Field Day Packets Available

From the ARRL website:

Attention All Amateurs…
ARRL Flag2010 Field Day Packets Now Available (Feb 2, 2010) — It’s that time of year again — time to start gearing up for ARRL Field Day, June 26-27, 2010! ARRL’s flagship operating event — always held the fourth full weekend in June — brings together new and experienced hams for 24 hours of operating fun. Field Day packets are now available for download and include the complete rules (including changes for 2010), as well as other reference items such as forms, ARRL Section abbreviation list, entry submission instructions, a Frequently Asked Questions section, guidelines for getting bonus points, instructions for GOTA stations, a kit to publicize your event with the local press and more.

Operating Notes: 1/25/10 – 1/31/10

This week, I made some notable QSOs:

  1. K0HL RigMonday night, I contacted K0HL, operating CW mobile from his truck in ND (see right). On his QRZ.Com page, he lists his occupation as clockmaker. I need to e-mail and ask him how he became a clockmaker. I’ve always had an interest in clockmaking.
  2. Tuesday night, I had a QSO with YS1ZC. He’s my first contact with El Salvador.
  3. On Thursday night, I stayed up late. When I got home from bowling, my wife informed me that her parents’ power went out and that we might have to go get them, if their power didn’t come back on soon. Just after midnight, I called CQ on 80m, with my crummy 25W and random-wire antenna, and lo and behold, I got a call from DJ0KC, who heard me while getting ready for work. He’s my first European on 80m, and only my second DX contact. I’m amazed when I make any contact on 80m, much less a DX contact.
  4. Thursday night, I worked HA3NU. He is the first DX station that I’ve worked with the same suffix as mine.
  5. On Saturday, down at the museum, we worked one of the stations in the REF French DX Contest on 20m. Later that evening at home, I heard a couple of French stations on 40m and worked them. That got me caught up in the swing of things, and overall, I made ten contacts, including one in Guadeloupe and three in Martinique. I also made one on 80m—F5KIN—who, as you’ll note, has a callsign that spells a word (kin).

Operating Notes – 1/6/10

Last night was a fun one on 80m, even though the only antenna I still have for this band is a low, 85-ft. random wire.

My first contact of the evening was with K4ZDH. The call was vaguely familiar to me, but when I typed it into my logging program, it didn’t find any previous QSOs.

Only when he said his name was Riley, and his QTH Gettysburg, PA, did it strike me. This was Riley Hollingsworth, the former head of amateur radio enforcement for the FCC! (Gettysburg has long been the home of the FCC, at least it’s amateur radio operations.) We had only a short QSO, but I was able to tell him that I’d enjoyed hearing him speak and to thank him for his service with the FCC.

A little bit later, I worked Steve, WA1HUD. Steve is the chief engineer and holder of license for WNE Coast Radio and president of the New England Historical Radio Society. WNE is currently under construction and wil be a CW maritime station designed to help preserve marine CW.

As you can imagine, building a station like this isn’t for the faint-hearted. As an example, just take a look at the pictures of the loading-coil construction project. WNE will operate on 500 kHz, meaning that the antennas will be very big. The loading coil will be pretty big, too.

I couldn’t find a way to join the NEHRS on their site, but if you have a couple extra bucks, I’d bet they would appreciate the donation. I plan to become a “member” one way or another.

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.

How Many Hams in Your Grid Square?

When I contact other stations on HF, I like to look them up on QRZ.Com. If they’ve added some info on themselves, it’s a good way to get to know the other ham better, and doing this has sparked some good conversations.

Today, I noticed that they’ve added some features to their map. Not only is the other op’s location pinpointed, but now the map tells you what grid square they’re in, how many hams are in that grid square, and you can check a box to show you where those other hams are, too. Very cool.

In my grid square, EN82ch, there are 28 hams:

en82ch

I guess that’s on the low side. Of the five hams I worked today, my grid square had the second lowest number of hams. Lowest was EN46oh, the grid square of WA9FFV, who’s located in Northern Wisconsin, almost on Lake Superior. He’s the only ham in that grid square.

Of all the hams I worked today, K2GTC lives in the grid square with the highest number of hams. He lives in FN30as, which has 465 hams!

fn30as

I know New York City is densely populated, but I’m still amazed that there are so many hams there. Where do they put up antennas?

At any rate, I found this fascinating. Thanks to QRZ.Com for doing this. Now, I really need to pay for a subscription to this fine service.

Second Arecibo Observatory activation – KP4AO November 1st

This from Angel, WP3GW, via the ARRL PR mailing list:

After the huge success of the first activation, the Arecibo Observatory Radio Club – KP4AO will be on-the-air again this next Sunday November 1st, 2009 to commemorate 46 years of operations of still the single largest radio telescope antenna in the world. Also they will commemorate the 35th anniversary of the Arecibo Message, which was sent on November 16, 1974,in binary code and transmitted to the globular star cluster M13, for if it is received by intelligent life, to let them know about our existence. “We had a such a great response that we had more than 100 hams operating the station in the Control Room taking turns”, said Angel Vazquez – WP3R who works in the Observatory.

The special event will start at 9am-4pm local time (1300 – 2000 UTC) and will be on 20 meters SSB. There will be certificates for those who make contact as well for operators. This is an activity for the whole Amateur Radio Community, so if you are near, or visiting the island you are invited. (Don’t forget your ham license! It’s your free pass). KP4AO will be operated inside the Control Room, and the Visitor Center entrance will be half price.

The Arecibo Observatory, located in the city of Arecibo, Puerto Rico is a radio telescope operated by Cornell University under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and works as the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC). From it many studies and discoveries from the cosmos has been made by Nobel-Prize winners,as well made studies of the atmosphere and even used in the SETI program.

For More information on the Message
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arecibo_message

Official Website:
http://www.naic.edu/

Sounds like fun to me. I just wish I could get down there to actually operate the station.

Saturday Night on 40m

Yesterday night, propagation was exceptional on 40m. The band seemed open to just about everywhere. I made six contacts on 40m, including one in PA, one in MO, and four in Europe. I could also hear stations from Central America, but didn’t get a chance to work them.

Of the four European contacts, two were notable:

  • OL22ASE. This is a special event station at the ASE XXII Planetary Congress, an international congress of astronauts organised by Association of Space Explorers (ASE). This station will be on the air until October 15.

    The ASE is an international nonprofit professional and educational organization of over 325 individuals from 35 nations who have flown in space. Founded in 1985, ASE’s mission is to provide a forum for professional dialogue among individuals who have flown in space, support space science and exploration for the benefit of all, promote education in science and engineering, foster greater environmental awareness, and encourage international cooperation in the human exploration of space.

  • LZ44WFF. This is a special event station of the “World Flora Fauna” (WFF) expedition to the Biosphere Reserve “Srebarna” (LZFF-016, WW. Loc. KN34MC). WFF is an International Award Program (an International ecologo-edicational and nature conservation action on supporting of protected areas), organized to attract attention of the world community to the problems of protected areas, to provide them with feasible practical support, to waken a feeling of pride in the minds of the Earth’s inhabitants for natural and cultural heritage, for visiting National Parks and Nature Reserves and making QSO contacts with them.

I thought it was kind of amusing that both stations had two numbers in their callsigns, and that they were operating within 2 kHz of one another on Saturday night.

Operating Notes: Saturday, September 19, 2009

I had kind of a busy day operating today and made some great contacts, so I thought I’d write a bit about them.

I got to WA2HOM this morning about 11 am and fired up the rig. 40m was in fine shape, and I made several CW contacts in quick succession. Then, for some reason, I got it into my head to see what was happening on phone. Tuning up to 7215, I heard a KF4 working the SC QSO Party and worked him. I tuned around a bit and heard another, so I worked him, too. I thought I’d try to see how many SC contacts I could log, but after tuning around a bit, I couldn’t find any others, so I kept tuning.

It was then that I ran across W4CA, operating from near the Buena Vista exit of the Blue Ridge Parkway. He and a bunch of other stations were operating the Blue Ridge Bonanza. I worked this special event either last year or the year before and had a blast doing it. The stations in VA all use the callsign W4CA, while the stations in NC use the callsign W4NC. I have bicycled several segments of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and it’s just a wonderful ride.

While I don’t bicycle much anymore, I still have it in the back of my mind to do the entire Parkway one of these days. I used to figure that I could do it in seven days, but since I haven’t biked much at all since getting back into ham radio, I rather doubt I could accomplish that now.

I also worked another special event station, W1ORS, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Sikorsky VS-300 helicopter, America’s first practical helicopter.

About 1:30pm, Stuart, KD8LWR, and his mother visited the station. Stuart is the guy who visited the ARROW Field Day site this June. Since then, he’s gotten his ticket, and is now KD8LWR. We’re still working on getting him set up with an HF station at home, but aren’t quite there yet. Stuart was able to make four or five contacts, then he and his mother had to leave. I buttoned up the station and headed home myself.

This evening, I decided that I hadn’t had enough for one day and headed down to my shack. I made a couple of contacts on 40m, but then decided to see what was going on on 30m. I should have tuned up sooner. 30m was really hopping with DX.

I first work OQ5M, Franki. Franki is a regular reader of this blog (thanks, Franki!). Next, I had a nice QSO with Romeo, IK2DJV (see QSL card below). I looked him up on QRZ.Com, so I knew that he spoke English, and we had a nice chat. Doesn’t Varese look like a great place to visit?

After signing with Romeo, I called CQ a couple of times, without an answer. Since I wasn’t having any luck, I decided I’d better clean my bowling ball. Whilst doing that, I left the radio tuned to 10114. After a couple of minutes, I heard VK6HD call CQ. That was a stroke of luck. I was the first to call him and he heard me right off. What a cool way to end a full day of operating.

Operating Notes: More QSOs With Stations Whose Callsigns Spell Words!

In the last eight days, I’ve worked three more stations whose call signs spell words. What’s more these were all great QSOs:

  • KA9ZAP. Art mentioned that one of his first contacts was with VU2ZAP, but he hadn’t been “ZAPped” since then.
  • K3DEN. Denny was operating from from a senior center, using an IC-703 running 10 W into a Hustler antenna mounted on his car. He emailed me after our contact and said, “I thought you wouldn’t be able to hear me due to low power and and conditions.” He wasn’t very strong here, but I enjoy a relatively low ambient noise level here, so he was solid copy.
  • W2RIP. Despite his call, Ron lives in GA. During our 40-minute QSO, we discovered that we’d both been trained as EEs and lived in CA, first in Northern CA, then in Southern CA. Ron also mentioned that he’s had a lot of fun with his callsign.

All three QSLs are going to be great additions to my collection.

Is It Work?

Ned, WB4BKO, writes, “Why do we say that we’ve ‘worked’ someone when we have contacted them? For me, making contacts is a pleasure, not work. I think that we should change this bit of ham radio jargon.”

I think that Ned has a point. While it’s true that working some guys is a strain, for the most part, it’s a lot of fun.

What do you think? Should we change our terminology or leave well enough alone? How did making contacts come to be called ‘working’ in the first place?