Friday, December 5, 2014

December 2014 ARS Spartan Sprint - Scoreboard

Please click on the Scoreboard for an enlarged view.

December 2014 ARS Spartan Sprint - Soapbox

The December Spartan Sprint was so much better than November! I got three contacts on 20M, three on 80M and six more on 40M. Band conditions were a lot better this month and the noise level on 40M was very low. I had some serious problems with the contacts on my homebrew paddle. I had to stop and clean them twice. Thanks to those of you that were patient with my operations! The batteries are a bit “puffy” but will likely be OK for a few more months.

As usual after a big DX contest, I think most of us were radioed-out so turnout may have been a little light tonight. However, many thanks to those with whom I had the pleasure of contacting and my sincere appreciation especially to K4ARQ and N3VKM for sticking with me to make valid contacts.

Elecraft KX3 @5 wts to G5RV antenna; Vibroplex Square Racer Deluxe.Enjoyable event. Ten (10) QSOs - including N5GW (Gene) twice (80 & 40). Happy Holidays to all!

Pretty slow evening in Colorado. Thanks for the Q's. Used a KD1JV Tri-Bander, Z-match tuner, & doublet.

KX3 with internal bats and ATU to CFZ. I was pleased to find activity on 20M this late in the year, and was able to work ten sprinters there. 40M was in fair shape, but not much activity heard on 80M.

From Pennsylvania, used my MTR 2 on 20 mtrs. single band. Tuned dipole at 28 feet. Whiterook paddle and 370 mah lipo. Band sounded ok. Got 8 contacts. 3 California, 3 Texas, and 1 Idaho and 1 Colorado. K6CSL was my last contact at 0248Z. Missed Don, K3RLL, in Florida. Not sure if he was on or not. Will try again in January.  Had Fun. Thanks for the contacts all.

Running an ATS-4 at 5 watts to an OCF dipole. Slim pickings. Best DX was Randy K7TQ. 4 Qs on 20 meters and 3 on 40. Thanks for the fun.

K1 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 near bottom-loaded, ground mounted vertical for 80 m. 6 QSOs on 20, 8 on 40, and 3 on 80. Almost had W5ACM on 20 but I couldn't hear his exchange - hopefully, next month. W3KC was strong on 40. Two-banders with AB9CA, WB5BKL, and NØTA on 20 and 40 and with W3KC on 40 and 80. Overall, signals weren't all that strong here in Albany but they were pretty consistent with little QSB. Happy holidays! Hope to see you all in 2015.

K3/10 @ 5W to various delta loops and wire antennas. Missed last month due to family obligations.  Most of the QSOs were on 20 this month.  Tried 15M with no success.  No three-banders this time but several doubles.  Worked 13 states.  Nice to hear some new calls. My thanks to all.  Had fun.

What fun and challenge tonight on 40 meters.  At first I couldn't find anyone calling CQ SP, just pile-ups and QSOs from 7.025 to 7.050.  My first sprint contact was AB9CA and I worked 10 more sprinters after that between 7.041 and 7.044, even calling CQ for a while. I burnt up my supply of NiMH AAs with a short circuit in an Arduino project, so my 1.25 lb rig played with a 4.5 lb battery tonight.  Thanks to all for the slow fills and repeats, especially WA5RML.
A good evening here in ID.  Went the entire time for a change. First hour was 20 Qs with second one 10 Qs.  Both bands by NK6A, W5ACM, WB5BKL, NØTA, N5GW, and K6CSL.  Tough time on 20 with W1PID, but we made it.  Catch you all next year.

K2 at 5w, 100' wire up 60 ft. Have re-arranged one end of this wire and raised it 30 ft or so. Not sure what effect that has, if any. Have been busy and missed last couple of sprints. Good to be back tonight. Condx seems OK. Not really good, but not bad either. Band breakdown for 20/40/80 was 5/18/5. Know I missed one on 20. Just could not pull you out. 40 was pretty productive. From NY to CA and FL to MN. The noise on 80 was not too bad. Worked NC, TX, MS, and MD there. Heard only those few. Dunno if others did not go there or if prop was not good. Those pesky Texans were out in force tonight, total of 7 out of the 28 Q's were TX. No 3-banders but had 2-banders with NØTA, NQ2W, W1PID, NK6A, W5ACM, N5GW, WJ4A, WB5BKL and W3KC.  Thanks to everyone who dropped by. Hope to hear all of you (plus more) next month.

Always fun. This time most contacts were on 40 and a few on 80.

Friday, November 7, 2014

November 2014 ARS Spartan Sprint - Scoreboard

(Please click the Scoreboard for an enlarged view.)

November 2014 ARS Spartan Sprint - Soapbox

Just got back into ham radio after a five year absence. Got bucked off a horse three months ago and broke my leg. Decided to do something constructive besides lay around the house so I studied and up grade to Extra Class. Still not getting around to well so my antenna is very temporary, but still works. Horizontal vee 100X75 up about 15ft. Best I could do while holding onto my cane. Was running a K2 tonight at 5W and was able to connect with K7TQ in Idaho, WV0H in Colorado, K4BAI in Georgia, and W3KC in Maryland. Pretty diverse geography. Thanks guys. Not bad for a chunk of welding wire thrown up into a tree. Looking forward to next month's Sprint...

What a strange night! Propagation fell off. I didn't hear anyone on 20 meters, so I went to 40. John K4BAI was calling CQ. We made the exchange and I said he was the only station I could hear. He said he'd worked K7TQ and another station on 20 meters. So I went back and called CQ. Wow... Steve WG0AT answered from CO. He was 579. Never heard another station on 20 meters. So I went back to 40 and worked Don, K3RLL. I called it quits after that. Thanks all and 73.

Nothing heard on 20m and seemed pretty light on 40m but always nice to run into familiar calls from around the country. Nice tonight to work W1PID Jim and WGØAT Steve.  Been too long.  As always, Spartan Sprint is fun.I'm back in Florida with an attic antenna. 72 to all.

The time change really did us in tonight. No 20m activity but 40 seemed okay. I went down to 80 at 0240Z played there for about 10 minutes calling CQ but no takers, then back to 40. Maybe as winter gets closer 80 will be more productive. I managed to work K4BAI, John, right away and then K7TQ, he was there banging away as well as W5ACM and N5GW. Worked Don, NK6A twice but only counted him once, of course. Pretty fun with the MFJ-9296 rig and palm paddles with LGNokSung battery again.

Elecraft KX3 @5 wts to G5RV antenna; Vibroplex Vibrokeyer (new in 1973!)  Missed the 1st hour due to other commitments.  Thankfully I worked John, K4BAI on 40M; Did not hear anyone else on 40M or 80M for the whole 2nd hour.  Seems like this is becoming a 1 hr event.

Finished level 1 class for CWOPS.  Now Monday night off.  Rig ATS-3  weak audio on 40m, if anyone called that I could not hear. Worked 2 stations on 20m and then nothing. Went to 40 and immediately heard K4BAI  very strong. I heard K7TQ but could not pull out of noise. Called WVØH but I guess he could not hear me.

All contacts were on 40 meters. Band was noisy here this time, and not many stations were heard.

20 m produced only 5 Qs in 10 minutes and no one had a strong signal. Forty meters was better for a short while with 12 Qs from CA to MD.  NK6A had a 
strong 40 m signal.  I went to 80 m at 0300 after a long dry spell and 
N7LT in MT caught me for my only 80 m Q. Thanks to all and see you next 

N5GW in MS was the only station I heard on 20m. TNX to K7TQ up in ID for 
the QSO on 40m.

K1 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 near bottom-loaded, ground mounted vertical for 80 m. Conditions weren't that great here in Albany and/or participation was way down. Six QSOs - 1 on 20, 4 on 40, and 1 on 80. Almost had another on 40 but QSB got the best of that one. Two bander with K4BAI. W7OM had a nice sig from WA on 20. Hoping for better conditions and/or a lot more activity next month. Thanks for the opportunity.

KX3 with internal batteries and ATU to CFZ. I didn't hear many QRPers tonight. Initial operation was on 20M to try and pick up some of the west coast ops before the band closed. There I found NK6A, K7TQ, N7LT and was finally able to drag K6CSL out of the noise. 40M was fair with a bit of QRN. Only got K4BAI and W5ACM on 80M. Maybe there will be more participation next month.

FT1000MP, 5W, TH6DXX, zepp, dipole, inverted vee.  20M was very long.  Only two QSOs on 20: K7TQ and NK6A.  No one else heard on that band. 40M was also a bit long.  No QSOs in the fourth call area and didn't hear N5GW in MS either.  18 QSOs.  NK6A was very loud from CA on 40M. 80M: 4 QSOs from NY, TX and MS.  80M would be good for more QSOs if more sprinters would go there for the last part of each sprint.  Hope for more activity in December.  Between now and then (actually I will still be there during the December Spartan Sprint, but the rigs will have been packed for an early flight on Tuesday morning) I will be QRV from Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles as PJ4/K4BAI and during CQWW CW as PJ4A M/2. Hope to work many of you from there.

20M very noisy, open to the West at beginning of test. Moved quickly to 40M.  Worked only 2 more.  There were other weak signals, but unable to copy them.  Then there was K4BAI, what a signal, John - again. No one heard on 80M - I will have improved antenna on 80M for December.

The November Spartan Sprint was SOOO difficult! I got one contact on 20M, three on 40M and two on 80M. 20M sounded dead. 40M was difficult with serious fading, and 80M was just plain noisy. It’s always fun, but it was a lot of work. The only station with serious strength from my QTH was K4BAI in GA. The ATS-3a was working well. All daughter boards were up to spec and power out was 3W most of the time. I think it got down to 2.5W during the last 20 minutes of the event. The batteries are not “puffy” and I am hoping for some great ops in December!

Monday, November 3, 2014

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

Friday, October 10, 2014

October 2014 ARS Spartan Sprint - Scoreboard

For an enlarged view, please click on the Scoreboard

October 2014 ARS Spartan Sprint - Soapbox

My first Spartan Sprint entry. Decided to follow the rules to the letter, if not completely embracing the "Spartan" spirit.  I managed to keep the equipment weight under 1 lb, making the first QSOs on the Elecraft KX1 @4W that I just purchased from Cap, W0CCA.  With a pico paddle, a small model aircraft LiPo battery, and Sony earbud headphones, the total station weight was 0.84 lbs.  The big advantage, though, was using the monoband Yagi antennas at W6YX, the Stanford club station.  On 20M, I used a 6-element Yagi at 60'.  On 40M, I used our 4-element Yagi also at about 60'.  For the few QSOs on 80M, I used an inverted vee at 50', which has an extremely favorable slope to the US.  If you worked W1AW/6 during the Cal QSO Party, these were the antennas putting out the big signals.  I had to deal with a shack maintenance issue when I arrived, and didn't start working stations around 0123. I continued until 0251 before stations seemed to run out on 40 and 80, and I had to go home to finish the next day's lecture slides.  This was an excellent dry run for my upcoming SOTA expedition with NK6A.  Hope to hear you again in future contests and during SOTA activations.

7 contacts ties my all-time record for one hour of my Novice-level CW.  Radio was the HB-1A with a homebrew paddle and old Sony headphones. The homebrew paddle is much lighter than the J-38 that it replaced, but I used 10 AAs instead of 8 since they were a bit flat, so the weight was about the same.  Thanks to everyone for slowing down and offering many repeats.  I had 3 busted contacts, so maybe next month I can break into the double digits.

The October Spartan Sprint seemed to be lightly attended. I got six contacts on 20M, and four on 40M. Conditions were reasonable on both bands. Although I listened on 80M, the noise level was covering most of the discernable signals and I was down to the last 15 minutes of the event – not worth it for possibly one QSO. I had to do some repair on the 40M daughter board this month. I had noticed that the ATS-3A was not quite up to par on 40M since the recent repair job on the receiver, but just saw the broken wire on one toroid when I was getting ready to move from 20M to 40M. Fortunately it only took about 15 minutes to remount and re-solder the toroid. Hoping for more participants next month!

Activity seemed to start out slowly and signals sounded weaker tonight particularly on 20 m but skip was fairly good.  Big signal into rural PA tonight was NQ2W who is always strong whether I’m operating from PA or FL.  Thanks for the contacts. The Spartan Sprint is always fun.

October is the last month that the Spartan Sprint starts before sunset, so I went into the forest east of Moscow, ID for this month's contest. A K2, 7 AHr gel cell, a 31 foot long Jacklite pole supporting a SOTAbeams Band Hopper 20 and 40 m inverted V, and a netbook running N1MM was the station. For creature comfort I also took along a roll up table and a lawn chair. I started on 20 m as the sun was setting behind pine trees. Twenty was good for about 1/2 an hour with 14 Qs from coast to coast. That was also about the latest that I had enough daylight left to see to change bands. To change bands, you have to lower the Band Hopper and reset the shorting clips for 40 m which didn't take too long. I spent the rest of the contest on 40 with 12 Qs again from coast to coast. Around 0240Z the moon came out from behind the trees and made for a nice view without the headlamp. Three folks, K4BAI, N5GW, and NK6A, were able to find me on both bands. Thanks to all who stopped by for a QSO.

Slow evening. 16 Qs on 20m, 3 on 40m. Quit at 0230z.  MTR, BLT, doublet, Palm key, GenLog.

What fun it was again. I netted 11 QSOs on 20m and then 8 Qs on 40. Tried the homebrew 3S1P cell phone lithium battery, the LG-Nok-sung. 1006mAh measured and lasted the whole 2 hours. Tried out the new rig the MFJ-9200, it worked well considering. Worked a nice run of people on 20 and then went long. Hopped down to 40 and stayed there until 0230Z. I then went to 80 but nobody was there so went back to 40. Here are the stats from the RBN: 20m yielded 26 spots, Avg SNR = 11.73dB and std dev of 8.57dB; 40m yielded 45 spots, Avg SNR = 15.38dB with a std dev of 5.96dB. I just manually crunched the numbers. My total was 19 QSOs With a weight of 1.1314 pounds. Thanks again for doing this.

All contacts on 20m and 40m.  I made fewer contacts than my last sprint, but at least I got my station weight down this time. Looking forward to the next one.

Thanks for 20M contacts with: K4BAI, N5GW, WA8ZBT, WB5BKL, KDØUKC, and NF1R. Regards to all from Arizona.

FT1000MP, 5W, TH6DXX, dipole, zepp, inverted vee.  20M was quite long at the start with all six QSOs in the W6 and W7 areas plus CO, but their signals were strong.  40M was a bit noisy, but 19 QSOs were made as far away as CA and NJ (with a lot in TX) and as close as NC and MS.  80M was quite good, but there was almost no activity there.  Thanks to K2YGM and N5GW for the two QSOs on 80.  Activity was way down, maybe because of conditions. But, no matter what the conditions, if we hang in there and keep trying QRP to QRP QSOs can be obtained. Hope for more participants next month.

KX3 at 3W with internal ATU, external balun and NiMH batteries to CFZ. 20 and 40 were both in good shape, but 80 was very QRN at this QTH. Only worked K4BAI and WA8ZBT on 80. Next month 20 may close early as CDST ends, and days will also be shorter. So I may put up a better antenna for 80.

K3/10 @ 5W to various delta loops and wire antennas. All QSOs were on 20 and 40M - nada on 80M.  Conditions poor here.  Best signals:  20M - W7OM, 40M - K4BAI, though N5GW was almost as good with 3W. Only 10 states worked and no QSOs in the last half-hour.Anyway, had fun.

K1 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 near bottom-loaded, ground mounted vertical for 80 m. Seemed like activity was down. Pretty even split between 20 and 40 m contacts. I called on 80 for a while and never heard a response. Two bander with WA8ZBT. Thanks for the contacts and thanks to the organizers. Tell a friend about the Spartan Sprints . . . the more, the merrier!