Calling CQ

Issue 96 | July 10, 2017

The Sun seems to be getting plenty of attention lately. Yes, we’re on the downward side of the current cycle and headed for solar minimum in a few years. And yes, the space weather around our planet varies at different points during every solar cycle. But this isn’t some once in a lifetime, cataclysmic event. It happens, literally, all the time.

But that doesn’t sell newspapers - drama sells newspapers!

Yikes! It’s true that each of the last couple of solar cycles has been weaker than the one before and scientists predict that the next cycle will be weaker still. It’s not inconceivable that we could be headed for another Maunder like event but there’s no need for panic.

No running. Just move quickly and quietly to the nearest exit…

The Moon is “hot” too. At least when it comes to bouncing RF energy off it’s surface. Lots of moonbounce activity lately has been driven by the software capability to decode intelligence buried in miniscule levels of energy. Steve, VE7SL continues to impress with his success in the pursuit using a modest station.

The HB9Q group was recently quoted in the 432 and Above EME News as saying, “We are very keen to work new initials, especially QRP stations, on all bands. We can work easily stations running 1 yagi or 1.5 m dish with as little as 10 watts”.

That’s gotta make you want to jump up and shout, “challenge accepted!”

FREE article from the August 2017 edition of QST: The Solar Eclipse QSO Party–Are You Ready? by Ward Silver, N0AX.

Rich, KY6R recently wrote that he’s adding a scope to his workbench, his first oscilloscope. He chose a Rigol DS1054, a four-channel 50 Mhz DSO. It’s features are impressive, it’s price more than reasonable. A little digging turned up this video review from the EEVblog which was a great overview and all thumbs up - in case you’re in the market.

KH1 Baker Island Announcement - the Dateline DX Association (most recently the K4M team) is very pleased to announce that it has been selected by the Pacific Islands Refuges & Monuments Office of the US Fish and Wildlife Service to pursue an Amateur Radio expedition to Baker Island National Wildlife Refuge (KH1). We will announce dates of activation and other pertinent information once a vessel has been selected and approval of said vessel and dates is approved by the Service.

Ten More Clicks


Getting tough for hams to have a civil conversation about QSLing these days…

Forty years ago the matter was completely binary. Good guys sent a QSL card shortly after a contact while jerks did not. It all got a little more complicated when it became a source for funding DX operations. You send enough money and the much needed operation moves you to the head of the queue for receiving a QSL card.

Covetousness is a deadly and costly sin!

Then came electronic QSLing and folks started choosing sides. Some only acknowledge contacts via eQSL or another specific system, none of which counted toward any of the major awards.

Enter Logbook of the World - the official solution to the problem and a good one. I just wish everyone used it. I watch it closely and find the same exhiliration when a new one lands in my account as I felt when the mailman left brightly colored postcards in my mailbox.

But even with LoTW the ‘Tao of QSLing’ remains fragmented and doesn’t yet “feel” fully resolved.

It’s been on my mind this week for a couple of reasons.

First, I have a stack of cards in the shack that require some attention. I quit exchanging printed QSL cards in January 2015 and began publicly proclaiming that one year earlier. I acknowledge all contacts via LoTW but cards continue to trickle in. I want to nip this nonsense in the bud and deposit them in the dumpster but guilt has kept me from doing that - so far.

The other reason for thinking about this is that one of the ‘13 Colonies’ event stations created a disturbance in the force last week when it was claimed that he said he wasn’t going to send printed cards for the operation. That was later rescinded with the caveat that there are still “hundreds” of cards left to process from the 2016 event before the 2017 work begins. This didn’t sit well with many in the fraternity who sent that fellow unsolicited suggestions for improving his work flow.

That didn’t go over so well either…

Bottom line here is that there’s no future for printed cards sent via postal mail. The cost of postage (and printing) will continue to rise without ceasing - apparently like the number of contacts 21st century hams log. My 1977 logbook shows that I made 113 contacts THAT ENTIRE YEAR. I know hams who now consider 250 QSO’s to be an “off week" on the bands.

Cost will be the nail in the coffin for this ancient practice and QSL cards will go the way of the dinosaurs though radio enthusiasts will put up a lot more of a fight about it than the Dinosauria ever did.

Make it a GREAT week!

73, Jeff