Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The End of 2017 is Near...Happy New Year!

Woke up this morning to go to work...it was 10 F outside and I didn't want to go, but go, I did.  At lunchtime the temperature had dropped down to 8 F...I miss those days of summer. 

2018 is beating on the door, and with it comes a great QRP radio event.  The 25th Anniversary of the NorCAL 40 transceiver kit.  Originally designed by none other than Wayne Burdick N6KR, and updated to the NorCAL 40A in 1995, it was one of the most successful kits unleashed on the QRP community. 

Back in 1998 I was thinking about getting back into the hobby. I had been licensed since 1988 but with two young boys in scouting, and my desire to participate fully with that, ham radio went by the wayside.   My eldest N9AWM got his Eagle in 1995, and my youngest son Jason, got his Eagle in 1999.  My duties in the troop were slowing down as the new leaders were stepping up and taking things over.  I had time. 

A friend of mine, Rick KB9NDF stopped by one evening and was asking if I was still a ham.  He had just upgraded to Extra and was telling me all about the fun he was having on CW with his Ten Tec Scout and loop antenna he had at home.  In 1988 I had managed to learn CW and passed the 5 WPM test but I hadn't used it in about ten years.  The bug bit me and I was very interested in QRP CW because of how easy it would be to take on camping trips and operate from the outdoors. 

About that time I signed up to join the QRP-L list, and met another Elmer extraordinaire in Mac Steinmeyer AF4PS.  After asking a bunch of questions on the QRP-L list Mac guided me toward my very first radio kit..it was between the Small Wonder Labs 40m rig, or the more complete Norcal 40A from Wilderness radio.  The 40A was more expensive but it came with a case, a keyer board, all the knobs and buttons and switches..so I went with that setup.  I also bought a Z-Match tuner from Roy Grigson at Emtech.  The ZM-2 antenna tuner would match a school bus, so they claimed.

Mac AF4PS - Enjoying his QRP
Mac nurtured me through the building process via emails and phone calls.  It was tedious mentoring I am sure but he stuck with me.  I got it completed but had no way to know if I was getting any output.  So my friend Rick KB9NDF and I were able to make the right adjustments to squeeze about 1.2 watts out of it into a dummy load and measured on a borrowed power meter.  The next weekend was Labor Day  1998, and I had strung up two pieces of telephone cross connector wire over the roof of my home, connected the ZM-2 to my "antenna" and the radio, tuned it until the LED went out and fired off a CQ....my very fist solo CQ...I was eventually answered by a station in Mississippi! KF4EWO heard my tiny one watt signal and gave me a 579 report.   I was hooked. 

Front of my NC40a with KC-1 Keyer Board

Rear of my NC40a with Extra jack for Paddles

the original PCBoard in my 1998 Norcal 40A
Mac was also the inventor of the Infamous Attic Dipole at his old house in Florida.  This prompted me to try the same thing here in Indiana, and man was I surprised at how well it worked.  It's been up there almost 20 years now.  Take a look at Mac's!

Chuck Adams K7QO has done a great service by reviving the Norcal 40A radio on his website at http://k7qo.com along with the blessing of Wayne Burdick N6KR.  You can buy a newly worked NC40A PCBoard and start scrounging parts.  I am in the process of doing just that right now.  I only need a couple more things and I should be ready to start melting solder.

So in 2018 we Norcal users will be sending out our NAP (Norcal 35th Anniversary Party) numbers...if you hear a prime number that means the station you worked was using a Norcal 40 radio.  My number is 1777 and I hope we can trade numbers on the air in 2018. 

Here's to a great and prosperous new year in 2018!  

Best 73 de KB9BVN 
dit dit

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Cold outside but the bands are heating up!

NZ4T - Ricky
In preparation for the upcoming QRPARCI Holiday Homebrew Sprint this afternoon, I fired up the K2 and tested the waters on HF.  The bands were really pretty quiet around noon, I tossed out a few CQ's here and there and did not get any response.  Spun the dial and tried out 10m through 40m, checked the band condition reports, and things did not look that promising. 

So after about a half hour I locked in on 7041 Khz and started calling CQ.  The band was sounding pretty quiet and pretty empty so to my surprise I heard Ricky NZ4T booming in to the Hoosier state from Covington Virginia. He was 599 here and he gave me a 579 on my 10w K2 effort.  Ricky was using a old J-38 and his Yaesu FT 920 with a windom up in his trees to work a little CW today.  Ricky has an excellent fist, and was very patient with my sloppy sending today, my fingers on my right hand go numb from time to time due a pinched nerve...it never fails.  Anyway, we had a very nice QSO lasting right at a half an hour. We found out that neither of us are big fans of winter weather, and we both use CW as our primary means of amateur radio communications.  Ricky is also SKCC 12246, so we exchanged SKCC numbers and signed.  Ricky has also earned the almost world famous KB9BVN Ragchewer Award!  

Anyway, I hope to hear a few of you during the Holiday Homebrew Sprint today.  Remember it starts at 3PM EST and ends at 7PM EST.  Go to the QRP-ARCI website for all the rules and online logging.  

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Winter is here...time to QSO!

Not much on TV today, it's nice out, for December 3rd, and the Colts are losing again...what to do?  So I fired up the K2 and got tuned up on 7042 and started calling CQ at 5w with the attic dipole.  After about 20 mins of not getting any answers I checked the reverse beacon network and I was definitely getting out.

Finally I got a call from Gary AD4EV down in Hays North Carolina.  Not a new state but a welcomed QSO.  Gary was running a Ten Tec rig at 20 watts into a windom, we traded 579's and the QSB was moderate.  Hays is a small town of about 1800 located in north western North Carolina in Wilkes County very close to the Great Smoky Mountains.  Thanks for the QSO Gary! 

Next up was Mike KD2WX up in Hilton New York.   Mike has been licensed for about a year, and has moved up the ranks from technician to Extra class.  He is a new CW operator but let me tell you this, his fist was good copy here in Central Indiana.  Mike is a software engineer for an aerospace company. Hilton NY is a village that is inside the town of Parma NY in Monroe County, and is known as "The Little Village with the Big Heart".  Mike was on his Kenwood 590S and using a dipole antenna. Thanks for the QSO Mike! 

KG4GFX - Bill
Then I was called by Bill KG4FXG from down in Lawrenceville, GA.  Bill was using his Kenwood TS 570S  and a long wire for an antenna.  Bill is also into QRP and has a K1, and OHR 500 and enjoys kit building.  He's also a CPA!  Bill is a regular and often serves as NCS on the Georgia Training Net every night at 9PM eastern,  on the frequency of 3549 Khz.  I could have talked to Bill for hours but I had to QRT and tend to the wishes of "She Who Must Be Obeyed".  Things were just getting interesting too, I love talking to fellow QRPers. It's been a relaxing Sunday afternoon on the radio.   Thanks for the QSO Bill! 

Lawrenceville GA is the county seat to Gwinnett County.  Founded in 1821 by the Georgia General Assembly, Lawrenceville has survived the Civil War and has grown to become an important suburb of Atlanta.  The city is named after Commodore James Lawrence, commander of the frigate Chesapeake during the War of 1812. Lawrence, a native of New Jersey, is probably best known today for his dying command, "Don't give up the ship!" William Maltbie, the town's first postmaster, suggested the name of "Lawrenceville". So there you have it.  Also, you might recognize the name Oliver Hardy, he was half of the Laurel and Hardy comedy duo, and he was from Lawrenceville GA.  

That was pretty much it for the day, I have also been working on my Norcal 40A parts gathering phase so I can start building this new kit soon.  Chuck Adams K7QO and the guys at qrptech have done a great job with this project.  I can not wait to get mine on the air. 

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Thursday, November 23, 2017

What a busy month!

Happy thanksgiving to everyone!  I hope you all have a wonderful day and get to enjoy family and friends and the ability to take some time out to just be thankful for all your blessings.   We live in a great country, and we really appreciate the men and women that are serving our nation abroad and can't be home with loved ones today.  

This morning I fired up the K2 and the attic dipole, and made my second QSO of the month.  I was calling CQ on 7118 and was answered by Travis KJ4PCC from down in Bartlett Tennessee, which is way down there by Memphis...home of the King of Rock and Roll.  Travis is running a IC 7300 to a dipole at about 75 watts, I was on the K2 at a whopping 10 watts.  The band was a little noisy and we started out having some slow rolling QSB.  Travis has been a ham since 2009 but got started on CW back in 2014 when he was gifted a straight key as a Christmas present.  I can attest to his smooth and easy to copy fist, he is a fine example of armchair copy.  I had my original Vibrokeyer in action and we ended up ragchewing for a half hour.  We chewed the rag for so long that I had to issue the KB9BVN Ragchewer Certificate to Travis.  I will mail it and my QSL card out tomorrow.  Travis is spending the day with his family and enjoying a delicious feast. 

On another note, Chuck Adams K7QO has done it again. His qrp-tech group has been working with Wayne Burdick and they are now producing a new PC Board for the legendary Norcal 40 transceiver.  2018 is the 25th Anniversary of the Norcal 40 and there will be a year long event called "The Norcal 40 25th Anniversary Party" or NAP.   I will be operating my Norcal 40A that I built in 1998 under NAP #1777.  You can get a NAP number by following the instructions on the K7QO website.  It's very exciting.  I and several others in the Hoosier QRP Group have purchased the new boards and we are currently on a parts hunt.  We hope to have our new Norcal 40's running by January 1st.  In the parts hunt, Steve W9BRI,  found this really cool board holder on Amazon for $12,.00 - I do not know how I survived without one. 

Board Holder from Amazon 
It is so handy, and makes it so much easier to build out a board with lots of parts, this one is my 30m One Watter from http://kitsandparts.com  - it's adjustable and can handle most board sizes. It's a very cool tool. 

Also Chuck K7QO has created an entire series on building the Norcal 40, these can all be found on Youtube and links from his website.  It's one of Wayne's first designs and it has stood the test of time very well. 

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Wayne N6KR on CW

Wayne Burdick is a QRPer's QRPer.  He's been putting great kits out there for us to enjoy for more than a couple of decades now.  Here's his take on CW, culled from the QRP-L reflector, I couldn't have said it better if I sat down and tried real hard.

Read on:

I find that CW has many practical and engaging aspects that I just don’t get with computer-mediated modes like FT8. You’d think I’d be burned out on CW by now, over 45 years since I was first licensed, but no, I’m still doin’ it 

Yes, FT8 (etc.) is a no-brainer when, despite poor conditions, your goal is to log as many contacts as possible with as many states or countries as possible. It’s so streamlined and efficient that the whole process is readily automated. (If you haven’t read enough opinions on that, see "The mother of all FT8 threads” on QRZ.com, for example.)

But back to CW. Here’s why it works for me. YMMV.

CW feels personal and visceral, like driving a sports car rather than taking a cab. As with a sports car, there are risks. You can get clobbered by larger vehicles (QRM). Witness road range (“UP 2!”). Fall into a pothole (QSB). Be forced to drive through rain or snow (QRN). 

With CW, like other forms of human conversation, you can affect your own style. Make mistakes. Joke about it.

CW is a skill that bonds operators together across generations and nations. A language, more like pidgin than anything else, with abbreviations and historical constructs and imperialist oddities. A curious club anyone can join. (At age 60 and able to copy 50 WPM on a good day, I may qualify as a Nerd Mason of some modest order, worthless in any other domain but of value in a contest.)

With very simple equipment that anyone can build, such as a high-power single-transistor oscillator, you can transmit a CW signal. I had very little experience with electronics when I was 14 and built an oscillator that put out maybe 100 mW. Just twisted the leads of all those parts together and keyed the collector supply--a 9-volt battery. With this simple circuit on my desk, coupled to one guy wire of our TV antenna mast, I worked a station 150 miles away and was instantly hooked on building things. And on QRP. I’m sure the signal was key-clicky and had lots of harmonics. I’ve spent a lifetime making such things work better, but this is where it started. 

Going even further down the techno food chain, you can “send” CW by whistling, flashing a lamp, tapping on someone’s leg under a table in civics class, or pounding a wrench on the inverted hull of an upside-down U.S. war vessel, as happened at Pearl Harbor. Last Saturday at an engineering club my son belongs to, a 9-year-old demonstrated an Arduino Uno flashing HELLO WORLD in Morse on an LED. The other kids were impressed, including my son, who promptly wrote a version that sends three independent Morse streams on three LEDs. A mini-pileup. His first program.

Finally, to do CW you don’t always need a computer, keyboard, mouse, monitor, or software. Such things are invaluable in our daily lives, but for me, shutting down everything but the radio is the high point of my day. The small display glows like a mystic portal into my personal oyster, the RF spectrum. Unless I crank up the power, there’s no fan noise. Tuning the knob slowly from the bottom end of the band segment to the top is a bit like fishing my favorite stream, Taylor Creek, which connects Fallen Leaf Lake to Lake Tahoe. Drag the line across the green, sunlit pool. See what hits. Big trout? DX. Small trout? Hey, it’s still a fish, and a QSO across town is still a QSO. Admire it, then throw it back in.

(BTW: You now know why the Elecraft K3, K3S, KX2, and KX3 all have built-in RTTY and PSK data modes that allow transmit via the keyer paddle and receive on the rig’s display. We decided to make these data modes conversational...like CW.)

Back to 40 meters....



Saturday, October 21, 2017

Fatima, Medjugorje, JOTA and things

The Vigil celebration of the 100th anniversary
of the miracle of the sun in Fatima
Looks like it has been about three weeks since my last update, as some of you know, we have a bunch of grand children, and we have had eight of them staying with us for about 12 days while my son and his wife were on a pilgrimage to Fatima Portugal and Medjugorje Bosnia

The two eldest are hams, recently getting licensed last month but the other six are still working on it,.  The one year old seems to enjoy CW so she is of course, my favorite. 

So I have been very busy with work, and helping my wife keep an eye on the grand children, and I have had very little time to be on the air until this weekend. 

So I fired up the K2 today, and tuned up 20m the best I could and called CQ JOTA  many many times on 14060....and heard no one.  OK..so how many Boy Scouts actually know CW anyway?  Well my mic is busted so CW is my mode of choice today.  So I tuned back down to 40m and landed on 7039 Khz and sent out a few CQ JOTAs and ran into Fred KD8SMO over in Massilon Ohio.  We traded 599's and he was hoping I was a Boy Scout and I was hoping he was too.  I am a Scout leader, a job I have been doing for the last almost 32 years.  It's one of my most favorite volunteer jobs.  Fred is a retired engineer that graduated from Ohio State University (THE Ohio University) in 1970, most of my family are Buckeyes and I knew exactly where Massilon was located.  Fred is fairly new to CW operations and has a great fist.  It was my pleasure to work him. 

Next up I got to meet Gary K8NYG from over in Dunbar WVa, we traded 599's and I told him I was originally from his state but had lived most of my life here in Indiana.  Dunbar is an interesting place.  The town was formed in 1921 on land that contains 11 Native American mounds, and was at one time the property of General George Washington.  Washington was awarded the land there in recognition of his military service.  Mineral rich and located on the Kanawha River, Dunbar was home to the Gravely Tractor company and numerous glass factories. 

Going to go watch Abbot and Costello Meets Frankenstein this afternoon with a couple of the grandsons and their mom and dad.  We enjoy the Artcraft Theatre in Franklin Indiana very much.  It's a 1920's movie theater that has been undergoing a renovation for the last 10 years or so.  It's THE place to go watch old movies.  

Best 73 de KB9BVN

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