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

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Quest for the Daily QSO

Have you ever been to John K3WWP Shannon's web page?  John has made at least one CW QSO on HF for the last eight thousand. two hundred, fifty-two days....in a row.  I have had the pleasure of working John in several of the NAQCC sprints and contests, I've caught him on Straight Key Night a time or two, and it is just incredible the QSO streak he has going.  Ivin W9ILF and I have been striving to make at least one QSO a day this year...so far I have failed..it's not as easy as you would seem to think when you look at John's record.  Things just get in the way sometimes, like work, family outings, unexpected visitors, and in my case...the Creeping Epazootie.  Didn't make it on the air last night because I was "sickernadawg", that's Hoosier for SICK but not only that, I was sleeping off this powerful elixir my doc prescribed for me.  I feel WAY better tonight, and will be returning to work tomorrow. 

So tonight, I got on the air about 6PM, moved to 7117 and started calling CQ.  The band indexes were not that hot (SSN:0 SFI:71 A:10 K:3) and the band seemed a little light on stations.  I think I called for maybe 15 minutes or so and was about to give in when I got called by Mike KG4MTN down in Tennessee.  Mike was running 5w into an end fed half wave antenna up about 30 feet and he was solid at 599 here in central Indiana.  He was running a Youkits HB1B QRP portable radio and man was it sounding nice.  He gave me a 589 for my puny 2w from the attic dipole, but I was ecstatic for that RST.  The QSB sort of moved in on us during the QSO but we traded SKCC numbers, rig info, all that good stuff.  It was a nice QSO.  Mike is retired and spends most of his time on HF running CW.  He also has a Elecraft K2, one of my favorite radios in the entire world. 

A quick look at the Reverse Beacon Network showed me with a very decent signal tonight, even though the band indexes were not showing that much.  This just proves my point...you won't know what the bands are like until you get out there and try them out for yourself.  So even if the indexes are bad, go try sending a CQ or two...you never know what you may end up with.  That's it for tonight, cashing in early and I have Tech to General Class tomorrow night, we have two students left to take the test, I hope they get it tomorrow night..so maybe I can get one in the morning.


73 de KB9BVN

QRP is contagious...

I received this QSL  card in the mail yesterday and thought it was interesting.  Paul W2CW and I had our QSO back on Feb 26th.  I sent him a letter and a QSL card commemorating our QSO and explained that I was trying to do a Worked All States event with the HW-8.  Paul has been doing some experimenting with his sons FT-817 and making great progress with it, even into Europe and South America.  Read his comments for yourself.  QRP is fun! 

W2CW QSL Card - Front

W2CW QSL Card - Back
Thanks for the card Paul!  I really appreciate it.

I got this card in the mailbox today, it's from Marty up in Tipton County Indiana.  Marty is a CW operator that participates in the statewide NTS net called QIN, likes to run QRP, and he likes to play chess with Ivin W9ILF over CW as well.  Sometimes they trade moves via NTS Radiograms.  I never thought of doing that but it sounds like fun!  I wonder if anyone plays Battleship over NTS? Thank you for the card Marty!

N9SE QSL Card


73 de KB9BVN

Monday, March 6, 2017

Back at it on 40m

This evening I got home at about 4:40PM, ready to jump on the air and make some contacts when I was reminded that I had promised to cook dinner this evening.  So I scared up a Wok full of pork loin stir fry and enjoyed a healthy dinner with my wife Ann. She announced that she would clean up and I was free to fire up the radio and see what I could see...so to speak.  To the BAT CAVE!!

My first contact tonight was with Mike NK8S, Mike is a fellow ham that I have been chatting with on QRZ.  He is in MA and although we have tried making the connection a few times, we were unable to make it go until tonight.  Trading 559's in the QSB and the QRN it was a hard fought battle but we did it. Mike is a fellow QRPer, and also belongs to FISTS, NAQCC, and the SKCC. 

Band conditions at this time of day could be better, (SSN:11 SFI:72 A:26 K:5), but I suppose they could also be worse.  The next contact I had was Hank K1PUG, from a new state for me, CT.  Hank is a SKCC member and we traded numbers and RST's, I got a 559 which is becoming pretty standard lately.  Hank has over 50,000 lookups on QRZ and I have worked him several times in the past few years.  A great fist and easy copy.  Thanks Hank! 

At this time I moved away from 7067 and headed up to 7117 or so.  According to the Reverse Beacon network I was coming in pretty well to the east and I was on 7117.1 or 7117.2 depending on which skimmer you were paying attention to.  

RBN 03062017
Next up was ANOTHER NEW STATE, Rick N8XI from up in Michigan. Rick is also a SKCC member so we traded numbers and RST info. I got another 559, which makes me happy that my HW-8 is at least consistent.  Rick is working on a WAS for 6m, and he's a QRP guy with an Omni VII...nice radio collection per his QRZ bio page.   If you hear him on 6m give him a shout.  Thanks for state #21!

I was elated, I've been about half sick since last Thursday...between allergies, and a monster head cold, I was hoping that tonight I could relax with the HW-8, make some QSOs and gain a new one.  BUT WAIT!!! THERE"S MORE!!.

Just as I was about to hang it up for this session, I heard Dave KD0DK calling me for my SKCC number.  Dave is in IOWA....another new one for me. So the antenna was working east AND west for me tonight.  Nothing like coloring in three states!  Dave got a 579 and gave me a 559.  Dave got his ticket in 2013 and in 2014 became a CW operator.  Great to work you Dave, maybe we'll meet again in the NAQCC sprints! 

So that's about it for tonight.  I need to fill out the cards and get them in the mail. Oh I almost forgot, MAIL CALL!! 

K1ARR QSL Card
WB4IEA QSL Card
Thanks for the QSL cards, I love getting them in the mail, the old fashioned way.  So now I am 22 down and 28 to go! 

73 de KB9BVN

Friday, March 3, 2017

Off the Air this Weekend

Thanks for following this blog report of my QRP WAS Quest!  This weekend I will be off the air.  This is the season of Lent for those of my Catholic faith and I will be busy this weekend doing some charitable work out of town.  I should be back on by Sunday night.  I hate to break the streak but the work I am doing will be helpful to a bunch of folks.  See you later!  dit dit

Mail call today produced another great QSL card.  This one from Missouri and Bob K0FHG.  We made contact during the Novice Rig Roundup. Thanks Bob!

K0FHG QSl Card

de KB9BVN

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Stinky Bands...or Are They?

Got home from work at about 4:30PM local time,  ran into the shack and fired up the HW-8 and started tuning around.  I was hearing tons of stations. How could this be so?  The solar conditions were supposed to be absolutely terrible (SSN:55 SFI:79 A:32 K:3)..yet here they are, all CQing and QSOing all over the place. 

My friends, never believe what you see and only half of what you hear when it comes to having a great time on the radio.  I'll get back to this...


MAIL CALL!!  Alright!!  I got three new QSL cards in the mailbox.  This is just fantastic as I love sending and getting cards.  A lot of hams like eQSL and LOTW (and I do too) but nothing beats a real live QSL card in the mailbox.
AK4JA QSL Card
KD2ITZ QSL Card
W4PCA QSL Card


Now back to the 40m band...the first station I worked today was Bill N5IR down in the great state of Texas! A new one for me.  Coloring in the map is awesome!  Bill is SKCC 12357T  and he has been working CW since 1965.  Bill also served in the Navy and was in Vietnam for 13 months as the Officer in Charge of an Explosive Ordnance Device removal team.  Thank you so much for your service Bill. 

The next one in the logbook is Keith WD2AGQ up in New York state.  Keith is retired and spends his time in part working SKCC stations and working QRP CW.   Keith gave me 359 if I copied it right, he was 559 here in Indiana. The band was up and down like a roller coaster at times.  Feast your eyes on his QRP setup (photo from his bio on QRZ). 

WD2AGQ QRP Station in New York
Next up was Ron K8KZH from Wheeling WV.  I am originally from WV so I get real happy any time I get to work a fellow West Virginian.  Not a new state but we had a great QSO trading SKCC numbers and giving each other a 599.  He said the HW-8 was rock solid at 2w and he couldn't believe the signal tonight. he was running a IC-746 into a Bazooka.  I had to look that one up!  Not a bad idea! Ron is also a Navy veteran and for that I think you for your service, Ron! 

Next was Tom KB3CVO from PA, and we did a quick and noisy exchange of RST and SKCC numbers.  He's SKCC 905T and is a long time member of the SKCC.  He's been on the air since 1998,  AND he likes to make his own beer!  There is nothing like a frosty mug of home brew. 

Off to Bill W4MA next, another SKCC exchange, he is number 1456 and he gave me a 579.  By now the QSB is getting very odd...speeding up..slowing down..lots of noise.  

The best for last.  Art K1ARR up in beautiful Graniteville VT.  Another NEW ONE!!  He's SKCC 2775S which means he's been at it a long time and has thousands of SKCC contacts under his belt.  He gave me a 559 and he was 579 to 599 here.  Great fist and he's been on the air since 2006. 

Well that is it for today. I came home from work feeling sick and sluggish. I was supposed to help VE test tonight but just didn't feel like getting in a room with a bunch of people.  I'll be working from home tomorrow and I'll have the HW-8 turned on.  You never know what you might hear! 

73 de KB9BVN

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The QSO streak is alive!

Well I was concerned that today would be a ZERO day for me but I did manage a couple of QSO's with the HW-8 on 40m.  The band conditions were abysmal...that means horrible for my friends back home.  So I was listening around the SKCC frequencies thinking I could scare up a contact there,  I heard a few stations, all from the southeast.  I needed SC for the log but did not get it today.   

I did manage to work Jerry K4KBL down in Georgia.  He was running SKCC contacts and I managed to get his attention and we traded contact info and SKCC numbers.  Jerry has OVER 330 countries confirmed for DXCC and has been a ham for almost 60 years.  He also has a cabin in the woods where he likes to use a Elecraft K1 or a TS-570D for QSOing from his inverted vee antenna.  You can see his K1 below.  Thanks Jerry, you have a great set of ears to hear me today. 

K4KBL's K1 station - Nice Bencher paddles!
Then about a half hour later I was calling CQ in the upper end of 40m and worked Marty N9SE from Sharpsville Indiana.  He's about 75 miles due north of my location, and he was running his K3S at 5w and we traded 579's with each other.  I was elated to hear him say my HW-8 had a beautiful note on CW and he remarked at the stability of the tone.  Not bad for a radio that's almost 40 years old!

N9SE at his SUPER CLEAN Operating Position (photo from QRZ page for N9SE)
Marty is a CW operator, and has been at it since about 1980.  According to his bio on QRZ  he is also interested in the NTS and enjoys contesting and trading SKCC numbers.  Marty is also a QRPer!

So I got two more contacts in the log today, no new states,  but like I always say, there is always tomorrow! 

We have high winds and thunder in the area again, so I had to disconnect.  The band conditions are not particularly inviting either.  SSN:39 SFI:81 A:32 K:5 - Yikes

73 de KB9BVN