Thursday, April 28, 2016

SKCC PFX Award!

As I have been documenting on the blog I have really been having fun using a straight key and chasing other SKCC members on the band.  Right now I have worked 78 members, I just need 22 more to get my Centurion award.

On the way to this achievement I was able to work enough unique call prefixes to earn the PFX award.  The basic way this works is that each unique call sign prefix is equal in points to their SKCC number.  For example my SKCC number is 8033, so my N0 prefix would be worth 8,033 points.
For this first award you need to collect 500,000 points - which I have been able to do.
If you enjoy CW and want to work a bunch or really nice guys, and great operators you really need to get involved with this club.  It is FREE to get involved with.  Just visit http://www.skccgroup.com and get your number! 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Portable Ops 18/45: 20 Meters was good today!

I finally got a chance today to play on the radio - my first time on the air since the SKCC WES!  Much to my enjoyment 20 meters was actually playing nice for me!

I went over the local park near my office and got set up - it is a absolutely beautiful spring day here in Kansas.

Setup in my Honda Pilot - J-37 key to KX3 coax out to
31' Jackite pole with vertical wire from a 9:1 UNUN
 - works great!
After tuning around a bit and not hearing anything, I decided everyone must be listening and nobody seemed to be calling CQ - so today I decided to only call CQ!

And the contacts began almost immediately....

AI4UL (6327) - Bob gave me a call from North Carolina with a nice 559 signal - he gave me a 569 report.

VA5CW (4326S) - Bill gave me a call from Saskatchewan Canada - and he was very loud - 599!  He was running 100 watts into a yagi, so I am sure that helped.  He dropped his power to 5 watts and I could still copy him very well.  We had a nice chat, and a nice two way QRP QSO!

KF7WJY (14522T) - Tim returned my call from Nevada, but we both had very weak signals 339 both ways.  It was a slug, but we managed to finish up the QSO.  Thanks Tim!

K2PAY (4304S) - Jerry was very weak when he first returned my call from Long Island, NY - 339 here in Kansas.  He gave me a 459.  QSB got the best of his signal when he was telling me his power, so I don't know if he was QRP or not - I think he said 50 watts, but not sure. (update: a PM on the SKCC sked page Jerry said he was at 50 watts)

KG7VTO (14714) - Bob called me with a 559 from Pendleton, OR.  After reading his QRZ page, and looking at his SKCC number, I figured out he is a pretty new ham.  He just got his ticket fall of 2015 and joined SKCC in December 2015.  Bob had a nice fist and it was a pleasure to work a newer ham - glad you were bit by the CW bug Bob!

W4RMM (2471T) - last QSO of the day goes to Bill from Alabama!  He was pretty weak here in Kansas with a 339, and he gave me a 449.  We kept it short because I had to get back to work.

Thanks to all that answered me - you provided me a truly enjoyable lunch time portable operation!

What a fun day on the radio!  I picked up several new SKCC numbers towards my Centurion Quest, and just had a fun time with the J-37 key.

The map of the Reverse Beacon Network from my calling CQ today - pretty impressive!



Monday, April 11, 2016

April 2016 SKCC WES

This weekend was the monthly SKCC Weekend Sprintathon (WES), and I was really looking forward to working this.  I had hear there was lots of activity, and a great way to pick up additional SKCC member QSO's as I work towards my Centurion (100 contacts).

Map of contacts - most were on 40 meters (PR was on 15 meters, only 15 meter contact) - map by http://www.qsomap.org/
So I was up and at it at 7:00 AM local Saturday morning (12:00 UTC).  Long story short, the bands really stunk here in Kansas the entire weekend.  All total I probably was able to work about 8 hours of the contest.

I ended up making 24 contacts, 16 states/provinces (including Puerto Rico and France) for a total score of 774 points - all QRP at 5 watts with the KX3 and my 20/40 dipole that lays on my shingles on the roof.

I used the SKCC Logger program, and it made life really easy!

I dug out an old J-37 key that my father had, and it was a real pleasure to use!

J-37 Key - KX3 on 3D printed stand my son made for me!
I added 16 new SKCC numbers, so right now I am sitting at 59 - just 41 more to go for my Centurion.

I will definitely be back next month!  This was really fun, and if you're worried about your CW skills, this is the perfect event for you.  Nice and slow - not the break-neck speed of most CW contests!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Portable Ops 14, 15, 16, 17/45: Catching up!

Well, I have been having a bunch of fun on the radio doing portable operations, but I have fallen behind on my blog!

I am going to condense this down with just dates and number of stations worked:

4/4/16 - 4 stations worked (3 of them were SKCC members)

4/5/16 - 3 stations worked (all of them were SKCC members)

4/7/16 - SKCC Europe Sprint:

I was able to get out of the office for a bit and work this sprint.  Any station is welcome to participate, but it is setup so the time works better for SKCC European members.  The band was in OK shape, and I managed to work 6 stations in 90 minutes.

F6HKA - France, awesome signal here in Kansas, and a great Op!
K1PUG - Connecticut
WH6LE - North Carolina
KG6MC - South Carolina
KD6SX - Oregon
F6EJN - France

So I began the Sprint in France and ended in France!  Fun times!

I plan on working SKCC Weekend Sprintathon this weekend.  I don't know how much time I will actually have but will give it a good go when I have time!

Friday, April 1, 2016

March 2016 QRP Operating Wrap-Up

I have had a pretty active month on the radio, so I wanted to record a little recap of the month.

Total QSO's all modes: 82

Total CW QSO's: 41
Total PSK31 QSO's: 41

Total SKCC QSO's: 34
Total SKCC Members: 32
Total SKCC States Worked: 18

I worked a lot of PSK31 early in the month - and you can really get a lot of contacts quickly in that mode.  Plus I can work this mode from my sofa using the iPad and Team Viewer!

If you are just getting started with CW, my only advice is to get an SKCC number and start working this great group of guys.  The sending tends to be slow and enjoyable - and I can see a huge difference in my ability just after a focused month of operating chasing these numbers.

Between the SKCC WES, the Sprint in late April, and portable operations, I hope to have my Centurion by the end of April!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Portable Ops 13/45: Sing it with me....YyyyyMCAaaaa

On Tuesday and Thursday nights my daughter takes Tae kwon do at the local YMCA.  I typically run a few miles while she in class, but last night I decided to setup portable and play a little radio.  The SKCC sprints run from 7-9pm once a month local time, and her class starts at 7:00 pm.

Since I would like to participate in these sprints, I have been looking for a location in the parking lot I could do this while she was in class.

The parking lot at the YMCA is large and at one end there are zero cars parked.  There are small trees that I can attach my portable antenna to.

So last night I decided to test it out.  The antenna strapped easily to a small tree and the coax easily reached in my car where I operate.

I made one contact...

AC4FZ (4987T) - Wally was working another station on  10.120 and once the QSO was over, I gave him a call.  He was nice and loud here in Kansas.  Wally was in North Carolina and had a nice signal and fist - with just a slight bit of QSB.  He was a 559 here and he gave me a 549 - I am constantly amazed and just what 5 watts can accomplish!

That was it for the night, but I am glad I tested the setup for the SKCC sprint at the end of April - I will be active!

Portable Ops 11 & 12: Two New States and 2 x QRP!

This post is a two-fer, I didn't get a chance to write up #11 portable operations, so I just decided to combine them.

Do you ever have one of those QSO's where everything seems to go wrong??  I did when I worked WB3GCK.  Right now I don't have a true straight key, so I use one lever of the paddles on my KX3 set to HAND mode.  Sometimes the contacts don't make great connection and they dits and dahs sound funny.  Well during this QSO this was happening a bunch!  On top of that my KX3 started complaining about the voltage level of the battery.  So mid QSO I had to attached my external battery which required me to change where the KX3 was sitting - it was just a mess!

But Craig WB3GCK seemed very gracious and we just carried on.

So who did I work??

3/29/13 - I just had about 30 minutes to play between meetings....so just two contacts...

KG7VTO (14714) - Bob had a great signal from Oregon on 20 meters, plus a great sounding fist.

KK6GLP - I have worked Mike before and his signal sounded great as usual from California.

3/30/13 - Had a ton of fun this day!  These were all from me calling CQ on 18.080...

N1WPU (1312) - Ted answered my CQ from Maine!  He was running 75 watts into a G5RV and had a really nice signal and fist.

WB3GCK (15052T) - Craig came back to my CQ and he was also QRP at 5 watts.  Craig is also a fellow blogger, and a blog I frequent!  He has just recently obtained Tribune status in the SKCC.  From reading his blog it looks like he was bitten by the same SKCC bug I have been bitten by!  You can read his blog here http://wb3gck.craiglabarge.com/.  This is actually the second time I have worked Craig.  The last time was back in 2013 when he was vacationing in North Carolina!

WB1AJX (12872T) - The last contact for the day was with Howard running his KX3 at 5 watts.  We had a nice exchange from Rhode Island to Kansas for another nice 2xQRP contact.

So for this day it looks like there was a pipeline from Kansas to the far Northeast of the USA.  I had never worked Maine or Rhode Island before - so that is awesome.  Plus to have two 2xQRP contacts was a real kick as well!

The main reason I moved to 17 meters was because there was at least one VERY LARGE pileup going on 20 meters - it ran from about 14.035 to 14.057 - completely spread out!  I never did figure out the DX everyone was trying to work - but the pileup was destroying the band.