ARRL Field Day 2011

Posted June 28, 2011 by k3wi
Categories: K3WI

I joined the fun at K3PZN – Carroll County Amateur Radio Club for the third consecutive year. A great time was had by all!

ARRL Field Day Entry Form

Datestamp: 2011-06-27 15:01:20 PDT

Call Used: K3PZN GOTA Station Call: (none) ARRL/RAC Section: MDC Class: 9A

Participants: 20 Club/Group Name: Carroll County Amateur Radio Club & Carroll County Contesters

Power Source(s): Generator, Battery

Power Multiplier: 2X

Bonus Points:
100% Emergency power 900
Media Publicity 100
Set-up in Public Place 100
Information Booth 100
Natural power QSOs completed 100
Site Visit by invited served agency official 100
Youth participation 20
Youth operators=1
Youth participants=1
Submitted via the Web 50
Total Bonus Points 1,470

Score Summary:
CW Digital Phone Total
Total QSOs 1940 60 2847
Total Points 3880 120 2847 6847 Claimed Score = 13,694

Submitted by:
James A. Nitzberg, K3PZN

Band/Mode QSO Breakdown:
CW Digital Phone
QSOs Pwr(W) QSOs Pwr(W) QSOs Pwr(W)
80m 317 100 20 100 147 100
40m 298 100 20 100 310 100
20m 936 100 20 100 1078 150
15m 97 100 1238 150
10m 292 100 68 20
6m 3 100
2m 3 100
TOTAL 1940 60 2847

Score Summary:
CW Digital Phone Total
Total QSOs 1940 60 2847
Total Points 3880 120 2847 6847 Claimed Score = 13,694



Posted April 10, 2009 by k3wi
Categories: K3WI

Jim WX3B

Jim WX3B

I spent the CQ WPX SSB weekend of March 28-29 at the QTH of well known contester, Jim WX3B, located in Taneytown Maryland. Jim’s credentials as a contester are well established, as he is the former president of contest club PVRC and co-20m op at superstation W3LPL. When not busy with his many professional, family, and club  commitments, Jim has taken to building an excellent multi-multi station of his own.

As can be seen in the link attached, Jim has monoband antennas covering 10-40 meters with wire antennas for 80 and 160. For receiving on 80 and 160, Jim has beverages that are switchable between the 2 operating positions.

The station’s equipment  is comprised of FT1000’s on 10-80m with a TS940SX on 160m. There is also a multiplier operating position set up for 20m which locks out the main 20m position when keyed. Each operating position also utilizes either an AL-1200 or L4B amplifier.

The operators for this contest ranged from experienced to just starting out which is just the way WX3B likes it. Jim is a big fan of “elmering” and spent the majority of the contest off the radio making sure that everything was running smoothly and anyone who needed help had it.

The contest was a blast but was mainly a 20/40 meter affair. Band openings to EU were later than anticipated  but with some exceptional signals on 20m and some still tough operating conditions on 40m as IARU Region 2 broadcast stati0ns still had not vacated the 7.125-7.200mhz band segment. Storms approaching from the south made 80/160m operating tedious with lots of QRN and static crashes of s9 +20db.

On Sunday, around 1900 UTC a major cold front moved through the area with hail, heavy rain, and lightning. A decision was made to disconnect antennas and shut down the operation. It proved to be a moment none to soon as shortly thereafter power was lost due to the storm. As the lightning exited the area, Jim was  quick to get a generator online and we were able to get the 20m station back on the air. Later the power returned and a strong effort was mounted in closing out the contest.

As has been mentioned previously half the fun of operating in a multi-multi effort is the  contest itself while the other half is the camraderie one enjoys. This contest proved to be no exception.

I had the great pleasure of operating with old friends and meeting some great new friends including:

N8IVN-Dennis, KB3RAE-Aaron(storm chaser extraordinaire), N3YIM-Joe, N3FX-Tony, Ka3ITJ-Eric, NS3T-Bryan, and N3VOP-Mike.

Additionally we were joined by guests including  K4ZDH, Riley Hollingsworth who stopped in for a visit Friday night.  As we all know Riley is our former FCC enforcement division Czar and a heck of a nice guy who is becoming interested in….CONTESTING!  Also joining us was N3RH, Robert (Bob) Ham (how’s that for a great radio name?).  Bob is a DXer who wanted to observe contesting in action.

In closing I can’t  say enough about the hospitality displayed by our host, Jim-WX3B. From providing an excellent station to work from to cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the assembled group, Jim never missed a beat and everyone had a great time.

The final tally:

Call: WX3B
Operator(s): WX3B, K3WI, N8IVN, KA3ITJ, K3B3RAE,N3YIM, N3FX, N3ST, N3VOP
Station: WX3B

Class: M/M HP
Operating Time (hrs): 45

 Band  QSOs
  160:  139
   80:  562
   40: 1140
   20: 1490
   15:  246
   10:   49
Total: 3626  Prefixes = 1093  Total Score = 8,337,404

Club: Potomac Valley Radio Club

QSL’s, LoTW, and eQSL

Posted March 14, 2009 by k3wi
Categories: K3WI

I love getting QSL cards. Not exactly sure why but I do. I use LoTW and eQSL for the convenience and cost savings when chasing awards but I love getting QSL cards. I have lots of them, literally shoebox upon shoebox covering qso’s dating back 40 years. And still even with the expense I send more out and more come in. When I go to the mail box, I’m always on the lookout for that “telltale” envelope that marks “buro” cards or the return Air Mail- Red, White, and Blue beauty that’s coming direct from some far away place.

I even started scanning the cards in on order to put them in a website gallery at some point.  Every once in a while I’ll open up the file containing the scanned images and start a slide show. It takes a while to look at them all even if the image is only on the screen for only a second or two. When the show is over I think about all the time and effort it took first to work those stations and then to amass that collection of cards.

I love getting QSL cards. Not exactly sure why but I do. Maybe in the end however,  its because these cards are more than just confirmations of QSO’s but more affirmations of one’s dedication to a hobby and the friends and enjoyment that have always been part of it.

Beauty in the Blindness

Posted March 5, 2009 by k3wi
Categories: K3WI

One of the fascinating things about amateur radio is its wonder.  Wondering if the band is open, wondering who we’ll hear, wondering what equipment the other person is using, wonder, wonder, wonder.

Wonder allows us to reach out to people who share our hobby without regard to the normal filters that people use in predetermining whether to  engage one another.  We don’t, because of the nature of the hobby,  get to assess appearance, socioeconomic status, or a myriad of other qualifiers that we oft times unknowingly employ in our social, or not so social, interactions.

We are figuratively in the dark, flying blind as it were when we talk with someone for the first time without visual cues to assist us in making judgments.  Amateur radio is a contact sport, but it is one of the few where where the players don’t normally get to see one another and to me there is a certain beauty in the blindness.

ARRL DX CW Contest-Fun at W3PP

Posted February 24, 2009 by k3wi
Categories: Contesting, CW, DX, K3WI

Tags: , ,
20M Stack

Stacked Antennas

The cobwebs are finally starting to clear after the marathon 48 hour ARRL DX CW contest. The goal of this contest is to work as many Non-US, Non-Canadian stations as possible in the allotted time. An endurance test to be sure but a blast nevertheless.

This year’s effort eclipsed 2008 by a wide margin. The operators would like to take credit for this improvement, however it can more likely be attributed to better(not great) band conditions.


QSO’s    Multipliers         Score

4131         469               5,722,269   2009

2996        427               3,786,636   2008

For the past couple of years I’ve been an operator at contest station W3PP located in southern Delaware. Dallas Carter (W3PP) built this station from the ground up a number of years ago and takes great care to provide the very best operating experience. The station consists of operating positions for 10m-160m, dedicated multiple single band antennas, and separate receiving antennas for 80 and 160 meters. Alot of time, effort, and money was spent initially and still is today on its maintenance.

10, 160, and 80m op positions

10, 160, and 80m op positions

Operating at a multi-multi (multiple operator multiple radio) contest station provides great fun and camaraderie. Its also a great learning experience as contesters can provide wonderful insight into ways to both improve your home station and operating skill. I’ve been a licensed amateur radio operator for 40 years and yet I still learn something each time I participate in these contest efforts.

This year’s crew included both seasoned veterans and newcomers which is always a great mix. Joining our host W3PP-Dallas, was W2GJ-Pete, WB4FDT-Pip, K1RY-Roy, NW3Y-Chick, WG3J-Eric, and yours truly, K3WI-Bill.  W3pp encourages both experienced and non experienced hams to show up and have a great time. I’ve found that most contest stations welcome anyone who wants to stop by and operate,  to do just that. Who are the contesters in your area? Well a quick Google search would turn up a few as well as subscribing to the contest reflector hosted by .

At a contest station, its important to utilize the strengths of not only the station design but the operator’s skill and preference. Which operator should be assigned to each band, does the operator do S&P (Search and Pounce-spin the dial and call who they hear) or are they a Run operator(establishes a presence on a frequency and calls CQ to draw others to him or her). When properly managed, these and other strategy considerations allows the contest station to operate at peak performance. Other important considerations include who is doing the pizza run Saturday and the donut run Sunday morning. A well oiled machine still needs fuel after all!

In the final ananlysis these events are about having some fun and we do our best at trying to achieve that goal. While making contact with more than 4000 fellow contesters is a great result, sitting around the table and shooting the breeze with friends both new and old is really the better part of the experience.

When I was a kid…

Posted February 20, 2009 by k3wi
Categories: K3WI


When I was a kid:

I used go down into the basement at 5AM and watch my dad send cw having just received his novice license.

I used to wonder who in the “world” he was talking to at that moment.

I used to marvel at how it all worked.

I used to delight in his happiness at receiving a QSL card.

I used to be amazed at his capacity to experiment and learn new things.

I used to admire his ability to teach others about his favorite hobby.

I used to be pleased at how he would swell with pride when he told others of his newly licensed son.

And now some 40 years later, as I sit in my basement and send cw, talk with people from around the world, marvel at how it all works, delight in receiving a QSL card, experiment and learn new things, think about the people who have I taught,  I hope that he’s still proud as he looks down from above and remembers how it used to be.

The quickest way to DXCC on 160m-There ain’t None

Posted February 18, 2009 by k3wi
Categories: 160m, Amateur Radio, CW, DX, DXCC, Topband

Tags: , , ,

I’m still working on my DXCC on 160m. As it stands now I’ve worked 102 but have only confirmed 92. Although I’ve been licensed for 40 years, I really didn’t make an effort on the “Topband” until about 3 years ago.

Now when I say make an effort, I mean put up an antenna that I could get my tuner to work with without arcing.  So in the winter of 2006 I used a slingshot to hang a 40-80-160m trap dipole at a mind boggling 30 feet. Surely now the DX would come rolling right in and I’d be well on my way to becoming a vaunted 160m Centurion!

Uh….no. In that first winter I worked about a dozen or so “new ones” including the US and Canada. I did learn a few things about this magical(all apologies to 6m) band. Primarily its not only about being heard but about hearing as well.  Now the folks who are fans of 160m are about the most helpful group one can imagine and can give you guidance on any topic that crosses your mind. There are great website’s like W8JI’s and others where you can discover invaluable information. For me however, I have limited real estate to work with so a beverage receiving antenna won’t work and I believe I’ve reached my “junk in the backyard” quota with my wife so all the other variations on a theme, loops, flags, pennants, ewe’s…they’re out as well.

So in an attempt to “hear” better I decided I would turn to studying. By studying I mean I really dug into the simple things like learning how to tweak my radio’s various filters and DSP settings. Understanding grayline enhancement, reading the Topband reflector posts and reviewing cluster spots to determine increased activity and mark my calendar for 27 days into the future.  I also raised my antenna height to 65 ft. whoopee!

However, perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned is you’ve got to turn on the radio and spend time on the band. You have to listen, listen, and listen some more. Nights where the band is dead one moment can sound like 20m in the next.

Here’s an example of a few recent 160m QSO’S:


At my sunset, Europe was just above the noise level but at their’s, well at least on that night it was a completely different matter with many signals at s7 to s9+.  Phenomenal!

And that’s what keeps you coming back. To me its like playing golf, 1 out of every 10 shots you might actually hit the ball squarely, take a divot, follow through and then take a moment and ponder going on the professional tour. Then reality sets in and you realize that the top players are the ones that are committed to their craft and spend day after day and year after year dedicated to improving their game.

And so it is with 160m.