Saturday, May 30, 2015

QRP and Life At The Lake

Crater Lake National Park
The weather has been much more like summer and just like the ham bands during a contest weekend, things are beginning to get busy. Summer is here and I have to tell ya, I'm enjoying the abundant sunshine here at this relatively new QTH. The road around Crater Lake is almost fully open. With the lack of winter, many roads and recreational areas are open much earlier this year than in previous years. Of course, being new to the area and being my first summer here at the lake, this is where the bar is set for me. Normally these areas don't open until early July so that should somewhat put things into perspective. 


Lake View - Crater Lake National Park 
I could not attend Dayton but it was great reading the Twitter and Facebook posts by those who attended not to mention the bloggers highlighting new equipment and a play by play at the Hamvention

In speaking of the Hamvention, I saw posted on the QRP ARCI webpage that N6QW was inducted to the QRP Hall Of Fame. Pete is certainly well deserving of the award. I'm looking forward to reading more in the July issue of QRP Quarterly. There are many people who have been important in various aspects of QRP operating, covering everything from technical to education. No longer do you need that ham who is next door to show you the ropes. Nowadays, with social medial, it's a matter of doing a Google search or searching YouTube to learn anything you wanted to know about all aspects of ham radio. From Bloggers to Vloggers, there is an endless amount of information that has been shared and available with a few clicks of a mouse.

My introduction to QRP was simply that, via social media. My attention was first drawn to low power operating by coming across a video from Steve, wG0AT. That is what planted the seed for me. That was the reason that I personally nominated Steve for the QRP ARCI QRP Hall Of Fame. Steve did not get it but hey, there is always next year! There are a few others that I also wanted to nominate however, I could only nominate one and Steve rose to the top. For me, a close second would be Larry, W2LJ. I've enjoyed Larry's blog for several years. Larry's blog site is highly read and respected by many in the QRP community, including myself. For me, what edged out Steve, was my personal experiences with wG0AT himself. With that said, my nomination for Steve is below;


In finally getting around to reading the January edition of The QRP Quarterly, I scanned the past recipients of the QRP Hall of Fame on page 4. Much to my surprise, there was one callsign missing from that list. This is the reason for my nomination. My nomination details are listed below. 

I stumbled across a video by Steve, wG0AT on one of his many portable QRP adventures. I started to follow Steve's video success in 2009. I can honestly say, I never gave QRP a thought prior to catching Steve's videos. I began to research QRP operating and it was only then that I realized how big the QRP world was. 

I was living in Alaska and was active from just outside the boundary of Denali National Park as KL8DX. I was very active as a QRO operator, and I could be found in many of the major contest weekends during CW contests running 100 watts or more. Enter YouTube and my introduction to QRP operating.

Operating from Alaska was truly challenging and at times, 100 watts was far from enough to make a contact. Even with challenging propagation, the seed had been planted, and I began to research QRP operating. My first thought was that QRP from Alaska was almost a crazy idea. But it was a challenge I felt I was ready to face, or at least wanted to try!

I had a work related trip scheduled during the spring of 2010 to St. Louis, MO. My wife and I normally took advantage of any trip to the lower 48 to go visit friends and family in Ohio. I had become such a fan of Steve's adventures, I wanted to meet him personally. I had an idea, which lead to an email I had sent to Steve. I did not know Steve personally, and I did not have any previous interaction with Steve other than maybe commenting on a few of his YouTube videos. The email I sent to Steve outlined my trip plans to St. Louis and then Ohio, but I had an idea of taking a few days on our trip back to Alaska to swing through Colorado. I had asked Steve if he was available and open to a visit. It was not long afterwards I received an email response from Steve.

As it turned out, not only was Steve open for a meeting, he invited this unknown KL8DX ham radio stranger to his residence. When I mentioned to my wife that Steve would be available, plans were then made to fly into Denver and spend a few days in Colorado on our trip back home. That would be the trip that sealed the deal for my becoming a QRP operator. I had blogged about my idea of QRP operating back in December of 2009. That blog entry can be found at:


When my wife and I arrived at Steve's house, I found Steve to be as genuine as he was in his videos. It was decided that my wife was going to do some local shopping while Steve and I were going to play radio. As it turned out, Steve offered to take me up to the peak of Mount Herman for a bit of radio fun. Steve loaded up his goats and radio equipment and off we went for Mount Herman. The hike was challenging for this elevation challenged ham who normally lived just under 2,000' above sea level. Once we reached the peak of Mt.Herman
the world opened up both visually and propagationally. 

The views were fantastic, and I had a day of fun learning all about portable QRP operating, which included everything from antenna's to portable power and equipment. I managed a single DX CW QSO and of course, being Steve, he captured our days fun in a video he posted to YouTube. That video can be found at:


After spending a wonderful day with Steve, Rooster (SK) and Peanut, my wife and I had a wonderful dinner with Steve and his wife. We departed the next day to head back home to Alaska, but I was determined more so than ever to begin QRP operating!  Steve's willingness to open his world and to introduce QRP to a total stranger proved to me Steve was the real deal! I know I'm not the only person to be inspired by Steve and his adventures. Steve continues to inspire others either by promoting QRP or by coming up with the next gadget to use while operating. Just recently Larry, W2LJ mentioned Steve in one of his blog entries. Larry's mention of Steve can be found at:


In conclusion, Steve has promoted QRP radio like no other. From blogging to video, Steve is known the world wide. I now sport an entire station of QRP equipment that I use both at home and in the field. Steve is extremely professional and promotes QRP in a way I feel is very deserving of this nomination. Simply looking at the number of "hits" to his video channel and individual videos shows the number of hams Steve has and continues to influence. 

Steve attends many a Hamfest and normally a line of hams are seen standing in line to speak with Steve. Steve personally inspired me, which has led me to focus my activities on mostly QRP operating. QRP would not be where it is today without those who operate it, and more importantly, for those who promote it. Steve has done so at various club meetings and to this day, continues to use all aspects of social media to promote QRP operating with ham radio. Steve's bio on QRZ says it all. 

I respectfully submit this nomination for the QRP Hall of Fame to consider Steve Galchutt, WG0AT as the next member. 

Sincerely,

Phil Sauvey, AK7DD
EX: KL8DX 

As summer ramps up, I'm looking forward to a bit of UHF/VHF activity, more specifically on 6 meters. The ARRL June VHF Contest is getting close and I hope to make my first VHF/UHF contacts that weekend. A big change to these ARRL contests is the now allowed self spotting. I would imagine this will have the same effect as the skimmer. If you're operating from a rare grid, once the spot makes it out onto the web, fasten your seat belt as here comes the pile-up! I personally don't use spotting assistance in any contests so it won't change my world. I'm looking forward to reading and hearing how this rule change effects these contests. I would imagine it will be very beneficial for rovers.   

Sunday, May 10, 2015

100th Weekend Sprintathon and Holding Out

Straight Key Action Flameproof QRP Style 
This weekend was another personally busy one but I wanted to set a bit of time aside to work the SKCC Weekend Sprintathon (WES). This was the SKCC's 100th Weekend Sprintathon! First off, congratulations to SKCC for achieving such a milestone. I'm looking forward to operating WES #200! I've blogged about SKCC many times over the years and I've had plenty of fun working their events! I very much enjoy the slower pace of their regular events. With this weekends festivities, I only made five QRP QSO's due to the band conditions but I was glad to make each and every one of em. I've been a fan of CW for years and in these SKCC events, you will encounter seasoned contesters and those brand new to the key. You don't have to be a member to participate but if you enjoy CW or want to learn it, why not become a member?! I enjoy several CW clubs but SKCC ranks up there at the top for me. I always enjoyed the straight key pileups I encountered while operating in Alaska. I miss those days...

In reading all the hype about the Dayton Hamvention next week, I wish I could attend. There is a new radio I've had my eye on and I have been waiting for the release and subsequent reviews. If I were able to attend, I may have the chance of getting my hands on one. It's not another HF radio, but a new handheld radio. I've wanted an APRS compatible handheld for awhile now and my first choice had been the Yaesu VX-8DR. A few of my friends have that rig and are very happy with it. Seeing the ads for the new Yaesu FT2DR peaked my interest and put me on hold for the VX-8DR. My aged eyes sure enjoy the advertised size of the display that the FT2DR has. So, as I wait until the FT2DR hits the street and I see the reviews, I'll just hold off. Heck, it might even drive the price down of the VX-8DR if I end up going with that one anyway. Since we have good APRS coverage here, I've been looking for a VHF/UHF handheld that I can use while hiking, camping or remote operating. Either way, hopefully I'll have an APRS compatible handheld this summer.       

Thursday, May 7, 2015

My Last CQ Is On The Horizon

Latest CQ Savings Pitch
For many years, I've enjoyed CQ Magazine. For many years, I've thoroughly enjoyed CQ sponsored contests. But like many, I've wondered about CQ Magazine over the last year or so. Subscription issues, which for me personally have included missed subscriptions, extremely late issues and communication problems. My last renewal was for three years but I just don't find it in my heart to renew.  From my missing issues to what seems to be no real explanation for continuing problems (other than some comments in regards to delivery issues), I feel I have no choice but to end my subscription. Money is tight these days and I can use it elsewhere. As an investor, if companies that I owned stock in started to show these types of problems, I'd sell. Any good investor would tell you the same. It's obvious CQ's issue has been financial in nature but so is my decision. I feel I'm not getting what I pay for, period.    

I wish for nothing more than for CQ to pull through and I know I'm not helping by not subscribing. But I have to do what's best for me and until CQ appears solid again, I'll use the money for other ham radio related activities or organizations. I've financially invested in life time memberships and other lifetime subscriptions only to have those organizations or software developers fold and go out of business. CQ has been one of the best magazines out there for as long as I can remember. From Popular Communications to CQ Plus and then to CQ VHF, we've seen lots of things appear and go away. Things appeared to have spiraled downward beginning in December of 2013 and actually even before. Our hobby has seen many changes over the years and this is just another. I applaud those involved with CQ in attempting to keep it going but they will have to continue without me. I will continue to participate in contests as time allows.  

Still to this day, it's hard for me to believe that there is a ham market for $10,000 HF rigs but great magazines like CQ struggle to keep alive...
  

Monday, May 4, 2015

My Icom Accessory Mysteriously Ends in 2014 & Some QSO Party Fun This Past Weekend.

My Icom 2000 Clock
This past weekend had plenty of state QSO party activity. I worked stations in the 7th Call Area QSO Party (7QP), the Indiana QSO Party(INQP) and finally the New England QSO Party (NEQP). I never heard anyone in the Delaware QSO Party. Of course, I was QRP with 5 watts and using my indoor EndFedZ antenna. Saturday was the best day but Sunday was extremely challenging. Challenging enough I did not make one QSO. I'm thankful for those I was able to make on Saturday. It just reminds me how much I miss my modest contest station. Had I still had a station, I would have been parked behind the computer for the entire weekend. But since Sunday was a ham bandwash, I was able to easily enjoy the spring sunshine here in Southern Oregon.  It's that time of year.

And in speaking of time, I put a fresh battery in my Icom IC-756PRO 2000 clock (pictured above) that I received when I purchased my original PRO several years ago. I set the time and when I went to the date, I found the the last calendar year available on this clock was 2014! So, my Icom clocks calendar year ended last year, running only from 1995 to 2014. I don't have the manual any longer but everything I tried stopped the clock calendar year in 2014. Does it render it useless? No, not at all. But I find it a bit comical that my rig outlasted the clock and I've abused my PRO for years. Or at least, I think my rig still works as it's still in the box from our last move. Maybe I should get it out and make sure it did not stop in 2014?! Something tells me it's just fine... 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

FDIM - Four Days In May. Wish I Was Going This Year, But Maybe Next Year...

Dayton 2014
It's hard to believe that it's almost been a year since I attended my first Dayton Hamvention. I had plenty of fun meeting old and new friends and spending time with my long time ham buddy and his family, Sean KL1SF. There were several events I wished I could have attended but time did not allow. One of those events was the Four Days in May (FDIM). This is a QRP event spread across four days and it's loaded with low power fun. Had we still lived closer to the Buckeye state, I would have tried to attend this years four days of QRP education and festivities. Even though I'm unable to attend this year, it's on my "Bucket List" to attend sometime in the future.

Although I could not attend the event this year, I still participated in a way. In reading QRP-ARCI's  January 2015 version of QRP Quarterly, I saw they were taking nominations for the QRP Hall of Fame (page 4). Well, I've never nominated anyone for this award but I submitted one this year. I'm looking forward to reading (since I can't be there) on who will be the recipient of this years award. I think it's great that QRP-ARCI does this, something they've obviously done for several years now. I think it's important to recognize those who contribute so much to our ever growing hobby. If you have the chance to nominate anyone you feel is worthy, regardless of organization and award, I'd recommend doing so. Like winning the lottery, you can't win unless you play. The same goes for these awards. Those hams you feel are worthy won't get a chance of being named unless you nominate. 

Now that we are seeing green-up here, I'm hoping to get a bit of time and begin some heavy thought on an external antenna or two. Having mother nature conceal my exterior efforts will help keep neighborhood harmony. Here in my current subdivision, houses are built extremely close to each other and I can literally reach out and touch my neighbors shed roof from my deck (without stretching). At least running QRP, I hopefully won't have to worry much about interfering with neighborhood electronic devices. And since most of the utilities here are below ground, things are relatively quiet. That may change once I put up a better antenna outdoors. There is only one way to find out...