My Most Recent QSO's

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Dog House

Advice for the forlorn...... I still find this to be the "funniest video" I've seen in years.

In my hometown, Christmas decorations have already appeared in many businesses. (it started about 3 weeks before Thanksgiving this year) I think the advertisements are abundant because it takes a little longer, every year, to get people in the "commercial" spirit of Christmas. I have no doubt we've lost the 'true meaning' of the merriment.

As a word of wisdom to my fellow Ham Radio operators, be careful about buying those "thoughtless gifts" for your loved ones this year. Your wife may not be overjoyed with your purchase of another radio.

You might find yourself in "The Dog House".

You have to watch it a couple of times to pick up on all the subtleties.

Friday, November 20, 2009

QRPp Contact in Michigan

The beginning of this month brought me an interesting QRPp contact with a station in Jackson Michigan. I say interesting because Zeke (KD8HES) was using a "Classic" Tuna Tin (2) that runs less than 1/2 watt and he was using a "simple wire antenna" (a dipole) up 30 feet. I always feel a special sense of accomplishment when working a QRPp station. (especially one using a simple wire antenna)

The " Tuna Tin 2 " is a modern version of the original built by Doug DeMan (W1FB) I say modern because it's nearly impossible to find the "original parts" and the circuit has been modified to use modern components.

But the output power is only 450 mw and the modern kit's cost is a whopping $20.

This morning I worked Zeke (KD8HES) "again" on 40 meters and I could hear (339) him a little better this time. I'm fascinated every time I work a little station like this.....nothing more than a few simple parts and a simple wire antenna.

There's real "magic" involved when working these kind of stations!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Boy Scout Camp in WV

I was delighted to see the "Boy Scouts" choice of a new "national jamboree" site in West Virginia today. It was in this mornings newspaper . The location is about an hours drive from here and located near the New River Gorge. (it's about 60 miles long). The New River Gorge is my favorite hiking spot in this state and I've spent many hours hiking, rafting, kayaking, biking, and geocaching in this area.
The Boy Scouts have been negotiating with the state for several years about this choice for a new "high adventure" base in the United States. The "National Jamboree" status is an "added bonus" because every four years, it will bring us around 40,000 scouts and 200,000 visitors a year.

I've always considered West Virginia a real "gold mine" for outdoor adventures since we have an abundance to offer in this realm. West Virginia is a wonderful place to live, howbeit a difficult place to earn a decent wage. We're a poor rural state that is controlled mostly by "out of state" coal mining conglomerates. But in a paradox of events, this location is the site of an old "strip mine". It's a wonderful use of rare flat land.

This Boy Scout site will be a real improvement and addition to our tourism industry. Originated by Baden-Powell (of English ancestry), the Boy Scouts have "world wide activities" designed to promote leadership and responsible citizenship for its members. There is the "distinct possibility" that this site might also become the site of the "World Jamboree" in the near future.

Most Hams are aware of the yearly " Jamboree on the Air " event in the United States. Hopefully, this new site will grow some new Amateur Radio Operators in West Virginia. I can see right now that I need to review the Boy Scouts " Radio Merit Badge ". This large gathering is going to need some good teachers.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

International Space Station on 3860 MHz.

I've known (for many years) about the re-transmission of the Space Station broadcasts but haven't heard them in probably 5 or more years.

This morning, as I was tuning around on the 80 meter band, I heard them on 3860 MHz @ 1300z.

I'd almost guarantee they're coming from the "Goddard Space Center" in Greenbelt Maryland. You can "google" them for frequencies on the other bands. I'm sure they will be on 40 meters and maybe also 20 meters.

This morning they were inspecting the "heat shields" with a camera attached the giant robotic arm on the station. It's always an interesting thing to listen to them at any time of the day or night but it's also neat to "watch them" cross the early morning or evening sky in your area. A lot of people don't realize they can be seen with the "naked eye". Sometimes they look like an airplane crossing the sky here in Charleston.

I always use the "Heavens Above" site on the right side of the blog to get my viewing times here in West Virginia.

On another note....the "one day a year" broadcast of Radio St Helena turned out to be a real bummer this year. I don't know of ANYONE that heard them here in the United States. Don't know what the problem was but evidently I wasn't the only one hearing "nothing".

I have a link to the local FM station on St Helena on the right side of this blog. I'll be listening from time to time to (hopefully) understand the reasons they couldn't be heard this year in the US. Maybe it's propagation and nothing more?

Bye for's another beautiful day today and I plan to spend it riding the mountain bike in the woods. It's just too nice to spend a day indoors.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Big Storm in Norfolk VA

The last few years I've talked to Dan (N4FI) several times. But when he sent his QTH of Norfolk Virginia this morning it had a different meaning to me. Last Thursday there was a terrific storm that blew up the east coast and I heard and watched the TV as the area from Nags Head in North Carolina and up to Virginia Beach took a terrific pounding from the wind and the ocean. They had winds of over 60 mph and I saw pictures on the news where reporters had a difficult time even standing still upright as the wind blew the rain sideways across the coastal areas during the evening news report.

Dan (N4FI) was running 5 watts QRP at the beginning of the QSO and using a battery for his radio this morning. He has been sitting in the dark for the last three days because of trees blown down on his power lines in the neighborhood. There is NO electricity in the area where he lives and I'm not sure how long it will take before it's restored. I think the trees also damaged his car but he didn't mention damage to his home.

I couldn't help but think of just how important a good "radio operator" was in his circumstances there near the beach with no electricity. There's no power for the lights, to pump the gasoline for vehicles, to keep the refrigerator operating and the food from spoiling, all the things we take so much for granted and aren't functioning there now.

I may not have been much physical help this morning but at least I lent a good ear and exchanged some pleasantries about living there in the late 60's while serving in the Navy. I also lived in Newport News for several years back in the mid 70's. I remember how flat it is near the ocean and I know how much the weather can affect the entire tidal basin when a big storm like this runs up the coastline.

I wished him a rapid recovery and hoped he and his family would soon return to normal daily life. It's comforting to think that his hobby could become such a valuable tool in these situations.

Radio is truly the link to the world in these times.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Free Club Membership

I've been making a bunch of contacts on the 40 meter CW QRP frequencies this week and can't figure out why there are so few memberships in FREE clubs. It's not that CW use is declining. As a matter of fact, I believe it's just the opposite.

So.........Why would YOU not join a "free" club?

I admit my criticisms are for "selfish reasons" but I bet, out of my last dozen contacts, there's only been one or two that are members of ANY club. I just don't understand......

I'm very partial to QRP contacts and belong to three different CW clubs. Every one of which has oodles of "awards" for making contacts with their members. I can understand that you can't join ALL the clubs out there, but there are very few that charge for membership. You can probably guess where I'm going with this now....

Maybe this is an explanation:

1. It cost too much money (free is pretty cheap)
2. I don't have a computer to keep up on club activities. (there's one in every library)
3. I just don't like groups. (why did you go to the trouble of getting your ticket?)
4. I don't know how to read and write (the very less said about this the better)
5. I'm not very good with code (who cares as long as you can send your Call, Name, RST, and QTH? )

As I said earlier, all my criticism is for selfish reasons. (I like those club contacts) but if it doesn't cost anything, at least give me the pleasure of adding to my list of club contacts by getting a free membership number. It's painless, there's NO hidden fees, there's NO fine's FREE.

(All said with a sense of humor)

End of Rant......

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Radio St Helena Broadcast

Saint Helena is a small island about half way between South America and Africa with a population of only about 4,000 people. It was the final resting place of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1821.

For the last several years "Radio St Helena" has made a "special" broadcast on just "ONE" day of the year. (Indeed a rare catch). I've logged it several times with a very modest portable receiver, so if you're living on the east coast of the United States, you should be able to hear them when the antenna is focused in our direction.
You can find all the details for the broadcast towards your part of the world from the above listed web site. They also have information about thier local FM station which has "live Internet streaming". I've downloaded the "plug in" and am listening to it now as I make this entry.

They will broadcast to the US between the hours of 2330z and 0100z. on November 14th, 2009.

That's only a few days from now!

They're broadcasting in SSB so set your rig accordingly and tune to 1109.5 MHz.
The above pictures are courtesy of "Wikipedia".

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dolly Sods Wilderness Area

I've been very busy with a number of things these last few weeks. My wife and I have been members of the Kanawha Trail Club for several years, (we actually met on a hike) and although I can't keep up with the younger folks now, (back injury just before retiring) we gather with them several times a year for special outings in the mountains.

Last weekend we drove to Blackwater Falls State Park near Davis West Virginia and the week before that, we spent a weekend at Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park to celebrate my birthday.

But after our hiking at Blackwater Falls (we took a very short hike of about 3 miles) we decided to drive to a place I've always wanted to go called the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area . It's at an elevation of about 4,000 ft and would be a GREAT radio spot to spend a weekend. We drove 'upwards' for what seemed forever to get there because it's an old "service road" that only allows you to drive about 20 mph (for at least 20 miles) before reaching the ridge and a 360 degree view of too many miles to count.

This week the temperature will drop into the 30's here in the valley and I expect Dolly Sods will be under several feet of snow. The wind just screams up there during bad weather. You wouldn't want to go there unless you were an expert woodsman and prepared to stay awhile till the snow melts.

Here's a few more pictures of the view from up there last week. Maybe next summer I can spend a few days and take the HF rig along? I'm not real sure I'd want to camp overnight here because of the isolation and the "rocky barren ground".