Amateur Radio in America's Paradise


view:  full / summary

North American QSO Party - CW

Posted by R P Davis on January 14, 2014 at 5:50 AM Comments comments (0)


It's been too long since I've posted! But there's a good reason for that - my radio has been off-island getting repaired. I've made a few QSOs with a borrowed rig, but haven't been on the air much.

That changed last weekend!

Fred, K9VV/NP2X and I operated Multi-Single in the North American QSO Party. NAQP is an awesome contest. It's similar to ARRL DX, in that the only stations worth multipliers are North American. It's unlike ARRL DX in many more ways, however:

  • It's run twice a year for each mode - SSB, CW, and RTTY
  • It's 12 hours long, tops. Single ops can only do 10 hours.
  • It's low power. Nobody can run more than 100 watts.
  • All North American entities count as multipliers, as well as US states and Canadian provinces.

So it's not the 48-hour battle of power and endurance that is ARRL. It's still fast-paced and fun!

Fred and I competed against each other last year. This year we decided to go Multi-operator, Two-transmitter and see how we could compete.

We used Fred's station, because he's got the gain antennas, and a club callsign, KP2RUM. It's always fun to use KP2RUM! Here's how we did:



Ops: NP2X, WP2XX

Band / Qs / Mults

1.8 / 4 / 3

3.5 / 202 / 44

7 / 243 / 44

14 / 235 / 48

21 / 346 / 48

28 / 276 / 44

Tot / 1306 / 231

Claimed score: 314,746

Looking at the NAQP records, that's a new record fromn KP2! We'll take it.

NAQP SSB is this coming Saturday (the 18th). Hope to hear you!


Posted by R P Davis on December 1, 2013 at 8:10 AM Comments comments (0)

For the CQ Worldwide DX Contest CW portion, I had the privilege of once again being invited to join Philip, KT3Y/KP2M and Fred, K9VV/NP2X to compete in the Multi-Single, High Power category from Radio Reef, Philip's rental QTH and home of KP2M.

We did fairly well last year and had a lot of fun. This year, not so much.

That's Fred, K9VV/NP2X at left in the mult station chair, with Philip, KT3Y/KP2M running on the right.

About 20 hours in, I was running on 10m when I observed what sounded like the band going completely dead. Signals dropped from extremely strong to barely-there. I paid it no heed, because I'd heard 10 die before.

The trouble was, the spots never stopped. Either other stations had weird propagation - always possible, but unlikely - or something was wrong. It was at that moment I noticed the error code "HI RFI" scrolling on the K3.

Fred checked, switching the mult station K3 to 10m and tuning around. He could hear fine.  Uh, oh.  After waking Philip up and conducting further diagnosis, we concluded the run station K3 was toast.  So we swapped the mult station K3 over and slotted the Radio Reef backup rig - an FT1000MP - into the mult slot.

Two hours later, the second K3 gave up the ghost, exhibiting the same symptoms. Rather than continue with only the MP - with its 500hz CW filter only - we decided forlornly to call it a day. Which was a shame, because we were on a good track.

The moral of the story - The Elecraft K3 is a rugged, outstanding transceiver. But you cannot use them in a multi-op environment without good bandpass filters. If you do, you'll blow out the front end. 

CQWW SSB 2013...

Posted by R P Davis on November 4, 2013 at 6:25 AM Comments comments (0)

...has come and gone. Here's the rundown:

Call: WP2XX
Operator(s): WP2XX
Station: NP2X

Class: SOAB(A) HP
QTH: St Croix, USVI
Operating Time (hrs): 36.5
Location: Other North America

Total:4202130344Total Score4,579,788


Worked this one from the station of Fred, K9VV/NP2X. Since he and his wife were off-island all weekend, I went from barefoot-and-vertical to kilowatt and tribander. Thanks to Fred and Lisa for their hospitality! Imagine what this station will sound like with monobanders. ;)


WOW. I mean, WOW. Fantastic weekend, fabulous conditions, and just general Awesome slathered Win and dusted with sparkles. Personal best single-op effort.



Went assisted but shouldn't have, as the station computer took a dump before the test so I had no rig control. Because of that, Point-and-shoot insta-mult wasn't on the table. But it's all good. I could still see where the mults were hiding, so it helped.


This was the longest I've spent in the chair for a 48-hour contest, too. I'm tired, but it feels good.


Low bands were "Meh", partly because the high bands were so spectacular and partly because 250w into a vertical on 40m isn't helping. I should have taken an hour on Saturday to drop the 75m dipole and string a 40m inverted-Vee beneath it, but didn't even think about it until this morning.


Highlights, in no particular order:


Getting called by KC4AAN with something like 8 minutes left to play on 20. Never worked Antarctica before. I wanted to ask him if they found the other Stargate yet - that's how punch-drunk I was.


Having my pileup *pause itself* so I could work the HS0 who I couldn't hear trough the wall of USA. Seriously. Guy called me, got the Q, then observed there's an HS calling. Before I could key, the pile went silent. In fact, except for a couple of exceptions my piles were very orderly indeed all weekend.


Speaking of pileups, W3KB maliciously spotting me so he could listen to the pileup go from "a couple of guys" to "FREAKING APESH!T" with a click of his mouse. 8)


Getting lots of unsolicited positive comments on my transmitted audio. One fellow even recorded me and emailed it. Cool. 


Thanks to all the FRC guys who called. In fact, FRC calls figure largely in the first ten minutes of my log. Which is cool. One of my sole regrets about moving to USVI full-time is that FRC can no longer have my single-op points for the Club competition.

LIDs and bullies

Posted by R P Davis on August 20, 2013 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (0)

This post from Rick/K6VVA should be required reading for every DXer.  I have a list of Calls I Will Never Work because of crappy behavior.  

I'm not the most experienced DX pileup operator in the world.  I'm not particularly rare DX.  But sometimes my pileups get unruly.  When that happens, I give very clear instructions.  If you fail to listen to my instructions, I WILL NOT WORK YOU.  I sure as hell won't work you if you call and call and call.  That's a sure-fire way to get on my Calls I Will Never Work List.  

You might also end up on Lids On The Air, to your eternal embarrassment.  So check yourself.

Contest results

Posted by R P Davis on August 14, 2013 at 6:25 AM Comments comments (0)

The results of the CQ WPX RTTY and ARRL DX Phone contests were just released.  

In the CQ WPX RTTY contest I was fortunate to be invited to operate at KP2M by Gator N5RZ and Deborah K5RZA as a Multi-operator, Two-transmitter entry (M2).  The results are in the latest issue of CQ Magazine, and they're pretty impressive: We made 3rd in the world and first in North America! 

It says we set a new NA record, but Gator thinks there is a Puerto Rico station that had just over 14M a few years back (we were at 13.9M). Contest Chairman W0YK said we almost took second place due to our accuracy - the 2nd place guys score reduction was about 12% and ours was just over 6%.


What this means is we won the North America trophy this year!  

In the ARRL DX Phone contest WP2XX scored 1,203,276 points with 2,043 QSOs and 197 multipliers in the B (low power) category.  That's good enough to win the category in USVI!  

Okay, there were no other entries in the catagory, but I'm going to be stoked anyway, thanks. :P Now to await the certificate.

Tony N2TK, a fellow FRC member, operated KP2M to the top spot in the high-power class.  6,237,840 - 6,601 - 316 is a fine job from Phil KT3Y's awesome rental station.  Fred NP2X got in on the action, too, for a few hours.

NAQP phone this weekend.  Speaking of Fred NP2X, he graciously offered the use of his newly-installed tower and beam, but some late-afternoon appointments on Saturday mean I'm going to operate from home.  

I love NAQP.  It's one of my favorite contests.  Generally quite small, laid-back, 100w power limit, interesting exchange - it's just fun and relaxing.  I missed the latest CW version a couple of weeks ago due to a trip to the mainland.  But I'm back now, and I'm ready to let 'er rip! 

Field Day 2013...

Posted by R P Davis on June 24, 2013 at 9:30 AM Comments comments (0)

...happened on St Croix.  More to come when I have brain.

CQWW Certificates

Posted by R P Davis on May 15, 2013 at 6:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Some interesting mail came in yesterday's post from the CQWW Contest Committee:

Yup! I won my categories for the CQ Worldwide DX contests last year!  Top is Single-Op, All-Band, Low Power win in the CW contest.  Bottom is SOABLP Assisted in the SSB contest.

I've never gotten wallpaper before.  I'm stoked!  :D

Back on the air!

Posted by R P Davis on May 11, 2013 at 6:20 AM Comments comments (0)

I'm baaaaaaack!  :D

On the air, that is.

Luckily hams are hoarders.  I put the word out locally I needed a power supply, and a local ham came through with a loaner.  Still need to buy a replacement, but that's a matter of calling around to dealers to see who'll ship USPS.

Fired up the ol' girl last night on 12 meters.  No spots, didn't hear anything, no CQs, but I figured what the heck?  According to the 'Cluster, VK9NT was working West Coast USA on 10 CW, so... on to 12 CW I went.  Called CQ DX twice and got a pile of mixed EU and USA which lasted a solid hour.

The highlight was working through a trickle of weak EU stations when this LOUD call came in.  It surprised me, so all I got was "4DX".  I thought it was a USA 4-lander, he was so loud.  Turns out it was 4Z4DX calling.  Man, he was loud, like he was on St Thomas or something.  

Good times.

Off the air.

Posted by R P Davis on May 7, 2013 at 6:20 AM Comments comments (0)


My station power supply gave up the ghost yesterday morning.  I'm off the air until I can replace it.  Time to ask around the island!

The good news is I now have no excuse to avoid yard work.  "But but but!  10 meters is open!!!"  String trimmer, here I come. :/

PSK and DXing

Posted by R P Davis on April 13, 2013 at 5:50 PM Comments comments (2)

USVI isn't all that active on the HF digimodes. I work PSK sometimes and, more rarely, RTTY. I often get swamped with signals. That's okay, especially on RTTY, because RTTY ops are usually sane. It's the PSK people who drive me nuts.

I call them "macro-jockies".


Here's how it usually goes astray:


I call "CQ DX PSE NO MACROS". A call comes up on my waterfall. I click the call, send "[CALL] DE WP2XX - UR 599 BTU". That's short and sweet, right? It's a fairly bog-standard DX response - I'm not looking for more than a signal report and maybe your name in return. In fact, I've specifically asked you not to give me 103kb of macro information. But it never fails - someone will dump their macro:

"Hello ROBERT (they pull the info from QRZ.com or something)!

Thank you for returning my call.

Your signal report is 599 599.

My name is Irving Irving.

My QTH is Snodgrass, AX Snodgrass, AX

My LOC is HY73af HY73af

Rig is Yaewood FS-7288 running 25w to a 2-element beam up 46 feet.

Software is ...blah blah blah blither blerg."


By this time I'm sitting there muttering at the radio, "Are you blind? Or are you naturally stupid? Maybe you have to practice? For the love of all that's right and true, just stop sending!"


Then, if I haven't spun off frequency and gone to find someone who wants to actually work DX instead of crushing me with boredom, I send "TNX OM 73 ES GUD DX - [CALL] DE WP2XX 73 QRZ?"


And always - ALWAYS - the guy will return with:


"Thanks ROBERT for PSK-31 QSO number 1,512 on 15 meters.

God bless you and your family.

I wish you all the best in all of your endeavors this year and always.

Hope to work you again soon...blah blah blah blither blerg."


By the time I get to that point I'm beyond incandescence, making incoherent spluttering noises and fantasizing about whether or not RG-58 is strong enough to make a hangin' noose.


Why? Because this idiot has failed to listen to my instructions and is hogging the frequency, preventing anyone else from making a QSO. Because he didn't listen.

What's worse is that many of the callsigns I see doing this crap are the same calls my log software tells me I've worked on CW or SSB; I remember them because then they gave me a "599 tu 73" and got out of the way. But on PSK? Nope! Give me your whole life story, because on PSK working DX is somehow different. (If it is different and I'm way off-base here, someone forgot to send me the memo.)


If I send you your call and "UR 599 TNX QSO" and you dump your brag file on me, assume you are not in my log. That's my rule now.


That's PSK-31, mind. On faster PSK modes, I don't mind so much, because it doesn't take so long to suffer through someone's brag file.


Another caveat: If I answer someone else's CQ, they control the QSO. Which is as it should be. If I call a general CQ, I don't mind having a ragchew. I enjoy having a ragchew, especially on PSK. But most of the time I just want to make a pile o' Qs, to give that band/mode combo to as many amateurs as I can in my limited time. Why, if I call CQ in a specific way, with specific instructions, why do PSK-31 ops never listen?


I once had it explained to me that ops don't bother to change their macros or set up new ones. To which I reply, "Bullcrap! Just do it already! You've got 12 freakin' F-keys. Make up a macro with '599 TU 73' and label it 'DX EXCH' or something. Stop ruining other people's fun!"

TL;DR: Make a short PSK macro especially for DXing and do the same things DXing on PSK as you'd do DXing on CW or phone.  If you don't listen to my instructions, you won't be in my log.