Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Portable Ops 23/45: 20 Meters Was Fun Today!

KM4ICI - a Virginia Tech Student I
worked today on 20 meters
You never seem to know these days how the bands are going to treat you!  After working just 4 stations in the SKCC WES this weekend - mostly due to only being able to operate for 2 hours - but the bands stunk for me, I was hoping today would be better.

I tuned around on 20 and heard a few signals so I dove right in and started calling CQ with my 5 watt signal from the KX3 into my vertical portable antenna.

I immediately starting working stations....

WJ2L - Bill was near Nashville, TN and was very weak - I couldn't copy all the QSO, so I don't know if he was QRP or not, but I think he was.  He also would sign WJ2L/4, which adds to my suspicion he was QRP.

KM4ICI - This was a quick contact, Xiaoyu was working the club station of K4KDS. He is from China but studying Electrical Engineering at Virginia Tech.  K4KDS is the club station of Virginia Tech Amateur Radio Association. He is a really new General, and it was fun to work him!

N9ZXL (7114T) - A new SKCC contact for me - Dave was in Illinois and has a couple of Elecraft rigs as well.

W9AKS - Bobby was in Wisconsin and had a booming signal here to Kansas.  He was sending a bit fast for me, but I got the important info!

KE5AL (12776S) - Another new SKCC number for me, Jim answered my QRZ after wrapping up with W9AKS and had a great 599 signal to Kansas today from Texas.  He was running 90 watts, and I asked him to slow down for me as I was only copying about everyother character - and he graciously did!  He said QSB was heavy on his end, but it was not happening on my end.

NT9L (7328S) - Also a new SKCC number for me, John was in Colorado and was running QRO, but after I told him I was QRP he switched over and we completed the QSO both using low power!  He was 599 here, even QRP - his signal sounded a bit different, but still 599.  Thanks John!

So it was a fun time on the radio today from the park.  I have just 10 more unique SKCC numbers to collect and I will finally be a Centurion!  I am having a blast working these guys, and with the sun spots diminishing, keeps things very interesting and fun.

Monday, May 2, 2016

April 2016 QRP Operating Wrap-Up

It was another pretty active month on the radio for me and my KX3.  I have now operated portable 22 times - with my goal being 45 for the year - I think I will make it no problem!

I continued this month really having fun with the SKCC QSO's and chasing members for my first 100 SKCC contacts so I could claim the Centurion Award.  I ended the month with 83 total contacts toward my 'C' - just 17 more and I will be there.

With WES coming up this weekend I should be able to get there in short order!

So here is the recap on the MONTHLY numbers:

Total QSO's all modes: 81

Total CW QSO's: 75
Total PSK31 QSO's: 6

Total SKCC QSO's: 65

I apologize to those I have worked but have not documented here on the blog during my portable operations - but sometimes lack of time gets the best of me!

A couple DX highlights from this month - I worked ZL2BLQ in New Zealand on 15 meters and LW3EX on 10 meters with just 5 watts and my portable QRP antenna from a local park!

Even with these poor propagation conditions, I am still having a blast with just 5 watts and a wire!

Thursday, April 28, 2016


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!