My Most Recent QSO's

Friday, June 26, 2009

My First Awards

Although I've been liscensed for several years, I never had the "time" to spend on the radio until I got away from working for a living. And I still would like to have a little more "time" to spend on the ham bands..... (my wife, kids, grandkids, and father are always the first priority)

But retirement is a wonderful thing!

The last few years, I've actually started keeping a decent "log book" and was surprised to discover that I had enough 2 X QRP contacts for my first award with the North American QRP CW Club (NAQCC) a few weeks ago.

Its a "beginning award" in the QRP field, (50 points) but I've also submitted my station log for the "100 point" endorsement now. My 50 point endorsement is also the only "single band- indoor antenna" confirmation.

As the info states on the NAQCC web site, "anyone can make contacts with (100 watts) and a "beam". (paraphrased) but not everyone can make it happen with 5 watts and a "simple wire antenna". And especially when "both" stations are running QRP....

I'm really proud of this endorsement and am adding more and more contacts everyday now. I'm currently at about 380 contacts. My next hope is shooting for the 1,000 miles per watt award. Just can't make the last 500 miles or so.....

I'm especially proud to be the only West Virginia operator on these lists.

NAQCC Award Winners will need to scroll down the list until you see the 2 x QRP section. There are eleven members in the 50 point section and nine in the 100 point section.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My 100th 2 x QRP QSO

Last night I worked N9HAL (for the second time in two days) again. He was my 100th 2 x QRP contact. I'm not sure what he's running but the distinctive 'chirp' suggests it's his "6V6 oscillator and three tube regenerative receiver".

I love these contacts, not only because they're QRP, but because he built the rig himself. I always feel humbled whenever I work a "home brew rig".

Bob is a member of the Antique Wireless Association. They specialize in "home brew rigs" and are true "artists". I've seen some of these rigs and they're always beautiful pieces of work.
I've been working on my log book, the last week or so, and have submitted enties to the NAQCC Club. I now have enough contacts for both the 50 and 100 point 2 x QRP endorsements.
I've already submited contacts for the "40 meter single band" and "Indoor Antenna" endorsement. (the vast majority of which are using a "straight key")
With last night's contact, I now have more than enough contacts for the 100 point endorsement.
I think I'll be the first West Virginia station in these catagories!

Monday, June 22, 2009

CC Radio II with 2-Meter Ham Band

This is the first company I've seen making a change from those 'old' TV audio frequencies built into their radios. Now that the changes have been made from analog to digital TV, it's a change I'm glad to see....

As a replacement to those TV frequencies, C.Crane Company has added the "2 meter ham band" to their CCRadio II. It's a great radio for listening to the AM radio bands (one of the very best) and now, with the 2 meter ham band included, it will be an excellent choice for emergency use.
I don't own one of these, and don't endorse them, but you've got to give them a hand for changing with the current times.

Smart idea.....

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Another One Hour QSO

It's easy to fall into the "cookie cutter" QSO's (as another blogger characterized it recently), and I have to admit, too many CW QSO's are strictly "OP, QTH, RST, RIG, ANT and WX". There's nothing wrong with that....(especially when you're just simply adding to the log book and working on awards). But it's nice to have a little "chat" (never really liked the term 'rag chew') every now and then.

Sometimes the band necessitates a short exchange. I often say it's like a tree full of squirrels sometimes. (There one minute and gone the next). If you don't exchange the basics (as fast as you can) the band changes and the opportunity is lost.

But then again, it's nice to just sit back and 'chat' for awhile.

I worked W9SJW on what I call "the old 40 meter CW segment" where a lot of the "slower" CW ops can still be found. It was an enjoyable conversation that lasted a little over an hour. We both had excellent signals on each other (579-599) and after the "basics" we talked about radios and antennas.

It's always nice to talk to another "John" he sez. Then we exchanged "Fists numbers" but instead of just sending the rigs, we actually critiqued of each others radios. John is using an old Tentec Corsair II, that he bought when he retired, and was using abt 100 watts into a long wire abt 40 ft up. I'm (of course) using the indoor mounted Isotron and 10 watts and bought my Icom when I retired also.

What a great time retirement is......

I've sent mine to the "shop" once. They had a problem with a "power output transistor" when the radio first hit the market. John's has work flawlessly since he purchased it used. They seem to last forever and we both were surprised Tentec was still in business because they made such a good radio. (I agree). That's a big problem sometimes.....

His brother used an Isotron when he was a snow bird in Texas....

QSB was hardly a problem the entire hour we talked and since he usually hangs around 7112 MHz most nites, I'll probably drop down there again and 'chat' for a bit.

I was enjoyable to get to know another ham instead of another 'cookie cutter' QSO.

John (W9SJW) is fist's nr 10004.

Friday, June 12, 2009

QRPp Contact @ 1/2 a Watt

This morning on 7112 MHz @ 1430 z was one of the most exhilarating contact's I've ever made on the Ham Radio bands. I was tuning around the "old upper section of 40 meters" with the hopes of finding a "slow operator" that wanted to practice code. (I do this from time to time) when I heard W8IRT/HH calling CQ. I automatically assumed he was somewhere in Michigan or the Great Lakes Area. (I usually get into that area very well).

I've been hoping to find a station to work at 1,000 miles, with a watt, for several weeks now and thought this might be an opportunity......, if I transmitted at 500 mw.

That's the lowest power setting on my rig and also a power level I've NEVER used before. (I've used 1 watt several times).

To my amazement W8IRT/HH came right back to me and we started the QSO. It took several exchanges, but we completed the basics and were able to communicate despite severe QSB many times. I eventually upped the power to 5 watts (to spare his ears) but the first contact and the basic info was exchanged at the 500 mw level.

I didn't realize it at the time, but this was a "slow code net" for the Handi Hams group and they gather here every Friday between 9 am and 12 pm. (I wasn't hearing any other stations when I contacted Paul on the net)

I was confused with the /HH suffix of his call, but after looking up the call sign, it makes perfect sense. They are a dedicated "nonprofit rehabilitation and resource center, that advances the lives of children and adults experiencing barriers to health and independence".

One of the specialities of the "Handi Hams" is making "tapes" available to those with visual impairments. (for a Ham Radio Licence). I've personally known two operators in this valley that have achieved their licence from this group.

Paul W8IRT/HH lives in Beaverdam, Virginia which isn't very far from me. (about 220 miles) But the fact that I worked him with the "power of an ordinary hand held cell phone" just overwhelmed me!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Great Film on W2LJ's Blog

If you haven't seen the "Film" on W2LJ's blog, you need to take the time to view this one about "Ham Radio". I had never seen it and was amazed at the story.


You can even "read" the code....

Click on the link on the right side on this blog to go there ------->

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Bunnell Steel Lever Key

The last few months, I've had several requests for a picture of my old 100 Year Telegraph Key. (I first mentioned it in a "club newsletter"). I wrote it, in the newsletter, as a response to an article about the decline of CW operators in today's "no code" environment. Some Hams worry that CW operators will become dinosaurs because of today's digital and SSB modes of operation.

I don't think CW will EVER become obsolete. There are Lot's of advantages for Morse Code Operators. I can use CW anywhere on the frequencies of my license class now. That means I can operate with CW in a very large area of the bands. ---Not so with SSB ops.

The other advantage of Morse Code operators is the "brotherhood" and camaraderie of it's users.
Let me explain.....
Many months ago, I mentioned that I was using a $14.95 "bargain key" on the air while in a QSO with another ham. It was just "rag chewing" (something I live to do) and he asked if my info was good on the "QRZ dot Com" site. I sez yes (figuring he wanted to exchange cards via the Buro) but he then sez "I'll send you a REAL key".......NO charge!

This is the key I use EVERY day I'm on the air now!

It seems this is a key from the collection of a SK Ham, which stipulated that it be given to a "deserving ham" at NO charge, and also with the stipulation that he remain forever anonymous.

He was adamant about this.... and I will always honor this request of secrecy. It still brings tears to my eyes when I think about this gift. The only request (from the holder of the key) was a nice letter to the widow of the ham. (I sent it immediately).

This is what I mean by the camaraderie and brotherhood of CW operators. It's not only a RARE key but to me, it's priceless. I will also pass this key along to another Ham in my VERY senior years.

After a little research, I believe this key (serial number on the underside at top) is a Bunnell Steel Lever Key produced in the late 1800's. The original keys were "solid brass" (even the center lever) but they didn't "wear" well because of the softness of the metal. The "improved model" used a steel center lever to increase longevity.

I'm by no means an "expert" on classic keys, and I could be wrong about the manufacturer, but regardless of the authenticity, It will always be a "special key" that I will always cherish.