Saturday, September 16, 2017

First 80M Contact--and I don't have an 80M antenna

My antenna is a G5RVjr--supposedly good on 10-40meters.  I use it on 20 and 40--I have had no success on other bands.

This week I'm chasing the Route 66 stations (see here), and I'm down to the last 3 out of 21.  Last night I was watching the spots for those 3.  One I couldn't hear, one couldn't hear me, and the other was on 80.  Just for grins, I went to see if I could hear it. I couldn't, but I did hear several other stations very clearly.  So, today I decided to see if I could transmit.  During the day I heard nothing.  Tonight there were no spots for Route 66 stations, but the New Jersey QSO Party was going on.  The first one I tried could not hear me, but another gave me a 59 signal report. First 80 meter QSO!

I have heard that it is possible to tune a 40m antenna for 80m but this is the first time I tried it.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Ambivalence re FT8

17:09 UTC today marked exactly one week of FT8 usage. For the 7 months preceding that, I had been focusing on JT9/JT65, and was amazed at how rapidly I was building up my list of contacts--640, at least 63 countries. FT8 puts that to shame: in ONE WEEK I had  312 QSOs with 29 countries. I worked 9 stations in my first 45 minutes using the mode.

FT8 is really addictive--it's hard to step away from--the instant response is great reinforcement.  I went back to JT65 the other day and found it WAY too slow. The difference is that you have to stay with FT8--on JT65 you can set it up and go do other work on the computer until you get an alert, then go back and jump in.

Right now, I love FT8.  It's a great way to build up contacts and fill in gaps for awards--as well as to communicate with the world (tiny messages notwithstanding). One negative I see now is that I expect to burn out on it--I can feel that starting to happen already. We'll see--the up side is that I've been motivated to go back to SSB at times--I've been in some contests, and I was able to work an Oklahoma station, which was the last state I needed for WAS Phone (now if I can just get 8 stations to return QSL cards...).

There is a philosophical discussion around whether FT8 is a real mode that should count for awards and such.   As a relatively new ham with no Morse Code nostalgia, I believe that there should be no distinction.  There are categories within the awards for various modes and bands, and those should satisfy the curmudgeons.  Amateur Radio has always been about  continuous improvement and use of new technology. To disparage people who do that is to disparage the service in an attempt to define a "real ham" in the image of one's own experience.

On the other hand, FT8 will take some getting used to.  It's different.  It's also fun and useful.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

More on Worked All States Plus CQ WPX

In my last post on this subject, I mentioned that I just needed Maine for several endorsements. Well. I finally got Maine on FT8 on 40M, giving me WAS Digital.  I am still at 49, lacking Maine,  for WAS 20M and JT65.

Also, I made SSB contact with an Oklahoma station the other night, giving me WAS Phone, although I an awaiting 8 QSL cards for documentation. So, that's WAS Mixed, Digital, and Phone,

Meanwhile, I discovered the CQ WPX award, which counts prefixes. I qualify for WPX Mixed (400 contacts) ans WPX Digital (300) plus 20M and North America endorsements for both.  I was going to apply but LOTW wanted $56+ on top of the $12 CQ Magazine would charge for each.  I'll be happy with the accomplishment and forego the fancy certificates.