Thursday, December 30, 2010

Finally Worked Alaska

One day short of the end of the year - KL7J was calling CQ on 7.005. K4MLW sent me a txt message saying thus - dial flew to 7.005. Buttons were pushed to increase power from QRP to full barefoot power and called KL7J. He came back giving a 449 report while I gave him a 559. It was a feeding frenzy during the pile-up. KL7J was pretty quick in reponding to the stations in almost machine gun fashion. Now it is just South Dakota

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Recent Contacts

Looking at the Logbook:

224 Log Entries
Worked 48 states Mixed Mode
Worked 21 states QRP (5 watts)
Worked 25 DX Entities (1 QRP Bulgaria)

Recent Contacts:

CO2UE from Havana, Cuba - Band 80m 12/29CW : He must have been putting out some power as he came in loud. He could not copy me very well at 5 watts. Got my call sign though and gave a 325 signal report. I increased power to 70 watts and gave me a 569. Short QSO just a brief exchange of pleasantries.

WA9VEE Wayne from Indiana - 12/29 - Band 40m CW: We exchanged reports then he dropped off when I said I was QRP. I found him later in 80m but did not bother to contact him again

LU7yZ - Alejandro from Argentina - 12/28 - Band 20m CW: This was a contest that I was able to sneak in on

HC6EP - Ernesto - Ecuador - 12/28 - Band 20m PSK:

LU5CAB - Juan - Argentina - 12/28 - Band 20m PSK:

KP4RY - Abimael - Puerto Rico - 12/28 - Band 20m PSK:

HP2SM - Santiago - Panama - 12/28 - Band 20m PSK:

W7GVE - Ed - Arizona - 12/28 Band 20m CW QRP:

ZS2CR - Collette - South Africa - 12/28 - band 20m PSK: This was a notable one in that it took a while for us to make the exchange. She is YL - QSL direct only - plenty of apologies for not doing eQSL or LOTW

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

O There's No Mode Like Code for the Holidays

Oh, there's no mode like code for the holidays,
'Cause no matter how QRS you go,
When you pine for the rhythm of a friendly fist
For the holidays, you can't beat old Morse code.

I worked a gal who lives in Tennessee,
She was callin' for
Pennsylvania, so we ragchewed for a while.
From Pennsylvania, hams are beamin'
South to work those W4's,
From Atlantic to Pacific,
Gee, the QRM's terrific.

Oh, there's no mode like code for the holidays,
'Cause no matter how QRS you go,
When you pine for the rhythm of a friendly fist
For the holidays, you can't beat old Morse code.
For the holidays, you can't beat old Morse code.

Monday, December 20, 2010

2010 Year in Review

Well another year is about to close on me and it has been a rough year for things other than amateur radio which limited my on the air time (family illnesses mostly). I am thankful that the year is almost behind me.

There are some good things though. Jamboree on the Air (october 16, 2010) with the scouts somewhat forced me to learn CW - although we did not do much CW transmission during the Jamboree itself. I did get a chance to use my new (then) Palm Mini paddle which attaches to the radio via magnets - a real clever design.

Since Oct 16, I managed to learn enough CW to make 56 QSOs in CW - 3 of which were QRP.

We started a CW training net on Saturday mornings on 80m with Dave Watson (W4DJW), Stephen Belknap (KJ4RXY), Tony (N4BDR), and Phil (KG4FQG) as regulars.

Dave (W4KA) gave me a tip on a great logging program from N3FJP - ACLogger.

I also purchased my first quality paddle from Begali with great correspondence from Bruna (the owner's daughter).

I also put in a 500 Hz CW filter to complement the DSP narrow filters into the FT897D.

PSK has taken a back seat and I have not been on HF phone since the spring and summer other than occasionally checking into the Carolina SSB Net on 3915.

I managed to get 48 of 50 states with QSL Cards in hand - just need Alaska and South Dakota

Memberships in FISTS, SKCC and NAQCC have been helpful in being able to log the CW QSOs so far.

I am looking forward to NAQCC Sprint days in 2011 and I am contemplating operating mostly QRP in 2011 especially as we get into the peak of the solar cycle.

I attended my first BRARS Club meeting and have been able to meet most of the club members at the Friday night "Eat and Greet" at the Golden Coral in Cherrydale.

I joined Greenville ARES and attended most of the meetings since joining and the Thursday night training nets on the 146.820 repeater.

As for projects - built an OHR Dummy load and a cantenna type dummy load. I built reverse polarity and overvoltage protection for the Yaesus and put a lightning arrestor onto the feedline.

Thanks to the readers for reading this blog and hope to see you on the air in 2011. Have a Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

NAQCC Sprint Tips

There are ways to operate contests and sprints that are more efficient than others and lead to better results. Since the NAQCC is concerned with proper operating procedures and teaching the joy of contesting to those who are interested in the fun and excitement of contests, we offer this page of tips. These tips were gleaned from over 40 years of contesting and observing the best contesters in the world over that time span.

The overall best tip is to always keep in mind "brevity, brevity, brevity." The quicker you make an exchange, the more time there is to make exchanges and thus a higher score for the operator. This is why you hear in the major contests speeds of 30, 40, even 50 WPM being used.

However in our NAQCC sprints we are concerned with helping newcomers to contesting, and we urge slower speed operation. But you can still be brief even at slow speeds in the following ways.

Make your CQ's brief. Call CQ NA K3WWP - no more, no less. If you don't get an answer, do it again after a few seconds, and keep doing it over and over until you do get an answer or give up and move to another frequency or go search & pouncing.

Search & Pounce or S&P means you go looking for someone calling CQ and 'pounce' on them. When you find a CQ, simply send your call letters, nothing more.

When contact is made, again be brief. Just send what is required, nothing more. If the other station doesn't copy something, it is up to him to ask for repeats. This is much quicker than sending all your info two or more times, as the odds are good the other station will copy you the first time.

Let's look at a typical contact exchange between me (K3WWP) and K4BAI. (1) is what I send, (2) is what K4BAI sends.

First with me calling CQ:

(no answer - repeat)
(still nil - repeat)
(2) K4BAI
(1) K4BAI 569 PA 2
(2) TU 559 GA 644
(and so on)

And with me answering K4BAI's CQ:

(1) K3WWP
(2) K3WWP 559 GA 644
(1) TU 569 PA 2
(2) TU
(and I continue my S&P or go somewhere and call CQ)

If you miss an item in an exchange, let's say the RST, simply ask RST? once. Then the other station should send simply 559. One question, one repeat. If conditions are really horrible, you may have to modify this, but don't take it to extremes.

This is the ideal and quickest way to make an exchange. However our sprints are a little less formal and more relaxed, and in K4BAI's case, John and I generally greet each other by name when we make contact except in the very fastest most intense contests. It's always nice to add a little personal touch whenever it doesn't slow things down too much.

Some more tips briefly. Always make sure the frequency is clear when you call CQ by asking QRL?. You'll have the best chance of making contact if you exactly zero beat the station your are calling. Don't bother with procedure signals like BK, K, AR, etc. They are not necessary and consume time.

Mark K5GQ suggests a tip about getting call signs correct. If someone questions you about your call, as in my case - K3WWP? or K3VWP? - you have a couple options.

If the questioner had your call correct - K3WWP? - DO NOT repeat your call, but simply send 'R' for OK - or - 'C' for YES or CORRECT. If you repeat your call, that confuses the questioner because then he may think that K3WWP is not correct, and will probably ask again, all of which wastes precious contesting time.

If the questioner had your call wrong - K3VWP? - then is the time to send your call once or twice again. Just your call, nothing else.

If you are not sure if the questioner had your call correct because you didn't copy all of what he sent - K3 WP? (the space indicating you didn't copy that letter) - then it is probably best to send your call twice and take it from there.

Mark also suggests when asked to repeat your member number do it as follows in his case - 878 NR 878 - in other words your number, NR, then your number again. I prefer just the number sent once, but Mark's method has merit, and actually with my short number (2), it is better in my case and is what I usually do.

Thanks Mark. K3WWP

NAQCC Slow Speed Net

This is from NAQCC - North American QRP CW Club

Just a quick reminder of our NAQCC QRS Net (NQN) this (Sunday) evening USA
local time which is Monday at 0000Z on 3562.5 kHz +/- QRM. Note that's a new
experimental time that worked fairly well last week.

NCS is WY3H using the NAQCC club call N3AQC.

We are doing our best to expand our list of NCS for the net. We are slowly
starting to get responses from members. Tom WY3H is keeping track of all the
info, and as soon as he gets anything to me, I publish it in the latest
newsletter and on the club web site Elmer page. If you are interested in
helping out, please let Tom WY3H know at Thanks.

We are also trying to establish additional regional nets. Tom has reported
one volunteer so far. That's KE7LKW is going to set up a net for the Pacific
Northwest region. More details as they become available will follow in the
upcoming newsletters and in the Elmer section of the web site as I get the
info from Tom.

For those new to the net, here is a brief description of the informal net

The call-up is CQ NQN DE N3AQC QNI.

After the NCS sends QNI, send your call once. PLEASE BE SURE to ZERO BEAT
the NCS. Having stations spread out on the band makes it very difficult to
run a net efficiently. When the NCS acknowledges you, just follow his
instructions. All those who check-in will then be given a turn or two to
make comments. That's pretty much it. We're NOT a traffic net nor even all
that formal. You don't even have to learn the special QN signals, as the
only one we use is QNI which basically means check-in. We exist just as a
means of some actual on-the-air slow speed code practice which is different
to a certain extent from computer or tape practice.

Since code practice is so important in becoming a proficient QRP operator,
this is the ONE and ONLY NAQCC activity where we allow use of QRO if
necessary in poor conditions.

I'll be there this evening. Will you?

Finally a note on the NAQCC web site. Hopefully most all of you know now
that the site has moved and we have our own domain name now - We
now have 1,000 times the web space we had before the move, and will be able
to do a lot more now on the site to help promote CW. The first two things we
have already done is to re-post all our past newsletters in .html format.
That goes back to issue #042 when we switched from an email newsletter to an
on-line one. We've also re-posted all our past featured member pages. Now we
have a great membership database search feature, and in a day or two you can
search ALL results from our 74 sprints we've held. See how many sprints
you've entered with a list of all your scores, look at the results from one
particular sprint, and much more.

* John K3WWP - 100% CW / QRP - Proudly promoting Morse Code:

* As NAQCC VP - # 0002 FC # 1 -

* As FISTS Keynote QRP Columnist - # 2002 -

* With my CW-QRP site -

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December 14, 2010

The last few days have been good - as I have worked numerous stations 10 stations since 12/9 all on CW

W5GXV Gene on 80m - Spring Branch, Texas

N2FJ Fred on 40m on the FISTS calling frequency - Ogdensburg NY

WB4PMQ Macon on 40m frm Greenville NC was a very interesting contact. He operated a Small Wonder Labs XCVR putting out 3 watts into a 40m dipole and got a 599 signal report from me. He has an interesting Bio on QRZ

WG0K David from Lincoln NE was a short QSO on 20m band exchanging WX reports. It is cold in Nebraska

N4UEB Paul from Canada KY in 40m band is interested in old gear - operated an old Yaesu FT100 tube radio into a G5RV

WA0USA Victor from Palm Beach Gardens was a long ragchew on 40m

W6DDB Bill Welsh from Lancaster CA on 40m

KC8MFF Bob Cole from Buckhannon WV is a straight key operator and one of the cleanest CW i have seen (not coming from a keyboard) on the FISTS calling frequency on 40m

K3RLL Bob from Bethlehem PA was operating a K2 portable in Florida and gave one of the cleanest signals I have seen from 5 watts - gave him a 579 report

W2XU Steve from East Lyme CT on 80m

K1YS Mike from Barre CT on 80m

N0EK Ed from Bergen ND - is my prize for the week. I have been looking for ND for months now and just fell into my lap on 40m FISTS calling frequency. Now that ND is in the bag, only SD and AK remain for WAS.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturday CW Net December 11, 2010

Dave Watson is NCS

Band is 40m and Frequency Is 7.090

latest update

rain all around my vertical portable antenna don't want to risk the coils getting wet

I will not dial in

I will monitor your

so please feel free to choose whatever band works for you


Friday, December 10, 2010

Sunrise in Myrtle Beach

Instead of ham and eggs - 20 meter ham

I only had a few seconds to take this picture before the sun peeked out of the clouds at full blast which would have made it impossible to take this picture.

Vacation in Myrtle Beach

We'll I guess this is what a ham does on vacation. Here I am listening to a couple of hams yakking it up on 40m N4QR and AB8EL in my PJs. It was actually warm in the heat of the sun although ambient temperature is about 47F. I had a Buddistick on the railing and the FT817 on my lap. I threw out a couple of CQs but no takers. Better luck next time. The paddle is a Palm Mini Paddle from Palm Radio. The netbook computer is great for PSK QSOs.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

December 8, 2010 First QRP CW QSO

Today, I made contacts as far away as Arizona on 50W W8FDV and Saint Mary's PA NM3B on the FT897. The RIT and DSP Passband tuning is great on this rig.

Later on in the evening - I tried the FT817 and worked a station in Michigan K9AAA - Dave in Delton, FISTS member 11347 and SKCC 654T. Immediately after the QSO - I was called by W5GXV - Gene from Spring Branch TX - through a process called tailending. Gene is also a FISTS member 11347 and SKCC 654T. The QRN was heavy. They had a strong enough signal that they could punch through my squelch. On the other end, they had to dig me out of the QRN (static) with my 5 watts. It was really exciting being able to make a contact with 5 watts, I wish I had a narrow filter. These operators had experience -as they were able to get me to zero beat in no time flat - as their signal directly matches mine in tone and on the spectrum. It is great being on vacation.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

December 7, 2010 Activities

It is nice being on vacation - I can fool around with radio stuff.

I spent a few hours trying to salvage the dummy load I built a while back which could not get to work. Having given up, I purchased a kit from OHR (Oak Hills Research) for an air cooled dummy load. I tried originally to solder a set of 20 1K-ohm resistors in parallel between two copper plates but the plates act too much as a heat sink for my 60w soldering iron. I got the plans originally from K4EAA who sold me the resistors. At any rate, I could not get the impedance to stabilize to an acceptable value - too many cold solder joints. I decided to take it apart today and start from scratch. First I tried de-soldering and that did not work too well. I just ended up clipping them to salvage the resistors. So now I ask myself - what do I do with a bunch of stub wire resistors. I checked all the resistors for resistance value and they mostly came 1000 ohms +/- 2 until with a couple that were off as much as 10 ohms - good enough for a dummy load.

I dug out some old 14-3 Romex and pulled out the bare copper ground. I hammered a hardwood nail into a sawhorse and wrapped the wire around the nail head making a tight loop. I pulled the loop taut until the hole is just big enough to pass the resistor leads. I repeated this twenty times x 2 wires spaced 5/8 inch apart. I then soldered the resistors to these loops. I tested the impedance with a VOM as I soldered each resistor making sure I have a stable resistance value. I then coiled the assembled resistor assembly into a tight spiral making sure none of the wires touch. I then soldered the ends to the SO239 on the lid of the quart can. Checked the impedance again and it registers 50.5 ohms. I poured a quart of mineral oil into the quart can and the put the cover with the resistor assembly and voila - a nice accurate dummy load for the shack.

Anyway, this is a gift for the young Stephen Belknap - 12 yr old general class operator and part of the talented Belknap family of hams. I visited with them and they are such great people to be around - plenty of stories to share about all things radio.

Before bedtime I worked a station in Dover PA - W3OKC on the low bands - 80m at 3.560Mhz. It turns out he is a FISTS member as well and his number is the one after mine 15356 (mine is 15355) . He instantly sent me an e-QSL which I confirmed straightaway. There has been a lot of QRN of late and so W3OKC had power up to 200w. I was at 75W. We both exchanged 599 RSTs. Nice QSO - short and sweet.

I learned something else new today - there is an LED indicator on my radio that blinks green when I am at zero beat - between listening to the tone as a I turn the VFO - looking for the green LED to flash makes zero beating a cinch.

Monday, December 6, 2010

How to Zero Beat?


By Dick Arnold, AF8X

Not having much success when answering a CQ? It maybe the station calling CQ can’t hear you because you are not zero beat with his frequency. Every CW radio transmits on a different frequency that it receives on. This is called the TX offset.

A receiver tuned to the exact transmit frequency of a signal is said to be nulled. For the tone of the CW signal to be heard, the receiver would have to be tuned off of the center frequency. The most common offset is 600 Hz although as high as 800 hz is still in use in some rigs. In some newer rigs this offset is adjustable.

Many rigs have a spotting tone that can be matched with the incoming signal. When the tones merge, you are zero beat with the incoming signal. Some other radios are adjusted to have matching side tone and offset so that when the incoming signal pitch matches the side tone, you are zero beat.

The less expensive direct conversion rigs have the advantage of being able to hear signals on either side of the carrier frequency. However you must be tuned on the correct side so your offset frequency matches the receiver of your contact. You may use the RIT if available to tune out QRM and listen to the other sideband.

If you have a problem discerning the proper tone to tune to, there are a couple Zero Beat Indicators on the market which use LEDs to show a zero beat condition.

Another method is to tune through a signal from high pitch to null putting your receiver zero beat with the transmitted signal. Note the frequency 1 and then tune from null to that frequency plus 600hz 2. That should put your transmit frequency exactly on the incoming signal transmit frequency, e.g. 1 14.030.10 2 14.030.70.

Normally, unless the other station is using a very narrow filter, you will be heard if properly zero beat, even if the offsets are opposite and of different tones. The pass band allows for some difference in tuning.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

CW Training December 4

It was the usual cast W4DJW (Dave), KJ4RXY (Stephen), N4BDR (Tony) and myself NY4G. i started it out over-ambitiously trying to check every one in using the usual CW net protocol. We ended up scaling it back a bit and took turns transmitting and copying selected letters.

This week it was ABCD.

Next week it will be ABCDEF. For homework try to make as many words out of these 6 letters and we will take turns transmitting over the air like this week.

Dave W4DJW will be the NCS as I will be away. However I will try to check in.

Lets use 7.090 as the frequency on the 40m band. Hopefully we will have good propagation. I doubt I will be able to key up the repeater from Myrtle Beach - so I will try to communicate with the NCS on HF on CW as well.

Dave check your email Saturday morning to see if I will try to check in or not. I trust your email address in QRZ is up to date.

Good luck and see you next time.