Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Very interesting day!

Talked to JW/F8DVD on Spitsbergen Island today at lunch. Craig, AE6RR, and I were driving back from lunch, scanning 20 meters and there he was. Calling CQ with no pile-up. S-9 and everything. Craig worked him first, then I did.

100 watts and a hamstick. Gotta love this hobby.

Then we went up and did a bit more work on the abandoned ham shack at work. Installed a tuner and poked around the bands a bit. Didn't find anything worthwhile. Lots of noise. Perhaps something new in the lab. Or perhaps we now know why the shack was abandoned... hi hi.

CW QSO with Greg (KI6CK). Tried to get Sam KE6ZRW into the act but not have a whole lotta luck reaching him. 2m, nope. 6m, nope. 10m, nope.

I tried 80m NVIS and he was able to sorta hear me. Sigh.

Bed time. Life is good.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The good:

Good CW QSO with Greg (KI6CK) this evening. Also talked with JV on the repeater.
Also stopped by the candy store and picked up a 3' patch cable for the shack at work. Tomorrow at lunch we'll be able to play with the antenna and rig, with a reasonable SWR. Oh boy.

The so-so:

Called CQ on 28.160 and 7.050 to no avail. Chased W9ZN around 40m for a while but he would QSY every time I tried to come back to his CQ. I don't understand that. But oh well. I'll make something work eventually.
Put in some email to a guy about an Alinco DX-70TH for the Saab. He responded that the radio was available, but then stopped replying to email.

What's up, do I have a case of garlic karma or what?

The bad:
Nobody picked up the SLVARES net. Since I was in the middle of dinner with the kids I didn't feel like interrupting that to take the net. Sigh. Can't hold the entire world up...

73 es good night de WyreRider

Monday, March 27, 2006

"Miracle" Whip?


Really. I _know_ better.

I allowed myself to be suckered into getting a Miracle Whip for my FT-817. Tried it out today at lunch, using my standard methodology... Checking into the noon-time 40m net.

The net control was coming in at S-2 (normally S9+).

When nobody else was checking in the net control said he could tell that there was somebody there, but completely un-readable.

Sigh. I _knew_ that.

Anybody want to buy a used Miracle Whip?

Better as a dessert topping than as an antenna.

73 de WyreRider

Sunday, March 26, 2006

As I asked my wife "Can I have a Do Over on this weekend?"

I didn't get ANYTHING done that I planned to do. Didn't complete ONE task.

Not even one.

The best thing for tonight was a 13/14 on Morse Runner.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Pretty boring day ham-wise.

Great intentions to build the 1/4 counterpoise and get the backyard 20' pole up came to naught as the XYL scheduled a bunch of stuff in without consulting me. Argh.

Got some Code Quick (software) practice in. Man-o-man, is the software dry as it runs you through the random text.

Wound the evening up with a 15 minute stretch of Morse Runner (12/12) and was three characters away from putting #13 in the log when time ran out. Oh well. Tomorrow night.

73 de WyreRider

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A GREAT day ham-wise.

Got up about 6:00am and tried for contacts on 7.051, 14.050 and 28.160. No joy. There were some QSOs in progress, but most too fast to copy. But I tried anyway. No CQs heard. I tried multiple 3x2 CQs on the above frequencies to no response.

During the commute I had a nice 2m QSO with Greg KI6BJI and Chris KI6AZC. Then checked into the 9am Talk net with Pink KG6ILA. And then Mom KI6DAR checked in for the first time.


Lunch was non-ham. Nice QSO with Greg again on the way home. JV K6HJU also chimed in.

Finally, had _great_ back to back CW QSOs with JV and Greg KI6CK on 10m.

Pushed my luck and did 15m with Morse Runner. I swear that program cheats. Had call right, get a "Not In Log", then dumped multiple pile ups on. Then three different stations with multiple AGN?. Oye!

But the CW felt good. Both speed and copy are coming up nicely.

One more try at Morse Runner. 11/11. Not bad, but I could be doing better.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Boring day.

Did some Code Quick and a 15 minute stint on Morse runner (10 raw, 9 valid). Boo.

Second run (10 raw, 9 valid) Grrr.

I'll run some fast Code Quick QSOs. Foo.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A good night and generally great day.

First off, on my way home I get a call from a familiar voice. My mom.

I got to be my mom's first contact. She's now KI6DAR!!! Way to go Mom!!!

Woooot! (Happy dance time!)

Second, Cody ran the county wide net. He jumped in about 2 seconds before I was going to. Then I got to run the SLV ARES net. 11 check-ins. Good deal.

Next Greg, KI6CK and I had a good CW QSO, at a useful speed, with reasonable copy. Happy happy!

Also did a Morse Runner, 10 valid in 15 minutes. Not quite up to normal speed, but got into several nasty pile-ups. Gotta figure out a better way to deal with them...

Lastly, checked out something I was curious about... CW weight. My call seemed "light" but I wasn't sure. So I found a weight checker on the internet and entered a couple of local studly contesters and my CW guru.

K6XX, "Bob" blindingly good contester 54
KQ6YV "Hap" a CW guru 70
KG6AO "Tom" general local dude 60
KI6CK "Greg" another contester 58
AE6RF some guy in the mountains... 48

Chuckle. Lower is better in terms of how long/hard it is to send.


I've got so many projects going people sometimes wonder which end is up. So... Here is an off the top of my head list of (just ham) projects at various stages of completion...

PAC-12 antenna: Almost done, needs ribbon cable radials assembled
House front antenna: Needs put up on eaves. Needs ladder and helper.
G5RV Jr antenna: Needs 20' mast installed on back fence.
Short term 40m vertical: Shoot 1/2 wave 40m vertical into the oak tree.
Medium term 160m antenna: Up oak tree, over to other tree, up, up into island tree.
Long term 80m loop: Around property roughly 15-20' up.

Saab: Drill hole for 2/70 and install Yaesu FT-8800
Saab2: Mount for ham sticks and install (?) HF rig
Saab3: Install APRS

Truck: Drill hole for Antennex 2/70 antenna
Truck2: Figure out mount for ham sticks
Truck3: install Icom-706MkIIg and scanner
Truck4: Permanently mount APRS

Build 40m dipole (including ladder line and coax) for FT-817 kit
Make 40m end-fed 1/2 wave for FT-817 kit
Make 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, 12, 10, 6 m ribbon cable counterpoise for FT-817 kit

Get HF Winlink running from the Com Van
Get JNOS running on RF

Help get internet to K6BJ shack.
Install cheesy Telpac node at K6BJ shack

Join FISTS and ARS

That doesn't count, work, kids, and the house.

Oh boy!!! :D

Bedtime before I get too stressed by thinking about it all.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Another didn't get on the air day.

Was suffering "slowsies, dropsies" during code practice at lunch.

Did get my email telling me I passed the IC-100 Incident Command System class. This is a check box saying that I'm trained in ICS basics. It's starting to be a requirement for emergency communication volunteers. Now I need to take the IC-700 which is the NMIS class of the same ilk. Oh boy.

Warmed up with about 7 continuous minutes of random characters using Code Quick (7.7 WPM) then shifted to Morse Runner for 15 minutes.

Better with some extra practice?

UTC Call Recv Sent Pref Chk
00:00:45 LY2CI 599 001 599 001 LY2
00:02:20 YO4ASD 599 002 599 002 YO4
00:02:57 W2HKE 599 002 599 003 W2
00:04:02 DL4PT 599 003 599 004 DL4
00:04:56 GM0JHF 599 001 599 005 GM0
00:06:28 EA5DFE 599 007 599 006 EA5
00:07:44 W7BV 599 002 599 007 W7
00:08:35 K0SRW 599 008 599 008 K0
00:09:32 N3WIZ 599 006 599 009 N3
00:10:50 KB4ZM 579 006 599 010 KB4
00:13:31 JI1EFP 599 004 599 011 JI1
00:14:33 ED2TA 599 011 599 012 ED2

You betcha!

Night night!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Not much happening. Pretty tired. Somewhat down.

Didn't get a chance to get near a CW rig. So ran Morse Runner three times pretty late.

First run wasn't too good. I was using normal, non-closed headphones and there is a lot of ambient noise near my chair.
UTC Call Recv Sent Pref Chk
00:02:11 IK2WZQ 599 002 599 001 IK2
00:03:07 F5SJB 599 002 599 002 F5
00:05:56 WB1GDG 599 003 599 003 WB1
00:07:09 UR0VX 599 006 599 004 UR0
00:08:24 VE2HQ 599 015 599 005 VE2
00:09:01 W7LAR 599 009 599 006 W7
00:11:23 JA1IVY 599 003 599 007 JA1
00:12:38 KR4WU 599 011 599 008 KR4
00:13:51 OK1JXU 599 005 599 009 OK1 NR
And then a second run with the closed headphones and the SCAF-1 filter

UTC Call Recv Sent Pref Chk
00:00:54 OH2VY 599 001 599 001 OH2
00:01:55 IK7WPD 599 002 599 002 IK7
00:03:07 JR3SRB 599 004 599 003 JR3
00:05:17 KA6G 599 003 599 004 KA6
00:05:56 ZF2NT 599 002 599 005 ZF2
00:08:13 DL8AAM 599 015 599 006 DL8
00:09:18 WC6H 599 006 599 007 WC6
00:10:35 ON7YX 599 026 599 008 ON7
00:11:52 LZ1RN 599 014 599 009 LZ1

And finally with the closed headphones only:

UTC Call Recv Sent Pref Chk
00:01:34 WB8VGE 559 001 599 001 WB8
00:02:15 K4PZC 599 001 599 002 K4
00:05:14 S57IIO 599 002 599 003 S57
00:06:37 DJ7YF 599 001 599 004 DJ7
00:09:49 KD5TFK 599 011 599 005 KD5
00:12:37 N8II 599 007 599 006 N8
00:14:39 JE3GDW 599 027 599 007 JE3

Sigh... I'm just NOT having a good night. Better hang it up and go to bed...

I REALLY need to adjust the SCAF-1 filter because it is giving me white noise with no input. Bad.

Yesterday was a busy day.

Started out about 10:00am. Ray R (KG6GPE), the San Lorenzo Valley (SLV) Emergency Cooridinator (EC), was supposed to give an introductory presentation on the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) to a group of just licensed hams.

Unfortunately he got called away on business, so I gave the presentation for him. It went pretty well, but people didn't like the "cockroaches of the communication world" analogy. Oh well. Chuckle.

Also took an Arrow antenna, the FT-817, and the autopatch instructions to give "touchy feelie" demos for the students.

JV and I were trying to get the K6FB crew a set of batteries to replace their old "backup batteries" unfortunately the set of three that the guy selected/took, had 2/3 bad batteries. BAD LUCK. I'll need to see what I can do to "make that right."

Then there was a "get internet to the K6BJ repeater site" committee meeting. Oh my goodness. What did I have in my head when I volunteered to go to committee meetings on my days off??? Oye! 2 hour meetings every other week for a task that should take about 4-6 hours of work. As one participant put it, "we could do this with with a paper clip hanging out of the back of the radio."

At the end of the day tried CW practice with Sam, KE6ZRW, but we could barely hear each other on 2m CW. Not having much luck. Sam has a hard time hearing on 10m CW too.

Greg, KI6CK did send some CW on his mike PTT button. I copied him better that way than with his keyer. chuckle.

On to another day...

Friday, March 17, 2006

All is well that ends well...

The day ended with a quick QSO with my dad. He lives exactly 14 miles away but on the other side of a 2200+ ridgeline. (And in a completely different culture). Anyway he can just BARELY make it into the low level repeater that I hang out on. Noisy but readable.

It was cool to hear him.

Before that we got a three way CW QSO going on between JV, Greg and I. It was great. I was copying well and the other two seemed to be having fun.

It was my first chance to play with the SCAF-1 filter and head phone for actual on the air CW. The filter needs some adjustments, but seemed to help by cutting out a lot of the higher frequency static.

Prior to that I started the IC-100 online Incident Command Course. ICS is the coming "thing" in EmComm. So we all should learn it. I've had three or four exposures to it. First Responder class, ham training, CERT training, and ECC. So now I get to take it "officially." Oh boy...

Mid-day I got email from my work buddy Craig. He was able to get the transceiver in the abandoned ham shack at work going on 40m SSB! And the head equipment guy at work said that he would provide "any support we needed." GOOD DEAL!

There is a nice Bencher there in the shack and the vertical is tuned for the high CW part of 40m. Getting on CW at lunch from work is a possiblity!

Lessons learned:
Need to "adjust" the filter for my headphones
Need to complete the PAC-12 antenna assembly
Need to complete the keyer power cable
Need to pull down the 20m loop
Need to clean up the shack
Oh boy...

Thursday, March 16, 2006


One of "those" days. Dropped by the post office to pick up the package that had my Palm Paddles in it, send off the QSL cards and find out how much postage is required to send QSL cards to Canada. ($0.63)

On the way out find that my front left tire is starting to get REALLY bad on the outside tread. Well... discretion is the better part of valour, and cowardess is the better part of discretion, so I went home, dropped off the Saab and took the truck to work.

Last minute check-in on the 9am Talk net.

Lunch was spent running SWR curves on work's abandon ham station and its antennas. One is supposed to be a vertical and the other one is a VHF/UHF discone. Both seem to be working, but the vertical is tuned for DX not local stuff.

That's both good and bad. Good in that the antenna is working. Bad in that when we were playing with the existing transceiver we couldn't get any power out. We were assuming that the antenna was bad and the transceiver was "folding back." That might not be the case... More testing needed.

I was really looking forward to this evening's ARRL/W1AW code qualification run. Tuned to the frequency on 80m and heard...

... nothing. Greg, KI6CK pointed out that while the time was in local time, the date was in UTC. Missed it by 24 hours. Oh well... I'll be even better next month!

We did a couple go around CW QSO, for which I had reasonable enough copy.

Repaired the FT-817 power cable and gave some thought to operating tomorrow at noon.

The work station has a Bencher paddle. Just like mine only in much better shape.

Time for bed...

73 de WyreRider

A medium day.

An early morning meeting had me on the road early. Attempted to check into the Gordo net, but the mobile antenna flopped over again. Can't use it while moving.

Chuckle, a ball mount on the left quarter panel which was unthinkable three days ago is now a realistic option.

Lunch was too busy for a noontime net check-in.

Greg, KI6CK, however WAS around for a QRS QSO on ten meters. Life is good.

The more I think about it, the more I need to commit to 2 CW QSOs a day. And with the noise level at home, the only way that's going to happen is mobile, or bringing up the station at work.

So, the antenna analyzer is going with me on Thursday!

Also got a whole bunch of QSL cards made up for postage.

What stamp does it take to get to Canada anyway?

73 de WyreRider

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Not a really exciting day ham-wise.

Checked into the 9am talk net and noon-time net (mobile, but stationary).

Checked into the SCC ARES/SLV ARES nets this evening.

Thought I had a CW QSO arranged, but it fell through.

Scanned part of 40m and found an in-progress slow speed CW QSO. Was able to copy pretty well, but there was a lot of fading.

My scores at various computer generated CW files say that my "target speed" is sitting about 13 WPM right now (on a clean, noise free signal). I *might* believe that if I could get some "on the air" practice. Sigh.

Time, patience and perserverance will accomplish all things.

Tomorrow will be better.


Nice run on Morse Runner (15 minutes, contest mode, 15 WPM, activity level 2)

UTC Call Recv Sent Pref Chk
00:00:46 WZ8D 599 001 599 001 WZ8
00:01:33 WA6AWD 599 001 599 002 WA6
00:02:38 OM6TU 599 002 599 003 OM6
00:06:28 JJ2FHT 599 015 599 004 JJ2
00:07:19 K7ZZ 599 007 599 005 K7
00:08:42 N0YD 599 015 599 006 N0
00:10:10 W1ECH 599 010 599 007 W1
00:11:11 VE6DDT 599 011 599 008 VE6
00:12:47 RK3UWA 599 012 599 009 RK3
00:13:44 N7WEJ 599 008 599 010 N7
00:14:55 W6QO 599 028 599 011 W6

73 de WyreRider

Monday, March 13, 2006

(From 3/13/06)

Got out of the house on time, dragging my Yaesu FT-817 and newly created Power Pole power cord with me.

Got the 40m ham stick out of Inga the Wonder Saab's hatchback and popped it into the lip mount I installed on Saturday afternoon. It looks rediculous and is probably mechanically unsound, but hey... It's on the air.

Tuned initially to 7.250, but the LSB sounded low, so I went up to 7.251 and lo and behold there was the Gordo "Rescue ARES" Net.

I was in business.

Following the "Listen, listen, listen then talk" philosophy I monitored for about 10 minutes, until he was asking for Bay Area check-ins.

Called once. He came back to somebody else.

Tried again. Hey, that's MY callsign! So I checked in and reported the snow on Bear Creek Rd in the Santa Cruz mountains.

Fine Business. It works!!! Not bad for 5W, eh?

I'll try the noon-time net today too.

Lessons learned:
The mount isn't mechanically sound. Need a better one.
Need a portable log book.
I heard some alternator noise, need to investigate the noise blanker and maybe direct routing the wiring to the battery. (Sorry Dan).

(From 3/12/06)

After coming home from lunch the kids and XYL went down for a nap.

I used the time to get a 1 hour "competition" session of Morse Runner in.

Went from 23 confirmed QSOs to 36. That's a significant jump, and I believe I'm doing better.

Tried for CW QSOs with JV and Hap, but when the time came everybody was busy. I called CW a couple of times, then investigated the noise on 80, 40 and 20m.

I also figured out how to use the Band Scan and SWR sweep functions on my Icom-706MkIIg.

Went back upstairs for some Code Quick practice, but fell asleep during the lesson.

Bedtime for Donzo.

Lesson learned:
Gotta do something about that noise. It is wiping out my HF.

Friday, March 10, 2006


Getting better at Morse Runner. Maybe next week I'll do CW when we go QRP in the park.

UTC Call Recv Sent Pref Chk
00:01:02 K4HGX 599 001 599 001 K4
00:02:47 F5AZM 599 002 599 002 F5
00:04:10 M0CSD 599 002 599 003 M0
00:08:19 RA3ID 599 006 599 004 RA3
00:10:22 HB9DCL 599 010 599 005 HB9
00:11:21 DL4VAQ 599 009 599 006 DL4
00:13:01 SM7HSP 599 010 599 007 SM7
00:15:20 IS0LLJ 599 016 599 008 IS0
00:16:25 UX5NQ 599 014 599 009 UX5
00:17:32 W4RA 599 015 599 010 W4
00:20:08 DK4YJ 599 015 599 011 DK4
00:22:00 JH0ALB 599 014 599 012 JH0
00:23:04 MU2K 599 020 599 013 MU2 NR
00:24:57 VE6IV 599 004 599 014 VE6
00:26:35 WA4FXX 599 038 599 015 WA4
00:27:56 OK2ABU 599 015 599 016 OK2
00:29:19 IV3ZOF 599 053 599 017 IV3

(13 wpm, activity level 2, 30 minutes)

Tried to copy W1AW this morning, no joy. But W6ADO was solid copy at 5 & 7 WPM.

73 de Donald

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