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.

From my Twitter feed: bad soldering, tequila,

hackaday's avatarhackaday @hackaday
New post: Impersonating FBI Agents And People Who Can Solder bit.ly/JQRKil

2e0sql's avatarPeter Goodhall @2e0sql
Interesting talk on using NodeJS and websockets within Amateur Radio specially when using hardware.- youtu.be/r0svcHERWrM #hamr

NS0D's avatarPete NSØD @NS0D
The #Arrl Centennial QSO party starts 1-Jan-2014 – should be a real marathon with a few different awards available arrl.org/centennial-qso…

This isn’t related to ham radio, but I do like a nip of tequila from time time….Dan

Gizmodo's avatarGizmodo @Gizmodo
How tequila geniuses made the best-tasting spirit I’ve ever had: gizmo.do/qo176k0 pic.twitter.com/XAoQTSrcCz

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.

 

10m Contest log analyzed

So, this weekend, I played around in the ARRL 10m Contest. Like most contests I enter, I didn’t try to compete seriously, but it was fun. It all started on Friday night when one of the people I follow on Twitter tweeted, “Getting ready for the 10m contest.” I thought to myself, “Hey…I haven’t hooked up the 10m loop for ages.”

I tweeted back, “Good idea. Think I’ll head outside and connect up the 10m loop.”

The contest started at 0000Z, but I didn’t get on until 0126Z. Since it gets dark here about 2230Z, I didn’t think that I’d hear much. I surprised myself, though, I made 11 contacts in about 40 minutes. The signals weren’t strong, but strong enough. The stations I worked were all domestic: OH, MI, NJ, VA, MA, WI, and TX.

I really wasn’t planning to operate much the next day, but it was snowing like crazy outside, and Dave, N8SBE, sent out an e-mail to our club’s mailing list that the band was open. So, after making some buttermilk pancakes from scratch for the XYL and me, I headed back down to the shack at about 1400Z.

Europe was booming in, and I racked up a bunch of countries, including at least one (Northern Ireland) that I hadn’t worked before. Also, since the loop is directional north and south in the haphazard way that I threw it up, I worked a couple of South American and Caribbean stations.

I operated until about 1800Z. One thing that I found interesting is the way the propagation changed. Early in the morning, the Europeans were strong. As the day wore on, they disappeared, but the West Coast stations took their place. You could almost feel how the ionosphere was changing by the stations being worked.

Sunday morning was much the same, except that I got on an hour later and had already worked many of the stations I was hearing. Nevertheless, I managed to work several new multipliers, including NS,  Bermuda, Guernsey, and the Dominican Republic.

Adding those multipliers really boosted my score, but my attention was flagging. I decided that I would quit at noon or when I reached 50,000 points, whichever came first. At 11:55 am (1655Z), I had 49,128 points (178 Qs x 4 points/Q x 69 multipliers). I was just about to give up when I  worked VY2TT at 1658Z. That put me over the top. I finished with 50,120 points (179 Qs x 4 points/Q x 70 mults).

I just uploaded my log to QScope, It reports that I operated for 7  hours, 26 minutes, yielding an overall QSO rate of 24.08 Qs/hr. My best rate for a 10-minute period was 48/hr on Saturday morning. Not terrific, but I had a good time doing it.

 

Should amateur radio operators know how to use the Internet?

My No-Nonsense Technician Class License Study Guide is available for free here on KB6NU.Com

My No-Nonsense Technician Class License Study Guide is available for free here on KB6NU.Com

Often, I get requests from hams teaching courses to print a number of copies of my No-Nonsense Technician Class Amateur Radio License Study  Guide. I normally reply that individuals are free to download and print the study guide if they like, but that I don’t usually give permission to print out many copies. There are a couple of reasons for this, the main one being that when individuals each download their own copies, I get a better indication of how many are actually using it.

Sometimes, they’ll come back and say that the reason they’re asking for permission to print copies is that some of the students aren’t very Internet-savvy, and that they may not know how to get on my website and download the study guide. That, of course, begs the question, “Should amateur radio operators know how to use the Internet?”

The NCVEC question pool committee obviously thinks so. There are a number of questions on the test about IRLP and EchoLink, both of which use the Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) to allow communications over the Internet.

Don’t get me wrong. I love it that folks want to use my study guide, and I will continue to make it free for as long as I continue to produce it. It seems to me, however, that knowing how to use the Internet is now a basic skill that every ham should have. That being the case, I’m going to continue to ask that teachers that want to use my study have their students download it from my website and not print copies for them.

Operating Notes: traffic, bees, Ernst Krenkel

One of the students in my last Tech class, has taken up traffic handling. This evening, he forwarded a piece of traffic to me:

Message Number 1058
Routine
HXG
Station or Origin: KD8RCR
Check 25
Place of Origin: Midland Mi
Date: Nov 26th

IF HF CAPABLE PLEASE JOIN
US ON MACS NET 10AM
AND MITN NET 7PM BOTH
ON 3952 KHZ X WE
NEED YOUR PARTICIPATION X
73
Ryan KB8RCR

Somewhere along the way, “KB” got changed to “KD” or vice versa, but it was cool to get it.

The bee’s knees
Last night, I worked Curt, N5CW, on 40m CW. This wasn’t the first time that I’d contacted Curt, but it was the first time that he mentioned that he kept bees. He isn’t the first ham radio operator/beekeeper that I’ve worked. A couple of weeks ago, I worked KC4URI, who also keeps bees, and a while back, W3BEE. I’ve now worked more beekeepers (3) than I have barbers (2).

Ernst Krenkel
RAEMThis evening, I worked RD110RAEM, a special event station commemorating the 110th anniversary of the Arctic explorer and amateur radio operator, Ernst Krenkel, RAEM (1903-1971). He was a famous polar explorer, Hero of the Soviet Union, chairman of the USSR Radiosport Federation (1959-1971), and the first chairman of Central Radio Club of the USSR. There’s even an Ernst Krenkel Museum of Radio and Radio Amateurs in Moscow.

According to Southgate Amateur Radio News, there will be 23 special event stations operating throughout the month of December commemorating Krenkel, including 20 in Russia and three in the Ukraine. On Sunday, December 29, the 42nd RAEM International CW HF Contest will take place.

Amateur radio in the news: Ft. Wayne (IN) hamfest, CA ISS contact, Roger on the Radio

Another selection of news items about amateur radio from around the country.

Hamfest brings on-air friends together (Journal-Gazette of Ft. Wayne, IN). Amy Kritzman and her husband, Ron, occupied some prime real estate as the 41st annual Fort Wayne Hamfest and Computer Expo opened Saturday. Facing the entrance, the Kritzmans don’t carry the adapters, cords and tools that thousands of ham radio operators forage through every year. What the couple have in stock is personality. One look around Memorial Coliseum Exposition Center’s floor and it’s obvious the Kritzmans are known for their custom-embroidered hats, featuring the names and call signs of radio operators in different thread colors.

Teen takes lead on call to International Space Station.(Contra Costa Times, CA). More than 100 students sat on the playground of Rancho Romero Elementary School on Wednesday morning staring into the clear, blue sky, waiting for their 10-minute date with an astronaut. Many watched in rapt anticipation for one of the two 14-foot antenna towers perched atop one of the school’s buildings to tilt into motion. That, they were told, would be the first sign they had made direct contact with the International Space Station.

Roger, N4ZC, has hosted a radio show on WSGE in Charlotte, NC, playing big band music for the past 33 years.

‘Roger on Your Radio’ signs off at WSGE. For 33 years, Roger Burt – aka “Roger on Your Radio” – stood inside radio station WSGE’s studio at Gaston College in Dallas and broadcast his four-hour radio program called “The Good Stuff,” which featured music from the big band eras.

From my Twitter Feed: Antarctica, tech writing, FUNcube, end-fed half-wave

 There’s so much good stuff on my Twitter feed this afternoon, I couldn’t limit myself to just three Tweets…Dan

DX_World's avatarDX World @DX_World
VK0GB – Casey Base, Antarctica: Gerry, VK0GB (G3WIP) is located at Casey Base, Antarctica until February 2014…. bit.ly/1beTklH

ke9v's avatarJeff Davis @ke9v
Tech paper writing tips: A dark and stormy night | EDN edn.com/electronics-bl… via @EDNcom

 

FakeScience's avatarFake Science @FakeScience
Someone forgot to put “Saltine” on this copy of the Periodic Table.

 

2e0sql's avatarPeter Goodhall @2e0sql
Amsat-UK have released a handbook for the FUNcube-1 satellite, the launch date is rapidly approaching 13 days to go! wp.me/p3TuHs-kE

MW0IAN's avatarIan @MW0IAN
The versatile end-fed wire VK3YE home.alphalink.com.au/~parkerp/gatew… #hamr

K5PEA celebrates ham radio and the purplehull pea

K5PEA QSL

Normally, when I post about QSLs in my collection of QSL cards from stations whose callsigns spell words, I post two at a time. Well, this one is so remarkable I thought I’d give it its own blog post. When I worked K5PEA in September in the Arkansas QSO Party, I thought it was just another guy lucky enough to get a distinctive callsign. When the QSL arrived, however, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only is the QSL very distinctive, the message is very friendly and inviting.

Bill, WB5FKG, writes, “TNX so much for FB QSO in AR QSO Party, Dan. VY happy to send the QSL with “PEA” in it. Hope you can come to our festival some day.” The festival he is referring to is described in the boilerplate below:

Emerson’s sandy loam is ideal for growing purple hull peas. These tasty and nutritious legumes are some of the best eatin’ the South has to offer. And, each year, on the last Saturday in June, we celebrate the purple hull pea at the PurpleHull Pea Festival. The feature event, the World Championship Rotary Tiller Race–a race of souped-up garden tillers–garners national and even international attention. Bring your ham rig and join us! For information, visit www.purplehull.com.

Sounds like a great time, doesn’t it? One of these years, I’m going to rent an RV and travel around to all these festivals, and if the festival already has a special event station, I’ll help man the station, and if not, I’ll set one up of my own.

Operating Notes: WA2HOM 11/3/13

I had a great time down at WA2HOM yesterday. I only spent two hours down there, but I managed to work three special-event stations and even did a little running in the Sweepstakes contest.

RCA officially began operations from this site on Long Island on November 5, 1921.

RCA officially began operations from this site on Long Island on November 5, 1921.

The first special event station I worked was W2RC, the club station of the Radio Central Amateur Radio Club. W2RC was operating from the RCA Radio Central facility in Rocky Point, NY, shown in the photo at right. RCA officially began operations from this facility on November 5, 1921, and, at the time, it was the largest transmitter facility in the world.

I also worked W0I, a special event station run by the Arrowhead ARC commemorating the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The club was operating from the pilot house of the William A. Irvin, a Great Lakes freighter docked in Duluth, MN.

The club’s website notes, “The club was founded in 1929 and received its charter from the ARRL and was signed by W1AW, Hiram Percy Maxim himself. The club continues to hold monthly meetings and has a yearly Hamfest, Christmas Party, Picnic, as well as supports local VE testing in the Arrowhead region of Minnesota and Northwest Wisconsin.” What a great history!

The third special event station was with N4V, operating from the Stuart (FL) Air Show. I didn’t spend a lot of time with the ops there talking about the show, but I did visit the show’s website this morning, and it looks like quite an affair.

If you’re interested in working special event stations, go to the special event stations page on the ARRL website. I visit it nearly every weekend when I’m down at the museum.

I would also encourage you and your club to organize a special event. It’s a lot of fun to be on the other end of the mic or key. If you do organize a special event, make sure to get it listed on the ARRL site. You can do this by filling out the Special Event Listing Form.