Hello October. It’s not only Fall, it’s also harvest time, the payoff for another year of farm work. Temperatures should be much cooler now. They are not. High temps over the next four days are expected to be in the upper 80s. Not very autumn-like if you ask me. The extended forecast suggests this might be the end of the hot weather. We will see. I’d vote for sweatshirt weather if I could. Seasons change as do my radio interests and I see a dogleg left coming up in the road ahead, and I’m not just talking about the weather.
Sometimes you get lucky. Just hours after working and confirming TF2MSN (Iceland) for my 97th DXCC on 15 meters, I worked and confirmed 5W1SA (Samoa) on the same band for number 98. Atsuo, who was originally from Japan moved to Samoa in 1998. His is a solid signal from the Polynesian island, I have him confirmed on 30, 20, and now 15. His confirmation via LoTW is appreciated.
After all that has transpired here over the last 3-4 months I assumed this year in DX would be lost. Now it seems several of my HF goals might be achieved. Excelsior!
Iceland is 273 on the Most Wanted list, down around Alaska and Mexico. In other words, it’s not very rare. Still, it remains exotic and faraway. I have worked stations there many times on various bands using different modes. But I didn’t have it confirmed on 21MHz until yesterday. TF2MSN was already in my log two other times so when I saw him on 15 yesterday I was certain if he could copy me it would be one more. Paydirt!
Worked and confirmed in just a few hours, that was the 97th entity on 15 meters for me. Getting close.
Rainy Day Radio
It rained all day yesterday, don’t be fooled by the photo taken a few days earlier. No complaints, we needed the rain. And it allowed me to keep the radio on for hours listening for CQ’s. I worked the following on 40-10. All via CW over the course of the day in short bits of activity. Don’t get me wrong, I’m ready for the sunshine to return, but it was a nice day.
USS Requin NY3EC
I knew that John K3WWP would be operating from onboard the USS Requin, a state-of-the-art and battle ready submarine launched just days before the end of World War II. The Requin holds the distinction of being the Navy’s first Radar Picket submarine. The sub is now parked at the Carnegie Science Center near Pittsburgh. John and friends activate it regularly using the call NY3EC. Tuning around for him, I happened upon his CQ at 7042 khz at 1535 and quickly had him in the log.
Being it was K3WWP on the key, I was keen not to foul it up.
The Autumn 2023 SPRAT arrived in the mailbox yesterday. Around here this is cause for stopping everything else for a few hours and making a coarse first-pass at its contents. More time will be made for detailed dissection over the coming weeks. SPRAT is the quarterly publication of the G-QRP Club and contains many circuits, technical hints and ideas for QRP construction projects, together with club news, contest and award information and other items of interest to low-power enthusiasts. SPRAT is an exclusive QRP journal and contains much practical information in each issue.
In other words, it’s real ham radio…
Been hunting POTA stations first thing each morning lately. Just three or four a day and my stats reveal I’m closing in on a few minor achievements. One being nearly 500 total POTA QSOs. I’ve hunted 392 unique parks getting me closer to the next award level at 400. I’m still missing three states (DC, VT, WA), but I have never yet hunted stations based on need. It’s just work them all and see how that shakes out and apparently, that’s three short of WAS POTA.
Spit in the ocean compared to those completely obsessed hunters, but it’s been enjoyable.
Come and Get Wyoming
I worked special event station, W7Y, on 40 CW this morning. The event is “Come and Get Wyoming” and it runs until October 2nd on several bands and modes. An interesting concept since WY can be one of the tougher states to work and I imagine this will make things a little easier on anyone chasing that western state.
Additional details available here.
Links, Blinks, & Winks
Day time highs around 78F with overnight lows of 50F along with lots of blue skies and sunshine. A person could do a lot worse than this early Fall weather in Central Indiana this week. The fun part is waiting to see what happens next!
This and that from around the interwebs…
I tuned into the DX-60 AM Net Sunday morning, for the first time this season. I generally avoid the low bands during the summer, but now that it’s officially Fall season, it was high time for another visit. As usual I enjoyed listening to the old hollow-state equipment lighting up the bands once again. At the end of these sessions I seem to want to buy a boatanchor, but so far (thankfully) that’s just been wishful thinking…
Speaking of AM, the Amplitude Modulation QSO Party takes place next weekend. Write it down, you’ll forget if you don’t.
US fans might be interested in a little ICOM America swag?
Tired of hunting POTA all summer long? Here’s something different. The Sunrise Net. 7123 kHz daily at 1300Z.
Meet the Swains 2023 Pilot Team. “To maximize the efficiency of this DXpedition the team is assisted by a team of Pilot stations consisting of experienced DXers.”
The latest edition of The DX Mentor podcast is available right now and the topic of this episode is 160 meters.
Daniel Estévez recently posted: “Today I’ve implemented a peak detect mode for the spectrum in Maia SDR. This was for a long time in the TODO list. Here is the difference between the regular average mode (top) and peak detect (bottom) with ADS-B and DME signals, which are pulsed”. Check it out here.
AMSAT News: K5Z will be active on IO-117 from DL88 on September 25-27. See the updated pass schedule.
AMSAT News: The annual Space Symposium is coming up fast. And don’t forget to make your reservation for the Symposium Banquet. It’s a Belt Bustin’ Texas Style Barbecue with Smoked BBQ Sliced Brisket and Roasted BBQ Chicken, BBQ Baked Beans, Southern Style Potato Salad, Roasted Corn, Salad Greens, Corn Bread, Pecan Pie and all the fixin’s!
Go Jets Go!
My wife and I became serious hockey (NHL) fanatics about seven years ago. Our favorite winter sport used to be NFL football, but I became exasperated with the inability of anyone to actually interpret the rules of football. Rules that seemed determined based on the star power of the player involved. The most glaring of these oddities was something as simple as what constitutes a good “catch”. No one seems to know and you could watch a hundred “catches” and no matter what you saw, or what the expert tells you on TV, the outcomes are very often different than expected.
I just decided one season to give up on football and take up a new sport, and for some reason, we chose hockey. This despite not knowing any of those rules and it’s been a steep learning curve. We also decided that the only way we would really get into it is if we picked a favorite team to follow and cheer along. Even stranger is that turned out to be the Winnipeg Jets. Now these handful of years later we are die-hard Jets fans!
In fact, we spent a week in Winnipeg in 2018 to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, and to attend two “home” games while we were there. We have since traveled to Nashville and Columbus, Ohio multiple times to watch the Jets play those teams live and in person. And with the NHL TV package we get to watch most of the Jets games live all season long from our television. It’s been a lot of fun to go from zero to “fan” over such a short period.
Tonight the pre-season gets underway for us as our Jets will take on the Edmonton Oilers. The off-season always feels too long and we highly anticipate the start of another new season. Tonight we will be home, in front of the television, cheering for the Jets.
I actually prefer the play-by-play announcing via radio. Listening is available via free streaming from a station in Winnipeg (which is how we follow the few games that are blacked out in our area), but turning down the TV and listening to the radio is maddening as there is a delay between the two. Technical details of long-distance fandom aside, we can’t wait for the puck to drop tonight and the new season to get underway.
Go Jets Go!
Autumn Equinox – Alban Elfed
The Wheel turns and the time of balance returns. Alban Elfed marks the balance of day and night before the darkness overtakes the light. It is also the time of the second harvest, usually of the fruit which has stayed on the trees and plants that have ripened under the summer sun. It is this final harvest which can take the central theme of the Alban Elfed ceremony – thanking the Earth, in her full abundance as Mother and Giver, for the great harvest, as Autumn begins.
Whatever Happened to Gas Station Maps?
This morning is starting out like most mornings around here. Being retired has its advantages, but sleeping long into the morning isn’t one of them for me. I’m always up before the Sun no matter the season. I set the coffee maker up the night before and hit the brew button as I’m walking out the door for the morning walk. Two miles most days, weather permitting. A little rain won’t put me off schedule but a deluge will. Simple rule for facing the environment. Back home I grab the first of several cups of coffee and feed the dog. He goes back to bed after a stroll around the backyard and I head for the radio.
I usually take a look at the POTA spots to see who might be in the field so early. There’s always someone and this morning it’s Dave KQ4CW operating from the James River National Wildlife Refuge (K-0567) in Virginia. Morse makes quick work of our 40 meter contact and once logged, my attention turns back to the coffee. Five minutes of listening to the bands while sipping the hot brew tells me all I need to know about band conditions. And that saves me reading the 300,000 words that will be written and widely distributed predicting today’s HF propagation. It’s a little bit funny…
There will be plenty of chores to do later this day. I haven’t mowed in a couple weeks and though the grass doesn’t really need the attention, there are now fallen leaves to be considered. Fall colors aren’t quite at their peak here just yet, but the impending changes are quite noticeable on the tree lined road where we now live. Speaking of, the moving process is long and arduous. Especially the way we have executed it and while things have slowed a bit, there’s always something that boils to the top and requires urgent attention. This week it’s new carpet installation plus the DMV is giving me hell for not having updated my drivers license along with the automobile titles and registrations with our new address.
It’s always something and it’s usually urgent. Meh.
I plan to play in the NCCC FT4 Sprint again tonight and hope for a better finish than bottom of the barrel or I’m going to give up on this one. I’m not terribly competitive and don’t care about “winning” so much, but it’s a little sad to be a perpetual cellar dweller in this ham radio event.
According to something I read it was a year ago today that the great migration from Twitter to Mastodon got underway. That’s become something of a flop though. I think history will one day show that Elon Musk killed social media and paid billions to be able to say that. My use of the social networks has plummeted to almost zero yet my heart continues to beat.
“How did we live before Twitter?” someone asked me once.
I’ve been much more curious about how we used to find places before we had mobile phones and GPS? I haven’t seen a map in a gas station for decades and I’m too old to remember exactly how we used to do that…
Wireless to Wired
The wired cable internet connections in this house don’t exist where I want them, though some exist where I don’t need them. This isn’t much of a problem anymore thanks to WiFi and smart devices that connect as though a wire was involved even when it isn’t. I guess we all know a little something about the magic of wireless communications, huh?
But the Cisco telephone I use for a Hamshack Hotline connection needs to be plugged into ethernet with a CAT5 cable. And I want that phone to sit on a desk where there is no such thing available. Enter the WiFi to Internet Adaptor.
I knew such a thing existed though I couldn’t remember what it was called. Thirty-seconds with Google and I was mildly educated about the device and where to acquire one.
The BrosTrend AC1200 WiFi to Ethernet Adapter, 1200Mbps Dual Band Universal Wireless Bridge for Printer, Smart TV, Blu-Ray Player, PlayStation, Xbox, etc, WPS Easy Setup, Connect a Wired Device to Wi-Fi.
It showed up on the doorstep yesterday and took all of a minute to set it up. The internal web server permitted my laptop to join the hotspot network it created. The internal web server in the device then served up a page where I was able to enter my home WiFi name and password. That’s all it took. I plugged the CAT5 cable from my telephone into the device and the phone connected.
My Hamshack Hotline service restored and where I wanted the phone to be located. Handy device. Keep it in mind in case you ever have a need for such a doo-dad.
I was tuning around on the low-end of 20 over the weekend when I heard 3D2AG calling CQ. I worked him quickly before realizing he was playing in the SAC. I needed Fiji on both 20 and on CW, so when he confirmed via LoTW this morning those two indicators incremented and the hunt continues. I’m sitting at 93 DXCC confirmed via CW and looking forward to reaching the century mark on this award.
Radio Visit to the Azores
On the last day of August I was trolling around the bands looking to fill band slots for the DXCC Challenge award. I’ve a long way to go having only recently eclipsed the 500 mark. A thousand are needed for the basic award and some of the top DXers in the world have over three-thousand so it’s a heady goal but a lofty achievement if and when it’s realized.
I saw a station in the Azores islands calling CQ on 12 meters using FT8. Soon after I had CS8ABF in the log. Though I have worked stations in the Azores on other bands and modes, this was a new one for me on 12 meters so I was happy to have snagged Rui on São Miguel. He confirmed our contact quickly via LoTW for which I’m always most grateful.
At the conclusion of most radio sessions I often click through the QRZ.com listings for the stations worked. It’s a nice way to make these contacts a bit more personal and I enjoy gleaning photos and the backstory of those operators worked.
As it turns out, CS8ABF is practically an ambassador for the Azores! His QRZ page includes copious amounts of promotional material about the islands along with a large cache of photos and even a video promoting travel to the Azores. Clicking along I soon found myself reading about the Azorean tea that’s grown and harvested there.
Intrigued, I did a little follow-up and quickly discovered the Gorreana Tea Factory:
“The oldest tea plantation in Europe. We cultivate this wonderful product that is tea since 1883, keeping, since then, the original traditions of the Orient as well as the ancient qualities that have been in our family for five generations. We invite you to know us better through our website and we hope you’ll visit us while on the island of S. Miguel (Azores)”.
It wouldn’t do to have gathered this intel without sampling the tea so I placed a small order for Gorreana Organic Black Tea via Amazon. That soon arrived and I find it to be tasty and relaxing.
I’d still love to visit the islands someday, but for now, working the Azores on the radio while sipping tea from there is as close as I can get without a plane ticket.
I don’t remember exactly when I became a member of Audible, but it was many years ago. At first I consumed audio books while commuting to and from work. The subscription plan I had chosen gave me one new book each month and if I finished it before the end of the month, I’d fill in the time with podcasts. Then came Covid and nearly three years of working from home. Without the commute hours the audio books started backing up and I eventually paused my account for as long as I could.
When I retired I resumed the subscription on the assumption that I would listen to audio books on my daily walks and this has worked well. One new title a month shows up and if I finish it early I fill in the rest of the month with podcasts that entertain me while I’m racking up my daily steps.
The latest book I’m listening to is Scattershot by Bernie Taupin. He’s the guy who has written the words for Elton John songs since long before there was an “Elton John”. Why read the story of the lyricist (he prefers to be called a storyteller) instead of the big star you might ask?
It’s simple really.
Taupin has been in the enviable position of having tagged along with Captain Fantastic since day one putting him in close proximity to rock and roll royalty for most of his life without having been an actual rock star. It’s even more amazing given this took place alongside one of the biggest stars on the planet and during the most prolific era of music ever known.
In countless interviews leading up to the release of the book, Taupin reiterated that this wasn’t a linear telling of his tale. While he does begin at the beginning, his thoughts and stories traverse the timeline backwards and forward with ease.
This tome couldn’t have been better named.
It’s especially interesting for me, having come of age in the 1970s and being a connoisseur of that era’s music. I’m hard core prejudiced about it and don’t believe a decent song has been produced since that decade ended. I even have trouble finding songs from that period that I don’t enjoy. You’re free to disagree with me, but you would be wrong…
The author has met and rubbed shoulders with all the musical greats of his time and has a lot of stories to tell. His “scatter shots” about London, Paris, NYC, and the LA music scene when the duo arrived from London in 1970 elicit memories of a sepia-tinged innocence that can never be repeated or replicated.
Those of a certain age will likely enjoy this book and find it fascinating as I have. However, I wouldn’t recommend it for those looking for insider details about Elton John — the book is pure Bernie Taupin. The brown dirt cowboy takes us on one more magic carpet ride with his words and memories.
Not at all unlike what he’s been doing for nearly 60 years.
AMSAT Election Results
49F with clear skies as I headed out for my pre-dawn walk this morning. I like this weather, a lot, but I see it’s supposed to warm up a little next week. I hope the official kick-off to Autumn nips that in the bud quickly because it’s been particularly nice weather for walking outside and for skipping lawn mowing duties.
The house is quiet at the moment, but that belies the busy that’s just under the surface. We will be celebrating two of our granddaughters birthday’s in a few hours so things are about to get manic around here and likely stay that way until sometime late this afternoon.
I jumped into the K1USN SST yesterday afternoon. It’s mostly the same people worked over and over again, but I enjoy the practice and the camaraderie. My score is perpetually in the lower half of the bunch, but I keep coming back for more. The last few weeks my hopes have been inflated by good runs in the opening of the event, but each time tapering off quickly. My Dad and I used to go fishing in a lake and would haul them in quickly for a few minutes then it suddenly would stop. He always said we must have “fished them out” again. The SST feels the same to me. After about twenty quick contacts it slows to a trickle and seems “fished out”.
The prior evening I spent thirty minutes in the NCCC FT4 Sprint where I put twelve in the log this week. The format seems unusual and I like that FT4 is being promoted, but after two straight weeks I don’t know if I’ll be back for this one again. Only 12 scores were reported this week and mine was once again scraping the bottom.
I still can’t believe that John, K3WWP has started using his new IC-705 in place of the Elecraft KX3 to maintain his long contact “streak”. It seems odd enough after all these years that I’ve been checking his diary daily to discover his impressions using the new equipment and making such a big change to his normal routine.
There are a bunch of QSO parties this weekend, including the popular Washington State Salmon Run. You certainly won’t run out of things to do on the radio. But as previously noted, today is well filled for me and pony rides and birthday cake with the grandkids beats more filling the log so you will have to enjoy it for me. Good luck!
Picking Up Steam
It was dark, misty, and 48F when I headed out for my walk this morning. I cut short the usual two miles by a few minutes because I have some business with the BMV this morning and I hope to get there as soon as the doors open. Today’s forecast is supposed to be sunny with a high of 73F.
As close to perfect as it gets if you ask me.
Yesterday was a good radio day. I logged nearly a dozen POTA stations. Being retired helps. My focus with POTA has been on CW as it’s one of the activities other than sprints and contests where Morse is fairly abundant despite making up only a fraction of the total POTA activity. I think it’s safe to say that the Parks program has reinvigorated a large part of the hobby and its popularity continues to grow.
I was watching the screen last night around 0000 when I happened to work 3C3CA, Equatorial Guinea on 20 meters using FT4. The entity is number 127 on the Most Wanted list, but it was an all time new one for me and I was happy to get it in the log and I noticed it was confirmed via LoTW when I woke up this morning. (Yeah, I check that stuff as soon as I get up).
That bumped me to 149 worked and 143 confirmed in the DXCC quest.
It was also the 87th DXCC worked this year towards the DX Marathon. I’ve a long way to go to make up the ground lost with nearly four months off the air this year, but my radio activity has been picking up steam.
Now if I can just get in and out of the BMV quickly this morning I can get back to radio work!
Kicking around at the Findlay (Ohio) Hamfest this weekend I couldn’t help but notice that there was a lot less Drake gear for sale than usual. I’ve always assumed the mounds of Drake equipment ended up at Findlay due to its proximity to the factory in Miamisburg, just down the road a bit. I assumed ex-employees were unloading their cache at this hamfest.
According to Wikipedia:
The company was founded in 1943 by radio design engineer Robert L. Drake. The company began as a manufacturer of low pass and high pass filters for the government and amateur radio market, and after World War II, produced amateur radio transmitters and receivers and communications receivers for maritime mobile service.
But there was noticeably less of it available this time around and that downward trend will no doubt continue. It’s difficult to step out of time for a moment and understand that the old things we now call “boat anchors” were once cutting edge and highly prized in our hobby. And while the timeline may feel different to you and I right now, things we consider to be the best of the best will one day end up in the boneyard too.
Difficult as that may be to imagine, the history of Collins, Drake, Hallicrafters and other manufacturers of yesteryear will eventually be repeated for Elecraft, ICOM, Yaesu, Kenwood, and FlexRadio. We’ve already seen it happen to Ten-Tec.
It’s a little unsettling to ponder, but if hamfests continue to exist into the next generation it would be fascinating to hear what hams in 2060 have to say about all that old “crap” in tattered cardboard boxes under the sellers table…