Adventures with 1.5 watts

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tonight is the SKS - Straight Key Century Club Sprint-.  I fell into it not knowing why so many stations were on making QSO's.  I had to look it up to see what the exchange was.  I made a couple QSO's. AJ4SB/Rob in TN & WA4GQG/Kevin in NC. The SKCC group has become a huge success.  

My RF travels took me to Wheaton, MN.  I met Ray/NO0V there.  The conditions on the band were poor so the QSO didn't last long.  Wheaton is supported mostly by agriculture.  This geographic location is found where Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota meet.  At Wheaton you can experience the Red River Valley, Continental Divide, and Lake Agassiz.  Wheaton would be a nice place to spend the morning at the Country Corner Cafe and enjoy breakfast at this unique geographical area.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Zulu day has just begun but I got a QSO in early.  I got to discover "The Villages", FL.  I talked to Bob/K3ZGA.  This is the first time I have heard of The Villages.  It is a retirement community that is golf cart accessible.  This community began by Harold Schwartz and tracts were sold via mail order in the 1960's.  It seems golf is a primary focus for recreational activity at The Village.  It looks like a nice place to visit, but as of this writing unless I lived with an older person, not a place I could live in.  Bob was using a IC-7300.  I have heard many operators using IC-7300 radios lately.  They seem to be very solid performers and well liked by their owners.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Weaverville, NC is where I landed today.  I talked to Rick/KC4NN.  He was using his FT-DX3000 radio and sounded fine.  Unfortunately the QSO didn't last a long time due to band conditions.  However, I was sitting outside under the tree.  The sun is shining and the temperature is 70 degrees.  It sure turned out to be a wonderful day to enjoy a Sunday afternoon.  Weaverville is a small town but is the home of the A-B Emblem company which is one of the world's largest producers of embroidered patches.  It would be super cool to pick up a patch right from the factory.  They have some nice bed and breakfasts to stay the night and to be entertained you can get some fantastic pizza at the Blue Mountain Pizza.  They are recognized as one of the top 10 pizza places in Western NC.  It is family friendly.  They have good beer and live music nightly.  It doesn't sound like a bad place to spend a night or two.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Today 1.5 watts from the SW+ got me to Wellfleet, MA.  I worked KM1CC the Marconi Cape Cod Radio Club celebrating International Marconi Day.  Guglielmo Marconi built the first transatlantic radio transmitter station on the coast of Wellfleet in 1901.  The first transmission from America to England was sent January 18, 1903.  A wonderful book I read that follows Marconi's advancement in wireless communication is "Thunderstruck" by Erik Larson.  Another thing Wellfleet is known for is it's oyster fest!  Add another interesting place I would like to go someday and experience for myself.
Well it finally happened.  I didn't make a QSO today.  That ends the over 2 month streak of making a QSO every day with the SW+.  What happened???  Well, life happened.  At 0000z the Zulu day started off and I was gone from the house.  I went to a ham radio testing session where people were taking tests to get or upgrade their amateur radio license.  Then I met Mike/W9ODX and Gary/KA9ZYL at McDonalds.  Mike needed a paddle for the 9040 radio.  I didn't get home until late but it was well worth spending time with friends. Making local friends is really one of the best parts of the hobby.  I have friends in which our paths would never have crossed had it not been for the mutual interest in amateur radio communications.  When I got home there was hardly anyone on 40 meters and making a QSO wasn't good timing.  

On this day, my sister is visiting from Alabama.  This was a planned visit and I don't get to see her and her family all that often so early she text me letting me know they were at their motel and ready to start our day.  I wanted to have breakfast with them, so I practiced a little cello which is how I like to start every day and then got ready and left.  We had a great time!  We went out to Flapjacks for breakfast, and then our mom met us and we all went to the Indianapolis Children's museum.  That is the largest children's museum in the world.  We had a lot of fun!  We had supper afterward and relaxed together back at their motel.  By the time I left it was past 0000z and I was not home to catch a QSO.  Maybe I should have worked harder when I got home from McDonald's that evening.  Maybe I could have made a QSO instead of practicing the cello when I woke up.  Maybe I should just celebrate a great run of QSO's a day and move on.....  I have learned that daily QSO's with 1.5 watts IS possible.  It takes some time and you have to be very flexible to do it.  Not all QSO's are ragchew quality at 1.5 watts, so in that regard it isn't for everyone's taste.  Anyway, I will keep making QSO's, working for WAS with the SW+, and blogging.  But who knows, maybe I'll use a different radio for awhile or try things a little different.  Variety is the spice of life.
Today the SW+ QSO came quickly.  I got to talk with K3MD/John in Winfield, PA.  John is a avid contester.  He just got a new IC-7300 in November and that was the radio he was using.  The QSO was clipping along nicely.  I enjoy a faster CW speed QSO.  When I'm at just 1.5 watts most of the time I have to send slower to be heard.  That is because the receiving station is trying to listen to me though atmospheric noise and maybe manmade noise.  I learned this especially when working with CW traffic nets.  If a station is having trouble copying you can get the message passed if you slow down a little.  It is more efficient and far less confusing for the receiving station then sending fast and trying to fill in the missing information.   However, a nice faster pace is fun and John was receiving well.  Winfield, PA is in the center of the state.  It looks like the best thing to do in Winfield as a guest is to stay at the Little Mexico campground next to Winfield creek.  It gets great reviews! About 900 people live in Winfield and a nice little place to stop.  

Today I also went outside and operated with my Elecraft KX1.  It was windy and became a rainy stormy afternoon with hail.  I made one QSO out there on 20 meters and really enjoyed using a different radio after focusing on just the SW+ for over 2 months.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

What a Zulu day!  First I found it amazing that after yesterday's QSO in the final hour at 0141z I heard K0RKH calling and found myself in a very nice QSO in LeClaire, IA.  We talked for 45 minutes.  That was a complete opposite from just an hour earlier when I couldn't get a QSO at all.  Bob was using a Ten Tec Omni VI plus.  He was 599 and he gave me a report of 579.  He couldn't believe how good my QRP signal was.  We talked about the weather, radios, telegraph keys, and where we work. It was a very fun chat. 
LeClaire, IA is a very interesting place.  Bob told me it is in the Mississippi Valley.  There are many things to do there.  You can take a riverboat twilight tour, visit the Mississippi River Distilling company, and tour the Buffalo Bill Museum.  LeClaire is also the home site of the television show "American Picker's". Lastly in early August they have "Tugfest"!  They streak has a rope across the Mississippi River from LeClaire to Port Byron, IL.  Then teams of 20 men and a event of 25 women than tug agains each other.  The team that pulls the most rope wins.  It is followed up with fireworks, live bands, and great food on both sides of the river.  Sign me up for another great road trip!!!

In the early afternoon I had a visitor at the house.  It was W9ODX/Mike.    Mike is working hard at learning CW and has a big interest in QRP.  So we took a look at some of my QRP radios.  This SW+, Elecraft K2, Elecraft KX1, and the MFJ 9040.  We set some up outside  in the back yard.  Mike wanted to see a QSO made with the 9040 and so I did that.  Then came for Mike's turn.  Mike called CQ several times and then a slow station came back.  It was a magic moment.  I remember my first QSO.  The amazement that someone heard you sending.   At first the confidence of calling CQ sets in and then the "OH CRAP" moments hits when you realize you have to copy someone answering you.  It is FANTASTIC!  Mike did a very nice job!!!  We had some things written down as a script.  I used something I made up when I started getting on the air.  It really helps to follow something like that when learning.  Mike got through the QSO successfully and we were both very excited.  I sent him home with the 9040 and I think we have a new CW QRP operator in Indiana.  Congratulations Mike!!!!