My Most Recent QSO's

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The ARRL DX CW Contest on 40 Meters

I made some interesting contacts this weekend during the ARRL International CW Contest.  I added TI5W in Costa Rica and PW0F (an island off the coast of Brazil) to my DXCC log book. These two new stations bring my total DX count to one hundred eleven. 

I've never heard the 40 meter band so active! Almost half of my contacts were on this band. My first group of 40 meter contacts on the 21st (made in a little over an hour) were with the  Slovak Republic, Poland, Germany, Slovenia, and Romania. On the 22nd (in about an hour) I worked Slovenia, Italy,Croatia, Africa, Serbia and the Czech Republic. 

I'm overjoyed to make such unexpected DX contacts with my simple station. As always, I used five watts of power and an indoor Isotron Antenna  on the 40 meter band. 

I've used this 40 meter antenna for almost 25 years now. At one time I had three of these wired together (the above picture) but I sold the 80 meter version since I seldom use that band. I still use the 40 and 20 meter versions when traveling. Both these antennas are easily set up in a matter of minutes. All it takes is a painters pole and a few bungee cords. 

The Isotron antenna is often called "The Bird House" because it's similar in size. It's a controversial antenna but in a restricted antenna area, it's brought me good results. I seriously doubt any of the stations I worked, at over 5,000 miles this weekend on 40 meters, had the slightest idea I was using such a simple antenna and running  QRP  power. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

N3AQC Special Event Results from the Huntington Radio Museum

My thanks go out to the Huntington Museum of Radio and Technology  and all the fine folks in that organization; along with the Tri State Radio Association.

I worked stations in Belarus, Russia, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, Canada, and Africa along with 12 Club members from the United States. I had a lot of fun in the brief time I had at the Museum of Radio and Technology in Huntington West Virginia. My little Icom 703 running 5 watts of power functioned perfectly. I also used my favorite Vibroplex square racer for this event. I love the magnetic controlled tension of this key.

I've created the above card for the Special Event Station and uploaded it to the electronic QSL site on the web. (e-QSL) For those without the free account, I've sent an e-mail with the attached copy and the details of the contact.  I've entered all my contacts on my web log. Now I'm waiting on the return cards.

This was a fun event and I look forward to making this an annual event for the West Virginia Chapter of the NAQCC  club. There's some of the finest radio equipment in the world at this museum, If you're interested in any kind of electronics, this is a "must see" building.

Monday, February 9, 2015

February 14th 2015 N3AQC Special Event

The West Virginia Chapter of the NAQCC Club  will once again be transmitting from the Museum of Radio and Technology  in Huntington WV on the 14th of Feburary, 2015. We will be using the club call sign N3AQC  from 10 am till 2 pm. (1500Z - 1900Z). I hope our visit to this museum will always be an annual event for our West Virginia Chapter. This was a fun event last year

This museum is a "treasure chest" of not only ham radio gear, but is a fascinating place to view a variety of electronic radio equipment. The "ham shack" has special significance to the hams in the Charleston WV area. First of all, local ham W8AH (SK) worked 362 countries on 40 meters from his home station in Charleston. His QSL cards are here and a personal friend of mine, Bernie Clark W8PNR (SK) also has an enormous home brew amplifier here.

I'll be using my Icom 703 at 5 watts of power into either the nine element beam or an array of dipole antennas. We will transmit on or near the QRP segments of the bands but will focus on 40 and 20 meters. Should you work us, please spot us on either the NAQCC "members on the air" or "QRP Spots".

For our chapter members and friends in's quite easy to work you with a nine element beam and 5 watts of power on the 20 meter band. Listen for us....

QSL by e-QSL per N8ZYA

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I Caught a Fox this Evening on 40 Meters.

Sometimes a "fox" will just "pop" right up in front of you at the most surprising time. That's the way "fox's are....sly creatures and very clever. They hide themselves and trick the hounds into believing they are some where they aren't. Anytime they're on the run, it makes for a good chase.

Such was this evening when I unexpectedly found Dave (N1IX) sending 5 watts from New Hampshire. He was leading the "hunters"  for a wild ride on the 40 meter band. It took several attempts for me to find his "listening frequency"- but when I did, I was rewarded quickly for a job well done.

Dave (the fox this evening) is also NAQCC member #1130. 

I was searching for stations to complete the "groundhog" challenge this evening when I unexpectedly stumbled onto Dave, sending "fox" and "up"- which meant somewhere, and someplace, secretly above the transmitting frequency. A former Navy Submarine Radioman, Dave graduated at the top of his CW class with a sending speed of around 30 wpm. He was doing a fine job.

If you've never chased the "fox", be sure look for him on their web site. "QRP Fox Hunting"  All the directions are there for a very good run!

Monday, February 2, 2015

The February Groundhog Challenge

It's time to spell out the names of famous groundhogs in the NAQCC Monthly Challenge!
Improve your Morse Code skills and have fun at the same time. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

ZS2DL in South Africa is my 108th DXCC Station

My focus for the last couple of months has been the NAQCC monthly challenge and this month  the "challenge" is to work stations whose call letters spell out "Happy New Year"-  in seven different languages. I've decided to use as many DX stations as possible to complete this months game. 

Using 5 watts of power is interesting when working those long distance stations. Along with a bit of luck, it takes a special skill to get a station to hear you at more than 5,000 miles,  This contact was one I will remember for a long time. Straight line distance to this station in Port Elizabeth, South Africa is 8,465 miles.

I usually watch a DX cluster and "filter" a specific band when I'm "hunting". This evening it was the 30 meter band which is limited to "Morse Code" and transmit power of 200 watts. Being a QRP operator, this band is radio paradise.

More than anything else, I happened to "be at the right place at the right time".  As I tuned around the band, I heard a distinct Z letter, and strong too. I was expecting a L to follow but the following letters didn't sound right. (most of the time these guys are sending around 25 wpm)  After hearing a station work him here on the east coast, I correctly copied the remaining last letters and realized the second letter was a S.

I figured all was lost when I saw the "first" post on the DX cluster, (this is usually the nail in the coffin when a rare station appears to a QRP operator) - and sure to follow, a half dozen stations immediately called him. He was transmitting simplex but the second station to work him tuned "down" instead of "up". As the third station called, all others followed the traditional "up" 1 procedure.

I remained "down" 1 and worked him easily with about 3 watts.

I finished my "challenge" for January today (the 10th) with an impressive amount of DX stations in the log book. Completing the challenge for this month was an amusing game. The solution called for 84 letters from the combination of 20 different letters. (ABDEGHIJKMNOPRSTUVWY)

I used DX stations for 58 letters and I've logged three new DXCC countries this month.  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

My 2014 Summary of the Year

In summary of last year, I've reached a point in my life where my enjoyment of QRP radio is something I want to share with all my friends and family. Ham radio, IMHO, is the greatest hobby in the world. I sincerely wish more people would enter the hobby and meet the fine folks we all know, blog with, and talk to on the air everyday. There's something for everyone in this hobby.

Spare time is at a premium this year but I still love every radio minute. I've been a ham nearly 25 years now and still find the same enthusiasm for the hobby as I did the day I made my first contact. The older I get, the more important I find keeping the mind sharp is essential for a happy life. I can't think of a better "senior" exercise than Morse Code to keep the old brain functioning.

I wasn't on the air as much in 2014, as the year before, but I still managed to work an average of at least one station a day; my total contacts for the year of 2014 was actually 413 QSOs, and I enjoyed every one of them. My log book now has 2,847 entries with 505 NAQCC members and a total of 816 DX contacts. I actually worked a couple of new DXCC countries on Christmas eve this year which brought my total to 107. I'm amazed every day that I work DX with QRP power and an indoor random wire antenna. Last year I put my QRP rig behind an enormous beam antenna, but found working DX like shooting fish in a bucket. Where's the challenge?

I challenge all those who work those long distance stations with a KW and a massive antenna to experience the exhilaration of doing the same thing with 5 watts and a piece of random wire. Twice this year, with stations in Japan and Slovenia, I've had DX stations "stop" a "pile up" after seeing my "cluster post" with "QRP" in the remarks section. (I never send QRP at the end of my call sign when working a long distance DX station). When a sending station takes that extra minute to acknowledged me with a return call (they're actually calling me) a few moments afterwards, the congratulatory "well done" brings me the greatest sense of accomplishment in all of radio land.

I've had more responsibilities with the family this year. My dad is now 94 years old and still living independently and still driving his car. One of my grand kids is learning to drive now, and the others are involved in sports. My youngest grand son will begin school soon. Four cats and a small dog also keep me busy. The dog rules....

I took the position of VP and Treasurer of the NAQCC  club this year. I'm the leader of the West Virginia Chapter and try to schedule an outing each month. We have a breakfast meeting each month. I do a weekly QRS net and write a monthly article about the WV activities for the club newsletter . I also do a monthly mass e-mailing highlighting the "monthly challenge ".

I knew I would not be on the air as often this year when I took on the responsibilities of the Vice Presidency of the club. It was a conscious decision and I have no regrets. I hope to use the position as a way to to share my hobby with more and more people through the NAQCC club. Some of the ways I've learned to maximize my diminished "air time" is by using a laptop or my tablet when I'm traveling out of town. The learning experience has actually been a good thing.

When I'm traveling and can't take the QRP rig with me, I use a CW program on the laptop and send dots and dashes to hams all over the world. I enjoy using "software defined receivers " on the web to keep track of activity on the bands. There's also a variety of ham radio programs on the web which I enjoy when using the laptop. All these options fit well with my basic philosophy of portability and QRP radio.

The winter months are a bit too cold for much outdoor activity now, but as soon as the opportunity presents itself, you can be sure I'll be doing more camping. I had forgotten the joy of watching the stars from the woods and chatting with friends on the 40 meter band. Despite my age, I've learned how to tolerate the hard surface of the ground while camping. It's a small price to pay considering the sights and sounds of nature all around me. Yes...even bears, bobcats and coyotes.

Staying connected to the earth is a wholesome and worthy activity. Simplicity and QRP radio fit my basic philosophy of keeping everything "as simple as possible". I'm looking forward to the year 2015.

Even though I may not be on the "air" as often this year, I still find this hobby the best in the world. My advice to everyone about ham radio, in the forthcoming year, would be the phrase coined by W2LJ -- "do more with less".  Doing so, you will find, is a great pleasure.