Sunday, October 15, 2017

New Mini Paddle

Yesterday I received a kit I ordered from American Morse Company. I ordered the DCP Paddle kit which is a miniature iambic paddle made with aircraft grade aluminum. Once constructed the paddle it only  1 1/2 x 1 7/8 x 1 3/16. It's compact and lightweight, so it's perfect for backpacking and portable use. Thank you to Doug - W6AME for your great customer service and quick shipping of the kit! 

DCP Paddle Kit from American Morse

The kit was very well made and easy to put together. I had the entire thing done in less than 30 minutes and ready to operate.

Assembling the DCP Paddle

I really enjoy the raw aluminum finish and the overall look of the paddle. I am very excited to not only show this new paddle off to fellow hams tomorrow evening at our "CW meetup" but also to pack it up this week and take it along with my QRP radio to North Carolina where I plan to do some mountain top operating. I plan to share my experience with this paddle in a future post.

It's complete - I really enjoy how it looks

Building kits is a ton of fun, this is an easy one that I'm sure anyone can do at home. What do you like to build? Do you have a story about a recent kit you built that you would like to share? Please comment below.

Until next time, 72 de Mike W9ODX

Saturday, October 14, 2017

CQ Lunch

Ivin and I have discussed doing a "lunch hour" contest in an effort to encourage each other to get out and operate, even if it's just during a lunch break throughout the week. I then thought, if we were going to do this why not invite others to join us?

I have proposed the following to our local "QRP group" here in Central Indiana and I would like to share it with our blog readers as well. The event would last for one month and would be limited to one hour per day, your lunch hour. Please review the idea below and let us know what you think.

Purpose: To practice and encourage the use of portable/mobile amateur radio and operating at QRP power levels. Participants will drive to a remote location during their regular lunch hour, away from their home or work, and complete as many QSOs as possible using a portable/mobile station with a mobile antenna attached to their vehicle.

Dates: One Month (Monday - Friday)

Time: One Hour per day during your lunch hour
Modes: CW or SSB
Exchange: Call, RST, State (or Country if DX)

Special Rules: QRP power levels - 5w CW & 10w SSB

Points: 2 points for each CW QSO & 1 point for each SSB QSO

Multipliers: x2 points if other station is mobile & x2 points if other station is QRP

Do you know how we might make this more fun and interesting? Would you be interested in joining us? Please comment below and share your thoughts.

72 de Mike W9ODX

Sunday, October 8, 2017

SKCC Weekend Sprint

Looking for a fun way to practice your CW copy and speed? There are a variety of Sprints available throughout the month, including my favorite... the SKCC Weekend Sprint (WES).

Sprints - A great way to have fun with CW

This weekend was the October edition of the SKCC WES and even though I only participated for a few hours I had a blast! The bands were packed full of CW signals last night and I was able to complete QSOs from the east coast to the west coast and everywhere in-between using just 5 watts and a simple antenna constructed from the gutters on my house. The more I use CW the more I am amazed at what I can do with it at such low power. Sprints are not only fun to participate in but also a great way for new CW operators to get on the air and practice their CW skills. The QSOs are short and simple, mostly just containing callsigns, RST report, QTH, and club numbers. In addition, the SKCC WES typically goes at a slower speed then most other contest making it more inviting for newer CW operators to join in the fun. I would encourage you to give it a try for yourself and see what I mean.

Would you like to find our more about SKCC or the SKCC Weekend Sprints? You can visit their webpage by CLICKING HERE or by directing your web browser to

The SKCC offers something for everyone, regardless of your skill level. With a variety of contest, awards, challenges and more there is always something to do to help keep operating CW fun. If you are brand new to CW there is even a beginners corner and elmer program available to you, just CLICK HERE to check out beginners corner.

What do you do or participate in that helps keep CW fun for you? Please share in the comments below.

Until next time, 72 de Mike W9ODX

Friday, October 6, 2017

Ham Lunch

Ham for Lunch

I had plans to do a "Ham Lunch" this week but Mother Nature had other ideas. The plan was to find a few parks within driving distance from work, setup a station, get on the air and complete some QSOs, and then head back to work all within the lunch hour. I could even pack a ham sandwich to eat while on the air. When I setup my plans I had no idea that we would see 3 straight days of rain this week. After all, we have had drought type conditions over the last 8 weeks here in Central Indiana with little to no rain. I don't want to complain though as we really do need the rain here. There is always next week, so plans are just going to have to wait until then. The forecast for late next week is looking great with fall temps arriving.

Our 7-day Forecast

Thanks to Ivin - W9ILF for posting about our trip to Cages Mill Lake last weekend. The lake was very peaceful and fun to operate from. If you missed Ivin's post you can read it by CLICKING HERE. Ivin is a good friend who has been a great elmer to me during my CW learning process. He loves to operate outdoors as much as I do and I look forward to reading more about his adventures on this blog.

Ivin - W9ILF operating at Cages Mill Lake

Our view at Cages Mill Lake while operating

I am currently searching for a good "portable" or "mini" key to use while operating outdoors. My Vibroflex keyer is awesome, but it's also very heavy and over 50 years old. I'm looking for something more portable and lightweight that I can carry in my backpack along with the radio. If you have any suggestions please comment below.

Thanks for reading the blog. If you know someone who is interested in ham radio, CW, or operating outdoors please point them in this direction.

Until next time, 72 de Mike - W9ODX

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Cagles Mill Lake


Hello,  This is my first post for the Adventures With CW.  My name is Ivin W9ILF.

I’m sure I will post more about what I do with QRP as time goes on.  Today, However I want to talk about the weekend.  

This weekend was POTA (Parks On The Air).  Parks on the air is sponsored by the ARRL and is similar to other outdoor operating entities.  What I appreciate about POTA is that there are more state parks in Indiana than there are Summits.  We have some nice state parks to visit within the state and this weekend it was.... FREE!!  So of course Mike - W9ODX started hatching the plan that we needed to go out to a lake and enjoy a day relaxing.  

We kicked lots of ideas around but settled on the park just north of Cataract falls.  Cagles Mill Lake.  We combined that with my other new hobby, scooter riding.  A couple ham friends Gary and Dan (Dan pictured riding) met at my house and we planned to meet Mike up at the lake.  It was a cold start but warmed up nicely and we sure enjoyed the ride.  Once we all found each other we rode through the park and chose a set up spot right off the lake.  There was a little place to park and just enough loose dirt in the asphalt to get the 40 meter hamstick stuck into the ground and 8 radials.

The band sounded good, but it was 2PM. On 40 meters experience tells me at QRP levels we might struggle.  We listened a lot, called CQ some.  Finally Mike took a break and walked away and just then... BINGO!  I got N2CX.  He was calling CQ POTA!  I copied 1375 which when I look it up is Linn Run State Park, PA.  I need to confirm that with a QSL.  It was a very short exchange but I let Joseph know we were at the state park as well and I will send him a picture.

Mike walked back and of course he missed the whole thing.  Ha ha... Before we knew, it was time to go and that ended up the only QSO of the event.  What a great day of being outdoors. I wish we had more success, but I am looking forward to sharing more pictures and information about QRP/scooter adventures in the future.  For now I encourage you to enjoy fresh air and operate outdoors.

72, Ivin

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Blog Updates & W9ILF

There are a few changes to the blog that I am excited to be able to share with you. The first update you may have already noticed, the physical appearance of the blog. I do my best to keep content fresh and current here, which also includes the way the blog looks. With the change of the season going from Summer to Fall, I felt like it was a great time to switch things up a little with the appearance. I will be doing this several times a year to go along with the seasons and any special events.

I have added a list of links to the page that you might find a useful resource. These links will have something to do with either CW, QRP or Operating Outdoors. You can find these links in the gadget bar on the right side of the blog. If you know of a website that I should add to this list of resources, please let me know. 

Lastly, I would like to welcome my friend and elmer Ivin - W9ILF to the Adventures with CW team! Ivin will be contributing to this blog as a co-author and posting about his adventures with CW as well. I am have been lucky enough to hear several of Ivin's stories in person and I look forward to reading about his future adventures here along with you. 

If you are unsure as to who wrote the blog post that you are reading, all you need to do is check the bottom of the post. As you can see in the photo below each post will tell you who it was "Posted by". 

This is just another way to keep the content here fresh and current and I'm glad to have Ivin on-board. Please comment below or drop me an email and let us know what you think of the blog. Do you have a suggestion for a future post? We'd like to hear those as well.

Until next time, 72 de W9ODX

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