Thursday, 21 February 2013

DX expeditions - CW Skimmers

There have been a few DX expeditions in the last while that were fairly difficult to work. The response and behavior from the expedition station is erratic and out of synch. At times they work a bunch of stations in a row and it is near impossible to determine where the DX station is listening and who he is working where. Furthermore, after some 10 calls I decide to stop calling and out of the blue, some 30 seconds later the station responds with “ZS6A 5NN”.

I could not understand this erratic or strange behavior until the penny dropped. They are most likely using CW skimmer software. They simply respond to the list of decoded calls they see on the screen.

Heck, I am all for using technology to the fullest, but this “style” of operation will take me a while to get used to. I still prefer working the masters of the ‘mojo mode’, they deserve our respect.

I guess if it is a choice of machine decoded CW vs. no CW, then there is no argument. They must use whatever they must use, as long as they work CW.

Long live CW.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

ARRL DX CW contest - QRP

A had a few pleasant surprises yesterday. Due to the saltmine interfering with my contesting I only arrived home late Saturday afternoon.

I was monitoring the solar numbers for the last few days and it certainly did not seem very promising. I was therefore very pleased and surprized to see that 10m was fairly open with many good workable signals from Europe and a while later from Canada, North America and the Caribbean.

Due to the nature of the ARRL DX CW rules much of the “juicy DX” was off limits….

However I was very pleased to make a few QSOs with North American and one station in Canada. I was using my Elecraft K3, running 5 watts and a simple dipole mounted at 8 metres agl.

It was very obvious from the responses that there was a certain amazement/disbelief from most of the stations. In most cases they copied my call on the first try without requiring any retries, but in most cases I had to repeat my exchange “5W” a few times. I suppose they were so used to receiving “KW”, so what is this “5W” business….

I am very impressed with some of the big gun stations, not only do most have good signals, they also have incredibly sharp operators with good receiving abilities to work my weak signal.

I worked the following stations: 


And some say QRP is for the birds…..

Thursday, 14 February 2013

CQ Magazine's Annual DX Marathon

After reading John AE5X blog did I become aware of the interesting activity refered to in the link below.

This looks like an interesting activity, almost like contesting from the slow lane.

Every year one starts off fresh with a clean slate and a new set of goals.

The “formula class” might appeal to many radio amateurs with limited resources (basic antennas and without power amplifiers).

I fail to understand why a rotatable dipole is grouped with gain antennas: Yagi, Quads and the like. A dipole is dipole and it has no gain. In fact it serves as the base reference when comparing antennas. I think that restriction is daft.
would love to participate as formula 1, but I do not have gain antennas. Plan-B would be to participate as formula 2, but a rotatable dipole is not permissible. Just goes to prove it is impossible to please everyone.