My Most Recent QSO's

Saturday, December 31, 2011

E-QSL Cards

Looking around on the E-QSL site, I noticed a feature which looks for variations of your call sign. Many times, I make a special effort to let stations know I'm operating "portable" or "QRP".

This program takes a few minutes to run but happily, I found seven new cards on the site with the /QRP or /P after my call sign. Three of them were DX contacts....

I love the E-QSL site and use it exclusively for my radio contacts. In these days of soaring (especially international postage) rates, I see no reason to use anything else for confirmations.

I'll always return a paper QSL card when receiving a SASE for those who still like them.

I had no idea this was an option available to "QRP" and "portable" operators.  I like it very much....

Friday, December 30, 2011

LX1DA Luxembourg

I heard this station (LX1DA) yesterday but couldn't work him. This morning was a successful contact (CW) on 15 meters.  I'm finding 15 meters to be a very good band for me in the morning.

I also worked ON7USB in Belgium and another Switzerland station HB9TJR, but they were SSB contacts. SSB isn't much of a challenge for me. Quite honestly, anyone can speak into a microphone. I'll work a few for amusement, but there's nothing in my book like CW. I simply like dots and dashes.

I heard a strong Hungary station (HA5AWT) in CW and a strong (SSB) station in Newfoundland  (VO1KVT)  but couldn't work them.

The contacts this morning puts me at 150 in the DX log book. A lot of people with mega stations, running mega power, would laugh at this, but I'm quite happy to have done this with QRP power and "non-gain" antennas. It's been very fun for me....

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Two new DX Countries

I hit the jackpot this morning on 15 meters with 5 DX stations. Two of them were new countries for me. I used the 15 meter dipole again stretched out inside the upstairs rooms. Today I moved it to the same location as the 10 meter end fed wire. There's hardly any space to spare but I was able to use it by adding another 10 feet of coax to feed the center point of the dipole.

My first contact was IT9KCD in Italy (SSB) followed almost immediately by GW0TAU (CW)  in Whales. I've worked both these countries but soon afterwards I worked my first contact in Switzerland (HB9AOF) SSB. About 10 minutes later I heard a VERY strong French station (F5IN). He was so strong that I immediately dropped my power to around 3 watts. I actually sent my power to him as 4 watts during the contact but the meter on the rig was much less than 4....regardless, this makes my 15th "1000 MPW" contact.

My other new country was 5Q4B in Denmark.

I'm ecstatic about all these contacts. Switzerland and Denmark and another French "1000 MPW" station. It was a very good day for me.

I heard (but couldn't work) TK5EP in Corsica, CT1EHI in Portugal, RW2A in Russia, LX1DA in Luxembourger, EU7A in Belrus, and another station in Austria (couldn't find the call sign).

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

EI5DR Ireland and my 2011 QSO's

I worked a new DX entity this morning on 15 (CW) meters. ED (EI5DR) was my first contact into Ireland.

The "year end" totals for my station this year (just a few more days left in 2011) are much better this year than any other year. I'm sure most of it has been the result of better band propagation and the addition of a 10 meter end fed wire. I've also started hanging my 15 meter dipole inside the house. .

Thanks to some fantastic "ears" in Europe, I've worked 108 DX stations in 2011. My QSO totals (all years) are now 1231, and of those, 276 have been 2x QRP QSO's. Last year I worked a total of 297 stations and this year, I've worked 399 stations. I've actually worked 15 stations now at "1000 miles per watt". (the last contact was made at 5 watts and reduced to one watt)

I do VERY little contesting due to poor filtering on my rig.

I think, by far, the best contact this year was RD3A in Moscow Russia. I say this because, although I've worked many stations at the 5,000+ range on the upper bands, this station was a contact I made using my 40 meter Isotron antenna. I've actually had one ham accuse me of "fabricating" this contact. In my almost 20 year ham radio career, this is the first time I've ever had this happen.

The facts are the facts tho...the card is visible to anyone on the world wide web. 

This bring me to an interesting point, of which is puzzling to me. Contesting has never been a "hi-point" for me, but I understand and accept those who live for this and nothing else. If  "money was no object", I was born rich, and owned enough land to plant an antenna farm the size of a city block, I still wouldn't invest thousands and thousands of dollars into a hobby than demanded I sit in front of a computer and punched "buttons" all day long when the band was open. This just isn't my "cup of tea".

Four of my DX contacts this year were fellow QRP operators and I got more excitement out of working those than all the others combined. To me, there's still nothing (after almost 20 years) more exciting than working a "portable" station operating low power from a picnic table, an island, or a cabin in the woods.

Looking at the "other side of the coin" this is such a great hobby, there's more than enough fun for everyone.  (regardless of the expense)  Keeping it "simple" is still admirable to many.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

15 Meter Dipole Contacts

I had some fun this morning when I stretched my 15 meter dipole out in the upstairs room. This antenna is only seven feet longer than the end fed 10 meter wire and I easily found the extra space I needed by running it from the bathroom window sill to the bedroom curtain railing. (very much like the end fed wire for 10 meters)

My only fear was that the wire might be too close to the metal medicine cabinet and absorb my radio signal. Happily, that didn't seem to happen when I got on the air.

Although I didn't hear, or work any DX, I heard some good strong stations in New Mexico (KE1R) and the state of Washington. My last contact was a friend and fellow blogger in California. Dave (AA7EE)  was operating QRP with a vertical antenna. It's always good to work a "coast to coast" QRP station. We immediately recognized each others calls and it was a real joy to say hello.

The Washington state contact (WA7UQE) was a "FISTS" club member and we exchanged club numbers. We both had such good signals from each other that I decided to drop my power down to one watt. He could still hear me well even though QSB was causing a small problem.

I missed an opportunity for a "1000 MPW" contact with this station. If I had originally responded with one watt, at a little over 2,000 miles, he would have made # 15 for me.

When I find the band open, I'll be using the 15 meter dipole again . Although I missed the opportunity for a 2,000 miles with a watt contact, when I hear the next strong station on 15 meters, I'll immediately drop power to the very minimum.

Monday, December 19, 2011

An Old Tune on the Guitar

On the BIO section of the QRZ site, I have a picture of me and my guitar. I'm sitting on the back porch steps of a mountain cabin. Often times, when I'm having a QSO, someone asks me what kind of music I play on the guitar. My best explanation is that I like to modify old songs.

I think everyone should have their own style, and strive to play uniquely, according to what they hear in their head. I never play a song the way it was originally written.

Here's my version of an old tune called "Misty". It's done with an old acoustical guitar made by a company called EKO. It was made in Italy and I bought there in 1970.

This video is done with a cheap little pocket camera ($100) that I recently bought. I don't play professionally, and this video is no more than an amateur attempt to do a little strumming for my own pleasure. I play just for fun and with a few friends when we have the time.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

RD3A Moscow Russia

I still can't believe RD3A in Moscow Russia returned my call on 40 meters CW this evening. Of course, he's a contest station calling (and obviously pointing at the US) with a massive antenna array. It's by far, my best contact on 40 meters at a little over 5,000 miles. I'm amazed as he was the only station I'm hearing on the entire 40 meters band. Maybe that's why I was able to work him?

My wife and I had been out playing bridge with a local group of Grandparents. I'm glad I was lucky enough to work this station. I NEVER expected this surprise on 40 meters. It's NOT my best band by far but the conditions must be just right tonight.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

F5UKL QRP Pau, France

Although all the propagation forecasts predict only "good" conditions for 10 meters this morning, I stretched out the indoor end fed wire again, between the bedroom and the bathroom.

I had no intention of working more "SSB" stations on this band. I was fishing for "normal" contacts with simple stations using simple equipment.

I was intentionally looking for CW contacts and it paid off when I heard, (F5UKL) in Pau, France using a K2 with only 5 watts of power.

This was actually a "QSO".

Andre (F5UKL) is located near Lescar, a commune on the far side of the Pyrenees Mountains, which is between Spain and France. He was weak but was hearing me very well (549). I didn't copy everything he sent, but I got the jest of it, especially when he sent a weather report, repeated my home city, and replied to my QRP designation with his QRP designation. At times, his signal peaked to 339, but it was difficult to copy as the signal dropped into and out of the noise.

My friend Dick (F8WBD) recently made a comment about  DX contacts which I think is appropriate in this  case. I agree that it's a "relative" term. This contact is certainly not my longest contact but it is my longest contact with another QRP operator. In my humble opinion at least, this one falls into that category.

I've always said QRP work is a lot like fishing. You never know what you will catch when you throw the line in the water. This morning, I've heard hardly another station on the 10 meter band. I was very fortunate to catch this DX QRP station from France.

I got more excitement working this simple QRP station in France, than all the other "big guns" stations I've worked the last few weeks on this band. To me, this is the ultimate DX, and as my friend Dick said, it's very relative as far as distance is concerned. This one was a real hoot!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

More DX on 10 meters

As expected, I found 10 meters very crowded this morning. All the big guns were out, and it made for a frustrating attempt at a few contacts.

I worked two stations with CW this morning. One in Germany (DL6WT), and another in the Czech Republic (OK2PDT). Morse code was the solution to the problem as it was nearly impossible to compete with all the heavy SSB stations running high power and massive gain antennas. 

I also think I've about worked my limit, as far as DX is concerned on the HF bands. Of course, there's always the rare station which is in the right place at the right time, but mostly I'm limited to around 5,000 miles using indoor antennas here in the valley. I would however, like to work more stations in Southern hemisphere and I've still not worked Alaska and Hawaii. (which would easily give me my WAS award)

I find myself loosing interest in the "59" SSB contacts,  with a brief exchanges of call signs,....and nothing more. It's just not my cup of tea. 

Ten meters has been an interesting band for experimenting, and it's so simple to set up and operate with QRP power. ( 17 ft is very short piece of wire) 

There's different things for different people, but for me, long conversations with a good operator are still my prize catches. Yesterday afternoon, I worked NK1V in Winsted, CT who was running a mighty 4 watts into an OHR kit with an OFC dipole. At only 500 miles, I enjoyed this 2 X QRP contact immensely. 

I've always thought of radio as a "portable mode" with low power. Distance isn't necessarily the goal for me. I like to keep it simple, and thankfully, there are thousands of other operators out there thinking the same thoughts. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

E77DX Bosnia Herzegovina

I didn't find the band in good shape this morning but managed to work E77DX in Bosnia Herzegovina. This was another SSB contact using 10 watts. I almost worked LZ2JJ in Bulgaria with CW. He could tell I was there but couldn't pull me out of the noise. I heard several Italian stations also and a few in Germany. Perhaps tomorrow morning, the band will be in better shape.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

More 10 Meter Contacts

The band was hot again this morning. I was listening for France or The Netherlands,  but didn't hear one station. I was, however, able to work two stations in Croatia 9A1A and 9A4W. Both were monster stations with great signals here in West Virginia. 9A4A was actually on the Isle of Brac. I always like to work islands. The 9A1A station has one of the most elaborate beam antenna's I've ever seen on the web. It's no wonder he had a +20 signal.

Other stations I was able to work were YU1JW in Serbia, LY2BAW in Lithuania and OE8SKQ in Austria.
I heard, but couldn't work, several stations in Italy. Another in Puerto Rico, and a very strong F5/TU5KG in Africa.

All my contacts this morning were near 5,000 miles. Again, all were SSB contacts. The end fed wire seems to be doing a great job for me. The weather is cold today and the ground soggy and muddy. I'd love to get the wire outdoors, but for now, I'm satisfied with it stretched indoors, between the bathroom and the bedroom.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

More 10 Meter Contacts

This morning I could tell 10 meters was open, just by listening with my normal antennas, so I took a few minutes and hung the end fed wire inside the hallway again. I worked two stations in Germany and two stations in France before the band closed down around noon.

My first was DL8YBM and soon followed by DG0OBU (both in Germany)

Both with great signals. I appreciated them listening for this QRP station with all the other stations on the air.
I heard lot's of stations on the air this morning. Some were OK2JS-YT1E (great signal)-403A-9A9DX and GD6IA. 

Before the band started to shut down, I was able to work F8EZE and F5BZB.

These were easy stations to work with 10w SSB, but I still fail to work CW ops here. I heard several in Spain and Africa but was not able to work them. I'm hearing several beacons in Mexico, which surprises me.

Today it's pouring the rain here at home but I've found a really good place to operate outdoors portable. It's close to home also. During the civil war days here in the valley, the union army created a "cannon site" on a prominent hill overlooking the Kanawha and Elk rivers. While driving around looking for good operating spots, I found it at the end of a "dead end" street. I'm looking forward to trying this antenna outdoors where the electrical noise is much less. For now, I'll have to be content to operate with the wire stretched indoors...