Take a break from DXing and contests with these two operating events

I'll be using a Bunnel #9 key like this one on Straight Key Night.

I’ll be using a Bunnel #9 key like this one on Straight Key Night.

There are two operating events coming up in the next couple of weeks that I’d like to suggest that you participate in – Straight Key Night (January 1) and Kid’s Day (January 5). Straight Key Night, or SKN, runs from 0000Z – 2359Z on January 1. First started to promote the use of straight keys, its charter has been expanded to include the use of bugs and vintage radio gear.

As you probably know, I’m not a big fan of straight keys, but in the spirit of the day, I’ll be using one on January 1, probably my Bunnel Nr. 9, shown at right. When I purchased it, it did not have a knob, but thanks to the machining skills of Lake, AL7N, it’s now back in service. There’s not much on the Internet about this key, but the Bunnell Company history page notes that the #9 key was made by several different companies.

I like using it more than any other straight key that I own. It has a nice light feel to it.

Kid’s Day
The winter version of Kids Day, sponsored by the ARRL and The Boring (Oregon) Amateur Radio Club (which, oddly enough, doesn’t seem to have a website), will be Sunday, January 5, from 1800 to 2359 UTC. The suggested HF frequencies are 28.350 to 28.400 MHz, 24.960 to 24.980 MHz, 21.360 to 21.400 MHz, 18.140 to 18.145 MHz, 14.270 to 14.300 MHz, 7.270 to 7.290 MHz, and 3.740 to 3.940 MHz. Of course, you can operate the repeaters or even EchoLink, whatever it takes to give kids a taste of amateur radio.

I will, of course, be operating this event from WA2HOM, our club station at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. We’ll probably operate mostly on 20m phone, but you can look for us via EchoLink, too, via W8UM-R, the University of Michigan Amateur Radio Club’s repeater.

We’d be happy to set up a sked with you, if you’d like. E-mail me and we can arrange this. Unfortunately, we will only be operating until 2200Z, as that’s when the museum closes.

Say “HI” to Juno recap

On October 9, thousands of amateurs said “HI to Juno. Now, there are stories about the event on websites all over. I think the best is this video produced by NASA:

AMSAT-UK also ran a story about Say HI to Juno. I like this story because it includes a waterfall display of the 10m band showing all the signals.

Physics.Org ran the story, “Juno spacecraft hears amateur radio operators say ‘Hi.’”  This story features a photo of a smiling Tony Rogers, the president of the University of Iowa ham radio club, as he mans the equipment used to send the message to the Juno spacecraft.

 

From my Twitter feed: Towers, Zen, CW recognition

caspencer's avatarcaspencer @caspencer
for some reason lately I’ve had this fascination with towers (of the RF and/or power variety) youtube.com/watch?v=9b9Lah… youtube.com/watch?v=7Jm8fk…

Now, those are some towers!

 

ke9v's avatarJeff Davis @ke9v
ZEN AND THE ART OF RADIOTELEGRAPHY – free download qsl.net/ik0ygj/enu/ind…

 

LA3ZA's avatarSverre Holm, LA3ZA @LA3ZA
Studies on Morse code recognition . – A low pitch frequency is beneficial la3za.blogspot.no/2013/10/studie

From my Twitter feed: #hamradio t-shirts, cheap key, Broadband HamNet

I don’t usually include two Tweets from the same guy, but the two below from KE9V are great…Dan

ke9v's avatarJeff Davis @ke9v
Get the #hamradio Beefy-T shirt. ke9v.net/tees

 

ke9v's avatarJeff Davis @ke9v
My straight key it’s nicer but this one is more affordable. #hamradio pic.twitter.com/F563k9QPJI

 

ZionArtis's avatar

Zion Artis KF4NOD @ZionArtis
I find this very interresting. Introduction to HSMM-MESH or Broadband-Hamnet: youtu.be/hUeW2ju-RZk via @YouTube

From my Twitter feed: $9 Arduino, tinkering, Morse?

This looks kind of cool, even though I’ve still not really done anything with the Arduino I built several years ago.

haroldftimmis's avatarHarold Timmis@haroldftimmis
@DIYEngineering Check out my $9 #Arduino compatible board igg.me/at/9duino/x/39…

 

Apparently, Dr. Richard Crane, the original W8CWN, encouraged his students to tinker. 

rocknrollriter's avatarMatt Maszczak @rocknrollriter
“Tinkering is, at its most basic, a process that marries play and inquiry.” -@mbanzi @make @arduino #greatquote

 

While it’s nice to see them commemorating Morse Code, the code on the chart is the International Code. What they would have used in 1844 in the United States is American Morse. 

KL8DX's avatarPhil KL8DX@KL8DX

Photo and info hanging in our hotel lobby pic.twitter.com/PIFSQzq9jr

What is the proper CW calling procedure?

Yesterday, I tweeted:

kb6nu's avatar@kb6nu
I’m no longer going to respond to stations that reply to my CQs with only their callsigns, esp if they send it only once.

What brought this on was a very short QSO I had yesterday on 30m. I called CQ on 10115, sending “CQ” four times and my call three times, and someone replied with just his callsign, as if this were a contest. In contest mode, this is an appropriate reply, but not on 30m on a weekday evening.

I should have know better than to acknowledge the call, but I did, giving him a signal report, my name, and QTH. His reply was a curt, “599 73.” What a waste of time that was! This is not the first time this has happened, and it was equally disappointing then, too. As a result, I’ve decided that I’m just not going to reply to stations that answer my CQs with only their callsigns. If you can’t take the time to at least give me a real signal report, your name, and your QTH, don’t bother answering my CQ.

My tweet prompted several replies about what is the proper operating procedure. In my not so  humble opinion, you should, at the very least, send the other station’s callsign at least once and your callsign at least twice:

KB6NU DE W1ABC W1ABC

This lets the other operator know that you’re calling him, and gives him two chances to get your call right. I’ll go even further to say that you should do this only when band conditions are really good, the ham at the other end seems like a skilled operator, and it’s armchair copy both ways.

When band conditions are marginal or noisy, send the other station’s callsign at least twice, and your callsign two or three times. This is not that hard to do, makes things a lot easier for less-skilled operators, and will help you avoid repeats or miscopied calls.

Operating Notes: DX @WA2HOM, 4/25/13

The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is open Thursday evenings, but from September though April I bowl on Thursday nights, so never get to take advantage of that.  We’ve finished for the year now, though, so yesterday, I walked down to the museum and put WA2HOM on the air for a couple of hours.

One of my first contacts was with Marco, IZ8LJZ. The contact itself was the standard DX contact, i.e. short and kind of boring, but when I looked him up on QRZ.Com, I found this photo below. What a lovely spot!

Marco, IZ8LJZ lives in Praiano, on the beautiful Amalfi Coast.

Marco, IZ8LJZ lives in Praiano, on the beautiful Amalfi Coast.

20m was open to Europe, so I made several more DX contacts before I left for the day. One of them was with Tom, G3HGE. We were both 599, and we had a not-so-normal DX contact, chatting for nearly 30 minutes.

Tom’s QRZ page said that he used to be a manufacturer of amateur radio gear, so earlier today, I Googled him. As it turns out, Tom was the man behind TW Electronics, a manufacturer of VHF gear from 1958 – 2000. There’s a nice history of the company on the TW website.

Now in his 80s, Tom now makes paddles and bugs. I don’t know if he’d like this comparison, but you might call him the “English Begali.” His latest creation, the TW Olympic shown below is a dual-lever bug that uses magnetic tension. He was using this bug for our QSO, and it sounded great. I’m already thinking that maybe I could get the XYL to put that on my Christmas list.

The TW Olympic is a two-lever "bug" that uses magnetic tension and has a speed range of 14 - 28 wpm.

The TW Olympic is a two-lever “bug” that uses magnetic tension and has a speed range of 14 – 28 wpm.

From my Twitter feed: kits, cool transmitter, new CW book

MW0IAN
Tim Walford G3PCJ does a nice bunch of radio kits and accessories http://t.co/ZgIdxUc2aj

 

This brings new meaning to “having a cool one.”

kc5fm
“A new “Cool Transmitter” from W5IG.”http://t.co/vtxAwfsWar #ARRL #hamradio

 

The ARRL stole my idea! (just kidding)

ke9v
NEW book from the @ARRL – Morse Code Operating for Amateur Radio ~ Don’t Just Learn Morse Code, Master It!http://t.co/kzlgAQJSUN #hamr

 

From the trade magazines: signal generators, refurbishing ICs?

This edition of “From the trade magazines” includes items from RF&Microwaves, Radio World, and EE Times………Dan

The Fundamentals Of Signal Generation. Signal generators have become indispensable tools for producing the test signals required by today’s engineers to successfully develop and test their devices and systems.

 

Jim Charlong operates the amateur radio station at the Marconi National Historic Site of Canade.

Dedicated Ham Keeping Morse Code Alive. Operated by Parks Canada, the Marconi National Historic Site of Canada  features a museum with a model of the original transmission structure, a historical multimedia display and tour — and Jim Charlong, who keeps the site’s Morse code broadcast legacy alive and on the air. Charlong is a dedicated Morse code operator with 50 years’ experience under his “fist” — fist being a ham radio term that describes the signature speed and style of an operator’s key-tapping skills. Since the Marconi museum opened in July 1989, he has volunteered as its resident Morse code radio operator. From his “radio shack” inside the museum, Charlong regularly communicates with other Morse code operators around the world.

Smoke re-concentrator refurbishes blown electronic components. I think that perhaps they jumped the gun with this article. I’m thinking that an April 1 publication date would have been more appropriate.

Operating Notes: “?” is not a proper response to QRL?

Random notes about my recent operations:

  1. “?” is not a proper response to QRL?

    Last night, someone responded to my call of QRL? with a question mark.  This is not the first time that this has happened. This is not a proper response. Let me repeat that. This is not a proper response. How the heck is the station sending QRL? supposed to respond to that?

  2. “?” is a proper response to a CQ.

    I also got that last night. Generally, that means that I’m sending too fast for the station to copy my call. (Hopefully, they were able to understand the CQ part.) When I hear a question mark after my CQ, I slow down so that the other station can copy my call. Doing so has resulted in several nice QSOs, including the one with N0JTE last night.

  3. EAs on 30m.
    On the evening of January 25, I worked 3 EAs in a row on 30m:

    • EA8BLV
    • EA2SS
    • EA2DPA

    It’s really not all that unusual for me to work EAs on 30m, but it was unusual to work three in a row. Also, I didn’t really hear any other Europeans on that night, and it’s been a while since 30m has been open to Europe.

  4. Dit, W8IX.
    A couple of days later, I worked Dit, W8IX. First of all, it was remarkable because of his nickname. It isn’t a result of his affinity for Morse Code, but because his last name is Ditmer. The second remarkable thing about the QSO is that Dit now has the callsign W8IX because it’s the call of his Elmer, the original W8IX. The original W8IX worked a spark-gap transmitter back in the day! You can read the story on W8IX’s QRZ.Com page.