Operating Notes – 12/9/12

Bad fists. When a CW operator sends sloppy, poorly-spaced code, or makes a lot of mistakes, he or she is said to have a “bad fist.” It’s one thing to have a bad fist, quite another to have one after many years of operation. It’s only a few guys that I regularly hear on the air, but there’s no excuse for it. If you hear me on the air, and I’m sending poorly, please let me know.

30m, 40m propagation. Propagation on 30m and 40m in the evenings has been just useless most nights. The band seems really long and the signals weak. I haven’t heard a European on 30m for weeks, it seems. Last night was a nice change. On 40m, between 0200Z and 0300Z, I made three contacts, including a couple of Europeans, and a nice long ragchew with WB2KAO.

More stations whose callsigns spell words. I recently purchased a Wouxoun KG-UVD1P dual-band hanheld. I’ve programmed it with the more popular local repeaters and have it scanning while I work. About a week ago, a guy pops up on the W8UM repeater. At first, I couldn’t believe I heard his call right. As it turns out, I was right. His call is KK4JUG. We had a nice contact as he drove by Ann Arbor. He was on his way to visit family further north.

Yesterday, down at WA2HOM, I first tried 10m, but when I didn’t hear a peep there, despite the contest, I  QSYed down to 20m. One of the first stations I ran across was VA6POP. He had a really nice signal, and we had a nice contact.

I hope to get both QSL cards soon.


Don’t cubs live in dens? That makes these last two QSL cards for my collection of QSLs from stations whose callsigns spell words perfect complements for one another.



Should I go retro with my next QSL?

I’m getting kinda tired of my current QSL card. It’s an aerial photo of Michigan Stadium. They call it “The Big House” because it’s the largest American football stadium in U.S.

KB6NU Big House QSL

While scouting out items for my “Amateur Radio in the News” items, I ran across a human-interest story about ham radio operators in Los Gatos, CA in 1920. It included a photo of the QSL card for one of them, 6CDW:


I kind of like this card, and am thinking about having some printed up for me in this style. What do you think? Should I go retro?


LOTW Update – 11/18/12

I’ve blogged many times about Logbook of the World (LOTW). Well, it’s hard to believe, but it’s been three nearly years since I went through the hassle of registering with LOTW. The reason I know this is that now they’re asking me to re-register.

To re-register, you have to use the TQSL-CERT program to generate a .tq5 file and then upload that to LOTW. LOTW is supposed to process that file and then return a .tq6 file, which you then load back into TQSL-CERT. Sounds like a lot of make-work to me, but oh well.

While I was at it, I thought it would probably be a good idea to check when I last uploaded my logs to LOTW. Well, as it turns out, the last time I’d done this was the end of February, so nearly nine months ago! So, I got that taken care of.

Finally, I thought I’d check my awards status.  Well, lo and behold, I now have a total of 108 countries confirmed via LOTW.  I’m also now qualified for a CW endorsement, with a total of 105 countries worked on CW. 30m is my best band with a total of 73 countries worked on 30m.

Worked All States is another matter. I only have 48 states total confirmed via LOTW. I have worked 48 states confirmed on 40m and 48 states confirmed on CW.  And, all that’s before the 800-odd QSOs that I just uploaded.


More QSLs – 10/8/12

These have been sitting on my desk for a couple of weeks………Dan


I love these special callsigns that seem to be the rage in Europe these days, even though they’re a pain to send in CW. I wish the FCC would allow U.S. special event stations to use similar callsigns.


This card from K4OAR is now part of my collection of QSLs from stations whose callsigns spell words.

Two more QSL cards

Two more cards for my collection of QSLs from stations whose callsigns spell words:



ICE found at used bookstore


Today, I went to lunch with some high school friends in Detroit. On the way back, we stopped at John K. King Used and Rare Books. This place is a real Detroit institution. Housed in a former glove factory, the store claims to have more than a million used books stashed in closely-spaced bookshelves on four floors.

Just as we were about to leave, I spotted a box near the door labelled, “Ham Radio Cards & Ephemera.” In the box was about 100 QSL cards from the estate of Carlton R. Lindell, W8MNQ, 1250 Eastlawn Ave., Detroit, Mich. Some were blank cards of his, others were cards he received in the late 1930s and 1940.

I found two with callsigns that spell words—VE3ALE and the one above, W5ICE. There are a couple of remarkable things about this card. First, it only cost a penny to send a postcard back in those days. Second, the description for W5ICE’s transmitter and receiver are not model numbers, but actual descriptions of his “rig.” The transmitter used H125 tubes in the final amplifier, while the receiver was an “8 tube super(het).”

Also notice that there’s no line for the mode being used. It was probably assumed that the mode was CW.

21 Things to Do: Buy QSL cards

21 Things to Do After Getting Your Amateur Radio LicenseOnce you start making contacts, other amateurs will want to swap QSL cards with you, even if you just talk to them on the local repeater. The purpose of a QSL card is to confirm that you had a contact with another amateur. For sure, you’ll want to have some cards printed up if you operate on the shortwave bands. Sometimes, amateur radio operators call swapping QSL cards “the final courtesy.”

Once you get started swapping QSL cards, you may get hooked on QSLing, and it certainly can be an enjoyable part of the hobby. Many designs are distinctive, and they are fun to show off to friends and family. When I speak to groups about amateur radio, I always bring a selection of QSL cards that I’ve received. They can be very impressive.

Another reason to collect QSL cards is that they’re often needed to qualify for awards and certificates. You can, for example, get the Worked All States Award from the ARRL by submitting a QSL card from a station that you contacted in each of the 50 states.

Collecting QSLs can be fun, even if you don’t plan to apply for an award. I have, for example, started a small collection of QSL cards from stations whose callsigns spell words. I now have more than 150 such QSL cards including cards from W8HOG, WB4DAD, N4HAY, and KD8EGG. I agree that it’s kind of odd, but it’s fun, too.

Where to get QSL cards
There are many companies that print QSL cards. Here are some in no particular order, and with no endorsement implied:

All of these companies offer stock designs, but can also print custom designs. I suggest starting out with one of the stock designs and then consider a custom design once you’ve run out of the first printing. Below is the card that we use for our club station, WA2HOM, at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum.


More callsigns that spell words


About a week ago, I worked WB6THE, yet another station whose callsign spells a word. When I explained my collection, he said he’d put one of his cards in the mail right away. I got the card above a couple of days later. This one was particular cool because it’s my first “THE” card.

Yesterday, I participated in the MI QSO Party for a couple of hours. In that short time, I made 76 QSOs, including ones with W8CUB and W8HOG. I’ll be putting my card in the mail to them tomorrow. There are my first “CUB” and “HOG” as well.

QSLs – 3/21/12

It’s been kind of slow lately as far as QSLs from stations whose callsigns spell words. These last two are from special event stations, though. That makes them, well, special.


W0EBB is the callsign of the Kickapoo QRP ARC.

W0EBB is the callsign of the Kickapoo QRP ARC. It was established in 2003 to honor Clarence Drimmel, W0EBB of Atchison Kansas. This club sponsors a winter operating event every third Saturday in February called “Freeze Your Keys”. This event is an outdoor event usually run from a shelter house in Weston Bend State Park which is about 10 miles north and west of Kansas City and just east across the Missouri river from Leavenworth Kansas. This card confirms a contact made during that event.

K0ANT is one of several stations that participated in the Antarctic Activity Week.

K0ANT is one of several stations that participated in the Antarctic Activity Week. Their card reads, “The intent of the AAW special  event is bring worldwide attention to Antarctica and to the international scientific community working to preserve and protect this pristine corner of the Earth, unlocking its secrets, and to share a message of peace.”