My Most Recent QSO's

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Special Event News

The West Virginia Chapter of the NAQCC club had a delightful day at the Huntington Museum of Radio and Technology. Joining me above is (N8ZYA) on left and Joe (WA8SIE) from Charleston. In the bottom pictures are Bill (KB8QLG) from Sissonsville, WV and Steven (KC4URI) from Mineral Wells, WV



 This was the first time I've put a nine element Mosley beam behind a five watt QRP radio. The  results were both puzzling and amazing. I rotated the beam 360 degrees several times on 40 meters but only made a few contacts with KD3CA and WB3GMC in Pennsylvania and N4EDE in North Carolina. I heard very little on this band and soon came to the realization that I was shooting right over the heads of anything remotely thought of as "routine" contacts. By days end, I was able to work only six more United States stations WB0PYF, WD4EXI, K5BOT, KA2KGP, K4CQF,  in Missouri, Georgia, Texas, South Carolina, and New York.

This nine element beam was a totally different animal to me with it's directional characteristics but specific selectivity and sensitivity. I've mixed feelings about it's effectiveness for multiple short distance QRP contacts. I was forced to spent most of the day on the 15 and 20 meter bands with the hopes of working more stations. Upon the change to those bands:

I immediately worked VE3EDX in Thunder Bay Canada, and soon afterwards, I worked an unfamiliar "RL" call, which I knew was a Russian station, but an unknown new "prefix". I've worked Russia many times (20) but this was the first "RL" call I've heard and there's a good reason for it.

This "special event station" (RL22GM) was commemorating the 2014 Winter Olympic Games now being held in Sochi Russia! As time moved onward, I worked some more DX contacts which were very exciting for me.

I worked Italy twice during the next hour. The first station (I3UKY) was what I would call "normal DX" but the second Italian station was a real prize, not because it was the second contact in Italy, but because this station (I5NOC) was operating QRP at 5 Watts of power! Here's a confirmation e-mail from him:
Hello John,I confirm our qso on 15 meters 8-02 at 16,25 cw.My station is qrp by Elecraft KX3 only 5 wats and antenna 3 elements Hygain.Hope receive ur qsl via k3wwp,my qsl sure via bureau.Tks again for the qso and hope call you again.Best 73 and greetings from Italy...............ciao  I5NOC  Giampiero
The QRP station in Italy ((I5NOC) is the most distant 2 x QRP contact I've ever made at any time. The distance was 4,570 miles. 

We found this station from Poland (SP6JOE) to be an interesting catch. I asked for the name and he responded with, what else?,  "Joe".

Another contact was EA3DD in Spain

I'm somewhat disappointed in the number of club stations we worked while at this event but think it had more to do with poor 40 meter band conditions and a "beast" of an antenna in the hands of a new operator. Those two combinations demanded operation on the longer range bands.

I can't say enough about the Museum of Radio and Technology. We plan to operate there again during these cold winter months. They were the perfect hosts for us and we rejoiced in the fellowship of the operating staff which were there during the special event.

There were times when the radio room was actually crowded with those interested in the QRP event. The Tri State Amateur Radio Association held VE testing that morning and added three new ham to the HF portions of the hobby. There were also hams from other states wandering around the museum.

I found my old friend Bernies "refrigerator sized amplifier" in an adjacent room.  

The Museum of Radio and Technology also has dipole antennas. On our next trip, I'll use them to make more club QRP contacts. The beam had good and bad points. It brought us some great DX contacts but when right overhead of most local stations.

Friday, February 7, 2014

50 States

Here's a certificate I'm very proud to add to my NAQCC folder. The majority of my 50 state contacts were made with my indoor mounted Isotron antennas on either 40 meters or 20 meters. Alaska and Hawaii were two states I had doubts of ever working from my city location considering I'm forced to operate with stealth antennas. I worked those last two states with a 50 ft indoor random wire.

I'm also within a very short distance of my DXCC award now with 95 countries showing on the log book. I need to count all those in my "personal" log book since I started that log book a year or so before the QRZ book.

My Indoor Isotrons

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Huntington Museum of Radio and Technology

The Museum of Radio and Technology will be the operating location for the West Virginia Chapter of the North American QRP CW Club on Feb 8th, 2014. If you look closely, you will notice a nine element beam on the right side of their building. I'll be using it between the hours of 10 am till 2 pm.

The North American QRP CW Club has graciously given me permission to use their club call sign of  N3AQC for this event  .   

I've kept a link to the Museum of Radio and Technology on the right side of this blog since I began writing about ham radio. Its a fantastic organization and only about an hours drive from Charleston. There is no charge for admission but they have a voluntary donation box is located in the hallway. Official membership is an annual fee of $25 dollars.

This museum is one of the biggest (10,000 square feet) and best of it's type in America. This is the site of the Radio and Technology WV8MRT  club station and the club station for the Tri-State Amateur Radio Association . My gratitude goes to both these fine organizations which are allowing me to operate my QRP station from there.

You owe it to yourself to look at the "Ham Radio" sections of the Museum Site

The video at the top portion of the Museums opening page shows a workable "spark gap" transmitter and there are several pages of the web site devoted to hams who have lived in my home town of  Charleston WV.

Al Hicks (W8AH) worked an amazing 362 countries on the 40 meter band. "A feat nobody else anywhere has ever matched". Those QSL cards are on display at the Museum. His call sign is now used by the West Virginia DX Association  .   

A friend of mine, and also a silent key, Bernie Clark (W8PNR) built an amplifier which was so large that he enclosed in an an old refrigerator which is on display at the Museum. I never heard it on the air but I understand he was always 599 on every contact. One of our WV Chapter club members (W8GDP) and I always talked with Bernie on the Kanawha Amateur Radio Club  repeater on our morning commute to work.

We will be transmitting on, on close to, all the standard QRP frequencies from 40 meters to 10 meters. I'm looking forward to this "special event" from the Museum of Radio and Technology. I'll send an "electronic card" to those who request them.

This is primarily a NAQCC event but it's open to everyone. The exchange will be Call, Name, State and either NAQCC number, or if not a club member, your power level.

If I hear you, I'll work you.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Music from Hawaii

I've worked a little over 700 DX stations now but only 10 of them have been on the forty meter band. Moscow (RD3A) was an exceptional 40 meter contact, but most of my 40 meter contacts have been what I consider "close" for bouncing a signal off the Ionosphere. They've landed in Jamaica, Barbados, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and even France, Spain, Italy, Montenegro, and Germany.

Last night I worked another "good one" on the 40 meter band. I was running my customary three watts of power and using my indoor random wire antenna.


I was astounded to hear the signal of a Straight Key Century Club member in Volcano Hawaii on 7.054 MHz.  Max (KH6ZM) was running the K3Y/KH6 station and at 4,527 miles from Charleston, doing a fine job! In February and May of last year I was able to work another Hawaiian station (KH6LC) on both ten meters and 20 meters, but I never, in a million years, expected to work Hawaii on the forty meter band. This one is a real treat.

I've not been intentionally pursuing the K3Y stations, but now I've worked K3Y/1-2-4-5-8-KH6-KP4- EU and NA. I'll be listening a little more carefully now with the addition of the Hawaiian K3Y station.

I consider both Morse Code and Music to be universal languages. When I think of Hawaii, I often think of this song and this musician. Israel Kamakawi was a gentle giant who had amazing rhythm, a creative mind, and the ability to blend a soft voice along with a very smooth touch on a Ukulele. I think a telegraph key, in the hands of a good operator, can take on the same qualities.

Music is also a constantly evolving medium which changes over time. I've also been a fan of "Slack Key Guitar". It's an alternate tuning method which produces a very pleasing sound and options not heard with a normal guitar. In a way, it's like the difference between a straight key, an Iambic key, a bug, or a sidewinder. It's the same song but with a different voice. 

Marilyn and I have been to Hawaii several times and the video of the slack key guitar brought back good memories for me. The cattle mentioned in the video reminded me of a time we arose very early one morning and drove to the top of the mountain to watch the sunrise. Driving back that evening, I nearly hit a cow standing in the middle of the road hidden in the clouds. It was cold up there with temperatures right at freezing. 

We took a long hike down into into a  "cinder cone" which took most of that day. Dressing for it was a challenge. Dressed warmly at the beginning, I had a bad case of sunburn afterwards. The air was very thin up here at above 10,000 ft. Hiking back up was much harder than hiking down. Hihi