The past four years have brought many changes to the dynamic of our family which precluded my spending so much time as an Amateur CW operator. So, the gear got packed away into dust catching boxes in closets. They have been relocated, pushed around, and survived a move to the edge of the world; a remote corner of southeast Kansas. Happily these years have been a good time for our family; a time to get closer and live out the last remnants of our children's young lives before adulthood swallows them up forever. The sacrifice of other things during this time was more than worth it. However, each time I have come across the boxes guarding my gear I have felt that sting; that sense and pang that lives in the lightning of a radio operators heart. An electromagnetic desire to get out my radio and listen up for that relic tune morse which is still alive and well on the continuous wave pouring like a gated explosion of water into the either; a flood of cacophony from the many sky hooks scattered abroad. Recently I got into my paper records from the time I spent operating CW. A rush of experiences that I will forever relish came washing over me and renewed my interest in the pantheon of radio operating skill; A1A.
I suppose I could carry on about my box of contact cards but that would never do. For me it is not the contacts that are the real prize of QRP and CW. It was the odd rarely related experiences that happened along the way. There was the day I first operated directly under the sun with no shade. While I was working a contact, my telegraph speed key suddenly started sending an endless string of dashes on it's own. The very close contact gap and the expansion of the brass & steel spring in the heat of the direct sunlight caused my key to develop a perfectly balanced recursive bounce. It was as embarrassing as it was irritating. I quickly attempted to end the contact in a clumsy disjointed manner the best I could. There were the endless antenna forms I came up with inside our apartment attached to the walls, the ceiling, and in countless other ways. Some of these antennas made astonishing contacts. There was the time i had all my gear on my back and had a terrible bike crash on the way to the park. Getting eaten by mosquitoes, dogs running through my antenna support lines, trying to explain to astonished passers by what morse code is. There's more. I once set up in a parking lot by a small tree which I used to support my antenna to work a QRP sprint. Before I could get my gear taken down, I got blocked in by a sudden rush of young college students arriving to attend a nearby party or get together. There were storms and rain. There were days when the bands where absolutely silent; devoid of radio life. Days of sunburn or even blue frozen fingers. You name it, I probably experienced it. All of it served to give me one of the greatest times with radio I have ever had. Moreover, every claim about CW and QRP, was for me, validated completely. There is one experience however that absolutely set the realities of QRP and CW into my mind like concrete.
My late friend Bart Lawson, a fantastic teacher, avid CW and QRP operator would have a brief QSO with me every morning. Those sessions were great and what a privilege. Bart was also an accomplished fox hunter which is no small skill for any operator. We would try to use different bands, power levels, and other QRP related tactics. Bart and I were both followers of a facet of QRP where operators try to make contacts with extremely low power; like stupid low. He taught me a lot and was the reason I earned several 1K miles per watt awards. How low can you go and how far can you get is the trick and the skill to learn. One morning I will never forget, Bart and I finished up a brief rag chew on 15 meters and then signed off. I had been using a folded vertical T antenna I made and which I had packed inside the closet of our half in ground apartment. Why? I am not sure. I love antenna work. It is a geek thing. After our QSO I was messing around trying to refold the upper T section when I distinctly heard a very clear carrier on my tuned frequency. Not super strong but quite clear. A few dots, and a long dash and then pow, I heard W0IIT. What? Bart? If I remember I may have tried to answer back but got no response so I called him on the telephone. Surprised at the revelation that he had been heard, he chuckled and stammered out the statement that he had been checking his QRP transmitter into a dummy load. This may seem trite to some ops but the situation was that he lived several miles from my home, was inside his house, and I was on a folded antenna inside a basement apartment. For me it was a pretty cool experience and a big time validation of QRP and CW both. Amazing....
I still believe the most fun in HAM radio lives in morse code and CW but thats just me. What ever mode and band you choose to use and what ever equipment you operate on, make sure you operate in the true spirit of radio and relish every second you live on the air. Live and learn and light up the either with intelligence...
Amen, 73's D Keath NØWKZ
|Half wave tuner that actually worked perfect through all the bands from 80M to 10M|
|One of my radio bags with bird poop!|
|Little speed key I built from a kit|
Thanks to the tip from Cecil NØEHP on this article and video. The SWLing Post has a great article on this station. Click here for the post. The antenna and station power is incredible so check out the link and watch the video, you will enjoy it.
I was looking for a good demo on how to adjust the AGC or "Automatic Gain Control" on my radio and came across this good information from Bob Heil K9EID. Good information especially with the tip to LOWER your RF Gain. I tried it today on some 20m signals and it really worked and made the received audio much more readable. And the bonus is that the first segment he played was taken from my favorite 40m net "The Hole In The Wall Net" which is daily at 9pm on 7.188 mhz. Get your radio fired up and test this... it worked great on my FT-DX1200.
Here is an informative video from one of our favorite sources. Ham Radio Concepts has a fantastic channel on YouTube. You can find it here ----> HRC on YouTube
The new Yaesu FTDX10 is a nice addition to the brand. It's lower price than the FTDX-101D but using the same "bones". Early reviews are good. Check out this nice comparison review. Also look to the SEKARC email list for a review from Morgan NJ8M. Great information and thanks Morgan.
With the recent spike in solar activity and the Solar Flux Index being over 100 for the first time in years I thought this would be a good time to give myself and those interested a refresher in Propagation. Enjoy and get on the air.... the bands are waking up!
SEKARC for several years has met at Harry's Cafe every Wednesday at 9am.... then Covid came along. Some have expressed interest in getting back together so we thought we would try something a little different. Let's have a BYOC or Bring Your Own Coffee QSO Wednesdays at 9am.
Also, while we are at it maybe have a little tailgate/trade at the same time. While reducing boxes and tubs in my garage I came up with a tub of stuff I don't need but someone might so if you have something to pass on, giveaway, sell or trade while we are drinking our to go coffee and eating breakfast in a paper wrapper. Not the same as Harry's fresh breakfast on a hot plate but under the conditions this might be a good bet.
Of course masks and social distancing will be requested so bring a lawn chair or sit at the picnic tables at Lincoln Park. We will meet just West of Kiddieland. Heck if you want to and the weather cooperates bring a radio and antenna and set it up!
So grab breakfast and coffee on the way, dig through your stuff and find some stuff to bring along to see if someone needs it. I have a tub full, and I bet a lot of us do. We understand if you are not up to it or would rather not. Let's all stay safe but still have fun if we can.
Hamshack Hotline is a private VoIP telephone voice network for Amateur Radio. This could be a very valuable tool for emergency communications to take some of the load off of radio networks. Setup was extremely easy all that was needed was a supported device which at this time are only Cisco VoIP phones. I purchased my Cisco SPA504G from eBay for $35 free shipping. Please make sure the phone you order is UNLOCKED!!! This is very important.
Setup was super simple i followed the instructions and started a support ticket with my phones MAC address, connected my phone to my network via Ethernet and noted it's local IPv4 address. Once i received the response from HamshackHotline.com i plugged the IP address into the URL in the instructions and BAM!! the phone reset and my callsign and number showed up on the phones display!
I know some hams have a thermonuclear meltdown when talk of using the internet for emergency communications comes up! My opinion on the matter is having as many forms of communications as possible is key in an emergency. The likelihood of the the internet being down everywhere is very low now days and this system could help reduce the load on radio networks in time of emergency. Amateur radio and the internet will become more and more intertwined as time goes on just as freezers and light bulbs become connected to the internet.
As ARES EC for Crawford County, KS i plan on getting these phones for all of my AECs and as many members as we can. The one BIG thing that is missing from Hamshack Hotline in my opinion is mobile access to the system. Mobile access could be mobile SIP app or even a bridge number you can call a public number and enter a PIN to access the system. A similar system Government Emergency Telecommunication System (GETS) does just that. You have a GETS card with a PIN number that you can call it will give your phone priority over others for emergency communications. People with GETS access could even use GETS to call a bridge number for access to HamshackHotline in an emergency!
The ultimate selling factor for me for Hamshack Hotline the fun / cool factor of having this cool IP phone on your desk in the hamshack! It's cost less then taking the family out to dinner in the $20-40 range! Operating the Hamshack Hotline network requires money so please support them if you want to use this system just a few dollars per year per user is all that's needed!
Other ARES members received phones and got them setup so far the system just works. I went through and setup voicemail and in the message i put my Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) number so people could call me if they need me outside of the shack.