky-dory!  See you in the pileups!

VU4KV Online Log Check at Club Log

QSL VU4KV via W4VKU

VU4KV Website

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VU4CB Andaman and Nicobar

"You can't win the lottery unless you bought a ticket".

Knowing Krish (W4VKU, VU2VKU) and Pai (VU2PAI) had arrived Andaman and Nicobar Islands earlier from my "Daily DX" subscription, just before my Colorado evening sunset I turned the KT34XA to Campbell Island AS 033 in the Andaman and Nicobar group (339 degrees), loaded up the amp and was lying in wait on 20 Meters CW for them.  They did not disappoint.  Their first spots of their morning (our evening) were on 20 Meters CW listening way up.  I found a clear spot up 13 KHz and let'r fly.  Glad I got them when I did because their signal never peaked later.

N0UN working VU4CB 20 Meters CW

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VU4CB QSL Information

VU4CB Website

VU4CB Online Log Check at Club Log (Active Nov 12, 2014)

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