After a year or so of trying, I finally got the ARRL’s WAS award. For those who don’t know, WAS stands for Worked All States. In order to get the award you have to prove that you talked to someone in every state in the US. You can prove it by either getting QSL cards and having them checked and/or using Logbook of the world (LoTW).
ARRL has an online QSL service that allows operators to upload their logbooks into a giant database. After the log is uploaded, the contacts are crossed checked against other uploaded logs from other operators. If a match is found then the contact is confirmed. Those confirmations can add up and be used for all sorts of awards that the ARRL and CQ.
Before LoTW you would have to use QSL cards that involving printing, sorting, labeling and mailing. Most people want a SASE (Seld Addressed Stamped Envelope) to be included with the card. For other countries, you could save some money by sending the card through the Bureau. With LoTW it makes the process much easier, After setting up an account and confirming it, you can sign and upload logs to LoTW. No cards, SASE, postage necessary.
I wish that all operators would use LoTW. Some choose not to use it for one reason or another. Some people that don’t use it give the excuse that it’s too hard to register and use. I wouldn’t tell you that it’s easy but it’s not that difficult if you follow directions on the ARRL website. It seems difficult because of the security involved in making sure that you ARE the operator uploading the log and that the log belongs to you. If it wasn’t secure then LoTW couldn’t be trusted so that is why I support what the ARRL is doing.
So if you don’t have an account and you use an electronic logging, I strongly suggest getting an account with LoTW
I have the Basic WAS award. It just means that I made contact with every state. It doesn’t matter how you did it. You can get multiple WAS awards for each band and mode. You can the triple play award by working each state using Morse code, Voice and Digital.
Hopefully I can get triple play by the end of the year.
The Quick Way!
You can get the WAS award by casual contact with operators but if you want to make things go faster, there is a couple things you can do to make getting the award a lot easier.
RBN (Reverse Beacon Network) – With SDR technology, computers are scanning the bands and looking for CW contacts. If someone is calling CQ, there is a good chance that an SDR receiver heard it and posted (spotted) your CQ on the internet for all to see. You can use RBN to find state and/or country you need.
Ham Spots – This website collects and indexes the “Spots” from all different networks. It allows you to pick and choose who to make contact with without having to search the bands
Those two services depending on operators “Spotting” other operators. Even though the CW contacts are automatic. The state or country you want to make contact with might now be on the air. You can schedule (sked) a contact with an operator from the state or country needed.
K3UK’s sked page – This is an online chatroom/forum that allows you to schedule contact with other ops in the room. You will both get on the air, make contact, log it and then return to the website to work more
Over the Air Nets – There are many nets on the air that are meant for chasing awards. You check in and wait your turn to make contact with another operator on the net and vise verse. One that comes to mind is the OMISS Net
Hope to catch you on the air. If you need Massachusetts for anything, you can contact me and I will set time aside to help you!
Thanks for reading,
That’s right! I went to ARRL HQ again. With it being in reasonable distance from my QTH, how can I NOT resist on going there often. I try to go at least once a year. I also try to see and or do something different everytime I go. Last year when I went down, the Lab where they test a lot of the things you read in QST was being remodeled so I made it a point to go back when it was operational again.
Here is ARRL HQ which is located directly behind the Hiram Percy Maxim W1AW building. They have scheduled tours provided by a great bunch of Volunteers whom take pride in their work. I had the same person as last time which was Dan Arnold (W1CNI) who gave the tour. Since I was the only one there, I only expressed interest in the lab and wanted to visit the VEC so I can take care of some VE stuff. I figured to kill two birds with one stone. If you didn’t read about the last time I went to ARRL HQ, Read about it here
Here is just a part of the ARRL Lab. At lot about the product reviews you read have most likely been tested here.
Here is where a lot of tests take place. The walls, floor and ceiling are lined with metal and RF absorbing material. You also see a lot of equipment that I wish I had (A HP Network Analyzer would look really good on my bench). In the photo is Ed Hare (W1RFI) who does a lot of work in the lab and is very passionate concerning RFI (Hence the call). Very nice person to talk with and I’m glad he does what he does and he’s an asset for the League.
This is why I came down. It’s the W1AW building. It’s where all the toys are at.
Looks small but it’s packed full of fun. In the background you’ll see one of the many towers on the property. At one point this was a lonely building on a hill and now it has neighborhoods all around it and with HQ in the back. I Guess nobody can complain about the towers since they were there before their house was.
MORE TOWERS!!! Oh man I wish I had just one tower…. Okay, maybe two. A lot of these are fixed beams that are used for the ARRL Bulletins and some of them are on rotors to be pointed where needed.
Here is studio one. You have a Yeasu FTdx9000D in the foreground and you have the Icom IC-7700 in the background. I wanted to use the 7700 because of the PR-781 microphone that was attached to it. I was interested in how they hooked it up. Since I am Biased towards the Yeasu, I got to say that I really like the 7700 If by some miracle I have that kind of money the throw at a rig, I would consider getting the IC-7700 over its Yaesu counterpart. I like the nice clear screen, The VFO knob with nice and smooth, All the important adjustment that are needed are up front, None of that menu driven stuff and the audio sounded great coming out of it.
Here I am at the control of the IC-7700. Muahahahahah!! I started off on 20M SSB calling CQ, the band wasn’t open so I made a lot of US contacts. I then went on 15M finding that it also was just as dead. Not sure if I was allowed to but I played with the Rotor and had the 4 El beam pointing South East (135 Degrees) and got a lot of people calling with the occasional pileup. It was great hearing some people say, “I always wanted to make contact with W1AW. This is my first time!” I’ve also heard a couple of people tell me their W1AW stories. It’s also fun when Saudi Stations are calling me (Well… W1AW) when I’m the one fighting in pileups to contact them.
Overall has a really fun day trip. Wish I could have stayed a lot longer but was worth it. Maybe I can squeeze in another trip. If you happen to be in the Hartford CT area or you know you’re going to be. Give the ARRL a call to make sure they will be ready when you get there. Getting to use the W1AW call is fun because most times there is a pileup
After a year of chasing stations, waiting hours in pile-ups, chasing LoTW DX ops and checking LoTW whenever I uploaded my logs. I finally got enough entities to apply for my DXCC award.
Earlier this week I have DX Labs Spot collector running and with 20m acting the way it has been for the past week (very good), I saw a couple stations being spotted that I’ve never worked on before. I got to work ZL2WL (Wayne, New Zealand) and MD0CCE (Bob, Isle Of Man). MD0CCE uses LoTW and confirmed to be my 100th entity. Then last night I made contact with MW0ZZK (Steve, Wales) that confirmed my 101 entity.
Now I need to apply and get the paper. Then I’ll start working on 5-Band DXCC and finishing up my WAS
Thanks to all who use LoTW!
Edit 6/7/2012: I submitted my application using only LoTW credit and using the LoTW website on 6/1/12 and I got the actual certificate in today.
I will be participating in Field Day this year with the folks from the Hampden County Radio Assocation ( HCRA ). I’m excited because I will be using my FT-950 as the site’s HF Digital station (Mostly PSK, RTTY). So if you live or will be in the Western Mass area on the 25th and 26th of June and want to see Field Day up close, we’re going to be at Dufresne Recreation Area in Granby, Massachusetts. All are welcomed, licensed or not. Please visit the Field Day page on HCRA’s website. Also check out pictures and data from prior years
For those who don’t know about Field Day, It’s basically an event that takes place on the 4th weekend of June to test emergency communications and it’s deployment. Over 30,000 operators across US try to communicate with as many other field day operators as possible. Points are awarded to operators and/or clubs that make contacts and perform other tasks that would allow for more points ( For example: media coverage, getting Non Hams on the air [GOTA], Copying/fowarding messages). Some Hams treat this as contest even though the ARRL considers it an exercise. Whatever the case may be, it’s really fun and it can get you out of the house.
I’ve participated in Field Day multiple times at multiple hosts over the years. I’ve had a Digital setup back in 2004 and had a blast. I recall being very busy using digital back then, I hope that it’s even more popular this year compared to 2004 and hope to be more busy making contacts all over HF.
What: ARRL Field Day Hosted By the Hampden County Radios Association
When: Saturday, June 25th, at 14:00 (2pm), untill Sunday, June 26th
Where: Dufresne Recreation Area, Granby MA, 01033
Why: Because it’s fun, social and you get to operate all different type of equipment.
Hope to hear or see you at Field Day!!
In April I decided to apply to be a VE with the ARRL VEC. Reason that I want to be a VE is that at some point (after obtaining my extra class license), I would like to help out with testing hams. Sort of a way to give back.
The process of becoming a ARRL VE is actually quite easy. All you need to do is to go to the ARRL VE Website, Download the manual, Download the application and question form, Read and understand the manual, fill out the application, answer the questions using the manual, either mail or scan to PDF and e-mail the application with the completed questions to the ARRL. According to the ARRL VEC, they will check your application and answer sheet, make sure you meet the requirements and issue you a certificate and VE badge that must be worn at VE Sessions. They will not tell you how many you got right or wrong and expect a wait time from 3 to 6 weeks. What ARRL does is hold onto the applications so they can print and mail everything at one time. From what I was told is that they print everything towards the end of the month so if you apply around that time, it could be in the next months pool.
After that time hopefully you will get one of these.
So if your part of a VE Team in the Pioneer valley MA and/or Northern Hartford county CT that uses ARRL VEC and need an extra VE. Depending on the schedule, I could help administer tests. Please use my contact page. At the time I was writing this I passed my element 4 test and now have an extra class license. Once the FCC ULS updates I will tell the ARRL VEC of my upgrade and will carry around my license until I get a sticker or new badge from the ARRL.
Edit (6/15/2011) – I can’t believe how many people are googling for the answers to the VE questionnaire. It’s not really that hard if you think about it. All of the answers are IN the manual. If you’re trying to answer the questions without reading the manual, it’s going to be a lot harder. I also think that some of the questions are worded in a way so you have to think about it and form your answer based on what you thought. It’s not a copy and paste kind of test.
Having Friday off from work I planned to go back to the ARRL HQ located in Newington CT. This time I took a tour and got to operate W1AW which was exciting. Upon arrival you have to check in with the secretary for either a tour and/or use of W1AW. I choose to take the tour since I’m interested . My tour guide was a very nice gentleman named Dan Arnold (W1CNI) who is a volunteer tour guide. He took me around the ARRL headquaters to different parts and departments of the building.
These Ham Aid Go Kits consist of a couple of transceivers to help provide communications to disaster areas. Haiti and Louisiana were just a couple of places that received kits. Behind the partition are kits ready to be sent. It’s great to see that at least something is being sent.
Another area that I was shown was the QSL Department.
Looks sort of like an old style mail room. It’s rose-annes job to sort all the QSL cards that come into the ARRL Headquaters by country destination, box them up and prepare them for shipping all around the world. It’s a nice sight to see that people are still using QSL cards in the electronic age where everything is “E” this and “E” that. I would rather get a QSL card in the mail than a E-QSL card.
The one area I wanted to see inside ARRL headquaters is the lab. However the lab is undergoing renovations and was completely gutted. They hope for completion in early April. So maybe another time I will go back to check out the lab.
(Should have taken a picture of the building… Doi!)
Inside W1AW is some history on the ARRL’s Co-Founder, Hiram Percy Maxim. There is also 3 studios filled with transceivers, D-Star/Echolink desk and a bank of equipment used for transmissions of their bulletins. Licensed Amateurs are allow to use some of the equipment in W1AW. I got to operate 15meters SSB.
Here I am operating 15M at W1AW. It’s a little (just a little) nerve racking operating their equipment. First off, It’s not mine. I didn’t want to hit a wrong switch or change a setting that I was not supposed to. Another thing is that it’s hard to say a different call other than your own. But after a couple of minutes I worked Aruba, Italy and England. I just wish I had the equipment they had.
While at ARRL I ran into four nice people that are members of a club that I recently joined. It’s a small New England world. One of which I took a class that he taught (No, Not grammer class!) on Ham radio back in the late 90′s.
Here is some of their equipment they used in broadcasting. So all of the CW runs and bulletins originate here.
Here is the desk with their D-Star equipment and Echolink setup.
Overall I had a great day and If time allotted, I would have stayed a lot longer and snapped more photos. If your a ARRL member and in the area during the weekday, I would stop in and either visit and/or take a tour.