My Most Recent QSO's

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Surprise Card in the Mail

I was elated to work ZD8X on "Ascension Island" last month. I considered myself both fortunate, and lucky, to work this new DX entity for me. At the time, there were hundreds of operators trying to work him. This isolated Island in the Atlantic Ocean, between South America and Africa, was a long, long way from West Virginia, and there were thousands wanting him in their log books. .

I remember Jorma (OH2KI) skillfully pulling my 3 watt QRP signal out of the enormous bee hive. It was a difficult contact. My salutations and congratulations are to him for such a wondrous accomplishment!

Anyone who can do such a thing at 5,362 miles, is a true magician!

I rarely request a confirmation QSL card from a long distance DX station, and this card was no exception. My verification's are normally done through the E-QSL site since postage is much too expensive now. For those wanting a paper card, I always require a SASE, and am happily willing to return my card to them. I'll put his return card in the mail immediately.

The thing that really impresses me about this card is the time Jorma (OH2KI) took to send me an additional special acknowledgement:

He apparently read my comments from my earlier blog entry, and made the special effort to send me this note. Professional operators such as this, and the entire ZD8X team, are what makes this hobby so rewarding and fulfilling for all of us.

This is a nice Christmas present for me.

Thank You!

Friday, December 20, 2013

An Irish Day

I've always believed music is the universal language of the world. It comes in many shapes and sizes and at many different places in the world. Today when I worked EI13CLAN in Northern Ireland, and saw their QSL card on the web, made me think of the times I've showed up to "pick and grin" at different Irish bars.
"The Irish Radio Transmitters Society" was celebrating with this "special event station" today on 12 meters, and fortunately, I was able to easily break the pile up with only a few attempts.

I also logged GI100RSGB in Northern Ireland today celebrating a "century" of radio in their country.

The picture above (not a very good one) is me playing the guitar in an Irish bar in New York. We had a great time that night with a mandolin, a fiddle, and a drummer.

Today was another great DX day for me. I had a nice chat with F5JWH in France and DF3CB in Germany. This afternoon I also worked HC2IMP in Ecuador again. This station is a puzzle for me. I've heard a nice "crisp chirp" at times from him but today, it was back to a dull buzz. I'm thinking voltage is playing a part in this signal. South America isn't known for real stable electricity in that part of the world ?

I totally forget I'm running QRP when I start chasing DX on the bands, and with good reason. Most of the the stations I worked today were using quite a bit of power, with good "gain" antennas, which meant close to a KW of effective radiated power.

Two of the stations I worked today were running 400 and 500 watts , respectively, into those gain antennas.

I'll be the first to admit all the "work" is on their part, but I sure love placing "QRP @ 3W and Indoor Random Wire" in the remarks sections of those DX Clusters.

It makes me feel pretty good....

Thursday, December 19, 2013

OF9X Santa Claus CW Radio from Lapland Finland

I had no idea Santa had a CW station near the Arctic Circle. Much to my surprise, I heard him transmitting on the 10 meter band this morning. His helper was OF9X in Muonia Lapland Finland, who, by the way, was a courteous 'ol fellow who actually adjusted the jolly 'ol beam a bit to pick out my 3 watt signal from West Virginia.

What a nice Christmas gift for me!

This "Official Santa Claus HQ Station" was a joy to work, and at 4,159 miles, with 3 watts of power, qualifies for a jolly 'ol "1000 miles per watt" contact.

Here's a link to the "Official Radio Station":

Official Santa Radio

BTW/ He's a good CW operator!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sint Maarten Island Contact

I've been listening to PJ7/ G3TXF on Sint Maarten Island for several days now and hoping for the opportunity to add another new DX entity to the log book. I made this contact easily last night with a single attempt on the 30 meter band.

Sint Maarten is another one of those small islands in the Caribbean area and a tourist destination within a few short hours flight time from the United States. Princess Juliana International Airport is an unusual landing spot because it's very short runway for these big planes. They need every foot of pavement possible to avoid an embarrassing "dip in the pool".  

Not for the faint of heart, standing on the beach here is a unique opportunity to experience a new form of wind surfing. Watching giant aircraft landing overhead is spectacular enough, but the "take offs" are quite another thing. Wind surfing takes on an entirely new form, from the rear of one of these planes, when they take off for the home flight.

My DXCC list is getting really short now. Despite my enjoyment of a long CW QSO the last few months.

I'll be listening for just a few more islands now. 

I'm glad G3TXF decided to spend a few days here and brought along a HF radio. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ascension Island

The temperature has taken a cold turn here in the valley today which meant that I would "tune around" again on the 10 meter band once more. It's much too cold to be outside.

This contact with ZD8X on Ascension Island marks my second new DX country in just a few days.

Ascension Island is literally"in the middle of nowhere" between South America and Africa in the Atlantic Ocean. It's primarily a communications hub for several countries and was a relay station for the BBC in it's heyday. St Helena is in this general area and the place Napoleon spent his last days in exile.

It took me several attempts to work this station at 5,362 miles. There was quite a "pile up" and I was surprised to hear my call sign repeated back to me with the customary 599 report.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

An Island Near Venezuela

Curacao, an island near Venezuela, is a new DX country in my log book. On November 19th, I easily worked PJ2/ N0YY and on November 22nd I easily worked PJ2/ W9NJY.

I'm amazed this station in South America hasn't been worked more than I see on the DX Clusters. I spotted it for the second time yesterday and saw very little activity following up on the site.

As most of the islands in the Caribbean area, tourism is always a factor in their economy. In the area of "space tourism" Curacao is one of the tops in the field.

The Lynx Space Plane is an interesting concept. The pilot and "one" tourist can experience "sub orbital flight" where the stars shine steadily, the arc of the earth is below you, and you experience the feeling of weightlessness. I would imagine, also, a great place to use a handi-talkie on the VHF and the UHF bands. Expected to be viable in 2014, this "sub orbital spacecraft" will take you there for a fee of around $100,000.

Both these contacts were on the 10 meter band and pushing a 599+ signal into West Virginia.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

My Special Event Station

I worked seventeen stations with this "Special Event Station" of the West Virginia Chapter of the NAQCC club on Wednesday afternoon and sent an E-QSL Card to those who worked me. Fort Scammon isn't well known to those living in my city, but during the Civil War, this artillery site was critical to controlling the river traffic on both the Kanawha and the Elk Rivers.

I created the above (sample) card with the simple "paint" program which comes with the Microsoft products on my windows computer. When I upload the card to my E-QSL account and enter the contact information of the stations I work, they're displayed nicely along the bottom of the card.

The 19th and 25th Presidents of the United States (Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley) directed a dozen cannons from this high spot in Charleston where "flatboats" floated precious "salt" downstream to the Ohio River. Salt was a very valuable commodity in those days for the preservation of fresh meat. The production of high quality "salt" was one of the founding industries of the Kanawha Valley.

 It took me a little over an hour to get set up and on the air but I felt this was one of only a few good days left before snow flurries begin to start flying this weekend. I used my PAR "end fed" Zepp antenna which was cut for 40-20-and 10 meters with my Icom 703 at about four watts to work stations in eleven different states.

I was able to work North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Massachusetts, Kansas, New York, Illinois, Maine, and Canada.

The most distant station I worked this day was N1NUA (Joan) in Maine at 812 miles.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

My Second Contact to Alaska

It's unusual for me to work a station in Alaska, so I've been very happy to make a contact with KL7QZ in Anchorage, on the 12 meter band and at a distance of 3,242 miles @ 3 watts, makes this contact even better.....

I've only worked a station in Alaska twice in all the years I've been on the radio and I had a great copy (599) on him. He was hearing me at the 339 level but we completed a QSO.

In Alaska they were experiencing a real "heat wave" with the temp being -3 (C) and going down to -10 (C) tonight.

Propagation was terrible according to all the usual forecasts, but I still worked KW7D in New Mexico and I also found HC2IMP in Ecuador (again) on the 10 meter band.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear a "nice crisp chirp" from him this time. If you remember a post from our WV Chapter outing from Hurricane WV, on the first of November, I was hearing a real "growler" at that time.

I've not worked a lot of long distance stations the last few months because I'm focusing my energy on the new club; so it was enjoyable to work these unusual stations although they're not very distant.

I've actually enjoyed the QRP contacts even more than in the past.

They're much more personal than the "handshakes" for DX contacts. Yesterday, after completing a QSO with a QRP station on 30 meters, I was contacted by WV4TN in Knoxville TN. Wayne had many friends living here in Charleston, so knew exactly where I lived, and asked me to say hello to Dave Ellis (WA8WV).

Dave is the guy with a "very nice beam" who offered it's use to me for some of my QRP contacts when we met at the Parkersburg Hamfest. I was happy to talk to Dave by phone and say hello to him from his friend in Knoxville.

I'm working a lot more stations this year, since 2010, when I first started keeping track of all my contacts.

To date, I have 2,349 QSO's in the log book. My numbers are also up from "last year" from 472 in the year 2012--- to 656 in this year of 2013. (with still 2 months to go before the end of the year).

Not surprisingly, I've worked 413 NAQCC members now out of a total of 462 QRP QSO's.

I might not be working as many DX stations as previously, but with 667 in the log book and 90 countries, I'm OK with those numbers. I'm liking those nice QRP QSO's very much and they're equal to all the handshakes I've made the last few years.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Breakfast, Bacon and Eggs, and Radio

Our monthly breakfast meeting at the First Watch Restaurant in Charleston was a pleasant gathering of kindred individuals and the spirit of radio was in our midst. I was overjoyed to see from left to right Steve (KC4URI) from Mineral Wells, and John (W8GDP), Jeff (K9ESE), Myself (N8ZYA) and Eric (AC8LJ) from Charleston.

As we talked this morning, it became quickly apparent that I’m the one with the least electronic knowledge in our Chapter. I’m OK with that status for now but I’m also inspired to learn more about the “nuts and bolts” of the hobby. I feel fortunate to have members who have not only built their radios, but also have a very good working knowledge of antennas and the ability to utilize them in nearly impossible locations. John (W8GDP) and Eric (AC8LJ) are the only members who have the space for “yard art”, as it was called today, and I quickly learned a new terminology for outside antennas. 

On our weekly CW net last night, I was hearing Jeff (K9ESE) at 599 plus 20 from his “half a watt” and using the “copper gutters” of his home for his antenna. He is also very good at using a NVIS antenna in the field. Steve (KC4URI) is also good with this technique from his home in a very steep valley from Mineral Wells.

During our breakfast gathering we talked about the things we've done in the past and the places we've either worked or visited which related to radio. I’m mesmerized to hear conversations about Latin and South America and old DC-3 planes, landing on mostly grass airstrips, to shuttle air conditioning mechanics to repair Ammonia type freezers many years ago. Ice is an invaluable commodity in places like these and without “radio”, getting into and out of these areas would be nearly impossible.

We also talked about “shipboard radio” and how important the invaluable skill of Morse code operators were to the safety of old freighters shuttling coal and bananas on the high seas. I immediately thought of Oleg (UR5FA/ MM) who is the Ukrainian communications officer on a freighter which regularly sails back and forth from there to Venezuela.

The subject of Short Wave Radio Broadcasters also surfaced while we were devouring bacon and eggs. Short Wave Radio was the inspiration for many of us in our current Ham radio hobby but sadly, most of those stations are now gone. 

It was cold this morning with the temperature just above freezing, but I still sense the Chapter will spend some time operating outdoors before the first heavy snowfall. Weather predictions are for temperatures to rise to the low sixties for the next few days.

Should we choose to do so, I’ll let everyone in the NAQCC club know if and where we will be setting up and getting on the air. I feel very good about our Chapter and am looking forward to more bacon, eggs, and radio talk next month.


Monday, November 4, 2013

A Good Start in November

On November the 1st, I drove around 30 miles westward from Charleston to meet Jim (NX8Z) at the “Wave Pool Park” in Hurricane, WV. 

The weather was perfect for our second “West Virginia Chapter” field event. It was a great day to work lots of NAQCC members all over the United States. 

This is an interesting “water park”, and in the summer months, is used by hundreds of people to cool off from the hot sun as they spend a day with their families. The swimming pool produces large “waves” and while laying on a raft or inner tube, makes you feel like you’re in the ocean.

Our event was scheduled to begin at noon.  I arrived early, and was pleasantly surprised to see Jim (NX8Z) “itching to go” with an assortment of radio and computer gear. His Buddipole antenna was in place at the rear of his truck.

I was able to set up near an adjoining picnic shelter but had trouble getting my PAR “end fed” antenna between a pair of properly spaced trees. I found it necessary to place my folding table just outside the “shelter” in the warm sun.

I like this multi-band antenna for the West Virginia Chapter events because it’s cut for 40-20- and 10 meters. Although not optimal for 40 meters, it’s very good on 20 and 10 meters. The antenna was up only about 30 feet.

We had two visitors while at the park. Jim’s friend from church dropped by and was mesmerized by his radio gear. Jim also conversed with a few people who were enjoying the sunny day in the park. His salesmanship of the hobby was excellent. My brother Mark also dropped by and I talked to him about my QRP station and all those “dits and dots” going through the ether. I deliberately tuned to the voice segment of the 10 meter band so he could listen to operators in Italy, Brazil, and England. Before my brother arrived this afternoon, I had worked a CW station in France (F5PHY) on 10 meters. The band was open, and I did it “just because I could” with about 3 watts of power. 

Before the afternoon was over, I worked 17 stations and enjoyed every minute of this event. The NAQCC members I worked were from all parts of the United States and Canada. The farthest North, at 792 miles, was VE3EDX who was running 5 watts QRP. The farthest South, at 563 miles was KK4BOB in Florida, who was running 5 watts QRP, and in the Westward direction I worked W7GB in the state of Washington. Although the initial contact was QRO, I could tell no difference when he dropped to 5 watts!

My thanks go out to Paul (N8XMS) for the late posting of our November event because I inadvertently sent the announcement to the wrong person. Fortunately, he caught my mistake, and sent out an additional club mailing which alerted our 7,000 members to our location and frequencies in Hurricane, WV.

Here’s my logbook:

F5PHY in France-KC4URI- in WV- K1AVE in North Carolina- W4DUK in Bedford, VA- W8ICN in Michigan- KM3D in Pennsylvania- WA2JSG in New Jersey-WA2KSM in New York-W7GB in Washington state-KF5J in Texas-KK4BOB in Florida-VE3EDX in Canada- W2LG in Florida- NZ1D in Florida-W1WYN in Massachusetts-and KB0ETU in Alabama and HC2IMP in Ecuador. 

I deliberately spent most of my time today working NAQCC stations on the 40 and 20 meter bands, according to the announcement in the mass mailing from Paul (N8XMS) but couldn’t help but take a “last parting 10 meter shot” at a station in South America.

I’ve heard few “growlers” over the last 25 years with this distinctive and unusual “chirp”. His signal was almost as if there was no “chirp” at all and mostly just a carrier; it was one of the few I was hearing just before I dropped my antenna. I couldn't resist the temptation to work him before the drive back to Charleston and after a few attempts, I was successful.

I worked all these stations this afternoon with about 3 watts of power. At the end of the day, I had a reserve of 75% in my Sears battery booster, which I use for DC power. It’s a brute for outdoor events and I like the built in charger and the light.

Our West Virginia Chapter continues to grow. I’m getting regular “check-ins” on our 40 meter weekly net on Tuesday nights. I’m still fishing for new members on the Sunday evening 2 meter nets from the Kanawha Amateur Radio Club in the valley. I’m seeing a renewed interest in QRP portable radio every day.

Yes…outdoor QRP operations are a blast!

Happy Trails,

John Smithson NAQCC # 2279

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Month of October

It's been a busy month starting a new West Virginia Chapter of the NAQCC Club. I've not made a blog entry in almost a month but starting a new group is always time consuming and I feel the club is on it's way now.

The following is a copy of what has been happening in October with the West Virginia Chapter of the NAQCC ClubIt should appear in the next newsletter of the NAQCC club. This free newsletter is full of information about our state chapter club activities in Western Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida, West Virginia, and Europe. It's a great read for QRP'ers specializing in Morse Code.

Hello Everyone:

First of all, let me offer a warm welcome to the following new members and those who have expressed an interest in the WV Chapter of the NAQCC club. I‘m looking forward to your participation in the club activities and thank you for your membership.

WA8SIE- Joe from South Charleston WV
NK8Y- Bill from Winfield, WV 
KD8EZS- Kevin from Morgantown WV
KB8AOB- Richard from Buckhannon WV
KC8SBK- Carroll from Harmony WV
W8GDP- John from Charleston WV
KA8SYV- Frank from Charleston, WV
N8NH- Jeff from Princeton, WV
K8SX- Pat from Follansbee, WV
K9ESE- Jeff from Charleston, WV

I've been networking this month and since the beginning of October I've added several friends to our e-mail and membership lists. I hope other members in West Virginia will do the same with their friends and acquaintances who enjoy Morse Code as their primary operating mode at 5 watts or less of power.

If you have WV CW QRP friends; let them know about our club.

Several things happened this month in West Virginia. I drove to Mineral Wells WV early this month on October 12th and attended the Parkersburg Hamfest. I had the intention of meeting Steven (KC4URI)  and we had a wonderful talk about the radio hobby. I look forward to many more of the same.

While at the Hamfest, I also met WA8WV and W8IW (from the Charleston area) who were checking cards for the ARRL DX and WAS award program. I might also add they both offered me the use of some really good “beam antennas” for my QRP work and  I intend to be knocking on those doors soon. Thank You!

A few days later, a small group of us had a breakfast meeting on October 16th  at a local restaurant which was attended (left to right) by myself (N8ZYA), Eric (AC8LJ), John (W8GDP) and Jim (NX8Z). I’ve been gathering information from these club members, and as a result, we had lots to talk about while we ate breakfast.

I like my new hat.

We've made a decision to have a weekly NAQCC WV Chapter net on Tuesday evenings at 8:00 PM (local time) on the frequency of 7060 MHz. I hope to hear more of the folks up in the Northern part of the state at that time.

Steve (KC4URI

I met up with Steve (KC4URI) at the Cedar Lakes Conference Center on Friday Oct 18th for our first “outing”.

I found the Cedar Lakes Conference Center to be a great place to operate QRP radio because of the low noise level and it’s inherent scenic beauty. It’s ideally situated about equal distance between Charleston and Mineral Wells and about a half hour drive from both locations.

I’ll try to do more of this with out future outings to get others involved from different parts of the state. I realize we have many members in the northern part of the state which is a bit too long of a drive to attend a gathering near Charleston. 

We operated for around three hours at Cedar Lakes, and afterwards, the log book on 40 and 20 meters looked like this:

W8ICN, K8LJG, and KG8YT in Michigan, N8IUP in Ohio, WA2JSG in New Jersey, W8GDP and AC8LJ in Charleston, W0CC in Kansas, KC5NX and NE5DL in Texas, W9UX in Wisconsin, K4RHG,K1YAN, and N1AN in Massachusetts, K1IEE in Maine, K3MD  in Pennsylvania, and W2LG in Florida.

John (N8ZYA) 

I was amazed at the difference between a dipole antenna at 20 feet and 40 feet. I was also astounded at the difference between the noise level in the country verses the city. The noise level at Cedar Lakes was nearly “zero”. My first shot over the cedar trees left the 40 meter contacts at the mercy of some low hanging 20 foot limbs. Switching over to 20 meters, I put another line over the 40 ft crest of another section of the tree.

Although I concentrated on the agreed 40 and 20 meter frequencies, I could have easily worked DX on 20 meters with about 3 watts. I kept hearing a distinct PA3 (14.060) station in the Netherlands. There were also several IK stations on the lower CW section of the band.

My last “official duty” of the month was the “first” WV Chapter NAQCC net on October 22, 2013 which was Tuesday night at 8 pm.  As noted above, I've decided to do this weekly net on 7060.  (plus or minus) My location in the center of town, with the eleven story apartment building next door, leaves much to be desired for a net control operator, but I was surprised to hear seven stations. I must admit that operating from Cedar Lakes, where the noise was practically zero, spoiled me.

Checking into our net were K8SX from Follansbee, WV (148 miles) , K9ESE- mobile from a parking lot North of Charleston , K3NLT- Broadway, Virginia (153 miles) , N4OLN- near Atlanta Georgia (351 miles) , KA8SYV- Charleston, WV, W3TTT- Baltimore, MD (274 miles) , and AC8LJ- Charleston, WV.

My congratulations to all of the stations who had the patience to work me. Propagation is a strange thing at times …...N4OLN in Atlanta Georgia was the winner with the best signal, and amazingly, the longest distance this evening.

I’m looking forward to next month but until then, this month has been a good one for us. My thanks go out to all those who encourage and support me in this new WV Chapter of the NAQCC club.

Happy Trails,

John Smithson N8ZYA
NAQCC # 2279
President - WV Chapter of the NAQCC Club

You can keep up on our local chapter activities at this link:

NAQCC WV Chapter

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The West Virginia Chapter of the NAQCC Club

I've reached a peak in this QRP radio hobby where I have a deep desire to share my enthusiasm for Morse Code and QRP radio with those in my  home state of West Virginia. The announcement of the West Virginia Chapter of the North American QRP CW Club is in the  current newsletter  of the NAQCC club this month.

I've included a link to our "West Virginia Chapter" page on the right side of this blog, so be sure to check it for the latest information on activities and feel free to drop your comments and suggestions for our  NAQCC WV Chapter on this site.

West Virginia is a beautiful place to live and we're known as the "Mountain State" for good reasons. There are more than one hundred "mountain tops" at more than 4,000 ft elevation. West Virginia is also a "rural" state where electrical noise is nearly "zero" in many places. This makes an "excellent" venue for low power Morse Code radio operations.

This local chapter is for the CW QRP operators in West Virginia. I've discovered around 40 NAQCC members on their national membership list. I find around 20 are "radio active" in our state. I hope to hear from and meet many of them as soon as possible.

Listen for our chapter on the standard QRP frequencies of all bands. Check the  NAQCC WV Chapter   for our future activities.

If you're a WV QRP CW radio operator, and not on the NAQCC membership roles; drop me a line and I'll be more than happy to include you on their (and our) e-mail list. Membership is absolutely and unconditionally "free". 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

DX on 40 Meters with an Indoor Isotron Antenna

Due to a busy personal schedule, I've sparsely been on the air for a few days; but I still continue to work a few DX stations. Early this morning, I found this VERY satisfying QSO with a station near Munich Germany. 

I've been hearing a few nightly DX stations, on the lower end of the General class portion of the 40 meter band, but never thought I could work one. I was very surprised when I called DJ6ZM on 7026 MHz with 5 watts from my indoor mounted Isotron antenna - and he answered with a "question mark".  (IMI)

After re-directing his beam, and me repeating my call sign a few times, he could hear me clearly, and responded with a 449 report! He lives about 15 KM from the headquarters of BMW motor company.

 Wikipedia image

I've worked Germany 41 times now. Fifteen of them have been this year, but this is my first German contact on  40 meters. As most of my readers know, I live in a restricted antenna area near the state capitol in Charleston and use stealth antennas.

My 40 meter antenna has often been called "the bird house" because...let's face it, I've seen bird houses about this size.  Hihi  

My 40 meter Isotron antenna is the one with the "small coil" on the left side of the painters pole.

This morning, on 30 meters,  I also worked EA3NT for the "third" time and he responded with "nice to hear you again". This makes my 37th contact into Spain.

I'm also very proud of a nice contact, on the 29th of September, with UX1AA in the Ukraine ! This was a great signal on the 17 meter band. In addition to a nice card displayed on

He sent me this one via E-QSL: 

The Ukraine log book now has ten contacts listed on it's pages.