My Most Recent QSO's

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Month of July

Time sure flies when you're having fun. It's difficult to believe this month has passed so quickly. I've worked 47 stations this month on 40 meters. Of those, 12 have been QRP stations and 19 have been members of the North American CW QRP Club. (NAQCC) . As like last month, just about all have been near the 7040 frequency.

I'm still working on an award with the NAQCC club; and these totals should place me very near my goal of  500 two way QRP contacts. The club offers a nice certificate for this accomplishment as an incentive for club members to use CW at QRP levels.

I'll start counting numbers again and arrange my log book for submission and verification.

I'm amazed that after almost 20 years of working strictly QRP, I still work new stations every day on 40 meters. This month I've again worked many interesting stations.

I recently worked a new station in Charleston, WV. Eric (AC8LJ) has appeared on both 40 and 20 meters. We had an extremely long QSO and I look forward to meeting him in person soon.

An old friend of mine in Pennsylvania (WA3SCM) recently announced his retirement on the first of September. We had a very nice long congratulatory QSO a few days ago.

I've worked two special event stations this month and a mobile station driving home from work in Nashville, Tennessee. (KD4MV/M) I love the bluegrass music there.

The weather is returning to somewhat normal this week. As I walked the state capitol grounds a few days ago, I couldn't help but notice this guy washing windows. I had thoughts of using this fine "pole" for an antenna support. He was washing these windows from the ground level and four floors above.

Two of these poles on a mountain peak should work wonders for a simple QRP station. 

Of course, anything would be better than washing windows like these guys. I haven't seen people this comfortable with a Boatswains Chair since my Navy days. I've done it 20 or 30 feet above the waterline of the sea. Salt water is much softer than hard concrete. I couldn't do this..... 

Despite my obvious wish (it's plainly stated in bold lettering on the site) to confirm all my contacts via the E-QSL site, I still continue to receive cards without a SASE. Yesterday, I got a notice from the ARRL Bureau asking for a large envelope. They have several waiting for me and I sent extra large self addressed and stamped envelopes with some extra cash with them. For the life of me, I don't understand why everyone seems to want a paper card. eh ??

As a parting observation, this month I worked a station at about 700 miles. He boastfully stated he was running a KW and made a nice comments about traveling through Charleston for business purposes. Yea...that's a lot of power; but I only sent him a 559 compared to my 579 signal. I must have insulted him when I sent QRP 5W and indoor Isotron antenna. He never responded afterwards even tho I mentioned relatives living in his area.

It's not about power, it's propagation and taking advantage of unique band opportunities. When the conditions present themselves, go for it!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

NAQCC Sprint Contest

I continue to make progress towards "new awards" from the North American QRP CW Club (NAQCC). It was with great pleasure last night, that I worked another nine club members in the July Sprint. Although band conditions weren't that great, I managed to work eight different states, all of which were on 40 meters. 

I Don't See This Very Often: 

I'm sure my standing will change as more members submit their log books today. But for now....I'm ecstatic. 

Here's a list of those I worked on 40 meters last night. 

I've been having a conversation with NAQCC co-founder John Shannon (K3WWP) about my goals in these events. I've determined mine to be "doing the best with what I have" since contesting often becomes a system where "money" and "equipment" often mean everything.

Not so, with these QRP events!

In essence, there's a tremendous reward in challenging a competition with yourself. Considering my simple station and my location here in the valley, this is the path for me to follow.

Working stations with 5 watts and of which are using "simple wire antenna's" is a challenge.

I like this! It puts everyone on a level playing field.

I received flowers (soapbox comments) from N9RLO in Indiana for my 599 signal. I heard him with the same signal strength. I always respond to these praises by jokingly saying it's the result of my 5 watt HF signal bounding off the "gold dome" of the capitol building, just up the street. I also worked a Canadian station. (VE3FUJ)

Check out the NAQCC Club site on the web...I keep at link on the right side of my blog. It cost NOTHING to join this fun club and you'll be amazed at the fun 5 watts and simple antenna will bring to you.

The club newspaper is an interesting read. The July edition is online at the website now.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Flying Pigs

As I've mentioned previously, The last several weeks, I've been making a special effort to work QRP stations. I must admit, I've neglected this club in the past; but they're an excellent source of contacts for those of us who specialized in "low power operations". 

Sunday evening, much to my delight, I heard an abundance of activity on the QRP portion of 40 meters. I was totally unaware of the monthly "Run for the Bacon" contest of the "Flying Pigs" club. I immediately recognized the call of K4BAI in Columbus Georgia.  John is a very active QRP operator who is a member of many clubs and always a "top gun" in any QRP contest. He answered my 5 watt call immediately but I inadvertently sent the wrong club number.  Hihi.  I corrected my mistake and he confirmed with a big QSL TU. 

Soon afterwards, I was able to work KD8PJP in Michigan. I had a great signal near the Great Lakes but Scott wasn't participating in the club activity. I confirmed my 5 watt QRP status and moved onward to another station. 

My last contact was AE8M in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

I marked this clubs monthly activity on my "radio calendar" and hope to get those valuable two way QRP contact numbers up into the 500 levels. 

On another vein, I worked fellow blogger W8MDE a few days ago. Mike is an avid bicyclist which is an activity I also engage in at every opportunity. 

I enjoy reading his blog about "riding" in Ohio very much! I keep a link to his site on the right side of this blog. You should take a few minutes to browse through it. He's younger than me....rides 50 miles in the heat without many problems at all. Oh...those were the great days.  Hihi 

Nice to finally work you Mike ! 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

40 Meters is Always There

Despite very poor band conditions, I still manage to make short range contacts on 40 meters. With a few exceptions, they're in the neighboring states around WV. I've worked two "special event stations" since the beginning of the month. WP3 (you have to dig a little to find this call) was operated by WB3AAI. I've worked him twice.  K4F was also a special event station in Tennessee, who was transmitting from a music festival. I happily recognized one station ( KA3WELas a ham I'd previously worked a few days ago. 

It's always a joy to work a new ham (KJ4WRE) and especially so when the station is a female. She was struggling with the code. These contacts always bring back memories of my beginning days on the radio. In a follow up e-mail, she thanked me for slowing down to match her speed. For me, that's always standard operating procedure.

The thing I like so much about 40 meters is that it's usually easy to find a "long conversation" here, even under pitiful band conditions. The last few weeks should have a new category added to the "propagation" sites. Currently they're listed as excellent, fair, poor, and very poor. They should add an "almost non-existent" category.  

I'm pretty "low tech" here, but I know for sure when I can't hear the GMT time signal anywhere, or a shortwave transmission on 11775 MHz, that things are going to be "tuff" for radio. Thank goodness for 40 meters, it's been a life saver for me. Working these few stations have been good for the soul.

Thank goodness also, for better weather conditions now. Believe it or not, there's still isolated places in this state without electricity.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The End of Bad Weather?

I sincerely hope this is the end of the bad weather; and I assume there's a few who are tired of looking at dead trees, home, and car damage in the neighborhood. I shot the above video with a small camera. It's a poor quality but it shows the last barrage of wind and rain. I shot it through the screened porch on the front of the house. 

The "heat" related weather should be ending now that our temperatures have dropped out of the triple digits in the state. Yesterday, I needed to "jump start" my old car with my radio battery and one of the fellows at the parts store said he had been without power for 10 days now

It's difficult to imagine the stress some of those in the state have been through the last few weeks. 

Ever since the storm, there's be an annoying problem with the "blog". It seems my text appears highlighted in "white". Hence the slight change in the background color of the text. Thank goodness I've been able to work around it. 

Yesterday, I heard a Croatian station on 20 meters but couldn't work him. I'm looking forward to the next NAQCC sprint on the 18th of this month. It will be nice to spend some quality time on the air again. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Oh No, Not Again

That was the headline in this mornings newspaper. Yesterday we had more severe storms with 60 mph winds. It produced another 20,000 people without electricity in the state.

The 911 Center was actually struck by lightening and had to be moved to another building. The air conditioning at home quit and tomorrow we expect 102 (f) temperatures. Last night we slept on the floor with all the windows and doors open for cool night air.

I still consider myself extremely lucky. The electric is still holding out for us,  but who knows what tomorrow will bring? Perhaps the air can be repaired quickly?

I've spent nearly zero time on the radio since the first of the month because there is so much static noise in the background, it's burdensome to listen.

The Charleston Gazette

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Power Outages and Clean Up

The electrical problems, and stifling heat, are still major problems in the state today. There are still 300,000 without electricity. Some of my relatives have been without power since July 30 th, when the terrible storm bore down on us. I can't remember anything like this in my lifetime of 63 years.

Although life is now fairly normal in our immediate neighborhood, just a few miles from here, many are still sitting in the dark and trying to deal with the sweltering heat. The weather is predicted to again rise into the 100's in a few days. Although not predicted to have the high winds of last week, there are strong thunderstorm in the area again tonight. There is a water advisory in effect and it's suggested that it be boiled for several minutes before drinking. There have been tons of rotten food thrown away.

I'm a very adaptable person myself, and if faced with these problems, I would fare well. I've always believed in keeping life as simple as possible. I've always been comfortable outdoors and have the skills and equipment to feed myself and survive the elements. At times like this, I remember my days of backpacking the Appalachian Trail or bicycling the C and O Canal. Those memories now give me great comfort.

Mountaineers have always been a tremendously independent group of people. Those of us who are in good health will plow through this trial and move onward. It's the very old and those in bad health that make me feel very sad.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Storm Damage on the Other Side of the River

I rode across the river on the bicycle this morning to view the storm damage there. Although a little cumbersome on the uphill side, this spiral shaped pedestrian ramp is a lot of fun to ride down on the return trip. I needed the diversion from the heat and destruction of the last several days. The neighborhood streets there are lined with 100 year old Oak trees. There are severe storm warnings out again this evening. 

I hope my luck, and electricity holds out once again. 

My Bike is My Best Friend Today

The headlines in this mornings paper say there are 600,000 people in the state without power today.

My bicycle was my best friend since my immediate needs are met with this machine. I was VERY glad that I didn't have to wait in long lines to "feed the kitty". Today it's not unusual to spend an hour just to get gasoline or cat food. I saw this along the sidewalk. I think it was someone just trying to stay cool yesterday.

This is a big problem today: