Friday, December 6, 2013

Winter Storm Cleon Heads East

I'm tracking the weather here closely this weekend as the December Ice Storm moves into Southern New England.  I'll have to work a little radio along the way!

Friday Evening

23:01 UTC
There's steady light rain at present, with a report sent to mPing.   There's 0.08 inches of rain in the rain gauge.

Saturday Morning - Casually working the ARRL 160m CW Net

I had the privelede of checking into the Special Hartford Tolland County Weather Net for Skywarn Recognition Day

K1PAI - Roger Net Control
WA1KGQ Vernon CT Repeater 146.790
and linked repeater
W1AEC/R Dartmough MA  WX1BOX, NWS Taunton

Hartford Tolland Co - Skywarn Recognition Day - Special Net

My working list of Stations Checking in with conditions:


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Monday, December 2, 2013

NAQCC Sunday Night Net

Ron, WB1HGA, was the net control operator for this Sunday's North American QRP CW Club Net.  the NAQCC apparently moved the net to 80 meters this week as a test.   This was a great opportunity to try my new 80m dipole.

 Net control was located just "up the road" in Massachusetts and quickly returned my call.  I gave Ron a 559 signal report, and listened for other checkins.   I'm not very experienced with CW nets, and even this slow speed net gave me a little challenge.  I copied the following stations:


A VE3 station called several times.   I couldn't complete the call nor could net control.   Hopefully next time!  A listing of the NAQCC nets can be found at their web site --> NAQCC QRS Nets.

Phil, N1DN

Sunday, December 1, 2013

10m Beacon Activity

42 degrees, cloudy
30.11 in and falling

The Solar Flux is 133, and a number of 10 meter beacons are visible on the waterfall and audible to the ear today

28.204KA1KNWSouth Windsor, CT
28.224K5GIRCorpus Christie, TX
28.22KP3FTPonce, PR
28.219VE4ARMBrandon, MB
28.214XE3DMerida, Mexico
28.213KF5KBZAustin, TX
28.203PY2WFGSao Paolo, Brazil
28.189LU2DTMar Del Plata, Argentina
28.181VY0SNOIqaluit, Canada

   10 Meter Beacon N1DN/B
   Yaesu 817d at 5 watts to Solarcon A99 Trimed for 10m
    All reception reports are most apprreciated!

Phil, N1DN

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Small Business Saturday, Radio Style

27 Degrees and Clear
Winds Calm

It's freezing...really.  The high today was only 32.  The ground is feezing, but there's no snow yet.   All the leaves have fallen, and the poison ivy is dead.  In other words, all the ingredients are in place for putting up a new home-brew antenna!

The internal tuner in my new Flex 3000 will not tune the existing wire antennas on 80 meters CW, so this was just the excuse I needed to put up a new dipole.  I considered several options including an off center dipole, end-fed zepp, and trying to rebuild my inverted-L (that never seemed to work that well).   I settled on a straight forward dipole cut for the lower part of the 80 meter band.

Today was "Small Business Saturday" encouraging all to shop with local merchants.  I'm proud to say that I visited my local radio shop, Lentini Communications, to get some necessary parts for the build:  JetStream Center Insulator, Insulators, PL259 Connectors, and Coax Seal.  You can never have enough Cox Seal.  I'm very lucky to still have a radio shop in town.  Lentini's stock favors HTs, mobile rigs & antennas, and supplies with an occasional HF Rig to admire..  Bill, N1JBS, is always behind the counter ready to help, give advice, and chat about ham related topics.

I used the online KWARC Dipole Calculator to determine a length of 66 feet for each leg of the dipole, and suspended the center connector from a pre-existing tree mounted pulley left over from the inverted-L.  This dipole is a sloper, with an angle of about 30 degrees at the apex.    At test time, the antenna is receiving nicely, and the SWR is 1.2 at 3.510 MHz.   That was fun, and relatively easy.  In fact, I'm thinking about trying an Off-Center Dipole.  The East-West orientation of this new antenna may give me a DX advantage on other bands using a OCD build.  I think I'll have to make another visit to Lintini's next week for a 4:1 current balun.

I hope to C U on 80m CW this winter.

Phil, N1DN

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Equipment Woes

46 degrees, mostly clear
Winds 5 from the east
30.03" and steady

I've grown to really like my Kenwood TS590 transceiver.   Based upon my modest knowledge, I'll say this is probably one of the best values in amateur radio equipment.   I've become spoiled using the Kenwood's digital filtering, and the relatively easy (almost) plug and play digital operating using the unit's built in sound card.   All was well until some day in July when the TS590's USB port ceased to function.  I spent days (over several weeks) reinstalling drivers, changing cables, and following the advice of mentor's on the Yahoo TS590 group to no avail. USB interface was dead.   I returned the rig (14 months old and pleasantly out of warranty) to Kenwood factory service in Virginia where I got a prompt reply.   USB failure, parts back ordered.  I won't bore the reader....but my TS590 is out of commission, on the shelf in Virginia until at least March, 2014.   They are "waiting on part from the manufacturer."   No reason to say anything more (insert profound disappointment).

I've pulled my very first rig, a trusty Yaesu 857d, back onto the desktop for use.  More on that to come.  I'm using this experience as a convenient excuse to acquire a new base transceiver.  Now that's exciting.

Phil, N1DN

P.S.  I never determined why the USB failed.   There was no correlation with weather, power surge, or full moon :)  Sometimes things just happen.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

September is Gyn Cancer Awareness Month

I designed a QSL card to promote Ovarian Cancer Awarenss, with the help of Jeff, K4JSG QSL Printing Service.   With each contact this month, I hope to send out a QSL card providing education on the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer.   I hope we have a chance to work on the air, and exchange QSL cards.  If you are not a QSL collector, feel free to pass the card along to family and friends for educational purposes.

Ovarian Cancer is the seventh most common cancer among women.  Symptoms of ovarian cancer include:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary urgency or urinary frequency
Women who have these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks should see their doctor, preferably a gynecologist.  Prompt medical evaluation may lead to detection at the earliest possib le stage of the disease.  Early stage diagnosis is associated with an improved prognosis.

You can learn more about ovarian cancer at the Foundation for Women's Cancer .

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Beginning NAQCC 30-30

Tonight I decided to work toward the NAQCC 30-30 Award.   

"Make 30 QSO's on 30 meters during a calendar month using as few as 1 day up to as many as 31 days to get the QSO's" 

Well, I'm at the end of August, but let's get warmed up and ready for September that is (wow) just around the corner.

Using a Yaesu FT857d at 5 watts to a ladder line fed dipole, I called CQ on 10.118.  After several minutes, Chip, W9EBE from Southern Illinois replied.  Chip was a solid 599 here, and he gave me a 579 in return.    Chip has a great QRZ page, and indicates he follows the RST system traditionally be ear.   I'll take his 579 using 5 watts as a compliment!

Today we saw a return of heat and humidity to Southern New England.  The high temp was 90 per my weather station.  We're currently at 73 with a dewpoint of 70.  You can really feel the moisture in the air.  There were thunderstorms about the area, but no rain fell here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

2 Meter Nets

75 degrees, mostly clear, 1.23 inches rain last night

I've never spent much time on 2 meters.  Well, my first radio was a FT60 Handheld, that serves me very well on the occasion I blow off the dust to listen to local repeater nets, or try and catch an FM satellite pass.

I decided to do a little listening tonight.  N1TUJ Eileen was hosting the Vernon EmCom net for registered members of their Emergency Communications Team.    The Bloomfield Area Radio Club BARC Radio net was conducted tonight....coming in weaker than I would hope using my HT with extended antenna.   I'll have to get the FT857 back on line for 2 meter repeater work.

There were a number of stations working the Straight Key Century Club Straight Key Sprint this evening.  I tuned around a bit and logged Russ, K0LUW a regular on the SKS circuit.  He does a nice job with a bug that looks to be homebrew from his QRZed page.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Denmark on 30 Meters

 69 Degrees, Light Rain, Winds are Calm

After an almost 2 week dry spell, a little rain has arrived.  The landscape is happy.  I was tuning 30 meters, listening call by call.  It's tempting to click through the various spots but also fun to try and pull out the various ops and their call signs.  I really like 30 meters in the late evening.  One call is West Coast US, the next may be Europe.  Ken, OZ1HDF was making a nice run stations here and abroad.  This may be my first Denmark contact on 30 meters.  I called for a while, and then he returned my call with a 549.   He's a very good operator, someone I would like to emulate.   Not just making a run, but taking time to give his name and a cordial 73 at close.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

N5YG Arkansas

Recent straight key QSO with Mike from Hot Springs Village, AR

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Post-Tropical Andrea

on [Image of 5-day forecast and coastal areas under a warning or a watch]

The rain guage this morning shows 3.20 inchest over 24 hours for a storm total of 3.47 inches thanks to Andrea.  While the 5am map shows the storm right over Long Island this morning, the rain has stopped and there's even a little blue in the sky.

I'm becoming a fan of 30 meters these days.  "30 Meters is always open somewhere".  Last night using PSK31 oround 10.140 MHz  I called CQ and got a reply from Mike ZP5YW from Paraguay....a new DXCC entity for me!  I then moved down to 30 meter CW and had a nice chat with Jim K4KOR in Tennessee.  We found out our paths have crossed between New England and the Deep South over the years.  Paraguay and Tenneessee in the same breath was pretty neat.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Talcott Mountain SOTA W1/MR-001

This past week I had a chance to make my first "Summits on the Air" or SOTA activation, on Talcott Mountain here in Central Connecticut.  I'm lucky, as Talcott is my local SOTA summit, only a 15 minute drive from the house.

Talcott Mountain is a Connecticut State Park, with some limited designated parking about 1/2 way up the mountain.  My GPS recorded a 473 foot ascent from parking lot to summit.   The top of Talcott is a plateu type ridge, rather than an obvious summit.  I continued along the ridge to find a prominent bolder (well actually hidden among thick trees) that met the criteria of being within  75 feet from the published summit of 955 feet.

There's dense deciduous forest here.   As I began raising my 20/40 meter NFedz Antenna using a Black Widow fishing pole, I caught a brief clear glimpse of a pilleated woodpecker off in the distance.   What a magnificent bird!  Interestingly, there's a CT State Police shooting range at a far base of the mountain.  The sounds of nature were frequently interrupted by assault type weapon rapid fire.    The woodpecker didn't seem to mind.  'Guess he's use to it.

I used my Yaesu 817d and a handheld microkey to  operate for about 45 minutes before I had to head back to the house.   This is exam season for the kids, and there's always lots to do at home.   I made 5 QSOs, including Colorado and New Mexico on 20 meters CW.  I used the iPhone app "SOTA Goat" to self spot, and then got a kind spot from one of the stations I worked.   Thanks to all for the contacts.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

NAQCC April Sprint

54 degrees and clear
Tonight I had an opportunity to join the NAQCC CW sprint.  I've missed this activity for some time, usually being busy with other things at work and home.  I got about 45 minutes of operating, and made 7 QSO searching between 20 and 40 meters.  I guess the proper term is "Search and Pounce", but the word pounce is a little too heavey for 5 watts.  'Always nice to make contacts with familiar calls, and especially to have a QSO with John, K3WWP.  This reminded me to check John's long running CW diary at his website  It was also great to make contact with blogger and QRP regular W2LJ.  Finally, I got to meet a fellow Connecticut QRPer, N2CN in Stamford.  Thanks to all for the contacts.  

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Look Up

Incredible directional antenna array on embassy row.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

30 meter band scan

After searching for K3Y stations for better part of the new year, I decided to scan 30 meters and just listen.....(almost) unaided by spotting networks...and call.     It's interesting what you find.  At 0038 UTC after sunset here on the East Coast, 30m was long to Central America and the US West Coast.

10.12245 HP1AVS / B Victor in Panama
10.120 calling CQ.  Don,  KOMLF  in UT came back with a 589 report.   
10.117 high speed keyboard cw beyond my ability
10.115 Station calling ke5sbz ke5sbzj ???
10.1125 I answered a CQ.  Dan de WA6URY 589 Station in Bellflower, CA. Dan was operating remotely from Tokyo, Japan!   The find of the night.   This was my first contact with a remote station that I know of.
10.110  N7EU coming in strong from Central Point OR 579.  Wx 46 degrees.  He was in a good rag chew with another station I couldn't hear, so I decided to tune on down.
10.105 calling CQ at 5 watts.  I tuned to the HAMjitsu Club Spotter.  I was spotted by the Reverse Beacon VE6AO de Calgary Amateur Radio Asc in Calgary, Alberta.  I got one station asking for my call, but we couldn't make it work.  Maybe next time.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My First Spartan Sprint

This was my first Spartan Sprint ever sponsored by the Adventure Radio Society.  I got here through the back door.  I was following the HAMjitsu Club Spotter site for flying pigs to add to my WAP award soaring total of "1".    Larry, W2LJ was spotted by one of the reporting station.  I'm a big fan of Larry's blog, so I wasted no time heading down to 80 meters to hear him calling CQ.  Larry, I appreciate the contact!  I realized from his exchange I'd found the SP, and I heard a number of additional stations calling.  Thanks to AA4GA, KB8U, and K4ORD for the contacts.  Ok...I showed up with 18 pounds of gear, so I "missed the boat" here, but I plan to be back next month with an 817 and small key.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Throwing a Few Things Together in The Snow

After spending the morning cleaning for friends coming on New Years Day, I had several hour of sunlight left, 8 inches of new snow, clear skys and a temperature of 35 degrees.  It was time to get a jump-start on my New Years plan to operate portable each month.

I set out for a short radio hike in Penwood State Park in Central Connecticut, Grid FN31ot.   I began at the park entrance, and hiked 0.5 miles up a moderate grade.  The park has an automobile road from decades past that's no longer used.  It makes a great path for hiking and mountain biking.  The snow was pretty well packed from other hikers and skiiers.  My hunting boots worked OK, and snow shoes would have been even better.  The landscape is very monotone and serene this time of year.

I selected a spot half way up the small mountain, limited by time and a sun already low on the horizon.  I was able to toss a line about 20 feet into a tree to suspend my End Fed 20/40m wire antenna.   Sloping quickly, most of wire was only about 5 feet above ground.  I realized there was a yellow blazed hiking trial right next to my chosen spot, and made sure the wire didn't cross the path of hikers or runners.  

Now this was my fist time radio hiking out in the snow.  I learned quickly I should have brought several items.  A tarp to sit on for starters!  I hadn't thought of keeping moisture out of coax connectors.  More on that another day.    I ended up throwing a few things together in the snow:  FT817 radio, KK-1 straight key, and very heavy and overdone lead acid battery.  

Wow...setting on a small mountain top with wire antenna fed directly to the radio....the signals were really booming in!   I managed to call CQ on 20 meters using thick gloves, the small KK-1 morse code key, all while kneeling over my backpack.  

My First CQ was answered by Stan, AE0SL in Minnesota.   First time, really!  Stan is a Straight Key Century Club friend who I've worked a number of times.  I follow the K3UK scheduling site used by many SKCC members, and note Stan has been operating QRP (low power) quite a bit these days.  I hope our 2-way QRP contact helped with his awards, and I really appreciated Stan's rapid fire reply.  

I decided to drop down to 40 meters and try for another contact at the sun was getting quite low on the horizon (and my hands were getting cold).   KB1PBA, Peter, soon came back with a reply.  While my copy was spotty with QRM (interference) and a cold wind piercing the trees, it was nice to meet a neighbor from Massachusetts on 7 MHz.   A great day in all.  

Note to self: reassess battery situation, bring tarp, extra gloves, hike and operate often.