My Most Recent QSO's

Thursday, November 20, 2008

599 into New York

I had a VERY nice, long 40 meter (7058 Mhz) QSO this morning, while waiting for the cholesterol medicine to "kick in" before breakfast. We must have been exactly the right distance, for the first bounce, to get signals (both ways) like this. I threw the call sign out this morning about 9:30 (est) and WB2FXK came back to me with a signal that rattled the room.

Although I get signal reports (quite often at the 579 level), there's not many that reach the 599, Jack in Horseheads, NY was a surprise. At first, I had to think about telling him I was QRP but sooner or later, in every QSO, the power level becomes a question.

I usually send the rig, power, and antenna, on the second exchange, and he was amazed that I was using 5 watts and an indoor antenna. (Of course, Jack had a really good antenna-- which has a lot to do with a good report--and he was using about 75 watts from near Elmira, NY.

If I'm not mistaken, Elmira (used to be and maybe still is) the home of the Schweizer Sailplane Company. I've flown in the SGS 2-33, a few times. It's a close to being a bird as you can ever be....

The world "sailplane distance record" used to be held by a pilot that flew the Allegheny Mountains from near Pittsburgh PA, and a place in Tennessee, and back....... in the same day! I've watched a few fly over from a lookout tower near Peters Mountain in WV. Think about that for a minute....that's a LONG was to fly in a plane without an engine!

If you've never been in the sky in one of these, try this place. Harris Hill Soaring Center, Elmira, NY

Jack's antenna was a trap dipole, on a tri band Yagi, up about 50 feet. We talked about the Dayton Hamfest a few minutes and "snow showers" here and there. I mentioned to him that next week, I was going to New York City for several days, ....he jokingly sez "I thot u wr a hillbilly" Hihi. His XYL had the coffee ready and we both 73'ed for bacon and eggs!


12-10-2008----This afternoon the mailman brought this fine card to me.

I don't usually display my QSL cards, on this site, but this one from Jack (WB2FXK) is particularly nice!

I'm proud of this one.....I sent a return card immediately!

NAQCC Sprint last night

The NAQCC Sprint is one of my favorite events because it gives me the opportunity to work more QRP stations. Last night between 0130z and 0330z was the monthly event for these QRP club operators. I was fearful that I wouldn't catch any operators, as the event began, because I didn't hear anyone on either the 20 meter or 40 meter bands. That meant my only opportunity for success would be on my worst 80 meter band! (not an encouraging bit of news)

I took me a long time to realize my chances for contacts would be the "sit and wait" method.
The "search and pounce" method just didn't work because of all the competition from those with "great antenna's" and "great ears".

I wasn't successful until near the end of the contest. (a lot of stations give up by then)
The key was to throw out my call and let them come to me. It worked.... when I used "half steps" (using .5 intervals) and I also put my radio into "reverse CW mode".

The "reverse CW mode" changes the audio of interfering stations, much the same as shifting from USB and LSB on a SSB radio. I don't understand (technically) how it's accomplished, but....hey, it seems to work for me when I'm listening to VERY weak signals!

Towards the end of the contest (the last half hour) I was able to work K4BAI (Georgia), W1TF (Georgia) and last but not least, N1LU in New Hampshire. The New Hampshire station was especially rewarding to me because I've never worked that state on 80 meters!

That's not many contacts but for an indoor antenna and 5 watts, I'm very happy to have worked these three guys. And the really great thing..... it's QRP to QRP !!

I had a little advantage by using a "straight key" (I get double points for using this key) and it will be intersting to see the results posted on their web site:


I imagine it will take a few days to calculate, and post on the North American QRP CW Club site.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My Morning QSO

Its cold here in Kanawha Valley today (23 degrees) but in Stover, Missouri -- it's Sunny and warm. (51 F). This morning, I worked KC0JKD (for the third time) in the last few years.

I heard Jim pretty well again (we usually send 559 reports both ways) but the beginning was very weak for both of us....
I had just sent my call on 7058 Mhz when I heard N8? (and he was weak also). I again sent my full call, and this time he returned with TU OM...very weak but lets try. UR RST 229--Name Jim QTH Stover, MO HW CPY?

The rest of the QSO was at the 559 level..... Evidently, we were both in the bottom of a QSB cycle and good signals were present from here on out. I was glad to hear "GM John UR SIG up 559 now. Got info FB on QRP ES doing just fine".

There was a lot of activity just one KC down from us but I copied his old " Tentec Delta" very well (If I'm not mistaken, this one is a CLASSIC "multi-band rig") for the rest of the brief QSO. I love those Tentec rigs! (they never seem to wear out)

We're both FISTS members, and exchanged #'s both ways, for the contact. (Jim is member number 8481 and I am member number 13968)


Last night, I listened for the elusive fox again. The hunt was for a fox in "Georgia" and another in "Colorado". I never heard either of them but DID hear a lot of barking on the 80 meter band.

I assumed the run was after "Georgia" but I was Friend Gari (K8KFJ), in the next town here, caught him in Colorado. Great Job!

It was good to work Jim (KC0JDK) in Missouri again this morning (600 miles from me) but this just shows the importance of good filtering in a rig.
I can get the distance, but a big bunch of hounds pursuing a running fox, calls for a good pair of very narrow ears!

If you're a radio'll understand that statement.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Navy Amateur Radio Club

This morning, I deviated from the norm, (I actually used the "SSB" microphone on the radio) and was surprised that I could "check in" with the " Navy Amateur Radio Club". I'm a member of this group because, (how could you guess) I was a former "Signalman" on a Navy Destroyer back in the late 60's. (the USS Corry DD-817)
Their Web Site is here: USS Corry DD 817 Association

Actually, I was a Boatswains Mate, while a member of the Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club, but near the end of my tour in Vietnam, I re-discovered my Morse Code skills and transferred to the signal bridge. I was helping the Quartermasters, with their daily navigation duties, and could read the "slow code" being sent back and forth, between our ships, to verify our latitude and longitude readings on the nautical maps we used at the time.

This morning, the band was again very long, and although the net control station (N4USN) wasn't able to hear me, K4GWG was able to relay my "weather report" and a few details to the net control station.
I was amazed Larry (K4GWG) could hear me from Tennessee this morning. (I've been very lax on "check-ins" because of my QRP power and poor band conditions). A lot of these guys are "down-south" or "up north" towards the Great Lakes. It's hard to work them with 10 watts and an indoor antenna. The solar flux this morning is 68 doesn't get much worse than this as far as radio is concerned.

But to make the QSO more memorial, Larry actually remembered my name, QTH, and QRP status here in Charleston, WV! (I don't think they get a lot of "QRP" stations checking into the net, so when one makes the news).

There's a special bond between "Veterans" and I enjoy checking in with everyone. I'm hoping the winter months will continue to improve the bands and I'll be able to do more of this....

There are many memories I'll only discuss with "Vietnam Veterans".....if you haven't "been there", it's no use trying to get others to understand. I know that may not make a lot of sense to some people but it's futile to waste time trying to persuade people that "haven't been there" the complexities of the Tonkin Gulf shoreline and rivers.

I'm very proud of my service to my country and the sacrifices of my former shipmates. I have two honorable discharges (one from the Navy and one from the Air Force).'s much too long a story for this blog.

This group is a nice platform to remember those who served on the high seas and coastal shorelines. It was nice listening to the conversations this morning!

My member number is 720.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Run for the Bacon

I got a kick out of the Flying Pigs "Run for the Bacon" contest last night. It was my first event, with this club, and I actually worked a few stations (QRP) at 5 watts. I don't do real well with these type of events because of my indoor antenna and "standard filtering" on my Icom 703 QRP rig. I can get the distance....(last night it was about 1,000 miles into Texas) but unless the other station is "off frequency" just a bit, It's VERY difficult to distinguish "piglets" from one another.

My first contact was W5RCP in Putnam, Texas and he was VERY weak (his RST 229). I worked him at 0218z (18 minutes after the start of the Bacon Run). He actually returned my call, when I sent out CQFP from 7044 Mhz on the 40 meter band. Before I changed freq's to the 80 meter band, I also heard W5TA in Round Rock, Texas but couldn't get him to hear me.

Last night, the 40 meter band was VERY long again! (since I didn't hear anything between here in West Virginia and Texas). I've found this to be the case the last several days now with the solar flux at 68.

On the good side....when I listened to 3562 MHZ on the 80 meter band, PIGS were everywhere!

I managed to work WA0TCO in Edina, MN at about 0309z and was also hearing (among other squealing pigs) two stations in Connecticut (KG1W and K1EV) and another (N4FI) in Norfolk, Va.

One of GREAT things about these type of (QRP) clubs (and something I'm sure the casual reader on this blog doesn't recognize) is these stations, are ALL using 5 watts, or less, of power to communicate with each other.

It's often been said "give me an acre of Aluminium and a Kilowatt, and I'll work the world". How true.....but QRP x QRP is SO satisfying.... It's not the money and equipment that creates the fun, it's the fun of communication with simple rigs and simple antenna's.

Some people actually call it "skill".....I think so too!

The Flying Pigs Web Site can be viewed here:

I'm member number 1896.

Flying Pigs QRP Club International

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hounds Barking

I wasn't able to make the "Fox Hunt"....Dinner with good friends can last awhile. It was near 11 PM when we finished desert and played a game of Scrabble. Friends and family always come first..... Besides, they'll be lots of other opportunities this winter.

I brought the antenna back indoors (received an interesting comment from the neighbor next door---"that's temporary isn't it?") and re-installed my three Isotrons on the indoor mast.

I must's nice to listen to the bands, from the next room, and run back and QSO when I hear an interesting station.

I can't imagine NOT ever having a radio!

Yesterday morning, I worked K4JER (Jerry in Shelbyville TN) . We've worked before and it was good to hear him. I sent him an e-mail abt his station and he returned mine with a "hello and good to hear you again".

The last few days, the band has been extremely LONG on 40 meters, . I looked at the log books, of the two Fox's, this morning and noticed most of the contacts were at 1,000 miles or better!

My Friend Gari (K8KFJ), in the next town , couldn't even hear the Georgia fox and only one station in West Virginia was able to claim the pelt.

But the Wyoming fox (WC7S) was a different character......Gari bagged him 12 minutes into the hunt!

I worked an interesting station (KB6NU) in Ann Arbor Michigan this morning. Dan is only 300 miles from me in a straight line. Great signal (579) but the band is still wildly fluctuating .

QSB soon reduced the signal to near the noise level.

Dan is a VERY active ham in Michigan and FISTS # 9342. (I work a LOT of stations on 7058 Mhz). He is running for the ARRL Great Lakes Division Vice Director again.

I wish him the best and will track his progress on his web site:

(Dan is the guy on the right)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fox in the Woods

I've been off the air for a few days because relatives were visiting, and then Halloween, and then the elections.... Sometimes there's just not enough hours in the day. (even when you're retired).
Tonight is one of the first few " FOX HUNTS " of the winter season and I REALLY want to catch the "Wyoming" Fox but..... There's a BIG problem for me this year!
We inadvertently scheduled dinner with some friends, just up the street, and it's really going to be close timing to eat, drink, and be merry and then do a quick "fox hunt".......
To make matters worse;

I live in a "Historical District" which has MANY reasons to NOT have an antenna showing outdoors.... but I chanced it this evening and placed the 40 Meter Isotron on a painters pole, just outside the window where I usually keep my indoor station.

My neighbors can't say much about the "temporary" structure outside the bedroom window but they can cause some problems if it's up for much more than a few days. I hope there's not a big fuss but these are extraordinary circumstances tonight.
I have high hopes for catching the elusive fox's tonight (0ne in Georgia and one in Wyoming). I caught the Wyoming fox last year. It won't be the end of the world, but its SO much fun....
As a test, just at sunset this evening, I threw out my call on 7058 Mhz (2250z).

N5DY (Jack) of Stillwater Oklahoma answered me. That about 875 miles, as the crow flies from here. This tells me the FOX can be had.....if he's not back in the brush by the time I can get in the woods.

Monday, November 10, 2008

AM Radio Broadcasting

For several years, I’ve been alarmed at the “drivel” presented on the AM Radio Waves in America. When talk radio emerged in 1949 the “Fairness Doctrine” was established to mandate opposing political and social views.

In 1969 the Supreme Court said:

"It is the purpose of the First Amendment to preserve an uninhibited
marketplace of ideas in which truth will ultimately prevail, rather than to
countenance monopolization of that market, whether it be by the government
itself or a private licensee. It is the right of the public to receive
suitable access to social, political, esthetic, moral and other ideas and
experiences which is crucial here. That right may not constitutionally be
abridged either by Congress or by the FCC."

— U.S. Supreme Court, Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC, 1969.

But ever since the early 80’s, AM Radio has deteriorated into a virtual cesspool of misinformation. There’s only a limited space on the AM Radio dial and most of it is owned and operated by a very few select owners.

This is an important issue….. Our form of government demands a medium for discussion and dialogue. It’s not happening now!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Radio St Helena

I spend about 90% of my time on the Amateur bands using Morse Code (CW) but sometimes, there are "Special Event" broadcasters that use the SSB or AM modes. Sometimes, on rare occasions, I'll try to make a contact in the brief time they are on the air.

In the past, I've made some interesting contacts with guys transmitting from ships and lighthouses, the Russian Space Station (MIR), and a bunch of Hams operating from State Fairs and Historical Spots. It's nice to get a QSL card from them celebrating the event.

One of the most recent I've contacted was transmitting from the "Calgary Stampede" event in (where else) Calgary, Alberta Canada. (that's a good coast to coast contact for me). I have a music friend that lives there and was probably playing at one of the many rodeo events during that week.

But probably the rarest station I've logged in the past, is on a little island about mid distance between Africa and South America called St Helena.
It's a shortwave broadcaster (SSB) that transmits for about one hour on one day of the year.
If you're lucky (and have a SWL receiver with SSB capabilities) you'll be able to hear them on Saturday 15 November 2008.

Listen on 11092.5 Khz in USB @ 2230-2330 UTC Time.

Here's the link to their web site: