Sunday, February 9, 2014

SKCC's February Weekend Sprint-a-thon

This weekend was the SKCC February Weekend Sprintathon (WES). I know the bands were busy with RTTY and had I still lived in Alaska, I would have been diddling my way across the bands in another low power RTTY effort. Ironically, I just received some RTTY wallpaper and wrote about it on my KL8DX blog. But since I have no way of running RTTY here yet, I decided that any free time I had was going to be directed toward working CW with my straight key.

I began Saturday with only my Yaesu FT-857D. When Sunday rolled around, I decided to pull the Icom IC-703Plus out of the portable box and set it up. I had the power output set for 1 watt. I have a 3 position antenna switch which I use to switch between the rigs. It's an eBay special so the isolation stinks, but it works as it's a quick and easy way for me to switch between rigs. The Yaesu allows me to dial down to 5 watts, however I find the need to go even lower from time to time. 

Rigs 2 Keys
Getting back to the WES, I found that my indoor set up was hearing best on 15 meters. Since I use my Buddipole antenna indoors, I normally will set it up for 40 meters first and then tune around on the different bands. Once I find the band with the most activity, I will re-tune the antenna for that band. Needless to say, there is no quick band switching for me. I started off Saturday on 40 meters, briefly went to 20 meters for just a few contacts and then headed to 15 meters where most of my weekend activity took place. I enjoy the high bands because when the bands are open, I can easily work thousands of miles away. I know that 15 was in great shape for me and my puny setup so there is no doubt it had to be good for those who had outdoor antenna's. 

With shopping on Saturday morning / afternoon and my normal weekend duties to complete on Sunday, I did not have lots of time to devote to the key but I was able to log 57 straight key QSO's. I worked a handful of European stations on Sunday morning on 15 meters.  It was great to finally run into several stations that I've not worked since I pulled the plug in Alaska. The weekend highlight was working my buddy Martin, W3MLK and then toward the end of the contest, working Karen, W4KRN. Pete, N1ABS welcomed me to the neighborhood and by the time the WES was over, I added a few new SKCC numbers to the logbook, too. I wrapped up my effort on 40 meters, the same band I started. My last QSO was with Dan, W9DLN for a WI multiplier. Not band considering and my longest QSO on 40 meters for the weekend. 

CW, The KEY to Success
I miss my 4 elements and my Icom IC-756PRO, which I could pull out of the box however, I'm enjoying my portable set up for now. I do miss working JT65, PSK31 and the other digital modes! I wish I could find my interface cable for my Icom! I'm also not able to find my Cellpro battery charger so that I can charge my A123 portable batteries. Until I can get them charged, I won't be operating /p anytime soon. But for now, I'm just happy being able to get on the air from time to time and having the success that I do. I worked 35 different SPC's (States, Provinces or Countries) this weekend so for me, CW was my KEY to DX success!  


  1. 57 QSO's in 35 Different States?.....Sounds like you're doing very well. Congratulations on a job well done!