I had previously admitted to being an HF slacker…that is, I only really enjoy the high frequency bands when the DX is loud and plentiful on 15 and 10 Meters. For almost a half decade, I’ve listened to the True HF Enthusiasts say things like “move to the lower bands when the solar activity is weak.” Fortunately, things are starting to change.
This weekend was the CQ Worldwide DX Contest (SSB) and the propagation was outstanding on the higher bands. I heard some people say that 10 Meters was never this good before but I suspect their memories may be faulty. But make no mistake, conditions were really awesome. Here’s a report from radio-sport.net.
I was up at our cabin in the mountains, running the FT-950′s 100 watts into a trap dipole at about 30 feet. Clearly, this is not your Big Gun Station but I was able to make 177 contacts, operating most of Saturday and a few hours on Sunday. Mostly, I was just chasing DX and trying to pick up a few new countries. I have to admit that my memory had a little rust problem concerning international call sign prefixes (where is C5A anyway?) but the N1MM software helped me out.
In the end, I did contact a dozen or so new countries, ranging from Mongolia to Croatia. I sure hope these guys upload their logs to Logbook of the World. I really don’t want to be chasing down those QSL cards manually. As I said, I am an HF Slacker.
I have been hearing everyone rave about the improving conditions on the HF bands, especially some great propagation on 10 Meters. Then I came across this posting by G4VXE: The Return of 10M FM. Ah, yes, I do recall having a blast running FM on 29 MHz years ago!
This triggered the thought that the FT-8900 transceiver in my car has 10 Meters in it. Lately, I have been using this quad-band FM rig (10M, 6M, 2M & 70 cm) like a dualband 2M/70cm rig. I almost forgot that it had the other two bands. I plopped a 10 Meter Larsen antenna on the SUV roof and reconfigured the coaxial cables and diplexers to get the right RF to the antenna. Suddenly, I was back on 29.6 MHz FM calling CQ. K8LF (Jerome, mobile in Virginia) came back to my call and we had a nice little QSO.
10M FM is a little bit counter intuitive (some people would say “makes no friggin’ sense at all!”). Here we have a high frequency band which can introduce fading and phase distortion (that destroys FM signals) being combined with our most inefficient modulation format (FM). Why on earth would anyone mess around with this combination?
I think FM is fun on 10 Meters for the same reason it is fun on VHF and UHF. You can be tooling down the highway with no radio noise at all and if the band is open, a signal pops through the squelch. Forget all of the static and Donald Duckness of SSB communication. When the signal is strong, FM is loud and clear.
The logs have been sent in, the scores tabulated and awards issued for the 2nd running of the Colorado FM Sprint. See my previous post, announcing the contest. The competition was tough significant weak not too bad rather slim and the following awards have been issued: