It is again time for our annual 2014 Year Amateur Radio highlights post. First, I’d like to thank our readers for their continued interest in our Blog. Our blog was viewed about 100,00 times in 2014 from 165 countries worldwide. You, our readers, have made 2014 our busiest year yet, and this provides Anita (AB1QB) and me with great encouragement to continue to provide content for our readers.
2014 was a very busy year in Amateur Radio for us. Our activities included a continued focus on station building, contesting, WRTC 2014, special events, providing presentations to help others in the hobby learn about new things, attending several HAM Events, progress on operating awards, and most importantly – time spent on the air operating.
This year, we upgraded our fixed station to include a microHAM Station Automation system. This major project added some nice SO2R capabilities to our Multi-one station and automated the sharing of our antennas between our two SO2R operating positions. More of this project can be found here:
- Station Automation Part 1 – microHAM SO2R And System Design
- Station Automation Part 2 – Second Operating Position And Antenna Switching
- Station Automation Part 3 – Antenna Cut-over And Final Integration
We also added LEO Satellite capabilities to our station with the addition of some new antennas and electronics on our tower. This allowed us to make our first contacts through LEO birds with linear transponders. Our articles on this project include:
- LEO Satellite System Part 1 – System Design And Electronics
- LEO Satellite System Part 2 – Antenna Assembly And Ground Test
- LEO Satellite System Part 3 – Final Installation And First Contacts
Our final major station-building project was constructing a state-of-the-art mobile HF station in our Ford F-150 pickup truck. We did this project in phases, starting with a simple setup using a 100W radio and HAM Stick antennas through the installation of a Screwdriver Antenna System for the 160m – 10m HF bands and concluding with the installation of an amplifier to enable high-power mobile HF operation. You can view the articles on this project here:
- Mobile HF Installation Part 1 – Icom IC-7000 running barefoot with a simple MFJ HAMStick Antenna
- Mobile HF Installation Part 2 – Proper Bonding And Choking
- Mobile HF Installation Part 3 – Adding A Scorpion Screwdriver Antenna and Controller
- Mobile HF Installation Part 4 – 500W Amplifier, 160m And Accessories)
- Working DX Using Mobile HF
- Working DX Mobile On The 80m Band
Anita (AB1QB) and I continued to be active in several contests this year. We both continued to develop our skills as contesters and our scores and place in the rankings reflected this. You can read more about our contesting activities and what we learned in the following articles:
- 2014 ARRL DX Phone Contest
- 2014 CQ WPX SSB Phone Contest Experience
- Contest Results for AB1QB and AB1OC (ARRL Rookie Roundup, BARTG RTTY, North American QSO Party, and ARRL June VHF Contest)
- AB1OC’s 2014 CQ WPX Contest Results – Another Station Goal Met
- AB1QB Enters The 2014 JARTS RTTY Contest – Our First Use Of N1MM+
We were also fortunate to host one of the WRTC 2014 competition sites. Along with our friend Scott Anderson, NE1RD, Anita and I acted as site managers for the only WRTC 2014 Competition Site in New Hampshire. You can read more about our WRTC 2014 experiences here.
Special event operations were a particularly fun part of our on-air activities in 2014. We operated as K2K, New Hampshire, in the 13 Colonies Special Event, W1AW/1, as part of the ARRL Centennial QSO Party, and as N1FD Celebrating the 35th Anniversary of the Nashua Area Radio Club. It’s great fun to operate in these events and the experience running the pileups that result continued to help Anita and me to develop our operating and contesting skills.
We prioritize devoting a significant amount of our Amateur Radio time to helping others in the hobby learn new things. In addition to writing this Blog, Anita and I try to create and deliver several presentations each year on a variety of topics of interest to the Amateur Radio Community. This year’s presentation included an update of our presentation on Amateur Radio Station Design and Construction and an Introductory Presentation on the DXLab Software Suite. We are always interested in working with Amateur Radio Clubs to deliver the presentation in person, where practical, or over the web.
We had the fortune to meet some of the legends in Amateur Radio this past year. Anita and I had the opportunity to get meet Bob Heil, K9EID and to appear on his Ham Nation podcast. Bob is an amazing gentlemen and we feel truly fortunate to have the opportunity to get to know him. We also had the opportunity to meet Fred Lloyd, AA7BQ, the President and Founder of QRZ.com. Fred visited our station and did an article about our station on QRZ.com. Anita and I both learned a great deal about HAM Radio and how it came to be what it is today as a result of the time these fine folks spent with us.
Amateur Radio Conventions and HAM Fests were a major part of our Amateur Radio fun again this year. We were fortunate to attend and speak at the ARRL Centennial Convention in Hartford, CT USA this year – truly a once in a lifetime Amateur Radio experience. We also attended the Dayton Hamvention in 2014 where we had a chance to see all of the latest and greatest in Amateur Radio Equipment.
We were quite active on the air making almost 26,000 contacts between the two of us. As you can see from the graphic above, about 45% of our contacts were as part of Special Event Operations. We also made a little over 500 contacts from our mobile station, working over 100 DXCC entities in 2014 from the mobile.
We were active on all of the HF bands this year. We made our first contacts on the 60m band, and I was able to focus on the 6m band and earn a VUCC Operating Award (100 grid squares worked and confirmed) on that band. Anita and I made our first DX contacts in Europe on 6m in 2014. Anita took quite an interest in the 160m band, and she is working on a Worked All States Operating Award on this band. Our operating time using weak signal and satellite modes on the 2m and 70cm bands was limited to a few contacts this year. I did make my first contacts through LEO Satellites in 2014.
We mostly operated in the SSB phone mode in 2014. Anita and I both continue to work on our CW skills, and we managed a little over 800 QSOs using CW in 2014. Anita was very active in the RTTY mode as part of her RTTY contesting efforts.
All of this operating resulted in quite a bit of QSL activity. We sent a total of almost 4,200 QSL cards in 2014!
We again made a video showing all of our contacts around the world in 2014. As you can see from the video, we were fortunate to work quite a bit of DX in 2014.
All of this operating helped Anita and me to make some progress on operating awards this year. In addition to earning a 6M VUCC, I completed a Worked All States Award on all 9 HF bands 160m-10m. I was also able to complete several nice regional operating awards (Worked All Europe TOP Plaque, Worked All VK Call Areas, and Worked All Africa) as well as upgrading my DXCC Challenge Award to the 1,500 Band Country level. Anita completed her JARL JCC Award (she worked 100+ Cities in Japan) as well as her Worked All States Triple Play Award (all states on SSB, CW, and Digital via LoTW).
Anita and I had a lot of fun with Amateur Radio in 2014. We look forward to another great year of HAM Radio fun in 2015. We hope to share some of what we learn and our experiences with our readers here on our Blog.
– Fred, AB1OC