One of the great joys of QRP is the ability to operate from different locations quickly and easily. Most of us keep our rigs and necessary connections at hand to move at a moments notice.
I worked John Shannon ( K3WWP) from the Sky View Radio Society club site in New Kensington, PA this morning. John was using the club call N3AQC while on the air. I immediately spotted him on the web and it sounds like he is having a great time.
What a beautiful operation site!
The Sky View Radio Society Antenna Farm
Sunday, August 30, 2015
Thursday, August 6, 2015
One of my weekly responsibilities for the NAQCC Club is to run a QRS (slow code) net on Wednesday nights. With the exception of when there's a conflict with another club activity; you can find me on the air at 0100 GMT (9 pm local time) on 40 meters. (7.117 MHz)
This is an important project to get those with minimum code speed an opportunity to "get their feet wet" so to speak. I remember those days quite well, and I'm sure all the DX'ers in our club remember those days well too. I don't know about you, but until my retirement, I never reached the "entry speed" for successful DX work of 20 words per minute. That's a minimum in my opinion.
Becoming a good CW operator is a long process for most people; hence the necessity of "taking the time" to encourage newbies to try their hand with a telegraph key. My time running this net is a sacrifice I'm willing to make as I make the painfully slow "code speed" available to the new folks. Last night most of my contacts were around 10 words per minute.
For those of us who "grew up" with CW as a necessity for even getting "on the air", we often take our current skills for granted. It should not be so....
After 25 years of Morse code QRP; I still find the same excitement when working a new station, whether it be across town or 1,000 miles on my slow code 40 meter (QRS) net. Last night was such an occasion.
Earlier in the evening I was hearing a station in Barbados quite clearly along with a strong station in Venezuela. I was hoping the band was going to be "long" last night. It was....
Propagation was nearly perfect into the Caribbean area as it neared sunset.
Much to my amazement during the net, a station from Cuba burst into the speaker with a near perfect signal from a thousand miles distance.
I admire the Cuban hams because the process of becoming a ham is much more stringent than here in the United States. Looking closely at his biography on QRZ.com, it's quickly apparent that Rafael Castellon Machado (CO8RRM) "built" the transmitter he was using last night; and he knew how to use it.
I've made contact with Rafael several times over the last few years but never had a DX station check into my QRS net. He wished me happy DX and the feeling goes both ways. Ham radio us such an amazing hobby isn't it?
It gives us the ability to be ambassadors, in a small way, to all the world.
Posted by Jspiker at 8:40 AM
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
Thursday, July 9, 2015
It's been months since I wrote on this blog. Thankfully, I've always been a very adaptable person. Time is a precious commodity these days; there's never enough of it.
I've shifted my focus on this blog from writing about my contacts and working DX stations. These days, I spend my time doing the best I can to market ham radio to beginners, and especially promoting Morse code. This blog has become primarily about the NAQCC Club.
IMHO (yes I'm biased) the NAQCC is the finest group of volunteers I've been around in my 25 years as a ham radio operator. Let me tell you why.
The main reason I'm such an advocate for this club (I'm the VP) is that we're doing all this work for "free". We don't think membership in our group should entail any kind of "fee" for participating in our activities. It takes a group of around 30 people to volunteer their time and efforts to keep this show on the road. We do this work because we all feel that QRP,with Morse code, is the most challenging and rewarding aspect of the ham radio hobby.
The beginning of every month starts our with a great (free) newsletter to our members which is published online by our club President Paul Huff. (N8XMS) Paul does a magnificent job with this newsletter; and also puts in countless hours steering our ship on the right course.
We have several activities every month to challenge our members to improve their Morse code skills. We have our own operating event (sprint) which is specifically geared towards slower speeds. We encourage the use of a "straight key".
We also have slow speed QRS nets, from many different parts of the country, and different times and days of the week. If you want "on the air" practice, we have just the thing for you. As a matter of fact; we have an entire department devoted to CW Assistance.
Working QRP CW is always a challenge. It's requires skill, persistence, and sometimes just plain old "luck", but I still find the same excitement and satisfaction, after 25 years, as the day I made my first contact. For those "special contacts" and "accomplishments" we offer a variety of awards.
I'm very proud of this club and encourage everyone to pursue the QRP CW mode of operation.
Although I find little time for writing on this blog now, you can follow me from the NAQCC website.
I write a summary of the West Virginia events on the monthly newsletter.
If you're not a member of the NAQCC club; I hope you will consider joining our group. Membership is absolutely FREE. (tell them you heard about the club from me)
I'll continue to write on this blog; but not on a regular basis. I simply have too many activities and family obligations which keep me from doing so.
Posted by Jspiker at 12:54 PM
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Just when I thought all the Caribbean stations are worked, another unexpected contact yesterday, with this island just North of St. Lucia. I've not had much time on the air lately so this was a welcome addition to the log book. The Island of Martinique makes my 112th DX station worked with five watts or less of power with the indoor random wire.
I continue to be amazed at the power of Morse Code. I stand by the phrase "the most efficient mode of communication ever devised that is decipherable with only the human ear". A simple transmitter and receiver using Morse Code is worth it's weight in gold. My antenna a indoor random wire about 50 feet long in a spare upstairs room. I've worked thousands of stations and still have much fun even after 25 years of QRP.
Posted by Jspiker at 5:34 AM
Thursday, April 9, 2015
I've become quite fond of the monthly challenges of the NAQCC club. This certificate is for completing the March "Sports" Challenge! I enjoy completing these every month.
The "challenge" is to make words out of the call signs of the stations you've worked during the month. You can find instructions and tutorials at this web site.
The game changes every month. I've found using DX stations is a much quicker solution to the puzzle. I've already completed this months challenge. The theme this month revolves around the last CW transmission of the "maritime" stations. This was a " night to remember ".
This is not a difficult game to complete. As a matter of fact, you can easily complete this game by using DX contacts. I'm amazed at the DX contacts possible with only 5 watts of power and a simple wire antenna. The trick is being able to send a receive CW at around 20 wpm.
DX can be misleading and intimidating to newcomers but with practice, you can recognize and return your call sign and signal report in a "quick exchange". Although not always, 99% of DX is "thank you and 599".
You can do this....and it's FUN !
Posted by Jspiker at 8:50 AM
Saturday, April 4, 2015
How often do you have an actual "QSO" with a DX station? If you're like me, not very often; but Nico (ON7NDR) drew me out of the noise this afternoon. We exchanged the standard "QSO" information. While looking at each others BIO on the web, and making comments; we wished each other a Happy Easter and glad tidings.
I followed up with an e-mail and look forward to hearing back from him. I sent this link to him from my blog: It's a TRUE random wire!
The short "video" explains it much better than I could describe it to anyone. As they say; a picture is worth a thousand words. According to the meter on my "tuner" my output is about three watts. This was fun!
Ham radio is such a great thing for friendship and fellowship on a world class level. Isn't this a great hobby?
Posted by Jspiker at 1:21 PM