My Most Recent QSO's

Thursday, October 22, 2009

First SWL Radio

I think all SWL'ers remember their first radio. Several weeks ago N2UGB made a post about his early Hallicrafter receiver and I looked everywhere for picture of mine. I've owned several but this was my first SWL radio. After much searching..... I found one. It was a Knight Kit Span Master. (a simple 2 tube regenerative reciever with headphones)

One of the neighbors GAVE it to me and I'm sorry to say, he's passed away now. It was a "kit" (I think about $30 at the time) and for some reason, he decided to spark the interest in a "young person". It probably had to do with the "Boy Scouts" since I was developing an interest in the outdoors at the time. Ralph Moore was an advocate for the BSA organization and even had his picture published on the cover of "Boy's Life". I saw it at his funeral and would have never guessed it was his smiling face gazing out the flaps of a pup tent.
These were my late "high school" days around 1963 and the "Voice of Moscow" was spouting the "10 year plan" and the danger of "Imperialist America". Cuba was a mirror image and a LOT of Shortwave broadcasts were political soundboards and nothing more.
Those were the days....
Today, I've thought it rather bizarre that the "Voice of America" doesn't broadcast to America. And if I'm not mistaken, the armed forces radio only uses the SSB mode. I've thought short wave radio to be perfect medium to share and exchange hopes and aspirations with other parts of the world. I like hearing about others lives and the countries where they live.
The radio that Ralph gave me "peaked" an interest in Morse code for me. Although I wasn't active in the Boy Scouts until the early 80's (I was a heavy equipment mechanic at the time), I learned Morse Code from the handbook.
In the Navy, during the late 60's, I was able to "read" the searchlights on other ships in the fleet. It was a 'natural' for me and I transferred to the signal bridge.
I've recently joined a SWL group on the web with the hopes of finding some of those rare stations on the air again. I use my ICOM 703 for the "serious stuff" but my most used SWL receivers now are a few "Grundig" shirt pocket rigs I use when traveling. They're pretty simple but with the satellite feeds, they get the job done.
My favorites are Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

N8A Log Book

I put the finishing touches on my N8A Log Book this morning and sent it, and a summary, to those keeping the records for the week long 5th Anniversary NAQCC Celebration. I enjoyed participating and will look forward to the event next year about this time.
It's different being the one pursued in a contest. I hope all call signs, times, freq's, and dates reflect accuracy. Some of the stations I worked were VERY weak. (there were a LOT of 229's). I found it a GREAT way to add QRP (especially NAQCC members) to my growing list of club stations.

I worry that my location here in the valley and antenna configuration was a "little too much" for some stations to work and I was really glad that another station near Akron Ohio (KB8FE) was able to jump in for a few calls near the weekend.

Those that worked me really "earned" the rare #8 call of N8A.

My totals were :
Total Number of QSO’s = 22
Club 5th Anniversary Stations = 3 ---N2A, N3A, N0A
Club Members = 14
States= 14
Dx Stations= 1 (France)
Canadian Stations = 2

My States List: Alabama , Arkansas, Canada (2), Illinois, Michigan (2), Minnesota, New Jersey (2) New York, New Mexico, New Hampshire (2), Pennsylvania (2), Texas (2), Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

1000 MPW Certificate

My NAQCC "1000 Miles per Watt Award Certificate" arrived yesterday.
I really don't have a "shack" for my simple station. I keep the radio, my key, and a small GMT clock on a table underneath my Isotron 80-40-20 combo that I use for my "antenna farm".
I keep it this way because (if I choose to do so) I can pack it up in a matter of minutes and be on the road where I can use a 4,000 ft radio tower. (That translates into one of the nearly 'one hundred' mountain tops in West Virginia above 4,000 ft.)

I will hang it in my "computer" room.

Today will be the last day of the "5 year celebration" of the NAQCC club and I will be on the air tonight for the last time with the N8A call. It was a "profitable day" yesterday since there were MANY QRP operators on the air with the ARCI club...... and it was a "gold mine" for me. I worked seven different QRP stations. Two of which I worked with both my N8A and my N8ZYA call signs.

I realise my "simple station" is at a great disadvantage because of my location and the fact that the antenna is mounted "indoors" on a painters pole, bungee corded to the bedpost, in a spare room. But I have FUN with it...and to me....that's ALL that matters.
This morning I heard (I worked this station earlier this year on 40 meters) W6DDB in California but the static between him and I prevented me from working him again. He is over 2,000 miles from me.

My 5,219 mile contact is a "highlight" for me. I keep adding new QRP operators to the log book every day but regardless of the distance....., I have a good feelings when I meet another nice person on the air. Many of the people I've worked on the air have become "good friends" and I feel especially close to those that drop by and comment on the blog. It lets us all learn about our hobby and our native countries.
For those 10,000..... that have dropped by to read and say "hello" since I began blogging about QRP radio, I say Thank You.
Your comments and suggestions have been appreciated very much. I hope you continue reading and hope (if you're not into this hobby) it's sparked an interest for you to join in the fun.

Friday, October 16, 2009

N8A Air Time

I've enjoyed my N8A air time on 40 and 80 meters this week. Working QRP can be a real challenge sometimes but it offers great rewards for those that are persistent and apply themselves to this unique mode.

I don't think the bands can get much worse but I'm still having fun trying to make the best of my contacts. Yesterday was my most rewarding day this week.

It started off on my "morning" 40 meter excursion when a very strong K9ESE returned my pitch into the wind. Jeff is my third "ESE" station that I've worked the last few months.

His QTH was also Charleston WV......

I figured he was "mobile" and traveling along the interstate pushing a ground wave for a brief few minutes. But as we talked, it became apparent he was using a 20 ft. piece of wire for an antenna with his "home brew" ATS QRP radio. It seems we're only a living a few blocks from each other and we will have a "cup of coffee" the next day or so....

I've been hearing N1LU and N0A most mornings but not today. The band has shifted a little. I worked the N5A station this afternoon on 20 meters. He was SO strong (from Texas) that I couldn't tell his exact frequency. We had inadvertently transmitted on the same frequency and I moved up some to avoid conflict. (we're about a thousand miles from each other).

I also knocked myself out trying to work a station in the Canary Islands (off the coast of Africa) but just couldn't get him to hear me.

A few hours later I went "hunting" and worked a Special Event Station (K8A) in Mio Michigan. I chuckled and sensed a little hesitation when exchanging (1x1) calls both ways. He was transmitting from a Wildlife Refuge in Michgan.

About an hour later I worked VE2PID in Canada. Pierre and I have QSO'd several times in the past and I explained my NAQCC N8 call this time.

It seems (with the exception of the French and Canadian station) my distance is around 300-500 miles on 40 meters and 1,000 miles on 20 meters. I've worked several New York and New Jersey stations. This morning I worked K2MEN in New Jersey (neat call).

The 17 stations I've worked so far have worked really hard for the contacts.

This weekend there is another 8 station coming aboard from near Akron Ohio. I'm glad to see this since the bands have been so bad this week. It will give some club members and extra shot at the "rare" #8 contact.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I was feeling a little down about my results with the NAQCC sprint last night. Heck....who wouldn't with ONE contact and not hearing ANYTHING on the QRP sections of the bands. That was the most horrible band condition I've ever worked.

There was nothing spectacular on the bands this morning as I CQ'd my hour on 40 meters and I didn't expect to work anything on 20 meters this afternoon during my daily hour.

But I WAS hearing a few stations on the other portions of the bands.

I decided to change my strategy from the "come and get me" method to the "search and pounce" method. I tuned to the standard 14.060 QRP freq and heard a VERY weak F6 signal. I immediately realized it was a French call sign but it was only there on the "peaks" and at best 229. I decided to "pounce" and see what happened because I was only copying the F6 and the H at the time.

As he "peaked" once more, I sent my N8ZYA/N8A call and to my wildest surprise he answered me!

It took several exchanges before I had his call sign correct, and several before I was sure he had mine correct, but at the end, we both exchanged the basic info for the contact. I was amazed that the "path" stayed open long enough for the exchange. Jean (F6HFX) lives in Labouheyre France....a commune near the mountain range between Spain and France.

This is what I love about NEVER know what you will work when you throw out your call sign. I have NO explanation (probably grey line) why he was able to hear me. Especially with the bands being what they've been the last several days.

All I can say is "he was there" and for me..., another surprise contact just when I needed it most!

Jean (F6HFX), fortunately, is an E-QSL member and I sent him my QSL card along with a short e-mail. I hope he downloads the log soon and returns my card.

There's still another couple of days for the "special event contacts" so (other than my daily hour on 40 and 20 meters) I'll be in the "search and pounce" mode now.

Horrible Band Conditions

Last night on the NAQCC Sprint, I found the worst conditions since I've held my ticket. There was NOTHING on the QRP sections of the bands. My only contact on 40 meters was K4YMB who was QRO and heard me sending over and over into empty space. He considered it nearly a SOS although I was a 579 there.

I even checked the antenna connections, at one point, just to make sure about things but could hear stations in other places. The rig was working fine.

This morning I heard N0A again (didn't work him) and made contacts with two stations in my one hours time on 40 meters. I worked fellow NAQCC member W0EJ in PA and (can't explain why) but another station in Arkansas. (725 miles) WO5X was not a member of the club and was using normal power.

I'll be looking forward to the posts from last night but expect very low totals.

When is the sun ever going to shine?

I try to be positive on my blog but "what it is is what it is".

Propagation is real challenging now.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

5th Anniversary NAQCC Event

Monday morning was the beginning of the 5th year celebration of the NAQCC (North American QRP CW Club) activities and tonight is the monthly "Sprint". (0030-0230z).

There are operators in all 10 zones so it should be the best opportunity to work the Special Event Stations. I'll be on the air as "N8A".

Monday morning was 650 mile morning for me. (1300-1400z). My first contact was N1LU in New Hampshire. I've worked Don several times in the past and it was good to hear him again.

My second contact was KE9DR in Arkansas. Bert uses an interesting radio that I had not seen before. I also heard and worked the Minnesota special event station. (N0A). All the signals were VERY weak with the solar flux at only 70.

I've only obligated myself for two hours operation every day but got back on the air in the evening and worked W3MT in Pennsylvania. Moe was sending CQ on 40 meters and I answered his call with my N8A call sign with a /N8ZYA attached to the end. We had a nice QSO about the NAQCC club and my Isotron antenna. He used one several years ago.

This morning I worked N1LU in New Hampshire again but didn't hear anyone else on the bands. Perhaps 40 and 80 meters will open up for the sprint tonight. I'll be on the air again this afternoon on 20 meters.

On another "1000 miles per watt" certificate is in the mail and I should receive it the next day or so.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Razgrad Bulgaria @ 5,219 Miles

I've been shooting for this card really hard for over a year now so was just ecstatic about receiving this from the E-QSL site yesterday.
Honestly....I thought I'd make this "1,000 mile per watt" jump only by transmitting from the mountains or waiting for the bands to improve a little more. I've been VERY close several times but just couldn't make that extra 500 miles or so....
I worked Boyan (LZ2BE) back on the 23rd of September but he only downloaded his log book recently.
My elevation here in the valley is about 600 ft, I'm between two 400 ft hills, and have a tall apartment building next door. I used an Icom 703 @ 5 watts into an "indoor mounted" Isotron antenna. It's about 20" long. Razgrad is on the "far side" of Bulgaria near Istanbul Turkey.
I'll be sending this card into the NAQCC club site as confirmation of the "1,000 mile per watt award" very soon. I'll post the "certificate" on the blog when it's issued to me.
I'm one happy camper today!

N8A / N8ZYA Special Event Station

The North American QRP CW Club ( NAQCC ) will be holding it's 5th Anniversary celebration from Oct 12th to Oct 18th. As a "special event", there will be QRP operators in all 10 sections of the United States. (Alaska and Hawaii are included in these zones).

I've decided to be the #8 operator and will be using the special call sign of "N8A" while on the air. You should be able to catch me near the standard QRP frequencies every day on 40 and 20 meters. I will transmit on 40 meters for an hour in the morning and also an hour in the afternoon on 20 meters.

The exact times and frequencies are posted on the NAQCC web site under the caption of " N#A Operation ".

I'm the ONLY operator in the #8 zone so I expect to be a popular guy. I also expect this event to be a real "eye opener" for a lot of operators not familiar with low power QRP operations.
I've worked QRP operators at 2,000 miles. I've also worked over 20 QRO DX operators in Europe with a very simple wire antenna. Most of them had NO idea I was using the power it usually takes to light an old Christmas Tree bulb.

These are minimum times for me.....In reality, you might find me on the air anytime this week on 40 and 20 meters near the QRP frequencies (7040 and 14060). My normal transmitting spot is from my QTH near the State Capitol building in Chareston, WV.

My elevation is only 600 ft and I'm between two 400 ft hills, on the river, and beside a tall apartment complex. My normal patterns usually get me into the Great Lakes area and the Northeast VERY well but when weather permits, I'll try to transmit from an a better location in the mountains.

I should be able to work into Europe on 20 meters if the bands are favorable.

Folks....I'm NOT a "hot shot" CW operator. I usually send and recieve at about 15 wpm. I'll be using a "paddle" on this contest but will keep the speed down to accomodate slower operators.

My exchanges will be brief to allow as many as possible to work me from other areas.

This is the first time I've participated in this type of capacity. I'm looking forward to hearing and working as many stations as possible this week.

72's N8A / N8ZYA

Friday, October 2, 2009

Ames Iowa Contact

Since retirement a few years ago, I’ve worked several stations (7) in the state of Iowa. Some of the cities are Des Moines (the state capitol), Council Bluffs, Spencer, Chillicothe, Cedar Rapids and Ottumwa.

We have relatives in Ottumwa, which is about 700 radio miles from us. A few weeks ago, I worked a station there (W0NBP) and I asked him to say hello to them from my 5 watt station here in West Virginia.

Last night I got a good signal report from a station (WA0VQY) in Ames Iowa. It’s a city about the same size as my home city. Ames Iowa is the birthplace of several interesting places and people.

Iowa State University has been the center of Agriculture in the Midwest. I remember driving across miles and miles of flat “corn fields” and comparing it to the vast mountains in West Virginia. What they call “hills” there, we consider “bumps” in the road.

George Washington Carver was born here. “He served as an example of the importance of hard work, a positive attitude, and a good education. His humility, humanitarianism, good nature, frugality, and rejection of economic materialism, also have been admired widely”.

I also found an interesting code he lived by:

Be clean both inside and out.
Neither look up to the rich nor down on the poor.
Lose, if need be, without squealing.
Win without bragging.
Always be considerate of women, children, and older people.
Be too brave to lie.
Be too generous to cheat.
Take your share of the world and let others take theirs