Thursday, June 25, 2009

Field Day Update and West Virginia QSO Party

Well folks, if you haven't heard then I'll just say this, field day is looking a bit bleak at this time. If you've read the XYL's blog then you know all about it. Otherwise, here it is in a nutshell. Our Jeep is broke and we have no other way of getting up to our beloved field we visit for outdoor ops as well as astronomy operations. It's up on a ridge and requires 4 wheel drive to get up there. With that being the case field day may end up in the back yard or from the comfort of indoors with the fridge around the corner and a bathroom within 4 steps of the shack. Regardless, we will work field day.

On another note, I worked the West Virginia QSO Party for a bit last week. You see, West Virigina, has been one of those elusive states that I have yet to get confirmed for WAS. Well last night I checked my LOTW account and low and behold, I've now got WV confirmed. I only have 3 states left for WAS via LOTW (South Carolina, Nebraska, and Maine). So if you here or see me on the bands and your from either of those states, and have LOTW, please, by all means, give me a call.

Well that's all I've got for now. It's time to get ready to go to that 4 letter word that begins with a 'W'.

73 to all and good DX,
Tim - AJ4JD

Monday, June 15, 2009

Got PSK31?

I certainly do. And let me tell you, I've made some of the grandest contacts on the mode. With just 50 watts this evening I made contact with Belarus and Estonia on 20 meters. Thank you to ES7FQ and EU2MM. Hope to see you guys on the waterfall again. My other contact for the evening was with a familiar OM, AK4DW. David is about 9 miles or so as the crow flies from me and I happened across his signal on the waterfall on 20 meters this evening. David and I both tend to catch each other on the 145.470 2 meter repeater here in East Tennessee on the drive home from work from time to time.

In a few of our chews on 2 meters we've talked about PSK31 and how wonderful of a mode it is. David just recently got an HF rig and got all set up to work the digital modes. Since then I hadn't had the chance to chew the rag with him on any of the modes or bands. So this evening was our chance. David, congrats again on the setup and on your membership in PODXS 070 club. Catch you again on the fall and on different bands and modes.

I have to say that other than a good ol' phone contact, my favorite method of operation is digital via PSK31. Why just last night I made contact with an OM in Washington state with just 50 watts. Thanks K1NVY, I really enjoyed the QSO Fred. The same power level applies to the DX contacts I made this evening. Had I been on phone I seriously doubt we would have heard each other running a bare 100 watts.

So if you've ever thought about it, give it a try. I'm sure that if you are familiar with computers and even remotely adept at the keyboard, you will definitely enjoy working PSK31 or any of it's other varients as well as other digital modes like Olivia or RTTY.

Well that's all I have for this evening. So good DX to all and 73.

Tim - AJ4JD

P.S. If you see me on the waterfall or hear me on the bands, please feel free to give me a call. I would love to make contact with you.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Museum Ship Weekend and the Upcoming Field Day

This past weekend was the Museum Ship weekend. I hope everyone got a chance to work the ships. I think that this event is one of my favorites when it comes to special "Get on the Air" events. This event is sponsored by the Battleship New Jersey Radio Station (NJ2BB). There were 85 different ships operating on the bands from Saturday June 6th - Sunday June 7th.

I was able to make contact with about 10 of them. Which was pretty cool as I made contact with some ships I hadn't contacted before (i.e. USS North Carolina, USS Indianapolis, and more). If you made contact with at least 15 ships, then you earned yourself a certificate. All you have to do is mail in your log information. The Battleship New Jersey Radio Station website linked above has all the info on that.

The next big event coming up is Field Day. June 27th - 28th. If you don't know about Field Day, then your either new, or you've been living under a rock, Hi Hi. Anyway this is one of the biggest events of the year. Operators from all over will be out in the field, mobile, or even in the comfort of their home QTH making contacts all over the bands. For more information about Field Day check out the Field Day link above.

We will be up in our Aunt Betty's field operating on the 27th. We plan to be running the Yaesu FT-450 that we went in half with Dad(KU4ME) on. We will have that hooked to the LDG AT200 Pro auto tuner and a ZS6BKV multiband dipole as well as a G5RV antenna, both homebrewed. You can check those out in previous posts of our out in the field experiences: HF in the Field With New Homebrew G5RV and Our Early Field Day.

Anyway, if you are on the air for field day, listen for us and feel free to make contact. Catch you down the log.

73 and good DX,
Tim - AJ4JD

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Well, I was checking the analytics (stats) on my blog here just a minute ago and found that someone reached my site via the search of "LOTW vs eQSL". So I thought I would blog about the differences between the two. Obviously someone out there would like to know, and since I use both, I can give a little insite from my own perspective. So take it for what it's worth.

LOTW as everyone knows is the online log book done by the ARRL. LOTW is pretty a pretty good program and fairly easy to use once you get everything set up. The set up is really the hardest thing about LOTW. With LOTW you first have to register an account, then wait for a card to come in the mail. Oh yeah you have to download a little program that allows you to get a an encrypted certificate so for security and validity reasons. I understand the purpose I suppose. I wouldn't want someone taking credit for my contacts, but I digress. Actually, at the LOTW website they have a fairly understandable "Getting Started" guide that walks you through the whole process. Within a week I was all set up and ready to upload my log from the log book program I use. To date I've uploaded over 1000 contacts and have confirmed over 400.

The two real positives about LOTW, is that you can use it to confirm contacts for ARRL's WAS, and DXCC awards and endorsements. Another positive is that it integrates quite well with the log book software I use (N3FJP's AC LOG). Two clicks is all it takes to upload new contacts and receive any confirmations that are sitting out on the LOTW servers. As of last check, I lack 4 states to confirm in order to receive my Basic WAS award.

EQSL is another log book site I use and really like it alot. While you cannot use EQSL to confirm/validate contacts for ARRL's awards, they have a few awards of their own and they recently arranged a means to validate/confirm contacts for a few of the awards from CQ magazine. As a matter of fact, I just earned the eDX award for confirming at least 25 DXCC entities. Of course in award to participate in their awards programs you have to be Authenticity Guaranteed (AG'd) and be at least a Bronze member. AG'd is eQSL's way of providing security and proof that you are who you say you are, much like the certificates with LOTW. Fortunately, with eQSL, the AG process is much more simple than the certificate stuff with LOTW. As for the Bronze Membership, you only have to make a small donation to eQSL via PayPal. I've donated $5 this year and that keeps me Bronze for the year.

Other positives about EQSL include actual QSL cards and ease of use. That's right, with eQSL you exchange with your contacts digital QSL cards. You can use eQSL's design shop to make your own or you can make your own and upload the image yourself. Of course in order to do that you have to be at least a Bronze member. Otherwise, regular members have to choose from a small selection of designs. You can view the QSL's you've received at any time. You can also print them out for your collection.

The one drawback is that it doesn't integrate with my logbook software as LOTW. For instance if I wanted to upload my logs to EQSL from my logbook software, I have two options. One is to upload each contact individually via the logbook program. The other option is to export my log into an ADIF format, which my logbook program does quite well, and then upload it through EQSL's upload interface.

So there you have it folks. To summarize, I use both. I like both really well. They are both pretty easy to use once you get the hang of it, and they make award applications so much easier. Of course I still love to receive QSL cards in the mail, however, this is a much cheaper option if you are on a tight budget. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a post here and I will do my best to post the answer.

Until next time, 73 and good DX.

Tim - AJ4JD

Monday, June 1, 2009

Milestones Thanks to the 070 TDW

I didn't write about this during yesterday's post as it hadn't really crossed my mind. However, today it has so I figured I would share with you a couple of milestones to put in the books.

Milestone 1:
- During the TDW contest this past weekend I made my 1000th logged contact. That's right I've hit the 1000 contact mark and still trucking. Of course this is mainly contacts on HF. Who was the lucky OP you ask? None other than N7GVV. Thanks for the contact Jim and the milestone mark. I will definitely be sending a QSL your way just for memorabilia sake. Hi Hi.

Milestone 2:
- Thanks to the wonderful cyber world and the 070 TDW contest, I finally confirmed 25 DX contacts via eQSL and have earned myself the eDX award. That's right folks, my first major Ham Award. No, it may not be as pretty as the major award the old man won in a Christmas Story, but to me it is a major award nonetheless.

So that's all I've got for now. I still lack 5 states for the eWAS via eQSL, and 4 more states for the basic WAS via the ARRL. So if you hear me on the bands or see me on the waterfall give a holler for me. I'd love to work you.

Anyway it's late and about time to go QRT. So I'll 73 for now and thanks to all who I've contacted and all those who have contacted me.

Tim - AJ4JD