Sunday, 27 September 2015

Texas QSO Party Fun

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 loud.

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.

Mobile stations 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.

My 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 cleanup!

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.

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