Thursday, August 18, 2011

News from A.R.S. KD8JHJ

It's been a great summer.  I spent some quality time working on and riding bicycles. As a family we had some adventures and saw a few new and interesting places.  I've gotten back into reading with a vengeance since I got my Kindle ebook. And last but not least the old 9 to 5 that uses up the rest of my free time has kept me busy.  All this has brought my radio-activity to very low levels but that doesn't mean amateur radio is not front and center in my mind.  Ham radio is a great thinking man's hobby.  Electronics, antenna theory, wave propagation and history are just a few of the related subjects that can keep an idle mind firing on all cylinders while away from the shack.

I still get on the air when I can and as the summer winds down and turns to fall the shortening days will curtail my outdoor activities and leave more time for radio pursuits.  On the 14th of August the SKCC Week End Sprint was held.  I always try not to miss this event so I got on the air with my straight keys and handed out a few numbers.  The most notable contact during the sprint was a 2,080 mile cross country connection with Jake KK6L, who lives outside San Francisco, California.  Jake is a very active and enthusiastic ham who is 9 years younger than me.  There is a few of us younger guys out here passionate about radio.  We will keep the brass pounding tradition alive.

KD8JHJ August SKCC WES log

7.056    W3OKC    Pennsylvania
7.053    W1LVT    Vermont
7.057    K8EE    Ohio
14.048    KK6L  California
14.053    N5RKD    New Mexico
7.052    K4ZGB    Alabama
7.053    K4BAI    Georgia
7.113    N0UMP    Missouri
7.050    KI0I    Missouri
7.048    W9DLN    Wisconsin
7.055    W4FOA    Georgia
7.053    N4RE    North Carolina


On the digital side of the radio desk

Unanswered Feld Hell CQ's on 20 meters
 In my last ham radio post I mentioned that I was wanting to make some DX contacts using my favorite digital mode Feld Hell.  When I have the station fired up I usually send out some CQ calls to see what happens.  Most of the time I get no responses.  Hellschriber is an obscure mode with a smaller following than the more common digital modes on the airwaves like PSK-31 or RTTY.

On the 21st of July I was parked on 14.080 MHz and after my second CQ call I was shocked to see SP5APR, the callsign of a gentleman named Stan returning my call.  From 4,569 miles away in Warsaw, Poland Stan copied my Feld Hell signals and reported them 599 and perfectly readable.  Fine Business indeed.


Last night I was sitting at my desk stamping some envelopes for QSL cards.  If I am not monitoring the CW frequencies for Morse code I like to set my rig to the PSK-31 "watering hole" on 20 meters.  This is a great way to see how propagation is working.  PSK stations are operational nearly 24/7 these days on 14.070 MHz.  My software (fldigi) has a feature called "psk browser" that when enabled tracks and decodes all the signals in the 3 KHz  passband of the receiver in a seperate window.  At a glance I can follow up to as many as ten or twelve QSOs all happening at the same time.   The program will highlight the incoming text in red if a certain key word or phrase like CQ CQ CQ is decoded.  Clicking on the text with the mouse will automatically tune the software to that exact frequency and with another click my reply is transmitted digitally out into the ether. 

I noticed while watching the psk browser the station IR2ITA advertising a special call.  He was working other European stations but his signal was strong and providing nearly perfect copy to my lowly wire strung outside to the tree in the backyard.  I assumed "special call" meant special event station so I waited for an opening and clicked a transmission in response.  Franco in Italy got my signal solid and I now have another unique special event station in the log.  I posted a screen shot of our actual QSO under the IR2ITA qsl card image below.  

KD8JHJ in qso with IR2ITA using PSK-31 digital mode

Earlier this week I was reading the SKCC websight and I noted an announcement by Stan, WB2LFQ.  Stan planned to operate a special event station as a single op QRP using CW only (Morse code) commemorating the 42nd anniversary of the Woodstock Music Festival in Bethel, NY.  What a cool special event I thought.  I am a huge music fan and many of my favorite classic rock acts were new up and comers that performed at that legendary 3 day show.  I saw that the event was underway so I set my receiver to the specified frequency on 40 meters.  Soon enough I heard the "CQ CQ de W2S" special call.  The signal wasn't booming in but it was perfectly readable.  5 watts, 500 miles -No problem!  I exchanged info with Stan at a crisp 20 words per minute using my ZN-9A paddles.

I've already sent off my SASE 9.00" X 12.00" envelope and I am looking forward to seeing how Stan designed his unique special event certificate.  The info for the event is still posted on under W2S.  Stan posted the log from the event on his site Here. I found my call in this log contact number 23 out of 155 stations worked by Stan over 30 hours of operation.  Pretty impressive for a one man qrp effort to say the least.

I've read lots of articles and blogs written by experienced hams who describe how our tastes in different aspects of the hobby change over time.  I don't doubt this but for now catching these one-of-kind special event stations has become my favorite radio activity.


  1. The civilians reading your blog probably don't realize that pounding out your call sign in Morse, is almost like tapping out a novel. Maybe time for a 2x2 call? 73, Tom, AB9NZ

  2. I hear you Tom. I leave my call long for the beacon effect when I call cq. Gives the other op time to turn his beam and dip his grid and stuff. Or go get more coffee.

  3. Sounds like you're having a great time. Sometimes quality is worth much more than quantity, which makes the special event stations so much better. Nice card!!

    Long live the Kindle....I've been doing the same here. It's like the difference between "just a key" and a "very good" key. I learn much more with a dictionary, the web, and an encyclopedia at my fingertips.

    More time for playing a few guitar tunes....