Spartan Sprint - May 2012

Tonight was my first Spartan Sprint since completing the ATS-3b.  Since one of the main reasons I built the ATS was to have a lightweight rig for use in the Spartan Sprint, I was really looking forward to it.  I had decided on a 9v lithium battery for power, but had no idea what to do for a lightweight paddle - the only paddle I own is a Bencher, and that's much too heavy to use if I want to be competitive in the Skinny Division!

The station
My goal was to make at least 20 QSOs, but I fell short with 16 - I'll blame the QRN, as there was a fair bit of static on the bands.  My rig consisted of the ATS-3b, band filters for 20/40/80, new Sony earbuds with volume control (!), a 9v lithium battery, and the paddle described below.  Total weight was 5.2 ounces, or .325 pound.  Not tubby at all, but close to twice as heavy as a real lightweight Spartan Sprint entry.  16 QSOs on a .325 pound rig equates to about 49.23 QSOs/pound - not bad, but probably not good enough to win the Skinny Division.  I'm really looking forward to fall and winter (I know, it's still spring!) for nice quiet bands....with a little luck, I hope to break 30 QSOs before next spring.

Not very durable, but *very* lightweight!
I had a WA1JOS touch paddle board that I'd gotten to use with this rig, but hadn't put together yet, partially because I hadn't decided where to mount the board in the rig's case...or even if I wanted to do that.  Then it hit me:  I can go with an outboard touch paddle.  So, last night I took a small light cardboard box, built and stuffed the board inside, attached 9v and key out leads and glued a couple PC board squares on one corner of the box to use for the pads.  It worked pretty doggone well, and weighs next to nothing.  If I can figure out a way to mount the board that I like, and add a switch to disable the touch pads for times I'm just listening, or want to use a larger paddle, I just might make the addition.  W3DX has added the same board to his ATS-3b by velcro-ing the touch keyer board to the main radio board.  The photos I've seen make it look like the keyer is attached to the micro-processor.

A fun little monthly contest - I wish more folks were active in it.