It’s been a while since I made a semi-serious contest entry and I happened to notice a couple of weeks ago that the CQ WPX RTTY contest was coming up.  I currently hold the England record for the 15m high power section and so I planned to try and beat that this year.

I was on the air prior to sunrise on Saturday and operated until after sunset the same day, making a total of 436 QSOs which I thought was well on the way to being able to beat my previous record.

Sunday was a different matter though.  Conditions were poor and I struggled to get up to 630 QSOs by mid afternoon.  I went out for a walk to get some fresh air and clear my head and then worked another twenty when I got back for a total of 650 contacts.  I’m told that the band did still stay open for another couple of hours to the west but I’d really had enough by that time.

My final tally was:

  • 650 QSOs including six duplicates
  • 71 countries
  • 6 continents
  • 427 prefixes

My claimed score is 693,875 which is only a few thousand below my current record but there are duplicates to remove and I’m sure there will be a few logging errors.  Interestingly, I managed around 35 more multipliers this year than I’ve ever worked before.

One thing I really need to sort out is my logging software.  I use fldigi because there’s a native Mac version but although it’s good enough for normal data comms, it really doesn’t cut it for contesting.  I’ve done OK using it in the past but the big thing I really need to make the next step is DXCluster integration along with the ability to flag new stations seen on the cluster, mark whether they’re new multipliers and just generally help boost my score.  I’m sure that with decent tools, I could have worked a lot more stations and picked up a lot of new multipliers.  Out of my 650 QSOs, 645 of them were worked by running a frequency and just five by search and pounce.

To wrap, here’s my QSO map for the contest.  You can click for a full size version.

Stations worked during CQ WPX RTTY 2015

Stations worked during CQ WPX RTTY 2015

Posted in Amateur radio, Contesting, Data, HF, RTTY | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

20m QRSS warmup

I’ve had this screenshot sitting on my desktop for a while because I think it’s quite interesting.

It shows my 20m QRSS signal from when I switched the transmitter on, for a period of nearly four hours.  You can see how it takes almost an hour to warm up and calibrate itself to the correct frequency and then it’s nice and stable.

This is nothing unusual really, the Hans Summers Ultimate 3 transmitter takes a while to stabilise and end up on the exact frequency.  What’s a little unusual is that the station who captured this warmup was ZK2IK, Pete in New Zealand, so not exactly a local station to me.

I was transmitting with about 200mW on 20m through my Hexbeam which was pointing due north.  It’s quite incredible to see my very low powered transmission was such a good signal on the other side of the world for such a long period.

My 20m QRSS signal warming up as received in ZL

My 20m QRSS signal warming up as received in ZL

Posted in Amateur radio, Construction, HF, QRSS | Tagged , | Leave a comment

I’m not dead!

I know I’ve not updated this blog for some months but don’t panic, I’m not actually dead!

Although I’ve not done much operating this year, I have still been playing radio.  I’ve been melting a lot of solder building WSPR and QRSS transmitters and there’s normally some RF being transmitted on an HF band somewhere running very low power from this QTH.  I’m having a lot of fun testing different aerials and different power levels and still enjoying radio.

Everything goes in cycles and as a result, I’ve hardly had any QSOs this year – A quick check of my log shows that I’ve made just 220 contacts in 2014.

I changed my car about six months ago and I fitted a new Kenwood TM-D710GE wireless.  My old Kenwood TM-D700E has been retired and the new model does a lot more.  I’d had some problems getting the GPS working but the GE model has a GPS built in so as a result, I can be tracked as G6NHU-9 pretty much every time I’m out and about.

Posted in Amateur radio, FM, HF, QRSS, VHF, WSPR | Leave a comment

My 10m vertical broke in the storms

Friday night was very windy over here on the east coast and when I went to bed I noticed that there was more noise than normal coming through my aerials.  Normally I can hear the wind gently whistling through the mast and the Hexbeam but there was an actual rattle coming from somewhere which is unusual.

The wind had dropped a bit by Saturday morning but I could still hear some rattling from the outside which I quickly traced to be coming from the area where my 10m vertical is located and by looking out of the window I could see the top part of the aerial hanging down.

A quick trip outside confirmed that my Sirio Gain Master vertical for 10m had folded over completely, having broken just above the bottom join.  You can see it here and I’ve highlighted the fold.

Broken 10m vertical

Broken 10m vertical

The pole is mounted on the side of the house above a flat roof and the area where I normally put the ladder is well shielded from the wind so with the help of M6DHU I was able to quickly get up there, unbolt the pole and lower the aerial.  Here’s a closer version of the break with the same area highlighted.

Close up of the broken section of my Sirio Gain Master 10m vertical

Close up of the broken section of my Sirio Gain Master 10m vertical

The centre radiating element appears undamaged so technically it’s repairable but I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet as I don’t really use it too much.  When I’m operating on 10m, I tend to use the Hexbeam although it can be handy with the vertical during contests.  A good friend, M0YNK has a Sirio 2016 and I’m thinking it might be a better option, if I decide to replace it.

I’m not too upset about the aerial breaking as I suspected it was going to snap when the winds really kicked up towards the end of last year, I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did!

Posted in Amateur radio, Broken aerial, HF | Leave a comment

Statistics – December 2013

December was another month where I did very little on the wireless regarding actual QSOs made but I did operate QRSS/WSPR on various bands for most of the time. My interests are shifting slightly towards low power experimentation but I’m still keen on trying to increase my DXCC count. In December, I worked one new entity – Lakshadweep Islands.

QSOs made: 73
DXCC entities worked: 20
New DXCC entities worked: 1

Total DXCC worked: 265
Total DXCC confirmed using LoTW: 245
Total DXCC confirmed using LoTW/QSL cards: 261

Posted in Amateur radio, Review | Leave a comment

Statistics – November 2013

I’ve had a very busy month with very little time to play radio and despite the fact that there have been a number of DXpeditions in November, I was only able to work one of them which was San Andres Island. I did manage to pick up some new band slots on 40m though and they were Mongolia, Colombia, Bermuda, Georgia, Tunisia, Ceuta & Melilla, Curacao and Republic of South Sudan.

QSOs made: 160
DXCC entities worked: 56
New DXCC entities worked: 1

Total DXCC worked: 264
Total DXCC confirmed using LoTW: 245
Total DXCC confirmed using LoTW/QSL cards: 260

Posted in Amateur radio, Review | Leave a comment

Statistics – October 2013

The two new countries worked in October were Guantanamo Bay and Republic of the Congo.

QSOs made: 807
DXCC entities worked: 94
New DXCC entities worked: 2

Total DXCC worked: 263
Total DXCC confirmed using LoTW: 244
Total DXCC confirmed using LoTW/QSL cards: 259

Posted in Amateur radio, Review | Leave a comment