Friday, September 22, 2017

Extra Extra!

Extra Extra! Read all about it! Last night I took and passed my Amateur Extra Class exam!

I kept the fact that I have been studying for this test a little bit of a secret as I was unsure what was going to happen with my busy schedule. Thank you to all of you that have helped me out along the way. I am extremely fortunate to have had several elmers who have always been there for me to answer my questions along the way as I passed my General exam earlier this Spring and now the Extra exam. I look forward to paying it forward and being an elmer myself one day.

So now what? Well, I can tell you that I plan to spend much more time working on the parts of the hobby that I really enjoy like CW. My goal it to be efficient enough with Morse code to be a valuable team member for Field Day next summer, which means I really need to focus on my copy speed and accuracy. I can also tell you that my callsign will be changing to a shorter and more CW friendly callsign as well. Other than that, I plan to still do what I do and that is enjoy ham radio outdoors and share my Adventures with CW here with you. I hope you have been enjoying the ride along with me?

I would like to give a shout out to the guys at Indiana Elmer Network. This group has been with me all year as I upgraded to General and now Extra. I have had the opportunity to attend a number of free classes this past year and I'm very thankful to have this great resource available to me here in Central Indiana. If you are interested in finding out more about the Indiana Elmer Network you can visit their website by CLICKING HERE and you can also follow them on Facebook by CLICKING HERE. The Indiana Elmer Network is a great resource for anyone interested in amateur radio and I would encourage you to check them out.

Please comment below and let me know what you think of the blog and what I am posting about. I have several events planned for this fall that I plan to blog about as well.

Until next time, 72 de W9ODX

Sunday, September 17, 2017

SOTA, Route 66 & Salmon

Today was a little warmer than normal here in Central Indiana with temps in the mid to upper 80's. While it was not really the best day for operating outdoors, I was in need of a little fresh air this afternoon so I swung by Ivin's house for a little "QRP therapy". After arriving, Ivin and I set up a simple station consisting of my mcHF QRP radio pushing 5 watts through the feedline and out Ivin's vertical antenna located in the backyard. We fired up the radio and found several stations calling CQ on the 20 meter band.

Summits on the Air

Our first stop was in Louisville Colorado where we found John - N0TA calling "CQ SOTA". If you are not familiar with SOTA, it stands for Summits on the Air. SOTA is an amateur radio award program launched in Great Britain in 2002. SOTA's aim is to encourage ham radio operators to operate from mountain top locations across the globe. Points are awarded based upon factors like the height and location of the summit. Anyone can join SOTA and there is no fee to participate. For more information on SOTA you can CLICK HERE. I hope to do some "mountain top ham radio" next month when in North Carolina and I will share my adventures here. John is very active with the SOTA program. According to the SOTA website, John was operating from the summit on Pinkham Mountain which is located just south of the Wyoming and Colorado state line. Pinkham Mountain's peak is a little over 9,200 feet above sea level. John is my first CW QSO from the state of Colorado and also my first SOTA QSO as well. I really look forward to exchanging QSL cards with John and adding the state of Colorado to my WAS effort.

Route 66 / New Mexico

Next we traveled down south to Rio Rancho New Mexico and found Bill - W6H calling CQ. W6H is a special event station celebrating Route 66, America's mother road. Route 66, also known as the Will Rogers Highway, was established in 1926 and quickly became America's most popular highway stretching out over 2,400 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles. You can find out more about this special event station by CLICKING HERE. I've always wanted to travel Route 66 and experience this true piece of American history. I still hope to do it one day soon, but until that happens it was nice to be able to participate in "Route 66 on the Air" honoring the Main Street of America. Thanks Bill! Your signal sounded great here in Central Indiana.

Salmon Run

After getting my kicks on Route 66 we traveled north to the state of Washington where there was a party going on. The Washington State QSO party was in full swing this afternoon with stations calling "CQ SR" for Salmon Run. Apparently the winner not only gets a really cool plaque, but a boat load of fresh salmon delivered to their house as well. How awesome is that? Not sure what we would give away here in Indiana... maybe a truck load of corn? On second thought, that's not such a great idea after all. I was very excited to participate in this QSO party because up until now I have yet to complete a QSO with any stations in Washington. I was lucky enough to have my QRP signal heard by not one, but three stations. I completed QSO's with John - K7LVJ, Dan - W7WA and Doug N7NM, all of who were a little over 2,000 miles away from our location. I really look forward to exchanging QSL cards with these 3 stations and adding the state of Washington to my WAS effort as well. Thanks guys, and good luck with winning the load of salmon!

Wow, what a fun afternoon! Hanging out with Ivin is always fun and I always learn a bunch from watching him operate. Who said QRP CW is no fun? I had a blast traveling across the western half of our country and look forward to doing it again very soon as I continue to work all states with QRP CW. I'm also really looking forward to several trips I have planned for this fall. Stay tuned for more adventures to come!

Until next time, 72 de W9ODX

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

National Traffic System

I have not posted much this past week as work has kept me very busy. I am definitely looking forward to taking a little time off in October! Tonight I checked in and participated with my very first CW net, so I thought I would share that experience here.

The net I checked into is called the Indiana Slow Net. From what I have been able to gather the Indiana Slow Net was originally created to help teach amateur radio operators in Indiana how to check into a net and also how to pass traffic, also known as Radiograms.

ARRL Radiogram

The history of passing traffic can be dated back to 1914 when Hiram Percy Maxim from Hartford Connecticut attempted to send a message to a ham radio station in Springfield Massachusetts. Unable to do so, Hiram remembered that he knew an amateur radio operator that was located about half-way and reached out to him instead. Hiram's message was then forwarded to the station it was intended for in Springfield. At this time, the maximum range for a station was just a few hundred miles so Maxim realized that there was a great need for an organized relay system for amateur radio operators.  Later that year, Maxim and others went on to establish the American Radio Relay League which was originally created for the purpose of passing traffic.

Hiram Percy Maxim / Co-Founder of the ARRL

Participating with the National Traffic System (NTS) not only sounds like another great way of helping to preserve the history of amateur radio, but it also sounds like a lot of fun too. Tonight's net was on 80 meters and my 5 watt QRP signal was heard across the state. I will admit, I was a nervous wreck checking in. It was almost like my first CW QSO in a way, but somehow I managed to work through the nervousness and complete my check-in. I had a blast and I look forward to continuing to participate in this net and hopefully the Indiana Traffic Net one day as well.

The icing on the cake this evening was hearing my friends and elmers join me by checking into the net as well. I took advantage of the fact that one of my good friends and elmer Brian - KB9BVN was on 80m as well tonight. Brian and I were able to QSY to a different frequency after the net and complete a local QSO which was very cool. Brian lives about 26 miles away from me as the crow flies and I'm excited to now have a reason to send him a QSL card. Brian is a fellow blogger known by many and a legend in the QRP world. You can read more about Brian by checking out his blog, just CLICK HERE to check it out for yourself.

Well, I guess that is it for tonight. I need to fill out several QSL cards and get them in the mail. To date I have 26 confirmed QSO's (via QSL card) in my WAS QRP CW effort.

Until next time, 72 de W9ODX

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Pioneer Park

Last night after work I dodged rain showers to meet Ivin and Gary at Pioneer Park in Mooresville Indiana for a little QRP radio adventure. This is a location that we had thought about having another gathering for QRP/CW in the Park so we wanted to check the park out. Joining us as well was Jeff - KD9FTA. Jeff is a well known local ham that has recently taken more of an interest in QRP/CW and it was great to have him join us last night.

Our QRP station for the evening

The weather was a little chilly last night with temps in the upper 60's and we were keeping and eye to the sky with scattered rain showers across the state. Ivin and Gary arrived first and set up our station for the evening, Ivin's K2 using just 5 watts and his buddi-stick antenna which he simply secured to a grill next to the park shelter. When I arrived to Pioneer Park Ivin and Gary were already on the air and Ivin was in a QSO with a station in Missouri. I took advantage of the free time and took a quick walk around the park. 

Pioneer Park - Mooresville Indiana

Pioneer Park - Mooresville Indiana
Pioneer Park is a small and quiet park in the town of Mooresville Indiana, which was founded in 1824 by Samuel Moore. Moore's family moved from North Carolina in 1818 to Washington County, Indiana, settling near the town of Salem. Samuel moved away from his family and settled in Morgan County in 1822. Moore built a trading post in Brown Township which flourished with business and in 1823 he purchased 20 acres of land close to White Lick Creek. In 1824 Moore platted out the land and developed the town now known as Mooresville.

Samuel Moore's original plan for the town of Mooresville

In 1917 in the Indiana General Assembly adopted in Indiana State Flag that we still use today. The flag was designed by Paul Hadley from Mooresville Indiana as part of Indiana's Centennial Celebration Flag Design contest.

State of Indiana Flag

The rain had picked up in intensity so it was time to seek shelter with Ivin and Gary. Ivin had just finished up his QSO and it was my turn to start calling CQ. I did not have much luck as band conditions were not very good on 40 meters last night so I went with plan B, scan the band and look for someone else calling CQ. As I scanned the band I came across Alan - W4AMV calling CQ and quickly responded to his call. Alan had a strong signal coming into Pioneer Park and I sent him a 599. Unfortunately Alan had a little more difficulty hearing my signal but he was able to copy good enough to complete the QSO. Alan is from Raleigh North Carolina which was about a 500 mile trip for my 5 watt QRP signal to travel. Raleigh is home of North Carolina University so it's safe to say you wont find many Duke fans there. I checked out Alan's QRZ page and found that he has several projects going on and he is really into home-brewing equipment to use. I shared with Alan that I was QRP operating outdoors. Since conditions were not great, I decided to cut the QSO short so that Alan would not need to strain to hear me through the noise. We exchanged 73/72's and signed off. Alan, thanks for the QSO! It was great to meet you and I look forward to doing it again when conditions improve. I will be mailing you a QSL card this week.

After my QSO with Alan the rain had stopped and we were surprised to find a double rainbow behind us that made a very nice backdrop for Ivin's buddi-stick antenna.

Double rainbow - I wonder if there is a pile of radios at the other end?

The sun was setting and the wind was changing from chilly to cold so we decided to pack things up for the evening and grab a bite to eat. Pounding on a CW key sure makes a guy hungry! Once we got everything packed up we decided to meet at a local McDonald's less than 10 minutes down the street. We often meet at this McDonald's throughout the week for coffee or a quick burger and have and opportunity to talk about what we are all up to. We've had several other local hams joins us there from time to time and it's been a great opportunity to network with others, so it seemed like the perfect place to wrap up the evening.

Our local McDonald's on a rainy summer night

The cheeseburger, fries and apple pie hit the spot! You can't beat a meal with friends for less than $5.00. 

Until next time, 72 de W9ODX