SKCC 1,000 Miles per Watt Award

Update

It would appear that my K1 is stuck transmitting 6 to 7 watts no matter what the power output setting is.  I can only assume that the contacts I made for this award were not made using 100 mW but rather 7W.

I have already responded to the award coordinator and to the SKCC group, in general.  Now I need to figure out why the radio is doing this and how to fix it so I can actually go try to make these contacts.  *sigh*

Last night I dusted off my Elecraft K1 transceiver and hooked it up to my Carolina Windom antenna so I could work some locals on QRP.  On a whim I decided to call WB5KSD on a 40m frequency he was on using only 100 milliwatts.  To my surprise not only did he answer me but also gave me a signal report of 559.  Needless to say, I was in shock.  That is a distance of 1,875km (1,165mi)!

About fifty minutes later I decided to work K5TRI as we had tried to work QRP x2 a couple of nights before without luck.  He was operating as K3Y/7 and also responded with a 559 from near Redmond, WA.  Astounded, I let him know that I was running a tenth of a watt and he replied that the signal was good.  The distance between he and I, coast to coast, is about 3,768km (2341.4 mi).  We repeated the contact some forty minutes later although the band was starting to close by then and significant fading was present.

I submitted my award request to W0EJ who formally presented my award this morning.  According to the roster my contact puts me in fifth place behind KC9IL at 146,500 (who the heck did he talk to and at what power?), AK4JA at 98,500, K8PG at 70,500, and AC2C at 38,000.  I’ve got my eye on a couple of stations out in Hawaii so maybe I’ll be able to extend my endorsement one day.

Posted in Awards, CW, HF, QRP, SKCC | Leave a comment

SKCC: I now have my Centurion!

I received the following message from Ron Bower, AC2C, after submitting my SKCC award log last night:

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Gather 'round and pay heed to the news of this
day!

Let there be celebration to recognize a fellow SKCC member who 
has advanced to the Centurion level of SKCC achievement !!!

Having submitted a log and sworn statement, documenting the 
completion of QSOs with 100 other SKCC members, Eric Christensen, 
W4OTN, SKCC #7320, is duly proclaimed to be SKCC Centurion Number 
1107 effective at 0000Z on 21 Jan 2015. SKCC Centurions are 
encouraged to proclaim their accomplishment by appending a C to 
their SKCC Number.

The Master Centurion List has been duly scribed where all SKCC 
Members may reflect upon and pay tribute to this momentous 
achievement.

Duly approved, recorded, and published.

I set forth my hand and key.

20 Jan 2015

Ron Bower, AC2C
SKCC 2748S
SKCC Centurion Administrator

Woot!  So as of tonight at 0001Z I now can append a “C” to my SKCC membership number!  I guess I’ll start working on my “T“, next.

Posted in Awards, CW, HF, SKCC | Leave a comment

Now on medium wave!

160m on Kenwood TS-2000XYears ago I purchased a 40-80-160m dipole antenna in hopes of getting a good signal out on the lower bands.  Unfortunately the antenna ended up being too large for my yard and I didn’t use it.  Fast forward to now and I’ve got plenty of room for antennas.  When I put up this antenna the trap for 160m on one leg broke off.  I had most of the antenna up in the air so I just didn’t do anything with it.  Now that it’s winter and 160m is supposed to be useful now I wanted to get on the air and make some contacts there.

As temperatures recently poked above freezing for the first time in some days I heated up the soldering iron, bundled up, and made my way out to the antenna to make the repair.  Luckily it was a simple fix and in less than an hour I was back inside with the antenna up in the trees like it’s supposed to be.

I did some tests and I’m disappointed that there is only one real sweet spot on the antenna (around 1860kHz).  The little tuner in my radio doesn’t handle the band very well but I guess this is better than not having anything at all.

I’m glad to be concentrating towards the bottom of the band and I’m hoping to find some CW down there.  I’d love to get a signal report if you do hear me on the band.

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Fifty years of transmitting at BBC Woofferton

I ran across a paper that was written discussing the shortwave broadcast station at Woofferton, UK, last year, and thought I’d share it.  It’s a really interesting read and gives you a perspective of what it took to maintain such a station with a near-constant change to technology.  It’s in PDF format so you should be able to read it on most any device.

Posted in British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Shortwave Listening | Leave a comment

Calvert County ARES Emergency Coordinator

W4OTN Calvert County EC badgeEarlier this month I volunteered to take over the position of ARES Emergency Coordinator (EC) for Calvert County. The previous EC had gotten busy in other areas and decided it was time to step down. I’ve held this position before but in a different location so while the job isn’t completely foreign to me, well, it’s been a while. I’ve been working on a new emergency operations plan (EOP) for ARES that’s more of an all-hazards plan than laying out specifics. Once that is complete I’ll start trying to get people to work on developing training and training topics.

At last night’s ARES meeting I was happy to have fifteen people join me in a review and feedback session on the new EOP. I’m hoping the momentum continues as I plan more training and exercises for the next few months. I’ll try to write about those events here when I get them complete.

Posted in Amateur Radio Emergency Services, American Radio Relay League (ARRL), Calvert Amateur Radio Association | Leave a comment

ARRL Sweepstakes contest and LoTW

The ARRL Sweepstakes contest (phone) took place last weekend and I spent a few hours on the air making a few contacts. Although I didn’t have much time to spend on the event I did add twenty new contacts to my log. Since I’m working on my WAS from my new home in Maryland (contacts made before I moved up here don’t count since they were made greater than 50 miles away) working the Sweepstakes contest let me add a few more states to my log (I now have twenty-four states confirmed via LoTW). I wish I had had more time to devote to the event but I’m glad I worked the stations that I did.

I downloaded my LoTW QSLs today and found that fourteen twelve stations have already uploaded their contest contacts. That’s really great to already have those states confirmed so quickly. I wish everyone did this.

I’ll update this when the contest results are available.

Posted in Contesting, QSLing | Tagged | Leave a comment

Breaking the Arrow Antenna’s diplexer

The Arrow Antenna for satellites has an optional diplexer that allows easy operation of 2m and 70cm from a single feedline.  I’ve used this configuration for over ten years with no problems.  I’m not sure, exactly, what happened but the diplexer failed.  After ordering a new one I started digging into the hardware to see if I could see anything that was the matter.

Arrow Antenna diplexerLooks like one of the surface mount parts got a little warm.  The picture does not show the hole that had melted through the shrink wrap but the bottom right component definitely got too hot.  The solder is completely gone from one side which was definitely affecting the circuit.  I’ll likely try to repair this even though I have a new one in service right now.

Posted in Antennas, Satellite Operations | Leave a comment

What a difference 3.5MHz makes.

I was surprised at the difference  three and a half megahertz made this evening.  While chatting with my friend Emily, N1DID, we started trying different bands to check for a better signal.  Fifteen meters was okay but twelve was better.  We decided to try ten meters for the heck of it and the almost full-quieting signal of Emily’s was not heard at all just three and a half megahertz up the band.  Somewhere in that little bit of bandwidth the signal, instead of being returned to Earth via the ionosphere, was being shot into space with little hope that Emily would hear it.  I guess we found our maximum usable frequency!

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What’s that noise on 20m?

Yesterday I was tuning around 20 meters and heard packet!  Wow, it’s been years since I’ve used packet (outside of APRS which is a different animal when compared to this).  Turns out I stumbled onto the Net105 frequency with all of their users.  It’s quite busy there and I’ve seen stations from Florida and Colorado and everywhere in between.

I still enjoy packet radio and even worked two stations, keyboard to keyboard, this morning.  I may try to put up something more permanent up for the network.  If I can find a KAM+ I should be able to hook an HF radio and a VHF/UHF radio together and provide a gateway for myself and anyone else that wants to join in.

We’ll see what happens in the future.

Posted in HF, Packet Radio | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Results of the W4OTN/R UHF repeater test

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I bought a UHF repeater and put it on the air at the Mt. Hope tower site here in Calvert County.  This was a temporary test which allowed myself and other CARA club members (and anyone else) to see what UHF would do in our area.  Turns out, the system did quite well.

We estimated ~3 watts was being seen at the antenna.  That’s not a lot of power and we weren’t expecting very good performance.  Turns out, that ~3 watts was enough to give us pretty good coverage, about a 15 to 20 mile radius with several longer distances seen.

We have now replaced the repeater with a Yaesu repeater and better duplexers.  We’re now seeing about 45 watts ERP and a better foot print (around 35 mile radius).

This has been a good experiment.  I’ll be moving on to stage two for my repeater project.

Posted in 70cm | Leave a comment