My Most Recent QSO's

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Slovak Republic @ 4,679 Miles

It was amazingly easy to work OM3RM in the Slovak Republic this afternoon. He was sending blistering fast on 14.029 at 1847z. Because of his speed, it took me several times to make sure I had his call sign correct. I'm uncomfortable with speeds over 20 wpm and he was sending much faster than 20. He answered my call on the my FIRST try.

The band has been like a "tree full of squirrels" today. (There one minute and gone the next). I think I was the only one that worked him because he choose another frequency or another band after sending back my call sign and "QRP" to let me know he heard me correctly. Honestly...his speed was much too quick for me.

Tibor (OM3RM) is listed on the E-QSL site so I sent him my electronic QSL card.

At the end of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia in 1989, the Slovak Republic peacefully declared themselves a sovereign state. Although they still consider themselves a close partner with the Czech Republic, they're a NATO member and a member of the European Union and use the Euro as currency.

Their GDP comes mostly from automobile manufactures like Volkswagon, Peugeot, and Kia. They also have major electronic manufactures like Sony and Samsung.

The above picture came from Wikipedia and is a ski resort.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Appalachian Trail

In the mid 70's, I became an "outdoor person". At that time, I was working on heavy equipment and several of the guys I worked with ran a "Boy Scout" troop. They asked me to join them and I developed a "deep appreciation" of nature and became a believer in the "outdoor life".

There are two access points to the " Appalachian Trail " from West Virginia. The "major" one is in Harpers Ferry but "another" is near a little town called Linside on Peters Mountain. Its near the Southern border of the state. Several friends and I used to travel there and stay at an old "farm house" on the weekends. We'd work on the trail to the top of the mountain. It took us several years to blaze this connecting trail.

I still think of that when I work a station near the Appalachian Trail and this morning I worked a station near Atlanta Georgia. The "AT" runs about 2,100 miles from there to Maine. I can cover the entire trail on 40 meters.

It also makes me think again of why I originally became a "Ham Radio Operator".

I think every radio operator has their "specialty mode". I especially like "QRP" operations because it's a mode that can be used in remote area's with a light weight battery, a telegraph key, and a simple wire antenna. But you won't find many operators using more than a QRPp rigs when hiking long distances. The best radio for long distance hikers is a 2 meter HT. I occasionally work a station "right on the trail" even from here in Charleston.

I've hiked a few hundred miles on the "AT" section along the Blue Ridge Parkway near the Skyline Drive and some in the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina and even parts of it in New York. That 2 meter HT can be a life saver in an emergency.

Today, I'm hardly hearing "anything" on two meters. It's a shame it isn't used much now.
My little HT, and extra battery pack to get 2 watts output power, and a pocket "roll up J-pole" can connect me with stations over a hundred miles away. It weighs hardly anything and I never know I'm carrying it along on a day hike.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

MTR Mining in the Back Yard

S300609 VS KANAWHA STATE FOREST from Mike Youngren on Vimeo.

West Virginia is one of the leaders in coal production for the entire world. Most of the coal used in the northern "big cities" comes from my home state. I hope all you guys "up north" (and the world) appreciate that fact during these especially cold winter days right now.

In West Virginia, we're "coal people" and it provides the tax base for our economy. We don't mind a little "dust" settling on our homes and our cars. We eat and breathe coal dust everyday. Despite the damage it does to our "quality of life", we tolerate it because it's an important national product. As the world exists now, coal is the lifeblood of our energy demands.

But where do you draw the "line in the sand" when it comes to your "quality of life"?

One of the sanctuaries near my home city is Kanawha State Forest. I go there to "re-charge my batteries" so to speak. But for the last several years (many times) I've heard "thunder" on a "bright sunny day" as I hike it's woods. The "thunder" is either the reverberation of giant boulders plummeting into the beds of gigantic "off highway trucks" or the "explosions" from "Mountain Top Removal" operations. The last time I found myself on the border of the forest, I could almost "feel" an explosion from nearly three miles away.

It's going to get much worse now.

I draw the "line in the sand" when mining operations destroy my "personal space" and this new "MTR" site is right in my back yard. As the crow flies, this site is just over the next hill. The sounds of machinery and dynamite blasts will destroy this forest and damage our small streams if it is allowed to proceed. It's that simple.......

Many of you will wonder what this entry has to do with radio. My hiking days here (and a good radio spot for a QRP operator) will cease if this new mine is allowed to open 300 feet from the forest boundary. I could use headphones to drown out the noise from this proposed new mine but it just wouldn't be the same place. I go there because it's a "quiet place" near the busy city.

As I mentioned before, we're coal people. I support "deep mining". But I don't think I'd call these people "coal miners". I consider MTR people as nothing more than "overpaid heavy equipment operators". They're incredibly destructive to the environment as they "push the excess fill into the valleys and streams". A dozen men can operate a mine like this one. They employ very few people.

I hope you take a few moments to view the video at the top of this page. It's done professionally and I know most of the people in the film. I consider them "good friends" whom I'll join in the defense of our beloved small preserve near home.

If you're inclined to be part of the solution to this problem, instead of being part of the problem, please contact our representatives listed at the end of the film. I'll be writing them myself very soon.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Dave's Homemade Crystal Radios

This months issue of Monitoring Times Magazine has the best article I've ever seen on crystal radio's. It's written by Dave Schmarder (N2DS) and includes pictures of the nearly 100 radio's he's built over the last several years.

He builds most of his sets as "crystal" radios but also adapts some of them to "tube" radios. He also builds "loop" antennas. This one I find particularly nice because he's adapted it to cover the 31-41-and 49 meter "shortwave" bands. Even the 12v tube version is "reasonable" to work with as the voltage is manageable. The biggest danger is handling the "hot" tube before its had time to "cool off".

The "crystal" version uses a "cat whisker", the next uses a tube.

I'm fascinated with these radios because I consider them "works of art" as much as "electronic" listening devices. They're beautiful to view and (I'm sure) a joy to listen to with a good set of earphones. Most are for the AM radio band.

These aren't toys. He uses advanced materials and techniques in his craft. You can view all his radios from the link on the right hand side on my blog. I've spent several hours exploring the site and find it VERY informative and inspiring.

Dave was gracious enough to allow me to use the above graphics in this post and to add a link to his "Dave's Homemade Radio" site.

Daves sez "The sweetest music comes from a radio you made!".

You can also view his page from here: N2DS-Daves Homemade Crystal Radio's