W9ILF

Adventures with 1.5 watts

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

09/14/2017z
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

09/05/2017
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


08/25/2017 
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. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

08/20/2017
I got my QRP QSO today at 0100z just as the Zulu day started.  I have been using my Elecraft K2 radio most of the time.  The SW+ at 1.5 watts just seems like torture for those copying me.  I’m looking for conversation more than just the state or county.  I haven’t given up on it though.  I will keep working on WAS with that radio but at the bottom of the sun spot cycle just a little more seems like what is on everyone’s minds.  I read another QRPer’s blog last night and he bought a 100 watt amp for his QRP radio due to the dismal conditions.  I’m not that far gone…..  He wrote that this was his first sunspot low using QRP.  I am a seasoned veteran. I have been using QRP since 2005 and have been through a sunspot minimum before.  This is the time I am finding nice state side QSO’s and mostly stick to 40 meters.  It is best to enjoy what we can get.  I am back working on county hunting.  It’s great for what we have in band conditions.  If you have never county hunted before I highly recommend it.  Some states have tons of counties while others may have only a few.  Either way I have not yet worked any state’s entire counties.  Some are as rare as hen’s teeth!
The QSO came from Salem, NH.  Carmen K1LKP.  Carmen served on a submarine in our U.S. Navy.  He also serves the Lord (as in Christianity), keeps fantastic records, and is a proud ham!  Salem is in Rockingham Co.  That is not a new county for me unfortunately.  Carmen told me our only two QSO’s before this was in 2006.  He even had my age logged at that time.  Ha ha… I said at that time I must have been using my TS-520 radio.  He corrected me and said no, it was the IC-703.  WOW!  I don’t have that radio any more but I sure loved it.  It is Icom’s full featured QRP radio.  I got into contesting with that radio and took it hiking in the woods.  I also flew kites with magnet wire hooked to it.  I didn’t know static would build on the wire which burned up my finals not once, but twice.  The Icom service center told me to stop doing that.  Ha ha…  I sold it to help fund my Elecraft K2 when that opportunity came along.  Of course I still have the Elecraft and it serves as my main radio.  He sure brought back memories of when I got into CW.  At the end of the QSO Carmen wished me God’s blessings and to my loved ones.  I did the same.  If you have not been listening to CW QSO’s much it is very common to say “God Bless” at the end of a QSO.  I found that pleasant but strange at first, however, I have come to find many CW ops will say this and I do it as well.  

So to end this blog post I want to say God Bless to all of you and Dit Dit.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

08/19/2017z 
I haven’t been on the air a lot lately but I’m catching up.  There has been little hiking or bicycling much this summer.  It’s funny that I can’t really tell you what I have been doing.  I guess working and doing other activities.  I play the cello and I set time aside each day to practice.  Days just go by I guess.  Within the hobby of ham radio I have been spending time with a new ham and friend Mike W9ODX.  Mike received a 1969 Vibrokeyer key from a nice fellow radio enthusiast.  It needed a little TLC so we put new finger pieces on it and replaced the underside hardware with correct screws.  It also got a new foot because one was cracked.  This key is a left handed paddle which no one would know except that Vibrokeyers are reminiscent of a Vibroplex bug which do function either right or left handed. I primarily use a Vibrokeyer paddle also so I am very familiar with this key.  Mike’s is jeweled and has a super smooth feel.  I’m sure he will get a lifetime of enjoyment out of his new to him key.
     This morning I set up in the back yard waiting for Mike to come and receive the key and had a nice QSO with it to K2OGT/Bob in Gouldsboro, PA.  Gouldsboro is located within the Pocono mountains It is a small town and named after Jay Gould who made his fortune with the railroad.  Jay Gould was not well liked but made wised investments in the Railroad and ended up in control of the Erie Railroad.  Gouldsboro has recently restored its train depot.  As for me I doubt I will ever be an investment tycoon.  I seem to invest in ham radio equipment and things that bring me personal enjoyment.  Maybe I should get a lottery ticket tonight.  The powerball is getting pretty big!

While I ended my fun QSO with Bob, Mike pulled into my driveway and I gave my 73 and goodby.  Mike and I had a nice visit and then went out for pizza and talked about CW traffic nets and DX.  

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

07/23/2017
Today my friends Mike W9ODX and Garry KA9ZYL visited in the evening to play with some QRP.  We set up the Elecraft K2 in my back yard and the buddistick antenna.  Mike wanted to see how the buddistick worked.  I set up on 20 meters and we listened a little.  I then answered a station and talked with Andy AB1BX in Warren, RI.  I was set at less than 2 watts.  Andy was running a little more at 100 watts.  We had a couple rounds and then we said  goodby.  
Warren, RI is a very old town.  It was established in the early 17th century.  In the 18th century it was a prosperous wailing port and ship building was a good industry for it.  As wailing declined Warren moved toward textile manufacturing.  I must say with the history of Warren it would be fantastic to visit some of it’s historic buildings and take a look around.  I also would love to try some fresh seafood while there.  I put it on the list of places I want to visit!   

For this QSO I used my cheap, cruddy, tarnished, but trusty Ameco straight key.  It has been awhile since I pounded brass with it but it strangely felt good.  The simple action of a straight key is a nice change to a paddle or even a bug.  It’s nice and simple.  After the QSO I tried to get Mike to try the straight key.  He sent a couple CQ’s but he was having none of it.  We moved on to the Vibroplex Vibrokeyer.  I really like that key too.  I have not had that many paddles, but the Vibrokeyer has been my favorite.  It’s even on my SW+ QSL card.  Mike made a couple 40 meter QSO’s and we listened to a couple stations sending.   It was so humid that by the time the sun set the fog started rolling in and before long it was time Mike and Garry to say 73 to my QTH and head back home.  What a fun evening!



Monday, July 24, 2017

07/22/2017
At 0053z today I talked with Rick KC4KNN in Weaverville, NC.  It has been a little bit since I was last on the air.  The SW+ was a lot of fun to use again.  My MFJ Cub project has hit a snag.  I was not able to get it to receive any stations or hear it with another radio.  It does have power out and I can hear some digital noise as well as background noise so it must be a tuning issue.  I worked on it for a couple days and then called MFJ.  They tried to help but then finally recommended I just mail it to them for inspection.  So I am waiting and without the new radio for a while.  I sure hope it works when I get it back and it is a good trail radio.  

Anyway, Weaverville, NC looks like a nice little town.  It is in the Blue Ridge mountains.  They have a bed and breakfast and some industry.  There is a school and it is known for it’s beautiful scenery.