Monday, February 27, 2017

Here's what 2 watts looks like

I snapped this today. I had been calling CQ from about 6AM to 6:30AM and heard virtually nothing on 40m. Checked RNB and my sigs were all showing under 10db...to say the least there wasn't much propagation happening for me this morning.  

HW-8 at 2 Watts on 40m
The power meter in this photo is the Oak Hills Research WM-2.  Oak HIlls Research was started by none other than Doug DeMaw W1FB, and is now owned and operated by Marshall Emm N1FN. OHR is a great place for kits and CW supplies.  

Sunday, February 26, 2017

NC State QSO Party is ON the AIR

Hearing every CW station from North Carolina all at the same time on 40m.  So I tuned down to 7025 where is was quiet and started calling CQ.  According to the Reverse Beacon (bacon?) network I was on 7024.1 and my dial said 7025...SO much better since I adjusted it. 

After a few CQ's I was answered by Paul W2CW (what a great call sign) down in Raleigh NC, I already have NC in the log but when you run 1.5 watts you take any QSO you can get.   Paul is 79 years old, and has been a CW operator since he was 12 years old.  His father wasn't a ham but enjoyed using the old Atwater Kent radios.  His radio was a FT 1000MP and he was using a OCF dipole arrangement. 

He said the HW-8 was doing a great job down his way, and we QSO'd for almost 25 minutes before the band started changing and we got some QRM from a dreaded tuner upper.  We have some company now so I had to QRT...maybe later this evening I can get back on the air and see if I get another state to color in.  In my previous experience, the first 25 states come quickly...and the last teen seem to take forever.  I figure this WAS effort will take at least a year.  So come along for the ride!  Let's schedule a QSO for your state!  Contact me at kb9bvn@gmail.com

de KB9BVN

Saturday, February 25, 2017

QSO Parties galore!

Well the North American RTTY QSO Party started about 35 minutes ago and so far they are not bothering 40m, although I suspect they will take over as the day goes on.  40m is sounding a little deaf, the solar index and propagation numbers aren't that hot (SSN:27 SFI:82 A:20 K:0) and usually an A index like that means deafness reigns....but guess what?  I have managed to work WI, KY and NC in the last 90 minutes.  I already had WI in the log but this was a new Novice Roundup Rig and I wanted him in that contest log. 

So the first contact of the day was Dave WB9EGZ up in Wisconsin.  Dave was running a Drake 2NT xtal controlled transmitter at 50w.  See the picture below.  Dave loves old radios and enjoys golf and  sailing on Lake Michigan.  

WB9EGZ radio collection
Drake 2NT Transmitter

The next contact was with Bob WB4IEA down in Kentucky, a new state!  Bob was running the same exact transmitter as Dave was.  He was also at 50w and this rig sounded like the big buck boys.  Bob has a great fist and his NRR is 161.  Bob was also using a Drake Receiver but I am not sure which model. Back in the day, Drake gear was top shelf all the way. 

Then I worked another NRR member, and that was Bob WB9CAC from down in North Carolina, another new state for me!  This Bob was running a Knight T60 crystal controlled rig at 30w.  Bob loves tube gear and has built several nice rigs based on his bio on QRZ.  Bob also likes to jump out of perfectly good airplanes.  

Knight T 60 Transmitter


My next contact of the day was Mike WB0SND out in Missouri. This was another NRR contact, and I already had MO in the log but Mike is an interesting guy.  He has a vacuum tube sales business  and he is into restoring old radios and old cars.  He owns a 1930 Buick Coupe and you can see it on his QRZ biography page. Very cool.  Mike was running a Johnson Viking (I think), I copied Johnson...then got QRM'd and then heard "ing" at the end...and he was running 60w.  We traded NRR and SKCC numbers.  I am now hearing a LOT more RTTY stations, and the band is short...the SC stations have faded away and now I am hearing Indiana and Illinois mostly. (4PM)

The Novice Rig Roundup has been a ton of fun, but it ends tomorrow.  During this event I have come to appreciate the old rigs, and especially using the HW-8 .   I have better radios, well radios with more features, and more circuits that are used to help tune on and lock on signals.  With these old rigs you are forced to use your ears, sometimes it really helps to shut your eyes, reduce the volume a bit and concentrate on the weak ones.  The Joy of QRP (saaaalute to Ade Weiss W0RSP) makes each and every contact a cause for celebration.  If you haven't tried it you may be missing out. 

The South Carolina QSO Party is underway and I have heard TONS of stations from SC and I have answered every single one of them but they are not hearing me.  I need SC for the logbook, so I will attempt to make contact with them later this afternoon.  The wind is picking up here but my attic dipole doesn't care. Storms came through last night and we went from 72 F to 29F this morning.  Nothing like Indiana weather to keep you on your toes! 

I updated the WAS map, I have 16 in the log now...and I find it interesting to see  just how well this 1.5 watts and my 40m half wave attic dipole are getting out in these conditions.  This is proof that it is best to just get on the air and see what's happening.  I never check the solar conditions until I am done for the session.  In the words of the great space man Han Solo, "Never tell me the odds!"

I did manage to adjust my dial on the HW-8...it's +/- 2 Khz now instead of being off by 25 Khz...closer is better.  Also I have heard the following states...OK,MN,LA,SC,NE,AR, NJ, and AL but I have not been able to get them to hear me yet.  Every day is a new adventure though...40m is like a box of resistors, you never know what you'll get!

de KB9BVN

Friday, February 24, 2017

Storms, static, and RTTY

Well it got up to 72 degrees this afternoon, and now the storms are moving in big time.  Lightning strikes within a few miles of the house so I am shutting down, and the North American RTTY contest runs all weekend as well...so may not make much progress this weekend.  Suits me, I can use a night off. 

Ivin W9ILF is looking for a simple transmitter to couple with his old S20R receiver.  If you know of something please let him know!  It needs to be 40m, with VFO, and outputting at least 1.5 watts and no more than 3 watts.

Enjoy the weekend...we'll be diving down from 70 degrees to about 20 degrees tomorrow night.  Welcome to Indiana.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Oh What a Night! 40m was COOKIN!

I got home a bit early from work so I was on the radio at about 5:40PM.  the band was sounding pretty good even though the solar report was not that great. (SSN:17 SFI:83 A:11 K:3) The first QSO tonight was in the Novice Rig Roundup.  I worked Bob K0FHG out in Missouri on 7115 Khz, we traded RST (I got a 439) and NRR numbers (mine is 300 and I just got it). Bob was running 30w but I could not make out what radio he was using.  His NRR is 202 so he has been at it for some time.  It was good to have Missouri in the books. 

The next QSO was another NRR station, Sam K4RTE out in Virginia.  He was using a old Globe Chief 90 at 25w.  This is a crystal controlled rig and it is way older than my HW-8.  His NRR number is 46 so he's really been at it for awhile.  Sam is also in the SKCC with number 11464T.  Very nice QSO, great fist.  He did give me a WOW when I told him I was at 2 watts. (I say 2w but I'm really at about 1.5 watts)

Then next up I heard from the state of Kansas.  John K0JVX was calling CQ on or near 7050. John is a fantastic CW operator.  His fist was crystal clear, and easy copy.  Sometimes we refer to this as armchair copy because it is so good you could just sit there and listen to it for hours.   John was running 70 watts to a dipole he says was aimed right at me here in central Indiana.  We traded RST, I got a 579 and he was a solid 599.  John is 72 years old and has been a CW operator for 59 years.  He's got 30 years of experience over me, and he told me his dad was a ham so he got a real early start.  That's very cool.  John is also in the SKCC and his number is 11096. I can QSO with guys like this every day of the week. He's an operator that makes CW a real pleasure.

I gave it up at about 8:30...the noise was getting worse and my head was starting to play tricks on me.  I did hear CO3ET from Habanna Cuba on about 7008 tonight and VE4AKI up in Manitoba...I called and called and they did not reply.  So goes 40m into the night.  There is always tomorrow! 

de KB9BVN
 
 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Two more down and 39 to go!

Got home late from work so I didn't get on the air until about 7PM, just in time for the shortwave broadcast interference.  It was a religious station out of Florida I think.  So I started calling around and the RBN was showing me in double digits between 10db and 20db on most of the skimmers.  It was a little weird but about every 15 minutes the signal rating would drop below 10db and then come back up...the A index was 10 and climbing.  (SSN:19 SFI:83 A:10 K:1)

My first one tonight was Mike K5MP down in Florida.  We traded SKCC and RST and then the QRN/QRM pretty much swallowed us up.  The band was noisy tonight again, and I think I may borrow a SCAF audio filter from Ivin W9ILF to help with the noise. Mike K5MP is a long time SKCC operator and he's very good at it as his SKCC number shows, it's 1537S and that S means he's made hundreds of SKCC contacts.  Mike made this cool Cootie Key from a hacksaw blade! 

K5MP - Homebrew Cootie Key
The more I use my straight key (A Nye Viking Master Key)  the more I think I like it.  I have an adapter on order so I can plug my Norcal Keyer in and use my paddles...but maybe not. 

Nye Viking Master Key - Straight Key KB9BVN Uses

The next one I worked was Roger W9BZ from Indiana, he lives about 12 miles from my house! He was plugging away on his Johnson Ranger at 50w tonight, in 29 years of hamming I had never worked an op using a Johnson Ranger...until this week, when I have now worked two of them.  I don't know much about them but they sound great on the air.  Roger is 79 and has been pounding brass for 64 years.  His fist was great copy and I found out we are both in the same radio club, Midstate Amateur Radio Club

E.F. Johnson Ranger Transmitter
Well that's it for tonight.  I am going to try and increase my chances by using the VOACAP point to point propagation predictor.  Stay tuned! 

de KB9BVN