St. Petersburg Amateur Radio Club

Posts filed under Contesting

Field Day 2017

Join us June 23rd, 24th and 25th at the SPARC club house for this year’s ARRL FD activities.

2016 SPARC Field Day

Our goal is not a big score, but for everyone to take part and experience station setup and getting on the air.

  • Field Day setup begins on Friday at 2:00PM. We will begin station configuration. This includes tables, antennas, radios, computers, and power.
  • Saturday morning, beginning at 10:00AM, we will finish station setup and verify all systems are go. We will form Ad Hoc committees to take care of the operating schedule, food and any other necessities.
  • The event starts Saturday afternoon at 2:00PM. Let the fun begin. Operators of all experience levels are welcome to operate. CW/Digital/SSB operating positions will be available at various times of the day. If enough operators are available, we can keep the station open a full 24 hours. Remember to bring your own headphones.
  • Sunday at 2:00PM the operating event ends and station take-down begins. Many hands make light work, so chip in and don’t miss the fun.

The new SPARC FD format should be more fun and less hassle for all members. Look forward to seeing everyone there.

Enjoying the Dayton Hamvention Without Actually Going

Anyone that has been involved with amateur radio for any period of time has most likely heard tales of the Dayton Hamvention. If you have never been, it is an event unlike anything you can imagine. Rows and rows of tables in the outdoor area where you can find most anything you desire related to this wonderful hobby. Inside is crammed full of vendors with all the latest gear. Going to Dayton is something every ham should do at least once in their ham radio experience. Dayton also has extra-curricular activities such as Contest University, banquets for DX’ers, DStar, AMSAT, Contesting and on. But, what if you cannot get to Dayton? What if cramming yourself along with 25,000 others into the inside buildings to hide from the frequent Spring rains in Dayton is not your cup of tea? Whatever the reason you cannot get to Dayton, that does not mean you cannot experience some part of it.

Through the wonders of technology, there are several ways to experience Dayton from afar. While it is certainly NOT the same as being there, you can experience some of the wonder that is the Dayton Hamvention from the comforts of your own home. Read on to see how to see some of these online opportunities.

First up is Contest University. Contest University brings together some of the World’s best contesters to conduct training for everyone interested in radiosport. Thanks to Icom, you can watch most of Contest University online. Click here for a full schedule of events starting Thursday at 8:00 AM. You can use the same link for the DStar events on Friday.

As far as the actual hamfest itself, you can watch live streaming of the hamfest via W5KUB.COM. Tom W5KUB has been streaming the hamfest live for several years. He has a table inside the commercial area and does interviews and walk-a-rounds to allow folks watching at home to get a feel for the happenings in Dayton. A nice benefit is the chat room where folks can share the experience with others and win nice door prizes all donated by vendors. There is absolutely no charge for this service but you are certainly encouraged to make a donation (especially if you win a prize). You can find all the information about the live streaming event at

There you have it. While it is not the same as being there, you can still experience some of what the Dayton Hamvention has to offer from the comforts of your own home.

FQP: A Big Struggle, A Big Success

By Bob Wanek N2ESP

This year, SPARC contest station W4TA participated in the Florida QSO Party with a special 1×1 call: W4S. 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the FQP. In celebration, twenty Florida stations were given special 1×1 calls such that the proper suffixes, when combined together, spell out FLORIDA SUN as part of this year’s FQP spelling bee. That means that the rest of the country was looking for us.

N4RI works the CW station [N2ESPhoto]

Things started slowly for the CW station on 40M while the SSB station took off like a rocket on 20M. It’s safe to say propagation was equally poor for all event participants. Having amplifiers to drive our new antenna system enabled us to be heard around the country. We worked all 50 states and 8 of the 9 Canadian provinces, with a few DX countries thrown in for good luck. We were also fortunate to work SPARC member Lisa KC1YL who was at her northern QTH in CT. Thanks for the Q Lisa.

The FQP started Saturday at noon, and so did the food. Many thanks to Tom W4CU for the crockpot of chili and to Bob WB4MCF for the donuts. Sunday morning we were treated to fresh bagels courtesy of Tom NY4I.

KB8ESY (L) backup logging while N4GD (R) working the phone station [N2ESPhoto]

SPARC has a policy of encouraging newcomers to our hobby. We invite new hams and first timers to join us in the fun. While this can have a short term negative effect (on our score) the long term effect is very positive. In this sprit, Dave KR4U told us of his five minute QSO. We all looked at him in amazement, as Dave is a proficient CW operator. We all know that propagation was lame at best with lots of QSB. But five minutes? Must have been a lot of fills…FIVE MINUTES? Dave went on to explain that he was calling CQ FQP and a station returned around 5 WPM. Dave reduced his speed and sent our exchange. What ensued was hi, my name is … my QTH is… my radio is… my WX is… the typical newbie QSO. Dave recognized the situation and kept the QSO going…for five minutes. The toughest 2 points in our log, but worth 1000 QSO quality points. Thanks Dave for acting in the true amateur tradition.

KP2N (L) backup logging while KB8ESY (R) works the phone station [N2ESPhoto]


Operators participating in this event were Bob N2ESP, Dave KR4U, Dee N4GD, Johnnie W4TSP, Paul KA4IOX, Rex, KB8ESY, Ron KP2N, Scotty N4RI, Tom NY4I and Tom W4CU.

The final score indicated 613 CW QSOs and 733 SSB QSOs. A great showing for SPARC as we represented Pinellas County to the ham radio community.

KR4U working CW [W4CU Photo]

The LP antenna headed NW. [N2ESPhoto]


Join Us to Create a Pile Up

This month, join the contesters at SPARC Contest station W4TA as they use the special 1×1 call sign W4S in the Florida QSO Party. The object of the Florida QSO Party is for everyone to work Florida (67 counties) and Florida to work everyone.

This year is the 20th anniversary of the FQP. In celebration, twenty Florida stations have been given special 1×1 calls such that when the proper suffixes are combined together spell out FLORIDA SUN (e.g. SUN = W4S & K4U & W4N). Working the right combination of these stations makes you eligible for the FQP Spelling Bee Award.

SPARC will be operating as W4S for 10 hours (April 29 1600Z (Noon EDT) – 0159Z (9:59 PM EDT) Sunday, April 30 1200Z (8 AM EDT) – 2159Z (5:59 PM EDT) 20 Hours total using both CW and SSB modes. If you would like the opportunity to work the receiving end of a pile up, please sign up with Ron, KP2N.

Additional information on the FQP can be found at:

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