Virginia QSO Party

I got a few QSOs in for the Virginia QSO Party. Once again, life interrupted Ham Radio :-). I only had 39 QSOs this year, quite a few less than last year, but what I did was still fun. It’s one of the great QSO parties … pretty laid back, compared to some. Unless a station has a run going, they’re usually willing to have a few words with you.

So, Spring starts this week, and they’re predicting rain, sleet, and snow tonight and tomorrow. It’s a cold rain outside this evening, and it looks like the rest of the night is all downhill. I’m hoping for warmer weather by next weekend. I’m going on a Scout camp out with the Troop and hope to get in a bit of qrp portable operation while in the woods. Although we’ve had some nice days in the past couple of months, they were just that … days. No real spells of “outside” weather.

Well, I’ve got to import my contacts from N1MM into my log and email the Cabrillo log to the QSO party folks. After that, I think I’ll just relax and do some reading, Don’t get to do that as often as I like.

73 de Dick K4FTW

Antennas and One and Zeros

Digital modes are addictive. I’ve worked several days now of JT-9 and JT-65 and managed to pick up a few new states that had been elusive in the past. I tried a couple of different software programs and settled on WSJT-X with JT-Alert and linked everything to my DXLab software.

I was noticing a few tuning issues on my vertical antenna, so I finally went out to the back yard and checked it. It’s a 31-ft wire on a Jackite collapsible fiberglass pole and one of the sections had collapsed. I had a wire tie at each joint to keep that from happening, but I guess this one was not snug enough or had slipped. Anyway, to make a long story short, I re-extended the pole section and twisted it to lock it.SWR readings are back to normal now.  I’ll put another wire-tie on it when I get around to finding one :-).

Tomorrow is a Holiday — President’s Day, so maybe I’ll have a chance to get some operating accomplished. I did work a couple of stations in the ARRL International CW contest this weekend, but those don’t count as a ragchew, for sure!

73 de Dick

 

New modes (for me)

This weekend I was stuck in the house with a cold and feeling generally miserable, so I decided to look around at some of the digital modes I had never tried. I took a look at JT-65 and downloaded WSJT-X to give it a try. Lo and behold, it was really simple to set up and I worked MM0AMW.

I set up WSJT-X to work with DXView Commander, using my Signalink USB, and nothing could have been simpler. I did do a bit of reading beforehand, so I sort of understood what the heck I was doing, and the QSO was painless. I still have mixed feelings about JT-65 (and JT-9), but I have to admit, there was a bit of excitement when I saw MM0AMW come back to me. I think it’ll be added to my bag of tricks. It’s pretty interesting, even with a 13-character limit.

Other than that, not much happening. I’ll be so glad when this winter is over. The older I get, the more I seem to become a warm-weather creature.

73 and CUL,
Dick K4FTW

Brrr …

Boy it’s COLD. And that’s inside!

Just kidding. Our heat has been out here at the qth since last Friday and it’s Wednesday now … parts had to be ordered and have just arrived and should be installed today … Hopefully! We’ve been coping with space heaters and electric blankets for a while now.

I can’t believe I haven’t posted since last November, but it’s true. I really haven’t been on the air much. The holidays are always so hectic and work has been more demanding lately. I have worked a couple of W1AW/x stations since the first of the year, so I’m not totally off the air!

The WX has been so cold that no qrp portable operation has happened. It’s 18F outside with a wind chill of 3F, and 6 inches of dry snow on the ground. That’s a blizzard for coastal Virginia … Parts of Virginia Beach had ten inches! I think this is the coldest winter we’ve had for a long, long time.

Speaking of qrp/p, I think I’ve finally gotten everything sorted out for my go-kit. The last bit was a solar panel (Goal Zero Nomad 7). Not totally necessary but useful for when I’m camping “off-the-grid” for a week at a time during the summer.

This weekend, I’m off for Frostfest in Richmond, VA. A couple of ham friends and I are heading out at 5:30am for breakfast and the hamfest. It’s a little over an hour drive. I usually pick up a few odds and ends but I’m not planning anything major this year. I always seem to run into someone I haven’t seen for ages when I’m there. Should be a great day!

73 de Dick k4ftw

Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving morning, and I’m in the shack mostly just tuning around. Not hearing much except US and Caribbean stations. I did work the Polish DXPedition again on J88 this morning on 15 meters CW. I heard a couple of Caribbean stations on 10 meters, but couldn’t get them to answer me. They weren’t real strong, but I could copy them perfectly.

The solar predictions show good propagation today, but I’m not seeing it here so far. The lower bands seem quite noisy, but domestic signals are strong.

We’re heading over to the kids’ house for a family day in about an hour or so. I got up early this morning and made a batch of oyster dressing to take along. The wife is making a corn pudding and pea salad, the kids are doing the turkey and desserts, and the other folks are bringing side dishes. Maybe when I’ve eaten myself into a drowsy stupor by this evening I’ll check back and see what’s going on with the bands. Have a great holiday and I’ll see you on the bands.

73 de Dick K4FTW

CQ WW CW 2013

So … the CQ Worldwide CW is done for this year. I spent a bit of time participating, not so much to run up a big score, but more to catch a few new ones. I DID catch a bunch of new ones. I think the most surprising was Indonesia. He was just calling CQ … no pileup, no takers.

I uploaded my log right after the contest to LOTW, and checked today (Monday). Lots of band and mode confirmations, and 5 brand-new countries confirmed. Wow … that’s efficiency! Makes me wonder what the rest of the week will bring :-).

I found that even though there was lots of action, I kept my blood pressure under control. If I couldn’t bust a pileup with my 100 watts to a vertical, I just went away and worked somebody else, returning later and maybe working them … maybe not.

All in all, it was a fun and productive weekend. I had 280 QSOs and really enjoyed myself. Looking forward to the next one!

 

73 de Dick K4FTW

NAQCC November Sprint

I participated in my first NAQCC Sprint last night. It was a rather inauspicious debut. I only had two contacts … band conditions were pretty bad here at my qth … lots of qrn and not many signals. Twenty meters was dead and forty was not great. For a simple antenna and five watts, it was ok though. I’m looking forward to the next one, hopefully with better conditions.

73 de Dick k4ftw

Posted from WordPress for Android

The QRP Bug

I think I got bitten by a bug last week. I’ve mentioned that I was looking at a Ten Tec Rebel 506. Well, I had access to a QRP rig and did a bit of portable “in the woods”  operating last week. Wow, what FUN! It was almost like Novice operating again. I had so much fun, it convinced me to order a rig – but not the Ten Tec 506. I looked at a lot of rigs, kits, etc., and decided that bang-for-buck, I kept returning to the Ten Tec R4040 … 4 bands, 5+ watts, and not much bigger than a QSL card (but much thicker!). I’m still assembling “stuff” and building an antenna and hope to get it on the air from the boonies this weekend. I will hook it up to my home antenna this evening and give it a checkout, though.

r4040

73 de Dick K4FTW

Rig Nostalgia – the Good Old Days

I was just browsing some pictures on the web this evening and came across a photo of what my original receiver looked like as a Novice licensee. Actually I was a SWL even before that.

lafayette-he80

So I said, “Hey, maybe I can find a photo of my first transmitter.” So here it is!

dx100b_front

The Lafayette receiver and the Heathkit DX-100B transmitter served me well. I actually don’t remember what ever happened to them. I like to think I passed them on to another ham, but I draw a total blank … I have no idea where they went.

What I do remember, however, is the weight of that DX-100B. It had a huge transformer and weighed a ton! I remember that vividly … tubes and transformers — not built for portable operation. The antenna was an end-fed long wire. I haven’t a clue about what I used to tune it. I only had two crystals to start with … both in the 40 meter Novice band. Worked quite a few stations using that combo. Ah, the good old days!

 

73 de Dick K4FTW