Thursday, June 22, 2017

What a month eh?

What can I say?  The first week of May my employer announced that we had been sold and would soon be merged with a competitor.  With all the legal stuff having to happen before the new outfit could be formed, we were told to expect consummation of the deal sometime near October.  Then we got no more info to speak of.  This saddened me greatly, as I really LOVE working here and the folks I work with are awesome and super cool.  I have been through a couple of these and in my experience if your name isn't on the company door when the smoke clears, you lost.  To say I was nervous about it is putting it lightly.  I'm not 25 years old. 

Long story short, one of my old customers, contacted one of my old employers and asked if they knew if I might be available.  They contacted me and and I contacted them and we met and we talked and a week later I got an acceptable offer.  Tomorrow is my last day, and Monday I start my new job.  That's right, the Monday after Field Day!  I am stoked.

So in my log for June I have made exactly two contacts so far on the HW-8.  One of them being this evening with Steve KE4OH down in Knoxville TN.  Steve was communicating with his old Tempo One at 100w and I was killing it with 2w from the HW-8...it was a tough one though as the QSB was very bad tonight...he'd go from 599+ to almost noise floor about every 3 minutes...so I can only imagine how I sounded down there.  As a QRPer I always say thank you for every contact, I totally get it that the receiving station MIGHT be working harder than me to make the QSO happen. 

This month I also worked in the reconstructed radio room of the USS Indianapolis.  The museum ships on the air event was this month and I was there running CW and made 43 contacts in about 2 hours.  Ivin W9ILF and Steve W9BRI were there as well and between us I think we put in about 150 contacts combined CW and SSB.  400 Watts into an antenna 110 feet up makes things work a little better.  Check it out.  The USS Indianapolis Radio Room

No new QSL cards...go out and have a blast on Field Day this weekend and make sure to listen for W8PIG on CW and SSB running 2 Battery QRP from Morgan County Indiana!! 

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Cookie Crumble

The Cookie Crumble Contest is a fun QRP contest inspired by the popularity of Emily Saldana’s – KB3VVE – chocolate-chip cookies during the 2016 ARRL – National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) event. Emily, for the rest of time, will be known as the Cookie Queen – a moniker given to her by one of the NPOTA participants. 

Today June 11 is Cookie Crumble day!

Visit Cookie Crumble Contest site for all the details!

I am Cookie 255 and I will be on the air this afternoon. 

73 de KB9BVN

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Sometimes Shack Work is no Radio...

In the continuing saga of my logging laptop replacement, I have decided to try using my Raspberry Pi 3B to become my logger with the CQRlog software from OK7AN.  I have managed to get CQRlog version 2.0.4 to install and run on my Pi3B.  I have not imported the logs I will be moving from N3FJP's AC Log program but I plan on doing that tonight. 

I downloaded the latest Raspian Jessie 8 with Pixel from the Raspberry Pi website.  I then installed that on a 16GB Micro SD card (you want to use a Type 10) and booted the Pi with it plugged into my network switch.   Once it finished booting I ran the following to update and upgrade the packages on it.

sudo apt-get update 

then 

sudo apt-get upgrade

Now that will take about 20 mins to download all the updates and get them installed. 

Once that is done you will need to install MySQL server and MySQL client.   This is accomplished by using the package installer. 























Then you need to find and download a file called:

cqrlog_2.0.4-1_armhf.deb

Once it is downloaded, right click and have it install. 

























So I haven't started using it on a daily basis but I am hoping I can get it all configured and working well by Field Day.  The Raspberry Pi 3B is SO RF quite, it's pretty awesome. 

On another note...The QRPian podcast #3 is now online.  You can listen to it here on this blog or you can go to Spreaker and hear it.  Mike and I have fun making these monthly podcasts and we hope you enjoy listening in to our conversation. 

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Remembering a few folks...

Spent the holiday weekend with family over in Ohio.  My wonderful Aunt invited my whole tribe (all 16 of us) to come and stay for a few days...so we did. Memorial Day weekend is a great time for cook outs, and swimming, and watching all the grand kids try to choke down as much watermelon as possible in the shortest amount of time.  It is also a time for us to remember what we have here in America, and then reflect on the lives of the men and women that have served in our military services to keep this land free. 

My dad was a retired Sergeant Major in the Indiana National Guard, he was also in the regular Army and served in Germany in 1959-1960, we lost him in January of 2016 at the age of 79.  My Uncle Ed was a retired Warrant Officer (W5) and he spent his time in the service flying helicopters, and we lost him last year.  My wife's Uncle Bill was a Navy man that served in WWII as a radio man.  His job was to sneak on to a pacific island, some as small as big rocks, and install comms gear so observers could report Japanese fleet movements to the US Pacific fleet. He also fought in several skirmishes around the Philippines, and sadly he's been gone for some time now. My mom's Uncle Bob served in WWII and was a survivor of the Battle of the Bulge, decorated with the Purple Heart, we lost him several years ago.  My Uncle Keith served with the US Army in Vietnam, and he survived the war but we lost him a couple years ago to lung disease that he likely picked up while serving. 

I would also like to remember two men here.  I am not related to them, but found their names during some genealogical research. 

Capt. Archie Andrew Hayman of Gallipolis Ohio.  He was KIA on 04/02/1968 in Kontum Province of Vietnam.  He was a helicopter pilot and gave his life trying to save troops on the ground. He is honored on Panel 47E, Row 39 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

1LT Tracy Henry Murrey of Miles City Montana.  He served with 2ND PLT, C CO, 4TH BN, 503RD INFANTRY, 173RD ABN BDE, USARV and was KIA on 11/20/1967 in Kontum Province Vietnam. Tracy Henry Murrey was killed during a massive attempt on Hill 875 near Dak To.  123 men lost their lives during this intense 3 day firefight. He is honored on Panel 30E, Line 46 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. 

So I pretty much observed radio silence this weekend, and will get back at it later this week.  Coming home from vacation and going right back to work is a shock to the system. 

God Bless America! 

73 de KB9BVN

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wake the kids! Call the Neighbors!

As David Letterman  used to say on his television show...it has been FOREVER since I had a 40m QSO on the HW8 but tonight I think I figured out my problem.  I am using a different HP laptop in the shack since my other one went south...and this different laptop is NOISY enough to hide signals from the HW8.  I shut it down and boy did that make a difference.  I was beginning to think I had radio problems but not so! 

So I need to find a quieter logging computer....may have to find a logger that will run on my Raspberry Pi as it is very quiet.  Conditions tonight we a lot better SSN:47 SFI:78 A:5 K:0 

Tonight I worked Adam KE8DNU over in Toldeo Ohio, home of the AAA baseball Mud Hens and of course good old Corporal Klinger from M*A*S*H fame.  Adam gave me a 599 and I handed him a 589...probably was a 599 but my antenna isn't the greatest.  Adam is new to CW and he is having a ball, I know this because he told me so.  I think he was using a CRK-10A QRP CW transceiver. 

It's great to be making contacts again! I'll try to get some more states in the log! Stay tuned. 

Latest QSL Cards received:




Best 73 de KB9BVN

Friday, May 19, 2017

What is the deal mother nature?

I was out of town working in Florida all of last week, spent a week in the sun and finally got dried out. When we got home the rains had slowed down but not stopped.  I can't remember when I have gone so long without a QSO on 40m but I have been trying for a couple of hours every night this week and have not had any success.  

Hamvention starts today and I am on call all weekend so that means I will be missing out on the inaugural Hamvention in Xenia Ohio.  We're starting to already get reports from FDIM and many of you that are attending the Hamvention, keep the updates coming and maybe I can live vicariously through your missives. 

I'm in the process of building my 30m One Watter, I have all the caps and resistors soldered in, and will get some time to work on it some more this weekend. 

ConnectSystems Inc is touting a new radio, which will be unveiled at the Hamvention...it's a 5 band SSB/CW QRP rig for less than $400.  I would like to see some more specs. 

That's it for now, I hope to make some contacts this weekend. 

73 de KB9BVN



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

How long can it rain??

Greetings from very wet central Indiana.  We've had thunderstorms and rain showers for 12 of the last 14 days.  So I have been on the radio very little.  With some luck this will all be gone by the weekend and I can get back to hunting down those last 20 states I need for WAS.


I got word today the Indiana Elmer Network will be hosting their first ever, Free Tail Gater at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance.  What's a Tailgater?  It's like a flash mob having a ham fest!


The date for this will be August 26th, setup will start at 6AM and and we have to be cleaned up and gone by Noon.  There will be no charge for admittance, and tail gate spots will be available on a first come first serve basis, also at no charge.


So be sure to mark your calendars and start collecting stuff to bring for sale or trade.


Best 73 de KB9BVN

Friday, May 5, 2017

New QRP and Hamvention Soapbox

We've had storms here for a solid week.  So I have not had the opportunity to get on the air much with all the thundering and lightning out and about.  I have still been QRPing though.  Last night a new group of QRPers met at The Knuckle Sandwich near Mooresville Indiana.  The HoosierQRP Group was officially formed and the membership present included Don W9DEW, Ivin W9ILF, Gary KA9ZYL, Jeff KD9FTA, Michael W9ODX, and Brian KB9BVN.   We elected Michael W9ODX as our new president, and his first official act was to resign and abolish the office.  Which suits us just fine since we're really more interested in operating QRP outdoors and having fun with radio.  Steve W9BRI was sadly unable to attend as he was teaching a motorcycle riding course for Harley Davidson over in Southport. 

We discussed the advantages and disadvantages of portable antennas...we decided the dipole would work better but it requires trees, whereas the portable vertical did not...but it was more to carry.  We also took a look at my portable operations bag, noting the battery, the Norcal 40a, the Parkwood Paddles, and the ZM-2 antenna tuner.  It was advised to all that before hitting the dusty trail for the first time this year, it would be a great idea to take ones portable pack to the backyard, pretend you are 100 miles from home, and then assemble your working station...you will ALWAYS forget something and you do not want to hike back 8-10 miles to find out you can't operate because you left the feed line at home or the earphones are missing.

Several members are planning an all out assault on the state parks in Indiana, and getting as many of them activated with the POTA program as possible.  Sounds like a fun filled summer.  So stay tuned.

WA4FAT sent me a BEAUTIFUL QSL card with a really nice photo of the Birmingham Alabama skyline.  I'll get it posted up soon.

On the subject of the Hamvention.  Yes, it's in a new venue.  Yes, there will probably be some bugs.  Yes I think you should still go.  I am amazed at the number of bloggers and forum writers that are just wringing their hands at the prospect of a Hamvention failure at the new location.  Face it, Hara Arena was the place we all LOVED to HATE on.  It was nasty, smelly, dirty, falling apart...it was a breeding ground for tetanus...we get it.  This new facility is somewhat smaller but heck the bone yard at Hara hasn't been wall to wall since the 90's.  Maybe some physical downsize is in order.  I say give the Hamvention a chance, we can't afford to lose it.  We have nothing that even comes close in the midwest.  So try to remain positive and less persnickity about the 2017 Hamvention, the DARA guys have been doing this a long time...it'll be better next year.

73 de KB9BVN

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Back in business...

Well the phone company came and replaced my dead DSL modem, so I am back online.  I was able to disassemble my logging laptop that got fried from the storm on Sunday and pulled the SATA hard disk.  I plugged it into my other computer and like magic all my data was there.  I can't tell you how happy that made me.  I have a new laptop on the way.  So fo now I am using a paper log and will add everything to the new computer when it gets here.

Got on the air tonight and had a two way QRP QSO with Tom AF4NC out in Pennsylvania.  Tom is the Assistant Section Chief fo the the ARRL section known as EPA (Eastern Pennyslvania). Not only that but Tom is also the traffic manager for the state.  Tom is a pilot too, and not just little puddle jumpers, but big jets like the 737, and Gulfsteams.  He's been around the world and likes to take his HF gear with him.  Tom has hiked the Appalachian Trail and the John Muir trail, plus he has climbed 11 peaks over 14,000 feet in Colorado. he is an avid backpacker and also a wildlife photographer.

Tonight he was using his HW-9 set at 3watt, so we were Heathkit to Heathkit QRP!  Check his radio out below.

HW9 of Tom AF4NC - NICE Paddles!
No new state tonight but that's the way it goes sometimes.   It does sound like 40m is picking up some steam.  

73 de KB9BVN

Lightning...oh Brother

Here in Central Indiana we received about 6 inches of rain between Friday night and Sunday night. In all of that we took a nearby hit of lightning, and it took out my logging computer, half our light bulbs, and my DSL modem.  I think my log data is on my Dropbox drive, but I won't know until Century Link gets time to come out and fix my DSL problem.  Apparently it's not a high priority. 

I got a nice QSL card from NZ0T this week, and the plug adapter came in so I can use my paddles and Norcal Keyer with the HW8.   Due to the storms I have had the HW8 unplugged from the power and the antenna since Friday morning...so contacts have been non-existent.  The thing I like best about this keyer is when I get a SKCC contact I can put it in straight key mode and work them straight key style. 

I hope to get back it it tonight when I get home from work.

73 de KB9BVN

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

New Kit Rig from 4 State QRP Group

I just saw this on QRP-L...the 4 State QRP Group has released their newest CW rig kit, and it is The Cricket.  At $32.68 shipped in the US it is an 80m CW QSOing machine.  Get yours now and make ten contacts.  Submit your contact list to 4 States and you will become an official Cricketeer!

Cricket 80m Transceiver

You can read all about it here:  4 States QRP Group

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Straight Key Sprint tonight

Tonight the SKCC was hosting their Straight Key Sprint from 00:00 to 02:00 UTC, I was able to get on for a bit and I have worked two different stations. 

First up this evening was Tom WZ4M from down in Mecklenburg County NC.  Tom is a SKCC member and holds number 10827T and he is hard at work trying to earn his "Senator" designation. Tom has also been very active in the SOTA events using his old callsign of W4TZM. Based on the pictures I saw in his QRZ biography page, Tom likes to work his Elecraft KX-3 in the outdoors, quite a bit.  He gave me a good report and I had him 599 until the QSB just brought the QSO to an end.  He was pretty surprised at my 2 watts and the HW8.

WZ4M's Setup
After I worked Tom, I bailed out in hopes the shortwave broadcast interference would die down, so I built a HW-8-LM386 Audio board kit while I waited.  I am going to add this to the HW8 so I can use 8 ohm headphones and even a small speaker.  My adapter didn't come in yet for my Norcal Keyer so I am still hammering away with the Nye Viking Master Key. 

I got back on the air about an hour later, sent out one CQ on 7113 Khz and Bill WA4FAT came right back from down in Alabama.  We exchanged the SKCC info (RST, QTH, Name, SKCC #) and then he asked me if I was on the HW8.  We're getting famous! HAHAH  I told him I certainly was and the SWBC interference was strong as ever.  Bil has a pretty cool amateur radio blogsite, I have added it to the list.  Bill has been a CW op since 1962 ( I was 2 in 1962) and he prefers hand keying.  Hey Bill..me too! 

So thanks to Tom and Bill for hearing my QRP signals tonight. Every contact I make is almost DX and just feels great.  There are a LOT of great fists out there, try to work them all! 

Mailman brought these today! 

N4IDH QSL Card


N3YUG QSL Card
That's it for tonight, and as always, thank you for reading my blog. 

de KB9BVN


Sunday, April 23, 2017

New Podcast Episode Tonight!

Hello gang...been under the weather for the last 4 or 5 days and have not made much effort to get on the air lately.  I am awaiting some parts to come in so I can connect my NORCAL Keyer to the HW8 and use my Vibroplex Vibrokeyer instead of the Nye Viking straight key. 

In the meantime Mike KD5KXF and I got together for another episode of our QRP podcast, The QRPian.  Give it a listen if you get a chance, and don't miss the part about our contest.  I hope to get back on the air in full force this coming week.  ( The QRPian Podcast )

This week I got a few QSL Cards in the mail, and here they are. 

 
QSL Card AK4JA - Second Time

QSL card for KI4I/M
QSL Card for N3ADF
That's about it for today!  

73 de KB9BVN

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Working hard...hearing nada

The 40m band is in very odd shape tonight.  It was WAY better yesterday but isn't that always the way things go...or so it seems. 

Last night I worked Iowa again, this time it was Chris WU1A/0 from Polk City Iowa.  The exchange was very brief, RST, Name and QTH sort of thing and the band went ugly.  Based on his QRZ page he's about 55 years old and an Extra.  I sure appreciate him pulling out my QRP signals.  I got a rock solid 2 way 599.  Thanks Chris! 

Tonight right after I got home from work I got on the air for an hour and scrounged up one contact, and that was Jason N3YUG from Maryland.  A new contact but not a new state.  I tried to talk him into driving over to Delaware and working me but he couldn't do it.  So right now I am still stuck at 30 states.  Jason is a busy ham, he's earned DXCC, WAS, Triple Play, and is SKCC 15885T.  He has a cool looking BitX 40 that he built and he has a nice collection of old regen receivers.  Check him out on QRZ. 

Right now the band is suffering from this:  SSN:0 SFI:80 A:9 K:1

THAT is an improvement from just an hour ago...so maybe things are swinging back, I may try to get back on a little later.  

I am impatiently awaiting an adapter plug so I can use my Norcal Keyer Rev 2 on the HW8.  Nothing worse than waiting on the mailman to bring you a new toy...or a QSL Card. 

73 de KB9BVN

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!

Had a great Easter, went to Mass with the family last night for Easter vigil, and we had about 90 folks getting confirmed and their first communion. Mass started at 9PM and we finally got out of church at about midnight.  

Then I got up this morning and cleaned my grill, a chore not done in quite some time, and it was in need of it badly.  Once I got that all squared away I had some time to get on the air before my sons and their families arrived for grilled delights. 

I worked Bill NZ0T over in Missouri at about 11AM local time, we were both 599 amid the static crashes of oncoming thunderstorms.  Bill has been a ham since 1982 and is currently enjoying being retired.  His wife Mary is also a ham, N0HLV.  We passed it back and forth about three times when it started storming here so I had to say 73 dit dit and QRT. 

The herd showed up at about 1:30PM and we feasted on grilled delights including cheeseburgers, hot dogs, beer brats, and marinated chicken breasts.  I have plenty of left overs for lunch this week so when they see me coming, they be jellin. 

That's it for today, don't forget the Flying Pigs QRP Club Run for the Bacon Sprint is tonight coast to coast from 9PM to 11PM your local time.  http://fpqrp.org

73 de KB9BVN

Saturday, April 15, 2017

I could KISS my Mailman

Today we have been running around getting last minute items lines up for the big family cook out tomorrow.  We had to go get some stakes and bungees to hold down the pop up shelter thing I am setting up by the grill, then we had to go get the propane tanks filled, hit the grocery store, and drive over to see my son Jason and his family for a little bit.  

W9BZ QSL Card

Got home at about 4PM and in the mail box I found a new QSL card from Roger W9BZ from up in Greenwood IN, about 10 miles from here, AND my W8DIZ 30m One Watter Kit!!  My friend Mike KD5KXF will be building one as well.  We hope to find really strange cabinets to build it in.  

The One Watter series from W8DIZ at http://kitsandparts.com are $49.00, including Tick Keyer chip, a solid watt of output and everything you need except a cabinet and the knobs.  You can set it up for paddles or straight key or both!

Chuck Adams K7QO did a great 10 part video series on the assembly of this little kit, and honestly I think even a beginner would have little trouble with this one.  See: 1Watter Transceiver Build, Phase 1 by K7QO

This is what I got in my goodie box today: 


The printed circuit board is extremely high quality, and notice DIZ includes sockets for the IC's.  Can't beat this deal for $49.00  If you are really interested in homebrew QRP radio...check out this website of  Steve Szabo WB4OMM down in Florida.  https://wb4omm.com/i-built-this

If you are so inclined, Google "W8DIZ One Watter" and you will find at least a dozen sites that have reviews and builder info on this cool little radio.   I have known Diz for over 15 years and he is one of the founders of the Flying Pig QRP Club International and a member of the QRP-ARCI QRP Hall of Fame.  His support is top notch. 

For more Pictures, Data and Links:   http://1watters.com

I am looking forward to building this and getting more states on the HW8, it's a great time to be a amateur radio operator! 

73 de KB9BVN

Friday, April 14, 2017

Friday Evening Part II

That's right, Part II as in TWO NEW STATES!!  Yahoo!  I got back on the air tonight at about 02:00Z and started calling CQ on 40m, I worked the top the bottom and the middle, Reverse Beacon Network was barely listing me being heard anywhere.  At about a quarter after I started hearing a few more stations at at 02:12Z I worked Jim KG5OOU from down in Covington Louisiana.  This is a new one for me and the HW8 so I was eleated.  We traded RST and QTH and Name and then the band just went dead on us.  I got a 339 from Jim and had him at 589 for most of the QSO and then we just got swallowed up by the atmospheric noise and QSB.  I love Covington LA, I used to have a hospital client down there in St. Tammany Parish. I'd land at New Orleans airport and then drive across Lake Pontchartrain to get to Covington on the north shore.  Man the food down there is good...crawdads, frog legs, crabs, and shrimp to just go into a feeding frenzy on.  Mmmmm Mmmmm!!

I kept at and and eventually I got Jim W0CML out of Parker Colorado in QSO.  Jim is 73 and has been a ham for 55 years.  Colorado was another new state for me so that now puts me at 30!  Sledding will be getting a lot tougher now but I look forward to the fun of it.  Just goes to show, that no matter how bad you THINK the bands are, keep trying.   I also heard a loud station from Mississippi, another one I need, but they could not hear me.  Maybe tomorrow! 

73 de KB9BVN

Friday Evening on 40m

Greetings to all on this blessed Good Friday, the beginning of Easter weekend.  We'll be at Mass tomorrow night with the family, and Sunday we'll be having a huge family cook out come rain or snow or mighty blow.  A very happy and blessed Easter to all of you. 

Late this afternoon I was able to sneak in a couple hours of radio time, the 40m band was not in the best shape but I sat on 7043 Khz for at least an hour calling CQ and CQ SKCC.  Eventually I was rewarded with a QSO from Jim N3ADF out in Maryland.  Jim is a SKCC member so we exchanged numbers in the noise.  I got a 449 on this one and he was a little in and out on my not so great antenna.  Jim is retired, and really enjoys operating mobile.  He's also got a really nice website that you should check out.  (http://jlwallace.net/hamradio/index.html)

Right after I signed off with Jim, I got a call from Alabama and this time it was Al N4IDH down in Dothan Alabama.  Al is a retired nuclear submarine mechanic and is also a pilot! He is currently using a 80+ foot long wire antenna and doing great with it.  Al, thanks for your military service! One of my best ham radio buddies was Rick WB9JBM (SK) and he was also a nuke tech submariner and retired from the Navy.  You guys have a lot of bravery! 

Then nada...like it went silent...heard some RTTY and that was about it. 

I hope to get on the air tomorrow for a bit, and maybe land a new state, I have been itchin' to color in a new one for a couple weeks now.  More time on the air means more coloring.  

Oh! One thing I forgot, I ordered a pair of 30m One Watters from Diz W8DIZ over at http://kitsandparts.com - sending one to my podcast partner Mike KD5KXF and we're going to see who can build it into the weirdest container...so I am off to the thrift store!  That little radio comes with a keyer and one watt out for a mere $50...you supply the case and knobs.  Very QRP Cool. 

Mailman forgot me today, so I have no new QSL cards to show. 

Best 73 es Happy Easter  de KB9BVN

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

QRP is What I Do

Well I sold my Ten Tec Jupiter tonight, and now all I have left in the shack are my beloved QRP rigs.  An Elecraft K2, a Heathkit HW-8, a Norcal 20, and a Norcal 40.  Things just feel right, I've been working QRP since 1998 and I am having a blast with it. 

After I got my desk all rearranged, now the Jupiter is gone, I was able to get on the air and work Bobby AK4JA from down in Georgia again.  It seems like there are a few stations that are almost always out there, and Bobby is one of them.  He was using his home brew tube powered 4w transmitter to QSO with me tonight. How cool is that?  I earned a 579 and he was rock solid 599 here, and we had QRM and QRN galore.  We had about a 15 minute chat and it was just great.  Two Way QRP is always a bunch of fun. 

The mailman brought a new QSL card today from Mac WA4QWN from down in Roanoke VA.  Thanks for the card Mac! 

WA4QWN QSL card

Thanks for checking in! 

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Family First

Well I did not get to be on the air as much as I had originally planned, things come up, more important than amateur radio.  It's hard to believe but that's the truth.  I managed to be on the air for about 90 minutes this afternoon, got one single contact today.  The Georgia State QSO party was well underway and I managed to work special station N4A, one of the North Fulton Amateur Radio League stations.  They had 5 special event stations on the air, N4N, N4F, N4A, N4R and N4L...if you worked all five you got a super cool certificate.  I only managed to work N4A, and I heard N4L but he could not hear my QRP signal today.  No sunspots. The 40m band was very iffy today.  

I talked to a couple of SKCC members online and they said they both had less than a dozen contacts on all bands for the Weekend Sprintathon.  When those guys are not making contacts, then you know the atmosphere is working against us.  There is always tomorrow, and like Forrest Gump's mom said....the bands are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you'll get.  Well today I got the one that was filled with tooth paste. 

Got these cards in the mail yesterday!  Thanks to W4EAB and K2YWE.

W4EAB QSL Card
K2WYE QSL Card
Best 73 de KB9BVN

Thursday, April 6, 2017

What a Great Fraternity we have in Amateur Radio

No radio for me tonight.  This evening the Indiana Elmer Network hosted a fantastic antenna building seminar.  Mostly attended by recently licensed hams.  Paul KD9IAO, a newly minted General Class operator, did a two hour class on building a UHF/VHF copper cactus J-Pole antenna and  I spent about 20 minutes talking about compromise wire antennas for camping trips. Focusing on the Norcal Short Doublet and Crappie Poles

We had nine eager hams show up, and I think when I left 7 of them had just about completed the soldering of their antennas and Wayne AC9HP was getting ready to hook the MFJ-269B antenna analyzer up so we could see how they did. 

A great time was had by all, we told stories and laughed and had the best time tonight, spreading the joy of homebrewing and amateur radio.  

Huge kudos go out to the Aviation Institute of Maintenance for allowing us the use of their facility and class room, we've used it for training classes, VE testing sessions, and now a great building session.  We also found out today that AIM has agreed to host a Tailgater Hamfest in August. Stay tuned for more info on the Tailgater!  This will be a joint effort between AIM and IEN. 

This weekend we have several QSO parties going on.  QRP-ARCI, Georgia, and the SKCC Weekend Sprint.  All have QRP categories and I hope to be in the middle of it all.  Join in the fun! 

73 de KB9BVN

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Latest Contacts from the HW8

This evening the band seemed to be pretty promising, SSN:97 SFI:94 A:20 K:1, which is the most sunspots we've seen in some time.  Only had time for one tonight, and that was with Tom KB3CVO out in Pennsylvania.  We chatted in the SKCC chat room after the contact and he said the HW8 sigs were doing great out his way and he had rewarded me with a 579.  He even said he might have to get his HW8 out of storage and put it back on the air for some QRP fun.  

Last night I worked Gerry K4KBL down in Georgia. This is the second time I've work Gerry and his fist and sigs were easy copy.   QSL cards are ont he way. 

This weekend we have at least two QSO parties that both support QRP categories.  The QRP-ARCI Spring QSO party and the Georgia State QSO Party.  I am hoping to pick up a few more states this weekend.  If the weather holds I may try to get my vertical up in the back yard and start using that from time to time.  My attic dipole has served me well these last 19 years but I really need to get something outside.  Pa Kettle has nothing on my procrastination skills.   

73 de KB9BVN

New QSL cards!

I just had some new QSL cards made up to better commemorate this Worked All States effort, and because the cards that Ivin W9ILF looked so cool with his SW+ rig on them.  So here it is in all the glory I can muster! I got these from CheapQSLs and man were they quick!

Also I got the following QSL cards in the mail this weekend.  It's amazing how many CW operators out there belong to SKCC and FISTS.





Don't forget, this weekend is the QRP-ARCI Spring QSO Party and the Georgia State QSO Party!  Plenty of CW out there for everyone! 

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Solar Conditions have changed!

I was able to spend some time on the air last evening and managed to work Jerry K4KBL down in Georgia again, I got a 579 in some very noisy conditions here.  Jerry was working some SKCC contacts and heard me calling CQ and answered my call.  Thanks Jerry!  Conditions were SSN:33 SFI:91 A:32 K:3

Solar conditions are funny things at times, and even though I have been a ham for alsmot 30 years now, I still can't predict what will happen by simply looking at the numbers.  I still find it best to just get on the air and see what you can hear.

I have worked loud 599 stations to only find out they are QRP...and I have worked VERY WEAK CW QSO's and found they were running  300 watts.  Antenna systems are crucial to being heard and hearing signals, but that's not where the magic of radio stops.  The atmospheric conditions of the planet Earth, and the solar conditions can help or hurt your chances greatly.  We have no control over solar conditions, but we can learn to do some predicting as to how well the bands will be working for us on any given night.  Frankly, if I make a QSO with my 2w and the HW-8 the bands are GREAT from my point of view.

Paul Harden NA5N, wrote a great piece on Solar Activity and HF propagation for the Four Days in May symposium in 2005.  It's well done and Paul has years of experience.  He was working at the Very Large Array in New Mexico the last time I knew.  Give it a read and maybe it can help you figure out the mysteries of the sun and how it affects HF radio wave propagation.


Best 73 de KB9BVN

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

QRP-ARCI Spring QSO Party

QRP ARCI will be kicking off the Spring QSO party at 1200Z on 8 April 2017 through 2400Z on 9 April 2017.  You may work a maximum of 24 hours of the 36 hour period.

Mode: HF CW only.

Exchange:
Members send:  RST, State/Province/Country, ARCI member number
Non-Members send:  RST, State/Province/Country, Power Out

QSO Points:
Member = 5 points
Non-Member, Different Continent = 4 points
Non-Member, Same Continent = 2 points

Multiplier:
SPC (State/Province/Country) total for all bands.  The same station may be worked on multiple bands for QSO points and SPC credit.

Power Multiplier:
>5 Watts = x1
>1 - 5 Watts = x7
>250 mW - 1 Watt = x10
>55 mW - 250 mW = x15
55 mW or less = x20

Suggested Frequencies:
160m1810 kHz
80m3560 kHz
40m7030 kHz (please listen at 7040 kHz for rock bound participants)
20m14060 kHz
15m 21060 kHz
10m28060 kHz

Score:
Final Score = Points (total for all bands) x SPCs (total for all bands) x Power Multiplier.

BONUS POINTS: None available for this contest.

Categories:
Entry may be All-Band, Single Band, High Bands (10m-15m-20m) or Low Bands (40m-80m)

How to Participate:
Get on any of the HF bands except the WARC bands and hang out near the QRP frequencies.  Work as many stations calling CQ QRP or CQ TEST as possible, or call CQ QRP or CQ TEST yourself!  You can work a station for credit once on each band.

Log Submission:
Submit your entry online at http://www.qrpcontest.com
Contest logs are not required for entry, but may be requested by the Contest Manager if required.

Deadline: Entries must be postmarked on or before 23 April 2017.

Results: Will be published in QRP Quarterly and shown on the QRP-ARCI website.

Certificates:  Will be awarded to the Top 10 Scoring Entrants.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

QRP Podcast - The QRPian

My friend Mike KD5KXF down in Texas called me a week ago and told me that he was going to start a QRP Podcast. I was excited!  Tonight the first edition was published and I invite you to give it a listen!

The QRPian Podcast by KD5KXF - tonight the guest is none other than Dave Cripe NM0S, the designer behind popular kits from the Four States QRP Group, and member of the QRP ARCI Hall of Fame.  Give it a listen! 

73 de KB9BVN 



SUNSPOTS!! They're back!

I always login to the Reverse Beacon Network before I get on the air, the HW8 doesn't have a digital readout, so I use the RBN to see where exactly my signals are being heard.  It's a fantastic tool for that.  Well today the solar conditions were quite a bit different than they have been lately.  SSN:49 SFI:84 A:32 K:3 Sunspots! Look at that HIGH A index....man...that's really going to have things stirred up for a day or two. 

I was weird.  It was like all signals to the west, were being gobbled up by the sun starved atmosphere...tried for a month to work MD, tonight I worked MD and NC and all I heard was east coast stations and no Delaware, New Hampshire, or Maine. 

Fist contact tonight was Dan K2YWE in MD, he was running 200w into a Loop antenna and I was copying him while surfing the QSB waves like a North Shore Surf Pro.  He had a great signal that was up and down, very good fist and made for some fine copy here in the hinterlands.  Thanks for the QSO Dan! 

Next up was Allan W4EAB, and he's a SKCC member.  We traded RST and numbers, and had a quick QSO.  The band was starting to sound muffled here and I noticed the A index was starting to show and upward trend.  I don't honestly know if that had anything to do with it or not.  Allan learned CW the hard way...as a radioman in the United States Coast Guard in the 1958-1959 time frame.  He even helped restart the Coast Guard base station in San Juan Puerto Rico KP4CGB. How exciting that must have been!  Thanks for your service Allan and I hope to work you again.  Great fist! 

Mail call!  Got these beauties today! 



Thanks for the cards guys! 

I found out about a cool event that has been going on all year.  Scott N3FJP  has an Annual Worked All States/Counties event going on right now.  He has three categories, QRP (that's me), LOW, and HIGH power.  You can upload your 2017 contacts in a ADIF file and join in on the fun. It's free!  Just sign up at the website and you'll be on your way.

That's it for today, best 73 de KB9BVN

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Maryland in the log...that's 28!

Had to run errands all morning today, and the 40m band was cranking but I had to miss it.  That's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.  I did manage to get on the air later in the afternoon, the band was not too hot but I was able to hear a few signals.  I managed to work Jeff KB3ZUK out in Maryland, which is number 28 in the log!  Jeff is new to CW and his fist was sure and steady.  He asked me to QRS and of course I did but sending slow on a straight key is a exercise in hand to wrist dexterity...indeed.  Jeff was also working from park KFF-1573 in the Worldwide Flora and Fauna effort.  That's pretty cool!  Jeff is also a three time Police Chief in the state of Maryland, and has recently retired.  He's also the Region 3 Call Manager for the WWFF and is a ARRL and Laurel VE.  The QSB was horrid and my RST was a 359...I sent Jeff a 569 and my SKCC number and he sent me his back.  It always feels great to get a new one and color in another state. 

I have asked the guys that are participating in this WAS challenge if we might open it to 20m and 40m both.  I'm waiting to see what they say.  Ivin W9ILF is running 1.5w from his Indiana QTH, Ron WB1GHA is running a HW8 from MA, and Wayne AC9HP is running JT65 at 1.5 watts from his Elecraft K3S in Avon Indiana.   I think as of today Wayne is leading...with 30 states.

So the mail man did not let me down today.  I got a new QSL card from Dave KB3MOW out in Pennsylvania.  We worked each other on St. Patricks Day! 



That's it for today...might try to get back on later tonight but I never know who is going to drop in on a Saturday night.  MeTV is showing Dracula tonight on the Svengoolie Show...I never miss Svengoolie. 

73 de KB9BVN

Friday, March 24, 2017

The HW-8 is officially a DX Machine!

Worked from home today, had the radio on in my office and 40m was pretty much Deadsville until about 4PM local time.  I heard a CQ wafting through the air on 7118 so I jumped over to the operating position and gave them an answer with both watts.  It was Harry VA3HWC up in London, Ontario CANADA and he gave me a 569.  The QSB was incredible, Harry was just doing a fantastic job pulling me out of the afternoon noise with his FT-1200, and then we sent our best 73's and did the "dit dit" thing.  Now, Canada is no North Korea when it comes to DX but it is the very first DX the little HW-8 has been able to work on 40m so far...at least while in my hands.   

Right after that QSO I heard Mac WA4QWN calling CQ from down Roanoke VA way.  He was using a IC 718 at 95w to a dipole. When we first started out he gave me a 599 but the QSB and band was getting really bad and we were both going from 229 to 599 and back again.  Great fist though, and a fun QSO considering the abominable conditions we had.  Thanks Mac! 

Mailman has not delivered any new QSL cards today so that will wrap it up for the day I think.  I have to go back to work in half an hour and then the SWBC blasts me out of my headphones from 8PM to almost 9PM...so if I am around I will try to get back on later tonight.  Looking forward to trying to get some western states in the morning hours.  

Tomorrow I am setting up an unlicensed newbie with a old HT that doesn't transmit so he can monitor the weather nets and the local 2m activity while he studies for his Technician Exam.   He lives very close to our local repeater so this ought to keep him motivated to keep studying.  If we could all just find one more person to introduce to the hobby, things would be fantastic for our future.  If you get a chance to bring someone in, do it.  The amateur radio operators of the world will thank you.  Be an Elmer!

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Thursday, March 23, 2017

What a week so far!

As many of you know, I work for an internet company, and I think I have talked about this before but here goes again.  Every 4th week I have to be on 24 hour call in case anything needs my attention.  I am described as a Server Administrator, and we have hundreds and hundreds of servers that need care and attention at the most inopportune times it seems.  This week I am on call.  So I have had little time to be on the air hence the slow down in my posting. 

Anyway, tonight I got home and was able to get on the air for about a half hour and I worked Rick KC4KNN down in North Carolina. Not a new state but Rick was a great QSO.  He's my age and has been a ham about as long as I have. He was pushing 70w with a old Ten Tec Corsair to a G5RV. His keying was very noticeable and he was using a bug of some kind....but man could he make that bug talk.  A lot of times I work ops with bugs (I can't use a bug to save my life) that tire me out, funky spacing, weird drawn out elements...but Rick was great copy and a great fist! 

The mail man brought me a lot of QSL cards this week, and here they are! 


Foster W4AZA sent me a very nice letter with his card.  Foster is a 79 year old retired doctor, and he served in the US Navy.  He got his license originally in 1953 at the age of 15!  Foster has also been a minister for over 30 years as well.  Our QSO was his fourth QSO since he has returned to the air after a long time off.  He's using a mag loop antenna IN HIS ATTIC.....NICE JOB FOSTER!!!  Thank you for your service in our military! 

Well that's about it for the night, I do not get to color in a new state today but that just gives me more reason to return to the air tomorrow.  I will be working from home so might have time to check 40 out during the morning.

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Friday, March 17, 2017

Another New One, and Another and Another....OVER 50%

Got on the air today at about 3pm local time, I was working from home today and things were a little light so I  fired up the HW-8 to see what was happening on 40m.  Band conditions are still pretty bad at this time of day. 

My first contact was Tom KB3CVO over in PA, already had him in the log but he gave me a 339 and said my signal was a little drifty.   We did the SKCC exchange and I moved on to Jim KI4I/M as he was driving through Kansas.  Jim lives in Tennessee, and was a Seebee in the US Navy back in 1968.  We traded exchanges and all that, then QRN and QSB pretty much ended the QSO in it's tracks.  Jim if you read this, thank you for your military service!

About a half hour later I got Glen WD5CNC down in Arkansas.  Glenn was running a Yaesu FT 450 and was sounding pretty good here. QSb and QRN was getting bad...my 559 fell to a 529 by the end of the QSO. This is a new state and puts me at 24 so far.  I'm still behind, so I will get back on the air this evening and see what I can scare up.  

Tomorrow is radio club meeting, 8AM on a Saturday morning....yikes.  The Midstate Amateur Radio Club is from near Franklin Indiana, they've been around over 25 years and they have a great group of folks as members.  i will be taking a friend of mine with me, he's not licensed yet but we're working on it.

So glad I was able to get back on the air....between 23:00Z and 00:00Z 40m opened up a little bit and I managed to pick up three more states!   Solar indexes still look bad but the band is starting to stretch out and go a little longer.

First up was Glen NK1N in New Jersey, another new one!  Glen is an SKCC member so we traded SKCC numbers, RST's and QTH's.  Glen is big into UHF/VHF rovering and working the birds!  Check him out on QRZ.

Next was Myrt N1GKE in Rhode Island, another new one!  Always happy to get RI and DE under my belt... Myrt and I traded RST, SKCC, and QTH information and he gave me a 599.  The SSB QRM was getting bad, we were operating on 7118 Khz.

Tom W4OIS down in South Carolina was my fourth new state of the day! Tom is also an SKCC member, so we traded the usual stuff. Tom is a navy veteran, and collects arrow heads, check him out on QRZ.

Dave KB3MOW was another SKCCer from Pennsylvania.  We were also on 7118 Khz and the SSB was pretty rough.  The HW-8 has little filtering so you just have to "listen around it".  Good QSO to make!

Foster W4AZA from Alabama was making his third CW contact tonight. We exchanged the basic info, hes not in SKCC, and tried to carry on a conversation but the QRM was just too much, so we had to cut it short.

That's it for tonight, mailman dropped the ball and brought no QSL cards.

73 de KB9BVN
 

Indiana Elmer Network

The Indiana Elmer Network is one of the radio groups that I work with from time to time, and I am glad to be a member.  They've been around a few years now, and seemed to sprout from the good deeds being done by Steve W9THR and a few friends.  It's my opinion that we do not have enough elmering going on in the ranks of the hobby, and the IEN gives me a perfect chance to do some elmering and give some encouragement to newbies, and oldies from time to time.  If you are interested in seeing more about the IEN, just check out their website. 

Last night I was not on the air, instead I was at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance in Indianapolis helping as a VE with the IEN VE team.  IEN has been running a Technician Class, and a Tech to General Class since the first part of the year.  I have been working with Wayne AC9HP, and Gary KA9ZYL, as an instructor in the Tech to General Class.  We started out with a dozen students, and as of last night all but one had successfully advanced to General.  The Technician class is still going on for another week but more than half of them have passed the exam for Technician now.  One of the things we stress in our class is to get involved with a local radio club and attend some hamfests. 

Last night we had 15 or 16 people come in to test for new licenses, or to upgrade their current license.  The IEN VE Team is part of the Laurel ARC VEC, so testing is done at no charge to the individual. All costs of the testing are donated by the VE's themselves.  So to keep costs down, as you can imagine, Laurel ARC VEC has streamlined the testing process to the point they submit test data to the FCC within 24 hours of most testing sessions.  The people that tested last night, had their call signs this morning. 

So if you are interested in Elmering, contact the IEN and see what they are working on next.  You may be able to help, or join in and learn something new.  

I hope to be back at it tonight!  Ivin W9ILF is pulling WAY ahead! 

73 de KB9BVN

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Ever Have One of Those Days?

I got home at the usual time, and fired up the rig at 4:30PM (20:30Z) and started scanning 40m for a station to QSO with.  I was hearing virtually nothing.  The indexes were once again, not in my favor.  (SSN:0 SFI:70 A:4 K:1) I gave it about 40 mins, and called CQ  and got skunked.  So I watched TV with my wife for a bit and came back around 8PM (00:00Z) and tried it again. 

I was greeted with a shortwave radio broadcast that originates about 40 miles north of me in a town called Noblesville IN.  Now that we're on DST that means this program fires up at 8PM instead of 7PM. I need to build a filter for this as it coats the entire 40m band with programming..for almost 40 minutes. 

I tried ignoring it and tuned down to where the SKCC guys hang out (7048-7060) and I was able to HEAR Arkansas, Minnesota, and Nebraska...all states I need for WAS.  Unfortunately, try as I might, the 2w wasn't getting to them.  It was horrible....my key was smoking, my knuckles were sore...and no matter how hard I tried, nothing was working.

I was monitoring my signal on the Reverse Beacon Network.  My signal strength was up and down like a roller coaster.  The atmosphere and solar conditions are not being QRP friendly to me tonight.  I was getting frustrated. 

LOOK at the wide range of SNRs being reported...WOW
So I shut down at about 8:50PM and checked the mail box.  JOY oh JOY!! I love getting QSL cards in the mail...as I have explained numerous times. It's kind of weird, I know, but it's EXCITING!


N0AIE QSL Card
Ev was my South Dakota contact back on the 20th of February.  Very glad to receive his card! 

KD0DK QSL Card
Next up is this nice one from Dave out in Iowa. Are you seeing a common theme starting to unfold? All these CW operators are SKCC and/or FISTS members.  If you are a serious CW operator, I urge you to join the SKCC and FISTS.  Lot's of great fun events and a good bunch of guys to QSO with when you just need to QSO. 

Well that's it for today.  I'm shutting down and calling it a day....KB9BVN is QRT for now. 

73 de KB9BVN

What happened to the sun?

Wow.  I got back on a few times this weekend, Reverse Beacon Network showing my 2w signal way down in the dirt, so to speak.  Current conditions are not that great.  I don't think the SFI has been above 70 since early last week...no sun spots in sight. 

Will be back at it tonight when I get home from work, I have been hearing a few stations on 40m but not seeming to be getting back to any of them. I even plugged in the WM-2 watt meter to make sure I was putting some power to the dipole...and I am. 

Momma said there'd be days like this. While we're on the topic of solar conditions, check out these links. 

Paul Harden NA5N on Solar Activity and Ham Radio.  This is from the Four Days in May Symposium back in 2005. In PDF format, 

This is from QST in 2002...by G3YWX Ian Poole. Understanding Solar Indices.

You may need to be an ARRL member to see the QST article. 

73 de KB9BVN

Friday, March 10, 2017

The folks you meet on CW....

Today the mailman brought a couple new QSL cards, one from Ron WB1HGA out in MA and the other from Jerry K5KBL from down in the Peach State of Georgia.  Thank you guys very much for the cards, they are always appreciated!

WB1HGA QSL Card
K4KBL QSL Card



So it's Friday night, and my wife is at the movies with a son and his family, checking out the new King Kong flick.  Left to my own devices I naturally migrated toward the shack and fired up the HW-8 to see what I could see.  Band sounded a little flat at 5PM local time (SSN:0 SFI:71 A:12 K:1) and I heard WB4DBO from down near Huntsville Alabama ( A NEW ONE!!).  He was calling CQ on 7035 Khz and I shot him an answer and he came right back to me.  I gave him a 599 and he gave me a 589 and we talked about our radios and our RST and SKCC interests.  Bill was running a KX-3 down there but not QRP...he said my HW-8 was sounding like a big rig!  

We QSO'd for a good 15-20 minutes and had a great time.  I went to QRZ and looked Bill up, he is a Army veteran, and learned radio as a Army Radio Operator with the 5th Special Forces in Vietnam, back in 1966.  He's a retired, 30 year veteran of the US Army and has a fantastic collection of Elecraft gear.  Check out his biography on QRZ.  

Bill if you read this, I would like to thank you for your service.  My dad retired as a Sgt Major after 27 years in the Army, we lost him last January and I can tell you he was proud of his service, and loved his country. It's amazing who you run into on CW. 

I hope to get back at it later this evening.  Have a great weekend! 

73 de KB9BVN

W9ILF Getting a New Radio

Got home from work last night and we had visitors, so I was unable to get on the air.  However, I have learned that my friend Ivin W9ILF is about to get a new radio.  New to him.  Ron WB1HGA has put him in possession of a Doug DeMaw W1FB special, the multi band OHR-400.  What's even more cool than that, this radio used to be mine!  I sold it to Ron maybe 5 or 6 years ago, immediately regretting it, as I regret selling any of my radios.  The OHR-400 will make a great addition to the collection of W9ILF and I can't wait to hear it on the air.  

The mail man brought me two new cards and I share them below. 

WB9EGZ QSL Card
I worked Dave WB9EGZ during the Novice Rig Roundup last month.  He gave me a 559 and we had a nice QSO.  Thanks Dave!

WA8JPC QSL Card
Greg sent me this one from the great state of West Virginia.  Thank you Greg! 

I hope to get back on the air this evening and see if I can knock out a few more states over the weekend.  With any luck there will be a new antenna here next week.  I'll have my choice of the 40m half wave dipole in the attic or a Eagle One vertical in the back yard.  I have been using my attic antenna since 1998, and it's almost always good for a QSO but it'll be a lot of fun having the vertical to use as well.  The Terre Haute Indiana Hamfest is this weekend, but it's in Brazil Indiana at the Clay County Fairgrounds, I won't be able to attend but it's usually pretty good.   Also, Wayne AC9HP and the guys from the Indiana Elmer Network wrapped up the Tech to General class last night.  We still had two guys left to pass their upgrade...I have not heard the results yet but I'd like to thank everyone involved with putting the class on.  It was a great effort, and there was plenty of pizza.  How can can you go wrong? If you are a ham in Indiana and would be interested in becoming part of the IEN, drop Wayne AC9HP an email - his address is good on QRZ.COM  See ya on the air! 

73 de KB9BVN