Sunday, October 16, 2016

Mosquito Food

By SEKARC Contributor David Keith NØWKZ

Recently while conducting the fine business of a special event CW radio station, the realities of fishing came crashing back into my existence from memories long hidden file. Fishing? Yes!

During this event, a number of the other operators involved communicated back and forth for a time using a group email address. This was sort of neat as it raised my own awareness of the other operators and their struggles and successes. One of them related a tale of woe that I know only all too well; the woes of apartment dwelling operators. By my own estimation, my Morse Code/CW career is only about three years long. In that time, I have fought tooth and nail against the ear splitting forces of electromagnetic despair that apartment dwelling operators have to endure. A plasma one floor below is turned on and suddenly a guy across the pond disappears from my headset. Water heaters, washing machines, throngs of unshielded wall warts dancing on the edge of hash, and even AC units from the building next door. Chargers, flat screens, power supplies; the list of sources is endless. All of it; a symphony of spectrum wash dancing wildly across the S Meter. To be sure, many of my operations are with my friend and Elmer W0IIT just a few doors down, and sending from the pages of a random book through my code practice oscillator into a recorder, and copy practice from the WebSDR or W1AW. Countless days have passed where my main operating has been with myself. I have often sat dreaming with envy of those ops with towers and clear viewed signal paths before them. I myself have to get out.

In the past few years, I have fine tuned my portable pack and antenna work to the point that I can generally set up in about thirty minutes and walk away for the effort with at least one contact. However, I can still remember when I went out many times in a row with zero contacts. In fact, one summer I went out nearly every day with nothing to show for it. I can remember watching passers by and the ants on the table as my fingers danced on the key sending CQ DE N0WKZ in a seemingly endless string. I would go home and practice and then get out the next day to try it again. Endless antenna configurations, earth ground vs no earth ground, battery and power hookup issues, fishing tackle experiments to raise wire to the heavens, and pouring over endless articles about solar weather. I tried it all. Day after day, month after month, year after year, and I am sure I am not done learning yet. I suppose through it all, I have gained some meager experience and have learned to operate with more successes but one thing this last week taught me well, I am still mosquito food.

I sat last night under the silent wooded sentinel that held my wire like a great friend looking down on my sad estate in pity. For two hours I pounded brass into the endless ether without a single flick of response. Hands cold, eyes squinting under the tense light of a Baofeng LED, and skin feeding the mosquito passers by at random. This is fishing I thought to myself. Cast out, reel in. Cast out, reel in. Slap my arm and stare into the darkness only feet away, squinting my ears for any faint or weak answer I might get.

Often, for all this work we HAMS do, what we get is air heated around a piece of wire. We get bitten, cold, tired, and often narrowly miss the sullen silence sitting still on the speaker that is telling us no one is home. But, isn't that fine? Isn’t that part of the glory of QRP and CW? Those days when all else fails and we head home with an empty log? Or do we head home better for trying? Better and more experienced? More at ease? More frustrated and resolved both. Take, my friends, the good with the bad and remember that today we are operators on call.

Just don’t forget the bug spray…


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Museum Field Day - SEKARC and CCHM

The SEKARC held it's September meeting in the field on the grounds of the Crawford County Historical Museum. It was a great success! There were many places to setup our gear and the host was very interested and helpful! Thanks again to the Museum for welcoming us and from the great day we had there, no doubt that we will be back again!

Jack WDØCFH made a contact on QRP CW. Conditions on the bands were not too great and there was an RTTY contest going on that covered up most of the popular low power digital frequencies. You would think they would stay away from known operating mode frequencies. But it was still fun, Jeff KAØEGE was running WSPR and is logged as hearing several stations from all over the United States, Canada, Germany and England and his transmission was even heard by a station in Iceland.

We met at Hardee's first for breakfast then headed to the museum about 10am. Steve KEØAKN brought two of his emergency go kits that he has been working hard on and those look fantastic! Enjoy some photos from the day below....


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Crawford County Historical Museum - Amateur Radio Day

Here are the plans for the September SEKARC meeting on Saturday the 24th of September. We will first meet at Hardee's on South Broadway in Pittsburg for breakfast at 9am. Grab a coffee to go because we will then head over to the Crawford County Historical Museum to set up our field radios! (SEE MAP BELOW)

Joe met with officials the at the museum and they loved the idea and ask that since they open at 10am on Saturday they would like us to arrive about that time. This makes it easier as we do not have to drag food and drinks around! So if you cannot make it for breakfast then plan on coming by the museum about 10am or later!

How long we stay kind of depends on the weather and the visitors. They are calling for a chance of rain later in the day on Saturday and of course that WILL change. According to Joe WØMQY, the officials at the museum were very excited about our visit and plan to do several media hits including the paper, the museum facebook page and possibly tv news! Also I highly suggest while you are there, going inside and seeing what they have there. There are some great historical pieces, places, faces and more. A great collection of local history. Be sure to go in and SIGN THE GUESTBOOK !! If you have any questions or suggestions please let us know, either through the group email system or comment here directly!

Some operating info...
 * they ask that we set up at or after 10am
 * there is SOME AC power on the grounds, but going all battery might be preferable
 * there are lots of trees for temporary antenna use
 * lets be sure and leave it like we found it
 * any change of plans will be sent via SEKARC email group

 If you are not familiar with this location, I have included a link below with directions and a map!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Frequency..... new series on the CW Network

Yes funny fact that it is on the "CW" Network. If you have seen the original movie this is similar to that. The trailer looks pretty good, check it out! Sure it's not possible....... or is it ?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

September 24th Meeting Plans

September 24th the SEKARC will be getting together for it's September monthly meeting. We do not have a program or presentation planned so we are leaning towards going to a park and set up some radio gear and get on the air!! I am looking for some input as far as the location. We usually go to Lincoln Park and setup close to Kiddieland but maybe we switch things up and try a new place? Please email the group or comment here on your ideas on location!

Might be a good time also to show off and get feedback on your mobile radio installs! We usually don't have anything structured at these but it is a way for some to see new operating modes, portable and remote antenna ideas and battery power setups!

I will start an email thread where we can discuss things like location and refreshments if anyone is interested in bringing some donuts? I can make the usual breakfast casserole for the groups as well. Right now the weather is calling for 80 and sunny..... but yeah we all know how accurate those 10 day forecasts can be. We will have a rain out back up announced next week if we need it.