Time is getting close

Time really flies.  After the Virginia QSO party, I took down the HF shack, antennas, power supplies, etc, and now I only have my HT to play with.  I did receive my hexbeam antenna in the mail a few days ago.  I haven’t opened it, since it’s already packed for moving, but I’m sure all the parts are there and it will work out. This is the first pre-built HF antenna I’ve ever used.  I’ve always built them in the past.  But the movers are coming soon, the house is getting emptied…. the big move is upon us!

Alan KE4TA

Working the Virginia QSO Party

I’ve been working the Virginia QSO party all weekend.  Its the last real time for me to work HF prior to taking down the station for moving.  Band conditions couldn’t be worse.  Last year, everyone mentioned that activity was mostly 40m, with some 80m.  This year it seems like most activity was on 80m, with 40m as an afterthought.

What was different for me: this year instead of doing S&P contesting, I decided to primarily find a frequency and sit on it, no matter how long, and let a pile up come to me. I worked WC8VOA, on 7215khz, they asked very nicely if I would mind taking a break from the contest and talking to some boy scouts for a few minutes.  I figured, sure, why not, future of the hobby, be nice, etc.  Honestly, it was the most action I had been getting for awhile.  I spoke with 3-4 kids, and they went QRT, and I thought that was the end of it. I dunno, perhaps I was spotted? Perhaps a few hundred of their closest friends were listening, but well, I was in a solid pileup for an hour after that, I can only think they had something to do with it. Much appreciated.  I learned a few things about working pileups.

  1. Once you settle on a call sign, stick with that call until you work them or they give up.  Otherwise some operators will attempt to walk all over you.
  2. Some people will tune up right on top of you.  Ignore them entirely, act like you can’t even hear them.  If you acknowledge them, it only empowers them.  Eventually they figure you can’t hear their QRM and go away.
  3. Establish a rhythm: If you’re not going to chat with each contact, keep the exchange similar for each contact you make. The stations waiting to contact you will respect the rhythm, and cause less interference as a result.
  4. Be nice to the operators.  Yes, you may be king of the pile up (for the whole hour I was king), but never lose your cool.  Also, slow it down, speak slowly, clearly, and then slower.  I spent some time trying to work other pileups, and heard a few people lose their temper.  I sympathize, but it didn’t solve anything.
  5. Take breaks.  I found I could only work for 2 hours at best before I was exhausted.  The ergonomics of the station didn’t help, but I found I needed to take a break, get some food, walk around, listen to something other than static.

Anyway, its a few things that I picked up working the contest.  The trip is coming up soon!

73, Alan, KE4TA, 9Xsomething

Time is getting close, and the antenna is on the way.

I finally have our housing assignment, unfortunately it faces towards the SW, so I’m not sure how well it will make it to the US except via long-path.  The house does have a big backyard, suitable for some decent antennas… so I decided on a Sentinel Hex Beam for 20/17/15/12/10/6 meters.  It has a diameter of only 22 feet, and is suitable for use with my push up portable mast.  Although I do have a rotor, I will likely leave the rotor off of the mast, and point it in one direction for a few days, then go outside and turn it.

For anyone hoping to activate Rwanda on 30/40/60/80/160, I may attempt to make a wire antenna, but that will require seeing the lot first hand.  I will have sufficient wire with me.

For anyone interested, I will be participating in the Virginia QSO party this weekend.  I enjoyed this contest last year, and it will give me a chance to work some pileups.

Our fly out date is May 26th!!!

Alan, KE4TA, 9Xsomethingsomething


Meeting with future QSL manager N4GNR

I had the chance to meet with my future QSL manager in person, Dan N4GNR.  I must say, he has quite the DX’ing setup.  He offered me the chance to get on the air at full power with a 151ft tower and a 20m 7 element Yagi… mind blown.

He’s convinced me that I’ll need to find a way to get a yagi or a hex beam out there with me.  I think I’ll skip the motorized rotor, and go with aiming it a direction for a few days/weeks, then move it in a different direction to work other parts of the world.


KE4TA, 9Xsomething

Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays to everyone out there.

The packing continues.  Getting everything ready, deciding what goes with us, what stays here, and what goes in the trash is a never ending saga.  Plus stockpiling things that we won’t be able to get (peaches and cranberries are two big ones)

Band conditions have been abysmal of late, perfect time for me to brush up on my CW.

I also got a chance to work a station on split for the first time, station in the Canary Islands, it was interesting to say the least.

73, KE4TA, 9Xsomething

RIP Panadapter

So I got the panadapter installed correctly.  But maybe I did something wrong, who knows.  Maybe it just wasn’t designed to work with my radio, but I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t work.  To be fair, THE PANADAPTER WORKS!  I have no doubt that the design was solid.

Unfortunately, the panadapter most definitely caused major desensitization on my receiver.  On the order of 6db reductions on some bands.  Given what I heard regarding conditions in Rwanda, I believe that 6db reduction in reception would be catastrophic for my DX efforts.  I left the panadapter in the radio, but clipped off the wires and removed them.  I may revisit the project at another date, but for now, its unfortunate that I had to get rid of it.  Many thanks to the guys at HupRF for their expertise.  Perhaps I’ll revisit it at a later date.

73, KE4TA, 9Xsomethingsomething