More QSLs

About a week ago, I got an envelope full of QSL cards from the FISTS QSL Bureau, and today a packet arrived from the ARRL Bureau. About half the cards in the Fists envelope were from guys I worked in the Fall Sprint. Two of the hams I worked in the Sprint were WB4JJJ and W8III. With those cards, I think I now have about ten or eleven cards where the suffix are all the same letter.

Another notable card from the Fall Sprint came from KH6HHS. Now, how is that for a CW call? For readers not familiar with Morse Code, this is a difficult call to send and to receive. The H is a series of four dots, the 6 a dash followed by four dots, and the S a series of three dots. If I was issued this call, I’d seriously consider getting a vanity call.

Finally, I got a card from WL7WH. This is my first card from Alaska since getting back on the air.

In the packet from the ARRL, there were seven cards: one from the Czech Republic, two from France, one from Spain, and three from the Canary Islands. The cards from EA8DA and EA8AOQ included maps of the Islas Canarias. I now know that there are seven islands in all, and that the highest point is on Tenerife, which tops out at more than 3,700 feet above sea level.

The Canary Islands are located quite far south of Spain, off the coast of Morocco. After contacting these guys and listening to weather reports on Radio Exterior de Espana, I was thinking a trip there might be fun. Then I read this on the lonely planet website:

Scandinavian sun worshippers, German grannies, British lager louts and French family groups – come to the Canary Islands before next season when ten million European fun seekers drop by. The Canaries are a seething mass of oiled flesh jiggling in the lap of the waves and to the beat of discos, bars and gay nightclubs. They offer the worst of mass tourism: concreted shorelines, tacky apartment block after tacky apartment block, and bars where you can pretend you’ve never left home; but they also offer some of the best beaches within easy escape from a snowy European winter.

Maybe I’ll reconsider.

Connectors Reconsidered

A couple of months ago, I subscribed to the Elecraft mailing list as I was thinking of building a K1. I’m still thinking about it, but even if I never buy one, I think I’ll stick with the mailling list. The reason is that there’s just a lot of good ham radio information on it.

For example, a while back someone asked about antenna connectors. Gregg Lengling, W9DHI replied:

Let me add my 2 cents worth. I spent over 20 years in the 2-way radio field and operated 800 MHz repeaters and systems all over SE Wisconsin. We went to crimp style connectors for all cable from RG8 type and down. We always bought solid center conductor RG58 for mobile installs to facilitate the N-Crimps we used. Granted a good crimping tool with die set will set you back almost $100.00 but then you’ve always got it and the connectors are only a buck or 2 a piece. The “N” connectors are 3 pieces. The center pin, the body and the ferule. Very easy to install and always the same, never a worry about a bad connection.

I personally probably did over 20,000 mobile installs in my life and never had a connector problem. We also used RG142B for all our interconnecting cables on repeaters and combiners. This is 58 sized double shielded Teflon cable, and we used all crimp connectors on it with no duplex noise and no reflected power. We always swept the whole system once complete so I know that this is the way to go.

We did a lot of government work for the military and they have rules that don’t allowed standard soldered connectors. You must use crimps, so I figure if it’s good enough for the military it’s good enough for me. I think that their reasoning is that you can replicate the connection many times, whereas someone soldering a connector, never does it same twice.

I then asked:

Can you tell me what brand of crimper you used or would recommend? I’ve been rather unhappy with soldering UHF connectors and this really does sound like the way to go. $100 is really not a lot if you experiment with antennas much and consider all the time you spend (waste?) soldering PL259s.

To which, he replied,

I have the MaxRad Deluxe Crimp tool kit. It includes the crimper with 3 sets of dies, and an antenna rod cutter for mobile 17-7ph Stainless whips. These are the die sizes (they are all hex dies except for the .042 center conductors that are square dies). .042, .068, .092, .178, .213, .255, and .412 this covers RG58 and 59, RG172 and various forms of that size plus it will crimp 9913 and RG8 variations. I bought the set from Primus Electronics (http://www.primuselectronics.com) and also get my crimp connectors from them.

Certainly makes me want to toss all those PL-259s and never solder one again.

More Contests

Tuning around on 40m yesterday, I ran into two contests:

  1. CQ- Western Electric. This contest is primarily for Western Electric employees. The unique thing about this contest is that the exhange includes an employee’s years of service, and that number also serves as the multiplier. Non-employees count as having one year of service. The three hams I worked must have hated it, since I didn’t give them much of a multipler. I may go down to the shack and try to work a few more stations and then submit the log electroincally.
  2. OK/OL DX Contest. There were several strong OK/OL stations coming in on 40m last night. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to work any of them. They must have been running high power to be coming in so strong here and not hearing me at all. Or, maybe they just weren’t listening for weaker stations.

This reminds me that I have to send in the logs for the FISTS Fall Sprint today….

Website Reviews

Nearly every ham who also has Net access knows about eHam and QRZ.Com, but from time to time I run across other ham radio websites that deserve a little publicity. So here goes:

  • Pete’s Homebrew Page: The question here is, “Who is Pete?” Nowhere to be found, amid the plans for a bunch of homebrew projects, is any mention of Pete’s last name or of his callsign. That’s no biggie, I guess, as the site is full of interesting homebrew projects, including an antenna tuner, 6m receive converter, and a CW filter. Pete has links to a bunch of SW listening sites as well.
  • HamStop.Com: The net has allowed many small retailers to get into business. Being a small retailer myself (Quality Technical Books), I always like to browse the sites of other retailers to see what ideas I can steal from them. Unfortunately, most ham radio retail websites are really bad.

    Fortunately, HamStop.Com is not one of them. The owners of HamStop.Com have done a nice job with their website. The navigation is easy to use, meaning it’s easy to find the products they sell.

    Unfortunately, they don’t have a really good selection. I understand this, however. It’s hard to keep a lot of stock on hand without making a big investment in inventory and facilities. I need to contact them and see how they’re doing.

Yet Another Ham Joke

From the comics section of the Ann Arbor News, Sunday, 11/2/03:

Q: How do you greet a ham radio operator?

A. With a short wave.