All posts by Jamey Finchum

Newly licensed technician in October of 2015, upgraded to general in November of 2015 and finally upgraded to Extra in May of 2016 all through the NARC classes - which are fantastic classes! I don't have any background in radios or electronics, so this is all new to me and I'm learning new things every day. I've recently started using PSK with Fred's (AB1OC) help and am slowly learning CW.My station:Icom IC-7100 Vertical Dipole (20 meters) LDG AT-100ProII Autotuner DX Lab Suite on Windows 1073,Jamey (AC1DC)

Member Spotlight – Jamey, AC1DC (Formerly KC1ENX)

I am very new to Amateur Radio and came into the hobby almost by accident. A few years ago I had been looking into better communication while out hiking after myself and Abby (AB1BY) were separated from the rest of our hiking party coming down Mount Washington.  We ended up coming down in the dark – with headlamps – and were okay, but we were frustrated that we could not let the rest of our party know we were oka but just slow.

I started searching the web trying to learn more about FRS/GMRS, CB radio and anything else that might work. During my search the Nashua Area Radio Club website came up and they had a licensing class coming up… the rest is history!

Speaking of history, let me tell you a little about myself that is non-ham related. I have worked as a tennis professional for the past 25 or so years. I am the current Director of Junior Development at the Longfellow Tennis & Health Club in Wayland, MA. We have one of the largest junior programs in the north east US and I truly love my job! I also work as a National Trainer for the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and travel to other clubs around the country to help educate other pros on the teachings of junior tennis.

KC1ENX, KC1FFX, and AB1BYI have two harmonics, Connor, KC1FFX and Abby, AB1BY. Both are licensed amateur radio operators. The three of us have not yet been able to convince my XYL, Gretchen, to get licensed… but, we keep trying!

KC1ENX, KC1FFX, and AB1BY

Outside of tennis and Ham Radio, I enjoy hiking, camping, kayaking (even when not rescuing HABs), canoeing and pretty much any other outdoor activities. I also have a love for motorcycling, but can no longer ride due to an inner ear disease which affects my balance. I have ridden in a few Iron Butt (Minute Man 1000) rides – think of a big, long distance scavenger hunt! One year I rode over 1300 miles in 24 hours. I loved riding and would ride rain or shine for many years. Both kids also enjoyed many adventures on the bike!

 

As far as my interests in Amateur Radio I have many. I could be diagnosed with Ham Radio ADD. There is just too much to learn and enjoy in the hobby! I really enjoy working mobile HF on my Icom 7100 and Tar Heel II antenna. I also enjoy contesting – especially on a good station like at Fred’s AB1OC and Anita’s AB1QB QTH. My favorite activity is portable operations. I have enjoyed Summits on the Air, Parks on the Air and sometimes just getting out with the kids and throwing up an antenna and operating. I am learning new things about this hobby every day.

As a new Ham, I am always curious to learn more about this great hobby and I consider myself very lucky for having found the Nashua Area Radio Society. I’m honestly not sure I would still be on the air if it weren’t for the all of the club’s activities and enthusiastic members.

Jamey, AC1DC

New Hampshire QSO Party

This past weekend Fred (AB1OC) and I (KC1ENX) participated in the New Hampshire QSO Party in the multi-op high power category operating from Fred (AB1OC) and Anita’s (AB1QB) shack using the club call sign (N1FD). We had originally planned to be a mobile operation but discovered there wasn’t a category for mobile, multi-op stations so decided to see what damage we could do from Fred and Anita’s QTH.

This was my first “real” contest. At least in the sense that I would be working more than a few hours at a time over a span of two days. The QSO Party started at 12 pm on Saturday and ran until 12 am on Sunday and then resumed on Sunday at 12 pm and ran until 6 pm Sunday. I was pretty excited and didn’t know quite what to expect. I have done the ARRL’s Rookie Roundups (SSB Voice, RTTY, and CW) in the past with the club, but those are much shorter in length. I was ready to step it up a level!

KC1ENX taking a break while AB1OC operates

Fred got the ball rolling on Saturday and shortly passed the control over to me. Anyone that has worked at Fred and Anita’s QTH it doesn’t take long to create a pile-up and it sure didn’t! Fred and I worked hard all day on Saturday until things started to dry up a bit on Saturday night around 11 pm. I decided to get a good nights sleep and headed home around 11:30 pm. Driving home, I decided to check the bands to see if anyone else was working the QSO party hard. I was shocked to hear a “CQ NH QSO Party” being called on 40 meters at close to midnight! My heart skipped a beat as I was sure someone else was working until the very end of the night! I should have recognized the voice as I then heard, “N1FD“.  Fred had decided to work a few more stations – learning a lesson from the 13 Colonies Event to never give up!

As I drove back to Fred and Anita’s on Sunday I heard Fred’s booming signal coming through on 20 meters. He got started as soon as the clock struck 12 pm. He let me take over shortly after my arrival and things were pretty busy for the whole day.

We ended up making 1,464 QSOs in 18 hours for a total score of 102,410 points! We almost had a WAS missing out by three states – Alaska, Delaware, and Maine. We worked all the Canadian provinces except for two and had many DX contacts as well! Not only did we finish with a pretty impressive score, but I learned a ton!

So Close to a WAS! - New Hampshire QSO Party
So close to a WAS!

Here are just a few of the things I learned from the weekend:

QRP

I have a newfound respect for these guys. I know the saying, “Life’s too short for QRP” but some of these guys easily broke a pileup and the great thing was the excitement they had when they did make contact. One guy actually exclaimed, “yoo-hoo!” on the air when I came back to him with his signal report.

USE PHONETICS

You make thing your signal is strong and very readable, but when there is QSB and QRM all around you, it really helps to speed things up to give call signs in phonetics.

KEEP IT SHORT

Obviously, we were trying to get as many QSOs in as possible in an allotted amount of time and sometimes people wanted to give a lot of unnecessary information. Fred taught me how to politely move things along without being rude. I did give extra time to a lot of the Florida operators who were affected by the hurricane and had just got their stations back up on the air, but I tried to keep things short for other QSOs.

SUPER CHECK PARTIAL

This is part of N1MM logger and it was fantastic in keeping things moving. If you catch part of a call sign and type it in with a “?” for letters you are unsure of it will give you a list of callsigns. This saved me a lot of time on many, many QSOs.

MULTIPLIERS ARE IMPORTANT

As the QSO Party went on we could check on N1MM+ the multipliers that we had and the ones that were missing. This allowed us to listen for the call signs from the areas that we still needed. We ended up getting one of our multipliers in the last couple of hours of the contest!

A GREAT STATION REALLY HELPS!

Anyone that has operated at Fred (AB1OC) and Anita’s (AB1QB) QTH knows that they have an amazing setup. Everything there is top notch.  Besides the great transceivers, yagis, power and everything else the other thing I really liked was the receive antenna. This allowed us to quickly change our listening direction and really pick out the weak signals quickly.

I would highly recommend working a QSO Party to get your feet wet in contesting. It is definitely long hours, but you are not working a full 24 or 48 hours which gives you some time for a good nights sleep. I really enjoyed the QSO Party and would like to thank Fred (AB1OC) and Anita (AB1QB) for putting up with me for so many hours. It does make it a lot more fun when you have a friend to work with you and show you the ropes.  I’m already looking forward to my next contest opportunity!

Jamey, KC1ENX

SOTA/POTA Activation of Mount Washington (6,288′)

In the winter I really enjoy operating from my shack. But in the summer I’m finding that I really love operating mobile and portable – getting out in the great outdoors. I’m very excited about our upcoming SOTA/POTA activation of Mount Washington on Saturday, August 26th, 2017. If you enjoy portable or mobile operation or even just being outdoors with great people this is the event for you!

The top of Mount Washington sits at 6,288 feet above sea level. It is the highest peak east of the Mississippi and north of the Carolinas and is known for some of the “worst weather in the world”.  We’re hoping that doesn’t hold true on the 26th. Don’t let the weather or the altitude deter you as there are several ways up the mountain.

The Mount Washington Cog Railway:

 

SOTA - The Mount Washington Cog Railway
The Mount Washington Cog Railway

The unique way up the mountain is from the Mount Washington Cog Railway. Mt. Washington’s cog railway is the world’s first mountain climbing cog railway. Also, it is the second steepest rack railway in the world with an average grade of 25% and a maximum grade of over 37%!

The Mount Washington Cog Railway Access Road is located off Rte. 302 in Bretton Woods and trips begin at 8:00 am and run through 4:30 pm. Tickets can be purchased in advance on their website.

Drive Yourself:

 

SOTA - Mount Washington Auto Road
Mount Washington Auto Road

The Mount Washington Auto Road is located in Gorham, New Hampshire on the other side of the mountain from the Cog Railway. The auto road is open from 7:30 am until 6:00 pm on August 26th and rates start at $29 for a car and driver and go up from there.

This drive is not for the faint of heart! There are panoramic views and you will travel through four distinct climate zones on your way up the Northeast’s highest peak. If you are not comfortable with heights or narrow winding roads without guard rails you may want to check out the guided tours or the hiker’s shuttle to the top.

Please note that there are some vehicle restrictions that you want to check out if you plan to drive yourself.

Guided Tours:

 

SOTA - Tours of Mount Washington
Tours of Mount Washington

Guided tours start at the base of the Mount Washington Auto Road beginning at 8:30 am and you have the option of a two hour guided tour or three hour guided tour. The disadvantage of the guided tours is that you are not on your own schedule and time at the top is limited.

The tours do sell out so you will want to book your tickets early if this is the option for you.

Hiker Shuttle:

 

SOTA - Hiker's Shuttle
Hiker’s Shuttle

Another way up/down the mountain is the Hiker Shuttle.  The Hiker Shuttle leaves from the Stage Office at the base of the Mount Washington Auto Road beginning at 9:00 am. The shuttle then leaves on an as-needed basis, so waits of an hour or more may be necessary. The one way down option can be a little tricky as rides down are sold on a first come, first served basis.

Hiking:

 

SOTA - Connor (KC1GGX) descending via Tuckerman's Ravine trail
Connor (KC1GGX) descending via Tuckerman’s Ravine trail

The final way up/down the mountain is hiking the mountain. Although this may not be for everyone – this is a very strenuous hike – it is the most rewarding.

There are two starting points for getting up Mount Washington – the east face and west face of the mountain. The east face trails begin at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center which has information and basic rooms available for rent. Reservations in advance are a must!

The East Face:

 

SOTA - East Face of Mt. Washington
East Face of Mt. Washington

The easiest trail (easiest is probably not the right term for any trail on Mount Washington) on the east face of the mountain is Tuckerman’s Ravine for both the ascent and descent. Lion’s Head is the same distance, but slightly steeper. It is not the best for a descent. Boott Spur is another option, which is not any more difficult than the other trails but is much longer. The benefit of this trail is the awesome views!

SOTA - Abby (AB1BY) on Lion's Head
Abby (AB1BY) on Lion’s Head

West Face:

 

SOTA - West Face of Mt. Washington
West Face of Mt. Washington

The trails on the west face of Mount Washington begin from Mount Washington Cog Railway and offers two trails, the Jewell Trail and Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail. The Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail ascends via Lake of the Cloud Hut where you can stop and get a hot coffee, hot chocolate, water or some snacks… not to mention the fantastic views!

SOTA - Lake of the Clouds Hut
Lake of the Clouds Hut

If you are planning on hiking an early start is an absolute must, especially if you plan to have any time to operate on the summit. Club members that are planning to hike please let me know. It would be fun to have a group to hike with as well as safer for everyone involved.

Accommodations:

 

There are many accommodations in the area ranging from beautiful hotels to primitive camping areas. Again, booking in advance is a must! Many of the camping areas in the White Mountain National Forest are booked on a first come, first served basis. They do not take reservations in advance. My family is planning on camping out on Friday and Saturday night in the area. We will probably be at the Roaring Brook Campground. We’d be happy to have people join us!

Join in on the Fun!

Lastly, the Finchum’s have a tradition of celebrating any major peaks with a celebratory Moxie the top and we invite you to join us in toasting at the top!

SOTA - Toast at the Summit of Mount Washington
KC1GGX, KC1ENX, and AB1BY Celebrate with a Moxie Toast at the Summit of Mount Washington

SOTA/POTA Activation on Mt. Pack Monadnock Coming Up

On Saturday, June 10th we’ll be activating Miller State Park (POTA KFF-2662) and Mt. Pack Monadnock (SOTA W1/HA-041) in Peterborough, NH. This is also the date of the ARRL’s June VHF contest!  Miller State Park does have an auto road up Pack Monadnock and there is a $4 fee per person.  There are picnic tables at the top if you would like to pack a lunch. I am thinking we should plan on arriving at 11:00 am and hopefully set up and ready to go by 12:00 pm.

This should be a great opportunity for a wide range of our members to get out and activate portable. With three activities going on we should have something to tickle your fancy. Below is a quick description of each activity with links for more in depth information.

SOTA is an amateur radio award scheme for people who want to get out and operate portable from mountain peaks. A couple of important rules for SOTA are that you can only activate a peak once in a calendar year – so if you’re using your own call sign you won’t be able to activate Pack Monadnock again until 2018 – and you must operate separately from your car (nothing attached – antenna, battery, etc) and you cannot use fossil fuels.  You must operate battery, solar, wind, hydro powered. You may work all modes (CW, digital or voice) on all bands.

POTA (Parks on the Air) is much more lenient, as far as operating possibilities. You, or your vehicle, must be totally within the park and you can operate using fossil fuels (generator or car). Parks can be activated more than once in a calendar year and QSOs are cumulative for the park if you return. Here is a link to a quick description for getting started with POTA. You may work all modes (CW, digital or voice) on all bands.

ARRL June VHF contest begins on Saturday at 2:00 pm and runs through Sunday at 11:00 pm.  I have never participated in a VHF contest, but being on top of a mountain can only help!

In order to keep some organization to the activation, I have created a Dropbox file for members to sign up and list any equipment they would be willing to bring.

Let me know if you have any questions, suggestions, etc.

73,

Jamey KC1ENX