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 🙂