Sunday, November 20, 2011
It doesn't get any easier to get on the air than using this basic, but functional, 10 meter end fed dipole. This morning, I had intended to get outside with the radio but when I looked out the window, it was raining. The weather report said "sunshine" and temp in the mid 60's, it's a shame it's in liquid form.
Not to despair, it took only 5 minutes to string up the new antenna, and being only 17 ft long, it's a "piece of cake" to get up and running. I've installed a "hook" in the bathroom door frame now, but this morning, I still used a piece of "kite string" wrapped around an ink pen which I placed behind the door and drew tight with an old Navy knot called a "taunt line hitch". It allows the knot to slide along but remain steadfast when pressure is applied on the line. (that's just a simple loop around the ink pen)
Another few seconds to attach the coax, and I'm on the air again.
I didn't find the band in good shape this morning, but I immediately worked DG1KAH in Germany. (SSB) She gave me a good signal report.
This weekend, there's a "SS" contest here in the United States and it made it difficult for me to make DX contacts. I don't have "filters" in the radio but I heard strong French, Ireland, and English stations.
I feel confident I could have worked (if not for the noise) GI0AIJ in Northern Ireland, who by the way, sounded much better than 99% of the US stations. I also heard a very strong VO1KVT in Newfoundland.
I heard several Caribbean stations and worked NP2B in St. Criox, the Virgin Islands, with just 4 watts. (SSB)
It's puzzling, but I did not hear many "CW" operators on the band. There were a few "beacons", but they were "few" CW operators. I don't quite understand this, since it was quite easy to work anything in the United States and Western Canada with single side band. (cw is twice the distance with half the power)
Now that I have the "hook" installed in the top of the bathroom door facing, I'll be looking forward to spending more time on 10 meters. As I said earlier, set up and take down is less than 5 minutes, and it seems, with good conditions, I should be able to work many DX stations.
This is going to be lots of fun.
Posted by Jspiker at 12:59 PM
Saturday, November 19, 2011
This morning (about 11am) I decided to stretch the new end fed 10 meter dipole out, and see if anyone was on the air. It's 30 degrees this morning, so, just for fun, I stretched it out inside the house between the bathroom window and the bedroom window with some string. (yea...I'm chicken and didn't want to brave the elements)
I really had no expectations of hearing much, but I immediately worked PI4DX in the Netherlands. I don't work there often, and was just ecstatic when he returned my signal report as 59.
A few moments later, I worked EA2AAZ in Spain. Another good signal report of 57 and I was shaking my head in wonderment.
For the very first effort with this end fed dipole, I'm very pleased. Perhaps tomorrow afternoon, I can head out to the local park and do much better. I'm looking forward to playing with this antenna since it's only 17 ft long. If I can find the right tree limb, I'll hang it vertically.
I also heard strong stations in France, England, and Germany.
Posted by Jspiker at 10:09 AM
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Yesterdays DX contacts were a nice addition to the log book, but just before sunset, I heard what I thought was probably a QRP station sending CQ from the upper parts of the US. But when I answered the call, Ernest (AA1IK) gave me a QTH in Florida. Not a real long distance, but, for me at least, another 2 x QRP contact is a prized catch. This is a really nice "card" in my book.....especially coming from another QRP station using a simple antenna. (actually a mag loop)
I've worked 121 DX stations now, but every time I work another QRP station using a "simple wire antenna", I get just as much an adrenalin rush as those "big gun" stations across the pond. This Florida contact was a difficult catch (both of us were 229) but, to me at least, this is the ultimate pleasure on the air waves.
Ernest (AA1IK) has an especially nice QSL card (above). It's a great example of what I think makes a "good" card. Being a fellow QRP operator, I'll always remember this one. He is also my 267th 2 X QRP QSO. I'm not talking about "contest contacts" here. These are actual "QSO's". I cherish every one of them.
Posted by Jspiker at 7:44 AM
Friday, November 11, 2011
I had no intention of chasing DX this afternoon but Joe (EC6AAE) in the Balearic Islands, on the far side of Spain, was just booming in on the east coast. Joe is in the town of Pollensa, on the northern tip of one of the big islands. I sent a confirmation e-qsl card with the hopes of receiving his in a few days.
Posted by Jspiker at 12:16 PM
Saturday, November 5, 2011
As expected, I made a couple of nice contacts today when I drove out of the valley and into the mountains with my QRP rig, a good battery and several antennas in the trunk. The Hawks Nest State Park is about an hours drive from home and as an additional pleasure, my 91 year old father came along for the ride.
I was able to get the G5RV antenna into the air with just a couple of quick shots from my slingshot and then I was "on the air". The last time I used this antenna was on a "beach trip" to the outer banks of North Carolina which was several years ago. I've had it a long time and bought it because its a "multi band" antenna.
I had trouble with it today. It wouldn't tune up properly and my standing wave was terrible on a several bands. At best, I could put 3 watts into it without having severe problems. Today might be the last time I use this antenna. I think the problem is "cheap wire". It's very brittle, difficult to work with and difficult to erect without "pinching" the wire. I think there's a "break" somewhere and will have to look closely at it later this week.
For my money, I just don't think you can beat my PAR antenna which is cut for 40-20 and 10 meters.
My first good contact was with Wolfgang (OK1IWS) in the Czech Republic. There's a picture above of their rail system. Sure wish we had something like that here in West Virginia. About an hour later, I worked Ton PA1CC in Tilburg, the Netherlands.
I hate the stiff difficult wire that's used in my G5RV antenna. I probably will not take it along on the next field outing. I've learned something today. For me, it's best to stay with a dedicated band antenna. I was happy to be outside operating today. I could have worked many US stations today but searched for the good DX catches. Although I've worked the Czech Republic several times earlier, today was only the second time I've worked the Netherlands.
My father enjoyed sitting in the sunshine and listening to the obvious Spanish, French, German, and even Australian accents. He finds it fascinating that I can carry on a conversation with many of these people with 10 watts of power, sitting in a park, using a car battery, and using such a small radio.
I'll always take my PAR antenna along on future trips but will use a dedicated dipole for 30 and 15 meters.
Posted by Jspiker at 4:37 PM
Friday, November 4, 2011
The 20 meter band was absolutely dismal this afternoon but I managed to work this Special Event Station on the Great Lakes. (N8F) was actually W8VS working SSB from the Great Lakes Ship Museum. I've always liked worked "Special Event Stations", and especially ships, (obviously not this one) so I dusted off the microphone.
The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald was a modern day tragedy when it sank in a winter storm on Nov 10th, 1975 with the loss of all shipmates. It went down quickly. The cause is still unknown but theories suggest hitting a reef, being pounded by a "rogue wave", or faulty hatch covers. The wreckage was found in about 530 ft of water. It's sitting on the bottom of the lake in two large pieces. The ships bell was recovered on July 4th, 1995.
I've been watching the DX clusters this afternoon and see lot's of activity on 15 and 10 meters. The weather is supposed to be fair tomorrow. I plan to drive out of the valley and set up my G5RV antenna. I should be on the air around 18:00 GMT.
The only other station I worked today was AK9A near Madison Wisconsin. He was QRP but only a short distance in 20 meter terms. Hopefully tomorrow, on either 15 or 10 meters, I'll be able to jump across the pond.
Posted by Jspiker at 2:55 PM
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
A New York station just finished a QSO with this station and I was lucky enough for OK7FL in Mlada Boleslav of the Czech Republic to hear me on the same frequency. (14.026)
This is one of the riches cities in the Czech Republic due to a large automobile factory. Skoda is a Volkwagen Group Subsidiary and sold 762,500 automobiles worldwide in the year 2010.
Vasek usually QSL's via E-QSL so hope to have a return card soon. Although the solar flux numbers don't look that encouraging, I kept hearing LX1NO in Luxembourg yesterday but couldn't work him.
Posted by Jspiker at 12:46 PM
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Yesterday I worked Joe (DL4KCA) for the third time this year. I was using 4 watts again and he had a good copy on me. (549) . Joe always surprises me by asking if I'm still using my QRP rig to make the contact. He says "Hello John in Charleston, WV". Since I don't usually have my "net book" in front of me, it startles me a bit. hihi The call sounded familiar, but I'm never sure when I work a station in Germany. Today was my 15th German contact. Yesterday, Joe was my 116th DX contact.
Joe (DL4KCA) and I exchanged weather reports and talked for a moment about my radio blog. It seems that he reads it regularly. It was great to hear him again and I look forward to more contacts when the band is up. He had an excellent signal here, 350 miles inland from the coastline of the USA. I would have considered him a local if not for the DL in the call. Yesterday he was 579 into West Virginia.
I'm not sure about his power level but he uses a G5RV for an antenna.
I've not been on the radio a lot lately, (at least 20 meters) I've been chatting on 40 meters again. I find most 20 meter contacts very brief. (usually a name and signal report). Contacts like Joe are rare on 20 meters. With the exception of OK1KW in the Czech Republic, most don't take the time to say hello. It's a real pleasure to work a DX station like these, who take a few minutes to chat.
I can understand the difficulty of working a 5 watts station at 4000 + miles. But it sure makes it fun for me.
Posted by Jspiker at 8:24 AM