Over the weekend I got some air time participating in the SKCC Weekend Sprint and made a few contacts on HF radio.
February 2013 SKCC Week End Sprint
7.111 W1DV New York
7.112 N8VCL Nebraska
7.116 K1LEE Connecticut
7.116.5 W1PNS Massachusetts
7.115 KI1U Connecticut
3.553 K2HT Missouri
7.110 W5ZR Louisiana
7.112.5 NE7D Oregon
7.110 N8KZH West Virginia
7.116 K8EE Ohio
There was a big radio teletype contest going on at the same time as our event that had the bottom end of 40 meters wall to wall with the distinctive and obnoxious sounds of teletype. I spent most of the time in the old novice portion above 7.110 MHz where it was quiet and peaceful. Saturday after dark I did drop down to 80 meters and made a contact at 3.5 MHz.
As usual I alternated between straight key and Vibroplex semi-automatic to send my beeps out bouncing off the ionosphere.
Last night the program at my local ham radio club meeting was "Old Time Equipment" A few of the members brought in various vintage ham gear from the past and explained the hows and whys.
I brought my Vibroplex and Code Practice Oscillator for show and tell. While not a vintage piece of equipment the design of the Vibroplex actually predates radio so good enough for "Old Timer's Night" I thought. I've written about the Vibroplex before on the blog. It's one of my all time favorite mechanical devices ranking right up there with the most grandest of mankind's inventions; the bicycle.
The code practice oscillator is a simple device that's been around forever and is basically just a beeper so an operator can hear his keying and practice sending the code without actually going on the air. Modern amateur radios have a "side tone" setting that allows off air practice but back in the old days practice oscillators were a common piece of gear either purchased or in most cases home built by the aspiring CW operator.
After the meeting I was down in my ham shack with my tuner parked on 7.114 MHz when I heard a CQ call loud and clear over the receiver so I sent a quick reply and was soon enjoying a nice Morse Code chat with Will in Texas. The call sounded vaguely familiar so later I looked through my QSL cards and found Will's card he sent me in 2010 after our first radio contact back then. Will's interest in ham radio is vintage gear and of course Morse Code and is well illustrated on his card. I am now a full four years into the ham radio hobby and the wonder of wireless communication still thrills and amazes me to no end.
While I'm on the most interesting subject of Morse Code here's a cool video I found while reading the forums at qrz.com callsign database. This is the greatest thing I've seen since Rush's song YYZ that combines Morse and music.