Category Archives: amateur radio

A good radio weekend

Saturday morning is probably my most consistent time to get on the air. I usually get up early, the wife is still in bed, and I head for the basement to play with the radios for a a couple hours. For some reason, the dogs have gotten in this habit, and wait for me by the basement stairs on Saturday and Sunday morning and are upset if I’m not heading downstairs by 7 or so.

Here’s a quick wrap-up of this weekend’s contacts — all on 40 meters and CW.

K4UY, Ron in Madison, AL. This was our third contact in the last year. We talked about where he lives, the Huntsville area, and how nice it is. I travel a lot for work, so often know the area where my contacts live. People like to talk about where they live, so that’s often good fodder for conversation.
NS9F, Gene, Lockport, IL. This is maybe 10 mile from my house. I’ve run into this gentleman a couple times on 40 meters, we had a nice chat.
KB5GXD, Angelo, St. Joseph, MO. I’ve talked toAngelo, a retired doctor, several times. Another nice chat.
Then later in the evening: YP9W — Romania. There was some Romanian contest going on, and I heard people working this station. I gave him a call and worked him on the first call. That’s my DX for this weekend.

Sunday morning we had torrential rains going on, but no lightning so I went down and got on the air. The bands were very poor and I could hear few stations. But I still managed to have several good contacts.
K3MD, John, Pittsburgh, PA. I’ve talked to John several times, we have similar interests and both have too many radios. We talked radios for a while, another common topic that’s easy to talk to people about. Nice contact.
W4OCO, Mike, Mooresville, NC. We didn’t talk long, he was having a hard time hearing me. But after we signed out, W5SG, Bill, near Houston called me. We had a long chat, again, talking mostly about radios because we had some common interests in that area.
These were all CW contacts. What I think I like about CW is that while you’re operating it, you have to focus on it. I woke up this morning dreaming about work and trying to solve a work problem — not what I want to do on Sunday morning. During my couple hours on the radio, work never crossed my mind, because I was focused on CW.
My antennas consist of a SteppIR vertical in the back yard and an 80 meter dipole fed with ladder line in the trees in my yard. The person driving by would never notice my antennas, unless they were looking hard for them.

A little about me

When I’m not in the basement playing with my radios, I work as a editorial director of a small publishing company, producing a variety of trade magazines and web sites in the woodworking and agribusiness markets. You can view a couple of those at Countertop Business and EcoAgri.Biz.

I grew up in a small town in west Nebraska, and got my first ham license at the age of 12. My call was WN0NHG. I got my General license a year later, and was assigned the call WA0QMZ. Back in those days, your only choice of a call was the random call assigned by the FCC. When I got active in ham radio again in the late 90s, I discovered the FCC had instituted a vanity call sign program, so I chose my current call, K9OZ. The 9 is for the 9th call district, which inlcudes Inidiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. Nebraska is in the tenth call district, hence the calls with the 0 in them.

Radios and radios

Tonight there are multiple lines of storms moving through the area, so not a good radio night. That makes it a good time to update the blog.

Unfortunately, summer is often tough for HF radio, too much static. Although I’m listening on 40 meters and hearing quite a bit above the noise level

I promised to talk about radios a little. In the last 10 years I’ve been active in radio again, I’ve found myself buying and selling a lot of radios.

Here are a couple of my favorites, that I’m running these days. The Icom 765 was a high-end rig when it was new in the early 90s. The receiver is as good as any I’ve ever listened to, and it’s just a nice big radio to operate. Lots of knobs and buttons, so no menus to scroll through to set things up. If you want to adjust something, turn the knob. It’s got a big, heavily weighted tuning knob, so it’s just nice to use. I dont’ know how else to describe it. I like it so much, I sold my number one rig, an Icom 756Pro III a month ago. I liked it, but just didn’t use it much so I got rid of it before the price started dropping on it.

Notice the paddles in front of the radio. On the left is a Begali — the best. Made in Italy, it just has the nicest touch of any paddle I’ve ever used. My second favorite is the Kent next to it. I’ve had it about 10 years, and it was my everyday paddle until I picked up the Begali last year.

My shack

I have a wide collection of gear, most of it I’ve picked up used the past few years. More details later. I’m a cw operator, with 99 percent of my activity on cw. I’ve been a ham for 43 of my 55 years, and was a good cw op as a youngster, so it came easy back then. Through the years I’ve built up my speed to where I can copy in the 40 word per minute range in my head, but most of the time I’m conversational rag chewer at 25 wpm.

In this blog, I’m going to log my activity, and a few highlights of what I hear, what I do, and what I find interesting.

An example is last night. I started out with a lower-speed contact with K3OXG, Lou, in Waynesburg, PA. We chatted a while, and when I signed out I was called by F3NB, Andy in Toulouse, France. He had a good readable 569 signal, which was unusual for 8 p.m. on 40 meters from Chicago. We actually had a nice little QSO. It’s always neat to have the DX call you.

I was running my Icom 765 to the SteppIR vertical. More on that later.