This has been a busy week at Laupahoehoe High and Elementary School. Both my xyl and yours truly have been doing our thing as substitute teachers. Today, we had a break before resuming our assignments on Friday and Monday. Never a dull moment in the classroom.
SUNDAY DRIVERS--HOPE FOR THOSE OF US CAUGHT IN THE CONTEST FRENZY
During a few spare moments this morning, I found several interesting and entertaining articles in the December 2011 issue of "QST". One that caught my eye was a short essay on page 63 by Rick Lindquist, WW3DE. "Sunday Drivers--contesting in the slow lane can add a little spice to your life." Being that I only dabble in a few contests and have a rather modest ham station, I found Rick's approach to the contest phenomenon both humorous and relatively stress-free. Like Rick, I find the last day of a contest sometimes the best time to jump in and make a few contacts. If you treat the contest weekend as mostly fun and don't care how many points you accumulate, then this article is for you. In the past, I've generally avoided contests because of discourteous operators, qrm, and a host of other problems. Rick makes the contest scenario bearable by saying "it's also okay just to jump in and work as many contest stations as you'd like, without becoming a contesting convert; you don't have to submit a log or even stick around for the whole event...it's not necessary to go whole hog in order to have a terrific time. Even modest stations can enter the fray." Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the excitement and frustration of a contest that I forget that even my small station can help someone get a multiplier or even get enough contacts to complete WAS or some other award. Now that I have some free time in my semi-retired state, I will opt to enjoy the moment and cast aside any attempt to dominate a frequency. With my small station that won't be too hard. There's just so much 10 watts will do into a 20-meter homebrew vertical dipole or a low-lying loop. Yes, I still have the dream of erecting a 50-foot tower with a 4-element beam for 20-meters, but for now, I'm happy just to get on the air. Nothing like a small lot, non-existent budget, and older equipment to get the creative juices flowing.
SOME INTERESTING ANTENNA IDEAS
In the same issue of "QST", there are several intriguing antenna ideas for those who wish to improve their signal. "How About an HF Beam Under Your Holiday Tree?" by Joel Hallas, W1ZR, offers some interesting beam antennas that could make your signal more competitive than the dipoles and vertical monopoles many of us are now using. To his credit, Hallas warns that there are several issues to resolve before that quad or beam sends your signals to some point far away--namely, the cost of a tower, zoning permits, the services of a civil engineer, and perhaps the advice of an attorney. Once you surmount those obtacles, Hallas gives several examples of simple beams and quads that could make your signal a real powerhouse. For me, anyway, I'm restricted by space limitations and power lines, so the verticals and loops I now use will have to do until our house is built.
GOING PORTABLE IN STYLE AND COMFORT
And finally, the December issue of "QST" contains a practical and doable project by Stan Levandowski, WB2LQF. "A Laptop QRP Station" is well-written and gives a good approach to portable opertion, be it in your home or on the road. Stan assembled a laptop operating board that was usable from either his lap or a standard height table. The board was designed to be carried in one hand and accommodated his Elecraft KX1, a clock, a cw paddle, a power source switch, and a place to write. According to Stan, his project cost less than $20 because he had most of the materials around his shack. With this project, you could operate in the comfort of your home or at the nearest park bench.
UPCOMING OPERATING EVENTS
Here are some of my favorite events in the coming months: The 2012 ARRL DX Contest, CW--0000 UTC Saturday, 18 Februrary to 2359 UTC Sunday, 19 February and Phone--0000 UTC Saturday, 3 March to 2359 UTC Sunday, 4 March. For VHF enthusiasts, check out The 2012 ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes, 1900 UTC Saturday, 21 January to 0400 UTC, Monday, 23 January. I don't do much in this contest since I'm in the middle of the Central Pacific. But who knows? Propagation may favor some contacts, especially if sporatic-E, tropospheric ducting, and aurora help out. And don't forget Kids Day on 7 January 2012 from 1800 to 2400 UTC. Several local Hawaii Island amateurs will be active on that date for neighborhood children who want to see what ham radio is all about. Finally, the 2011 ARRL December Rookie Roundup is set for Sunday, 18 December, from 1800 UTC to 2359 UTC. This should be good time for both newly licensed "rookies" (2009 to 2011) and us "old timers" who want to capture the feeling of the "Novice Roundups" of the 50's and 60's.
That's about all for now, as the December rains continue along the Hamakua Coast.
Aloha from Hawaii Island and BK29jx in Laupahoehoe.
73 de KH6JRM