My Most Recent QSO's

Monday, December 31, 2012

EA5DWS Spain

My DX contact this morning was on the very far side of Spain at 4,228 miles. It was another "handshake" but Salva (EA5DWS) was using a paddle and congratulated me on my 3 watt QRP signal. We exchanged names, RST, and QTH's.

I wasn't hearing much on the bands this morning despite good propagation. Salva was "out in the open" on the 17 meter band. I worked him "just because I could". Countries in eastern Europe are fairly easy for me to work. Spain is pretty common "catch" for me. This station is my 20th from Spain in the log book.

The wife and I will be dancing tonight at a New Years party. I'm looking forward to the annual celebration which is just up the street. Our favorites are the Waltz, the Fox Trot, and the Rumba. We do a good Tango also...... It's lot of fun and I'm looking forward to it.

Here's a nice Waltz done by a couple at one of our states finest Hotels a few years ago. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

LX1NO Luxembourg

It was difficult to get a good grip on LX1NO in Luxembourg this morning but after a few repetitions (on my part) we completed the "handshake" and moved onward looking for other stations. I worked this station on the 17 meter band.  Luxembourg is one of the most prosperous and developed countries in the world. It has an advanced economy and one of the worlds highest per capita incomes. There's a lot of banks here.....

Unlike most European stations, I've only worked this country one time previously.

Switching over to 30 meters, I worked two nice QRP stations in the US. Bob (KB3ENU) was in Galena Maryland and using a K-1 @ 5W into a dipole. Soon afterwards I worked AK4JA in Newman Georgia. He was using a Yeasu 817 @ 5W into a vertical dipole.

There's light snow on the ground here this morning. I needed to get the dog outside for his morning walk. The temperature was 26 degrees (f), so he wore his winter coat.

Friday, December 28, 2012

My 2012 Log Book

Another year has passed with continued enthusiasm for my favorite hobby. As we approach the new year, I always take a few minutes to survey my log book to see where I've been and where I may be going in the upcoming year.

I made more contacts this year than the previous one. This year I made 467 contacts with a variety of different stations. I can almost count on my fingers and toes the number of stations I've worked on SSB; the vast majority were CW (99.9%) contacts.

I continue to be motivated by Morse Code and worked 111 DX Stations this year. I know that's not a lot of contacts "across the pond" for many radio operators but I'm happy with my little station; despite its challenging location. Looking back at the"total log book" since retirement; I see a total of 1,697 contacts with 376 being contacts with other QRP operators.Considering my indoor antennas; I have no complaints.

 I've changed my station a bit since last year and added a random wire and a new key. I'm using an external tuner and now use an old laptop computer for DX spotting on the cluster. I've spent a LOT of time chasing DX this year; but still like a long "chat" above all else.

The entire station sits on a small "aluminum camping table" in front of the bedroom window. 

I still cherish the idea of simplicity and strive to keep my station VERY basic. I have NO plans to operate with anything but CW in the upcoming year, although I've been know to jump to SSB for a "special event station". I can still take the entire station down and be in the field in a matter of minutes.

I love this hobby which encourages me to view other parts of the world, and the lives of the radio operators who live in distant lands. I still think it's the best hobby in the world!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Summersville Lighthouse in the Mountains

"West Virginia has a brand new "lighthouse" in the mountains. The Summersville Lake Lighthouse was erected in Mount Nebo, West Virginia on October 17th, 2012. Standing 104 feet tall with a top elevation of 2,164 feet above sea level, the 77,000 lb.structure has a cylindrical tower constructed entirely of ½ inch thick steel. With a base diameter of 12 feet receding to 8 feet at the top, visitors will be able to climb 122 steps to reach a 360 degree gallery deck offering unparalleled views of Summersville Lake and the Gauley River National Recreation Area. The second tier lamp room houses a fully restored 36,000 lumens rotational beacon complete with a double bulls eye Fresnel lens capable of projecting a beam a distance of over 30 miles".

The official dedication and Lighting of the Summersville Lake Lighthouse  will be held on West Virginia Day, June 20th, 2013.

I've operated QRP radio from many different places in the last twenty years but I think this location is going to be unique. You won't find many lighthouses at 2164 feet elevation and 350 miles inland from the east coast.

Actually, this might be the only "lighthouse" of this type anywhere in the world. Hihi

When I first read of this new place near the New River Gorge, I thought that I had to share it with all the QRP operators on the blog. One of the really great joys of operating a QRP station is the ability to set up and operate a station in the field. You just can't do that with a rig that pulls twenty amps. It can only be done with radios operating very low power. (QRP) I thought this place (about an hour and a half drive from me) would be the perfect place to set up a table and chair, put an antenna is the trees, and contact as many stations as possible....just for fun! There's a great campground here with all the amenities anyone could dream.  

Be sure to click on this link: Summersville Lake Lighthouse to learn more about this lighthouse. It's an interesting read and well worth the time; especially if you're a QRP operator who likes to transmit from unusual places. 

The images and quotes used in this entry are with the permission of the owners and operators of the Summersville Lake Retreat. I've no connection with them other than an interested camper who hopes to transmit from there this summer. I'm grateful they've allowed me to share this unusual place with my readers. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Window into Europe


This morning I stumbled onto a nice opening towards Europe on the 17 Meter band. As I'm sure anyone working DX knows, the majority of these contacts are usually "handshakes", but occasionally you meet someone who really goes out of their way to, not only make a contact, but continue with a nice QSO. Such was case from this station in Seevetal, Germany today.

There were a LOT of stations in this mornings "window". I heard DL2SC calling but only copied the DK when I first responded. It took me several attempts to put his numbers and letters together. As most of my readers know, I don't have "filters" in my QRP rig and the "buzz" was deafening as I tried to copy him next to a pile up.

Hartmut (DK2SC) deserves a "special recognition" for leading me on a trail of dot's, for what seemed like forever, as we shifted from one segment of the band to another. We finally landed in the "clear" and continued a "short chat" of about 10 minutes. At the very best, I was no more than 229 and how he managed to hear me during the "chase" to a clear frequency, I will always be amazed! He is an exceptional operator....

I also managed to work some more interesting stations like this one in Lithuania. Jonas (CY5A) was also talkative. We exchanged the basics but soon moved onward.

I thought for sure I was hearing a long sought after contact with my friend Dick (F8WBD) in France but it turned out to be F8GGD, in Cognac. Nice spirits by the way.....

Last, but not least, I made a contact with G3HGE in Suffolk, England. Tom is the proud owner of "TW Radio" and produces a mighty fine looking magnetic key! Tom sent me an e-mail congratulation me on my 3 watt QRP signal. Tom has a great web site, where there are several videos of this great key.

You should take the time to google "TW Radio" as the site is full of information about Tom, his early radio days, and the history of his company. It's a great read....

I'm sure he was using this key in the QSO this morning.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

II1M Marconi Special Event Station

I felt fortunate to catch this "Special Event Station" (II1M) celebrating the "first transatlantic radio transmission" by Marconi in 1902 this morning. They were transmitting CW from Chivasso Italy, and putting a fantastic signal into West Virginia from 4,394 miles distance. It was an easy catch and a memorial one. I found this station on the 17 meter band

Volumes have been written about him and well worth a good read at any time. Marconi was born in Bologna Italy and thanks to this great pioneer, our hobby has been well served. Even today, there has not been a better form of communications, decipherable with the human ear, ever surpassed. Our CW radio mode is forever debited to him.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

W0RW Pedestrian Mobile

I was hearing a very weak station on 20 meters this afternoon. I thought it was a familiar call. It turned out to be Paul (W0RW/PM) who was operating QRP/PM  from somewhere near Colorado Springs Colorado. That's a straight line distance of 1250 miles from here. I could barely pull him out of the noise but managed to copy the essentials on the high spots. I had to repeat my name but we made a good contact.

I've worked Paul several times in the past and always get a kick out of his "backpack" mode of operation. He uses a VERY interesting radio (google this one) and also has an interesting astronomy hobby.   

Here's the link:      Las Brisas Observatory with Paul W0RW - YouTube

To me, this is one of the ultimate modes of radio. In essence, a HF radio used while walking around on a hike! I've always admired any type of "portable operator", but especially those using QRP power. I've sent Paul and e-mail, an E-QSL card, and spotted him on the "QRP Spots" reflector. I saw other spots but I seemed to be the farthest distance.

I'm not sure of his "exact" location. Perhaps his card will tell me for sure.

He is also NAQCC Member # 2500.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Paraguay South America

I finally found a few moments of free time yesterday evening and found ZP6CW in Caacupe, Paraguay on the 17 meter band. At a distance of 4,678 miles, I thought it was a good catch, especially since it was a new DX entity for me. (#61)

South America is one area where I have the opportunity for new contacts. I find my operating mode is revolving around DX clusters. I've printed out the ARRL DX entity list and immediately scan them for new countries. Radio is a lot like fishing to me. You never know what you're going to catch until you throw your line in the water. I was happy with this catch....

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Guernsey Island in the English Channel

This morning I found a great opening towards the Northeastern sections of Europe. The 12 meter band seemed to be wide open and I easily worked stations in Denmark, Spain and even Italy. OZ1IKY in Denmark was weak but workable. EA7AJR was pushing a fantastic signal from Spain and IK3VUT sounded like he was right next door.

Luca (IK3VUT) even took a few minutes to say congratulations on my 3 watt QRP signal!

My most prized catch was MU0FAL on the Island of Guernsey in the English Channel. The "MU" caught my ear quickly; since I anticipated a new DX Country. I looked at my DX list but couldn't find it anywhere.

A quick look at Wikipedia made it clear that it's a United Kingdom entity (or at least looks to the Untied Kingdom for military protection). It's a fascinating read and I'll spend more time this afternoon looking at their history.

This is one of the benefits of Ham radio in my opinion; since I love to read about the lives of other people in different countries. Sad to say, I had never heard of this island, and if not for the radio hobby, would not be aware of this VERY interesting place. In some ways, it makes me think of Whales in the UK.

All these contacts this morning were at better than 3,000 miles, and at three watts power, bring my "1000 MPW" contacts to 43. Today made my 234th DX contact.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

St Kitts and Nevis Islands

I'm always happy when I work another new DX entity (#60). This evening I worked V44KAO,  in the Leeward Islands. A mere 1, 840 miles from here; but still an island I've not work before, and a  NEW entry in the log book.  The Caribbean Islands and South American areas are still good hunting grounds for me with several other possibilities for new contacts. I hope to work several more this winter. I worked this station on the 30 meter band.

I love the new Vibroplex Iambic Key as it's quite easy to send above 20 wpm. I dream of those warm islands as the winter months move toward us. It would be nice to stroll along the warm sandy beaches in this area?

Monday, November 12, 2012

New Key

The latest addition to the N8ZYA radio shack is this Vibroplex Standard Iambic Key. Early testing and adjusting results are very promising. I'm still "fine tuning" it but it's easily capable of 20 + WPM. It will take a few days to get it "just right" for my own "personal settings". One of the best features that I like about this key is the "Made in America" nameplate. It's becoming increasingly difficult to find anything in this country that is actually manufactured here. The serial number on this key is # 401727. They're as much a "collectors item" as they are a fine, quality, precision made key. I'm proud to own this one.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

October Summary

October was a good month for me with most of my contacts on the 30 meter band. I worked 61 stations, 16 were NAQCC stations (my favorite pastime), 11 more 1,000 MPW stations ( I've lost count now) , 26 DX stations, and another 13 QRP stations.

I thought the above card (EA3NT) was an interesting one which I worked a few days ago. Tonight I worked PR7PO on the very far side of Brazil.

My longest contact this month was 5N7M in Abuja, Nigeria at a distance of 5,784 miles.

I've been working all my stations with 3 watts of power this month. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Cardboard Bicycle

Here's a totally non-radio post that I thought some of my radio friends might find interesting. I'd love to have one just for conversational purposes: The cost of construction is $9.00 with a selling price of $20.00. I want one!

Some Thoughts on the 30 Meter Band

I've hardly ventured outdoors today, other than to take the dog out for his daily constitution. It's a cold damp rainy day in the valley, but fortunately, it looks like we will miss most of the "Frankenstein Storm" which is headed up the eastern coast toward the Northeastern states.

Yesterday when I worked N0IMJ (on 30 meters), he talked about his solar powered station and his deep cycle storage batteries. It's an interesting setup and worth looking at the Bio on I imagine this type of station is worth it's weight in gold with the approaching wet heavy snow. Power outages are almost certain.

 In just a few hours, the temperature had dropped almost 20 degrees on the far side of Lake Michigan. When that cold front mixes with the rain from this giant slow moving hurricane, it's going to be a real mess in parts of New York and New Jersey. We're expecting several feet of snow in the mountains, but little, if any accumulation in the valley.

Moving onto 30 meters....anyone who turns on their set today must be aware of the big SSB contest on the airwaves. If you're using a simple QRP station like mine, it's "tuff" going, to work much of anything, because of  those "KW's" and aluminum antenna farms the size of K-mart parking lots.

But when I worked N8DUS  on 30 meters from Rochester, Michigan, it was a very pleasant long conversation. What a joy to copy each other 599 with NO interference from a KW station! This is the beauty of the 200 watt maximum "CW only" 30 meter band. Every day I spend here makes me appreciate the joy of QRP operation and it's advantages.

Right after this long conversation, I worked PA3FQA in the Netherlands. (twice now) . I worked him a few days ago on the 12 meter band. He was a little weaker but was much easier to copy. His signal strength and the steady signal could have progressed into a long conversation also.

I spent some time earlier today on the SSB portion of 15 meters looking for some new DX stations. I didn't hear any; since there was an assortment of those "the bigger the better" super stations. But despite the pile ups, I worked CN3A in Morocco, DR1A in Germany, S54ZZ in Slovenia, 9A1A in Croatia and OE6A in Austria.

I applaud those "big gun" stations for their "great ears" but can't help wonder---- "is this really necessary" ? Today I was happy to use a simple 3 watts of power which was more than effective on this band.

The 30 meter band has been worth all the effort I've put into CW over the last 20 years.....every bit of it!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Netherlands on 12 Meters

This station gives an entirely near meaning to the term "Big Gun" station. I worked PA3FQA this morning on a new band. Soon afterwards I worked PA4VHF in the same country. Both these stations were on the 12 meter band and the first I've made here. I always think of fellow blogger PC4T when I work stations in the Netherlands. Being a bicyclist, I can't think of a better place in the world to ride. Both these station were 599 into West Virginia!

The rest of the afternoon was spent hiking in the forest again. It was a really beautiful day here with temperatures in the low 80's. After returning, and just before dinner, I worked OK1AWZ in the Czech Republic. Milan was on the 30 meter band. A little later, I was able to work ZF2AH in the Cayman Islands.

I heard a station in Iceland this morning but couldn't work him. I need that country for the DXCC logbook. Perhaps another day?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Morocco # 59

My second recent contact in the African continent was CN2R and another new DX entity this evening. I feel extraordinarily lucky to be in the right place at the right time. This was a 17 meter SSB contact which is becoming very rare for me. I guess I'm getting greedy and grabbing new DX anywhere and with any means possible.

Back to 30 meter cw again, I was able to work HA9RT in Hungary also. Amazingly he was 599 into the Kanawha Valley.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Estonia # 58

Today was a great day. I spent most of it  hiking in the woods along a ridge in Kanawha State Forest. I took the HT with me and talked with a few people. It was nice to hear them and especially nice to know someone would hear my call in case of an emergency. There's no cell phone coverage in this area.

But the real joy of the day was working # 58 towards the DXCC award. I found ES3AX on the 30 meter band, out there all alone, and not spotted on the cluster. The signal was weak but I was able to work him on the first attempt.

We actually exchanged names (his was August) and I said John and WV and QRP with 3 watts. August congratulated me on the accomplishment and suggested I use the bureau for a card. I felt good about the contact because Estonia is a new DX entity for me. He was also 4,539 miles from me, and another 1000 MPW contact. (I need to calculate that at 3 watts)

Looking over the log book, since I've switched to the 50 ft random wire, I find this contact to be my 16th DX contact on the 30 meter band. I've worked a total of 217 DX stations now. Today brings my total "1000 MPW" contacts to number 33. Dropping down to three watts has been an eye opener for me.

Late last night I was able to work HA3FTA in Hungary.

Friday, October 19, 2012

France on 30 meters

 Sounded like a local station with a 599 signal. 

I continue to be amazed with the stations I hear and work on 30 meters. I love this band because there's lot's of DX and also some long rag-chews. Perfect for a CW operator....

Every now and then; I get an extra nice card from the E-QSL folks. I thought this one from St Croix, in the Virgin Islands, (NP2KW) fell into this category. Very colorful I would say!  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The 8th Area Call Bureau

Although I've been a Ham for many years, I prefer to send and receive my QSL cards via the E-QSL site. But these were a welcome site in the mail box yesterday. I'll have to return them to the 8th Area Call Bureau quickly. This is a great service and a nice way to reduce postage fees. 


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

5N7M Nigeria in Africa

I've been hearing him for several days and thought he was just too far away to work with 3 watts. Little did I know today was going to be my lucky day! Ivan (5N7M) was weak when I first heard him on 17 meters, and I wasn't sure if he had copied my call correctly; so after a 10 minute wait, I confirmed it with a second contact. Ivan is 5,784 miles from me, and my longest contact yet with my QRP station.

This is another new DX entity for me, and my first good contact into Africa. 

On another note, last night was the October NAQCC CW Sprint. The band was just terrible here in the valley. I made a few 80 meter contacts with the random wire but didn't have a high score. I heard nothing on 20 meters, and again, made most of my contacts on the 40 meter band. I was able to work five different states, which is no big deal. But I now have more than enough contacts for the next NAQCC award.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Habana, Cuba

I continue to work a few stations even when the band is SLOW on 30 meters. Osmany (CO2OQ) is in Habana, Cuba and I've worked him twice on this band now. This evening he was out there, all by himself, and we actually said hello. I sent my QRP status to him and he acknowledged my 3 watts.

I'd love to visit that country sometime and have a friend (here in the US) that once lived there. I'd love to see all those old automobiles which they refer to as "Yank Tanks". I think it would be fun to visit there and mingle with the local folks. I enjoy listening to Cuban music because of all the all the percussion sounds. I find it fascinating...

A few years ago, I almost worked CO2KK who is the host of the very popular Cuban DX Shortwave Radio Broadcast. He was on 20 meters and also QRP. Arnie (CO2KK) mentioned my on his broadcast program and I recorded it. Perhaps I can make a WAV file and place it on the blog sometime?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Guadeloupe FG5FR

I worked another new DX entity this evening. Frantz (FG5FR) was on the island of Guadeloupe. This country is now # 56 in my list towards the DXCC award. I've worked several of these islands lately and this is one of the areas where I have the possibility of adding to my growing list of new countries.

I found this station on the 17 meter band, and I continually watch for new possibilities on the DX cluster every evening. Other than the Canary Islands, I've worked nothing in Africa. I've worked most of Eastern Europe as far as Bulgaria. I still need Estonia and Iceland, but other than these, the pickings are going to be slim.

I've heard Alaska and Hawaii the last few weeks also; but too weak to work. Those are the only states I need for WAS. With the addition of the random wire antenna, I think there's a good possibility catching them. Strange as it may sound, I'm looking forward to the winter months when the longer nights should work well for radio.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Slovak Republic and Mexico

In addition to the Russian and French stations which I worked yesterday morning, the evening hours brought me two more DX stations. Vlado (OM7CA) was in the Slovak Republic and sounded like a local station. That's a real interesting bridge in the above photo which is in this country. There were hundreds of stations hoping for the contact, but after a dozen or so attempts, I was lucky to be at the right frequency at the right time. I felt really good about working him.

I also worked XE2S in Hermosillo, Mexico. There is a large FORD assembly plant here, and chances are if you own a Ford Fusion or a Lincoln automobile, it was assembled here.

 Henry Ford 

I'm a little confused about this station since I copied a distinct XE1S when I worked him. Apparently I missed a "dot". Something of which I occasionally do on a quick exchange....sometimes the 'ol ears and the brain get confused. The XE1S  location comes up along the coast of Africa. It's not likely to be correct since I had such a good copy on him. He congratulated me on the 3 watt contact and I'll wait for confirmation from another ham who worked him just before me and spotted him on the cluster. He only appeared once.....