Sunday, March 30, 2008

Recent activity

I haven't posted in about 10 days, so here's a little update about what's been going on in the radio world for me.

A few weeks ago, I spent a while working in the Virginia QSO Party. Like my entry last year, this wasn't meant to be an all-out assault, but it was something to do to pass the time. (Fortunately, unlike last year, my back seems to be in decent shape, so I wasn't forced to be in the chair.) I wound up doing better than I did last year, with 195 contacts and 76 multipliers (see last years blog entry for an explanation), for a score of around 23,500 points. I was quite happy with that, and had a really good time participating. It'd be nice to win for NJ again, but I guess I'll find that out when they've finished scoring.

Last weekend, I spent a couple of hours in the BARTG RTTY contest. This is one of the big RTTY contests every year, and while I have made a few contacts in the past, this year I had so much fun that I wound up spending a few hours and made 152 contacts. I picked up 8 new countries on RTTY, but again, I had fun. Initially, I wasn't going to participate at all, but I fired up the RTTY decoder on my radio and saw my friend (and fairly well-known RTTY contester) NO2T so I figured I'd get on and give him a point. I then figured that as long as I had everything all set for RTTY, that I might as well just keep going until it wasn't fun anymore, so that's what I did. I think I've mentioned this before, but the automation in the N1MM contest logger is just terrific for digital mode contests. It takes a little work to set up, but once you get everything configured, you click on a callsign that you see on the on-screen RTTY decoder, it fills that into the callsign field of the log, click once to call that station, click on his information to populate it into the fields in the log (this particular contest uses a serial number and the time of the contact), another click to send your info back, and you're done. It's even easier than it sounds, and it really is a lot of fun to operate that way.

On the DX front, I did manage to work TX5C several times on different bands and modes, despite the "help" from the DX Cops that I wrote about recently. That was a new DXCC entity for me (#286), and I've already sent for the QSL cards.

VP6DX (Ducie Island) has what I think is a great method for requesting QSL cards: It's all done online. I wish more dxpeditions would this. They have said that if you want a card via the bureau system, just fill out the form on their website and you'll get a card. If you want it mailed to you directly, they request that you send a donation to cover postage (via Paypal). If you choose to make a small donation beyond what is needed for postage, they list you as a "sponsor", and they even uploaded the "sponsors" contacts to the Logbook of The World first. Since I did that, I was pleased to see my 15 band/mode contacts all show up confirmed in LoTW. Although I'd worked Ducie Island before, these guys did such a terrific job that I'd have sent for a physical card anyway, even though I know they'll eventually upload all the QSOs to LoTW.

Finally, I thought I'd provide an update on the progress of the QSL card returns. When I last wrote about this in January, I had around 46% of the cards returned. That was about 4 weeks after I'd initially sent out the big batch of direct cards. As of today, about 13 weeks after I sent out the original batch, I'm up to 67% of the cards sent out that I've gotten returned. The cards are still coming in, but a lot more slowly, with perhaps one coming in a week. I'm a little disappointed, since a lot of those were domestic (US), so I'll assume that the postal delays are negligible. At some point, maybe in another month or two, I'll check to see which cards haven't been returned and maybe attempt to contact the station I worked via email. I'm curious to try to understand why someone wouldn't return a card that came with an SASE. It will be interesting to see if the trickle completely shuts off after May 12, when the US postal rates go up. That rate increase wasn't even planned when I sent out my original cards, so anyone wishing to send back a confirmation from May 12 forward will have to add postage themselves.

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