PA QSO Party

The Pennsylvania stations were booming in down here. Forty and eighty had some 59+ signals. I worked quite a few on Phone, and found it to be a fun experience. For every op that sounded like he was in it to win, there were lots of others that were pretty laid back and having a great time. It was a tossup as to mode — cw or phone — but it had been a while since I worked phone and there were a lot more phone stations on than cw.

I’m still working on 80 with a 40 meter antenna, and getting pretty good results, but I think it’s time to bite the bullet and upgrade the Carolina Windom to 80 meters. All it should take is more wire (and some creative ways to support the ends). I think maybe some more fiberglass poles are in my future :-).

So it’s been a pretty fun weekend, and it’s not over yet. We’ve had 5 days and nights of rain, so when that’s over and done, maybe I can work on that antenna. I’m still looking at a Ten Tec Rebel 506, and eventually I should be able to convince myself I really need it :-). The open design and qrp operation do intrigue me though. We’ll see.

73 de Dick K4FTW

What’s New

The short answer is “Not much.” I have had so many things going on other than ham radio that it’s had to take a back seat. Work has been very busy, trying to resolve issues with an 800 MHz trunked system. I think we have a handle on what’s going on now, though.

I don’t know if I mentioned it before, but I am pretty heavily involved in Scouting, and the Troop I work with has several camping trips coming up in the next month, and I’ve been working with the boys planning those. I’m also getting my course materials together to work with them on their religious awards. Busy!

Hopefully, I’ll get some time in on the radio this weekend. Bought a new cooking stove and refrigerator this week, and it’s supposed to be delivered on Friday, so I’ve taken the day off to be there for the delivery. Maybe I’ll get on during the wait.

I’ve also been looking pretty closely at the new Ten Tec Rebel 506 QRP, open source transceiver. That really interests me. An affordable SDR radio. Hmmm …

73 de Dick

Progress report

All in all, the bands have been in pretty good shape lately. Good openings on those above 20 meters, and the usual suspects 20 meters and down. I’ve certainly enjoyed listening and operating after work in the evenings.

There’s a solar storm going on now, so I’m not sure what the bands will be like tonight. I’ve got a radio club meeting tonight with dinner beforehand, so I doubt that I’ll get much chance to try operating this evening. But, I’ll at least check the bands. Just like a fisherman, you never know what you’ll catch until you put your line into the water :-).

I was just thinking the other evening … yeah, sure, I miss the operating with a few hundred watts and a tribander at 75 feet when I was exotic DX, but I’m having lots of fun with my height-challenged Windom and 31-ft vertical at ground level. I guess it’s all relative … even with limited antennas I’m doing a lot better than those with a license and no antenna (thus, no operating :-(). I’m not a fanatical op, spending hours every night at the rig, but I do enjoy it when I have a chance to get on the air … and, I do snag a few good ones.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that you can’t work ’em unless you get on the air. Good operating practices can boost your signal a bit at the other end. Having been DX, I can say that power and S-units aren’t all that matters.

73 de Dick

Good Ops

OK … finally getting some action above 14 MHz. Ten through seventeen meters all were showing some life this weekend. The WARC bands were especially fruitful. I suspect the RTTY contest drove quite a few onto the newer bands. Forty meters was a zoo with the RTTY contest pretty much covering the whole band. Not much room left for CW. Got shoved right down to the bottom of the band.

I worked a few new countries and a bunch of Texans in the Texas QSO Party so I’m happy. It never fails to amaze me how supposedly “dead” bands come to life during a major contest weekend.

The new vertical is working out pretty well, but I’m not sure if its better or that much different from the Windom. I did a bit of work on the OCF antenna, fine tuning the length and getting the ends up higher and do see some improvement in its performance. Sometimes one antenna is better than the other on receive and the next time it’s the other. I do notice that the vertical has a lower noise level most of the time, which is exactly the opposite of what I’d always been led to believe. So go figure … I’ll use whatever works the best at the time.

Well, the bands are still pretty good so enough writing … back to the radio!

73 de Dick

Progress

Well, I’m still wringing out the new vertical. I’m likin’ it! I had time to work a couple of stations tonight — European Russia on 20 and Greenland on 12. The XP3 station was booming in … 59+ at times. He had a respectable pileup going and I grabbed him sending my callsign once.

Overall though, the bands don’t seem too lively. Not much action on either antenna here at just past 0000Z. It was better earlier in the evening. Now’s a good time to catch up on YouTube πŸ™‚ .

 

73 de Dick

Good Weekend

OK, I was pretty happy with the performance of the new vertical. I cleaned up the installation and it looks OK now. I still have to bury the coax, but I did operate with it this weekend. l worked a few new countries/bands/modes and even a couple of US stations on 80-meter CW. I’m quite pleased with it.

The 17-meter band was quite good today. I listened to a Welsh YL working the states for a couple of hours, and she was booming in here. The Scandinavians were coming in well on most bands for the contest. All-in-all, a good weekend for working ham radio.

73 de Dick K4FTW

Fiddlin’ with antennas

At the Virginia Beach Hamfest a couple of weekends ago, I took a pretty close look at the Eagle One Vertical and said to myself, “I could build one like that!”

So I did.

It’s nowhere near as pretty, but it does work. I’ve got it sort of temporarily lashed to a clothesline pole with bungee cords, and the wire is on the outside of the Jackite pole I used. I’ve got one radial of some indeterminate length and a 4:1 UnUn dangling between the RG-8X and the antenna and radial wire. Like I said, not pretty. But I’ve got to straighten everything up before I head to work in the morning. Can’t leave anything on the ground. The guy is coming to cut the grass, and he has been known to chop up a few wires.

This weekend I’ll try to clean up the installation and make it more of a permanent-looking job. I’ve worked a few stations on it tonight, and it seems to perform OK. Actually, it’s comparable to the 40-Meter Carolina Windom I’ve got up … signal strengths seem about the same in most cases. Gives me another option.

One place it excels, though (relatively speaking) is on 80-Meters. The Windom will not tune on 80, and this will tune right down to 1 point zip to 1. Yes, I know it’s not that efficient, but at least the FT-450D will work into it.

I’ll keep you informed as I get more familiar with it and let you know if it pans out. Until then…

73 de Dick K4FTW

Post Field Day

I had real intentions of spending the weekend immersed in Field Day, but it was not to be. I was on call and of course, I never get called out … until this weekend. I spent most of Saturday escorting an HVAC tech at one of our radio sites. The A/C decided to pack up and die. By the time I got back home, I was just out of the mood. I think I worked a total of ten QSOs over the weekend, and that was from home, not from the club site. I did work N4BP on three bands. His was the strongest signal on all three when I heard him. I did have a few extended, non-contest style QSOs, and really enjoyed them … more so than the “1D VA TU” style.

I got a nice surprise in the mail this afternoon. The Sterling Park Amateur Radio Club mailed me a certificate for my participation in the Virginia QSO Party earlier this year. It says I was the “High Newport News Phone” entry. I suspect that was because I was the only Newport News city phone entry πŸ™‚ . Hey, you take what you can get, right?

I figured I’d work a few on CW this evening, but conditions are not great. Noise levels are OK, but not a lot of signals on 40. Maybe it’s burnout after the Field Day weekend. I do hear a few, though, so maybe I’ll call a couple before bedtime.

73 es CUL
Dick K4FTW

Update

Even though it’s been a while since I posted, I have done a bit of hamming. This morning, I tuned around and found 9A3OS on 15M CW. He was literally the only CW station I heard on that band … and he was 599. Where was everyone else? Obviously listening — not transmitting.

I’m going to participate in the CQ WW WPX CW contest this weekend. Hopefully, I’ll pick up a few new ones. It’ll be hit or miss, though … it’s our wedding anniversary, and the XYL has plans! I’ll try to fit in some operating when she’s not executing her plans!!

I recently bought and assembled a k1el WinKeyer USB and really am pleased with it. I’ve got it interfaced to the computer, so I’ll be using it in conjunction with N1MM software to give it a good workout during the contest. The only problem I had with it was no output onΒ  KEY 1, but KEY 2 worked fine. An exam with a magnifying glass quickly found an unsoldered pin on U3. Oops, my bad! A bit of solder fixed that just fine.

Well, I’ve got to run and take care of a honey-do … I took some time off from work this week to make a long Memorial Day weekend. I have to use a few days before the end of June. If you’re contesting this weekend … good luck! See you when I can!

Update to my update πŸ™‚ 5/28 …

I did get on for a while during the contest and worked 104 stations. I picked up a few new countries, so it was worth it. I did my duty a couple of days as grillmaster, making burnt offerings on my new Weber grill. It’s been so long since I grilled anything outside, that I had forgotten how much flavor charcoal and a few hickory chips can add to a plain old hamburger!

I spent a couple of hours trying to get my WeedWhacker running. It worked fine last summer before I put it away, but now it doesn’t want to start. I’ve got some weeds out by the fence that have stalks that could almost support an antenna!

‘Til next time …

73 de Dick K4FTW

7QP Contesting, NEQP

I spent a bit of time Saturday working the 7th Call Area QSO Party. I operated 20 meters CW and had a pretty good time. Conditions weren’t the best, but were adequate. I didn’t have time to do it justice, due to “honey-dos” on the schedule, but hey — any time on the radio is quality time, eh?

Sunday evening I had a bit of time, so got on for the last hour or so of the New England QSO Party. Lots of stations and pretty strong here in Virginia on 40 meters CW. I worked several and actually picked up a couple of elusive states for my WAS. Guess what? I checked this morning (the Monday after), and they were both confirmed on LOTW. How’s that for fast!

I used N1MM contesting software for only about the second time, and really like how it makes contesting so much easier. I remember the “good old days” with manual dupe sheets and paper logs. So much more fun now that you don’t need to concentrate on the housekeeping functions.

73, Dick