Saturday, August 12, 2017

West Coast QSO's

Last night I got home pretty late and was not quite ready for bed so I figured why not fire up the FT-817 and see where the little guy wanted to take me. Up until now my QSO's have been limited to the Eastern half the the United States with the exception of Montana and Arizona, so I was hungry for some West Coast QSO's!

California Dreaming

It didn't take long before I heard a K6 call sign down in the noise. After a little patience, tuning, and filtering I was able to copy Jerry - K6III from Grass Valley California, just northwest of Sacramento and a little over 1,800 miles away from my QTH. My excitement level jumped to a new CW high as I knew I wasn't going to be able to go to bed without trying to complete a QSO with Jerry. I tapped my paddle as hard as I could, thinking it might help my weak 5 watt signal some how reach California better, and hoped for the best! 40 meters was very noisy last night but I heard the sound that all CW ops love to hear, my call sign being sent back to me as confirmation that Jerry could hear me. I smiled from ear to ear as Jerry and I fought the QSB to exchange information. Some how some way the QRP signal coming from my inverted L gutter antenna held up long enough to complete the QSO and send 73 to Jerry. Afterwards I high five'd my dog Cooper as we celebrated  the contact together! Thank you very much Jerry for fighting the QSB and noisy band to complete the QSO with me. 1,828 miles is my new personal best for distance with a QRP CW signal of 5 watts or less. I look forward to hearing your call again when conditions are better. I did a quick google search on Grass Valley California and found that it was home of California's oldest continuous running hotel, the Holbrooke Hotel, built in 1851. That was before Samuel Morse even came up with Morse code, wow! I'm sure that hotel has some stories it could share.

The Holbrooke Hotel, built in 1851

At this point, there is no way I'm going to bed without trying to complete another West Coast QSO now, so I grab a cup of coffee and call out again. This time I connected with Tom - WB7EUK from Joseph Oregon, a small town in northeastern Oregon that is surrounded by the Wallowa Whitman National Forest. Tom and I exchanged information and I thanked him for being my first Oregon contact. A quick google search on the Wallowa Whitman National Forest will show you breath taking photos of why I'm certain Tom chose to live in northeastern Oregon. Looks like a great place to bring a KX3, a backpack, and a SOTA flag. Tom, thanks again for the QSO and I wish you all the best.

Wallowa Whitman National Forest

Wow, who would have ever thought that 5 watts could bring me to two places so awesome? Jerry and Tom, QSL cards will be sent out this week and I look forward to receiving yours in return as I add two new states to my Worked all States adventure.

Want to start your own adventure? CW is so much fun, you wont regret learning this mode at all. The key to learning CW is not counting dots and dashes or doing any other kind of visual memorization or flow charts. The key is listening to the code, you can even close your eyes if you need to. Listen for the rhythm or melody of each character and associate the sound with the letter. Once you get that down you will start hearing simple words and continue to grow from there. Once you get your letters and numbers down, just get on the air. Everyone was slow at one time and everyone has made mistakes when sending CW. That is all part of the learning curve and the fun. There is no better feeling then completing your first couple of QSO's. I'm up to 25 or so and I still get excited. The more you use it, the better you will get, I promise. I hope to hear you on the air soon!

Until next time, 72 de W9ODX

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