I’ve just not had the time in recent months to roll up my sleeves and dive deep into a contest. But I do enjoy operating in them.
So, I’ve decided it’s fine to sit at the desk and only work a couple of hours…rack up a few QSOs…and submit the log. (Also gives me a chance to blow the dust of my gear, which isn’t getting much use these days.)
A few days ago, I stumbled across the ARRL 160 Meter Contest (CW). Sounded like a lot of fun…and I haven’t been on 160m in a year. Crossed my fingers and the 160 OCF dipole loaded right up. (I did discover it’s not very broad-banded, though. I may have to rework the antenna before the snow flies.)
I’m not sure why, but 160 is referred to as the “Gentlemen’s Band”. Perhaps because it’s not quite so crowded and hams are not piled on top of each other. Of course, during a contest, it more closely resembles the other bands…but I thoroughly enjoyed the 160 meter contest. I operated just over a couple of hours, although I forgot to “STOP TRACKING OPERATING TIME” on my software a couple of times.
I had forgotten how 1.8MHz quiets down in the evening and really starts to have a “nice” sound to it. I worked a bit Saturday evening and also Sunday morning. Not too long after the sun came up Sunday, the signals on the band disappeared…and noise returned.
I operated in the low-power, unassisted category and wound up making just under 100 QSOs. Most of my contacts were between the Rockies and the Appalachians, although I worked Mexico and Canada, as well as a QSO here and there with both coasts. I’ve not made very many 160 meter contacts, so a lot of these will count toward future wallpaper.
For logging, I used N3FJP’s contest software designed for this event and it worked terrific! I suppose because I wasn’t so worried about points….just having fun…I took a few minutes here and there to explore the features and learned a bit about the author’s program: how to make the keyer send the other station’s callsign after I type it into the logging field, how to prompt the software to auto-log the entry and a few other features. Scott Davis (N3FJP) has a number of software logs in his catalogue and I’m guessing most of them incorporate these features.
As a fan of digital communications, I’m hoping to be able to operate in the ARRL RTTY RoundUp in early January.
See you on the air!