As previously mentioned, I successfully completed a QSO a Day goal in 2012 and was brave enough (or perhaps crazy enough) to attempt it once again in 2014.
With January officially behind me, I’ve managed to get on the air and make at least one QSO each and every day for each of the 31 days in January. I’ll admit…I’m starting out slow and pacing myself. Most days its been “one and done” but a few other days I’ve managed to spend more time on the air.
For January 2014, I’ve worked 73 (great number) QSO’s and all have been using the JT65 mode. While each successful day was a high point, the greatest success was working French Polynesia and increasing my DXCC count by one more.
While my actual “on air” time has been limited, I have been spending time assisting a new startup amateur radio club and completing a few projects related to the hobby.
The New Year (UTC time) begins just after 5 PM local time and when I’ll begin my 2014 QSO A Day challenge. I successfully completed a QSO a Day back in 2012 and it was a lot of fun. It also helped me meet several smaller goals of achieving my first WAS and build on my DXCC list.
For 2014, I’ve stepped up my goals slightly and would like to achieve WAS in six different categories and of course also move me closer to DXCC.
I have a brand new QSL card which I’ll start using in the new year (shown below). Randy Dorman, KB3IFH did an excellent job on the card. If you need QSL cards for the new year, please contact Randy. You won’t be disappointed.
I also have to get back on track with my diet and exercise routines. I had a stumble on the ice just after Thanksgiving and have been moving slower than normal and consuming more “comfort food” than I should. However, with the new year comes new goals and new energy to achieve these goals. The back and tailbone are better and I’m ready to get back to 10,000 Steps per Day.
I’ve owned my Raspberry Pi for a while now. I purchased it around the time they were first introduced (early 2012). Not having a lot of knowledge in the Linux OS, the most I ever really did with it was set it up and play around with it. However, my reason for purchasing the RPI was to some how use it for amateur radio purposes.
In most situations, Google truly is your friend. Just doing a simple Google search for DVAP and Raspberry Pi led me to more information than I had time to read. However, the very first search result happened to provide all the information I needed to setup my Raspberry Pi to work with my DVAP dongle. Special thanks to Bill, AB4BJ who had blogged about his experience in setting up his Pi for DVAP purposes.
If you have a Raspberry Pi, a DVAP Dongle and a D-STAR radio sitting around your ham shack, it’s very easy to set it all up just as I have done. In the below picture, I have my ICOM ID92-AD, the DVAP Dongle and the Raspberry Pi setup. Once configured, the Raspberry Pi will function stand-alone (without keyboard, mouse and monitor). I can access the RPI via VNC from my iPad if needed.
Raspberry Pi running Debian Linux and the DVAPNODE and IRCDDB software. DVAP is connected to REF001A in Aurora, Illinois. Screenshot from iPad VNC session.
For now, my setup will remain in my ham shack. I know many build this setup for mobile/portable use. At the present time I do not have wireless capabilities for the RPI. I also want to see just how stable this setup is before making any additional changes. I was pleased to wake up this morning and find the RPI was still running and the OS was stable. Time will tell…
The 2013 ARRL November Sweepstakes contest is in the books for another year. The main goal of having fun was successful from my modest basement ham shack and I believe I did pretty well considering.
I had prepared everything earlier in the morning before a run out to the local shopping mall and lunch with my wife. With computers and radios on, I sat down just before 21:00 UTC (2 PM local) and began scanning up and down the 20m band. From the sounds of things, the band seemed to be in pretty good shape and many ops were beginning to stake their claim to their small chunk of the spectrum.
Just like clockwork, I began hearing KK6L calling CQ Sweeps and quickly logged him as #1 from Eastern Pennsylvania. I tuned up the band and quickly added Nevada, South Texas, Arkansas and Eastern Mass all within the first few minutes of the contest. By this time I had also managed to settle into a rhythm with the long exchange. It was time to try to run a frequency.
However, finding a frequency which wasn’t in use proved to be as elusive as stations operating in Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota and West Texas. I would tune to a frequency, listen, listen, listen…then ask if the frequency was in use 3-4 times. Start calling CQ….then get chased away. After this situation played out 2-3 times and getting a bit too close to those who occupy the space around 14.313, I decided I would just hunt and pounce my way around the bands.
As you can see from the above map (courtesy of the N3FJP Contest logger) I managed to work most of the sections (and US States) and with exception of Delaware, South Carolina, Utah, South Dakota and Wyoming…would have managed WAS in less than 24 hours.
As I stated at the beginning, band conditions were surprisingly good. I mostly worked 20 and 40 meters on Saturday. Then on Sunday I found success in both 10 and 15 meters.
The final damage after about 8 hours of contesting is as follows:
Total QSO’s: 200 Total Sections Worked: 72 Sections not worked: 11 Total Contest Points: 28,800
Contacts by Band 40 meters: 18 9% 20 meters: 144 72% 15 meters: 32 16% 10 meters: 6 3%
Looking at a few other statistics. I worked Santa Clara Valley (SCV) a total of 17 times, followed by Maryland DC with 10. Looking at state QSO’s, California with 40 Q’s followed by Maryland with 10, Virginia 8 and New York and Texas each at 7. Finally, 180 Q’s were USA, 16 Canada then Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Is. all one QSO each.
I wasn’t so surprised to miss working Utah, Wyoming and South Dakota. However, I was surprised with no contacts in Delaware and South Carolina. I just simply never heard any stations on the air from the First State and the Palmetto State.
I’m not sure how my score ranks with other stations running in my category (Alpha), but will submit my log and look forward to finding out. The other possible silver lining might also come in the form of filling in a few missing states on 20m and 40m ARRL WAS Phone category. Time will tell…
As part of my 2014 challenge to have at least one QSO each day (as I successfully accomplished in 2012), I decided my old QSL card (which I’ve used for five years) needed a facelift. Without hesitation I contacted Randy Dorman, (KB3IFH QSL Cards). Randy does excellent work printing QSL cards. His services are quick and reasonably priced. If you are looking to have cards printed, contact Randy. You’ll be pleased.
I wanted my new card to represent Colorful Colorado as I’m always proud to represent the centennial state when I take to the airwaves. However, I do truly lack in creativity and imagination. This is really where Randy made it easy for me. He helped me find this postage stamp image, he cleaned it up a bit and I’m very pleased. A Colorado postage stamp QSL card. I love it! If you want one of these, catch me on the bands starting in 2014.
As I have stated before, I really enjoy collecting QSL cards. So much so that it’s really made me re-evaluate my QSL policies. For the past several years I’ve almost always sent along an SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) with my QSL card. But in the early days I didn’t send that many cards and when I was first licensed, first class postage was a whopping 5 cents cheaper.
Now don’t misunderstand me, my decision is not based on the rising cost of postage. If it were, I would just stop QSL’ing all together and only use the online services. Which by the way, I do use both eQSL and LoTW…but the excitement factor just isn’t the same as when I walk to the mailbox and find an envelop with a QSL card from a nearby or far away location.
Really what has driven my decision is what appears to be a duplication of effort between most of the hams I work on the bands. What do I mean by this?
First, if I’m going to send a QSL card…I typically do this within a day or two (at the most) of the QSO. I have discovered, the majority of the stations I work also do the same. Many times our QSL cards must pass each other in the USPS sorting process. If I’ve sent along an SASE and the other station has done the same thing…then we’ve both received an envelope with a stamp which may or may not be useable again. But sadly, I’ve found many stations do not send SASE.
Yes, I understand why some stations may request an SASE and I understand why most DX stations will want a greenstamp or two to help cover postage. But for most of the average US based stations and for casual QSO QSL’ing I will gladly cover the return postage should you want to exchange cards with me.
I’m not going to change the minds of everyone, and I’m not going to try. If you absolutely require an SASE and I want your card bad enough, then I’ll comply. However, I believe my new process will certainly equal things out a little bit. The paper QSL card process is part of the old customs of amateur radio that I truly hope will never go away.
Now I must take a short walk to the mailbox and drop off a few outgoing QSL cards and fingers crossed, I have some incoming cards waiting. I truly hope to work you either in the remaining days of 2013 or certainly in 2014. YES, I QSL 100% and absolutely no SASE is required.