“Storm Watch”

Newsletter of NZ1U – The Barnstormers Contest Group

            “The BarnStormers News”                                                                                                                                          Volume 10 No.5, December 2 ,2005


First Two of the Big Four behind us already!


Well we have operated through the two big CQWW contests and I believe we accomplished one thing for sure, we had fun!




Not the favorite mode of most of us but we gave it a good effort and the guys that like SSB did their best. At the last moment I decided to go M/M as the list of operators grew large enough to easily operate three stations. Unfortunately Mr. Murphy made an early visit and we ended up running Station 3 basically barefoot. This added only about 450 QSOs to our final score and during the day the big power was sorely missed trying to work stations on 10 meters.  It was quite a show with three amplifiers sitting in the middle of the floor in various states of disassembly. In the end the TL-922, Mark’s LK500ZC and Frank’s LK550ZA were all lying in a heap!


We did the best we could and ended up with 2929 QSOs for 5,349,473 points.


So we had four weeks to get ready for CW and get something running….




The TL-922 went to Beltronics. Kim with the ampulance took Mark’s amp to K1JCL. Al made the repairs to the vacuum relay T/R and we now had three amps. The TL-922 was not going to make it back in time for CW weekend. Al agreed to let us use the Alpha one more time. OK! We are amplified and ready!


Meanwhile Jay, N1GKI found a fourth PIII for us for Station 4. All stations now had PIIIs and flat screens. Jay also connected with WA7BMN and our score was uploaded to his website every 5 minutes and also as usual to our website. K1TTT was on that site as well so we had a good look at how we were doing compared to a real M/M with 6 stations. Again we were running M/M 4 stations.

I also used a spreadsheet program provided by K1TTT to schedule operators. A neat program and something I played with for many hours before the contest. I think it worked out well for us.


The usual CW crew operated and we got off to a slow start with help from some poor conditions on 40 meters as the MUF dropped below 7 Mhz. By morning we were about 150-250 QSOs behind K1TTT.


We did some running (not enough) and some S&Ping. Both days 15 meters did not stay open long enough for us to make huge per hour rates. Too bad as usually we kick butt on this band. The operators who stuck it out on 20 meters need to be commended for getting that band QSO number up though terrific QRM. With 10 meters not opening and 15 meters not that good everyone lands on 20 meters. In the end we had 3604 QSOs for 7,264,287 points. About 2.1M behind K1TTT and about 650 QSOs less. A little less than 2M behind K1RX who gave K1TTT quite a run for his money.


To be honest, K1TTT has an impressive amount of antennas in the air and much higher than ours. More options for the band conditions that exist. He also has finally gathered a more steady crew and they have grown in operating as well. It will be tough to stay with this group but it gives us a goal which I think is good. Due to decreasing band conditions I can’t say that beating our last year’s score is our goal as the scores are going down due to the lost of 10 meters and good runs on 15 meters.


I was very pleased again with the software and network operation even though we had to fight the N1MM CW stuttering problem. This needs to be solved by ARRL CW in February. Good job Jay.


I think we found our 160 meter star. Paul, K1GX, operated Saturday night and really racked up the QSOs and multipliers. I operated Friday night and then Saturday after Paul left and believe me I do not know how he found the stations he did. His comment was that it is like microwave operating where the signals are really in the mud. Paul, you can expect your hours scheduled to be at night in February!


It was also nice to see a new face show up and that was Joe Green, K2VUI. Thanks Vic, N4XR, for recruiting Joe. Though Joe had a slow start on his stint in the chair as he became more familiar with the radio and station his rate went up. Joe said he will return and I am sure his contribution will be bigger next time. Welcome Joe.


Saturday Kim brazed the 40 meter pipes that go up the tower to the antennas from the prop pitch and we have pictures that will be on the website proving Kim climbed to about 65 feet!  If he learned CW we wouldn’t work him on a contest weekend! From what I have seen so far, the work he did stopped the swaying of the 40 meter beam a whole bunch.


If I need to comment on our performance all I can say is generally it was good but we still need to learn to run! Too much DXing. We need to try and run a minimum of 45 minutes an hour and if the rate is slow, S&P for 15 minutes. Also we can not stay on a pileup for 20-30 minutes. Let it go and come back later. More than likely if we run we will work that multiplier anyway. We have proven this in the past. Dave also commented that this was another usual contest (unusual in the past) where he and I spent more time operating than repairing broken equipment.


Finally, as usual we look at what food is left and some goes home with the guys and others stay here for my family to finish up. Well this year there was a strange bag left behind. It contained a package of bread stuffing and a jar of hot fudge sundae chocolate! I want to know who planned on having stuffing sundaes during the weekend.


What do we do to prepare for the next “Big Two”?


There are a few things we can work on.


First the N1MM stuttering problem might need to be solved by an external device called WinKey. This is a small circuit board external to the computer and will handle the keying of the rig. The cost can be as little as $20 and as much as $50 per station depending upon how much you want to buy from the unit supplier. A box? The components? Just the printed circuit board? We will decide this in the next few weeks and this might be a group project we need to do.


I think a big help would be to operate some of the many smaller contests coming up before February. This way we know the present condition of the antennas, rotors, auxiliary equipment. If anyone wants to use the station for any of these contests please do. I plan on the ARRL 160 Contest this weekend at least part time.


The TL-922 should be back so we will have four amps.


We need a few more operators. Try to recruit some help.


I have been strict in the past on the need for operators in CQWW and ARRL DX contests to be YCCC members. Though I have relaxed on this due to the need for operators I would appreciate it if you are not a YCCC member think about joining. All you need to do is attend a regional or main meeting and get voted in. After that no meeting requirements just pay your annual dues. If you are not a member than your share of the score here gets deducted from the club score. I am an Area manager so I can hold a meeting. I am considering this and may have one soon if not before the ARRL CW contest.



ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes January 21-23, 2006


Kim has made some big changes in equipment and we are planning a minimum 4 band Multi/Limited operation for this contest. 6M, 2M, 220, and 432. Last year we had a commitment from K1ZE to come and supply additional higher bands and we had planned a M/M effort. Then came a blizzard! No one came after Saturday and we were a weak M/L entry.


We have not talked to K1ZE yet but we will at least be a M/L entry and we need help with operators. Saturday 4 PM local time until Sunday 11 PM local time. Please let us know if you want to help. This is usually a heavy beer drinking contest due to the QSO rates.


So you can plan early….


The 10th Annual Barnstormers Christmas Party


Yes, the tenth year for this event. It looks like the best time for the party this year will be January 8th, That’s a usual Saturday night but this year there is no contest to interfere with our reveling!  Also the date is closer to the Christmas and New Year Holidays than Valentine’s Day!




Please let me know ASAP.


Paul. KE1LI, promises some of his homebrewed beer. I am sure Kim will cook another mystery dish and of course bring your own favorite dish to share. Also bring your drink of preference as usually Paul’s beer is only for those with strong beer taste. You are more than welcomed to help us empty his keg!


Please plan on sleeping over if you are going to party hearty. We will try to keep the rum and firewater away from the Indians. Though this is usually a closed party I say this year bring a friend especially if he can operate and climb towers!


73 for now,

Dick – KB1H