With all the excitement of moving into the new basement ham shack and operating in the Colorado QSO Party, I almost forgot to write this update blog posting on my 2012 Challenge to have at least one QSO per day. I’m pleased to say that my QSO a Day challenge continues.
As I have stated in previous blog entries. My own version of a QSO a Day challenge has helped me be more active on the bands and as a result has produced many positive results.
My DXCC count grew by three in the month of August with the addition of Puerto Rico, South Africa and Bolivia. My DXCC count currently stands at 70 with approx. 65 confirmed. Also, I’ve not missed a month in 2012 of adding at least one new DXCC to my count. Hopefully this streak will continue throughout the rest of the year.
The total QSO count for August is a bit low with only logging 81 Q’s. But so much of my free time during the month was devoted to getting the new ham shack ready for equipment. The balance of effort for this milestone versus the lack of Q’s in my opinion balances out. One other way of looking at this stat. During both the 2009 and 2010 calendar years, my total QSO count for each year was less than 81. But this isn’t about how many Q’s I can rack up in a month or a year. It’s about quality over quantity.
A few other noteworthy items for August 2012. I operated the PSK63 mode for the very first time and worked the London 2012 Summer Olympics Special Event station 2O12L. I also successfully worked W9IMS in August which was their third and final special event station in support of the Indy Motor Speedway events. I’m looking forward to receiving the certificate for working all three race events in the same calendar year.
Finally, I worked several 2m FM contacts in August in support of the annual Colorado 14’er event. These contacts also increased my total SOTA chaser points to over 100.
I can’t remember if I shared the website I use to create the ADIF to Google map I display each month. This web-tool is made possible by David Levine, K2DSL. Thank you David!
The 2012 Colorado QSO Party is over and I had a fantastic time. The new ham shack which I scrambled to get ready for the event performed beautifully. It’s really a comfortable and inviting space which I believe is important when working a multi-hour contest.
At best, I consider myself a casual contester. I do enjoy operating during many of the contests taking place throughout the year….but for the most part, I am just giving away points to other contesters and trying to add to either my WAS, DXCC etc. etc.
Last year (2011), was the first year for me to take a serious approach to operating in the Colorado QSO Party. I operated for approx. 6-8 hours of the 16 hour contest. I managed to make 138 QSO’s in 2011. My goal for 2012 was to try to break that.
Before I discuss my 2012 results, I just want to say “Thank You” to my wonderful wife. Without her organization skills and encouragement to me throughout the summer months, the new ham shack wouldn’t have been ready. Thank you honey…
Oh…one more thing. While I’ve mentioned the new ham shack is ready, this is really only partially true. Yes, the shack operating position is setup and fully active. But I still have some painting and touch-up work to do in the space. It is my hope to get this all done in the next several weeks. Also there is still much work required on fully evacuating the old space and getting everything organized and into its place in the new area.
Again, my expectations for 2012 was to beat 138 Q’s. The contest began at 6 AM, but I made a slow start to the day and managed to get on the air around 7. I was surprised to hear 20m open to the east coast that early in the morning. The first 100 Q’s seem to fly into the logbook. I took my first break around 10 AM and had already logged over 100 Q’s.
As I returned about 15-20 minutes later, the band had shifted and the Q’s were slower to get logged. I focused mainly on 20 meters. I would occasionally check 10 and 15 meters, but heard nothing and would go back to 20m after 15-20 minutes of calling CQ.
My friend Bob Witte, K0NR posted a note to an email reflector about a SOTA activation taking place on Mt. Evans (W0/FR-003). The activation consisted of several operators from the Colorado QRP Club and one was operating on 146.52 VHF FM. I worked him for both points in the Colorado QSO Party as well as earned myself 10 SOTA Chaser points. Not a bad deal for about 60 seconds of effort.
During the afternoon hours, 20 meters came back to life and I had a nice pileup going for almost an hour. I worked stations all over the lower 48 and Canada. One call sign I heard answering me sounded familiar. Kilo, Five, Sierra, Oscar, Romeo.
As a young child, I would listen to my uncle talk on his ham radio and while I didn’t know any of the other phonetic alphabet names, I knew Kilo, Five, Sierra, Oscar, Romeo. YES…my Uncle heard me calling CQ from down at his QTH in Texas and answered me back.
While I’ve worked over 70 DXCC, have multiple versions of the WAS awards….the most sought after QSO for me since 2007 has been K5SOR. Yes, we perhaps could have setup a sked to work each other, but this particular QSO…unexpected…is one that I will always cherish.
Ok…enough rambling. My 2012 Colorado QSO results ended up with 281 QSO’s and 25,852 points. I more than doubled my 2011 results and got the one QSO in my log I had been wanting for a long, long time.
My station setup consisted of the Yaesu FT-950 running 100 watts into my 20m hamstick dipole. I received some really great signal reports with this setup and when asked, many found it hard to believe this antenna setup produced the results others were hearing. The new voice keyer and keypad setup for the 950 really helped as well.
All in all….I truly had a blast operating and representing Colorado in this QSO Party. I would like to thank the Pikes Peak Amateur Radio Association for sponsoring this event. I certainly look forward to next year.
It’s time for the 2012 Colorado QSO Party and likewise, it’s time to officially open my new ham shack, home office, podcast studio and general man cave that I’ve been talking about for so long.
One of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2012 was to finish the basement ham shack and home office. This was a project that began eons ago (or certainly felt like it), but actually I began framing the walls for the new space in 2008. While the framing stage went fairly quickly, not a lot of work was done between mid 2009 and 2011.
My wife has always been supportive of my hobbies, especially amateur radio. I believe she could sense my frustration in finding the motivation to finish the new space. Some of the delays had centered around decisions on sheetrock (drywall) or paneling or ???. We began making decisions and started the sheetrock installation phase in February.
In the February timeframe I began looking down the road to select a date and goal to work towards. Let me state that I realize the work I’ve done (even including the framing from 200 all could have been completed in a very short time. Perhaps two people could have done everything in a short span of just 2-3 weeks working each day for several hours. Unfortunately, I didn’t have that luxury. Sure I could have hired a carpenter, but I wanted to do the work myself.
Anyway, knowing we would still continue to pace ourselves, I figured setting the goal date to be in the new space for the Colorado QSO Party weekend would be safe.
Of course, as winter turned into Spring and Spring turned into Summer and watching Memorial Day come and go, then Field Day come and go and 4th of July come and go….WHOA!!!! I woke up one day and it was August and inside of 30 days. Would I make it? Could I make it? What if I didn’t make it?
Of course, nothing bad would happen if I didn’t make my goal. My New Year’s Resolution was to finish the basement in 2012, the Colorado QSO Party date was somewhat self-imposed or should I say self-inflicted. In any event, if I wasn’t in the new shack…I could certainly still operate in the contest from my old shack location. I mean it works…right? Also, I didn’t want to just move a chair, a desk and a radio into the new shack for 24 hours. It was either all-the-way or no way.
Thankfully, things really began to click into place in August. On August 1st (T-Minus 30 days) the sheetrock work was done, the texturing, sanding etc. was done, the paint on the walls and ceiling was dry, the floor was down, the cabinets were in place and the countertop was on the way. I merely had just a few hours of finish carpentry to complete before the dust creation process was 100% complete. Once I no longer need to cut trim in the basement area, I could safely begin bringing in my computers and radios into the new space.
So what’s left to do? Before I answer that question…let’s take a short walk down memory lane through pictures. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of the plain concrete walls, so just use your imagination.
Framed walls before sheetrock – February 2012
Measure twice, cut once – February 2012
Everything I needed to know to do this I learned in Kindergarten. Just cut along the line. – February 2012
Getting there… – March 2012
Walls done – March 2012
It’ll need a ceiling right? – April 2012
You’ll have to trust me that this is a picture of the finished/textured wall. – May 2012
Warp Speed. From June 1 through end of July we managed to paint ceiling, walls, put down flooring and hang over 20 wall cabinets and drawer cabinets. – August 2012
Let me pause for a second as I’m getting dizzy. I worked mostly without any major plans. I had an idea in my head, but it wasn’t until we reached the cabinet stage that I actually attempted to create some form of plan or layout. I felt this was necessary so we could really get an idea of how the cabinets, countertop and space would all work. The image below was done before flooring was complete and before cabinets were installed. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any models of ham radios in the design software to place on the counter surface.
Now let’s look at the finished product. This is the brand new ham shack for KD0BIK.
In the above picture (from right to left) I have my Jetstream JTPS45 power supply which provides all of my 12v DC power. It connects into a West Mountain Radio RigRunner (mounted below desk). I also use the PWRGate which provides auto-switching from power supply to a 12v marine deep cycle battery.
Just above the Jetstream power supply I have an old style TV antenna rotator. This provides a little direction to my 20m hamstick dipole. Next is the Yaesu FT-950 HF radio. I use this radio primarily for SSB ops.
In the center below the two 21” LCD flat panel screens, I have the MFJ-4724 Desktop/Remote Antenna/Transceiver switch. This allows me to switch between either my 20m hamstick dipole or my Hustler 6BTV antenna to any of my HF rigs in the shack. No more having to move coax connections. YAY!!!!
Moving on around, next to the left 21” LCD I have the Yaesu FT-897 HF/VHF/UHF All mode transceiver. I use this rig primarily for all data modes. Sitting just below the 897 is the West Mountain Radio RIGBlaster Pro.
Just to the left is the MFJ Intellituner which I use with the FT-897 and sitting on top of the tuner is the Elecraft KX3. The KX3 is just posing for the picture. It’s main role is portable QRP and SOTA operations outside of the ham shack. Sitting just behind the KX3 (and might be difficult to see) is the IMD Meter by KK7UQ.
Finally, the radio to the far left is the Yaesu FT-857 which I keep mounted in a TAC-COMM TRC-1 metal enclosure and mainly mobile HF use. But at the moment it is connected to my V/UHF antenna and what I use for local V/UHF Ops and Packet. Just below the 857 is the Kantronics KPC-3+. Just above the 857 are two of the three HT’s I own. The Yaesu VX-8 is used on the trail and next to it is the only piece of ICOM equipment I own. It is the IC-92AD for D-STAR operations.
This has been an incredible project spanning many years. For much of the past six months I have worked for a few hours each weekend. Now it is time to sit back and enjoy the new ham shack.
Thank you for reading my blog and I hope it continues to inspire you.
I just realized I haven’t published a blog update regarding my new basement ham shack, home office, podcast studio and man-cave in some time. Actually, I believe it was sometime in May just after I finished the texture phase.
Of course, I’ve been using my other forms of new media to keep everyone informed. I’ve talked about my progress on PARP. PARP is my weekly and monthly amateur radio podcast. PARP + is a weekly review of all the on-air (and some off-air gatherings) taking place in the amateur radio community. My regular version of PARP is monthly and includes a educational topic such as SOTA, JT-65, Preparedness, How to get your license etc. Please visit MyAmateurRadio.com to learn more about the practical amateur radio podcast.
According to the countdown clock located on KD0BIK.com, we are getting closer and closer to the big day. That is the Colorado QSO Party and the day I planned to be in the new ham shack. Will it happen????
The last time I blogged about my ham shack progress, I mentioned having just finished the texture phase. Boy what a mess that was. After texture came the painting phase for both the ceiling and the walls. The paint went on with ease and was completed in two weekends.
It was around the time I wrapped up the paint phase (mid June) when we started making decisions on flooring and cabinets. The cabinets were ordered via Home Depot and their Hampton Bay line of custom cabinetry. I wanted to make sure I ordered the cabinets earlier enough so they would arrive in Denver just after the flooring was finished.
The flooring we selected for the basement area is TrafficMaster Allure from Home Depot. It goes down in strips measuring 6 x 36 inches and is advertised as the easiest floor to install.
I need to stop for a minute just to say…I haven’t always worked in the Information Technology field. I’ve done a wide range of jobs and for a number of years I worked for the State of Texas Public School system and performed general maintenance. But even before that, I’ve always enjoyed building things and learning about construction. I spent four years in high school taking classes in wood shop, metal shop and even in the agricultural trade. Most of what I learned between my own high school education and working in the Texas school system is what I’ve used to construct my new ham shack area.
However, one area of education has been more important than any other. My Dad can make anything out of nothing. Fortunately, all through my life my Dad has shared his knowledge (some he learned from his Father) with me. Now I’m not a master craftsman…far from it, but what I’ve learned from my Dad is truly what has allowed me to do all this work. Even including installing a tile floor.
Oh…one more thing. The time I spent working at the school in Texas, was also 3-4 years I was able to work alongside my Dad. It’s hard to imagine just how much kids can damage a school in 9 months and we had 3 months during the summer to patch it all back together. That was a lot of fun and something I’ll always remember. Thank you Daddy!
My own tile floor went down just as advertised and really looks good. My wife and I spent the week of July 4th on a staycation (a stay at home vacation) and while we managed to get out of the house and up to the mountains (including one SOTA activation) I also managed to get all of the flooring installed.
The cabinets arrived almost on schedule. They are great quality (real wood) and the price was right. All cabinets were pre-assembled (no flat pack) and arrived on three pallets. The trucking company rolled them into my garage and I unpacked, inspected and moved each one through the house and down into the basement.
The picture below shows both the wall cabinets and the floor cabinets installed in their final location (along with flooring). Across the top of both sets of floor cabinets will be the countertop/desktop/worktop surface.
There are many reasons why this project has been years in the making. Remember I began framing this space in 2008, but didn’t work on it much from 2009 – 2011. With some excellent guidance, planning and encouragement from my wife, I kicked off 2012 with the New Year’s Resolution of completing this space. She has been instrumental in getting this space from the 2×4 phase to what you see above. Thank you honey!!
However, each step (painting, flooring, cabinet) including the countertop decision has been one that has taken time. In other words, we had to pick flooring to match cabinets and cabinets to match wall. The countertop needed to blend in with all and it just required a lot of shopping around. While we never contemplated going with granite, as we began shopping around and comparing different products such as laminate, solid surface, quartz and granite, we learned the price difference between quality solid surface and granite was close….actually very close.
The other consideration is resale value. While we have no plans to sell our house, the decisions we make regarding everything from the type of roof shingle, type of window replacement and the home office area are all with resale value in mind. This basement space would make someone a fantastic home office or even a hobby/craft room. Likewise, it will also make a fantastic ham shack.
Alright…time to wrap things up. Just yesterday (Monday, 6 August) we had the granite counter install company come and perform a laser measurement of the space. I’m told the lead time from measurement to install is approx. 10-14 days. As of today, Tuesday 7 August I am 24 days away from the planned opening date. So YES!! I do believe I’ll be in the new space on-time.
Meanwhile, I still have a few items of trim to install. I’m hoping to finish the trim work (requires sawing and that creates dust) in the next two weeks. Then if the countertop install is on schedule, I can (and will) begin moving into the new space. Painting of doors and trim (and wall touchups here and there) can all be done with radios and computers in place.
I’m really excited and yes I’m a little burned out on working on this project almost every weekend. But I’m in the home stretch now…see you at the finish line.
Another month in the logbook and a QSO each day in 2012 has been successfully worked and logged. This goal has truly been a lot of fun and while I still have a ways to go, I can honestly say that I’m focused to make sure I successfully complete it.
July started out a bit slow. The first week of July my wife and I were on a staycation (stay at home vacation) and I spent much of that week working on the new basement ham shack. I did take one day and completed a SOTA activation of Mt. Evans. During my staycation, I managed to install the tile flooring and complete the baseboard trim work in the shack.
Around the middle point of the month I had not worked any new DX and I was concerned that July would come and go and be the first month in 2012 where I didn’t work at least one new DX entity. But, I shouldn’t have worried…on 15 July I was active in the shack and I heard and worked Poland and before I knew it I had also worked and logged Ecuador, Costa Rica and Chile all within about an hour. Then later in July, 20 July…I worked Honduras for the first time. So July earned me five new DX and a grand total of 19 new DX entities logged for 2012. My total DXCC count is 66. With about 60 confirmed.
My QSO breakdown for July produced a higher ratio of SSB QSO’s compared to JT65. I’ve actively worked more contest QSO’s and more special event stations in July. While I didn’t work any PSK or RTTY in July, I did manage one 2m FM QSO. I don’t usually log 2m QSO’s, but the one 2m FM QSO I logged was a station I chased on a local Colorado SOTA summit. Since I logged that QSO for SOTA Chaser points, I also logged it in my main logbook.