Morning Coffee Notes

Feels cooler this morning. It’s 52F, downright balmy for November, but 15-25 mph gusts made my walk chilly. I like to at least think I’m not wasting my time walking everyday. It comprises the bulk of my daily physical activity and I always feel better after it’s done. Since retiring I’ve become more concerned about senior health issues and have been looking for other ways to make good health choices. I’m especially motivated after I read articles like this:

America is a rapidly aging nation. By 2034, there will be an estimated 77 million Americans aged 65 years or older, up from 52 million in 2018. For the first time in the country’s history, older adults will outnumber children.

While today’s seniors enjoy longer, more independent lives, most are living with multiple chronic health conditions. Nearly 80% of older adults have two or more ongoing health problems and almost all take a prescription drug, with nearly 40% regularly using five different medications. Older individuals may also be dealing with emotional, cognitive and nutritional issues, as well as physical limitations. The combination adds up to a complicated health picture requiring specialized medical care.

A new model of senior-focused care for an aging population

Soon after posting a few QRP related things yesterday I saw that NM0S Electronics is bringing back the popular NorCal 40 series “B”. An all new kit that overcomes the component issues that eventually snuffed the original series “A” transceiver kit. Originally designed by Wayne Burdick, N6KR the NorCal 40 was a hugely popular kit.

Then there was this from the SOTA reflector:

Hi Sota Friends, in a few Days Markus DL6YYM (Bamatech) will offer his TP-III Special Edition 2023. We all know that the TP-III Paddle ist a absolut fantastic CW Paddle for Portable Akivity. I think the Paddle can order in a few days in the web shop.

73 Michael DC8YZ

Four Horsemen

Life has been slowly returning to normal and that has resulted in a little more time for ham radio. I have been finding time each day to spend in the radio shack and that has worked out pretty well as I continue to plug away at the basic DXCC Challenge by filling needed slots on all bands and modes. I’ve continued to chase POTA and SOTA stations almost daily, and I still hope to level-up my SKCC membership with a few hundred new contacts between now and the end of the year to earn Senator level.

That one needs the most work, but the November WES is coming up this weekend.

The bottom line is that I’ve been busy on the air lately and that’s been a good thing. It’s been fun and keeps me plodding toward my HF goals. Plus, it reduces the available quiet time — the last thing I want or need this year.

POTA award for working 500 unique reference areas

I recently processed some documentation so I could apply for a few new things and as a result DXCC certificates for both 20 and 15 meters arrived from Newington. I’m anxious to get those framed and on the wall along with the others. That Triple Play Award plaque I ordered a month ago still hasn’t arrived. I need to follow-up and find out where that is in the process. It may sound like a lot of paperwork when actually the entire process was done online, click-click, credit card. All of my ARRL awards have been from LoTW confirmations as I made a clean break from paper years ago. That meant starting from scratch, but it simplifies the application process as there’s no longer a need for card checking, etc.

The point of all this recent ham radio busy “work” is that there are many goals I want to accomplish and life is short. Having been a ham for such a long time most of these should have been completed ages ago. The time for chasing DX for me was decades ago when band conditions were so much better. Now I’m taking advantage of a decent solar cycle to get what I didn’t get before. I’m trying to finish as many of these as possible as several other high-priority (bucket list) goals will soon change my focus from HF to much higher frequencies…

I can hear hoofbeats of the four horses of the gray hair apocalypse approaching.

On the Air

I granted myself the entire day off yesterday. No chores, no yard work, no housework. Not even radio made the cut. It was just family, food, and football. The kids came over along with their kids, and we enjoyed a nice day of rest that was sorely needed. All good things end, however, and this morning we were back in the grind. I took my early morning walk in the chilly 40F air and by the time I got back home it was time for Brenda to go to work while I, being the retired guy, spent the next several hours playing on the radio.

With my SKCC quest having turned to Senator, I spawned a new log to keep track of just those contacts. I worked three qualifying contacts and need 197 more.

I stopped by the POTA spots page to see who was in the field and managed to hunt down seven of them before giving up and making myself a pumpkin spice latte. Break time is important!

During the afternoon I did a lot of listening. Just spinning the dial and eavesdropping on conversations while making note of procedures used. These change from time to time and they probably shouldn’t. Your Novice Accent And What To Do About It remains the seminal work on the basics of CW procedures. I used to believe that so long as both operators understand each other then procedures were for graybeards. But now that I are one, I suddenly see the value.

It’s kinda like how my Dad got smarter the older I got…

I also caught AA7OY on a SOTA adventure in New Mexico this afternoon. He was on 20 meter (CW) and sounding every bit the part of a QRP station on some yonder mountain, which of course he was. I prefer chasing Summits on the Air operators because nearly all of them are using QRP gear. I find that more challenging and perhaps a bit more interesting to review the locations where these folks gain some altitude.


The sun simply doesn’t want to wake up on this early Friday morning. Already a couple of stations in the log and that’s probably a good thing. We have lined up several chores later this morning that will probably keep us busy for most of the day. 64F and mostly cloudy right now. Rain tonight looks likely, then much cooler temps will move back in. The high tomorrow is expected to be twenty degrees cooler than today’s high. Happy Friday, hello weekend!

K4SWL noted on his blog today the increased usage of “72” at the close of many POTA contacts. 72 is sent instead of 73 to indicate that QRP power levels were used for the QSO. I’ve noticed the same and think it’s a nice touch too!

Blogs.Radio is a mega aggregation of ham radio blog feeds that is becoming one of my most visited spots on the web.

Wayne Burdick, N6KR was a guest on Coffee and Ham Radio last night. I haven’t seen it yet, but assume it was a discussion about the new Elecraft KH1.

Speaking of the KH1, none other than WG0AT just carried one to a summit and he has some thoughts on its performance as an ultra-portable field transceiver.

A note went out to members of QCWA warning of a recent phishing attempt circulating among members, falsely representing the Quarter Century Wireless Association and soliciting donations through gift cards. Don’t be fooled! The organization will never ask for donations or gift cards through email or any other form of communication.

Good luck in the CQ WW DX Contest (SSB) this weekend!

More than a year ago I re-published The Unicorn in the Garden, a short-story by James Thurber that was originally published in The New Yorker in 1939. It remains the most read post on this blog and continues to receive the lions share of daily attention here. Go figure.

Hump Day

It’s been cool here for the last week. Not unusual, and welcome relief from the summer heat. The days have been pleasant and the nights cool enough for frost some early mornings. It’s been great weather for walking and we’ve been taking full advantage. Then yesterday it got up to nearly 80F and is expected to remain around that for the next few days before retreating back to normal for this time of year.

After dinner and our evening walkabout last night I was in the shack, tuning around working the occasional POTA or SOTA station when I decided to call CQ. That’s something I rarely do anymore and I’m not sure why. I guess I prefer searching and pouncing on others calling CQ. I was on 20, around the QRP watering holes, when I called and got a speedy reply from a Texan with a nice signal. We exchanged the usual Morse code pleasantries and then he sent me his SKCC number. I switched to the straight key and then we officially exchanged numbers. It was a nice chat — I need to start calling CQ more often.

This morning’s walk was equally pleasant. The Fall colors have become about as vibrant as they are going to be here in Central Indiana. Halloween decorations are out everywhere and it’s obvious our new neighborhood is much younger than the one we left a few months ago. Lot’s of kids and activity. Lot’s of life.

Back in the shack for another hour or so this morning and it’s more POTA hunting. Including one worked whose license is set to expire tomorrow. Yeah, tomorrow. At least that’s what QRZ says about it. I decided not to mention it because there was a short stack of other hunters waiting to work him. And for all I know he’s already taken care of it and might think I was just being nosy?

My to-do list is endless as are most such lists. Today it’s going to be paying the November bills at a minimum. But other items on the list include a lot of yard work. I’ve got one small tree and several bushes to cut down. And the temporary warm spell is perfect for some of the power washing tasks we have identified. And there is new baseboard trim to be installed in one of the bedrooms. And it’s Fall so the leaves that need to be raked are endless at this point.

I remember when “Hump Day” meant the work week was half over.

But for us old retired guys, the chores are never fully done. Sigh.

See you on the bands!


There are several videos of N6KR’s Pacificon presentation of the new Elecraft KH1 ultra-portable CW transceiver making the rounds. In one of those he comments about a new kind of operation enabled by a handheld transceiver that he called “Diet SOTA”. The diminutive new KH1 will no doubt become a favorite among SOTA activators. That also reminded me that I haven’t chased, or even checked into the Summits on the Air program in quite some time. Following up on that, I see I last worked a summit activator in 2018. Yikes! Time flies. I tried to make amends by working three SOTA stations (MI, CA, CO) on 20 and 17 CW during the afternoon hours yesterday and will be looking for more today.

One of those worked yesterday was N4EII who was operating from W8M/UP-001, Mount Arvon in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Hours later I received a really nice email from him describing his location along with many interesting details of the UP road trip he and his XYL were enjoying along with his work for the day:

“This was the first outing/SOTA for my LNR Mountain Topper (80,40,30,20). I first called on 40 then 30 with no response and nothing heard. Thank goodness for 20 it saved my bacon and the activation. A very big thank you to the chasers all 7 of you from OR, PA,KS,CA,NC,IN. I am still amazed at these contacts with a 9 volt battery as my power source.”

He also included several photos from the summit. It was a nice finishing touch to our radio contact and it really made my day!

A Little More on the KH1

Wayne, N6KR dropped a comment here last night adding a few details to a couple things in my previous post. Sounds like shipping will be in 2024 for anyone who didn’t order over the weekend. He also added some details about the robustness of the internal auto-tuner even if its specs don’t say it covers a 10:1 range.

The Elecraft KX Radio ( community mailing list changed a little over the weekend to reflect that it’s also the group for discussion of the AX1 and KH1.

On one of the mailing lists a fellow commented that, “the most important feature of the KH1 in my humble opinion is it makes it nearly impossible to forget any parts of my station!”

To which N6KR replied, “One of our primary design goals :)”.