CQP über alles!

Yes, California QSO Party this weekend. California über alles!

The last QSO was eight weeks ago in WAE CW. Ouch, I’m shocked now that I did the count. eight weeks… I just don’t have the time. And when I do have some time, I just don’t have the energy and drive. Two weeks ago I reconnected all cables and coaxes as a first attempt to make a contact. I figured the lightning season was behind us. Literally the first forecast I heard after that talked about thunderstorms. Unplugging all that stuff again. Sure enough we were treated with a few nasty showers with ‘sound and vision’.

So why am I so busy? Lots of things to do. At home and at work. And I need to work a lot at home for my job too. And as if all this ain’t enough, there’s always something that torpedoes my plans (leaking valves, drunk drivers hitting my fence etc). But this weekend my plan was to crank up the tower and make some QSO, darnit!

Saturday started out rainy. Then it started pouring. And each time I quit work on the laptop to crank up the tower, another shower came down. It was four in the afternoon when I finally got around to crank it up. A little later I was in the shack. First problem encountered: my SSB macros didn’t work anymore. I found out when trying to call a 9M6 in the Oceania contest.

A few weeks ago I did a Windows7 reinstall. I changed to Win7 last year and was happy with it but I messed it up along the way and a format C was needed. I did that and copied my N1MMLogger folder on top of the new install, like I did a dozen times before. But last time the folder was called N1MMLogger and now I used to default N1MM Logger (note the space). The extra ASCII character messed up the path to the WAV files. A quick edit and I was good to go. The microHAM USB router and MK2R+ behaved as they should.

Then off to work them Californians. It was slow and propagation didn’t seem to be great. I managed to work three whiskeysixers on ten meters, and that was it. Business as usual with some Oceania DX in between. Watched some TV with the XYL on Saturday. Got up on Sunday – actually I was scrambled out of bed at an unholy 5AM local by one of my boys. He agreed to go to bed again a good hour later but the bands were quiet. No W6 on 40m – I worked a bunch there in the previous years. Some Oceania on 40 SSB, good to see the rotary dipole work his magic again. When the OC contest was over, I closed down and we went for a morning walk in the autumn sun.

Back QRV in the afternoon. Nothing from the Golden State and on 15m there was K3A working a ton of EU. I could not hear a single EU and K3A was S7. QRZ said K3A = WX3B so when he’s only S7, propagation must be very bad. I called him a dozen times but he just worked EU in my face. Was he listening up? Nothing there and he didn’t announce it though he signed often. I don’t know what or how but suddenly I noticed the antenna was still set to dummy load. Oh gosh. Flip the switch made K3A pop up to S9+30dB. One call and bagged him. Because the yagi presents an almost resistive 50 ohm to the amp, the amplifier didn’t trip when I was talking into the dummy load. So I didn’t notice it straight away. I told K3A and we both had a good chuckle.

Then finally I could go back to CQP. Toggling between 15 and 20 and SSB and CW. Ten remained dead on Sunday. I quit on Sunday to watch the final episode of a TV series and returned for the last hour. But the bands were dead. Only some light flutter infested stations on 20m that mostly CQ’ed in my face. A ‘?’ was the most I got. My third CQP, hope to be back next year. It was good to see everything still working after two months off – a historical dip in ON5ZO activity!

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