Tower Construction Phase 1

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The tower base and guy posts are complete.  Four holes at 3 feet deep were dug manually using posthole diggers.  800 lbs of concrete was required to secure it all.  The rest of the tower and guy wires will be installed on 9/25/2014 after the concrete sets.  Thanks to Marcus, KF4YHP, for his tower expertise and Kyle Washington, KW4AU, for the extra hand.  The tower will stand at 70 feet when complete.

CW Training Utils

Here’s a list of software I use for improving my CW skills.

If you’re just starting out, I prefer Koch trainers that also use the Farnsworth method.  Here’s two links for learning the characters:

G4FON: http://www.g4fon.net
Learn CW Online: http://lcwo.net

For improving speed, I have been using the following:

RufzXP: http://www.rufzxp.net
Pileup Runner: http://dxatlas.com/PileupRunner
Morse Runner: http://dxatlas.com/MorseRunner

RufzXP is great if you’re looking to improve speed.  You choose a starting speed, it sends random callsigns to you, and increases speed if you get the call correct.  Speed is decreased as you mess up, so it’s constantly adjusting speed to keep you from getting too comfortable or frustrated.  This program has helped me tremendously.

Pileup Runner simulates operating split and managing a pile up.  This software is a lot of fun and great to play with when it is lightning outside or people are pretending the bands are dead because some website said so.  ;-)

Morse Runner is geared toward improving contest skills.  You are sent RST + Serial in addition to call sign.  Although it is contest oriented, it is still helpful even if you hate contests.  It has real world challenges baked in, e.g. QRM, QRN, lids, QSB, etc.

J38 Straight Key

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This is my J38.  There are many like it, but this one is mine.

Quadcopter View of WB4IT QTH

Lacey and I moved into a new home in the Alabaster / Saginaw area in June of 2014.  Plans are already underway for a 70ft tower and a tri-band beam for 10/15/20 meters.  The videos below are aerial footage from a 350QX / GoPro flight above our property.  Thanks to KJ4GH for piloting the quad.

 

W1AW ARRL Centennial QSO Party

SKCC Weekend Sprintathon

SKCC is a great group.  I recently participated in my first WES contest.  I worked 21 stations in a few hours on a Saturday night.  All of the SKCC ops are top notch.  The organization is very friendly, and I had a lot of fun working stations at speeds slower than your average CW contest where stations send at 30-40 wpm with computers.  Joey Ciza, WN4AT, walked me through the setup for ZRSprinter, and it worked very well for the contest.  Afterward, I was able to export my contacts into Log4OM via ADIF for QSL and record keeping purposes.

Although I was not trying to be competitive in my first WES, this will be the first of many SKCC events in which I will participate.  SKCC is a very friendly group of ops who keep things interesting.  Check them out at http://skccgroup.com

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eDX

I like eQSL a lot.  Although the website is a bit rough, I think it is a great companion to Logbook of the World.  The cards are nice for stations where paper QSL is not needed or desired by either party.  The card images display nicely on a digital picture frame, and the awards are fun to track.  It gives me something else to do besides just ARRL awards.

 

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MFJ 1750 5/8 wave ground plane

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I replaced the J-Pole with an MFJ 1750 5/8 wave ground plane.  It’s between 20-25 feet high and fed with LMR 400.  This is a great antenna for $35.

First QSO of 2014

Australia (VK2DX) on 12m CW.  I only logged two Australians in 2013, and still do not have Australia confirmed, but this station is LoTW.

DXCC Mixed

The 100th DXCC confirmation arrived on Dec. 4 from Saba Island.  Chasing LoTW awards is fun, but not cheap.  $10 app fee, $12 payment credit fee, $16.50 certificate fee – $38.50 total.  I could not have made it to DXCC so quickly without learning CW.  I worked my first country in March 2013, and I had to work 143 countries over the next 9 months to get 100 confirmed.  Contests also helped out a lot.  It took 6 months to work 100 countries casually, and I ended up working 91 countries in a single weekend in the CQ WW CW contest on Nov 23-24.

All 100 of my QSLs were digital through LoTW, no cards.  I submitted 69 QSLs via Phone and 31 CW.  Prior to application, I was pretty balanced at 78 countries confirmed on CW and 75 confirmed on Phone.

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