My Most Recent QSO's

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Lightning Bolt from Nowhere

I've never worried much about lightning because I use indoor antennas. My Isotrons and the random wire are NOT in the attic of our home. I have those antennas in the same room as my Icom 703. 

The following pictures are NOT of our home. The following pictures are of the house which is three doors down the street from us. The house is now missing about a hundred of its heavy roofing tiles. 

The pictures shown here were taken several days later. The lightening strike happened around 11 PM at night. 

To make a long story short; my neighbors cars are a real mess; they look like they've been through a "hail storm". Some of the roofing tiles were blown clear across the street. The big difference between hail and hard rocks is that they make holes and scratches on everything they touch. I can't imagine the repair bill to remove heavy dents and re-paint at least two vehicles.

I'm very surprised the neighbors home that took a direct hit wasn't set on fire or had major structural damage.

The lightning bolt came straight out of nowhere. It was NOT even raining at the time. We soon discovered the upstairs bathroom lights were not working. A quick trip to the basement breaker box revealed "one" switch needed re-set.

My radio room is in the adjoining room. All my gear appeared to be working normally. The bathroom is directly between my radio room and our small office. All the computers functioned normally, All the lights in both rooms were normal.

Much to my dismay, a few days afterwards when I turned on the Icom 703 to make a quick contact, it wouldn't transmit at all.

I'm fortunate to have only minor damage. 

I'm thinking the coils in the Isotrons had something to do with voltage and amperage getting into the radio. There wasn't damage to anything else in the house.

The Icom service center in Michigan did a wonderful repair job on the rig. Replacement parts were only about six bucks.

I'll be more careful now and always disconnect the antennas as soon as I year the first thunderbolt.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Dayton Hamvention 2016

My friend Eric AC8LJ and I made a quick trip to the Dayton Hamvention yesterday. Our trip (there and back again) on Friday was a good time for me to quickly survey the new gear on the market but to mainly talk with a few hams.

Rick Robinson W8ZT always occupies the same space every year at the Dayton Hamvention . I enjoyed my brief time at Dayton talking to the hams associated with the  WV DX Association 

My specific interest in Ham radio has been, and always will be, small portable QRP CW radio. Yesterday the talk of the town was the spanking new Elecraft KX 2 Sitting around the campfire (WV DX tent) I actually talked to the owner that bought # 43 of the  48 KX2's sold yesterday. I was also able to put my hands on it and spin the dial. Hi Hi

This is a very impressive 10 Watt radio! 

I got the distinct impression (right or wrong) that "software defined radio" is going to capture much of the upcoming ham radio market. I'm quite amazed at the number of rigs I saw with digital dials and visual readouts.

The effectiveness of small Morse code radios never cease to amaze me. All hams have their special niche in the hobby. To me, the greatest thrill of ham radio still continues to be HF QRP CW radio.

I can't think of another mode of radio that allows transmitting from a moving train, kayaking on a lake, sailing on the ocean, or simply sitting around a campfire or operating from a picnic table in the park.

My two purchases at the Hamvention this year were a new t-shirt and a coffee mug with the "ARRL National Parks on the Air " logo.

My thanks again to Rick W8ZT for the comfort he provided us with chairs and cold water when needed. Rick attended our WV Chapter breakfast last week and I hope he continues to do so. I've been watching the live feed from Dayton today. It looks like a great time for all.

My thanks also to Eric AC8LJ for the long drive there and back again.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Hurricane Wave Pool Park Outing

The West Virginia Chapter of the NAQCC club operated from the Hurricane Wave Pool Park on April 19th 2016. We had good weather and had a good time operating from shelter number two in the park. The operators were myself N8ZYA, Dave Higley WV8DH and Jim Stephens NX8Z.

Dave Higley WV8DH

Jim Stephens NX8Z 

Band conditions have been poor during the last few outings of other state chapters and our propagation was no different. Our contacts on 40 meters were all in the 300 mile range and the contacts on 20 meters were all around 700 miles. 

I've always said that radio is a lot like fishing. You never know what you're going to catch until you throw the line in the water. I was happy to work VE4AKI because he was the only Canadian station I've worked in the province of Manitoba. I now have all the contacts necessary for the NAQCC WAVE AWARD.   

Although no DX stations were worked on this outing, I was able to work club member KB5JO in Texas. Two stations were actually worked in that state but the remarkable thing about this contact was that he was using 800 mw to an eighty eight foot doublet. The RST was 599. 

Texas seemed to be popular as I also worked a special event station celebrating 180 years of Texas independence. 

Always a fun time regardless of working two dozen or only eight stations, it was a nice day and we enjoyed the sunshine and camaraderie of like minded hams. Lets all hope for improved band conditions on the next outing.  

Sunday, March 20, 2016

WV Chapter at the Charleston Hamfest

The Charleston Hamfest was at a new location this year and there was a good turnout for the event. The activities this year were at the Emmanuel Baptist Church. Security concerns no longer allowed the hamfest to be held at the previous Army National Guard building near the airport.

The auditorium at the church is large with lots of room for people to wander around with the hopes of finding or selling radio gear. There was a large kitchen also with plenty of food and drink. I think everyone had a good time. My favorite activity was looking at the older tube gear which was abundant at the gathering.

Dave Higley WV8DH brought along his new rig and the associated stuff for setting up in the field. I posted the new WV Chapter Banner on the wall and displayed a couple dozen DX cards on the table. I had the new NAQCC Club video running on my laptop with the hopes of generating interest in QRP CW. I also brought along an external keyer and my favorite paddles.

It was great to see all the local WV Chapter QRP folks at the Hamfest. Eric AC8LJ was selling some items at the fest. I saw Jeff K9ESE, John W8GDP, Craig AB8DY,  Derek KD8ZEN, Mark KM8G, Bill NK8Y, Joe WA8SIE, Paul WV8PR, Charles KB8BFM and Steve KC4URI. Nathan KD8ZSS was awarded a prize for being the youngest Ham (16) at the event! 

Near the end of the hamfest I was asked to introduce the recipient  of this years Kanawha Valley Amateur Radio Operator of the Year Award to Jim Stephenson WV8JS. I was the winner of that award last year. 

The thing I enjoy most at a hamfest is camaraderie of like minded people in the fraternity of ham radio. I added some folks to our mailing list as a result of this years hamfest. 

I also added two new members to the West Virginia Chapter. We welcome Chuck Moles AB8FI and his son Bill KD8WBI to the group and look forward to hearing more from them when they're on the official membership list. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

March NAQCC Newsletter Now Online

The current issue of the NAQCC newsletter is now online. Our monthly newsletter is an excellent summary of the monthly activities of the NAQCC club. Come join us with the fun of portable QRP Morse code operations in the field.

Free lifetime membership to everyone. All we ask is that you spend a few hours every month participating in our activities. So...why haven't you joined yet?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Can you Work 20 Stations this Month?

The NAQCC Club has a neat game every month to encourage our members to make contacts on the HF bands. This month we encourage you to make 20 HF contacts while using your favorite "keys". Notice I used the term "keys" in the above sentence.... 

The specific rules for the event are listed HERE

 In addition to being a fun event, you will be eligible for a club certificate. 

For the certificate this month, the only requirement is that you use two different keys to make those contacts. I plan to use my straight key to make ten contacts and use my Iambic paddles to make the other ten contacts. 

Working twenty stations is very easy to do in a months time. I worked seven stations yesterday and will complete my first ten today. I plan to watch the DX cluster tomorrow and work my next ten stations in a few days time. 

Our monthly "challenges" are usually much more difficult to complete. Should you like the certificate this month, there will never be an easier way to get it. Let me forewarn you however, once you start these monthly games, they will become very addictive.  


Happy Days..... Task Completed !!  (3-4-16) 


Iambic Paddle: (all DX contacts) CO8LY HI8/N3SY S55DX S51WO CT1JOP T77C LZ138LO EA5AR PZ5W TK4LS 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Museum of Radio and Technology

On February the 20th, 2016-  three of our WV Chapter members drove to Huntington West Virginia for our annual Special Event at the Huntington Museum of Radio and Technology. The Museum is about an hours drive from Charleston. We used the club call sign N3AQC. We did our best to make as many contacts with NAQCC members as possible.

Dave Higley WV8DH

Rodney Dillon WB8PMD 

We had a great time despite some very challenging band conditions. The solar flux was only ninety eight, the A index was fifteen and the K index was one. To the club members I was able to hear and work, I salute you for the contact of a lifetime. You should play the lottery as soon as possible! 

I started on the 40 meter band but was soon overwhelmed by the hundreds of participants in the ARRL DX Contest. In about an hour, it became obvious that it was going to take more than five watts to make many contacts. I switched to the 20 meter band. We soon decided the best choice for contacts was "search and pounce". We had trouble with the beam today. It took Dave and Rodney working together to physically run outside and verbally describe direction that the antenna was pointing. There was apparently a short in the wire to the indicator in the shack.

I'm not a bad DX operator but all the pro's were out today. The majority of the CW operators were sending in the 30+ wpm range. As the three of us concentrated intensely, and wrote down what we heard, we managed to work fourteen stations.

The best were FY5KE in French Guiana, CR3W on Madeira Island. and T48RR in Cuba. I was very surprised to work the T48 station in Cuba. I've worked a bunch of Cuban stations but never one with this prefix.