Sunday, October 28, 2018

Finally..A NEW STATE!

I got some time to get the K1 on the air today around 3PM EDT (19:00z), logged in to the Reverse Beacon Network and noticed the solar report was looking a little weaker than usual.  No sunspots, SFI at an anemic 68, A Index at 4 and K Index at 1...so I decided I had nothing to lose and started calling CQ on 15m, since it was still pretty early in the day.  Nothing.  RBN only had ONE skimmer that could hear me and it showed my signal at 6db.  I find that unless I am out there at 10db or higher, my chances for a QSO are slim and none.  So I trotted down to 20m and tried a few CQ's and the RBN had ZERO skimmers hearing me.  Ok fine, so I bounce down to 7058 Khz in hopes of finding a FISTS station.  WOW the RBN was hearing me all over the place, and my signal was being reported over 16db in about 15 locations.  One place even had me at 30db...which is LOUD.  

RBN Status of KB9BVN on Oct 28 2018
Well to my dismay, there were no FISTS to be heard...so I changed up to my old tried and true, the SKCC. 

Within a couple of CQ SKCC's I got a contact with Joe AA5AD down in Arkansas.  Joe gave me a 599 and I sent him a 579 off my attic dipole.  According to his biography on QRZ, Joe is a firefighter, retired battalion chief, and lives in a log cabin with his family on 40 beautiful acres.  Joe has plenty of room for antenna experimentation!  He's SKCC 15454T, which means he's on the air a lot and loves to QSO. 

In addition to amateur radio, Joe likes to fish, hunt and keep bees.  You never know who you'll run in to on the amateur radio bands, I always seem to bump into the most interesting folks. 

The next contact was with Kevin WA9VFD down in North Carolina.  Kevin is a SKCC member as well and we traded numbers and I got a 449 and sent him a 599.  Kevin is a Packers Fan and has a neat Packer graphic on his QRZ biography page.  WA9VFD happens to be a vanity call as this call sign belonged to his father, a veteran of the Korean War.  Hats off to your dad Kevin!  Kevin is new at CW and is doing great with it.  Work him if you hear him, it'll be fun!

WA9VFD - Kevin's Dad - Never owned a Microphone

The next contact was with Charles KM4ZZ and boy I was having a heck of a time copying him, but I am glad I took the time to work this station as he is my NEW STATE.  Charles lives in Virginia, and is also a SKCC member. We traded RST...I gave him 339 and he gave me a 579, and SKCC numbers.  Charles is retired from the US Navy after 28 years of service.  Thank you very much for your service Charlie! he got his Technician through Extra class license in 2015 and since then he has made thousands of QRP CW contacts!  Check out his bio on QRZ...he's a great admirer of the military PRC rigs and has some great pictures.  

Next up was Randy K8ZAA up in Michigan, we traded SKCC information and I sent a 559 and got a 599.  Randy is SKCC member 15019S, which means he holds the level of SKCC Senator...he's worked literally thousands of SKCC members to earn this achievement.  That's a lot of CW! 

Last but not least was Tom KA2KGP up in New York state.  Seems like I bump in to Tom every few weeks.  Today I got a 599 from him and he was booming in to Central Indiana.  Another SKCC QSO in the logbook.  

Well that's it for today, grabbed a new state, talked with the interesting characters, and had fun for about an hour and a half...time for the honey do list. 

73 de KB9BVN

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Lazy QSOs on a lazy day...

Well the weather has been wet and cold for the last couple of days so not much going on around here today.   I fired up the K1 and called CQ a few times on the FISTS frequency of 7058 Khz...as usual I did not hear any FISTS operators.  I did get a couple hits from SKCC ops though. 

The first QSO today was with Ed W0RJW from up in Michigan.  He's recently been promoted from Centurion status to Tribune status in the SKCC.  That means Ed likes CW a lot!  Ed is way up there in Grand Traverse county of Michigan and he has been a brass pounder for over 62 years now. 

Ed has a very nice collection of straight keys and a very well supplied hamshack at his beautiful location on Fife Lake.

Included in the shack are a vintage pair of Drake Twins, R4C and T4XC and Heathkit QRP tranceiver . Keys are Vibroplex Bug, Vibroplex Straight Key, Vibroplex Paddle, a J-38 and J-47 both vintage WWII surplus keys.   Ed is SKCC 17777T and has a great fist for easy copy.

The next one was Lloyd K3ESE from MD again, I heard him very loud today from Maryland and we did the SKCC exchange.  It's always good to work another Flying Pig!  OO es 72!

The next QSO was with Rob KN4IXU down in Charlotte NC.  Rob is a former Ordnance Disposal Specialist for the US Army (1965-1968).  Rob my hat is off to you and thank you so much for your service.  What a dangerous job.

Once he left the military he worked the next 50 years in the Safety Supply business.  Rob retired in January of 2018 and made it a goal to learn Morse Code and get on the air with CW. Well I am here to tell you that Rob has a great fist, and a fantastic signal from his IC-718 and inverted vee antenna.  He's pounding away on a J-38 and is up to about 15 wpm.  Give him a shout if you hear him.

73 de KB9BVN

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Four States QRP Group Does it Again...

The Four States QRP Group has announced a total of three new kits since I last looked at their website.  

The Hilltopper 40 

This is a Dave Benson K1SWL designed 40m transceiver, an improved version of the SWL+ 40 rig that Dave sold through his company, Small Wonder Labs.  Dave retired a few years ago and I, for one, am GLAD to see him back at it.  This baby puts out 5 watts and costs less than $100. 

Here are the details from the Four State QRP Group website.  You can go there directly by clicking on the link at the top of my blog page. 

Dave Benson K1SWL, founder of the renown Small Wonder Labs, listened to you and has designed a 40 meter version of his winning Hilltopper design. Four State QRP Group is honored to have been selected to kit the new transceiver.

The Hilltopper is a high performance CW transceiver for the 40M meter band. It is the perfect solution to your portable operation needs - small, lightweight, wide 40 meter frequency coverage and low current drain, extending the life of your portable power source. The receiver is adapted from K1SWL’s SW+ Series with minor modifications. The front-end circuitry was revised to replace the now-vanished 10.7 MHz IF transformers. The receiver output is suitable for headphone use.

The transmitter strip is a proven design using three BS170 transistors for the PA. The frequency source for both transmitting and receiving is a DDS VFO employing a Si5351 PLL module. Control for the rig is provided by an Atmel ATmega328P. This runs both the frequency control and the full-featured CW keyer.

A custom silk-screened PCB enclosure is included with the kit. No drilling or cutting required!

There are two pre-installed SMT ICs on the board, but the remainder are ALL THROUGH HOLE parts, and all jacks and connectors are board mounted, the combination making this kit very easy to assemble with no external wiring needed. Clubs and Groups Please Note! Group discounts are available, 5 kit minimum order required.

The Murania - AM Broadcast Band Receiver

The next one I saw, and I can't wait to build this with a couple of my grandsons, is the new Murania, single transistor AM broadcast band radio.  Designed by Dave Cripe NM0S, this cool kit offers an opportunity to go back in time.   Less than $40 for the kit. 

From the website:  

In the late 1950s, the technology of radio was overturned by a revolution in electronics. The newly invented transistor enabled AM receivers to be constructed that were a fraction of the size of the now-obsolete tube circuits. Transistor radios soon became the new popular obsession, as a portable entertainment device that was the iPod of its day.

Radios having two or fewer transistors were untaxed, as they were considered toys, and given the classification,’Boy’s Radios’. The designers of Boy’s Radios employed some creative design techniques to maximize the performance of these minimalist circuits, with sometimes amazing results. Many thousands of young (and not so young) people had their first exposure to the radio hobby from these simple sets. Today, Boy’s Radios are a highly sought after nostalgic collectable, commanding impressive prices on eBay and among collectors groups.

The Murania receiver was conceived as an opportunity for a new generation to experience the thrill of building and using a simple and effective AM radio receiver. Inspired by the classic design of these transistor radios, the Murania receiver is an ideal kit for a beginning builder, and can provide years of listening pleasure.

High quality, double sided, printed circuit board construction is used, with solder mask and silk screened component reference designators. A unique, construction technique is used in the Murania, called 'Pittsburg' construction, after the hometown of its inventor Joe, W0MQY. This method uses easy-to-handle through-hole components in a modified surface mount construction technique, where the back copper layer of the board forms a complete ground plane shielding the circuitry against hand effects. A pre-drilled silkscreened PCB enclosure is included, protecting the Murania circuit and making it into a handy portable set.

The Murania is simple enough to be constructed by beginners, and is rewarding enough to be enjoyed by experienced builders. Construction time is approximately 2 hours, depending on experience level.

This is a very excellent group project, and a quantity discount and combined shipping are available, 5 piece minimum order pse. Contact Johnny Matlock, ACØBQ

Last up is a new Cricket Rig transmitter for 30m, they are temporarily sold out .  See their website for all the details.  

Kids it's a great time to be QRP!   Lot's of new stuff to  build this winter and loads of fun to be had.  Enjoy! 

73 de KB9BVN

BTW I heard VP6D Ducie Island on 7015 Khz this morning, working the world....just not me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

On the air again...

Wow...this summer went fast, which is not real good news...but now that Fall is here and the sun is disappearing earlier and earlier, I have a little more time to play radio.  

So tonight I dragged out the K1 and connected it to the attic dipole (1/2 wave 40m) to see what I could hear.  It was about 22:00 UTC and I started out on 20m.  Called CQ a few times and checked the Reverse Beacon Network. I was being heard in a few spots but the signal was very week.  

I headed on down to 40m, and called CQ a few times on 7051 Khz  RBN had me all over the place with a great signal strength, but I wasn't getting any takers.  Finally I heard Jim KD8YQX from Warren Michigan answer my CQ and we traded SKCC numbers and some station information.  Jim has a great first and is good armchair copy, first QSO I've had in a month or so too. 

When we got done I headed up to 7058 Khz to see if there were ANY FISTS members out and about...I almost NEVER hear FISTS operating on the 7058 FISTS freq anymore.  Used to have to wait in line to work some FISTS ops but not any longer.  I tossed out a few CQ's and was answered by Tom N2KPJ from Clayton NY at 23:28Z.  Tom is a SKCC member also so we traded info and I realized that we had worked each other exactly seven months ago tonight!  

Just about the time I got finished with Tom, I heard a call from the past...like way back there....it was Lloyd K3ESE calling me from over in Maryland.  I met Lloyd maybe 16 or 17 years ago, we hung out with the Flying Pigs  QRP Club International at Four Days in May back in 2001 or 2002.  I haven't had a QSO with LLoyd in forever.  His signal was 559 here at the beginning but things were changing fast.  I lost him totally at the end of the QSO.  Sorry Lloyd.  Glad to see you're still out there on the radio.  

That's it for tonight.  I failed to get a better antenna permanently installed this summer...this is like the 18th summer in a row...maybe next year! 

73 de KB9BVN

BTW - I heard VP6D Ducie Island on 7015 Khz this morning at about 4:30AM EDT...they were working the world! I did not make contact. 


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Mountain Topper 5B from LNR - Test Drive

Ok so my buddy Steve W9BRI calls me up and says he just got his hands on a brand new radio called the Mountain Topper 5B from LNR Precision.  Not only that, he offers to let me borrow it for a few days to test it out.  How am I so lucky? 
LNR Precision Mountain Topper 5B 

The radio runs off a single 9v radio battery if you want...since that is what I had on hand that is what I used.  I found the manual online at LNR and read it and learned how to use the switch banks to change bands and perform other functions on the radio.  Before getting on the air though I wanted to take measurements, so using my WM-2 Wattmeter and my OHR dummy load, I did.








Brand New Battery Energizer 9v black and silver alkaline

40m - 2.4 Watts and battery showed 9.2Vdc
30m - 3 Watts and battery showed 9.1 Vdc
20m - 3 Watts and battery showed 9.1 Vdc
17m - 2 Watts and battery showed 9.1 Vdc
15m - 2 Watts and battery showed 9.0 Vdc

I called CQ a few times on 7050 KHZ...the battery voltage dropped down to 8.4 Vdc while transmitting, came back up to 9 Vdc after I stopped sending my CQ.

So I connected it to my 40m attic dipole and started sending CQ on 7032 Khz to just see what I could get.  The band was quiet and I did not hear many signals.  I was running 2 watts and the MT5B showed a voltage of 9.1vdc.

My second CQ was answered by Dick K8WHA in Lansdale PA.  Dick was running a TS 590S to a vertical and we traded 599's,  Lansdale PA is about 600 miles from my QTH, I was impressed and the receiver was fantastic.  Dick has been licensed since 1960, and he is a contester and award winning operator.  Lansdale is in the far eastern part of the state, almost bordering New Jersey. 

When that QSO was over I moved to 7050Khz looking for an SKCC contact. Hugh AE5VB from Covington Louisiana answered me and gave me a 519...said I was weak but solid copy.  This is about 800 miles and power was a smidgen under 2w now.  The receiver can't be beat.  I switched from my Vibrokeyer to the Nye Viking Master Key so we could exchange SKCC numbers.  QSO lasted about 25 mins and it was great. 

All in all I am impressed with this little radio.  Steve W9BRI is going to have more fun than a human should be allowed. 


Best 73 de KB9BVN
CW is my only mode




Friday, August 10, 2018

Technician to General Class



The Indiana Elmer Network will be hosting a Technician to General Upgrade Class for three Thursday nights in a row.  Class starts on October 25th, and ends on November 8th.  We will have VE testing on November 8th.  This is your chance to upgrade, don't miss it. 

This is a FREE class, there is no charge. 

When: 
October 25, November 1, November 8

Time: 
6PM to 8PM at the latest

Where: 
Aviation Institute of Maintenance 
7251 W. McCarty St, Indianapolis IN 46241
Room 10

Get your Technician to General Training Guide, and bring it to class.


Go here to register for the class, seating is limited so don't delay. 


Good luck on your upgrade! 

de KB9BVN
Brian Murrey