My Most Recent QSO's

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A New DX Station # 81

I've worked a bunch of DX stations on 30 meters since returning from the Outer Banks of North Carolina. As I noted earlier, I'm not sleeping well, and to pass the time, I turn on the radio to get my mind off the back pain. Sometimes I'm in the right place at exactly the right time.

I was up around 3:30 AM this morning and worked (G3LNA) in St. Albans England. I spent most of my childhood in St Albans, WV so got a kick out of sending the information to him in a brief exchange.

Just around sunrise I heard and worked a very strong VP2MRV on the island of Monserrat in the Caribbean. This is a very small island with a very large volcano in the upper Northern parts. In 1995 it exploded and destroyed about half of the island. The explosion covered the Southern part of the island with tons of ash. There's few "radio operators" here, even today; so I was very happy to add this new station to my DXCC list as 81 now.

Late yesterday evening I heard and worked LY5O in Lithuania. We've worked before but it's always nice to work a station in this country.

I was also able to work OK2SG in the Czech Republic

Here's an interesting station I worked this evening: 

TM0SI was transmitting  from the Island of Sein. 
He is just  off the coast of France for the CDXG IOTA Expedition. 

My daily routine revolves around my back pain and it seems like eternity since I've slept all night. Last night I turned in around 11 PM, noticed the clock at 1 PM, was up at 3:30 AM and worked the England station, caught another short nap, and arose again around sunrise to catch the new DX entity around 6:30 AM.

I take the next dose of pain medication and eat breakfast, read the morning paper, take another short nap and rise again around 8 AM to make my log book entries. It's becoming an awful boring routine but it's nothing I can change for now.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Home Again

It was good to see familiar faces at the Outer Banks of North Carolina , but I had terrible "radio withdraw" this year. As I mentioned earlier, I can "sit" in reasonable comfort, but standing, or especially moving around, brings a lot of pain into my lower back and the muscles in my right leg; hence I spent most of the time at the beach this year just relaxing, watching television, and picking a few tunes on the guitar. I would have been in the same pain whether there, or here at home.

I have an appointment at the Veterans Hospital next week to have a MRI performed on my back. My expectations are to have surgery, as soon as possible, to permanently alleviate this condition. It's reached a point where I'm being forced to live a very sedentary lifestyle. I'm too young to do that this early in life.

This afternoon I turned on the radio and almost immediately worked SAM (S51WO) in Ravne Slovenia. We've worked before and it was good to hear him again. Much more than a handshake, we talked about our radio, antennas, power, and the weather. He congratulated me again on my 3 watt QRP signal and we moved to other conversations.

I like to read about the countries I work on the radio and a quick "google" brought me to a Slovenian musician named Lojze Slak.  I've always considered music to be a universal language which brings together people from all parts of the world.

Lojze Slak played a unique "Diatonic Button Accordion". 

He passed away in 2011 and will be sadly missed in the musical world. 

It really felt good to get the "key" back in my hands this afternoon and I'm looking forward to being back on the air once more.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Time Out

Marilyn and I attend a family gathering every year around this time, so I'm going to be "off the air" for the next week. I'm going to miss the radio, but see no way to take the radio along with the addition of a wheelchair in the car. Although I can "sit" in reasonable comfort, I'm not able to walk, carry a battery, or erect an antenna. There will be an eerie silence in the house at the beach. I'll have to do some reading, listen to a little pocket short wave receiver, and gaze at the ocean from the top deck. In place of the radio, I'll take my guitar with me and do some music in one of the local bars. (that's a joke)

I worked another couple of stations towards South America this morning. The first was HK1MW in Columbia and the second was J75PX on the Island of Dominico.

 I didn't hear Japan this morning but made up for it by listening to VK2GWK in Australia.

I continue to work a half dozen DX stations on most days. They're always on the 17 and 30 meter bands.

Last night I worked Milam, OK1KW in the Czech Rebublic. It's always a pleasure to hear him as he usually calls CQ Fists and we exchange numbers, talk about the radio and antenna and give weather reports. It's always much more than a "handshake"

I also worked 4A8DMR in Mexico City celebrating World Amateur Radio Day and the 88th Anniversary of the IARU.

Today marks my 95th Daily DX Contact. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Moving Down the Highway of Life

I spent most of yesterday afternoon traveling back and forth to the Huntington Veterans Hospital. It's Interstate driving, at around 70 mph, and takes a little over an hour, one way. My doctor had ordered a wheelchair for me and extra "tens" unit supplies. I was very happy to get both these items.

I spent little time on the radio, but managed to work a few good stations, some of which were made in the late night, and early morning hours since I still have sleepless hours because the pain in my back and leg.

I worked a familiar IK2DAD in Italy for the second time, in just a few days, and an interesting station (EA6NB) in the Balearic Islands of Spain. EA6NU lived on the largest island in the group where the classical pianist Chopin spent a winter. Chopins health was deteriorating  rapidly at this point in life but his time on this island didn't  improve his condition.

I love good classical piano music, so thought I'd highlight him in this post. He was a true genius on the keyboard. Although I play the piano, my skills are very basic. I play mostly for my own personal enjoyment on an electronic Yamaha keyboard.

This morning, around 5:30 am,  found me tossing and turning again due to the pain in my right leg. Before getting settled down again, I managed to work CO2WF in Cuba, and for the first time, I heard a reasonably strong JA4HFE in Japan. Disappointingly, I wasn't able to work him, but now I know where, and when, to listen for him. He had a good solid signal into West Virginia but it disappeared at sunrise.

The wheelchair is a great blessing for me. It allows me to move around the house, and even get outdoors in good weather, without the constant aggravation of using a cane. Our dog also likes the wheelchair and enjoys sitting on my lap when I wheel myself around the house. I think he enjoys the favorite "lap" from a little higher viewpoint now.

He helped us drive to the hospital yesterday.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

30 Meter Contacts

The thirty meter band was HOT last night and I worked several stations very quickly. My first contact was PS7HD who was using 40 watts into a junior G5RV antenna. It was a difficult contact but considering his low power, and modest antenna, I thought it was my best catch for the evening. By the way, he lives in Brazil. 

Here's a picture of a little place he uses for his radio hobby. There's tremendous electrical and wireless internet noise at his home QTH.  This is necessary to drop the noise level down to a manageable level. 

Soon afterwards, I worked HA7PJ in Hungary and he chuckled about my 3 watts and a random wire antenna.  It was a bit more than the standard handshake. 

This station in the Slovak Republic was booming in and easily worked. 

Before I shut down, I felt good about working N7QT who was transmitting from the island of St Lucia in the Caribbean. There was a significant "pile up" with this station with a wide "split". I'm usually not able to compete in these circumstances but caught him "just right" and was successful.

I saw a familiar call on the "QRP Spots" website last night. Fellow blogger W2LJ and I had a nice chat on 30 meters the night before, and he worked several stations on 30 meters too.  He worked a Hungarian station on 40 meters last night. Larry is also the featured operator on the NAQCC website this month.

I've always liked this picture. It's the perfect example of QRP radio. 

There's a link to the NAQCC website on the right side on this blog.

Monday, April 15, 2013

My DX Contacts Continue

Despite the recent problems with my back; I've continued to make my daily DX contacts, and remarkably, I find playing with the radio is one of the things I can continue to enjoy. I'm able to  "sit" in relative comfort, put on my headphones, and operate in almost total silence. Several nights this week, I've found myself sleepless,  and I've hobbled into the spare room where I keep my QRP station.

This afternoon I worked an interesting station in Croatia (9A3IH). I found this video of his station on the web

I also worked ES4QR in Estonia

Some of my other recent contacts have been these stations. 

I also worked another new DX station with a contact to  J75PX in Dominica. This station marks my 80th DXCC Contact! It's always nice to add another DXCC contact! 

The contacts today mark my 59th DX contact for the month of April. 

They're also my 92nd day of daily DX. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Deja Vu

I'm beginning to feel like the star character in the movie "Groundhog Day" where every day repeats itself with an uncanny predictability. I wonder how many times by back is going to repeat it's star performance of a few years ago?

My current problems started about six weeks ago when my left foot experienced a malady called "plantar fasciitis". It's a painful inflammation of the tendons on the bottom of the foot. I hobbled around in pain for weeks before anti inflammatory medicine, aspirin based cream, stretching exercises, and new arch supports in my shoes were about to offer me some relief.

As I mentioned earlier, I have a degenerative disc condition, which, about five years ago, put me in a wheelchair for a couple of months. At the time, the pain was so intense, it made walking, or even standing for long periods of time impossible. I feel like I'm going through the exact same thing this time, but the sciatica pain is extending down my right side. So far, the pain is stopping just below the knee.

During the last 30 years, I've had problems with my back several times. One of the reasons I quit working on "heavy equipment" was the wear and tear on my body. I chuckle when I hear people talk about doing a "hard days work". They've obviously never changed the "tracks" on a D9 bulldozer, the hydraulic cylinders on a monster end loader, or a starter on a 150 ton "off highway truck".

I had some x-rays done yesterday but I'm not sure they will show anything except the extensive arthritis in my lower back. I've know about that for many years, and my doctor and I have both joked about the "golden years" where we just can't do the same things we used to do, when we were 20 years younger.

It will take a MRI to view how bad the discs are distorted this time, but for now, I'm taking some heavy duty pain medication, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatory medicine. I'm also using a "tens" unit. It's an electronic device which allows very high voltage, but very low amperage electrical current, to interrupt the nerve pathway up my spine. It does this with adhesive electrodes just above my waist.

All these things are helping a bit, so for now, the course is not to "move" any more than necessary, stay off my feet as much as possible, and hope the inflammation and pain to eases up a bit. I hope to start physical therapy afterwards.

I should hear from my doctor on Monday about the x-rays, and I intend to order a new "wheelchair". I'm not the kind of person that can sit around doing nothing, and wallow in misery. The wheelchair will enable me to move around town and visit the local bookstore. It's also more comfortable to use with the radio.

I've still been able to make DX contacts regularly. You can view my contacts from my log book on the QRZ site.

Today marks my 89th day of making at least one DX contact per day.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My Bad Back

I've had some serious back problems the last few years. Several years ago, the pain in my left leg became unbearable and I spent several days in the hospital. I actually spent a few months in a wheel chair. Fortunately, after several months of physical therapy, I was able to recover and get back to a normal life. 

Five years later now, I'm experiencing the same problem, but on the other side of my body. Where my left leg had become almost unusable earlier, my right leg hurts so bad now I can barely walk. I'll see my doctor this afternoon for a professional opinion.  

Bed rest is probably the best solution, and making sure I don't further aggravate the degenerating discs on my right side. When the pain subsides, I'll try to strengthen and stretch those muscles to avoid surgery. 

I hate being in the hospital and will avoid it at all cost. (pun intended) 

For the last several days, I haven't been on my feet except to take care of the very basic necessities of life.  I'm not comfortable either laying or sitting in any position, but to keep my sanity, I manage to pull myself to the chair in front of the radio. I'm still making DX contacts daily, but it's too painful to sit for long and  listen  for DX calls. 

My first priority is to reduce the pain in my lower back and my right leg. Until I get that under better control, I'll make an occasional radio contact, log it on, and spend the rest of the day listening to wi-fi radio.

Perhaps the doctor can steer me down the correct recovery path? My radio activity is going to be severely restricted until I can get my back pain under better control. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

My 79 th DXCC Contact

I've been hearing this station for several weeks but was never able to work him because of huge pile-ups on the frequency. It's an unusual prefix, which should have gave me a hint, but I never thought the Italian address had the significance of being a separate entity. It was ignorance on my part, and as I looked at the DXCC list that I keep with me at all times, I realized I had worked, and added another new country to the log book.

San Marino makes my 79th DX Country and it's a small independent country which is completely surrounded by Italy. It's only 24 square miles with a population of around 30,000 people. By comparison, my home city of  Charleston  is just a little larger, with 32 square miles and 51,000 people.

San Marino claims to be the oldest surviving sovereign state and constitutional republic in the world, as the continuation of the monastic community founded on 3 September 301---

The country's economy mainly relies on finance, industry, services and tourism. It is one of the wealthiest countries in the world in terms of GDP (per capita), with a figure comparable to the most developed European regions. San Marino is considered to have a highly stable economy, with one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe, no national debt and a budget surplus.[1]

I also worked other stations today. Early this morning, I worked OR5T in Belgium. Soon after working T77C in San Marino this evening, I worked S53OQ in Slovenia.

Today also marks my 81st day of working at least one DX station a day.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Few More in the Evening

I heard this station during the morning hours, but didn't take the time to work him. Luckily I heard him again this evening, and worked him,  in a quick succession of contacts. In a very short time (around 20:00 hours GMT)  I've worked ES5QD in Estonia, F8DGY in France, IK2CIO in Italy, and CO2WF in Cuba.

I really like the picture below of him and his son. 

I've worked several others today too. I keep a log book on the QRZ site which you can view at your leisure.  I talked to two stations in Canada today. One in Ontario and another in Nova Scotia.

The ride on the bike was short today. There's a strong wind and a cold chill in the air.

Lithuania Special Event Station

It took only a few moments to work LY23A in Lithuania this morning. I found him "out in the open" and "by himself". He was catching stations as quickly as he could work them and he had a great signal into West Virginia. We shook hands and he moved on with his contacts.

This is a "Special Event Station" commemorating the 23rd Anniversary of Lithuanian Independence Restoration. They will be on the air until April 11th.

You can read a short summary of the event here :    23rd Anniversary of Restoration of Independence

The temperature is supposed to reach the low 50's (f) today. There's yard work to do today, but afterwards, I intend to be on the bike for most of the afternoon.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My Daily DX Contact

I was up early this morning and drove to my hometown of St Albans where I had a dental appointment to install a new "crown" on a bad tooth. I had broken this tooth several months ago, and the dentist was unable to repair it due to infection. I had the "root canal" done by a different dentist; and this mornings crown on the tooth was the completion of the project. The repair bill on this tooth was close to $2000 USD.

I once told a native on an isolated island (national health care) how much dental work cost here in the United States. To this day, I think he thought I was lying to him.

St Albans is about 15 miles from here, so I was on the road around 8:30am. That didn't leave a lot of time for the radio; but I managed to work an England station before leaving for the Dentist.

I've worked Tom G3HGE several times (three) previously. He was using his favorite  KEY  this morning. This morning was my 13th English QSO.

I rushed home from the dentist and changed clothes and then Marilyn and I drove downtown to hear a classical string trio perform a Dvorak piece called the "Dumky". The Sarosvati Trio (piano, violin and cello) did an excellent job with this piece of music. Dvorak wrote it in 1891 after returning from a concert tour in Russia. The subtitle "dumky" is a Ukrainian word suggesting a pensive, melancholic mood.

We had lunch afterwards at the Kanawha United Presbyterian Church and then returned home.

I turned on the radio almost immediately and heard a strong Slovenia station calling on 17 meters. I was able to work S57DX on the first attempt. We've also worked before. (three times)  I've worked a bunch of stations in Slovenia in the last several months and today marked my 13th contact.

Today is also my 78th daily DX contact.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Bad News and the Good News

The Bad News

This morning while waiting for the 17 meter to make it's daily opening, I called out on the 40 meter band to an old friend who once lived near the paint store where I worked for 21 years. We haven't talked in several years; so we had a lot of catching up to do. As a sign of good operating procedures, we shifted upward a bit from the QRP calling frequency.

There's been a lot of "grumbling" lately about digital operators "tuning up" right on top of anyone, anytime, and anywhere. This morning I received the brunt of LID operators in full force. It's beginning to be enough of a problem to enrage a saint.

I responded with the customary "please tune up somewhere else" to deaf ears because this station couldn't  copy so much as a "dot", and I angrily thought, "why on earth would anyone using a "digital mode" choose the 40 meter QRP CW calling frequency" to run a "test" on their equipment?

I think the answer is "they don't know" because they just can't "hear" us. 

It's sort of like 'good 'ol boys' hunting deer in the woods. They think they "see" something out there. They take a "wild shot" at it, and then go over to see what they "got". When they get there, they discover the only thing they "got" was their best friend with double ought buckshot.

As a better example; I cringe whenever I see a picture of a nice station on the web that doesn't have a "key" on the desk. I think it says ham radio is all about buying software, buying the best radio, the most expensive antenna, and the best high power amplifier.

Let me assure you; there's no "art" to downloading the latest software on your computer. There's no "art" to pushing the right button on the keyboard to send Morse Code, and certainly no "art" to watching the letters and numbers from a "code reader" scroll across the screen of your computer.

Hell can't buy everything; and some people actually take pride in using the simplest form of communication decipherable with only the human ear. I've got it out of my system; and I feel better about it.

The Good News

No sooner than I tuned to the 17 meter band, I easily worked a station in Northern Ireland. I never gave much thought when I worked MI6GTY ----until I looked at his profile on the web. I was so surprised that I gave him a second call, which I might add, he answered immediately.

His profile picture reminds me of myself in many ways. I also earned my college degree in my later years and I also don't send "QRP" on my opening exchange with DX stations.

I asked him specifically, on my second contact, if he was doing the same. He answered a proud "YES" and I likewise, sent my name and QRP @ 3 watts.

I don't work a lot of other DX QRP stations, so this morning was especially rewarding. After all the frustration on 40 meters, I needed some good news, and "got it".

Monday, April 1, 2013

My Second Contact with Belarus

This afternoon brought me my second contact into the country of Belarus as I worked EW8A. I hear only a few from this country. Igor had a good signal here on the East Coast of the US.

Looking at his QRZ profile picture, he's obviously a decorated military veteran. 

Russia RK3ER Again and my 75th DX Day

Today marks my 75th daily DX contact. 

It was a pleasure to work Alex (RK3ER) near Moscow Russia again this morning. I recognized the call immediately because I had just worked him yesterday. I was also hearing a strong R6AF, also in Russia, but couldn't make the connection.

Working these many Russian stations the last several weeks, brings back memories of traveling along the Volga River a few years ago. While in Moscow, my wife and I spent several days in the hospital due to a minor illness. The medical staff was excellent, the service professional, and the bureaucratic system functioned smoothly and proficiently. (hint)

The economic shift towards a more capitalistic economy, I think, has been a good decision for the Russian people. I hope they're able to continue down this path.

I like traveling along the rivers of the world. It's a slow pace, and usually, a scenic one. Every day is different. Most of all, I enjoy talking to complete strangers. We all have much more in common than differences.