My Most Recent QSO's

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Rome Italy 4,724 miles on 40 meters

I'm bouncing off the ceiling right now after exchanging SKCC numbers with I0QM in Rome, Italy. Bob was sending CQ SKCC QRZ on 7065 MHz @ 0306z tonight. I listened as he worked a few other station here on the east coast over a course of about 20 minutes. I kept sending my prefix between exchanges and was very careful not to interfere with the QSO's with the hopes he was hearing me and guess worked.

It was difficult because I'm only running a max 10 watts but he sent N8 a few times and something like N8BN .....etc and IMI and QRM. I thought he had given up or (maybe) I didn't have enough power for the contact but he finally sent PSE QSY DN and a series of he shifted down the band to 7062.4.
What a clever idea......

I've worked several stations in Italy on 20 meters but this was my first DX on 40 meters. He returned my name and sent me a 449 but asked for my number again. (I was so excited I forgot to send it). I copied everything and returned a 339 but his signal, at the end, peaked to an easy 559.
I can't explain my feelings now but to say I'm excited is an understatement.
Bob (I0QM) is SKCC member # 4954C and also NAQCC member #3196.
The above card is from QRZ. com but I will confirm with E-QSL.

Snow is Here

When we loose electrical power in the house, there's always a "chirping sound" that's emitted from the "CO2" sensor at the top of the stairs. This morning it happened at about 7:30 as a "power surge" was redirected towards the "state capitol building". I guess living close to the Governors Mansion has a few 'advantages' and I was glad we weren't sitting in the dark for the rest of the day.

I talked to WA1JAS in Maine last night, who was 850 miles from me, and sitting around a wood stove in 4 (f) degree temperatures. He had a great 25 watt signal and it was just beginning to rain when we attended a "Christmas Party" at the neighbors across the street. I didn't like the thought of the snow storm that I knew was heading towards us.

As we turned in last night, the rain was turning into a snowy, wet slush and there were predictions for at least a foot of snow by this morning.

We've been extremely lucky (I think the "State Capitol" building had something to do with it) and have kept the power on all day. But there were almost 19,000 people sitting in the dark this early morning in JUST our county. The "foot" of snow on the ground is an extremely wet and heavy type that smashes shrubbery when it slides off the roofs like giant sheets of ice.
This morning I worked WB2SPP in Toms River, New Jersey and he was experiencing about the same thing. The temperature has been about 32 (f) degrees today but is expected to drop lower tonight. It's going to be just one big sheet of ice in the morning!

I plugged in the charger to my 17 amp hour battery just a few moments ago. (just in case).

The entire West Virginia Turnpike was closed as of noon today.

(the above photo is from Wikipedia and NOT of West Virginia, but I think it's a good example of things to come in the morning)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Big Snow on the Way

Last night I had an interesting QSO (7043 MHz) with a ham (N3TTC) near Harrisburg, PA. Al was using an Icom rig and a simple antenna. We discussed the approaching snow storm here on the east coast. It's supposed to be significant with about a foot dropping out of the sky in West Virginia.

Last night tho....the sky was crystal clear and Al was hoping to set up his telescope and look at Jupiter and it's moons. That "big red spot" (a violent storm in that giant ball of gas in the sky) is interesting to watch as it revolves across the face of the planet. It also made me think of it's four moons that can be seen with a pair of 10 power binoculars.

Looking at Jupiter with a pair of 10 power binoculars doesn't give you an image like the one above but you can see the "bands", the red spot, and four of it's moons most of the time. Every evening the show looks different. One night you might see all 4 moons on one side of Jupiter, the next night there might be two on each side, or maybe three on one and one on the other the next night.
With all the snow predicted tonight, there won't be any sightings at all. It raining now and the temperature is dropping quickly. Living here in the valley, I really don't expect to see more than a few inches of snow. It will be interesting to see what it looks like tomorrow morning.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Navy Battleship in Wilmington NC

It was nice returning from New York last week and getting back on the air at home. On this trip, there were TOO many "social events" to play with the radio. That's just the way it goes sometimes....

But I worked a "Special Event Station" with the characteristic "three" letter call (W2W) first thing this weekend. They were recognizing " Pearl Harbor Day " and broadcasting from Pennsylvania.

I don't particularly like thinking of this event because I was a sailor on a destroyer back in the late 60's, and I know first hand the stench of burning flesh and the feel of dead weight in vinyl bags. I only think of it during days when our nation takes time to remember the "ultimate sacrifice" of those who served and still serve in our military units today.

You never forget things like that but you DO learn to live with them. That's all I have to say about that....
Pearl Harbor was the home of the Pacific Fleet in 1941 and there were dozens of ships moored there on December 7th. We knew there was an attack coming, but didn't know the exact location or the exact time. The Japanese took full advantage of that fact, with Christmas season approaching in a few weeks, and we got caught with our pants down that day.

I like working old military and civilian ships, and since I've been an amateur radio operator, I've worked several old Coast Guard Cutters, a Submarine, and an old destroyer in Baton Rouge Louisiana, but I've never worked an old Battleship.

Until late Sunday night......

I was listening to the lower end of 40 meters (7028) when I heard the very distinct "and very slow chirp" of an old CW transmitter. It wasn't a "three" letter station but was sending "NI4BK". When I returned the call, he sent his name, my RST and his QTH (Wilmington, North Carolina). I didn't realize what I was working until I looked at the "call" on the web.

It seems the ships call was originally NIBK (back in the mid 40's) before she was decommissioned in 1947. She originally had "seven" radio rooms but only one has been completely restored. The local radio club has been working on the second for several years now.

I'm reading strictly "between the lines" here...but the signal was so faint and the "chirp" so slow (barely oscillating) I think they were using one of the original CW transmitters. I didn't hear any other transmissions after my contact.

I consider myself fortunate to have worked the USS North Carolina (BB-55) with my QRP radio. (and my first Battleship). I operated with the USS New Jersey, for a few months in the late 60's, and vividly remember "seeing" and "hearing" 16" projectiles as they passed overhead. The "fire power" of these old ships were awesome.

The "Ships Bell" from the USS West Virginia (BB-48) is just up the street from me here in Charleston. She was sunk in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7 th. 1941, after being hit with two bombs and 7 torpedo's (one of which was from a miniature submarine). There were 70 sailors that lost their lives in that attack on the West Virginia along with 1,177 on the USS Arizona. In all, well more than 2,300 sailors were lost that day.

I still remember standing on the USS Arizona Memorial back in the late 60's. There's still a trace of oil oozing from the tomb below this wreckage.
(All images courtesy of Wikipedia)

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".

Thursday, October 22, 2009

First SWL Radio

I think all SWL'ers remember their first radio. Several weeks ago N2UGB made a post about his early Hallicrafter receiver and I looked everywhere for picture of mine. I've owned several but this was my first SWL radio. After much searching..... I found one. It was a Knight Kit Span Master. (a simple 2 tube regenerative reciever with headphones)

One of the neighbors GAVE it to me and I'm sorry to say, he's passed away now. It was a "kit" (I think about $30 at the time) and for some reason, he decided to spark the interest in a "young person". It probably had to do with the "Boy Scouts" since I was developing an interest in the outdoors at the time. Ralph Moore was an advocate for the BSA organization and even had his picture published on the cover of "Boy's Life". I saw it at his funeral and would have never guessed it was his smiling face gazing out the flaps of a pup tent.
These were my late "high school" days around 1963 and the "Voice of Moscow" was spouting the "10 year plan" and the danger of "Imperialist America". Cuba was a mirror image and a LOT of Shortwave broadcasts were political soundboards and nothing more.
Those were the days....
Today, I've thought it rather bizarre that the "Voice of America" doesn't broadcast to America. And if I'm not mistaken, the armed forces radio only uses the SSB mode. I've thought short wave radio to be perfect medium to share and exchange hopes and aspirations with other parts of the world. I like hearing about others lives and the countries where they live.
The radio that Ralph gave me "peaked" an interest in Morse code for me. Although I wasn't active in the Boy Scouts until the early 80's (I was a heavy equipment mechanic at the time), I learned Morse Code from the handbook.
In the Navy, during the late 60's, I was able to "read" the searchlights on other ships in the fleet. It was a 'natural' for me and I transferred to the signal bridge.
I've recently joined a SWL group on the web with the hopes of finding some of those rare stations on the air again. I use my ICOM 703 for the "serious stuff" but my most used SWL receivers now are a few "Grundig" shirt pocket rigs I use when traveling. They're pretty simple but with the satellite feeds, they get the job done.
My favorites are Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

N8A Log Book

I put the finishing touches on my N8A Log Book this morning and sent it, and a summary, to those keeping the records for the week long 5th Anniversary NAQCC Celebration. I enjoyed participating and will look forward to the event next year about this time.
It's different being the one pursued in a contest. I hope all call signs, times, freq's, and dates reflect accuracy. Some of the stations I worked were VERY weak. (there were a LOT of 229's). I found it a GREAT way to add QRP (especially NAQCC members) to my growing list of club stations.

I worry that my location here in the valley and antenna configuration was a "little too much" for some stations to work and I was really glad that another station near Akron Ohio (KB8FE) was able to jump in for a few calls near the weekend.

Those that worked me really "earned" the rare #8 call of N8A.

My totals were :
Total Number of QSO’s = 22
Club 5th Anniversary Stations = 3 ---N2A, N3A, N0A
Club Members = 14
States= 14
Dx Stations= 1 (France)
Canadian Stations = 2

My States List: Alabama , Arkansas, Canada (2), Illinois, Michigan (2), Minnesota, New Jersey (2) New York, New Mexico, New Hampshire (2), Pennsylvania (2), Texas (2), Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

1000 MPW Certificate

My NAQCC "1000 Miles per Watt Award Certificate" arrived yesterday.
I really don't have a "shack" for my simple station. I keep the radio, my key, and a small GMT clock on a table underneath my Isotron 80-40-20 combo that I use for my "antenna farm".
I keep it this way because (if I choose to do so) I can pack it up in a matter of minutes and be on the road where I can use a 4,000 ft radio tower. (That translates into one of the nearly 'one hundred' mountain tops in West Virginia above 4,000 ft.)

I will hang it in my "computer" room.

Today will be the last day of the "5 year celebration" of the NAQCC club and I will be on the air tonight for the last time with the N8A call. It was a "profitable day" yesterday since there were MANY QRP operators on the air with the ARCI club...... and it was a "gold mine" for me. I worked seven different QRP stations. Two of which I worked with both my N8A and my N8ZYA call signs.

I realise my "simple station" is at a great disadvantage because of my location and the fact that the antenna is mounted "indoors" on a painters pole, bungee corded to the bedpost, in a spare room. But I have FUN with it...and to me....that's ALL that matters.
This morning I heard (I worked this station earlier this year on 40 meters) W6DDB in California but the static between him and I prevented me from working him again. He is over 2,000 miles from me.

My 5,219 mile contact is a "highlight" for me. I keep adding new QRP operators to the log book every day but regardless of the distance....., I have a good feelings when I meet another nice person on the air. Many of the people I've worked on the air have become "good friends" and I feel especially close to those that drop by and comment on the blog. It lets us all learn about our hobby and our native countries.
For those 10,000..... that have dropped by to read and say "hello" since I began blogging about QRP radio, I say Thank You.
Your comments and suggestions have been appreciated very much. I hope you continue reading and hope (if you're not into this hobby) it's sparked an interest for you to join in the fun.

Friday, October 16, 2009

N8A Air Time

I've enjoyed my N8A air time on 40 and 80 meters this week. Working QRP can be a real challenge sometimes but it offers great rewards for those that are persistent and apply themselves to this unique mode.

I don't think the bands can get much worse but I'm still having fun trying to make the best of my contacts. Yesterday was my most rewarding day this week.

It started off on my "morning" 40 meter excursion when a very strong K9ESE returned my pitch into the wind. Jeff is my third "ESE" station that I've worked the last few months.

His QTH was also Charleston WV......

I figured he was "mobile" and traveling along the interstate pushing a ground wave for a brief few minutes. But as we talked, it became apparent he was using a 20 ft. piece of wire for an antenna with his "home brew" ATS QRP radio. It seems we're only a living a few blocks from each other and we will have a "cup of coffee" the next day or so....

I've been hearing N1LU and N0A most mornings but not today. The band has shifted a little. I worked the N5A station this afternoon on 20 meters. He was SO strong (from Texas) that I couldn't tell his exact frequency. We had inadvertently transmitted on the same frequency and I moved up some to avoid conflict. (we're about a thousand miles from each other).

I also knocked myself out trying to work a station in the Canary Islands (off the coast of Africa) but just couldn't get him to hear me.

A few hours later I went "hunting" and worked a Special Event Station (K8A) in Mio Michigan. I chuckled and sensed a little hesitation when exchanging (1x1) calls both ways. He was transmitting from a Wildlife Refuge in Michgan.

About an hour later I worked VE2PID in Canada. Pierre and I have QSO'd several times in the past and I explained my NAQCC N8 call this time.

It seems (with the exception of the French and Canadian station) my distance is around 300-500 miles on 40 meters and 1,000 miles on 20 meters. I've worked several New York and New Jersey stations. This morning I worked K2MEN in New Jersey (neat call).

The 17 stations I've worked so far have worked really hard for the contacts.

This weekend there is another 8 station coming aboard from near Akron Ohio. I'm glad to see this since the bands have been so bad this week. It will give some club members and extra shot at the "rare" #8 contact.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I was feeling a little down about my results with the NAQCC sprint last night. Heck....who wouldn't with ONE contact and not hearing ANYTHING on the QRP sections of the bands. That was the most horrible band condition I've ever worked.

There was nothing spectacular on the bands this morning as I CQ'd my hour on 40 meters and I didn't expect to work anything on 20 meters this afternoon during my daily hour.

But I WAS hearing a few stations on the other portions of the bands.

I decided to change my strategy from the "come and get me" method to the "search and pounce" method. I tuned to the standard 14.060 QRP freq and heard a VERY weak F6 signal. I immediately realized it was a French call sign but it was only there on the "peaks" and at best 229. I decided to "pounce" and see what happened because I was only copying the F6 and the H at the time.

As he "peaked" once more, I sent my N8ZYA/N8A call and to my wildest surprise he answered me!

It took several exchanges before I had his call sign correct, and several before I was sure he had mine correct, but at the end, we both exchanged the basic info for the contact. I was amazed that the "path" stayed open long enough for the exchange. Jean (F6HFX) lives in Labouheyre France....a commune near the mountain range between Spain and France.

This is what I love about NEVER know what you will work when you throw out your call sign. I have NO explanation (probably grey line) why he was able to hear me. Especially with the bands being what they've been the last several days.

All I can say is "he was there" and for me..., another surprise contact just when I needed it most!

Jean (F6HFX), fortunately, is an E-QSL member and I sent him my QSL card along with a short e-mail. I hope he downloads the log soon and returns my card.

There's still another couple of days for the "special event contacts" so (other than my daily hour on 40 and 20 meters) I'll be in the "search and pounce" mode now.

Horrible Band Conditions

Last night on the NAQCC Sprint, I found the worst conditions since I've held my ticket. There was NOTHING on the QRP sections of the bands. My only contact on 40 meters was K4YMB who was QRO and heard me sending over and over into empty space. He considered it nearly a SOS although I was a 579 there.

I even checked the antenna connections, at one point, just to make sure about things but could hear stations in other places. The rig was working fine.

This morning I heard N0A again (didn't work him) and made contacts with two stations in my one hours time on 40 meters. I worked fellow NAQCC member W0EJ in PA and (can't explain why) but another station in Arkansas. (725 miles) WO5X was not a member of the club and was using normal power.

I'll be looking forward to the posts from last night but expect very low totals.

When is the sun ever going to shine?

I try to be positive on my blog but "what it is is what it is".

Propagation is real challenging now.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

5th Anniversary NAQCC Event

Monday morning was the beginning of the 5th year celebration of the NAQCC (North American QRP CW Club) activities and tonight is the monthly "Sprint". (0030-0230z).

There are operators in all 10 zones so it should be the best opportunity to work the Special Event Stations. I'll be on the air as "N8A".

Monday morning was 650 mile morning for me. (1300-1400z). My first contact was N1LU in New Hampshire. I've worked Don several times in the past and it was good to hear him again.

My second contact was KE9DR in Arkansas. Bert uses an interesting radio that I had not seen before. I also heard and worked the Minnesota special event station. (N0A). All the signals were VERY weak with the solar flux at only 70.

I've only obligated myself for two hours operation every day but got back on the air in the evening and worked W3MT in Pennsylvania. Moe was sending CQ on 40 meters and I answered his call with my N8A call sign with a /N8ZYA attached to the end. We had a nice QSO about the NAQCC club and my Isotron antenna. He used one several years ago.

This morning I worked N1LU in New Hampshire again but didn't hear anyone else on the bands. Perhaps 40 and 80 meters will open up for the sprint tonight. I'll be on the air again this afternoon on 20 meters.

On another "1000 miles per watt" certificate is in the mail and I should receive it the next day or so.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Razgrad Bulgaria @ 5,219 Miles

I've been shooting for this card really hard for over a year now so was just ecstatic about receiving this from the E-QSL site yesterday.
Honestly....I thought I'd make this "1,000 mile per watt" jump only by transmitting from the mountains or waiting for the bands to improve a little more. I've been VERY close several times but just couldn't make that extra 500 miles or so....
I worked Boyan (LZ2BE) back on the 23rd of September but he only downloaded his log book recently.
My elevation here in the valley is about 600 ft, I'm between two 400 ft hills, and have a tall apartment building next door. I used an Icom 703 @ 5 watts into an "indoor mounted" Isotron antenna. It's about 20" long. Razgrad is on the "far side" of Bulgaria near Istanbul Turkey.
I'll be sending this card into the NAQCC club site as confirmation of the "1,000 mile per watt award" very soon. I'll post the "certificate" on the blog when it's issued to me.
I'm one happy camper today!

N8A / N8ZYA Special Event Station

The North American QRP CW Club ( NAQCC ) will be holding it's 5th Anniversary celebration from Oct 12th to Oct 18th. As a "special event", there will be QRP operators in all 10 sections of the United States. (Alaska and Hawaii are included in these zones).

I've decided to be the #8 operator and will be using the special call sign of "N8A" while on the air. You should be able to catch me near the standard QRP frequencies every day on 40 and 20 meters. I will transmit on 40 meters for an hour in the morning and also an hour in the afternoon on 20 meters.

The exact times and frequencies are posted on the NAQCC web site under the caption of " N#A Operation ".

I'm the ONLY operator in the #8 zone so I expect to be a popular guy. I also expect this event to be a real "eye opener" for a lot of operators not familiar with low power QRP operations.
I've worked QRP operators at 2,000 miles. I've also worked over 20 QRO DX operators in Europe with a very simple wire antenna. Most of them had NO idea I was using the power it usually takes to light an old Christmas Tree bulb.

These are minimum times for me.....In reality, you might find me on the air anytime this week on 40 and 20 meters near the QRP frequencies (7040 and 14060). My normal transmitting spot is from my QTH near the State Capitol building in Chareston, WV.

My elevation is only 600 ft and I'm between two 400 ft hills, on the river, and beside a tall apartment complex. My normal patterns usually get me into the Great Lakes area and the Northeast VERY well but when weather permits, I'll try to transmit from an a better location in the mountains.

I should be able to work into Europe on 20 meters if the bands are favorable.

Folks....I'm NOT a "hot shot" CW operator. I usually send and recieve at about 15 wpm. I'll be using a "paddle" on this contest but will keep the speed down to accomodate slower operators.

My exchanges will be brief to allow as many as possible to work me from other areas.

This is the first time I've participated in this type of capacity. I'm looking forward to hearing and working as many stations as possible this week.

72's N8A / N8ZYA

Friday, October 2, 2009

Ames Iowa Contact

Since retirement a few years ago, I’ve worked several stations (7) in the state of Iowa. Some of the cities are Des Moines (the state capitol), Council Bluffs, Spencer, Chillicothe, Cedar Rapids and Ottumwa.

We have relatives in Ottumwa, which is about 700 radio miles from us. A few weeks ago, I worked a station there (W0NBP) and I asked him to say hello to them from my 5 watt station here in West Virginia.

Last night I got a good signal report from a station (WA0VQY) in Ames Iowa. It’s a city about the same size as my home city. Ames Iowa is the birthplace of several interesting places and people.

Iowa State University has been the center of Agriculture in the Midwest. I remember driving across miles and miles of flat “corn fields” and comparing it to the vast mountains in West Virginia. What they call “hills” there, we consider “bumps” in the road.

George Washington Carver was born here. “He served as an example of the importance of hard work, a positive attitude, and a good education. His humility, humanitarianism, good nature, frugality, and rejection of economic materialism, also have been admired widely”.

I also found an interesting code he lived by:

Be clean both inside and out.
Neither look up to the rich nor down on the poor.
Lose, if need be, without squealing.
Win without bragging.
Always be considerate of women, children, and older people.
Be too brave to lie.
Be too generous to cheat.
Take your share of the world and let others take theirs

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Texas QSO Party

It's a rainy, dreary day and I've been reading a good book to pass the time. Earlier I had breakfast with my daughter and her husband at Bob Evans.

Tuning around the 20 meter band this afternoon I could hear lot's of Texas stations on the air.

I quickly worked N5YA, N5TO, K5FP, NR5M, NX5M, W5WQ, and N5JB in a matter of about half an hour.

I like to pass out a few West Virginia contacts with any contest.

That's about it until this evening, when hopefully, there will be a little more open space on the bands.

None of my contacts realized I was running QRP.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Few Good Spots on the Sun

My day started really early Tuesday morning. I didn't sleep well and found myself in front of the radio at 5 am, waiting for the sun to rise above the valley. I put on the headphones and made a quick scan of the 40 meter band.

I heard and worked a New York (KG2B) station in only a few minutes. Next was a #5 station in Texas (WA5PFJ)followed by a fellow driving to work in Connecticut (AJ1G/M) and then a "ESE" station in Maine. (K1ESE). I've heard that there is an "ESE" call in all 10 call areas and this makes # 2 for me.

The Texas station (WA5PFJ) was a little over a thousand miles and on 40 meters... a good catch.

It seems the sun was blessing us with a few new "spots" and some are saying Cycle 24 is about to start. Regardless...., it was nice to hear a lot of activity.

Around noon, I heard and worked a station in Norway (I didn't get the call correctly and didn't log it) and I also heard another familiar station in the Czech Republic (OK1KT)

Sure hope the bands continue to improve since the 5th Anniversary of the NAQCC club is fast approaching in October. During the week of Oct 12 to the 18th, I'll be operating as N8A for the entire week.

If the weather cooperates, I'll try to get into the field and operate on 20 meters. I've wanted to operate from this spot in the New River Gorge for a long time.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Up the Creek Without a Paddle

I've heard this expression many times but actually found myself here a few days ago. Here's what I found while overturning a few rocks in the creek. The "claws" in these rascals can "pinch" very hard so it's important to grab them at "exactly" the right spot. That means just behind the "eyes" where he can't reach back and pinch you with his claws.

I've heard it said they're "tasty" little morsels but I've always been content to take another persons word on that. Some woodsy people thrive off "stuff under the rocks" or "wild game" they can catch and cook for a small meal. I've always gone for the "roots and berry's" myself.

Although I live within a 10 minute walk of the State Capitol, I can be in Kanawha State Forest
in less than half an hour. That's one of the great things about living a rural state. Although Charleston is the State Capitol, there's barely 50,000 people living here.

Within an hours drive, I can also be in the New River Gorge. That's a 60 mile stretch of river that is one of the oldest rivers in the world. (the New River) It's also the best "white water" East of the Mississippi. There are some class 7 rapids there.

I've rafted and kayaked a few stretches of this gorge.

I usually do it alone but keep within sight of someone most of the time. I love the freedom that only comes when you're by yourself. One of the reasons I'm able to be by myself is my two meter radio. I keep this in the "dry bag" of the kayak or in my day pack when hiking.

Note the size of the quarter in this picture. The red package is a "roll up J-pole" and the other item (at the bottom right) is an external "tone generator". The small battery pack allows me to up the power from 300 mw to 2 watts. There's VERY few places in this state where I can't connect with a repeater for help.

A few years ago, I was paddling under one of the largest "Span Arch" bridges in the world when I slipped on the rocks and tore a ligament in my left shoulder. Wow...that really hurt but I was able to set up the camera and take a picture before I drifted back downstream towards the car.
It took a year and a half to heal totally.
I'm glad I had a radio with me....

Friday, September 18, 2009

My New QSL Card

I've designed a new "QSL" card for myself and have uploaded this to the E-QSL site. It's a little "heavy" and will take some extra time to download but I thought a good example of life here in the mountains of West Virginia. I'll use this card also for those who contact me on the air and have computer skills. (just click and save)
There's a LOT of music in this state. The majority of which is passed down without a written record. It's "word of mouth" and to play it (there's a lot of pickers much better than me) you need to memorize the tunes and chord changes. It's sometimes difficult to blend your style with the styles of others.
The guitar above is the last thing I purchased in the US Navy. It's an Italian made "EKO" that was purchased in Barcelona Spain just before I jumped into a jumbo cargo plane and flew back to the states.
That was 1970.
I've completely worn it out, and thought of buying the classic "Martin" that all good pickers seem to use. But I like this guitar because the neck "feels good" in my small hands. I wore the fret bars down to a point that the strings rattled and my fingernails dug into the neck. The lacquer is cracked. But I couldn't part with it. (it actually makes it sound better)
I had the entire neck re-worked (even added pearl markers on the top) but didn't touch the body. The wood resonates very well with the old lacquer even tho it's not very pretty.
I play an assortment of tunes from "sing a longs" to jazz variations.
I have my own "style" and play for small groups and friends.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

VE3CWU R/C Contact

I worked another Canadia station (VE3CWU) a few days ago. I know a few R/C enthusiasts and have watched remote controlled planes, helicopters, and even a few speed boats powered by weed eater motors. But I've never seen a R/C controlled airplane this size.

I find the most interesting people on the HF bands.

As per his web site:

My other hobby, which I am very passionate about is flying radio controlled
model aircraft. Currently I fly Scale Aerobatics in aerobatic competition.
The airplane in this photo is an 40% scale model of a full scale EDGE 540
used in full scale aerobatic competition. I fly this plane is scale model
aerobatic competition. This aircraft has 10 foot wingspan and is powered by a
150cc twin boxer gasoline engine with electronic ignition. This photo was taken
at the Sun Valley flyers field on Phoenix Arizona.
73, Bob

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

W2XYZ QRP Sailboat on 40 Meters

I was able to work W2XYZ (what a nice call sign) on his sailboat in Barnegat Bay New Jersey a few mornings ago. The call signs with "following sequence letters" are hard to collect so when I heard the "XYZ" I jumped right on it. Amazingly, he was hearing me 599 and he was also QRP at 5 watts with a mobile Hustler antenna.

I don't think I've ever worked a "sailboat" before and since he was a QRP station, a FISTS member, a SKCC member, and a NAQCC member, the log book really looks good for ONE contact.

Maybe it's just chance but I seem to make a lot of contacts with stations who are members of multiple clubs on the 7058 frequency.

Hmmmm....might be the reason I hang around there so often.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

New DX Country on 20 Meters

One of the things I love most about this hobby is not knowing where the next DX station is going to pop up on the bands. It's been so busy the last few weeks that I didn't have a clue there was a major contest happening in Europe this weekend. When I started hearing DX stations on 20 meters, I decided to give a few a try.

In the manner of about 30 minutes I was able to work two stations in Germany (DL0SN and DC4A) a Portuguese station (CT1ILT) and last but not least a station in Luxembourg. (LX7I)

Luxembourg (LX7I) is a new DX station for me.

Wow...that was fun! (and quick)

I also heard EA5DFV in Spain, S52ZW in Slovenia, 4o3A in Montenegro, and YU1JW in Serbia but couldn't work them.

I don't think any of these stations realized I was pushing a mighty 5 watts QRP with an indoor antenna. I'm really amazed these guys can hear me...

I realize they're running fantastic antenna's but to work me in West Virginia, at 600 ft elevation, between a couple of 1,000 ft hills, with an indoor 18" antenna bungee corded to the bedpost in a spare room, beside a tall apartment complex (actually 11 story's) is somewhat mind boggling to me.

I've heard it said that some major DX stations can hear a gnat sneeze in Morocco. I guess they really can....

I think 15 meters would be the 5,000 mile mark if the bands ever improve but I don't usually have an antenna to use on that band. All these stations were between 4,000 and 4,500 miles today.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

New QSL Cards

I found these two cards in the mail a few days ago when I returned from Washington DC.
Maybe it's just my age, (I'm still pretty young at 61) but it seems the only thing I've done the last few weeks is attend funerals. I know death is the beginning of a new life but it's also a lot of pain for family members. I wish there was more I could do to ease the transition for them.
Anyway....I worked OK1KW in the Czech Republic and also a Submarine (USS Requin SS 481) near Pittsburgh, PA just before I was called to the sad occasions.

I got nice e-mails from both these guys and will send them return cards very soon. I was really surprised that OK1KW took the time to send this card.
Postage rates aren't cheap these days.
You can see the "radio room" in the Submarine by looking at the Club Newsletter on the NAQCC site. There's a link on the right side of this web page. Read the current monthly edition to see this article.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Czech Republic (OK1KW) at 4,471 Miles

I've been working on the computer most of the day and listening to the rig in the background. I had it tuned to the 40 meter frequency of 7040 and would alternate it with the 20 meter frequency of 14.060 (both active QRP frequencies)

At times, I actually turned it 'off' because there was NOTHING on the bands. I could barely hear the GMT time tone on 10 MHz and thought this was another "no sunspot--no radio day".

In the early afternoon I heard and attempted to work AF5U in Dallas, Texas but the band was so bad we couldn't exchange anything more than call signs before the band disappeared into thin air.
I had turned the rig off again but just before dinner, I tuned into the 14.060 frequency, and in the background, I heard an unusual call asking for "FISTS" members. He was sending pretty quick but I recognized the "FISTS" word easily and on his third attempt I deciphered the OK1KW call and returned with mine. His CQ 'stopped' and I could tell he was hearing something. He then sent QRZ N8? and I knew I was into something.

I still can't believe I worked this guy....with 5 watts @ 4,471 miles. He was actually on 14059.25 MHz.

The band absolutely STINKS right now but somehow we exchanged FISTS numbers, names and QTH's.

Milan (OK1KW) is FISTS # 4827 and lives in the Czech Republic. I sent a confirmation E-QSL and am looking forward to a return card. The band shifted again quickly....I'm still in a state of shock with this contact today.

Just when you think there's nothing but air between me and the other side of the pond.....

Milan (OK1KW) is now my 20th DX contact.

Fox Log With 100 MW Entry

I'm always proud to work the "fox hunts" and enjoy seeing my 5 watt signal listed in the log books. (especially when the fox is over a thousand miles from me) but when I see things like the entry I've highlighted below, I'm humbled.

I'd guess this guy is close to two thousand miles from "the fox".

Bill (K4KSR) worked the fox with 100 milliwatts!

Pulling the fox out of a pack of hungry hounds with power like this deserves a round of applause.

Great Job!!

0105 KT4LF 599 TN DALE 5W
0106 KF8K 559 OH CLIFF 5W
0107 W3MF 559 PA JOHN 5W
0108 K4QS 559 VA CHUCK 5W
0110 K4OSO 559 VA MILT 5W
0111 W3ESE 559 MD LL 5W
0112 K3PH 559 PA BOB 5W
0113 WA4ILO 559 GA JIM 5W
0114 KG4YLZ 599 VA JIM 5W
0115 N4GU 599 NC MIKE 2W
0116 N3XRV 559 PA CHRIS 5W
0120 K4PIC 579 GA LARRY 5W
0122 KC1FB 559 CT JIM 5W
0124 K2ZN 559 NY AL 5W
0126 N3VF 559 VA RON 5W
0128 W9JOP 579 VA BOB 5W
0129 NU8S 559 OH DENNIS 5W
0130 KV2X 559 NY TOM 5W
0131 AE2T 559 NY AL 5W
0132 KG4YLZ 559 VA JIM 5W
0133 AC4XO 559 VA BEN 5W
0135 K2RNY 559 NY CAREY 5W
0136 NU4I 559 VA KEN 5W
0140 N4KV 559 TN JOHN 5W
0142 W3MF 559 PA JOHN 5W
0144 N4CY 559 VA TED 5W
0145 K4EOR 559 GA GEORGE 5W
0147 NO2D/2 559 NJ PETE 5W
0151 N8ZYA 559 WV JOHN 5W
0155 AB3CV 559 MD JIM 5W
0202 W2LJ 559 NJ LARRY 5W
0205 K4KSR 559 VA BILL 100MW
0207 AB9CA 559 AL DAVE 5W
0213 WA9TZE 559 WI JIM 5W
0215 K9CW 579 IL DREW 5W

ps....(On October 9th, 2002, with 1/2 Watt output, he worked VK3DBD who was approximately 15,000 miles distance and equal to 30,000 miles per watt).

So much for the "bigger is better" (and maximum power) philosophy.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

QRP Fox at 1,472 Miles

The band was totally dead tonight during the QRP Fox Hunt (see link on this blog) and I only heard ONE station (K5DI) in 1 1/2 hours of listening between 14.050 and 14.070.

I had listened earlier this evening and knew the band was totally dead so didn't expect to hear either QRP station in New Mexico or Utah.

When Karl (K5DI) popped up at 0151z, he was there only for an instant but I think I caught him and exchanged the RST, State, Name, and 5 watts.

I'll watch for the log on the "fox site" in a few minutes...I hope my call sign is there.

This was VERY hard to do tonight! QRP x QRP

ps...Yes, I'm there and the only West Virginia station in the book!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Morse Code Dit's and Dot's

There's an interesting article in the Sept issue of "Monitoring Times Magazine" next month. (I get an online edition and have already read the article). It's about Morse Code and who REALLY created the "code". It may surprise you because it's not Samuel Morse.

If you're a CW person, I think you will find it interesting....

I get the "electronic" edition and like it better than the paper one because of the "linking features" and the "word search". I keep the last six months on a memory stick and take them with me when traveling. It works great with my Eee-PC notebook.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

ET from WV (1,247 Mile QRP Fox)

I caught N1FN (ET) near Denver Colorado last night, after running for a little over an hour. I was "fox hunting" and the band was VERY long on 20 meters. He was one of two QRP operators being chased by a pack of hounds in the United States. He is 1,247 miles from me here in West Virginia.

I heard him at the very beginning of the hunt as he danced along at around 30 wpm (a bit too quick for me). But I understood the "call" and was able to recognize his "CQ fox de N1FN UP".

I had all but given up on the chase until I heard him send "zero beat" at 10 pm.

The filtering on my 703 leaves a lot to be desired so it's 'difficult' for me to set up the 'split' on the radio. Trying to attenuate a 5 watt signal at 1200 miles is next to impossible.

The other "fox" last night was K4BIA in Georgia, and I usually work him easily from here. But I never heard so much as a bark. As a matter of fact...I heard little 'barking' from anyone.

The band was SO long......

You can read all about "fox hunting" (a QRP event) from the link on the right side of this page.

Believe me, it's NOT easy to pick out a 5 watt "fox" from a pack of barking hounds at 1200 miles.

I've been feeling a little "down" after being in New York for a few weeks. My location on the Hudson River made it easy to work DX stations in Eastern Europe . I even worked a QRP station in Washington State while using my "ZEPP" antenna. It was strung in the attic of an old home.

But working ET (N1FN) last night, with an 18" Isotron antenna makes me feel a little better.

The 20 meter antenna (at the top of this page) is the "little" one on the bottom right.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Microphone Weekend

I don't spend much time using 'SSB' with my rig but I had high hopes of working a few "Special Event Stations" this weekend. There were also lot of "International Lighthouse/Lightship" stations on the air which I hoped to work.

My biggest hope was to work the Arecibo Lighthouse, in Puerto Rico, and it would have been an exceptional catch. There was also a station celebrating the "Navajo Code Talkers" and another celebrating the "66th Reunion of the USS Intrepid Crew Members". We used to sail with them when I was in the Navy.

But I didn't catch either the "code talkers" or the Intrepid on the air.

Instead, I found myself in the middle of the North American QSO Party.

I worked a bunch of them, very quickly, in 11 different states. My catches were Minnesota, Illinois, Vermont, Indiana, Louisiana, Texas, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Kansas, Utah, and Colorado, plus Ontario (3) and another one in Quebec.

This morning, I also worked 4 lighthouses. I caught #001 (K2BR/LH) near Atlantic City New Jersey (Absecon Lighthouse), and three others on Long Island in New York. (W2GSB/LH-K2EC/LH-and W2AMC/LH)

Among the stations I worked, most gave me GREAT signal reports. Several of the lighthouses responded with S9 to +10....they had NO idea I was operating 10 watts QRP until I told them.

I'm sure many people made hundreds of contacts this weekend but I don't imagine they had more fun than me. I really enjoyed myself....

Friday, August 14, 2009

N0B Special Event Station at 14,100 Feet

If you haven’t seen this year’s VIDEO of the “Colorado 14’er Special Event” by wG0AT and N7UN, you’re missing the BEST of this year’s QRP adventures.

For several years, I’ve followed their hikes but have yet to work them from Colorado. Last week, while in New York, I could only hear “calling” stations.....

It’s difficult to “comprehend” the challenge of a 14,000 ft climb but I’ve hiked a couple of times at 12,000 feet, and believe me, the air is "thin" up there and its always "cold". Pitch in a 40 mph wind, and you’ve got your hands full….

Once in Hawaii, it took me 2 hours to hike to a “cinder cone” below the rim of volcano but 4 hours to hike back out. Going up hill is MUCH harder than going downhill.

Another time was in South America where it took several days to adjust to the elevation.

This 14,100 ft climb to Humboldt Peak should only be attempted by “professional” people. Making a mistake up here can easily become fatal.

Their best contact was Switzerland….WOW with 5 watts!

They’re links to BOTH their web sites on the right side of this blog.

I’d highly suggest every QRP’er take a look at this video.

Here's a link to the HF "Special Event Station"

N0B Colorado 14er Special Event

Thursday, August 13, 2009

QRP Submarine (N3AQC/MM)

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to work some old Navy Ships and Submarines from the Outer Banks of North Carolina but I couldn't make the connection.

This morning, from West Virginia, I was in the right place at the right time.

I was able to work the USS REQUIN (SS-481/SSR-481) as part of a Special Event sponsored by the North American QRP CW Club.

I started to listen for them around 1500z and at 1545z I heard them working another station. When I tried the "first" contact, their signal vanished into thin air. I frantically sent QSB SRI I lost U and added "will try agn later".

My hopes rose again at 1625Z when they surfaced once more. I recognized the N3AQC/MM call immediately and sent my call sign. This time, QSB was reaching a high point, and I completed the QSO.

This contact is also credit as a "club station".

I've worked this "Club Station" about 5 times in the last few weeks and at 5 points each, they're starting to add up to a lot of 'quick' points. My first "awards" were with this club, and I can't say enough good about them.

The most important thing is EVERY contact with this club is a QRP contact.

Last week, while in New York, I worked Austria, Germany, and the Ukraine. Germany was using the least power at 400 watts and a beam.
But my most exciting contact was a QRP station in Washington state. Coast to coast with a good signal report.....

Working a Submarine (QRP to QRP) is also going to be memorial.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Austria (OE5AA) 5,000 Miles @ 5 Watts ?

This one's gonna be really close folks.....for the 1,000 mile per watt award. Of course, this one's a CW contact at 5 watts on 14.027.5 MHz. (2135Z)

I worked OE5AA (August) in Austria a few minutes ago and my distance from West Virginia (per the site) shows 4,608 miles.

Of course, I'm not there now.... I'm very near New York City (about 20 miles north) and West Virginia is East of me. The question it 400 miles?

I'll need to get home and calculate the distance with a Rand McNally program I use on the home computer to know for sure. (using the New York co-ordinates)

Today has been a wonderful day despite working VERY hard doing yard work. My wife and I cut a small tree, trimmed the bushes, cut the grass (I did this with an old "push mower") and hauled the waste to the front of the house. My back is talking to me now.....all the way down to the toes on my left leg.

But between chores, I've managed to work three QRP stations. All on 20 meters (14.060) and the band really stinks right now. The solar flux was 67 today.

My first was K9IS (QRP) in White Lake Wisconsin. The second was KB0PCI (QRP) in Minnesota and the last (but not least) was W7PFZ (QRP) in the state of Washington. That's one's a GREAT catch for a QRP x QRP QSO!

Time to take the rest of the evening off and nurse the back and leg. (Hook up the tens unit) All my contacts were QRP CW today. I tried to work an Armenian station, SSB, but couldn't pull it off (EK6TA).....just goes to show you how more effective CW at 5 watts is compared to 10 watts SSB.....

Getting back home next week, I hope to figure the exact distance for the thousand mile a watt award.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hamburg Germany 4,000 + Miles (DL4HG)

I heard this call several times before I attempted the contact because I thought he was a local guy. And then the "DL" finally sank into my brain....yes, he was THAT strong!

It was also pretty quick CW, which made me a little hesitant, but when I realized he could possibly be in Germany, I HAD to try for the contact, despite my 5 watt QRP signal.

I'm glad I put forth the effort because this turned out to be one of the most enjoyable contacts I've ever made on the CW bands. Olaf had a good fist, and spacing, which matched my skills perfectly. Most DX contacts (at least before this one) are strictly "Hello, Name, QTH, RST, and 73"....quick and to the point. And I had the tendency to do the same because I didn't think the band would hold up very long (at least on my end with 5 watts).

But we exchanged pleasantry's for at least 10 minutes as we talked about his Kenwood TS 570, his amp (400 watts) and the Yagi antenna he was currently using. And then I explained my "zig zag" end fed Zepp in the attic and me visiting New York City for a few days. Then we started on the weather and all the rain we've had here for the last few days....

I'm making this entry now, as we've just returned from two days in the "city", so I don't remember every detail, but the jest of it is: I had a great QSO, at over 4,000 miles, with a CW station, at about 15+ wpm, with a German gentleman speaking VERY good English.

I'm elated with this exchange and looking forward to hearing Olaf (DL4HG) again on the bands. His signal was a good 599+ most of the time with little QSB. He was hearing me 579 (at least on the high nulls).

We agreed to exchange cards VIA the Buro.(got to look into that when we return to the home QTH in West Virginia).

ps....I made this contact back on 7-31-09 @ 2150z, and it will be another week before returning home. I'll be disappointed with the valley location, the electrical noise, and the hi-rise building next door.

I've transmitted from here several times over the years but the band has never been this good. (at least for a few brief days).

Since the few brief days of decent DX (the solar flux is down again to 67 now) I've heard Austria, Finland, Mexico City, the Netherlands, and Trinidad.

Before leaving for the city a few days ago, I heard a great QSO between a friend back home (K8NYG) and another friend (N9HAL) in WI. I've also worked two "special event stations" (one a new IOTA and new lighthouse) and a large "experimental aircraft gathering". I've even listened to a good AM broadcast station back home in Wheeling (WWVA 1170).

I'll write more about those a little later but for a nice walk.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Southern Ukraine at 5000 + Miles (UR5ZVP)

I've been near New York City for several days now and it's rained cats and dogs most of the time. The Internet has also been down and I've been suffering withdrawal symptoms from the information highway.

My first chore when arriving in NY was to stretch my end fed Zepp in the attic and get on the air.

It's amazing to hear the European stations on the bands here. Just a little more Northern latitude and being on the Hudson River makes a BIG difference from the valley location in West Virginia.

There was quite a "pile up" on 14.240, on the 31st, but after several attempts, I was able to work UR5ZVP in the Southern Ukraine. It was a difficult contact, and I had to repeat my call several times, but I'm now in his log book. You can see the entry from his online logbook (page 25 #172)

I don't have a "distance" program running on this laptop but it's 5,264 miles from the WV QTH.

My longest distance yet for my QRP station.

I'm overjoyed with this contact but (I'm sure you've noticed) this frequency is in the SSB portion of the 20 meter band....

I was using the max 10 watts and it doesn't qualify for the 1,000 mile a watt award. It's still considered QRP, but technically, not the right distance and power.

It's a great start tho...and I wonder if I'll be lucky enough to snag more contacts like this one before heading back home.

Monday, July 27, 2009

15 Minutes of Fame

The last few days have brought about some interesting contacts on the air. I've been checking into the NAQCC QRS net (Sunday evenings at 8:30 local time) and enjoy it more every week. I like this net although it's at the same time of a local two meter club (KARC) net here in the valley.

I can send and receive code comfortably at 15+ wpm but it's encouraging to hear new stations struggle with their speed and there's a real need to practice on the air in a real situation.

Last night there was an excellent pass over West Virginia of the International Space Space Station at about 9:30 PM. These "near sunset" revolutions allow it to be viewed quite easily even in city lights. The local KARC net was on the verge of closing and I jumped in with a comment about the direction of the pass.

WOW....did they ever get a kick out of it!

I was surprised so few have really "seen" the ISS in the sky. It entered the US just below Lake Michigan and exited the East coast about South Carolina last night. It moved right up the Kanawha River above the State Capitol here.

This morning I had a fantastic QSO with KA3P who was near Pittsburgh PA (just 171 miles from here). We talked for a long time about him linking repeaters from there into the Kanawha Valley. I seldom listen to 2 meters anymore but got into the hobby for communications when hiking and camping. (before I learned about HF QRP). He's using an end fed Zepp too....I take mine with me when I travel.

What a great fist!

This afternoon was the "crown prince of contacts" when I worked W1AW on 40 meters. I know who the operator was but had to try twice to exchange my RST and club number. He was SO weak (QSB) and actually sent SRI at one point. I waited until the cycle peaked and completed the essentials for the QSO.....