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

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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

 

CQ WW SSB

Wouldn’t you know it … I had plans to spend the weekend on the air, but  they just didn’t pan out. Thursday, I noticed a little tickle in my throat, Friday it was a bit worse, and then Saturday, I didn’t have any voice (well, I did but it sounded like a croak). By the way, SSB requires a voice modulating the carrier. 🙁

So … it was not to be. I did make 13 contacts, and at least three of those were new countries, so the weekend wasn’t a total bust. Hopefully the CW portion coming up will give me better luck … no voice needed if I have another cold.

73 de Dick K4FTW

More QSO Party

I worked a few stations on both CW and PHONE in the New York QSO Party on Saturday evening on 40 and 80 meters. Some were pretty strong and I got a couple of comments that I had a good signal into New York. That always makes me feel good when someone makes a comment like that :-).

Earlier, I went to the QCWA Chapter 119 lunch. Met a lot of great guys and matched up some faces and calls. The program was by Stu, WA4JUO, on his trip to China. He really made some interesting points and gave a lot of insight into not just ham radio there, but society in general. It was quite enjoyable. The 80 meter Chapter net is tomorrow (Sunday) morning, so I’ll check in there before heading out to church.

Hope to get a little more air time on the bands tomorrow afternoon and evening. Today has been a gray day with showers, but tomorrow is supposed to be sunny with a high of 64F.

73 de Dick K4FTW