Sunday, October 28, 2018

Finally..A NEW STATE!

I got some time to get the K1 on the air today around 3PM EDT (19:00z), logged in to the Reverse Beacon Network and noticed the solar report was looking a little weaker than usual.  No sunspots, SFI at an anemic 68, A Index at 4 and K Index at 1...so I decided I had nothing to lose and started calling CQ on 15m, since it was still pretty early in the day.  Nothing.  RBN only had ONE skimmer that could hear me and it showed my signal at 6db.  I find that unless I am out there at 10db or higher, my chances for a QSO are slim and none.  So I trotted down to 20m and tried a few CQ's and the RBN had ZERO skimmers hearing me.  Ok fine, so I bounce down to 7058 Khz in hopes of finding a FISTS station.  WOW the RBN was hearing me all over the place, and my signal was being reported over 16db in about 15 locations.  One place even had me at 30db...which is LOUD.  

RBN Status of KB9BVN on Oct 28 2018
Well to my dismay, there were no FISTS to be heard...so I changed up to my old tried and true, the SKCC. 

Within a couple of CQ SKCC's I got a contact with Joe AA5AD down in Arkansas.  Joe gave me a 599 and I sent him a 579 off my attic dipole.  According to his biography on QRZ, Joe is a firefighter, retired battalion chief, and lives in a log cabin with his family on 40 beautiful acres.  Joe has plenty of room for antenna experimentation!  He's SKCC 15454T, which means he's on the air a lot and loves to QSO. 

In addition to amateur radio, Joe likes to fish, hunt and keep bees.  You never know who you'll run in to on the amateur radio bands, I always seem to bump into the most interesting folks. 

The next contact was with Kevin WA9VFD down in North Carolina.  Kevin is a SKCC member as well and we traded numbers and I got a 449 and sent him a 599.  Kevin is a Packers Fan and has a neat Packer graphic on his QRZ biography page.  WA9VFD happens to be a vanity call as this call sign belonged to his father, a veteran of the Korean War.  Hats off to your dad Kevin!  Kevin is new at CW and is doing great with it.  Work him if you hear him, it'll be fun!

WA9VFD - Kevin's Dad - Never owned a Microphone

The next contact was with Charles KM4ZZ and boy I was having a heck of a time copying him, but I am glad I took the time to work this station as he is my NEW STATE.  Charles lives in Virginia, and is also a SKCC member. We traded RST...I gave him 339 and he gave me a 579, and SKCC numbers.  Charles is retired from the US Navy after 28 years of service.  Thank you very much for your service Charlie! he got his Technician through Extra class license in 2015 and since then he has made thousands of QRP CW contacts!  Check out his bio on QRZ...he's a great admirer of the military PRC rigs and has some great pictures.  

Next up was Randy K8ZAA up in Michigan, we traded SKCC information and I sent a 559 and got a 599.  Randy is SKCC member 15019S, which means he holds the level of SKCC Senator...he's worked literally thousands of SKCC members to earn this achievement.  That's a lot of CW! 

Last but not least was Tom KA2KGP up in New York state.  Seems like I bump in to Tom every few weeks.  Today I got a 599 from him and he was booming in to Central Indiana.  Another SKCC QSO in the logbook.  

Well that's it for today, grabbed a new state, talked with the interesting characters, and had fun for about an hour and a half...time for the honey do list. 

73 de KB9BVN

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Lazy QSOs on a lazy day...

Well the weather has been wet and cold for the last couple of days so not much going on around here today.   I fired up the K1 and called CQ a few times on the FISTS frequency of 7058 Khz...as usual I did not hear any FISTS operators.  I did get a couple hits from SKCC ops though. 

The first QSO today was with Ed W0RJW from up in Michigan.  He's recently been promoted from Centurion status to Tribune status in the SKCC.  That means Ed likes CW a lot!  Ed is way up there in Grand Traverse county of Michigan and he has been a brass pounder for over 62 years now. 

Ed has a very nice collection of straight keys and a very well supplied hamshack at his beautiful location on Fife Lake.

Included in the shack are a vintage pair of Drake Twins, R4C and T4XC and Heathkit QRP tranceiver . Keys are Vibroplex Bug, Vibroplex Straight Key, Vibroplex Paddle, a J-38 and J-47 both vintage WWII surplus keys.   Ed is SKCC 17777T and has a great fist for easy copy.

The next one was Lloyd K3ESE from MD again, I heard him very loud today from Maryland and we did the SKCC exchange.  It's always good to work another Flying Pig!  OO es 72!

The next QSO was with Rob KN4IXU down in Charlotte NC.  Rob is a former Ordnance Disposal Specialist for the US Army (1965-1968).  Rob my hat is off to you and thank you so much for your service.  What a dangerous job.

Once he left the military he worked the next 50 years in the Safety Supply business.  Rob retired in January of 2018 and made it a goal to learn Morse Code and get on the air with CW. Well I am here to tell you that Rob has a great fist, and a fantastic signal from his IC-718 and inverted vee antenna.  He's pounding away on a J-38 and is up to about 15 wpm.  Give him a shout if you hear him.

73 de KB9BVN

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Four States QRP Group Does it Again...

The Four States QRP Group has announced a total of three new kits since I last looked at their website.  

The Hilltopper 40 

This is a Dave Benson K1SWL designed 40m transceiver, an improved version of the SWL+ 40 rig that Dave sold through his company, Small Wonder Labs.  Dave retired a few years ago and I, for one, am GLAD to see him back at it.  This baby puts out 5 watts and costs less than $100. 

Here are the details from the Four State QRP Group website.  You can go there directly by clicking on the link at the top of my blog page. 

Dave Benson K1SWL, founder of the renown Small Wonder Labs, listened to you and has designed a 40 meter version of his winning Hilltopper design. Four State QRP Group is honored to have been selected to kit the new transceiver.

The Hilltopper is a high performance CW transceiver for the 40M meter band. It is the perfect solution to your portable operation needs - small, lightweight, wide 40 meter frequency coverage and low current drain, extending the life of your portable power source. The receiver is adapted from K1SWL’s SW+ Series with minor modifications. The front-end circuitry was revised to replace the now-vanished 10.7 MHz IF transformers. The receiver output is suitable for headphone use.

The transmitter strip is a proven design using three BS170 transistors for the PA. The frequency source for both transmitting and receiving is a DDS VFO employing a Si5351 PLL module. Control for the rig is provided by an Atmel ATmega328P. This runs both the frequency control and the full-featured CW keyer.

A custom silk-screened PCB enclosure is included with the kit. No drilling or cutting required!

There are two pre-installed SMT ICs on the board, but the remainder are ALL THROUGH HOLE parts, and all jacks and connectors are board mounted, the combination making this kit very easy to assemble with no external wiring needed. Clubs and Groups Please Note! Group discounts are available, 5 kit minimum order required.

The Murania - AM Broadcast Band Receiver

The next one I saw, and I can't wait to build this with a couple of my grandsons, is the new Murania, single transistor AM broadcast band radio.  Designed by Dave Cripe NM0S, this cool kit offers an opportunity to go back in time.   Less than $40 for the kit. 

From the website:  

In the late 1950s, the technology of radio was overturned by a revolution in electronics. The newly invented transistor enabled AM receivers to be constructed that were a fraction of the size of the now-obsolete tube circuits. Transistor radios soon became the new popular obsession, as a portable entertainment device that was the iPod of its day.

Radios having two or fewer transistors were untaxed, as they were considered toys, and given the classification,’Boy’s Radios’. The designers of Boy’s Radios employed some creative design techniques to maximize the performance of these minimalist circuits, with sometimes amazing results. Many thousands of young (and not so young) people had their first exposure to the radio hobby from these simple sets. Today, Boy’s Radios are a highly sought after nostalgic collectable, commanding impressive prices on eBay and among collectors groups.

The Murania receiver was conceived as an opportunity for a new generation to experience the thrill of building and using a simple and effective AM radio receiver. Inspired by the classic design of these transistor radios, the Murania receiver is an ideal kit for a beginning builder, and can provide years of listening pleasure.

High quality, double sided, printed circuit board construction is used, with solder mask and silk screened component reference designators. A unique, construction technique is used in the Murania, called 'Pittsburg' construction, after the hometown of its inventor Joe, W0MQY. This method uses easy-to-handle through-hole components in a modified surface mount construction technique, where the back copper layer of the board forms a complete ground plane shielding the circuitry against hand effects. A pre-drilled silkscreened PCB enclosure is included, protecting the Murania circuit and making it into a handy portable set.

The Murania is simple enough to be constructed by beginners, and is rewarding enough to be enjoyed by experienced builders. Construction time is approximately 2 hours, depending on experience level.

This is a very excellent group project, and a quantity discount and combined shipping are available, 5 piece minimum order pse. Contact Johnny Matlock, ACØBQ

Last up is a new Cricket Rig transmitter for 30m, they are temporarily sold out .  See their website for all the details.  

Kids it's a great time to be QRP!   Lot's of new stuff to  build this winter and loads of fun to be had.  Enjoy! 

73 de KB9BVN

BTW I heard VP6D Ducie Island on 7015 Khz this morning, working the world....just not me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

On the air again...

Wow...this summer went fast, which is not real good news...but now that Fall is here and the sun is disappearing earlier and earlier, I have a little more time to play radio.  

So tonight I dragged out the K1 and connected it to the attic dipole (1/2 wave 40m) to see what I could hear.  It was about 22:00 UTC and I started out on 20m.  Called CQ a few times and checked the Reverse Beacon Network. I was being heard in a few spots but the signal was very week.  

I headed on down to 40m, and called CQ a few times on 7051 Khz  RBN had me all over the place with a great signal strength, but I wasn't getting any takers.  Finally I heard Jim KD8YQX from Warren Michigan answer my CQ and we traded SKCC numbers and some station information.  Jim has a great first and is good armchair copy, first QSO I've had in a month or so too. 

When we got done I headed up to 7058 Khz to see if there were ANY FISTS members out and about...I almost NEVER hear FISTS operating on the 7058 FISTS freq anymore.  Used to have to wait in line to work some FISTS ops but not any longer.  I tossed out a few CQ's and was answered by Tom N2KPJ from Clayton NY at 23:28Z.  Tom is a SKCC member also so we traded info and I realized that we had worked each other exactly seven months ago tonight!  

Just about the time I got finished with Tom, I heard a call from the past...like way back there....it was Lloyd K3ESE calling me from over in Maryland.  I met Lloyd maybe 16 or 17 years ago, we hung out with the Flying Pigs  QRP Club International at Four Days in May back in 2001 or 2002.  I haven't had a QSO with LLoyd in forever.  His signal was 559 here at the beginning but things were changing fast.  I lost him totally at the end of the QSO.  Sorry Lloyd.  Glad to see you're still out there on the radio.  

That's it for tonight.  I failed to get a better antenna permanently installed this summer...this is like the 18th summer in a row...maybe next year! 

73 de KB9BVN

BTW - I heard VP6D Ducie Island on 7015 Khz this morning at about 4:30AM EDT...they were working the world! I did not make contact. 


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Mountain Topper 5B from LNR - Test Drive

Ok so my buddy Steve W9BRI calls me up and says he just got his hands on a brand new radio called the Mountain Topper 5B from LNR Precision.  Not only that, he offers to let me borrow it for a few days to test it out.  How am I so lucky? 
LNR Precision Mountain Topper 5B 

The radio runs off a single 9v radio battery if you want...since that is what I had on hand that is what I used.  I found the manual online at LNR and read it and learned how to use the switch banks to change bands and perform other functions on the radio.  Before getting on the air though I wanted to take measurements, so using my WM-2 Wattmeter and my OHR dummy load, I did.








Brand New Battery Energizer 9v black and silver alkaline

40m - 2.4 Watts and battery showed 9.2Vdc
30m - 3 Watts and battery showed 9.1 Vdc
20m - 3 Watts and battery showed 9.1 Vdc
17m - 2 Watts and battery showed 9.1 Vdc
15m - 2 Watts and battery showed 9.0 Vdc

I called CQ a few times on 7050 KHZ...the battery voltage dropped down to 8.4 Vdc while transmitting, came back up to 9 Vdc after I stopped sending my CQ.

So I connected it to my 40m attic dipole and started sending CQ on 7032 Khz to just see what I could get.  The band was quiet and I did not hear many signals.  I was running 2 watts and the MT5B showed a voltage of 9.1vdc.

My second CQ was answered by Dick K8WHA in Lansdale PA.  Dick was running a TS 590S to a vertical and we traded 599's,  Lansdale PA is about 600 miles from my QTH, I was impressed and the receiver was fantastic.  Dick has been licensed since 1960, and he is a contester and award winning operator.  Lansdale is in the far eastern part of the state, almost bordering New Jersey. 

When that QSO was over I moved to 7050Khz looking for an SKCC contact. Hugh AE5VB from Covington Louisiana answered me and gave me a 519...said I was weak but solid copy.  This is about 800 miles and power was a smidgen under 2w now.  The receiver can't be beat.  I switched from my Vibrokeyer to the Nye Viking Master Key so we could exchange SKCC numbers.  QSO lasted about 25 mins and it was great. 

All in all I am impressed with this little radio.  Steve W9BRI is going to have more fun than a human should be allowed. 


Best 73 de KB9BVN
CW is my only mode




Friday, August 10, 2018

Technician to General Class



The Indiana Elmer Network will be hosting a Technician to General Upgrade Class for three Thursday nights in a row.  Class starts on October 25th, and ends on November 8th.  We will have VE testing on November 8th.  This is your chance to upgrade, don't miss it. 

This is a FREE class, there is no charge. 

When: 
October 25, November 1, November 8

Time: 
6PM to 8PM at the latest

Where: 
Aviation Institute of Maintenance 
7251 W. McCarty St, Indianapolis IN 46241
Room 10

Get your Technician to General Training Guide, and bring it to class.


Go here to register for the class, seating is limited so don't delay. 


Good luck on your upgrade! 

de KB9BVN
Brian Murrey

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Ever get side tracked by life?

Here it is, Field day weekend.  I will most likely not be participating.  This has been a very busy month around here and I have too many non-radio related things to get done.   So what have I been up to? 

On Father's Day weekend, My brother, my son, my nephew, and a couple of friends and I drove four hours to Lake Erie for a Walleye fishing trip.  We hooked up with Sea Breeze Charters out of Oak Harbor and man did they show us a great time.  We caught our limit in the blazing sun, with little breeze and temperatures in the low 90's.  We drove up on Saturday the 16th, stayed in the lodging provided by the charter, and went fishing at 5:30AM on Sunday morning.  Corey was our boat captain and his mate Bud knew where the fish were.  By 9:30AM we had caught our limit and by noon we were back on the road back to Indianapolis. If you have ever considered doing a Walleye trip, contact Sea Breeze and request Corey. 

Walleye Fishing - June 18 20168 - Lake Erie
Then this week, something even more exciting took place.  My newest grandson was born! John Paul came into the world on Thursday night and I got to meet him for the first time yesterday. 

KB9BVN with baby John Paul  - June 22 2018
So as you can see I have been pretty busy this month. I go on call next week so will be closer to the shack all week.  I hope to get on the air and grab a few more states.  If I get everything done today that needs done maybe I can get on the air and work some CW Field Day contacts. 

Best DX to everyone!

de KB9BVN




Sunday, June 3, 2018

Where does the time go...

One day it was April something and I was making QSO's....next thing I know it's June 3rd, and I have ZERO QSO's logged for May.  I have plenty of excuses.

May was very busy for us.  Lot's of family birthdays, lots of family cookouts, weekend trips to here and there, new challenges at work, I just didn't have time.

So I fired up the K2 this lazy Sunday afternoon and noticed the bands seemed a little weak but I still got a QSO in the log book.

I worked Lester W8BJO at about 19:06z, he's almost my neighbor since he lives in Springfield Ohio, a mere 120 miles due east of me.  He was 599 on 7030Khz when we started out, but within 5 minutes or so the QSB on my end was so bad I had to sign off with him.  He has a good fist and I was hoping for a bit of a rag chew...but not today it seems.

Springfield is a city of about 60,000 people, and was formed in 1801 by James Demint.  It is located in Clark County and is the home of Wittenburg University, and Clark Community College, and is the birthplace and former home of comedian Jonathan Winters.


Best 73 de KB9BVN

Friday, May 4, 2018

QSO Party Weekend!

This weekend, May 4-6, is one of the biggest QSO Party weekends of the year.  We will have the Delaware QSO party, the New England QSO Party,  the Indiana QSO Party, and the 7th Call Area QSO Party.  The time will be ripe to log some of the rare states for 2018 and I hope to be on the air a good part of this weekend. 

For more info:

Delaware State QSO Party Rules and Details 

New England QSO Party Rules and Details

Indiana State QSO Party Rules and Details 

7th Call Area QSO Party Rules and Details

I hope you get a chance to spend some time making contacts this weekend, there shouldn't be a shortage of operators to QSO with! 

Best 73 de KB9BVN


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Great Weekend

I was on call this weekend so I couldn't get too far from my computer and the internet but I did manage to still get a lot done around the castle.  One of my four handsome grandsons (KD9JID) stopped by on Friday, and I put him to work mowing the lawn.  He's going to Canada in July for a 10 day  canoe trip and is working odds jobs to have some spare change for the voyage.  I am not afraid of hard work, I can watch it for hours.  

Hard Work in Progress
When we got that done, his Mamaw found a few other yard jobs that needed to be done, so we so worked hard and pulled out a couple of shrubs that she needed to have gone so they could be replaced with CONCRETE flower pots. He stayed the evening and prepared for the labors of Saturday.  On Saturday we headed to the hardware store, bought some manure, some dirt, some paver stones and then hit the Asian Buffet for lunch.  The kid could be a contender.  Pretty sure he consumed 3 gallons of ice cream.  Finally made it home, and set the pots where she wanted them.  Meanwhile Mamaw (my wife) was treating his sister (KD9JIE) to toes and nails at the local beautification place, while we slaved away.   Dinner was home brew pizza and we took them home. 

So my phone is going off about every 20 minutes all night Saturday night,  I get paged when important servers get rebooted, and this is patch weekend.  So I didn't get much sleep last night, it's about 8:30PM now I am looking forward to getting some sleep tonight and few interruptions.  We'll see. 

I fired up the K1 at about 6:45PM while I was doing some other work and manage to reel off three QSO's before going QRT at about 8PM. 

My first QSO tonight was Susan W7KFI and she was calling CQ MM...and I spaced it an answered her.  She was kind enough to give me a 589 to her 599 on 7051 and went separate ways.  She is a retired Army Master Sergeant.  She was signing with a /5 so she was operating from her home in Gulfport Mississippi.  Great FIST!! 

W7KFI loves to Sail the World - Check her QRZ BIO 
Next up was Steve NN0SS up in Minnesota on 7052.  This was 2 way QRP as he was on his KX3.  Band was very noisy and I was getting some static crashing, although there is not a storm in site.  Steve belongs to SKCC and the NAQCC and is an active QRP CW operator.  Thanks for the contact Steve!  I got a 589 and he was 589 as well. 

Last but not least was Mike AA9AA up in Mantiwoc WI.  Mike was running a home brew QRP rig to a dipole, the QRM was fierce for the first half of the QSO...I guess two QRP ops having a QSO are tough to hear.  Mike has been a ham for 29 years and has a great fist.  Mike has quite a shack setup as you can see. I love the old telephone!  We traded 599's on 7058 and chewed the rag for a bit. 

Mike AA9AA - Ham Shack and QRP Laboratory
Well that's it for this weekend. No new states this time. I am on call tomorrow and then I am free for 5 more weeks.  WEEEE

de KB9BVN
Best 73! 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Latest DX

I got home from work last night and found some time to turn on the radio, I checked the band condition reports and they were not too enticing but I fired up the K1 and tuned to the bottom of 20m just t see if I could hear anything.  I worked Amed CO2AME down in Cuba on 14017 and then worked Alexey HC2AO down in Ecuador on 14015.  Amed sent me a 599, and Alexsey sent me a 339.  I am constantly amazed at how far a little power goes, and how well CW works in even less than good conditions. Make no mistake about it, these fine operators have excellent receivers and antenna systems. I thank them for doing the heavy lifting in our contacts.  HC2AO  and CO2AME have very interesting biographies on QRZ, check it out if you get time.

Amed CO2AME - Habana Cuba

Alexey HC2AO - Guayaquil Ecuador
Best 73 de KB9BVN

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Good weekend for a new QRP CW state...

This Saturday brought a plethora of QSO parties.  New Mexico was partying, Georgia was partying, and the QRP-ARCI was partying. I was able to spend exactly one hour on Saturday morning, before family obligations kicked in, on the air.  The first contact I made was about 10:30AM and it was with James Lee NK7B  of St. Paul Minnesota.  A new state for the 2018 WAS effort!  James is a doctor, actually a retired Professor of Surgery at the University of Minnesota (Go Gophers!) , he has been licensed for 60 years, and is a fan of CW and Elecraft radios. 

Dr. Lee enjoys putting on a weird suit and then jumping out of perfectly good airplanes.


I also was very surprised to get his QSL card in the mail today.  His QSL policy is  mail his card right after the QSO.   Feast your eyes on the card from Minnesota!


My second contact was a quick exchange with Tom KA2KGP up in New York.  Tom is a very good CW operator.  He belongs to SKCC, Flying Pigs QRP, and NAQCC among others.  I got a 559 and Tom was worth a 589 from my end.   After that I had to QRT and do my family errands and to-do's for the day.

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Thursday, April 12, 2018

QRPGUYS has a new portable 3 band antenna...

The QRPguys have announced today, a brand new antenna kit for 3 band portable operation. This end fed antenna supports 20m, 30m, and 40m bands, is lightweight and can be deployed in minutes.  Perfect fro back packing, a day at the park, or just going on a QSO safari in the backyard. 


The QRPGuys Multi-Band End Fed Antenna is designed as a portable 40/30/20m two trap wire antenna with a built-in tuner and SWR indicator. It consists of a main board with tuner and SWR indicator, two trap pcb’s and an end wire support. It incorporates the N7VE led SWR indicator and has a board mounted female BNC for connection to your rig. The built-in absorption bridge design will ensure you do not damage your finals with a poor SWR. Our test show and SWR of 1:1 on 20m, 1.1:1 on 30m, and 1.3:1 or better on 40m. It is rated for 5 watts continuous, 10 watts PEP. The kit comes complete except for the user supplied #22-24awg wire for the elements. All S.S. connection hardware for the radiator and counterpoise connections. The tools required are a soldering iron with a small tip, rosin core solder, small side cutters, and can be built in an hour or two. On a difficulty scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the most difficult, this is rated at 2.  

            
Not a bad deal! 

de KB9BVN

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

How to Improve Band Conditions...

This is going to sound nutty, but this is what I have found.  When the band conditions are poor, like tonight, according to every band conditions website I looked at, there is only one way to improve things.  Get on the air.  So I did.  In about an hour I had four new contacts in the log.

As you can see...the 40m band seemed to be offering the best opportunity at having a QSO or two this evening.  So I tuned to the good old SKCC region (7053-7056) and started pounding out CQ's on my Nye Viking Master Key.

Nye Viking Master Key

First one tonight was Neill K3RNC out in Maryland.  I sent him a 589 and he sent me a 559. Neill is a SKCC member and his number is 10667T and we have never worked each other.  This is good news for me because now I only need 7 more Centurions, Tribunes, or Senators to earn my next award.  Neill is a retired chemist and lives very near the shore.  He has been at CW for about 8 years now and enjoys operating from the outdoors.  Thanks for the contact Neill!

K3RNC at the Key on his HB1B QRP Rig
Next up was Butch KD5RSS from way out in Oklahoma.  Butch is a retired volunteer fireman and works as an electrician. He enjoys ham radio and has a Ten Tec Jupiter according to his QRZ biography.  Butch is SKCC 1910S and since we have worked before this one does not add to my award total but that's cool with me. I liked working Butch anyway.

Butch KD5RSS in his shack
Bernie KF0QS was next and Bernie brought me a new state!  Bernie is out in the state of Colorado, which is a new one for me this year.   He is SKCC 8872, a huge Elecraft fan, likes working CW and the sats, and is also an amateur astronomer.  I think it's is cool that a lot of hams are into astronomy as well.  I sent him a 589 and got back a 599 on my 4w K1...not too shabby!  Thanks for the QSO and the new state Bernie!

Elecraft Collection of Bernie KF0QS
Last but not least was Jim KI4VH down in Georgia, he's a peach of a fist and I enjoyed working him tonight.  We traded 599's and Jim is SKCC 12113.  He runs a Ten Tec Scout  out to a Hustler 4BTV vertical antenna.  He also has a OHR 20m QRP rig as well.  Jim is a retiree and has been a ham since 1962.  Great QSO Jim, and thanks for the 599!

SCout and OHR rig of Jim KI4VH - NICE Operating Position!
Not a bad collection of contacts tonight, sometimes even when the experts say the bands are bad, you just have to turn on the radio and go fishing.  Best 73!

de KB9BVN

Friday, April 6, 2018

Good night for SKCC

Tomorrow is Saturday, and not just any Saturday. It's time for the monthly SKCC Weekend Sprintathon.  So tonight after dinner I fired up the K1 and tuned to 7054 Khz in the 40m band.  I worked three SKCC members getting ready for the Sprintathon this weekend. 

22:48Z - 04/06/2018 - First up tonight was Peter AK3X out in Glen Burnie Maryland.  We had a snow storm and some rain moving in from the west so the QRN was a little intense at times.  Peter gave me a 599 and I gave him the same.  He is SKCC 7217S and an Extra class in his 70's.  Glen Burnie is a suburb of Baltimore and was founded in 1812 by the district attorney Elias Glen.  

22:58Z - 04/06/2018 - Next up was a NEW STATE for 2018. I was calling CW and got an answer from Jim K5TSK.  Jim got re-licensed in 2015 and is an Extra with a taste for QRP. According to his QRZ bio page he's running a KX3. Jim is also SKCC member 14893T and lives in Pearcy Arkansas.  his antenna is a 40 foot vertical with 50 radials under it for good measure.  Pearcy survived the 2011 Super Outbreak of Tornadoes which destroyed a lot of homes in the nearby town of Sunshine AR.  Thanks for the QSO Jim! 

00:05Z - 04/07/2018 - Final contact tonight was Bruce WA8OJR down in Spartanburg SC.  We always like to stay in Spartanburg on our way down to the beaches of South Carolina.  It's a quaint old town and home to the Presbyterian College.  Bruce is SKCC 14120C and we traded 589's in the noise.   We had another station drop in and start CQ'ing right on top of us...without so much as one lousy QRL? I'm 4 watts, my guess is they didn't hear me.  I won't lose any sleep over it but folks, please QRL? before you start CQing.  

Downtown Spartanburg SC 
That's it for tonight! 

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Good Vendor!

As you know, I broke the power supply connector on my Ho Elitebook last week.  I was about to throw it away, but I thought I would Google power jack repairs.  Man was that a great idea.  I found a place in Chicago that would take my laptop apart, remove the broken power jack, and replace it with new parts and make it stronger so it won't happen again for a long time. 

Check out:

APPLICASOFT 
710 MILL CIRCLE #107 
WHEELING, IL 60090 
Phone: (847) 529 9441 


For $100 they will dismantle your laptop, fix the jack, fix your power plug, and SHIP it back to you.  OR...if you do the heavy work of removing your system board and only send that, they will do the repair for $60 and SHIP it back to you. 

I sent mine up on Tuesday, and got it back, repaired like new on Friday.  If you have a busted power jack on your laptop, don't cannibalize it and throw away the bones, call Applicasoft and get it fixed! 

73 de KB9BVN
One Very Happy Camper




Wednesday, April 4, 2018

QRP DX is MIND BLOWING....

So I just got home from work, it's later than normal, and in the mail box is the Elecraft stand kit for my K1 that Dave Bixler W0CH sent me! These things are hard to find, Elecraft hasn't had them in about  a year.  Thank you so much Dave!!  The check is in the mail, the stand fits perfectly. 

K1 with Stand from Dave W0CH 
So after I got the stand attached I fired up the radio and tuned to 30m, and on 10113 at 22:47Z on 04/04/18,  I heard Milan S57V calling CQ, all alone, from Slovenia.  I sent him about five times and on the sixth try he called me back and gave me a 339.  He was 599 here with some pretty strong but fast QSB.  This shows to be a distance of about 4825 miles or 7720 km from my QTH.  As usual the K1 was running 4w into the attic dipole.   QSL card is on the way Milan! 

Then a little later, I moved over to 40m, and tuned in 7055, looking for a new state. George KB5AE was there for me.  He is SKCC 9274S and he is in Oklahoma.  A new state for 2018! George has been a ham since 1976, and really likes working CW.  His current station is a TS-570 to a MFJ Loop Antenna up a mere 15 feet.  George is a retired trucker and is in his 80's.  Great fist George! Thanks for hearing my 4w of QRP power!  I got a 569 and gave him a 599 at 00:31Z on 04/05/18. 

Anyway, I thought I'd post this here so I can put it in my log when my laptop gets back, with any luck, tomorrow. 

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Blogging my logging...

If you remember, I broke my laptop.   It is being fixed as I type and with any luck I will have it back on Friday.  So I am logging my K1 contacts here so I can catch them all up when I get the computer back.  It's been raining like no tomorrow here...Monday was 2 inches of snow, today it was 3 inches of rain, and tonight we get a tornado or two...more snow tomorrow maybe...gotta love springtime in the Midwest. 

This is the K1 log from today.  I did manage to work one new state for 2018 today, between thunderstorms. 

21:52Z - 04/03/2018 - Karl out in Montrose PA, we have worked each other before and he had a great signal today.  I gave him a 599 and he sent me a 559 from my K1 at 4w to the attic dipole.  We were on 7056 Khz in the 40m band.  Karl is SKCC 17635T and is always a pleasure to work.  Off at 22:02Z

22:20Z - 04/03/2018 - James KB1KKW from out in Massachusetts. James is a new state for me this year and that now makes 21 with 29 to go.  Band conditions were rough, he gave ,e a 599 with QSB and QRN I gave him the same.  We were on 7054 Khz in the 40m band and he is not a SKCC member, so we did not trade numbers. He lives in Chicopee MA which is in Hampden County. 

22:27Z - 04/03/2018 - Roy K8NQQ from down in Wilmington NC. Roy is an SKCC member and we traded numbers.  He is SKCC 912.  I gave him a 589 and he gave me a 559. Great to put Roy in the log on 7055 Khz!

22:32Z - 04/03/2018 Phil K4JVK from down in GA.  Phil is SKCC 5562 and he gave me a 589 and I sent him the same.  QSB and QRN was getting a little worse at this point.  This was on 7055 Khx in the 40m band.  Phil was running a Kenwood TS 570D to a low dipole up about 12 feet!  Thanks for the contact Phil. 

22:43Z - 04/03/2018 Last but not least was Tom AI0F from out in Missouri.  Tom is a SKCC member and his number is 201S.  He's a Senator in SKCC which means, as you know, he's worked billions of SKCC members.  He's an Extra from Adair County.  I gave Tom a 589 and he sent me a 559.  Thanks for the QSO Tom!

That about wraps it up for tonight...more thunderstorms moving in, possible tornadoes too.  I am so ready for summertime.  Not a bad log for 4 watts. 

Best 73 de KB9BVN




Friday, March 30, 2018

K1 SN 1205 Rides Again!

Today is Good Friday, and I had taken a PTO day so my wife and I could get everything ready for the Easter weekend.  When you have 10 grandchildren you have to make sure everything in the goodie basket area is well taken care of.   The mailman showed up at about 4PM today and left a box on my front steps...luckily my wife saw it and brought it into the shack almost immediately.  I opened it up and my friend Aron NN1F,  had already shipped me the K1.  MY K1.  The K1 I built back in 2002, good old serial number 1205 fresh from the 2002 Dayton Hamfest.  I sold it to Aron about 10 or 12 years ago and now it has returned home.  Feast your eyes on this little beauty!

K1 SN 1205 built by KB9BVN during June of 2002 - Back home! 
This is the original four band model and everything is working great.  This was the second transceiver kit I built, the first being my Norcal 40A back in 1998.  In this picture it is tuned to 7034.5 and I just had my first QSO. 

I heard Alan W4AMV calling CQ from North Carolina, he was running 50w to a wire in the trees down in Raleigh.  Alan is a General class ham, and according to QRZ he's quite the boat anchor rebuilder and quite a home brewer.  His QRZ page has several 50/100w HF amps he has build, power supplies, and a 3 band HF rig ta boot.  

According to my watt meter I was pushing just a hair under 5w out to the attic dipole, which I swear is aimed dead at North Carolina.  Alan was a solid 599 here and I got a tasty 459 with a bit of QSB on the side for good measure.  We QSO'd about 15 minutes and it was great.  So glad to have this relic from my past back in my hands and on the air again.  Thank you for the QSO Alan!

UPDATE:  

22:10Z 03/30/18 on 10113 Khz, I had a two way QSO with Bruno F5NTV in Cassy-Lanton France. (4192 Miles) I got a 549 and he was 599 here in Central Indiana.  I was 4 watts into the attic dipole. I almost stopped breathing.  The K1 has MOJO galore even after 16 years. 

23:06Z 03/30/18  I worked Len KC9AWL down in Palm Coast Florida.  We were also on 30m, which seems to be the only band open right now.  He gave me a 569 and I had him at 589 with some QSB here.  Freq was 10121 Khz in the 30m band.

01:12Z 03/31/18 - Worked Tim N8ENJ down near Tampa FL. Tim was using FLDGI to copy my fist and he said it was rough sledding from time to time.  QSB and my fist make it hard to copy.  Tim was using a IC 7000 and a trapped dipole for QSOs tonight.

01:28Z 03/31/18 - Worked Ted NA7C out in Sandy, Utah on the K1 at 4 Watts!  A new state on the K1 and this was on 7055 Khz.  40m is OPEN kids.  Ted is SKCC 8182T and has a great fist.  The band was a little noisy but it is very active right now.

01:56Z 03/31/18 - Worked Lee K5LY on 7041 Khz way down near Dallas Texas, a NEW state for 2018.  Lee is 71 and is a retired law enforcement officer for the state of Texas.  He was running a K3, got his license in 1976, and loves working CW.  Lee even teaches CW classes down there.  Conditions were great for about 20 mins, then QRN and QSB squeaked in and we signed off.

18:14Z 03/31/18 - Worked Ernie VE3OU up in Ontario Canada.  40m was open for a bit and we were running on 7025.5 Khz according to my K1 dial .  Ernie gave me a 569 and he was 599 here with some QSB.  QSO went on for about 20 minutes before the QSB got too bad.  Ernie has been a ham since 1956, he was only 16 when he got his license.  Great QSO Ernie!  Thanks.

20:18Z 03/31/18 - Worked Marc VE2WE up in Quebec, he was running SKCC contacts on 10119 Khz, 30m is open again.  Marc gave me a 549, he was 579 here. His SKCC number is 17443C.  Marc was using a cool Camelback Straight Key from KC5ILR.

KC5ILR Camelback Straight key
20:24Z 03/31/18 - This time up was Hank K1PUG out in CT also on 10119 Khz ..a new state for 2018!  Hank was also running SKCC numbers and he is SKCC 12486S, he's a Senator in SKCC which means he's got about a gazillion SKCC contacts under his belt.  Always a pleasure to work Hank.



Best 73 de KB9BVN

Thursday, March 29, 2018

New Mexico OO Sent me a Notice!

Well readers, as you may remember, I had a nice QSO with Dave KD0DK out in Iowa the other day. Apparently someone was listening and that was James K3IAN out in New Mexico.  James is an ARRL Official Observer and I got the card below from him in my mailbox today. 



In 30 years of being on the air, I have never gotten any kind of report from an ARRL Official Observer.  I was stunned and the first thing I did was call my QRP buddy Ivin W9ILF and rubbed it in.  Hehehe...Ivin would do the same for me. 

I was amazed that he heard my 5w out in New Mexico on 40m last Saturday, and I even got a 449 ta boot. 

Thanks again to Dave KD0DK for the QSO and thanks a million to James K3IAN for noticing and taking time to write to me.  You guys all have a very Happy Easter!

Best 73 de KB9BVN


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Agony...the Pain...the Joy

What an incredible day.  Tonight is the SKCC Sprint, or the SKS as it is known. It typically runs from 00:00Z to 02:00z and this evening I was able to join in, although briefly...and that's where the agony comes in.  

My beloved HP Elitebook laptop, that contains my logging, all my VE software, and other ham radio stuff decided to go TOES UP.  The dreaded "power jack busted away from the system board" monster reared its ugly head.  This thing is way out of warranty and most likely it will now be relegated to the spare parts department.  I need to order a case for the hard disk so I can at least use it via USB to get my stuff outta there.  I will see if I can solder anything back on the power jack when I dig out the hard disk, but I have been here before and that, is very unlikely to happen. 

The best thing that happened today is I got in touch with Aron NN1F via email.  I bought a Elecraft K1 kit in 2001 at Four Days in May.  I bought it from Wayne and Eric at the Dayton Hamvention, they were selling them as fast as they could unload them.  I took it home and built it and used it for two or three years and then sold to raise funds for my beloved K2.  I sold it to Aron, like 15 years ago.  Amateur radio is funny in how you make friends with folks all over the place. Sometime back in the day I found myself doing a job in New Hampshire and I got to meet Aron and his wife Kim for dinner one night in Manchester New Hampshire.  Aron is a Flying Pig QRP Club member and has a great fist if you ever get to meet him on the air.  Happy Happy Joy Joy...Aron sold me back my K1 today.  I can't wait to get it.  Thanks Aron!! 

The SKS was to start at 00:00Z tonight but I worked Kevin WA1LFD - SKCC 17831T from Hollis, NH.  We traded numbers and and I got a 569 and he was a 589 with some QSB on the side.  Great fist and an easy to copy straight key operator for sure.  Hollis was founded in the mid 1700's and has been thriving ever since.  Thanks for the QSO Kev! 

Next up was Judy AA5UZ from way down in Saint Tammany Parish Louisiana.  This is located on the north shore of beautiful Lake Pontchartrain.  Judy gave me a 579 and I returned the same to her.  She is SKCC 12268 and has a great fist for copying.  Her town of Pearl River has the motto of "Home of the Honey Island Swamp".  Thanks for the QSO Judy and the NEW state for 2018! 

Last but not least, Chuck K9IA way down in Florida heard me well enough to trade 559's with me and send our SKCC numbers.  Chuck is SKCC 10206T and he lives in The Villages and they dislike antennas there, so he uses a great stealth flagpole antenna and no one is the wiser.  Chuck has been a ham for over 60 years and loves to work CW.  Thanks for the QSO Chuck..AND the NEW state for 2018. 

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Wet, snowy, weekend means more CW!

It's Palm Sunday,  we got 9 inches of wet heavy snow yesterday but now it's 42F and the stuff is melting off almost as fast as it came down.  For that I am very happy.  We went to Mass this morning and it was packed, the DOT guys have done a great job getting the main roads snow free and dry.  So if you could make it out of your neighborhood, you could go places.  

On Palm Sunday in 1965,  we experienced one of the worst tornado outbreaks in the history of the state. 

Double Tornado - Indiana 1965
Destroyed the Midway Trailer Park
From Wikipedia: "The Palm Sunday tornado outbreak on April 11–12, 1965, in the Midwest U.S. states of Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa, with 47 tornadoes (32 significant, 17 violent, 21 killers). It was the second-biggest outbreak on record at the time. In the Midwest, 271 people were killed and 1,500 injured (1,200 in Indiana). It was the deadliest tornado outbreak in Indiana history, with 137 people killed. The outbreak also made that week in April 1965 the second-most-active week in history, with 51 significant and 21 violent tornadoes."

Thankfully we only had a Snow-nado yesterday and no sign of any tornado activity today. 

So after church, and after lunch, and after doing some things on the honey-do list I fired up the K2 and threw out a few CQ's on 7118, as usual.  The band seemed very quiet and from the reverse beacon I could see that I was being heard but a slow and steady QSB was present. 

After five or six tries I was answered by Mark NV9J from up in Chippewa County Wisconsin.  A new state for the 2018 WAS effort!  Mark was running a vintage Yaesu FT-102 into a flagpole vertical at his home in Lake Hallie.  Mark got his ticket when he was 14 years old in 1976 and has been on the air ever since.  Great fist to copy, if you ever hear him and the FT 102 out there, give them a call! 

Yeasu FT-102
Lake Hallie is in the NW portion of Wisconsin, and is home to about 6500 people. (From Wikipedia) The lake, from which the village derives its name, is an oxbow lake near the Chippewa River between Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls. Here, in 1843, the McCann brothers joined with Jeremiah C. Thomas to build the Blue Mill, which used the lake as a holding pond for logs.[6] Later, after several changes of ownership and many improvements, this mill was acquired by the Badger State Lumber Company and became known as Badger Mills. Its operations were discontinued in the 1890s due to a shortage of logs.

.Beautiful Lake Hallie Wisconsin


Thanks Mark!  You're my 15th state for 2018 WAS efforts. 

Best 73 de KB9BVN




Saturday, March 24, 2018

Snow in Spring...CW is in the air...

Today is March 24th, 2018...the fourth day of Spring...unless you live in Indiana, and the High School Basketball Finals are this weekend.  It started snowing here at about 6AM and has been non-stop for the last 14 hours.  Weather experts predicts the snowing will cease around 2AM, and right now we have 8 very wet inches of snow with plenty more coming down.  So today I made a dutch oven full of beef stew, watched three movies, took two naps, and started wondering if my attic dipole could work through all the snow on the roof.  

So I fired up the K2, running from a battery and turn up the power to 10 watts.  Tuned to 7118, my favorite 40m frequency,  and threw out a few CQs.  My first contact was a new state for 2018, Dave KD0DK out west in Waterloo Iowa.  Dave is SKCC 12635S, which is cool because the last time I worked him he was 12635T.  This means he has earned the rank of "Senator" which takes about a gazillion SKCC contacts to earn.  He is also a FIST, and a member of the NAQCC, and has been working CW since 2014. 

The name "Waterloo" supplanted the original name, "Prairie Rapids Crossing," shortly after Charles Mullan petitioned for a post office in the town. Since the signed petition did not include the name of the proposed post office location, Mullan was charged with selecting the name when he submitted the petition. Tradition has it that as he flipped through a list of other post offices in the United States, he came upon the name "Waterloo." The name struck his fancy, and on December 29, 1851, a post office was established under that name. The town was later called the same, and Mullan served as the first postmaster from December 29, 1851 until August 11, 1854.  Waterloo is in Black Hawk County and hone to the Hawkeye Community College.  Thanks for the SKCC contact Dave!

Waterloo IA on the Cedar River

The next one in the logbook was Tom N2KPJ up in Clayton NY.  Tom was also another SKCC contact and we traded numbers, his being SKCC 16569T.   Tom and I are both impatiently waiting the arrival of SPRING TIME.  Clayton NY is the home of Blue Oyster Cult founders, Albert and Joe Bouchard.  They are a small town with a population of about 5200 and is situated along the banks of the St. Lawrence River...you can see Canada from here! 


The next contact was Randy KK4BNC from down in Cataula, GA. Another new state for 2018!  I think Randy has a pretty neat call sign, and was also a SKCC member with number 8054.  He did mention it was 70F there and the flowers were blooming.  I told him my flowers were too...but now they are buried under almost a foot of snow.  Cataula is in western Georgia almost on the Alabama state line, and has a population of about 5800 people.   Thanks for the QSO Randy! 

That's it for today! 

Best 73 de KB9BVN



Sunday, March 11, 2018

SKCC and the Weekend Sprint

I have to hand to the SKCC crowd.  When the band is dead, and no one seems to be there, you can move to an SKCC frequency and usually find a operator willing and ready to QSO.  Reminds me of the FISTS organization 10-15 years ago.  Making CW QSO's is fun. 

Today I started out on 40m, this weekend is the Weekend Sprint for SKCC, and I am SKCC 2076T, the T means I have worked a bunch of SKCC contacts since becoming a member many years ago.  I think they are on number 20,000 or close to it now. 

SKCC means Straight Key Century Club and you make contacts using a straight key, or a bug...no paddles, no keyboards, no computers.  

In 20 minutes I had worked five stations on 40m.  KA2KGP in NY, K3SEW in PA, K4ZGB in AL, K0FD in MO, and W0UY in KS.  The band was weak but the K2 was working great today.  After about 20 minutes I was invaded by my herd of grandchildren, well most of the herd, so I had to QRT for a bit and play with this them for a few hours. 

I got back on the air close to 5PM and worked 5 more in about an hour.  K3EW in MD, NM1W in NH, KD8DD in MI, K2MD in NJ, and last but not least K4CRD in NC.  So I managed to work the Great Plains, New England, and Coastal Carolinas...not too bad. 

Now folks, that was running 5 watts to a attic dipole in terrible band conditions. If you ask me the band was doing fine...yes it was noisy, yes there was QSB galore, yes bugs are harder for me to copy than paddles and keyers....but it can be done.  Turn on your radios and just give it some time and enjoy the hunt. 

Here is my straight key for today:


I'm glad I don't have to use that all the time,  It is very tiny.  About 2 inches long and a half inch wide. 

Best 73 de KB9BVN
SKCC 2076T

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Good Day for CW

What a rainy day, we've been getting drenched now for two solid days.  Mud everywhere, temps run from the 30's to the 50's every day...the BUG has been getting passed around at work and at home.  Welcome to Indiana in the late winter. 

So I was sitting at home working on some projects for work, and noticing my station had been neglected all month.  So I decided to take a quick break and see if anything was hopping on 40m before the big RTTY Party got started. 

I tuned to 7053 and called CQ a few times and heard nothing, so I started calling CQ SKCC and that must have been the right bait.   I managed three QSOs in a row on that frequency and it was good to work the straight key.

First up was Jeff KC3HWU out in Maryland.  I was his first QSO with his new straight key and his fist was great.  We had some QSB to overcome but it was manageable.  Jeff is a frequent NTS operator and has quite a collection of ham gear, including a end fed wire up 30 feet and a pile of Kenwood rigs.  I enjoyed the QSO and we traded SKCC numbers.  Thanks Jeff.

Next up was Mark AA4AX down in Pauline, South Carolina. .Mark has a fairly new SKCC number and his fist was great.  He was running about 100 watts and was a solid 599 here near Indianapolis. He's using an Icom 7600 and an OCF antenna to make the trip.  He had my K2 at 5 watts as a booming 579, so I was happy to hear that!  According to Wikipedia, the most exctiing thing about Pauline SC is they have a Redbox movie rental machine, and their own Post Office. 

Fun Fact: When they built the post office in 1890, the town was named Stribling....but there was already a Stribling post offic in South Carolina...so they changed the name of the town to Pauline...who was Pauline?  She was the Postmasters eldest daughter! 

Thanks for the QSO Mark! 

1955 Speed-X Straight Key
My last one of the afternoon was Carroll W4PCA down in Maryville TN.  Carroll was also an SKCC contact and we traded numbers.  He's been in SKCC a long time with 1590T as his SKCC digits...he's been a ham since 1955 when he was first licensed at age 17. he has a Speed-X Straight Key that he has been using since 1955 and his fist is smooth copy. 

Maryville is in Blount County, located in the Great Smoky Mountains. The family of Sam Houston moved to Maryville from Virginia in 1808, when Houston was 15. His older brothers put him to work as a clerk in a store they established in town, but he ran away. Houston lived for a few years with the Cherokee at Hiwassee Island, on the Hiwassee River, where he became fluent in their language and appreciative of their culture. 

After his return to Maryville about 1811, Houston started a one-room schoolhouse. He signed up for the army during the War of 1812 and rose rapidly in rank, beginning his military and political career. The schoolhouse still stands just off US-411 near the community of Wildwood.  Sam later went on to become the governor of Tennesee, and then the first governor of Texas where he  fought against Santa Anna of Mexico.

Sam Houston Schoolhouse in Maryville TN

Thanks for all the QSO's today! 

de KB9BVN