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 and you can email him by sending to - 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 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 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 we have a whole bunch of new hams like Chris KD9JCJ and old hams like Wayne AC9HP interested in learning 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 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' 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 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 don't cost nothin...

QRP-ARCI 10223