My Most Recent QSO's

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

End Fed Dipole

Several years ago, I bought a (what I consider a very portable antenna) to use when traveling back and forth to New York and North Carolina. I spend the majority of my radio time on 40 meters and therefore, it's pretty hard to stretch out a full dipole at times. (66 feet).

The antenna is marketed as an "end fed half wave dipole antenna". It's cut to use on the 40-20-and 10 meter bands and a LOT shorter than 66 feet.

I never gave it another thought. (other than it worked excellent and was a good choice for my portable station). I love the thing... and have worked several DX stations from both my New York location and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It's also highly adaptable since the matching network on the end allows me to attach the proper "half wave length" of wire, and change bands in a matter of minutes. And I DO mean ANY band from 10 meters to 160 meters.

Recently, I made a comment, on a message board, to the fact that I was going to North Carolina soon and would be taking the "end fed dipole" with me since I hoped to work a few of the guys back here in West Virginia while I was at the beach.

What a discussion.....

It seems the "end fed dipole" isn't (technically) a "dipole". My antenna is (technically) a Zepp. A little confusion here.....

But does it really matter that the original version of the dipole antenna (Rudolph Hertz in 1886) isn't what it was today? We learn new things and antenna designs have advanced to a different level now. The original design of the dipole was established 123 years ago.

The classic example being the G5RV and the Carolina Windom. The G5RV is fed directly in the center of the radiating wire. The Carolina Windom is fed "off center" but I've heard them both described as dipoles.

Sometimes I think we get a little too hung up on our "technical descriptions" about antenna's. The G5RV and the Windom are much MORE than a simple dipole antenna. I'd go as far as to say they should be classified as vertical antennas.

So the opinions go round and round....and to me, it really doesn't make a lot of difference if the feed point is in the center, offset, or on the end. As long as they function well and are dependable.

But why is the Zepp now being called an "end fed dipole"? I think the physical descriptions and radiating characteristics are exactly the same.

And besides...Zepp is a lot easier to send in CW than the long drawn out explanation of "half a dipole, fed at the end of the wire, with a matching network attached".

I'm not complaining about my antenna, and perhaps nothing more than a "definition".

I'm just here to have fun with my radio and pass along a few things I've learned over the years.

If you have an opinion about either the Zepp or the "end fed dipole" I'd like to hear about it.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

California at 2,029 Miles

This morning around 7:30 AM (1130z) I heard W6DDB working several stations on the 7058 MHz Fists frequency. Bill was "moving along pretty quickly " (I'd say conservatively about 30 wpm) so I had to listen carefully to get the call right. Six (something I don't hear often on 40 meters) followed by the DD, followed by the B, was hard for me to copy. (I admit that's a little too fast for me).

I listened as Bill gave his Lancaster, CA QTH, name, and a few details with the other station.

When I was (again) sure about the "6" and the DDB, and California, I sent my call for the contact!

I was quite shocked when he responded immediately with QRZ YA ?

He immediately lowered his speed to match mine and we exchanged RST, Names, and QTH. He then described his location a little North of Los Angeles and his "Windom" Antenna. I was ecstatic when he sent my 559 report and I responded with my QRP @ 5 watts and indoor Isotron Antenna. I also said I didn't get many "across the US" contacts!

QRM then became a factor, although it was (California time) 4:30am for him, I'd say he has a "real good pair of ears" out there. (I'm waiting for a return e-mail)
I think Bill (W6DDB) had the BEST signal I've ever heard out of California on 40 meters!

Little did I know at the time, that he is a writer for CQ Magazine (many many stories). He's also well know for his dedication to working "slow beginning stations". A quick "google" of the call sign brings up "tons" of information about his determination and "good operator skills".

He's also quoted as saying the "Carolina Windom" is the best wire antenna he and his wife have ever used on the bands! Considering the signal I heard this morning, I'd say that was accurate!

Bill is Fists Member #1525

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dayton Hamfest QSO

This afternoon, I had a nice LONG 'QSO' with a previous operator near Elmira New York. I talked to Jack (WB2FXK) a few months ago, and in the matter of a few days, received a really fine QSL card from him. He lives in a small town called Horseheads, NY. (You can "google" it and find out more about the town).

We remembered each other early in the QSO and (happy to say) the conversation started revolving around the upcoming Dayton Hamvention . The "standard QSO" gets a little mundane at times and it's always exciting to 'rag chew' for awhile about different things happening in the world.

He gets a bang out of the "FISTS Club" (me too) and you will probably find him somewhere near their booth. He also loves "fleas". This year, the convention starts on the weekend of May 15th and if you attend, I'd say you'd find at least 20,000 Hams wandering about the grounds.

Before retirement, I worked in the retail industry and worked weekends for most of 21 years. (need I say more?) He motivated me when he said he won a prize a few years ago from Kenwood! And talking with him today sure makes me want to spend some time exploring the aisle's and displays in Dayton. I'd especially like to view the 'QRP' booths.

But this year I'll be taking care of the grand kids while my daughter and her husband spend a well deserved "vacation" by themselves at the beach. But maybe next year (don't have that retail job anymore) I'll be able to drive up and gander at all the gear.

I worked another interesting station today on 20 meters. Gary (AB0BM) and I had a nice QSO from his home town in Quimby, Iowa. That's not a real distant station (especially on 20 meters) but I was surprised to continue the conversation for nearly an hour. At 800 miles, I found it rather fascinating. Gary is also a "FISTS" member, and a SKCC member. We even exchanged "area code" numbers.

I also heard WB5QYT in New Mexico, but couldn't exchange the necessary info for confirmation. Tom is almost 1,400 miles from me here in WV. (I copied his call and name) I sent him an e-mail with the hopes of working him when the band is in a little better shape.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

NAQCC April Sprint

I enjoyed the NAQCC Sprint last night and will be looking forward to seeing the results posted on the web site. As I've mentioned before, I'll never be "top gun" in any of these contests, but I think the important thing, is to actually participate, when possible. I'm also sure the club will enjoy see another WV station in the log book.

To my knowledge, there's only three of us (WV stations) that are active in QRP contesting.

The really fun thing about this event is EVERYONE is using 5 watts or less. Every contact is QRP x QRP and, for me, that's where all the joy comes together in these two hours.

All my contacts were on 40 meters last night, and one of them was over 700 miles into Oklahoma. (W5TM). For me (using an indoor mounted antenna) it's a feather in my hat and being in the very top of the list, isn't going to be that important to me.

Hey...I loved making this contact in a "swarm of bees".

That's what's SO gratifying about it.....the challenge!

I used my "straight key" again last night which will give me the advantage of a "doubling my score". I worked 6 stations last night. Two were in New Hampshire, one in Massachusetts, one in Wisconsin, one in Minnesota, (duh....entered as NM in my log) and of course the one in Oklahoma.

Can't wait till the results are displayed on the web!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

SKCC Weekend Sprint

I was happy to work a few stations on the Straight Key Century Club's Weekend Sprint today. I had forgotten all about it until I heard K1NNJ this "Easter Morning". He was also the last station I heard before the end of the contest.

It was a busy day today with many things happening other than radio. I was gone most of the morning and returned about 11am to work another station (KD8FVG). Off again for a nice hike in the woods and returned to work 4 more stations. K1PUB, W9DLN, KC9KOJ, and KC0EEP.

I worked Tori (KC0EEP)a few weeks ago and she heard me in the contest. I was surprised she could hear my QRP station from Missouri.

My last contact was N0UMP but I didn't submit him in the log entries for the contest. (sent in about 2300z) I didn't spend a lot of time working these stations but it was a lot of fun and a great contest.

I'll never make big scores (QRP and an indoor antenna) but considering I don't have extra filters in the rig, I'm very happy to make the one's I do.

I'll have a little advantage (QRP) and had the luck to work several (3) "T"and (2) "C" stations.
I'll be watching the scores on the web, to see how I did in a brief two hours.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Navy QSO's

Last week, when I worked K3QEQ, we started an e-mail exchange, which allowed us to share a few "Sea Stories". They've been about our time serving as a Radioman and a Signalman back in the mid 60's. I was on the Navy Destroyer USS Corry (DD-817).

Bill was a radioman aboard the USS Wasp (CV-18) when they picked up the Gemini IV Space Capsule. (and the 6th, 7th and 9th). Can you imagine the "pile ups" for this "rare DX ?" The dipole was in the crossarms 160 ft off the water.

I got his card today and found it SO interesting, I decided to put in on the blog. He also included a picture of himself in the "radio room" using "Collins" gear. That same kind of radio is still being used today and they STILL work. (I believe better than the NEW radio's of today). I don't think anyone has ever developed a better set of "filters".

We were always friendly with the "radio guys" but found differences in the way we interpreted Morse Code. "Seeing" and "hearing" Morse Code are two different things. I could never transfer the "speed" back and forth.

The brain processes that information differently, and we often amazed each other when we tried to decipher Morse Code in a different mode. On a "searchlight" Morse Code starts to "blur" together at about 10-12 wpm. (You can't distinguish the "dot's" from the "dashes"). When I was active in the Navy, there wasn't anyone in the fleet I couldn't follow with my "eyes".

I've known radiomen that could "hear" code at 45-50 wpm. At this speed, (and still today) that sounds like a swarm of bee's to me. I've never been able to hear it correctly. It took me awhile to change from my "eyes" to my "ears" when I was first licenced as a ham radio operator. I often wonder if I will EVER be able to read "fast" code.

Due to today's "Digital Age", the Navy quit using "code" several years ago. (at least that's what I'm told). But I can't imagine the "art" becoming forgotten and obsolete.

We were able to send and receive "code" at 10 miles distance with a simple light on a clear night. We could also send and receive Semaphore at two miles. (We had a pair of "eyes" that could see the "tip of a mast" barely sticking above the water line on the horizon). And I still remember the "filters" we used for flight operations at night.

I'd be interested to know if the "old" skills are still being taught in today's Navy? You never know when "the most basic of all modes" might be needed again?

I can't imagine using those "shutters" to communicate now , but I bet 100 years from now, it would be really nice see them again , if the satellite "fizzled" out.

I've really enjoyed this e-mail exchange with Bill (K3QEQ) and look forward to hearing him on the air again. Of course, we're both a little older now, but once the "salt" is in you, you never forget it.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Navy 2 x QRP

As I called CQ this evening, K3QEQ was listening on 40 meters (7058 MHz) from Du Bois, PA. and I was surprised, on the second exchange (as I responded with my usual N8ZYA/ qrp at the end of the first exchange) when he also added the /QRP to his call sign.

It seems his Tentec Orion II (what a GREAT radio) was squeezed down to it's minimum 5 watts output. (he has another rig that's capable of milli watts with an Oak Hills watt meter attached in line, but wasn't using it this evening).

He was using a "trap dipole", and we were hearing each other pretty well, so the QSO continued and we exchanged our ages (pretty close together also), the WX, and he mentioned working at a Glass company and worrying about the economy.

As the conversation continued, I asked for his "telephone area code" and he immediately realized I was a FISTS member. We exchanged those numbers and also both "area codes". He then mentioned that he had my Bio pulled up on QRZ and asked if I was a former Navy Radioman?

I replied that I was a "Signalman" on the USS Corry (DD 817)....Well, he sez, I was aboard the USS Wasp (CVS 18) and plucked the Gemini IV Space Capsule out of the Atlantic in the mid 60's. I'm also a Navy Veteran!

If I remember right, that was the first "space walk" and it circled the earth over 60 times before landing "off course" about 80 km into the ocean off Florida?

WOW....does that ever that bring back good memories!

We operated with "Bird Farms" many times. It was always a joy to send ZWC INT WV? (on the search light) to see if there was anyone from West Virginia aboard that would like to "chat for a bit"? We were operating with the "USS Enterprise" once, and I sent the "Z" signal asking for someone to chat for awhile from my home state?

My best friend and neighbor from St Albans WV answered my query!

I'm glad I talked to Bill (K3QEQ) this evening. Not only was it a pleasure to QSO with another QRP operator, but it brought back a lot of good Navy memories. Our QSO lasted nearly an hour (qrp to qrp) and we agreed to exchange cards.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

My Stats Counter

I'm encouraged by what I see on my "Stat Counter" today. This year I've surpassed 2,000 "hits" on my site (2600 since the beginning). It tells me there are a lot of people interested in Ham Radio, and especially Morse Code and QRP operation.

One of the real benefits of this "counter" is it's ability to categorize data into meaningful segments. (percentages and statistics etc). I can also display the data in both "bar graphs" and "area graphs". I really like this feature!

I have a "good percentage" of "return visitors". I've had 646 "first time" visitors and of those, 383 of them have "returned" for another visit. (42% of those visits have returned 10 or more times). Of those, 22% have browsed for more than one hour.

That's encouraging for me.

Most of the viewings on my site have to do with Morse Code, QRP operation, and Antenna's and "currently" I've had visitors from 19 different countries. I'm surprised to see 74 from Belgium, 65 from France, and 12 from Poland. I'm not sure how often this data "refreshes" itself , but I know that my current data is "maxed out" at 500 entries.

There are several "hits" not currently showing on the world map but I've seen entries in South America, Cuba, and China which aren't in the display now.

I'd like to thank those who regularly read my journal today.

I hope you continue to read my comments and share with me your adventures with your radio. I know this sounds biased, but I don't understand why everyone doesn't invest time in a "radio related hobby". I've found it to be a wonderful opportunity to make new friends from all over the world.

Thanks Again and Happy Trails to All....

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fools Day

April Fools Day has more than a casual meaning for me.... My friend Steven Newman (from Bethel Ohio) started his LONG walk in 1983 on this day. Steve always considered himself a modern day "Huckleberry Finn".

So, this morning, when I worked K0ZXQ, in Hannibal Missouri, the thoughts of Steven's "Walk Around the World" was again returned to my mind. K0ZXQ (Ken) lives in the "boyhood home town" of Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain). I also have friends that were married on April Fools Day. (you got'a have a sense of humor)

I worked K0ZXQ about this same time last year and work Missouri easily with QRP power from here (about 500 miles). I've worked several stations, this last week, in the area around St. Louis and band conditions (at least for me) still favor this area. When I was living in an apartment complex many years ago, I worked NF0R/qrp, who was using 1 watt and a "St Louis Pocket Vertical" antenna taped to the inside wall of his home. I had about 30 foot of random wire laying on the floor and "tuned up" (amazingly) using bell wire.

Getting back to radio, I've always enjoyed a good hike (a walk with a purpose) and take the radio along with me whenever possible. In my early radio days, I carried a " Portable Packet Station" with me when I hiked the "Appalachian and Allegheny" trails in West Virginia and I once worked the Russian MIR station while sitting in a "cow pasture" with the TNC, a HT and a "palm top computer" (a Hewlett Packard 95LX ). I carried the entire thing in my backpack and it didn't weigh much more than a pound. Steven could have carried the thing along on his "World Walk" and hardly known he was carrying it.

April Fools means different things to different people. I'm sure many jokes will be played with one another today. But this April day made me think on the long hikes I've often taken with my radio gear. If you have a few minutes, check out "The World Walker".

Steve is the only person to have ever solo hiked around the world!