My Most Recent QSO's

Monday, July 27, 2009

15 Minutes of Fame

The last few days have brought about some interesting contacts on the air. I've been checking into the NAQCC QRS net (Sunday evenings at 8:30 local time) and enjoy it more every week. I like this net although it's at the same time of a local two meter club (KARC) net here in the valley.

I can send and receive code comfortably at 15+ wpm but it's encouraging to hear new stations struggle with their speed and there's a real need to practice on the air in a real situation.

Last night there was an excellent pass over West Virginia of the International Space Space Station at about 9:30 PM. These "near sunset" revolutions allow it to be viewed quite easily even in city lights. The local KARC net was on the verge of closing and I jumped in with a comment about the direction of the pass.

WOW....did they ever get a kick out of it!

I was surprised so few have really "seen" the ISS in the sky. It entered the US just below Lake Michigan and exited the East coast about South Carolina last night. It moved right up the Kanawha River above the State Capitol here.

This morning I had a fantastic QSO with KA3P who was near Pittsburgh PA (just 171 miles from here). We talked for a long time about him linking repeaters from there into the Kanawha Valley. I seldom listen to 2 meters anymore but got into the hobby for communications when hiking and camping. (before I learned about HF QRP). He's using an end fed Zepp too....I take mine with me when I travel.

What a great fist!

This afternoon was the "crown prince of contacts" when I worked W1AW on 40 meters. I know who the operator was but had to try twice to exchange my RST and club number. He was SO weak (QSB) and actually sent SRI at one point. I waited until the cycle peaked and completed the essentials for the QSO.....

Saturday, July 25, 2009

IOTA Tangier Island K4T (NA-083) and W3P Special Events

I can't help but notice unusual call signs when I listen on the CW bands and those with only 3 letters really seem to "jump out" and yell at me. Such was the case this morning when I heard W4T IOTA sending a very fast CQ on 7030 MHz. Islands on the Air (IOTA) is a special group devoted to broadcasting from islands all over the world and I think...probably the first I've worked, especially with CW.

I like these kinds of "special events" because of my former Navy days on a destroyer. It's just something I identify with and connect with about the ocean. Every now and then, I'm lucky enough to work a ship or two and even a "lighthouse" station. I find it great fun.

This is the second time in the last few weeks I've worked special event stations on the CW portions of the bands. I worked W3P and didn't have a clue who or where it was until I received an E-QSL from a ham specifying a certain day and time. Fortunately, I had him in the log book. (another 3 letter call sign).

This one was celebrating "Heritage Days" and made a great "public relations" pitch for Amateur Radio. I admire these events (right in the middle of a big public celebration) and they always bring a positive image of our hobby.

As per the web site:

In addition to having fun operating the special event station, this event was
also intended to put amateur radio in front of the public. With the stations in
operation at a public event we were able to demonstrate amateur radio to curious
people and even allow them the opportunity to get behind the mic for a hands-on
demonstration. A local commercial radio station, WOKW-FM, was broadcasting live
from the Heritage Days event and PARA member Lou WB3AAI was interviewed on the air about amateur radio. There were also mentions in the local newspaper about
the W3P special event station and the PARA club. As a result of these efforts,
we collected a list of six people who are interested in becoming licensed
amateur radio operators. PARA will be scheduling a licensing class in the near
future to help prepare these people to pass the Technician Class test.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hard Times During the Depression

I often tune around between 7038 and 7043 listening for QRP stations and I hear stations I've already worked, many times in this segment. A few years ago, I worked WA3SCM in Dundee, Florida running 3 watts and using a random wire from a motel suite.

Daves job takes him to several different places on the East Coast and he sets up his station with a long wire strung wherever it's allowable. I've talked to him at least 4 different times during his job travels. (at different locations)
Last night I heard him in Tennessee, working a Texas station with a few watts from a Quality Inn. I read the mail for at least half an hour as he chatted with the Texas station. His signal was a solid 599 at times.
Dave had just asked the Texas station about 'any other hobbies' when I caught him. I could barely hear the other station but it was one of the most refreshing and interesting QSO's I've ever heard on the QRP CW frequencies in years.
They were talking about the Great Depression and their memories of a hard life and the food they grew and raised in the country. The subject of "groundhogs" also surfaced and rabbits roasting on a spit on an open fire. Dave must have been a 'crack shot' with a 22 rifle and he rattled CW along at about 17 wpm.
His choice of words and spacing was pleasant listening. I don't copy all stations at this speed, and some, I have difficulty copying at 10 wpm, and a few, I can't copy at all.
What I'm saying here is he has a great fist. I could have listened at 20 wpm last night.
The amusing thing about the QSO was the subject matter and his antenna. I've always admired resourcefulness. According to the e-mail I received yesterday:

You can see where my antenna is located on and it is about 200 ft of wire from my second floor room window along side the motel entrance roof to the lamp post in front of my car then to the big Quality Inn sign. The wire is insulated with
clear shipping tape where it goes thru the window (doesnt seem to matter it is
zig zag where the window closes on it) then to a piece of 30 lb fishing line
over the light post then to 30 lb fishing line over the sign. I shot a one
ounce weight over the lamp post and big sign with my slingshot Zebco Reel and 4 lb
line then pulled the 30 lb line back over. You can see my slinger on
Flickr searching for WA3SCM. I am glad you enjoyed the QSO. I
try to get the other fella talking about something that interests him then try
to add too it. I am also trying to get my speed up to a solid 20 but am
most comfortable around 17 now. Once I can do 20 solid I am going to get
my extra. I speak of you often when bsing with hams. Your fun
and success with isotrons always sparks an interest.

Just goes to show you if there's a will...there's always a way.

His wife called a little before 8 pm and I didn't get to jump in. He cut the QSO short and signed off but it was one of the most amusing and refreshing CW QSO's I've heard in years.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

SKCC Special Station

Last night was the July Straight Key Century Club event. I was able to work 5 different states in the two hour period. (actually 1 1/2 hours for me). I feel both good and bad about it because I didn't score higher as a QRP station.

The "big boys" were out in force with amps and beams. I worked Nebraska (K0LUW) and Louisiana (W5ZR) and even heard N6WK in California, but couldn't work him.

I learned a lot....

The "special station" (worth 35 points) was essential, and without it, scoring was a futile attempt.

My other three stations were in Illinois (K9PL), New Jersey (K2ZC), and Michigan (K8JD).

The SKCC events are one of the most enjoyable to me, because it's strictly "straight key" and I enjoy the "character" of each individual operator. I used my 100 year old "donated" key again.

Sure hope that "Special Station" is within shooting distance on the next event. Last night he was near Richmond, Va.

Here in the valley, he jumped right over top of me.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sharp Spike into the Northeast

I get unusual "spikes" into the Northeast with my Isotron Antenna's and can almost draw a straight line, right up the coast into New Hampshire and Canada at times. When looking back into the log book at "really good signal reports" I see a distinct pattern.

It's not the antenna.... since the Isotron radiates like a vertical in all directions.
Although West Virginia is noted as the "Mountain State" (and we have almost 100 'peaks' at 4,000 ft or better) I live in the Kanawha Valley, at 600 ft elevation, beside an 8 story apartment building, alongside the river, with 400 ft 'hills' on both sides of me.

I jokingly kid others about bouncing signals off the "gold dome" of the state capitol building just up the street.

This morning I had a great QSO with Don (N1LU) in Tuftonboro, New Hampshire on the 7028 frequency. (1100z) You will usually only hear me on this frequency, in the early morning, since I don't have the filtering to pick out all those "quick" stations that hang out there.
We talked about working each other in a previous NAQCC sprint and the upcoming SKCC straight key sprint tonight and hoped we could work each other again tonight with our straight keys.
I love the '100 year key' I use for those events....

The really unusual thing about the QSO this morning is that we both sent each other 599 reports. Don is 655 miles from me...

Monday, July 20, 2009


I've never considered myself a big "competitor" but these two certificates are cherished by me.

They're the first I've received from the International Morse Code Preservation Society. I love this club and the activities they promote.

I consider Morse Code, not only another of many languages, but also the "classic" mode for Amateur Radio. It's one of the most efficient and practical modes of communications ever devised in the world.

I have my sights on other awards with this club and hope to add a few more soon. You can learn more about the "FISTS" club from the link on the right side of this page.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hiker Contact

I was pleasantly surprised to work a "portable QRP station" on 20 meters today. Guy (N7UN/P) is a fine example of why I love QRP operations. He was operating in the field (I assume) and since he was using a #7 call, I thought he was probably a western station near Oregon, Washington, or Alaska. (You can't do that these days).

The signal was pretty weak. Not because of the distance, but because we were too close to each other. I don't work a lot of stations, on 20 meters, less than 500 miles away and he was in West New Jersey. I actually had to ask for his name twice because of QSB.

I've been trying to work a Colorado Station (WG0AT) for several years but can't find myself at the right place and the right time when he's hiking in the mountains with his two "goat" companions.

After looking up Guys web site:, it became obvious that Guy has done some hiking with him and the goats.

Guy (N7UN/P) is quite the hiker and takes his radio along on DX'peditions, mountain vista's, and on long distance hiking trails. (the Appalachian Trail being one of many). He uses a "Buddipole" for his antenna or a dipole many times.

You should take some time (assuming you're interested in QRP operations) to view his web site. It's a classic example of why QRP ops love to spend a day outdoors with a radio. It's often been said that "A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words" can't get a view like this operating the 'big' stuff.

I've placed a link to his site on the right hand side of this page.
On August 9th of this year, he will be on one of the 14,000 ft mountain peaks of Colorado.
Info is on his web site....

Friday, July 17, 2009

My 400th QSO

This afternoon, I worked KG4LLQ (Ken) in Asheboro, North Carolina. Ken is my 400th QSO. Not only was it a joy to work him (and get a 579 signal report) but he was also a FISTS member and a new Century club contact.

I doesn't get much better than that. He was also the first contact I've given out my new Century club number. (2066)

On another note, this morning I took an early walk before the heat set in and took the handi-talkie with me. It's was nice to talk to an old friend, and another chap, as I enjoyed the cool morning air. (I'm on 2 meters VERY seldom). They were going to work....yes, it's NICE to be retired.

There's a tremendous amount of misinformation, about QRP, being passed around on the air and my friend was amazed I had worked so many stations the last few years. A lot of folks (especially those not on the HF bands) think QRP means rare contacts, and only a few hundred miles distance. If they only realized....I've worked several 4,000 mile + stations with terrible band conditions.

I mentioned working California twice this year (on 40 meters). I've also worked 20 Canadian stations, and 15 DX stations. I really don't see much difference between 5 watts and 100 watts....I use an indoor mounted "simple antenna". With's really not an issue. I don't intend to ever operate anything other than QRP.

Ken, in Asheboro, was also the 171st FISTS member I've worked. Another 25, and I'll be hanging some more wallpaper!
Ken KG4LLQ was using an Icom 718 @ 25 watts into a dipole.
FISTS # 10360 and CC # 1666.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

500 Miles @ 1 Watt

I worked N9HAL (again) last night on 40 meters. It seems he's always on 7056 Mhz listening with the 'ol Hammurland receiver. The really exciting thing (about the contact this time) was that I was only using one watt of power. He's just a few miles short of the "magic" 500 mile mark from me in West Virginia. I'm sure I could have worked him with 500 mw..... and I'm still trying for the 1,000 mile a watt award. Bob is 498.8 miles from me.....

There's a lot to be said about the old tube gear. My most distant contacts, on 40 meters, have been made with guys using the "old stuff". I just can't say enough about the Drake and Collins filtering. My distant contacts in California this year have been with those using old Collins gear.

I also worked another Canadian station yesterday (VE3SOR) on 7028. Although we both had good signal reports on each other (579-599), I couldn't continue until we shifted up about 30 kc because of QRM. I just don't have the filtering for all the big guys on this freq.

I continue to be amazed at the 1 watt or less contacts...what a hoot!

It really makes me want to get into the woods with a good antenna. My friend Gari (K8KFJ) and I talked yesterday about how "quiet" operations are when getting away from all the electrical noise in town.

Sure hope there isn't any more talk about 'broadband' over the phone lines. A friend of mine in England (G4ILO) recently went QRT due to electrical noise. It's going to be the 'nail in the coffin' for those of us using indoor antenna's.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Yesterday was a busy day for me and it was nearly 10 PM (est) before I could tune the rig into the FISTS Summer Sprint freqs. I still wasn't able to devote "serious time" to this contest, but felt I should hand out a few "West Virginia" contacts for the event. (I've recently became aware of how important an extra state or two can be to the log books).

This isn't a QRP event, so the competition is with the 'big guys'. They need "very good ears" to hear a 5 watt signal in the midst of the pack.

I worked two stations that I've worked before, in the mid west, on different circumstances. My hat's off to N5DY (Jack in Oklahoma) and also K0LUM (Russ in Nebraska). In all, I worked five stations (this isn't going to be a prize winner) but still, for me, lot's of fun.

My biggest "catch" was working a "Fists Club Station". At three minutes till the final bell, I worked W4FFF in North Carolina. This is my second "fists club station". The last two weeks, I've made a special effort to check into the "slow CW net" of the NAQCC club. It's club call is N3AQC.

As an added benefit, I was able to collect two new "CC" numbers. This contest was a good way to add more "FISTS" contacts to the log book!

Friday, July 10, 2009

In the Mail didn't take FISTS very long to get the certificates in the mail. My numbers for the Century award will be # 2006 and the 1 X QRP is #119.

I'll work towards the silver and 2 X QRP awards now. Still hoping for the 1,000 per watt award (solar flux still not there) but am VERY close to WAS QRP. I think all except Alaska and Hawaii?

This has been fun and I'll look forward to persuing a few SKCC now.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

FISTS Century Club and 1 x QRP Awards

The last few weeks, I've been spending a lot of time on the log books. Since submitting my first logs to the NAQCC club, it's been very motivational to see my call sign on both the 50 and 100 point QRP pages on the NAQCC club site.

Now, after looking up my contacts for the FISTS club, I've discovered I have enough contacts for two of thier awards. I'm a little confused about the Century Club Award but have about 150 contacts (all QRP on this end of course) and will be sending in the log soon. The Century award is the first of several awards but I don't understand how to let other members know of my "Century" status.
I've never considered myself a big competitor (and still don't) but it's really NICE to achieve these beginning awards with another club now. I'm amazed at how many CW ops are members of both the NAQCC and the FISTS club...

Both of these clubs (and they work very well together) are shinning examples of the fun a QRP operator can have on the bands. They both do a great job of promoting and encouraging the preservation of Morse Code. I'm proud to be a member of both these clubs.