Friday, January 2, 2009

Worked All States (WAS)

Working a two-way contact with each one of the fifty states of the Union was a goal I set to myself after I upgraded to General. Contacts seemed to be easy to make at first. Then came the realization that having made the contact is just part of the job and it needed to be followed up by a QSL card. Envelopes, stamps, return address stickers, address sticker in addition to filling the QSL card (I still prefer filling them manually to putting a sticker on them too), all that amounts to a lot of work that took me away from the radio itself. Then I discovered ARRL's Logbook of the World, LoTW. After sending in my full log, I was nicely suprized with quite a lot of confirmed QSLs. Then Stephen Genusa came up with Ham Radio Deluxe Utilities and that practically automated the process with my logging program, Simon Brown's Ham Radio Deluxe. Now I just had to make contacts and hope they will log it on LoTW. There were a few states that eluded me for some time, Alaska, till I got my new antenna, the Cushcraft MA5B. Then came some western states such as Nevada and the mid-west as in North and South Dakota. For whatever reason, the entire north east was never heard till the day of a contest where I got all these missing states, including Delaware and Rhode Island in one weekend! Now I knew I had contacts with all fifty states and just needed to wait for the confirmations. The mailcarrier brought some, LoTW brought most. I ended up with 33 LoTW contacts and 17 QSL cards. The last card, the one from Rhode Island, came in just a few days before Christmas. I was ready, applied for the LoTW part on line, made the payment, printed the forms, and mailed them and my cards the very same day. The ARRL Awards Desk was wonderful and I got my WAS certificate before the year was over! Talk about fast turnaround!

So here it is, now proudly hanging on my wall. And now it is turn to get serious on the DXCC, my first 100 contacts with distant entities.

From inverted V to plain ole W

Last winter, we had an ice storm and trees were covered with a nice layer of ice, well nice to the eye, but not to the tree, power lines etc. Fortunately the damage was minimal as we were lucky enough not to get too thick a layer. I use a Cobra Ultra-Lite antenna for HF and I took a few pictures of the change that occurred with the ice.

What normally is an inverted V shape, was now a plain ole W shape. Having never read about a W shaped antenna, I did not bother checking SWR nor attempted to operate with it in that shape. The counter weights I use to dampen the sway of my supporting trees did its job and the antenna survived the ordeal without problems and is still in use a year later. The picture shows only one leg of the W though. The antenna is 140 feet long, at about 35-40 feet high. It works fine in all bands, with a tuner of course. The internal tuner of my Icom 756ProIII does the job. Difficult to rotate though! It is currently used for 30-160 meters as my Cushcraft MA5B beam is doing a better job on 10-20 meters.