Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Years (Resolution)

I was motivated by Alastair Humphreys blog post to set a "radio micro-adventure" goal for 2013

I'm going to devote time once a month to pursue my two passions outside of family and work:   The Great Outdoors and Amateur Radio.  I'll plan my own "radio microadventure" each month:  Hike, Bike, or Climb to some wilderness location near my home.   Bring portable radio gear capable of making contacts with other radio operators around the world using morse code.  Log several contacts, and then return home.  I plan for these to be day adventures, and hope to incorporate some camping during the year.  Hey, this is kind of "geeky" but I'm excited to combine the physical challenges of the outdoors with the mental challenges of getting a portable radio station on the air.  Alastair Humphreys blog.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Radio Central Contact

Tuning the dial several weeks ago, I was fortunate to hear the W2RC Special Event Station, sponsored by the Radio Central Amateur Radio Club.  There sounded to be a number of club members operating CW with the call.  'Really great to hear CW used in a Special Event!  Shortly after my successful contact, I received a nice certificate suitable for framing, documenting the QSO vial email.

A great part of Amateur Radio is the ability to learn a bit about history, while using present and future technology.  I did a little web research on this historic transmitter on Long Island, NY.   Beginning operation in 1921, I understand this was the most powerful radio transmitter of its time.  The antenna array consisted of multiple 450 foot towers.


The RCA Rocky Point Facility was dubbed in 1922 as "The Worlds Greatest Radio Station"

The facilities were demolished in the 1970s, and the land turned into a nature preserve.  I suspect quite a feat for Long Island.  Quite a few artifacts appear to remain in the area, as documented by a photographer and published to Webshots.  I especially like the photo of the 150 foot tower resting quietly in the woods.  

Thanks to all who participate in the W2RC special event.   I enjoyed the contact and learning more about this historical facility.
Photos courtesy of W2RC QSO Certificate and Wikimapia.

mPING for iPhone

28 degrees   Heavy Snow    Relatively Calm Winds   Barometer  29.48" and Falling

Ok, I think this is Citizen's Science at it's best!  I've been periodically submitting  Winter Weather Precipitation Reports to a research project of the National Severe Storms Laboratory called PING:  Precipitation Identification Near the Ground.  I first learned of this program at From the Key of W1PNS, a fine amateur radio blog by my New England neighbor, Pete W1PNS.  You basically help meteorologists correlate their radar images with what's actually happening on the ground at your location.  To date, you had to navigate to their web site, manually enter your longitude & latitude, and select from a menu of precipitation types.

Tonight we're experiencing some rather heavy snowfall.   As I went to record an observation, I saw that PING now has an iPhone app to allow for observers to file reports, with automated location entry, on the go.   I just sent my first iPhone PING report to the NSSL.  Check it out:  mPING at the iTunes Store

Friday, December 28, 2012

A little reading for 2013

A definite advantage of living in central Connecticut is the ability to drop by the bookstore at ARRL HQ.  There's nothing like have a bookstore experience, browsing through dozens of books ONLY about ham radio.  In addition to (most) all ARRL publications, they have books from RSGB, and some other publishers, such as Idiom Press.   There a noticeable absence of CQ publications.  I used a quick trip to Newington today to pick up some fun reading for 2013.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Working for a string of QRP Contacts

35 degrees
light (but constant) rain

The weather threatened to be messy here, but the freezing temperatures are just above us in Massachusetts.  We've had probably 1/2 inch of rain in the past 24 hours.

I answered NU5X, Jim in Arkansas tonight with 5 watts on 40 meters.  He picked up my call on the first try with a 339 signal report.  We worked 30 meters earlier in the year.

I've decided no New Year's resolutions for 2013.  I don't tend to keep them.  But I hope this will be the beginning of a string of QRP contacts for the coming year.  I have my eye on some NAQCC and SKCC low power awards.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Straight Key Century Club WES

I hoped to start this weekend with some hiking and portable radio operating. A large to-do list for the weekend, and a cool drizzle called for a change of plans. I decided to set up in the backyard and hold a DOTA. You know, "Driveway on the Air". This turned out to be a nice opportunity to check out my portable setup, which had been packed away for most of this summer. I soon realized I was missing the pipe for my fiberglass Jackite Jack pole mount. That was solved by a quick trip to the local hardware store.

I set up my Yaesu 817, Par N-Fed 20/40 meter antenna, and American Morse iambic key.

I called CQ on 20 meters for about 30 minutes without luck. As I tuned down from 14.060, I heard a number of strong CW signals. The Straight Key Century Club WES started early this month!

I didn't have much time left. However, I quickly made 3 contacts with SKCC members. Thanks to N9ZXL, W4CUX, and W9DLN for picking my call out if the ether.