Friday, March 25, 2011
This one is questionable because I didn't get the customary QSL response from this station. But I know he heard me because he returned most of my call several times. It was one of those contacts where you get bits and pieces of it (on the high null of the signal) as it drifts back and forth into the noise.
Officially, I can't claim the contact, and since the operator didn't have an e-mail posted on the web, I'll never know for sure if he copied my call correctly or not.
But this was the first time I've heard this prefix. It was so unusual (MW0) that it literally jumped right out in front of me when I heard him calling.
I also remember this castle. My wife and I visited here when we traveled by coach from the tip of Scotland, thru Wales, and onward to London. It's beautiful country and reminded me of home because of it's mountains. We even took a train to the peak of its highest mountain.
I have great memories of this entire trip. I found the United Kingdom to be a fascinating place. Every country has its problems but I found life much more simple here and I admire that in any culture.
We all seem to go out of our way to make life much more complicated than it needs to be.
Why can't we keep it simple? (QRP)
Posted by Jspiker at 6:40 PM
Friday, March 18, 2011
Last night I worked John (K2ZA) in Franklinville New Jersey. That's certainly not a long distance contact for me but it was a very enjoyable (and very long) talk. As a lot of hams do, he pulled up my info on QRZ and made a comment about "picking". We spent nearly an hour talking about Folk, Jazz, Bebop, and Bluegrass.
I think too many CW QSO's follow the Name, Location, Signal Report, and Weather Report format. There's nothing wrong with that, but after making close to a thousand CW contacts now, it's really refreshing to talk about something else from time to time.
I continue to see a similarity between a good CW operator and those that love music. I've said before that listening to a good Morse Code operator is like listening to a good piece of music.
Maybe it's the creativity?
After the chat last night, I looked up his information on the QRZ.com site and was delighted to see his customized QSL card.
I admire a card like this one and I often make special cards like this for my 30 meter contacts.
I hope to some paddling myself this spring. West Virginia is full of small lakes and streams where a kayaker can paddle for miles. The thing I especially like about a kayak is it's quietness and it's ability to navigate shallow water. I've literally sneaked right up on deer and turkey in a small lake.
John (N2ZA) looks like he's enjoying his day on the lake!
Posted by Jspiker at 1:38 PM
Thursday, March 17, 2011
The solar flux has dropped again, and predictably, I haven't heard DX for the last week. But it seems, when the bands can't get much worse, I'm amazingly skipping signals to the 2,000 mile range, even when I hardly hear a thing on the bands. I guess there are some stations that are "just in the right spot at the right time".
Such seems to be the case with KE7PZX in Chelan Washington. (the state). This small town (pop. 3522) is only at 1,129 feet elevation. I've worked Al six different times now and we're able to exchange the basics about our rigs, antenna, and weather. I think thats amazing considering my indoor antenna and QRP power. My log book now shows 15 different contacts in the state of Washington.
My other contacts seem to be a single bounce at the 1,000 mile range. With the very poorest conditions, I still work Texas quite easily. And....I always enjoy working another QRP station in Sherbrooke, Canada. I've worked VE2PID many times with his 3 watts.
I still continue to reduce my power to the absolute minimum when I hear a very strong station. Last night I worked another station (WA4BNO) and also (W9OAW) with 1 watt of power. I love the comments from the other station when I do this....
I worked another "lighthouse on the air" a few days ago. AA1KS was sending CQ from Moose Island Maine next to the Canadian border.
I've been listening (desperately) again for Arnie (CO2KK/QRP) in Havana Cuba, but I'm not hearing anything farther south than Florida. Arnie e-mailed me last week and said he would mention me on his radio program "Dxers Unlimited". which is broadcast on 6000 MHz and 6050 MHz on the 49 meter band.
I thought I had missed it, due to obligations at the state capitol. I was elated when I caught the English transmission the next evening. He commented on my attempt to work him and read my e-mail on the air. I still have high hopes to work him when the band gets better.
Posted by Jspiker at 11:32 AM
Friday, March 11, 2011
I miss working those DX stations. The band just hasn't been there the last few days. But 20 meters still continues to amaze me with the stations I hear and am able to work. My "standard" contacts are now back to those in Washington State, Texas, and Nova Scotia. It seems about a thousand miles per bounce.
I worked KE7PZX in Chelan Washington yesterday evening. He's almost exactly 2,000 miles from me. I've worked him a total of six times since last November. I continue to work VE1BA in Kingston Nova Scotia quite often. John is also a QRP operator that uses three watts from his location which is about a thousand miles from me. I've worked him five times now.
My biggest operating change now is the habit of reducing my power to the absolute minimum. This afternoon I worked W9OAW who was in Ashland Wisconsin. Gabe is only 738 miles from me, but since I was hearing him 599+, I responded with one watt.
Before the end of the QSO, I reduced my power all the way (the radio won't go any lower) to one half a watt. He could still hear me but suggested I return to my mighty one watt. I upped the power to 5 watts and he said I was about to burn the house down with my signal.
If I had originated the QSO with one half a watt instead of one watt, that would have been another 1000 mpw award. I really like the response that I get when I notify the other station that I'm using one watt of power.
The above picture is of an old loading dock used for Iron Ore in Ashland Wisconsin. It was last used in 1965.
It's cut and pasted from the Wikipedia site with permission of the owner.
Posted by Jspiker at 2:43 PM
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
I've worked several stations in Cuba recently, so when I heard CO2KK calling, on the 20 meter QRP frequency, it easily captured my attention. He was very weak, but since I worked a Puerto Rico station a few days ago, with a watt, I decided to give it a try.
I immediately recognized Arnie (CO2KK) as the person I've heard on the "Radio Habana Cuba" shortwave broadcast. When I was a kid in high school, I used to listened to his broadcasts on a Knight Kit "regenerative receiver" of which I used a long piece of telephone wire for an antenna.
I thought he heard me, and was attempting a return contact, but another station (AG8K) who was near the gulf coast was in a better position. I was drooling as I listened to him work the other station.
After the brief contact, he sent CQ again and I tried to work him several more times . No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't do it..... even with my maximum 10 watts.
A little later, I sent Arnie a brief e-mail. He returned it this morning. He could tell I was there and even copied N8Z.....It was a very nice e-mail.
Maybe next time?
BTW/ Cuba makes one of the finest cigars in the world. It was close but........
To hear his program " Dxers Unlimited " click on the link for information.
Posted by Jspiker at 6:59 PM
Monday, March 7, 2011
The band seems to be relatively quiet this evening but I heard this "special event station" in St Petersburg Florida, calling and decided to return the call with 3 watts of power. I'm in the habit now of taking a guess at the distance, and lowering my power to the absolute minimum. I like the challenge.
These three letter calls (W4F) always stand out like a shouting policeman to me.
This Florida station is celebrating the "90th Anniversary" of the "Festival of States". I especially like working these kinds of stations, although in my opinion, not enough of them take advantage of using Morse Code. My only regrets this evening is that I didn't make the contact with one watt instead of three.
It sounds like a fun event " Festival of States St Petersburg Florida"
Posted by Jspiker at 3:06 PM
Sunday, March 6, 2011
The last two weekends have been a fantastic DX time for me. Last weekend I was getting about twice the distance with half the effort by using CW, but this weekend was the ARRL DX International Phone Contest. Since the band was so responsive, I dusted off the microphone (for this once a year event) and it paid off big time in my DX log.
For reasons I can't explain, the band went South this evening.
I started off in the usual western direction and worked TM6M and TM1W. Both were located in France. But after those, everything was towards South America. I worked Cuba again (CO6LC), and then KP2M in the Virgin Islands, and on to HK1X in Columbia. (incredibly loud). My last contact before the end of the contest was YV5EED in Venezuela.
I've worked more 20 meter DX stations, in the last two weeks, than I've previously worked in the last two years.
Is the new solar cycle up and running now?.......I'd say without a doubt.....YES!
The last station I worked in Venezuela was my 56th DX Contact.
In the last two weeks, I've worked Cuba (twice), Costa Rica (Twice), Spain (twice), Bermuda, Puerto Rico (once at 5 watts and another at 1 watt), Croatia, Sweden, England (twice), Bulgaria, France (4 times), Africa, Germany, Columbia, the Virgin Islands, and Venezuela.
I've also earned two more 1000 mile per watt awards!
Posted by Jspiker at 7:20 PM
This morning was a mile stone for me....My 50th DX contact with my modest QRP station!
The 20 meter band is again hopping (like a jumping frog). I worked TI5N in Alajuela Costa Rica this morning while listening to the continued ARRL International DX contest this weekend. I chose this photograph because Costa Rica is known as one of the most Eco friendly places on this planet. Beware of small brightly colored frogs tho.....most are highly toxic and can be very deadly by just touching them with your finger.
The solar flux is 135.
It's been a good weekend for a QRP operator here in the United States. It's difficult to believe I can be heard amongst the "serious DX'ers" while using a 10 watt SSB signal and a 'no gain' antenna. All the credit really goes to those with a great rig, a massive antenna array, and exceptional filtering. But this is exciting for me nonetheless.
While listening for a "close" DX station I might be able to work, I was hearing 9A1A and 9A7V (both in Croatia), OH8X in Finland, and RL3A in Moscow Russia. I could probably work a few more stations this afternoon but I've accomplished my goal and I'm happy to sit on the sideline awhile.
Posted by Jspiker at 8:55 AM
Surprised again with another two DX contacts. To me, these were fantastic contacts because they were on 40 meters. My first contact was EA7KW in Sevilla Spain and the second was ED1R in Avila Spain. Both were contest stations and difficult to work because of the competition.
I was hearing dozens of American mid west and west coast stations working these two guys.
I'd say 40 meters was a little LONG!
I'm at # 49 now in the DX Log book.
Posted by Jspiker at 5:17 AM
Saturday, March 5, 2011
I had no idea what was happening on the bands this evening. I've been out and about doing different things today. Late this evening I was surprised when I heard this station (VP9/W6) in Bermuda. He was participating in a contest and I was luck enough to work him with 10 watts. A very strong Slovenia station was on the band (S51YI) along with a station in Brazil (PR2B) but couldn't work them. This station in Bermuda is my 47th DX contact I've made with my QRP station and a simple wire antenna.
I'll feel a sense of accomplishment with I hit # 50.
Posted by Jspiker at 5:53 PM