My HF Journey - So far

Taking a quick look back at my journey into the HF bands and my log book QSL reports.

So my journey into HF so far has definitely been one of evolutions. Prior to the purchase of my FT-991A base station I had started making use of RHR to start making my initial HF QSOs and even started POTA hunting in April of 2023. Unfortunately, it became clear that this was going to be an expensive way to continue and only confirmed my enjoyment of hunting contacts over HF as I racked up my first 150 QSOs in the logbook.

I did everything necessary to get setup to record my QSOs into LotW and QRZ, as I’d previously casually logged UHF/VHS contacts into QRZ but I resolved to logging every HF contact into LotW and I would import into QRZ. I later started uploading my logs to both directly and syncing QSLs from LotW to QRZ.

Thankfully I found WA6JFK was selling his old FT-991A on QRZ and was able to purchase it from him in April of 2023. I purchased an MFJ-2982 antenna and MFJ-1919 tripod from my local HRO store after receiving the radio. This turned out to be an adventure in itself as the matching box had a defective coil clip that took months to get replaced and finally by September of 2023 I was able to get on the air from my QTH. While the antenna supported 80-6m, using my AA-35 Zoom I was only able to really dial in 80, 40 and 17m reliably and 20m with an extremely high SWR on occassion. The other bands had SWR that were well out of range that my rig could handle and I didn’t have an external ATU. Despite this I was able to rack up another 552 QSOs and achieving a number of QRZ awards. After purchasing my Bioenno LiFePO4 batrtery I was able to do my first POTA activation at one of the nearby parks.

After my community landscapers managed to destroy the counterpoise wire kit for the MFJ-2982 I began looking for an alternative while I waited for the replacement wire kit to arrive. After doing some research and watching several video reviews by Bob of the HOA Ham YouTube channel I was happy to pick up a Gabil Radio GRA-7350T and Gabil Radio GRA-ULT01 MK3 tripod, though I purchased before I finally saw his video with the 15% off discount codes. Following his other videos I purchase the banana jacks and 20gauge wire to make the counterpoise for the antenna. Together with my AA-35 Zoom I was able to quickly dial in every band I wanted from 80-10m. I quickly had QSOs in the logbook on 10, 12, 15, 17, 20, 30, 40 and 80m using this new antenna with relative ease to quickly switch bands While I’ve now only had my GRA-7350T for a couple week I have managed to rack up 263 QSOs in the logbook and completed three POTA activations.

I have really found I like the GRA-7350T so much better as a portable antenna option for me. It is small enough to throw in my laptop bag along with my Yoga 11e that I purchased strictly for doing my digital radio work and logging. Using my AA-35 Zoom connected to the laptop via USB I was able to capture the screenshots for each band and record the setup for the GRA-7350T producing a nice playbook that now allows me to quickly switch bands without needing to go through testing with the analyzer every time. I’ve still checked the first few times to confirm but have found the settings to be spot on accurate. I was even able to make contact with the W8S DX Expedition on 15, 17 and 20m bands using this setup. I would have loved to have made the contacts while doing a POTA activation to get the credit as Park to Park, but was unable to make contact when I was out activating the local park and got them while back at the QTH running backyard portable.

Overall I’ve greatly enjoyed my HF journey. While it has been primarily workinmg FT8 digital, I’ve also done some FT4 and occassional SSB. I dont’ see me stopping anytime soon working the HF bands as I continue to pursue various goals. I recently managed to get Worked all Continents on both 17m and 20m bands, which I would like to continue and achieve 5-bands. Under QRZ, I only need a couple states, Alaska and Wyoming, to complete WAS the same from ARRL is much more restrictive and I still have some work to go there and with POTA. I’ve had a small number of operators who seem to only confirm via QRZ though most have confirmed via LotW. I also have a number that appear to not log to either. While I know QRZ does require payment to upload via API, uploading ADIF log files does not require this and LotW is completely free and just takes the process of verification in order to be able to sign and upload your logs. I have been using N3FJP’s Amateur Contact Log after using the ARRL Field Day software while working with the club.

Until then, see you on the airwaves. 73 KQ4AFY

May 30, 2024 Oct 22, 2023
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