My Most Recent QSO's

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Hurricane Wave Pool Park Event

photo of XE1RK dog 

Dave Higley (KD8WA)  and I were sitting at a picnic table at the Wave Pool Park  in Hurricane West Virginia yesterday morning. We heard XE1RK  from Mexico City barking at around thirty words a minute . A lady from the park asked us if we had seen a little brown dog wandering around the grounds. Sorry to say but we were much too focused on the event at hand. I hope she finds the lost dog. 

The Mexico City station was the perfect example of "good operating procedures" when he immediately matched my sending speed of around 20 wpm. I'm sure that if I reduced my speed to 13 wpm, he would have gladly done the same. 

Dave (KD8WA) who was with me, has been an active SSB ham for many years but has now decided to enter the QRP CW fraternity. He is "testing the waters" so to speak. Twice today, we've worked DX stations which have "matched the sending speed of the inquiring station". Our other DX contact was 6Y5WJ in Jamaica, who by the way, was just as accommodating. 

I'm sure it was comforting for Dave to hear this "on the air" courtesy. I can remember those days very well from my early days using Morse Code. 

It was a beautiful day with temperatures supposedly reaching the lower 70 degree range. I don't think it quite made it while we were doing the event but perhaps close. The slight breeze made it feel a little cooler. 

We operated from around 10:15 am till 2:00 pm from this location. We used an end fed PAR antenna cut for 40-20- and 10 meters. The leafless trees made getting the antenna about 35 ft into the air a quick event. 

We worked 19 stations at our event yesterday. 

Some of the highlights yesterday was working our club President N8XMS who was 599 from Michigan and N4KGL in Florida who was using an "Alex Loop" from a portable location. We also had great signals from W7GVE in Arizona, KC0DD in Iowa, and it's always good to hear Don (KD3CA) in Pennsylvania.  

Information from K1SWL (nice call) has me listening for two hikers in New Hampshire this morning. I've previously worked both W3ATB and W1PID in "hiking mode". On our last NAQCC field event I heard them both working a station in France. (It doesn't get any better than this). 

Yesterdays event brought back the true joy of operating from a field location. Simplicity at its best with an added addition of "adjusting the sending speed to the inquiring station". Yesterdays event makes me proud to not only be a NAQCC operator, but also to be a member of such a unique fraternity of CW ops. 

Stations worked yesterday were: 


Saturday, December 5, 2015

One Thousand Consecutive DX Contacts !

Our club member John Shannon (K3WWP) and former NAQCC Vice President reached a milestone on November 25th, 2015.

Many of us have been following retired NAQCC VP John, K3WWP’s, amazing and inspirational QRP QSO streaks. John is currently in his 22nd year of making at least one QRP CW QSO per day using simple wire antennas.

That’s right, not a single day missed in over 21 years

Absolutely amazing!

On November 25th he reached a significant milestone on his DX sub-streak - 1000 consecutive days making at least 1 QRP CW DX QSO using simple wire antennas!

You can read all about this great accomplishment in the Member Submissions section of the NAQCC December newsletter.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Santa Clause on the Radio

Santa Clause should be moving full speed now with the holiday season fast approaching. Two years ago, I found him testing his wings and the new rig on a pre-flight in the skies over Finland. I'll be listening closely this year for another broadcast. I hope you will be able to make a contact too. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Special Event from Cedar Lakes in WV

Steve Ashcraft (KC4URI) met me yesterday at the Cedar Lakes Conference near Ripley WV. We operated a NAQCC Special  Event Station and worked fourteen stations between 10:30 am and 1 pm. I used an end fed PAR antenna up about 40 feet and my Icom 703 during the event.

It was comforting to hear and work stations from the South of Georgia and North to New Brunswick in Canada. Thirteen of the fourteen stations I worked were NAQCC members and I talked the lone station in Indiana into joining our group. I considered it a great day!

I found our club member F6HKA, who lives in France, talking to a couple of QRP hikers here in the United States. I patiently waited for the end of his QSO and threw out my call sign. He came back to me, on the first attempt, and gave me a 569 report.

We had a very nice QSO about operating from a picnic table here in West Virginia. I knew he was a club member but he proudly informed me of his membership in the NAQCC Club. We talked about the beautiful day with temperatures near 24 (C) and the joy of operating QRP from a picnic table. I needed to return to Charleston and he needed to eat dinner so we ended the QSO and wished each other a great evening.

This little critter seems to enjoy listening to CW. Time after time again, it walked across the radio or my hands as I sent CW.

Stations worked yesterday were: KI4KXO KD2JC KA0ENU N2CX W8GDP K3JZD N2JJF K1AVE WA4SPJ AJ4SB KM3D W9PP VE1MAM F6HKA 

Friday, October 30, 2015

NAQCC Florida Chapter QSL Card

I love a well designed QSL card and was happy to receive this one from our Florida Chapter Special Event station. I worked Steve with 5 watts while he was sitting at a picnic table in New Smyrna Beach. There's nothing more fun than operating "portable".

Sunday, August 30, 2015

N3AQC Special Event Station from the Sky View Radio Society

One of the great joys of QRP is the ability to operate from different locations quickly and easily. Most of us keep our rigs and necessary connections at hand to move at a moments notice.

I worked John Shannon ( K3WWP) from the Sky View Radio Society club site in New Kensington, PA this morning. John was using the club call N3AQC while on the air. I immediately spotted him on the web and it sounds like he is having a great time.

What a beautiful operation site!

The Sky View Radio Society Antenna Farm 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

WV QRS Net on August 6, 2015

One of my weekly responsibilities for the NAQCC Club is to run a QRS (slow code) net on Wednesday nights. With the exception of when there's a conflict with another club activity; you can find me on the air at 0100 GMT (9 pm local time) on 40 meters. (7.117 MHz)

This is an important project to get those with minimum code speed an opportunity to "get their feet wet" so to speak. I remember those days quite well, and I'm sure all the DX'ers in our club remember those days well too. I don't know about you, but until my retirement, I never reached the "entry speed" for successful DX work of 20 words per minute. That's a minimum in my opinion.  

Becoming a good CW operator is a long process for most people; hence the necessity of "taking the time" to encourage newbies to try their hand with a telegraph key. My time running this net is a sacrifice I'm willing to make as I make the painfully slow "code speed" available to the new folks. Last night most of my contacts were around 10 words per minute.

For those of us who "grew up" with CW as a necessity for even getting "on the air", we often take our current skills for granted. It should not be so....

After 25 years of Morse code QRP; I still find the same excitement when working a new station, whether it be across town or 1,000 miles on my slow code 40 meter (QRS) net. Last night was such an occasion.

Earlier in the evening I was hearing a station in Barbados quite clearly along with a strong station in Venezuela.  I was hoping the band was going to be "long" last night. It was....

Propagation was nearly perfect into the Caribbean area as it neared sunset.

Much to my amazement during the net, a station from Cuba  burst into the speaker with a near perfect signal from a thousand miles distance.

I admire the Cuban hams because the process of becoming a ham is much more stringent than here in the United States. Looking closely at his biography on, it's quickly apparent that Rafael Castellon Machado (CO8RRM) "built" the transmitter he was using last night; and he knew how to use it.

I've made contact with Rafael several times over the last few years but never had a DX station check into my QRS net. He wished me happy DX and the feeling goes both ways. Ham radio us such an amazing hobby isn't it?

It gives us the ability to be ambassadors, in a small way, to all the world.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

August NAQCC Newsletter Now Online

The current edition of the NAQCC Newsletter in now available for viewing. Join us in the fun of operating QRP and the method of Morse code. Membership is absolutely free.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Little Time for Writing

It's been months since I wrote on this blog. Thankfully, I've always been a very adaptable person. Time is a precious commodity these days; there's never enough of it.

I've shifted my focus on this blog from writing about my contacts and working DX stations. These days, I spend my time doing the best I can to market ham radio to beginners, and especially promoting Morse code. This blog has become primarily about the NAQCC Club.

IMHO (yes I'm biased) the NAQCC is the finest group of volunteers I've been around in my 25 years as a ham radio operator. Let me tell you why.

The main reason I'm such an advocate for this club (I'm the VP) is that we're doing all this work for "free". We don't think membership in our group should entail any kind of "fee" for participating in our activities. It takes a group of around 30 people to volunteer their time and efforts to keep this show on the road. We do this work because we all feel that QRP,with Morse code, is the most challenging and rewarding aspect of the ham radio hobby.

The beginning of every month starts our with a great (free) newsletter  to our members which is published online by our club President Paul Huff. (N8XMS) Paul does a magnificent job with this newsletter; and also puts in countless hours steering our ship on the right course.

We have several activities every month to challenge our members to improve their Morse code skills. We have our own operating event (sprint) which is specifically geared towards slower speeds. We encourage the use of a "straight key".

We also have slow speed QRS nets, from many different parts of the country, and different times and days of the week. If you want "on the air" practice, we have just the thing for you. As a matter of fact; we have an entire department devoted to CW Assistance

Working QRP CW is always a challenge. It's requires skill, persistence, and sometimes just plain old "luck", but I still find the same excitement and satisfaction, after 25 years, as the day I made my first contact. For those "special contacts" and "accomplishments" we offer a variety of awards.  

I'm very proud of this club and encourage everyone to pursue the QRP CW mode of operation.

Although I find little time for writing on this blog now, you can follow me from the NAQCC website.

I write a summary of the West Virginia events on the monthly newsletter.

If you're not a member of the NAQCC club; I hope you will consider joining our group. Membership is absolutely FREE. (tell them you heard about the club from me)

I'll continue to write on this blog; but not on a regular basis. I simply have too many activities and family obligations which keep me from doing so.

Happy Trails!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A New DX Station in Martinique #112 .

Just when I thought all the Caribbean stations are worked, another unexpected contact yesterday, with this island just North of St. Lucia. I've not had much time on the air lately so this was a welcome addition to the log book. The Island of Martinique  makes my 112th DX station worked with five watts or less of power with the indoor random wire.

I continue to be amazed at the power of Morse Code. I stand by the phrase "the most efficient mode of communication ever devised that is decipherable with only the human ear". A simple transmitter and receiver using Morse Code is worth it's weight in gold. My antenna a indoor random wire about 50 feet long in a spare upstairs room. I've worked thousands of stations and still have much fun even after 25 years of QRP.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The NAQCC April Challenge

I keep a clock in my shack to commemorate the last "maritime transmission" to "ships at sea" in America. This is an inexpensive clock and can easily be converted into an "Atomic Clock". The instructions and a video is here. My sincere thanks to John (W3JAR) for the link for this project.

I've become quite fond of the monthly challenges of the NAQCC club. This certificate is for completing the March "Sports" Challenge! I enjoy completing these every month.

The "challenge" is to make words out of the call signs of the stations you've worked during the month. You can find instructions and tutorials at this web site.

The game changes every month. I've found using DX stations is a much quicker solution to the puzzle. I've already completed this months challenge. The theme this month revolves around the last CW transmission of the "maritime" stations. This was a " night to remember ".

This is not a difficult game to complete. As a matter of fact, you can easily complete this game by using DX contacts. I'm amazed at the DX contacts possible with only 5 watts of power and a simple wire antenna. The trick is being able to send a receive CW at around 20 wpm.

DX can be misleading and intimidating to newcomers but with practice, you can recognize and return your call sign and signal report in a "quick exchange". Although not always, 99% of DX is "thank you and 599".

You can do this....and it's FUN ! 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Nice QSO with Belgium Station

How often do you have an actual "QSO" with a DX station? If you're like me, not very often; but Nico (ON7NDR) drew me out of the noise this afternoon. We exchanged the standard "QSO" information. While looking at each others BIO on the web, and making comments; we wished each other a Happy Easter and glad tidings.

I followed up with an e-mail and look forward to hearing back from him. I sent this link to him from my blog: It's a TRUE random wire!

The short "video" explains it much better than I could describe it to anyone. As they say; a picture is worth a thousand words. According to the meter on my "tuner" my output is about three watts. This was fun!

Ham radio is such a great thing for friendship and fellowship on a world class level. Isn't this a great hobby?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

2015 Charleston Hamfest

For the second year, I gave a power point presentation at the Charleston Hamfest. I love the opportunity to stand in front of a "captive audience" and talk about the NAQCC Club. Like last year, I gave away a "dual band handi-talkie" which was randomly drawn from  those listening to the presentation.

John Shannon (K3WWP) graciously gave me the use of his NAQCC banner again this year. The banner makes a nice "focus point" for those attending the hamfest. I'd highly recommend talking to John if you're talking about the NAQCC club in your home town. It's a great promo item! I also gave out my "club cards" to those were interesting in us.

The presentation was well received. If you recall, last year I actually set up my QRP station and used a simple dipole to make DX contacts in Denmark, Germany and France while at the hamfest.

This was a very busy day for the WV Chapter. Eric (AC8LJ) provided food and beverages to us at his home at noon, and for that reason, I actually left the hamfest after my presentation. My wife and I had another obligation at the University of Charleston in the early evening hours. We're both active in a senior "bridge" group. We had dinner and played cards  until around 10 PM.

Much to my surprise, I had a message on the answering machine from the Hamfest committee when we returned from playing bridge. To my utter amazement, I was awarded the "Kanawha Valley Amateur Radio Operator of the Year 2015 Award". 

I'm very proud to display this nice plaque on my ham shack wall. 

This plaque is the result of our group efforts here at the WV Chapter. I would not have received this award if not for the support of our members. Our "core group" here in Charleston is devoted to moving forward as the spring season arrives. My thanks to all involved in our Chapter. I would not have received it without their support.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Charleston Hamfest Award

My sincere thanks to the Chalreston Hamfest Committee for the "Kanawha Valley Amateur Radio Operator of the Year 2015 Award"  

This award caught me totally by surprise. The last two years I 've done a "power point presentation" about QRP and CW at this hamfest. Last year at this hamfest, I set up and made QRP contacts using a simple wire antenna (dipole) to Denmark, Germany, and Spain. My presentation is always focused on the NAQCC Club.

It's been a good two years for the West Virginia Chapter of the NAQCC Club. We plan to be around for many more years!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Nice Card from Poland

I like a well designed card. I was able to work this station a couple of day ago on the 30 meter band.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The ARRL DX CW Contest on 40 Meters

I made some interesting contacts this weekend during the ARRL International CW Contest.  I added TI5W in Costa Rica and PW0F (an island off the coast of Brazil) to my DXCC log book. These two new stations bring my total DX count to one hundred eleven. 

I've never heard the 40 meter band so active! Almost half of my contacts were on this band. My first group of 40 meter contacts on the 21st (made in a little over an hour) were with the  Slovak Republic, Poland, Germany, Slovenia, and Romania. On the 22nd (in about an hour) I worked Slovenia, Italy,Croatia, Africa, Serbia and the Czech Republic. 

I'm overjoyed to make such unexpected DX contacts with my simple station. As always, I used five watts of power and an indoor Isotron Antenna  on the 40 meter band. 

I've used this 40 meter antenna for almost 25 years now. At one time I had three of these wired together (the above picture) but I sold the 80 meter version since I seldom use that band. I still use the 40 and 20 meter versions when traveling. Both these antennas are easily set up in a matter of minutes. All it takes is a painters pole and a few bungee cords. 

The Isotron antenna is often called "The Bird House" because it's similar in size. It's a controversial antenna but in a restricted antenna area, it's brought me good results. I seriously doubt any of the stations I worked, at over 5,000 miles this weekend on 40 meters, had the slightest idea I was using such a simple antenna and running  QRP  power. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

N3AQC Special Event Results from the Huntington Radio Museum

My thanks go out to the Huntington Museum of Radio and Technology  and all the fine folks in that organization; along with the Tri State Radio Association.

I worked stations in Belarus, Russia, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, Canada, and Africa along with 12 Club members from the United States. I had a lot of fun in the brief time I had at the Museum of Radio and Technology in Huntington West Virginia. My little Icom 703 running 5 watts of power functioned perfectly. I also used my favorite Vibroplex square racer for this event. I love the magnetic controlled tension of this key.

I've created the above card for the Special Event Station and uploaded it to the electronic QSL site on the web. (e-QSL) For those without the free account, I've sent an e-mail with the attached copy and the details of the contact.  I've entered all my contacts on my web log. Now I'm waiting on the return cards.

This was a fun event and I look forward to making this an annual event for the West Virginia Chapter of the NAQCC  club. There's some of the finest radio equipment in the world at this museum, If you're interested in any kind of electronics, this is a "must see" building.

Monday, February 9, 2015

February 14th 2015 N3AQC Special Event

The West Virginia Chapter of the NAQCC Club  will once again be transmitting from the Museum of Radio and Technology  in Huntington WV on the 14th of Feburary, 2015. We will be using the club call sign N3AQC  from 10 am till 2 pm. (1500Z - 1900Z). I hope our visit to this museum will always be an annual event for our West Virginia Chapter. This was a fun event last year

This museum is a "treasure chest" of not only ham radio gear, but is a fascinating place to view a variety of electronic radio equipment. The "ham shack" has special significance to the hams in the Charleston WV area. First of all, local ham W8AH (SK) worked 362 countries on 40 meters from his home station in Charleston. His QSL cards are here and a personal friend of mine, Bernie Clark W8PNR (SK) also has an enormous home brew amplifier here.

I'll be using my Icom 703 at 5 watts of power into either the nine element beam or an array of dipole antennas. We will transmit on or near the QRP segments of the bands but will focus on 40 and 20 meters. Should you work us, please spot us on either the NAQCC "members on the air" or "QRP Spots".

For our chapter members and friends in's quite easy to work you with a nine element beam and 5 watts of power on the 20 meter band. Listen for us....

QSL by e-QSL per N8ZYA

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I Caught a Fox this Evening on 40 Meters.

Sometimes a "fox" will just "pop" right up in front of you at the most surprising time. That's the way "fox's are....sly creatures and very clever. They hide themselves and trick the hounds into believing they are some where they aren't. Anytime they're on the run, it makes for a good chase.

Such was this evening when I unexpectedly found Dave (N1IX) sending 5 watts from New Hampshire. He was leading the "hunters"  for a wild ride on the 40 meter band. It took several attempts for me to find his "listening frequency"- but when I did, I was rewarded quickly for a job well done.

Dave (the fox this evening) is also NAQCC member #1130. 

I was searching for stations to complete the "groundhog" challenge this evening when I unexpectedly stumbled onto Dave, sending "fox" and "up"- which meant somewhere, and someplace, secretly above the transmitting frequency. A former Navy Submarine Radioman, Dave graduated at the top of his CW class with a sending speed of around 30 wpm. He was doing a fine job.

If you've never chased the "fox", be sure look for him on their web site. "QRP Fox Hunting"  All the directions are there for a very good run!

Monday, February 2, 2015

The February Groundhog Challenge

It's time to spell out the names of famous groundhogs in the NAQCC Monthly Challenge!
Improve your Morse Code skills and have fun at the same time. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

ZS2DL in South Africa is my 108th DXCC Station

My focus for the last couple of months has been the NAQCC monthly challenge and this month  the "challenge" is to work stations whose call letters spell out "Happy New Year"-  in seven different languages. I've decided to use as many DX stations as possible to complete this months game. 

Using 5 watts of power is interesting when working those long distance stations. Along with a bit of luck, it takes a special skill to get a station to hear you at more than 5,000 miles,  This contact was one I will remember for a long time. Straight line distance to this station in Port Elizabeth, South Africa is 8,465 miles.

I usually watch a DX cluster and "filter" a specific band when I'm "hunting". This evening it was the 30 meter band which is limited to "Morse Code" and transmit power of 200 watts. Being a QRP operator, this band is radio paradise.

More than anything else, I happened to "be at the right place at the right time".  As I tuned around the band, I heard a distinct Z letter, and strong too. I was expecting a L to follow but the following letters didn't sound right. (most of the time these guys are sending around 25 wpm)  After hearing a station work him here on the east coast, I correctly copied the remaining last letters and realized the second letter was a S.

I figured all was lost when I saw the "first" post on the DX cluster, (this is usually the nail in the coffin when a rare station appears to a QRP operator) - and sure to follow, a half dozen stations immediately called him. He was transmitting simplex but the second station to work him tuned "down" instead of "up". As the third station called, all others followed the traditional "up" 1 procedure.

I remained "down" 1 and worked him easily with about 3 watts.

I finished my "challenge" for January today (the 10th) with an impressive amount of DX stations in the log book. Completing the challenge for this month was an amusing game. The solution called for 84 letters from the combination of 20 different letters. (ABDEGHIJKMNOPRSTUVWY)

I used DX stations for 58 letters and I've logged three new DXCC countries this month.  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

My 2014 Summary of the Year

In summary of last year, I've reached a point in my life where my enjoyment of QRP radio is something I want to share with all my friends and family. Ham radio, IMHO, is the greatest hobby in the world. I sincerely wish more people would enter the hobby and meet the fine folks we all know, blog with, and talk to on the air everyday. There's something for everyone in this hobby.

Spare time is at a premium this year but I still love every radio minute. I've been a ham nearly 25 years now and still find the same enthusiasm for the hobby as I did the day I made my first contact. The older I get, the more important I find keeping the mind sharp is essential for a happy life. I can't think of a better "senior" exercise than Morse Code to keep the old brain functioning.

I wasn't on the air as much in 2014, as the year before, but I still managed to work an average of at least one station a day; my total contacts for the year of 2014 was actually 413 QSOs, and I enjoyed every one of them. My log book now has 2,847 entries with 505 NAQCC members and a total of 816 DX contacts. I actually worked a couple of new DXCC countries on Christmas eve this year which brought my total to 107. I'm amazed every day that I work DX with QRP power and an indoor random wire antenna. Last year I put my QRP rig behind an enormous beam antenna, but found working DX like shooting fish in a bucket. Where's the challenge?

I challenge all those who work those long distance stations with a KW and a massive antenna to experience the exhilaration of doing the same thing with 5 watts and a piece of random wire. Twice this year, with stations in Japan and Slovenia, I've had DX stations "stop" a "pile up" after seeing my "cluster post" with "QRP" in the remarks section. (I never send QRP at the end of my call sign when working a long distance DX station). When a sending station takes that extra minute to acknowledged me with a return call (they're actually calling me) a few moments afterwards, the congratulatory "well done" brings me the greatest sense of accomplishment in all of radio land.

I've had more responsibilities with the family this year. My dad is now 94 years old and still living independently and still driving his car. One of my grand kids is learning to drive now, and the others are involved in sports. My youngest grand son will begin school soon. Four cats and a small dog also keep me busy. The dog rules....

I took the position of VP and Treasurer of the NAQCC  club this year. I'm the leader of the West Virginia Chapter and try to schedule an outing each month. We have a breakfast meeting each month. I do a weekly QRS net and write a monthly article about the WV activities for the club newsletter . I also do a monthly mass e-mailing highlighting the "monthly challenge ".

I knew I would not be on the air as often this year when I took on the responsibilities of the Vice Presidency of the club. It was a conscious decision and I have no regrets. I hope to use the position as a way to to share my hobby with more and more people through the NAQCC club. Some of the ways I've learned to maximize my diminished "air time" is by using a laptop or my tablet when I'm traveling out of town. The learning experience has actually been a good thing.

When I'm traveling and can't take the QRP rig with me, I use a CW program on the laptop and send dots and dashes to hams all over the world. I enjoy using "software defined receivers " on the web to keep track of activity on the bands. There's also a variety of ham radio programs on the web which I enjoy when using the laptop. All these options fit well with my basic philosophy of portability and QRP radio.

The winter months are a bit too cold for much outdoor activity now, but as soon as the opportunity presents itself, you can be sure I'll be doing more camping. I had forgotten the joy of watching the stars from the woods and chatting with friends on the 40 meter band. Despite my age, I've learned how to tolerate the hard surface of the ground while camping. It's a small price to pay considering the sights and sounds of nature all around me. Yes...even bears, bobcats and coyotes.

Staying connected to the earth is a wholesome and worthy activity. Simplicity and QRP radio fit my basic philosophy of keeping everything "as simple as possible". I'm looking forward to the year 2015.

Even though I may not be on the "air" as often this year, I still find this hobby the best in the world. My advice to everyone about ham radio, in the forthcoming year, would be the phrase coined by W2LJ -- "do more with less".  Doing so, you will find, is a great pleasure. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Club Puzzle Brings Some New DXCC Countries

How many times have you asked yourself if you've worked about "everything" you can get out of five watts and a simple wire antenna? I know I did when I received my DXCC award a few months ago. I had resigned myself to that illusion and decided, from here on out, to just enjoy long QSO's with old, and new friends. I was, and still am, happy with that decision. My current logbook is full of those call signs with a little * beside them.

I'm still in that mode, but as I began a new game originated and produced by the NAQCC Club two months ago, I found myself, again, scanning the DX clusters to complete what Gary Meyan (K1YAN) of Plymouth Massachusetts calls "The Monthly Challenge" .  


The object of the game is to complete a series of "words" which revolve around a common monthly theme. The theme changes every month. To complete the game (or challenge)  you use the letters of the station call signs you've worked while you're on the air.

Here's how it works: Tutorial Explanation

I know, with my station at least, DX competition is really tough when forced to operate QRP with an indoor antenna. In my case, that means a 50' piece of Radio Shack speaker wire which is routed around the perimeter of an upstairs bedroom.

These two new stations make my 107th DX contact.

Getting back to the "challenge"....I was looking for the last few letters in the game when I decided to bring up the DX clusters and "see" what was out there. My worksheet only needed a few more letters for completion.

In November, the theme worked around the names of food on the Thanksgiving Day table. In December, the theme was "Marconi" (the father of radio). If you've never tried this game, you have no idea what you're missing. It will encourage you to "get on the air" and even chase a little DX at times. I'm still enjoying long QSO's on the air, but it's also a good excuse to chase DX.