Monday, July 15, 2013

News From A.R.S. W8MDE

There is always something interesting going on at Recumbent Conspiracy Headquarters and this weekend it was the Straight Key Century Club Week End Sprint.  I took a few hours out of my busy weekend schedule and got on the air for some casual contesting.  Dividing my time up between three different sessions I made a few contacts starting on Saturday night; followed by a few more with my coffee Sunday morning, and later in the evening as the sprint wore down to the finishing time.

For July the theme of the sprint was "A Revolutionary Sprintathon"  Earlier this month America celebrated her Independence and to apply this to the sprint in an interesting way a bonus of 25 extra points could be won by establishing contact with stations in each of the original 13 colonies plus Britain and France.  I never made a connection across the pond but I ended up with 27 contacts in 19 different states eight of which were in one of the original thirteen.

July 2013 SKCC Week End Sprint Log

7.054 MHz    WK2S    New Jersey*
7.115 MHz    AK4JA    Georgia*
7.121 MHz    N1DN    Connecticut*
7.117 MHz    K5DP    Oklahoma
7.117 MHz    N5JPX    Mississippi
7.117 MHz    KB1NHV    Vermont
7.112 MHz    AC2C    Maryland*
7.057 MHz    K3RHJ    North Carolina*
7.109 MHz    WA3RF/qrp    Maryland
7.113 MHz    KI0I    Missouri
7.052 MHz    K8NS    Florida
7.056 MHz    WA1HFF    Massachusetts*
7.057 MHz    K0CW    Missouri
7.050 MHz    K2OGT    New York*
7.053 MHz    KJ4LEN    Florida 
7.055 MHz    W7GVE    Arizona
7.054 MHz    KB3KJS    Maryland
7.051 MHz    K8WSN    Michigan
7.054 MHz    K0SKC    Missouri
7.054 MHz    K4ZGB    Alabama
7.057 MHz    WU1V    Massachusetts
7.115 MHz    N8KZH    West Virginia
7.050 MHz    WB0PYF    Missouri
7.052 MHz    W9CC    Indiana
7.054 MHz    K2DEP    Maryland
7.058 MHz    KW3F    Pennsylvania* 
7.048 MHz    W9DLN    Wisconsin 

*Original thirteen colonies.  Only one bonus of 25 points can be taken per colony.  Multiple contacts with other stations in the same colony do not count as additional bonuses.  Too bad to as I hit three different stations in Maryland.


As often happens my mind experiences Morse Code overload and I need a break but I'm still in the mood to make contacts with my ham radio.  During the sprint I did check for signals on 20 meters (14 MHz) and the band seemed uncharacteristically dead for some reason. On my way back down to 7 MHz I stopped and had a listen on the digital/CW only band 30 meters.  The amateur service is considered a secondary user on this interesting little sliver of radio spectrum between the frequencies of 10.000 and 10.150 MHz.  What this means is we can use the band for amateur activities as long as we do not interfere with the bands primary users which are probably made up of governmental, military or scientific services.

30 meters is a cool place to operate which shares propagation attributes of both the 40 meter and 20 meter bands which lie both above and below.  Because of our status as secondary users 30 meters is off limits for contesting so the band is a nice place to go for quiet low power experimentation and ragchews away from the traditional ham bands which can be a flurry of activity on busy contest weekends.

I could hear some radio teletype signals and see that their traces were quite strong on my band scope so I knew propagation was in good shape.  I set my transceiver to 10.140 MHz which is considered a PSK-31 "calling frequency" and sent out some CQs to see if anyone could hear me.  After sending out ten or fifteen calls I was just about to give up when a strong signal appeared in answer and I settled in for a nice conversation with an operator named Don in Peoria, Illinois.  

PSK-31 is a great mode for casual ragchewing and it's a real bonus if you know your way around a keyboard.   The digital software in my laptop keys the transceiver into transmit and converts keystrokes of data into audible tones which are then sent out through space by my radio.  It really is amazing and what modern amateur radio is all about.  If you can type at all you can easily stay ahead of the buffer and watch your characters stream out in real time just as you can watch the incoming text appear on your monitor from the other operator. Instant messaging via high frequency radio waves.

On the screen of my laptop among other information provided by the digital program is what is called the "Receive Window"  In this area the incoming signals decoded by the software are displayed as text so the operator can see whats going on.  Outgoing text is also displayed in this window and unlike voice or CW (Morse Code) modes the software basically records both sides of the conversation.  This is an interesting and handy feature as it allows an operator to scroll back through a contact to find information or keep the conversation on track.  

People always ask what us hams talk about on our radios so here is a fine example.  I simply copied and pasted the whole QSO from the receive window and stuck it here on the blog.  I left it just as it was so a few little decode errors appear like typos in the text but over all the exchanges are pretty clear.



Good Morning and thanks for the call.  Name here is Mike Mike. QTH is Galion, Ohio  Galion, Ohio.  about midway between Columbus and Cleveland.  How copy?BTU KB9UMT DE W8MDE K

W8MDE de KB9UMT all 100% Mike  TU for ur information  ur report 579 579 579 
name hr is Don Don   QTH is Peoria IL  Peoria IL  loc EN50dp
nice to meet you this morning on 30m  btu Mike W8MDE de KB9UMT btt  i u   N 

FB Don and nice to meet you.  Your sigs are 599 599 Nice bright trace.  I was playing in the SKCC week end sprint but got a bit bored so I thought I'd try this band. I knew it was open because I heard some RTTY signals. Weather here is beautiful I just came in from the patio and it feels like it is going to get hot today.  Bright clear skies.

Rig is Icom 718 running about 30 watts to 66 foot horizontal wire end fed. I am using a auto-tuner.  Age is 42 years and been a ham since 2008.

RRR all 100%   yes reading your QRZ Bio and also your blog  hey, nice shots hi  vy nice station  I like the ic718 gud little rig and small enough to be on the go too   ur wire working FB    I like your hK ®ebrew 40m vert top load  very  nice   rig here ic756pro2, mixw, 20w, ant is homebrew 2 ele yagi    age 51  btu Mike W8MDE de KB9UMT Y      a

FB All copy solid here Don.  OK if you saw my blog you saw this years set up at Field Day. That is why I built that 40 meter short vertical for field day so I would not be dependent on trees. It works pretty well for its size. I have done side by side comparisons with the 40 meter wire and the signal is just down a bit.  It was a fun project and I learned a bunch from it.
Your station is working well also.  I just saw in the new QST magazine plans  for a full size 30 meter 2 element Yagi that looks great. My lot is pretty small so I'm not too sure how that would work out but it sure looks like that would be a fun one to build.

ne   RRR all 100%   yes ur project for FD a good one  looks good but if it works good even better hi   of course vert to horz wire very different depending on who you want to work hi  vy nice    yes I noticed that and actually this 2 ele is a basterized tri bander that was beat up at a Hamfest for $20 so I have about $60 in this antenna   my lot 100 by 80  so tight for me  really too big but had to try it    works well but with the ice and wind might go back to the rotatable dipole after 5 yrs up it really has been fun but wx getting worse it seems   also noticed ur a 30 meter digital group 30MDG member so nice to meet another member btu Mike W8MDE de KB9UMT baweovTt

R R  Sig looks good. I like 30 meters it is a very stable band with little qsb.  Your sig is very steady.  My 30MDG # is 5229  I used to have fldigi loaded on my old shack computer and enjoyed playing around with some of the other modes but got a new laptop recently and just running Digipan now. I like the larger waterfall at the bottom on Digipan. Mainly I just use it as a bandscope and to help zerobeat other stations on CW.

As you can see I got a full plate. I have a bunch of hobbies and interests.  My son is 12 years old so we have been doing a lot of shooting. He started with .22 rimfire and been doing that for a few years. This last trip out was his first time shooting centerfire rifle and he loved it!  We shoot pistol and rifle and air guns also target archery.  there is just somthing fun about shooting things Hi Hi!
ok will let the rig cool for a minute.  What are you into Don besides radio?

RRR all 100%   vy nice  fx on ur son and shared hobbies  always nice to be busy   keep the kids busy in things you want them in or they will be busy in things you don't want them in hi   between work and kids/family   radio and watching or helping the kids in sports keeps me busy   that and my interests are promoting 30m band here  great band  tu for ur 30MDG #  FB   my 30MDG#0001   so always like working other members  btu Mike and we do have some o9B so hope still cpy W8MDE de KB9UMT bkr
e( enm
Still good copy Don.  Wow you have a low number!  Hi.  Yes he stays busy. He has gotten involved with Boy Scouts this year and he reeally likes the structure and uniform stuff so I'm happy about that.  Ok I'll say 73 and thanks for a great ragchew on 30 meters Don. I hope to run into you again soon.

RRR all solid print   my pleasure   I like to ragchew more than short macro contacts which I can get on other bands but here on 30m always fun to actually 'meet' someone    we will look forward to the next time and see you in other modes so have FLDIGI ready hi   love to experiment   keep your son going on what you hv  grt job thus far   have fun TU agn  73 Mike W8MDE de KB9UMT skord o   zo

Great! FB Don take care and enjoy the rest of the beautiful weekend. CUL
TU Mike bye bye 

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