My Most Recent QSO's

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Germany and the Czech Republic on 40 Meters

I'm still not sure what "specific" contest brought everyone out of the woodwork, but Friday night, 40 meters was the BEST I've ever heard it. And it seemed everyone was using SSB. So I did something extremely rare for me. I got out the microphone.

There were many European stations working the United States and I was fortunate to quickly work 4O3A in Montenegro. (I was unsure he copied my call sign correctly so I sent him a follow up e-mail). A few minutes later, I worked DR1A in Germany and received his signal report along with my log number. I then worked several Canadian stations, and then several US stations, and before turning in, I was able to work OL4A in the Czech Republic. (I was also hearing OK4U but couldn't work him)

I'm still shaking my head and wondering if these were real stations or my imagination. I've worked these three countries before on 20 meters, but never on 40 meters. This was a RARE opening on this band.

Other stations heard on 40 meters (but unable to work) were CQ8A in Portugal, GM3WOJ in Scotland, EA5BY in Spain, ON4UN in Belgium and TM77M in France.

Just when you think you've heard it all....something like this happens. I could understand all this on 20 meters (or higher), but 40 meters?? .........I'm still having trouble believing all these guys were on 40 meters.

The three new contacts I made on 40 meters had no idea I was running 10 watts power and using a simple wire antenna. They were knocking out so many contacts, so quickly, I didn't have time to tell them.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

City Location

I've mentioned my poor location here near the "state capitol building" in Charleston, West Virginia many times on this blog. Several weeks ago (during a brief snow squall) I shot this picture from the upstairs window of our home. As you can tell, it's a wonder I get ANY signal out of this RF hole.

I've always joked about bouncing my signals off the "gold dome" of the capitol complex just up the street. It's as good an explanation as any and a good conversation item. I use my Isotron antennas because this is a "historic district" and there are more "rules and regulations" that you can ever imagine to keep everything looking "historic". Duh.........

My antennas do a fantastic job considering the circumstances here in this narrow valley. The Kanawha river is only two blocks over from here, and there are "hills" (400 ft) on both sides of me. The elevation here is only 600 ft. above sea level.

But, despite all the obstacles, I still have an enormous amount of fun with my "5 watts" of power. Most of my contacts are amazed that I operate QRP and send out good signals. It's a rare day when I can't make a contact on the bands.

Last week, I bought two "full dipoles" (with balums attached) for the 15 and 30 meter bands and am looking forward to "skipping across the pond" on the next good weather day. Fifteen meters seems to open up pretty regular the last few weeks and I've always thought thirty meters is the ideal band for QRP CW operators.

I'll keep you posted on the progress on the next "field operation". It's going to be especially nice to get away from all this electrical noise here in the middle of town.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Every now and then, I have an exceptional QSO on 40 meters. I've always enjoyed 40 meters, above all other bands, because there always seems to be a good CW operator on this band.

The last several weeks I've had several GOOD contacts with great CW operators that went well beyond the usual name, location, signal reports etc. I love these conversations that go beyond the basics. Recently, I've talked about others living in similar towns in WV, music, even good books with CW on 40 meters. I had long QSO about "picking and grinning" while using CW. (Morse code actually seems like a form of music to me). I don't know if others have noticed it or not but I see the combination of CW ops and musicians very often.

This evening I worked N8GEY near Detroit Michigan. He was just above Lake Erie and between it and Lake Michigan. Not very far from me in a straight line (300 miles) and for reasons I can't explain, an area I get into VERY well with only 5 watts of power. I've always got into the Great Lakes area easily despite my location here in town.

It was a LONG conversation. We had 7 or 8 exchanges and each time, I continued to reduce my power because of his original 599 +10 over report. Near the bottom of the last exchanges, I made the comment that I "couldn't reduce my power any lower" since my 703 was at the "lowest possible setting" It was at 1/2 watt and he still gave me a good signal report. (559)

Sometimes another station is in JUST the right location for the perfect contact!

I've made several other contacts at 1/2 watt but this one lasted nearly an hour. It was a true joy to communicate at this level. I felt as much a sense of accomplishment with this QSO as a 5000 mile QSO at 5 watts. It gave me a sense of "camping" with a QRPp rig that is SO easy to take along in your shirt pocket with a little wire for an antenna.

Before we called it an end, we talked about his business, (I kidded him about have NO fear of heights), the weather, our rigs and antennas, our age and years as a ham, our Navy experiences (him on an aircraft carrier in the 70's and me on a destroyer around the same time) and our tenure as deck hands on smaller ships. He worked on ships on the Great Lakes and I worked on a "tug boat" hauling coal here in West Virginia. It seems we've both done a lot of different things in our lives.

It was truly a GREAT contact with a really "good" operator and chatting at 1/2 watt made it even better!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pirates From Alaska

I've been a Ham for about 15 years, so when an "Alaskan Station" (KL7) answered my CQ on 40 meters this morning......., I was a bit skeptical. (Valdez is quite a ways from here)
Sure enough, when I ran the call, it became apparent this was a "pirate" call sign.

I've only worked three "pirates" in my radio career and they've all been on 40 meters. Two of them were using "Alaskan" calls and one was "French".

This particular "pirate" is using another Alaskan hams call "exclusively". (I'm not going to mention the exact call sign) and when I looked it up on the web, there's a disclaimer from the affected ham and a direct link to a FCC investigator.

I e-mailed them both immediately. (and got a response from the FCC almost immediately)

There's not much chance of "catching" a "HF" pirate that makes 60 second exchanges. He always follow the same format. He sends call, qth, rst and 73. But for the life of me, I can't understand the "reasoning" behind this stuff. If I took the time to learn CW and spent the money to put a transmitter on the air, I'd get my license and use my own call.

I'm proud to have my "ham ticket" and take it's responsibilities very seriously.

I was deliberately calling CQ on 7114 MHz because it's a "common" frequency for "new" operators just starting to get their feet wet. Perhaps the pirate thought it would be a good laugh (at someone else's expense). I also have a good sense of humor and will enjoy reading about his "capture" on the ARRL "news line".

Now.......on the serious side of radio.

This weekend I worked several stations in the "North Carolina QSO Party" to give out some "West Virginia" stations for their log books. One of them knew the exact town where my father was born and some local people in the area.

I even assembled a little 1/4 wave "whip" to listen to 15 meters. It's a "horrible" radiator but I was able to hear "several" new hams from the southern hemisphere. LU1FDU (in Argentina) was "booming" in here and I even worked a V3 station in Belize (again sending too fast so won't claim the catch). He DID repeat my call so I know he heard me.

The "Olympic Station" in Canada worked so many stations I couldn't get in a word edgewise and KL7LF in Fairbanks Alaska (for real) worked so many stations on the east coast it was embarrassing. (not me)

I'd like to get on the 15 meter band but chances of that happening are not very good. Perhaps I could run a random wire in the attic but I'm afraid of TVI and stereo problems with the apartment dwellers next door.

It looks like I'll have to settle for the G5RV when the weather warms up this spring.

The picture above is a "suspected" pirate photo from Wikipedia. It was taken by the US govt and is in the public domain. (Notice the "sandbags" on deck to protect from small arms fire).