Yes I’m hungry… for some CW, for some DX, for some contesting. After more than 6 weeks of zero QSO, I’m actually starving for some on the air activity. But first things first, and that is finish some work that needs to be finished.
Where to start? Ah yes, amplifiers. I let run mine for a few hours yesterday. Not to make a QSO, just to keep the GU74b’s feet warm. Elecraft finally has picked up working on their amplifier(s). A couple of years ago, Elecraft was working on two solid state amps, an 800W and a 1500W model. That looked promising but the designs are resting in the fridge. Rather a freezer I guess. I seem to remember having read that Elecraft thinks that there are already enough amps like this on the market and they wanted to focus on some other new products. N6IE still has images. Anyway… last week they presented the KPA500, a 500W solid state amplifier. The good news was brought by the ARRL Contest Update and N6TV has a picture of it. I quit reading the Elecraft newsletter long time ago because of too much traffic. I went looking through the archives right away but didn’t find much information.
This amplifier has made me thinking again. It’s an Elecraft product so it’s probably good. Solid state (no warming up) and auto-tune (no operator intervention needed). It has the same dimensions as the K3 so that’s pretty compact and a good visual match sitting next to the rig in the shack. It won’t be very expensive compared to a “full size” kW auto-tune rig. And 500W is enough to boost the signal on the 2nd radio in SO2R with the running rig driving the ACOM 1000.
But then again: is 500W enough? What’s the difference between 100W and 500W? Almost 7dB. A good S-point. Going to 1kW is another 3dB. Half an S-point. Is half an S-point worth double the price? I should look for someone to conduct some S-meter-versus-power experiment to convince myself. The reverse beacon network might help. Oh well, there is no sign of the amp so far on the Elecraft website. So it won’t be available any time soon. And if the demand explodes like it did for the K3, some serious waiting will be in order before they will ship.
Last week W9KNI’s new book arrived and I’ve been reading it almost completely. I like reading this stuff. I have his first book too as well and G3SXW’s books. This one is about the CQ DX Marathon. I never paid attention to this. How many DXCC’s and CQ zones can you work in a year? My educated guess would have been 200-220. You can work a new DXCC easily in CQ WW DX. Maybe 150 DXCC if you focus on 1 band. Add to that some other DX and DXpeditions and 220 would be great. But guess what? The results for 2009 show an unbelievable number of countries. W9KNI finished #2 in 2008, the year he describes. It’s fun reading how he builds his score but this kind of marathon is NOT for people with a day job, people with young kids and people doing work in and around the house. You need to be in or close to the shack 24/7/365. So not for me right now.
Great news! On LotW I finally have my ZY7C 160m QSO confirmed. With about 9400km, my best DX ever on 160m. I was running Top Band in CQ WW CW 2008 and was thrilled to be called by ZY7C. One of those surprises you never forget. Since I don’t care about paper QSL anymore, I was waiting for them to upload the logs to LotW. Finally!
Some social engagement that would limit my activity in WPX CW this year just got cancelled so all the options are open again. What should I do? SB10? SB15? SB40? SOAB? Just try to work 36 hours and make as much QSO as possible? This would surely satisfy my hunger: it’s CW, it’s DX and it’s a contest! What more could I ask for? Some sunspots of course!