Thursday, September 18, 2014

CW Op's Mini-CWT Contest - Results!

Map of Stations Worked in the Mini-CWT
Every Wednesday the CW Operators Club has a mini contest called the MINI-CWT.  It runs for one hour - 10:00 pm to 11:00 pm local time here in Kansas.  This time works great for me - kids are in bed, and house chores are complete!

This is the second time I have operated this contest and I had a blast.  Conditions on 20 meters were awful here - I didn't hear one signal on the band except some digital signals.  So I immediately went to 40 meters and stayed there for the duration.

All told I worked 20 stations, for a score of 400 points- all stateside with one except being Canada.  I was really happy with this result!

When I worked the June contest I only worked 6 stations for a total score of 36 points, so I greatly improved tonight!

You can see a map of the locations of the stations I worked during the contest last night.  I created this using a site that I found that is really cool.  It is - and it lets you upload an ADIF file and it maps the locations.

I really enjoy working contests.  Running QRP it gives you the opportunity to work some really good operators that also have excellent antennas.  Everyone I called last night, I worked!

Thanks to all the ops that pulled my signal out - you made it a fun night!

Also be sure and check out my N0HYD YouTube Channel!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Nick Builds a 2 Meter Copper J-Pole (portable & collapsible)

Nick KE0ATH working 2 meters 
Now that my son Nick (KE0ATH) has his ticket, he is putting together a 2 meter "Go Box".  First on the agenda was a nice J-Pole antenna.

He did some searching and found a J-Pole design that collapses down to about 20" long.  The 1/2" copper pipe segments are held together with a bungee cord run internally.

Nick found a couple different designs and combined them to meet his needs.  He plans to use this while camping, etc.

When you watch the video, check out his smile at about the 4:00 minute mark when he makes the first contact on his new antenna - priceless!

(if it doesn't play just click here:

We had a blast building this together, and Nick learned several new skills - so it was a great success!

If you have any questions, be sure and give me a shout.  You can also see my other videos on YouTube here:  N0HYD YouTube Channel

73 - Burke

Friday, August 22, 2014

Getting My Radio Fix - QRP Portable Today!

I was finally able to sneak off at lunch time for some quick portable QRP op's with the KX3 and my Portable QRP Antenna from the local park.

I did a quick scan of the bands when I got there, and made one quick contact with a mobile station...

N7IV/M 14.056 599 both ways.  I am not exactly sure where he was, but had a little pileup going. (UPDATE: I found him on APRS - I appears he was in Wisconsin)

Then I decided to just plant myself on a frequency and call CQ to see what happened.  I spotted myself on Twitter hoping to maybe make contact with a Twitter follower.  VA3QV sent me a Tweet and said he was listening but could not hear me.

But I did manage to get some replies to my CQ on 14.057!

W4FO Pat in Florida
KD3CA Don in Pennsylvania
W9DCQ Doug in Wisconsin
WD9DWE Dennis in Indiana

Thanks for the QSO's guys!

I then decided to spin the dial a bit.  I heard W1AW/0 in ND, but could not break the pileup.  It sounded like he was working some DX but I could not hear the DX.

Then I went to 17 meters and worked...

W1AW/8 in Ohio - it took a bit to bust the pileup, but I finally made it!

So a fun lunch hour on the radio today!  Thanks to everyone that worked me, and to those on Twitter that tried to work me.  It was a fun adventure.

Here is where I was spotted by RBN:

One strange thing did happen today at the park.  A car pulled into a parking spot about 6 spots away from me.  There were a couple guys in the car.  On the trunk was mounted a large antenna with a wide spaced coil.  I suspect it was a CB radio antenna.  The problem was that they were talking on it!  Every time the talked I got a loud static noise on my rig.  I wonder if they were hearing my 5 watts also??

Eventually they left, but gave me a long slow look as they drove past - pretty funny - but I was glad they left because they kept messing up my QSO's!

The list of projects is huge!

I have been having serious radio withdrawal - I am really itching to get on the air and operate!  Unfortunately, life is happening and I have had zero time to operate.

When this happens I usually watch a lot of videos and read blogs.  This then leads a big list of "I wanna do that" type projects.

So I thought I would list the top 3 or 4 here and set a goal of getting them done by Christmas:

1.  Get a long wire inverted L 9:1 UNUN antenna installed at the house.  I have the UNUN built and I have the small gauge "stealthy" wire from the Wire Man - just need to get it up in the trees!

2.  Rockmite 40 - I have had this kit along with the Mitybox for several years - just need to get it built.

3. DIY Powerpole Distribution Block - There are some great plans for this here:

4. Magnetic loop antenna with automatic controller.  I have the board, just need some components to get the board built up and working - I really want to get this going early this fall!

The list is much longer - but this is the top four I want to get done right now.

What is on your project list?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pelican 1200 for Elecraft KX3 Case

After I published my video of my portable operation, I have received several questions about the case that I use for my Elecraft KX3.

I did a bunch of research before I landed on what I use - which is the Pelican 1200.  I bought this based on my specific needs - mostly it is used in my car to get from work to the park.  But I have also taken it on numerous camping trips, etc.

As usual, let me know if you have any questions - I am happy to help!

My 5 Minutes of Fame!

I like listening to the podcast of Ham Nation - which is both in video format and audio format - during my commute to the office.  Every other week they have a segment with user supplied videos.

So I submitted my video of my lunchtime operation to Dale (K0HYD).  

As a side note, I met Dale on the local repeater within the last couple of months.  He lives near my QTH.  My 9 year old daughter wanted to see me talk to to someone, so I put a call out and Dale came back.  Our call signs are very similar which was neat.  He also talked to my daughter which he actually remembered, and you will see him mention in the episode.

Anyway, my video was played on Ham Nation last night.  Kindof a thrill for me!

Here is the link to Ham Nation on YouTube:

I have several more videos about ready to publish to my YouTube channel.  Be sure and subscribe to my channel so you don't miss anything.....

N0HYD on YouTube <= Visit NOW!

Monday, August 11, 2014

QRP 1,000 Miles per Watt....from the Campground

KX3 bathed in light from my red headlamp
The kids are starting back to school this week, so we thought we would get in one more family outing before life gets crazy.  So last week we went camping from Wednesday morning until Saturday morning.  Its great to be at the campground during the week - almost nobody else is there!

It rained every night - the days were hot and humid.  We spent most afternoons out on the lake in my Dads boat he loaned to use - nice and cool with lots of swimming and tubing.

Friday night I had time to play radio!  I setup the KX3 running on internal batteries on the picnic table.  Hooked up the portable QRP antenna that I lashed up to the canopy and I was off to the races.

I used my headlamp with a red light to see what I was writing and the radio controls.  This worked exceptionally well - and kept the bugs away.  I have used the white light before and it really draws in the bugs!

When I turned the rig on it was on 20 meters - I expected it to be dead since it was about 03:45 UTC (10:45 PM local) - but I immediately heard signals.  As I tuned around, I was hearing DX everywhere!

I listened to some of the exchanges, and could tell it was a contest - RST and Serial was the exchange.  Turns out it was the Worked All Europe HF Contest.

So I dove into the mix and started pouncing!  Wow it was fun....

UA7K - Russia (I think, could not find in QRZ)
UW2M - Ukraine (1,172 miles per watt)
UT0U - Ukraine (1, 134 miles per watt)
AI6O - California
K1XM - Massachusetts
UY5ZZ - Ukraine (1,115 miles per watt)
RW1A - Russia (1,091 miles per watt)
RM5D - Russia (1,091 miles per watt)
YP9W - Romania (1,139 miles per watt)
HA8VV - Germany (1,055 miles per watt)
S57DX - Slovenia (1,054 miles per watt)
HG7T - Hungary (1,091 miles per watt)
HG8R - Hungary (1,115 miles per watt)
DJ5MW - Germany (1,004 miles per watt)
SN6A - Poland (1,019 miles per watt)

I finally shut it down at 05:21 (12:21 AM local time) - but the band was still hoping.  I did tune around 40 meters and heard some signals, but the antenna just needs to be longer for good 40 meter operation.

What a blast!  Almost everyone came back to me on the first call - only 3 times did I have to repeat my call.  Everyone I called, I worked!

It was fascinating to think about working Russia and Ukraine with all the tensions in that part of the world right now - guys are still having fun playing with the radio.

I am really enjoying dipping my toe into these contests - it is a great way to work a bunch of stations - and some DX to boot.

Nick KE0ATH working 2 meters
Nick (KE0ATH) also did some operating on 2 meters using a collapsible portable J-pole that we built together.  He had a blast.  He is working on putting together a go-box 2 meter station for camping and outdoor adventures.

Be sure and check out, and subscribe to my YouTube channel - I am working on several more videos - stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Video of My Lunchtime Portable Operation

Yesterday, I shot a bunch of video while I was out operating during my lunchtime QRP session.

I got it all edited and it is ready for you to view!  This is my first video, so any comments or helpful advice is more than welcomed.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lunchtime Portable - It's been a while!

After reading about Mike, VE3WDM going portable, it got my blood pumping to get back out for some lunch time QRP operations!

So last night I tracked down the coax and put the gear in the Pilot.  It has cooled off a bit this week, it was only 83 deg here when I arrived at the park.  I quickly got the Portable QRP Antenna put up and was on the air!

I worked a total of 6 stations during my one hour of operation.  20 meters was decent stateside, but 17 meters was a disappointment.  17 meters has typically been my favorite band for some lunch time DX!

Here is the run down of todays activity:

W1AW/9 20 meters into Indiana
KW7D 17 meters Paul in New Mexico

I called CQ and...

K7TAN answered me - Don was in Idaho, we had a brief QSO which was nice.

Then back to search and pounce...

K6TW was activating W6/CT-003 Mt. San Antonio which is east of Los Angeles.  I would really like to be a SOTA activator sometime!

W1AW/9 this time on 17 meters

and finally...

W0FV was calling CQ on 20 meters and was very loud!  Doug was in Grand Junction, CO - we had a brief contact as he gave me a 359 RST.  Thanks for pulling me out Doug!

Then it was time to head back to work, so I quickly pulled everything down and headed back to the office.

Another fun lunch time portable QRP session in the books!

Monday, July 28, 2014

IARU HF World Championship 2014 Results

Click to Enlarge - I am towards the bottom!
A couple weeks ago the IARU HF World Championship 2014 was held.  It started at 7:00 AM local time on Saturday morning and ended 7:00 AM local time on Sunday morning.

I have been wanting to work a big contest, and I was able to squeeze a few hours of "shack time" into my schedule on Saturday.

I hit the ground running on Saturday morning right when the contest started.  I did a bit of band hopping for the next 90 minutes.  Then I was able to get back on about 3:00 pm local for an hour, then back on again about 11:00 pm local for an hour or so.

I worked 55 stations during this limited operating time.  I worked mostly stateside stations, but I was able to pick up a couple DX contacts as well.

The only HQ station I worked was W100AW - which was a thrill.  I also worked stations in Canada, Bermuda, Europe, Jamaica and Brazil.  I also worked Hawaii several times, which I had never done before.

Here is the breakdown per band:
40 Meters: 34 Contacts
20 Meters: 5 Contacts
15 Meters: 15 Contacts (This would have been more productive if I had more time in the afternoon)
10 Meters: 1 Contact

The good news about my high noise level at the QTH is that if I can hear them, I can almost surely work them.  I think I only called 2 people that I did not end up working.

I operated "search and pounce" the entire contest.  Starting at one end of the band and working my way to the other end.  One thing I found interesting is that I would finish scanning from end to end, then start over.  On the next pass I would hear stations I didn't hear on the first past.  Very interesting!

The other thing I was happy to see is that I was not last!  I uploaded my scores to and as you can see in the image above, I was not last.

I will officially submit my score to the contest, just to eventually see my call sign in print.

This was very fun!  I know I will never by a big gun contest station, but contests are a great way to improve your CW speed, operating skills, and have lots of fun!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Random Antenna Musings and Power Line Noise

As I have shared in the past I have a 66' dipole in the attic fed with ladder line.  I live in a HOA controlled neighborhood so my antenna options are pretty limited.

Last night I set WSPR up running 2 watts on 20 meters.  Started about 2200 UTC.  Wow it really seemed open.  My 2 watts was spotted multiple times into Europe, Alaska and all over the USA.  This antenna does not have a problem getting out.

The problem with my antenna setup is on receive.  I have minimum S5 noise on 40 and 30 meters.  Typically S7 on 20 meters.  Interestingly enough 15 is quieter and 10 meters is typically S2 or so.  The noise is static with some noticeable "crackling".

Last night on WSPR was a great example.  I was getting heard ALL over, but I was only decoding about 2 or 3 stations - all in the USA.  Also on PSK31 or JT-65 I see guys working DX that I can't even here or see on the waterfall - my noise level is just too high.

Sometime soon I am going to cut all the power to my QTH and see what the noise level is.  If significantly reduced, I will see what I identify as noise sources in my QTH.

Beyond that, less than a 1/4 mile as the crow flies I have identified some very noisy power lines.  They are so noisy that it they will completely blank the AM radio in your car when you drive past them.

Here is a picture of where my house sits in relation to the power lines (my dipole runs parallel to the power lines):

Blue marker is my QTH - Red line is power line (X's are noisy poles)
I will be contacting the utility company at some point, but first I want to see how much of the noise is coming from my own QTH.

I think the other problem with my poor receive performance is that fact that the antenna is in the attic.  I have been thinking about some solutions to get some wire outside the house to see if that can help.

I have to be very stealth, for both the happiness of the XYL and the HOA :)

I was thinking about setting up a long wire using the 9:1 UNUN that I use for my Portable QRP Antenna - only using trees and setting it up as an inverted L.

You can see in the picture below, I have 2 trees that are taller than my house.  The tree on the left, which is the front of the house will hold the vertical portion of the wire, and then it will run horizontal to the tree on the right, which is in the back of the house.  

Red markers are trees - red line would be horizontal leg of inverted L
I am thinking if I use like a 22 or 24 gauge grey wire it should be almost invisible.  The horizontal leg will be about 25' fee in the air.  All told I should be able to get about 70-80 feet of wire for the inverted L.

I will probably wait until the leaves drop this fall to make it easier to fish the wires through the trees.  I just wonder how much of a difference getting wire in the clear will make to my receive quality and noise issues.

I guess that's enough rambling for today.  If you have any thoughts I would be happy to hear them!

Monday, July 21, 2014

What is This? Digital Modes on KX3

I have been having a blast lately with digital modes like PSK-31 and JT-65/JT-9.  My little KX3 is doing a great job even without having run the temperature compensation. Of course I am keeping my power to 2 or 3 watts - which helps a lot.

I have noticed a strange thing for a while, but I am just now getting around to asking about it.

When I look at the waterfall there is an area that is basically blanked out - for lack of a better term.

Here is a screen shot of the waterfall in WSJTX (JT-65).  You will notice the black area on the left.

Waterfall of WSJTX - What is "black" on left edge?
As you can see there is an area on the left that is in the frequency range, but it is "blacked out".  I wonder how many signals are in this area?

Those if you with a KX3 or those of you that might know what this is - please let me know!  If you know how to fix this, please let me know that as well!

I am looking forward to hearing the responses - I appreciate the help!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

China heard on JT-65? Call 3T4CAV?

Did I really hear China on 40M JT-65?
Last night I played around some more with JT-65.  The band conditions did not appear to be as good as they were the other night.  I was on both 20m and 40m.

I worked a few stateside stations in the 40 minutes I played on the bands.

When I looked at PSK Reporter this morning I was greatly surprised to see one of the stations that I had spotted.  It must have been one of the very first decodes I had after firing the rig up.

3T4CAV - in CHINA!  I can't find this call sign on any of the online databases, so I don't know if this is a mistake in the database, I guess I doubt it is, but this is pretty amazing.  And the signal report was -5db - which is actually a pretty strong signal report on JT-65.

I don't remember seeing the decode on my screen, but I could have missed it as I was getting everything configured.

Anyway, that is pretty amazing if true.

Judging by the location of spots (both sent and received) around the country and down to South America, my 66' ladder fed dipole in the attic seems to be working pretty well for this mode.

I do see lots of stateside stations working DX that I am unable to decode, so I think my initial feeling that receive is weak could still be true.  But its not stopping me from having fun on this mode!

Monday, June 30, 2014

First JT-65A Contacts!

JT-65 Spots on 40 Meter with 2 Watts
Over the weekend I setup WSJT-X on my old XP computer.  I let it do some decoding off and on over the weekend on several bands - and I was decoding well!

So last night I went down to the shack about 0350 UTC and fired up the rig on 40 meters.  I set WSJT-X to 40 meters and started seeing several signals on the waterfall, and decodes started coming in.

Over the next 45 minutes I worked 6 stations - 5 on JT-65 and one on JT-9.  It was pretty much back to back QSO's which was fun.  I have read a few people complain about the slow speed, and the short contest style exchange.

I actually loved both aspects on this mode!  I am really not much of a rag chewer, I prefer the hit and run style of contacts.  The speed didn't seem abnormally slow to me, about the same length of time a typical CW QSO takes at my speed.

Anyway, this mode is a blast, especially in my noisy environment.  The weak signals still come through and get decoded in the noise.

Here are the stations I worked:

WB0N - Bert in Minnesota JT-65
NC7L - Robert in Arizona JT-65
W6PDP - Charles in California JT-65
K7IPP - Neil in Arizona JT-65
KF7DRU - David in Arizona JT-9
KI5PM - Ken in Texas JT-65

This was a very fun session playing radio!  I will definitely be back to the JT modes for more contacts. 

On a side note - my little 2 watt signal was decoded in Switzerland as well!  Not bad for 2 watts on 40 meters from an attic antenna.  I did see a couple decodes of stations in South America, but I did not work them, or attempt to work them.

If you haven't ventured into the digital modes, what are you waiting for?  Jump in and have some fun!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

CWT Mini-Contest - QRP Style

In my continuing effort to evaluate my attic dipole, several guys have given me advice to get on during a contest because the activity level is higher on the bands and I could better evaluate what I can hear.

Every Wednesday (local) evening from 0300-0400Z (Thursday) the CW Operators Club has a mini-contest the call CWT.  The exchange is name and member number or name and state if a non-member.

These guys are serious CW operators, and I knew the pace would be fast.  I downloaded N1MM for logging as they have a dedicated module for the contest.  They also have a call history file that you can load which allows you to enter the call and it matches the name and member number up for you.

So I had everything setup and ready. I started on 20 meters and heard some activity.  I made one contact there before heading to 40 meters.

On 40 meters the band was filled with signals - this warmed my heart after my recent worries with my antenna!

CW was being sent very fast - but after several listens I could usually get the call.  I just looked at the scores here - I ended up last in the QRP category, but NOT last in the contest!

I ended the night with 6 QSO's during the hour long contest.  Honestly, I am happy with those results.  My goal was 10 contacts, but I learned some valuable lessons which will help me next time!

Here is the list of my contacts (all CW Ops Members):
K1BG Bruce 20M - MA
N1LN Bruce 40M - NC
KC4D Bill 40M - VA
N5ZO Marko 40M - CA
AD4EB Jim 40M - TN
N5AW Marv 40M - TX

So I worked 6 different states - MA, NC, VA, CA, TN, TX - coast to coast!

Thanks to those that pulled my QRP signal out!  I will be back to this contest in the future!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Just get on the air!

So after my complaining in my post yesterday, I had a chance last night at about 11:00 pm local (0400 Z) to get to the shack and spin the dial on 40 meters.

I heard several QSO's going on - including N1CC calling CQ.  He was a bit faster than I like, but I could at least copy his call and CQ CENT.  I heard a couple guys work him and when he called CQ again, I threw out my call.

He came right back to me for a quick contest style exchange.  Jim is down in Texas and is VERY ACTIVE!  H says on his QRZ page he has had over 16,000 QSO's in 2014.

He is also offering a special QSL card for the centennial year.  I might have to take him up on that.

He also does a Christmas Carol special event station at Christmas.  Very interesting guy, and a fun contact.

I also heard a few 4 zone stations in QSO's as I tuned around 40 meters.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Still struggling to hear....or am I?

I still think something is just not quite right with my setup.  If you remember from a few posts back I installed a 66' ladder fed dipole in the attic.  I thought this would increase my reception ability, but now I am not to sure.

Maybe I am just spoiled by the low noise floor when operating portable in the park, but across multiple weekends and multiple evenings I am beginning to think I just don't hear as well with the attic antenna.

Sure the noise floor is higher, about S5 - which can be helped with the NR and the ATT, but I just don't hear signals like I think I should.

For example, typical weeknight on 40 meter CW about 11:00 pm local time.  I hear maybe 2 or 3 QSO's.  During the weekend days, I have scanned 30 meters thru 10 meters - CW and SSB portions of the band, and hear nothing - may one or two QSO's but that is it.

I read about others working DX and plenty of local stations with an attic mounted dipole.

I have worked people on PSK31 on 20 meters in the evenings - even some DX to South America - but overall the signals in general seem very weak.

It just seems like it is more than the higher noise floor that is impacting my operating.

The thing that has me most confused is that when I don't hear anyone, and then decided to call CQ, I almost always make a contact.

I have not gotten on during a contest, even a QRP sprint, which might be a better way to gauge what I am hearing - I suppose I need to do this.

Am I just expecting more activity than there actually is?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Meet KE0ATH...

Nick (KE0ATH) and his new Baofeng UV5
So Nick's info showed up on the FCC site today.  His call is KE0ATH.

Nick is a great, hard working, fun loving teenager - we are very proud of him.

He will be a Junior next year in High School and is spending the summer running his mowing business, playing radio and building a few projects.

This year he also completed the requirements for the rank of Eagle Scout and had his Eagle Court of Honor in May.

It is so much fun to watch your children develop into young adults, especially when they are as solid as Nick is!

Love you son!

Monday, June 2, 2014

10 Meter Sparodic E?

Way back in my Novice days during the late 1980's I used to have a ton of fun working 10 meters SSB during the summer evenings with sporadic E band openings.

With a new TECH in the family, I thought this would be a good way to get him excited about HF and upgrading to General.

I have not even listened to 10 meters in the evenings.

Have there been any of these openings this summer?  I will start looking and let you know when I find them!

Saturday, May 31, 2014


It was an exciting morning in the Jones household!  This morning my 16 year old son, Nick, passed his Technician test!  He is pumped!  

We came home and immediately ordered him a Baofeng UV5A and a better antenna. It will be here Monday and he should be able to transmit on it Tuesday evening if things move along. 

I also passed my Extra so now I can enjoy a bit more bandwidth. 

I just got done working WA5RES, Larry, just one state away in Oklahoma. We had a nice 30 minute rag chew on 40 meters. 

That's the new for today!  So much fun!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Say a Prayer....Testing Tomorrow!

My Son Nick
Big news!  Tomorrow I will be testing for my Extra ticket.....but the bigger news is that my 16 year old son - Nick - will be testing for his Technician!

He has been studying for about 6 weeks off and on - you know how teens are.  We have spent time talking about things that he needed to actually see - instead of just read from a question/answer pool or a book.

Anyway, I am more nervous for him, than I am for myself.  He basically got me motivated to study as well for my Extra, but I want him to pass more than I want to pass!

So say a quick prayer for Nick, that he would remain calm and PASS!

In other news....I worked W1AW/7 WY last night on 40 meters with 5 watts.  He was operating split, so I dug out the KX3 manual to figure out how the dual watch/split operation worked.  It took me about 45 minutes of playing, but one I figured out that I just heard the guy he worked, I snagged him!  That was the only contact last night on 40 - and once again it was about 12:30 am local (0530 UTC).

Thursday, May 29, 2014

New Antenna in the ATTIC!

66' Dipole ready for the attic!
Over the 3 day weekend I finally squeezed in some time to get my 66 foot ladder fed dipole up in the attic.  One leg of the antenna is basically straight, but the other leg had to do a bit of zig-zagging through the trusses - it gets a bit crazy up there!

The ladder line drops down into my garage and then down to the basement where my shack is located.

Last night I built the BL2 1:1 or 4:1 balun from Elecraft.  The ladder line terminates at the balun and a 3' piece of coax goes from the balun to my KX3.

Wrapped this all up last night about midnight - and then started doing some testing.  The internal tuner on the KX3 tunes ALL bands 40-10 meters almost down to 1:1 SWR.  Very nice.

I tuned around 40 meters and only heard a couple stations that time of night.  The noise level last night was between S4 and S5 - not sure if this is the normal noise level or not, but I suspect it is.

I did a bit of testing using the RBN - I called CQ on 40 meters for a few minutes and ended up with spots North, South and East of Kansas - good sign.  Then I switched antennas back to my 9:1 UNUN 30' wire in the attic and did the same thing - so reports.  So good news is that my performance on 40 meters is GREATLY improved.  The reports on my 66' Dipole were from 10-18 DB SNR on the RBN - all with 5 watts out of the KX3.

At 1:00 am local time I heard  K0GPA calling CQ - he was 559 here.  So I threw out my call and he came back to me with a 559 as well.  Turns out he was running a KX3 also - he was at 10 watts, and I was at 5 watts.  The QSB got him a bit, but I think he was using some type of loop - just missed what type.  It was a nice QSO with Bob - and it proved I was getting out!

So now I am looking forward to putting it through the paces a bit more and see just how much my reception will improve with more wire in the air!  I hope to at least have time to look at the waterfall tonight on 20 meters PSK31 to see what it looks like compared to my old antenna.

I will keep you posted!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Being heard, but not hearing...

I have been playing around with PSK31, WSPR and JT65 since I got my 30' long wire with UNUN installed in the attic.

I have noticed something that is bugging me a bit.

It appears that I am being heard much better than I am hearing other stations.

When I call CQ on PSK31 - the PSK REPORTER site shows my signal being heard from coast to coast and beyond.  Most time I get a return call, but many times I can just barely see them on the waterfall.

I have noticed the same thing with WSPR - heard all over the place, but hardly hearing anyone.

So it has me thinking about the antenna.  Could it be that it is a better radiator than it is a receiver?

I am going to be putting a 66' ladder fed dipole up there sometime in the next month - so that might tell me more.

You guys with more experience - what do you think might be going on here?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

My Birthday....KX3 Model

So yesterday I celebrated my 47th birthday.  I had a great time eating a nice dinner with my Wife and children.  Perfect night!

My 14 year old son, Ryan, has discovered a graphics program called Blender - he is teaching himself how to use it and has really done some cool stuff.

Well, for my birthday present he made a graphic of my Elecraft KX3!  He apparently had been making clandestine trips to my newly implement shack to see what the rig looked like and then model it up in Blender.

Here is how it turned out....very cool....I just had to share it with you guys.

What a great birthday present from him - I am gong to make it into my wallpaper on my shack computer.

Thanks Ryan - you did a great job!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 Wake Island

Since I put the 30' EF long wire in the attic I have been playing around with digital modes - PSK31 & WSPR.

I fired up WSPR on 20 meters remotely this morning using Team Viewer and much to my surprise I was heard by WA2YUN on Wake Island.

Pretty cool to for my 3 watts to be heard on a location with such historical significance!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Finally! On the air from home QTH...

Several months ago I built an UNUN, like the one I use for my portable ops antenna, but this one was going in my attic.

I finally had time this weekend to get this thing installed in my attic.  I cut a piece of wire 30' long for the radiator.  My shack is in the basement, and one wall is the garage wall.  So I drilled a hole at the bottom of the garage wall, and in the ceiling of the garage.

I then ran my coax from the basement up into the attic - very easy.

Then came the fun part, walking on roof trusses to get the wire installed.  Pretty easy, and luckily it is still cool outside.

Once installed I went down to the shack and hooked up the KX3 to the antenna.  It tuned up nicely on 40 thru 10 meters with the internal tuner.  So I put a quick CQ on 20 meters and was spotted coast to coast on the RBN - success!

About 11:30 pm on Sunday night I had time to get down to the shack again and see what was going on.

As soon as I turned the radio on I heard W1AW/5 (NM) calling CQ with no takers.  So I threw my call out and he came right back with one repeat on my call.  We exchanged 599 and it was fun.

I then spent about another hour messing around with FLDIGI and WSPR - with no success.  More to report on this later....these modes are all new to me, so there is a pretty big learning curve.

So now I can actually have some ham radio fun from home!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Norway, Bulgaria and Philly - QRP!

Had a brief time to head to the park at lunch today - and once again had a blast!

Here is the low down....

LA5UF - Joe was calling CQ on 21.040.  It took him a bit to dig me out and get my call right.  He gave me a 449 and he was a solid 559 here in Kansas.  Joe hails from Norway.

LZ2HR - I heard him calling CQ on 28.0299 with no takers.  I threw my call out and he came right back to me.  He gave me a 589 and he was a solid 599 here.  Fun!

I called CQ for some time on 10 meters, and even though I was spotted all over on the RBN - no dice.

Then I heard....

K3DY calling CQ on 21.0469.  We had a nice QSO with more than just a contest exchange.  The band was a bit up and down, but solid copy both ways.  Tony said he was reading my page as we talked.  Thanks for the nice QSO Tony!  Tony is outside Philadelphia, PA.

Any lunch time with a little CW is always fun!

I hope to get a version of my Portable QRP Antenna installed in the attic this weekend.  We will see how that goes.  I would really like to get a station setup at home, and eventually try some of the digital modes.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

From Russia with Love...

Its been to many months since my last lunch time QRP session!  Finally had a warm day with no work activities over lunch so I headed out to my favorite park and had a blast!!

As soon as I turned the KX3 on I heard...

KC2EE calling CQ on 14.060 - we exchanged 559 reports - he was in Houston, TX. Working Sid brought back the great feeling of sending some CW - although I was rusty!

Then I went on to work...

NA6MG was spotted on SOTA GOAT, so I tuned to 18.090 and there he was coming in at 599.  Dan was on W6/CT-231.

OH4MDY was calling CQ on 18.075 and was a solid 599 here.  I had to call a couple times, but finally made it.  Retu was in Finland!

Next up was my best DX yet!

R7LA - Vasily was calling CQ on 24.893 with no takers.  He really had to work to pull my callsign out, but then it seemed to get better.  He copied my well after getting my call, so the conditions must have improved.  He gave me a 559 and he was 599 here.  He must have pulled up my QRZ page while on air because he told me that my QRP signal was FB!  What a hoot!  Thanks Vasily for pulling my 5 watts out of the mud, you made my day!

Not that spring is here, I will be operating much more at lunch time.  I am still working on getting my home station set up.  Antenna is ready, I just need to get it in the attic!  I really want to start working some digital modes from home.  I think they might work best because of the loud interference I experience there.  We will see.