Friday, March 6, 2015

SCOREBOARD: March '15 ARS Spartan Sprint

Please click on the Scoreboard for an enlarged view.

SOAPBOX: March '15 ARS Spartan Sprint

Thanks for the Qs. KX3, doublet and vertical.

Well doggone if I didn't have a blast again this month! I actually got excited and started 30 mins early at the NAQCC starting time and after finding absolutely no one, I realized what a big dummy I was. :) So when the "real" starting time arrived I started on 20 and stayed there for about 20 minutes only garnering 4 QSOs, ID, CA, and 2 in CO. All of which turned out to be double bangers catching them on 40 also. I then moved to 4 where things were still slow, but after a bit, things kicked in.  With about 30 minutes left I moved to 80 and got the rest there. The breakdown for 20/40/80 is 4/23/8. I thought my score was a bit higher, but after checking I found 2 dupes. No close stations tonight except for K4BAI. The next closest was N5GW in MS and everything else was on our there.  I had one QRO station ask me what all this SP was about. I filled him in and actually heard him giving another station a contact later on.  Maybe he'll join us next month.  Using my K2 with the W5GI Mystery Antenna at 38' again at a little under 5W. Thanks to each of you for making this such an enjoyable activity.

That was a lot of fun when a 599 *really was* a 599. Many great signals on the bands Monday night. I hope to be in these sprints more often.

This was my first Sprint in almost a year. Seemingly good conditions this evening.  My only problem was a big IF feed through signal on my ATS-3 at 4914 kHz which I could not reject on 40M! There must be a SWBC station on this QRG which peaked right on the selectivity nose of the receiver and caused no little consternation. If I could not copy some of you, this was the reason. Guess I need to build a high-pass filter to fix the problem! Conditions seemed to be good with 20M open at the start of the contest. It was nice to work Randy, K7TQ,  Dave, K1SWL, and Jim, W5QLF on two bands. If anyone needs a 2XQRP contact confirmation with Iowa, I’m good for it. Thanks to all who participated. Hopefully, we will see all of you again in April.

Weighing in at one pound six ounces using an HB1B, managed to make 22 Contacts which more than doubles February's total. Same so-so antenna (EFHW, inverted V-style at 22 feet apex), I was limited to 40 and 20 meters.  Propagation was certainly different from February. Did not hear upper east coast stations beyond W3KC in MD. Nor did I copy upper West coast. States worked were CA, AZ, TX, CO, MS, GA, FL, MD, IA, AL, MN,  NC,  and ID.  Close stations to me included W5QLF ( twice), WB5BKL, and N5EM. Big sigs were N5GW and AB9CA. Called it quits at 0330Z.

The March 2015 Spartan Sprint was one of the best in a LONG time! I had SIX contacts on 20M, EIGHT on 40M and FOUR on 80M. Band conditions were excellent. Although 20M sounded a bit dead before the event, things really got going when the gates opened at 8PM CST. I could faintly hear N5EM making a contact, but not enough signal to connect up across town. Conditions on 40M were quiet with a bit less QSB than 20M with super CONUS coverage. When I finally went to 80M, the QRN was bad, but stations in TX, GA and OH sounded great. I worked AC8AP (OH) on all three bands – nice signal for sure. The 170 mAh LiPo batteries in the ATS-3a are still a bit “puffy”, but they topped off nicely before the event and held solid for 3W out, to the end.  While I was digging around for connectors to hook up the Bird Wattmeter prior to the Sprint, I found two new 200 mAh LiPo batteries, so I will be ready with replacements when the current batteries finally give out – due to abuse I am sure. 

Heard a lot of stations on 20M H&P, never could get them to stay put and call CQ.  40M very good, but some terrible periodic QRN. Made one call on 80M with my no-so-good wire and was not even heard. "Big Signal On the Band Award" From here goes to AB9CA.  Just plain loud!

I haven't been active lately. At 0209 UTC I contacted John, K4BAI, for my only QSO in the sprint. According to info on QRZ: distance from kH6B to K4BAI is 4,369 miles. My station is a KX3 with a vertical antenna. Only 20 seemed to be open here during the SP. I tried to QSO WVØH in CO, but no QSO. This is the only activity heard here. Also tried 40 during the last half-hour. I heard mainland signals buT none in SP. Aloha! 

Much better activity this month. 20M was good to the west and far north at the start.  40M was quite good all over including about 125 miles to N4SX.  80M was good too, but not many stations QRV on 80. K7TQ couldn't hear me calling him on 80. Worked KH6B on 20. Best DX on 40 was CA.  Best DX on 80 was W1PID, and Jim was logged on three bands.QSOs by band: 20M:8 / 40M:34 / 80M:10.  Thanks for all QSOs.

Weird condx on 20 meters. Best DX NK6A in CA.  Operated for a half hour with KX3 at 5W. Thanks all for the Qs.

QSOs on 80/40/20. IC703 (5 watts) to 90-ft doublet up 24' via EFJ Matchbox.

20 meters activity seemed kind of light and signals were not as strong as Usual but 40 meters seemed much better down here in Florida tonight where the temp hit 81F today. (Sorry – but that’s the trade off for severe antenna restrictions in order hide from the snow all winter.) Big signals Were KFØN and AB9CA, always consistently strong. Thanks for an hour of fun.

Great to hear so many folks on tonight. I imagine the longer daylight hours helps. First hour was very good. Second hour was not so very good. In spite of trying hard, N5GW and I tried, I could not get anyone on 80. Thanks to all who stopped by and catch you next month when I hope to get up in the mountains for an outdoor Spartan Sprint.

I have decided to sell the MFJ-9200 rig and return to my old favorite, the K1. But before I got on I stripped it down this last weekend. I removed the unused battery option and tray so I could "skinny" up the station a bit. I ended up with a total weight of 815.6 grams (1.7981 lbs) with my LGNokSung cell phone battery conglomeration weighing 74.1 grams. That made a difference. I worked some guys on 20m and then down to 40. K1SWL, Dave, was a good catch and then there was Jim, W1PID out there in NH. Don, NK6A was kind of copyable as well as a local, NØTA, John. Gene, N5GW was good here from TX as well as WB5BKL. Then Bert, K6CSL was a little weaky squeaky here into the Front Range of Colorado, but bagged him. Oh wait, this isn't a fox hunt. I really appreciate ARS putting this on every month. To all a good day and we will see you on the air soon.

KX3 with internal batteries & ATU to CFZ. Got six QSO's on 20 early on, and six on 80 late in the sprint. However most of the action was on 40 which had a low noise level and many strong QRP signals. A few Texas stations on 40 including W5HNS sounded like locals, even with the attenuator on. 80 was not very noisy even during rain, but usually not many ops there.  K7TQ was on 80 near the end, but he couldn't hear me. I got Will, NQ2W, on all three bands. It was good to hear so much participation.

14 states in the log. Texas wins with 7 Q's. GA with 4 and CO with 3. NH and NY the furthest I worked.  I ran 5W.  Three stations ran 3W.  I had one 100 W station who got caught up in the fun. Maybe we can convert him to a QRP participant next month. I operated for 1 hr., 15 min.

Heard a lot of stations on 20M H&P, never could get them to stay put and call CQ.  40M very good, but some terrible periodic QRN. Made one call on 80M with my no-so-good wire and was not even heard. "Big Signal On the Band Award" From here goes to AB9CA.  Just plain loud!

K1 at 5 W to a 2-element mini-beam at 25 ft for 10, 15, and 20 meters, an inverted V at 40 ft for 40 m, and near bottom-loaded, ground-mounted vertical for 80 m. Started on 20 for 3 QSOs south and west. Then to 40 for 10 QSOs mainly from the south. 80 netted 4 QSOs all to the south. The QRN was loud on 80, making copy quite difficult. Two-banders with  AB9CA (20 & 40) and with K4BAI and N4SX (40 & 80). Had a three-bander with N5GW - 80 meters was tough, Gene, but I believe we made it. If not, maybe next month! Think spring and hope to hear you all - and more - in April.

K3/10 @ 5W to a 20M wire delta loop, a 40M dipole or a 40M extended double Zepp.  A slow start on my part Monday evening.Most of the QSOs on 40M this month - 16 states total.  No 3-banders this month but several doubles. Removed the single QRO QSO from my score. Best signal again this month was N5GW. Nice to hear a few more new-to-me calls. My thanks to all. Had fun.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

So, What's a Spartan Sprint, and How Do I Play?

Spartan Sprints are two-hour gatherings sponsored by the Adventure Radio Society, held the first Monday of every month. The Spartan Sprints have a unique, three-faceted focus. They encourage outdoor operation with back country radio gear (if outdoor operation isn't practical, home-based operation is fine). They gather fascinating information about the upper atmosphere, documenting how low power signals can travel long distancs. And they encourage the growth of a like-minded community of amateur radio operator who generously share their knowledge and experiences.

Which Bands?

Bands of operation are 80 meters, 40 meters, 20 meters, 15 meters and 10 meters. You may operate any number of bands - your choice. Many Spartan Sprint operators gravitate to the QRP CW calling frequencies on these bands.

Equipment and Antennas

Spartan Sprinters use 5 Watts or less. We encourage you to experiment with 1 Watt or less. You will be surprised at how effective these low levels can be, and how much fun QRPp really is. Similarly, we encourage you to experiment with simple wire antennas. And we encourage Sprinters to use equpment they built from "scratch" - that is, equipment built from schematics.


Exchange RST, SPC (state, province or country) and power output. If you choose to call CQ, use the format "CQ SP," or "CQ QRP TEST." You can give yourself credit for working the same station on a second, third, or fourth band.

What Is the Weight of My Station?

The weight of your station is determined by weighing everything at your operating position up to, but not including, your feedline and antenna. In other words, your rig, key, keyer, antenna tuning unit, battery, headphones and so on. 

Submit Your Spartan Sprint Log

Please send the following information in an email to:
  • Your call sign
  • Total number of contacts during Sprint
  • The weight of your station (in pounds - includes all gear except antenna and feedline)
  • Soapbox comments about your Sprint experience

Check Out the Spartan Sprint Results

The results of each month's contest appear on the Friday following each month's first-Monday Sprint. They are posted here on this website. You can find results from previous months here, as well.
- Richard Fisher, KI6SN

Sunday, February 8, 2015

February '15 Spartan Sprint - Scoreboard

For an enlarged view, please click on the Scoreboard

February '15 Spartan Sprint - Soapbox

Well I must say, I surely did have a great time participating in the February Sprint.  I had 31 QSOs with 13 of them coming from TX!! I thought I was working the Texas QSO Party or something.  I worked WB5BKL on 20, 40, and 80.  W5ACM and WA8ZBT on 40 and 80, all in TX.W7OM way out in WA, N7CQR in OR, and NK6A in CA were the most distant stations.  Close in stations were few and far between.  Only one other in GA.....can you guess??? K4BAI, of course(40 and 80), K3RLL in FL, and AB9CA in AL, with everything else being further away.  I started out on 15 for a bit but got no calls, switched to 20 where I picked up 4, and then to 40 and later to 80.  Using a K2 to a Mystery Antenna at 38' with 5W. Hey guys I think I'll do this again next month!

Nice to see so much activity on and a few new calls.  20M was still active early on and grabbed 11 Q's.  TX, MS,AL and GA were the hot spots and one NY station . 40 began picking up at 30 minutes into the sprint. A number of 3 W stations tonight. One QRO station who jumped in not knowing what we are all  about.  I had to bail out early because of my fighting the flu.

Rig was the new K3 to a 100' E/W wire up 30' or so. The south end of the N/S wire fell (tree chewed through the line) so down to one wire until I can get it back up.More activity. Some of the old familiar calls were heard. Ended up with 29 Qs. 20/40/80 breakdown is 4/20/5. Not hard to tell the main and tonight. All the 80m activity was in the last 10 min. 20 was long, as expected this time of year and day - ON, CA, AZ, NY. 40 appears to have been open to nearly the entire country. Worked as close as MS, GA, & FL as well as CA, OR, WA, MN, & NY. Something happened around 0250z. After that time everyone was very weak. They were pretty easy to copy because the band noise was quite low. But I think someone flipped the prop switch about then. All the 80m Q's were pretty close - GA, MS, TX - but with the band noise so low it would probably have been possible to work up into the Midwest. Again no 3- banders, but several 2-banders: NK6A, NK9G, NQ2W, K4BAI, N5GW, WB5BKL, and WA8ZBT. Thanks to everyone who stopped by. Hope to see all of you, and many 
more, next month.

Ten-Tec Jupiter at 5 W to a 2-element mini-beam at 25 ft for 10, 15, and 20 meters, an inverted vee at 40 ft for 40 m, and homebrewed near-bottom loaded ground mounted vertical for 80 m. 5 QSOs on 20, 10 on 40, and 1 on 80. Too tired from moving snow off the driveway to set up the I pulled the plug early. 20 and 40 produced two banders with AB9CA and N5GW. 40 and 80 allowed a two bander with N4SX. Pretty good conditions and I think participation was up from last month. Thanks to all and I hope to hear you all next month.

K3/10 @ 5W to a 20M wire delta loop, a 40M dipole or a 40M extended double Zepp.  6 QSOs on both 20 and 80M with the remainder on 40M - 15 states total. Only one 3-bander - with N4SX. N5GW had remarkable signals on 40 and 80M, matched on 80M by WA5ZBT. Nice to hear a few new-to-me calls. My thanks to all. Had fun. 

Only heard NK6A up on 20m but 40m seemed active through 03:30z. Wish I had 80m capability. Maybe that’s where everyone goes late in the game?  Big signal down here tonight was K4BAI. Thanks for the contacts.

Elecraft KX3 @5 wts to G5RV ant; Vibroplex Square Racer Deluxe;  Almost forgot - so glad to get on during the last hour and make six (6) QSOs: N5GW (Gene), AB9CA (Dave), NK9G (Rick), K4BAI (Hi John!!), AJ4AY (Jay), NQ2W (Will) and N4SX (Randy). Nice working QRP!

Although sigs were not strong, Q's made in NY, AZ, CA, MS, and GA. TNX to all. 72's de Houston.

KX3 with internal NiMH bats and int. tuner to CFZ.  There seemed to be more participation than last month, more like back in Dec. Improved band conditions on 40M and 80M may have helped, but 20M sounded sparsely populated.

Running a KX3 weighing in at 1.9 pounds this time according to my postal scale. It varies with battery pack or paddle.   Antenna was an LNR endfed 40/20 as an inv vee up about 25 ft.  Total of 10 contacts  -  3 on 20 meters and 7 on 40 meters.  Strongest signal into my San Antonio location was N5GW in MS.  States worked were GA, CA, AL, MS, AR, NY and AZ.  Heard N5EM in Houston very early on 40 but then never heard him again.  Did hear someone giving WB5BKL near Austin a contact but could not hear Nick. Not enough folks calling CQ.  Heard several folks working K4BAI and AB9CA but never could chase them down.  My CQs did not produce for me like they have other times.  And we were spared from the K1N pileups only to be replaced by digital and voice transmissions right in our little window.

The bands were clearly better this month - there were some stations heard.  The clearly audible ones were all in the pileup for K1N. There were also a few faint ones.  In January, there was only one or two stations and they were at the ESP level, way below copyable Unfortunately, no stations were heard calling CQ SP and none were answering to that. (*NOTE: the weight includes a share of PG&E's generation plants and distribution system.  It is more this month because I used the Icom instead of the DSW-II.) As a "portable/hiking" sort of activity, you should count the weight of everything that gets taken for the station - that includes the antenna, feedline, and supports. It would make it much more interesting for us who don't have 4 element monobanders on 80 foot towers which don't get counted in the weight.

Good band conditions on 20, 40, and 80.  Activity only fair. Hope for more participants in future.  Thanks for all QSOs. Worked NK9G in AZ on all three bands.  QSOs by band:  20M: 3. 40M: 23.  80M: 7.

20 Meter sigs very weak. No QSOs. All 40 Meters this month. Did not venture to 80M.

Saved by 80M! The February Spartan Sprint was not at all what I expected. I got TWO contacts on 20M, FOUR on 40M and FIVE more on 80M. Band conditions included a lot of QSB on 20M and 40M. Conversely, 80M turned out to be the best performer in the final minutes of the event. The most distant contacts on 80M for me included K4BAI and N4SX in Georgia. N5GW in Mississippi had a fantastic signal, as did the Texas stations WA8ZBT and WB5BKL. The LiPo batteries in the ATS-3a are still a bit “puffy” but I am hoping that they will make it another few months before I kill them or they just wear out.

Band conditions on 40 fair with quite a bit of noise that seems to be coming from lightning activity up in far northern CA. Two of the three QSOs I made this evening were with fellows I know from the QRP Fox Hunts, Don, NK6A in Southern CA and Rick, NK9G down in AZ. I tried 80m for a few minutes, but not hearing anything there I returned to 40m. Spartan Sprint is always fun. 73's to all and to all a good night from the Northern San Joaquin Valley where we are still praying for rain following the driest January in the history of the state of California.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Results: January '15 ARS Spartan Sprint

Please click on the Scoreboard for an enlarged view.

Soapbox: January '15 ARS Spartan Sprint

Tried 20m then 40m. Didn’t hear much activity down here in FL this evening, but appreciate those who came back to me. See you next month.

I used 2 watts with a K1 on vertical 40/80 and KX3 on CFZ . Didn't hear as many sprinters as usual, even though the bands were pretty free of noise.

20, 40, and 80M all in good condition.  20M open to the north and northeast plus FL to the south with a short skip zone. Stations not in the sprint were heard from the West, but none in the sprint.  40M also had a short skip zone with nearby states FL, AL and MS worked. No 
stations west of TX heard.  80M was quiet with QSOs from TX to NH. Still difficult to stay the whole two hours due to lack of participation. Hope it will pick up next month. QSOs by band:  20M: 8; 40M: 12; 80M: 6.

I didn't get started until late, around 9:40 and worked for an hour or less.  I got 7 on 40, and 2 on 80.  Heard absolutely nothing on 20. I haven't worked a ARS Sprint in quite a few moons and it was good to participate again. 3 of the stations I got on 40 were in TX.

K3/10 @ 5W to a 40M extended double Zepp.  Only 40 and 80M this month.  40M was very noisy here and signals were weak. Best were from from Georgia (K4BAI and N4SX).  On 80M, WA5RML had an outstanding signal.  9 states this time with some of the usual suspects missing in action.  I hope for better conditions next month. My thanks to all. Had fun.

K1 at 5 W to a 2-element mini-beam at 25 ft for 10, 15, and 20 meters, an inverted V at 40 ft for 40 m, and near bottom-loaded, ground mounted vertical for 80 m. Conditions weren't that good here in Albany or activity was way down. Either way, the Spartan Sprint allowed me the privilege of 2 QSOs on 20; 6 on 40; and 1 on 80. The RBN showed the most promise on 80 but I didn't have any answers to my many CQs. Two banders with K4BAI and AB9CA. I hope that 2015 is off to a good start for everyone. Hope to hear you in February. Invite a friend to the Spartan Sprint - the more, the merrier.

Elecraft KX3 @5 wts to G5RV ant; Vibroplex bug; Active briefly (30 min) during 2nd hour. Heard and worked N5GW (40M) and WB5BKL (80M) - Gene and Nick, respectively. Otherwise, I didn't hear anyone! Band was dead.

A slow start. It was a good 20 minutes of listening and calling CQ before hearing any SP activity. Things improved around 0245Z with QSOs on 80, 40 and 20M. Best was WB5BKL in Texas on 40M.