My Most Recent QSO's

Monday, April 14, 2014

Switzerland on 40 Meters


I've worked Switzerland several times previously (10) but usually on the upper bands. I was surprised to hear and work HB9FIR on 40 meters last night. This was my one and only Swiss station on this band. I was happy to work him!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

DXCC # 104 Honduras


The New DX Stations just seem to pop up from nowhere. I caught this station (HR5/F2JD) operating from Copan Honduras this afternoon on the 12 meter band. I can't pull myself away from the chasing these guys even though I'm having some very nice local QSO's on the 40 meter.

Still haven't decided on the next goal, but I'm gearing up for my first trip to the Dayton Hamfest this year. I'm really looking forward to looking at new "keys" and QRP gear.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

DX # 103 Guam


Much to my surprise, I made my most distant contact ever with the Island of Guam (KH2L) yesterday. I've often compared chasing DX, or even regular contacts, with fishing because you never know what you're going to catch when you throw the line in the water. Obviously, ten meters was very long. I was hearing very few contacts, but after a few brief attempts I was able to predict his listening frequency. This was a fine fish to catch at 7,775 miles.


I was barely 20 years old when I first set foot on this Island in 1968. My "sailing ship" was the USS Corry (DD-817) and we had begun that journey from Norfolk Virginia. We sailed South past Puerto Rico, transited the Panama Canal, stopped at Mazatlan Mexico, and then North to the port of San Diego California where we spent several days.

I was only a "kid" then and very prone to "peer pressure".

No serious sailor, worth his salt, could be "tattoo free" after leaving San Diego. I was no exception and had my right shoulder etched with a colorful "US Navy Anchor" just before we left for Hawaii. We then set sail for Midway Island, where we re-fueledand then westward again to Guam.

Guam was a very important strategic Island during the second world war. Only hours, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, this island was invaded by the Japanese. The islanders were brutally beaten into submission and remained under their control for several years before American forces re-took the island.

Not to "harp" much about war, but in my reading about this island, I found an article about a Japanese soldier who lived in an underground cave there  for 28 years after the war. He was finally discovered by a couple of fishermen, captured, and returned to civilization on January 24th, 1972.


Shoichi Yokoi  is quoted as saying "It is with much embarrassment, but I have returned". After returning to Japan, he was a well know television personality and an advocate of austere living. He died on September 22, 1997 of a heart attack. 


It is also with much embarrassment, the Navy "tattoo" on my right shoulder still glares at me every day. One thing I've learned over the years is "there's NO glory, and NO romance in war". Perhaps one day, we can all learn to just "get along" and accept our differences with each other. Adolescence is a horrible time of life for everyone. I'm extremely grateful for my maturity these days.






Saturday, March 29, 2014

Buro Cards

For a brief moment I though my vision was blurring as I pulled these cards out of the envelope. The top two cards are from a Special Event in Austria. The next three are from a Special Event in Bulgaria. The bottom two are from Slovenia and the Caribbean. 

Cards From the 8th Buro 








Wednesday, March 26, 2014

DXCC QRP



It's taken a while, but when I finished tallying up my countries, there were 102 countries in the DXCC logbook a few nights ago. I had just sent in my WAS (worked all 50 states) data in February, and received my certificate for that award, just a few weeks ago.


It's taken me about three years to achieve both these awards, with never more than 5 watts of power, and indoor "stealth" antennas. My immediate neighbors still don't know I'm a ham radio operator, and since I live in a historic area, where outside antennas are prohibited, I consider that a good thing. lol


I worked nearly all of my WAS contacts (48) with my Isotron antennas on either 40 meters or 20 meters. Alaska and Hawaii were my two most difficult states; I worked those with a 50 ft length of "Radio Shack" speaker wire which I strung around the perimeter of a spare room in the house. The wire runs from my tuner, across the windows, which have wooden curtain rods, across the hallway, over the top of an "open" wooden door, and is tied off the the "downstairs" wooden stair railing. It's a tough way to do it, and it's a true "random wire", but I've enjoyed every minute of the challenge it took to work those 102 countries.

video

How did I work DXCC (100 different countries) with such simple antennas, and such a simple station? I attribute my DXCC award to two specific things. Number one was the ability to get my code speed into the 20+ wpm range. Number two was being able to string that "random wire antenna" which allowed me to use "all bands" through my small tuner. 


The process accelerated a little before September of 2012 when I started using "dedicated band dipoles" for my DX contacts. My indoor "upstairs" space is very limited but I'm able to stretch out a dipole for 10 meters and 15 meters. Those two dipoles barely hang between the wooden curtain rod, on one side of the house, and the bathroom window sill, on the opposite side of the house. This picture below shows my "end fed" 10 meter antenna. The 15 meter dipole antenna requires an "open door" and an extended length to the bathroom window frame.


Those two antennas work well on those bands (even indoors) but the 50 foot random wire, which allows me easy access to the 17, 12, and especially the 30 meter band, were the true deciding factors in my DXCC award.

What are my immediate goals now?

There's DXCC on a "single" band, working the "capitol cities" of every country and state, or perhaps working DXCC with "outside antennas" while operating in the field. I'm not sure what it will be now that I have the QRP DXCC award but I'm sure something will soon grab my attention.


The North American QRP CW Club has always been my favorite organization. I hope my addition of the NAQCC DXCC QRP Award will be an inspiration to those of our members who think working over a 100 different countries with five watts, or less, of power and "simple wire antennas" is impossible.

Those 17, 12, and 30 meter contacts were actually done with about 3 watts of power. Never say the word "never" when I comes to QRP. I've been an optimist when it comes to my QRP operations. I'm looking forward to the next challenge, whatever it might be.




Monday, March 17, 2014

Our Club Activity at the Charleston Hamfest

Last year, in 2013, before the WV Chapter of the NAQCC Club was established, I set up my QRP station at the Charleston Hamfest and worked several DX stations in Eastern Europe with just a few watts of power. I used a simple "dedicated band" dipole antenna. It drew a lot of interest from many people. I was invited back, this year, to do a special QRP forum.


On March 15th, I saw this new opportunity, as a way for our new West Virginia Chapter to share our enthusiasm for QRP CW radio and especially the NAQCC club.

I’m very grateful to John Shannon (K3WWP) for the use of his banner. It looked great sitting on top of the table and was a good focal point for conversation. I’m also very grateful to the staff of the Charleston Hamfest for allowing us this opportunity to highlight our NAQCC club.


The hamfest committee provided me with a small dual band HT, to give away at the end of my presentation! I had those attending the talk put their tickets in my hat and had a little girl draw the winning call sign.  This went over VERY well and allowed me a captive audience.


Our club members Eric (AC8LJ) and Steven (KC4URI) helped me with both the presentation and the “club table” at the event. We were also joined by Jeff (K9ESE) and Jim (NX8Z). In addition to these members of the “core group”-  I met a few more members of the NAQCC club. It was nice to see Lonnie (KY8B) # 5043 and Bill (WR8S) #6608, who by the way, has a great idea for a future highlight of the club.

Bill (K3QEQ) # 1426 introduced himself to me. We were having a nice conversation about QRP, and the new chapter, and when he offered me his QSL card, I immediately realized we had previously worked many years ago. I remembered the exact CW conversation, which by the way, lasted nearly an hour at the time. We’re both Navy vets, and as old sailors, we exchanged several sea stories.


The longer I continue CW operations, the more I realize how many of us served our country when asked, and are still very proud, not only our own efforts, but of all those who served in difficult times.


Just a few weeks earlier, I had some new “business cards” printed myself (radio is now my second career) and I exchanged mine for his. 

By the way, for those who may choose to do so, you can get 250 of these for $14.95 from an internet site. E-mail me and I will send you the link. I altered the card a bit for internet display, but you can get the jest of it below. 


I especially like the “back side” of the card.  

My presentation emphasized the fun of operating radio in the field and our preference for simple wire antennas. I made sure the NAQCC club was portrayed as a enthusiastic group dedicated to the art of Morse Code. I talked about our monthly sprints, newsletter, our award programs, and our monthly challenges. I emphasized our willingness to help new Hams struggling with the art of Morse Code, and a preference for using slow straight keys among several other aspects of the hobby. 

I also had a great conversation with Geoff Boorne who is the curator of the Huntington Museum of Radio and Technology. I still thinking of  that great nine element beam our club used last month. I’m looking forward to receiving their next newsletter since I applied for membership in that organization. They also have a functional QRP station there now along with a fan dipole. (hint) 

At the end of the day, I had the names and e-mails of 20 people who attended my power point presentation. I personally had a good time, and with the help of the “core” group of our members, it was a successful event. 








Sunday, February 9, 2014

Special Event News


The West Virginia Chapter of the NAQCC club had a delightful day at the Huntington Museum of Radio and Technology. Joining me above is (N8ZYA) on left and Joe (WA8SIE) from Charleston. In the bottom pictures are Bill (KB8QLG) from Sissonsville, WV and Steven (KC4URI) from Mineral Wells, WV


WA8SIE and KB8QLG 


KC4URI 

 This was the first time I've put a nine element Mosley beam behind a five watt QRP radio. The  results were both puzzling and amazing. I rotated the beam 360 degrees several times on 40 meters but only made a few contacts with KD3CA and WB3GMC in Pennsylvania and N4EDE in North Carolina. I heard very little on this band and soon came to the realization that I was shooting right over the heads of anything remotely thought of as "routine" contacts. By days end, I was able to work only six more United States stations WB0PYF, WD4EXI, K5BOT, KA2KGP, K4CQF,  in Missouri, Georgia, Texas, South Carolina, and New York.

This nine element beam was a totally different animal to me with it's directional characteristics but specific selectivity and sensitivity. I've mixed feelings about it's effectiveness for multiple short distance QRP contacts. I was forced to spent most of the day on the 15 and 20 meter bands with the hopes of working more stations. Upon the change to those bands:

I immediately worked VE3EDX in Thunder Bay Canada, and soon afterwards, I worked an unfamiliar "RL" call, which I knew was a Russian station, but an unknown new "prefix". I've worked Russia many times (20) but this was the first "RL" call I've heard and there's a good reason for it.


This "special event station" (RL22GM) was commemorating the 2014 Winter Olympic Games now being held in Sochi Russia! As time moved onward, I worked some more DX contacts which were very exciting for me.

I worked Italy twice during the next hour. The first station (I3UKY) was what I would call "normal DX" but the second Italian station was a real prize, not because it was the second contact in Italy, but because this station (I5NOC) was operating QRP at 5 Watts of power! Here's a confirmation e-mail from him:
Hello John,I confirm our qso on 15 meters 8-02 at 16,25 cw.My station is qrp by Elecraft KX3 only 5 wats and antenna 3 elements Hygain.Hope receive ur qsl via k3wwp,my qsl sure via bureau.Tks again for the qso and hope call you again.Best 73 and greetings from Italy...............ciao  I5NOC  Giampiero
The QRP station in Italy ((I5NOC) is the most distant 2 x QRP contact I've ever made at any time. The distance was 4,570 miles. 



We found this station from Poland (SP6JOE) to be an interesting catch. I asked for the name and he responded with, what else?,  "Joe".


Another contact was EA3DD in Spain


I'm somewhat disappointed in the number of club stations we worked while at this event but think it had more to do with poor 40 meter band conditions and a "beast" of an antenna in the hands of a new operator. Those two combinations demanded operation on the longer range bands.

video

I can't say enough about the Museum of Radio and Technology. We plan to operate there again during these cold winter months. They were the perfect hosts for us and we rejoiced in the fellowship of the operating staff which were there during the special event.



There were times when the radio room was actually crowded with those interested in the QRP event. The Tri State Amateur Radio Association held VE testing that morning and added three new ham to the HF portions of the hobby. There were also hams from other states wandering around the museum.

I found my old friend Bernies "refrigerator sized amplifier" in an adjacent room.  



The Museum of Radio and Technology also has dipole antennas. On our next trip, I'll use them to make more club QRP contacts. The beam had good and bad points. It brought us some great DX contacts but when right overhead of most local stations.