Conditions were noisy Wednesday night (Thursday 00:00z) and I was afraid that my signal may not get out, but I called CQ and popped up immediately on the RBN page, so my fears were abated. Soon afterwards, I found K5MUG calling. He and I had a nice QRPx2 contact, exchanging 559/579. The 500 mile distance between my QTH and San Antonio isn’t too far, but it’s still worth emphasizing that he sounded like he was in the room with me. It’s amazing what you can do with so little power.
I didn’t operate for long on Thursday night, but just long enough. My wife had just been gone for a week and I wanted to spend some time with her. Before she got home I made two contacts, both QRP stations.
Two more stations made it into my logbook Friday evening, one of which was also a QRP station. Fred, NF1U, had posted on the SKCC page that he was looking for an I and an S for the QRP challenge. Having both, I messaged him and we headed down to 7.021 to avoid the RTTY contest above us. After battling noisy conditions and exchanging 339/449, we continued our conversation on the SKCC sked page. As it turns out, he was gathering letters for the NAQCC monthly challenge, which is a crossword-like challenge in which you spell words with the call letters from the stations you work. I’m glad Fred had posted this in the active users portion of the sked page because this challenge has intrigued me for awhile. Maybe I’ll be able to complete the challenge this month.
Sunday and Monday had minor magnetic storms, but since I’m still new to HF, I didn’t really know how well I was going to be able to do. I was still able to get out and make a contact or two which surprised me. The QSB storm swells were insane! It was very much a traditional storm where you come up on the crest, see the other ship, then slip back down in the trough of the giant wave and there’s no one in sight.
The more I send the power at which I’m operating, the more I’m surprised how many QRP operators are out there. As it stands now, a quarter have also told me that they are low power. If I had been doing a better job of asking, maybe this total would be more.
As it stands now, I have worked 90 individual SKCC stations, half of which I worked in the past three weeks. As I’m drawing nearer to the end of my two challenges, to have a QSO a day and to earn that C, I’m turning my sights to other goals.
SKCC exchanges are easy; I already have a good idea of what they’re going to send so I’m mentally prepared for it to begin with. The hard part comes whenever they send other stuff. Sometimes I get it, but I often don’t.
While talking to Gary, W7EE, on the SKCC sked page, I mentioned that I wanted to be conversational since the exchanging numbers is getting stale. He was kind enough to offer to ragchew with me so that I can work on this skill. With some luck and hard work, I’ll continue to get my speed and head copy skills ever sharper.