Sunday, December 14, 2008

And to the Death it was...

The Death Match is over. Final results 147 QSOs and 80+ multipliers. Congrats to all who participated and good luck with the results. Thank you to all the contacts and to the Michigan DX Association for such a fun contest.

73 and God Bless,

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Battle Rages On...

The PSK31/63 Death Match continued today. We headed over to dad's (KU4ME) to work the match to the death. We got over there around 3:30 and promptly started working 20 meters. I made a handful of contacts there and then it was to 40 for a few and finally on 80 to work many more. Of course, in the middle of all this death matching, one gets hungry. After all, all the battling can make one ravenous. So wifey (AJ4IJ aka my trusty log lady) and I took a break for a dinner date. We had intentionally skipped out on my company's Christmas party and we had opted instead for treating ourselves to a night out on our own.
So we went to eat at the Outback as we had received a gift card from my brother for Christmas. Once we were done we drove around, stopped and got some Starbucks (necessary fuel for contesting), picked up something to eat for the harmonic (KJ4EGJ), and headed back for more. For another four hours I worked while Robin logged and by a little after 2am, the century mark was reached. We called it quits for the night only to rest and recuperate so we could battle erm.. I mean contest some more tomorrow.
So if you are contesting look for me on 20, 40, and 80. Till then,

73 and God Bless de AJ4JD,

PSK 31/63 To The Death ... Match

Well I had every intention of working the ARRL 10 meter contest this evening. Unfortunately, upon arriving at dad's (KU4ME) house, I quickly learned that 10 meters was pretty much deader than a door nail. I heard a couple of stations in there but no sooner than I would hear them, they'd fade right back out again. So after a few calls, I gave it up.

It was at this point that my lovely XYL Robin (AJ4IJ) suggested checking the digital modes. So I fired up Ham Radio Deluxe and launched DM 780. We tuned to 3.580 and found a nice strong waterfall coming in. Within seconds we picked up that there was a PSK Contest going on. CQ PSK31/63 DeathMatch ran across the screen. Of course Google is our friend and we rapidly found out that the Annual Michigan DX Association's PSK 31/63 Death Match contest was on tap for this weekend.

Happy that Robin found me a contest, I quickly set up some macros and dad walked me through tuning up the radio, setting my power on the USB Signal Link, and testing our power output. Within mere minutes I was calling CQ PSK31/63 DeathMatch de AJ4JD. I worked 80 meters for quite a while using PSK 31. After almost 20 contacts, I jumped over to 40 and worked a handful there. After a few of no one coming back to me, I decided to check 20 but it was completely dead so back to 80 I went.

On 80 for the second time of the evening, I switched modes to PSK 63 and continued calling CQ. I picked up a few more contacts and a couple of those were previous contact from earlier on PSK 31. It was around 2:30 a.m. when I wasn't getting any more takers and I decided that I was done for the night. I had been run through and gave in.

It was definitely a fun evening, and I look forward to working more of the contest throughout the weekend. That's right, the Death Match runs all weekend so I have more of a chance to push up the totals. If I remember correctly, I've made around 35 contacts in 17 different states and one Canadian province.

Well it's late now and I must go recuperate from the evening's battle. So with that I will say 73 to all, good DX, and happy contesting.

AJ4JD - Tim

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

ARRL 10 Meter Contest

This coming weekend is ARRL's 10 meter contest. Ever since the November Sweepstakes I've been waiting for this one. There hasn't been any phone contests to speak of or at least that I've known about. Anyway, I've mentioned it to the XYL (AJ4IJ) and to Dad (KU4ME). I don't know if either one of them have any interest in working it but I sure do look forward to working it. I don't think I'll be any count but I will definitely have fun trying.
Anyway for those wandering, the contest runs from 0000 UTC Saturday; ends 2359 UTC Sunday (December 13 – 14, 2008). The only thing required for the exchange is ARRL/RAC Section (state or province) and signal report. For DX stations (including KH2, KP4, etc) transmit signal report and sequential serial number starting with 001. For Maritime Mobile stations send signal report and ITU Region (R1, R2 or R3).
To all the HAMs that will be working the contest good luck and catch ya on the band.

73 de AJ4JD

Saturday, December 6, 2008

2008 Skywarn Recognition Day

Last night marked the start of the 2008 National Skywarn Recognition Day. We (Robin - AJ4IJ, Ashby - KJ4EGJ and I - AJ4JD) were at home when we heard one of our local HAMs give a call with a different callsign WX4MRX on the 145.470 WB4GBI repeater for the Skywarn Recognition Day special event. We quickly made contact with John and exchanged current weather conditions marking our first contact for the event.
Later on in the evening I ventured over to dad's (KU4ME) to play radio with him and to try and catch up on the event. Dad had already worked 8 or 9 weather stations across the country. After firing up the laptop and starting the logging software, I sat down and began hunting down weather stations participating in the event on 80 meters. After a couple of hours of work I had tallied a total of 8 contacts with various weather stations from Illinois, Kentucky, South Carolina, and South Dakota just to name a few. Dad also added to his tally.
I believe we are planning to head over there later today to work some more weather stations on some of the other bands provided conditions are good. So if you have the chance, get on the radio and make some contacts to show your appreciation for Skywarn. Without Skywarn and our community of weather spotters, we might not have good up-to-date severe weather information. If you want to learn more about Skywarn and how to become a certified weather spotter check you local weather service website or you can go to the National Weather Service's Skywarn info page.

Until next time, 73 and God Bless,

Happy DX.

Monday, November 17, 2008

ARRL November Sweeps 2008 SSB

This weekend I participated in the ARRL November Sweepstakes contest. This was my first time participating in the contest as I have only been a HAM since May. Being that it was my first time and I just started using a new logging program (N3FJP's AC Log) I was a bit slow and didn't make a whole lot of contacts. I started out on 40 meters and made about 20 contacts or so. I took a break long enough to take the XYL(Robin - AJ4IJ) and Harmonic (Ashby - KJ4EGJ) back to the house.

Robin and I had let Ashby go over to her Peepaw's (KU4ME) to play radio for the W4H special event while we put up some of our many Christmas lights. Anyway, after I dropped them off I went back over to dads and started contesting more. This time I switched over to 80 meters and I ended up with about 15 more contacts.

Altogether, I ended up with 35 contacts and 25 sections. 1 contact was a duplicate so I figured my score was around 1700 points. Nothing major and definitely not award worthy, but I did have fun and am starting to like contesting more and more.

As for the W4H special event, Robin and I didn't work it any more than what we had the last two weekends. We figured we'd let dad and Ashby get their fill. I think dad ended up with over 30 contacts and Ashby ended up with 20 over the weekend. Robin and I ended up with 51 and 88 respectively for a grand total of at least 189 QSOs for the special event. I know that Rick (N4JTQ) and I think Cathy (KI4YPO) ended up working the event a little bit. Other than that I'm not sure if anyone else did or not.

Anyway, to all the stations that worked us, thanks for making this a fun and special event. Also be on the look out for us as we celebrate the 4th of July as W4H 470 ARG July 4th special event and catch this time next for our 2nd Anniversary of the 470 Amateur Radio Group.

Here's a picture of Ashby working W4H

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tennessee QSO Party Results are in....

At last, at last, the results are in at last. Much to my amazement, I decided to check (the home site of the Tennessee QSO Party) to see if the results had been posted yet. I wasn't really expecting them to be as I had checked it almost daily for the last two weeks since I had exchanged emails with Doug Smith (W9WI) and he informed me that all the logs had been tallied and the final results had been sent to the webmaster.
Well, this evening I figured I would just check as I hadn't looked today and figured I would find the same as I had the past two weeks. Instead I was pleasantly surprised that the 2008 Tennessee QSO Party results were indeed posted to the site. I quickly scanned the initial results page to see what records had been set this year, and it appears that all but 4 records were broken this year. I quickly clicked the link to the 2008 results and fully expected to see us (The Toad Town Team comprised of Robin - AJ4IJ, Dad - KU4ME, and me - AJ4JD) listed amongst the top ranks of the Multi-op High Power Category. Unfortunately though it appears that our log was separated into our individual entries and we ended up in the Fixed Single OP - Low Power category. I reckon our mistake must have been operating under our own calls instead of one single call. I will email Doug to verify that so we will know for next year.
So the results for us individually are as follows: Robin with 80 qso's and 49 multipliers for a grand total of 7,840 points landing her in 26th place out of 43. Next was me with 33 qso's and 25 multipliers for a grand total of 1,650 points landing me in 33rd place out of 43. Finally was dad with 17 qso's and 15 multipliers for a grand total of 510 points landing him in 39th place out of 43. Overall, we are completely satisfied with our result considering it was our very first contest and we only worked it for about 3 or 4 hours. As for the Toad Town Team result we ended up with a total of 10,000 points landing us in 4th place out of 5 in the Tennessee Team category.
With our effort we will each receive a certificate for being first time participants.
Anyway, it was a lot of fun to work the QSO party and we look forward to 2009. We will figure out what we have to do to be qualified for the Multi-op single High Power category and we will be ready for a better showing. Until then congrats to all participants and to the Tennessee Contest Group for holding a wonderful QSO party.

73 de AJ4JD

Happy DX.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Antenna Maintenance, My First Asian Contact, and W4H Update (My first real pileup)

Well, yesterday we decided to go over to dad's (KU4ME) and play some radio. This was of course after we did a little maintenance to the wires we have up in the air over there. We needed to remove some of the tension on the ZS6BKV multi bander. There was a branch that was creating tension on the twin lead close to the choke as well as to much slack in the support rope we have strung the wire on. So after cutting out a whole big branch and removing the slack in the support rope we moved to the inverted vee for 80 meters. The balun had slid down a little back towards the house and had dropped a little as well. So we moved the balun back up the support rope and hoisted the antenna a little higher. We also got the multi-bander up a little higher as well. After we finished the antenna maintenance we went inside to eat supper that mom (KF4SSI) had made and watch an episode of Dexter.

Once we finished with supper we headed out to the shack to see how well our maintenance improved things. I started scrolling around on 20 meters and heard a station calling CQ contest from Japan. Ever since the Summer Olympics special event, I've been aiming at making a contact with Japan. Unfortunately, we've never heard any station from Japan when we seen that they were spotted on the DX Cluster. Well, I heard this station calling CQ contest on 14.317 and realized that it was a Japanese station (JR5VHU). So I tried a time or two but my timing was off. On the third go round I threw out my call and running a bare 100 watts, he picked me up. I was so elated that it didn't matter to me that it was a very short contact due to the station being a contester. I couldn't believe it, I had just made contact with Japan on 100 watts. I started doing my little Japan DX dance in the commanders chair and asked my XYL Robin (AJ4IJ) if she wanted to try. So she sat down and proceeded to make contact as well (her first Japan contact also). So she did the Japan DX dance as well. We finally convinced dad to give it a try even though the station was starting to fade. He almost gave up after the third try but went more time and made contact as well. It appears that the maintenance we had done had paid off. Robin made another contact with a Japan station (JH4UYB) shortly there after and we decided it was time to start calling CQ for the special event W4H.

It was about 8:00pm and I was all set up to log. However, Robin did not want to take the first shift calling CQ so we swapped spots and she logged and I called CQ. I found us an open spot on 80 meters as 20 was dying fast and there wasn't much happening on 40 meters other than noise and broadcasters. So 80 it was and I was able to find a spot on our special event calling frequency 3.850. My very first call and N1UK came back to me. We ragchewed for a few minutes and when we signed with each other he said he'd put me on the DX cluster. Sure enough he did and it wasn't long before the pileup started. It wasn't to bad at first. It was a slow trickle and I had time to give each calling station a little information about the event and how to receive QSL cards from us. I must have called CQ for about 40 minutes and made contact with 24 stations. I did talked to Mrs. Teresa (KI4ZQO), Mrs. Cathy (KI4YPO), Rick (N4JTQ), Bill (N4BHK), and Kevin(KG4LGL) . These are all local hams that are active on the 470 repeater and active on the 470ARG net. As a matter of fact, Rick is out NCS for the net and Cathy is the NCS for the 470 ladies round table.

So after about 40 minutes I was desperately needing a break and Robin was more than happy to take the reigns. She called CQ for about an hour and let me tell you the hornets nest of a pile up she had. There were a couple of times where everyone was calling at once and she couldn't make out anything to call for in return. She instead had to go back and call QRZed again just to try and pick out a call. Well in the hour she called CQ, she ended up with 46 contacts. Some of the most notable were with N3FJP (the maker/programmer of the logbook program we are using). She also had special event station N8F for the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald event contact her. In total now Robin has made a total of 51 contacts for the special event in 21 states.

Well after her hour she still had a pileup that wouldn't quit. However, she was needing a break and we tried to get dad to take it over. He declined and so I had to take it back over. I must have taken it for almost another hour and made another 30 contacts or so and ended up with a contact in Puerto Rico(KP4BAI) and many different states. Overall I now have made 88 contacts for the event and have worked a total of 32 states and 1 DX entity.

So with a week to go on the special event, I don't know if I will be able to get back on until Saturday. Hopefully though, Robin and Dad, along with other 470ARG participants will be able to get on during the week and call CQ for the event. I know that Rick has worked the event a little bit but I'm not sure of anyone else at this moment in time. Anyway, that's about all I've got for the present moment in time. I now await the QSLs to start rolling in. I just hope I can use the special event call towards my WAS award.

Anyway, until the next post,
73 and Happy DX de AJ4JD

Thursday, November 6, 2008

470 ARG Photoshop Editing Contest

Well, there hasn't been a whole lot going on. We tried to get on the bands last night to work the W4H special event, but unfortunately there was a lot of noise on the bands. I did make contact with a YL in the Virgin Islands. Her name was Ann (KP2YL) and she was on vacation in the Virgin Islands working in the DX window on 80 meters.
Anyway, Robin (AJ4IJ) is on the 470 ladies round table at the moment and that brought the 470ARG Photo Editing Contest that we have had to mind. For about a month various operators that participate on the 470 ARG NET have been participating in a photo editing contest, taking various picture and putting our Net participants faces in them. The submission deadline was back on Oct 31 at midnight. So now the polls are open and we are taking votes to decide the winning photo. If you want to check out the picture and cast a vote, you need to be a HAM to vote, you can check out the photos at: At the top of the page there is a link to check out the photos and at the bottom of the page is the voting form. When you submit your vote, the page will refresh and the form will clear. At that point you know the submission was successful. Just remember only one vote per callsign.

Anyway, that's all I've got for now. Until next I hope to catch you on the bands.

73 de AJ4JD

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Emergency Weather Training Net 11/3/2008

This past Monday I was on tap for running the Emergency Weather Training Net. Every Monday we alternate between the ARES Training Net for Claiborne/Union County ARES and the Emergency Weather Training Net. So this week I was Net Control for the Emergency Weather Training Net and thought that it went rather well. To be honest, this was only my 3rd time as Net Control for this or the ARES Net since I got my license in May of this year. In total we had 25 check-ins including the proxy check-ins. In the training I decided to go over some more winter weather hazards which included snow (the different types i.e. Blizzard, blowing snow, etc.), ice, and flooding from snow thaw, ice jams, etc.
Well that's all I've got for now. Next week we will have our ARES Training Net on Monday at 8:00pm EST on the 147.360 repeater, and we will have our monthly ARES meeting up at the Claiborne County Education Building in New Tazwell, TN. So if you are a HAM in our area and interested in ARES, come join us at the meeting at 6:30pm EST.

Monday, November 3, 2008

W4H (1st Anniversary of the 470 ARG) Special Event Update

Just a quick update on the W4H special event. Last night Ashby(KJ4EGJ) and me (AJ4JD) went over to Dad's(KU4ME) while Robin(AJ4IJ) and mom(KF4SSI) went to do a little Christmas shopping. Once the station was warmed up and tuned I started calling CQ on 40 meters and ended up with another 13 contacts on the special event. Dad logged for me as he was going to wait until during the week to work the special event. Ashby listened to music and then talked to guys on the 470 repeater once I was done to get an update on who all had worked the event yet.
So in two days I've worked 32 stations in 23 states for the W4H special event. Hopefully I'll get to work some more and get Ashby and Robin going on it as well.

Until next time, 73 de AJ4JD.
Catch ya on the bands.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

470 ARG 1st Year Anniversary Special Event

Well the W4H special event is under way. I'm not sure who else has been on the air working the special event, but Robin (AJ4IJ) and me (AJ4JD) went over to dad's (KU4ME) yesterday and worked it for a couple of hours. I took the reigns first and started calling CQ on 80 meters. Within 20 minutes I made 6 contacts on 80 meters but the signals coming were up and down and considering it was midday, 80 probably wasn't the best place to be. With that in mind I switched over to 40 meters and started calling CQ again. In 25 minutes time I made a total of 13 contacts on 40 meters including one with Jack(KD4TNY). Jack is a good friend of ours and lives in Clinton (that's just a couple of miles down the road from us). I found it amazing that he was able to hear me and vice versa considering how close we are in distance. So within an hours time I made a total of 19 contacts as W4H and worked 13 different states.
After that I decided to turn the reigns over to Robin. She took over and within 5 minutes made 5 contacts. She worked 4 different states on 40 before a station came in saying something about a NET they hold there and would move down 2 KCs. Robin went back to the station and told them that she didn't mind moving for their NET but they were already gone and being just 2 KCs down were bleeding over into her spot on the band. So we decided to call it quits for the day and head back home and try again another day. We may go over to dad's later today and try to work some more stations for the special event.
So in total we have made 24 contacts for the W4H special event. The event has just begun and will run till November 15. Hopefully we've ordered enough QSL cards for the event.
Be sure to check back for more updates. Also be sure to check out for more information on the W4H special event

Until next time 73 de AJ4JD

Friday, October 31, 2008

ARES Net and W4H Special Event

On Monday night, Dave KI4NSA called about an hour before our ARES net was to start. He had forgotten that it was his night to conduct the net and would not be able to. He asked if I would mind to take it for the night. I said sure no problem. So with an hour before net time, I ate dinner got my EmComm I book, and come up with a plan. I decided that I would read a small article from TEMA's website (Tennessee Emergency Management Agency). There was a small article on the front page on how a few people from their ranks had just received their HAM licenses thereby giving them more communications opportunities in emergency situations. I also read from the EmComm I book unit 14 on being activated for emergency communications needs. I found it to be a great topic and very informative. I had a total of 23 check-ins which is about average for our net.

This weekend we start operating a special event for the 470 Amateur Radio Group. Starting today Nov. 1, 2008 through Nov. 15, 2008 several operators will be operating special event W4H commemorating the 1st year anniversary of the 470 Amateur Radio Group net on the 145.470 WB4GBI repeater. We have a net every Tuesday night to discuss various topics about Ham Radio, current events, and more. The net is to promote HAM Radio and to have fun. This is the first anniversary of the net so we are having a special event to commemorate the occasion. To receive a QSL card for the special send your QSL card to the station you contact along with a SASE in the US or a SAE and a green stamp for outside the US. Be sure to look for us around the following frequencies: 14.250, 7.250, 28.350, 3.850. For more information about the special event check out The ARRL's special event page or the 470ARG website.

Well I hope to catch you on the air. Until then 73 and God Bless.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

HF in the field with New Homebrew G5RV

Yesterday we decided to build a new dipole and take it to the field to test it out. We had built a ZS6BKV multi-band dipole a while back for field day operations a while back but now have it up permanently, well it's not up permanently but we use it primarily, at dad's (KU4ME) house now. With that being the case and the weather being beautiful, we decided to build a new dipole for the field. After some research, some thought, and consideration to the materials we had readily available we decided to go with a homebrew G5RV. We used 14 gauge copper wire, and some 300 ohm twin lead and a small PVC pipe piece for the feed point. The copper wire was cut for 102 feet, actually 104 feet so we could make our end loops for tying it to rope for hoisting. The twin lead was cut to 28 and a half feet to run from the feed point directly to the TenTec 229 tuner.

With our Antenna completed, we loaded up the radio (ICOM IC-756 Pro), tuner (Ten Tec 229), power supply, watt meter, and all the other supplies to set up and maintain our operations for a few hours into the evening. Luckily for us the field we went to is where we went for field day, along with where we go to view the cosmos on clear winter evenings. Since we had been up here to operate before, we were smart enough to leave ropes in the trees so we can easily string up our dipoles anytime we go up there to play. It didn't take very long to get set up and within the hour we were able to tune on 20 meters, 40 meters, and 80 meters.

Once we were ready, we tuned around on the bands just to see what was going on. We found a station out of Italy (I2VRN) calling CQ on 40 meters. Just for shagrins I picked up the mic and tried to make contact. After about 2 or 3 tries, I broke through the pileup and ended up getting a 5-7 which I thought was pretty good considering the noise on the band and it being just a homebrew G5RV.

After that contact, I decided to find a frequency and start hollerin' CQ. While I didn't end up with a pile up, I did end up work 3 stations: Rick in Texas (KC5AKB) 5-5, Charles in New Market, TN (WB4HLW) 5-7, and Kay (AC7LN) Idaho. While I didn't get a report from Kay I did hear him say he was mobile. Unfortunately the band was quite noisy on 40 and didn't hold up for very long. The most surprising contact was with Charles in New Market. The simple fact that I was able to make contact with another Tennessee station on 40 was pretty cool but considering New Market is roughly 18 miles away as the crow flies.

Once 40 pretty much died we switched over to 80 meters and Robin (AJ4IJ) and I (AJ4JD) worked a few Pennsylvania stations that were working the Pennesylvania QSO party. I think we worked a total of 10 contacts between the two of us. It wasn't much longer after that, that hunger took over and with the wind being as it was, we were to afraid to start a fire to roast some wieners. So we decided it was time to break everything down and take it back to the house. Once we got back and unloaded everything that needed unloading, we headed out to get food for the group.

Overall, it was a fun evening and now we have a field deployable antenna that can work on the main bands we like to operate. Additionally, it is one that is not employed permanently at the base so we can take it out where ever we want to operate.

Now it's time for what everyone likes, the pictures. Enjoy.

AJ4JD and KU4ME Measure out the 14 gauge wire for the antenna.

KU4ME Making the Feedpoint

KU4ME Placing the Antenna in the Feedpoint

The G5RV Approximately 30' in the Air

KU4ME Tunes up the Radio

AJ4JD Making Contact

AJ4IJ at the Doorway to Radioland.

73 and God Bless de AJ4JD

Thursday, October 9, 2008

October ARES Meeting

Well this evening we had our ARES meeting up at the Claiborne County Hospital's Education Building. We went over our thoughts on our SET operation over this last weekend, discussed the rotation on our Nets for Monday night, and as a treat, Bruce (KI4QIS) took us over to the hospital to show us the radio equipment at the hospital that is used during emergency situations. This equipment was donated/bought for the hospital by FEMA and is maintained by our ARES group.

The equipment in use is an ICOM 706 MkIIG. On the roof are a few antennas that are used with the radio: a 2meter verticle, a UHF antenna, a J-Pole for 2 meters, and a foldable dipole. We got to fire up the radio and Bruce made contact with Dave (KI4NSA) while he was out mobile after the meeting on 2 meters. We then tuned around on HF and learned the issue of the dipole as Bruce and Rick (NX6R) has told us about before. It is rather noisy.

After checking out the radio, Bruce then took us up on the roof to see the antennas. Upon reaching the antenna site, we noticed immediately what the problem with the noise is. The dipole runs parallel with power lines that are about 50 feet away. Additionally, there are two poles both with sets of transformers. So with seeing that Bruce and I may make a weekend project of moving the dipole, of course all of our ARES members are more than welcome to come out when we do this. Bruce also demonstrated a problem with the J-pole having a bit of noise. I think that Bruce is correct in that there is probably some water in the coax as the connector from the antenna to the coax is not sealed in any way. That will be something else we shall remedy when we move the dipole.

I'd also like to mention that we had a visitor join us on the tour and one of our other members as well, Harold (N2BFD) along with Robin (AJ4IJ), and Ashby (KJ4EGJ).

Until next time,
73 de AJ4JD

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My first time as Net Control

This past Monday was my first time being a Net Control Operator. On Monday nights at 8:00pm EDT on the 147.360 repeater in our area, the Claiborne/Union County ARES holds either a regular training net or weather net. Bruce (KI4QIS) asked me if I could take the net for him on this night, and of course I agreed.

In preparation I got a preamble, some net logs, and some material to go over printed out. I decided that since winter was around the corner, I'd go over some winter information about frostbite, extreme cold, and other various cold weather info. I read over a page from a winter weather package that can be found at NOAA's website at the following URL:

So Monday night came, and the Net went off without a hitch. Of course, I was pretty nervous. I think my palms, feet, arm pits, and knee pits were all sweating. However, after the net was over, everyone commented on how well of a job I had done. I was very appreciative of the 20+ check-ins and all the nice comments from everyone. Since then I've been signed up through our ARES group to take every other Emergency Weather training net.

So if you are in the area, please feel free to tune into the 147.360 repeater on Monday nights at 8:00pm. We swap between ARES training and Emergency Training every week. If you tune, you're likely to catch Robin (AJ4IJ), and Dave (KI4NSA) on the ARES nets, and Bruce or me on the weather nets.

Until next time,
73 de AJ4JD

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

TN Perfect Storm - SET

This past weekend we participated in the Simulated Emergency Training (SET), Tennessee Perfect Storm. I don't know why I've failed to mention this previously, but Robin (AJ4IJ), Ashby(KJ4EGJ), and me are members of Claiborne/Union County ARES here in East Tennessee. Robin and I were both appointed as Assistant Emergency Coordinators (AEC) and Robin is being groomed to be Union County's Emergency Coordinator (EC) for when we split off from Claiborne County and become our own ARES entity for the county. Previous to this, Claiborne County ARES has helped Union County as there were not enough HAMs in the county to make up its own ARES, and the previous HAM that was being trained for the EC position had to move away.

So after joining the Claiborne/Union County ARES, we were appointed AEC's and Rick (NX6R) our EC had to go out of town and left us in charge of the SET operations for our group. Well not having a clue as to what to do or how to do it, we decided to head to Sevierville's pre-set planning meeting and talking with Rick (N4JTQ), Darrell (KA4TAR) the District Emergency Coordinator (DEC) for our district.

Well needless to say, after the meeting things were a bit more clear for Robin and she had a plan to which she executed flawlessly. Our ARES group did a wonderful job in the exercise, and Robin was a true professional handling the responsibilities of NET control for our group on the 147.360 repeater. Our main goal was to get a message to the Army/Mars station to pass to Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), and receive a message back from them. Just after Robin closed the net, she got the return message, so we declared success.

Our EC Rick, heard the reports and was pleased with how the exercise went. The rest of our group that the exercise went real well too. The other ARES groups in the surrounding counties that participated did a wonderful job as well. Overall, in the event of a disaster in the area and surrounding counties, I believe that if emergency communications are required by our different ARES groups, we will be able to step up to the plate and handle the job.

We have our ARES meeting this Thursday, tomorrow evening, at 6:30pm. If anyone is interested in joining and are located in our area of Union or Claiborne County, please join us at the education center next to the Claiborne County hospital.

Until my next entry,

73 de AJ4JD

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

TenTec Hamfest

This past weekend was the mother of all Tennessee Hamfests. Well I might be exaggerating a bit but being as new to HAM radio as I am, it might as well be. That's right, the TenTec Hamfest was this past weekend and we had a really good time. We got to put faces with names/calls that we hadn't yet. We also got to visit with those we had met previously. We walked the bone yard and the only thing we really found that we were looking for was some rope.

We also got to take a tour of the TenTec facility. That was really neat to see where the TenTec radios are made. We got to touch an Omni and got pictures to prove it. Aside from the rope, we also bought an EmComm I book, a TenTec coffee mug, and a couple of TenTec 40th anniversary t-shirts.

After the hamfest, we attended a storm spotter class. This class was pretty interesting. We learned about spotting storms and what to look for in a storm to properly identify it. My thanks go out to Rick(N4JTQ) for arranging this training and to Howard for providing the training. Thanks to the class, Robin (AJ4IJ), Ashby(KJ4EGJ), Dad(KU4ME), and Mom(KF4SSI) are now certified storm spotters along with everyone else who attended the class. Congrats to all.

Well now it's time for what you all have been waiting for...

Ashby (KJ4EJG)
At the control of a TenTec Orion II

John (KU4ME)
At the control of a TenTec Orion II

Tim (AJ4JD)
At the control of a TenTec Orion II

Look at all the pretty Omni VIIs

Skywarn Class after TenTec
Our most recently Certified Storm Spotters.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

All Hams Picnic

This past weekend Jack (KD4TNY) and Teresa (KI4ZQO) put together the second All Hams Picnic at Norris Dam State Park. Several of our area's HAMs showed up for fellowship and just a good time with good food. We got to meet several of the Hams that we talk to on a regular basis on the 2 meter repeaters that are in our area. It was good to meet them all and finally put faces to callsigns. The final count in the guestbook was 46 and after further observation the count amounted to around 65 or so when the signatures included and family... I'd say it was more like 80 considering not everyone signed the book.
Anyway, we all had a great time and we all got our bellies full on BBQ, hotdogs, and all the other fixin's and trimin's along with desserts. For those who missed it, below are some pictures we took. Maybe this will entice you to show up for the next one.
You can also check out Robin's (AJ4IJ) blog for more picnic pictures.

Robin-AJ4IJ, John-KU4ME, and Karen-KF4SSI
sitting around having a blast

Jack-KD4TNY, Teresa-KI4ZQO, and another Gent
who was there with Bruce-KI4QIS and family

Cathy-KI4YPO, Rick Sr.-N4JTQ, Ashby-KJ4EGJ, Robin's Head (AJ4IJ),
and a few others in the background

Several Hams gathered around for a live QSO. Sharon,???
Dusty, Ricky-KG4WYW, Jim-KQ4AB, Kevin-KG4LGL, and Tom-AG4SF

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Get Your Kicks on Route 66

Well just last week and from what I understand the last couple of weeks, a special event was going on across the country commemorating the 82nd anniversary of the old Route 66 Highway. Well dad (KU4ME) worked them all week. I had heard about it but hadn't had the time to go over and play due to the website work we've had going on these past couple weeks. Last weekend however I was able to go over and work a few of them. Even Robin (AJ4IJ) worked one of them even though she really wasn't wanting to. It was fun but I'm more happy to hear that with 2 or 3 minutes of the event, dad was able to get the last station he had been hunting. In total I think there were 19 stations, two of which were rovers in California. Well dad was able to get them and I think he's going to send off for the certificate.

That's it for the moment. We attended an all Hams picnic this past weekend and got to meet and visit with a lot of the Hams we speak to on a regular basis on 2 meters in the local area. I will be posting on that soon.

Until then 73 de AJ4JD,

Sunday, September 14, 2008

5 Band Worked All States Update

Just thought I would give everyone an update on my WAS status. Below is an updated look at my progress as to the states I have confirmed and the bands they have been confirmed on.

On 20 meters I have the following states confirmed: Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, and Delaware.

On 40 meters I have the following states confirmed: Kansas.

I know what you are thinking, I've got a long way to go if I've only got 1 on 40 meters and nothing on any of the others. I've made some contacts on 80, a few on 40, maybe a couple on 10 if I remember correctly. I just haven't received QSL cards back from them and I don't use LOTW at this time. Anyway, Yes I've got a ways to go but things are looking good on 20 for now and I reckon I'll start on 40 and 80 with Winter approaching.

So that's all I've got for now. Until next time....

73 de AJ4JD

TV Station Tours and QSO Parties

I know it's been a while since I've made any posts and I apologize. It's been a busy few weeks and I haven't had a lot of time. However, I thought I would take a few moments and give everyone an update on my happenings in HAM Radio.

As you well know a few weeks ago, I had to go out of town for work for a week. I was in Alpharetta, Georgia participating in a disaster recovery drill to ensure that the company I work for can recover our IT infrastructure and applications to run the business in the event a disaster where to strike the corporate office. Well while down there I had my HT with me and listened a bit every morning and every night to the happenings on the repeaters down there. I have to say there were several repeaters in and around the Atlanta area and several conversations and topic were always going on at night and in the morning. I have to say I never once heard anything that was out of line. Never once did I hear anything on politics or any other subjects that could cause major disagreements. So to the Atlanta area operators I say cheers. If you ever find yourself in the area, a great resource for net and repeater information can be found at the North Fulton Amateur Radio League website:

So upon my return back to Knoxville, my XYL informed me that Rick N4JTQ and several others from the 470 Amateur Radio Group were going down to one of our local news stations for a tour of the facilities. This was all made possible by Jim Yearwood, KE4HX who works down at the station. So we decided to meet down there for the tour with mom and dad so we could see the news station and to meet some familiar voices and put faces to the names. It was a wonderful tour and very interesting to say the least. You can read my XYL's blog as she also has a post about it. I will include some pictures below as well.

This last weekend, September 6, 2008, dad (KU4ME) gave us a call to see what we were doing and to inform us that the Tennessee QSO party was happening that afternoon. We told him we were at the grocery store and to go start working it and we would drop by once we were done.
So after we finished our errands we headed over to dads. Robin was up first as down had only made 5 contacts from the time he called us and the time we got there.
Within the first 25 minutes Robin (AJ4IJ) had made 17 contacts on 20 meters and was ready to trade places. So it was then my turn. In the same amount of time I had about 13 contacts on 80 meters as 20 had faded out. We tried to get dad in there for some more but he got more joy watching us contest than anything. Although he did make one contact and then gave it over to Robin. In about another 35 minutes or so she made an additional 29 contacts. After that round she turned it over to dad who made another 5 contacts for the team.
It was after that time Robin decided she was a bit tired and needed a nap. So dad and I went back out and I picked up where we left off. I started on 40 meters and 20 more contacts in a little over 20 minutes.
After that brief stint I woke up Robin and we decided to run out to town to pick us up dinner. Upon our re-arrival at dad's we ate dinner saw that dad had made an additional 6 contacts while we were away. So we finished dinner and Robin went at the last hour and few minutes of the contest like a mad woman on a mission. In 1 hour and 6 minutes she made a total of 43 contacts. When all was said and done we had a total of 140 contacts in 2 DX entities 1 Canadian Province, 32 different states, and 30 Tennessee counties.
Our official log was sent in on Thursday evening with a total of 130 contacts as we removed the duplicate contacts from the hand written log. I'd imagine we should know something about how The Toadtown Team did sometime in October. We certainly had a whole lot of fun and look forward to the next contest.

Anyway, that's about all I've got for now. Check out the TV Station Tour pictures below and stay tuned for pics from the HAM picnic that Jack (KD4TNY) and Teresa (KI4ZQO) will be putting on at Norris Dam State Park. The weekend after that will be the TenTec Hamfest. Anyway, Until then...

73 de AJ4JD

Monday, August 25, 2008

State Parks on the Air???

I just finished reading an article on ARRL's website, "Ohio State Parks on the Air". I thought that this sounded like a wonderful idea that shouldn't be limited to just Ohio, but as the article eluded to, a National State Parks on the Air contest. I would love to operate QRP from the field while camping and competing. This would indeed combine both of my favorite hobbies, HAM Radio and the Outdoors (i.e. camping, hiking, backpacking, etc.). I know here in East Tennessee, there are several wonderful state parks for HAMs to operate from while camping or hiking. "Mountain Top Portable" comes to mind when I think about it.

Anyway, that article just seemed to strike my fancy and I thought I would share my thoughts with the Hamblogsphere. Other than that I don't have much else. I'm stuck in Alpharetta, Georgia on a Disaster Recovery exercise for work so I'm away from my stomping grounds. I tuned around last evening whilst in my room at the hotel. It appears there are several repeaters in Atlanta, GA and the surrounding area. I did find North Fulton's Amateur Radio League's website which has a pretty extensive listing of repeaters and nets in the area. I might try to catch some of them on the HT while I'm here. For those that happen to check this out from the Atlanta area, leave me some comments on the HAM happenings in this area. I would love to check them out while I've got off time in the evening.

So that's all I have for now.

73 de AJ4JD

P.S. All my buddies and friends on 147.360 and 145.470 back home, can't wait to ragchew with you all soon.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pile Up Busters

This post is dedicated to all the XYLs out there. We were discussing this last night during a local rag chew session on one of the local repeaters here in town. It seems the YLs have a distinct advantage over us Old men when it comes to the HF bands. Case in point was last night. We were over at Dad's house (KU4ME) playing on 20 meters and I happened upon a station from Italy. Well I tried to make contact a couple times without the amp to no avail. So then we tuned up the amp and was putting out a solid 500 watts. So I tried a couple of more times still with no luck. That's when my XYL (AJ4IJ) said let me try him. Sure enough she threw her call out there and he picked her out the very first time. She finished the contact and handed the mic over to me and I immediately made contact.
I've often thought when I throw my call out to make contact, I she increase the pitch of my voice to see what happens. However, I don't think it would be quite right. But to the YL's out there, and I'm sure I speak for all the old men out there whose XYLs are also HAMs, thank you for helping us realize we are indeed getting out to those distant stations.

By the way, the Italian station was IK4HLQ, Joe in Modena, Italy.

Well that's all I have for now. I'm still waiting on dad to send us the pics of Ashby (KJ4EGJ), who by the way is an official General Class now, operating at his station this weekend. Once I get them I'll post them up.

Until the 73 de AJ4JD.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Congrats to KJ4EGJ (Currently Temporary A/G)

I thought I would get on here and brag about mine and my XYL's (AJ4IJ - Robin) harmonic (KJ4EGJ/AG). Ashby study all week this past week so that she could upgrade to General class and play more on HF with the rest of us. Well, it paid off and thanks to Robin for studying her all week. Yes, that's right, our little harmonic at age 11 (to be 12 in 4 more days) passed the test and is now a General class HAM operator.

I think I heard it best from one of the stations that Robin contacted last night during her CQ on the 20. Quoting Brian in Pennsylvania (WB3GVT), "You go girl!!!!"

Below is a pic of our new General class Harmonic. She's going to take just a short time off and then start studying for her Extra. Then she won't have to worry about any band restrictions.


Sorry Robin, I know you put this one on your blogs entry, but I had to show her off too. I know you won't mind. :P

Anyway, this weekend has been the Light House and Light Ship weekend, and we've contacted a few so far. Ashby's has really enjoyed working on 20 meters I think, especially since she can do it with out being third party. Last night was also the North American QSO Party contest. We worked several of stations during this time but we were not actively contesting. Hopefully we will get some QSL cards back in return to confirm more states. Robin, got on at one point and started calling CQ on the 20 and received her very first pile up. I think she ended up with a total of 26 contacts in just 30 minutes. Once again, "You Go Girl!!!"

I know you are all probably thinking I'm never going to put any station or rig pics up here, but I promise you, we took some shots last night of Ashby operation her peepaw's station (KU4ME). It was with his camera so once he sends them to us, I will get them posted. I will also get some pics of our shack once it's cleaned up a bit.

Well, that's about all I have for now.

73 and Happy DX de AJ4JD

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Stealing AJ4IJ's Idea and My New QSL Card

Robin's (AJ4IJ) most recent post was of her WAS progress. In it she included a nice visual map showing what states she has confirmed to date. I thought it was a nifty idea so I decided to do the same. However, I decided to take it a step further and show my 5 Band WAS progress. As you can see below I have no confirmation in any other bands except 20 Meters. I have worked some 10 Meters and just one 40 Meter contact, I just haven't received any confirmation yet.

AJ4JD's 5 Band WAS Progress
Click on the map for a larger version

I also thought I would let you all know that I now have a new QSL card. I have to thank Robin for it as she was the creative genius behind the design and creation. We had both thought of doing collage QSL cards in which we depicted the beauty of East Tennessee. I hope we have accomplished our goal. Let me know if we have. Look for us both on the air if you would like to receive our QSL cards. We both QSL 100% Direct and we do not expect SASE's. Unless it's a special event, we feel that no one HAM should have to pay all the postage for QSL exchanges.

My New QSL Card

Well that's all I've got for now. Good DX everyone. See you on the bands.

73 de AJ4JD

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Arctic Circle, Smokey Bear's Birthday, and Maritime Mobile

This week sure has been a busy one. Last weekend we worked a few special event stations as there were plenty on the air. These include W8AL (The Pro Football Hall of Fame), Pittsburgh's 250th anniversary (we talked to K3MJW for this one), and the big one of last weekend was N9N (The Nautilus, celebrating its 50th anniversary of it's trip to the North Pole). You can get more information on about this event by looking at N4KC's bio on QRZed.
The big contact of the week was W1AW/KL7. We've been trying for days to make contact with the ARRL's portable station in the Arctic Circle. Every time we'd see them on the DXwatch, we'd call dad and have him listen. It was never any use, as you could just barely hear someone, but really couldn't make 'em out. Finally, on Friday night we struck pay-dirt. We saw they were spotted, so we rushed right over to dad's (well not necessarily as we had some errands to run). We got over to dad's and listened and go make them out a lot better than we had been able to before. I might also tell you that this time there wasn't a huge pile-up on him and dad (KU4ME) had aquired an Ameritron AL-811 linear amplifier this past week. Had it not been for that big piece of beauty, I don't think that the Arctic Circle would have heard us.
So the funny story behind the whole Arctic Circle is we are completely lucky we were able to make contact before they go QRT after today. This past week, dad was talking on the dual bander he has in his shack to some of our HAM friends here on 2 meters, when he got the report from someone that his audio went real week and scratchy. Dad started smell something burning. He sniffed the radio and sure enough that was the source of the smell. So he got under the desk and unplugged everything. When he was done, he let go of the ground wire and it smacked up against the power supply. Somehow the ground wire found it's way inside one of the vent holes and he said "Sparks went flyin' everywhere". Well it turns out the diodes have been burnt out, and the drive in his dual bander had burnt up. Luckily, dad had a spare power supply. If he hadn't, we would have never been able to contact the Arctic Circle.
So this weekend we've worked a couple few special events and some other contacts as well. We worked W1BIM, celebating the 64th birthday of Smokey the Bear. That's right folks 64 years in the prevention of forest fires. What a cool bear. I just hope we wasn't smokin' on a camel. LOL
Anyway, we also worked K5PRK. We spoke with Charlie who is part of the Plano ARC. They were celebrating the radio club's 35th anniversary.
Some other noteable contacts include:
HR2DX in Honduras
YN2N in Nicaragua
VK3SX in Australia
FK8CP in New Caledonia
and our first ever maritime mobile station, UU9JX/MM. Oleg was off the cost of California at 32*N/123*W.

In other happenings, we finally got the 440 rig up and running. We've tested it out and found it to work real well. Robin (AJ4IJ) got on it the other night and made her first 440 contact via FM simplex with her dad (KU4ME). I've still got to get all the memories programmed and a make a frequency chart to hang on the board.

Yes I know I promised pictures, and well right now our shack is an absolute mess. Once we get it cleaned up I will get some shots and post them. Until then, here's a pic of me on a trail with my HT (Yaesu VX-170).

AJ4JD - Frozen Head Portable

73 de AJ4JD

Friday, August 1, 2008

I Feel Like a Ham

The more I'm in this hobby, the more I learn and the more I want. Do you ever get that feeling? It all started when I got my technician license back in April of this year. Robin (AJ4IJ) got me my first HAM radio after I got my ticket. It's a Yaesu VX-170 2 meter FM HT (for those non-hams HT means handy talky). It was long after that that we were both itching for a base station at the house. We've been driving dad's (KU4ME) jeep and it is equiped with an Alinco DR150 2 meter FM mobile radio. It wasn't long before we put a Kenwood TM-261A 2 meter FM in the car. This was Robin's old 2 meter rig she used to have in her old Saturn. It wasn't long before we finally got a base station set up. Dad let us have his old Radio Shack HTX-212 2 meter FM transceiver. To add to all that equipment, you might already know that we have a Jetstream JTB-1 2 meter/440 antenna put up in the air in the back yard. You can check out the post Hoisting the 2meter Vertical for more info on that. Robin has a Kenwood TH-22AT 2 meter FM HT radio, and our daughter Ashby (KJ4EGJ) was presented with an Alinco DJ-V17 2 meter FM HT upon getting her Ham ticket.

So we've been having fun rag chewin on 2 meters with our different radios. We check in to various nets around our area here in East Tennessee. We rag chew late into the night, and recently, as you may well know, we steal moments over at mom (KI4SSI) and dads to chase some DX and play on dad's HF radio (Icom IC-756 Pro). We've worked on his existing antennas, we've put up an inverted V cut for 75 meters (aka 80 meters), and we built a mutliband HF dipole for field day, which we now have up in the air over at mom and dad's as it gets out a bit better than his gap verticle.

The next thing we have to work on, is to hook up the Alinco DR430 70cm FM transceiver radio that dad has lent us to play with. We also have to help dad ground mom's radio and antenna, she has a Ten-Tech 526. This was dad's radio (I guess it still is) but he's set it up for mom to use. So as you can see I'm well into the Ham world since I started back in April. I've since earned my General back in May, and then my Extra ticket in June.

However, I think the thing that has made me really feel like a HAM is that I got my first ever issue of QST magazine. That's right folks, Robin signed us up for a family membership to ARRL earlier this week. Today I got my membership card and my first issue of QST magazine. I thumbed through it almost immediately when I got home from work. I drooled over all the HAM gear that was in it (well I didn't really drool by my eyes were as big as a kid's at Christmas when they first walk into the room and see all the presents under the tree). I read a few little columns and letters, and started to read a really interesting article on grounding your station (which I need to finish).

Anyway, between all the gear, catalogs, the ARRL memberships, and much more (like working toward earning the Worked All States, aka WAS, award) I can honestly and happily admit that I am a HAM.

Good DX everyone.

73 de AJ4JD

P.S. I promise I'll get some station pics, antenna pics, and rig pics of our stuff up here soon.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wet Waynesville Hamfest Update

So I thought I would get in here and give everyone an update on the hamfest in Waynesville, NC. Robin (AJ4IJ) awoke early Saturday morning to a rainy one. It was around 6:00am as we were heading out the door when mom (KF4SSI) and dad (KU4ME) call. Robin says, "tell them we are on our way." At the same time I hear mom on the phone, "we just got up, can you give us an hour?" To which I reply no we're heading out the door now. I then hear dad in the background mumble, "they can't wait, they'll miss the deals." Mom's reply, "Well, go ahead and go on, don't worry about us."
So out the door Robin and I trot to the car and the out the driveway and off into the rain. We stopped to fuel up and the rain just kept falling. We stopped shortly after the fuel stop to grab nourishment and make a pitstop at a Micky D's. Once we were finished there we continue our drive east in the rain, struggling to stay awake and pondering if the rain would let up once we were through the mountains.
We finally reached our destination and the rain had let up considerably. We paid our entry fee and entered the hamfest. We walked around and looked at the wares that were available. We checked out the bone yard and really didn't find anything. Robin did spot a tower that would have been nice to have. However, we did not have the money, nor the means to transport it home. We really weren't going with the thought of purchasing anything unless we found a deal we couldn't pass up. It was nice to see that there was plenty of HAM gear at the HAM fest though.
We didn't stay very long. It was about 30 - 45 minutes before we decided we seen all we wanted and decided to head back west. On our way we rain back into more rain, but we figured once we were back on our side of the mountains the rain would be finished. With that in mind we decided that we would go home, pick up our trusty side kick b3ene (that's our dog Clover) and head North to Kentucky and take Clover for a sniff/walk at a park. You can read more on that at Robin's and mines outdoor blog.
We didn't get any photos at the hamfest. There really wasn't anything that caught Robin's eye. So we hope for better luck at TenTec's hamfest towards the end of September. There we will get to meet some of the hams we frequently talk to on the radio.

Well that's all I've got for now. Stay tuned for the new toy (lent to us by dad). Also, check out Robin's blog for the latest special event station we've worked (The Smithsonian Institute has gone QRT forever). BTW, thanks Jack (KD4TNY) and Teresa (KI4ZQO) for calling dad who called Robin about it, who called me.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hamfests Ahoy, Special Events and Severe Weather Oh My!

Well, I thought I would jump in here and share a few more experiences. We've been kickin' it on HF lately and workin' special events. As you know we worked the FBI station and 4 of the Collins stations. I think our next special event we are going to try and work is the Olympics event. There are 5 stations one to represent each of the rings of the Olympic Rings. They are operating from China and the station calls are as follows: BT1OB, BT1OJ, BT1OH, BT1OY, and BT1ON. The QSL cards look pretty neat. I know my daughter would probably like to get one from each station, of course she will need to get her upgrade if she's going to work them on HF, unless 10 meters opens up. Anyway, they also have awards they will be giving depending on how many of the stations you work, what band, and what mode. For more info on it check the following website:
So tomorrow is the Waynesville hamfest in Waynesville, NC. We (including AJ4IJ, KU4ME, KF4SSI) are going to be waking up real early and heading out that way to check it out. Maybe we will get lucky and find a great deal on something, or at least win something. Anyway, one can dream right. Stay tuned as I'll be sure to provide updates and pics later. Speaking of pics, I've still got to get some pics of the antenna we put up over at dad's (ku4me).
This past week we had some pretty bad storms roll through. Luckily we fared pretty well other than being without power for 24 hours. I have to commend the Skywarn folks here in the area for running effect weather nets on 145.230. Speaking on this point, I've been giving thought about joining the local ARES club here in Union/Claiborne County. I've checked in on their net on 147.360 repeater over the last two weeks. I've still got some thinking to do on it and I'll let you know what I decide. If anyone has any advice on the topic let me know by leaving some comments.
Well I'm going to say 73 for now. Got to get up early in the morning and head out to the hamfest.

Take care everyone.

73 de AJ4JD

Sunday, July 20, 2008

My QSL Card

A thought just occurred to me. I should put my QSL card up here. What's a QSL card? For those that don't know, a QSL card is a card that you send to someone you've contacted on the radio to verify the contact. Many HAMs like to collect QSL cards, while others need them to verify contacts when they apply for awards like ARRL's WAS (Worked all States) award. There are several different awards that you work for in HAM Radio. You can find more information on HAM Radio awards on ARRL's Awards page, or you can do a search on google to find out more.
Anyway, below is what my QSL card looks like, for those of you who might be interested. The picture is of one of the three waterfalls along the Falling Water River at Burgess Falls State Park in Tennessee.

My QSL Card

I thought that with my QSL card I would display the natural beauty that is Tennessee. I might later do more of a collage type of QSL card showing more natural beauties of East Tennessee.
If you hear me on the air, send a QSL and I will gladly send one back. Also if you have any questions or comments please let me know.

See you on the airwaves,
73 de AJ4JD

Saturday, July 19, 2008

In The Land of HF Part II

Hello everyone. I thought I would get on here and give everyone some updates about our adventures in HF here recently. I believe that last week I mentioned we were going to put up the ZS6BKV Multiband HF Dipole antenna that we built for field day. Well it is up in the air now and we've got it up there about 45ft or so. So far it seems to be working rather well. We've been getting great signal reports from stations that we've contacted around the world.
So last weekend was the IARU HF World Championship contest. Robin (AJ4IJ) and I (AJ4JD) decided to make some contacts just to test the antenna out. I mean after all, what better way to find out how well your antenna is doing right? Even though we really weren't competing in the contest, it was good experience seeing what contesting was all about. We ended up making around 22 contacts overall to stations all over the place including: Brazil, Argentina, Uraguay, Australia, Hiwaii, New Jersey, California, Washington, and Arizona.
Over the last week or so, we've been trying to work the Rockwell Collins S-Line Anniversary stations. There are 6 (N0CXX, W0CXX, W5ROK, W4CRC, W6CXX, F6KNZ) in all, and you need to contact 4 to qualify for the certificate they send out. We finally got all 4 the other day. Another special event we've been trying to get was the FBI station (K3FBI). They've been celebrating the 100th anniversary of the FBI. If you make a contact all you have to do is send a QSL card and they will send back a QSL and a real nice certificate. You can get more information from the ARRL's Special Events page. We've also been trying to work all states on 20 meters and have been doing some DX as well. Some of the states and countries we've worked this past week or so include: Ecuador, St. Barthelemy, Portugal (The Azores), Mexico, Columbia, Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Cuba. Some of the states include: Texas, Florida, Iowa, Virginia, Missouri, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Alaska, and Pennsylvania.
So, with special events, working all states, and chasing DX, we have all certainly been abuzz about HF around here lately, even dad (KU4ME) has gotten real excited about it. Anyway, that's about all I've got for now. I'll try to get some pictures of the antenna in it's new home and post them soon. Everyone take care and I hope you enjoy reading the entries. If you do please let me know. Until next time....

73 and good DX de AJ4JD

Saturday, July 12, 2008

In the Land of HF

I know it has been a little while since I've last posted an entry here. After vacation and trying to get back into the swing of things, I haven't had much time to sit down and write. So, now I sit here before the screen pouring my thoughts onto this entry form.
Just to let you all know, vacation was a lot of fun. I only made but a few contacts out on the road. Mainly a couple of HAMs that we normally talk to around here on the local Knoxville area repeaters (KJ4CGG and N4CQW), one HAM in Chattanooga (N4AOW), and 1 HAM in Panama City (KD5RBR). I was surprised that I didn't hear anymore than I did while we were mobiling around Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, etc. However, I will just mark it up to the approaching Field Day and everyone making preparations. While in New Orleans, we were glad to see that the local news channel had a nice segment during field day where one of the news people were at a field day event. Actually, the news cast went back to the reporter several times while at the event. It's nice to see HAM radio getting some recognition.
So now that vacation is over and we have gotten back into our routines, we've been playing around in the world of HF. We've been going over to Dad's (KU4ME) these past couple of weekends and playing on his HF radio (ICom IC-756Pro). Last week I worked on some more states and made a DX contact to a station in Ecuador and on St. Barthelemy. Robin (AJ4IJ), worked her very first PSK31 contact as well. As a matter of fact, she's the first one of our big HAM family to make a PSK31 contact.
Last night I was able to make contact with a station in Portugal on the Azore Islands. I tried my darnedest to work a station on Crete, but the pileup was so large and even when the station called for stations for a first contact, there were still other operaters making contact with the station who had previously contacted the station. So unfortunately I was unable to make contact before he went QRT. Robin was able to make contact with a station in Mexico last night as well. After she made that contact she got up to let me try but the station dropped out. It was very similar to when she worked Austrailia on our early field day. LOL.
Anyway, today we plan on going over to dad's and work on putting up the dipole we used during field day so we can get better HF results over there. It's been hard to bust through the pileups so we are going to see if we can improve that a bit today. Once we get that up, we will probably try to work some of the special event stations that are operating this weekend like the FBI station, the Collins Radio special event stations, and the funniest one I've ever heard of, NU5DE, the Naturist Ameteur Radio Club in Texas.
So that's all I've got for now. I'll get on here later and give updates on the antenna project and how we fare on those special events.

Until then, 73 de AJ4JD

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Radio Vacation

Hello my faithful fans and friends. LOL. I just thought I would get on here and let everyone know how the vacation has been going. For those that do not know, we are in Panama City for the week and then we are heading to New Orleans for a couple of days before heading back home. We've been here at the beach for a couple days now and have had a really enjoyable and relaxing time so far. The beach hasn't been to good due to rough surf, jelly fish, seaweed, and garbage but other than that we can't complain.
As for the radio, we've been doing some radio during the trip. On the way down we talked with KJ4CGG until he made it back to Chattanooga to conclude his week. After that we carried on a QSO with a HAM from Cleveland, N4AOW, on simplex all the way down to Altoona, GA. He was rather impressed with Dad's (KU4ME) setup we were operating on (A Yaesu FT-90 on a 1/4 wave trunk mount). We didn't talk much after that as I was behind the wheel the rest of the trip down. We did pick up a repeater in Dothan, Alabama and a repeater in Chipley, Florida. Today, on our way to get lunch, I made contact with a HAM, KD5RBR, here in Panama City on their club repeater, 146.210. I was under the impression there wasn't much activity in the area, however, I've mainly listened on the HT and I don't think I was picking up anything. Anyway, the week is still young and they have an echolink repeater I may give a try at some point and see if I can make contact with home. I'll let you know how that goes soon.
Until then, be safe, have fun, and most of all, behave. LOL

73 de AJ4JD.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

New Call

I thought I would just leave a quick note for those who may not know. I upgraded to Extra over the weekend at the Knoxville Hamfest. I also received a new call along with the upgrade. The new call is AJ4JD. I'm open to any neat phonetics for the call. So please leave comments on it. I'd be interested to see what everyone can come up with.

Well I guess I'm back to my QSO and getting all my links updated for the new blog address. By the way the new address, well you should know it if you are reading this. If not, it is

Well 73 de AJ4JD.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Our Early Field Day

I know, I promised to post sooner than this but I have a very good excuse for waiting this long. I have been studying/cramming all week for my Extra exam. The great news is that all the cramming paid off. I went to the Knoxville Hamfest yesterday with the HAM family and took my Extra exam and passes. That's right I'm now an Extra Class. No more testing for me. Woo Hoo.

Anyway, to the good stuff. As you may or may not know, we decided to do field day early due to the fact we were going to be on vacation during field day. Our Aunt Betty has a huge hayfield up on a ridge behind her house. She lets us use the field to do our astronomy stuff and now our radio stuff too. At the very top of the field the elevation is right around 1400ft. There's nothing up there but hay and trees. There's no electrical or cable lines or anything like that to get in the way.

The view from atop the hayfield

So, on June 14th we got all of our gear packed in the jeep and on our way we went. I was quite surprised that we made it out of here on time, we were actually a few minutes early on our departure (I think that's a record or something). We were up in the field in no time and setting up.

The Field Shack

KJ4DLD in a tangled mess

Field Day Power

KU4ME takes aim.

KJ4EGJ ready for the Antenna to go skyward

We finally got everything setup thanks to the hard work of all of us. If it hadn't been for Robin staying up in the field when I went down to get the rest of the gang, we might have taken longer in getting set up. By the time we got back up there she had the shack set up and the alot of other things. The only thing we had left was to get the antenna up run the power to the generator, get everything squared away, and tune up the radio.

The Ugly Choke

The Antenna at the Feedpoint

KU4ME and KJ4DLD Tune up the radio and Antenna

Tune Up Complete

With the tuning having been completed, it was time to get on the radio and start making contacts. It appeared that the only success we were going to have was on 20 meters. We were actually quite surprised as to how long 20 meters held up. We checked around the other bands that we could tune to but nothing else was really happening so 20 meters it was. We had a blast, we contacted stations in Arizona, New Mexico, Florida, Texas, Hawaii, right here in Tennessee, and Robin even made contact with a station in Australia. One of the stations in Hawaii was the USS Missouri Amateur Radio club station on board the USS Missouri. That was a real neat contact. Anyway we talked well up to 12:30 to 1:00 in the morning before the band finally died out. Mom and Ashby made some contacts on 2 meters with their handy talkies and dad sat around helping us operate the HF rig. All in all we had a wonderful and most enjoyable time. We didn't get home until well after 3:00 in the morning and were beat.

Now for the rest of the pictures.

KJ4EGJ on the HT

KF4SSI Sittin' Pretty

AJ4IJ and KU4ME operational

AJ4IJ Working 20 Meters

Clover aka b3ene

Well that was our field day.

73 de KJ4DLD