My Most Recent QSO's

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The ARRL DX Contest - DX Country # 113

I worked my 113th DX country with a contact to V26M in Antigua and Barbuda during the ARRL DX Contest a few days ago. I worked ten DX stations within the first hour.

Although I was running my usual 5 watts into my indoor random wire, one of our NAQCC club members (read the next newsletter) worked Australia on 40 meters with about 1/2 watt of power. I felt lucky to make a dozen QRP DX contact in "contest conditions". Working Australia with less than a watt (1/2 a watt) under "contest conditions" is an astounding accomplishment!

Monday, February 13, 2017

My 31st DX Contact in Slovenia

I worked Slovenia for the 31st time this evening. I've worked the specific station S57V four different times. The bands are in terrible shape. 

The Solar Flux Index is 75. The A Index is 4. The K Index is 2.

The last dozen DX stations I've worked have been in the Caribbean.  (with the exception of one in the Netherlands).

Slovenia is due East at 4,679 miles in a straight line. I love the surprise of something unexpected appearing in the log book. I've always said radio is a lot like fishing. You never know what you're going to catch until you throw the line in the water.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Rainy Day at the Lodge

It's been way too long since I've been "officially" on the air for a special event. Yesterday I spent a rainy day in an old lodge in the Kanawha State Forest. The lodge is about a 40 minute drive from home. I've hiked in this forest for many years. I'm still a member of the local hiking group. Membership in the hiking club gives me access to the lodge. 

I had planned this outing to avoid a rainy Tuesday the day before. The weather forecast this day was supposed to be cool (50 degrees Fahrenheit) but dry. It didn't turn out that way... I got wet setting up the antenna but was able to move inside the lodge to operate. 

Sending out an advanced notice to the NAQCC group is a sure way to work a lot of club stations. Of the 15 stations I worked yesterday, 13 were club members. 

I've made changes to my operating mode in the last few months. I purchased a YouKit HB1B because it's so very small, it has a great receiver, and a good variable filter. For those of us with bad backs, it's a great portable radio. 

I can now carry everything I need to operate in the woods in a day pack. I've changed my tuner to a smaller model and use a small external speaker which I bought from China. I'm using a set of "palm paddles" for my key.

I bought the paddles from a NAQCC member using our monthly "swap and shop" list. (hint) Lifetime membership in the NAQCC Club is free so why haven't you joined yet?

My first contact yesterday was with NAQCC West Virginia member Steve Ashcraft KC4URI. He had a 599 signal into WV. The Reverse Beacon Network showed that I was heard by stations in Arizona and California.

My actual contacts were pretty much up and down the east coast from New Hampshire to Florida.I worked two stations in Texas and Kansas. Both had good signals into West Virginia. I'm amazed at how well a radio signal can jump into the sky from this location.

This weekend the forecast is a good one for WV with temperature predicted to be near 70 degrees on Saturday. (21 degrees C). I assume this is a fluke and we still have some very cold weather coming again in February.

I hope to get a fire going and bring some music on my next trip to the lodge. Access is only by a small footbridge, over a creek, which is slippery when wet. (be forewarned)

Monday, January 9, 2017

The European CW Association

                                                            I'm member # 3315.

I love a well designed card and the subject matter couldn't be better. I've considered Morse Code to be a form of music for many years. I received this membership card from the European CW Association this afternoon.

Samuel Morse is buried in Brooklyn New York. A statues honoring him is located in Central Park in downtown New York City. I've visited it several times.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Day at the Hospital

A "cut and paste" from an e-mail sent to a few of my best friends:  

This morning in the pouring rain, I headed to the doctor early in the morning to get the 13 staples in my lower back removed from my surgery two weeks ago. I drive a very old Hyundai and the drivers side window jumped out of the track. I barely could get it closed to keep out the rain. I arrived at the doctors office but he wasn't in the building today. (he took a long weekend). The nurse was afraid to remove the staples because she wasn't authorized to do so; and if the wound in my back should "open" back up, they wouldn't be able to close it again. 

I had to drive about 60 miles to the hospital, in the pouring rain, with the drivers side window still ajar. Traffic on the Interstate was terrible with big trucks speeding by and bad weather conditions. I decided to take the rural back-roads to the hospital. It was a good thing I did so because there was a terrible wreck on the Interstate. Traffic was backed up for 20 miles. 

As I drove about 40 miles into a small town, I stopped for a "red light" and my old 5 speed transmission would not go back into gear. It's still pouring the rain. I have the 4 way flashers blinking as the clutch pedal finally goes clear to the floor. I have a mechanical background and finally get the old car into first gear by matching the RPM's to the clutch gear and slowly ease my way off the road into the Veterans of Foreign Wars parking lot where I simply mash the break pedal to park the dang thing. It's till pouring the rain. 

The VFW isn't open. 

I walk to a "shoe store" in the immediate neighborhood. I get my "AAA card" out and call them with my "go phone". The battery is only about half charged in the go phone. There was a major "computer crash" all along the East Coast this morning due to some "hacker organization" having a little bit of fun with all of us. I barely get the basic information to AAA because the service person (help desk) had to write it all down on paper.....

I get a call into my wife who needs to drive 40 miles to rescue me. The cell phone battery is down to it's last few electrons before it gives up the ghost. I wait, and wait, and wait. I gave AAA the "shoe store phone number" fortunately, The tow truck driver finally calls (30 minutes later). He only has to drive 30 miles to reach me. It will take him another hour to reach this little town. He says he heard about a bad wreck on the Interstate. It may take longer.... 

My original appointment at the hospital was at 1:30 pm. It's noon now. It's still raining. 

My wife calls the shoe store too. She is in the worst traffic jam she's ever seen, even in New York. I give her directions to the rural back road to get to me and the car. 

At 1 pm she arrives, I leave the keys to the car under the floor mat. There is an auto shop about 3 miles from me. No one can drive the dang thing anyway, and there's nothing in it worth stealing. (the salvage value of this thing is about $400 ) . As we approach the hospital, the tow truck driver makes a courtesy call to my wife's cell phone and says he's just loaded a small gray colored old Dodge on his truck, at a Baptist church in the town, and will get it to the garage for me at no charge. (AAA is a good deal if you drive an old car). I remind him I'm driving a green colored Hyundai with "radio stickers" and a Veterans license tag on the trunk. Well... that's not good he says, I'm glad I called, and oh yes, I see it on the VFW lot now. 

We get to the hospital almost at the appointed time. I rush in while my wife is parking the car. I see a nurse in just a few minutes. She removes the 13 staples quicker than a jack rabbit can jump. I get a flu shot while I'm there and we walk across the parking lot (it's still raining) to the car and look forward to the long drive home on the back roads again.  

Can things get any more stressful ? 

Almost as soon as we drive off the hospital parking lot, the "low tire pressure" light comes on. There's been a very slow leak on the right front drivers side tire for months now. It's a mystery because NO ONE can find the leak.  

This will be a piece of cake after all the stress today. (it's still raining cats and dogs) - I keep a little battery powered "air compressor " in the trunk of the car at all times. I pull off the road, air up the tire (it was down to about 20 lbs). Despite being wet, cold, and frustrated, this should be the last of it! I'm really looking forward to the "tire light" on the dashboard going off. (it normally takes a few revolutions ) I drive about the length of a football field and the light is still blaring into my eyes.  

I pull into a little elementary school parking lot a couple of miles down the road and angrily yank the air compress out of the trunk again. I "air up" all the tires this time.

Small school kids can be unbelievably cruel. School bus drivers also have very loud horns. It's a good thing all the kids were out of "ear shot" as they got on the bus. Everything you've ever heard about "cursing sailors" is true. My previous years of Navy military service came out of me whether I wanted it to or not. I asked God for forgiveness. My wife says maybe after dinner, you owe me one.  

The rain finally stopped....  

We're home now, and after buying dinner for the wife tonight, it's 9:40 pm. 

My old Hyundai Accent will be repaired about mid-week. The mechanic will pull the entire engine out of my old car to replace the clutch. (I'm glad I gave up that trade many years ago)  

I'm glad the staples in my back are finally out. I plan to get back into shape soon. It's going to feel good back in the YMCA swimming pool and working out in the gym again. 

Sincerely Yours, 

John N8ZYA  

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Lightning Bolt from Nowhere

I've never worried much about lightning because I use indoor antennas. My Isotrons and the random wire are NOT in the attic of our home. I have those antennas in the same room as my Icom 703. 

The following pictures are NOT of our home. The following pictures are of the house which is three doors down the street from us. The house is now missing about a hundred of its heavy roofing tiles. 

The pictures shown here were taken several days later. The lightening strike happened around 11 PM at night. 

To make a long story short; my neighbors cars are a real mess; they look like they've been through a "hail storm". Some of the roofing tiles were blown clear across the street. The big difference between hail and hard rocks is that they make holes and scratches on everything they touch. I can't imagine the repair bill to remove heavy dents and re-paint at least two vehicles.

I'm very surprised the neighbors home that took a direct hit wasn't set on fire or had major structural damage.

The lightning bolt came straight out of nowhere. It was NOT even raining at the time. We soon discovered the upstairs bathroom lights were not working. A quick trip to the basement breaker box revealed "one" switch needed re-set.

My radio room is in the adjoining room. All my gear appeared to be working normally. The bathroom is directly between my radio room and our small office. All the computers functioned normally, All the lights in both rooms were normal.

Much to my dismay, a few days afterwards when I turned on the Icom 703 to make a quick contact, it wouldn't transmit at all.

I'm fortunate to have only minor damage. 

I'm thinking the coils in the Isotrons had something to do with voltage and amperage getting into the radio. There wasn't damage to anything else in the house.

The Icom service center in Michigan did a wonderful repair job on the rig. Replacement parts were only about six bucks.

I'll be more careful now and always disconnect the antennas as soon as I year the first thunderbolt.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Dayton Hamvention 2016

My friend Eric AC8LJ and I made a quick trip to the Dayton Hamvention yesterday. Our trip (there and back again) on Friday was a good time for me to quickly survey the new gear on the market but to mainly talk with a few hams.

Rick Robinson W8ZT always occupies the same space every year at the Dayton Hamvention . I enjoyed my brief time at Dayton talking to the hams associated with the  WV DX Association 

My specific interest in Ham radio has been, and always will be, small portable QRP CW radio. Yesterday the talk of the town was the spanking new Elecraft KX 2 Sitting around the campfire (WV DX tent) I actually talked to the owner that bought # 43 of the  48 KX2's sold yesterday. I was also able to put my hands on it and spin the dial. Hi Hi

This is a very impressive 10 Watt radio! 

I got the distinct impression (right or wrong) that "software defined radio" is going to capture much of the upcoming ham radio market. I'm quite amazed at the number of rigs I saw with digital dials and visual readouts.

The effectiveness of small Morse code radios never cease to amaze me. All hams have their special niche in the hobby. To me, the greatest thrill of ham radio still continues to be HF QRP CW radio.

I can't think of another mode of radio that allows transmitting from a moving train, kayaking on a lake, sailing on the ocean, or simply sitting around a campfire or operating from a picnic table in the park.

My two purchases at the Hamvention this year were a new t-shirt and a coffee mug with the "ARRL National Parks on the Air " logo.

My thanks again to Rick W8ZT for the comfort he provided us with chairs and cold water when needed. Rick attended our WV Chapter breakfast last week and I hope he continues to do so. I've been watching the live feed from Dayton today. It looks like a great time for all.

My thanks also to Eric AC8LJ for the long drive there and back again.