Friday, October 10, 2014

October 2014 ARS Spartan Sprint - Soapbox

My first Spartan Sprint entry. Decided to follow the rules to the letter, if not completely embracing the "Spartan" spirit.  I managed to keep the equipment weight under 1 lb, making the first QSOs on the Elecraft KX1 @4W that I just purchased from Cap, W0CCA.  With a pico paddle, a small model aircraft LiPo battery, and Sony earbud headphones, the total station weight was 0.84 lbs.  The big advantage, though, was using the monoband Yagi antennas at W6YX, the Stanford club station.  On 20M, I used a 6-element Yagi at 60'.  On 40M, I used our 4-element Yagi also at about 60'.  For the few QSOs on 80M, I used an inverted vee at 50', which has an extremely favorable slope to the US.  If you worked W1AW/6 during the Cal QSO Party, these were the antennas putting out the big signals.  I had to deal with a shack maintenance issue when I arrived, and didn't start working stations around 0123. I continued until 0251 before stations seemed to run out on 40 and 80, and I had to go home to finish the next day's lecture slides.  This was an excellent dry run for my upcoming SOTA expedition with NK6A.  Hope to hear you again in future contests and during SOTA activations.

7 contacts ties my all-time record for one hour of my Novice-level CW.  Radio was the HB-1A with a homebrew paddle and old Sony headphones. The homebrew paddle is much lighter than the J-38 that it replaced, but I used 10 AAs instead of 8 since they were a bit flat, so the weight was about the same.  Thanks to everyone for slowing down and offering many repeats.  I had 3 busted contacts, so maybe next month I can break into the double digits.

The October Spartan Sprint seemed to be lightly attended. I got six contacts on 20M, and four on 40M. Conditions were reasonable on both bands. Although I listened on 80M, the noise level was covering most of the discernable signals and I was down to the last 15 minutes of the event – not worth it for possibly one QSO. I had to do some repair on the 40M daughter board this month. I had noticed that the ATS-3A was not quite up to par on 40M since the recent repair job on the receiver, but just saw the broken wire on one toroid when I was getting ready to move from 20M to 40M. Fortunately it only took about 15 minutes to remount and re-solder the toroid. Hoping for more participants next month!

Activity seemed to start out slowly and signals sounded weaker tonight particularly on 20 m but skip was fairly good.  Big signal into rural PA tonight was NQ2W who is always strong whether I’m operating from PA or FL.  Thanks for the contacts. The Spartan Sprint is always fun.

October is the last month that the Spartan Sprint starts before sunset, so I went into the forest east of Moscow, ID for this month's contest. A K2, 7 AHr gel cell, a 31 foot long Jacklite pole supporting a SOTAbeams Band Hopper 20 and 40 m inverted V, and a netbook running N1MM was the station. For creature comfort I also took along a roll up table and a lawn chair. I started on 20 m as the sun was setting behind pine trees. Twenty was good for about 1/2 an hour with 14 Qs from coast to coast. That was also about the latest that I had enough daylight left to see to change bands. To change bands, you have to lower the Band Hopper and reset the shorting clips for 40 m which didn't take too long. I spent the rest of the contest on 40 with 12 Qs again from coast to coast. Around 0240Z the moon came out from behind the trees and made for a nice view without the headlamp. Three folks, K4BAI, N5GW, and NK6A, were able to find me on both bands. Thanks to all who stopped by for a QSO.

Slow evening. 16 Qs on 20m, 3 on 40m. Quit at 0230z.  MTR, BLT, doublet, Palm key, GenLog.

What fun it was again. I netted 11 QSOs on 20m and then 8 Qs on 40. Tried the homebrew 3S1P cell phone lithium battery, the LG-Nok-sung. 1006mAh measured and lasted the whole 2 hours. Tried out the new rig the MFJ-9200, it worked well considering. Worked a nice run of people on 20 and then went long. Hopped down to 40 and stayed there until 0230Z. I then went to 80 but nobody was there so went back to 40. Here are the stats from the RBN: 20m yielded 26 spots, Avg SNR = 11.73dB and std dev of 8.57dB; 40m yielded 45 spots, Avg SNR = 15.38dB with a std dev of 5.96dB. I just manually crunched the numbers. My total was 19 QSOs With a weight of 1.1314 pounds. Thanks again for doing this.

All contacts on 20m and 40m.  I made fewer contacts than my last sprint, but at least I got my station weight down this time. Looking forward to the next one.

Thanks for 20M contacts with: K4BAI, N5GW, WA8ZBT, WB5BKL, KDØUKC, and NF1R. Regards to all from Arizona.

FT1000MP, 5W, TH6DXX, dipole, zepp, inverted vee.  20M was quite long at the start with all six QSOs in the W6 and W7 areas plus CO, but their signals were strong.  40M was a bit noisy, but 19 QSOs were made as far away as CA and NJ (with a lot in TX) and as close as NC and MS.  80M was quite good, but there was almost no activity there.  Thanks to K2YGM and N5GW for the two QSOs on 80.  Activity was way down, maybe because of conditions. But, no matter what the conditions, if we hang in there and keep trying QRP to QRP QSOs can be obtained. Hope for more participants next month.

KX3 at 3W with internal ATU, external balun and NiMH batteries to CFZ. 20 and 40 were both in good shape, but 80 was very QRN at this QTH. Only worked K4BAI and WA8ZBT on 80. Next month 20 may close early as CDST ends, and days will also be shorter. So I may put up a better antenna for 80.

K3/10 @ 5W to various delta loops and wire antennas. All QSOs were on 20 and 40M - nada on 80M.  Conditions poor here.  Best signals:  20M - W7OM, 40M - K4BAI, though N5GW was almost as good with 3W. Only 10 states worked and no QSOs in the last half-hour.Anyway, had fun.

K1 at 5 W to a 2-element mini-beam at 25 ft for 10, 15, and 20 meters, an inverted vee at 40 ft for 40 m, and near bottom-loaded, ground mounted vertical for 80 m. Seemed like activity was down. Pretty even split between 20 and 40 m contacts. I called on 80 for a while and never heard a response. Two bander with WA8ZBT. Thanks for the contacts and thanks to the organizers. Tell a friend about the Spartan Sprints . . . the more, the merrier!

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