Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Monday, June 27, 2011
I never expected to work another DX Station today. I didn't think the band was there. I was only hearing very weak stations in Spain, but Sergio (HP1/IZ6BRN) nearly burst my eardrums when I tuned to the 14.061 QRP frequency just after dinner. We both exchanged 599 reports and he quickly moved on to more stations.
I rarely get into South America but he obviously was pointed right at me. Panama is a completely new (radio) country for me but working this station brought back some old memories.
This is the bridge spanning North and South America. I can still clearly remember sailing under it 43 years ago. I was barely 20 years old and had absolutely no concept of life or the real world. Some people say "life is like a box of chocolates, 'ya never know what 'ya 'gona get".
I wish I could live that part of life again but in a different way.
Posted by Jspiker at 4:36 PM
Sunday, June 26, 2011
I was busy most of the day with activities here in Charleston, (not ham radio related) but when I returned early this afternoon, and tuned across the bands, I heard (for the second time this week) YU2VZ in Serbia. Without success (again) I was about to pull the plug.
With the field day activities, it's nearly useless for me to compete with hundreds of stations with a five watt signal and an indoor antenna. The Serbian station was VERY weak this afternoon, and I desperately powered up to my maximum 10 watts. Just wasn't meant to be....
When I tuned down a few kc's, this fellow in Germany (DL4KCA) was nearly 599 into the valley. My immediate response was to quickly give it a shot at current power levels, but with my past success with less than 5 watts, I took the extra time to reduce to 4 watts.
Joe (DL4KCA) immediately answered my call....
Not only did he answer, but he said "hello John, nice to hear you again. We worked last April 6th and UR 349 this evening. Are you still QRP?" (the April contact was 539)
I was flabbergasted at this....
I answered yes/ QRP at 4 watts this time. Nice to hear you FB QSL and my antenna indoor Isotron. I must have sent three or four TU's FB TNX Joe. I remember working you too. GE and TNX agn.
I doesn't get any better than this.
Joe is DX contact #95 and another "1000 MPW" at 4,165 miles.
Posted by Jspiker at 8:05 PM
Thursday, June 23, 2011
An unusual catch this evening, EA4FLY was very weak and only audible for a couple of minutes. I was barely able to copy him, although he gave me a 549 report. This antenna is a mystery to me. (Anyone familiar with this one might let me know). Jose (EA4FLY) is from the small town on Pinto, near Madrid Spain. It's the home of the 2007 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador.
Just as mysteriously as this Spanish station was to catch, I heard a very strong DF4FQ in Germany. He heard me but the band died so quickly I thought for a moment I had imagined it. No kidding....he was gone before I could answer.
I feel real good with this DX (#94) contact. It gives me hope again.
Posted by Jspiker at 5:35 PM
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Last nights NAQCC mw sprint produced NO results for me. Surprisingly, I could hear VE2ZAZ in Canada, K2ZC in New York, and AF4LB in Virginia but I couldn't make ANY contacts with less than 1 watt. Sometimes, the band just isn't there and last night was one of them.
As for DX....today seems to be another one, which I'm hearing very little activity on any band. Is this the beginning of the end? I'm about ready to rely on the phone lines for any long distance calls.
Posted by Jspiker at 12:13 PM
Sunday, June 19, 2011
The North American QRP CW Club has started their 40 meter nets for the summer season. Tonight I joined in on the fun. The net control operator was AF4LB near Yorktown, Va. It was especially interesting for me, since I once lived near Yorktown and worked at the Newport News shipyards. One of the many hats I've worn over the years was as a "turret lathe" operator making precision bolts and parts for ships and submarines.
I'll be checking into this net more often now. I enjoyed the format and listening to the other members on the net. Dan (AF4LB) did an excellent job and was able to copy and work all the stations. I received a 559 report with my 10 watts and indoor antenna. A Canadian station checked in (VE3FUJ) and another in Maine (K1IEE). Also on board was KA9VSF and AC8AP. There were several others but I didn't jot down the call signs. However, It was really interesting to look at the Bio's on the web as they talked with net control.
My little net book worked perfectly.
The reason I haven't been checking into the net before now is that I no longer have the 80 meter antenna. I don't care for 80 meters so I sold it last year. I've also sold off nearly all my old MFJ gear, a portable antenna and a TNC that I used to contact the Russian Space Station many years ago. I have some old 2 meter gear that is going soon also. I just don't use it anymore except for a little MW handi-talkie.
DX was totally dismal tonight....nothing on 20 meters at all. The worst I've heard in several days now. I mean...not even a peep anywhere....bummer.
I spent the earlier part of the day visiting with my son, at my daughter in laws parents home. Of course, the excuse was "fathers day" but I was surprised to find another musician there with two guitars. I don't have any pictures but it was a very nice time for both of us as we exchanged tunes with each other. He was a very good lead guitar player.
West Virginia is an amazing place for music...it's almost a state pastime where everyone seems to pick and grin.
Posted by Jspiker at 7:35 PM
Thursday, June 16, 2011
"The Amateur Radio Union of Las Palmas has the honor to provide assistance to the City of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in the promotion to radio amateurs around the world. This is why this partnership works with the spread of the Application for European Cultural City 2016 with the special callsign EG8LP."
EG8LP is a special event station in the Canary Islands and the only station I heard on the entire band this evening. (other than W1AW) ...but I was able to work him! There's a very interesting "video" (captions in English) explaining the celebration of this European City Cultural Event via their website. You should take the time to view it by "cutting and pasting" the call sign (EG8LP) into the search engine of the QRZ.com website. It's very interesting, and hopefully, a vision of the future for us.
I did something rare for me this evening. I confirmed the call sign through a DX Cluster, and somehow, I don't feel the sense of accomplishment, which I normally have when making a DX contact. Although I coped the call correctly (he was sending very fast), and I returned my call at better than 20 wpm, I find the excitement of chasing DX diminished when watching "DX" scroll down the long list on the cluster. Seeing the calls and the spotters, for me at least, takes the challenge out of working DX.
I have a fear of the bands "going to pot" since reading about the latest sunspot forecasts. (pretty dismal) Tonight's contact makes number 93 for me and the thought of a dismal ending of DX'ing (without making my goal of 100 contacts) is a bit too much to bear.
Still, the DX Cluster makes it almost "to easy" and I don't plan to rely on it anymore.
Posted by Jspiker at 6:54 PM
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Wow....speaking of drooling.
I hear Milan (OK1KW) just about every evening on 14.058. He's always calling CQ Fists. Earlier today (mentioned in previous entry) I heard him, but never thought I'd get another shot at him until the band changes.
Spent the early evening having dinner with my Son and Daughter in law, took a nice walk afterwards, returned home, turned the radio back to the fists frequency, and what did I hear?
He was 599 into good old West Virginia! The best I've ever heard him!
I was ecstatic with a 449 report with my 4 watts into the Czech Republic! ---4,488 miles.
We all know what that means.....
Posted by Jspiker at 6:56 PM
I liked this picture so much that I decided to show it for my contact today. But you can be sure that Andrew (GM0UDL) wasn't in the field. My QRP station was a difficult contact for him today from Northern Scotland. He has a magnificent array of antennas showing on the QRZ.com site.
He was my only shot across the Atlantic for several days now. The band is just terrible....
I almost drool when I hear OK1KW (Czech Republic) calling CQ every evening, but know he will never hear me under these conditions. I had a copy also on DJ9IE in Germany with the same results.
Because of the poor band conditions, I was overjoyed to make this QSO. I really needed it. Psychologically ....these last few DX contacts have me really keyed up.
Posted by Jspiker at 3:37 PM
There's unbelievable bad news circulating the web about the upcoming (or not upcoming) next solar cycle. I first saw it on W2LJ's blog, and since, several others now.
You can read it here: What's down with the Sun? Major drop in solar activity predicted
To say the least, it's depressing!
I got into the hobby at the end of the last solar cycle. I've never experienced really GOOD DX, but I'm very close to my 100th QRP DX contact. I've noticed that last week, the bands just seemed to stop. In short, they've been terrible the last few days. I'm still hearing the occasional "big stations" on 20 meters, but they're too weak for me to work.
You can be sure I'll pull out all the plugs to get my next 10 DX contacts.
My normal operating procedures don't include a computer, but now (with this current "bad news" about the solar cycle) I plan to have a DX Cluster available at a moments notice. I'll have it right beside me with the hopes of increasing my chances for successfully completing my quest.
This new "bad news" is really depressing.
Posted by Jspiker at 6:05 AM
Sunday, June 12, 2011
There was a horrendous storm brewing in the valley, but I wasn't overly concerned since my antenna is mounted on a painters pole, which is bungee corded to a bed post, in a spare room. (my station is VERY simple) Hihi The chances of me being struck by lightening in this situation isn't very likely. Maybe that's why I wasn't hearing a lot of stations on the air?
For that reason, I was very surprised to hear Bert (F6HKA) calling CQ WES from France.
I've previously worked Bert twice. (both with 5 watts) but today (I'm happy to say) the rig was set at 4 watts! Bert (F6HKA) is my 9th "1000 mile per watt" contact since his distance is 4,086 miles!
The difference in signal strength? My previous two contacts brought me 559 reports. Today Bert sent me 549! That's one "S" unit difference.... but what a thrill it is for my 90 DX contact!
We exchanged SKCC Numbers. He is # 6069 T
Just 10 more DX contacts until that magic #100 (which I've been looking for about 2 years now) .
Posted by Jspiker at 12:04 PM
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Photo from Wikipedia
Yesterday, I found N4EX/P participating in a special event with "Summits On The Air" He was transmitting from "Split Rock Mountain" (W2/GA-467) in upper New York state. It appears to be a "first time activation" according to the SOTA website. His partner (WA2USA) wasn't on the key at the time, but I have a common connection with him because of his affiliation with "WW2LST". If you look back on this blog, you will find me using the ships transmitter while it was docked on the Ohio River near my sisters home.
Living in West Virginia, mountains have a special appeal to me. From a radio operators perspective, mountains are the ultimate transmitting locations but I fear they are rapidly vanishing.
This video is a short explanation:
Posted by Jspiker at 10:58 AM
Saturday, June 4, 2011
No DX today but I'm having fun with the Maritime stations. This one (VA1CHP) is in Shad Bay, Nova Scotia. Immediately followed by VE1RGB in Wellington, NS. Might pick up a few more tomorrow but time to stop for the day now. I've tried to work VE2RCN twice but no go. It's been fun...
Posted by Jspiker at 2:47 PM
I seem to be on a roll for Nautical stations today. You should look this one up on the QRZ.Com site (or cut and paste the call sign into the search engine on the right side my blog) to get all the specifics about this station. It's undoubtedly, one of the most famous lightships in the world. Millions of immigrants have depended on this lightship for critical navigation into America.
She was on the 20 QRP frequency of 14.060, A fine catch for me!
The ship is now moored in Boston Harbor.
Posted by Jspiker at 1:13 PM
I was happy to work this old Destroyer (DD-8) celebrating the "International Museum Ships" this morning. It jumped out at me when I heard the USN designation. (K1USN)
Here's a picture of the club building. It brings back a lot of memories for me. In the late '60's, I was a signalman on the USS Corry (DD-817). Speaking of that, I've been informed lately, that our ship was fortuitously sprayed with bug killer while we were in the middle of the Saigon River. I'm not going to dwell on that...
The Alabama QSO Party is also active today and I worked several of those stations. So far, I have KM4JA, N4JF and K4AB in the log book. Contesting isn't my thing, but I do like to work "Special Event Stations".
Earlier this morning, on 40 meters, I heard VE2RCN/ Warship but couldn't work him. Instead, I had a nice talk with another QRP station in Kentucky. (always the most fun for me)
Norm, (K4YKI/ QRP) had built his own K-1, many years ago, and we talked at length, about his station and antenna.
Posted by Jspiker at 10:47 AM
Friday, June 3, 2011
I've been using this new key long enough now to get a "feeling" for it. My decision to buy it was due to two things.
First, was my desire for a quality "magnetic action" key.
Second, was my desire to have a "collectors item".
There was nothing "wrong" with my old Iambic paddle, but I was selling off a lot of my old "two meter" gear, and I had a few spare bucks in my pocket.
I've found this key (paddle) to be faster than my former "spring action" paddle. It's increased my comfort level by several words per minute. I think the "magnetic" action begs for speed...
I rarely send faster than 17 wpm, but in a DX pile up, I can comfortably attain speeds in the mid twenties now.
But...all that said, a "paddle" is still "just a paddle". (spring action or magnetic action).
The real reason I bought this paddle is because I wanted a stalwart American made key. The Vibroplex Square Racer fits this category. Here's a picture of the new "trademark label" for this company.
I'm proud to be the new owner of the Vibroplex Square Racer # 113442.
It's a well made "solid" precision key which I hope to use for many many years.
Posted by Jspiker at 10:38 AM
Thursday, June 2, 2011
I get plenty of exercise in the summer months, despite the HOT weather here in the valley. Most of my riding is done in the city limits, but occasionally, I get off the beaten path, a risk a ride into the country. Such was the case a few days ago when the temperature reached the mid 90's.
My ride ended at "Coonskin Park" which is near the landing strip for Yeager Airport. Taking the back roads allows me to avoid the busy highway which is the normal route into this area.
The round trip for this ride is about 20 miles. I had the "dog spray" in my pocket when I exited the city limits (this time) because I took a "bite" when I failed to be prepared for these critters last year. This years ride was uneventful, and I enjoyed myself while sitting around the swimming pool and golf course at the park.
On the return trip, I rewarded myself with "ice cream" from the local "Farmer Market" in downtown Charleston.
For those who find "signs" interesting, I like this one.
Posted by Jspiker at 7:23 AM
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
It was a busy time this weekend at the state capitol. I played a bit (not on the video) and had a good time wandering around the "Vandalia Gathering" This is a musical event featuring "old time music".
You can dance here too:
Sometimes it's fun to just watch people.
The temperature was in the sweltering 90's.
Posted by Jspiker at 8:49 AM