The last year of QRZ updates

jacklemurI make small status updates every month on the 5R8SV page on, but after a while, the page becomes too long and the info grows stale. I would hate to lose this record, though, because it’s a nice account of what I’ve been up to, so I am pasting the last year’s worth of comments below and cleaning up the QRZ page.

June 12, 2016: Some casual operating this weekend and experimentation with the recently arrived Timewave ANC-4 noise canceller. So far, it doesn’t seem to do much beyond the 6dB insertional loss, but I may have to play around with configuration of the noise-receiving antenna. Alternatively, it could be that I have a distributed rather than focal noise problem.

May 22 2016: I was seized with a sudden urge to operate digital this weekend, and reconfigured the station a bit for digital operation using the TS-450, N1MM+, and MMVARI. On Saturday, signals were building right before the start of the contest and 15m looked active. Unfortunately, I had to leave for a few hours, and when I came back the K-index was 5, the solar wind was directed southward, and things went down from there. I muddled through contacts on 15 and 20m, but didn’t make many contacts. I could often hear stations, but they couldn’t hear me. I was running 50w, which I consider to be a huge amount for PSK modes.

April 18 2016:  Propagation was poor during the CQMMDX and I had heavy local noise. Early Saturday, I think a team of arc welders must have been at work just down the street. Turning the antenna helped, but not much. The new delta loop did well in getting my signal out on 40m, but I had difficulty hearing at night above the noise of local mercury lamps, LED lights, etc. Enough complaining. I am happy to have about 270 contacts including some all time new ones for this location. Also, today is an historic occasion: I just passed 10,000 contacts from Madagascar, and since I have almost 20,000 in my lifetime, I have now worked more stations from Madagascar than anywhere else.

April 15, 2016:  Looking forward to taking part in the CQ Manchester Mineira DX Contest this weekend as a low power all band station. I have to attend a function Saturday night (local time), but will put in as much time over the weekend as my schedule allows.

April 11, 2016:  I spent the last two weeks of March in the UK, looking at universities with my daughter. Along the way, we activated SOTA peaks in England, Scotland, and Wales. When I got back to Mada, I replaced my dipole with a full-wave 40m delta loop. The apex is suspended about 15m up with the base at 4m. I think it is better than the old dipole, but noise still dominates — we’ll see how it performs over time. I have purchased a timewave noise canceler, but will need to pick it up from the US over the summer, maybe that will help.

Over the last week, I worked VK0EK on 11 bands/modes, often when other stations could not reach them due to poor propagation conditions. Oddly, I only worked FT4JA once despite their location on an adjacent island. Between skip zones and their use of very directional antennas, I could barely hear them. Finally, I put in a bit of time of the JIDX contest this weekend and I anticipate participation in the CQMM contest next week. I have no business travel for at least the next month and am looking forward to getting on the air.

March 3, 2016:  This weekend, I’ll be teaching a class on electronics and radio to grammar school students — we’ll see how that goes. Hopefully, I’ll get on the air a bit for the ARRL International SSB contest as well, but in a casual rather than competitive mode.

Feb 17, 2016:  Well, those couple weeks went fast. Lots of solder melted, not so much time on the air. I’ll be QRV in Arizona, USA from Feb 18 to 21 as AI4SV and then back to Mada for the end of the month.

Jan 30, 2016: I am back in Madagascar after a few weeks on the other side of the planet, where I had some fun activating SOTA W6/NC-423, W6/NC-407 (NPOTA RC 11), and W6/NC-432 as AI4SV. I have a trip to Arizona in about two weeks, but between now and then, I’m hoping to get on the air from Antananarivo.

Dec 13, 2015: I am taking part in the ARRL 10m contest. Had some good runs on the first day but contacts with North America completely died at 16:00Z. Today (Sunday, day 2 of the event), propagation has tanked. Only a handful of contacts to the East, and now (08:00Z) pulling relatively weak European contacts out of the ether — but plenty of time to update QRZ between contacts 🙁

Nov 30, 2015I spent most of the month away on business and was worried that I might not have any contacts in the log for November. That concern was disspelled when I waded into the CQ WW DX contest on Saturday. I was wiped out from travel and thought I would just test the waters for a bit, but predictably enough, once I started I was hooked. As one of the few stations in CQ zone 39, I found the attention being showered upon me to be irrestible. My lower band reception is still poor due to noise, so I went with the 24-hour “classic” version of the event and operated when the upper bands were favored. In 24 hours, I had 1525 contacts including some QRP and portable contacts. 

Oct 30, 2015: Lots of fun last week with the CQ WW SSB, I think I worked something like 90 DXCC, some of which were entirely new to me. I’m now back in the US for a week. If I’m functional tonight, I may try to take part in the Zombie Shuffle as AI4SV. {note added afterwards – yes, zombie #930 again walked the earth: 26 contacts from a second-floor hotel room and end-fed antenna}

Oct 4, 2015: On a couple of weekends, I have had the chance to operate in contests. I can’t say that I was entirely competitive and stayed in the chair around the clock — partly due to other commitments, but also because rates dip at certain times to the point where it is next to futile. If I had better antennas for 40/80, I might be more inclined to stay when the upper bands close. Perhaps a project for another day. I really do like the regional contests, so I entered the YO HF on August 29 and the TRC DX this weekend, both CW. For a bit of variety, I also worked the WAE SSB on Sept 12. I think that almost half my voice contacts from Madagascar came during that contest.

Sept 23, 2015I was in Austria on business and operating with guest call sign OE1ZJW. I operated from a field in Cobenzl, just outside Wien. Equipment was the FT817nd and trail-friendly end-fedz 10/20/40 antenna. Since band conditions for potential contact with the US favored 17m, I swapped in a 17m radiating element for an hour and heard, but could not reach, the US. I ended up with 35 QRP contacts, many of which were SOTA or WWFF portable stations.

August 26, 2015I like my hexbeam antenna system so much I made a youtube video about it.

August 20, 2015: I’ve installed a new laptop (T420) and sound interface (EMU-0204) in the shack, dedicated to the TS450 that I use for digital. In addition to working a slew of PSK and RTTY contacts, last night I had my first JT9 and JT65 contacts. 5W seems to do fine for contacts in the US and EU. I’ll continue to alternate phone, cw, and digital. More good news: no travel planned for the next month, so looking forward to logging some more on-air time.

August 16,  2015The hex beam is up at full height. I’m still tweaking it, but by and large, it is functional and makes a huge difference in terms of what I can hear. I have also replaced the G5RV with a dedicated 40m dipole. This weekend I tried a bit of digital including the SARL digital HF contest.

August 10, 2015: I got the hex beam in place, albeit not fully raised, in time for the Skeeter Hunt. I worked a number of EU stations on 5W, but alas no Skeeters. At about 7 meters up, the antenna tested resonant for all bands and seemed to perform fine. I should finish raising and guying it today.

August 5, 2015:  I’m back in Madagascar after about 5 weeks in the US. Currently jet-lagged and drenched in email, I’m hoping to participate in the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt this weekend — if you hear me calling “CQ BZZ” that’s what’s going on. I’ve worked 2-way QRP to the US before, so let’s hope propagation is favorable. For that contest, I’d be happy to work any QRP station worldwide. I am skeeter station #96, so I will send the exchange “{rst} Jack DX 96”. If you are a Skeeter station, please send a similar exchange, but other stations should send their report, first name, S/P/C (“DX” for stations outside North America) and their power in watts, e.g., “449 Vlad DX 5W”.

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