best place/method to post upcoming mbr contest scores on new website??
W1WBB

With migration occuring more and more from the old yahoo site to this one, I’m curious where our site administrators (Ed W1PN and Ken K3IU) feel club members should post their future contest scores on this new site.  It would be nice for all members to have a consistent location/method here to do this from the start…and to more easily allow for data transfer to the intra-club competition scoreboard.

I, for one, am still feeling my way around this site.  I do notice a sub-forum under the “Contesting” forum titled “Contest Results” (the last of 5 categories) but I don’t think that most accurately reflects what we want to do…a category such as “claimed contest scores” would seem better.  

If a consensus suggestion materializes soon a few of us could try posting our claimed scores from this weekend’s Florida QSO Party here on the new site via the recommended method.  Member thoughts/ideas??

…And the New England QSO Party is just a week away!!

73,  Bill  W1WBB

 

 

 

Charlie’s Whistle, February, 2011
Charlie’s Whistle, February, 2011 avatar

By Bob Beaudet, W1YRC

In order to break up this long and torturous winter of 2010/2011, Mary and Charlie decided to visit the Southeast Division ARRL Convention in Orlando. Getting away from the snow, ice, cold winds for a few days was a terrific idea. They each have many friends in Florida, some seasonal residents (snowbirds) and some year-round, so visiting them was as good a reason to travel to “HamCation” in Orlando as any other.

Upon arrival, the temperature was a bit cool but improved by the second day. Generally, the weather was wonderful, cool by Florida standards, but great by Mary’s and Charlie’s. Temperature topped off every day in the low to mid 70s,

Hard to take by thin blooded Floridians but there was no snow to be seen anywhere! That factor alone made everything simply terrific! Simultaneously, the hardy and durable couple from DX Hill decided that they would not suffer with another long winter without taking at least one break in it. They have reached the age where physical and psychological limitations make demands on their body and spirit that cannot be ignored. In fact, there was unanimous agreement to make reservations immediately to visit HamCation next year and revisit their Orlando area friends.

The visit to the convention wasn’t remarkable for Charlie. It was far smaller than he expected. After all, it’s a division convention, not just a club hamfest. He expected it to be double or triple the size of the convention that greeted him. Indeed, Charlie has attended many ham fests and flea markets in his years that were much larger. The measure he generally uses is the number and scope of forums and how many commercial vendors were in the program. This convention simply didn’t live up to his expectations.

But, the flea market was what made Charlie’s nose seriously wrinkle. He found several things disturbing. First, it wasn’t in one area. It seemed to be all over the place. There appeared to be no order to it and there were several randomly placed sets of tables, tailgates and piles of boxes to make up the flea market. Some sellers were under cover, some were simply in the parking lot, selling out of their truck or RV. That’s OK except that with only every fourth or fifth vehicle selling goods, buyers had to walk through much of the parking area rather than an organized flea market area. For those older or disabled hams who weren’t especially mobile, they had some difficulty getting around to all vendors. It would have been much more appealing if it was somewhat consolidated. Charlie also noted that asking prices on most items were quite high compared to prices that he is used to on DX Hill. On a couple of different radios, he asked the two sellers why he should buy their used radios when a brand new radio with twelve month warranty could be purchased from any of a dozen commercial dealers for nearly the same price; less than $100 or about 5% more? Neither of the vendors offered an answer or appeared to care.

Generally, Charlie noticed that an uncomfortably large percentage of the vendors were selling non ham related items; plastic jewelry, all sorts of gadgets, camping gear, fishing items, auto accessories, personalized caps, candy, kitchen utensils, etc. In fact, it was unlike most any ham flea market that Charlie had ever attended. He figured that it must be a sign of the poor economy, i.e., selling a table to anyone who wants to buy it, regardless of what they are selling, is good business. Charlie believes that sort of desperate move could easily destroy the flea market’s future since hams who are disappointed by that may not return. It probably would back home at DX Hill. But, then again, one must consider the Florida weather in February which surely deserves some extra consideration. Do you think that the folks running the flea market considered that?

Despite the absolutely delightful weather and whatever the logic was behind the flea, the crowd attending the convention was remarkably small. It was Saturday as well, the major day of the convention.

As stated earlier, Mary and Charlie found little reason not to plan a return to HamCation in 2012, at the height of the snow and cold season back on DX Hill. They couldn’t find a better excuse to visit the Sunshine State. They have many friends to visit in Florida and adding Orlando’s HamCation can justify the timing of the trip.

While Charlie was fighting the “crowds” at the convention, Mary was visiting with some former neighbors and new crafting friends who had sold there northern homes and now live year-round in Florida. Getting caught up on news could take some time, don’t you know? But after a while, Charlie called Mary using his cell phone and told her that he was about to leave the convention. They had made tentative plans to go to dinner at a country cooking buffet that was recommended to them by a flight attendant that Mary became friends with. They were both bakers and could have spent hours talking about their favorite recipes. Mary told Charlie that she was going to bring some friends along so that they could continue their chat and get caught up on grandkids, crafts, recipes and all that sort of thing. Charlie chuckled and said that he would reserve the largest table in the restaurant. Mary agreed that would be a good idea.

Well, over dinner which amply lived up to the flight attendant’s accolades, Mary’s friends gently but unmistakably were applying pressure on her to consider moving to Florida or at least buying a winter home so that they could all be together and see one another more often. There were six lady friends who came to dinner with Mary and Charlie. As luck would have it, one of them was a realtor and another was a retired attorney and you’ll never guess where these two sat….. You’re right. It wasn’t luck or chance, I am sure. The realtor sat between Mary and Charlie at a large round table and the attorney sat to Charlie’s right. That wasn’t random choice of seating, do you think?

The pressure was subtle but steady. House prices are low, very low. There are dozens of fully furnished homes for sale at 30 to 50% of the level they were selling at five years ago. The lower cost of insurance and taxes in Florida will also save plenty more. But the selling point that resonated loudest with Charlie was one that the nice ladies had not mentioned. It’s mid February and there’s no snow and the temperature is 74. That alone would get Charlie’s attention faster than all the other reasons that the ladies were politely but firmly promoting.

Everything that they presented over the fried chicken, mac and cheese, fried okra, salad, sweet potato pie and sweet tea was appealing. But, Mary knows Charlie like a well read book. One could even say that Charlie is a bit “dog-eared” but that could be the result of his close friendship with Rufus. She asked her friends to talk about any real estate that they knew to be affordable property where Charlie could install a tower and antennas without necessity of resorting to Devine Intervention or devious tactics with the town government. She knew that would have a far better chance of becoming a winter retreat for them than the restricted parks and communities that are extremely popular most everywhere in Florida.

The realtor who was sitting between Mary and Charlie nearly spilled her iced tea as she dove for her briefcase under her chair. This lady, always queued up for a sale, flipped through a loose leaf note book of listings, stopping at one that she showed to Charlie and pulled out another book for Mary to see. Charlie doesn’t like this sort of pressure and closed the book and put it back on the floor without looking at it. Mary knew that the realtor was not going to gain any footing with her tactics, so she asked, “May we come see you later and look at your listings?”. Of course, the realtor lady caught the obvious hint and agreed.

Picking up on Mary’s question, a fellow crafting lady across the table said, “Well, I live up toward Ocala. A fellow came down from Ohio a couple weeks ago to see his elderly mother who was living alone in her home. Her husband passed away a few years ago. I guess that the family decided to move mom into a senior home and sell the place because she can‘t take care of it any longer. He dropped this information sheet by all of the neighbors‘ places. It may be something that you would be interested in.” The realtor wanted to get hold of that sheet of course, but Mary took it first. After briefly looking it over, she smiled and said across the table, “Yes thank you. This may be perfect for us.”

The group enjoyed the rest of their lunch but all the while, were wondering about that property toward Ocala. Mary didn’t talk about it but her body language made it plain to her crafting friend that she’d appreciate keeping it between them for the present.

After lunch, the group went their ways and Mary kept the Ocala lady behind the others by asking her questions about crafting, cooking and her grandkids. Clearly, she was simply detaining her so that she and Charlie may have some private time with her without being rude to the others.

Mary saw immediately what she knew Charlie would like very much. The property had several tall trees and the fact sheet claimed that it included five acres of land. The price was very reasonable and even stated that it was negotiable. On the way out of the restaurant, Mary slipped the sheet with the property information to Charlie who excused himself for a side trip to the men’s room.

There, he skimmed over the property data sheet and decided that they must see this place. Returning to the front door of the restaurant, he found Mary chatting away with the crafting lady. Charlie asked, “What are the zoning restrictions in your area?” To that, she replied with a grin, “If you mean can you put up a tower or two?, the answer is certainly yes. We have horse farms a few blocks away and the towns around us are not at all restrictive except when someone wants to do dangerous things like operate a still or gun range.” Charlie asked if they could follow her home and possibly see this property to which she agreed.

Well, to make a longer story shorter, Mary and Charlie found the son at his mother’s place and saw the property. Charlie paced off some approximate distances between a few likely tower locations. The house was small but actually larger than their home up north on DX Hill. It appeared to be in fairly good condition with small things in need of repair. The asking price was very reasonable. The neighborhood was quiet and well kept.

The son explained that he was taking mom back to Ohio so that he could take care of her better than if she was so far away. Mom didn’t care that much for warm weather, especially in summer and was lonely in Florida. The son said that he was a CPA back in Cincinnati and owned several condo units back there. Mom could live in one of them. He owned other property near Disneyworld that was much bigger for his family of seven to use when they wanted to escape the cold and snow. He didn’t need this property at all. It was entirely surplus. He didn’t want to involve a realtor to keep the price down.

So, Charlie and Mary decided to bite and wrote a check as a deposit and told the son that their lawyer would contact his to handle the transfer of title and take care of other details and arrange the payment of the balance. As they drove away, Mary was already planning how she would change the kitchen and Charlie mentally had two towers in place with a third one in mind. For low bands, he was planning a four square on 80 and maybe 160 meters. He would put a 40 meter Yagi on one tower and probably an 11 element log periodic array on the other. The towers will be 150 feet apart, so a simple dipole, doublet or lazy H could hang between them and favor the states.

They needed to get back the DX Hill and rescue Rufus from the dog boarding facility and while waiting in the airport for their flight to board, Charlie turned to Mary and asked, “Dear, can you believe that we own a home in Florida that’s larger than our home on DX Hill?” Mary smiled broadly and replied, “Isn’t that nice? I already know how I want to design the kitchen. Can we come back soon so I can hire a builder and get these things done before fall?” Charlie agreed of course and just grinned. Mary was in her glory with plans for a new kitchen and crafts room. Charlie was in his as well with plans to expand his antenna farm well beyond his situation on DX Hill. In Florida, he will be able to have two or three towers, a couple of four squares, beverages in all directions and have five acres to access compared to DX Hill where he only has a little more than an acre. True, DX Hill has a magnificent 360 degree horizon that is ten miles or more from the antennas. The Florida house is not on a hill. The terrain is fairly flat. But, there are no obstructions all the way around other than trees. Getting his /4 station on the air will be lots of fun! Both Mary and Charlie can hardly wait to tackle their remodeling.



Charlie’s Whistle, February, 2011
Charlie’s Whistle, February, 2011 avatar

In order to break up this long and torturous winter of 2010/2011, Mary and Charlie decided to visit the Southeast Division ARRL Convention in Orlando. Getting away from the snow, ice, cold winds for a few days was a terrific idea. They each have many friends in Florida, some seasonal residents (snowbirds) and some year-round, so visiting them was as good a reason to travel to “HamCation” in Orlando as any other.

Upon arrival, the temperature was a bit cool but improved by the second day. Generally, the weather was wonderful, cool by Florida standards, but great by Mary’s and Charlie’s. Temperature topped off every day in the low to mid 70s,

NEQP Plaque received
W1WBB

The CTRI CG – sponsored NEQP plaque for high score RI Single-Op Low Power arrived today at the W1WBB QTH…it’s a *beautiful* piece of heavy-duty hardware that will be proudly displayed in the shack.

Many, many thanks to the club membership for sponsoring this award.  I certainly had fun earning it!  And a little luck, too…as John, W1XX, won as QRP New England high score from his WAS RI location — congrats John!

“One million points or bust” in less than 2 weeks for the 2011 NEQP. 

73 and Good Contesting,

Bill  W1WBB

 

 

 

 

NEQP: Phone vs. CW
W1XX

NEQP: Phone vs. CW

In our continuing saga to focus attention on the upcoming New England QSO Party (May 7 – 8), please bear in mind that these topics are just one man’s opinion. So tailor them to your own taste. Today’s topic for your consideration is phone vs. CW.

At first blush the choice should be obvious: CW contacts are worth 2 points, phone 1. And for many of us, the choice is obvious: CW prevails. But there are other considerations. First of all if CW is simply not your mode, then work phone. But before giving up altogether on operating some CW, consider this. NEQP has traditionally been more of a CW exercise than phone. All the mobiles in New England work almost exclusively CW. But because of longer skip, you may not work that many NE mobiles. Activity has gradually shifted over the years from CW to more phone. So which is it: phone or CW? If you can certainly operate CW in the 20 wpm range, some CW should be in your plan. Speeds will be moderate. It’s not like trying to copy what sounds like a near-RTTY station in the CQWW DX Contest. If you send CQ at a speed comfortable for you, return calls will likely be at the same speed. It’s almost impossible to beat the 2-points of a CW contact.

Before we leave the attributes of CW, what about digital? Digital counts the same as CW: 2 points. Historically there has been very little RTTY activity. But last year I believe there was some activity. It’s probably worth a shot if you don’t waste too much time if it’s not panning out.

If you operate a lot of CW or exclusively CW, you WILL eventually see your rate drop significantly. You will basically run out of CW contacts at any kind of decent rate. That of course is the time to switch to phone. If you have a big signal, you will never run out of Qs on 20 meter SSB. In 2009 (I was QRP last year, so the numbers are not indicative) I worked 955 stations on 20 meter phone. No matter how many times I came back to that band, there were a new slew of callers. Low power with wires or low tri-bander should still find a ready supply of phone contacts. Remember, we are the “hunted.”

So what’s the answer? First, operate the mode with which you are most comfortable. If you feel a bit marginal on CW, try it anyway. You may find you will do better than expected. When you run out of CW contacts on a given band, switch to phone. Or switch bands. In 2009 I operated twice as much phone as CW and came in second in New England to W1UE who operated more CW. Last year I won the QRP category for New England with a near even split between CW and phone… eking out a victory over a station who operated only CW. So you see, it all depends! Best answer: probably shoot for an even split. But be ready to modify or go with the flow on the fly.

Recommendation on best way to start: CW on 20.

Look for our next topic in a few days: New England mobiles.

73 and happy NEQP planning.

— John, W1XX

CTRI Contest Mangler

NEQP: Utilizing the Other Contests
k3iu

Published by K3IU for John, W1XX.

In the coming few days leading up to the New England QSO Party (NEQP), we’ll be posting what I hope are helpful tips on maximizing your NEQP score.  I’ve been NEQPing since 2003 and have seen it grow and morph into my favorite contest of the year.

 

Before we hit today’s topic, I want to first thank John, K1JSM, of Bristol for  his nice e-mail. In announcing his intention to help CTRI score “1-million,” John will operate “from a modest station and limited contest experience.”  Bravo, John!  You epitomize what this quest is all about.  First and foremost the challenge is for everyone in the club to participate to whatever extent possible.  John says he may also go over to the W1AN multi-single on Sunday.

 

On to today’s topic:  There are three other contests the same weekend [May 7 – 8] that  can assist your NEQP score.   First 7QP – the 7-land QSO Party.  This will already be in progress when NEQP starts at 4 PM.  There will be lots of 7s on calling CQ both on CW and SSB.  Early on work as many 7s as you can to get the somewhat difficult state multipliers like WY and NV.   7QP is over at 3 in the morning Sunday – so better to work the 7-land multipliers on Saturday while they are plentiful. Their exchange also includes county-state; log the state.

 

The Italian “ARI DX Contest:” This is an everybody works everybody DX contest, so this is the best way to work DX country multipliers. There will not be a lot of DX stations in NEQP per se, so working them in ARI will boost your multiplier country count, especially Europe. Propagation to Europe will be best all day Sunday ‘til 4 PM when ARI is done.  20 should be hopping with European ARI stations at our re-start time of 9 AM Sunday.  Keep a side tally number sheet (starting with #1), as you need to send a serial number to stations in ARI…but also send your county/state exchange as required by NEQP.  I’ve even resorted occasionally to calling “CQ ARI.” Working those European DX multipliers will make a big difference in your score.

 

Next:  INQP, the Indiana QSO Party.  There will be lots of INQP activity to give you contacts.  They are big on mobiles.  I’ve even worked bicycle mobiles!  But it’s only one multiplier (IN), so don’t work INQPers to the exclusion of other potential multipliers. Work ‘em on Saturday as INQP is done at midnight.

 

Be on the lookout for our next upcoming topic to help boost your score:  “NEQP:  Phone vs. CW.”

 

73!

 

— John, W1XX

CTRI Contest Mangler

NEQP Strategy – How to maximize your score
NEQP Strategy – How to maximize your score avatar

In thinking about how I can maximize my productivity for the upcoming NEQP, I have come up with a question.

CW contacts are worth twice as much as phone contacts.  There will probably be more phone operators in the contest than CW ops.  What’s the best strategy to switch between CW and phone and make maximum use of the operating time?

 

For the  multi-single stations, I think this decision is VERY important.  Given that there are 6 or 10 band changes per clock hour, does a mode change count as a band change?

 

I suggest that we spend some time this Saturday discussing these ideas, and others that we’ve already hashed over some.  These are the things that will boost the club score, and get us to our goal.

Mike, K1DM

Website Usage Statistics – April, 2011
Website Usage Statistics – April, 2011 avatar

I regularly review usage statistics of the website to understand how it is being used and to spot potential trouble spots. From time to time it may be enlightening for members to see how the site is being used so the following sample reports from April have been included in this post.

April year to date

 


Country of Origin (deduced from IP address)

 

 

 

 


K1SD Tower
K1SD Tower avatar

I’m happy to report that K1SD is now storing Rohn 25G vertically.  Its been horizontal for ~10 years.  Put up a ~9′ foot section in concrete  and a 10′ section the past weekend.  The house bracket is next followed by another 10′ plus a pointy top section (~9′).  Total height ~37′ topped with a CC A4S.

 

Progress !!

 

73 / k1sd / Jim / Rhode Island

How to Skin a Cat
How to Skin a Cat avatar

W1AN on N1HRA Tower Installing 900MHz Yagi

I dont’ want to cause any undue alarm to animal lovers amongst you, nor to risk a boycott by PETA when this title shows up in the search engines. So I’ll say right off that this is an allusion to the pre-Political Correctness saying “there is more than one way to skin a cat”. No animals were killed or harmed in this production. With that reassurance out of the way I want to tell you a story of old fashioned ham ingenuity.

Over the past year an increasingly larger proportion of the fine presentations at club meetings have needed Internet access. Our first attempt to skin this cat was the direct approach. We asked how we could connect to the Internet at Crandall House. Somewhat to our surprise we learned that there was no provision for guests of the facility to connect. Some discrete inquiries made it clear that trying to change this policy was unlikely to succeed.

Our next approach was to schedule meeting at members’ houses when we just had to have Internet access. This works but leads to confusion about where we are meeting. Also some members are set in their ways and don’t want to move around. I know this doesn’t apply to you or me but to those other guys.

Many would give up at this point. Our president, John Spigel, W1AN, is not one of those. He reasoned that the judicious application of some ham ingenuity should be able to solve this problem. This is basically a communication problem. We are hams. Communication is what we do, by HPM!

During a lull in a contest John and I speculated that it ought to be possible to connect wirelessly, either by eavesdropping on an unlocked wireless net at a neighbor’s building or some more upstanding approach that used RF to connect. John researched the issue and came upon some devices that might permit a radio link from Crandall House to the QTH of Bill, N1HRA, a straight line distance of about a mile. Bill has broadband Internet in his shack. What we needed was to build a “bridge” from his shack to the Crandall House over which could flow the bits.

Now anyone who lives in New England, particulary Rhode Island, knows that building a bridge is a decades long affair. After all there are two nearby bridges that have been undergoing just painting for more than five years! Imagine what would happen to emergency communications if hams took that long to build a bridge. We do things faster, better, and cheaper!

John found some used equipment (of course) that looked promising. It seemed to function in a test across about 500 feet. Would it work over ten times that distance? Less than a month from concept we were ready to try it out.

The nearby illustration shows the hookup. At N1HRA we would connect a Wireless Router & Switch operating at 2.4GHz. Attached to that would be a Wireless Bridge operating at 900MHz. Up twenty-five feet on one of Bill’s towers we would mount an eighteen element yagi pointed at the Crandall House a mile away to the North East. Although the illustration shows the Crandall House with an antenna mounted on the roof we didn’t want to raise that issue, so the antenna was mounted on the top of John’s truck which was parked next to the Crandall House.

Skinning the Cat

 

There was a matching 900MHz Yagi positioned to point at N1HRA when John’s truck was properly oriented. The antenna was connected to another 900MHz Wireless Bridge jumpered to be a “child” device which feeds a Wireless Router and Switch at 2.4GHz. The Router establishes a link with any nearby computer equipped with a wireless adapter. In this case the computer will be inside the Crandall House in the basement meeting room where we have met for some years.

So much for theory. It was time to smoke test the lash up, err… Bridge.

W1AN, N1HRA, and W1PN met on Sunday at 1300 at Bill’s QTH and began installing the antenna and “Parent” side equipment. It was a nice day and the antenna work went quickly. After a few moments confusion over which Bridge was which, the equipment was installed in the shack and tested ‘locally’. That is, from the tower to the driveway.

W1AN Testing Outside N1HRA Before Travel to Crandall House

Just as we were preparing to drive to the Crandall House for the other side of the Bridge, Bill got a call on his EMT HT and had to rush off to save someone’s life. John and I proceeded to Crandall House stopping midway at the Ashaway Post Office for a trial run. John positioned the antenna and I attempted a connection. Two seconds later the home page of WA1RR.org was on the screen and we had a half-mile connection operating at broadband speeds!

Flushed with success John and I drove on to Crandall House and set up near the building. Again I attempted a to make a connection with the club website.

Nothing heard.

We were crestfallen.

“Gimme a minute,” John said as he climbed on the roof of the truck and proceeded to swing the antenna back and forth. After a few repositionings we found a bearing that would work and again we had high speed connectivity.

So, now we have not only proof of concept but a workable solution to the problem as is. It would be convenient to have a permanently mounted antenna on the building but it isn’t required so we may just continue to operate with a half-fixed and half-mobile approach. Either way it’s great to have Internet access at our regular meeting room.

If you want to see all this in operation you’ll have to come to the April 16th meeting.

 

NEQP Update
W1XX

Legendary callsign W1FH will live again during the New England QSO Party TNX to Trustee Bob, W1YRC, and Will, K6ND, who will host the operation.  Old time DXers will recognize Charlie Mellen’s famous W1FH callsign at the head of the Honor Roll for decades.  See QRZ for more W1FH history.

W1FH will be a multi-single operation at the well equipped K6ND (& K6NDV) Mendon, MA QTH — just over the state line from Cumberland.  NB1U will also be in the chair possibly making a serious challenge to perennial multi winner K1TTT.  Will is looking for more operators.  With W1AN in Ledyard, CT, this makes two CTRI multi stations that will be open for anyone in the club to operate who does not now have a station.  Contact John or Will if you wish to join in the multi fun.

CTRI is out to set the NEQP club record.  The focus is to get ALL club members QRV — whether from home or from a multi station — with big scores, medium scores, little scores all.  Especially if you’ve been inactive of late, CTRI wants YOU to heed the call.  See the post: “NEQP: 1 Million or Bust” for details.

CTRI now has several members with out-of-district callsigns, e.g. K6ND.  This may be a disadvantage in NEQP.  Members also hold a bunch of “club” 1-land calls that may be borrowed for NEQP.  W1xx [at] cox [dot] net is the clearing house for both calls made available by trustees and stations seeking 1-land calls.

If you have not as yet advised the club’s contest manager (same e-mail address as above) of your NEQP “QRV-ness,” he anxiously awaits to hear from you.  NEQP is May 7 -8.  Make your plans now.

73 & GL!

— John, W1XX