|Follow The Path To Green Pastures?|
Sunday, January 11, 2015
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
|857D & My Navy Flamerproof|
Probably the biggest highlight of 2014 for me was being able to finally attend the Dayton Hamvention. I won't dwell on the details as they are found elsewhere in this blog but hitting Dayton with my long time bestest of friends Sean, KL1SF was at the top. We have talked about it for many years and it finally happened. I don't see myself going back anytime soon but it was great to put faces with callsigns of other hams I talked to on the radio over the years.
|Our Family Beagle 1999-2014|
With the New Year nearly upon us, there is plenty of "New" for me in 2015! New friends, new coworkers, new QTH, new surroundings, new places to enjoy the great outdoors, new...well, the list goes on. These new things may take away from my operating time but I believe I can achieve balance and harmony when it comes to ham radio and the rest of my humanly obligations. At least for me, living out here on the western side of country makes it more possible. Life already seems so much slower and I'm enjoying every second of it.
So, what else is new for me in 2015? After much thought, there was at least one more "New" for me to do. That is pictured below. The New Year really does symbolize "New" for me and in many ways. I'm looking forward to flipping that calendar over and jumping feet first into 2015. I see myself being a 7'lander for a long while. Just like AK2MA (Alaska 2 Massachusetts) had a meaning, this next vanity callsign has a more personal meaning. Dedicated to two things I miss greatly, Alaska and our family beagle. Enjoy today because you don't know what tomorrow will bring. Where does this winding road of life take me next and where do I go from here? Chapter 4 of course and it would be great to have you along for the ride.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Sunday, December 28, 2014
|30 Meter WSPR|
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
|Crater Lake December 23rd, 2014|
Sunday, December 21, 2014
|AK2MA Oregon Set-up|
I checked into the K3UK SKCC Sked Page and I was only there a short time when I received my first QSO request. I received several more requests and I was able to make good on all but a few of them. Since I'm running QRP with my indoor antenna, the other stations were doing most of the work. It was fun spending nearly an hour making contacts. Several I've worked many times over the years. I very much enjoy the SKCC Club and many a friendship has formed upon my joining their ranks. It's obvious that I was a bit rusty on the straight key and I needed to do some adjusting to my Navy Flameproof but I'll work the bugs out. By the end of the afternoon, I worked the following stations with my set-up; VA5CW, W2NRA, AA7WU, AA4H, KD8DEU, AH6AX, K4DJ, K6III, KZ5OM, WS1K and W6UT. East coast to west coast, 20 meters allowed me to have a bit of Morse fun today. One things for sure, I had no plans of spending time outdoors.
|Crater Lake Snow|
|JT65A on 20 Meters|
I tuned up the rig for 5 watts of output power and after setting up the JT65-HF software, I was CQ'n. I managed a handful of contacts and a couple answered but never came back. It was a successful first run of this mode here and I'm ready to move on to doing some PSK31 next.
|More than just a rig's power setting...|
|Heard and Being Heard|
My digital days are just getting started again and I hope to get on a few other modes as I get the software loaded onto this computer. My all time favorite is RTTY and I miss operating that mode, especially in contests. Hopefully as we get settled, I can put up a few exterior HF antennas and get back into contesting once again. With the holidays fast approaching, I'll have a few more days off to play radio. I'm hoping the bands cooperate and who knows, maybe I can bounce some weak signal JT65 off of Santa's ionized trail this week.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
First things first. I have been impressed with the APRS coverage here primarily due to the STUKEL Mountain Igate and KFALLS Digi relaying APRS data from up here at Crater Lake. As mentioned in my previous blog, I have an old Garmin GPS III in my truck that has been losing its memory (hopefully due to needing batteries replaced). I have a Garmin GPS III Plus that I use when I'm operating portable. I love the old Garmin units as they show our highly used Maidenhead Grid Square Locator. I'm not sure if there are any more modern units that do the same but I snagged a few of these a few years back on eBay just for this reason. I fired up my Garmin and set it in the snow bank in front of our residence and after finding the satellites, it was not long before I had my Grid Square!
|Internal Antenna Setup|
I snagged my Buddipole out of its case and began to assemble the antenna. I ran this same indoor setup at our previous residence in MA, and it seemed to do pretty well considering. I had it set up in the 2nd floor hallway back there and thankfully, our current residence has an open floor plan on the second floor which works well for my current indoor setup. While at the Dayton Hamvention this past year, I picked up a few accessories from the Buddipole booth. I was excited to finally put them to use.
Assembly went well and before I knew it, I had the antenna ready to be hooked to my Icom 703+. Since most of my equipment was still in storage with the moving company and many of my tools were in the tool compartment of our camper, I only realized my oversight when I was ready to tune the antenna. You see, I wanted something smaller than my MFJ-259B to use when I was portable. For obvious reasons, the MFJ uses a Kazillion batteries and it's very easy for the power button to be depressed when you are carrying it in a backpack. It's saddening to find out your MFJ has no life left by the time you get to your operating location. Been there, done that.
Enter the iP60z Portable Antenna Analyzer! I looked at a few small analyzers while at the 2014 Hamvention and after talking with my friend Steve, wG0AT at Dayton, I opted for this model. Ironically, my mini screw drivers and 9 volt batteries were back in our camper which was about an hour away from our residence. So, for my Saturday operating, I would have to resort to tuning the antenna the manual way. Having an antenna indoors makes tuning an antenna a bit more challenging so I was hoping to have my iPortable analyzer to help me. That now would not happen until Sunday, when I made the trip to get batteries and screw drivers (I now have a dedicated set with my portable gear box).
Anyhow, I was able to tune my Buddipole antenna indoors and I first listened to 10 meters. More irony as the first station I heard on 10 meters happened to be W1NA, in my old state of Massachusetts. But signals seemed low and not that strong but not uncommon with indoor equipment. Since this was the first time I had set up the equipment here, I've not had the time to grasp what normal propagation sounds like from this location. After listening to 10 meters for a bit, I jumped up to 20 meters where I originally tuned the Buddipole.
|J-37 Straight Key with Icom 703+|
It was so nice to once again hear the activity on the ham bands and be decoding Morse Code (CW). My main focus was to make a few contacts in the SKCC Weekend Sprintathon. Thanks to Curt, WA2JSG for posting reminders to Facebook! I enjoy manually sending code just about as much as I enjoy higher paced CW contests. No records broken here and I only logged a few manual contacts with my first being Tony, K6ELQ. Tony was very strong (in California) so it was an easy QSO for me. I followed up by working Ed, W7GVE in Arizona, John, K0AE in Colorado, the power station Ted, K8AQM in Michigan and finally, Brian, WB4IT in Alabama. Not bad I guess, considering my indoor antenna and rig set at 10 watts. When I checked the antenna SWR on Sunday, it was a bit high (see iPortable photo above) so in all reality, I was nearly QRP.
Even though I only made a handful of QSO's, it was great to finally get on the air from my new QTH. My goal is to get on the air more frequently, especially since I won't be stuck in a vehicle for several hours a week commuting to and from work. That can now be transferred to radio time! But I still have plenty to do yet as we continue to get settled at our new location. I'm hoping this will be the last move for a very long time. Now to work on finding a place where I can put something more robust together and get back into contesting. Not that it can't be done with my current set up, but I prefer external antenna's and computer aided contesting accessories (again, all of which are in storage at the moment).
Taking a bit of a break from listening to CW, I hooked up the mini laptop to decode some JT65A. It took me a bit to get the laptop tuned and the clock set for decoding but it was not long before I was seeing stations populate my software screen. I made sure I was uploading my reception reports to PSK Reporter and it was fun to see how far away I was hearing with my indoor set up. I decided to just decode and not attempt to work any stations. Again, getting acquainted with the propagation in this neck of the woods is my first strategy. I believe there was a bit of solar activity this weekend that did not help but at least I know I can make contacts!
|PSK Report for AK2MA|
I would classify my Oregon maiden voyage onto the ham bands a success, although not earth shattering. As time allows, and now that I have a battery in my iPortable iP60z, I plan to get on as often as possible and play on the HF bands. I will tune the antenna for the best SWR possible and make my first QRP contacts. Because my antenna is indoors, I have no desire to run anything more than what my Icom 703+ will exhaust. My Yaesu FT-857D will remain in it's box until I get outdoors and do a bit of portable operating from some local vantage point.
Since we won't be going any where for the holidays and we are across the country from our families, I expect the next few weeks will allow me to spend even a bit more time than normal on the bands. Straight Key Night is not far away and since I missed it last year, my plan is not to miss it this year. There is just something exciting about communicating using one of the oldest forms of communication. Since that first message in 1844, it's still a very popular way to communicate. Even with all the high tech forms of communication we have available to us at this time, just listening to any contest weekend will make you realize that Morse Code is far from extinct. And manually sending Morse Code to me is like driving a car that has the high beam switch on the floorboard, a separate key for the trunk and an 8-Track radio! Okay, maybe a crude comparison but you get my point. Either way it's fun and it's certainly nice to be back in the game!