At long last the solar cycle has improved and the 10m (28 MHz) band has been 'open' during daylight hours recently.
Last weekend was the CQ World Wide (www.cqww.com) international amateur radio contest. This is a major event and as the weather was so bad over the weekend I was able to spend a bit of time operating. I decided to run just low power (5 Watts QRP, this is about the same power as a Christmas tree light!) and just one band - 10m. I was using my Yaesu FT-817 with a home-made vertical dipole in my loft. Conditons were quite good and I managed to work 116 other stations from the Middle East to USA East Coast.
Also on the 10m band, today I was able to pick up an amateur radio repeater, N2ACF/R, ( http://www.rra.net/ ) which is located in Rockland County north of New York City. This was carrying traffic for the amateur radio emergency net in preparation for the arrival of Tropical Storm Sandy, that is widely predicted to cause major damage in the New York area. I wish everyone in the path of the storm well and, while I hope the amateur radio support is not needed, I am pleased to see that the capability is available if needed.
Friday, 26 October 2012
I am not a major amateur radio contester, but if I hear a contest in progress I will sometimes join in to give away a few points and to keep up my skill level. Occasionally, I will even submit a log.
So it was last June that I heard stations calling CQ Contest on 6m. A quick check of the contest database, which I have on my iPhone, gave me the rules for this SMIRK contest (http://www.smirk.org.) Conditions were good so I worked a few stations, sent my log off to the organisers and thought no more about it.
To my surprise, this week I received an envelope postmarked Pennsylvania and inside was a certificate confirming I had won first place in England! I checked the web site and sure enough, there I was. Unfortunately, I was the only station from England to submit a log which rather took the gloss off my achievement, but this is the only time I have ever come anywhere near the top of any contest so I don’t feel too bad about the lack of competition.
My 6m station is very modest – FT-817 running just 5 Watts and a home-made non-rotatable dipole, fabricated from some old 22mm copper pipe in the loft. But even with this, I can work all over Europe and occasionally beyond when there is a good E-opening.
So, it is worth entering contests even with a very modest score, and thanks to the SMIRK 6m club for running this event.