Conditions

Thursday, April 22, 2021

K3Y QSL cards arrive, Two meter rig finally on the air again

Hello again. I will try to publish more posts. Winter is ending and a nice Spring is shaping up. We did have snow last Friday which was very late in the season for this area. 

Maybe I will get the new antenna put up soon. The antenna I am speaking of is a reduced length 160-10 meter OCF dipole from RadioWavz.  It is 147 feet long as apposed to 246 feet for a full size 160M OCF. My 80M OCF dipole is 137 feet, so the extra 10 feet shouldn't be a problem here. It doesn't say it will work on 6 meters, but if it tunes up, it will be good enough. I got to get back on 160 meters!! 
Here is a link to the web site: Short 160m OCF dipole  

I also bought 500 feet of cord from DX Engineering to replace the cord that is there now. The cord has been up for over 2 years now and should probable be replaced. Plus I got some ideas about how to mitigate the problem of a broken antenna and or cord. I will let you know how that works out.

BTW I am vaccinated and good to go!! 

K3Y QSL Cards.

I received three K3Y QSL cards. I didn't expect the 2019 or the 2020 card because I didn't send in an envelope to the QSL bureau for these two years. I guess they must have been sitting there waiting for me. oops!!

2019 and 2020 I only got 18 of 19 regions so I didn't bother sending in an envelope. I guess I will have to change that. I also got an additional QSL from the bureau. I think I should keep a couple of envelopes there JIC. Here is a link to SKCC QSL Bureau.

Here are pictures of the K3Y QSL cards that I received. See my last post for more info on my K3Y activity. K3Y 2016-2021, Weird key failure, VOAProp fail, odd email from the ARRL and more!!




Two Meter Rig

Only took me a year and a half to run a piece of Coax. No tree or roof climbing, just connect the wire to both ends. I don't really use two meters that much any more, but that will change. I have checked-in to a couple of nets lately so that's a good start. Plus made contact with a couple of old friends.

I would like to relocate my 2m antenna form the deck to the back of the garage. It kind of looks "trailer parkish" where it is now. Plus I hope it gets a little better coverage if it is up higher.

What my 2 meter antenna looks like at the moment.


Operating

My activity has slowed down some lately. I bought a Kindle so I have been reading up a storm lately. I have read a lot about WWII lately, mostly about the Philippines. Some very interesting and moving accounts of those early times in the war.

I am still doing brags and WES, but not as aggressively as in the past. I am still working on the 2xQRP award. I now has 128 points and working towards Sx6.

 Well all for now CUL

- 73

Thursday, March 18, 2021

K3Y 2016-2021, Weird key failure, VOAProp fail, odd email from the ARRL and more!!

Well, back again. It has been interesting times.  

I remember a story a college history professor told us on our first day of class: 

"The old king had died and his son, who was not well like by one of the old kings advisor was to be crowned. At the ceremony Each person present was to say a few "flattering" remarks to the new king. The old advisor couldn't think of anything nice to say about the new king. So he thought about it for awhile and realized that the most interesting times in history were those of great turmoil. So when it came time for the old advisor to speak, he said "May you live in the most interesting of times".

For myself, I rather live in boring times, thank you very much!!

K3Y Events

Here it is February and the K3Y event has been over for about 2 weeks now. I ended up doing pretty good this year. I got the grand sweep and had 91 band slots with over 100 K3Y operators worked. My best year so far. The only thing I would have liked to do was to work 160M. But I have been too lazy in putting up an antenna for160M.

The below link is a google spreadsheet of my K3Y band map for the years 2016-2020.  I was actually able to use the skcc_skimmer to generate the band map for each year. Since my SKCCLogger file has all my contacts since Jan of 2015, all I had to do was set the K3Y_YEAR parameter to the year I wanted and relaunch skimmer. I then cut and pasted the chart into a text file and then imported the text file to Open Office spreadsheet. Pretty cool!

Click here -> K3Y 2016-2020 

Below is the band map for 2021 K3Y. Already sent in my SASE for my QSL card!


Key Failure
Had a very strange key failure recently. One morning I was all set to answer a CQ, but no transmit. I was able to narrow it down to my VibroPlex key, very strange. So I got out the old Ohm meter and started poking around, looking for a broken wire or loose connection. Plug was good, had continuity from the contacts all the way to the plug, except for the ground terminal, which tied to the base/paddles. So no contact between the paddle and the terminal post. So how can this happen?? What it turn out to be, was the screws that secure the paddle assemble to the base were loose. All I had to do was tighten the screws and all was good. Go figure!!

The two screws on the left had to be tightened


Log File corrected for K3Y
Back in 2016 and 2017, I missed logged all of my K3Y contacts. I erroneously put K3Y as the call instead of using the operators call. This royally screwed up my log. Fortunately, the comment block had the operators call along with the SKCC number, so I was able to set things right. It probable took about  an hour to fix, so all is good now.

Awards
Since I moved back to MA in 2018, I started to work on another LoTW CW WAS award. I finally got it last month. NV was my last holdout. Thanks to Tom W4FLL!!



I also have  received my Tx25 award.

Email from ARRL
So I received this email from the ARRL on Jan 17. I thought it was odd, especial the last paragraph. That is until I watch "60 minutes" on Feb 14 and there it was. Enough said.

ARRL on the Purpose of Amateur Radio

Inbox

ARRL Web site memberlist@www.arrl.org

Jan 17, 2021, 2:42 PM
 to me

For over 100 years amateur radio and ARRL — the National Association for Amateur Radio® — have stood for the development of the science and art of communications, public service, and the enhancement of international goodwill. Amateur Radio’s long history and service to the public has solidified the well-earned reputation that “Amateur Radio saves lives.”


ARRL on the Purpose of Amateur Radio

For over 100 years amateur radio and ARRL — the National Association for 

Amateur Radio® — have stood for the development of the science and art of

 communications, public service, and the enhancement of international goodwill.

 Amateur Radio’s long history and service to the public has solidified the

 well-earned reputation that “Amateur Radio saves lives.”

Amateur Radio Operators, due to their history of public service, their training,

 and the requirement that they be licensed by the FCC have earned their status 

as a component of critical communications infrastructure and as a reliable 

resource “when all else fails."

Amateur Radio is about development of communications and responsible 

public service. Its misuse is inconsistent with its history of service and its 

statutory charter. ARRL does not support its misuse for purposes inconsistent 

with these values and purposes.

 


VOAProp fail
Twice now when Windows does an update, VOAProp kind of disappears. It is there on the tool bar, but does not display. It turns out I have to uninstall VOAProp and delete all the remaining files manually and then reinstall. A nuisance but at least it is back.

All for now see you soon 73!!


Sunday, January 24, 2021

New 160M sloper, K3Y event(2020), More RFI woes with hard Wired Smoke Detectors

Note: This post was started June 22 2020. I just couldn't bring myself to post at that time. I am finishing it now.

160M Sloper:
Sort of got my 160M sloper up and it doesn't work very well yet. The reason, I believe,  is that it is not very high. Only about 20 feet at the feed point and really doesn't slope much. I need to get it higher and a little more of a slope. I think I will wait for warmer weather. I need a longer feed line for one thing and more rope for another.

One side benefit, my OCF 80-6M Windom now tunes on 160M. I am going to say the reason for this there is about 40 foot stretch where both feed lines are parallel and next to each other.

Update: Well I tried to raise the slopper higher but met with disaster! The feed point end was tied high in a tree in front of my garage and the other end was tied to a tree trunk out back of the house. We had a pretty good wind storm one night and the line tied to the feed end broke and the whole thing came crashing down and busted. It also put a big dent in the side of the garage door. Not good at all, the XYL was not pleased!!!

So, I have bought a 160M to 6M OCF from RadioWavz . Hasn't gone up yet. I am waiting for some warmer weather. It is about 20 F today BTW. (Jan 24, 2021)

Flex 6300:
Discovered something about SmartSDR that I didn't know. Last week I put up a 160 meter sloper. I have connected it to the Ant2 input to my Flex 6300. So this means that when I am on the 160 meter band, I want Ant2 active.

At first I was a little confused how to do this. If all else fails, RTFM! It turns out, if you use the Band select button on the left of the display, and select your bands that way, and if you have already setup a receiver for that band, SmartSDR will use that receivers parameters. Otherwise, you will have to create one.

For almost since I started using my 6300, I have just been type in a frequency in the receiver window. Early on the band select would not keep my settings and I would have set it up again. This was fixed a long time ago, but I keep changing bands by typing in the frequency I wanted.

BTW Flex finally came out with a fix for all the DAX issues when Windows upgrades it software. New version is: 1.12.1.35. I found out by accident via an email from the flex forum. There was no notification sent out but Flex. So it is a good thing to monitor the Flex forum.

RFI Woes:
Still have a problem with my hardwired smoke detectors and 20M. So for now I am only outputing 50 Watts on 20M. All other bands are fine.

K3Y Event:
Well, did OK this year in the K3Y, but failed to get AS this year. Below are some screens shots. Things of note: Worked 160-6 meters for region 1. This is more of a stunt, because I have several SKCC members who are very close to me. So the upper bands are basically line of sight or ground wave. Max, KH6ZM from HI was very strong and I got him on 6 bands including 10M!!

My layout for operating



Log results for K3Y. Only missed AS this year.

OK will post this now. Hope to post again after the 2021 K3Y.

73

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Chasing K3Y made easier

 Every year the SKCC has an anniversary in January called K3Y . There are several tools available to make it easier to find K3Y operators.

1) skcc_skimmer

2) SKCC Sked Page 

3) Your favorite logging program that has a comment field. I use the SKCCLogger by Ron AC2C.

For skcc_skimmer. There are several things you have to do to display K3Y spots.

1) K3Y has to be a goal.

2) K3Y_YEAR parameter has to be set to the correct year.

3) make sure skimmer is using the correct log file (*.adi)

When you log a K3Y, DO NOT  put K3Y as the call!! Use the operators call. Most K3Y operators will send their call when they send their name (for instance, Dave/KB1WOD) . If not, you can asked them for it or use the number they sent to look up their call. 

In the comment field of your log, put the K3Y call that was sent, for instance K3Y/0. 

On the sked page, K3Y operators can put "K3Y/X FREQ" in their status. This will show up in skimmer as a K3Y goal.

One thing that these tools can't do, is look for different operators for the same K3Y/X. Which is a category in the K3Y event.  Also, sometime someone on the sked page puts some like "Looking for K3Y/0 15M" in their status. Unfortunately, this will show up as a bogus goal if you are need the same thing.


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Near-Fest Fall 2019, Strange electrical problem, more tinkering and the 160 meter antenna is up finally!!

I want to say hi to Judy, KE6MHX and Dave out in CA. I worked with them (remotely) for many years. They read my blog from time to time. I had a chance to have lunch with Judy recently. She still works for Kollmorgen and was out here for work, so we got together for lunch. Really enjoyed visiting with her. Hope to CUAGN Judy 88/73

Near-Fest Fall 2019:
Wasn't going to go to Near-Fest in October because there was a Nor'Easter that weekend and I didn't want to be driving in the pouring rain. But Larry N1FG ask me if I was going and it turned out the storm was further out to sea then expected and the weather was rather nice.

I saw a lot of  70's ham gear for sale this year. Most were in the $200 to $300 range. Most of these radios were pre-WARC.

I was surprises to see several Kenwood MC-50 Mic stands for sale. I was looking for one several years ago but couldn't find one.  I pick one up, with the mic for $50. It works great!

MC-50 with Mic that I bought at Near-Fest
Met up with Larry, N1FG by the Community Church food pavilion (where else? hihi). Larry took a road trip across the country this last summer and made several stops to visit some SKCC members along the the way, Including Bert, F6HKA, who was at Dayton and Tony, K6ELQ out in CA among others Please read about his road trip in the Sept 2019 Rag Chew .

Larry N1FG and me met at my favorite spot at Near-Fest. 

New England Vintage Electronics Club:
Usually I don't get into the antique radio items at Near-Fest, but this radio caught my eye. It is an Apex radio, which I never heard of. Two features of this radio are: Tubes are shock mounted and the user has to supply all the DC voltage to run it. 

From what I understand, early on not a lot of houses were wired with electricity, radio manufacturers would have to provide terminals for the DC voltages and the customer would have to supply these voltages.  Deriving them form what power source they could get there hands on. Visit their web site here

Apex radio

The tubes are shock mounted to reduce micro-phonics. Notice the DC terminals

Met Bill Holly at Near-Fest. Bill has a nice collection of keys, mostly VibroPlex. He has written a book the history of the VibroPlex company, but, unfortunately, I don't think you can get it anymore.

He had some copies of another book he wrote called "Love Letters to Spike". See photo below. I thought I had an email address for Bill, but damned if I can remember it.

Meet Bill Holly, K1BH. He has quite the collection of telegraph keys. Has written a book on VibroPlex keys

I bought this book from Bill K1BH. Interesting read about a telegraph operators love letters to his girl.

No explanation necessary.

Strange Electrically Problem:
I started having some strange electrical problems. When I keyed my radio just once, the floor lamp started to flicker very randomly. Very annoying to say the least. I got the electrician over that did the wiring to look at the problem. What he did to solve the problem was to short the neutral to ground at the box in the garage.  That seems to have solved the problem. He also replaced the arc fault circuit breakers in the box. Everyone knows they suck, right?

DG-5 repair:

My Kenwood DG-5 digital display had some more issues. First off, the display was real dim. This turned out to be a bad feed through on the PCB at the base of 2SD235 transistor.

Second, the upper two digits were acting flaky. And guess what? more bad vias.

Not entirely surprising, it turns out the DG-5 was plagued with bad vias. There are about 82 on the main PCB. I think I fixed about 20.

Some people just heat up and apply a little solder to the via. A much better fix is to pass a 24 or 30 gauge single strand wire through the via and solder on both sides of the PCB. This provides a mechanical as well as an electrical connection.

It still has some flakiness, but better then before. I will probable have to do all the vias, but not today.

My Kenwood TS-520S with the DG-5 digital display.
160 meter Sloper:

Finally was able to put up my 160 meter sloper. I have had this antenna for about three years now. I got it when I was still living in VT. Had a lot of trouble trying to get it up in a pine tree but was never successful.

However, it was not that difficult to put up here at my Georgetown home. I actually got the line over the tree in the front of the house the first try. A first for me hihi. It took me two days to finish only because I am having issues with my knees lately and didn't want to go up and down stairs too many times in one day. Getting old sucks!!

The picture is a little dark, but my 160m sloper is up. You can see my 80-10M OCF Windom dipole just above and to the right.

Ground line to ground rod.

Not the best picture but the view from the back yard.
SKCC:
There has been a couple of interesting discussions on the news/user group about head copying code and also using a computer to decode CW. If you get a chance, or haven't already done so, you might want to read through these treads. Also one on "My winter time QRN is back"started by Russ K1RWT. Russ lives in the next town over from me. I pass by his house when we do our grocery shopping. Nice house, almost downtown Groveland. Quite a few business around him. I suspect a heating system in one of them is what is causing his problem.
WES:
Month count overall QRO
Oct        51       63        51
Nov       33      129      90
Brags:
Month count place
Oct        70      16

As you know we are at the minimum of the Sunspot cycle. But you can still get some DX in. Last month I was able to get Australia, Argentina  and Israel. Not bad for less then 100 Watts and a flat lander to boot!!

Well, I think I should stop this here. It has already taken me almost two months to just write this small bit.

All for now!

-73 Dave KB1WOD




Thursday, October 10, 2019

NearFest, Shack DONE, OCF Windom back up and some RFI issues solved!!

Well, it has been awhile. I guess it is time to do an update on things. Actually it has been a really long time. I started this post in the spring and it is now October. Gee, do I procrastinate.

Near-Fest (spring 2019)
Was not bad weather this Spring at Near-Fest. However, it seems vendors and the flea market have thinned out. I am not sure why. Maybe the fact that Boxborough Ham Fest is every year now is impacting Near-Fest.

I did buy three stereo cable with 1/4 inch plugs for my TKA key project. I am waiting for my shack to be complete to finish the project.

I did see Larry,  N1FG and of course he took some pictures for the "Rag Chew". Always nice to meet up with Larry.

The real tragedy was the church concession was not open. So no apple pie this year.

OCF Windom
Well I was able to put up my OCF Windom dipole. I took the EFHW antenna down. It had broken several times and needed to be retired. Glad I was able to get my OCF back up.

I think the root cause of the EFHW failure was because one end was tied to the porch, which did not allow any give when there was some wind. We had some 50 mph winds which put a lot of strain on the antenna. So I shouldn't be surprises it broke.

I am hoping since the OCF dipole is anchored in two trees, it will not be as prone to breakage.

OCF dipole

Closeup of OCF

Temporary mount for my Slim Jim 2m/70cm antenna. I hope to get it mounted  to the back of the garage when my ham shack is completed.

Toilet flange used as antenna wire input to ham shack.

Flex
Nothing too shattering form the Flex front. I did have a DAX issue that was caused by a Windows update. So I submitted a bug report and within a day Tim had the problem fixed. For some reason some of the DAX drivers got named wrong and Tim just had to rename them.

I must say Flex service is great. Never had an issue they could not solve.

Shack Update
The shack is finally complete and I have moved in!

Below are some pictures of the ham shack being built.

Since the room above the garage was never intended to be used, the contractor needed to add a beam down the middle of the floor because the span was too long for the joist. They also needed two beams across the width of the garage. One over the garage door and one in the back of the garage.
floor beam


This was the Faux door on the front of the garage.

Window to replace the Faux door.


Wall between shack and storage area


Storage area


Stairs and platform.
Open for business



The new shack!!


Of course setting up the shack was not without problems. When I was setting up, I started setting of the smoke/heat detectors in the garage, mostly 40M and 20M. If I reduced power, the problem would go away. My solution was to route the lead in coax from the antenna completely around  the back of the storage room and the shack. I also rearranged my layout so the radio is now towards the front of the garage and further away from the smoke/heat detectors. This solved my RFI issues with the smoke detectors and also greatly reduced the RFI into my speakers.

WES:
Here are my WES results. I didn't submit a May or June WES.

Month   count overall   QRO
April       42      86          57
July        55       27         17
Aug        29      72          52
Sept       13       172       123

Brags:
Here are my Brag results for April to September. Not getting the 90+ brags that I was trying for every month. Kind of fell of the wagon.

Month    count     placed
April        21           42
May         59           26   I was bonus brag this month
June         28           24
July          48           21
Aug         36           16
Sept         36           21


That is it for now.

73 - Dave KB1WOD

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

SKCC K3Y event, Antenna problems, Shack update and Who am I?

Time for another installment!

Good news!! I finally made Sx4. It took a real long time to get there. Hopefully Sx5 will be not so hard, especially with all the new members joining. There are already new Senators with numbers in the 17, 18 and 19 hundreds! Truly remarkable.  I guess we are getting our name out there and more people are trying CW.

CW skills:
Recently there was a topic on the SKCC groups.io about CW skills. There were several things talked about.

One was that it appears some operators were using some form of decode software to read CW. I know this for a fact. I actually had one operator tell me that is what he was in fact doing.

A second comment was that some were using "electronic code generators". I know that the rules allow this if you have some impairment that does not allow you to use a mechanical key. But, I have heard some hams calling a "perfect" CQ but when they start a QSO, the sending is not quite the same quality.

Of course my road to learning CW was all wrong. I started by memorizing the code and repeating it in my head without really listening to it. Big mistake. I tried to use a decoder, but found they left a lot to be desired. Decoders expect mostly perfect code and perfect conditions. They are more or less designed for contesting.

I tried listing to the ARRL CW practice files on my computer. That worked OK but just.

A great book to read is  "The Art and Skill of Radio-Telegraphy" By William G. Pierpont NØHFF (SK). This pointed out all the mistakes I was making, and I was making a lot!!

Copying in your head is probably the best skill to try and acquire.  Recently I have been listening to random words (500 most common) at 18 WPM with characters at 25 WPM. I listen for about 2 mins and try and copy them. I am using the JLMC  program by Sigurd Stenersen LB3KB. It is fairly programmable so it works well. I probably get about 20-40% but this has help me a lot in the head copy department.

K3Y:
Well, the K3Y event is over and, unfortunately, I only got 18 of the 19 regions. I missed out on AF. There was only one station on from Africa and that was John ZS6JBJ. 

John did a great job, but conditions were not great here in MA for an AF contact. Only a couple of times did I hear him at 329 but most of the time there was nothing heard at all. Plus the pile ups were bad. John only had 101 total contacts, which was the least of all areas. South Africa is a tough place to get.

It seems John tried to be on at least twice a day everyday. He was mostly on 40 and 20 meters. Oh well, maybe next year.

John ZS6JBJ Thanks for being a K3Y operator. I really appreciate your dedication!

There was a remarkable number of QSOs, over 32,000! By the way, the free map web app exceeded the usage limit. so you can't see the K3Y operators location.

Antenna:
Well my antenna broke three times. It turns out that where the wire goes into the trap is a weak point.
If you look at the first picture, you will see that the antenna wire goes into the first hole, loops around, comes out the second hole and then is wound around the form and then repeats the threading on the opposite end.
Looking at the second photo, you can see the wire has broken right at the hole. (ignore the spider nest hihi). What I did to try and fix it, was to move the trap up about an inch and try and splice the wire together.

Well that worked OK for a couple of weeks, and then it broke again where I had spliced the wire. So for the second repair, I tied the wire together with a square knot and soldered the ends together.

Well that only lasted a little while before it broke again. Finally I tied a square knot again and just twisted the ends of the wire together and put a bunch of electrical tape around it.

Turns out wind is a big problem for me here in Georgetown. We were getting 50-60 MPH winds here. No wonder my antenna broke!

I have finally used some bungee cords to help with the wind problem. That seems to have work for now.

Now that the weather is getting better, I think I will try and put up my OCF Windom. Hopefully that will stay up better.


Added Bungee cords. One at the transformer end and one about 20 feet along the wire looped around the porch railing. This helps with strain relief for the antenna.

WES:
Here are my results for the last 4 WES events. As you can see, I have been slacking as of late.

Dec 80 QSOs 39 overall 24 QRO (good for 10th place all time for area 1/MA)

Jan  52 QSOs 40 overall 22 QRO

Feb did not post results only made 13 contacts. I should have posted anyways just to get the number of participants up a little.

Mar 43 QSOs 84 overall 56 QRO

I don't know if this is new or not, but on the WES page, there are some statistics that are quite interesting. It gives results of top 10 scores for all areas and states at this link: Weekend Sprintathon Participation Statistic . Interestingly I have 10th place for MA and I have 7 out of 10 top 10 for VT. Of course VT doesn't have a lot of members, 74, (0.37% of total members) and not many participate in the WES. Also most of my WES events were done in VT.

Brags:
Month  QSOs place
Nov      81      19th
Dec      97      16th
Jan      105      37th (K3Ys counted as brags)
Feb     39        25th

Progress on new shack:
Oh I wish! Well I did get a structural engineer to design the changes that need to be done to the floor above the garage. Now I am waiting for my builder to come over and pick up the drawings so he can start the project. and waiting and waiting....

Who am I? (Ancestry DNA:)
Off topic but interesting. As a Christmas present this year, I got an ancestryDNA kit. So I sent it in and didn't get any real surprises.

I am basically English (73%), Irish, Scottish (22%) and about 5% Germanic.

Flex:
Flex radio has released V3 of their 6000 software. Again it will cost you $200 to upgrade. I am still running the latest version 1. V3 doesn't have anything I need. My 6300 has locked up a couple of times but not enough to make me go crazy and spend $200.

All for now - 73 Dave KB1WOD


Saturday, November 17, 2018

Oct 2018 Near-Fest, K3Y QSL card, QRP, Log book woes AGAIN! and much more of course

Near-Fest:

This October was not a good one for Near-Fest. It was wet and cold. Not too many vendors or flea market guys showed up. So it was very sparse this year.

However, I did run into Mike N1STN who had some interesting antenna launchers for sale.
We have all seen this type of antenna launcher before; however, this one is a little different. It has an extension piece on the valve to make it easier to fire the launcher. It is also built with much better PVC material. Mike says he routinely puts 100 psi of pressure into the launcher.

He only makes a few and sells them only at Ham flea markets. He also makes one with an electric valve trigger, but those were sold out.

They are completely assembled and very well constructed. I want to say they were $120 but I can't remember now.

Antenna launcher


Close up view. Notice the projectiles are small orange colored PVC types.


Air cannon with an electric valve. Mike was kind enough to send me this picture. Thanks Mike!

Of course the main reason I go to Near-Fest is for the home made desserts! This year it was Dutch apple pie. Very good!!!

The local church group runs this food concession where they serve the pie.


Pie special this year: Dutch Apple Pie Ala mode! Yummy!!

Ran into this interesting looking trailer. Reminded me of the NestEgg trailers. It turns out this was a prototype trailer someone had built. The person had a complete Ham station inside.

This is a home made "Egg"

Of course no visit to Near-Fest would be complete without stopping by the Nut Net table with Brian WO1VES and Harry WA1VVH.  The Nut Net is an informal net that starts every night at 11:00 P.M. on the NSRA Danvers MA repeater and is open to everyone. Brian was telling me that there are not a lot of check ins, but he says there are a lot of listeners. He says a lot of people tell him how much they like listening to the Nut Net.

I must admit it is quite informative as well as entertaining.
The Nut Net guys Harry and Brian.
K3Y QSL card:
Well, here is my 2018 K3Y QSL card. This one was special because I got the grand sweep. Other years I would only get 18 of 19. One year it was Asia and one year it was South America.

Notice that I had gotten them all by the 9th. I wasn't taking any chances this year!!

The reason I got it so late is because I was moving and didn't want to worry about having it sent to the wrong address. Especially since I was not sure where I would be for awhile.

Thanks to Drew AF2Z and Jeremy KD8VSQ for getting this QSL card to me!

K3Y QSL front



K3Y QSL back

QRP:

Moving along, got 60 (need 150) 2xQRP points so far. One note: I have had a couple of sked page QSOs where the other operator was QRP, but did not indicate that they were until they sent their power. It would be helpful if you request a SKCC qso and you are QRP, to please let me know that  ahead of time. It will save me some time. Or I could just ask HIHI.

Log book woes:

Well, I did it again. I forgot to correct the clock in the K2FRP SprintLogger. All 59 of my QSOs were off by one hour. It took me half the day to correct the log and correct eQSL.cc and LoTW.
Maybe I should stop using it.

Windows bit me with an update. I have been able to just ignore the recovery feature for the SKCCLogger, but this time.. NOPE!!. When I opened the logger, I noticed that none of my QSOs since WES were there. Fortunately, I was able to recover them after an initial moment of panic.

SKCC:
I am working towards Sx4. It is taking me a long time to get there. The main reason has been the two moves I have had in 4 months. My antenna isn't as good as what I had in VT plus I was off the air for 2 months. I am down to needing 60 more "T"s.

WES:
October WES  I had 77 QSO and was 36th overall and 20th in QRO. Bonus was to spell words from calls. I missed one word. I needed one more "P".

November WES was not so good. Ended up with only 59 QSOs and was way down in the standings.  I was 69th overall and 51st in QRO, not my best effort.

Brag:
Did not get my 3 per day this month. I ended up with 73 brags which was good enough for 17th place.

Rag Chew:

BTW I got a mention in the June issue of the Rag Chew news letter in the Brag section. Also my article "The SKCC for the Intellectually Challenged " is in the March issue. If you haven't read the Rag Chew, you should. Not just because of me... there are a lot of good things in there.

Here is a link to all issues The Rag Chew

Ted, K8AQM is the editor and is always looking for material for the news letter, so if you have something, let him know. Thanks Ted for your efforts!!

QSOs:

I have had 309 QSOs since my last Oct 3rd. All were CW.



Wednesday, October 3, 2018

GFCIs replaced, New SKCC cootie key, New power supply



GFCI:

So a few post ago, I was complaining about the GFCIs my electrician installed. So I bought some Leviton GFCIs and had my electrician replace the ones he installed. Big difference, they work great. The ones that were replaced were from General Protecht. Which are made in China. Lesson learned: "Use the good stuff or you will regret it". By the way, thanks for all the advice I got from the group on this. It really helped

SKCC cootie:

LNR Precision INC. is selling sideswiper keys with the SKCC logo on the base. So I bought one, of course. It was less the $100.00 and arrived about a week ago. I have been using it for awhile and like the feel. It has about a 2 1/2 pound base so it is very stable. They sold out quickly but will do another run of 100 I think.

Thanks Randy KB4QQJ for this cool cootie!! Please visit his QRZ.COM page.
My new SKCC cootie key

Here is a little video of my SKCC sideswiper in action.



Power supply:

I have been using a TekPower power supply model number TP30SWV for a couple of years now. I had a lot of "odd" noise artifacts on my Flex 6300, which I wasn't sure it was from the power supply or not. So I decided to buy a new supply. I bought an Alinco DM-30T from DX Engineering. Boy what a difference. No more funny wandering noise issue. I should have gotten one of these in the first place. Again "Use the the good stuff or you will regret it". I am think about using the TekPower  supply to power my 2 meter rig to see if it cause any issue with it. I am going to say no, because the 2 meter rig is FM so it should be immune to AM noise.

WES:

For the September WES I was not able to put in a full day on Saturday, but was able to do so on Sunday. This months theme was Cootie Operators. This is a picture of my "Cootie". I been using it exclusively for about a year now and really enjoy it. 
I was 22nd overall out of 227 and 15th out of 166 in the QRO group. 





Brags:

Got 71 brags this month. Fell short of my 3 a day goal. I am at 11th place right now but window on brags doesn't close until the 15th of the month.

QRP:

Still working on this. I have 32 points so far for the 2xQRP award. I need 150.
For 1xQRP I have 52 points. I need 300.

QSO:

Made 147 CW QSOs in September. Also 7 FT8 contacts just for fun.



Monday, September 17, 2018

Nostalgia, Antenna repair, QRP at the worst of times and etc.

Nostalgia:
 Back in 2012, or there about, I tried to look up my old call sign (WB1AHE) on the F.C.C. U.L.S. site with no results. I could not remember when exactly I had gotten my first Ham license and wanted to see if it was in their data base. Alas, No.

The other day, I decided to google my old call signed and got a pleasant surprise. There is a web site called archive.org .that has a ton of free material on line. It actually had the Radio Amateur Callbook on line and searchable!! Visit the site. I think you will find it interesting. Oh, bye the way, I did find my call sign in the 1977-78 Radio Amateur Callbook.

As you know, I just moved into my new/last QTH. As I was unpacking, I noticed a book marker in a 1976 ARRL Handbook. When I opened to the bookmark, I saw the article for the QRP transmatch that I had built for my HW-8. I had forgotten all about it. It even had some of my hand written scribbles for a switch I had added for a 50 ohm resistor load used to tune the final of the HW-8! Also I found the section for the first dipole antenna I built. It was a folded dipole (bazooka) antenna cut for 15 meters.

It actually worked quit well. Conditions must have been good back then because I made a lot of contacts to TX, MS and LA with it.

My first home made dipole. A 15 meter "Bazooka"
The QRP transmatch I build for my HW-8 random wire antenna
Antenna:
When I moved from VT at the begin of March 2018, I had to take down my outside antenna. There was still a foot of snow on the ground. One end came down without a problem, but the other end; was not coming down. The rope I used to tie that end had wrapped itself around a branch. I could not budge it. I finally was able to break the wire at the crimp. Of course, I wound up flat on my back in the snow. Was pretty funny, but it was down. So now I need to repair it.

I got all the pieces to repair my Carolina Windom™ antenna. Up until now, I have been calling this a OCF dipole, which turns out to not be exactly correct. I think when you add the vertical radiator, it becomes a Carolina Windom™. But since that is a trade mark name, W8AMZ (SK) could not use it. Therefore, it is called an OCF dipole / Windom. If you are interested, there is a good explanation here of the  Carolina Windom  by Jim Thompson, W4THU.

The dimensions for the W8AMZ are slightly different then the  Carolina Windom™. The short side is 44' for the W8AMZ and 50' for the  Carolina Windom™.  Overall length is about the same, only where the off center is placed is different.

So repairs are complete. Just waiting for the leaves to drop.


My W8AMZ OCF dipole/ Windom missing the short leg
First Step: solder new wire to the end of the old wire and do the strain relief.

Second step: measure out 44' and add isolator to the end

WES:
I had a great time with the September WES this month. I was not able to work most of Saturday, but was able to work almost all of Sunday. I finished with 72 QSOs and 870 bonus points.

I was 22nd overall and 15th in the QRO 100 W or less group. I will take it.

This month's theme was Cootie/sideswiper operators, of which, I am one. So for every cootie contact I made I got double points.

Brag:
Had a good August brag count. 106 plus the bonus station, Steve  VK7CW. September will probable not be as good.

QRP:
I have decided to try for thr 1xQRP and 2xQRP awards. Since conditions at very poor and will only get worst in the next year or so, I figured it would be a good challenge. Lets face it, anyone can work QRP when the conditions are good HIHI.