Friday, June 30, 2023

RAC with power

Nice to have power.  


The KPA-500 and KAT-500 power combo is brilliant. Easy and tunes my sky loop wire antenna perfectly.

It already received well, now I'm a few dB up on transmit.  Very fine.

Can't be more pleased with performance.

Monday, June 26, 2023

The FD 2023

On Friday night, I flipped on the 2 meter rig to see if some friends were on the repeater (K7LED) and sure enough I caught some traffic from Dean N7XS and others.

They were discussing the last minute preparations on site at the Fort Flagler Wagon Wheel campground and the array of antennas they were setting up along the ridge.  It brought back memories of when I had been there back in 2009.

One of the regulars back then, John WA7HQG (SK) was a motivator for me to work HF and he sure loved FD.  I understand why.  As a side story -- I remember visiting his shack when he put up his tower for 17 meter log periodic beam antenna -- I think practically all of the Mike and Key was there at his Seattle home to watch, talk, and be around for the launch of his antenna on his favorite band, 17 m.

Anyway, so on Friday night (now Saturday now, 1am, I signed with Dean, and the others) and hit the sack.

Saturday morning, as I was up early anyway, got a wild idea that I would drive out to Fort Flagler to say hello to the friends I had there and see what was happening.  The Mike and Key club does a pretty good operation for FD.   6A is their classification.  I expected to find the forest of antenna towers on the ridge along the bunkers.   I was also hoping to see again "CW Tent" by the shoreline overlooking the sound.

I didn't pack anything.  I only intended to spend a few hours there.   I set the mag-mount 2m antenna on the top of the Ford pick up, and headed towards Edmonds (from Fall City).  A 2 ferry wait later, I was on the west side, in Kingston and I was heading by memory towards Flagler.

I talked my way into the campground at the registration booth ("Yeah, I'm with the club."  And, I motioned to the antenna on the rig.  She looked up and said "Oh you're one of those radio geeks."    She waved me through).  At the camp, the RV's were all neatly stacked side by side radially around the center fire-pit.  I walked towards the picnic table and I recognized a fellow I had not seen since Visalia, Curt WR5J.   What a surprise that was.  Of all the gin joints in all the world...

I slipped through the trees, walked over the meadow towards the barracks and reminisced over the sight.  Up ahead at a lone picnic table between two unused buildings was a ham, and he had a portable stick antenna on the table, and a tiny KX3.  I introduced myself and we got to talking.  He said he was just copying CW and trying to figure out what was being passed.  I sensed he was recently bit by CW bug and that was the topic of the conversation.  I went into sales mode and told him about the SST ("Friday and Sunday, every week").   Because I forgot my way, I asked him which direction the stations were.  He got me set on the right road and I eventually found the SSB tents and antennas.  I made my hellos and saw more faces I recognized.   

My thoughts then went to think "Which way down to the beach?"  I found the road to the shore and there, as I hoped, there was the CW Tent.  I figured that I would say a hello to Mike, N7WA and see what was happening there.

Two radios (K3) setup each with N1MM connected to one of the four antennas sprouted up along the edge of grass-line before the gravel beach.  A spare seat was there so I took a place and looked through the mesh of the tent out towards the water.  I couldn't hear the traffic on the radio, so I picked up a spare headphone (Mike sets this up perfectly so visitors and ops in waiting can listen and copy by pen/pad too).

Then the wild idea to go to FD took a turn -- I simply asked if there was a slot for me to work the radio later?  And sure enough Mike (always generous), made some switching in the schedule to fit me in.  I would return for my shift at 6pm.

The moment I slipped on the headset and started listening it was like  I knew this was right.   I was on the 15 meter rig, and I had N1MM in front of me and pressed F1.   Then the next hour on 15m was about as much fun as it can get.  One station, then another, and a few repeat AGN? requests but all of the calls I think were good.  I might have not got all of t he section names right, I figured we can clean that up post processing.  But the anxiety was gone, the fun of taking calls and adding a point here, and another point there for the club was fun.    Then at the end of the hour I switched places to the 20 meter rig and this band was really on fire.  I had a few bursts of stations calling, nearly all were QRS to my 19 wpm.  It went by fast and by 8pm I was done and the new ops were ready to take over.

I think I logged about 2-3 dozen Qs in total.  I would have done better if I could have copied on first listen.  But that's OK.  FD is supposed to be fun and not necessarily a speed test.

I made my farewells and proceeded to drive up the hill back to the road and I stopped to check my phone (for messages from the XYL..  She understands this too well and expected me to linger there past evening anyway).   But I did get a text message from a friend on that side of the water who suggested I stop by for a glass and to swap stories of things that are happening.

So that's what I did and we talked for a while -- about upcoming CW contests and working CW.   The minutes went by fast and soon it was truly dark out.  Back on the road and heading home.

I cycle through three main hobbies.  Fly fishing, Motorcycles, and Ham Radio.   Among all of these the one activity that always leaving me glad is Ham Radio.  I may not always hook into a nice rainbow, but I can always make contact on radio.  And riding through the country side is always fine, but inevitably requires some stop and go traffic as I re-enter the urban gridlock.  But ham radio, no matter where I am always delivers so much satisfaction and joy. 

As I told my friend on his deck that evening, I am thankful for the opportunity to be  on the radio and working CW.

Sunday morning, I took my To-Do list for the weekend chores and started to whittle them down.   I was done with the radio for the time being, getting things done that needed to be done.    Monday morning came too fast.  I will have to re-tune my brain for work in a moment.   I wanted to drop this note now while the memory was still fresh.

I hope you all had a good FD and look forward to seeing you at the WWDXC picnic later.


Saturday, June 24, 2023

CW shift for FD

Got a 2hr shift for working FD with K7LED from Fort Flagler.  6-8pm

Power is on the way

KPA-500 + KAT-500 is going to arrive in a few weeks.

I don't want the home-brew to get jealous -- so it'll remain the high power amplifier for some days later that I want to work more SSB again.

The KPA-500 power-combo is just perfect to point and shoot around the bands.

CW Regimen

I was hitting a wall with my copy skill at about 19 wpm.  I had been pushing hard with the MST contests ( 1 hour long runs to copy calls ).  But I still seemed to have just a block at around 19-20 wpm.

I asked the CW Ops folks and got a wealth of information.  

Most of the advice centered around the use of Morse Runner (the free software that simulates CW operations) -- and this software is quite good actually.  The adjustments are easy to make and the speed can be set to any level you wish.  There are really two main versions of the software.  There is the "CE" version which is being maintained (it seems) seperately.  I'm using this version

I've been tweaking it with some changes that make it easier to use. For one, I just needed it to always simulate zero-beat just because I cannot hear the low-frequency offset.   Another change I'm looking to make is add a feature to log (into a text file) the results so there's a way to get a report of the progress.

But for some of the CWOps training I'm using a custom version with a special `MASTER.DTA` file.

I'm still on track to participate with the class in the Fall, but I was advised that it's perfectly alright to just begin the process on self-study mode -- which I wasn't aware of.  The class materials are online.

The changes I've made are to practice a bit more with the simulator (MorseRunner).   

I'll still keep up with the MST contests.

I fashioned some call-sign files to feed into my build of the MorseRunner so it can work in K1USN SST mode but with the callsigns from my past logs (ADIF).  I hear these calls mostly every time, so I'm practicing them. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Doing OK

Don't know what happened, but the big difference is that I was nearly always busy taking calls.  For the first 30 minutes I was on the  Q/min rate.    It started to wind down near the end.

MST 20-June-2023  0300Z

Call: W7BRS

Operator(s): W7BRS
Station: W7BRS

Class: Single Op LP
Operating Time (hrs): 1
Location: Other World

Summary:   Compare Scores
Total:50Mults43Total Score2,150

Sunday, June 11, 2023

WWSA Results

Somehow I must have overlooked this, but the WW South America CW Contest just ended and I only got to work CW for a few hours between yesterday afternoon and early morning.

I had to puzzle out what this contest was -- I heard stations calling CQ TEST but I had to scan the calendar to piece together which contest they were working. There were several going on at the same time.

I think it was another station calling CQ SA that gave me the hint I needed.  Anyway, I scanned the calendar again, downloaded the rules and figured out what to do with N1MM to program it for processing callsigns.

So that's exactly what I did and as a result I worked 54 stations.  Not a lot, but the band wasn't doing too well and there weren't a lot of DX stations on the band to begin with.  I think I only missed about 15% of the stations that were actually in the spot network (which means stations that other WA/CA spotters identified -- I'm sure there were hundreds of more DX out there -- but I couldn't hear them anyway).

The N1MM summary is as follows:

Contest: GACW
 Band     QSOs     Pts   ZN  Cty  Pt/Q
     7       2       7    2    2   3.5
    14      34     101   10   23   3.0
    21      18      60   11   12   3.3
 Total      54     168   23   37   3.1
Score: 10,080
1 Mult = 1.0 Q's

The DX I did work helped overall my CQ DX Marathon numbers for those bands.  I could have worked more stations if it only had more stations calling CQ.  It was really slim.   The JA's that came on the band (15 and then 20m) were nice because they padded the log and also they were the strongest I heard throughout the whole time.  Good copy on them.

(As a diversion, I did work a bit of off-contest QSO on CW that could not be counted in the WWSA -- and I also tried to look at FT-8 when the band really fell through the floor around 1am.  More CQ DX Marathon points to add).

Back to the CW around 2 am.

At around 2:30 am Pacific I had to pull the plug and get some sleep.  I could have stayed up and worked until the end of the contest at 1500Z today (Sunday June 11, 2023) but it's OK.  I will work more CW later.   

I noted before that I have not twisted the microphone down to speak in the Heil Pro-7 headset for as much as I thought I would.  I've been working as much CW as I can -- dropping my call to all the CQ I hear that are reasonable strength and working the bands fully from 80m to 10m.  (I wish 10m was a bit more active, because I have a nice 10 meter antenna I want to use more -- a mono-band for 10m).

In any event, the contest was really fun and I gained a few more bits of confidence in ad-hoc CW QSO fills as the case needed.

The S/P mode of N1MM sort of removes the anxiety because all I need to do is listen to the call being offered to check the spot and I can do that at high speeds.  But if I were to "Run" (which I did for a bit of time), I have to be prepared for anything.. I actually got a call from a BH2 and that was interesting copy since they were really low in the noise.

Enough of that.  Hope you had a good effort in the WWSA.


Big Guy

I got a message this morning that my dad has come down with COVID.  His first case.  Luckily he's been 100% vaccinated.  But while on the road to Texas to visit a friend, seeing the south west, as he travelled the roads of this amazing country with his van, he came down with the virus.  I've never had COVID so I don't know what he's going through, but from the hospital he called me and we talked and he sounded good, just like he always does.  He's strong and not frail, never was otherwise.

He's in a hospital now and he's doing fine.   We'll find out soon if he is able to be released.  I spoke with him this morning and he sounded good.

He's 77 years old.  He's retired, formerly a machinist of extraordinary skill and he's also a veteran of the Vietnam conflict (two tours 1965-1967) .  Here he is at age 19, on board the USS Hopewell in the middle of his tours.   Navy, petty officer 2nd class.  Enlisted at 17, and when he graduated from Franklin High School in Seattle, he went to Seal Beach for training and then off to Vietnam.  That was 1965.  He worked mostly on PT-boat patrol then shore patrol on the USS Hopewell.  He saw action.

My son Nick is 20 and would have been older than my dad in this picture.  I don't think I can imagine my son being in harms way like this.   At 18, I was off to Alaska to work crab and salmon boats in the Bering Sea, Cook Inlet, and throughout the Gulf of Alaska, but nothing as dangerous as this here despite being at sea.

His generation didn't complain.  His generation worked hard and did amazing things.  And, as a kid growing up around him, I was always exposed to the most interesting technology -- machine work, electronics, and the 'we can do this' mentality.

To those who have family of this generation, you're lucky.  We're lucky to still have John (my dad).  And when he gets out of Texas and back to the Pacific Northwest, he will continue to work on his projects, tool-making, and add the enhancements to the "van" that he is building out from the inside.

I borrowed it when I went to Visalia this year for the DX Convention.  I've posted pictures of it here. (the picture below was when I camped at Pyramid Lake recreation area before I looped back to Visalia. I was visiting XYL's family in southern California on route to Visalia, 2023)

Parting message?   Call your dad, or call your Uncle.   Father's day is approaching.  You have close friends who would love to hear from you.   And that means taking a break from the radio.  That's fine.

Saturday, June 10, 2023

I was feeling unbalanced

On the doorstep was a package.. On Saturday? What could this be?  Yes... The Balun Arrived.

Back story --

I had a really old "remote balun" that I carried around for the last 15  years and I think it got water logged and corroded.  So I upgraded to a 9:1 for the Window Line that I use to feed my Sky Loop.

So unwrapped it, and tied that balun in.    Matches all of the bands a lot easier now.

Back to the WWSA CW contest....

Call Sign Change?

I've contemplated changing my call sign.

W7BRS as a callsign in the family will be 100 years old in 2031.  So in about 8 years a "Wandling" will have had the callsign for 100 years.

Is that long enough?

While I like the call sign... Whiskey Seven Beer Rum and Scotch (that was the rumor of what old grandfather used to say)

Sometimes -- it ends up getting mistaken.  And if truth be told, there was something kind of odd about the old man.  I won't go into details.. Let's just say it doesn't have the sentimental value it should.

The mistakes I hear to my call when working DX ...

  • W7BRH
  • W7BRI
  • W7DRS
  • W7DRI
  • W7DRH
  • W7BLI
  • W7DLI


I would not want to go back to my original "Tech-Plus" call of KE7JVD   -- you need a coffee break to get through that callsign.

And my XYL's uncle's callsign WA6SLI (although has special meaning) is also ripe with problems in QSB/QRN

I've thought of a few that are available in the next couple years:

  • W7YJ
  • W7UW
  • W7AP
  • W7BW

and so far my favorite

  • W7GG

The downside to changing it is that I've been using W7BRS for a very long time.  I almost switched it to W7BR a few years ago, but someone beat me to it.   And my grandfather's best friend was the original W7RT and that went to some stranger in Arizona.    W7RT is an excellent CW call sign.

Any thoughts on the matter?  Ping me directly


Sunday, June 4, 2023

Little Ironic

Get the Heil Pro7 headset because my Dave Clark headset was missing mic.

Same general physical design, but the DC is made with better padding and hardware.  (I cannibalized the DC to make the Heil better-- Heil folks take note!! ) anyway....

Irony: I'm doing mostly CW lately.   I should take a few breaks and see what SSB is doing..

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Top 9

The ICWC has several programs to encourage CW.  The medium speed contest MST and a thing they call Top9.

The Top9 refers to the top 9KHz just before end of CW portion of CW portion of the band.  For 20m, that's 14.061 to 14.070 MHz.

It's a way to earn points in their Top9 program.  I've been calling CQ there a few times and had little success getting QSOs there.

That's where you come in.

Sked a call with me. Work CW.  I can run about 17-19 wpm depending on band conditions.  

It'll be fun.  Ping me.  I'm good in QRZ for email addr.


# # #


# # #

The XYL has agreed to location of pending Tower installation.

50 Foot tower pending further logistics.


Friday, June 2, 2023

Lookup and Database

Back by "popular demand" -- the online database and lookup feature:

If we've worked, it's in the database.

And, I also have some buttons to push for last "DX" worked and last "W's" worked.

Which feeds into the other bit of software I wrote to compute "The Wanted List"

The wanted-list is computed by band and aggregates all of the known contacts per band per DXCC entity.

Things happening

It has been a busy few months since I hung up my software-spurs. On deck -- DX'pedition for Lord Howe Island Lord Howe Island (July 202...