Thursday, October 17, 2019

Happiness is a new Radio!

Several weeks ago I posted a message in the Hilltopper Radio reflector operated by the fine folks at the Four States QRP Group.  I was looking for someone to build a Hilltopper 40 for me to go with the Hilltopper 20 I bought earlier this year.  After a day or two went by,  I got email from Steve Miller N0SM out in Ottumwa Iowa, offering to do the build for me.  So I ordered my HT40 that night and Jim Pruitt WA7DUY shipped it out to Steve at my request.  I am so glad I didn't wait another day as the kit was successfully received by the QRP community, and sold out. 

Hilltopper 40 from Four States QRP Group

Steve contacted me as soon as he got it and we discussed my wishes to have the audio upgrade parts installed during the build, he agreed that he could do that, and would supply the parts to do so.  So we were off to the races.  We ran into a couple small obstacles along the way but to make a short story shorter, I got the radio in the mail today and it is a beauty. 

VA3ZB - Bruce 
As soon as I got it out of the box I connected it to power, my straight key, my half wave 40m attic dipole and tuned around, hearing all kinds of signals, it was alive!  I heard VA3ZB calling CQ on 7050.4 Khz and I answered him, and BOOM he had me on the first reply.  

Bruce is a ham that lives up in Sault Ste. Marie Ontario, he was running 100w from his TS590S.  I got a 579 and sent him a 589, eventually in the QSO he said my signal had improved to a 599.  I was extremely happy with this QSO and logged it as my first QSO on the HT40.   I can't wait to make many more.  

It's always nice and fun to get a new radio, even if it's not a top of the shelf high buck adventure, the amount of fun I get from these little radios makes them bargains beyond compare.  So I'll be trolling the 40m band with this rig for the next few weeks at least, if you hear me out there, give me a shout.  Thanks again to Steve N0SM for building this kit for me and thanks to Dave Benson K1SWL for another fine kit rig.  

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Peanut Power Sprint Log for #398

This evening I was sprinting in the Peanut Power Sprint, in the "Roasted" class...which meant I was 5 watts from home (not portable).  I just happened to be Peanut #398 to all those out there sprinting.  I stuck to 40m, primarily 7062Khz and 7061Khz for my QSOs.  I worked one hour (6PM to 7PM EDT) and made 21 contacts, in 6 different states.  That was worth a score of 834 points.  I have posted my log here for your reading enjoyment. 

Peanut Power Sprint 2019 - Log for KB9BVN #398
It was great to hear John K4BAI and the others out there tonight, my Dixie Pipeline was working well. Remember, next weekend, Oct 12, is the QRP-ARCI Fall QSO Party and it runs from 00:00Z to 23:59Z on OCTOBER 12. Don't miss out! 

Peanut Power Sprint is tonight!

Greetings and salutations from Peanut 398, here in the middle of Indiana.  Tonight I will be sprinting with my K2 at 5w into the magic attic dipole.  I have been on 7062 for the last hour or so, just checking out band conditions, I have decided to just run on 40m tonight, although the contest is open to 20, 40, 80m. 

I did work KC4WZB Joel from down in northern Georgia, he was at his mountain cabin and making a few QSO's.  Joel and I exchanged 599's and he told me he was on the FT 991 today pushing RF to a G5RV up about 40 feet. 

I learned that Joel is a big time SOTA activator, and says that is one of his favorite ham radio things to do.  Joel is Mountain Goat #3 and is a member of the W4G Georgia SOTA Association.  Joel also authors a BLOG that you can read by browsing to 

Great fist, armchair copy, if you hear KC4WZB on the air you will want to get him in your log! 

Right after that QSO I was called by none other than Bill WA4FAT, Bill and I have QSO'd a couple times in the last few years, he's down in Alabama.  Makes me feel good that my Dixie Pipeline seems to be open on 40m today.  That'll come in handy for the Peanut Power Sprint.  We traded 599's and exchanged QSO info.  I let him know about the sprint coming up tonight, the more the merrier. 

Bill enjoys SKCC contacts as well, and is SKCC 11062S and that "S" means he's worked literally thousands of SKCC contacts.  Great fist too, if you hear WA4FAT, get him in your logs!  Bill also likes to design web sites for fellow hams, and you can check out his work at  - check him out! 

One hour to sprint time...might as well eat dinner now.  

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

40m Never Lets Me Down

I had a nice QSO this evening with Bob W5RG from down Florida way.  I called 7 CQ's and was just about to shut it down and he called me back.  As usual I was on the K2 at 10w to the mojo powered attic dipole I installed in 1998.  Bob was using his K3 and a long wire antenna at 100w and was fighting some pretty bad QRM on his end.  Surprisingly the QSB tonight was very light.  I sent him a 589 and got a 579 back.  

Bob lives in Panama City Beach, and he said it's been very hot down there and he is ready for winter.  I explained here in Indiana, it is not uncommon for us to experience all four seasons over the course of a few days...and we were not hoping for winter yet. 

I check Bob out on QRZ and found that he's been licensed about 60 years, he was 13 years old when he got his ticket and that was motivated by a couple of older guys in his Boy Scout troop having two way radios.  He also had an uncle that ran CW from a big old Viking back in the 1950's. Bob is a CW operator, and originally from Oklahoma, says he moved to Florida for love but didn't get to bring his towers.  

Seeing his mention of the Boy Scouts made stop and wonder just how many hams out there got their interest in radio stirred up by being a scout.  

I have been a scout leader since August of 1986 when my then first grader brought home a flyer showing they were starting up a new Cub Scout pack.  I have been a Cub Master, Den Leader, Scoutmaster, Assistant Scoutmaster, Merit Badge Counselor, Committee Chair, and last but not least a Chartered Organization Representative.  

I was a scout as a youth but was only involved in scouting for about three years, made the rank of 1st Class, and the smells of gasoline and perfume won me over.  I have two sons that are both Eagle Scouts (one a ham), and I have one grandson (also a ham) about to make Eagle and another just getting started out in the Cubs with his dad acting as an assistant Den Leader.  I guess you can say we are a scouting family. 

If you get a chance to assist a scout group with JOTA this year, do it.  It can be very frustrating at times and very rewarding all at the same time.  If you have some free time, get with your local BSA Council and sign up to be a Radio Merit Badge Counselor.  

See ya on the trail! 


Saturday, August 31, 2019

I smell Autumn

Hello there,  I have been neglecting my blog for months, it's summertime and I have been busy with work, and the grand kids, and all the other stuff that comes up in the summer time.  So here I sit in the shack this morning with the K2 turned on and monitoring 7115 Khz while I do some web surfing.  

At 15:00Z I hear Kevin N2AFX calling CQ and it's a almost perfect 599 and about 15 wpm.  Kevin lives in western New York in the finger lakes region. It must be very beautiful there this time of year.  Kevin was runing 100w into his G5RV from his Icom 746Pro this morning, and we had a nice chat for about 25 minutes.  Slow rolling shallow QSB was present but the band held up nicely for our QSO.  I got a 579 and sent him a 589.

When I checked Kevin out on QRZ I found that not only is he primarily a CW operator, but he is also a book author and his favorite subject is longwave radio. (0-500 kHz) 

Kevin's book is Listening to Longwave (ISBN 9781882123391) published by Universal Radio, Inc.  Kevin is also a former writer for "Monitoring Times" magazine and is currently the publisher of "The Lowdown", the journal of the Longwave Club of America. 

Bloomfield has a population of about 1800 people, and is home to Crosman Corporation, maker of fine air rifles and BB guns.

So here it is August 31, and summer is about 67% in the rear view mirror, I was sitting on my back patio last night listening to the cicadas and I smelled it.'s coming in 23 days and last night I caught my first whiff.  I always look forward to the changing of summer into autumn, things seem to start to slow down a bit at work, and I find more time to be on the radio in an evening.

Until next time!

Best 73

Saturday, May 25, 2019


So I m on call all weekend, all holiday weekend, and I was sitting at my home office desk and had the K2 turned on and was listening to the QSB when I heard a CW CQ from WA4LJJ on 7042 Khz at abotu 18:41Z.  

I thought it was probably another GA or NC or SC station calling, and he was pretty loud,  so I answered him with the straight key.  Doug WA4LJJ is a Air Force retiree and is 77 years old, he is a good CW operator, and we probably could have chewed the rag for an hour but the QSB was becoming a problem. 

Doug lives way down yonder in Eastern Kentucky in Pikeville.  Pikeville is in Pike County and the population there is about 7000.  If you enjoy bluegrass music, and I do, this is the place to be.  Pikeville is also home to singer Patty Loveless, singer Dwight Yoakam, and aviator John Paul Riddle (he founded the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University). 

Doug is a higher speed operator and is a member of the CFO (Chicken Fat Operators #386) and belongs to the SKCC as #16280.  He is also part of the CWOPS group.  Check him out on QRZ.COM as he has a very interesting biography. 

73 de KB9BVN

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Indy to New York

Well my station has been off the air for about the last two weeks.  We've been having the entire house painted inside and out, and I was finally able to get some of my junque put back in the shack and connected to the Mojo enriched attic dipole antenna. 

So I tuned up to 7118 and listened for a couple hours, and did not hear much.  I had been watching a movie and keeping an ear to the radio when I heard Lou KD2ITZ from Yorktown Heights NY calling CQ, I was on the K2 set to about 10 watts output, the band was not in real bad shape and I had Lou a solid 579 here.  He was using a TS-590 at 50 watts into his dipole.  So not a bad signal at all.  If you have ever worked Lou before you know he has a great fist and makes for easy copy.  He remembered that we had worked each other in the past.  It's been raining at his QTH for a solid week like it has been raining here.  According to Wikipedia, Dave Matthews of "Dave Matthews Band" fame hails from Yorktown Heights NY as well as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  

KD2ITZ QSL Card I snagged from QRZ
I have been searching through all the boxes of my treasure and I am slowly getting things back together in the radio room.  Still can't find my K1.  Maybe tomorrow!

May the 4th be with you!


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Signals Went Down to Georgia

Fired up the K1 tonight, tuned to 40m because I was hearing NOTHING again on 20m.  First station I worked was David W4SRE way down in Macon Georgia on 7053 Khz.  David is a SKCC member, number 15102T, and we had not worked each other before.  David gave me an RST of 329,  and I sent him a 559.  It was a wee bit noisy and some QSB in there but otherwise a good contact.  David was originally licensed in South Africa in the 1980's and he came to the USA in 1997.  He learned CW in the South African navy in the 1970's!  Thanks for the QSO David! 

So I tuned some more and all I was hearing were Georgia stations, which was a nice welcome change from only hearing North Carolina stations! 

Next up was Randy KK4BNC and he was running  K2 at 90 Watts into an end fed sloper up about 50 feet, from down in Cataula, Georgia.  I had to look that one up.  He is located in the western part of Georgia, almost on the Alabama state line.  What was funny, was when I put his call sign in my N3FJP Logger, I saw he and I had worked each other exactly one year ago that's pretty neat.  I checked Wikipedia to learn more about this town and I found that in January of 2017, Cataula was hit by several tornadoes.  They have done a good job of rebuilding since then.  The tornado outbreak of 2011 almost wiped them out though...and I thought we got hit with a lot of severe weather here in central Indiana.  Wow!

My QSO with Randy went on for almost a half an hour,  we discussed keys, radios, the weather, and traded SKCC numbers.  Randy is SKCC 8054, we said our 73's and bid each other a good day.  Easy armchiar copy, Randy has a great fist.  Work him if you hear him. 

That's it for now...not much really but I thought it was funny how the K1 was locked on Georgia tonight. 

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Hilltopper Mods from K1SWL

Early today Dave Benson K1SWL, the designer of the Hilltopper radios being sold by 4 States QRP Group, posted an email to the group listing the following mods to improve audio performance of the rig.  Not that it really needed much.

Side Tone Too Loud

Some ops have found the sidetone to be a bit loud, other ops have found it to be just right.  If you find the sidetone to be louder than you would like it to be you can do the following mod.  Change out R8 (22K) with a 47K to 100K resistor.  I have not done this mod, as I find the sidetone to be just the way I like it.  However I wonder if you could put in a little 100K pot instead and adjust it to your favorite sidetone level.  Not sure a small pot would fit in there, but may be worth a look.

Low Audio I

The values of R5 (150K) and C22 (470 pF) may be changed to 330K and 220 pF respectively.  This yields a gain increase of 6 dB without affecting that stage's rolloff characteristic.

These two components are in 'tight quarters'- between U3 and the pushbutton switch.  Cutting one or both component leads and tacking the new components on the underside of the board makes the change much easier. 

NOTE: I cut the components off just above the board, and used solder wick and a solder sucker to clear out the solder so I could use needle nose pliers to tug out the "stems" while heating the backside of the board.  Worked well but I had to take my time.

Low Audio II

Straight from Dave, "As some of you have noted, there's a 'screech' on loud CW signals- it necessitates riding the gain control. I evaluated samples of a more robust op-amp-  the NJM4556AD."

Replacing the NE5532P with that new device eliminates the screech. You'll hear some distortion when limiting occurs, but it's much less objectionable than the NE5532's rude noises. Its 'limiting' threshold is also about 6 dB higher than the present device.  The net result of this change, combined with above mod,  is 6 dB more audio without the rudities (that's a word!).

Note that if you increase the gain without replacing the IC, you'll find yourself riding the gain control more often

I have an OpAmp on the way, it appears to be a pin for pin swap out.  The OpAmp in the Hilltopper rigs is socketed, so this swap out should take but a few minutes to perform. 

73 de KB9BVN

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Never Ceases to Amaze me....

I've always said you meet the most interesting folks on ham radio and tonight was no exception.  I was tuning around on 20m looking for any kind of signal, it was too late and the band was too quiet, and I still wanted to have a QSO. 

So I tuned down to the 40m band to see what was going on there and stumbled across KF4IZE calling CQ on 7114.  Will lives down in Fayetteville NC and has been an Extra class operator since 1998.  He gave me a 569 and I had him a solid 599 here in Central Indiana. 

Will KF4IZE on his 2002 Harley Davidson Fat Boy
He enjoys fixing up and running boat anchor gear, as well as riding his prized 2002 Harley Davidson  Fat Boy.  Will was using a old Navy Flameproof key tonight, and I was at the K2 and using my Nye Viking Master Key.  He gave me his SKCC number and I forgot to give him mine...I swear I am losing my marbles.  

Will retired from the US Army Signal Corps after serving for 20 years in 2008.  In his spare time he likes to run mini marathons and regular marathons, and cruising around on his Harley.  His current antenna farm consists of a home brew two-element delta loop parasitic array for 40 meters and a two-element vertical ground plane phased array for 2 meters. You can find Will KF4IZE mostly operating 40-meter AM (7.290/295) and occasional CW (7.050/7.115)

Operating Position at KF4IZE in Fayetteville NC

Thanks for the QSO Will and thanks for your service.  My dad is a retired Sgt. Major and my son is a Marine.  We owe you guys a lot! 

Best 73

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Quick Receive Audio Mod for the Hilltopper 20

When I got my Hilltpper 20, it was pre-built by an experienced QRP builder and QRP operator, so I was satisfied with it bveing built correctly.   I ran it through the calibration process per the documents and was very satisfied with the results of that calibration.  I had some trouble getting it exactly right so I was asking about the process on the 4 States QRP Group reflector.  Dave Benson K1SWL, the designer of the Hilltopper rigs and former owner of Small Wonder Labs was kind enough to send me explicit instructions on the calibration process, and using those instructions I was able to get the transmit and the receive spot on. 

So since I had Dave's attention, I sent him an email asking if there were any tweaks I could make to the receiver that would make it a bit louder and not sound so  muffled or narrow.  He responded that he'd been thinking about that and suggested I change R5 to 470K or 510K and change C22 to 150pf .  He had calculated this might add nearly a 10db gain to the circuit. 

R5 WAS a 150K resistor and C22 WAS a 470pf COG capacitor.  They are located just above the Dual Low Noise Op Amp U3 which is a NE5532.   See below: 

Swap R5 and C22 out with new values

Location of Parts to Swap out on Hilltopper 20

Once I got the parts it took me maybe an hour total to remove the old parts and install the new parts.  My de-soldering skills are horrid so I went slow so I didn't gronk up the circuit board.  Solder wick is your best friend here, and having a de-soldering bulb handy is really really helpful. 

I don't have any gear that I can use to measure the actual electrical improvement but my ears were VERY happy to hear an increase in audio gain, and an increase in the number of signals.  I would tune a station on my K2 and then switch to the HT20 and was able to tune the same, even the weak ones.  

Dave did mention that this mod MIGHT cause some screeching if I tuned any really loud signals, so far I have not experienced that.  I reported the improvements to Dave and he is now working on a possible Op Amp replacement idea.  I can't wait to see how that turns out.  Stay tuned.  If you perform this modification, please let Dave Benson know how it turned out for you and if you see any improvement.  I was very happy with it. 

Yesterday here in the Hoosier Heartland we had gorgeous sunny skies,  fair winds, but cold temps.  So I did not get to take the rig to the outdoors.  Woke up this morning with a serious  head cold and about an inch of new snow....good grief.  Will Old Man Winter just pack up and GO.  

73 de KB9BVN

Saturday, March 16, 2019

20m Finally Opens a Wee Bit While I am Home!

If you have been reading along, you'll remember I bought a pre-built Hilltopper 20 QRP transceiver about two weeks ago.  I have not had a single QSO on it until today, and I am a happy man.  I have been trying and trying to make a QSO with this radio every afternoon when I get home from work, but it's just been too late in the day for a cooperative 20m band and my sorry, sorry antenna, the infamous attic dipole. 

Haiti Air Ambulance Service
Finally this afternoon I was able to work a quick contact with HH2AA from a remote operated station down in Haiti.  HH2AA is the callsign for the Radio Club of Haiti and they were working a contest.  The operator for this station is controlling it from a remote site. This is a special call to support the Ha├»ti Air Ambulance Service. Please consider donating to this wonderful cause!

According to QRZ:  The HH2AA station currently sits at 6300'ASL with a Elecraft K3 running 100w with 3 Element Tri-bander fixed to the U.S. and a 4 Element Tri-bander fixed to EU along with a OCF Dipole off a 80' Tower.

I worked them at 19:40Z and on 14043.2 Khz today, we traded 599, but this was a contest exchange...they were 100% 599 here in Indianapolis today.   I see they have now moved up to 15m. 

What a view from the tower eh? 

Thanks for the contact HH2AA, QSL card is in the mail!

I am now ready to take this show on the road as soon as the weather gets a little warmer around here.  I have an Alex Loop antenna, and a portable vertical called the PAC-12 I hope to use during my lunch hours and from the local park bench.  I have a Hilltopper 20, a Norcal 20, and my K1 to go portable with this summer. Stay tuned and listen for KB9BVN....he's desperate. 

Best DX and 73 to all! 

Monday, March 11, 2019

Today in QRP

Rev. George Dobbs G3RJV - SK 

In the world of QRP today, we were informed of the passing of Rev. George Dobbs G3RJV early this morning.  George was a QRPers QRPer and was a huge believer in "minimalist radio".  George was the founder of the G-QRP (QRP club of Great Britain) and was the editor of Sprat Magazine for years and years.  The world famous "Sudden Receiver" was designed and built by George in 1989 and is still sold as a kit by QRPme today.  George taught us about "Occum's Razor" and the word "pelf".  A featured speaker at numerous FDIM events in the past, a contributing author/editor to Sprat, and many RSGB publications.   He will be greatly missed.   

Tonight when I got home from work I was treated to an extra hour of daylight thanks to this invention we call Daylight Savings Time.  I was hoping that the 20m band would give me a QSO on my new radio, the 4 States Group Hilltopper 20.  It was not to be. 

Here's my setup, a Hilltopper 20, a set of 18650 batteries, and a Nye Viking Master Key.  I have re-calibrated the tuning so I am right on frequency now, thanks to Dave Benson K1SWL for the calibration assistance. 

Hilltopper 20 and Nye Viking Master Key
I gave out some free CQ's for about 30 minutes and then checked with the Reverse Beacon Network to see if I was even making a dent in the ionosphere.  My Hilltopper 20 can output a solid 5 watts into my attic dipole.  I was not encouraged by what I saw. 

KB9BVN Spots on the Reverse Beacon Network 
Being heard in Arizona, Alberta, and Utah...but measly signal strength getting there.  It's obvious I need to get on the air at a different time of day.  I have been trying in the morning as well between 09:00Z and 09:40Z and not hearing anything.   My friend Ivin W9ILF was able to make a couple nice contacts on Sunday with his 1.5 watt Cub on 20m.  He QSO'd with a station in Washington state and Idaho.  I was not on the air Sunday at all...bad move eh? 

So...back to 40m for this evening and I will en-devour to persevere on 20m tomorrow.  dit dit

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Happiness is a new radio...

When I got home from work on Friday my Hilltopper 20 had arrived.  So I wolfed down dinner, kissed the wife and headed to my radio room.  The Hilltopper is a radio designed by none other than Dave Benson K1SWL  of Small Wonder Labs fame.  The Hilltopper is kitted and sold by the Four State QRP Group.  I bought one that was already built by another QRPer.  You can read all about the kit on the club website and I might mention that is it one sale right can save $10.00

My Hilltopper isn't acting quite right.  I tune to 14060 and it transmits on 14062.  I am also having some issues with the receive being on the wrong frequency as well.  So I have signed up for the support group on and will get this figured out.  20m has been dead as a door nail all least in the CW band.  I think everyone must be running the ARRL SSB contest this weekend. 

The Hilltopper can put out about 7 watts with a fully charged 12v battery.  I can't wait to have a QSO with it. 

I was able to get on the air for a bit this afternoon, and knocked out four contacts, but no new states.  I had to go down to 7052 and call for SKCC, I managed to work GA, NC, NJ, and MD with the K1 at 5 watts.  The A index is at 12 and we're seeing no sunspots right now so it's pretty tough sledding.  I am going to try hard to get the Hilltopper 20 going in the right direction and between it and my Norcal 20 I hope to make contacts in the western states I need for my WAS efforts. 

Anyway, thanks for checking in.  Next weekend we are doing a VE test session for 40 people that are finishing up a county CERT training class.   That will be fun!

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Shack Disaster....but then a QSO

Ever have one of those days?  I was getting ready to work some CW and after getting my desk top all arranged the way I wanted it, I somehow managed to shove my 1964 vintage Vibrokeyer off the back of my desk.  It was not plugged into the radio, as I have been working with just my straight key lately.  It landed....on the paddle.  The worst possible way it could have landed.  Feast your eyes on this sad sad picture. 

KB9BVN's busted Vibrokeyer
The paddle busted free of the adjustment nuts AND the little red ruby thingie on the top is GONE.  It's a totally sad day in Mudville kids.  

Luckily, Vibroplex has the parts to fix it up.  Looks like about $35 with shipping. I will attempt to fix it myself since I am a Radio Amateur, and if I gronk it up too badly I will ship it off with a box of money to the mothership at Vibroplex for repair, adjusting, and cleaning. 

Once I found all the parts I could find under my desk, I calmed down and tuned to 20m in hopes of working a western state.  I CQ'd on 14050 for about 20 mins...and didn't get a bite.  John K3WWP has been having great success on 80m, but alas I do not have an antenna at home that will work on 80m.  I need to improve the antenna situation here. 

KA4UPI in the Shack
So I tuned down to 40m, 7051.5 Khz, and sent out my call a few times and nothing.  I was reading the latest Harbor Freight Ad-zazine when I heard KA4UPI  call CQ.  I answered him and we had a great QSO.  Mark was running 100w into a Double Bazooka antenna up about 40 feet. His radio was the venerable Icom 746 and he was SKCC member 2582T, a NEW SKCC contact for he and I both.  Mark lives in Dublin Georgia.  Dublin has about 17,000 people in it, and was named for Dublin Ireland by the early settlers that came there from the Emerald Isle.  They also have produced a number of NFL players along the line. 

Thanks for the QSO! I still need 20 more states!


Sunday, February 24, 2019

QRP Convention time is here

If you have never been to a QRP convention and you are an avid QRPer, then you owe it yourself to get to one or two of them this year.  Coming up in April is one of the most popular conventions we have in the United States. 

Ozarkcon 2019  runs the weekend of April 5-6 in Branson, Missouti.  It is held at the Stone Castle Inn and Conference Center.   This QRP convention and banquet is hosted and sponsored by the Four States QRP Group.  You can get all the details on their website. 

Four Days in May is probably the oldest QRP convention and banquet we have, this year it is again in Fairfield Ohio, at the Fairfield Holiday Inn.  It runs from Thursday May 16th to Sunday May 19th.  Which just so happens to be the same weekend as the Dayton Hamvention.   The FDIM hotel is conveniently close to the Hamvention site in Xenia Ohio, so you can knock out two birds with one stone.  FDIM is operated by the QRP Amateur Radio Club International and features an all day symposium on Thursday, a Vendor Night, a Club Night, a Buildathon, and a fine banquet.  If you have never been to FDIM, you owe it yourself to make it one year. 

These are the two coming up the fastest.  In addition to these we also have Lobstercon, usually held in July up in Maine.  Pacificon will be held in San Ramon California the weekend of October 18-20 in 2019.  This is a big show, if you are in the that part of the nation, you won't to miss this. 

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Friday, February 22, 2019

Friday Night is Movie Night

I most likely will not be on the air tonight, but instead I will be watching the 1982 John Carpenter classic "The Thing".  We have a fantastic theater nearby called the Artcraft. It was originally opened in the 1920's and the Franklin Heritage group has been slowly but surely remodeling it and putting it back to its former glorious condition.  

It is one of our favorite places to go watch old movies, and you can't beat the price.  About $3 gets you in and another $5 gets you a box of popcorn and a big soda to enjoy during the movie.  On Friday and Saturday night they award prizes to lucky ticket holders, as well as hand out an award to the
patron that drove the furthest to get there.  All the popcorn is locally grown! It's like being a kid again and stepping back in to the glory days of Hollywood!

This weekend we have the South Carolina State QSO Party on Saturday, and the North Carolina State QSO Party on Sunday.  Both offer QRP categories so get out there and work those states.  Have fun and I'll be back on the air tomorrow.  Working hard on the WAS I started in 2018. 

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Streak Lives!

KB9BVN at the Key
I was worried that I would not get to get on the air tonight, my wife, my sister in law, and I went out to dinner at Culvers and didn't get home until 8PM...which just happens to be my bedtime.  (I get up at 4:30AM for work).  Once again I fired up the K2 and tuned her right to 7120 Khz.  

N5IXA in the Shack
I fired off a couple QRLs and no one seemed to mind...wasn't hearing anything either, so I sent out a 3x3 CQ and was immediately answered by Randy N5IXA out in Oklahoma City.  Wow, Oklahoma two nights in a row!  

Randy is SKCC 5896 and he was running 100 Watts from his Alinco DX SR8  into a Loop antenna. I gave him a genuine 599 from Indiana and he sent me a genuine 339 from Oklahoma.  I'm thrilled he heard me at 10 watts on the attic dipole.  Randy has been a ham since he was 15 years old, and is a retired ER Nurse according to his bio page on QRZ.  Randy is also active in the local community theater, which must come naturally to a HAM.  Right? Check him out on QRZ. You meet some of the most interesting folks on the CW bands.  

QSO was at 01:05 and ran until 01:16 on 02/22/19Z 

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Ohhhhhhhh klahoma!

I am pretty sure the 40m band was on vacation tonight.  The noise was high, the QSB lasted a long long time between waves coming back in.  I sat and listened for about 90 minutes tonight before I finally completed my CW QSO.  Once again I started on 15m...heard nothing, so I headed to fertile QSO grounds on 40.  Except there was not much there but some SSB in some language I don't know right on 7120 Khz.  So I tried 7115, then to 7050, and finally landed on 7030 Khz and tossed out a few CQs only to be ignored.  So I was playing around with my laptop when I heard a faint KB9BVN DE K7JKZ coming from the K2 speaker.  

Oh boy...I almost never hear 7 land on 40m here in this QTH so I cranked it up to 10 watts and fired my call back.  John K7JKZ must have super sonic ears because he heard me...barely.  I sent him a 339 and got back a 349 from the great state of Oklahoma.  John runs ONLY a KX3 in his shack and from the looks of his QRZ page he has a fine shack indeed.  

K7JKZ Shack - KX3
I'd like to thank John for his service to our great nation, he served as a US Navy Radioman 2nd Class and was a submariner on the USS Andrew Jackson and the USS Ulysses S. Grant. John calls Oklahoma City his home now, although he was originally licensed at age 13 in Medford Oregon. We had to send our RST, QTH, and name a couple times before we copied it on both ends.  The QSO was just about that short, we bid each other 73 and the band went dead again. I am very glad I hung around, Oklahoma isn't real plentiful around here, so it's great to have that one in the log.  So far 2019 my WAS efforts have only yielded 10 states.  I heard New Mexico tonight, W5UX, but the QSB took him away as fast as it brought him in.  It was brutal this evening and I was using every filter in my box of magic radio tricks.  Keep on CQing! 


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

On the Shores of Lake Pontchartrain

Well the weather man says we have a big nasty late winter storm coming sometime tonight, ice, sleet, snow and then maybe a little rain forecast for the early hours tomorrow.  I can not wait for summer to get here.  Good thing we have plenty of edibles and lots of movies to watch. 

Fired up the K2 tonight and tuned around on 15m, didn't hear a peep. So I moved on back down to the best band in the land, and parked on 7120 Khz.  I threw out a few slow CQs and a few faster CQs from the straight key and got no takers.  Just about the time I was ready to shut it down and go watch the snow fall, I heard a loud but somewhat slow CQ from KB5KGO.  I threw out my call and he came back to me on the first try.  Warren KB5KGO is an honest to goodness Novice license holder.  Folks there are not many Novice licensees left out there, but Warren is one for sure.  From his QRZ page I learn that he is about 68 years old, and lives on the northeast shore of Lake Pontchartrain way down there in Slidell Louisiana. 

Warren gave me and my 10 watts a 589 and I sent him a legit 599, he was running an Icom 718 to an end fed wire at 100 watts.  He was making the trip like gangbusters, and the slight bit of QSB we had did not phase his signal one bit.  Warren is probably the first real live Novice operator I have worked in a long time.  We QSO'd at a blazing 7 or 8 words a minute.  Armchair copy to say the least.  If you get a chance to work KB5KGO, jump on it. Great fist, and great QSO.  Since we went over 30 minutes, I printed him up a Rag Chewer award and mailed it off with my QSL card.  Thanks for the great QSO and good old timey radio night here at home.  I hope to work Warren again! 

73 de KB9BVN

Monday, February 18, 2019

Well Hello New England!

So after dinner tonight I got in front of the K2 and tuned around the upper part of 40m, the old Novice/Technician part, specifically around 7120.  I was surprised to hear a QSO going on so I moved down the band a few Khz and heard W2RAN calling CQ on 7116.  So I pumped the K2 up to 10 watts and sent my call sign out to him from the attic dipole.   Ran W2RAN came right back and we had a nice QSO, and exchanged our SKCC numbers.  Ran is Randy Wright and he lives up in New Hampshire.  I don't get to work that part of New England very often so I was happy to give and GET a 599.  

I checked Ran out on QRZ and he is an avid CW operator, preferring straight keys and side swipers, or cooties.  Check out this homebrew Cootie Key.

Saw Blade Cootie Key by W2RAN
Randy lives in Lyndeborough NH, and this little town has quite a history.  Named after judge Benjamin Lynde,  while serving as a proprietor of Lyndeborough, Judge Lynde lived in Massachusetts, where he presided in Suffolk County over the trial stemming from the Boston Massacre. 

The town has been home to the Lafayette Artillery Company (founded 1804) since 1833. The town office building, Citizens' Hall (opened 1889), is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as is the Lyndeborough Center Historic District, which consists of the Congregational Church (circa 1836), Town Hall (1846), and remnants of the Town Pound (1774).

Randy also likes to work WWFF, KFF, and POTA stations whenever he can.  Thanks for QSO Randy! 


Saturday, February 16, 2019

Lazy Saturday QSO on 40m

What can I say, I have been neglecting my blog, and I have not been on the air nearly as much as I would like to be.  I have a million excuses and they won't all fit here, so I will say, I'll try harder in March. 

Not much going on this weekend, I am on call for work so that means I need to hang around the QTH and get some chores marked off the list.  I have that all done and got some time this afternoon to get on the air.  I forgot this was the ARRL DX contest weekend.  

W4AMV's latest RX creation
From his QRZ Page
So I fired up the K2 and tuned to my favorite 40m fishing hole, 7120 and heard nothing but the soothing sounds of slow rolling QSB.  I fired off a CQ or two using my trusty and unrusty Nye Viking Master Key and was answered almost instantly by Alan W4AMV down near Raleigh NC.  I was on the attic dipole today and I am certain that my house is aimed directly at North Carolina.  I have more NC stations logged that any other state.  Today I  was running 10 watts, and I feel no shame. 

W4AMV Project from QRZ Page
Alan W4AMV is an avid homebrewer, if you want to see some really cool stuff, look him up on QRZ.  Today he was running 50 watts into I think a  random wire to his tree tops.  I had him 599 and he gave me a 579.  QSB was rolling slow and wouldn't you know it, just as the QSO got going I started getting QRM from a couple other stations that just sort of showed up out of nowhere.  We carried on though for about 15 minutes.  

The band conditions were fair, and I will try for a few more QSOs today.  I am going to try and see if I can find any DX up on 15m, the attic dipole works well on 15 and 40 for me so maybe I'l have some luck.  

Don't forget, Daylight Savings Time returns to the US in a few weeks.  It'll be time to SPRING FORWARD those clocks and deprive yourself of at least one hour of sleep.  I wish we'd just pick a time standard and stick to it all year around.  

Best 73 to all!