My Most Recent QSO's

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Buro Cards

For a brief moment I though my vision was blurring as I pulled these cards out of the envelope. The top two cards are from a Special Event in Austria. The next three are from a Special Event in Bulgaria. The bottom two are from Slovenia and the Caribbean. 

Cards From the 8th Buro 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


It's taken a while, but when I finished tallying up my countries, there were 102 countries in the DXCC logbook a few nights ago. I had just sent in my WAS (worked all 50 states) data in February, and received my certificate for that award, just a few weeks ago.

It's taken me about three years to achieve both these awards, with never more than 5 watts of power, and indoor "stealth" antennas. My immediate neighbors still don't know I'm a ham radio operator, and since I live in a historic area, where outside antennas are prohibited, I consider that a good thing. lol

I worked nearly all of my WAS contacts (48) with my Isotron antennas on either 40 meters or 20 meters. Alaska and Hawaii were my two most difficult states; I worked those with a 50 ft length of "Radio Shack" speaker wire which I strung around the perimeter of a spare room in the house. The wire runs from my tuner, across the windows, which have wooden curtain rods, across the hallway, over the top of an "open" wooden door, and is tied off the the "downstairs" wooden stair railing. It's a tough way to do it, and it's a true "random wire", but I've enjoyed every minute of the challenge it took to work those 102 countries.

How did I work DXCC (100 different countries) with such simple antennas, and such a simple station? I attribute my DXCC award to two specific things. Number one was the ability to get my code speed into the 20+ wpm range. Number two was being able to string that "random wire antenna" which allowed me to use "all bands" through my small tuner. 

The process accelerated a little before September of 2012 when I started using "dedicated band dipoles" for my DX contacts. My indoor "upstairs" space is very limited but I'm able to stretch out a dipole for 10 meters and 15 meters. Those two dipoles barely hang between the wooden curtain rod, on one side of the house, and the bathroom window sill, on the opposite side of the house. This picture below shows my "end fed" 10 meter antenna. The 15 meter dipole antenna requires an "open door" and an extended length to the bathroom window frame.

Those two antennas work well on those bands (even indoors) but the 50 foot random wire, which allows me easy access to the 17, 12, and especially the 30 meter band, were the true deciding factors in my DXCC award.

What are my immediate goals now?

There's DXCC on a "single" band, working the "capitol cities" of every country and state, or perhaps working DXCC with "outside antennas" while operating in the field. I'm not sure what it will be now that I have the QRP DXCC award but I'm sure something will soon grab my attention.

The North American QRP CW Club has always been my favorite organization. I hope my addition of the NAQCC DXCC QRP Award will be an inspiration to those of our members who think working over a 100 different countries with five watts, or less, of power and "simple wire antennas" is impossible.

Those 17, 12, and 30 meter contacts were actually done with about 3 watts of power. Never say the word "never" when I comes to QRP. I've been an optimist when it comes to my QRP operations. I'm looking forward to the next challenge, whatever it might be.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Our Club Activity at the Charleston Hamfest

Last year, in 2013, before the WV Chapter of the NAQCC Club was established, I set up my QRP station at the Charleston Hamfest and worked several DX stations in Eastern Europe with just a few watts of power. I used a simple "dedicated band" dipole antenna. It drew a lot of interest from many people. I was invited back, this year, to do a special QRP forum.

On March 15th, I saw this new opportunity, as a way for our new West Virginia Chapter to share our enthusiasm for QRP CW radio and especially the NAQCC club.

I’m very grateful to John Shannon (K3WWP) for the use of his banner. It looked great sitting on top of the table and was a good focal point for conversation. I’m also very grateful to the staff of the Charleston Hamfest for allowing us this opportunity to highlight our NAQCC club.

The hamfest committee provided me with a small dual band HT, to give away at the end of my presentation! I had those attending the talk put their tickets in my hat and had a little girl draw the winning call sign.  This went over VERY well and allowed me a captive audience.

Our club members Eric (AC8LJ) and Steven (KC4URI) helped me with both the presentation and the “club table” at the event. We were also joined by Jeff (K9ESE) and Jim (NX8Z). In addition to these members of the “core group”-  I met a few more members of the NAQCC club. It was nice to see Lonnie (KY8B) # 5043 and Bill (WR8S) #6608, who by the way, has a great idea for a future highlight of the club.

Bill (K3QEQ) # 1426 introduced himself to me. We were having a nice conversation about QRP, and the new chapter, and when he offered me his QSL card, I immediately realized we had previously worked many years ago. I remembered the exact CW conversation, which by the way, lasted nearly an hour at the time. We’re both Navy vets, and as old sailors, we exchanged several sea stories.

The longer I continue CW operations, the more I realize how many of us served our country when asked, and are still very proud, not only our own efforts, but of all those who served in difficult times.

Just a few weeks earlier, I had some new “business cards” printed myself (radio is now my second career) and I exchanged mine for his. 

By the way, for those who may choose to do so, you can get 250 of these for $14.95 from an internet site. E-mail me and I will send you the link. I altered the card a bit for internet display, but you can get the jest of it below. 

I especially like the “back side” of the card.  

My presentation emphasized the fun of operating radio in the field and our preference for simple wire antennas. I made sure the NAQCC club was portrayed as a enthusiastic group dedicated to the art of Morse Code. I talked about our monthly sprints, newsletter, our award programs, and our monthly challenges. I emphasized our willingness to help new Hams struggling with the art of Morse Code, and a preference for using slow straight keys among several other aspects of the hobby. 

I also had a great conversation with Geoff Boorne who is the curator of the Huntington Museum of Radio and Technology. I still thinking of  that great nine element beam our club used last month. I’m looking forward to receiving their next newsletter since I applied for membership in that organization. They also have a functional QRP station there now along with a fan dipole. (hint) 

At the end of the day, I had the names and e-mails of 20 people who attended my power point presentation. I personally had a good time, and with the help of the “core” group of our members, it was a successful event.