Saturday, August 29, 2015

Volume One Number Three

Here's an update on my (fairly brief) ham radio efforts this week:

QSL - No new QSLs this week, no paper, no LOTW.

6 Meters -Spent no time on the radio during the day, I have no 6 meter activity to report.

Low Band - Finally, on Friday, I got the loading coil installed on the base of my 43' vertical.  I'm pleased to report that I'm now tuning close to 1:1 SWR in the DX window on 80m.  I plan to add a few longer radials to the 25+ or so I already have down, and I think that will improve the radiating efficiency.  Too much noise this evening (0200z 8/30/15) to hear any DX but I did work a few US stations, including the K5H Katrina Special Event Station.  The DX season is starting. As soon as the thunderstorm activity calms down, sunrise and sunset will be great times, as will local midnight if you can stay awake!

Contest - I tuned around for the NAQP SSB this evening, but heard very few calling.  I think the high A Index certainly impacted propagation and participation.

Equipment - Back in April I purchased the new Heil Pro-7 headset from Richard at MTC.  I resisted the bright colors and went with standard black.  These are great headphones.  They offer noise canceling, have a phasing switch, and a balance control.  I took some time last week and integrated them with my TS-590s Kenwood, to get VOX operational.  Combined with the DSP on the rig, the headphones really help to bring signals out of the noise.  They are large and heavy duty, with an adjustable boom mic and wind screen.  Very reminiscent of headphones worn by private pilots.  The audio quality is comparable to my BOSE noise canceling travel companions.   If you are looking at a new headset, you definitely want to consider the Heil Pro 7.
Please send along your operating reports, and let me know what you are working on!

73 for now,


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Adventures in Ham Radio Volume One Number Two

Here's an update on my (fairly brief) ham radio efforts this week:

QSL - received a much needed card for Sweden on 80m, still have a big batch out that will get me much closer to DXCC on 40m and 80m

6 Meters - Monday a.m. presented some interesting propagation.  In between emails and conference calls, I managed to work 4 new grids, from Minnesota to Ontario to New York.  Two have already confirmed via LOTW, the other is pending, and a card is in the mail to the last one!  PLEASE look into LOTW if you haven't already, let me know if you are having difficulty, it is well worth the effort to get it set up.  This was all single or double hop Es propagation, but signals were strong enough to allow brief discussions, not just grid exchanges.  Grateful to have a late August opening to work.  I'm convinced the band is open a lot more than we know . . . because no one is calling.  If you are around during the day, start looking around sunrise local time on 50.145 for the meteor scatter groups, then move to 50.125 and listen, call, and stir up some activity through the morning.  Who knows what you will work?  While many say it was a slow season, I've added around 10 new grids this summer.

Low Band - not much time for listening this week, so I have no low band activity to report.  I did get my coil built for 80m, see photos below, and will get it installed and tested in the next few days.  That's a 4" ID PVC coupler, with 8 turns of stranded 12 gauge AWG.  It will connect at the base of my S9 43' vertical between the antenna and the LDG Remote Tuner.    I do plan (around thunderstorms, to be on 80m and 40m more in the next couple of weeks.  The Dx season is starting. Sunrise and sunset will be great times, as will local midnight if you can stay awake!

Please send along your operating reports, and let me know what you are working on!

73 for now,


Friday, August 14, 2015

Vol 1 Number 1 August 14 2015

Hello!  I am going to try my hand at publishing some regular thoughts on my ham radio activities, including special attention to Low Band DX, and Six Meters.  I hope you find it to be of interest.

QSL Adventures: I'm very close to DXCC on both 80 and 40 meters.  So I've been going back through my contacts and making sure I get all of them confirmed.  Some by LOTW, some by card, and some by a combination of email, ClubLog, and even a phone call or two.  In so doing, I am reminded of what a great hobby we have, and how friendly and helpful most hams are.  I'm also finding and correcting logging mistakes - for example, my logging program (most likely operator error) classified a series of 5 late night 80m QSOs as "crossband" instead of 80m.  So, no confirmation.  Fixing that error got me 3 new confirmations via LOTW.

It's been fun reliving some of those contacts, as well as interacting with other hams, and QSL managers, all of us with the same goal - more confirmed QSOs.

Here are my current totals:

Account Status

New LoTW QSLsLoTW QSLs in ProcessDXCC Credits AwardedTotal
Phone *00144144143
20M *00107107106

I have at least 5 more confirms coming on 40m, and 5 or 6 more on 80m.

Antenna Work: last year I was not active on 80 or 160, as my new S9 43' vertical was not tuning up well.  I worked 40 and above and just dealt with it.  10 meters has been great in recent months, as you know, and I wanted to make hay while the sun shone, as it were.  Now that the cycle is likely past its peak, I'm back to focusing on the lower bands.   I'm building a loading coil for the lowest bands, and laying down a few more long radials, in an effort to improve my signal and reception on 80m.  No room on my lot for a beverage, so I may also look into a rotatable loop receiving antenna.

Low Bands: I've dusted off my copy of ON4UN's book on Low Band Dxing, and am looking forward to the season.  A few weeks ago I received a certificate from CQ for a high score in the Tennessee Division for low power in the 2014 CQ 160 SSB contest.  Even a small station with limited antennas can make some noise.  At the time I was using a FT-950 into a G5RV (grounded as a marconi-T)  If you want to send along low band dx activity reports, I'll include them in my weekly comments.  More frequently if conditions warrant.

Six Meters: While it has been fairly slow from here in EM55, I have managed to work 5 new grids this season, and even today (August 14) had a relatively long QSO with a ham in South Dakota.  Many of the Es clouds have parked over us here in the Mid-South, and I have heard no SA or EU stations all summer long.  

My Working Conditions: A Kenwood TS-590s, into a 43' vertical for HF, and into a KU4AB loop for 6m.  For logging software, I use N1MM for contests, and VQlog for general logging.  I have HRD, and am excited about what it can do, but I have found the learning curve to be very steep.  

Feel free to comment and let me know what you are working on. 73 for now.