Category Archives: CW

Just a nice conversation

I had a co-worker over to the house the other day and he saw the radios and started asking questions. Unfortunately, over a three-hour drive, he kept asking questions and never understood what ham radio was, or why I would have all that stuff. He kept relating it to CB radio, and never could get out of that mode.
This morning’s activity is a good example of a nice contact, or QSO. I called a CQ, which is a general call saying I’m looking to talk to anyone. I was answered by K2AOP, John, in Phoenix, AZ. We traded names, locations, and started experimenting with comparing signal strenths with different antennas. We both had both a vertical and dipole antenna, and we tried vertical to vertical, vertical to dipole, dipole to dipole, etc. It was ineteresting. Then we started talking about jobs, and he asked me for more detail on what I did. I went into some detail, and he had good comments. It was just a nice, randon QSO with a nice guy in the other side of the country — all done at 25 words per minue using morse code. It’s hard to explain the thrill in that, but it’s there.

Slow sweepstakes

Last weekend was the CW Sweepstakes, probably the biggest and most challenging of North American contests. I had planned on making a major effort to work a clean sweep — all 80 sections — but discovered I had an old friend and his wife visiting over the weekend. It was hard to tell them “No, don’t come, I have a ham radio contest.”

So instead I did a very modest effort — in about 2.5 hours of operating I made roughly 140 contacts. I had a good run going on 40 meters Sunday morning, and did some search and pounce just to listen around the bands. Actually, it was a little liberating not to have to try to beat last year’s score and make that clean sweep. Maybe next year.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of other contests coming up this winter. Maybe I’ll make a big effort on the 160 meter contest next month. Phone Sweepstakes is two weeks away, and I’ll dabble in that a little, but I just don’t see the challenge of working a phone contest. Maybe if I had a better microphone and a foot switch I could run the frequency….

More mobile DX

I finished my road trip today, and worked more DX. I was working an East Coast station on 20 CW while driving through Des Moines, and SP5SA (Poland) broke in to see if he could get that county. I gave him that county, and we kept talking until I reached the next county line and he got Jasper County as well. He thanked me profusely. All this while I was driving 80 mph on I-8o.

Later I heard LZ50KA (Bulgaria) calling CQ and answered him. He came right back, and that was another good contact. Not bad for using an ATAS 120 antenna on the back of the Mini Cooper.

Mobile activity

This week I took a 900 mile drive to visit a friend in West Nebraska. That gave me a lot of mobile time. Here are some highlights.

Early on the trip Monday I had a long contact with someone (his call escapes me) who I’ve talked to a few times from Pennsylvania. While we were talking he viewed this blog, and commented on the photos of the mobile setup. That’s how it’s supposed to work.
Shortly after that I was calling CQ on 40 meters and W7AAZ/m came back to me. It turned out he was about 400 miles ahead of me on I-80, also heading west. We talked for about an hour, largely about mobile setups — his was in a Corvette — then both stopped for lunch at the same time. A half hour later I called him again, and we went for another half hour or so. Great mobile activity.
Today I started the eastbound trip. This morning I was having no luck on 40 meters, so listened to the I-pod instead. Then this afternoon I switched to 20, and was still having minimal luck. So I settled in on a frequency and started calling CQ.
After numerous calls, I had a faint station come back to me that I first copied as K7KAT. It took a couple rounds for me to realize it was IK7Kat, and I was working Italy, not the west coast. After he signed, I started calling CQ again, and this time was answered by KH6LC near Hilo, Hawaii. So back to back I worked Italy and Hawaii, with my compromise Yaesu ATAS 120 antenna. Not bad. After that, I figured my luck was running out so I went back to listening on my I-Pod. I’m stopped in Omaha for the night, so I have another day of mobile ahead tomorrow.