FT8 Roundup

This weekend I dabbled in the FT8 Roundup. I was on the air when I had some free time, and made a total of 70 QSOs … not even a big effort, but it was interesting.

When the contest first started, there was lots of confusion, especially about operating frequencies. The normal frequencies were not used … special ranges of frequencies were specified. Also, there were several settings that had to be changed in the software itself, and that confused some. The instructions were well-written, and I had no problems at all.

Contest action!

To do things right, it was necessary to go into the files and create backups and then delete specific files. I was leery of that, but I followed the instructions to the letter … no problems were noted when restoring everything afterwards. I even worked another ten stations afterwards to make sure everything was copacetic (HA! Look that one up!).

SO … everything is back to normal, all the contacts are uploaded to LOTW, ClubLog, eQSL, and QRZ, and I’m already seeing some confirmations, minutes after the contest.

Have you been a ham long enough to remember contests back in the “Dark Ages”? Submitting a log then was a real trial … dupe sheets, deciphering handscribbled logs, counting multipliers, computing scores on your fingers and toes, snail mail submission … like I said, the “Dark Ages”. Soooooo much easier now!

Of course, my mouse quit working during all of this. “Must be the battery,” says I. I replace the battery … still bad. Look all over the house for a spare mouse. Finally, a light went on … I tried another AA battery … success! The first replacement was no good. I need to turn in my Technician badge!

Hope you had a good ham weekend. I had thought about pulling out my manual tuner and making some contacts in the 160-meter contest, but I was busy enough with what I was doing. There’re never enough hours in the weekend, are there?

The next few weeks leading up to the holidays are going to be hectic … banquets, dinners, parties, concerts … all sorts of things to keep me busy. But, I’ll still do radio when I have a chance!

73 and Happy Holidays de Dick N4BC

A Bit of Nostalgia

Good Morning, everyone!

I was just looking at my QSO confirmation rates … not too bad, actually. With the advent of electronic QSLing, the percentages are really pretty high, I think.

I track QSLing on two sites, primarily … Logbook Of TheWorld and QRZ. I also upload to EQsl and ClubLog, but seldom visit. I do that mostly for others. On LOTW my confirmation rate is a bit over 66% and on QRZ.com, it’s a whopping 76%.

Obviously, for the “biggie” awards (ARRL and CQ), the LOTW logbook is the major one, but just look at those percentages. I don’t have any numbers, but I guarantee you that I never approached that before electronic QSLing … maybe when I was rare DX, but not as a lowly US ham.¬†

Looking back on it, as a DX station with US managers, I was pretty isolated from the confirmation part of the hobby. I really didn’t care about that aspect of hamming. I just had a blast operating. Without the burden of LOTS of cards arriving in my mailbox, I was continually on the air when I was free. That being said, I still got a LOT of QSLs sent directly to my overseas mailbox … mostly foreign hams and HUGE stacks of bureau cards. I remember getting an entire mailbag of VQ9 (Seychelles) cards one time from the Russian Bureau at Box 99, Moscow (I was the VQ9 bureau). They got answered, but it took time.

Nowadays, it’s a lot cheaper. Essentially free. Back in the “good ole days”, all QSLs went either via the bureau or direct. With the cost of postage now, it’s just not a viable method for most hams.

Times change and we just have to change to keep up. I think LOTW was a great idea, and I’ve never had any problem, either setting up an account or using it, but I DO miss all the paper QSLs. Sigh … times change for sure.

73 de Dick N4BC

IARU HF World Championship

I had a fun time Saturday morning¬† in the IARU HF contest. I made 141 CW contacts … all search & pounce. I had a higher score this year than last year, so I did improve. I had a birthday party to attend Saturday afternoon and evening and then church on Sunday morning, so my radio time was limited to Saturday morning only.

Propagation was good. I had contacts on all bands, 80 through 10 meters. There were lots of good, strong signals. Eighty and forty were noisy, as is normal this time of year, but there were always contacts available.

I have to say that the IC-7300 was a pleasure to use. The bandscope and filters were so useful. That and N1MM+ made the contest fun! I used my 100 watts, homebrew vertical and tuner and was pleased with the results. I do wonder, though, what I could have done with a “decent” antenna? I remember the old days of paper logs, dupe sheets, and manual keying so well. No comparison nowadays.

I would encourage you to participate in contest operation, especially if you’re new to the hobby and haven’t tried it already. It can be a bit intimidating, but it’s a lot of fun. It’s a good way to work new countries/prefixes/counties or whatever. Maybe it’s not for you … that’s OK too, but you’ll never know unless you try it.

73 and Good Luck de Dick N4BC

One Bright Spot …

The bands have been sort of lackluster the past few evenings, with not much activity noted from my humble shack, One bright exception was a short, contest-style contact with PJ4/M0SDV, Jamie, last night on 40M CW. He’s vacationing and DXPeditioning in Bonaire, and must be having a great time! He’s a first-class operator and was doing a great job of managing the pileup.

Brings back memories of my DX days in the Indian Ocean. Every time I got on the air, I created pileups. remember, this was back in the days of very active sunspot cycles. I remember huge pileups to the USA and Europe when I was running 5 Watts SSB or CW, using a TenTec Argonaut. Ahhhh … the good old days!!

73 de Dick N4BC