Dave Richards AA7EE

January 16, 2012

Meeting Interesting People, QRP WAS, and QRP DXCC

Filed under: Amateur Radio,Ham Radio,QRP — AA7EE @ 9:26 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’m very grateful for the blogs like Larry W2LJ’s in which he talks regularly about his operating activities and thoughts on ham radio in general. We get a real sense of the way that ham radio fits into Larry’s life from reading his regular posts. I do wish that this blog could be like that but mostly, if I don’t have a project that I’ve been working on about which I can post photographs and a description of the build, I don’t feel as if I have much to contribute. It’s odd really,  as I spent much of my working life being a communicator:

However,  I am an INTJ.  After a day spent DJ’ing and reaching out to people,  my social energy was all used up. I’d typically go home and veg after work.  No Hollywood night-life for me. As a semi-retiree, I have become quite reclusive; I think this is just my true nature. I only blog when I feel a particular urge or duty to do so. Sorry about that folks – please don’t look to this blog for regular updates. There are many other hams in the blogosphere who are much better at that – a few of them on my blogroll.

The next post with photos of a construction project will most likely be the next add-on I get for my K2.  The Part 15 AM broadcast band transmitter that I placed on eBay did sell, adding to the funds that I can use for future projects;  currently a KAT2 internal ATU for the K2 is looking like the most likely candidate.  However, I’m very good at practicing the art of delayed gratification (one reason I’m an early semi-retiree), so cannot say when I’ll be putting my order in with Elecraft.

In the meantime, I’ve been meeting some interesting hams, having fun with contests, and working to achieve QRP CW WAS.  As a rule, I’m not much of a rag-chewer.  Mike Rainey AA1TJ in an interview somewhere said that he looks at short QSO’s as the equivalent of hams giving each other high-fives.  I like that description.  While some may think of a brief exchange of names, signal reports, and basic station information as being somewhat perfunctory, I enjoy these kinds of QSO’s. They let me know that my station is getting out and although WSPR could do the same thing, a brief CW QSO requires some effort and input from me, and in putting in that effort I have, in a basic way, reached out and made contact with another operator; I’ve high-fived him.  Sometimes that’s all I need.

Occasionally during a QSO though, there is extra information exchanged that adds human interest and elevates it above the level of the quick high-five. Such a contact was the one I had with Gary N2ESE a few days ago. Gary and I first met on 20M a few weeks earlier in early December. I wrote in the log that he was running 5W to a 4 element something. I must have missed the copy on exactly what it was, but I’m forever grateful to guys with beams as they are the reason for quite a few of my QSO’s when band conditions are marginal. I was needing a QSL from NJ for my QRP CW WAS, so sent Gary my QSL, and received this fine-looking card back:

I’m wondering if I made an error copying him, because on the back of the card it says that he runs 75W, so perhaps I missed the 7.  Also from the card, I learned that his 4 ele beam is a Telrex.

Gary’s call rang a bell somewhere in the back of my head, but I couldn’t recall where I’d come across it. Then a little later, while reading John Shannon K3WWP’s online diary, I came across an entry in which he mentions his friend N2ESE. Bingo! I knew that Gary’s call had rung a bell somewhere. I’m a big fan of K3WWP and his ongoing streak of having at least 1 QRP CW QSO a day, which has lasted over 17 years now. He has other streaks, such as a milliwatt streak, but the main one is the oldest – quite impressive.

I haven’t yet had the pleasure of QSO’ing with K3WWP but I hope to one day. In the meantime, a QSO with someone who has had over 100 QSO’s with John, as Gary told me, helped make the QRP world feel a little smaller, would be the best way to describe it, I guess – something to do with that six degrees of separation thing. During our QSO, Gary told me that he has his own QRP streak going, in which he has had at least 2 QRP CW QSO’s a day for over 5 years now.  2 QSO’s a day for 5 years is 1825 QSO’s – not a hard figure to rack up, but the striking thing about Gary’s achievement is the fact that he is on the air every single day without missing a beat. Nice work Gary – thanks for the QSO, and I hope we meet on the bands again soon.

AA0RQ is someone I’ve  QSO’ed with on 14060 in the mornings a few times now.  When it’s not too cloudy, he runs his 3 watt signal from 100% solar power, which leads me to think that he must be running direct from the panel without a battery.  I like the idea that when I talk to him and he says that he is solar, his transmitter is directly powered from the sun – not from a battery that has been charged by the sun. It’s just one little detail that adds interest to our QSO’s.  Bill also runs an experimental QRPp beacon on 10133.57 kHz which is solar powered in the day. More details on his QRZ page.

I’ve also been dabbling in contesting – not for seriously competitive purposes, but more for the fun of making a number of casual contacts with little no conversational commitment – kind of the radio equivalent of sleeping around, I suppose 🙂 The ARRL 10M contest gave me quite a few states for my QRP CW WAS, and the NAQP this last Saturday got me to within one state of achieving my goal. All I need now is WV, which shouldn’t take too long. The thing I liked most about NAQP was that I got the 2 states I thought would be the hardest – DE and RI.

I’m not a very competitive person and have never previously been interested in awards. However, with my new-found zeal for ham radio and the current preoccupation with CW, I thought that reaching both QRP CW WAS and QRP CW DXCC would at least give me some kind of baseline of achievement. I want to be able to say that I have worked all states and 100 DXCC entities with 5W of CW.  For the QRP version of DXCC, ARRL don’t require that you submit proof – merely to list your QSO’s, so after some thought,  I don’t think I’ll apply for that.  Instead, I’ll apply for the regular DXCC award. I’ll know that it was achieved with just 5W and that’s what matters to me.

I’ve set my own confirmation criteria for WAS, and that is that I won’t claim a QRP QSO for WAS until I have the physical QSL in my hand.  I will most likely collect the physical QSL’s for DXCC too – at least for the first 100, and then possibly for notable entities after that. Mind you, by then, I might be living my dream of living full-time in an RV in which case, I won’t be looking to collect extra stuff. More on that at some point in the future if it ever materializes.

My current QRP CW WAS standing is 42 states confirmed with QSL-in-hand. QSl’s from 7 states are (hopefully) in the mail or will be soon. I just need a QSO with someone in WV. Can anyone help me out? Of the 7 states I am awaiting confirmation, if the QSL’s don’t materialize, I have a few insurance QSO’s to lean on, though I’ll  be looking for insurance QSO’s with a few states, just in case

I’m getting close 🙂

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11 Comments »

  1. Dave–Excellent post–really resonates with me.

    Funny that I, too, have a very difficult time posting anything of personal substance on my QRP blog. In my case, I feel like it links back to the fact that I’m neither a brilliant op, nor an engineering whiz. I’m one of those guys into ham radio for the communications. My fascination with the HF ether from my youth has shaped my present and, I’m sure, will shape my future.

    I’m a shy CW op and I’m sure that keeps me from getting on the air, but when I do, it’s to rag-chew with my good friends. Like you, I’m not competitive, so it takes effort to think through doing a contest. Recently, however, I’ve been spending time with some serious DXers. I totally get their thrills off of the high five. Plus, I could imagine methodically pinning down countries and islands on a world map.

    As I reach out to my blog I feel like, “what am I contributing?” I’ve decided what I can do, and do with pleasure, is to aid in connecting those within the QRP community. In other words, I try to surround myself with brilliant and interesting people. From them, I will learn. I find the technology, ingenuity and people in the QRP community the most fascinating in the ham radio world. I naturally gravitate that way…

    Thanks for your post. It’s nice to know that other QRP bloggers feel the same way I do.

    I’ve visited your blog on several occasions, by the way. Love the photos you recently posted of the K2. A buddy of mine and I were chatting with each other about how great your interior K2 shots were over email.

    You’re on my blogroll now. We QRPers need each other. High five!!!

    Comment by Thomas — January 16, 2012 @ 10:06 pm | Reply

    • Thomas –

      I’ve had The SWL’ing Post on my iGoogle page for some months now – good stuff. Was very sad to hear the news of Radio Bulgaria. It seems as if we just get one announcement after another of longtime shortwave broadcasters either severely pruning their schedules or closing down altogether. I like your review of the Alinco DX-R8T also. If I had the spare cash hanging around, I’d be quite tempted.

      It can be a bit difficult figuring out where you fit in sometimes can’t it? I come across a lot of computer, IT and tech types in this hobby. I do have some technical background, but I’m not an engineer at heart, neither am I an artist. I’m a little bit of several things, but not a lot of any one thing! Well, enough of the personal psychology stuff.

      I need to get you on the blogroll here too. Will have that taken care of momentarily. Love the “Ears To Our World” project.

      Comment by AA7EE — January 17, 2012 @ 5:39 pm | Reply

  2. Hey Dave … I’d like to help. Send me an email sometime. KA8SYV, Frank in WV

    Comment by Frank Powell — January 16, 2012 @ 10:11 pm | Reply

    • Frank – thank you so much. That was a great QSO to complete my WAS – and it couldn’t have come from a more fitting person. That is going to be a great QSL card to round out the WAS collection on my wall.

      As you know, I could barely make you out below the noise when you were at 5W (probably had a lot to do with the noise at my very urban location). When you switched to 100W, the difference was night and day – you were a solid 559 – a very clear signal that popped out of the noise on 40. The difference was startling enough to make me realize that once I achieve QRP DXCC, I’ll probably look around for a way to run 100W here too.

      Thank you once again!

      Comment by AA7EE — January 17, 2012 @ 5:07 pm | Reply

  3. Dave,

    Thanks for the kind words – but I tend to run off at the keys too much! When I was younger, I wanted to be a writer; but am not of high enough caliber. Perhaps blogging allows me a vicarious outlet.

    We all have different talents; and yours are appreciated – do not underestimate that! I love following your builds and I value your opinions, technical and otherwise. So my friend, do not fret over a lack of copious blog posts. The ones you come forth with are well worth the wait.

    Comment by Larry — January 17, 2012 @ 6:13 pm | Reply

  4. The Virgin Records video–is that an old spot or are you making commercials for them again?

    Comment by KA0ERZ — February 5, 2012 @ 1:11 am | Reply

    • It’s a rough and ready demo that I put together using just a few snippets from the many hundreds of hours of stuff I did for Virgin over the years Larry. The video part was once again slapped together in a bit of a hurry – too many pictures of me trying to look serious in retrospect! So it’s not a spot as such, just a demo using stuff from a few years ago. Virgin Entertainment Group went out of business in the US about 3 years back, which was when I stopped working for them.

      You’ve been living in Douglas for a while haven’t you? Are you still there?

      Comment by AA7EE — February 6, 2012 @ 6:09 am | Reply

      • Was in AZ for 2 years, I’m now in Indiana. You’re voice and talents far exceed where you are in life. The bad economy hurt us all. No doubt in my mind you’ll once again be recognized for what you have to offer, in fact I’d bet on it, just give it time. Your writing proves my point. I find it interesting you now like QRP as we never had a CW QSO that I recall. Like many, we pass the code part and go to phone only to go back to the roots we once disliked. I follow your blog vicariously as as I like code but feel like a fish out of water trying it again after such a long period of not using it and having limited ant space. And to build things like you do? My gosh, my soldering skills are well…..your skills may have gotten better with age, mine not so much. Smoke, and lots of it is what I’d expect from any project I’d build, I’ll leave that to the experts like yourself.

        Comment by KA0ERZ — February 7, 2012 @ 7:12 am

  5. INTJ people rule the world! (As long as we have a cave to retreat into!)
    Have your read: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain?
    ‘Best thing since Meyers-Briggs. Really.
    Roy
    AC9DN

    Comment by Roy AC9DN — February 27, 2016 @ 6:14 pm | Reply

    • I’m familiar with that title Roy, but haven’t read the book. I frequent an online group for early (and not so early) retirees. Many of us are INTJ’s, and I think that’s where I heard about this book – from a recommendation in the group. It took a long time for me to become fully comfortable with the idea that it really is OK to not be an extrovert – that it’s fine to prefer to stay at home than to lead a busy social life.

      Will make a point to read the book. Thank you!

      73 for now,

      Dave
      AA7EE

      Comment by AA7EE — February 27, 2016 @ 6:23 pm | Reply

      • Yes, the book is a full explanation of why it is OK to be an introvert and how society is pressuring us to be extroverts. Like a good
        watermelon however, when you read any book you have to spit out a few seeds. I don’t like that this author glorifies political people
        and global warming beliefs. She could have left that out. I’m old enough that I remember the global cooling scare of the late ’60s
        and into the ’70s which was to occur because of cowherd flatulence, unpaved dusty roads and forest clear cutting. “You can’t have it both ways.”
        Still, I really recommend this book, and especially so for Oriental people–special chapter near the end for them.
        Roy
        AC9DN

        Comment by Roy AC9DN — February 27, 2016 @ 7:29 pm


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