My Most Recent QSO's

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Russian Stations

I will spend today at my sisters home in Parkersburg where she is preparing dinner for Easter Sunday. My father will ride with my brother and girlfriend, in their car, and Marilyn and I will drive, in our car, and meet them in town. Five people in one car is a bit too much to bear for both of us.  hihi

This morning, I'm hearing some VERY strong Russian stations and fortunately, I found, and easily worked RK3ER near Moscow. I worked Alex (RK3ER) just a few days ago, so it was good to hear him again this morning. He was pushing a 599+ signal into West Virginia today; which is a fantastic signal from 5,021 miles!  

This morning makes my 10th contact into Russia. The bands seem to have returned as the geomagnetic storms have subsided and it's good to hear those DX stations again.

I'm looking forward to the Easter Sunday family gathering in Parkersburg.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sao Miguel Island in the Azores CT8/PA4N

There is a major Geomagnetic Storm wrecking havoc on the bands this morning. I'm, again, hearing very little on the bands. It's a tuff time for DX'ers.

But again, as luck was with me, I worked a fellow from the Netherlands (PA4N) who was transmitting from the Island of Sao Miguel in the Azores. (CT8/PA4N

Know as the "Green Island", it's the largest in the chain of islands in the Azores. It's worth a few minutes to "google" this place. I find it VERY beautiful and envy the operator, who by the way, was only using 100 watts of power.

I can't imagine a more scenic spot on the planet to play radio.

The poor band conditions, the last few days, has forced me to spend time on 40 meters again; and I've enjoyed some long QSO's with local stations. I'm hanging around the QRP watering holes and look forward to more long conversations on this band.

I've spent many years on this band and enjoy talking to old friends in the 200-700 mile range.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Guadeloupe Island and Day 72 of DX.

I had an early breakfast with friends this morning and "missed the window". It was nearly 5PM this afternoon when I worked Frantz (FG5FR) in Guadeloupe.

I was VERY lucky to catch this station on the air.

Today makes day 72 of working at least one DX station a day.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sardinia Italy # 78

The trip to New York was a quick one for a surprise party for my niece who is getting married in late April. It caught her totally blindsided and was well planned. It feels good to be back home again and back on the air once more.

This morning I worked a new DX station (#78) in Sardinia Italy. (IS0GQX) Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.

The DX cluster was "down" this morning and made this contact an easy one for me.

This afternoon I made a nice contact into Moscow Russia (RK3ER) and an interesting contact into Greece.

I always like working a "Special Event Station" and found SV2013ATGM promoting the "Eighth International Alexander the Great Marathon" 

All my contacts today have, as usual, been on the 17 meter band.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

HG52FC in Hungary

This morning brought me a quick contact with HG52FC in Hungary. I've worked this country twice this year, and currently, a total of nine times. This country is famous for the invention of the Rubic's Cube.

A friend is dropping by this afternoon to play a few tunes on the guitar. I'll not be on the air for several days now since I'm travelling to New York in the morning. The weather is still a bit cold with the highs expected to be in the low 40's. I'll take the guitar with me on this trip but leave the radio at home.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Island of Grenada # 77

Another new DX country (# 77) this evening on 30 meters! I was able to work J34G on the Island of Grenada and my second catch on the same day. I will play the lottery tomorrow..... Hihi

I feel good about those southern stations in the evenings on this band.

Lativa # 76

I worked my 76th DX country this afternoon when I worked YL2BT in Lativa. It was a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Today is the first day I've been on the air since the hamfest and I'm going to be out of town for a few days.

I haven't decided if I will take the radio with me as it's going to be a short and busy trip to New York.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Hamfest Report

I sat my little QRP station on the table which I use for my field operations. I talked to people as it monitored the 17 meter band in the background. When I heard an especially nice signal, I stopped the conversation, and pounced on it, in an effort to complete my daily DX contact.

It didn't take long; and I announced, as a request from the organizers, that I made my daily DX contact with OV1CDX in Denmark. I actually worked him twice during the day, as well as other stations in France, Croatia and Spain, but surprisingly, I spent very little time on the air. I spent the vast majority of my time talking to a lot of people! 

I enjoyed this very much, as I once again saw many old friends, and perhaps, even a distant relative. It's funny how your radio signal usually skips right over nearby stations, and you're unaware of a lot of people, but I had a very nice conversation with Carl Smithson (NN8K).

I found it incredibly amusing as Art Ellis (W8PBO) walked around with a Morse Code Tudor in his pocket. That little device made it easy to recognize fellow CW operators in the crowd. . Hihi I also had a very interesting conversation with a "tower climber" (Joe Scherer) who wanted to know about some of the antennas he installed at a little over 800 feet elevation. Some of my best conversations were with former Navy radio operators yesterday and I also talked to several new hams.

I was very lucky when I found my antenna precisely "sloped" towards the Northeast yesterday. The high end  was easily 40 feet in the air. My only obstacle was a worry about 70 feet of coax feeding the center balum. That's a long distance for QRP work, but it didn't seem to be a problem. I had to re-position the antenna closer to the building to get the feed line to my picnic table.

The weather was also a factor. We had showers last night, and the forecast was a possibility for thunderstorms during the Hamfest. I kept a close eye on this but they didn't materialize until I was taking down the antenna. I felt the first few sprinkles as I wound up my kite string on a wooden spool.

Should they ask me, I'd do this again next year. I liked the conversation with old and new friends this year very much. It was fun!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Denmark OZ2TF

I've been hearing several of these Denmark stations lately, and this morning I was able to work OZ2TF near Sikeborg. Ole was my third contact in Denmark this month. I worked him very quickly as today is going to be a busy day.

This station in Denmark marks my 67th day of making a daily DX contact, with three watts of power, and an indoor random wire for an antenna. Today also marks 132 DX contacts for the year 2013; all of which have been in the Morse Code mode. I think it speaks volumes about the efficiency of this mode of communication; the most simple mode of communication decipherable with only the human ear.

I'll be on the roof of the Army National Guard Armory today setting up my attachment for my 17 meter dipole at the Charleston Hamfest tomorrow. I'll be anxious to work another DX station tomorrow from that location, as it's far from an ideal spot for radio.

Regardless, I hope to bring attention to "low power radio" and the art of Morse Code.

I'll be on the air tomorrow from 1300 to 1800 GMT on the 17 meter band. My first task with be to work at least one more daily DX station, and then to call CQ on 18.096 MHz.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Charleston Hamfest Activities

I was up a little earlier than normal this morning, and caught one of the Charleston Hamfest promoters on the local repeater.  I "double checked" the set up time for the Saturday (March 16th) event.

Tomorrow afternoon, around 2 PM, the process will begin, as vendors begin to arrive and set up their tables, fleas filter in, food arrives, and other preparations begin for the gathering and I'll place a line on the rung of a "roofing  ladder" on the top of the building, and shoot a line into the nearby trees which will support my 17 meter dipole.

I won't be setting up my "table" until Saturday morning, just before the start of the hamfest, because it takes only moments to raise the dipole and attach the feed line. I'll place the battery on the floor, hook the wires to the radio, and be on the air in a matter of 10 minutes. I'll do this deliberately, as people arrive, as an example of how "easy" it is to get on the air with a QRP station.

I'll bring several other things with me as "conversations items" and hope to capture the attention of anyone interested in my facet of this hobby called portable radio. On the table with my station, I'll also place a small laptop computer which will play a slide show of my digital QSL cards. I keep all of them on a thumb drive and they display nicely on the screen.

I also have three "keys", which I use for different occasions, and will display them on the table. My 100 year straight key was a "gift" from an anonymous donor. I use a magnetic action Vibroplex Key in the field, and a spring loaded Vibroplex Iambic paddle at home.

The radio will be tuned to the 17 meter band, and hopefully, when the "window" starts to open, I'll made a few DX contacts and talk to people interested in the art of Morse Code.  

Today I worked SM5L in Sweden, and soon followed with GM4ZJI in Scotland

I then worked a familiar station (PA1CC) in The Netherlands. 

Before the afternoon was over I worked a strong station (IW9HBY) in Sicily.

I had an very interesting QSO last night with a fellow CW operator on 30 meters. I've always said that CW is a great exercise for the mind, especially as one ages into the senior years. The long conversation with W8AT in Michigan is a fine example. Although not quite a hundred years old, born in 1914, he's very near it. Talking to someone like this, with a sharp mind, and a good fist around 20 wpm, was an exercise in humility.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

St Petersburg Russia R1DX

It was almost noon before I was able to get on the radio today and I considered myself very lucky to hear R1DX in St Petersburg Russia calling on the 12 meter band. He wasn't spotted on the cluster, and was 599 into West Virginia. Out there all my himself, and in the clear, he answered my 3 watt signal on my second attempt, we shook hands and moved onward to other stations.

Breakfast this morning was with my friend Eric (AC8LJ) who also lives in Charleston and is a good QRP CW operator. We meet once a month to talk about QRP and the happenings on the bands. I then rushed to the shoe store to have an old pair of shoes repaired, dropped by the county library to return a CD, and then drove to the local hunting and fishing store where I bought a new "slingshot". Afterwards, I made a stop at the hamfest site where I checked with the "building and maintenance" people to make sure I could get on the roof of the building to attach a 17 meter dipole on Saturday morning.

I'm going to use a 50 ft. length of coax to set up my station on Saturday morning. I hope it will put me far enough from the metal structure of the building to assure an effective radiating antenna. It's not a very good place to operate QRP but, then again, my home location isn't the best in the world, and I do a good job of making contacts. I hope I'll be able to do the same at the hamfest.

My intentions are still, to make a daily DX contact with whomever I hear on the 17 meter band, and then to use the keyer in my rig to call CQ on 18.096, which is the QRP frequency on this band.

I'll be on the air from around 1300 GMT  till 1800 GMT. 

This mornings contact with R1DX was my 9th contact into Russia, and, as the crow flies, 4,637 miles in a straight line.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sweden SM0BRF

This mornings span on 17 meters brought me SM0BRF in Sweden, and searching the web soon brought me to the Volvo Truck Manufacturing Plant. I worked as a diesel mechanic, for several years, before going back to school and finishing my college degree. Seeing this truck brought back memories of those days.

Keeping these machines operational was a skill which served me well in my younger days. My specialty was "air conditioning", although I could do just about anything with a diesel engine. As I continued my college work, I literally moved to just about every job in the valley that used "tractor-trailers" for their transportation. Working my "occupation" around college professors was a challenge, and I quit many employers to be able to keep class schedules.

I worked as a diesel mechanic in both the transportation and heavy equipment industries for around 10 years before I deciding to get out of this field. It paid well, but I worried I would never see a retirement account.

Spending an additional 20 years in the retail paint business provided me this luxury called retirement. The paint store didn't pay as well, but provided a savings and stock plan which allowed me to retire earlier than  most workers.

My many years of military service, both in the Navy, and the Air National Guard, gives me access to health care.

That luxury is priceless.......

Monday, March 11, 2013

Egypt SU9VB #75

This morning, I had feared the "window" had shifted with the change to Daylight Savings Time, and I rushed off to our weekly "Bridge" game without hearing a single sole, on any band except 30 meters, where I was hearing only local stations. The "window" is very important, and shifting an hour, when I have other obligations can make the difference between me working DX, or not. I gasped that my daily string of DX had come to an end and I was sad, to say the least.

But while playing the card game today, I bid, and made, a "grand slam". For those not familiar with the game of Bridge, bidding seven (the absolute maximum) and making it, is a big deal. I've only done it twice. I was very happy with the score, but I still had the "bad start" on the radio in the back of my mind.

Perhaps that would make up for a bad day on the radio?

One of the really nice things about radio is that it always surprises me, every time I get on the air; and the surprises became better, when I unexpectedly, after returning home this afternoon, found the 17 meter band "wide open".

I worked another new DX station (SU9VB) in Egypt and also another new station (PA1CC) in The Netherlands. 

I was also happy to work SP9VB in Poland

The station in Egypt is number 75 in the log book. Between the new DX station and a "grand slam" at the Bridge game, it doesn't get any better. I'm hopeful the next few days before the hamfest will also be good ones, and a continuation of my string of daily DX contacts. Today completes my 63rd day of contacts.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Stavropol Russia

I found RT6T in Stavropol Russia this morning at 5,804 miles. This city is the home of Mikhail Gorbachev.  A brilliant man, he led Russia into a more democratic and open society. Many of his reforms were not well liked; but he moved Russia into the modern age. He was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.

I also worked E77DX in Bosnia and Herzegovia and HB9CVQ in Switzerland.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Quick Catches and Back to Normal

This morning I thought I had a QSL from an England station, but apparently not. I'm assuming I was stepped on at the last minute, and lost in the noise. My E-QSL was rejected, as it should have been. I've done the same when stations are not in my log book.

I then worked IT9KCD in Sicily

I then worked S51WO in Slovenia. 

Last but not least PE2HD in The Netherlands

It's going to be a beautiful day today and I will be "out on the bike" enjoying the warm temperatures  and sunshine. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Day 60 of DX

It was brutal today, trying to work my 60th day of daily DX. I had breakfast early this morning with friends in town, so therefore, missed my morning window on 17 meters. It took nearly two hours to find an opportunity, on the 12 meter band, to work IK5ZWU in Italy.

Everyone on the air seems to be chasing TX5K on Clipperton Island, but nothing else.

This morning I nearly gave up on the continuous DX contact. It was nearly too much to bear.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

New DX Station # 74

Back to the rig in the afternoon and found ER3MM on the 17 meter band calling CQ; and working a lot of stations. I've heard them before but never been able to catch them at the right time. I needed to repeat my call sign several times, but the solution was to drift off frequency, just a bit. I had hoped he would move also, and it worked!

Modlova is now # 74 in the DXCC log book.

Denmark # 59 Daily Contact

This morning brought me two new stations in Denmark. The first being OZ8PG and the second being OV1CDX. I actually worked OV1CDX twice; first with the random wire and the second time with a new 17 meter dipole, which I stretched out "temporarily" in the upstairs rooms. I don't have room keep it up and use it all the time, so I took it down afterwards; but not before working F8DGY in France. That made a total of three DX new stations.

Today makes my 59th daily DX contact.

I think the random wire won out this morning when compared to the dipole. I know for certain I can hear better with it, but due to my operating location at the hamfest, on March 16th. the random wire would be a poor choice. It would not work well there because it's a metal building with large steel beams. The dipole, mounted outdoors, and a little distance from the building, will be the winner.

Using a random wire from a metal building with iron beams would be like trying to transmit from the inside of a tin can. I know the dipole, which is specifically cut for 17 meters, will be the antenna to use at the hamfest.

Yesterday, I also received a new "replacement" battery for the Sears Die Hard "jump starter" (model # 950A) which I use to power the radio when transmitting from picnic tables. It has served me well and lasted 5-6-years before giving up the ghost.

I like this "booster battery" because there is a "digital battery level readout" and "charger" built right into the unit, and also it has a "built in" light. It's massive, and much more than I need, but will power the radio "all day long". It's an eighteen amp hour/ 20 hour monster. I was able to install the new battery easily, with only a phillips head screwdriver, and a small wrench.

The new models have a USB port built into the front case.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Moscow Russia

I'm in a rush this morning and will have practically NO radio time today; but I managed to log UA5C in Moscow Russia this morning, just after a quick breakfast. I found him on the 15 meter band and it was truly a "knock your socks off" signal.

I'm just amazed at these big Russian stations. Alex was sending quickly this morning but immediately dropped down to my speed to say hello. More than just a handshake, I passed along my QRP status. I've worked several of these big stations now. Today was my 8th contact into this part of the world and at 5,031 miles, an EASY catch.

I'm driving my Dad to the Veterans Hospital, in a town about 50 miles from here today. My brother and I will both be with him. No big medical problems. Just a new hearing aid for him; but it will take most of the day to get there and back. There's snow on the highway this morning and we expected 10-15 inches of the white stuff in the mountains. For now, there's just a few flurries. I'm hoping the weather will be stable most of the day.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

My Morning DX Contact

This mornings QSO (and it was a QSO) brought me DL3AZ in Germany and makes my 57th daily DX contact. I had been listening to another German station, just above his frequency and apparently, the other station went QRT. When I heard Andy (DL3AZ) calling, I mistakenly assumed the wrong call.

Embarrassingly, it took me a few moments to realize my mistake but Andy corrected me and we double checked our information. We talked about our rigs and antennas and he congratulated me on the 3 watt QRP signal. Andy was a real gentleman and I enjoyed the short QSO before he moved on to other stations.

There's another big snow storm moving towards us today. The temperature is going to be in the low 50's (f) but tonight will drop below freezing with an expected snow accumulation of 10-15 inches in the mountains.

I'm looking forward to a replacement battery to arrive by post today, and maybe my new 17 meter dipole. I use a "car booster" to run the radio in the field and the current battery "failed" after jump starting my old car a few weeks ago.  I hope it arrives before the snowy day tomorrow.

Today was my 31st contact with a German station.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Charleston Hamfest

The annual Kanawha Amateur Radio Club Hamfest will be coming up in a few weeks and on March 16th, I will display my QRP station there with the hopes of introducing hams living in this area to my aspect of the hobby. My goal is to bring attention to "low power portable radio". Last night on the local repeater, I made my second announcement about my accomplishments with QRP power and Morse Code.

The Club website is here:   Kanawha Amateur Radio Club

I was not "radio active" until I retired from the Sherwin Williams Paint Company in 2004. Before retirement, I used a MFJ 9040 QRP rig from a three story apartment building by running my 40 meter Isotron antenna up on a painters pole which was bungee corded to the outside third floor stair railing.

I worked 48 states with QRP power on 40 meters, added a 20 meter Isotron antenna in 2009, and started working DX on a regular basis. Soon after that, I started using dedicated band dipole antennas which I could string up inside the house. Soon after that, I started using dedicated band dipoles when operating outdoors in the field.

About 6 months ago I started using an indoor random wire for an antenna, which has allowed me to work the 30 meter, 17 meter, and 12 meter bands from inside the house. From my home with the indoor random wire, I've now worked 96 DX stations on the 17 meter band, in the last six months, with 3 watts  of power.

At the hamfest, I'll have the keys I use and a small computer for displaying my QSL cards and I hope to string up a new 17 meter dipole. I'll attempt to work stations in Eastern Europe from there from 1300-1800 GMT, and if I'm successful with a few of them, afterwards I will tune to the 18.096 QRP frequency and begin calling CQ.

I've had a blast working QRP.  I have 1,830 stations in my log book now and I've worked 361 DX stations in 73 different countries. I don't work contests because I simply don't have the radio for them.

This morning I worked V31AC in Belize for the second time and a new station (F9IE) in France.

This morning makes my 56th day of working at least one DX stations every day I'm on the air!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Time for Everything

Last night while on 30 meters, I made the rare and unusual move to "turn off" the radio. I was hearing and and on the verge of working a new station in Kuwait (9K2MU) when the dastardly deed of doing the unbelievable happened and someone spotted him on the "cluster". I have no doubt this would have been a successful contact without the interference of hundreds of stations attempting to work the same station at the same time.  I could have, and almost did (he was repeating back the N8YA (missing the Z) when I was stepped upon and mashed down into the mud; never to reappear again.

I'll give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and say most operators weren't aware of my small QRP signal on the same frequency. However, I think it's safe to say, the smell of blood brought out all the sharks.

I did manage to work a station (ZF2LC) in the Cayman Islands which I've previously worked. This morning is much of the same with "beehives" on the bands. Propagation is good but it's bad for me. To me, that's a real bummer and a nail in the coffin. Perhaps the "hive" will clear and the sharks disperse as the day wears on.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Belize #73

This afternoon brought me a quick contact with V31AC in Belize Central America. I've been hearing a few stations in this area but this was my first opportunity to capture them on the 12 meter band. No more than a handshake but he was out in the clear and an easy catch. This station brings my DX country total to 72. Should Northern Ireland turn out to be a separate entity in the UK, I'll add another one to the list.

Belize is know to be a sanctuary for the Jaguar. What a magnificent animal!

Northern Ireland #72

This morning I made a contact into Northern Ireland with MI0AHH who lives in Cooktown. I'm confused about the DXCC entity because I don't see it listed on my DXCC list. I've worked two other stations in Ireland with an EI designation but this is my first with the MI designation. Perhaps someone can inform me about the difference between the two (if any).

Last night was spent on the 30 meter QRP frequency of 10.106 where I worked several stations here in the United States.

Friday, March 1, 2013

DX #71 Crete

I was able to shake hands with SV9DJO on the Island of Crete this afternoon. At 5,526 miles, this is country number 71 in my DXCC log book.

Talking to Old Friends

Last night (actually the first of March in GMT time) I worked an old "rock bound" friend on 40 meters who uses a home brew 5 watt CW QRP rig and uses a separate receiver for his station. We've worked each other nearly a dozen times now but Bob (N9HAL) and I last talked almost 2 years ago. I was amazed he remembered my call and all the details of my previous conversations. I did the same with him and the particulars of his station. Bob, by the way, is an excellent CW operator.

I enjoyed the long conversation immensely and it brought back a joy I've nearly forgotten since moving to the longer distance DX bands. Bob is a mere 500 miles from me in a straight line but I enjoyed the long conversation as much, or more so, than much of the 70 different QSO's I've had with different DX countries.

I enjoy reading about the towns and cities here in the United States and I found this unusual house in his home town of Watertown Wisconsin. It's an octagon (with eight different sides) home built by a doctor in the early years of the towns development.

I'm going to devote more time to regular QSO's again. I've missed this part of the hobby the last few years, and didn't realize it until last nights QSO with Bob.

This doesn't mean I'll forgo my daily DX contacts. I had breakfast with friends this morning but immediately got on the air when I returned from town. I quickly worked G3HGE in England, and surprisingly, it turned out to be an actual QSO also. We've worked before, but Tom wanted to know why I used QRP for his DX contact. I explained my dilemma about living a block down from the state capitol in a restricted antenna area. He stated it was a real joy to work a QRP station using 3 watts and a random wire for an antenna. After all, anyone could do it QRO with a beam. hihi

I agree.

Tom (G3HGE) produces a very nice set of keys which can be viewed here: