Monday, June 18, 2018

Big changes.. some good... others...not so much. WES, K3Y and Brags

Big Changes
Well the biggest change is that we sold our house in VT and have moved back to MA. Right now, we are renting a house in Rockport. Actually not a bad place to be in the Spring. Weather is nice, cool but not cold and the tourists haven't shown up yet so the traffic is still OK.

Also nice to get back to some decent fish in the restaurants. You just can't get good fish in VT, sorry.

The worst part was being off the air for almost 2 months. That was not fun.

We found a house in Georgetown and will be moving at the end of June.

I don't mind telling you the last six months have been the worst of my life. I will never do this again!
I don't miss VT much but I do miss my house. We had it build for us and it was just what we wanted. But, best laid plans as they say.

Temporary Station
The below pictures are of the temporary station. Since I didn't want to impact the property, I bought an EFHW 80-10 meter antenna and hung it over a tree in the back yard and tied it off to the porch on the back of the house and to a tree out in the woods. It's direction is NW to SE. I didn't intend it that way, it just happened.

I had a 20 foot piece of COAX and used that to connect the radio and antenna. Unfortunately, it was not long enough to bring in through the window, so I have to leave the radio on the porch. A little bit of a nuisance since I can't leave it out there.

The antenna works quite well. It tunes 80 - 10 meters fine except for 30 meters. I only get a 2:1 SWR on 30.

Wires come in through the window and I use foam strips to form a seal.

Temporary EFHW 80-10 tied to the porch railing.

EFHW up over the tree, about 50 feet up.

Using an old laptop as my computer for the Flex-6300.

Radio sits outside. My feed line was not long enough to put the radio indoors.

I was able to do the January February and June WES.

Month      QSO    Overall    QRO
Jan             50         33           25
Feb            92         15            7
June          33          60          47

As you may know K3Y is a month long SKCC anniversary event. The goals is to contact as many K3Y operators on as many bands and areas as possible. 
This is not a contest, so WARC bands are permitted. I did good this year I got a total of 67 out of a 143 slots. and got the grand sweep. Worked all zones 0-9 plus KH6, KL7, KP4, EU, AF, OC, SA, NA and AS. 19 in all.  I also worked 90+ different operators out of 195. I also operated as K3Y/1 and made 16 contacts. I am happy with my results.

For January I had 124 brags (K3Y counted as brags), 38 in February, 19 in April and 81 in May.
So far for June I have 52 brags.

All for now. Thanks for stopping by!

73 Dave KB1WOD

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The SKCC for the Intellectually Challenged

The SKCC for the Intellectually Challenged


Why am I writing this? Well, in the four plus years that I have belonged to the SKCC, I have picked up quite a few nuggets of information and techniques that have greatly enhanced my enjoyment of the SKCC and CW in general.

Like a lot of new ham operators, I was glad the FCC did away with the code requirement. That was a hurtle I didn't think I could jump and kept me away from getting my license for many years.

Little did I know that after getting my license, I would be spending 99% of my time on CW.

The SKCC web site has a wealth of information Everything you need to know is there, but it can be overwhelming trying to sort it all out. What I hope to do here, is to give a simplified view of the SKCC and how to use all the tools available to enhance the experience.
Here is a link to the main web page: Straight Key Century Club (SKCC)


The SKCC is a group of CW operators who enjoy using mechanical keys to make CW contacts. The goal of the group is to encourage members to make contacts with other members to achieve personal goals and promote the use of CW.
Your skill level is not important, but it does enhance everyone’s enjoyment.
The members and officers are pretty laid back but are very active in their club duties. They are very responsive to any request or issue.
They have a user group here: SKCC User Group

Software and Online tools

Software, I believe, is the key (pun intended) to the SKCC success. What software does best is routine repetitive tedious tasks repeatedly without complaint, something us humans hate to do.
One thing I am not going to do is explain how to use these programs. The old term applies RTFM! If you don't know what that means, Google it. The authors of these programs have spent a lot of time writing the help files. Please read them. Most are searchable and there is always Google or Bing, if you are of that camp. There are also user groups that you can search.
Warning to Windows user: Some of these programs write data into the directory that the software is installed. The windows directories “Program Files” and “Programs Files (x86)” may not allow you to write to these directories. Therefore, you may have to install these programs elsewhere. Mine are at C:\.

SKCC Sked Page

Where to meet people. It is not a spotter page per se, but more of a chat board. Great place to hang out. My SKCC QSOs really took off once I started visiting the sked page. It was a little intimidating at first. I wasn't sure what to do and it took a while to get comfortable. But finally, I relaxed and have made some good friends there.
One approach is to logon but stay “Away”. That way you can see who is there and send them a PM (private message) to request a QSO. New numbers are in great demand, so if you are visible on the sked page, you might get overwhelmed with request and panic, not that I did that..HIHI.

The Sked page is here: SKCC Sked Page. There is a help file here: SKCC Sked Page Help

SKCCLogger by AC2C

Don't let looks deceive you. This is a very powerful logger, especially for SKCC QSOs. The only thing it doesn't do, is to upload logs directly to either LoTW or But that is easy to overcome.
Its ability to analyze your logs and detect your goals and generate reports that can be used to earn your goals is outstanding. I have used it exclusively for almost all my SKCC logging needs. It can be also be used for sprints.
The program can be downloaded here SKCCLogger Download
Ron also has a user group here: SKCCLogger User Group

skcc_skimmer by K7MJG

This is a windows console based SKCC member RBN (reverse beacon network) program. No fancy GUI just the info you really need to know. I use this for my regular QSOs and for WES. You can have multiple copies running with different configuration files. This is a real-time update program. That means it periodically updates the members you have sent a “de THEIRCALL”.
For this program, the three things that you should supply to the configuration file are: your call, the location of your log file in adf (example: mylog.adi) format and your grid square. You may also adjust the SPOTTER_RADIUS parameter. I have mine set to 200 miles radius. This gives me about 6 RBN stations that are near to me.
Another interesting feature of this program is if you call CQ, skimmer will report where your call is being heard, regardless of your radius limit. This helps to see if your signal is getting out. It is also a good indication as to how long it takes for the skimmers to decode your call. One thing you might also get from this is how good your sending is. RBNs are software tools connected to radios that listen to CW on the bands. If your sending is not good, then your call will never be decoded. So, practice your sending or you might never be heard.
You can download the program here. SKCC_Skimmer download

VOAProp by G4ILO

GUI for propagation prediction software. Based on Voice Of America propagation prediction software.
This software helps you determine which band may work for a particular station. Though it is not perfect, it will give you a good idea of what bands are good for the time of day.
You can download the program here. VOAProp GUI

SprintLogger by K2RFP

Not a must but I like it for WES and SKS. It can also be used for cwfun events. The reason I like it is because for sprints, I start with a new log and then start skimmer with it pointing to the K2RFP log file. I also run skimmer without reading the sked page see below.
SKED = {
'ENABLED': False, # usually is set to True
This tells me if the calling station is already in my log. Save a lot of time. After the sprint, I import this log into my main SKCCLogger file.
You can download the program here. SprintLogger by K2RFP


There are many awards that you can achieve with the club. I am only going to talk about what I believe are the top five awards. One thing to note. There is no cross-log checking for awards. I believe this was intentionally done because some people don't like to summit logs or don't like to be bugged by people to submit their logs. Since there is no monetary value associated with SKCC awards, it was felt the honor system was good enough. (IMHO)


The easiest, but the most critical. Why? Because a lot of members never reach this first goal. They may have joined the club for reasons other than awards. Myself, I was looking for help learning CW. I never really paid attention to goals, was not interested.
It was a follow ham that I used to talk to on 2 meters that got me interested in chasing some of these awards, Matt AA1JD. He would talk about the SKCC and some of the events and so I decided to try and get some of these awards. Once I got into it and started figuring out some of the tools available, I was in all the way. Matt was first on my list for Centurion.
Some things you might want to think about. If you are calling an unspecified CQ and are using an electronic keyer, please also have a mechanical key hooked up. Why? If a SKCC member responds to your CQ, he would like to exchange numbers. That means you will have to do the exchange with a mechanical key. If you do not have one connected, you can't do the exchange. Also, if you are looking for SKCC members please call CQ SKCC. It really helps other members who may want to exchange numbers, but are not sure that you will do that. Also, it wouldn't hurt to give your number for any exchange, providing you are using a mechanical key, e.g. “MY SKCC NR <YOUR_NUMBER>. The other operator may not know about the SKCC and he might ask you about it. Never hurts to advertise.


These awards are a little confusing and daunting, at least to me they were. However, once I understood what each level meant, it was a piece of cake. Well, maybe not that easy. Mark, K7MJG, has a very easy to understand chart that explains all levels from Centurion to Senator.
The basic Tribune award requires you to make 50 unique number exchanges with Centurions, Tribunes or Senators since the date of your Centurion award. However, if you want to achieve a Senator award, you need another 350 unique number exchanges with Centurions, Tribunes or Senators. This is quite a lot so breaking it into 8 - 50 QSO blocks seems like a good idea. At least you have manageable goals and other members can see your progress with the SKCC_skimmer program.
You can view Marks chart here. Award Chart


THIS IS NOT THE END! You are almost there! The hard part is over. Getting that last number for Tx8 was a tough one for sure. Enjoy this part. Getting your Senator will be a walk in the park compared to reaching Tx8. Remember you start over with contacts. So, any T or S station you QSOed with to get your Tx8, can now be QSOed with again to get your S.
But don't let it end here. All too often hams reach the Senator level and just go away. Why? IDK. I guess they were looking for a challenge and are now on to other things. Who knows. The more members who are active, the easier it is for others to reach their goals. We do have some members who are Sx5 so keep at it.


There are four primary WAS awards WAS, WAS-C, WAS-T and WAS-S. Please see the explanation of each of these awards on the SKCC web page.
Since this is a relatively new and small club and reaching Senator is not easy, not all states have Senators yet. In fact I was the first Senator in Vermont and only got that in Jan of 2016, so not quite two years ago. North Dakota, for example, doesn't have any Senators. But the good news is portable operation is permitted so a Senator from one state can travel to a state that doesn't have a Senator and exchange numbers for people to get their WAS-S award.


Prefix award where the SKCC number of the prefix is added to the prefix score. The interesting thing about this award is if the SKCC number of a station you work is greater than the number of a previous prefix you work, you get to add the difference between the two numbers to your score.


There are several monthly activities and one yearly activity. These activities are a great way to get more new numbers for awards. I usually get quite a few numbers that I need for awards participating in these activities. None of the sprints permit WARC bands. I am not going to go into a lot of detail here. The web site has all the info you need to operate these activities.


Two-hour sprint. Always held at the same time every month. Much like other sprints.


This is a special sprint that is more EU friendly. But NA participation is allowed. Also has some accommodations for QRS operators.


My favorite, the Week End Sprint. This is a 36-hour event, of which you are only supposed to work 24 hours. I like the “work a few then take a break” aspects of this sprint.

K3Y Anniversary event (not a contest)

This is a month-long event held every January. This is the only event where all Ham bands, including WARC bands are permitted. The goal is to fill in as many K3Y/X band slots as possible. One thing to note here: Try to get as many DX K3Y as soon as possible. It turns out there may not be DX K3Ys for the whole month so get them while you can. I missed out on SA last year because very few SA stations were on late in the month. Those that were, were on late (after 00:00 UTC) and only on 20 meters. Which from my QTH in VT, made it impossible to get a contact.


Monthly SKN is truly the reason the SKCC exists. However, over the years it has become less important since all the other activities seem to generate quite a bit of CW on the air.
First night of every month. Not much is said on the web site about it. I assume it uses the same rules as the ARRL SKN. No logs or QSO counts are submitted.


A monthly - month long “event”. Contacts with other members not included in other events and not yet QSOs with that month.
I try to work at least 3 brags a day. Doesn't always happen, but I manage usually get between 50 and 100 brags a month.

Final Comments

The SKCC is not for everyone, but it seems to fit my personality. I always felt that there should be some objective to obtain or some skill to be mastered. The SKCC seems to provide me with both.
As of December 31, 2017, there are over 18,000 members. Granted not all members are active, but enough are active that you can always find a member on the air almost any time and almost any band.
There are many other clubs that emphasize other aspects of CW. Each are very good at what they try to accomplish.
I hope these few pages will be of use to others and come join the fun of CW.

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.


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 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


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.


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


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!!!


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

Finally got JT9 on 20m. Finally got NM. so that's in the books. Now what? Who knows.
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 

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

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

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.


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

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 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 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
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 I am missing MA for LoTW and NM for  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.

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.

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.

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.

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.
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!

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.

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.

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 This will come. I am not really chasing it at the moment.

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 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.

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.

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.

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   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, 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.

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 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.

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.

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-