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!


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 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 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