Operating Notes

Last week, I didn’t operate very much. I made no contacts at all Wednesday or Thursday, and I hoppened to notice that, for 2009, my number of contacts per day actually fell to below three per day. Of course, this does not include all of the contacts I’ve made ate the museum, but even so, I feel like I’m slacking off.

Friday, I did make a bunch of contacts, though; nine to be exact. One of the contacts was with Doug, NJ1T. We had a nice, long QSO. One thing we discussed was his cap (see right). I commented on it because I sometimes wear a cap while operating during the winter. I do it because it gets cold down in my basement. Doug wears one because he’s bald!

Another thing that we have in common is that we both have websites. Doug’s website is called The Deaf DXer. As the name implies, he has a lot of information to help hams who are hard of hearing. There are also pages describing his antenna experiments and other aspects of his hamming.

Unfortunately, it looks as though I may have lost the log file containing those contacts. The hard disk in my Mac laptop finally bit the dust, and I’m not sure that the log file is going to be recoverable. I made a backup of the log file about a week ago, but those nine QSOs will be lost if they can’t recover the file.

I debated about whether or not have a new hard drive installed, but $200 for a new hard drive is certainly cheaper than buying another laptop. I was thinking about doing it myself, so I Googled for instructions. I found some excellent-looking instructions on ifixit.com, but after reading through them, I decided to have someone else do it. The Web page noted above lists 42 different steps—and that’s just for disassembly! To put it all back together, you have to perform all 42 steps in reverse order.

On Saturday, I operated WA2HOM at the Hands-On Museum for a couple of hours. Saturday was Skywarn Recognition Day, and since we’re big on special event stations, I tried to work as many of them as I could. Although I managed to hear quite a few of them, not all of them could hear me. All told, I worked six:

  • K5LCW – Lake Charles, LA
  • WX9ILX – Lincoln, IL
  • KX4MLB – Melbourne, FL
  • K0MPX – Burnsville, MN
  • K0DMX – Des Moines, IA
  • WX4HUN – Huntsville, AL

On Sunday night, I checked into the University of Michigan Amateur Radio Club net. The net control station, Pat, WA4DSR, asked me if it was true that American Morse was more efficient than International Morse Code. Now, I’d always heard this, but didn’t know how true it was. After the net, I Googled around for more information.

One resource I found was Chapter 20 of the book The Art & Skill of Radio-Telegraphy. This book claims that messages are “handled at a rate about 45% faster on the Morse line than on the International channel.” One reason for this is that dahs in American Morse are generally shorter than dahs in International Morse. It also notes that letters are 73% shorter and numbers 65% shorter in American Morse than they are in International Morse.

After the Sunday night net, Stuart, KD8LWR, and I had a 40m QSO. This has become regular sked for us, and I enjoy cranking it up to 35 wpm and blasting code at one another.

All in all, it was quite a busy weekend in ham radio.


  1. One of the side benefits of eQSL is that is a backup for the log. Many logging programs can send eQSLs in real time.

    You shouldn’t feel guilty at averaging less than three contacts per day. I sometimes do after I read about all the contacts other people make. But I think listening, WSPRing, tinkering, building, writing software and even blogging about ham radio counts as activity even if it doesn’t result in log entries.

Speak Your Mind