Category Archives: amateur radio

Chadron, Nebraksa hamfest, 1967

The young man seventh from the right is me, WA0QMZ. My dad, WA0OQX, is eighth from the right in the back row.

Another new old radio

Last Saturday I heard a local ham saying he had an old HW-16 for sale. It is a cw transceiver made by Heathkit in the ’70s and designed for the Novice class license holder back then — a low-power, crystal controlled transmitter.

I stopped by on my way home from work a couple days later, and by Wednesday night I was on 80 CW with my one crystal at 3841 calling CQ. First call I was answered by KB8AXS, Mike in Cincinnati. My bug — a semi-automatic key — fell apart in the middle of the contact and I finished up with the hand key. That’s old-time ham radio, a straight key and simple CW only radio. So that’s my new vintage station. Look for me on 3841.

New old radio

Last Sunday I picked up a project radio. It’s an old Yaesu FT-101ZD. I owned one from about 1980 to 1998. Why I sold it in ’98 is beyond me, and I’ve recently been looking for a replacement. I found one locally. It needs cleaning and I ordered a new set of capacitors from the guy who sells cap kits on E-Bay. I’m looking forward to digging into it, cleaning it up and getting it back in top shape. More details to come

Three antennas

Now I’m a true ham, with three antennas on the Mini.

Novice QSL card

A few years ago I was visiting my uncle Merrit, WA0HFH and we went down in his shack and started going through his old QSL cards. I was amazed he had one from me, that I had sent him shortly after getting my license. It’s not often you find something you wrote and sent as a 12-year-old.
This was sent in late October 1965, and I got my license in August. So I think, from reading the message, I had just gotten these fancy printed QSL cards, and was proud to send him one. During my novice days, I carried out a schedule with my uncle nearly every Saturday afternoon, chugging away at low-speed CW. At the time I didn’t think much of it, but looking back now I realize the time he put in to help a nephew get on the air.

My novice station was a Globe HG 303 transmitter and a Heath HR-10 receiver. My dad and I had built the receiver from a kit — a weeks-long endeavor that I’m sure was a chore for my dad, but again, he willingly put in the time to help.

Second op

Gus the cat likes ham radio, or at least chewing on the cords.

Bad weather, bad bands

This morning it’s -5 F, the wind is blowing hard out of the west and snow is drifting across the driveway. I’d say it’s a good day to go in the basement and play radio, but between poor band conditions and my high line noise, I’m not having much luck.

Over the weekend I did manage to squeeze out a few nice contacts. Here they are.

This morning I talked to Vic, WA6MCL, in Riverside, CA. Vic was running an old Heathkit SB-102 and SB-200 amplifier. These were kit radios built in the early ’70s. They were considered very nice radios back in their day. It’s always nice to talk to someone on vintage gear, and we had a nice talk about running old gear. A few years ago I ran a lot of old Drake gear, but sold it all and am sticking to the modern gear — for now.

Last night I talked to w3ANX, Geo, in Apollo, PA. It was our second or third contact this year, and we compared notes on weather, Christmas plans, and updates to our stations. A nice, high-speed cw QSO.

Earlier I had to K8LV, Eric, in Holly, MI. The conversation ran about the same, weather, Christmas, the poor shape of the bands lately, and old radios. Eric was looking at my blog while we were talking and commenting on it.

Friday night I had talked to Bruce, K6ZB, in Thousand Oaks, CA. Again, this is the third or fourth time we’ve talked and had a nice chat going deeper into operating habits, love of CW, and old equipment.

A good Sunday

With all my recent posts on the run-up to Sweepstakes and SS itself, it’s easy to overlook how I spend most of my time on the radio — with casual random contacts with other hams.

Today — Sunday — was a good example of a day of radio for me.

This morning I had a couple short contacts, then got in a long conversation with W3ANX, Geo, in Pensylvania. We quickly we discovered we had a common passion — radios — and spent about an hour talking about different radios, pluses and minuses of each, etc. etc. It’s like when a bunch of car guys get together, they can talk about cars for hours. We can do it on radios, but we do it via radio and with Morse code.

This afternoon I was doing something else when I heard a loud CQ on 80 meters from K5HZ. I answered, and started talking to Ron in Autrian, MI, in Michigan’s Upper Penninsula. As we talked, I discovered he lived on a lake I’ve driven by several times, always thinking that a home along that lake would be ideal. Now I’m talking to one of the people who live there. It turns out he’s an engineer with G.E., and is able to work from his home, so chose that as his location. Not a bad choice. Again, we talked for about an hour, as we had a lot in common. Chances are we’ll run into each other again and pick up where we left off.

With those two contacts, it’s a great Sunday for radio.

Too active

I’ve been too busy with the new radio to get on the air much. I’ll try to catch up this weekend with some updates. It’s funny, but about half of the people I’ve worked — okay, maybe one fourth — seemed to be running K3s as well. Having a good time with it.

Summertime blues

It’s finally spring, and while that means warmer weather and May flowers, it also means thunderstorms, poor band conditions and less activity on the radio, at least in my case. Last weekend was a beautiful weekend, so a couple of quick contacts early Saturday morning was the end of my activity.

I did buy another radio during the last two weeks. Ever since the Dayton Hamvention last year — the world’s largest gathering of hams — I’ve been thinking about ordering an Elecraft K3. I’ve held off, thinking that I’d wait until the new radio was in full production and there wasn’t a six-month wait.

Then I talked the N4LQ, Steve in Louisville, KY, on his K3 the other night. When I asked about the K3, he told me he had replaced his Icom 7800 — a $8,000 radio — with the $2,000 K3, and was hapy he did. That sold me and I went to the Elecraft web site and ordered my K3. I won’t see it until September or October, but that’s ok. I’ll have it ready for contest season next year.

Speaking of contests, the biggest ham radio even for me of the summer is Field Day. Held in June, it’s where hams set up “in the field” using emergency power and operate for 24 hours. It’s often done with local clubs or groups, so it’s a nice chance to get out of the basement and out in the open air and do things with fellow hams.

The last eight years I’ve operated 40 cw with the Wheaton Community Radio Amateurs, the local club I belong to. This summer I’m trying something different. I have a cousin who is a ham in Lincoln, Nebraska, so he and I are going to do a two-man, two station portable operation from his mother’s farm. His call is KG0GY and Brad and I are both CW ops, have both been active in our respective clubs, and are both ready to try a Field Day on our own, so to speak. If it works out, it could turn into a new tradition for us.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll detail my Field Day plans and results.