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 too! 

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

Mailman brought these today! 


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


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 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.

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.  


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 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.

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:

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.  (

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 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 - sending one to my podcast partner Mike KD5KXF and we're going to see who can build it into the weirdest I am off to the thrift store!  That little radio comes with a keyer and one watt out for a mere $ 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! 


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.

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