My Most Recent QSO's

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Month of January

January has been a good "radio" month for me. The highlight has been the  K3Y Special Event Contest.  With the exception of Alaska and Hawaii (I've heard Alaska but couldn't work him), I've worked stations in nearly every section of the country. I like these "month long contests" because they give me the opportunity to contact other "straight key" operators.

I continue to easily work into central Texas and Oklahoma. I also made a contact with a North Dakota station who was out in his pick up truck, in 5 degree weather, on the prairie, in the blowing snow. From a follow up e-mail, he said if it snowed much more, he'd be forced to climb out his home windows in order to shovel the snow from his doorway. That's a LOT of snow, even for North Dakota....

I've worked NG7Z in Washington state three different times this month. (Paul is a little over 2,000 miles from me.) I had a nice QSO with a former DX editor of CQ Magazine. (W2DEC) and an excellent QSO with a "classic jazz" enthusiast (K0ZK) who sponsors a weekly radio program with internet streaming. BTW/ he was in the state of Maine and operating QRP!

I'm still hoping to make a contact with Alaska. The months not over yet. On average, I've worked at least one station everyday this month.

On another vein, and related to the hobby, I've purchased one of those new electronic e-books. I now have the last two month issues of "Monitoring Times" on it. It has a web browser built into it, which allows me to read my "blogs" and search a variety of ham radio information sites.  It's really nice to use this "small" device to enhance my hobby. I can't say enough good about the Kindle.......

I have all 300 stories from Mark Twain loaded on it now, and well as several other books. I've just scratched the surface on the memory. It has a month long battery life

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mississippi River QRP Contact

One of the things I learned early this hobby was that I could work the length of the Mississippi River with a QRP signal. The other day I worked N5GW in Vicksburg Mississippi which is right on that river. Gene was nearly 650 miles from me but I had a good stable signal from his QRP station at five watts of power. We talked for a little over 45 minutes and he was using a "simple wire antenna" with no gain.

I think of  Samuel Clemens  (aka Mark Twain) every time I think of this river. Among the many hat's he wore in his lifetime, one was that of a river boat pilot.

Although I've never piloted a ship (well a few times in the Navy) I worked as a deck hand on the Kanawha River once. We pushed coal barges from the upper end of this river and along the wide Ohio River while dropping off and picking up coal barges along the waterway. I did get a sense of life on the river and found it an interesting occupation.

Samuel Clemems has been an inspiration to me. 

 In 1909, Twain is quoted as saying:

I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don't go out with Halley's Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: 'Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.'
His prediction was accurate – Twain died of a heart attack on April 21, 1910, in Redding Connecticut, one day after the comet's closest approach to Earth.

He wrote his autobiography near the end of his life, with the requirement that it only be published 100 years after his death. I haven't read it yet, but hope to soon.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

So Quiet You Can Hear a Clock Tick

This afternoon on 20 meters, I heard Ken Muggli (K0HL) transmitting from his pick up truck located a few miles outside of Glen Ullin North Dakota. He drives there often because of his love of wide open spaces. I can identify with that....

Ken is a "horologists". (Yes...I had to look it up too)

A master clock repairman, he runs his business  from the basement of his home. In these days of the internet, it's entirely possible to run a lot of businesses in this manner. His choice to do so is admirable.

Ken says on his web site that the sound of a ticking clock is one of the most comforting sounds in the world.

"The tick-tock - I can't think of a more comforting, soothing sound. I think it goes back to the womb, listening to mother's heartbeat."

The temperature out there today was 5 degrees and I imagine you could hear a pin drop in that cold air. You could certaintly hear the tick of a clock.  

Ken was a little over a thousand miles from me and is FISTS # 14398. It's very possible he was QRP but only sent a "M" after his call sign today. It was a very quick exchange because QSB was a terrible problem. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Santa Clara Cuban Radio

I'd like to visit Cuba someday, so when I heard CO6LC in Santa Clara Cuba this morning, I dusted off the microphone (this is rare for me) and made a quick 59 contact with my QRP rig. I've worked Cuba before but my last contact was from the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Today's contact was easily made with only one of two attempts from my Charleston home. (despite the competition of many many stations)  My previous contact with Cuba, a few years ago, was Eduardo (CO8LY) in Santiago Cuba. This mornings contact was made with 10 watts SSB.

Santa Clara has an interesting history with Short Wave radio.

In 1958 Che Guevara created the clandestine radio station "Radio Rebeld" (Rebel Radio) which broadcast news to the Cuban people. Today, it uses 44 transmitters on the FM dial covering 98% of the island. Guevara  copied the idea after observing the effectiveness of a CIA supplied radio station in Guatemala. It was it as an effective tool to overthrow the Guatemala government of Jacobo Guzman.

My original hopes for this mornings contact was the host of the Cuban Radio Program "DX'ers Unlimited" that I hear on the short wave bands here at night. Arnie Coro (CO2KK) is the host of that program. It's an excellent show to which I listen regularly on the 49 meter band.

I think the importance of radio is vastly underestimated these days. Especially it's ability to reach a large audience with little cost. Several years ago, I reached my tolerance with AM talk radio here in the United States and am still toying with the idea of putting a low cost AM station on the air in this valley.

If will be a simple portable micro station. It's perfectly legal when designed and operated according to current FCC regulations. I'd like to see much easier access to the AM radio bands and much more allowable  power in the future. Several states, here in the US, are submitting legislation with the hopes of allowing more freedom on the airwaves. Unfortunately, West Virginia isn't one of them.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

From West Virginia to Washington in 2 Minutes

Here's one for the books....This morning, just before breakfast, I turned on the radio and listened to the 40 meter band. I heard a very weak West Virginia station (W3NP) operating as K3Y/8. We managed to exchange RST, QTH, Name and SKCC #'s and then he just vanished into thin air. I don't work many West Virginia stations because short distances are naturally difficult on any band. Nothing very unusual.

But a few days ago, I worked a station on 20 meters in the state of Washington. I seem to have a pipeline into Washington state on 20 meters for some reason. If I hear nothing else at all, Washington state seems to pop in on my 20 meter band.

The exciting part of this story is the next station I heard down one MHz on my 40 meter band.

Paul (NG7Z) was just starting to send CQ de K3Y/7 from his Washington state QTH (again) and I was in the right spot at the right time. That's his picture at the top of the page.

The unexpected part was hearing and working him on 40 meters!
I've worked a few coast to coast stations on 40 meters and have even worked France once. But it's unusual to say the least. (especially QRP with an indoor antenna)

The weather was nice and sunny yesterday and I braved the cold air when I took off on the bike. Today the high is supposed to be near 46 degrees. My choice between sitting inside and playing radio or getting outdoors on the bike is a difficult one. Unfortunately for radio....I'm needing the exercise, fresh air, and the feel of wind in my face. But if I return home for a brief break, I'll have the rig tuned up and ready to go.

Alaska is due on the air again this evening. I'd sure like to work him and the bands seem favorable.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Starting the New Year

This morning I mistakingly answered a CQ station which I thought was a Straight Key Century Club member. They were using a familiar format which is used by several clubs. (Call, RST, Name and Number). When I realized I had sent my club number,  from the wrong club,  and the station had no e-mail address posted on the web, the only thing I could do was re-call and admit my mistake. I then sent my 5W and an explanation.

Last year, I participated in this Special Event Contest and had a lot of fun working as many stations as possible in different areas of the country. You can find all the details of this years event from the SKCC link on the right side of this blog.

My old Brunnell straight key is very simple but I love the sound that only comes with this type of key. It was given to me from the estate of a SK who wished to remain antonymous and I cherish it as much as my radio. It's a little over a hundred years old and still functions flawlessly. I've began using this "straight key" almost exclusively. Even in long contests.

The first station I worked this morning was another QRP station in the state of Maine (K0ZK). We both exchanged 599 reports and I was astounded that he was 661 miles from me and using 5 watts of power. But his "club number" was the most puzzling I've ever heard on the bands.

I listened closely as he sent 1ooNN.....

Ever heard anything like that?

I haven't, but that's what he sent, and I assume the only purpose was to play with other people's heads. (I don't mean this as nonconstructive criticism). And after thinking about it for a minute or two, I found it quite amusing.

I used to do this kind of stuff with signal lights and semaphore when I was in the Navy. BCNU (Be seeing you)  is particularly amusing when sent as semaphore, especially when "around" is added by flinging one's arms around your body to the bewilderment of a confused and puzzled sailor trying to make sense out or it. The more I thought about it, the funnier it became.

K0ZK was actually an ARCI member (correct number 10099).

My highlight of the first day of this new year, was trying to work K3Y/KL7. (He was actually KL8DX in Alaska).  It's the first time I've heard this state and he was a little over 3,000 miles from me. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't make the catch. However, the pursuit was just as fun. I listened and tried to work him for half an hour. Hihi

I did however, work another Washington State stationK3Y/7 was actually NG7Z and member # 802T. I seem to have a pipeline into Washington for some reason.

I worked a few more stations this year than the previous one. This year I have 295 new stations listed in the log book. (255 for the year 2009). I've now worked 242 SKCC stations, 330 FISTS members, 188 QRP stations and 190 NAQCC members. These bring my totals to 838 since retirement.

I'm looking forward to many more.