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

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! 


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!


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:

710 MILL CIRCLE #107 
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


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