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!