Saturday, March 30, 2019

              Well spring has certainly sprung.  Not a lot of QSO’s are going on.  I’m just not finding the time.   However, I’ve been wanting to operate during lunch.  As luck would have it my good friend Mike NR9R called me on Thursday and wanted to know what I was doing for lunch.  I let him know my thoughts but that I forgot my radio and antenna at home.  No problem!  Mike had his, so I swung by Subway to split a sandwich and met Mike at the park.  In no time we had the hamstick with ground mount and radials set up and we were enjoying food and a QSO!

We answered a CQ and Stan N1ZX responded with a RST of 319.  He was booming into Indianapolis, IN from Florida.  He congratulated us for the QSO in the park so he was copying enough to know what we were up to and wanted to know how much power we were running.  He was also impressed with my SKCC number because it’s below 1000.  Way too soon it was time to pack it up and get back to work.   That work thing really kills the better part of a day. 
              Yesterday I was driving to work and a new ham hopped on the local repeater looking for me.  It’s my regular watering hole on the commute so if your looking or me you will find me on the W9IRA 146.700 repeater.  Anyway, this guy let me know he was looking at the QCX single band radio from QRP Labs.  I don’t think I know anyone who has one so I don’t have good advice.  However, he is technician class license and on a budget.  He is looking for advice to get on HF and thinks CW might be the best way to go.  This is perfect.  This really interests me!  I have often thought if technician licensees had the privileges that they do when I got licensed maybe I would have just stayed there and enjoyed CW on HF and 2 meter.  Anyway, I think this is one reason QRP is so attractive.  It’s inexpensive and very effective.  The barrier to entry is learning code.  I invited him to our QRP Firefly get together this Wednesday night to get collective thoughts.  If you have any thoughts about please comment and I will pass your advice along. 
              Today we have rain and it’s cooling off again.  The temperature has dropped to 40 degrees and will continue to drop until we have the possibility of snow flurries.  That’s spring! 

Sunday, March 10, 2019


OK, well it has been almost a year since I last posted on the blog.  There are many reasons.  One is that I moved to Plainfield, IN in May.  That took a lot of time of course to not only physically move but also just settle in.  It has been very nice though and I am enjoying it here very much.  The bands have also been terrible lately.  Oh, a QSO can be made and I have been making them with my Elecraft K2, but much harder for 1.5 watts.  Well, my good friend Brian KB9BVN just purchased a new radio available at 4 states QRP Club called a hilltopper 20.  It is designed off the SW+ series radios and that should put me over the edge to buy one myself.  However, a couple years ago I bought a MFJ Cub for 20 meters and have never really taken advantage of it as much as I thought I would.  So, I wanted to work with that and see if I could make a QSO before Brian.  My QSO came today by taking advantage of the ID QSO party.  I got two.  K7PI a club station and KA7T.  My regular antenna right now is a off center fed dipole for 80 meters.  I just don’t think it is efficient enough for 1.5 watts output, so I set up my hamstick on a mount with radials I made.  No tuner needed and a takeoff angle that will get me a better distance.  I heard AK and sure tried but to no avail.  As a side note there seems to be interest in the ground mount I make for hamsticks.  I made these several years ago and have been able to use them backpacking and just about anywhere you can shove a rod into the ground and spread out some radials.  It seems to work very well and my friend Mike NR9R received one.  He has also had great luck with it and uses it at lunch time in parks.  I think I will look into getting a freq-mite for the cub and see if I can track my frequency when I am on the air with it.

So…. The MFJ Cub works!  Another reason I am really interested in using the “Cub” is because there is another “Cub” on the way.  It is the new 2019 Honda Super Cub!  This is a new design of the classic Honda Cub introduced in America in the 1950’s with a 125cc engine. 

This little motorcycle wasn’t easy to reserve.  It is a limited release right now so I reserved mine in October and expected it at the end of January.  Like most new things I guess it is delayed.  So here we are getting toward the middle of March and I’m still waiting.  But hopefully before real riding weather gets here I will have the “Cub” in the garage and a "Cub" in the bag ready for QRP adventures together!  I will blog more than once a year.  So Please look for another update from time to time.

72, Ivin

Friday, March 23, 2018

We made it!  It is spring!!  This is the beginning of a new Zulu day.  Friday.  This weekend is supposed to be full of snow and cold weather.  The ground hog was right for a change.  I used to go backpacking every first weekend of spring.  This weekend it seems I will just be looking out the window yet again and looking for a friendly QSO if possible.
On a brighter note, I opened the mail box today and found the reply QSL card I was hoping for from Australia!  That is my first Australian card and puts another QRP DX entity on   the map.  This QSO was on 30 meters using my Elecraft K2 at 5 watts.  It is a great card with such encouraging words on the back.  
Because of spring I am itching to operate outdoors again.  With that comes the thought of UIKEYINPUTDOWNARROWwhat is the best backpack radio?  There is a lot of things to consider when thinking of the radio that might be right for your situation.  When hauling a radio for a day or multiple days weight radio size and battery life creep up on the list.  My friends Gary NE1PP and Mike KQ9RP joined me last weekend and we measured the amperage use of my QRP radios just in receive mode.  The SW+40 made the top of the power sipping list at 30ma.  Next was my MFJ cub at 40ma and the MFJ 9040 measuring at 70ma.  The Elecraft K2 in battery mode consumes 190ma while receiving.  This was a lot of fun and helped confirm just how nice the single band CW radios are for the trail.  I know the mountain topper or Elecraft KX1 are right in line with the cub and SW+ and are even smaller but for now I plan to keep using what I have.  
Tonight I turned on the SW+ and tuned around.  The daily QSO came from Trenton, TX Joe K3PR.  Joe was calling CQ and I wanted to answer but another station started calling on top of him.  I wanted to reward Joe’s effort however so I called specifically for him and BINGO!  Joe answered me.  He surprised me by telling me he was QRP with his FT817.  It is always exciting to hear another QRPer.  We chatted a few rounds but the QRM was getting stronger and I think the band was also lessening toward our favor.  I lost Joe before giving him a proper good buy but I sure appreciate the QSO from TX with the SW+.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

I have not been blogging lately or writing much at all.  I’m sure we all get distracted by other things that catch our interest and also loose track of time.  I have been on the air plenty but just haven’t written about it.  One real reason is because the Bluetooth keyboard broke that I use with my iPad.  That is my main creating tool.  I have a laptop, but I only use it for contesting.  Typing on the iPad screen is not very accurate and has not got the feel a of a real keyboard.  Though not ham related, I am excited about my recent keyboard replacement.  I went for a Apple magic keyboard.  This keyboard is nice because it is full size.  My last one had smaller keys and was universal for android or apple.  It worked for a couple years and I got very used to throwing in my backpack with the iPad and taking it wherever I went, but now it won’t connect to any of my apple products.  Maybe it is due to updates to Apple’s software.  I’m not sure but I figure an Apple keyboard should work more years and pair up with any new iPads I might get in the future.  So with that I hope to record my ham radio activities more often and maybe write more in general.

Yesterday I had the pleasure to make a QSO with Sue N3SC in Venice FL.  Venice is not rare DX like .... well... Venice Italy, but I’ll take it in these band conditions.

I was using 5 watts as seems normal these days with me.  The 1.5 watt SW+ is more frustrating lately. My local CW friends were discussing with me that they have found 40 meters to be very quiet this week in particular.  I have noticed this as well.  The few QSO’s I made during the week were very short and not easy to find.  I don’t usually follow band conditions.  My friend Brian KB9BVN always tells me someone somewhere can hear you.  That keeps me calling CQ longer and does seem to result in a QSO even if not a long distance away it is always a friendly person using CW.

Last night I was using my MFJ 9040.  I really enjoy this radio for it’s minimalist aspects.  It is a lot like the SW+ but it also has AGC and mine has the internal keyer and 500hz filter.  Both I installed and was worth the investment.  I called CQ and quickly Sue replied.  She was using her Icom 718 and an old straight key.  What was extra special was that Sue let me know I am the first QSO she has had in a long time.  She didn’t mention how long, but it sure felt great to welcome someone back on the air.  I hope she enjoyed the 20 minute QSO and continues to find enjoyment in the fellowship of other CW operators.  

Venice, FL is a nice place.  As Sue said the temperature is always nice there.  It is called the “City on the Gulf”.  Located in south western FL.  Venice Island is located there which is accessed by bridges over artificially created intracoastal waterway.  It has an offshore coral freer and Caspersen Beach along with Multi-use trails.  It would be a fun vacation spot and popular with retirees escaping the cold of winter.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Add another town to QRP scooter adventures.  I took a day off from work to enjoy the great weather riding around the area.  I went to a friend’s house in the morning in Martinsville, IN.  We changed the oil and gear grease because I have hit 500 miles on the scooter.  Then we had lunch down town Martinsville.  That was a fun little ride.  Soon it was back home.  I filled the 1 gallon tank and then took off to a new location for me.  Danville, IN.  They have a very nice park.   
Mike W9ODX met me there.  

It was very crowded with football practice going on in the park and others had the same idea about spending time outdoors.  Mike knew of a nice little park in Cartersburg which is just south of  Danville a little ways.  We used Mike's MCHF radio and his hamstick with a elevated radial.  I didn’t have much hope with this low to the ground set up, but I answered WZ2J with Mike’s radio keyer speed set to 28wpm.  BINGO!  Vin WZ2J answered me and we had a very nice qso.  I din’t get a great signal report but it was enough with Vin’s IC-7600.  Vin is from Old Bridge, NJ.  He says he is a QRQ (high speed telegraphy).  We were moving right along and it was a joy to operate at a higher speed.  Many QSO’s I have hover around the 20wpm or slower.  QRP does not mean slow and operating at a speed that  makes me process more is a lot of fun.  Normally the faster the CW the weaker the signal sounds so Vin, thanks for really pulling me out at a quick speed.  Hats off to your skill and radio’s ability.  

I finally stopped torturing Vin and said Good evening to him.  Then Mike and I tuned low into the band.  There was a fantastic strong station at the bottom of 40 meters.  Mike’s MCHF radio is interesting because it has a built in live pan adaptor built in.  I could really get used to that feature.  You can see signals and noise while tuning around.  This signal at the bottom was super wide and strong!  We had to listen.  This operator was using all home brew equipment at a kilowatt.  He had a wonderful tone and very easy copy.  He was ragchewing to another stateside station with his beam pointing straight at the other station.  Hey, way more power than needed for the QSO but it sure is enjoyable to hear homebrew stations and we are all share the bands together.  It is fun to just tune around and listen to others enjoying time in conversation.

That was it.  It was getting dark and the park should be closed so we packed up and went south to a local McDonalds.  We enjoyed a drink and a little to eat and then it was time to ride home in the dark.  My first trip in the dark.  What a strange experience. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Yesterday’s Zulu time was Labor Day.  It is a day set aside to celebrate the contributions of workers in the United States and honors the American labor movement.  It was begun by the trade union.  I want to thank those that contribute and serve others in this country through daily work.  It goes un-noticed by most everyone that every day individuals spend more of their day with co-workers and at a work place to serve the needs of others than they do with their family and friends.  I go to work Monday through Friday but I want to remember that others also serve me and I am grateful.  Please take a moment and tell that person serving you a sincere thank you.  It might be the person at the drive thru window of a fast food restaurant or the cashier at your grocery store.  Your kids teacher or say a prayer for the anonymous person that packed your last Amazon purchase.  Remember we are all people working together to improve our lives. 
I have a new adventure to combine with QRP radio!  A couple of close friends of mine have small 49cc scooters.  Well I finally rode one and WOW was that fun!  So…. Yes I bought one and this was my first full weekend to ride.  I also got a 49cc scooter.  Why???  Well I want to ride with my friends and not ride past them.   What goes better with QRP that a QRP style scooter.  Riding with less.  Just like with QRP power radio it is amazing what I am discovering with my new QRP scooter.  I am getting VERY good mileage.  Close to 100 miles to the gallon.  In the state of Indiana this size scooter and smaller only requires it to be plated as a scooter.  It is very inexpensive and does not require a motorcycle endorsement on my driver’s license and it does not need to be insured as a vehicle.  I probably rode about 200 miles over the three days I have had it.  I want to learn how practical this transportation is and I will be taking along my Elecraft K2 for the ride… or maybe the SW+.
Over the holiday weekend I went to Nashville, IN which is the center of craft crap U.S.A.  They have tons of craft shops that sell many things.  It was CROWDED.  My friend Dan (who did everything to get my scooter up and running) and I got some food and headed out of town back through the Morgan Monroe State Forest and then to Martinsville where Dan lives.  From there I rode home.  (My first solo trip). I am using non-ethanol gasoline and found a place near me that sells it.  It is not easy to find.  I have had many people look my new bike over and asking me questions about what exactly is it that I am driving.  
My last day I met with my other scooter friend, Gary and met Mike at Cataract Falls State Park.  Mike went there last last week to see how it might work for an outing and it was great for him.  Today was rather crowded. However, we did find a place to set up and get on the  air.  We ended up using Mike’s new radio the MCHF.  It worked out very nicely and we made a QSO to Santa Fe, NM on 20 meters.  Mike’s radio worked great hooked to my Buddistick antenna.  
All too soon it was time to head back home.  Mike hauled my radio for me and followed Gary and I.  I made a stop at the gas station and barely squeezed $2.00 of gas into my scooter.  Meanwhile a local ham saw Gary’s antenna on his scooter and had to walk up and say hello.   It is amazing how many people are willing to walk right up to us and talk.  When using my car no one talks to  me.  

I better post this one and move along.  I will talk more about how outings go for me when I go out.  Who knows where I might operate next.  72/72 for now.  

Thursday, August 24, 2017

I was looking for a new county tonight calling CQ on 40 meters.  The answer to my call came from VA3YG.  Not a new county but a QSO is a QSO and beggars can’t be choosers in these band conditions.  What a pleasant QSO!  Brent lives on the shore of Lake Huron in South Ampton, ON.  Brent promotes the use of simple QRP radios.  I second that!  I enjoy my Elecraft K2 very much, but as I have mentioned I also have a great time with my single band radios.  Tonight Brent was running 300 watts with a new vertical antenna.  Maybe conditions are making many of us turn to QRO power.  

Southampton is a small town and Bruce says his family has lived there for over 80 years.  It has a post office and road signs It’s primary employment is agriculture.  It sounds a lot like where I live in Eminence, except we don’t have a huge lake or light house.