Inaugural AM Rally a Hit
Inaugural AM Rally a Hit! Participants Log Nearly 1,500 Contacts
The numbers are in, and the first AM Rally April 1-3 was a huge success, with nearly 1,500 contacts reported on the 72 logs submitted. Unique call signs logged numbered 665. Event co-organizer Clark Burgard, N1BCG, feels the actual number of contacts was quite a bit larger, because not all participants submitted logs, although logs continue to trickle in past the entry deadline. Burgard said he’s been hearing a lot of newcomers on AM lately, and he believes the AM Rally is a factor.
“Perhaps the most endearing moments were an exchange between an op who got his General and an IC-7300 just in time for the event, and a report from an old timer, who said that he’d ‘dusted off my DX-100 and got her ready a week early for the Rally. First time back on AM since 1969,’” Burgard recounted. “This was just a sample of the positive spirit shared that weekend.”
Burgard said that several AM “tall ships” anchored throughout the bands greeted newcomers and helped all to make some easy contacts.
The top stations in terms of total contacts were W1AW at ARRL Headquarters in Connecticut, and Steve Cloutier, WA1QIX, and Stephen Harris, KB1VWC, both in Massachusetts, respectively. W1AW and Cloutier — an AM Rally co-organizer with Burgard and others — are ineligible to receive certificates, however.
W1AW logged 178 contacts in 29 states, while WA1QIX made 138 contacts in 26 states, and KB1VWC snagged 132 contacts in 28 states. Rounding out the Top Five were inveterate AMer Paul Courson, WA3VJB, in Maryland, with 121 contacts in 28 states, and John Bogath, N2BE, in New Jersey, with 57 contacts in 29 states. Some of the stations submitting logs worked just a single contact.
“Considering the solar flare which wiped out the lower bands for a significant portion of the event, it was an amazing turnout,” Cloutier told ARRL. “For the future, it would be better to have the event in February — better propagation and less static, and a good thing to cure cabin fever.” (Story continues after sidebar.)
The View from W1AW
W1AW operator and ARRL Lab Test Engineer Bob Allison, WB1GCM, offered his observations about working the AM Rally from the Maxim Memorial Station.
Throughout the weekend, the AM windows were very busy with radio amateurs operating AM mode using vintage vacuum-tube and solid-state equipment. Transmitters heard ranged from World War II-era BC-610s to Johnson Desk Kilowatts and other heavy metal, such as converted AM broadcast transmitters and solid-state homebrew units using Class E modulation. Plenty of name-brand transceivers were on the air, and many operators were excited to use AM for the first time. The on-air atmosphere was relaxed and cordial, with operators sharing their ham radio experiences and equipment used.
In the past couple of years, many manufacturers of Amateur Radio transceivers have made their equipment sound good and talk well on AM, without having to make complicated adjustments. That’s great!
W1AW was active on 80, 40, 20, and 15 meters, making 177 contacts. Equipment consisted of a K7DYY Super Senior 80/40-meter transmitter, with external speech compressor and equalizer, a Collins 75S-1 receiver, and a dipole antenna suspended above ARRL Headquarters. A Johnson Valiant transmitter and National NC-303 receiver were also put on the air for a few contacts.
ARRL thanks AM Rally organizers Clark Burgard, N1BCG; Brian Kress, KB3WFV, and Steve Cloutier, WA1QIX.
Burgard said that, while W1AW and WA1QIX won’t be receiving certificates, “their contributions to the successful event are significant, just as was the dedication of all participants. I’m sure there are stories of hardened determination and profound sacrifice that weekend!”
Harris topped the field in Category A, vacuum-tube commercial AM amateur equipment (KW1, 32V3, DX-100, etc.). Only a few stations entered in Class B — homebrew, largely vacuum-tube transmitter, and Rex Greenwell, K0KP, in Minnesota, was the top scorer. W1AW was number 1 in Category C — commercially built solid-state transmitter, although the top station eligible for a certificate in that class was David Hockaday, WB4IUY, in North Carolina.
Just two stations entered in Category D — homebrew solid-state transmitter: WA1QIX and KC9HFR, in Wisconsin. Ditto for Class E — hybrid (solid state plus tubes) commercially built transmitter, with WB2JCC in New York, and KM3D in Pennsylvania making a handful of contacts between them. No one entered in Category F — hybrid (solid state + tubes) home-built transmitter. Only three stations turned in logs in Category G — converted AM broadcast transmitter, with WA3VJB topping the field, followed by KC8ZUL in Ohio, and K0SF in Minnesota. In Category H — military transmitting equipment — were five stations, topped by W6SAI, the Bill Orr Legacy Radio Club in Alabama. There were eight entries in Category I — software-based (SDR) Flex, Anan, etc, with KP2XX at number 1.
Three special event stations — N1A, W1G, and W2A — were active during the AM Rally. Some 44% of contacts were made on 75 meters, with 40 meters a close second at 40%, and 20 meters at 13%. Less than 2% of participants reported making contacts on 160 or 15 meters, and none were reported on 10 meters, likely due to poor HF conditions that weekend. Fewer than 1% made contacts on 6 meters.
Burgard said he hopes the AM Rally will turn into an annual event with even greater participation now that it’s left so many positive experiences in its wake. He’s leaving it up to participants to offer suggestions for the 2018 AM Rally.