Monday, May 29, 2023

Making progress on MST

When the conditions are like this...  It's really nice to be able to get heard.

But 37 Q/hr so far in these contests is a record for me.

                    ICWC Medium Speed Test - 0300Z May 30 Call: W7BRS Operator(s): W7BRS Station: W7BRS Class: Single Op LP QTH: WA Operating Time (hrs): 1 Summary:  Band  QSOs ------------   160:    80:    40:  19    20:  18    15:    10: ------------ Total:  37  Mults = 28  Total Score = 1,036 Club: Western Washington DX Club Comments: Finally cracked through that 2 min /qso rate.  And somewhat unsettled conditions, but 20/40 held up.  S-4 noise at a times. K3, 90W into Sky Loop 500' long, 120' high. Until next time, 73.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Shack finally in order

 I've been trying to get the shack moved to the new location (same QTH, different building).

It's still a bit rough, but the shape is right and all I need is to fill that space with the KPA-500  (heh)

Everything is easy to get to, and cables routed conveniently.

I'm close to the coffee maker and I put the Yaesu Map Under the Plexiglass.  All notes and references around the outside under the glass.   This is exactly what I use and was hoping for.  A lot better than the old QTH for 16 years!

Equipment (clockwise)

  • Steinberg UR-22 for FT-8
  • IC-910
  • UTC Clock
  • FT-897D (and FT-891 on top)
  • Palstar AT-AUTO (Kessler design)
  • Heil Pro-7
  • Vibroplex Keyer Deluxe
  • Elecraft K3 /100
  • Palstar DL2K
  • IC-9700
  • MFJ 25A power

Saturday, May 27, 2023

WPX CW Re-cap 2023

Every time I work a SST or MST contest I think "why is it only an hour long"?  They are just so much fun.

Before I put the scores on 3830 I had a re-cap of my op during WPX CW

  • After the SST contest, grabbed bite and then got into the WPX CW
  • It was S/P all the way through -- I couldn't (with 90W) really get a hold of a frequency without being nudged around.  So, S/P was the main operation.
  • 15, 20 and 40m were all fairly in decent shape, even until pausing 4am and then resumed in morning around 8 am.  15m was really doing well this morning.  10m (which  I would have liked to work more today ) was actually in good shape.  Re-worked some other stations I had on 15/20/40.    But even until 3-4 am today, the bands were still quite active and productive.
  • Blazing fast CW though.   It's remarkable.  By comparison my 19 wpm seems quaint in the WPX CW Contest setting.   Crawl, Walk, Run. I'm going to focus on MST level speed as a goal prior to Salmon Run.
  • I saw and missed several WWDXC people whom I wanted to log, but they were here and gone.
  • By comparison the SST contest is like riding in the back of an Uber while the WPX CW contest is like being on the F-1 circuit.  

When I flipped the switch off:

Class: SOAB LP
Operating Time (hrs): 24
Location: USA

Summary:   Compare Scores
Total:305Prefixes221Total Score159,562

  • There's a few things that I need to fix and repair -- the way in which I sent SN was based on what I heard -- and what I heard was the use of cut-symbols like "T" rather than "0" and I misunderstood this.  I thought it was a marker BEFORE the number like SN 134 would be sent as "T134"   So early in the contest I was getting plenty of "huh?" questions and so that slowed me (and the DX down, and I am sorry about that).
  • I worked stations that had small pile-ups or no pile-ups.   When the pile-up was 3-4 deep, I moved on knowing I could come back (and did many times to get those that were popular 5 minutes earlier).
  • I did have to adjust my speed to re-send numbers and my call sign -- is that usual?  The DX would be CQ'ing at 30 wpm and I sent my call at 21 and band conditions I suppose (or QRM) made me have to re-send a few times.  And I am also sorry about that because it slows other people down who just want to QSO after me.
  • About 1/4 of the QSO there was no way I could copy the SN. 30+ wpm and with cut-symbols to abbreviate -- it was pure noise on my end.  I could hear the calls and recognize precisely when to drop mine, but the SN reports were also at 30+ wpm which was blazing fast.

I am looking forward to the next big thing.  In the mean time, SST, MST.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Cracked my goal

I was shooting for 1 QSO every 2 min on average.  The speed is above my usual.  So it was nice to do better on MST than K1USN SST. 


ICWC Medium Speed Test - 0300Z May 23

Call: W7BRS
Operator(s): W7BRS
Station: W7BRS

Class: Single Op LP
Operating Time (hrs): 1

Band QSOs
80: 2
40: 24
20: 7
Total: 33 Mults = 29 Total Score = 957

Club: Western Washington DX Club

Sunday, May 21, 2023

SST results are getting better

I was informed recently about the K1USN SST contest.   I have now adjusted my schedule to participate with the SST twice per week (Friday and Sunday, Pacific time).

My first attempt was feeble but I was still glad to work the contest and I had absolute blast.  So much fun, I was so disappointed when the time expired!  Just an hour.  Oh well, it reminds me to try my best to work as efficiently as I can.

This time around I decided to try to stick on a frequency and do a Run for a bit.  It was a slow start, but then the stations starting piling and I tried to keep up.  The Bard taught me the best pile up has one station.  As long as one at a time, I can work them.   But, that's OK.  I had a few moments of 2-3 at once and I took the strongest signal that I could copy.

That was great fun -- not using S/P and just trying to copy and copy the first time without a request for a repeated call.

Then I decided to check out the band -- the spot map was lighting up and so I tried to snag more contacts of the stations who were were spotted that I could hear.   

The goal this week was to improve my rate to at least 1 QSO every 2 minutes.  I almost made it.  I had 28 QSO and 18 multipliers (I scored myself too low when I posted the score rumor on 3830 web site).

My goal is to keep raising the rate and by the Fall (Salmon Run, WA-State QSO Party hosted by the Western Washington DX Club).

If I can get to a decent rate of about 2 per minute that would be a fine goal.  I could stretch the goal to more than that, but the goal is to gain ability to copy what I hear w/o delay and confusion.   It's getting easier,  I have to admit.

I schedule myself so that I can participate on the SST (K1USN SST), the MST supported by the ICWC.   The speeds are gradually faster between SST to MST.

MST is between 20 to 25 wpm.  And, SST is supposed to be under 20 wpm.  I set my keyer to run at 17 to 18 wpm on SST.

My latest score on SST:

Special thanks to Rusty W6OAT, Hank W6SX and Mark W6UFO for encouragement and advice!

A post script -- the results of the Arkansas QSO Party were disappointing --- band conditions?  The 3830 showed considerable activity and scores, but I couldn't hear much from Washington state. Another lesson learned was to classify my station as Low Power not High Power since I'm just at 90 Watts .

And the "simple shack" is now moved.  No more stacks of radios, just the simple things.  Missing from the photo is the KPA-500 (that is on the list to get this Fall).

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Hooked on CW QSO Parties

What is happening to me. I wake up to work Arkansas QP on CW

Any practice is good practice.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

The Swing

It was not supposed to be an open band, the solar report was awful and the 20 meter band was really noisy.  But there was DX there, I could hear them on the Phone portion, so I switched to CW, tuned to 14,000 and starting rolling the VFO.. the way the Bard taught us.

And there it was.  at 14,0299 a faint signal, but building.  It wasn't that it was too faint, it was good copy except the swing was really odd.  The call wasn't making sense.  I hadn't heard swing like that before.  He was calling CQ, I think.  The swing was that off.  No, he was calling CQ but his call was..   9J  9J2 ? was that a 9J2B or 9J266 made no sense.  Had to be B, 9J2BO   Ok I had the call right and he had no takers.

Nothing spotted either.   I looked up at the map and didn't see it right away.   I'll work him first and worry later.  The prefix did not sound familiar.

I dropped my call.   And he came back to me right away.  We had to straighten out my call with his copy but after a couple tries he copied it.   I was only running 90 W on a loop.

But we had a nice short QSO.  He was Brian in Lusaka, Zambia.  He said he'd been to Seattle before and I think he was talking about his station, I believe.  It got difficult to copy the speed.    I replied politely and tried to keep the QSO going but figured that there were several stations waiting to work Brian, I should try to wind it down.

OK this was a new one.  All time new one for me.  And on CW.

I was so excited, I tried to hold the QSO and maintain semblance of understanding.  But I think he figured out soon that I was fumbling around trying to thank him at the same time I was giving him my information.  I just sent out that I should finish it here and gave him a VRY 73 and TU for the QSO.

A card will go in the mail tomorrow morning.

I fired off an email to my club reflector for the spot and then I started hearing a flurry of calls to him but nothing on VE7CC cluster yet.   As that little pile up started to groan a little, I moved up the band and heard another weak flutter signal and copied a M4O but the first letter was probably T.    I might have mistaken it for TN not TM but anyway, I answered their CQ too and it was a quick QSO, they were a DX'p and upon looking up the QRZ they activated IOTA EU-32 Oleron Island just off coast of France near La Rochelle.  Still counts as France, but an IOTA that I probably won't hear too often.

I put them in the log too and then went back to 14,000 and the band was not as easy to hear then.  

Checking my email I noticed my friend Rusty W6OAT give me note about Zambia and that put a smile on my face.  It was all this encouragement to do CW contests that is building my confidence and what a day -- a new DXCC entity in the log and tomorrow, Friday will be a SST contest to do.   

The latest QST magazine cover message: "Fun in the Field".   Fun is right.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

CW Contests working good

The week isn't over and three contests in the log.

SST - Slow Speed Contest
MST - Medium Speed Contest

I am having a blast working these one hour long contests.  I'm not concerned about the scores, just the practice in copying callsigns.

Just for a point of reference I did best in the MST test (and all contacts were in S/P -- Search and Pounce) with a rate of about 1 QSO every 2 minutes.   Not ideal, but a good start.  I will do better!

The goal is to approach 1 per minute, then 2 per minute and see how close I can get to the best utilization of the time.   I think during the 7-QP with a lot of help we had rate of about 1 QSO every 60-80 seconds but we were running a busy contest.

I figure if I can work 2 per minute that would be a good level to have before the WA QSO Party (Salmon Run) this year.   Then again, I don't know really what the maxim rate could be. Let's stick with 2/min as a goal for the month of June.  It will take a lot of practice.

Stepping back from this I can only contemplate about how this happened.

In order to prepare for the opportunity to work DX'p I'll need to brush up on CW and the CW Contest has been absolutely phenomenal in raising my confidence and given me a great reason to work more CW and practice copying callsigns.  I'm still making a lot of mistakes, but they are good mistakes -- in that they are teaching me things -- better ways to listen, more experience at hearing calls in CW directed towards me (when I call CQ).  That's really it.

I used CW for years for the purpose of chasing after DX and it was a tool to log a station that I wanted to reach.  For DX'ing CW was essential, but I did not quite understand how much fun it would be to be on the other end taking calls (in Run mode) or rapidly sifting through the band giving reports to others who are in the "contest".

Thanks to my friends who are helping me do this.  The encouragement is so important and welcome.

If you hear me on the band, don't hesitate to drop your call and give me your advice, I would appreciate your help to know how to do this better.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Keeping Track of Contests for CW

I'm built up a page to keep track of the scheduled (weekly, yearly, etc..) CW contests (and SSB where applicable).

Along the right margin of this page, find the Link to "Prepare for DX'p"

That's' the page for all the CW/SSB contests that help prepare for DX'p work.

Enjoy.  If you see typos please reach out to me.

If you know of a contest that should be in that list, let me know too!


SST First Try

K1USN SST is a weekly slow speed CW contest.  Everyone wins in that participation builds a lot of confidence using CW. Yes, there is a goal to rack up points, but that's really beside the main purpose -- having fun.

I tried it.  My friend Rusty W6OAT let me know about it last Friday. The contest runs one hour twice per week. Once on Friday and again on Sunday evening.  I had other advice too from Hank W6SX who walked me through the N1MM settings that I should use.  The settings of importance were the macro-definitions for the function keys (which I will include at the end of this post)

I missed the Friday session, but worked it on Sunday. 

Recap on my try:

A lot of fun mistakes that were great ways to learn.  

  • I learned how to get my N1MM macros fine tuned. Thanks to W6SX.
  • I figured out that Run without QSO's wastes valuable time.  So I should switch to S/P time to time to keep rate up.
  • I also started working in a section of the band (although recommended frequencies) were no stations..  They were lower -- Had I watched the spot window more carefully I would have noticed. My mistake.   In total, added up I probably wasted about 20-25 minutes just working the band without a QSO in the log due to my mistake in locating the patch of operators in SST and trying to find them in 15 meters as well as 20 meters.  I found them eventually!
  • I had so much fun.  Looking forward to the next SST.  It's really a lot of fun.

K1USN Slow Speed Test - May 15 
Call: W7BRS 
Operator(s): W7BRS 
Station: W7BRS 
Class: Single Op HP 
Operating Time (hrs): 1 
Band  QSOs  Mults 
20:  13     10    
Total:  13     10  
Total Score = 130 
Club: Western Washington DX Club 

Comments: First SST and loved doing it. Thanks for the encouragement. Look forward to next weekend! Posted using 3830 Score Submittal Forms at:

The Macros I used:  The F6 key is going to send out a CQ in such a way that it will trigger skimmers to spot my station.  If calling CQ twice with the callsign twice, the skimmers routinely will detect this and then spot that station. That's the feature of the RBN (Reverse Beacon Network).

I also recommend to consider setting N1MM to be in ESM mode (ESM = Enter Sends Message) which means that the Enter Key will progress the flow of the N1MM software to send what is the next logical phase of the QSO.   The analog is what happens in FT-8.   You're still in manual control in N1MM, but the logical next thing to send is managed by N1MM and it will cue that up for you to manually invoke.

Play around with it.  The SPACE bar is very useful to transition the focus of the application to the field of interest given the flow of the QSO.

The partial call lookup and the call history files that are recommended are without doubt part of the way in which the whole exchange is smoother.   

## In Run Mode
F2 Exc,{EXCH}
F5 His Call,!
F8 ?,?
F9 Name?,NAME?
F10 Call?,CALL?
F12 Wipe,{WIPE}

## In S/P (Search and Pounce) Mode
F3 R,R
F5 His Call,!
F8 ?,?
F9 Name?,NAME?
F10 Call?,CALL?
F12 Wipe,{WIPE}

Saturday, May 13, 2023


I got a phone call from a friend who reminded me about the K1USN Slow-Speed-(con)Test

This post started out as a reminder about the K1USB contest, but it evolved in to a How-To document.  That was not the original intent, but it happened.  So to keep the information in one place and perhaps help someone else who is in a similar situation, I'll leave it.

  1. You can copy slow speed (below 20 wpm, but above 13-15 wpm?)  In that fuzzy area between "fast and really slow".   I'm around 16-17.
  2. You want to do CW
  3. You want to practice CW Contesting
  4. You have an radio that can do CAT (like Elecraft K3) and a Windows PC with N1MM
  5. You want to have fun learning how to use CW and do so in a Contest.

If this sounds like you, then read on!

I have my station setup with the following:

1. N1MM Logging and I applied the K1USN SST Contest profile  (the instructions on their page are quite simple)
    Download the UDC (User Defined Contest) file.   Then place the file where your N1MM stores UserDefinedContest files.  (it'll be in the installation directory of your N1MM).  For example if you installed N1MM in C:\Foo   then the directory will be C:\Foo\UserDefinedContests   N1MM when installed using all the default settings will put it somewhere else on your PC.   

   After putting the file for the UDC, restart N1MM.   From the File menu, select New Log in Database.

   You'll be presented with a list of choices of which Contest profile to use.  

You will find it under the name "K1USN CW Slow Speed (con)Test"

Once selected the rest of the fields will apply to how you will operate (low power, high power and so on).  

One advice:  In the Exchange field, put "YOURNAME STATE/Province/DX"

Bill from Oregon enters:


If you are Tom in Vancouver, BC:


If you are Rene in France

"Rene DX"


Do this before finalizing the establishment of your Log for this Contest profile.

2.  Once in N1MM the other thing to get configured is the Macro settings.   The Function keys are really helpful in N1MM to send "canned" messages through the Radio.  The configuration of the N1MM logging software being aware of your radio and your connection to the radio is really not the subject of this post, but for me, I use an Elecraft K3 and these are the settings.  I'm confident that the settings may work with other Elecraft radios, but I am not sure.   

Under Config menu, choose "Configure Ports, Mode Control, Winkey, etc.."

Once there under the Hardware tab:   Choose the Port (COM Port) to which your K3 is attached.  I use the Serial to USB cable so this presents to the Windows system a virtual COM port.  Pick the COM port.

Then choose the Radio (I have an Elecraft K3).  I checked the box "CW/Other"

Then click the "Set" button to further configure:

I set the K3 baud rate to 38400 (do so with the Radio, you cannot set the baud rate of the radio via N1MM, but I think perhaps you could if N1MM can send CAT commands to do so.. We won't do that. Just set the baud rate of your radio from your radio.  On the K3, it's in the deep config (hold down MENU on the K3.  The menu setting is RS232.)

Just make the N1MM serial port speed the same.
No parity.
8 data, 1 stop bit

The next part is where I had to do some research/experimenting.

If the setup you have is like mine -- Just a PC (Windows, whatever, it doesn't really matter as long as the CAT is via the "Serial-to-USB" interface to your "PC") then set:

RTS to Always On.

On the K3 find the Config PTT-KEY and set it to:  OFF - dtr

Leave the rest of the N1MM Port settings as shown, as is.  (I believe this is the simplest configuration that gives N1MM the capabilities it needs to control the radio and let you use the Function Keys and ESC key as intended.)

There are some pages floating around the net where the next step might differ from what I'm going to suggest.   This should work for you on an Elecraft K3 and typical N1MM setup.  I'd be interested if this is NOT the correct way -- even though it works.

I'm suggesting this way below because it works AND it preserves the capability of the N1MM to honor the ESC key to "stop transmitting" immediately.

Alright, just to test that your Radio can be keyed by the N1MM (We will get to the Macros soon)

Put the K3 in Test Mode (Hold down TEST).  Put the radio in CW mode, and turn the volume down and turn the Monitor up so you can hear.

Now press F2.  If your Monitor should blast out the CW for whatever the macro F2 does. (which is I believe the Exchange sent to the caller).

3.  The Macros to define for the SST contest are sort of unique because in this SST contest we don't send signal reports.  We send First name and State/Prov/EX and a little message each way.  If you look at the link to the K1USN page (scroll back to top of this post), the sample exchange is:

Let's look at a sample exchange.     Alice W1ALC is from Washington State (WA) and  is calling CQ.

Bob W2BOB  is from California and he answers Alice's call.

This is what it we hear:

W1ALC sends:  CQ SST W1ALC
W2BOB answers: W2BOB

That's a fairly simple exchange.  In N1MM we can use the Macro Function keys to speed this along.

First, the F1 key, that's usually reserved (but not required) to be the "Call CQ button".   Check with your local ham friends, but typically from what I've seen "F1" is going to hold the macro to "Call CQ"

So Alice presses F1 to call CQ...

Then Bob hearing this in California, presses F4 (which is by default in N1MM going to send the Callsign of the Operator.. in this case, Bob is the Operator of Bob's station, so when Bob presses F4 "his own call" is sent.

Upon hearing Bob answer, Alice types in Bob's call sign and depending if she setup Call History (which we will get to in a minute), Alice replies to Bob by pressing F5 (sending their callsign -- whatever callsign Alice typed in to HER N1MM field for the callsign calling her).

When Alice presses F5, Alice's radio transmits the callsign she entered into HER N1MM (we hope she typed in W2BOB before pressing F5 !)

OK but Alice needs to send more than Bob's call.  She also sends THE ECHANGE -- which is HER name and HER state.

So the text you entered when you created the new Log ("exchange" ?)  That comes to be important.  F2 is the key Alice presses to send her Exchange to Bob.  F2 will send "ALICE WA"

(Let's pause here.  Alice pressed F5 to send Bob's callsign.  Alice also pressed F2 to send HER name and HER state per the SST rules. Alice should press F5 then F2 in order, without delay between themN1MM will know what to do -- N1MM will chain the messages in due time.   F5 F2  in order without delay.)

Now Bob received Alice's Exchange and so per the SST rules, Bob sends Alice an exchange "GE ALICE BOB CA"  -- this is the first time Alice actually heard Bob send his exchange with HIS name and HIS State.   But if Alice configured her N1MM to use a Call History database AND Bob was in that database, this name/state information would probably be in there to help her auto-complete the fields BEFORE she even pressed F2.

Upon hearing Bob give her his name (Bob) and his state (CA), Alice can now send the final message of this whole QSO:

Alice sends "GL BOB TU W1ALC SST"

Here, Alice is acknowledging Bob's name (just his name) in a friendly message "Good Luck", and uses his name and then adds "TU" -- which is effectively the end of the QSO.

The suffix at the end "W1ALC SST" is part ending the last QSO and part calling CQ -- without actually calling CQ.  -- Other stations may be listening and they are waiting for Alice to "wrap things up" with the TU and her call.   So, that's what she does -- sends "W1ALC SST" after she sends the TU.

All of this is exactly what is on the K1USN web site.  I'm just re-interpreting it.  You might interpret it differently.

At any rate -- I mentioned four Function Key Presses:

F1 - Causes N1MM to send whatever the "CQ Message" is
F4 - Causes N1MM to send OWN CALL (the callsign of whomever is operating the station)
F2 - Causes N1MM to send the Exchange (Name State/Prov/DX)
F5 - Causes N1MM to send the OTHER CALL - the call sign of the station calling YOU -- as long as you entered it in the N1MM after hearing it.

That's the basics of the keys so far.   The other keys do other things --- F12 for instance completely clears out the QSO data in the fields as if it never happened.

The ESC key (not  Function key) will make N1MM stop the radio from keying ANYTHING.  It just stops transmission immediately.

But, as I looked at the Exchange example from K1USN and I read through the documentation of N1MM I found that one could re-define the Function keys to make the whole exchange automated.

I know this is probably NOT the point of the SST -- to automate everything, but for me what is important is copying callsigns correctly.  I personally do not have trouble sending, I have trouble copying callsigns.  So I could do the whole GE, GL exchange manually.. Or I could do something different.  Here's what I did:

I mapped the F7 key to do this:

In this example, I am W7BRS (Jeff) and the station that called me is W6OAT (Rusty)

If the NAME of the operator of that station is in the field, then when I press F7 my radio sends:


How did N1MM know to send Rusty's name?  The Macro for that is added to the sequence sent by the F7 key.

I'm going to list now all of the settings I use for the Function keys:

To see this list, right-click your mouse pointer in the region of N1MM where the Function Keys are displayed (below the QSO in progress fields)

This is my configuration of the Function Keys.  The rows that are bold are what I modified from the generic defaults:

# sends:  CQ SST W7BRS W7BRS

# sends: JEFF WA
F2 Exch,{EXCH}

F5 His Call,!
F6 Repeat,{EXCH} {EXCH}

# If I'm Jeff and they are Bob 
# and I sent the CQ,
# sends:  GL BOB TU W7BRS SST

F8 Agn?,Agn?
F9 Nr?,Nr?
F10 Call?,Call?

# If I'm Jeff, and they are Bob from CA, 
# and Bob is answering my CQ
# sends:  GE JEFF BOB CA

F12 Wipe,{WIPE}

F1, F2, F5 and F4 are all standard except that F1 is sending the word "SST" after CQ.  You can edit that yourself.

I suggested using two un-used Function keys:  F7 and F11.

If Alice is calling CQ, then Alice can use F7 (as suggested) to send this message:

N1MM gets the value of the macro {NAME} from the name you entered in the current-QSO fields (before you actually log the QSO)

The other key I modified was the unused F11 key. It was unused so I apply it to when I am calling one of the stations that are sending CQ.

Mapping the keys back to the example exchange of K1USN SST, if Alice and Bob were using these mappings, then this is what might be possible then:

W1ALC sends:  CQ SST W1ALC  (Alice uses F1)
(Bob should have typed in Alice's call by now)

W2BOB answers: W2BOB (Bob uses F4)
(Alice has to type in Bob's callsign now)

W1ALC replies: W2BOB ALICE WA (Alice uses F5 followed by F2)
(Alice may have learned Bob's name from Call History or not)

W2BOB replies: GE ALICE BOB CA   (Bob uses F11)
(Alice has to type in Bob's NAME unless she already did, now)

W1ALC finishes: GL BOB TU W1ALC SST  (Alice uses F7)
(The QSO is over -- it was over when Alice sent TU.  She would have pressed ENTER to log it).

Alice  could have manually keyed out just GL BOB and then used a Function key for the TU W1ALC SST,  but that's a lot of movement on the keyboard and paddle.   Likewise, Bob could have manually keyed out his personalized response.  That's up to each person.

Does this violate the spirit of the SST?  Perhaps it's not ideal, but the point is to have fun and if you want to manually send the GE/GL exchange, then PLEASE DO SO.   From the limited amount of CW contesting I've done, I'd say so far the real challenge is not in the sending, but in the copying of the other station's call accurately and quickly.  

Monday, May 8, 2023

Solid state linear?

This is the headache, see photo.  Lots of little pointers.  

It's a fine amp.  Homebrew and I am proud of it.  But man, it's just a chore to operate.

After 13 years I might go solid state and make my life easier with the KPA500 combo.

7QP M/S W6OAT HP Results

I worked the 7QP with Rusty, W6OAT.

Here's our work:

                   7th Call Area QSO Party - 2023

Call: W6OAT
Operator(s): W6OAT W7BRS
Station: W6OAT

Class: M/S HP
Operating Time (hrs): 17:00

Band  CW Qs  Ph Qs  Dig Qs
  160:    7      0      0
  80:    58     14      0
  40:   220     46      0
  20:   287     65      0
  15:   100      3      0
  10:     0      0      0
    6:    0      0      0
    2:    0      0      0
Total:  672    128      0  Mults = 62  Total Score = 140,864

Club: Western Washington DX Club

Posted using 3830 Score Submittal Forms at:

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Deep end of the pool

When Rusty W6OAT offered the chance for me to work the 7-area QSO Party this weekend from his QTH, I was honored.

I took him up on the offer.  I arrived very early Saturday May 6, 2023.  Rusty was already in the shack working CW on 40m for about 30 minutes after the start of the contest by the time I arrived.

We took a small break and he showed me where the essentials were - coffee and after getting a warm shot of Joe we were at the station and talked briefly about the strategy we would use.   We'd work CW first.

It was just a few minutes later when Rusty said, smiling, "Why don't you give it a try?"

Well, that is when I found myself in the deep end of the pool.  

I was using his rig and his software to call CQ on CW for 40 meters.   The key-presses of N1MM software were straight forward to figure out and soon I was dropping the call sign (W6OAT) and taking calls from all over the country and even some DX.

What I assumed was that I would work mostly SSB and Rusty would work CW, but that is not what happened -- and I am grateful.  I am grateful because the opportunty Rusty gave me was to work CW and keep working on that mode hour after hour.   At first I set the speed of the keyer to what I knew I could probably copy, 16-17 wpm.   Most stations came back to me at that speed -- so I had a good chance of copying most of their call.  Rusty helped me fill in the blanks during the exchanges.   I relied on Rusty's ear to pull out the call signs perectly but there is more to it than that.  The exchange, the tempo, the pattern all was what I was learning.

It wasn't only about recognizing the call signs, but also knowing when to recognize when to drop the call (again), or when to give the report ("59 WAKTP") for WA state and Kitsap County.  It was terrific fun to be able to get most of the call and log the contacts in the book.   We were on a roll soon.  100 QSO's then 200, and so on.  Then when the band conditions shifted during the day, we changed bands too.  We changed modes on the band.  I was able to use my new Heil Pro-7 and with the VOX work SSB --- I felt a little more comfortable with SSB, but to be honest I had the most fun working CW.  It is the mode that gave me the best experience.

I don't think I'll stop working CW contests.  The bug has bitten me. Pun intended.

Progress was getting better.  Soon I just had to turn up the speed, to 18 wpm then 19 wpm.   When I shifted to "hunt them down" (by clicking on the spot of the call, the rig and the antenna/amplifier system automatically tuned to that) and I was increasing the speed -- with confidence.

The unfortunate event was that the lower bands just started to get incredibly noisy (QSB, QRN).  The noise level was approaching S8-S9 at times.   Really difficult to copy, but Rusty was there to help fill in the blanks.

The other neat thing that happened was a lot of Rusty's friends came to work us when we called CQ, and offered an incidental 73 or "Hi Rusty" and it was nice to see a grin on his face with all of the friends coming to work his call.   

By the end of the run of the contest, we logged exactly 800 QSO and I think approximately 4/5ths of them were ALL CW.   We worked 160, 80, 40, 20 and 15 meters CW and SSB.   Our attempt to work 15 was also incredible too.  We logged over a 100 CW contacts there.   10 meters wasn't in shape to do us much good.

It's late now, after the end of the contest and I'm just really wiped out.  But I'm left with a great appreciation for the art of CW and contesting.   I have learned skills that really tested me.  I still have a long way to go, but I know it'll always be fun -- just as he told me it would be.  He was right.

I will have to check the calendar and find the next contest that involves CW.   I may not be able to wait for the WWDXC Salmon Run.  There has to be another contest or CW experience before that!

That's all for now.  I'll be re-summarizing this once I've had some time to digest all of the tutoring and gems of information that Rusty shared with me.

I hope you had fun working us, W6OAT.  And I hope you were OK with the mistakes I made trying to secure your call in the log.  I was working at fever pitch, but I think the log is nearly perfect.  Maybe a couple of broken calls only because I logged the wrong county.  But, we shall see when the logs are filtered by the 7-QP desk.

Oh and the other fun thing is that we worked the max DX (10) and we also worked 46-47 states.  We just missed SD, MS, and NM and one other I cannot remember.  We also worked almost all of the Canadian provinces.   Logs to come later.

Best 73!


Things happening

It has been a busy few months since I hung up my software-spurs. On deck -- DX'pedition for Lord Howe Island Lord Howe Island (July 202...