My Most Recent QSO's

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Where did the Stations Go ?

The DX seems to have disappeared here in the valley; it left just a mysteriously as it came. There didn't appear to be any reason why I captured it, in the first place, around the first of the year, and there doesn't seem to be any reason it left; but I'm hearing very little here in the valley.

Just as a precaution, I've submitted a work order (I'm not holding my breath) for a "new" Gold coating of on the West Virginia State Capitol Dome, which is just up the  street. It seems only logical that the recent thunderstorms and a tremendous lightening strike (point blank) last week, on the dome, has reduced my DX to a trickle. I'm just not getting the usual radio signal "bounce" off all that gold.

All kidding aside; the weather has been terrible for the last few weeks. I think the same can be said about most of the European stations which I usually work. They seem to be underwater for the most part. I saw on the news this morning where Calgary Canada has been flooded. The mid west here in the US is still experiencing severe thunderstorms on a daily basis. I think we're all in trouble with these shifting, and unusual weather patterns in the world.

Perhaps, in some unusual way, I'll experience these unusual DX band conditions again next year at the same time? It's beginning to sound like my DX contacts are somewhat of a fluke now, which is difficult to explain. I'll be looking forward to the beginning of next year, to see if these conditions repeat themselves.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Japan-- DX # 87

I was hearing Japan stations all weekend, and tried to work several without success, until, on Sunday evening around sunset, I found JA7NVF on the 15 meter band. It might not have been a difficult catch using normal power and a normal outside antenna; but with 3 watts of power and an "indoor" 50 ft piece of "random wire" for an antenna, it was a challenge. At least the first time.....

The "first" contact was difficult but about an hour later, the "second" contact was a "piece of cake". I was not hearing any response to his calls, from anyone, and did it "just because I could". This time it was a 599 contact. I happily added my QRP @ 3 W, this time, to the ending of the exchange

I'm extremely happy with this new DX station in the log book. (#87)

Although Japan is only 6,331 miles from me,  (I've worked 7,500 miles twice) I never expected to work this part of Asia. I rarely hear them on the air. I'm assuming he was pointed towards California, and I was lucky enough to catch the "second bounce" towards the East coast. He (JA7NVF) isn't operating with a normal "beam", he uses something " Special ", and it works very  well.

Naomi lives in the city of Towada Aomori near Lake Towada . He's an electrical engineer who has been with the Army Corp of Engineers at the Misasa Air Force Base for 22 years.

Naomi's antenna farm is several miles north of his home and near the air field where the first "non-stop" flight across the Pacific Ocean was achieved on Oct. 3rd, 1931. The pilots Clyde Pangborn and Hugh Herndon flew a "modified" aircraft from Japan to the coast of Washington. The airplane was called Miss Veedol .

I've always found those early flights in small planes to be especially interesting. This flight is a milestone since it barely made it off the ground due to extra fuel, and also, out of necessity, the "landing gear" was "jettisoned" soon after takeoff.  Yes, you read that correctly; it was intentionally "dropped" off the aircraft to reduce drag and increase mileage. However, it wasn't intentional when the landing struts didn't "fall off". There was only "one way" to correct this issue. Herndon climbed "outside" the aircraft (in mid-flight) and manually "dropped it". At the very beginning of the flight planning, they had intentionally decided to "crash land" the aircraft in the State of Washington.

They did; and managed to walk away from the wreckage. Most of the damage was done to the propeller and as any good pilot will tell you---" any landing you walk away from is a good landing".

How's that for guts?

I also worked another couple of good stations yesterday: CO2IR  in Cuba (mailbox below) and ZW7REF in Brazil.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Some Very Good News

Happily, I've got some "very good news" to pass along. About two months ago, I started having trouble with my back and have been forced into an inactive lifestyle which has been sort of depressing. This isn't the first time I've had this problem. I experienced the same trouble around five years ago but on the left side of my body instead of the current right side. It involves a disc pressing the sciatic nerve which has left me almost sedentary. It came on gradually in a period of around a week, and it apparently, has left much the same way.

Over the span of about a week now, the pain has finally let up and I'm seeing some real progress in being able to get outside and move around without the wheelchair. Although for only short distances, I'm almost able to move around with the help of a cane. I can walk about a block now. The effect on my attitude is remarkable.

I have an appointment with a physical therapist in about 10 days now and will have a test to determine if there's been any permanent damage to the nerve. I still have minor cramping in my right leg but hope this will eventually ease up and allow me to get back to a normal life.

My ultimate goal is to be back on my bicycle and enjoy the rest of the summer months.

My radio hobby is always "second" priority when it comes to family and social events.  I missed the "window" on the 15th due a family obligation and therefore didn't make a DX contact on that day. That's a little bad news; but last night after a monthly game of bridge; I easily worked ES3AX in Estonia.

The band is still there, and I've no doubt that DX can be worked "every day" with a modest QRP station and a modest antenna. My list of daily DX contacts has been briefly interrupted at day 146.

Currently in the year 2103, I've worked 449 stations, of which 395 have been DX contacts.

Today is Fathers Day here in the United States. I'll be driving my Dad to dinner with my brother and sister. He's almost 93 now and still getting around by himself, although moving around a little slowly.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

New DX Country # 86

I was able to work this new DX country (PZ5RA) on the Northern tip of South America this evening. Suriname is a mere 2,791 miles but was a difficult catch for me. He was listening "up two" and it took me several attempts to work him. Fortunately my friend Eric (AC8LJ) who also lives here in Charleston, worked him just a few moments before me. It gave me a good estimate of where he was listening.

This station in Suriname, makes my 86th DX contact.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

144 Days of DX

I worked CO8LY in Cuba this evening for my 144th day of daily DX contacts. Cuba is such a short distance from here (1,325 miles) ; it's become embarrassingly easy to work this country. Tonight marks the 24th time I've worked Cuba and the 10th I've worked this particular station. I've been dropping my power down to one watt occasionally just for the fun of it.....

I've become somewhat lax on my blog entries lately, but here are the basic facts for the last several days:

There's several short distance contacts here. The Caribbean area is a gold mine for me. I've worked Bermuda several times, and also Ecuador. A surprising and difficult contact was EA7ATE in Spain. I got a nice e-mail from him and expect a card soon.

I've worked a new station in Belarus also. EW8DJ was a good catch: 

Another nice catch was 407TC in Montenegro

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Massive Floods in Europe

My heart turns out to the people in Europe today as I read about the massive floods in Europe.    

Most of the DX stations I work with my QRP station live in these areas, and personally, I remember a lot of the towns I'm reading about on the Danube River. I found it to be one of the most beautiful and interesting places on earth. When I was there, my thoughts were always revolving around the fantastic "bicycle" routes. It was common, to see entire families on their bicycles, enjoying nature in a way that only can be experienced at this slow pace, and demanded, by human powered transportation.

We're experiencing similar events here in the United States with heavy rain and high winds. Sadly, I feel the world is experiencing a deteriorating climate which is about to cause an inland shift of major populations. At times like this, I feel fortunate to live in this sheltered valley in West Virginia. Although I'm only 630 ft above sea level, I feel safe because of a series of locks and dams on this coal mining transportation route.

I worked a couple of stations yesterday in Poland and Denmark. I've worked the Polish station before. (SP9KR), and I've also worked Denmark previously, but this station was a new one. It was nice to see this card in my mail box before I could list him in my log book.

I still get "paper cards" in the mail without a SASE. On all the data bases on the web, I've made it crystal clear that I only respond with the electronic E-QSL format. I enjoy the memories of a nice QSO but find it "silly" to send a card to everyone I talk to on the air. However; "if you absolutely got'a have a paper card", join the E-QSL group. It's free.....and you can have a "paper card" printed and mailed to you for a fraction of the normal postage rates. (hint)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Difficult Band Conditions

After several tries, I managed to work VP5/W5CW in the Turk and Caicos Islands last night. We've worked before; but last night the conditions were so poor that I worried if I would be able to continue my string of daily DX contacts.

The weather in the Caribbean, Southern Florida, and upward along the Eastern coast is horrible this week. True, the propagation is dismal, which might explain why I hear very few stations on the air, but I can't help but think that most hams in these areas have unplugged their stations and unhooked their antennas because of the accompanying thunderstorms, high winds, and storm surges.

I worked another Oklahoma station last night (W5WIL) which was just a few miles from where that tremendously destructive tornado rumbled through last week. Within a weeks time, there's been two tornadoes touch down in this area with 300 mph winds. (482 kph) I don't know what word to use to describe that other than "devastating".  Fortunately, they touched down in empty fields this time.

We were on the 40 meter QRP frequency (7040) and had the possibility of a nice QSO; but were interrupted by a careless operator who decided "his" frequency was a good place to  "tune up". It was an inexcusable and  thoughtless action by a "four" station, who obviously "didn't give a hoot who was on the frequency". I continue to find this behavior a "big"  problem on this band and sadly find myself avoiding it out of frustration.

I imagine the thousands of "rock bound QRP kit builders" experience the same frustration. They don't have the option of "moving somewhere else".  In essence, their "kits" have become nothing more that paperweights and conversation items.

I don't know what the answer is to this continuing problem since "common courtesy" doesn't seem to be in their vocabulary.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

QRP @ 3W and an Indoor 50 ft Random Wire Antenna

Last night I had a tremendous amount of "fun" on the radio. It first started out with working a new station in Belarus.  Andy (EU7A) was an easy catch on 17 meters. I enjoyed this picture of him standing on the flight deck of the USS Midway in San Diego California. I actually participated in operations with this "bird farm" when I was in the Navy. He had a great signal into West Virginia.  

We had strong storms early last night. I needed to shut down the radio because of lightening in our area. I turned in, as usual, around midnight, and soon afterwards, as usual, I arose due to leg pain. The storms had passed, so I tuned into the 30 meter band. 

This is when and where I had all my fun. 

I've been using the cluster for several weeks now. (link on the right side of this blog) I like the way they arrange their information, and I like the additional resources on their site. I also like the ability to "post my spots" and their linking capabilities to many other DX clusters all over the world. You make a post here, and the rest of the world knows about it, in just a few minutes. 

The thing that was so much fun last night was my ability to be the first to "spot" some good stations in the Netherlands and England. I must admit, I like to do this, and above all, I like to post my "QRP @ 3W" designation in the remarks section. 

The especially rewarding, and fun thing about last nights postings; were the responses from other stations around the world. So after I made the "first" posting of EA6NB in the Balearic Islands of Spain, I saw a Colorado station post the same spot and frequency and also "worked with 3 watts". 

I'm encouraged by this! 

I usually post my QRP activity on "QRP Spots" (link of the right side of this blog) with the hopes of other QRP operators (mostly here in the United States) being able to work these stations; but the QRZCQ site is "world wide".

Before turning in for the night, I also worked, and "first" spotted PA4VHF and PA0LEG in the Netherlands. Soon afterwards, I had a nice (and also "first" spot) "QSO" with G0NXA in England. This was a QSO--we exchanged information about our radios, antennas, power, and the cities where we lived. He was amazed at my 3 watt signal from Charleston, WV. He was very congratulatory and very interested in my station.  hihi 

Just before I shut down last night, I was amused to see a New Zealand station place "worked with 10 watts" in his "remarks section" for a contact into England. I hope this continues a trend which makes more amateur radio operators realize just how easy it is to work the world with only a few watts of power. 

 Today marks my 136th day of working at least one DX station per day with less than five watts of power. With the exception of taking a little "time off" for family gatherings in New York and North Carolina, I've worked a DX station, every day, since the first of the year. (2013). 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

SWL Reception Report from LYR1289

I've been a ham a little over 20 years now and this is the "first" time I've received a "reception report" from a short wave listener. I quickly confirmed the contact because the time, date, and contact information is correct. I'm always happy to encourage anyone to delve into the ham radio aspect of the hobby. This brings back good memories of my childhood when I spent many hours listening to the short wave bands with my little "Knight Kit Star Roamer" receiver.

I wonder if there's a database that lists these call signs? Three letters and four numerals are certainly different from what I used to seeing.

This card came from Lithuania and I know I was getting into this part of the world at the time. Last night I worked a very familiar LY5O. During my later night contacts, I worked OK1PL in the Czech Republic.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tornado Alley in Oklahoma

Last night I worked N5DY in Stillwater Oklahoma and thought of the horrific storms they've been experiencing the last few weeks. This section of the "mid west" has always been know as "Tornado Alley". Many of residents living in this part of the United States build "storm shelters" in the floors of their homes; because it's not a matter of "if" severe weather will arrive in the summer months, it's a matter of "when" it will happen, and also specifically "where" a tornado will touch ground.  

Moore Oklahoma has been "hit" twice in the last several years and there's been catastrophic loss of both life and property on both occasions. Although this is only the very beginning of the summer season, the Oklahoma area seems to be a succession of raging storms. The quick QSO last night was just a "handshake", in radio terms, but it certainly made me think of how fortunate I am to live in a sheltered valley here in West Virginia.

The beginning of the "tornado" season, along with the "hurricane season" in the Gulf Coast is just arriving now. I hope and pray this season is a mild one; but all indicators seem to point in the other direction.

On the DX log:

My "awakening hour" was around 1PM again last night and I continued my daily DX QSO's with stations in  in the Ukraine, UR0VQ, the Netherlands PA4VHF, Poland SP6EIY and EA6NB in the Baleric Islands of Spain. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

LZ1534GWS in Bulgaria

The bands continue to puzzle me. I thought yesterday might be the last of my string on daily DX contacts. I was hearing next to nothing on the 30 meter band, or any others for that matter. I worked a "local" station on 17 meters who was running 700 watts. I think it's probably the ultimate "short band" contact, and then he disappeared into the noise within a couple of minutes.

I can't explain it, but I've always had a good path into Bulgaria. I've worked this country 12 times now. This particular "special event station" (LZ1534GWS) marks my fourth contact in this special series. This station is honoring the Bulgarian Saint Martyr Georgi Sofiskski.

Last night was no different from the other 8 weeks of back pain I've been experiencing for the last two months. I hobbled into the radio room around 1:30 am this time, and as I waited for the pain to ease up in my leg, I worked IK2DAD in Italy. I'm nearly certain that surgery is going to be my only cure for this disruptive and depressive malady. My next doctor appointment is on June 28th, when I will have a test to determine if the nerve has been permanently damaged. I also have an appointment with a physical therapist on the same day. I've pretty well accepted the fact that my hiking days are over; but I would be overjoyed if I could get back on the bicycle.

The additional contact into Bulgaria last night marks my 132nd day of working at least one DX station every day. (those are days when I'm at home here in Charleston)

As always, I particularly enjoyed adding the QRP @ 3 W in the "remarks section" of the "spot". I can't help but "crow" about the advantages knowing and using the CW mode compared to the SSB mode.

Working the "marine stations" with the SSB mode, got me less than a thousand miles. I make contacts regularly at 5,000 miles with Morse code. The difference is like night and day.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Museum Ships Weekend

It's very unusual for me to pick up a "microphone" but this weekend, I made an exception for the "Museum Ships on the Air" special event stations. This weekend, there were around a hundred vessels (tourist attractions now) on the air.  During WW 2, these old Battleships, Aircraft Carriers, Cruisers, Destroyers, and Submarines protected our shores and provided support for our troops. These were days when Morse codes was used daily for communications.  

I was a Signalman in the Tonkin Gulf and sent hundreds of messages to other Destroyers, Cruisers, and Aircraft Carriers with an incandescent "signal light" from the bridge of the USS Corry (DD-817). I was particularly interested in working the USS New Jersey because I distinctly remember her coming over the horizon on a dark cloudless night while I was on the signal bridge.  I could tell immediately it was a much larger ship that I have been accustomed to seeing by the distance between the bow and stern lights. 

It was "standard operating procedure" to "identify" and "challenge" every new ship we approached in the dark. We used a pre-arranged "exchange" and "response".

I'll never forget this particularly shocking exchange: 

I sent "halt, identify yourself, or be fired upon". The unidentified ship responded with "this is the USS New Jersey, fire at will". 

The band conditions were absolutely "horrible" yesterday. I heard the New Jersey but was never able to work her. I did, however work several ships, as well as some interesting "marine related stations".  

I worked W2WSC/WSC on both SSB and CW. Sadly, this was the only station I could find on the bands who was using CW; and I might add, the strongest I heard all day. It's a special Coastal Marine Broadcast Station in Westcreek NJ.

Here's the complete list on those I've worked yesterday and today. The entry at the top of the page (FY5FY) is another new DX station for me. #85