Saturday, January 10, 2015

A little bragging

As noted in the Mississippi ARRL Section Report for December 2014:
Delta EC K5JAW participated in the QSO-365 Project during 2014 focused toward at least making one QSO a day during the year.  Due due to family, travel, equipment problems, and work Jim unfortunately missed 23 days, but managed to make over 1,000 QSOs during the year, worked all seven continents, 49 states (missed North Dakota), 76 DXCC entities, and made PSHR 11 out of 12 months.  This sounds like a good project for anyone who needs a little push toward putting in more time on the air.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

K5JAW Operating Notes: 2014 Review

First of all, I've neglected this blog site far too long.  There's no reason for it.  My apologies...

My primary goal for 2014 in Amateur Radio was to work through a QSO-365 project.  I outlined my plans here, and today I'm offering a recap on what was accomplished, and what wasn't accomplished. 

First, what is QSO-365?  QSO-365 was a project devised by G6NHU in 2010 in Great Britain.  He explains the project on his website.  Essentially, the goal is to have at least one QSO/contact per day for an entire calendar year. 

So how did I do?  Well, I didn't make all 365 days.  In fact, I missed 23 days through the year.  I knew that I'd miss some days, but had no idea I'd miss nearly a month's worth of days.  Sometimes it was due to work schedules, sometimes it was due to antenna issues, and other times it was due to personal/family schedules.  But as we know, amateur radio is a hobby, and has to be prioritized accordingly on occasion.  Does missing 23 days mean I failed?  Well, if you're counting day-by-day, then yes.  But I'd offer to you that success can be measured in other ways as well.

Here's the run-down for the year:
  • 1014 contacts logged
  • 7 continents logged (including Antartica!)
  • 76 DXCC entities logged
  • 29 new DXCC entities logged
  • 50 of the United States logged
  • ARRL Public Service Honor Roll achieved for 11 months of the year.
  • All contacts were by voice/phone.  No digital contacts were made at all this year.
  • All HF contacts were 100 watts or less.
Now, does that constitute a failure?  I guess it depends on how you interpret the numbers, but in my book it's a great success. 

Reviewing the numbers for the year reveals a few good bits of data that can improve station operations.  Firstly, it's good to have "hard numbers" on how many contacts on each band you've logged.  These numbers can influence future HF antenna plans and installations.  For me, 80, 20, 17, and 10 meters were the most used of the HF bands.  When considering any HF antenna updates, I'll keep this in mind.

Keeping good records and transferring key data into a spreadsheet helps look at operating trends.  I set up a spreadsheet with each month representing a row, each band representing a column, and logged the number of contacts per band/per month accordingly.  Almost half of my 2014 contacts were logged in the first four months of the year.  I expected a slow-down for summer as the days get longer and outdoor activities supplant radio time.  The addition of an evening second job in the fall also kept numbers down later in the year.  Casual participation in occasional contests helps along the way.  If you participate seriously in contests, you don't have to worry about overall numbers.  And again, this wasn't about total numbers; it was about making an conscious, daily effort to get on the air.  

Using voice/phone/SSB for all HF contacts was also a bit of a challenge.  Digital HF modes are very straightforward, and not terribly difficult to establish contact even under the worst of conditions.  By consciously choosing to not use digital modes, I was compelled to work through sometimes huge pileups, set up split operations on the fly, and exercise a great deal of patience when listening to very faint DX stations.  That is great practice at becoming a better operator!

If you're considering a QSO-365 challenge, good luck!  You'll definitely become a better operator over the course of your year.  The benefits are very much worth the time investment.  A quick tip for success: use UTC time.  If you set your on-air time for 2300hrs UTC to 0100 UTC, you'll have two hours spread over two days.  If for some reason you can't get back on the air within 24 hours, you can "skip" a day, so to speak and catch back up at the very end of the next day.

Until next time, 73 de K5JAW


Friday, April 25, 2014

Severe Weather expected Sunday-Tuesday

A potentially volatile severe weather system is expected to affect Mississippi this Sunday through Tuesday of next week.  The information below comes from NWS Jackson briefing held at 2pm Friday, April 25, 2014.

I encourage you to take time this weekend to review your family's emergency plans, and implement them as appropriate.  Confirming out-of-area points of contact, keeping fuel tanks filled, batteries charged, etc, will all be good things to consider this weekend.  Also review with your family the safe area(s) of your home to seek shelter if the need arises.

*Regional multi-day severe weather outbreak expected
*Starting Sunday and lasting through late Tuesday
*Multiple rounds of storms during this timeframe
*Significant severe weather possible with any episode (strong tornadoes, large hail, etc).
*Very heavy rain and flooding (some possibly significant) becoming more likely late Monday into Tuesday

The first round of severe weather is expected Sunday into Sunday night.  See the graphics below for an illustration of the anticipated risks.  Generally, the western Delta counties have the highest risk for strong tornadoes, large hail, damaging winds and heavy rain.

The sound wave of severe weather is expected Monday into Tuesday, with a large portion of Mississippi in a high-risk category for strong tornadoes, very large hail, damaging straight-line winds and flash flooding.

Any period from Sunday to Tuesday could experience heavy rain.  Highest accumulations are mainly expected Monday  into Tuesday, with some localized areas receiving 5 or more inches.

Please visit the NWS Jackson webpage at www.srh.noaa.gov/jan for more up-to-date information through the weekend.

***DO NOT USE THIS WEBSITE AS YOUR SOLE SOURCE OF WEATHER INFORMATION, ESPECIALLY WATCHES AND WARNINGS. THIS WEBSITE DELIVERS FOCUSED INFORMATION FOR A SPECIFIC GEOGRAPHIC AREA AND IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE TIMELY WEATHER WARNING INFORMATION***

Sunday, April 6, 2014

K5JAW Operating Notes, 2014 Week 13 &14 (March 23-April 5, 2014)

On The Air: 
It's been a busy couple of weeks around Station K5JAW, but very little of that busy time has been amateur radio time!  Only 42 contacts were logged in this two-week period, and most of them were for activity in various nets.  A few days out of town for work contributed to the lack of radio time.  Additionally, I've been spending evening time working on getting a small garden up and going.

For my 2014 QSO 365 project, the first three months of the year have been a great success.  396 contacts were logged in January (166), February (91), and March (139), with 16 new DXCC entries logged.  That averages out to just over 4 contacts per day, if you like running averages.  Certainly there were days with only one or two contacts, and a few days with multiple contacts.  My highest single-day tally was 35 contacts on March 1.

Are you doing a QSO 365?  Or have you considered taking up the challenge?  How are you doing so far?

Top 5 Distances This Period:
RK9UN - Russia, 6400 miles
UA9MA - Russia, 6200 miles
R7DX - Russia, 6100 miles
S58N - Slovenia, 5200 miles
OE3XMA - Austria, 5100 miles

International Contacts:
Asiatic Russia, Austria, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, European Russia, Slovenia, US Virgin Islands

States Worked:
Mississippi, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont

QSL Cards Received this week
None

QSL Cards Going Out in the coming week
No cards this week, I'm waiting on some new QSL cards to be delivered.  I'll catch up as soon as I get them!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

K5JAW Operating Notes, 2014 Week 12 (March 16-22, 2014)

On The Air: 
Aside from the routine nets that occur each day of the week, I've enjoyed some DX activity on the HF bands.  Four new DXCC entities were logged this week.  That brings my 2014 total of new DXCC entries to 16, if I counted correctly!  It has been fun, and quite a challenge to break through the huge pileups that come with DXCC's that aren't heard that often.  I can tell you it is very satisfying to hear the DX station call back "Kilo 5?" or "Juliette Alpha Whiskey?" from among the big guns that are trying to call him.  The new DXCC's logged this week were Greece, Latvia, South Korea, and Kuwait.

Top 5 Distances This Week:
9K2QA - Kuwait, 7300 miles
HL5FUA - Republic of Korea (S. Korea), 6800 miles
RT0F - Russia, 5900 miles
SV2CXI - Greece, 5700 miles
YT0W - Serbia, 5500 miles

International Contacts:

Aruba, Bahamas, France, Greece, Kuwait, Latvia, Republic of Korea, Russia, Serbia

States Worked:
Arizona, California, Hawaii, Mississippi, New Mexico

Bands Worked this Week:
80m - 5 contacts
20m - 5 contacts
17m - 1 contact
12m - 5 contacts
10m - 2 contacts
2m - 6 contacts

Around the Station:
The highlight of the week was receiving my Worked All Continents award!  I had my cards checked and the application sent off about two months ago.  Since that time, I've "worked all continents" on 10 meters in one day, as well as truly working ALL continents by getting Antarctica in the log a couple of weeks ago.


QSL Cards Received this week
None
QSL Cards Going Out in the coming week
No cards this week, I'm waiting on some new QSL cards to be delivered.  I'll catch up as soon as I get them!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

K5JAW Operating Notes Weeks 10 & 11 (Mar 2-15, 2014)

On The Air: 
Well I missed publishing Week 10 Operating Notes, so you get a double-helping this week!  Such is the ebb and flow of this hobby; sometimes we don't get to spend the time on it that we plan.  Over the past two weeks I've been subject to that ebb and flow, with my on-air time ranging from quick visits to the shack for participation in regular nets, to spending a few hours at a time working DX contacts.

I won't recap every little bit of the last two weeks, other than to say that I've added new DXCC entries to the log.  Although they're not yet "confirmed" for awards purposes, they're in the log!   Probably the biggest highlight was logging Antarctica with a SSB contact to RI1ANT, just over 10,000 miles away on the "far side" of Antarctica from the United States.  That meant my signal went over the South Pole, or pretty dog-gone close to it.  I've got confirmations on the six major continents, and now I can say that I've got all seven in the log.

Top 4 Distances This Week:
RI1ANT - Antarctica, 10,157 miles
RT0F - Russia, 5700 miles
YT0W, YU1JW, and YT0A - Serbia, 5500 miles

International Contacts:
Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Bonaire Island, Brazil, Canary Islands, Chile, Croatia, Cuba, Curacao Island, European Russia, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Spain, Turks & Caicos

States Worked:
Mississippi, Texas, Virginia

QSL Cards Received this week
W4V - Virginia

QSL Cards Going Out in the coming week
No cards this week, I'm waiting on some new QSL cards to be delivered.  I'll catch up as soon as I get them!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

K5JAW Operating Notes 2014 Week 9 (Feb 23-Mar 1)

On The Air: 
What started out as a slow week radio-wise certainly ended with a bang!  Most of this week's activity was centered around routine nets on 2 meters and 80 meters.  Work and personal obligations have overtaken most of my radio-leisure time, resulting in quick visits to the shack to participate in a couple nets each evening.  The good thing about measuring time according to UTC is that as I get home from work, one UTC day is ending and another begins, thus giving me two "days" that I can operate spread over just a couple of hours.  This is very helpful with the QSO-365 project as well.

The highlight of the week was Saturday, March 1.  I hadn't consulted the various contest calendars, so I was surprised to find all the activity on HF before I realized the ARRL SSB DX contest was being held.  I don't normally participate in contests for my own benefit.  Instead, I'm happy to dial around and reply to contestant's QRZ calls and give them the points they're looking for.  It's an easy way to pick up locations you may need for Worked all States, Worked all Continents, or DXCC awards.

For a few hours' worth of leisurely operating, I logged 33 DX contacts, including 3 new DXCC entities.  One unexpected outcome was that I worked all continents in those few hours, all on 10 meters!  While I've got a application pending for the Worked All Continents award, I may try to get QSL's for today's contacts so I can get the 10 meter WAC endorsement.

The take-away lesson here is this: even if you don't participate in contests for the contest's sake, take time to work through some of the pileups.  You may be surprised what you can do with 100 watts, and your log will benefit as well!

One final highlight of the week involved the ARRL's Centennial QSO Party, when I was able to work ARRL President Kay Craigie N3KN on 20 meters.

Top 4 Distances This Week:
ZM1G - New Zealand, 7988 miles
JK1YMM and JH1GBZ - Japan, 6775 miles
JE1LFX - Japan, 6682 miles
JA1BPA- Japan, 6659 miles
RT0F - Russia, 5966 miles

International Contacts:
Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Bonaire Island, Brazil, Canary Islands, Chile, Croatia, Cuba, Curacao Island, European Russia, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Spain, Turks & Caicos

States Worked:
Mississippi, Texas, Virginia

QSL Cards Received this week
W4V - Virginia

QSL Cards Going Out in the coming week
No cards this week, I'm waiting on some new QSL cards to be delivered.  I'll catch up as soon as I get them!