A Little Night Light Music
Don – K6GHA
I had it in my hand, the Trustee certification for a club station for NG6O arrived by mail at the last day, and minute, from the FCC. It was just in the nick-of-time to operate in the CQ Worldwide WPX CW contest, and run QRP (5 watts) where I was able to make an incredible 14,000 mile contact. And as Paul Harvey use to say, “And now, for the rest of the story”.
The Vanity Call
I got my Extra License and wanted to have my father’s old call as my primary call, I previously wrote about my desire and the process to acquire one. To recap, just think; FCC paperwork, a little luck, and persistence! A list of available vanity calls, and instructions on how to go about the process in obtaining one, is on the W5YI website (http://www.w5yi.org ) as well as the ARRL web site. Some groups charge for this service, but there are ways in which you can apply and do not have to pay for this service.
The Club Call
I had long considered obtaining a club call for contesting purpose for those unique events where a 2×1 call would be desirable. I had looked at many call signs posted and available as vanity calls. My thinking was to apply for one that had ‘character’ as a club call. However, I could never seem to win the toss up of a lot of folks competing for the same call. To make sure I made a good choice, I learned more about the advantages of having a contest station call (or vanity call for that matter). Something to consider in contesting is how long it takes to send and receive the exchange in a contest, for both CW and Phone operation. The shorter, and better sounding, has advantages. Finding a call that sounds good generally contains rhythm elements. They are based in time, spacing, and sound. Both of the ‘Time’ and ‘Sound’ elements make up what is referred to as the Relative Weighting of a call. In CW the number of dots and dashes a letter takes to send [like E = Dit (1) or Y = Dah Dit Dah Dah (4)], and in Phone ops it measures the phonetic weight of the call (like N = NO-VEM-BER = 3). You add these all up for a call sign, and you have its Weight. A distinctive call stands out for its clarity, uniqueness, and brevity. In a contest, those criteria play a big role in speed, ability to copy, or be picked out from a pile-up. To check the weight of your current call you can query your call
(LookUp) on the AE7Q website: http://www.ae7q.com/query/. The page will take your call and return its results in the upper right corner showing both the Phonetic and Morse weight. Club calls are also a bit different in that there are a number of FCC rules and regulations about obtaining and managing one (and only one per licensed operator, this is in FCC 97.5 section 2, amended in 2010). The Club Call is assigned to a licensed operator in the capacity as Trustee. With it are implied responsibilities in forming a club, and maintaining correct records, meeting minutes, and operation. More about club calls and trustee responsibilities, paperwork, and step-by-step application processes
can be found at: http://www.arrl.org/club-call-signs and http://www.w5yi.org/page.php?id=203
In a majority of instances club trustees, and their clubs, dissolve upon their passing (SK) of the owner. Without renewal or trustee transfer, the club call is recycled through the vanity process. In my case, I was notified of an availability of a club call. I decided that its legacy purpose should continue and reflect the intent envisioned by the founder. I felt becoming the trustee for this call was more appropriate than letting the call be released back into the general population. Through email, I contacted the XYL of SK Ham, and worked with her to fill out the required FCC form 605-C. The completion and submission is tedious for getting approval, in this case it included; Change of Trustee request, change of club address,
change of club name, a renewal of the license, recording meeting minutes, and establishing a new board of directors (real licensed folks). This took a few weeks to work through the red tape, and insure all forms and documents were in order for the FCC. Then the wait began for the approval.
My home mail arrives generally about 3pm. This particular Friday’s it included my FCC authorization paperwork as the new Trustee of the new Club Call Sign NG6O. The clubs group is renamed to honor the SK, and is now known as the Fearless Radio Operating Group (FROG). I found myself pretty excited, until I realize that the CQ Worldwide WPX contest is starting at 5pm, in just a minutes. In order to use the new club call for this contest I had some configuration changes to make in the N1MM+ logging software to ensure that correct exchange information is sent. A bit of testing, and the start of the contest happens. Based on my schedule and limited time to operate, a snap decision for power choice (QRP, 5 watts or less), band (20 meters only), and class (Assisted to spot rare DX stations), I make my choice for the contest.
Ok…, 5 watts QRP from the west coast may not be all that great of a choice for super DXing in contest situations, especially with the East Coast Wall of operators, and a majority of contesters running either Low Power (100W) or High Power (1500W), but as it happens that particular Friday night was some of the best propagation to Europe in quite a while. My expectations were low. However, even with my time limited and power, I was amazed at the addictive fun of making the best from a challenging choice. Each contact was well earned. 45 countries, 24 CQ Zones, 178 QSO’s (contacts) logged for the contest (the majority on Friday night), and the one monster long distant contact to North Sulawesi Indonesia. Thank you to the operator at the other end for staying with my repeated calls, and QSO clarifications. Those were good ears at 14,000 miles away. Here’s a map of some of my contacts.
Map courtesy of (http://tools.adventureradio.de/analyzer/ ) phpQW Tool Log Analysis
14,000 miles on the power of a night light.
And as Paul would say, “And now you know the rest of the story”!
My many thanks and continued appreciation go to family and Ham friends of the previous club station owner of NG6O. I hope to represent well in future contests, and keep the call on the air for many years.