This last summer and fall I discovered the State QSO Parties. It started when I was outside at the local club building operating portable when I heard a California station call “CQ California QSO Party”. The contest is known as CQP. I made forty eight contacts for CQP that day. Then another weekend I worked the Arizona and Pennsylvania QSO Parties. After the weather turned cold I worked one contact in the Kentucky QSO Party from the apartment. Bad audio made that one contact difficult. Some modifications and over the air help have improved the audio. So yesterday was the North American QSO Party.
I really did not know what to expect. The Minnesota Wireless Association, I am now a member, was putting together teams. I guess I really thought it would be a much smaller activity. There were times however that the bands sounded a lot like Field Day. Forty meters was totally loaded with contesters last night. It was crazy.
The only thing that I did not notice in the rules was that there was a QRP class. So operation was at full power for an Icom 703+, ten watts, using the G5RV antenna that is all set up at work. I learned to unkey the transmitter about one second after I give my call. There is some lag over the internet with the audio and if I unkey the mike like I would when physically using the radio the last letter in my call was cut off. After I started doing that everyone came back with my complete callsign.
The results were that I made seventy one contacts in fifty one different sections. Not included on the map below are Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. In this contest California, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Washington, Texas and Florida were just one section for each state. I think the only section that I heard, but did not eventually work was Quebec so conditions were pretty good. I was expecting the solar flare that was supposed to open up six meters would pretty much kill the HF bands. Twenty meters is still dead at night though. I was surprised that I did not hear any contesters on 80 meters until just after 0200 UTC.
By the way, during the afternoon I periodically checked six meters. Conditions were favorable for six and two meter activity for a while. I made two contacts for the January VHF contest. One was a local contact and the other to Florida. I did hear New Mexico but they could not hear me with just ten watts. I was limited to six meters as the FT-897D has been sold, see previous post. Plans are in the works to purchase another one hundred watt HF radio, but I am not sure what I plan to do for VHF/UHF yet. I do want to participate in VHF/UHF contests. As I type this the HF bands have dropped to only fair to poor now as there is mid latitude aurora.