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.