I spent a few hours, yesterday and today, playing in the Texas QSO Party. As annual QSO Parties go, this one must be one of the best.
With Texas being such a large state, there seemed to be a
correspondingly large amount of activity. As well, Texas is a nice single-hop
from here on HF and most signals, even from the numerous mobiles, were
I entered in the low-power, single- operator, CW-only class and
without spending huge amounts of time, ended up with 185 contacts in 117
counties. There was a very active fleet of mobile operators as well, moving
from county to county and sometimes setting-up on county borderlines to provide
two, three or even four counties at a time. Thanks to the dedicated mobilers ...
you fellows really add a lot of interest to the contest.
also provide extra 'bonus' points, with 500 additional points gained each time
you work the same mobile in 5 different counties. Two of them were worked in
more than 15 counties, while five were worked in 10 counties. Two were worked in
9 counties, missing the extra thousand points by one more from each.
weekly QSO Part activity has been a good way for me to ease back into contesting and
an aid in improving my ear-brain-keyboarding skills ... it's been helping a
lot. One area that doesn't get a lot of practice is in the 'run' mode, since
most of these QSO party contacts are in the 'search and pounce' (S&P) mode.
Hopefully something will come up soon where I can get more 'run' practice as
this requires a higher level of alertness compared with S&P. In reality,
either mode is a great way to keep your CW skills honed.
The old laptop,
running Windows XP, continues to work well as does the N1MM logging software
driven by the K1EL USB keying interface. Further scrubbing of the laptop's
unneeded files and start-up programs has sped boot-time to about 90 seconds.
Quite an improvement over the eight minutes it was taking before tackling the
If you are interested in getting started in contest work, or
getting back into it, the WA7BNM Contest Calendar is probably the best source of information ...
descriptions of all of the major contests (and some not so major), as well as
links to contest-sponsor pages, may be found there. As well, the same site
provides the '3830' board, a place where contesters can share their claimed score totals and discuss the event
immediately following a contest. It's always fun to see how you compare with other
submissions in the same category.