I spent the day from 6am-9pm at WN3R's station for the IARU international amateur radio contest. The goal of this contest was to contact as many stations from as many different regions of the world as possible. In particular, major countries had HQ stations and contacts with them counted as multiplier points.
We contacted people from all over the world. In North America, our Alaskan contact was particularly exciting. Also, I was thrilled to hear a contact made with a Croatian station on CW. We worked quite a lot of stations in Eastern Europe and South America, as well as some in the Middle East. I didn't hear any contacts with Japan or Asia, but I wasn't standing by the radio the whole time. We did contact W1AW (the USA HQ station), though, which was fun for me since I never was able to contact W1AW on field day.
We did CW (Morse code) and SSB voice on the 80, 40, 20, and 15 meter bands. We used a beam antenna, which meant we projected our signal in a strong beam of signal in the desired direction. This map (generated with AA6Z's AzMap program) shows what degrees we would need to turn the antenna to talk to different countries. For example, to talk to someone in Ireland, we would rotate the antenna 50 degrees. By the way, this kind of map is called an azimuthal projection, since it shows the world from the perspective of a certain point.
Besides the contest, I had a lot of other great learning experiences. I got to see some impressive antennas and learn about how they are coordinated with the station. I was also taught how to solder a coax jumper cable for use between different pieces of radio equipment. We started off with a plain cable, two connectors, and ended up with a neatly made and useful cable with connectors. We had to cut the insulation, trim the copper conductor braid and wrap it back over the insulation sleeve, fit on the inner part of the connector, cut the inner insulator, tin the inner conductor with solder, fit on the outer piece of the connector and screw it onto the inner piece, and then solder the inner conductor to the pin of the connector and trim the end. Even though my soldering job was messy, the final product worked and had no shorts. It was a successfully prepared cable!
I also got to test a 160 meter antenna, got advice on learning cw, and saw some old Heathkit radios (both inside and out). It was a great day and everyone had a nice time. I was finally able to relax and enjoy myself :) We were out of town and out among the trees, deer, and quiet. Ahhh...
The results are in: we made 985 contacts in 24 hours. Not bad :D
I love ham radio.