Triple Play Award, Space Station and HF Amplifiers

Today, I applied for the Triple Play Award.  I worked Wyoming on JT65 mode for my final needed state…and he confirmed the following day.  Several of my QSO confirmations were tied up in the recent LoTW snarl.  When they came “out”…it was like winning at the slots. There used to be a listing (with serial numbers) of the Triple Play Award winners posted on the ARRL’s Home page.  But I can’t find it now.  I expect my award to be around serial number #800.

I’ve been battling the flu the past few weeks.  Missed work last week (worked remotely from home), but was back in the office this week while still re-gaining strength.  (I had a flu shot, by the way.)  

While home convalescing, I read online about a school in Nova Scotia with a schedule to talk to hams on the International Space Station.  On January 17 at 7:30am CT while driving to work, I dialed in the downlink frequency of 145.800 on my mobile VHF rig.  Sure, enough, I heard the ISS talking to the school kids.   It’s pretty amazing, really.  If you’ve never heard the ISS, you should make the effort at least once.  There are several websites or Smartphone apps which will track the ISS orbits.  Then you’ll need to figure out if the ISS is active on the air…that’s why I relied on the school schedule, since I knew the astronauts would be chatting with the kids.

I’m giving serious consideration to the idea of an HF amplifier.  I’ll need to run a new AC line to the shack to support any amp I purchase, regardless if it’s 120 vac or 240 vac operation.  I’m up to approximately 175 countries confirmed via LoTW.  I may need a bit more “horsepower” to get up and over the 200 mark.  I’d love to have a full legal limit…but might be just as happy with a 600 or 800 watt Ameritron. 

I have had my eye on the new Kenwood TS-590 transceiver since it hit the marketplace a couple of years ago.  Maybe that will be the next purchase?   The improved DSP and receive would be a BIG plus!  Last year’s project was upgrading the antenna farm.  I’ve got about 310 feet of Andrews hardline from the shack to the top of the 65’ tower where a Cushcraft X-9 is sitting on a brand new rotor.  The X-9 will load up on 10 through 30 meters and does a GREAT job with my 100 watts.  I’ve also hung 40/80 dipoles with an Ameritron remote antenna switch handling duties on top of the tower; managing the signal between the dipoles and the beam.  Other than a possible 160 meter beverage antenna, all 2013 improvements will be inside the shack!