eHam.net - Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community

Call Search
     

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Community
Articles
Forums
News
Reviews
Friends Remembered
Strays
Survey Question

Operating
Contesting
DX Cluster Spots
Propagation

Resources
Calendar
Classifieds
Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement
About eHam.net



[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Take a Trip and Never Leave the Farm

from Brian Machesney, K1LI on May 18, 2014
View comments about this article!

Take a Trip and Never Leave the Farm

Ever dream of scaling a wall of signals from some exotic QTH, but thoughts of braving weather, bugs, travel sickness and expense hold you back? This year you can turn your dreams into reality! The title of this article, a line from a 1970s American top 40 hit, pretty well sums up my experience as a Vermont W1AW/1 CW operator in the ARRL Centennial QSO Party.

A small, rural state with few dyed-in-the-wool CW operators, Vermont's gritty topography resembles nothing so much as a lossy pair of corduroy pants that make radiation beyond our borders a serious challenge. Combining those factors with a singular call sign attracting worldwide attention produced activity that prompted this post to the DX Summit web cluster:

N6KZ 7034.5 W1AW/1 ARRL Cent-VT like FT5 pileup! 0415 28 Mar

Too right, Jim!

Now, this wasn't my first rodeo. I'm accustomed to making up to 2,000 CW contacts or 5,000 phone contacts during a two-day DX contest. But here we're talking more than 3,000 CW contacts in a little over 22 hours of operating time over the first three days of the event. That's a running rate of almost 140 CW contacts per hour - a complete QSO every 26 seconds - on averagee. The peak QSO count for a single hour was 158!

Having now been on the "business end" of a CW pileup that spread a few kHz up the band, Id like to pass along a couple of hints to others who will take up the W1AW/n gauntlet:

Be patient with yourself, remain calm and don't freak out, regardless of what happens. If it isn't fun, you may not want to stay with it. Your skills will improve hourly and daily, but may also wane with fatigue and challenging band conditions.

Find a nearby mentor, preferably an experienced DXpedition or contest operator who is accomplished in your mode of choice, for guidance and moral support before and during the event.

Practice your copying and logging skills and fine-tune your radio configuration by listening to other W1AW/n stations. I found it essential to turn off my receiver's AGC and widen my IF passband. Otherwise, all I heard in the headphones was a stew of sound from which I could not pick out a single call.

Be loud! It's difficult to control the behavior of callers in a pileup if they can't hear you clearly. Don't be afraid to send a long string of "dits" to get the pileup's attention and let them know you need orderly behavior to work down the backlog of callers.

Encourage fellow operators in your state to be active on the same mode at the same time. This will spread out the pileup action, relieving the pressures on operators and callers, alike.

To those who ask whether pileup courtesy is dead, I could cite examples of numerous hams standing by to give a particular DX region an opportunity to work us in a small propagation window, and my QRT signoff was always met with anonymous "73s", "dit-dits" and "TUs". I encountered very few examples of "constant caller syndrome" and I want to thank all who called for helping me to work through the pileups in good order.

So let me sound the call to action: when W1AW/n comes to your state, embrace the opportunity to walk a mile in the shoes of a DXpedition! Not only will you be a better operator afterwards, but you'll have a better appreciation for the challenges DX operators face and the satisfaction they enjoy.

73 Brian K1LI

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
Take a Trip and Never Leave the Farm  
by KG6AF on May 18, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Good article, and thanks to you and the other W1AW/* operators who have made this event so much fun.
 
Take a Trip and Never Leave the Farm  
by K6SDW on May 18, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
AND Please W1AW/x Ops, run split always!!! It really improves everyone's chances of being heard and hearing the W1AW station responding to a CQ/QRZ!!

gud luk in the contest
 
Take a Trip and Never Leave the Farm  
by N6OIL on May 18, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Yes I agree run split, but it is sure fun to listen to the uninformed what split is, they call like crazy even after telling them 3 up and then them saying thank you and still call on the calling freq!!! Just wow!!

Good job guys and gals.
73
 
Take a Trip and Never Leave the Farm  
by KC8JX on May 19, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
To those at ARRL headquarters and to the state coordinators of the ARRL portable operations, you have done an amazing job so far. This centennial year has been a delight to this operator working the W1AW/p state operators. You operators are terrific. Having completed WAS in 1962, this time around it is much easier. All of you are to be commended. Just a great experience; and I hope as well to those individual operators in each state. I hope a future QST article on this year long event is planned. I would really like to read about it. Thank you to one and all. Larry, KC8JX
 
RE: Take a Trip and Never Leave the Farm  
by N4KC on May 19, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Agreed, all around! I had no intention of getting caught up in this thing. I did WAS over 45 years ago and gosh knows, I have enough things going on already.

But once I worked the first couple of stations, I was hooked. It was fun and the thought of getting a "W1AW WAS" in the centennial year became more and more appealing, even if it is not going to be all that difficult to do.

The ops--and especially those who admit they are not contesters or DXers--have been uniformly friendly and doing a good job. They sound as if they are having as good a time as we are.

Only complaint: I wish some of the states would be quicker uploading to Logbook of the World (you listening, Nevada?). I get nervous after a couple of weeks.

Keep it up! And happy 100th, ARRL.

73,

Don N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com

(Author of the new book RIDING THE SHORTWAVES:
EXPLORING THE MAGIC OF AMATEUR RADIO)


 
Take a Trip and Never Leave the Farm  
by KE5WIQ on May 19, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
That is a good article. And I do believe I was in your pileups more than once!

I like the different styles that the ops bring to W1AW/x. One fella worked straight key, and it was fun to get on SK myself for him. You're right, most folks will do their best to fit in.

I'd add one idea: when things slow down a bit (and maybe before) set aside some time to call DX, maybe watching the grey line for targeted regions. I'm sure it is tough for all but the best DX stations out there to get through the USA wall. I see the interest on the clusters though.

Neil, NG5NG
 
RE: Take a Trip and Never Leave the Farm  
by N8YQX on May 19, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Yes, please work split. Also, when you work split, please announce it often, so we all know which way and how much we need to offset. Preferably, instead of saying "QRZ?", please say something like "up" or "up 3".
 
Take a Trip and Never Leave the Farm  
by SA3BYC on May 20, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Couldn't agree more about split operation, very important to us a bit away. I have had the pleasure to work a lot of the stations. I don't use very much power and have to say that the op's have been super in picking up us weak signals from this side of the ocean. You are doing Great!

Look forward to work as many W1AW/x as possibel :)

73
Johan /Sweden

 
RE: Take a Trip and Never Leave the Farm  
by K9MHZ on May 20, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Kay Craigie mentioned the W1AW initiative at the members' meeting at Dayton. Apparently, it's been a big hit. A nice idea to celebrate a milestone for a full year.

 
Take a Trip and Never Leave the Farm  
by NV2A on May 20, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for the timely article. I signed up to operate w1aw/2ny but wasn't too sure I'd select any slots. Your article just changed my mind, now I'm stoked LOL I will work split.

Anyone who relays a DX station to me will be worked right after I accommodate the DX stations. I expect it's particularly tough for DX to break the US curtain!!

73's and see in the next few days.

de NV2A
 
Take a Trip and Never Leave the Farm  
by NU4B on May 20, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks to all the W1AW/* ops. I'm enjoying working all the states again. And I want the plaque. :).

So far I've worked all of them that's been on the air with the exception of /KG4. Didn't hear them on CW but 1 time.

NV has been uploaded in the last couple days.

I haven't seen W1AW/KP4 uploaded to LoTW though. Does anybody know if they are going to upload their logs?
 
Take a Trip and Never Leave the Farm  
by KD0EE on May 21, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I operated W1AW/0 SD on cw for two days on 20, 15, and 12 mtrs. Horrendous pileups!! Even spread out, it was a constant roar. But I had a blast! Now I know what it is like to be on the dx end of a pileup. My impressions - the JAs are the most respectful, any EU run and its a dogfight. Sweep up the blood and hair. If you missed us, we'll be on in July for another round!!
 
RE: Take a Trip and Never Leave the Farm  
by KE7TMA on May 31, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
N6OIL: "Yes I agree run split, but it is sure fun to listen to the uninformed what split is, they call like crazy even after telling them 3 up and then them saying thank you and still call on the calling freq!!! Just wow!!

Good job guys and gals.
73"

You're laughing at people who are calling on frequency ironically, because unless the calling station specifies that they are working split the procedure is to call back on frequency. Let's reiterate - unless a calling station says "up 3" or whatever, they (and everybody else) can assume that people will call back on frequency, because this has been the standard procedure throughout the entire radio age.

So W1AW, please work split, but you'd better say you are every minute or two or else everybody can expect some QRM on frequency.

Any questions?
 
Take a Trip and Never Leave the Farm  
by WA7PRC on June 2, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
The OP may wish to know that the subject is contained in a novelty song titled "Wildwood Weed", by Jim Stafford:

See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyY-6oh0Ow8

"...Smokin' them wildwood flowers got to be a habit
We never seen no harm
We thought it was kind-a handy
Take a trip and never leave the farm..."

vy 73,
Bryan WA7PRC
 
Email Subscription
You are not subscribed to discussions on this article.

Subscribe!
My Subscriptions
Subscriptions Help

Related News & Articles
The Future of Packet Radio
A Place for Young Hams:


Other Recent Articles
Ham Radio Users Could Be Vital Resource In Emergency:
The First Social Network: Chewing the Rag with India's Ham Radio Operators:
New Book for Hams About Software Defined Radio:
MARS-Men Are From Texas?
That Was a Close One! Study: Massive Solar Storm Barely Missed Us In 2012: