The last days of 2011…

Not much happened after the ARRL 10m contest. I had a bit of a radio burnout. I’ve done more radio in the last months than usually. Surfing the waves of better propagation, you know. CQ WW RTTY, chasing the Rockall expedition, California QSO Party, trying some DX on 10 and 12, the usual contests (LZ DX, CQ WW SSB and CW) and of course two days of ARRL 10m – two days that were only two hours for the last couple years. Add to that the extra workload for the end of the year and I was not too keen on sitting in the shack.

I added a piece of solid state electronics to the shack. Not a solid state amp but a solid state disk. I replaced the SATA hard disk in the Win7/64 machine with a SSD (solid state drive). People tell me it boots lightning fast. Well, I don’t notice any difference. I must admit that with the SATA drive Win7 was a fast booter already compared to the old XP machine or theVista laptop. With the SSD I think it boots just as fast. Probably the mother board is too old and does not support the fast data rates of the SSD which is SATA3 and I’m pretty sure the MB is not SATA3. The Win7 Performance Index took a leap from 4.9 (conventional SATA disk) to 7 (SDD) so the OS itself does notice a faster disk. I used the freeware XXClone to make an image of the C-drive to the SSD and made it bootable which saved me the trouble of reinstalling OS, drivers and all the software. With the Win7 install DVD in recovery mode, I was able to fix a MBR issue which is another thumbs up for Win7. I never pulled that off with XP.

Another ‘end of year tradition’ is the RAEM contest, or at least show up for a couple of QSO. Unfortunately this year it was on Christmas Day. That made it a bit of a pain to participate but I managed to play for a few  hours (250 QSO or so). I think this is the most fun you can get next to the CW QTC in WAE CW. I like the long alphanumeric exchange, preferably sent not too slow. Distance based scoring adds to the fun: a JA or ZL boosts the score as well as an ice cold Siberian UA0. Next year it’s on December 23, I might as well go for a full time effort then.

Another classic ON5ZO end of year activity is trying to work DX on 30m at my sunset. Usually I work a bunch of W6/W7 a little after their sunrise, which is my sunset in winter. Today was the first day I actually tried but it was a bust. I worked Nevada, Washington and Oregon and if I recall well also one Californian. Hmm, as I type this I am thinking it’s not too bad and certainly better than nothing. But I seem to remember working much more of these every day the past years. I hope to be QRV the coming days to check if the sunspots also ruin 30m. Or does the better propagation on the higher bands draw the people away from 40/30m? I also got called by a JA and regular VU2PTT called me too with a nice signal. Hey, it wasn’t so bad then: about 10 real DX in just over 100 QSO  🙂

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