2015 RAC Winter Contest

A contest the weekend before Xmas.. at least it wasn’t the full weekend, but still not easy to make time for this one. I managed to play a bit for a few hours. My goal was to hand out a few multipliers, and get some more Canadian stations in the log.

I didn’t put up any antennas for this one, so I was left with my 10m vertical, and my 20m sloper, and whatever I could bring in with the auto-tuner..


What I like about this contest other than the relaxed friendly tone of Canadian hams, is the crazy points for the Canadian stations, and double-crazy points for VxxRAC stations. I didn’t sweep Canada, but I did get almost all the provinces (curse you PEI!) … Even the tough-for-me Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were active. Prince Edward Island and the territories will come some other day…


Looking at the upcoming contest schedule, I think the ARRL RTTY round up will be my next event. CQ WW RTTY last September was my first time playing with RTTY, let’s see if I learned anything 🙂

The grass is still visible, and we’re still above freezing most days, and they’re calling for more above-average temperatures over the next week … maybe I’ll get that Cobra antenna back up for this one, it’s not like there’ll be snow in the way or anything…

ARRL 10M 2015

What a difference a year makes 🙁

My goal for contests is to beat what I did the previous year. With the way 10M behaved this weekend, that wasn’t going to happen. 10M is a daytime band, but there were long stretches during the day that the pickings were slim. After 354 QSO’s last year, I only managed 138 this year, with pretty much exactly the same set up.


I was working vertical using the good ol’ Antron 99 about 40 feet up, the same antenna I used last year. I managed to get some European stations and my first South African station, but I was surprisingly deaf to eastern North America :


That no-man’s land between Quebec and the south-western US means I missed out on a lot of multipliers. I don’t know if a dipole would have helped me to get those.. Perhaps by next year I’ll have something horizontal on 10M that will let me compare.

Unseasonably warm temperatures (above 10c) meant I didn’t have to blast the heaters to keep my garage-hamshack warm, so that was a pleasant twist. Overall a fun contest, and considering I’m running an FT-897D at 100w, which isn’t exactly known as a contest rig, I’m satisfied with the result. The most fun I had was Sunday morning, when I managed to stop searching and pouncing, and ran a frequency for something like 35 QSOs. That was a whole lot of fun, then a big gun moved near by,  pretty much stomped me out of existence,  and I had to go back to hunting..

Happy whatever you celebrate, enjoy the bands in 2016!

2014 ARRL 10M Contest

I don’t do that many contests, but it’s an enjoyable part of the hobby for me. I was surprised this week to find in my email a big envelope from the ARRL. I opened it up, and there was a “Division Winner” certificate for last year’s 10M contest!

When I looked closer though, it was VE2PIJ’s certificate 🙁  It was my name on the envelope though.. so was the envelope wrong or was it the certificate? I started looking online at the results, and started thinking maybe I was supposed to get one too.

Anyhow I emailed VE2PIJ and told him I had his certificate.. a quick tape job on the envelope, a trip to the post office, and it was on its way to him.  Now what about me? I emailed the ARRL to see if I was to expect one.. Never got a response or acknowledgement..

A couple of days later, this arrived in the mail :


Woo! So I did win my section/class! To be honest though, I had to pull up my old log in N1MM+ logger to remind myself how I did that..


You’d think I would clearly remember 354 QSO’s… but it was almost a year ago.. Anyway, I’m thrilled to have my first ARRL certificate, and it’s now proudly on the wall of the shack.

By the way, the ARRL reported having some issues with sending certificates to the right people. so if you’re expecting one or get the wrong one, let them know.

With 10M seeming to get worse and worse over time, I can’t help but wonder if I can get even close to that in this year’s contest…

Stay Tuned…

ARRL Sweepstakes SSB

What? a new post? aren’t you respecting the time-honoured tradition of starting then letting your ham radio blog die?

Yeah, yea.. been a while, I know.. one of those things.. I’ve done lots of radio stuff (and acquired new gear) since the last post, took pictures and everything, with the full intent of blogging about it. Then , life takes over , and if you don’t make the time… well, nothing happens.

In the spirit of trying to reverse that, I’ll try to start again. I’ll post some of the older stuff too, as this is a reference for me as well, and if it can help others who are really lost, well that’s good too!

This past weekend was the ARRL fall Sweepstakes contest. One which I did one time before, but since I’m “antenna-challenged” (who isn’t?) I never did that well. This year, at the last minute, I built and hung in the most temporary way a short “Cobra Antenna” after hearing about it at a club meeting some time back. A swimming pool extendable pole and some rope probably made my neighbours wonder what I was doing, but it let me actually USE 40M and 80M from the QTH for the first time.

I was really glad I did, since my old standby of 10M didn’t prove to be the beast it once was. Here’s what I ended up with:

map Capture score Capture

Not too shabby considering I was running without spotting assistance, and low power to boot!  I’m very pleased with the outcome, and the fact that 40M is where I got most of my QSO’s. As this was North America only, getting most of the North Eastern USA was a treat.. (Except for you, Rhode Island.. .why do you torture me?)

A fun, friendly contest, with a ridiculously long exchange. I’m looking forward to the next one, and trying to find a way to hang that Cobra back up in a more permanent way..