Tuesday, September 10, 2019

40m Never Lets Me Down

I had a nice QSO this evening with Bob W5RG from down Florida way.  I called 7 CQ's and was just about to shut it down and he called me back.  As usual I was on the K2 at 10w to the mojo powered attic dipole I installed in 1998.  Bob was using his K3 and a long wire antenna at 100w and was fighting some pretty bad QRM on his end.  Surprisingly the QSB tonight was very light.  I sent him a 589 and got a 579 back.  

Bob lives in Panama City Beach, and he said it's been very hot down there and he is ready for winter.  I explained here in Indiana, it is not uncommon for us to experience all four seasons over the course of a few days...and we were not hoping for winter yet. 

I check Bob out on QRZ and found that he's been licensed about 60 years, he was 13 years old when he got his ticket and that was motivated by a couple of older guys in his Boy Scout troop having two way radios.  He also had an uncle that ran CW from a big old Viking back in the 1950's. Bob is a CW operator, and originally from Oklahoma, says he moved to Florida for love but didn't get to bring his towers.  

Seeing his mention of the Boy Scouts made stop and wonder just how many hams out there got their interest in radio stirred up by being a scout.  

I have been a scout leader since August of 1986 when my then first grader brought home a flyer showing they were starting up a new Cub Scout pack.  I have been a Cub Master, Den Leader, Scoutmaster, Assistant Scoutmaster, Merit Badge Counselor, Committee Chair, and last but not least a Chartered Organization Representative.  

I was a scout as a youth but was only involved in scouting for about three years, made the rank of 1st Class, and the smells of gasoline and perfume won me over.  I have two sons that are both Eagle Scouts (one a ham), and I have one grandson (also a ham) about to make Eagle and another just getting started out in the Cubs with his dad acting as an assistant Den Leader.  I guess you can say we are a scouting family. 

If you get a chance to assist a scout group with JOTA this year, do it.  It can be very frustrating at times and very rewarding all at the same time.  If you have some free time, get with your local BSA Council and sign up to be a Radio Merit Badge Counselor.  

See ya on the trail! 


Saturday, August 31, 2019

I smell Autumn

Hello there,  I have been neglecting my blog for months, it's summertime and I have been busy with work, and the grand kids, and all the other stuff that comes up in the summer time.  So here I sit in the shack this morning with the K2 turned on and monitoring 7115 Khz while I do some web surfing.  

At 15:00Z I hear Kevin N2AFX calling CQ and it's a almost perfect 599 and about 15 wpm.  Kevin lives in western New York in the finger lakes region. It must be very beautiful there this time of year.  Kevin was runing 100w into his G5RV from his Icom 746Pro this morning, and we had a nice chat for about 25 minutes.  Slow rolling shallow QSB was present but the band held up nicely for our QSO.  I got a 579 and sent him a 589.

When I checked Kevin out on QRZ I found that not only is he primarily a CW operator, but he is also a book author and his favorite subject is longwave radio. (0-500 kHz) 

Kevin's book is Listening to Longwave (ISBN 9781882123391) published by Universal Radio, Inc.  Kevin is also a former writer for "Monitoring Times" magazine and is currently the publisher of "The Lowdown", the journal of the Longwave Club of America. 

Bloomfield has a population of about 1800 people, and is home to Crosman Corporation, maker of fine air rifles and BB guns.

So here it is August 31, and summer is about 67% in the rear view mirror, I was sitting on my back patio last night listening to the cicadas and I smelled it.  Autumn...Fall...it's coming in 23 days and last night I caught my first whiff.  I always look forward to the changing of summer into autumn, things seem to start to slow down a bit at work, and I find more time to be on the radio in an evening.

Until next time!

Best 73

Saturday, May 25, 2019


So I m on call all weekend, all holiday weekend, and I was sitting at my home office desk and had the K2 turned on and was listening to the QSB when I heard a CW CQ from WA4LJJ on 7042 Khz at abotu 18:41Z.  

I thought it was probably another GA or NC or SC station calling, and he was pretty loud,  so I answered him with the straight key.  Doug WA4LJJ is a Air Force retiree and is 77 years old, he is a good CW operator, and we probably could have chewed the rag for an hour but the QSB was becoming a problem. 

Doug lives way down yonder in Eastern Kentucky in Pikeville.  Pikeville is in Pike County and the population there is about 7000.  If you enjoy bluegrass music, and I do, this is the place to be.  Pikeville is also home to singer Patty Loveless, singer Dwight Yoakam, and aviator John Paul Riddle (he founded the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University). 

Doug is a higher speed operator and is a member of the CFO (Chicken Fat Operators #386) and belongs to the SKCC as #16280.  He is also part of the CWOPS group.  Check him out on QRZ.COM as he has a very interesting biography. 

73 de KB9BVN

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Indy to New York

Well my station has been off the air for about the last two weeks.  We've been having the entire house painted inside and out, and I was finally able to get some of my junque put back in the shack and connected to the Mojo enriched attic dipole antenna. 

So I tuned up to 7118 and listened for a couple hours, and did not hear much.  I had been watching a movie and keeping an ear to the radio when I heard Lou KD2ITZ from Yorktown Heights NY calling CQ, I was on the K2 set to about 10 watts output, the band was not in real bad shape and I had Lou a solid 579 here.  He was using a TS-590 at 50 watts into his dipole.  So not a bad signal at all.  If you have ever worked Lou before you know he has a great fist and makes for easy copy.  He remembered that we had worked each other in the past.  It's been raining at his QTH for a solid week like it has been raining here.  According to Wikipedia, Dave Matthews of "Dave Matthews Band" fame hails from Yorktown Heights NY as well as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  

KD2ITZ QSL Card I snagged from QRZ
I have been searching through all the boxes of my treasure and I am slowly getting things back together in the radio room.  Still can't find my K1.  Maybe tomorrow!

May the 4th be with you!


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Signals Went Down to Georgia

Fired up the K1 tonight, tuned to 40m because I was hearing NOTHING again on 20m.  First station I worked was David W4SRE way down in Macon Georgia on 7053 Khz.  David is a SKCC member, number 15102T, and we had not worked each other before.  David gave me an RST of 329,  and I sent him a 559.  It was a wee bit noisy and some QSB in there but otherwise a good contact.  David was originally licensed in South Africa in the 1980's and he came to the USA in 1997.  He learned CW in the South African navy in the 1970's!  Thanks for the QSO David! 

So I tuned some more and all I was hearing were Georgia stations, which was a nice welcome change from only hearing North Carolina stations! 

Next up was Randy KK4BNC and he was running  K2 at 90 Watts into an end fed sloper up about 50 feet, from down in Cataula, Georgia.  I had to look that one up.  He is located in the western part of Georgia, almost on the Alabama state line.  What was funny, was when I put his call sign in my N3FJP Logger, I saw he and I had worked each other exactly one year ago yesterday...now that's pretty neat.  I checked Wikipedia to learn more about this town and I found that in January of 2017, Cataula was hit by several tornadoes.  They have done a good job of rebuilding since then.  The tornado outbreak of 2011 almost wiped them out though...and I thought we got hit with a lot of severe weather here in central Indiana.  Wow!

My QSO with Randy went on for almost a half an hour,  we discussed keys, radios, the weather, and traded SKCC numbers.  Randy is SKCC 8054, we said our 73's and bid each other a good day.  Easy armchiar copy, Randy has a great fist.  Work him if you hear him. 

That's it for now...not much really but I thought it was funny how the K1 was locked on Georgia tonight. 

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Hilltopper Mods from K1SWL

Early today Dave Benson K1SWL, the designer of the Hilltopper radios being sold by 4 States QRP Group, posted an email to the group listing the following mods to improve audio performance of the rig.  Not that it really needed much.

Side Tone Too Loud

Some ops have found the sidetone to be a bit loud, other ops have found it to be just right.  If you find the sidetone to be louder than you would like it to be you can do the following mod.  Change out R8 (22K) with a 47K to 100K resistor.  I have not done this mod, as I find the sidetone to be just the way I like it.  However I wonder if you could put in a little 100K pot instead and adjust it to your favorite sidetone level.  Not sure a small pot would fit in there, but may be worth a look.

Low Audio I

The values of R5 (150K) and C22 (470 pF) may be changed to 330K and 220 pF respectively.  This yields a gain increase of 6 dB without affecting that stage's rolloff characteristic.

These two components are in 'tight quarters'- between U3 and the pushbutton switch.  Cutting one or both component leads and tacking the new components on the underside of the board makes the change much easier. 

NOTE: I cut the components off just above the board, and used solder wick and a solder sucker to clear out the solder so I could use needle nose pliers to tug out the "stems" while heating the backside of the board.  Worked well but I had to take my time.

Low Audio II

Straight from Dave, "As some of you have noted, there's a 'screech' on loud CW signals- it necessitates riding the gain control. I evaluated samples of a more robust op-amp-  the NJM4556AD."

Replacing the NE5532P with that new device eliminates the screech. You'll hear some distortion when limiting occurs, but it's much less objectionable than the NE5532's rude noises. Its 'limiting' threshold is also about 6 dB higher than the present device.  The net result of this change, combined with above mod,  is 6 dB more audio without the rudities (that's a word!).

Note that if you increase the gain without replacing the IC, you'll find yourself riding the gain control more often

I have an OpAmp on the way, it appears to be a pin for pin swap out.  The OpAmp in the Hilltopper rigs is socketed, so this swap out should take but a few minutes to perform. 

73 de KB9BVN