T32C in the log at WA2HOM

I didn’t make many contacts today down at WA2HOM, but I had a great time.

First off, I had planned to put PL-259s on the feedlines for the dipole and the VHF antenna, but when I went to do so, I found that it had already been done! That was very cool.

Next, I hooked up the Icom IC-V8000 to see what repeaters we could hit. First, I tried keying up the ARROW repeater. Nothing. Hmmmmm, I thought, maybe it’s just down. Next, I tried the U-M repeater, which is less than a mile away as the crow flies. I was able to key it, but the S-meter showed only a couple of S units. Something was wrong.

I swapped feedlines, and voila! Everything worked as I’d hoped. Somehow, we’d mis-labelled the feedlines. Not only that, there’s still nothing connected to the end of the dipole feedline, so I was actually able to key up the U-M repeater without an antenna!

Anyway, after connecting the right feedline to the radio, I chatted a bit with both Ralph, AA8RK, and Pat, W8LNO. Talking to Pat was fortuitous because he’s involved with Scouting, and when I mentioned that we planned to operate the Jamboree on the Air next weekend, he volunteered to come down and help out. That means we will be able to operate two radios, the HF station on 20m and the VHF station through the U-M repeater to EchoLink.

T32C DXpeditionAfter that conversation, I turned the HF rig back on, and thought I’d see what was on 15 m. Tuning around, I found a small pileup on 21.017. I called up DXWatch and determined that the pileup was for T32C, the DXpedition to Chrismas Island. I accessed their record on QRZ.Com, found the bearing, swung the beam around to 260 degrees, and heard them quite well. After setting the transmit incremental tuning to about 2 kHz, I worked them on the second call! I just love that beam!

3D2R on the Air from Rotuma

As I’ve mentioned many times before, I’m not a big DXer. I do try to work the DXpeditions when I can, but I don’t get too excited when I can’t. Most of the time I don’t even know what DXpeditions are out there.

Yesterday morning was no exception. I normally don’t operate in the morning, but for some reason, I decided to head down to the shack after breakfast and scare up a contact. When I tuned to my favorite frequency, 7.028 MHz, I was surprised to hear a pileup. Tuning downband a little, I copied 3D2R, the Rotuma DXpedition.

Rotuma is a Fijian dependency, consisting of Rotuma Island and nearby islets.

They will be on all bands from 160-2 meters, including the 60m and 6m, using CW, SSB and RTTY. They will also be active on PSK, SSTV and EME. Special attention will be made to work stations from Europe and Africa during those periods when propagation permits. The propagation window for EU and Africa is very brief at times and signals may be weak, so they ask everyone to be mindful of this.

Ham Radio Make “On the Media”

I enjoy listening to the NPR show, “On the Media.” I think they do a pretty good job of analyzing how media functions. I was really surprised, though, when I heard a segment this Saturday morning that described the recent DXpedition to South Sudan.

I suppose ham radio is media, but it’s quite different from what they usually cover.

Listen to the segment

YASME Helps Ethiopia Get Back on the Air

I thought this was newsworthy because it’s a great example of how amateur radio enhances international goodwill.  I am going to contact them regarding my brother clubs idea. There might be other ways that YASME and Rotarians on Amateur Radio could collaborate…….Dan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 29, 2011… Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Ethiopia came back on the air May 30, 2011 with the re-opening of the Ethiopian Amateur Radio Society station ET3AA. Professor Heiko Schroeder, head of the technical faculty of the University of Addis Ababa and PB2T, Hans Blondeel Timmerman, President of IARU Region 1, cut the ribbon in a reopening ceremony.

The Board of Directors of The Yasme Foundation became aware that 25 club members were scheduled to take the amateur radio license examination in late July and that the fee for taking the exam was about one month’s salary in Ethiopia. Accordingly, the Board voted unanimously in favor of a grant to cover one-half of the examination fees for all 25 applicants, the remaining one-half having been previously committed from the Radio Society of Great Britain. Yasme Vice-President and Director Fred Laun, K3ZO, was instrumental in making possible this grant.

The Yasme Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation organized to conduct scientific and educational projects related to Amateur Radio, including DXing (long distance communication) and the introduction and promotion of Amateur Radio in underdeveloped countries. For additional information about The Yasme Foundation, visit our website.

Videos Show Two Very Different Aspects of Ham Radio

Tim, N9PUZ, recently posted URLs to two YouTube videos to the HamRadioHelpGroup mailing list. They show two very different aspects of ham radio. The first shows what can happen when lightning strikes an antenna.

This second one is really incredible. If you’ve ever worked any of the DX contests, chances are you’ve worked OH8X. It’s a monster contest club. One of their towers is a 100m (330-ft.) monster that holds a three-element Yagi for 160m and a five-element Yagi for 80m. But, ham radio is not all they use the tower for. Watch below:

WA2HOM: Adding Countries to the Log

I’m usually not one to work the big contests, but there are some advantages to participating, even if you don’t have a lot of time or plan to submit a log. One of the advantages is that there are a lot of countries on, and you can add to total of countries that  you’ve worked.

This weekend was the CQ WPX  CW contest. I only operated for about three hours, the bands were kind of lousy on Saturday, and I only worked 15 meters, but even so, I managed to add eight countries to the WA2HOM log. They include:

  • HK1R – Colombia
  • SZ1A – Greece
  • 6W/RK4FF – Senegal
  • HQ9R – Honduras
  • EF8M – Canary Islands
  • J7A – Dominica
  • J39BS – Grenada
  • HC2SL – Ecuador

It’s nothing real exotic, but new ones nonetheless.

Daily Double

Last Wednesday evening, I hit the Daily Double, working two special event stations. The first was N4G, a special event station for the “Cannon County Good Old Days” in Woodbury, TN.

Flag of the Mosquito Nation

The second was H77REX, a special event station commemorating the 350th anniversary of the Mosquito Nation. The Mosquitos are the indigenous people in what is now Nicaragua.

Last night, I also hit the Daily Double, but of a slightly different nature. When I got on last night, I first tuned up on 30m. My first contact was with SE6Y, who answered my CQ.

After QSYing to 40m, I again called CQ. This time, SM6DLY, another Swedish station answered my call, completing my Swedish Daily Double. I love it when DX stations answer my CQ.

No-Nonsense Guide to DXing

No, the New DXers Handbook by Bryce K. Anderson, K7UA, isn’t the latest in my series of No-Nonsense guides to amateur radio, but it could be. This free e-book lays it all out for new DXers in much the same style that I have tried to lay it all out for those trying to get into the hobby.

The book takes this no-nonsense approach right off the bat. K7UA couldn’t put it more simply, “Listening is the key to successful DXing.” It’s not watching the DX clusters, or reading DX bulletins. It’s listening.

Further down, K7UA maintains that an important skill for a DXer is persistence. You have to be in your shack when the DX is on the air. As the author says, “You can’t work them if you are not there!”

My one quibble with the book is that I think he gives short shrift to CW operation. Although K7UA concedes that CW is perhaps the most efficient mode, he also says, “SSB might well now be the DXer’s primary mode.” I’m not so sure about that. All of the recent DXpeditions and many, if not most, DX stations operate CW.

I’ll even go a step further, and say that your chances of working a DXpediition are better on CW than on phone. This is mainly because they can work them faster on CW than on SSB, and this gives you a better chance of making contact, especially when conditions aren’t optimal.

At any rate, the New DXers Handbook is a great read, and you can’t beat the price. It’s FREE!

All l Can Say is WOW!!

To break in the new beam yesterday, down at the museum, we participated in a couple of contests: the CQ Manchester Mineira DX Contest (MM) and the Michigan QSO Party (MIQP).  All I can say is, “WOW!!”

I got there just before 11 am. Jim, K8ELR, was already there making out QSL cards. Since the MIQP didn’t start until noon, I thought I’d tune around and see what bands were open. I first tried 15m CW. That’s how I discovered the MM DX contest. The band was very open to Europe, especially with the new beam. In short order, I worked a dozen or more Europeans and Caribbean stations.

What a difference the beam makes! With the 20m inverted vee, nearly every QSO was a challenge, but with the beam, I worked every station I called, usually on the first try. This was so amazing that I was actually getting a little giddy.

About 11:45 am, I decided that I better get set up for the MIQP. I had brought my WinKeyer (since the Omni VII doesn’t have a memory keyer!), and wanted to hook it up to the N1MM program. I had done this quite easily at home, but I could not, unfortunately, get it to work on the computer down at the museum. The computer seemed to be talking to the keyer, but the function keys didn’t work. (If anyone has any ideas on what I’m doing wrong, I’d be happy to hear them.)

A little after noon, I decided to give up on this, and just program the keyer itself and operate stand-alone. About 12:10, we were working the MIQP on 20m using the callsign W8CWN, the callsign of H. Richard Crane, a distinguished professor of physics at the University of Michigan and one of the founders of the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum.

Again, the performance of the beam was just spectacular, at least compared to our 20m inverted vee. We pointed the beam west and easily worked stations on the West Coast. We pointed the beam east and got calls from Europeans and the East Coast.

Using the beam, our noise level seemed to be lower, too, although not as low as I would like it. We’re going to have to work on that some more.

We worked a lot of 40m, too, using our 40m inverted vee. That antenna has always worked pretty well for us, and the band was in good shape yesterday afternoon. There was a lot of short skip on 40m, allowing us work quite a few Michigan counties.

Overall, we made 195 contacts in nearly five hours. That’s certainly not championship form, but it’s a lot better than we’ve done in the past, and we really had a blast, both operating the contest and explaining what we were doing to the museum visitors. It’s just too bad that the museum closed at 5pm and we had to stop.

Operating Notes: 3/7/11

DX contesting
Saturday night, my XYL was working, and I had nothing else to do, so I turned on the radio. I made a couple of CW contacts on 40m, then remembered there was a big DX phone contest going on.

I tuned around a bit and heard quite a bit of DX as the band was in pretty good shape. I didn’t want to really spend a lot of time doing this, but I did want to play around a little. What I decided to do was to make  one pass through the band 7.200 MHz to 7.125 MHz.

This took me 40 minutes to complete, and in that time, I worked 12 stations: TI5N, IO5O, TA7KW, EI7M, HK1T, EA3BOX, TM6M, PJ2T, S51YI, YT8A, CO8CY, AND ZF2AH. It was amusing, and I think I did alright for just having 100W and dipole. Also, if you notice, I bagged another station whose callsign spells a word (EA3BOX).

Cayman Islands
I’ve worked several Cayman Islands stations in the past, but you don’t really hear all that many on the air.  There are more PJ stations on the air than there are ZF stations, for example.

That’s why I was kind of surprised to work another ZF2—ZF2LC—this evening. The signals were quite strong on 30m tonight, though, and maybe this guy was winding down from the contest over the weekend.

Sable Island
There was a station on from Sable Island this evening, too. There was a huge pileup on 30m the other night when a Sable Island station came on the air. So big that I couldn’t break in.

Tonight, though, it was a different story. I worked him on my second call.

I don’t know what all the fuss is about, though. Sable Island is really not that far away, nor is it very hard to work.

DXCC
As I reported the other day, I now  have 89 countries confirmed via Logbook of the World (LOTW). Tonight, I checked my paper cards against the LOTW confirmations.

I came  up with 16 more, including Samoa, the Slovak Republic, and Bolivia. That brings me to 105 confirmed, enough for DXCC! I know that’s not a big deal to a lot of you, but it’s something. :)