BIC – An important part of contesting

Keeping your butt in the chair is an important part of contesting. Sometimes the chair is the source of discomfort that leads to diminished BIC time. The chairs in my shack were a mixture of cheap and hand-me-down office task chairs that were not very comfortable.

Mixture of chairs – 3 very cheap task chairs and one moderate quality chair that I selfishly always use.

Yesterday my wife KW5MOM and I were shopping for a new bed for the guest bedroom. I saw some used chairs in the corner and asked about them. The proprietor told me they were $50 each. So I made a deal for five of the Herman Miller chairs.

A pair of the five “new-to-me” Herman Miller chairs, which are highly adjustable.

I hope my shack guests will find them more comfortable. At the very least, all the chairs are the same now.

If you have thoughts or experiences regarding chairs for the contest station, please comment below!

Boom + Microphone + Mount <$90

A year ago I wrote about my Christmas 2018 “self-gift”, the pair of JBL Control 2P powered monitor speakers that I integrated into my shack with a Mackie 1202-VLZ Pro. This continues to be enjoyed in my shack because I can listen to multiple sources without being tethered by a headset cord.

Similarly, I’ve been tethered by headset cord to all my microphones because they are all headset mikes. For some time, I had desired an articulating boom + microphone setup. However, I did not want to pay for brand new equipment just to try something out, and I wasn’t really sure how or where I would mount it to not be in the way when not using it.

I had read on the Elecraft reflector some interesting commentary about brands of microphones. As the K3 has a built-in transmit equalizer, it seemed the consensus leaned away from the brand that is marketed as the elite microphones for ham radio. I studied some other brands and the frequency response and cardioid patterns of several microphones.

Shure PGA 48 response charts

Soon, I found one that I was willing to buy and try. I found a new condition, open box Shure PGA48 with a 15-ft XLR cable and mic clip on eBay for $33 to my door.

What’s in the box.

At the same time on eBay, I found a used mic boom, Heil PL2 missing the cable covers and any type of mount, for $50 to my door. Tiny zip ties will hold the cable just fine.

The items arrived, and I was left with figuring out a way to mount the boom. An ‘ah-ha’ moment struck, and a simple solution was found. My radio desk has a brace under the tabletop in just the right place. I drilled a 5/8″ hole through the tabletop and into the 2×4 brace for a total depth of 2 inches. After vacuuming the shavings out, I pressed a steel sleeve bushing O.D. 5/8″, I.D. 1/2″, Length 1-1/2″ ($3 at the local hardware store) into the hole, creating a flush-mount for the boom to sit in. It works perfectly!

$3 steel sleeve bushing O.D. 5/8″, I.D. 1/2″, Length 1-1/2

Next was to listen to how I sounded with the existing TX EQ settings in the K3. I had a set of “rotating” TX macros set up to allow me to quickly step through five different TX EQ settings.

RAG-1 TE+06+06+00+06+00+04+08+12;MN110;SWT24;SWT21;SWT14;
RAG-2 TE+00+00+10+04+04+06+08+12;MN110;SWT27;SWT21;SWT14;
DX TE+00+00+00-06+00+04+08+12;MN110;SWT29;SWT21;SWT14;
VERY-DX TE-06-06+00-06+00+04+08+12;MN110;SWT33;SWT21;SWT14;
FLAT TE+00+00+00+00+00+00+00+00;MN110;SWT13;SWT21;SWT14;

After transmitting at 0.1 watts on 10m and listening via another K3 on a distant beverage antenna, I have settled on these as my initial settings for the new microphone:

SHURE TE-16-14-04+00+02+04+08+12;MN110;SWT34;SWT21;SWT14;
SHURE-DX TE-16-16-10-06+04+06+08+12;MN110;SWT32;SWT21;SWT14;

Yesterday afternoon, I enjoyed many casual QSOs on 17m and 20m using the completely “untethered” accessories. I even experimented with VOX and improved the settings to work effectively with the Shure mic.

And here it is! Boom + Microphone + Mount <$90

Summary: This is a worthwhile purchase and it will enhance my casual operating enjoyment.

ARRL Field Day – 2020

Call: W5WZ
Operator(s): W5WZ WM5H
Station: W5WZ

Class: 2E LP
QTH: LA
Operating Time (hrs): 19:37

Summary:

Band CW Qs Ph Qs

80: 94 0
40: 318 15
20: 791 3
15: 711 172
10: 172 125


Total: 2086 315 2401 Total Score = 8,974

2019 CQ WW CW M/S HP

First time every for a Multi-Op of any major CW contest. We had fun, and wished for more operators to share the fun and BIC time.

As always, thanks to WM5H for pre-contest work getting the station ready and for good food.

Very glad to have my elmer, Jim W5LA, BIC for the majority of the run workload. We are going to make a serious contester out of him!

Band QSOs Zones Countries
160: 67 14 41
80: 168 24 82
40: 256 31 110
20: 775 34 133
15: 89 23 75
10: 39 11 21
Total: 1394 137 462 Total Score 2,210,909

During a post-contest phone call with K8AZ, Tom remarked that a country count more than 400 in the M/S category is a serious competitive effort.

2019 ARRL NOV SS SSB M/S

Once again, a group of LCC members tackled the M/S HP category. Jim W5LA, Bobby WM5H and Scott W5WZ were on hand for the event. Prior obligations took all 3 way on Sunday morning for about 4 hours. Consequently, QSO count was down, but we still had fun!

Band QSOs
160: 0
80: 241
40: 689
20: 532
15: 6
10: 0
Total: 1468 Sections 83 Total Score 243,688

2019-CQ WW SSB @ K8AZ

I made my 7th trip to Chesterland, Ohio to the fantastic station of Tom, K8AZ for the 2019-CQ WW SSB contest. Yes, it is a long drive – 16 hours or so. But the camaraderie with the gang makes it all the better!

As usual, I spend some time on Friday helping Tom with various maintenance, repairs, or installations of new items. This trip was no exception. Many hands do indeed make light work!

Tom takes a pre-contest walk around the antenna farm. This time, we found the rope supporting the SW element of the 80-meter transmit 4-square had broken, and the result was a rope tangled up in the elements of several yagis on a rotating tower.

In waning day light, we worked to free the rope from the tower such that the 80-m antenna would be usable. The rotating tower is 15 and 20 meters, so we parked it toward Africa for the night. Once the rope was free, we managed to get it positioned such that the 80-m antenna functioned for the overnight operating period.

The next morning, it was raining. The forecast called for increasing winds throughout the day and into the night. K8AZ and I ventured with bow and arrow to get a string over the appropriate tree. First challenge was using a sling blade to clear walking paths and work areas in the raspberry thicket, then cross a creek to find the loose end of the rope. Second challenge was to place the string. First shot success! Then pulled a larger string, and at last the final rope. With the antenna repaired, back to the house for shower and then operating time again.

Near sunset on Sunday night, suddenly 80-meter 4-square SWR went really high. Upon inspection, we found the NE element had broken loose from the feed point. Hauled a ladder out and worked beyond sunset to complete the repair with 20 minutes left in the contest.

Highlights of this contest: seeing my friends K8AZ, K8NZ, W8CAR, WT8C, AA8OY, K8RR, W8WWV, K8BL; riding in and driving a dual motor Tesla Model 3; meeting KE3X and talking contest strategy; and working CN3A on 160m with my own call!

CQ Magazine included this blog post in their official post-contest writeup!

Jan 2019 NAQP SSB – 10 minute audio clip

Here’s a 10-minute audio clip of W5WZ running 20 meters during the Jan 2019 NAQP SSB. The rate was 264 QSOs per hour, or 4.4 QSOs per minute.  Keep in mind this is a 100-watt maximum power contest.

Here is the audio clip

View the 10 minute period, which pretty much coincides with the audio file.

Recording made using QSORDER by K3IT
https://qsorder.hamradiomap.com/

I use SH5 to generate analytical reports about each contest. Link to reports on yesterday’s NAQP SSB contest:
https://www.w5wz.com/sh5/w5wz/2019/2019-01_naqp-ssb_w5wz/

November Sweepstakes, Fourteen Years Ago

11/24/2004 | W5WZ Our family was on a camping trip to Daisy State Park on Lake Greeson in Arkansas. I had hoped to spend a significant amount of time in the contest. However, as my first solo portable operation, it wasn’t as successful as desired.

W5WZ operating 2004 Nov SS SSB at Lake Daisy State Park in Arkansas (Photo by KW5MOM)

I brought an fan dipole for 80/20, and also a trap dipole for 40/15. But, I didn’t bring any soldering irons or antenna analyzers. The 80/20 antenna was up about 25 feet, on the east side of a steep slope near the edge of the lake. The 40/15 dipole had an unknown problem; it wouldn’t tune up anywhere. So I gave it a shot with only the 80/20 antenna.

My station was an IC-756 ProII, a laptop with NA by K8CC for logging and rig control, with the requisite Heil proset and footswitch, all on the picnic table at the campsite.

My family had other plans for the camping trip; as much rain was expected, during the non-rainy periods I was expected to be with them. The first evening, the temperature was falling quickly ahead of the rain, which soon followed, so I packed up and went to bed  in the RV. With 4 kids under age 7 in the RV, indoor operating was not going to happen on this trip.

The next morning, it was very damp and windy, so I decided to set up in the cab of the truck. With the 756 on the dash, laptop in my lap, the passenger seat was mighty comfortable. The kids provided plenty of interruptions, along with the nature hike and my turn at cooking for the family, so once again operating was not the priority. After all, this was my vacation! I did learn that an automobile bucket seat should be considered for an operating chair.

My operating position had one heck of a great view! And the rest of the trip was beautiful, too! — W5WZ

QSO with W7IFG Yield Unexpected Surprise!

A late Sunday afternoon QSO with W7IFG on 2018-10-08 via 20M USB yielded an unexpected surprise!  I had just completed a previous QSO with intentions to QRT for supper.  W7IFG asked for a quick QSO, and I obliged.

Scott told me (his name is also Scott) that he had a QSL card from W1AW/5 that listed me as an operator during the ARRL Centennial QSO Party, and he also knew that the two QSOs on the card were made with me, because he had asked for my home call sign.  We briefly discussed how much fun the Centennial QSO Party was for all the participants, then signed off.

The following Friday, Oct 12, I received an envelope in the mail from W7IFG.  I was quite surprised to find not only a QSL card for the recent QSO, as well as the original W1AW/5 card!

QSL from W7IFG for QSO with W5WZ on 2018-10-08 20M USB, and QSL from W1AW/5 for QSO with W7IFG on 2014-11-xx on 17m USB, with W5WZ as the W1AW/5 operator. 

Thank you very much W7IFG!

73, Scott W5WZ

Special Event Commemorating the Louisiana Purchase – April 21 to 28, 2018

A special event commemorating the Louisiana Purchase will take place from April 21 to April 28, 2018.  Sponsored by the NorthEast Louisiana Amateur Radio Club, the event will use the call sign W5L.

A commemorative full-color QSL card has been created for the event.

Operators will be from locations across Louisiana, activating the HF bands in CW, Phone and RTTY modes.

A schedule of the on-air times and more details are available at https://W5WZ.com/W5L