Category Archives: QSOs

Mississippi QSO Party

I’ve never participated in a DX contest. I’ve listened; a bunch! In Georgia, the QSO Party was fairly serious business with Atlanta Radio Club members having rovers head out to counties without active ham radio operators. Heck, a couple even flew a plane around the North part of the State with both VHF/UHF and HF antennas hung outside!

Since I moved back to Starkville, this is the first Mississippi QSO Party for me. I still do not have my Flex 3000 up and running. Don’t have my Ameritron 811 fired up yet either. However, I took my Icom 706 with the matching LDG IT-100 auto-tuner and placed it on my Levenger lapdesk, a semi-circle thin piece of board with a silicone cover. (It was originally purchased when I had to grade lots of papers as a college professor.) I got out my W2ENY headset with the hand-switch and plugs to match the Icom 706 (incredible value). Took my Samsung NC10 notebook and bit the bullet on going back to Windows XP for the ham radio software (I’m a Linux and Mac OS X guy, but that’s another blog post….). Got things installed alright and announced to management that I was going to be “contesting” from 9am to 9pm that day (Saturday, February 26th local time).

Got up, cleaned up, got breakfast, and headed down to my shack to try my hand at contesting. Was I going to win? Hell no! But I did have a great time. Folks from all over were very hospitable. I couldn’t do the full-tilt 12 hours of contesting. A couple of college basketball games drew my attention during some periods but I was there at the beginning (on 75 meters), there at the end (again on 75M), and in between (40M and 20M).

Worked ham at top of this lighthouse in Cuba!

In all, I only had 49 contacts, all by SSB phone, working 17 Mississippi counties, 19 other states, and two countries (my first international contacts!). The VE in Manitoba was cool but the way-cool one was a ham at Windward Point Lighthouse in Guantanamo, Cuba.  I had a great time and talked to some fine folks. One was a ham en route from WA and in NM where I worked him on 20 meters with a report of my 100 watts (at best) and G5RV antenna coming in 40db over 9 on his mobile rig! His WA buddy who was in a QSO with him said I was knocking down his door, too. Late in the day I worked an AM station (K5IIA) from LA who had a terrific signal, both in terms of audio and strength. He’s also a relatively new ham and loves old rigs and AM. I grew up hearing the old AMer’s on my grandmother’s RCA radio…it had a “green eye” at the top of it that would “wink” when the signal peaked! The speaker in it was the size of a large salad bowl at Olive Garden. Anyway, what’s surprising is how I can still recall many of those QSOs a week or so later.

Let’s see, that’s 49 QSOs X 38 entities = 1,862 points. I submitted my report to the Vicksburg ARC who sponsors the MS QSO Party. I’m like the kid who got an F on his report card with the defense that it makes the As others got look good!

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Way Cool IRLP

Dallas, VK3DJ location in Drysdale, Victoria

It still thrills me even though it’s fairly commonplace in amateur radio. Over the past few weeks, a ham from Australia has periodically connected over the Internet—using IRLP—to the W4DOC 2M repeater in Atlanta. He and a friend are coming to Atlanta for a NASCAR event in a few months. Dallas, Vk3DJ, from Drysdale, Victoria in Aussie-land, about 50 miles south of Melborne, frequently stays up to about 11pm local time to talk with Atlanta Radio Club hams doing their morning drive time commute to work. He’s getting much information about things to see, do, and an opportunity to visit some of us to share a pint while he and his “mate” (friend) come through this area. His small farming community is shown with the red A balloon in the map on the right.

I got to talk with Dallas this morning for about 20 minutes. I was able to share with him the title of a book my friend from the University of Central Florida, James Wright, wrote on NASCAR’s origins: Fixin to Git. He also learned about Don Panoz’s Esperante auto manufacturing operation up a few miles north in Braselton (see http://www.panozcars.com). After chatting with a growing group of other hams, Dallas called it a day. He teaches “trades” (shop) classes by day. It’s still a thrill to talk to previously unknown folks from parts all over, even with the Internet assist!