I seem to have falling into one of those “I really should post something soon … maybe tomorrow” ruts again, and as a result, have gotten a bit behind. I haven’t been on the radio all that much, but I did do a few things of note.
Last weekend was the Virginia QSO party. The band conditions weren’t very good, but I did manage to make 162 contacts in 68 different counties or Independent Cities (something that i think is unique to Virginia) for a total claimed score of 15,232 points. Not my best effort (I had 195 contacts last year), but I think that I did pretty well considering the time spent and considering the band conditions. I had a lot of fun during the last hour or so of the contest because I was able to hold onto a pretty clear “run” frequency on 75 meters and worked about 25 or 30 station over about 40 minutes. I’ve discussed this before, but by way of explanation, in most contests, you either “search & pounce” (S&P) or “run”. Most stations spend their time doing S&P because there are usually far more stations in a contest than there are available frequencies. When you’re running a relatively low-powered station it’s easier just to tune up and down the bands and contact the stations that are “running”. Running means that you stay on a single frequency and work the S&P folks as they come to you. In most cases, it’s best to be running, since if you’ve got a clear frequency and a decent signal, you can just sit there and work station after station pretty much as fast as you can make the contacts. When you S&P, you often have to wait for other stations (who are trying to contact a “run” station), and it’s usually a lot slower. Getting a decent run frequency can be pretty difficult, and I think I just got lucky. I can say that it’s way more fun to run than to S&P.
The only other interesting thing was that I managed to work the Lord Howe Island Dxpedition (VK9LA) on Sunday afternoon. Lord Howe Island is fairly rare, and is a new DXCC entity for me, so I was very pleased to work them. I’ve tried a couple of mornings at around 8AM local time (1200Z) to work them on 30m, but wasn’t having much luck. I was home Sunday afternoon doing some paperwork (tax time!) and intermittently looking at the cluster spots to see if VK9LA was showing up. At around 2000Z, I started to hear them on 20m, and based on information from the spots on the cluster plus propagation predictions from W6ELProp it looked like the path to the VK9LA guys was long path. Long path means that the signals are taking the path that’s 180 degrees opposite the shortest path around the globe to a station. Short path to LHI is about 9450 miles (15200km), and long path is 15,400 miles (24800km). It’s likely that I’ve worked stations long-path in that part of the world before, but I certainly haven’t done so recently with the band conditions so terrible. I tried to work them for a while, but just wasn’t having any success, so I took a break for a short while (jumped on the exercise bike) and came back to the radio a bit before 2100Z and after about 15 minutes I managed to work them.