|Indoor Buddipole in the Hot Spot|
As I scrambled to get my kitchen table top shack put together on Saturday, I realized the huge disadvantage I would have. The only computer I had available for software use was my Mini Dell. I was also using my Yaesu FT-857D, which had no direct connection to software due to it's very limited single comm port and I've been unsuccessful in getting it to talk to my Yaesu. So, there would be no computer generated CW as I prefer to send with the computer. In thinking even further, I realized that I did not have any contest software on my Mini Dell! What I did have was HRD (not even close to anything that I would use) and N3FJP's Amateur Contact Log (AClog) 3.3 (outdated). I originally left AClog for HRD as at that time, no updates were planned for the software. I saw other programs expanding and adding modes leading to a more all inclusive software system. The disadvantages I found with HRD and DM780 was it was not friendly to my older computers. So hearing AClog was updated, I was heading back to AClog for my everyday logging. I still planned on remaining with Win-test however, I was also going to use some of the updated contest software also available from N3FJP.
|ARRL 10 Meter Alaska Records (CLICK to Enlarge)|
Anyhow, not having Win-test set up on my Mini Dell and only having AClog available, I figured that was better than nothing! I looked all over for my pass codes so I could download and use N3FJP's latest 10 Meter Contest program but I could not locate them! Paying the price once again for waiting to the last minute to think contest. But, I knew my effort was going to be limited and very casual so I suppose that is why the lack of urgency to get my mind, body and soul into contest mode. So, I ran with what I had. A regular logging program and sending manual CW with my Vibroplex. Oh, and not to mention trying to remember the correct call to send as I do still have KL8DX on the brain. It can be tough to erase mental habits in the heat of the moment. Sending the letter A rather than the letter K is a 180 degree difference off the starting line and I've had K calls for years! Now things flow a bit different on the electronic keyer which is less of a problem when I'm using my straight keys. With software, I would not even have to give it a second thought.
|Kitchen portable set-up Contest Style|
Life kept me busy until Sunday and I was back on the air around 1300z. It was a Europefest! It was unusual for me to hear Europe so strong and without auroral influence! I managed several European countries and worked several familiar callsigns, including my friend Bert, F6HKA in France. I would slowly tune the VFO up and down the band and work as many that could pull my indoor Phil-a-watt out of the crowded band. It was also obvious that my new call had not made it into the Super Check database.
Highlights on Sunday was working CT9, TK5, CN8, and a huge surprise was ZM90DX! I had to listen to that station for a few just to make sure I had it right! The excitement did not stop there as a ZS1 fell into the old logbook as well. I worked several of the big Caribbean stations and as propagation worked westward, I had my hopes of hearing Rich, KL7RA. I did hear Rich on Saturday but his pile-up kept me from even attempting. I knew with my set-up, I had to hope I could hear him on Sunday and try to snag him when the pile-up had calmed a bit (Mult strategy).
|WCVB Weekend Forecast Non Propagational|
After spending 3 hours clearing the heavy wet snow from around the house, I made it back to the radio for my last hour. I managed several stateside QSO's with again, many a familiar callsign from contests past. I worked my last station at 2303z.
In the end, I worked 32 states and I managed a total of 46 entities. 10 meters showed once again why I love it so darn much. You can literally work the world with little to nothing when the band is open. I only managed 185 QSO's over the weekend with a total operating time of 9 hours or so. Horrible QSO rate but again, it was S&P with many an interruption so my total time operating was much less than that. I missed finding a clear frequency and calling CQ. I very much enjoy running stations but in struggling with my set-up, I opted to just take it easy. Most everyone snagged my call the first time, several asking for a confirmation probably do to not being listed in the master callsign database. A few missed the letter "A" and sent K2MA, but I always made sure I attempted to correct them. A few in their haste may still have busted my call but for the first contest spin, I think things went very well.
Thanks to those who pulled me out of the mud! I could only think how fun the contest would be if I had my 4 element and tower up! If it was this much fun running my indoor radio set-up, it sure had to be fun for those with exterior aluminum.
I have started to receive a few QSL card requests for my new call so I'm working with a printer on a design for my next QSL. I hope to start answering QSL's sometime in January of 2014. I've got my new call linked to LOTW and EQSL. Things are coming together slow but sure. My station is once again in a box and the antenna packed back into the bag it arrived in. I expect my next round of operating will be for Straight Key Night. I want to wish everyone the safest of holiday's and the very best of DX in 2014! Now I need to attempt converting a regular logging .adif file to a .cbr file that I can submit. Since the contest, I have located my pass codes for N3FJP's software so you can sure bet I will be downloading all the new updates and they will be readily available in the event I'm able to work the next big contest with my wanna be laptop.
DX and Contest on my friends!