Archives For July 2014

Courtesy of the WA7BNM Contest Calendar, I knew a week in advance there would be a VHF Contest this past weekend.  I’ve participated in a few VHF contests in the past with a minutia of success, so I thought I’d give this one a go.

The weekend called for rain, so given my past experience with rain, I wasn’t sure if I’d have an opportunity to hook up the antenna(s) or not.  Saturday was mostly rain and when it wasn’t raining, I was busy with other activities that kept me out of the shack.

While overcast, the weather on Sunday was much better with a very low chance of rain and otherwise cool breeze blowing outside.  I had some free time while the baby slept, so I thought I’d tune up the radio to see if there was any activity on the 6 meter band.  I didn’t hear much so I left it to work on some other things.

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When it rains, it pours, as they say and if you’re particularly unlucky, the lightning strikes — as it did at our house on July 11th.

Sarah and I were in the living room that Friday evening as a hard rain and thunder rolled overhead.  I believe she was playing with the baby and I was doing something unimportant on the iPad when this spectacular crash interrupted our activities.  The transformer on the pole at the street erupted into a shower of sparks.  The lights in the house went off briefly, followed by the beeping sounds of multiple battery Back-UPS located around the house warning us of a power outage.

And then the smoke alarm sounded…

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Last week I participated in the 13 Colonies Special Event. The 13 Colonies Special Event is a contest (of sorts) where the object is to contact another (specific) station in each of the original 13 colonies (plus two bonus stations).  The event lasts the entire first week of July.

This is the second year in a row that I’ve participated in this event.  Last year I nearly had a “clean sweep” (the term used to describe you successfully contacting all stations in a given contest) save for one bonus station.  This year, I was able to contact all 15 stations — although I had a great bit of difficulty reaching South Carolina.  Such difficulty, in fact, that I’m uncertain they got my call 100% correct.  (The noise on that band was louder than the station which made it extremely difficult to hear them even when I had DSP noise reduction enabled.)

My impressions about this particular event haven’t changed since last year, but since I didn’t blog about it then, I’ll talk about them here: Continue Reading…

Every year the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) sponsors a contest called “Field Day.”

According to the ARRL flier,

ARRL Field Day is the single most popular on-the-air event held annually in the US and Canada. On the fourth weekend of June of each year, more th an 35,000 radio amateurs gather with their clubs, groups or simply with friends to operate from remote locations.

In other words, Hams all over the nation drag their radio junk outside and set up temporary stations in attempt to contact as many other stations as possible.  You could say it’s the intersection between a contest and emergency preparedness.

I’m not certain when Field Day began (and I’m too lazy to look it up) but this is the second Field Day since I’ve been a licensed Ham.  Last year I didn’t participate since I had a few-week old new born.  This year I originally wanted to head out with my friend, WK4U, and operate from the field.  Preferably while camping.  Due to differences in our schedules, we only had Saturday to work with so we decided to drive around and visit various Field Day sites.

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