I visited one of the tallest mountains in Virginia yesterday with Mike, KA4CDN. Our goal was to scope out potential sites to activate as an expedition during the upcoming Virginia QSO Party, and while up there, to work some SOTA contacts. The ridge line near the peak runs between Rockbridge and Amherst counties, and a dirt road continues northward to the three way county intersection that also involves Nelson County. Weather was clear when we left Northern Virginia, but halfway down we hit frozen rain and as we climbed in altitude, it just got colder and colder.
I’m jotting down some notes about this year’s ARRL DX CW, with the hope that I’ll remember them next time I operate the contest (although that will probably be from the other end, as DX from Cyprus next year). First a summary, then some bullet points.
I worked through the weekend, but with time off for errands and sleep. My rig was a K3 running 95W into a dipole up about 13m fed with ladder line into a 4:1 balun fed with about 2 meters of 9913F7 coax to an LDG AT100pro2 tuner. Overall, after de-duping, I had 503 contacts (1 each on 10m and 160m, 64 on 80m, 144 on 40m, 199 on 20m, and 94 on 15m) and 225 multipliers. I worked a bunch of new ones, and hopefully we got each others’ calls right and those contacts will eventually match up in LOTW.
I am only back in the Washington DC area for a few months, so I am triaging sites based on range from the house and ease of activation. I had thought that this site was more or less drive up, but that’s not the case. It’s not a difficult activation, but it does require a bit of hiking, some of it off-trail.
It may seem odd to review the games in English, but I can get my thoughts across easier that way and I think it will help expand the reach for these games that are usually played by the relatively small (but growing) francophone IF community. I’m also less likely to leak any spoilers this way. When I submit my votes, I plan to boil down these comments to hopefully intelligible French.
This weekend was the January edition of the ARRL VHF contest and I thought I had an unbeatable plan: to find a summit in a less-worked grid square and make both SOTA and VHF contest contacts. I set my sites on W8V/EP-004, Round Top Mountain in West Virginia (grid FM09), which was activated just once in the past.
Weather was not fully cooperative. While storm weather passed to the North dumping snow on New England, temperatures dropped below freezing. Even as I was tossing things in the trunk of the car for the trip, I noticed that wind was tossing around garbage cans in my drive way, and I wondered how that would play out on a mountain top.
Well, I never found out. The brief version of the story is that Round Top is not accessible by the route that I had planned. It looked like an almost drive-on peak, with Allegheny Way road terminating in a large, round pad of asphalt and from there, a dirt path running towards a peak sporting a few commercial antennas. However…
I was based in Madagascar from 2014 to 2018 and made a habit of posting short status updates on my QRZ page. To keep the page to reasonable length, I would occasionally move those entries over to this blog when they became dated. So, here is the last installment of updates from 5R8SV. The previous ones are also posted on the blog (most recent and earlier and even earlier and the first ones). The station has been QRT since the end of July, 2018. I donated some of the station equipment to local hams and makers, but everything else was either shipped back to the US or forward to my next assignment in Cyprus. I still have the callsign for another year, but doubt I will have a chance to use it.
Last week, I put up a new HF antenna and this week, I set the station up to operate in FT8 mode. Below, I describe a minimalist implementation using an Elecraft K3, a computer and two audio patch cords. I am focusing only on items specific to the radio and not found in the WSJT-X documentation.
So, I should explain why a crucifix appears to be hovering about thirty feet above my house.
When I got back to the US, I had a hard time figuring out how to put up an antenna at the house that I’m renting in Maryland, just north of Washington, DC. The house is surrounded on three sides by power lines and there’s only one tall tree. After much consideration and with the help of a neighbor’s tree, I finally managed to put a dipole in place just before Christmas.