This contest was a big deal for me.
Last year I wasn’t sure which side of a paddle to use much less how to use a logging/contesting program like N1MM. I’m still grateful for the kind help from Robert Brandon K5PI in getting N1MM to sing. Same with Jim George N3BB where I learned (with Robert by my side) the ins and out of holding a frequency and keeping a run going. Though I only did that to a small degree on WPX using CW, I had a kind of ‘snap’ – oh I get it now. To me it’s like throwing a ball back and forth.
Mostly I was S&P but I at least understand the informal protocol of when to jump and be heard. Knowing that made a huge difference for me in confidence and my results. I also remember a long chat earlier this year with Richard King K5NA on how to work CW in contesting. Thank you Richard.
The most interesting experience was with a CW OP in Europe (Bulgaria I think). I kept trying to be heard but he was busy, very busy. I decided to just sit and wait for some reason and listen. I think I got distracted at some point realizing I wasn’t getting in. I was just about to click on another on the cluster when suddenly I heard my call come back. That was a good full minute or more after I stopped. Somehow he remembered and pulled me back. That made me smile.
The other exciting achievement for myself was using a Remote Ham server set up in Michigan at my brother in law’s home. Their home is on a hill about 260 above the sea level. They sit close to Lake Superior. I had no trouble getting European QSO’s. I couldn’t reach Japan or China. Once in a while, I could just barely hear one but then they faded. To much noise.
Earlier in May, we set up a EFHW-8010 Multiband End Fed Half Wave Antenna about 20 above ground. No 160M sadly. The ICOM 7300 worked flawlessly. The only issue, even with a fiber network, is a brief pause in audio reception (even with QSK on the remote radio) that seems to occur after transmitting. It’s just how it works given the distance. On occasion, I would not hear someone who came back to me really quickly with their exchange. It’s generally more of a problem at higher speeds. I need to fine tune this somehow. Gene Hinkle K5PA was my guiding light in getting this station engineered and running correctly.
There were two lightning storms Saturday afternoon in Marquette so I had to just pull back and wait. I worked about 14 hours in all and had fun. My goal this year is to get myself up the confidence curve of establishing a holding a frequency versus hunting around S&P. I’m planning on practicing in some smaller contests with that, this summer and fall.
Operating Time (hrs): 14.0
Score : 20,492
Rig: ICOM 7300 using Remote Ham interface
Club: Central Texas DX and Contest Club
Tom – KB5RF