JIDX-CW & (bad) 10 m condx

jidx2011ssbThought it might be a good idea to participate in this weekend’s JIDX-CW contest. I participated in the SSB leg in 2011 and had quite some fun. They make some nice contest certificates, too, see left. But condx are awful right now so no fun at all. 10 m was pretty much dead the whole Saturday, nothing heard at all during the morning and only a few weak South American stations in the afternoon. Sunday morning was a bit better, at least I could hear & work a dozen JA’s although most signals were just above the noise and despite 600 W and a 4 ele Yagi the JA’s were struggling to hear me – ouch! :( Only worked 3′s, 4′s & 6′s call areas. Heard a very weak JA1BPA but he was not able to dig me out. Later on the Russians working the Gagarin Cup got stronger but I was only looking for JA’s. Now in the afternoon the band is dead again, only signal audible is FR4NT on SSB, nothing else. Well, this is how it will feel daily in no more than a year, I suppose. Maybe we will be lucky to see 10 m condx return this autumn again before the final decline. I have my doubts but let’s try not to loose optimism. ;-)

                    JIDX CW Contest

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SOSB/10 HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 2

 Band  QSOs  Mults
   10:  13     9
Total:  13     9  Total Score = 234


IC-7100, KPA500 + 4 ele Yagi
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RUSDX 2012 certificates received

Russian-DX-2012-10m Russian-DX-2012-80m

Today I had a letter from Box 88 Moscow in the post box containing my 2 certificates for winning RUSDX 2012 on 80 & 10 m in Germany. As already mentioned you can do 2 single band entries in the Russian DX contest in parallel. ;) As I heard the certificates for 2013 were received by others today, too, so it seems they mailed out for 2 years at once.

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SP-DX contest 2014

SPDX-DH8BQA-2007Was playing around a bit in SP-DX-C during the weekend. Due to my location right at the German-Polish border there is no skip into Poland on the higher bands so all contacts were entirely made via Backscatter. Most signals were weak and I’m sure my signal was too, but Polish operators usually have good ears so worked almost all I heard. ;-)

It’s a pity there’s only either CW or SSB in the single band categories nowadays. Mixed mode would have provided much more fun, i.e. more QSOs. Not shure why that was abolished as the category existed a few years ago. Although being SOSB 10m CW I handed out a few QSOs on SSB, too. Will see what the result is good for, PZK issues some nice contest awards, see left. ;-)


                   SP DX Contest

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SOSB/10CW HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 6:30

 Band  CW Qs  Ph Qs  Mults
   10:   70    (6)     16
Total:   70    (6)     16  Total Score = 3,360

Icom IC-7100 + KPA500 + 4 ele Yagi
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NT3S WPX-SSB contest audio recording

Sandro, DD3SP, provided the following 10 min audio snippet of me operating NT3S during WPX-SSB – many thanks! Always nice to hear how you sound on the other side. ;-)


Also put my SH5 analysis online, if you are interested in …

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NT3S claimed WPX-SSB result

IMG-20140329-00064Just a quick note re my WPX-SSB entry. Will try to write a more detailed report during the next few days, time permitting …

Many many thanks to Carol, N2MM, for inviting me to use her station during WPX-SSB after I had spent a week on business in Boston, MA (and my first visit to a foreign dentist, but that’s another story :-(). So flew down Friday afternoon to Philadelphia, PA, where Carol picked me up for transport to her QTH in NJ.

Another big thank you to Norm, W3IZ, for lending the club call NT3S for use during the contest. It sure helped to keep the rate a little up at times. ;-)

                    CQWW WPX Contest, SSB

Call: NT3S
Operator(s): DH8BQA
Station: N2MM

Class: SO(A)SB10 HP
QTH: NJ / FM29
Operating Time (hrs): 24

 Band  QSOs
   80:  (4)
   40: (34)
   20: (47)
   15: (22)
   10: 1649
Total: 1618  Prefixes = 881  Total Score = 3,950,404

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

I really had a very enjoyable time, great to experience contesting from the other side of the pond. Conditions were very nice Friday evening with a few JA’s right after the contest started and before the band faded. Saturday still good but a bit distorted later on and no JA opening. Sunday better again but sorrily had to leave at 18z already to catch my flight back to Germany (btw. also nice to experience the grey-line from above the sky ;-)). Had I known before that I would be through check-in, baggage drop and TSA in under 10 minutes I certainly would have operated at least an hour longer. ;-) As I heard later from Carol 10 m had still been open 21.30z into all continents in parallel … wow!

Thanks again Carol! You were a great host!

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NT3S & W2/DH8BQA next weekend

Everything’s packed and if nothing strange happens anymore I will be off to Boston, MA, for a week of QRL tomorrow morning. Next weekend Carol, N2MM, is going to host me in NJ during WPX-SSB – many thanks in advance! Will have the chance to use the club call NT3S during the contest. Not decided yet concerning strategy and category. Thinking about doing a 10 m SB effort although I would loose half a day as I have to head back to the airport Sunday afternoon. Could also hand out a few points as W2/DH8BQA on the other bands then. On the other hand an SOAB entry would certainly be a better fit for the available time. Will see how fit I am after a heavy week of QRL and a possible jet lag. ;-) Anyway, hope to hear you during the contest, much success to everybody participating!

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All project pages moved

With moving the FT-817 microwave display and GPS display pages tonight I finally finished the migration of my old website into the new WordPress layout. Phew! ;)

Tried to cluster the projects into three categories:

Not sure if I like it that way exactly. Might change again in the future. ;)

Also put links and redirection html’s into the old places to guide people to the new pages. Now just need to find some time to add content, i.e. our latest projects realized. We will see …

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Almost all PIC project pages moved

Was very busy moving almost all PIC project pages into the new website design during the last few nights. Made sub-pages for the different voice keyer projects as well as the sequencers projects. Now just the FT-817 microwave display and GPS display pages are left over, puh. ;-) Afterwards I might start to put all my latest projects that were published in FUNKAMATEUR magazine during the last 3 years onto the web, too. Still quite some work waiting. ;-)

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FA-SM and sequencer pages added

fa-smMaking some progress in adding content to this new website. Managed to transfer the pages for the FA-SM as well as the sequencer tonight. The FA-SM aka FUNKAMATEUR Station Manager is a versatile station accessory uniting a 4 memories voice keyer, 4 memories CW keyer and 4 channel sequencer into one single neat box. Take a look at it especially if you are into VHF operations.

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Russian DX Contest

Back again from my 2 x 700 km roundtrip to the contest station to participate in the Russian DX contest last weekend. Was not sure what to do, I did not feel fit enough for an Allband entry, QRL and the many hours on the highway simply took their toll. Not getting younger. ;-) Furthermore 10 m conditions had deteriorated quite a bit during the last few days. But I simply love that band so it should be a 10 m single band entry and taking conditions into account another single band entry on 80 m. Yes, in RDXC it is possible to enter 2 single band entries! This contest is quite unique in several ways. ;-)

Luckily condx went up again during Saturday. Ten almost sounded like going to close at 17:30z but opened up again nicely about half an hour later. I then had a pipeline into California having a really nice run into the U.S. west coast and nothing else. :) About an hour later the band changed completely, west coast vanished and the east coast got in again so I could run for another hour. The band finally closed Saturday night 21z. One of the highlights was being called by K2MFR/m who was just using 3 watts into a small mobile whip and was a solid S7 on my K3′s calibrated meter. Great!

Battled again with Tom, DK3EE, manning DK3T (not sure if it’s a battle for him, too, hihi). When he shut down Saturday evening (heard him last time around 17:30z so he might have thought the band went dead or maybe had other commitments) he had about 650 QSOs while I was just over 400. Ouch! But I could make good use of the mentioned opening and finally surpassed his QSO number and put some “reserve” into it before the band died on Saturday. :)

Sunday morning I got up at 5z. The band was already in full swing, had not expected that (and certainly lost some 40-50 QSOs)! So not even time for a coffee but just going ahead. Didn’t hear DK3T for the first 2 hours (or so) so could gain another few QSOs. But Tom easily ran past me later on. Well, he’s got 3 antenna systems in parallel while I’m just dabbling with one single yagi so after all I think I did hold up against him quite well this time. ;-)

Working to the east has not been a pleasure during the last few month’. We have some new noise of about s3-4 into direction JA/UA0 which we could not locate yet. At least it’s nothing on our property but the strange thing is there is *nothing* into that direction for a few kilometers! So difficult to find out what the source is. :( Due to that I could certainly not hear all of the usually weak JA callers, sorry guys. Russian’s were all really strong, a real pleasure. But as the case in all other contests, too, not too much going on in the morning, QSO rates not up to what we can do in the afternoons. Would have also thought that CW would be the better choice into Russia but not the case this time, constantly lower rates!

After all I am quite happy with the result:

                   Russian DX Contest

Call: DH8BQA

Class: SOSB/10 HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 15

 Band  CW Qs  Ph Qs  Countries  Oblasts
  160:  (4)                             
   80:  (7)    (1)                      
   40:  (7)                             
   10:  440    646       71        54                             
Total:  440    646       71        54  Total Score = 778,000

Club: Bavarian Contest Club

Handed out a few QSOs to friends on the other bands, too.

You might ask what about the 80 m entry? Well, after 10 m was open that long and I had to help a mate who called me with a computer problem after the band had closed I finally skipped that idea and took a good night’s sleep. Did I mention not getting younger? Or maybe it was just laziness, might as well have been the case. ;)

Now looking forward to WPX-SSB in 2 weeks. I will be attending a conference in Boston, MA for QRL the week prior to WPX. Carol, N2MM, was kind enough to invite me  to participate in the contest from her place in NJ afterwards. Many thanks in advance! Reserved the club call NT3S for participation, so look out for me, please! :)

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BX-184 – voice keyer in MH-31 microphone enclosure

ssp-mh31-4Just added the description of my MH-31 microphone integrated voice keyer into this website’s WordPress design. All other content is still available on the old pages. To convert everything and make it fit, i.e. good looking, takes a bit of time but I will try to move all pages within reasonable time now that the start was made. ;-)

Back to the BX-184: Over 800 kits have been sold world-wide by Box73 so far (even to such remote locations like FP, St. Pierre & Michelon Islands) so it indeed seems to be an useful station accessory. ;-) User reviews are available on eHam.net, it’s got at 5.0 rating.

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Certificate for winning ARRL-10M 2012 in Germany

arrl10_2012A nice surprise in the mailbox today – ARRL HQ mailed out the certificates for ARRL-10M 2012 which I had won in Germany in the Mixed Mode High Power category. Also 9th place World is not too bad either, I suppose. ;-) I’m especially proud on that one as the contest was really tough, lot’s of hard work and persistence needed to do any QSOs at all as conditions really sucked. It sure did not feel like in the middle of a sun spot maximum. You can read my full contest report here.

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Excellent condx & French Polynesia as an all time new one

fo4bmConditions have been excellent during the last few days. It’s really cool to get home from work at 18z and find 10 m still wide open. :) US west coast booming in all evenings. Haven’t done too many QSOs myself, rather listening to several interesting conversations and simply enjoying the fine conditions. Heard NH6Y yesterday on short path, that’s been a first, only heard & worked Hawaii from here via long path in the past. Sorrily it was not his frequency but anyway, it clearly speaks for the condx. While scanning the band tonight I stumbled across FO4BM in French Polynesia on 28.520 MHz. Luckily he was not spotted on packet yet so I could easily work him with 55 signals both ways, a very difficult and rarely usable path on 10 m from here. So many thanks for an all time new one, Phil, much appreciated! As you can see guys, it really pays off to spin the dial yourself and not just rely on the packet cluster. My DXCC total is up to 288 now, 270 of them on 10 m. :)

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Japan – Germany on 500 mW

jq2uoz_qrpppUsually I don’t care much about eQSL.cc. Occasionally I upload my logs there, too, for all those who like these “cards”. While doing it I fly over the inbox and mark the “cards” received for archiving. This time one comment line entry caught my eye, you can see it on the QSL pictured at the right: JQ2UOZ confirmed our QSO on 15 m CW during last year’s WAG contest when he was using just 500 mW and a dipole! That’s not too bad! I am sure the 6 ele OWA yagi on our side as well as the superb condx we had helped quite a bit to make that contact possible, too. ;-) Aki-san has now worked over 180 DXCC countries on 500 mW – that’s quite an achievement! More details are on his qrz.com website. He’s got a nice blog, too.

Back when I was a QRP only guy myself (yes, I had such a phase when money was too tight, hi) I sometimes put my FT-817′s power down from 5 watts to 500 mW, too, just to see if a QSO would work. My personal best was from Germany down to ZS, South Africa, on 10 m CW in the middle of the last sunspot minimum. Sure the old 3 ele Yagi we had up on the tower back then helped with that contact, too. Although to work ZS is certainly nothing special it is the circumstances that make these contacts memorable.

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Ten at night – VE8EV’s analysis

After my posting re the ARRL-DX-SSB I got an email from John, VE8EV, concerning his night time 10 m propagation. Interesting experiences on his side, but read for yourself (reposted with John’s kind permission):

ve8evHello Olli,

Thank you for the 10m contact during the
contest.  I enjoyed the write-up on your web
page and was especially interested in the
Ovation auroral image you captured at that
moment.  I do not believe our contact was via
auroral-E, just the regular F2 skip.  From my
QTH at CP38di I can frequently make a good opening on the high
bands to Europe in the 0600z-1000z hours.  As you can see from the
image attached, the aurora was mostly to my south and it is only
about 2000km from here to the sunlight side of the earth.  This
path is quite common on 20m and 15m but thanks to the high SFI
numbers it was open this day on 10m as well.

John VE8EV

Don’t miss to also read John’s contest write-up. Besides this he has some very interesting propagation analysis on his blog, too.

He is certainly right, as we have that kind of 10 m night time openings in Europe, too. But it is only usable at high latitudes, i.e. LA, SM, OH can enjoy those openings while propagation stops about 500 km north of my location. His grid square CP38 is equivalent in latitude to the JP & KP locators of SM & OH. I already noticed these openings in the past giving our friends in Scandinavia a small advantage. Sorrily these openings never extend to us in “southern northern Europe”. Well, Scandinavia is otherwise propagationally challenged due to the Aurora, so we’ll let them enjoy this advantage. ;-)

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ARRL-DX-SSB – quite a fun weekend!

Just returned from my 2 x 700 km roundtrip to the contest station. Have been active in the ARRL-DX-SSB contest as planned. Here’s my report …

Elecraft K3, PA and 160m lazy loop, 80 & 40 m dipoles @ 16 m height, 4 ele YU7EF yagi on 20 m @ 10 m height, 6 ele G0KSC OWA yagis on 15 (@ 12 m height) & 10 m (@ 18 m height, see picture at the top of this website).

As condx were terrible on Friday I was not sure if it would be a good choice to start 10 m single band. I really am a 10 m addict but my last ARRL-DX-SSB in 2012 was a disaster due to really bad propagation. So to be on the save side I decided to start all bands first and decide later to switch to 10 m single band if conditions would be good enough. Checking the low bands I found condx still suffering from the flare. 160 m was no good at all during the first night, did not hear a single signal from NA. 80 m was a little better but even there signals were weaker than what I am used to. 40 m did not suffer that much so I had some nice runs there although not lasting too long. Was done with 80 & 40 m after 5 h, 174 QSOs in the log and no new ones to work so decided to get some sleep then. Note to myself: We need to install some better lowband antennas one day. ;-)

Aurora_Map_N_samstagmorgenDid not sleep well so got up after 3 h again to check the bands. 20 m was open a little bit so I managed to work about 40 QSOs in 2 hours. Not that much but only big guns were audible. In-between I was chasing some DX on 10 m which was open very nicely to the south & east already so looked very promising for the NA afternoon. While scanning ten I stumbled across VE8EV in NWT who was 55 with the antenna’s backside. Wow! Turning the yagi over the North pole he went up to a solid 59. Wow again! Easily worked him at 9:11z, very unusual time! Certainly some kind of Aurora-E as it was deep in the night overthere and Aurora still going on. Quickly grabbed a picture of the Aurora oval for later analysis (see left side). Sorrily VE8EV was the only SSB station audible from across the pond, another sign for Aurora-E which is a kind of Sporadic-E triggered by Auroral ionization thus sometimes very localized. Found WL7E pounding in on CW with 599+20. Wow again! Worked him, too, and decided this must be a good omen for 10m. ;-)

10m_mults_samstagAbout 10:45z 15 m opened up so I spent some 1,5 h there. Rate was not very high so just 75 QSOs worked. Always kept an eye on 10 m with the K3’s second RX and found VE9AA as the band opener ;-) again at 11:10z as well as K1LZ & W2PV. Nothing else yet so stayed on 15 m. QSY’ed to 10 m around 12z after the band sounded more lively. About half an hour S&P only before signals finally got strong enough to do some running. Could hold my frequency down around 28.3 MHz for about 2 hours until it got too crowded and rate suffered massively from the QRM. :-( QSY’ed to 28.7 MHz but couldn’t get the rate higher than 80/h so back to S&P and grabbing some more multipliers. Around 17:30z I finally found a good spot for running again lower in the band. Rate went up magically. Band closed around 19:30z overhere with almost 600 QSOs on 10 m in the log and 55 mults worked. QSY’ed down to 15 m and did a nice 130 hour there. Then down to 20 m for a slow hour with just 50 QSOs before that band closed, too. 1.100 QSOs in total for the first day with emphazise on 10 m.

As I had decided to make it a 10 m single band entry now I skipped the second night completely and got a few nice hours of sleep. :-) Checked condx around 2:30z when mother nature was calling but did just one QSO on 40 m. Nothing on 160 m except VY2ZM just above the noise so didn’t even call him and went back to bed. Back to the station at 6:30z for a handful of QSOs on 40 m and later on 20 m. Felt good not to be in a hurry until 10 m was going to open.

Met Tom, DK3EE, who was operating DK3T, on 10 m in the late morning. He told me he had already made 1.100 QSOs during the first day on 10 m. Ouch! I thought my 600 QSOs were not too bad but that really put me down. :-( I knew I couldn’t catch up with him anymore as he has more power, more antennas and a big advantage due to his QTH 500 km more west, i.e. he can work the band about an hour longer in the evening than us in the North-East. When the band started to open I spent the first half hour listening to him and could barely hear what he worked. Ouch again! Asked Sandro, DD3SP, living about 100 km south from me, to listen to Tom, too, and he could at least hear 1/3 of his QSOs, still much much more than I could hear although I have about 3 dB more antenna gain than Sandro, all else being equal (we both run K3’s and antennas are about 18 m high). So it’s all about location, location, location. Maybe I should search for a new QTH in southern Germany. ;-)

10m_mults_sonntagAs I could not win 10 m anymore I decided to switch on the cluster  (although that put me in the Unlimited category) and at least try to work the remaining missing mults for a full sweep on 10 m (and I did manage all US mults, see left). Turned out it would not have been neccessary as in the end *all* mults where calling me while running, even another VE8 in NWT and a VY2 in PEI (besides VY2ZM who is a save mult for PEI but didn’t call me, I had to call him, hi). This time I could even hold my run frequency low in the band quite well although QRM was really bad at times. So I did 6,5 hours of continous running to add another 750 QSOs to the log. At 19z the band dried out and only the big(gest) guns where still audible. Added a few ones not worked yet and already wanted to call it a day but then decided to let the voicekeyer run for another few minutes. N9UA called in although we had worked before just to tell me I was the only European he could hear on the band and I was 59+20. Wow! This is what I like about 10 m (and 6 m for that matter), you never know what will happen. So I quickly made another 40 QSOs in 20 minutes (almost exclusively east coast now) before the band really closed at 20:15z, 45 minutes later than on Saturday.

Condx on 10 m were okay on Saturday (not much west coast here, just 3 x CA wkd and ID, MT, NV and WY mults still missing) and much better on Sunday (65 x CA for comparison). Almost 1.400 QSOs on 10 m in total is not too bad for my equipment and location but I felt I could have done much better if I could have hold my run frequency low in the band on Saturday and would have done less S&P as all mults finally called me. But hey, you never know before if this is going to happen. ;-) So after all maybe 1.600 would have been possible. DK3T managed well over 2.100 QSOs on 10 m. Oh well … did I mention his location advantage already? :-(

After 10 m closed I had 1.885 QSOs total in the log. So I decided to go down to 15 m to complete 2.000 before calling it a day. Well, I made exactly 188 QSOs in one hour. Wow! That *was* thrilling! Being short of 2.100 QSOs now I set a new goal of catching it up. So went down to 20 m after 15 m died down. QRM there was tremendous so only had a 70/h rate. Hmm, over 2.100 now so would 2.200 still be doable? After some more 20 m QSOs down to 40 m for another 50 QSOs and finally breaking the 2.200er mark, yeah. :-) During the last 10 minutes I decided to give 160 m another try and found W3LPL and WE3C weak but workable. So I finally added 2 QSOs on top-band, too, and thus had 2 stations worked on all 6 bands in the end. :-)

You can’t win 10 m from Germany’s north-east. You (or me for that matter, hi) should decide *before* the contest what category fits best and then stick to it. Doing the second night full-time and paying more attention to 20 & 15 m might certainly have yielded another 3-400 QSOs. I feel +/- 2.500 QSOs is the station’s and location’s (and OP’s?) limit for an ARRL-DX-SSB without SO2R. And we need to install some lowband RX antennas one day. ;-) Score summary:

                    ARRL DX Contest, SSB

Call: DH8BQA
Operator(s): DH8BQA
Station: DH8BQA

Class: SO Unlimited HP
QTH: JO73ce
Operating Time (hrs): 32

 Band  QSOs  Mults
  160:    2     2
   80:   53    19
   40:  185    36
   20:  170    40
   15:  406    50
   10: 1391    60
Total: 2207   207  Total Score = 1,370,547

Was lots of fun, that’s for sure! Now looking forward to the Russian DX contest in 2 weeks. Hope to hear YOU.

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Bad condx

Arrived at the contest QTH yesterday evening, set up the station and was happy to see some ufb 10 m condx, band still open 19z overhere to the west coast. That *did* look promising for ARRLDX-SSB this weekend. Meanwhile there were some solar flares and today condx are really bad, heard just a few weak east coast signals on ten, that’s all. :-( Yes, we are quite up north within Germany (and Europe, of course) and this *does* make a difference. Hope condx will improve again and tomorrow will be better but fearing the worst. So will certainly start AB first and then see how things will evolve and maybe switch over to single band 10 m then again. Keeping fingers crossed! Hope to see you guys in W/VE during the contest. Meanwhile spending some time chasing all the Sotchi special event stations. ;-)

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100_1104Another nice one received recently was the Thüringen-Trophy. It is the highest class of the Thuringia award and offered through DCL, too. The trophy is about 19 cm high made from pug cast, nicely colored and symbolizes a typical landmark found along the Rennsteig hiking trail in Thuringia. In my childhood I was visiting the Rennsteig area several times with my parents for hiking so this brings back nice memories, too. ;-)

To my mind a real eye catcher!

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WAE-TOP Plaque received

100_1098Friday I found my WAE-TOP plaque in the post box. :-) WAE stands for Worked All Europe, a challenging awards program by DARC. I had applied for the WAE award already a few years ago but to go for the plaque or even trophy entirely through DCL, DARC’s Contest Logbook, takes quite a while. So even the plaque was applied for using only electronic confirmations from DCL itself as well as LoTW confirmations imported into DCL. I certainly could have applied for it much earlier using my paper cards but everything lies unsorted in my cupboard. To sort everything thru and make it a system is a job I can do when getting pension in some 30+ years. ;-) Many thanks to Wolfgang, DF8AA, who serves as the awards manager and did a nice job once again.

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QSL of the month

g7pzl-qslJust digging through the latest pile of QSL cards received via the bureau. One that caught my eye immediately was the confirmation of a 2 m QSO from England. What makes it so special is that Andy, G7PZL, was running just 2 watts into a small 4 ele Yagi (certainly QRPpp on VHF) to work these 1.036 km. That is not going to happen very often. We had a strong tropospheric duct the week before Christmas 2007 and could work lots of DX back then for several days, was quite some fun. This is why I like paper cards! They make you remember all those special contacts you had, some pleasure an electronic confirmation will never be able to provide (although I like LoTW and DCL, too, as they make awards chasing much much easier).

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