Conditions

Monday, October 23, 2017

 Ham Radio - QRP: Vibroplex Vibrokeyer

 Interesting analysis of the design of Vibro-Plex single lever. It all makes sense to me.


 Ham Radio - QRP: Vibroplex Vibrokeyer: Get it right the first time The electronic keyer, for sending Morse code, came into into use in the late 1950's and early 1960's....

NEAR-Fest eyeball QSOs, The latest digital fad, Flex update, SKCC awards and more!!

Hello again! It has been a couple of months so time to do a new post. I wanted to wait until after NEAR-Fest so I could write about my eyeball QSO with some the SKCC members.


NEAR-Fest:


First of all here is a link to a video of the October 2017 edition of NEAR-Fest NEAR-Fest Oct 2017
This was a special one for me because I got to meet several members of the SKCC club.  Below is a picture of our get together. All were great guys and had interesting stories as well. If you get a chance, visit their QRZ.com pages.

Larry KJ1RE, has a really nice time lapses video of his tower going up. I think you will like it. Larry is a Marine veteran.

John W1TAG, splits his time between MA and ME.  He runs a KX3 with the 100 Watt amp (when he has to HI-HI).

Urb W1UL, is one of the SKCC officers. He is the DX, WAC and WAS manager. He is from NJ, but made the trip up here to work as a VE for NEAR-Fest VE session. So it was a pleasant surprise to have him there. Urb last name is LeJeune, as in Camp LeJeune.  He is related to the LeJeune that the camp is name after.  Here is a link to the biography of Lt Gen John A. LeJeune who had a nice 40 year career.

Jim NM1W, Also owns a Flex radio, a 6700. We commiserate  over our "issues" we have had with the Flex SDR. Well like I said when I bought it, the 6300 was "Bleeding Edge" and it has been. Jim is a software developer and has done some work on the server side of the new SKCC Sked page, contributed back mods to the skcc skimmer, and wrote the centurion/tribune/senator/prefix  awards program used by AC2C and K3EW.

SKCC eyeball QSO at NEAR-Fest Oct 2017.
left to right
Larry KJ1RE, John W1TAG, Dave(me) KB1WOD, Urb W1UL and Jim NM1W

Enigma:

These next three photos are of the Enigma machine used by the Germans in WWII. I was surprised when I showed my son these pictures and he had no idea what Enigma was. Of course, my generation, which is the baby boomer generation, had relatives that were in WWII. So needless to say, it was something that effected us deeply. So anything related to WWII has always been of great interest to me.

If you don't know about Enigma here is a link to it BBC History of the Enigma machine Breaking the Enigma code was probable the most important event that help the Allies win the war against Germany. 

Also of much importance was the breaking of the Japanese JN-25 code which allowed the US Navy to defeat the Japanese at Midway Island. 

Here is a link to the JN-25 story Breaking of the JN-25 Naval code.

 Probable what is most interesting and sad thing about both these extraordinary events, is how badly the person responsible for each project were treated afterwards. For the Enigma it was Alan Turing, for the JN-25 it was Capt. Joseph Rochefort. "No good deed goes unpunished".

Enigma display at NEAR-Fest

One of the German Enigma machins

Did not realize this, but the Russians had their own version

Nut Net:

 No trip to NEAR-Fest would not be complete without a visit to the Wolf, Brian WO1VES and his friend, Harry WA1VVH. They are there at every NEAR-Fest both days and camp over night.

Brian "runs" the nightly Nut Net on the Danvers MA 2 meter repeater at 11:00 PM every night. And I mean EVERY night.
Brian WO1VES and Harry WA1VVH. As you can tell Brains is a great fan of wolves.

NEQRP:

I stopped by the NEQRP Club display and talked with Bruce N1RX. Bruce is, I believe, a director for NH and ME. (I may have this wrong). We chatted for awhile and we had our picture taken. This is the club I bought my NESCAF (switch capacitor audio filter) for my HW-8 project. They do some fun events. Bruce said they are trying to do more scheduled events like Boxborough Ham fest, which is now every year instead of every other year. Here is a link to their website. NEQRP Club

Bruce N1RX and Dave KB1WOD


SKCC:

One of the things we (SKCC members) talked about at NEAR-Fest is how people seem to disappear once they get their Senator award. There are many awards you can get and going for that Sx2 or Cx10 or 20 meter Senator keeps it interesting. So please DON'T STOP AT SENATOR!!!

Brags:

For:
Aug    94
Sept   91

Overall I am in 10th position and was 5th for September. I have a total of 642 brags for the year.
Brags are a personal challenge and It gives me an excuse to be on the air. I have been trying to do more  chatting with brags. I need to get better with my cootie so I need to practice more on air.

WES:

For:
Sept   11    good for 102 overall and 82 for QRO
Oct    113  good for 22 overall and 14 for QRO

September I really didn't work it much. I had my son and his family up for the weekend, so didn't really work the bands on Saturday. On Sunday, the bands were the worst I have ever seen. completely dead for several hours. I believe this was do to solar storms. Oh well can't win them all.

October was MUCH better. Got to work both days. I actually started CQing, which help my score. There are plenty of shy operators out there (including myself) that don't like calling CQ. But like anything else the more you do it the easier it gets.

SKCC Awards:

It seems like the stars were aligned perfectly for awards for me this last month.
I was awarded:
Cx10, Tx15, Sx3, Px8 and the big one WAS-S. It was truly amazing how they all seem to happen at the same time.

Of course the WAS-S would not have been possible if not for the efforts of Dave KD9VT, who was portable in ND so a bunch of us could get this last remaining state. BTW there are no Senators if ND if you were wondering.

Flex:

I thought I had an issue, but thankful it was easily resolved. The MOX was getting set for no apparent reason. Turns out I had created a PTT CAT port that was causing this. I created it because I thought my fldigi needed it, but it turns out to not be the case. I forgot to remove it, and that's what was causing my problem. All is well now and the radio seems to be doing well.

FT8:

The new mode. I have been using this mode not for awhile and am please with the performance. There is a new release candidate, RC3, that seem to be pretty good. Of course I forgot to mention that I have bought a new computer. An Alien Aurora R6. It is running Windows 10 Home edition 64 bit. This may have more to do with better performance of FT8 then the updated program. I have 185 QSO so far and 37 states on 20 meters.

This mode seems to have taken over, especially JT9. It seems like no one works JT9 anymore.

The new computer Nice!!

160 meter Antenna project:

It seems like this doesn't want to happen. About a week ago I tried to shoot another line over the big pine tree in my yard. But there was like 100 pine cones at the top of the tree and when I shoot the line over the tree, the line got stuck in a damn pine cone!! Luckily, I was able to retrieve my projectile with no damage done. I guess I am going to have to wait for the pine cones to drop before I can try again.

Oh by the way, I did buy some stuff at NEAR-Fest for my 160 m antenna project.

QSO totals are 470 from Aug 28 to Oct 22

73 for now

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Flex controversy, SKCC for the intellectually challenged and what the heck has been going on?

Hello again! It has been a long stretch this time, but that's the way it goes sometimes.

Operating:
Since Mar 26 2017 until Aug 24 2017, I have had 514 CW contacts, 17 JT9 and 2 FT8. FT8 is a fairly new digital mode. It cycles every 15 seconds instead of one minute like JT9 or JT65. Haven't really gotten into it yet but soon. For more information on FT8 go here > New FT8 Mode   
BTW I am doing a lot more CQing now QSOs are getting hard to come by these days and, besides, I got to start doing at some point.

I have been using my "cootie" now for eight months and, I must say, it is coming along. Some people can tell I am using one. Beats me how they know. I can never tell who is using one.

Met a gentleman on air that has a blog that he keeps up pretty regularly. He is Mike W9ODX. Here is a link to his blog Adventures in CW   Stop by and say hello. I am sure he will appreciate it.

WES:
Let see how many WES have I done since March?
Month  QSOs  Overall QRO
April     57        30       15
May       0           -          -
June      30        62        45
July      56         17        9
Aug      74        14         8

May was a disaster for me. Was not not really motivated to do much of anything, so let's leave it at that. June I only work one day, so not bad for that. August was good. I actually did some CQing in that one. There didn't seem to be too many stations around.

Brags:
For:
April  71
May   11
June  74
July   78
Overall I am in 12th place and 8th place in July. I know it may seem odd to some people, especially those still working on their C, T and S levels, to do this but as you get more awards, needed numbers get rarer. So brags are a way of getting around the "I don't need them" problem, since it starts fresh every month. I have a personal goal of 3 brags a day. Some days I get more and some I don't get any.

Novice Rig Roundup:
Got this certificate in the mail the other day. I was quit surprised to say the least. Thank you Bry AF4K for this. I appreciate it. Visit Bry's web page  AF4K Web Site  . Not many contacts but had fun with it anyways.




Awards:
Finally got eQSL.cc JT9 on 20m. Finally got NM. so that's in the books. Now what? Who knows.
Flex:
Well version 1.10.16 has a very annoying bug. It will occasionally lockup the radio. So bad, that you have to do a hard reset i.e. press and hold the power button until the radio turns off. Other then that, I am pretty happy with my 6300.

Now for me it has happened about 3 times in 5 months. Not catastrophic but annoying just the same. Some people have it happen every day and sometime multiple times a day! Very annoying for them, especially if you have a 6700 and paid a lot more then me. There was quit a thread on the Flex community forum. It got so intense, that Flex shut down the thread. Basically they said that they know there is a problem, but they can't reproduce it so they don't know when it will be fixed.

Let's just say a lot of people were very upset that FRS was not fixing this issue as quickly as people would have like. I can understand this. These people spent thousands of dollars on these radio, or should I say bricks.

FRS released V2 of SmartSDR a little while ago. I have not installed it. I have no interest in remote operating and that is about the only new feature in version 2. So for me, forking over $200.00 would be a waste of money right now.

Supposedly any performance enhancements of bug fixes will be in the next V1 release. Though I have yet to hear of when that will happen, or as they say "RSN" (Real Soon Now)

SKCC for the intellectually challenged:
So one great idea I have is to write a "book" on how to get the most out of all the tools available for the SKCC along with some simplified explanations of most of the awards and events offered by the SKCC club. I got it started but don't know how long it will take me to get it done, but it will be RSN!! Will keep you posted on progress.

Well that is all I can think of for now. See you next time - 73

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Windows 10 Anniversary BSD.. IT'S ALIVE!! K3Y event, Andy K3UK is retiring, WES events, Brags, Latest Flex 6000 updates and NRR.

Well it has been four months since I last posted. I was going to wait until I got my K3Y QSL card in the mail, but that hasn't happened yet. So when it does I will update this post.

Update: QSL cards have arrived!

Windows 10 BSD:
Well finally my computer is back to running fine. The latest updates to windows has resolved my once a day Blue Screen of Death. So this gives me less reason to buy that shiny new thing.

K3Y Event:
This is a month long event in January, where volunteers use the special event call K3Y/* (* is 0-9, KH6, KL6, KP4). You try to work as many regions and bands as you can. There are also DX regions. However they can not use the K3Y call sign since they are not U.S. areas. They usually call CQ K3Y then their own call sign. Not hard to tell what region they are in.

Last year I filled in a 101 slots. This year only 70. Might not seem so good. But the top station with all Bands-Areas was only 110, so not too bad I would say there were 20 stations that got more then me.

Like last year, I only was able to get 18 out of the 19 regions. Last year it was AS I couldn't get. This year is was SA I couldn't get. This had more to do with lack of reliable operators and what band they were working at what time. If you are interested about the K3Y event, follow the link below:
K3Y Home Page  


2017 K3Y QSL Card 


Operating:
I have 467 QSOs since Nov 26. 1 SSB 11 JT9 and all the rest CW.

WES:
Did not do WES in December 2016 or January 2017. I did do February and March of 2017.
Month   QSOs    overall    QRO
Feb        101       21            13
March     57       33             20

Brags:
Finished off 2016 with 52 brags in Nov and 51 in Dec for a total of 872 brags for 2016. An average of 72 brags a month and in 10th place for the year.

For 2017 brags counts are 62 for January and 80 for February. Not in the top 12 yet but consistence is what counts. We will see how we have done by the end of the year.

Flex 6000 Software:
Well the "beta" releases are over and now I have upgraded to version 1.10.16 All went well. Had a slight problem with the CAT interface, but was able to resolve it easily. I could not happier with this radio. Just works like a charm.

Andy K3UK retiring:
Andy hosted the SKCC sked page for many years. He has decided to retire and give up the sked page. I want to thank Andy for all his fine work and wish him the best of luck in his retirement.

THANK YOU ANDY!!!

Since Andy no longer maintains the sked page, Mark K7MJG has developed a new sked page. It will be under the control of the SKCC group and therefore has a new link:

SKCC Sked Page


Novice Rig Roundup:
This was my first time participating in the NRR. Only made 5 QSOs all on 40ms but had fun. Also made me realize how much better the Flex is then my old novice rig. Biggest problem with the HW-8 is it is a double side band receiver. Effectively you have demodulation of signals above and below the carrier. Very hard to use with a crowded band. I have had this rig pictured here before. I have a home made antenna tuner and some extra goodies in the big box, such as SWR meter, audio filter and a digital frequency read out. The key is a MFJ-553. Cheap but works just fine.
HW-8 Novice rig

Awards:
LoTW: JT9 WAS 20m. I have been working on this one for over a year.The hardest states to get were the ones closest to VT. I believe MA was the last state I got.

I am still working on eQSL.cc JT9 WAS 20m. There I need NM. I have the QSO but the station has not or will not confirm it. Which is funny, because he confirmed it in LoTW and he is active on eQSL.cc. Go figure.



Sunday, November 27, 2016

Windows 10 Blue screen of death!! Boat load of QSOs and more

Windows 10 anniversary Update:
The saga continues!! Well Microsoft got me again! They forced the update on me and this is the results. Once a day my PC crashes. The good thing is, it is only once a day and if I reboot before it crashes, it doesn't happen for the rest of the day. Definitely a clue as to what is wrong, don't you think?


Windows 10 Blue Screen of Death
Operating:
Since Aug 16, 2016 I have 543 CW QSOs logged and 56 JT9 QSOs logged. I am still missing a couple states for 20m JT9 on both LoTW and eQSL.cc. I am missing MA for LoTW and NM for eQSL.cc.  I haven't been trying real hard for that. It will happen when it happens. As you can see with only 56 QSOs in three months, I am not really working at it.

SKCC:
WES results for Sept, Oct and Nov 2016:
Month    QSOs  Overall  QRO
Sept         82         24         18
Oct           82         27         20
Nov          93         18         13

Results have been OK. I just S&P, never call CQ. I could probable do a lot better If I did call CQ for awhile. I also cherry pick. Looking for QSOs that will get me closer to one of my goals.

I have not participated in the  SKS for Sept, Oct or Nov. I am usually busy doing something with my wife. We like to play a hand of cribbage every night. We also have about a 1/2 dozen TV shows we like to watch together. After all, she did let me buy my Flex-6300 HIHI.

Brags:
I have started to put more of an effort into the brags.  I had 104 in Aug, 99 in Sept and 76 in Oct. I am 9th overall for the year so far. Two months to go and falling way behind my goal of 100 brags a month.

Flex-6300:
Radio is doing very good. New SW updates seem to install rather easily. The next release is going to allow the USB ports on the radio to be used by some devices but not the FlexControl knob.

CWFUN event:
There was an event on Oct 22, 2016. There were 60 people registered but only 34 participants. I was 10th. out of 31 who turned in logs. Always have a fun time with this. Wished more people participated.

Keys:
Well I finally switched over to a cootie. Or more exactly, single lever Vibroplex wired as a cootie. My hand was just getting too tired using my straight key and I was making too many mistakes. So for better or worst I am now a cootie guy.

Vibroplex Single level key wired as a cootie.
Awards:
Waiting for a few WAS 20m endorsements from LoTW. Manly digital.

Had to do a little antenna work a couple of weeks back. We had some heavy snow, not a whole lot, but enough to sag my antenna almost to the ground. I also think a branch broke in the tree is was in. So I had to pull it back up to it's original high. So I am good to go!

Projects:
Nothing to report on this. I have about 3 weeks of vacation that I am taking in December so I will try to at least finish the BiTX20.

All for now - 73

Monday, August 15, 2016

Dog days of Summer.

Like the title says, things are slow.

SKCC:
Well I made Senator times 2 this last week. That is another unique 200 SKCC Tribune or Senator contacts.  I didn't do the WES or SKS in June. For the WES I was away for the weekend so didn't operate. For the SKS, just lazy this month. Update: Now it is August!! It is taking me forever to post this. So for July, I didn't do the WES again for two reasons:
1) was down in MA visiting with the my grandson and
2) Wind storm took down my ant.

I was able to do the July SKS but stayed on 40m because I was using my fan dipole that is in the attic. It causes RFI problems on 20ms so I limited my operating to 40.

Got my OCF back up before the Aug WES. Boy did I miss having it. I was able to work one day of the Aug WES and made 36 contacts.

Sunday we went to the "Wings over Vermont" air show in Burlington, VT so no operating Sunday. However, I did get to shake the hand of Col. Charles McGee one of the Tuskegee airmen from the famed Red Tails. See picture below. What an honor!!

Col. Charles McGee Red Tail pilot. He is 96 years old


I did manage to record 51 Brag QSOs for June.

Operating:
I have been doing some more JT9 operating. I would like to get 20m WAS on LoTW.  Right now I have 46. I am missing MA, NE, UT and, of course, VT.
For DXCC, I have 74 in both LoTW and eQSL.cc. This will come. I am not really chasing it at the moment.

Projects:
Working on the 160m Slopper. First attempt to hang the rope failed. Mono-filament line broke when I tried to pull attached rope over the top of the tree. I think I need heaver line.

Well 160m is on hold for awhile. We had a HUGH wind storm on July 23 which brought down the tree that was holding up one end of my OCF dipole. It has taken me awhile to get it back up. Oh ya, It also took out my Slim Jim ant so no 2 meters either.
Tree holding up my antenna laying on the left. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Near-Fest, more on projects and first Japanese CW contact

NEAR-Fest:
NEAR-Fest was in April this year and it was a good day. Clear skies and about 65~70.  The highlight for me was the home made apple pie at the church concession stand. HIHI

I actually went there looking for a "cootie" sideswiper key. I know I saw some there last year. Well there was none to be had. Oh well, I guess I will look on eBay and see if I can get one there. update: I bought a VibroPlex Single Level Paddle key. Let's see how I do with that.

I did pick up a in-line choke for me 160m antenna projects. Just waiting for the weather to get better to put it up.

I meet up with a ham I know from MA. His name is Brian WO1VES (wolves). Below is a picture of him dressed up in his wolf outfit. If you look closely, you can see the canine teeth, his tail and also two "tags" in his left ear. BTW the gentleman next to Brian is Harry WA1VVH. Sorry Harry.


April WES and SKS:
Had 41 QSOs in this months WES. Only spent Sunday doing the sprint. I was visiting my new grandson down in MA on Saturday. I was 52nd overall out of 243 and 40th out of 165 in the QRO 100 Watts or less category. Not fantastic but respectable.

For the SKS, I had 21 QSOs. I was 23rd overall out of 110 and 18th out of 86 in the QRO 100 Watts or less category. Again respectable.

Operating:
Pretty much settled into a routine. I watch the SKCC sked page and also the SKCC skimmer looking for people that I can help or that can help me.

I have had 350 QSO logged in LoTW since Feb 21. Out of the 350 QSOs, 340 were CW and 10 were JT9.

I have been practicing with my SpeedX key. I still have problems with the dits.

I also was awarded DXCx25 and DXQx50. These are SKCC DX contacts. The DXC is unique countries and DXQ is unique SKCC members. The numbers represent the number of contacts.

I made my first Japanese CW contact on April 4. Was very surprised to see JR2IUB call sign pop up on the SKCC skimmer. Took a few tries but was able to complete the QSO with Takeya Saitoh. Thank you Take-San! Here is the QSL card form Take-San.


Flex-6300:
Rig has been preforming well. I discovered that if I set the filter bandwidth to 800 Hz and use both the NR (noise reduction) and APF (audio peaking filter), I am better able to hear weak signals. Still at software version 1.5. Don't see a reason to up grade as yet.

Projects:
I have been doing things for my projects. First of all I have buying more tools. I was not very well equipped so I have purchased several useful tools: a board holder, a pin crimping tool and a really nice solder station that allows me to do surface mount components.

I have acquired most of the components for my WRAPS projects. Just a few more parts from the local hardware store to get.

The BITX20 project is sitting in the board holder. I plan on soldering some connectors on the PA board so I don't keep breaking the wires off the board. More work on this this coming month.

WAS awards:
Well I was finally able to get my ARRL CW WAS award (LoTW). I have them framed but not hung up yet. "Real Son Now"


OK I'll end it here for now - 73



Sunday, February 21, 2016

K3Y anniversary event, WAS awards and MORE!!(click bait)


K3Y anniversary event:
Had a total of 94 K3Y contacts. Only region I was not able to get was Asia and the only band I was not able to work was 6 meters. Asian stations only had a total on 101 QSOs, the lowest of all regions (only three operators). 6 meters only had 15 total QSOs, the lowest of all bands. So not to get either is understandable, especially being in VT. If you go here K3Y-statistics participants and search on my call sign, you can see my results. I think next year I will try and work as a K3Y station. I still lack a little confidence to have done it this year. After all, I have only had my license for four years and CW is still a struggle for me. I also want to use my Speed-X semi-automatic key. My hand gets very tired using the straight key. But I still need a lot of practice before I am comfortable using it.

160m Sloper antenna:
I have been encouraged by the few 160 meters QSOs I have had with my OCF 80-6 meter dipole to think about putting up a 160 meter Sloper antenna. I ordered one from www.cablehelp.com   for about $70.00 or so. I think they are $20.00 off at the moment. I am curious to see how it performs. The reason I decided to get a separate antenna for 160 is I worry about the high SWR with my OCF dipole. I keep the power low so as not, hopefully, damage my radio.

160 meter Sloper

WAS awards:
Well I finally got the ARRL mixed mode WAS (LoTW). I already have mixed mode WAS from QRZ and eQSL.cc, and Mixed CW on QRZ. I am one shy of 50 for ARRL CW. I need North Dakota. If you know anyone in ND that uses LoTW and is willing to do some CW, please let me know.

February WES:
Did not do the January WES. I was down in MA for a family get together, so I missed it. However, I did manage to work the February WES and had my personal best of 110 QSOs. I was 22nd overall and 13th in my category. Propagation was very good, with a number of 10 meter contacts.

Operating:
I am pretty much a CW geek now. It is all I have done for the last couple of months. Occasionally someone will ask me for a digital or SSB QSO for WAS, but that is about it.

Since Jan 8 I have had 249 QSOs of which I have recorded 82 as K3Y, which I shouldn't have, but oh well. I have asked  K3Y operators to let me know if they wanted me to log them under their personal call sign and some did.  Some logged QSOs to eQSL.cc so I confirmed them already and also unloaded to LoTW. However, LoTW does not let you know if another station is waiting for you to confirm their QSL, so I don't know if they want my QSL or not. One of things I don't like about LoTW.

I did not participate in the NAQCC January or February sprints or the SKS in January. Hope to do the February SKS.

Flex-6300:
The rig has been working great. There has been two software updates, but I have not yet installed them. There is always some issue with CAT and DAX ports not working correctly so I will wait awhile. Basically the 1.6 release has more to do with contesting then anything else. The 1.5 release still has the problem of forgetting settings when changing bands but I get around that by typing in the frequency in rather then changing the band. The devil you know right?

Windows 10:
I have been running Windows 10 now with no real problems. I had it crash when I was trying to do something with Skype, I think, but I really don't use Skype so not an issue right now.

Projects:
Well let me say it. I have been very lazy with projects so shame on me.

If you have any comments or ideas I would like to hear them.

All for now -73-

Friday, January 8, 2016

Software is my friend, software is my friend, A chicken in every pot!!

Windows 10:
Well for some strange reason I was able to upgrade my computer that wasn't able to be upgraded  before because of problems with the graphics driver software not being compatible with Windows 10. Go figure!

Windows 10 installed easily and works fine on my computer. The only issue was I had to completed uninstall SmartSDR including removing all hidden devices in the device manager. The big benefit is all my USB serial devices seem to work now.

My Ham computer running Windows 10 (32 bit version)

Operating:
Got my SKCC Tx8 Nov 21. That was quite a struggle. Got my Sx1 on Jan 3. "As your Senator, I promise you a chicken in every pot!". I am the first Senator from Vermont. There are only 57 SKCC members in Vermont so I don't know if this is such a big deal. Also got my SKCC WAS on Jan 7. All I need now is IA C/T/S for WAS-C.

January is also SKCC month long anniversary event, K3Y. See K3Y Home Page for details.
I have 42 confirmed contacts out of a possible 129 and It is only the 8th today, so I should get a few more.

I will keep trying to get more levels and improve my sprint scores as I go on.

Don't know what my next big goal will be.

Since Oct 23 I have 620 QSOs logged in LoTW. Really pounding the Brass HIHI! Of those, 22 are JT9. I am trying to get WAS for JT9 on 20 meters got about 5 to go.

Flex-6300:
All is good now with the rig. Since I was able to upgrade my "old" clunker to Windows 10, everything seems to work just fine., including the FlexControl!!

FlexControl now works great!!

NAQCC Sprint:
I did both the November and December sprints. I was 2nd in November with 13 QSOs and 3rd in December with 10 QSOs in my category. This is a fun event to do. Try it sometime.

WES:
I also did both the November and December sprints. I was 21st overall and 18th in my category in  November with 70 QSOs and 33rd overall and 21st in my category in December with 78 QSOs. Always have a good time with this event.

SKS:
Participated in both the November and December two hour sprints. For November I was 37th overall and 31st in my category. For December I was 32nd overall and 27th in my category.

CWFUN:
I participated in Event 17 and was 7th with 28 QSOs. This is a small event with only 29 participants of which I only had 15 unique call signs logged.

Speed-X:
I have been practicing with my Speed-X bug with the 1.9 oz weight. doing OK but need much more practice before I start to use it on the air. (too many or too few dits)

Speed-X with 1.9 oz weight.

Installed a new program called VOAProp from this link VOAProp  It is a graphical display of probable propagation paths for any point you chose ( probably your home QTH) to any other point. It uses the VOACAP forecasting software (Voice Of America Coverage Analysis Program)  to generate the data for display. This software is not perfect!! It will only give you a feel for how well you will get to certain areas of the world. It is still a good idea to actually check the bands to see how there are doing.

For instance, station E5SKCC from South Cook Islands was on 40 meters. VOAProp said there was no path from my QTH to there. However, I heard him and we exchanged info. So use it as an aid to where you are more likely to be successful with a QSO.

One last thing. I think W8AMZ store is out of business. Web page is gone. It is a shame, I really liked their antennas and they were a little cheaper then other companies.

That is all I can think of for now.

73 Dave KB1WOD




Friday, October 23, 2015

Its time again! Another great operating stretch, 160m QSOs, More on the Flex6300 saga, QRP and a Blogger returns

Been awhile so probable time for some updates.

Operating:
Doing a lot of radio again this past month and a half. 499 QSOs for Sept and OCT. 325 CW and 174 digital QSOs.

I have made it to SKCC Tx6. So less then 100 unique SKCC C/T/S contacts to get to Tx8. Then I can start working towards my S. For that you need 200 unique T/S SKCC QSOs. Which can be duplicate call signs of those I made for my T1-8, but new QSOs. So that one should go quickly. Even though it is limited to T and S, it shouldn't take that long. There are very few Cs out there compared to Ts and Ss.

Also I meet a nice young man on the SKCC Sked page. His name is Will and his call sign is W3WKV. Obviously he is SKCC member and has just gotten his S in record time and probable the youngest to do so. Look him up on QRZ, I think you will be impressed. I know I am.

Since I have a "do anything I want" radio now, I have been starting to do more QRP. I participated in the NAQCC sprint in October and did OK. I wound up third for region 1. Here is a link to the results page  NAQCC Oct sprint results

I have been working on my SKCC WAS. I have 49 WAS and 47 WAS-C I need HI, for both and IA and NM for WAS-C.

One thing to mention, I am chasing WAS and DXCC but not real hard. Except for the NM SKCC contact, I have never really went out of my way to get a QSO. If I hear someone on the air, I will try and chase them, but other then that, not much.

Even though my OCF dipole is only suppose to go down to 80m, I have had three 160m QSOs in the last month. I wonder what the antennas SWR is? I asked the question on the SKCC Facebook group. Got a variety of answers and comments to say the least.

The October WES went very well. I had 69 QSOs and I was 18th overall and 14th in the 100 Watts or less category.The only drawback was the bonus was based on how many different key manufacturers you could get. Well I don't know my key's manufacturer because it is a Navy flame proof key, which was made by several companies and the number is not visible on the key. So every time I had to spell out Navy flame proof. My hand was a little sore afterwards.

Flex-6300:
 I have such a beautiful radio and they have to put software in it!! On going trails an tribulations with my Flex-6300. It seems like bugs in software is like "Wack-A-Mole", you knock one down and another pops up.  Last time I report that my radio would crash sometimes when I changed bands. Well that has seem to have gone away. My new mole is it has developed Alzheimer's. It seems to forget my settings when switching bands or on power cycle. Not all settings, but some. Most notable the AGC circuit. Operating CW I do not like the AGC on, so I turn it off, so switching bands is a real nonsense because it turns the AGC back on. I wounder what new horror awaits me in the next release.

But as much as I complain, it is a wonderful radio. Switching bands is as easy as typing in a new frequency or a couple of mouse clicks. If you buy a Flex-6000 series, do buy the built in ATU. I think it is only a couple of hundred dollars but well worth it, especially the memory for the settings. So once you are tuned, it will remember the settings for the next time you go to that band.

Last time I said I was going to buy the FlexControl and I did. Unfortunately my computer has issues with USB serial devices. USB serial devices don't work on my computer and I have not been able to find a solution. I know the FlexControl works because I installed on a different computer running Windows 10 and it worked fine. So I thought why don't I upgrade my computer to Windows 10?! No such luck. It complains my builtin graphics card is not compatible with Windows 10 and I have to buy a new computer. Well that ain't happening!! So I have a nice FlexControl waiting for a new computer. RSN!!

Hotel Tango November Blog:
 Is back! After a year and half of no post, Kate has started up again. She is retired now and has time to do things she just couldn't do while she was working. She is very much into NTS and was usually the source of a lot of the traffic we use to get when I was working the 2m nets in MA.

She has some real good info on wave propagation, especially for the lower HF bands. Good reading and informative. Please visit her blog here : Hotel Tango November Blog


NAQCC Anniversary Event:
 Now that I have a Radio that has a decent receiver and can adjust the power level to QRP levels, I am participating in more QRP activities. The NAQCC anniversary event was one such event. There were 10 N#A station around the country working QRP, one in each region. I was able to get 9 out of the 10, only region 6 was missing. Most I worked QRP but a couple I worked 60 Watts because I wasn't sure I would get them. It was fun hunting them down!

BTW I used both the NAQCC spotter page and the RBN web page. There are people that don't like using spots but I say, use what is available. You can only do so much by searching and looking at a panadapter.

Well I better end this here or I will never finish it

73 Dave KB1WOD