Tuesday, October 3, 2017

New QSO's

Bruce KA8TNK
As of October 1st I have decided that I will start using my K2 again to try and finish off my 2017 Worked All States QRP CW attempt.  The HW8 is not going anywhere as I have become quite attached to that little green radio.  I will also be doing some Alexloop time with the K2 as well.  I am looking forward to wrapping the WAS effort up, and then trying it again next year.

Last night on 40m I was able to have a nice QSO with Bruce KA8TNK, he lives up in Trenton Michigan near the big city of Detroit.  Trenton has historical significance as it was part of the Michigan area that was captured by the British during the War of 1812.  I was on the K2 at 5w to the attic dipole and Bruce was running an old Heathkit SB-101 on his end.  It sounded awesome and his fist made for easy copy on 7034 Khz.  I noticed he lives in Wayne County...Bruce in Wayne...do you think he's Batman?  Did I QSO with BATMAN??

This afternoon I had the K2 warmed up and firing out 5w to the 20m band at about 20:30Z  and got a nice call back from Jim K1GND  in Rhode Island!  Jim was QRP as well running 5w from his KX2 near Providence.  QSB started getting pretty bad after about 10 minutes, so this was no ragchew but it was still a load of fun.

Jim K1GND with a basket of Quahogs (Hard Shell Clams)
Jim likes to cook what he digs up in the bay...feast your eyes on this!
Fresh - on the half shell - with homemade cocktail sauce, consisting of ketchup, horse radish,
Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce and a dash of lemon juice.
Looks pretty good to me!

Thanks for the QSOs guys!

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Friday, September 29, 2017

Good Tech Talk Last Night

Last evening, Ed Valasek K3HTK came to the IEN Tech Talk to discuss using the Raspberry Pi in different amateur radio projects for the shack.

Ed is a long time IT professional with experience galore in playing with technology and his experience working with small board computers is vast.  Ed runs a good website at http://indyham.com and you can email him by sending to edvalasek@hotmail.com - he is also available on Twitter @indyham and is happy to answer any questions. 

ED K3HTK starting his Pi Presentation

Projects covered: 

FLDGI on the Pi - Ed has created a time saving script that is available on the website.  His script runs on the Pi and goes out and grabs all the latest fldgi software and dependencies from all over the net. Give it a try.

GPredict - a cool satellite tracking program for the Pi

SkyPi40 - A nice little WSPR transmitter for propagation study

EchoIRLP Node - How to run a IRLP node off your Pi

And several others.  We had 11 hams there, counting Ed, and I think everyone, especially me, walked away with some great ideas and project options. 

Thanks Ed! 

Our next Tech Talk is October 26th at 6PM, Solar Conditions and Radio Wave Propagation will be discussed by Bob KN9RES.  Bob has 30 years in the Navy as a Radioman and was responsible for compiling reports on propagation predictions.  He promises to make this subject interesting and fun! 

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Another Fine 'chew on 40m Tonight

This is my first evening to not be on call for work in a week.  I even managed to leave on time and got home with plenty of daylight left and to my poor neglected radio buddy, my K2.  So I setup the Alexloop tonight on the back porch, it was sunny and about 88 F...started out on 20m and heard a few stations but they were not too loud, went up to 15m and then 10m and found nothing.  It was still pretty early, like 5:30PM and I figured 40m wouldn't be hopping for a few hours but I tuned in 7036 Khz and heard Karl KA1FSX calling CQ from the far northeast corner of Pennsylvania.  Looks like about 560 miles on the map from my QTH here in New Whiteland IN. 

When I heard the 1 call I was hoping for Maine or Vermont...but I was not disappointed in my QSO with Karl.  KA1FSX has been a ham since 1980,  but he went inactive for a bit and just started back on the air this August.  He's running a IC-718 to a dipole and using a LDG autotuner with his setup.  Karl had a very easy copy fist, even in the mild QSB we were experiencing.  I did not have headphones on, the guy next door was mowing his lawn, and I was fighting off a flock of Indiana sweat bees...and I was still 100% copy...that just how good his fist was.  If you hear KA1FSX on the air, WORK HIM, he's armchair smooth.  We were moving along at about 17 wpm....fast for some...slow for a lot of others...but it was very enjoyable and relaxing after a hard day in the computer mines.

Karl lives in Montrose PA, this town was settled in 1812 and is named from the French word mont, which means mountain, and Rose which was the last name of Dr. L.R. Rose (he was a prominent person in the area).  Started out with about 90 people in 1812 and by 1912 was a thriving town of over 1800.   The population now is about 1610 according to census data.

Downtown Montrose PA - 2017

Karl if you ever hear me out there, give me a shout!

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Neat Antenna Idea from W9ILF

I was talking with Ivin W9ILF yesterday and he was asking me if I remembered the hamstick verticals he made a couple summers ago. I remembered I had one of the stands/connectors he had made for me.  It's pretty straight forward. 

Ivin basically took a piece of flat aluminum, and drilled in a hole for the antenna stud and a smaller hole that he threaded for an aluminum "spike" about 12-14 inches long, made from aluminum rod and threaded.  The way this works is you push the spike in to the ground, connect the hamstick to the antenna stud, and connect your radials to  the wingnut.   Yesterday Ivin was using this antenna on 20m with a set of 8 radials each about 12 feet long. He worked Hungary on CW with 5 watts of QRP power.  Pretty cool huh? 

Here is his setup from yesterday:

So what you need is some flat bar aluminum stock, 1/4 inch aluminum rod material, antenna stud, and a tap and die set so you can tap the small hole and thread the aluminum rod, and a ham stick. Sounds like a trip to the local hardware store.  The antenna stud hole does not need to be tapped. 

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Thursday, September 21, 2017

We have NEW HAMS!!!

KD9JIE and KD9JID - Newest Hams in Morgan County! 
My grandkids, I am so proud!  They passed their Technician Exam on the first try!


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Another Ragchew on 40m

Saturday afternoon I had some spare time so I fired up the K2 and ran a few stations in the Iowa QSO Party. 40m was in decent shape although there was some slow rolling QSB taking place.  I tried calling 7049 for about 10 minutes and wasn't getting any bites so I moved down to 7034. Threw out a few CQs and got a 599 callback from John WZ9I from way down in Winder Georgia.   John was running a TS590GS into a dipole up about 40 feet at 50w.  I was running 5w from the K2 into my antic dipole that is apparently aimed due southeast. 

John and his family moved to Georgia a couple months ago from Wisconsin, he told me they had to move because he broke his snow blower and he was looking forward to no more 20 below zero temperatures.   He's retired and has been a ham since 1960 according to his QRZ biography page.  It was hotter here in Indy than it was in Georgia today. 

Winder is an interesting town, it started out in the mid 1700's as a Creek Nation trading outpost called Snoden.  By the 1790's settlers and farmers had moved in and changed the name to The Jug...then later Jug Tavern...population 37,  About that time the Humphrey Brothers built Ft Yugo and sold it and 167 acres to the county for $127.00 - the cool thing about Jug Tavern, it was the intersection of three counties.  Gwinnett, Walton, and Jackson counties all met in the middle of main street. 

Soon afterwards the railroad came through and Jug Tavern became a main stopping spot on the way to Atlanta parts further south.  In 1893 they changed the name to Winder, named after the general manager of the Seaboard Railway, John H. Winder.  

Being situated in three counties caused continuous legal problems and governance confusion for the residents and businesses of Winder. It required almost 75 years, following many aborted efforts, for Barrow County to be established. Finally, on July 7, 1914, the Georgia General Assembly carved territory from Gwinnett, Jackson and Walton counties to create the new county, with Winder as the county seat. Each of these counties utilized a river as the line which would separate the donated land in the former counties from the future Barrow County. The new county was named for the Chancellor of the University of Georgia, David Crenshaw Barrow. A new courthouse, designed by James J. Baldwin, was completed in 1920 at a cost of $133,400; the building is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Other towns brought in with the establishment of Barrow County included Auburn, Bethlehem, Carl and Statham.

Barrow County Courthouse.

Thanks to Wikipedia for the info on Winder Georgia.  John and I closed out the QSO after about 28 minutes, so he will be issued CW Ragchewer Award #2 from KB9BVN.   Great fist, good copy, and I hope to work him again. 

73 de KB9BVN

Friday, September 15, 2017

A QSO to Remember!

So tonight I was going to check in to the Indiana Code Net on 3535 Khz at 7PM local time, and at 7PM nothing happened.  I heard not a thing...so I went ahead and called the ICN Net to order and asked for  QNI (check in) and got zero replies.  I am not the greatest NCS because I am on 80m with a compromise antenna at 5 watts.  If the band isn't open, I'm toast. 

So not to be too discouraged, I still had the K2 all setup so I moved to 40m, my favorite band, and started calling CQ on 7039...for like 5 minutes at a quarter past 7PM...nothing.  A quick check of the Reverse Beacon Network shows I am being heard all over the midwest, so I try a couple more times, and boy am I glad I did. 

For the geography impaired, Indiana is wedged between Illinois on the west and Ohio on the east. KD8ZM called me back in answer to my lonely CQ.  Brady KD8ZM lives in a town called New Carlilse Ohio...near Dayton...maybe 200 miles away.  He was 599 and I was 599 and we commenced ta QSOing.  Come to find out, Brady had been at CW for about 6 weeks.  He got licensed way back in 1984 but decided to make a comeback to ham radio just 6 weeks ago.  He was using a IC 7200, a straight key, and a 600 foot loop antenna (!!!)  up about 40 feet.  

Here's a picture of Brady that I pilfered from his QRZ biography page. Come to find out we are the same age.  Brady likes to make beer, and he like blacksmithing, woodworking, AND he is a banjo and guitar player!! We need to get Brady to come over and visit the HoosierQRP group and jam with the guys.   

New Carlisle Ohio has been made famous by a rather infamous Hoosier...that's right. On June 21, 1933, the infamous John Dillinger committed his first bank robbery, taking $10,000 from the New Carlisle National Bank, which occupied the building which still stands at the southeast corner of Main Street and Jefferson Street (state routes 235 and 571) in New Carlisle.  Thanks to Wikipedia for that fun factoid. Wow...John Dillinger.   Also...New Carlilse Ohio is the birthplace of Roy J. Plunkett...who?  The guy that invented Teflon! 

Anyway we chewed it for 30 minutes, it was awesome, and I can't wait to bump into his very easy to copy fist again soon.   BTW....Brady is the recipient of the KB9BVN CW Ragchewer Award! 

KD8ZM Earns Ragchewer Award!

Thanks for the FB QSO Brady!   Your ears are awesome as I was running 5 watts from my K2. 

Very best 73 de KB9BVN

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Great night for Corn Whiskey!

Things around here are in turmoil, plus I have a storage upgrade to do tonight that will take until 3AM I am told...good grief.  So imagine my delight when the locals and I are chatting on Slack and we find out there is a slow CW net tonight at 7PM...on 3535 every night of every week.  More on that later. 

So I was setting up my shack for the big upgrade tonight, I am using remote tools along with the manufacturer so I needed everything set up at home so I didn't have to stay at work all night.  I noticed my poor K2 sitting there all disconnected, and being ignored, so I decided to move the HW8 off the desk and plugged the K2 in. 

I immediately tuned to 7118 and started calling CQ at a whopping 5w into the attic dipole and was answered instantly by Jim KI4I from down in Bartlett TN.  Now Jim is a Navy man and a long time ham radio operator.  He started out as a Navy Seabee in Rhode Island and ended up in Cuba eventually where he got bit by the ham radio bug.  Checkout his wonderful bio on QRZ.COM for all the details.  He and I both have wives named Ann and we have lived blessed lives! 

Jim KI4I in his Shop
Thanks for the 579 RST Jim, Your TS440S at 100w was sounding great from the G5RV and an honest 599 even though we had just a little bit of QSB going on.  I hope to work you again soon, nice ragchew and your fist was a pleasure to copy. 

That QSO was at about 2130Z and I was anxiously awaiting the ICN (Indiana Code Net) on 3535 Khz at 7PM...several of our newer guys are learning CW and they wanted to try and check in tonight.  W9IMH was the NCS this evening and we had about 7 or 8 QNI, and the new guys all did GREAT jobs, with great fists, many checking in to the CW net for the very first time.  It just made it all a blast.   Rick KB9NDF and Mac AF4PS got me on the trail to CW about 20 years ago, I passed the CW bug on to Ivin W9ILF not too long after that, and now he's given the CW bug to Mike W9ODX, Steve W9BRI, and Jermane KD9GZJ...now we have a whole bunch of new hams like Chris KD9JCJ and old hams like Wayne AC9HP interested in learning CW..it just keeps growing.  CW is fun.  So is being an Elmer. 

When the net was over, Mike W9ODX and I QSY'd to 3526 Khz and had our first CW to CW QSO and I could not be more excited about a QSO.  He's only been at CW since about spring and his fist is beautiful armchair copy.  Ivin W9ILF has done a very  very good job teaching him.  Hats off and Mike a QSL card is in the mail buddy! 

Great night to be a ham! 

73 de KB9BVN 

Friday, September 1, 2017

It's a NEW STATE!!!

Got on the air tonight at about 00:30 UTC and heard W9IK calling CW on 7052 or close by.  So I grabbed the world famous Nye Viking Master Key and sent my call a couple times and Steve W9IK came back to me totally 599! 

A quick look and I see he is from Danville Illinois, so I was happy to have QSO but did not know I had a new state until he sent QTH Nesbit MS, Nesbit MS.  I was about to jump out of my chair.  This is the first new state on the HW8 in about 9 weeks now...man what a long dry spell.   Steve was running 100w from his TS 570S down there and he gave me a 579.  

Nesbit is in the very far north edge of Mississippi, in DeSoto County, almost on the Tennessee border.  Guess who lives here?  JERRY LEE LEWIS!!!  That's who!  Killer himself has had a ranch there since the mid 1970's...wow would I like to QSO with him.   That's about all I know about Nesbit. 

So I am happy to report that I get to color in another state tonight.  Now I can go to bed a very happy ham. 

Best 73 de KB9BVN

QRP-ARCI Fall QSO Party is Coming!

Happy first day of September!  

Fall arrives this month and that also means the QRP-ARCI Fall QSO Party is just around the corner. You can get all the details from our website at http://qrparci.org so you are totally ready to radiate into the ether and make loads of contacts! 

The Fall QSO Party is a alot of fun, especially if you are outdoors enjoying the Fall colors and the cooler temps. No better time to plan an outing with your QRP radio. 

I'll look for you from 1200Z on 14 October 2017 through 2400Z on 15 October 2017 - full details on the website.

Don't miss out on the fun, AND ...it don't cost nothin...

QRP-ARCI 10223

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Local Tailgater Huge Success

Bright and early this morning, my grandson Alex and I loaded up and headed to the first AIMfest tailgater held at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance on the west side of Indianapolis.  This tailgater was done through the efforts of the Indiana Elmer Network, and the school.  Gates opened up at 7AM and the event ran until 11AM, I would estimate we had maybe a dozen guys selling stuff and maybe 50-60 people walking around shopping and socializing.  The weather was beautiful, sunny, low 70's and amost no humidity...which is very RARE for Indiana in August.  For a FREE tailgater they had some great prize giveaways, thanks to Radio Oddity and N3FJP.  They gave away two sets of R2 FRS radios, a GD-77 dual time slot DMR HT, and a set of the N3FJP logging software to four lucky hams.  Wayne AC9HP did a most excellent job of gathering donated prizes and his wife Mary was awesome running the Nacho and Hot Dog booth. 

One of the best parts was when the B-29 they call FIFI flew over at about 9:15AM.  It was a true sight to behold and is only one of TWO remaining B-29's still capable of flight. 

B-29 FIFI in Flight
Paul KD9IAO and I picked up a big honking air variable cap from Phil N9RKA and we are going to try and fashion a nice big magnetic loop antenna for 20, 30, and 40m....stay tuned for that.  Mike W9ODX brought his brand new radio, the mcHF SDR radio and man is it a beauty.  He is using his rain gutters as his antenna and I know he's going to have a blast with that rig. 

Great Hamfest! Great Food! Lot's of great folks there making it happen.  I had a great time and I look forward to next year! 

Hawaii QSO Party is on the air right now...and I need Hawaii.  Wish me luck!

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Friday, August 25, 2017

First good QSO on the Alex Loop!

Tomorrow is the AIM Hamfest and free tailgator so tonight I was setting up my K2 and the Alexloop on the back patio, to see if I had everything ready to go for tomorrow.  At 8:30PM I worked Clark WU4B down in Marietta Georgia, on 7051 Khz and he gave me a 559.  The K2 was set to 10 watts, and I had him at 599 here in central Indiana.  Clark is an SKCC member so we exchanged numbers and I told him thanks for the QSO on my new loop antenna.   Clark has a great fist and was 599 all the way, made for some armchair copy. 

Clark is a QRPer from way back, licensed since 1961 and a big fan of trains.  He is a member of the QRP-ARCI club, SKCC, and  NoGA QRP Club.  His main radio is a Elecraft K3 and he has accumulated 163 DXCC contacts running QRP and 311 (WOW!!)  running QRO.  

This isn't new state and not even a HW8 QSO but it felt great to get it all working and putting one in the log book.  Tuning the loop is pretty simple once you get the hang of it, I look forward to many nights on the back patio with my setup now. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Bird Watching on the Pi

I was QSOing with Paul KD9IAO on the way home tonight and we started talking about our Raspberry Pi's and what we were doing with them.  Paul has a couple of Pi 2B's and a 3B, and I have a trio of the 3B models.  Paul told me about a very interesting application he was running to track satellites so he knows when the ISS flies over and the time is right to try a QSO.   The program he is using is called Gnome Predict, or gpredict in the software library. 

You can add this application to your Raspberry Pi by clicking on the Raspberry, choosing Preferences, and then clicking on the Add/Remove Software option.  Type in gpredict and your Pi will go out on the internet and pull down version 1.3 of Gnome Predict.  

Once the software installs you open the preferences and input your location information and ASL altitude.

Now you are all set!

Give this app a try, I think you'll like it.  I have also been using my Raspberry Pi 3B as a Shortwave Receiver, thanks to http://websdr.org and the online receiver community.  It's amazing what you can do with this little $35 small board computer! 

73 de KB9BVN

Monday, August 21, 2017

New rig from QRP Labs!

Saw this from Hans Summer G0UPL on the QRP-L list today. 

The new QRP Labs kit "QCX" is now available, a single-band 5W transceiver with high performance and packed with features, including a WSPR beacon, built-in test equipment, CW decoder, synthesized rotary-encoder VFO, etc. The kit price is $49 (equivalent to £38.06, 41.73€ at time of writing).

Order here: https://shop.qrp-labs.com/qcx . Shipping is $6.30 to anywhere in the world and delivery is tax-free.

The 137-page assembly/operation manual can be downloaded here http://qrp-labs.com/qcx and includes circuit diagram and comprehensive description of circuit operation.

  • Easy to build, single-board design, 10 x 8cm, all controls are board-mounted
  • Professional quality double-sided, through-hole plated, silk-screenprinted PCB
  • Choice of single band, 80, 60, 40, 30, 20 or 17m
  • Approximately 3-5W CW output (depending on supply voltage)
  • 7-16V recommended supply voltage
  • Class E power amplifier, transistors run cool… even with no heatsinks
  • 7-element Low Pass Filter ensures regulatory compliance
  • CW envelope shaping to remove key clicks
  • High performance receiver with at least 50dB of unwanted sideband cancellation
  • 200Hz CW filter with no ringing
  • Si5351A Synthesized VFO with rotary encoder tuning
  • 16 x 2 blue backlight LCD screen
  • Iambic keyer or straight key option included in the firmware
  • Simple Digital Signal Processing assisted CW decoder, displayed real-time on-screen
  • On-screen S-meter
  • Full or semi QSK operation using fast solid-state transmit/receive switching
  • Frequency presets, VFO A/B Split operation, RIT, configurable CW Offset
  • Configurable sidetone frequency and volume
  • Connectors: Power, 3.5mm keyer jack, 3.5mm stereo earphone jack, BNC RF output
  • Onboard microswitch can be used as a simple straight Morse key
  • Built-in test signal generator and alignment tools to complete simple set-up adjustments
  • Built-in test equipment: voltmeter, RF power meter, frequency counter, signal generator
  • Beacon mode, supporting automatic CW or WSPR operation
  • GPS interface for reference frequency calibration and time-keeping (for WSPR beacon)

WOW!!   What a rig for the money spent!!  

73 de KB9BVN

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Went to Kansas tonight!

Got on the air at about 7PM local time (23:00Z) and started listening around and was very happy to hear more signals tonight than I have heard in a week or two.  I heard John K0JVX calling CQ around 7050 Khz and I threw him a few replies before he finally heard me.  Band conditions were noisy with lots of QRN and QSB going on but he's a 73 year old ham with 60 years experience.  He pulled me up out of the bottom like he was pulling a big catfish out of the Mississippi River.  John was running 80w from a Ten Tec Omni D and a dipole.  

Ten Tec Omni D - a great rig! 
I gave him an honest 599 and he gave me a 339 with QSB and QRN.  We traded info and the QSO lasted about 6 minutes.  It was great to make a contact again with the HW8 and my attic dipole.   80w vs 2w and we got the job done, THANKS JOHN!  John lives in Olathe Kansas, not a new state for this year but a good QSO nevertheless.

Also on Saturday this weekend I was able to get out on the back patio with my new Alex Loop.  Did not make any contacts during the day but I had a great time.

KB9BVN with K2 and Alex Loop

Until next time! 

73 de KB9BVN

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Alex Loop has Landed

Got home from work today and found the Alex Loop I bought from my friend Jay AJ4AY sitting in my office.  So of course I shoved my dinner down my throat and headed out to the back patio with the new antenna and assorted goodies. 

I got it put together pretty quickly...not to self: YOU NEED TO MAKE A STAND FOR IT

Anyway...hooked the batteries up to the K2 and then connected the antenna, and like magic I was hearing stations from 40m to 12m (10m was dead).  That got me excited so back into the house for my Parkwood Paddles. 

I managed to work AC4FZ down in North Carolina on 10.120 Mhz (30m) he was very loud but he could barely hear me...and I was running  five whole watts.  Regardless, I did a happy dance and logged my RST of 229 and moved around. 

All in all I am happy with the small loop antenna.  I will finish the stand for it tomorrow and drag my SWR meter out with me to make sure I have optimal output.  The tuning cap is very sharp on getting locked in...most bands I had about 15 Khz of wiggle room before needing to slightly re-tune. 

WX for this weekend is looking good, and I can see me and the loop heading to the park on Saturday afternoon.  Thanks Jay! 

Tomorrow night I have to teach a class on the Raspberry Pi SBC.  So no radio. 

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Friday, August 4, 2017

40m is Working Tonight!

It has been a long dry spell around here for QSOs lately. I have just been too busy to get on the air and when I do the band is in pretty bad shape.  The poor little HW-8 and it's two watts have not been really successful lately.

My friend Mike W9ODX over at the "Adventures in CW" blog has been having success with his rain gutter antenna and waiting to get on the 40m band until after 9PM, and he's been making a lot of contacts. 

So tonight I took his advice and I waited until about 10PM EDT and fired up the HW-8 on about 7120 Khz and started calling CQ, I think I sent my CQ's out about 4 maybe 5 times, when I was answered by Gary K9NSS over in Marion Illinois, about 210 miles from here.  Interesting to note that in 1982 F4 tornadoes hit the city and caused extensive damage killing 10 and sending over 200 to the hospital.  Marion is located in the deep southern tip of Illinois.  Gary was running his Icom 765 at 75 watts and we traded 599 RST reports. 

Here's the city in 1910, thanks to Wikipedia. 

It was really great to QSO again!   I just bought a Alex Loop and I am anxious to try it with the HW-8 from my back patio.  Stay tuned! 

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Cheer up...it could be worse!

Yeah...things don't look too great for HF right now....

Was on Facebook a bit ago and a local ham, new to the hobby, hit me up on chat and asked me why his antenna wasn't working.  He described a perfectly deployed 20m dipole up about 30 feet. He couldn't hear anything and no one was answering his CQ's.  So I check the bands...and found this.  Oh boy.  I think I'll cook some hot dogs on the grill and go watch my grass grow. Maybe later tonight things will improve. 

On another note, another newer ham to the area has been bitten by the QRP CW bug hard,  Michael W9ODX has been using a borrowed MJF 9040 at 5 watts to make contacts.  He lives in a HOA restricted area so his operating has had to be on the move...UNTIL NOW. 

Check out his blog and see how a determined ham overcame the obstacles of the HOA.  Great job Mike! 

That's it for now....getting ready for a weenie roast so we're making baked beans...delicious tasty BBQ baked beans...Mmmmmm.  599 fo sho


Best 73! 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Got those Post Field Day blues...

Hi there, it's me again, I know it's been awhile since the last update, I have switched jobs, and have been too busy here lately to get on the air much.  Here's the latest report from KB9BVN and the search for HW8 WAS! 

The bad news is I have not increased my number of states in over a month now.  I am seemingly stuck at 30.  I have not been able to get my Eagle One installed in the back yard, so I am still operating off the attic dipole for 40m.   I had a fantastic Field Day and I hope you all did too. 

Field Day this year was with the Hoosier QRP Group.  Ivin W9ILF was kind enought to invite us to his home and we operated from there.  He lives in Morgan County on a few acres, so we set up two operating positions.  At the controls were Marty N9SE (CW), Michael W9ODX (CW and SSB),  Ivin W9ILF (CW and Cello), and yours truly operating the grill and some CW on 20m and 40m.  Our rigs were from Elecraft, W9SE brought his KX3, and W9ILF brought his K2 out of the basement and into the sunlight.  Antennas were a pair of OCF dipoles up about 30-35 feet aimed in opposite directions. 

Dan N8IE, the trustee of the Flying Pigs QRP Club International, loaned us the club call sign, so we operated the entire time as W8PIG.  We also kept everything at 5 watts or less, yes, 5w SSB and 5w CW.  The SSB guys were cracking up over our call sign but I honestly think it helped us get noticed. I stayed until about 8PM on Saturday night, and Marty, Michael and Ivin worked the night shift.  The die hard CW operators were Ivin and Marty and they worked all night and until the close of the event on Sunday. 

Marty had us using N1MM logger in networked mode, and it was pretty slick.   When the smoke cleared, we had made 309 CW contacts, and about 90 SSB contacts...using only battery and solar power and 5 watts.  We would like to thank every station that worked us, you did a great job of pulling us out of the noise.   It was glorious!  Not to mention we feasted on burgers, hot dogs, bratwurst and pizza!  We're already planning our menus for next year. 

On another front, I will be teaching a Basic Intro class on the Raspberry Pi SBC on August 10th at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance on the west side of Indy.  I have really been trying to incorporate a Pi or two in my ham shack but I am running into QRN issues with the little 2.5A 5v power supplies.  Unless I can find a way to quiet the thing down, I may have to scrap the idea.  It wipes out my HW8 on all bands.  (Not sure if it is the PS or the CPU causing noise...when it's off it's quiet)

The Indianapolis Hamfest was this weekend, and I was working as a VE with the Naptown Amateur Radio Group.  We tested 18 people, and gave 24 exams...in 2 hours.  It was hectic but a lot of fun. One guy drove all the way up from Kentucky to take his Extra and he passed with flying colors.  

For now that's about it....so until next time...

72 es OO de KB9BVN
Flying Pig -57

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 


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:


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! 


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