A Nice Surprise from the ARRL DX Contests

I competed in the CW and phone portions of the ARRL DX Contest earlier this year. The CW portion took place February 15-16, 2020, and the phone portion took place March 7-8, 2020. My contest participation is usually casual, and I do not operate for the entire period of the contest. My primary goal during this contest is to work new DX stations.

The ARRL has a page to search contest scores and download copies of certificates earned for contest participation. I usually forget to check, since I never anticipate having a competitive score. When I checked this year, I had a pleasant surprise. In the Single Operator, Low Power category, I placed 3rd in the Georgia Section for both contests!

Recently Received QSL Cards

My preferred method of confirming QSOs is through ARRL’s Logbook of the World. It’s a simple, fast, and easy to use system to confirm contacts and apply for awards. It also saves a ton on postage, since international postage rates are very high. Still, there is something special about receiving a QSL card in the mail after working a rare DX station. In addition to nice keepsakes that have interesting information about the operators and their locations, they are physical proof of the QSOs.

Over the past few months, I have received several new QSL cards. Some are from contacts that took place over a year ago. I have been concentrating on getting confirmations from DX stations in the Middle East, Africa and the Pacific. I really enjoy collecting the cards, and believe they add a personal touch to what are usually very brief DX contacts.

C5FUD, Gambia; 5H3UA, Zanzibar Island; TR8CA, Gabon; V55A, Namibia; S01WS, Western Sahara; Z81D, Republic of South Sudan
JY5IB, Jordan; TU5PCT, Ivory Coast; VP8PJ, South Orkney Islands; E44WE, Palestine; 9J2LA, Zambia; KH0/KC0W, Mariana Islands
KH7XS, Hawaii (on 10 meters!); ZD7JC, St Helena Island; JT5DX, Mongolia; 3D2AG/P, Rotuma Island; 7V5ID, Algeria; FR5DZ, Reunion Island

Another benefit from collecting QSL cards is that sometimes the envelopes have some cool stamps!

Envelopes with cancelled stamps from Finland, Fiji, and St. Helena Island.

Western Europe on 6 meters!

A few days ago I had the great fortune to work Japan on 6 meters. Today, I was fortunate again to be at the radio during a brief 6 meter opening to western Europe. I was able to complete QSOs with 5 stations – 3 in France, 1 in Guernsey, and 1 in England. The opening lasted less than an hour, and I decoded lots of other stations in western and central Europe that I was not able to work. I am very happy to get the 3 new DXCC countries and 5 new grids.

New 6m QSOs from western Europe for N1ADM on July 23rd
PSKReporter map of stations that decoded N1ADM’s FT8 signals during the 1500 UTC hour on July 23rd.
DXMaps 50 MHz map showing lots of hams in eastern North America and western/central Europe active during the brief 6 meter opening on July 23rd. If you look really close, you’ll see my callsign in there.

Japan on 6 meters!

I was very fortunate to be at the radio during a very brief opening to Japan on 6 meters during the early 2300 UTC hour on July 20th. It only lasted for about 10 minutes, but the signals were fairly strong and I was able to work two stations. It was very exciting! I had one confirmed 6 meter QSO with a station in Japan back in June, but it was really nice to also get two new grids today.

I was able to log 2 stations from Japan during a very brief 6 meter opening on July 20th
This is something you don’t see very often on 6 meters in Georgia!
PSKReporter map showing stations receiving N1ADM’s FT8 signals during the 2300 UTC hour on July 20th

CQ WW VHF Contest

The CQ World Wide VHF Contest ran from 1800 UTC (2:00 PM EDT) on Saturday, July 18th, through 2100 UTC (5:00 PM EDT) on Sunday, July 19th. I participated for about 8 hours total at various times on both days. The band conditions were not very good, but there were some short openings to New England, southeastern Canada, the Midwest, and Texas. Despite the less than ideal conditions, I was able to make 56 contacts in 40 different grid squares, for a total score of 2,240.

PSKReporter map showing stations that received N1ADM during the CQ WW VHF Contest
N1ADM contest log summary for the CQ WW VHF Contest. I use N3FJP contest logs.

13 Colonies Special Event

One of my favorite operating events every year is the 13 Colonies Special Event. This year, the event ran from July 1st through July 7th. The object is to complete QSOs with special event stations in each of the original 13 colonies:

K2A – New York
K2B – Virginia
K2C – Rhode Island
K2D – Connecticut
K2E – Delaware
K2F – Maryland
K2G – Georgia
K2H – Massachussetts
K2I – New Jersey
K2J – North Carolina
K2K – New Hampshire
K2L – South Carolina
K2M – Pennsylvania

There are also two “bonus” stations:

WM3PEN – Philadelphia
GB13COL – Great Britain.

All participants can submit their log sheet to receive a very nice certificate. Confirmed QSOs with each of the 13 K2- colony stations constitutes a “clean sweep”, which is a coveted achievement that is reflected on the certificate. Each station also has a unique QSL card. The stations can appear on all bands and modes. The most difficult station for most U.S. operators is GB13COL, especially when band conditions are unfavorable. Fortunately, GB13COL logs special event contacts for DSTAR (Reflector 063B), DMR (talkgroup 31426), and Yaesu System Fusion (room 28173) contacts. This allows U.S. hams with access to one of those modes an opportunity for a QSO in spite of HF band conditions.

This year I was happy find several of the stations on 6 meters during a great opening on July 5th. I was able to work most of the stations via FT8 on July 5th, along with a few CW and SSB QSOs for a clean sweep. Unfortunately, I was never able to work GB13COL via HF, but I did complete a DSTAR QSO.

N1ADM log sheet for the 2020 13 Colonies Special Event
13 Colonies Special Event certificate from 2019

Early Morning DX on 40m

Over the Spring and Summer I have been focused mostly on 6 meters, but I also enjoy working DX on the HF bands. I woke up really early this morning, and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I decided to check the bands. Most of the bands were dead, with lots of QRN (static) as is usually the case during the Summer. There were some strong FT8 signals on 40m, so I decided to see if there were any DX stations to work. The band was open to the west, into the Pacific, and I was able to work stations in Alaska, Hawaii, Japan, Australia, and New Caledonia. I didn’t get any new countries, but I still get a thrill from QSOs with stations on the other side of the world!

QRZ.com log of 40m FT8 QSOs during the early morning on July 7th, 2020
PSKReporter map showing stations that received FT8 signals from N1ADM

6 Meter DXCC progress

I’ve mostly been focused on collecting new grids on 6 meters for the VUCC Award, but I’ve also managed to add a few new countries toward a 6 meter DXCC Award. I started this season with only two countries (USA and Canada) confirmed. I am now up to 26. While that’s only 26% of the 100 countries needed for the award, I am happy with the progress. It’s not bad considering that I am working with low power and an omni-directional antenna.

I’m most proud of the QSOs with JA0RUG in Japan (6,866 miles) on June 3rd and TF8KY in Iceland (3,262 miles) on June 20th.