I felt like a teenager again waiting for the mail. Monday then Tuesday and finally Wednesday the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) Extra Class license manual arrived. I let out a big whoop and surprised Radio Dawg. The first chapter covered the rules governing Ham Radio. However I'm thumbing through the pages and discovering a new world governed by physics. Our Ham Radio world is wonderful and amazing. It's populated by electrons, capacitors, resistors, photons, antennas, linear amplifiers, and math. I really enjoy the artistry in the various math formulas. On the other hand and why I love Ham Radio -- my inverted-vee is up for the weekend. Let's hear what happens between reading the manual and Ham Radio fun. 73.
The rip roarin' North American QSO Party (NAQP) CW style is one for the RadioSport books. Was it the bottom of Cycle 23 or the beginning of Cycle 24? Did we enjoy a sample of what is to follow when Cycle 24 ramps up toward an epic peak? Either way, every operator who participated last weekend, took away a measure of Ham Radio fun.
Doug, KY4F and I chatted via email and he answered a few questions regarding NAQP, the value of a good antenna system, tips for entry-level contesters, and future contesting plans.
- "...Always do the most you can with your antennas." Doug, KY4F
NAQP was a blast and using K4TD's station is the best! Rick is not only a great friend, but an amazing op. I learn something new everytime we work a contest together.
What about the 10-hour operating format and NAQP scoring system?
Well, in Multi2 you get to operate the entire 12 hours. None the less, it is an interesting format. You're really forced to start on the high bands given that once the day light is gone, its gone.... no "second day" like in the big DX contests. However, I do like the length of this one as it gives time to experience useful propagation on all bands, while not taking up an entire weekend.
How important is a good antenna system?
Antenna's are everything! Especially receive antennas on 80/160. Not everyone has room to put these up (Although the K9AY design has a pretty small footprint) but they make an amazing difference. Obviously many of us are impacted by CC&Rs that limit our antenna capability, but, whatever your situation, maximize your antenna system first! Only then worry about upgrading your rig. Guess that's just my opinion. But, always do the most you can with your antennas.
What tips do you have for entry-level contesters considering the next NAQP CW contest?
Just jump in there and pound away! Don't worry if your speed isn't that great. Set on the pile up and get the running stations info, then call! You'll be amazed at who you can work with even a marginal station. One aspect of NAQP I like is the 100 watt limitation. Sure, the big stations with huge antennas still have the edge, but the playing field as a whole is much more level. So, even with a random wire slung out the window, if you call, you will work some stations. And its a great way to work on your WAS, and 5BWAS!
Any contests in the near future?
Depending on a few things, I may do NAQP SSB from K4TD using my call KY4F. Then I'll be operating in the ARRL CW DX from NQ4I. Also planning to do WPX SSB from NQ4I and Rick (K4TD) and I are kicking around the idea of using KY4F from his station during WPX CW.
Got to love contest season!
The North American QSO Party (NAQP) sponsored by the National Contest Journal (NCJ) scored mega fun points. I could not believe my ears as the first hour roared into action. Our Ham Radio high frequency (HF) spectrum brimmed with eager CW operators.
I spun the dial on the Yaesu FT100 for the entire 10-hour contest. If this is the beginning of Cycle 24 one might say, "Holy CW Batman."
Search and pounce (SP) delivered 158 Qs and 70 multipliers. My ten-minute rate meter pegged near 42 Qs then steadily decreased with an hourly average of seventeen. Overall Qs per hour measured last hour 11 and last 10 minutes eleven. I operated 51-minutes on 15-Meters, 2-hours and 52-minutes on 20-Meters, 2-hours and 37-minutes on 40-Meters, 2-hours and 15-minutes on 80-Meters, and 30-minutes on 160.
I missed the full 15-meter opening but caught its closing between 1900Z till 1927Z from my QTH. The bulk of my Qs centered on 20-Meters (70), 40-Meters (45), and 80-Meters (23). My 45-watt signal into a doublet bounced across the country achieving a 5-land clean sweep on 20-Meters. I did not clean sweep any other sections.
Multiplier breakdown as follows 15-Meters (8), 20-Meters (33), 40-Meters (20), 80-Meters (8), and 160 (1). I worked three 6-land stations on 160 with touchy standing wave ratio (SWR) and 30-watts. There is something about 160, maybe, it's like surfing.
We enjoyed double overhead surf this weekend as well. Incredible sight watching those waves pitch top too bottom. My longboard 9' 0" rested next to my doublet during NAQP. It was tough but my priority was NAQP and double-overhead surf is out of my league at this time.
On the other hand, I dig the 10-hour operating format and NAQP scoring system. It's refreshing and motivating. I did not think 100-Qs or more going into the contest. The score rolled upwards followed by each new multiplier. I was hooked and pushed for more. My operating skill continues improving with each successive event. For example, I called more stations in the cracks of the noise floor and those listening hours really paid. What's that mantra? Listen, listen, and listen.
NAQP CW packed a whole lot of Ham Radio fun into 10-hours. Best results to all who participated in this ultra cool RadioSport event.
North America QSO Party CW 2008 Results.
Band (Raw QSOs) Valid QSOs (QSO Pts) Pts/Q (Mults)
10 -- -- -- ---- --
15 17 17 17 1.00 8
20 70 70 70 1.00 33
40 45 45 45 1.00 20
80 23 23 23 1.00 8
160 3 3 3 1.00 1
Totals 158 158 158 1.00 70
Total Qs: 158
Total Mults: 70
Final Score = 11,060
Operating Time = 9:04 (off times shown in log)
Rig : Yaesu FT100
Antennas : Doublet
Club: Northern California Contest Club (NCCC)
Team: NCCC #2
NAQP put the fun in Ham Radio!