Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tough going

As planned, I did participate in the SKCC 150th Sprint last evening, for about 90 minutes of the two hours. I must say that from the beginning, my fist was rather lousy. It's one thing when your fist is lousy and you're blissfully unaware. It's altogether another thing when your fist is lousy and you're wincing as you make mistakes! It's strange to be looking at your hand while you're sending CW, making a mistake and thinking, "Why did you just do that?", as if your arm and hand belonged to someone else.

Thanks to all who hung with me for that barbaric assault on your ears - I deeply apologize.  That was the end result of using only a keyer and paddles or a bug for the last however. I do have to admit that as the evening went on, and I got more comfortable, my fist improved ........ marginally. I found out that I got better if I pounded the brass with my eyes closed, and relied solely on concentrating on the sound.

I must have been doing something right, though, because after 90 minutes of NAQCC Sprint, my wrist, hand and elbow suffered no discomfort at all. And people DID copy me ........ I did not get many "?'s", so again, I must have been doing something right. And the Reverse Beacon Network was able to copy my 14/15 WPM CQs, so I guess I wasn't as bad as I thought.  I AM my own worst critic!

I don't have my log in front of me; but I think I walked away with 18 QSOs - scattered across 20, 40 and 80 Meters.  40 Meters seemed once again to be the money band, yielding the most contacts. My meager effort was a lot of fun and brought back fond memories of when I participated in these sprints on a regular basis.  I'm now kind of interested in doing that again.  Not only will it help to fatten up my log book, but it will also keep me in regular practice on the straight key.

Last night, I used my LTA SKCC Straight Key, which is a nice enough key.

I keep on telling my buddy, Bill Koeth W2WK that I want to buy one of his straight keys.  Bill is a machinist with amazing talent and he produces straight keys that feel great and work marvelously and they're beautiful to look at, too!  I've test flown a few prototypes for him and want to add one of his production models to my bench. I think using one of his straight keys would be a further enticement for entering these NAQCC Sprints on a regular basis.

The other thing I noticed, quite happily, is that there seemed to be no increase in the ambient RF noise level at my QTH.  A neighbor two doors down just installed solar panels on his roof.  I've been told that with some installations, when the inverters kick in, there can be plenty of RF hash.  That was not the case last night; but I'll have to check this weekend during the daylight hours to make sure there's not a problem. Can you imagine going to your neighbor and saying, "Hey, I hate to tell you; but your brand new solar panels are wiping out radio reception at my house." THAT would go over like the proverbial lead balloon!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

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