Category Archives: On the Air

2015 August UHF Contest Results

2015 August UHF Contest certificateOpened the mailbox today and was surprised to see an envelope from Newington waiting for me.  Looks like I placed third in the Atlantic Division (SOLP) and first (out of two) in the MDC section!

Missed all the VHF+ contest this year but I’m hoping to get my antennas back up and figure out what to do with these transverters.  I had a slight point deduction due to a mis-copied grid when I contacted WB2JAY and a couple of duplicates.  I had fun participating and hope to do so again soon.

ARRL Contest Branch
==============================================================
Contest:    2015 ARRL AUGUST UHF CONTEST
Call:       WG3K
Category:   Single Operator, Low Power
Location:   MDC

************************** Summary ***************************

      15 Claimed QSO before checking (does not include duplicates)
      14 Final   QSO after  checking reductions

      54 Claimed QSO points
      51 Final   QSO points

       8 Claimed grids
       8 Final   grids

     432 Claimed score
     408 Final   score
   -5.6% Score reduction

    6.7% Error Rate based on claimed and final qso counts
       3 (16.7%) duplicates
       0 (0.0%) calls copied incorrectly
       1 (5.6%) exchanges copied incorrectly
       0 (0.0%) not in log
       0 (0.0%) calls unique to this log only (not removed)

********************** Results By Band ***********************

             Band   QSO  QPts  Grid

   Claimed    432    12    36     5
   Final      432    11    33     5

   Claimed   1.2G     3    18     3
   Final     1.2G     3    18     3

   Claimed    All    15    54     8  Score      432
   Final      All    14    51     8  Score      408

*************** Incorrect Exchange Information ***************

 432 CW 2015-08-02 1334 WG3K         FM18 WB2JAY       FN10 correct FN30

*******************  Multipliers by band  ********************

432 multiplier total 5

FM19  FM29  FN10  FN20  FN31

1.2G multiplier total 3

FN10  FN20  FN31

The difference a few miles will make.

Tonight I worked several station with two in particular being W1AN and WZ1V.  Both of those stations I worked on three bands: 144, 432, and 1296 MHz.  W1AN is a little further away than WZ1V but both are fairly close to each other in Connecticut with WZ1V being a bit further west.

Oddly enough, W1AN was stronger the higher in frequency we went while WZ1V was the opposite.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings!

2015 ARRL August UHF Contest results

VHF and UHF antennasWhew, it’s been interesting last couple of days around here.  On Friday the only antenna I had in the sky was my OCF dipole for HF.  Saturday morning found myself, Bob N3PPH, and Dave W3PQS erecting a pole with antennas for 2m, 70cm, and 23cm.  With the ARRL August UHF contest starting at 2PM (local) we had to scramble.

Okay, so I was a little late getting on the air.  First QSO went in the log at 3:09 PM.  I operated, off and on, until 2:00 PM on Sunday and ended up with 18 QSOs, representing six grids and six states, all within ~500 km.

Best DX

432 MHz – 70cm

Best DX of the weekend was K1GX in FN31 with a door-to-door distance of ~493.9km.

1296 MHz – 23cm

Best 23cm DX of the weekend was K1TEO with his powerhouse station at a distance of ~405.3km.

Easiest Copy

K1TEO was very loud during the entire event.  When I went searching for a place to call CQ (usually around 432.107 MHz) I had to give him clearance as he was constantly in my ear.  WA3QPX was also armchair copyable and we chatted for a bit during the contest.

K3TUF gets the ‘easiest copy’ mention on 1296MHz.  We chatted using SSB on 1296.100 MHz without too many problems.

Score

I pay little attention to the score I generate in these contests as I am more interested in the number of contacts and the distances I can work.  With my small station, and with my off-and-on operation, I managed to rack up 324 points.  Obviously not a winning score but with my antennas stuck pointing at FN (basically pointing at Connecticut) and running 50 watts on 432MHz and 10 watts on 1296MHz I say I did okay.

Grids

  • FM19
  • FM29
  • FN10
  • FN20
  • FN30
  • FN31

States

  • Connecticut
  • Deleware
  • Maryland
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania

Dipping my toe into the DMR pool

A few weeks ago I ventured down to Cary and to RARSfest to see some friends.  It was a good event and the weekend was nice and relaxing.  While at RARSfest I noticed many of my friends carrying DMR portables.  They told me to go talk to the NC PRN guys who had a booth there.  Well, fast forward to today and I now have a DMR radio sitting on my desk.

What I know so far…

Well…  I did a lot of reading to try to understand how the system is setup.  As I used to have to deal with trunking systems [in a previous life] I understand talkgroups and the problems with having too many available without the channels to support them all when you have simultaneous use.  DMR is no different.  Throughout the world I see many different thoughts on how to allocate the talkgroups to make many options for the users without completely killing the system.  Some groups do it well, others… well, I’m not sure how their systems can even work.

They systems in the Mid-Atlantic seem to do well.  I’d probably make some adjustments but overall they seem to run smoothly.  The repeaters seem to have “local” on one timeslot and everything else on another.  That keeps local open all the time for conversations.  This is in contrast to the NC PRN network which lumps local onto a timeslot with a bunch of “on-demand” talkgroups.  Their system-wide talkgroup, PRN, is kept on its own timeslot without interference.  Again, it’s all about priorities.

The system’s efficiency is at risk when you put too many users on too many talkgroups, especially when those talkgroups occupy timeslots on all the repeaters all the time.  Of course someone thought of this and created TAC-310; an on-demand talkgroup that most everyone (globally) has access to but doesn’t occupy a timeslot on a repeater unless it’s been activated there.  Makes sense, correct?  You can get off the calling channel and get over on a discrete channel that doesn’t utilize that many resources.  Unfortunately there is only one of these talkgroups.  Even on a system the size of NC PRN their get-off-of-PRN talkgroup is named ‘Southeast’ where the talkgroup has many more potential off-network users.  Still it’s all about priorities and fulfilling a certain mission.

CalDMR seems to have a good way of separating communications onto their timeslots.  I guess the hope is that you won’t have too many conversations at each level happening simultaneously.

One system I’ve been quite impressed with the Connecticut’s DMR ARES system.  Designed to facilitate intra-state communications, they have added ten tactical on-demand tactical channels to help spread out the load away from system-wide channels while supporting many simultaneous communications.  Still, I wonder about the load and whether or not the repeater congestion will be a problem.

Most of these networks are young and I suspect some shifting around will be required on all networks as well as an understanding of the priorities of the network by its users.

So where are you hanging out?

As for me, I’m listening to the North America calling channel as well as local on the Upper Marlboro and Charlotte Hall repeaters.  Feel free to give me a shout!

Five Principles of Amateur Radio in the United States

Did you know there were five principles of Amateur Radio written into the law that is Part 97?  Those principles are:

    (a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service
to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service,
particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.
    (b) Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to
contribute to the advancement of the radio art.
    (c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through
rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communication and
technical phases of the art.
    (d) Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio
service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.
    (e) Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to
enhance international goodwill.

It would seem that we aren’t just using our airwaves for emergency communications like some people would have us believe.  We can actually go out and enjoy our bands without feeling guilty!

CW Opportunties for Fun

I friend of mine recently tested for the Technician-class Amateur Radio license and passed without trouble.  Not that this is surprising given his history in the communications world (fricken helium atom, Sir).  What I find neat is his style of operating as a newly licensed ham.  I remember when I received my Technician license all I wanted to do was talk on the local repeaters and meet people that were around town.  This guy I *think* owns an HT but has been sucked down to the bowls of 40 meters ever since receiving his ticket.  The Novice portion of the band never looked better to him.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to meet him up on the air.  It’s not for him trying, however.  He noted in a recent message that he is QRV beginning when he walks in the door from work and then again for a couple of hours starting at 8PM.  I, on the other hand, am usually pulling myself out of the office/radio room during those times.  I do plan, however, to make a sched for later this week.

In the mean time I thought I’d send him a couple of resources that he might find useful.  And if he might find it useful then I’m sure others might as well so I’ll just post here.

Clubs and Organizations

  • Straight Key Century Club – When I met W8DEA on the radio back in December of 2010 he pointed me to this group.  Free to join and participate, this club encourages folks to get on the air and have fun (using a straight or other manually operated key).  I highly recommend not only joining the group but participating with the group.
  • The International Morse Preservation Society – Also known as FISTS is one of the older groups of Morse enthusiasts that have a presence around the world.  Similar to SKCC, they have contests and other activities getting people on the air using their skills.

Local Nets

  • Carolinas Slow Net – Meeting every night at 8PM (ET) on 3571 kHz, this net is great for those just getting into CW and needing a little help finding their feet.  This net is also a NTS-affiliated net and traffic is passed.
  • Carolinas Net – Early – Meeting every night at 7PM (ET) on 3573 kHz, this net facilitates traffic flowing from North Carolina and South Carolina to the 4RN net.  This net is advertised as running 20 to 22 WPM.
  • Carolinas Net – Late – This net is a partner to the Carolinas Net – Early.  The Late net meets to distribute traffic coming from the EAN and 4RN nets.  The Late net meets at 10PM (ET) on 3573 kHz.
  • Virginia Net Early (VNE) – This net meets at 7PM (ET) on 3578.5 kHz to pass traffic throughout Virginia and to the 4RN net.

Other neat stuff

  • Maritime Radio Historical Society – I’d be holding back if I didn’t give some credit to one of the groups that really spurred me on to working on my fist.  The guys (and gals) at KPH/KSM/K6KPH really know how to excite the atmosphere and my receiver.

This is a short list of items I’d pass to a new ham who is hot on the key.  I, for one, will be guarding 7114kHz when I’m in the shack and not on a net working traffic.  Remember to throw your callsign out every so often so that others will know you are there.  If anyone knows of any other good resources please leave a comment and I may just include them.

73