Sunday, February 8, 2015

February '15 Spartan Sprint - Soapbox

Well I must say, I surely did have a great time participating in the February Sprint.  I had 31 QSOs with 13 of them coming from TX!! I thought I was working the Texas QSO Party or something.  I worked WB5BKL on 20, 40, and 80.  W5ACM and WA8ZBT on 40 and 80, all in TX.W7OM way out in WA, N7CQR in OR, and NK6A in CA were the most distant stations.  Close in stations were few and far between.  Only one other in GA.....can you guess??? K4BAI, of course(40 and 80), K3RLL in FL, and AB9CA in AL, with everything else being further away.  I started out on 15 for a bit but got no calls, switched to 20 where I picked up 4, and then to 40 and later to 80.  Using a K2 to a Mystery Antenna at 38' with 5W. Hey guys I think I'll do this again next month!

Nice to see so much activity on and a few new calls.  20M was still active early on and grabbed 11 Q's.  TX, MS,AL and GA were the hot spots and one NY station . 40 began picking up at 30 minutes into the sprint. A number of 3 W stations tonight. One QRO station who jumped in not knowing what we are all  about.  I had to bail out early because of my fighting the flu.

Rig was the new K3 to a 100' E/W wire up 30' or so. The south end of the N/S wire fell (tree chewed through the line) so down to one wire until I can get it back up.More activity. Some of the old familiar calls were heard. Ended up with 29 Qs. 20/40/80 breakdown is 4/20/5. Not hard to tell the main and tonight. All the 80m activity was in the last 10 min. 20 was long, as expected this time of year and day - ON, CA, AZ, NY. 40 appears to have been open to nearly the entire country. Worked as close as MS, GA, & FL as well as CA, OR, WA, MN, & NY. Something happened around 0250z. After that time everyone was very weak. They were pretty easy to copy because the band noise was quite low. But I think someone flipped the prop switch about then. All the 80m Q's were pretty close - GA, MS, TX - but with the band noise so low it would probably have been possible to work up into the Midwest. Again no 3- banders, but several 2-banders: NK6A, NK9G, NQ2W, K4BAI, N5GW, WB5BKL, and WA8ZBT. Thanks to everyone who stopped by. Hope to see all of you, and many 
more, next month.

Ten-Tec Jupiter 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 homebrewed near-bottom loaded ground mounted vertical for 80 m. 5 QSOs on 20, 10 on 40, and 1 on 80. Too tired from moving snow off the driveway to set up the I pulled the plug early. 20 and 40 produced two banders with AB9CA and N5GW. 40 and 80 allowed a two bander with N4SX. Pretty good conditions and I think participation was up from last month. Thanks to all and I hope to hear you all next month.

K3/10 @ 5W to a 20M wire delta loop, a 40M dipole or a 40M extended double Zepp.  6 QSOs on both 20 and 80M with the remainder on 40M - 15 states total. Only one 3-bander - with N4SX. N5GW had remarkable signals on 40 and 80M, matched on 80M by WA5ZBT. Nice to hear a few new-to-me calls. My thanks to all. Had fun. 

Only heard NK6A up on 20m but 40m seemed active through 03:30z. Wish I had 80m capability. Maybe that’s where everyone goes late in the game?  Big signal down here tonight was K4BAI. Thanks for the contacts.

Elecraft KX3 @5 wts to G5RV ant; Vibroplex Square Racer Deluxe;  Almost forgot - so glad to get on during the last hour and make six (6) QSOs: N5GW (Gene), AB9CA (Dave), NK9G (Rick), K4BAI (Hi John!!), AJ4AY (Jay), NQ2W (Will) and N4SX (Randy). Nice working QRP!

Although sigs were not strong, Q's made in NY, AZ, CA, MS, and GA. TNX to all. 72's de Houston.

KX3 with internal NiMH bats and int. tuner to CFZ.  There seemed to be more participation than last month, more like back in Dec. Improved band conditions on 40M and 80M may have helped, but 20M sounded sparsely populated.

Running a KX3 weighing in at 1.9 pounds this time according to my postal scale. It varies with battery pack or paddle.   Antenna was an LNR endfed 40/20 as an inv vee up about 25 ft.  Total of 10 contacts  -  3 on 20 meters and 7 on 40 meters.  Strongest signal into my San Antonio location was N5GW in MS.  States worked were GA, CA, AL, MS, AR, NY and AZ.  Heard N5EM in Houston very early on 40 but then never heard him again.  Did hear someone giving WB5BKL near Austin a contact but could not hear Nick. Not enough folks calling CQ.  Heard several folks working K4BAI and AB9CA but never could chase them down.  My CQs did not produce for me like they have other times.  And we were spared from the K1N pileups only to be replaced by digital and voice transmissions right in our little window.

The bands were clearly better this month - there were some stations heard.  The clearly audible ones were all in the pileup for K1N. There were also a few faint ones.  In January, there was only one or two stations and they were at the ESP level, way below copyable Unfortunately, no stations were heard calling CQ SP and none were answering to that. (*NOTE: the weight includes a share of PG&E's generation plants and distribution system.  It is more this month because I used the Icom instead of the DSW-II.) As a "portable/hiking" sort of activity, you should count the weight of everything that gets taken for the station - that includes the antenna, feedline, and supports. It would make it much more interesting for us who don't have 4 element monobanders on 80 foot towers which don't get counted in the weight.

Good band conditions on 20, 40, and 80.  Activity only fair. Hope for more participants in future.  Thanks for all QSOs. Worked NK9G in AZ on all three bands.  QSOs by band:  20M: 3. 40M: 23.  80M: 7.

20 Meter sigs very weak. No QSOs. All 40 Meters this month. Did not venture to 80M.

Saved by 80M! The February Spartan Sprint was not at all what I expected. I got TWO contacts on 20M, FOUR on 40M and FIVE more on 80M. Band conditions included a lot of QSB on 20M and 40M. Conversely, 80M turned out to be the best performer in the final minutes of the event. The most distant contacts on 80M for me included K4BAI and N4SX in Georgia. N5GW in Mississippi had a fantastic signal, as did the Texas stations WA8ZBT and WB5BKL. The LiPo batteries in the ATS-3a are still a bit “puffy” but I am hoping that they will make it another few months before I kill them or they just wear out.

Band conditions on 40 fair with quite a bit of noise that seems to be coming from lightning activity up in far northern CA. Two of the three QSOs I made this evening were with fellows I know from the QRP Fox Hunts, Don, NK6A in Southern CA and Rick, NK9G down in AZ. I tried 80m for a few minutes, but not hearing anything there I returned to 40m. Spartan Sprint is always fun. 73's to all and to all a good night from the Northern San Joaquin Valley where we are still praying for rain following the driest January in the history of the state of California.

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