For the 2011 ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes, I repeated the tradition of doing a winter assault on Mount Herman (DM79) on Saturday afternoon. As in past years, Joyce (K0JJW) joined me on the hike, but we also had some other folks along to make for quite a party on the summit this year.
Stu (W0STU) and I operated independent “Single Operator – Portable” stations from the summit. Stu conned convinced James (KD0MFO) to join him on this trek. We had hoped to get “Alpha Goat” Steve (WG0AT) to go with us, but he made some excuse about needing to prepare for an upcoming trip to Dominica (J7). (Instead of slogging through the snow, Steve wants to go to the Caribbean? Probably a good choice. See Steve”s video of his previous trip up Mt Herman here.) Dan (N0OLD) also hiked up a little later in the day to join us on the summit.
Trail conditions were good, with not much snow on the trail. There were definitely some icy spots such that we enjoyed the extra grippers attached to our boots. The weather forecast was a bit marginal, so we were prepared to deal with a snowstorm moving in on us. As I told Stu, the philosophy is “We’ll have a good hike and we might also have some fun working the radios.” In the end, the weather remained solid with only a few snow flakes and temperatures just above freezing. Dan and James built a small campfire (in an established fire ring) that really warmed us up.
My primary radio was the Yaesu FT-817, driving an ARROW II yagi on 2 Meters and 70 cm and a wire dipole in the trees for 6 Meters. I also had several handheld FM rigs along including one on 222 MHz. Overall, I made 83 contacts with 15 grids for a total score of 1725.
This may have been the most fun yet for the January VHF Sweepstakes. Of course, any day in the mountains playing with radios is a good day.
I have been loading my ham radio log data into the Logbook of the World for QSOs back to 2002. Although I’ve seen quite a few QSL matches via LoTW, it has not provided any real benefit to me.
Last week, that changed. The ARRL turned on support for the VUCC award. Lately, I have been on the air for most of the VHF contests and not much else. So when I logged into the LoTW web page, I found that I have 123 grids confirmed on 6 Meters, which would qualify me for 50 MHz VUCC. (Actually, I had already qualified for this award years ago, the hard way, with paper QSLs.)
I am still working towards 144 MHz VUCC and have been working on getting QSL cards for these contacts. To be honest, I have turned into a QSL Slacker. I manage to respond to every request for a QSL …eventually, but I have been a slacker on pursuing QSLs that I need for awards. You know the reasons: it takes time, it costs postage, it is a hassle.
The answer is obvious: we need to confirm QSLs electronically. Push a button, upload your log and receive the instant gratification of a confirmed QSO. Life is too short to mess around with cards. Not that I don’t like getting The Real Thing in QSL cards…there is nothing like receiving a well-designed card and holding it in your hands.
The challenge is also obvious… the ARRL needs to turn on support for more awards (way beyond DXCC, WAS and VUCC) with the goal of providing a benefit back to the users of LoTW. Otherwise, the number of people bothering to submit logs will remain low, limiting the success of LoTW.
There are many email lists devoted to amateur radio topics, in particular on Yahoo Groups. These email forums are a great way to learn and exchange information. Usually these lists are created to hit a particular topic of interest. Over time, people stray off into other areas and start posting topics that are not appropriate for the forum. Eventually, the moderator steps in and shuts down the off-topic conversation.
What can happen next is the off-topic posters claim their right of “freedom of speech” is being violated. “This is America, and we have freedom of speech.” (Kind of an odd statement since the internet is worldwide, not just a US concern, but I’ll set that aside.) This just happened a few days ago on an email list I use.
It has become all too common to hear people claiming “rights” that don’t really exist. US citizens might want to read the US Constitution once in a while, so they know what it actually says about freedom of speech:
First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The US Constitution basically says that Congress cannot establish laws that abridge (limit) the freedom of speech. The amendment focuses on what the government is allowed to do to restrict the citizens. It does not mean that a citizen has the right to have their speech published in the local newspaper, sent through an email list, or posted on another person’s web site, etc. Newspapers, web site owners and moderators of email lists make decisions every day on what type of “speech” they are going to allow in their communication forum.