Category Archives: Activity Report

K8EV: Great Session

I had a GREAT session at WA2HOM this afternoon:  As I was setting up the radio, two 9-year old girls looked over the corral wall to ask me what I was doing.  I told them I was going to talk on a shortwave radio and would they like to join me.  They came down and I phoned my friend Denis WA5TYJ in New Mexico to give me call me on 20 meters.

Conditions were really good and the girls and Denis chatted for around 40 minutes about Anasazi pueblo ruins, giant lava-tubes, Indian re-settlement policies in the 19 century, whether Denis spoke Spanish to his neighbors in San Raphael, and did Denis know he looked like a Southwest sheriff.  I had posted Denis’ QRZ entry for the girls to see during the QSO–this is what prompted the comment about his mustachio!  The girls giggled their questions to Denis and their mother observed the proceedings smiling the whole time; Denis said he really enjoyed talking to our young museum goers–all in all, a perfect WA2HOM moment!

The next group was a father and his two kids visiting from Namibia…

Adding Countries to the Log

I’m usually not one to work the big contests, but there are some advantages to participating, even if you don’t have a lot of time or plan to submit a log. One of the advantages is that there are a lot of countries on, and you can add to total of countries that  you’ve worked.
This weekend was the CQ WPX  CW contest. I only operated for about three hours, the bands were kind of lousy on Saturday, and I only worked 15 meters, but even so, I managed to add eight countries to the WA2HOM log. They include:
• HK1R – Colombia
• SZ1A – Greece
• 6W/RK4FF – Senegal
• HQ9R – Honduras
• EF8M – Canary Islands
• J7A – Dominica
• J39BS – Grenada
• HC2SL – Ecuador
It’s nothing real exotic, but new ones nonetheless.

All I Can Say is WOW!

To break in the new beam yesterday, down at the museum, we participated in a couple of contests: the CQ Manchester Mineira DX Contest (MM) and the Michigan QSO Party (MIQP).  All I can say is, “WOW!!”

I got there just before 11 am. Jim, K8ELR, was already there making out QSL cards. Since the MIQP didn’t start until noon, I thought I’d tune around and see what bands were open. I first tried 15m CW. That’s how I discovered the MM DX contest. The band was very open to Europe, especially with the new beam. In short order, I worked a dozen or more Europeans and Caribbean stations.

What a difference the beam makes! With the 20m inverted vee, nearly every QSO was a challenge, but with the beam, I worked every station I called, usually on the first try. This was so amazing that I was actually getting a little giddy.

About 11:45 am, I decided that I better get set up for the MIQP. I had brought my WinKeyer (since the Omni VII doesn’t have a memory keyer!), and wanted to hook it up to the N1MM program. I had done this quite easily at home, but I could not, unfortunately, get it to work on the computer down at the museum. The computer seemed to be talking to the keyer, but the function keys didn’t work. (If anyone has any ideas on what I’m doing wrong, I’d be happy to hear them.)

A little after noon, I decided to give up on this, and just program the keyer itself and operate stand-alone. About 12:10, we were working the MIQP on 20m using the callsign W8CWN, the callsign of H. Richard Crane, a distinguished professor of physics at the University of Michigan and one of the founders of the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum.

Again, the performance of the beam was just spectacular, at least compared to our 20m inverted vee. We pointed the beam west and easily worked stations on the West Coast. We pointed the beam east and got calls from Europeans and the East Coast.

Using the beam, our noise level seemed to be lower, too, although not as low as I would like it. We’re going to have to work on that some more.

We worked a lot of 40m, too, using our 40m inverted vee. That antenna has always worked pretty well for us, and the band was in good shape yesterday afternoon. There was a lot of short skip on 40m, allowing us work quite a few Michigan counties.

Overall, we made 195 contacts in nearly five hours. That’s certainly not championship form, but it’s a lot better than we’ve done in the past, and we really had a blast, both operating the contest and explaining what we were doing to the museum visitors. It’s just too bad that the museum closed at 5pm and we had to stop.

Three Kids Wrangled on Saturday

Ovide, K8EV, our “kid wrangler,” did his thing yesterday and we were able to get three kids on the air. Seven-year-old Jack was our first kid communicator; he spoke to K9IRO. Peter was our second, and Brian our third.  A good time was had by all.

We were very fortunate in that band conditions on 40m were very good. All three stations we talked to were 57 – 59, and no one had to strain to hear one another.

Tower Update
We’re making progress slowly, but surely on the tower project. Over the course of last week, I mounted all the lightning arrestors to the mounting plate that goes in the NEMA box. On Friday, Jack, Dave, and I lowered the tower and mounted the rotor plate and rotor. We mounted the thrust bearing, too, but after inspection, John decided that it needed some kind of cap to prevent water from pooling in it.

Activity Report: 10/9/10

Football Saturdays are always very slow down at the museum—at least as far as the number of visitors is concerned—but I still go down there anyway. As far as operating the station was concerned, it was a lot of fun.

First of all, I managed to work several special event stations:

  • W0CGM at the Milwaukee Road Railroad, Newport, MN. This station was operating from the restored 104-year-old Milwaukee Railroad Dispatch Tower.
  • N4J at the Archaeology Open House at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest, Forest, VA. This station was operating from Jefferson’s retreat home and farm in Bedford County, VA. The archaeologists there are working to uncover evidence of life and work on the plantation 200 years ago.

Right after I broke with N4J, he got a call from W4JAM. I listened intently, with the idea that I’d get a chance to have a contact with him. As soon as they ended their short QSO, I yelled out, “CONTACT!” Fortunately, N4J broke for me, and John, W4JAM was still listening.

We had a very nice chat, and as it turns out, his wife has the callsign W0MAN! So, he’s going to send me both cards. I got two for the price of one! Both John and his wife, as it turns out, are both Honor Roll DXers.

I tried to work a couple more special event stations, but I wasn’t able to copy any more of those listed on the ARRL website. There were two that I really wanted to work, too: the Blackeye Pea Festival at the East Texas Arboretum and Botanical Society and the Nowhere, KS Special Event. Maybe next year.

Saturday and Sunday at the Museum 10/2,3/2010

Hi everyone. 20 and 15meters were really jumping this weekend. The California QSO party was going this weekend and I made 10 ssb CA contacts on 20meters Saturday. I was very surprised to hear so much activity on 15 meters. So I made another 10 ssb CA contacts on Sunday.

Also on Saturday and Sunday I made a few contacts using psk31, psk63. Man that was a blast.

Come down to the station and join us. I can be contacted at my call (K8ELR) at arrl dot net.

73!!!!!

Jim K8ELR

Digital modes at the museum.

We have had great success running digital modes with the SignaLink hooked up to the Ten Tech Omni VII.

We have made Feld Hell, SSTV, RTTY, PSK and Olivia contacts. We use HRD/DM780 and it works well.  Although we use DM780 and I have no complaints I would like to try other software. ROS sounds cool too but is not legal in the USA due to it using spread spectrum.

Unfortunately the tower and beam are not up yet. It was going to be installed in May and here it is July and we are still waiting. So we are still using our inverted V dipoles at about 30 feet. 

If you are in the area or just want to visit email me Jim k8elr or Dan kb6nu and we would be glad to give you a demo and let you operate the station.

Later and 73!

Jim K8ELR

This Weekend on the Air at WA2HOM

This Saturday, we operated the MI QSO Party—I operated on Saturday down at the Hands-On Museum. To avoid any confusion, we used the W8CWN callsign.

I got to the museum around 10 am, and the contest didn’t start until noon, so I fiddled around a bit, trying to figure out how the bands were. I made three contacts on 40m and a couple of contacts on 20m, so it looked like band conditions were going to cooperate.

When noon hit, I was off and running. Switching back and forth between 40m and 20m, I made a total of 90 contacts in the next two hours, including three DX contacts. Not stellar, but not bad, either.

Having my WinKeyer certainly helped. As I’ve mentioned, the Omni VII doesn’t have a built-in memory keyer, meaning that in previous contests, I had to bang out the CQs myself. The WinKeyer improved the process immensely.

On Sunday, Jim, K8ELR, opened the station up around 12:30. I joined him about 2:15.

Unfortunately, the band conditions weren’t so good on Sunday. We managed to eke out only one CW contact on Sunday.

Coming Up
Next Saturday, April 24, we’ll be conducting another One-Day Tech Class. There’s still room, so if you know someone that would like to attend, have them e-mail me at cwgeek@kb6nu.com.

Operating Notes – 4/10/10

Yesterday, it was just me down at the museum. I made a couple of great contacts, though.

The first was with Fred, KI4XH. Fred was operating his Collins S-Line gear, and keying it with a bug. About halfway through the QSO, he switched over to a VibroKeyer single-lever paddle, keying a Hallicrafters HA-1 keyer.

The HA-1, or T.O. Keyer, was a commercialization of the vaccum-tube keyer designed by W9TO. in the 1950s. It occurred to me that maybe building one of these things is something that I could do with al the tubes that I have. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find the schematic on the Net.
There is an an article in the May 1959 issue of QST by W9TO, but this is for the first transistor keyer. If any of you have a schematic and can scan it for me, or can point me to where I can find it, I would appreciate it.

Titanic Duo
After making a couple of CW contacts, I thought I’d try making a phone contact. Tuning to 7220 kHz, I found our favorite frequency occupied by W0S, a special event station commemorating the sinking of the Titanic. W0S was operating from the Titanic Museum in Branson, MO. According to their website, “This event will commemorate the heroic efforts of Harold McBride and John ‘Jack’ Phillips as they sat at the Marconi radio in the Titanic sending the first ever SOS.” They’ll be on the air until 2200 UTC Sunday, April 11.

My last QSO was with W1T, a station that was also commemorating the sinking of the Titanic. I made the contact on 14.050 MHz. W1T was operating from somewhere in Maine. At first, I thought that perhaps this was a CW operation from W0S, but it was a completely separate operation. I was unable to find any information on the Net about this station.

What I did find, however, was a third special event station commemorating the Titanic. This is an operation of the Titanic Historical Society, which is located in the Springfield, MA area. If I’d known about this, I bet that I could have worked them. Maybe next year.