My Most Recent QSO's

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Another 30 Meter Field Day

Another wonderful day in the woods at the city park near my home. The band wasn't "up" but I listened to a station in Lumberton, Texas and another in "The Village" in central Florida.

Near the same 30 meter frequency, I heard AA5KV in Shreveport Louisiana and decided to see if my 5 watt QRP signal would reach him at about 800 miles. (my RST 449)

We had a delightful talk about his TenTec Argosy and his QRP excursions in the summertime with his K1. Sunny and pleasant at both locations. Both of us retired and enjoying the nice day.

It's always worth the effort to string up the antenna, orient it east and west, and spend a little time using the "dot's and dashes". My neighbor was interested in the radio, so was along as an interested party. Perhaps one day he will get the bug and work on a license.

I absolutely love the 30 meter band. Made up this card after returning home and will send it to my Louisiana friend via e-mail as a memory of the QSO.

I'll be at the Outer Banks of North Carolina next week and will be taking along the radio. With a little luck, I'll make some contacts from one of the "lighthouses" . No activation.......just fun with the QRP rig.

I'll be taking some pictures and will be making up some new cards for the contacts.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Nice Inverted Vee Solution in the Mountains

I got a nice card from Pierre (VE2PID) from my contact while on the "Scenic Highway" a few weeks ago. He was one of my first 30 meter contacts and was also QRP from Sherbrooke, Canada. He was about 700 miles from my Richwood QTH at 4,000 feet. (I hope the snow has melted up there and they have the trees off the road by now).

I've always been concerned about getting a "dipole" in the air when you're up above the "tree line". This seems to be the answer when you choose to use your dipole as an inverted Vee. Pierre's signal was 599 at about 700 miles with 5 watts of power. He uses a collapsible pole and attaches it to the bike mount on his car.

I'll be experimenting with this configuration on the next "elevation" location. Although the maximum elevation is only a little over 4500 feet here in WV, finding two good tall trees can sometimes be a problem.

Friday, April 23, 2010

My 30 Meter QSL CARDS

As I noted in my previous entry, I've started sending QSL cards that are "specially designed" for my "portable contacts" and I've received nice comments from those I've sent while operating on 30 meters while out in the field.

They're pretty simple, and in this digital age, easily created by using a simple picture and then "editing" it with the "paint program" included in all Microsoft software. It's a simple matter of adding text with the proper font, size and colors.

You'll see these pictures in some of my previous entries while operating at North Bend State Park, the Scenic Highway near Richwood WV, and my latest excursion to a local park near Charleston.
This isn't a new idea.

I received a "nice" card from K2RFP in Long Island NY just a few days ago that I thought was "unique". In addition, he created a re-usable SASE "return envelope" for one of my cards. You can download the free application from his site. I still enjoy receiving "paper cards" but think they're unnecessary because of postage fees. (especially those DX contacts)

But I think this is a nice way to show my contacts the exact location where I transmit and it seems to go over well. It's a nice memory for both of us. I don't mind the extra work it takes to make up one of these cards since I'm not into "short 30 second contacts". I usually chat for awhile....

Many of these people also have accounts with E-QSL (and I send them a confirmation from that site also). My "E-QSL" card is a generic kind of thing that shows me sitting on the front porch of a cabin with my guitar. I always respond to those requests.

I take the extra step to make sure they have a current e-mail account and send them along as an attachment to the e-mail so they can either "save it" or (if they choose to use it as "wallpaper") print it out on their home computer.

I always enjoy a more "personal" card from my contacts. I think those that receive these cards feel the same way.

In the future, those with a current e-mail account, can expect to have one of these cards sent to them as confirmation for the contact.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

More Fun on 30 Meters

I've been working as much "portable" as at home the last few weeks. Today I was able to get out for a few hours, and arrange the 30 meter antenna as an inverted Vee by hanging it from a convenient tree limb. It seemed to work fine. I drove to nearby "Little Creek Park" in South Charleston.

Several years ago, a major "shopping complex" was built in South Charleston and this park is the result of all those business taxes. It's quite a mecca for softball and soccer fans here in the valley. There's also some really nice hiking trails here in Trace Fork Canyon. Hiking in the canyon along this stream is very quiet. Something you would not think being this close to town.

I was a little disappointed in the band today but still made two nice contacts at about 600 miles.
The first was another QRP station in Sandersville, Mississippi who was also using an Icom 703 @ 5 watts. K5RZK is also a fellow NAQCC member. But I was operating in the early afternoon so didn't expect to hear much. Most local people are still at work now.

I seem to be on a run with NAQCC QRP operators on 30 meters.

The other station was N2DCP near Ocala Florida. He surprised me with his QTH and the #2 call. We have relatives in this area of Florida.

I've started taking a few pictures on my portable operations. (today was the first with me in the view). I took it by setting the timer in a little camera and attaching it to a roll of string that I use to hang the antenna.

I've started sending them as QSL cards with a "personal note" and have got nice comments from them. I'm sending them as attachments to e-mails. Sort of like the cards I use on E-QSL.

I'll post a copy of a few of them on the next entry.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

30 Meters @ North Bend State Park

North Bend State Park is near a little town called Cairo in West Virginia. It's on the Hughes River and the site of a new lake. The dam was created just a few years ago.

We traveled here this weekend to spend time with a hiking group we've been members of for many years. (Marilyn and I actually met while hiking with this group). I took the QRP station and my 30 meter antenna with the hopes of spending a few hours on the air.

I set it up near "base" of the dam (elevation about 900 ft) along a stream and was fortunate to arrange the antenna as a "sloper" that was slightly oriented towards the west. Here's a picture of the lake seen from a trail as we hiked above it.

This is the second time I've been able to experiment with my new 30 meter antenna and I like this band more every time I use it. I desperately attempted to work AE5KA in Spain because he was the "strongest" station I heard on the band. He was calling DX and working a slew of stations using a split. I must have spent 15 minutes trying to get his attention and transmitting on the frequency I was hearing others working him.

I had a nice QSO with KD5RSS in Haskell, Oklahoma, at about 800 miles, with a decent report. It was raining there and he was using a G5RV antenna. Butch was concerned that I might find myself in a rain when I explained my station sitting next to the base of the dam.

I like this band and have found some unusual characteristics while operating here in the field. I hear a lot of weak signals and I hear a LOT of them. I hear some REALLY good DX stations that I know are only running 200 watts. Before I took down the antenna and broke down the station I was able to hear VK6AU in Western Australia. He wasn't very loud but he was readable. I emailed him about hearing him and got a nice e-mail back this afternoon.

He was a little over 10,000 miles from me and was the first Australian station I've heard on the bands.

I'll be setting up and operating on this band a lot more now. I brought along a compass to help me orient the antenna this time, and will try to arrange it as an inverted Vee this next time. I copied this sign near an old "railroad tunnel" as we hiking along a "rail trail" near the edge of the park. I rode my bike through 6 of these old tunnels the last time I was here. I hope to spend more time at this park this summer and will bring along the radio to operate more on 30 meters.

The "North Bend Rail Trail" is about 80 miles in West Virginia and is incorporated into the "American Discovery Trail". The American Discovery trail is a "coast to coast"
trail of about 3,000 miles.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Changes at the Home Station

All my "radio decisions" revolve around choosing "light weight and portable equipment" that can be easily transported, so I've made a change to my "antenna farm"; notably removing the 80 meter Isotron antenna from my array that I've kept in the spare room.

I hope to sell it and (maybe) re-invest in a 30 meter version.

Although the entire array could still be transported in the car, (without taking it apart) it was difficult to get this array downstairs and into the car for transportation because of the "tuning hats" on the 80 meter antenna, and looking back at the decision to add 80 meters to the "farm", it was a bad decision for me.

To be honest, I don't find much interesting on this band. I've heard some "horrible" language on this band (always on the SSB portions) and it's NOT a long distance band from here in the valley. With a few rare exceptions, my contacts were usually very short distance. I think it resembles the 11 meter band now. (no, it's NOT as bad as it used to be but still is NOT good)

I'm looking at two different options to replace the 80 meter band. Number ONE is using a random wire of 47 feet for 30 meters and the other is to add the "matching network" from my PAR end fed "dipole" (not the correct terminology). Regardless, I have a small MFJ tuner that will help with the random wire.

Last weeks excursion to Richwood WV (at 4,000 feet), and the warmer weather, makes me want to operate MUCH more outdoors and with the summer season approaching, I'll be spending time in the West Virginia State Parks, New York, and North Carolina. I'm looking forward to setting up at these places and spending some quality time on the air.

I really want to operate more on the 30 meter band, I like what I heard last week in the mountains.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Trip to the Mountains

I recently bought two new "dipoles" for 15 and 30 meters, so last Thursday, I drove into the mountains to set up and operate "outdoors" for a few hours. The bands are picking up and I hoped to work into Europe and maybe talk to my friends in England and the Netherlands on the 15 meter band.

There have been some "good" band openings on 15 meters and I listen to 30 meters occasionally and I like what I hear on this band. (it's limited to only CW and a maximum power of 200 watts)

I can get out of the valley and into a decent elevation in about an hours drive from here but my goal was the 4,000 ft "scenic highway" near Richwood, WV. I've been there many times and can usually drive to this place in about 2 hours.

I wanted to reach a "very nice" area about 10 miles across the highway but after reaching the 4 mile mark, to my astonishment, the road came to an abrupt end with about 2 feet of SNOW in the middle of the road. What a surprise! This highway isn't maintained during the winter months and there were many trees in the road which I had to swerve between to reach this spot which was a "trail head" with a small parking area on the side of the road at about 4,200 feet.

Not the "best" place to operate, but it's still above 4,000 ft, and I was lucky to find this parking lot and get my stuff set up. It was easy to get the 15 meter antenna into the trees, at about 20 feet, with the slingshot (only two good shots). I put up the table and a lawn chair and I was ready to operate.

Much to my dismay, 15 meters was NOT open and I only heard "one" German station, so I immediately dropped the antenna and stretched out the 30 meter dipole.

After listening to the band for a few minutes there were "many" stations and I heard VE9WW in New Brunswick Canada. Its well about Maine and Bill was VERY strong at almost 1,000 miles. We were both hearing each other well above the "599" level.

After a few minutes QSO, we signed off and I listened again to DL3AO in Germany as he worked another VERY strong station in Melbourne, Florida. I desperately tried to get his attention when the they ended their QSO but no luck.

I then sent out my CQ and was answered by a station in Sherbrooke, Canada. Also hearing each other at the 599 level, I recognized his call immediately. Pierre (VE2PID) and I have talked several times over the last few years.

Today he was using his QRP rig and a dipole at 5 watts. What a great day to work another QRP station!

Unfortunately, I needed to break down everything soon afterwards, and get ready for the long drive back into the valley. I'm looking forward to the next "field trip" and was impressed with the 30 meter band. I heard a LOT of activity on it while up there.

I'm looking forward to doing a LOT more of this as the weather improves.
This is why I use QRP equipment. It's portable and I can use it outdoors when I want to do a little traveling and also spend a nice day outdoors.