My Most Recent QSO's

Sunday, March 18, 2012

KARC Hamfest Introduction

This weekend I sold  (and gave away) some of my old "two meter gear" while at the annual Kanawha Valley Amateur Radio Club  Hamfest.

I also saw and talked to some old friends whom I've not seen in years; and met for the first time, a few of the newer people I've recently talked to on the local club (KARC)  repeater.

It was very nice to spend time with all of them.

One local ham (KA8SYV) introduced himself when he noticed my "name tag" which had my call letters attached to it. As we conversed,
it quickly became apparent that we had a mutual friend and when he presented his 'card', it quickly "turned on the light bulb" in my mind.

I've seen it before.....

Let me explain: I consider many members of the "ham blogging community" to be my "personal friends", although I'll never "meet" them. Through their writing; we've shared many thoughts about, not only radio, but their lives in the cities and countries they live.

The connection with this card is from the blog of Dave Richards (AA7EE) in California. I've enjoyed his blog for several years. I have a link to it on the right side of this blog ----------------> 

A few months ago Dave (AA7EE) needed a WV QSO to complete his WAS QRP award. Frank (KA8SYV) graciously granted him the QSO , a few days earlier than myself.

The other connection is that he now owns Dave's previous Yeasu 817 rig.

Take a look at Dave's blog --------------> 

It will be interesting reading, and you will see this "great card" again along with a similar description of our contacts.

When it comes to radio, it's a small, small world.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

News on the Local Repeater

The sky was just beautiful as I walked the dog last night, and afterwards, it sparked a nice conversation on the local repeater. The giant constellation Orion is prominent, Canis Major is at his heels, along with Sirus, the brightest star in the sky. But the BIG show is the two prominent planets (Venus and Jupiter) which are leading these two constellations.

Jupiter is my favorite planet to view because you can see four of it's moons with a simple pair of binoculars. Every night they line up differently; sometimes two on each side, sometimes three on one side and one on the other, sometimes all four on one side etc.

There are many things in the night sky which can also be seen with the naked eye but I think the "International Space Station" is at the top of the list for ham radio operators.

If you're lucky, you can talk to it with a handi-talkie as it crosses the sky. If you look closely, that's a "handi-talkie", on her right wall, which is being used my the astronaut as she talks to hams on earth.

Being able to "see" the International Space Station it is an advantage to you, and at times, it's quite "Bright". Although I've never worked the ISS , I've dropped a letter in the "packet mail box" of the Russian MIR station when it was orbiting the earth. I used a handi-talkie, a "personal data assistant" (PDA) which I carried in my shirt pocket, and a small hand held beam. Being able to "see" it was a great advantage, as I sat in a "cow pasture" and followed it across the night sky. The cows all applauded at my success.....

Last night, as I talked to a friend on the repeater, I explained how to "see" the ISS and how to know the "exact" time and direction it will be seen in Charleston, West Virginia.

The numbers you see below come from a German web site called Heavens-Above. It's under the "ham radio sites of interest". I have a link to it on the right side of this blog. ---> 


What these numbers tell you is that on March 19th, 2012, the International Space Station will be visible to the "naked eye", in Charleston West Virginia, for approximately 5 minutes, as it travels almost straight overhead,   from the Southwest to the Northeast, between  6:19 AM and 6:23 AM. Learn how to use a compass, synchronize your watch from the GMT website (or use the nightly news broadcast to accurately set your watch) and join in on the fun. With a little luck, you might even be able to say "Hi".

There's lot of "stuff" in space which can be seen with the "naked eye" as it orbits the earth. I placed the "Heavens-Above" link on my blog, many years ago, because it makes it easy to find and share them  with others who might be interested in the ham radio hobby.

Several people in the valley will be watching for the next good pass now. The conversation on the local repeater was a good one.

I hope the skies are clear!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Can The Bands Get Much Worse?

I know the recent solar storms have wrecked havoc on the bands but add a little "poor location" and this is getting ridiculous. Perhaps things will change soon? Temperatures are expected to be reach the 80's by the end of the week. I've already cut the grass and now it's time to go "portable". It will be nice to get away from this electrical noise....

I've made the comment more than once that I don't send a signal into the South very well. Anyone guess what might be the problem?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Crazy Weather and Crazy Bands

Due to the new family member, a rescue dog named Timmy; last week, I had nearly zero time for radio. The weather has also been absolutely crazy with temperatures swinging wildly between the 60's one day and the 30's the next.  

Yesterday morning we had an accumulation of about an inch of snow on the ground. It was a surprise to see, bright and early, when I began my morning walk with the dog. I bought him a warm winter coat. (cute isn't it?)

This morning, I should not have expected much on the bands since "blackouts" were in the forecast; but the DX cluster was showing a few DX stations on both 10 and 15 meters. I thought it would be fun, at least, to stretch out the antennas and give it a try.

The only station I could work, on 15 meters, was CO6WD in Cuba. I drooled as N8RR (also in Charleston) worked an island off the coast of Africa. I could barely hear the Charleston station. Couldn't even tell the African station was there....

With disappointing conditions on the upper bands, thank goodness for good old 40 meters. It's the band I can always count on to make a contact. I like this band because of the long "rag chews" which are possible here. The stations are usually within 500 miles of me and good for conversation. We often talk about the cities where they live and they usually ask about my home state too.

I've been deliberately spending time on the upper portions of this band where "new" hams hang out, and I enjoy the slow speed QSO's.

There are other reasons for slow Morse Code speeds also.

I've worked W8IRT many times on 40 meters. Paul is a very active member of the "Handi-Ham" network which helps "visually impaired" people get an amateur radio license. Unexpectedly, he assigned me Handi-Ham # 1238, which will make it easier to check into, and participate in the 40 meter nets on Friday mornings (9am till noon) on 7112 MHz.

This net is deliberately ran at a "slow" CW speed.

It's perfect for "new" hams to "get their feet wet" with actual "on the air time" with other hams. I hope some of the new people I've talked to recently, on the local repeater, take advantage of this opportunity.

Friday, March 2, 2012

A New HT and a New Outlook on Repeaters

The recent purchase of a new "handi-talkie" has brought back some good memories to me. I've been doing something I rarely do; I actually listen to the local repeater. Like most two meter repeaters, ours has sparse activity on it, and my enthusiasm for this segment of the band has waned to the point of almost non existence during the last several years. I think in the past, I've viewed two meters as the natural "first step" up the ladder towards the HF band, and once there, a place never to return. Looking at it now, perhaps that's been a mistake...

I've been hearing "new" hams on the repeater and it's reminded me of my first contacts; and those who were instrumental in inspiring me to "move up the ladder". After almost 20 years, I find myself in "their" position to inspire new people to learn Morse Code, since it's no longer required as the "basic building block" for advancement to "non repeater" usage.

I find it "fun".

Several of the "new" guys are hanging around the 10 meter band where they eagerly await SSB openings into the Caribbean and Eastern Europe. Most are using 50+ watts of power. They "listen to me" when I talk about making the same contacts, with the same stations, while using 10 watts of power....or less.

I recently made good 10 meter contacts into France and also made contact with a VERY strong CW station near Mexico City. I was using 5 watts of power. I'm sure I could have worked this guy with a watt, should I have attempted to do so. I've worked San Juan (on twenty meters) with a watt and received an excellent signal report.

I'm looking forward to more "chats" on the two meter repeater now. I see it as an opportunity to motivate others to learn and use CW. My perspective is changing to that of an "Elmer" and a few evenings ago, I sent a little CW to a fellow across town.

That early memory of my "first" contact into Palmer Lake Colorado returned to me.

I hope to lead others down the CW road where "simple" gear will open their eyes to the joy of operating QRP in the field. I'm glad I bought the new HT. I hope that I can use it to inspire a few people to use CW as their primary mode of communication.