W4M – Day One

Wow! Day one is over – a total of 78 contacts to include two new states for me… Nebraska and Delaware. Worked a number of other states as well to include Washington, Texas, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, New York, New Jersey, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, North Carolina, Missouri, Kansas, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Also a few into Canada.

Biggest lesson from today – operating a portable station away from a vehicle on generator power using a G5RV is a lot of setup work to do by yourself. I set my station up on the top of a WWII coastal artillery battery, taking advantage of the extra height and incredible view. However, this also entailed hiking up down a series of stairs with all the gear. Also learned some better techniques for using the G5RV. My intent was to use two painter’s poles nested one on the other with a 1/3 of the bottom sticking into the top one. I attached the center point of the G5RV and then tried to raise the pole to the vertical. The bottom pole’s top 1/3 ended up snapping due to the weight. What I should have done is run a line through the eyelet at the top of the top pole and then raised the center point once I had stabilized the pole into a vertical position. Also – I need to secure the guy-wires to the side of the pole, the guy-wires got needlessly tangled when I did finally get the pole into a vertical position.

The generator worked quite nicely – I had no issues with it at all. It started right up, operated quietly, and had hummed away nicely until I shut it down.

Overall, it was a good day and I learned quite a bit. Tomorrow’s operations should go a lot smoother.

International Lighthouse/Lightship Weekend-2006

This highly popular and ever growing amateur radio event is on again this year on 19-20 August. In 2005 we had 382 lighthouses in 48 countries who registered on our web site. This year’s event in particular will be dedicated to the memory of its founder and main organiser, Mike Dalrymple GM4SUC, who passed away in December 2005. The event normally starts at 0001 UTC on Saturday 19th August and ends at 2359 UTC Sunday 20th August. This year we will start at 0002 UTC reserving the first minute in silence as a moment of reflection on Mike’s life.

As you all know by now the event is a fun weekend designed to promote amateur radio and lighthouses. It is NOT a contest so take time to have a chat with the stations contacted and maybe get the public involved as well. On the Sunday the International Association of Lighthouse Keepers will hold their Lighthouse Day opening their lighthouses all around the world to the public. Last year some stations even had the media present taking film of the event.

Full guidelines, an online entry form and a list of entrants are all on our web site at together with contact details if you need further information. So, come along grab a lighthouse and join in the fun. It’s also a great opportunity to increase your DXCC contacts and other lighthouse awards.

Kevin VK2CE,
Webmaster and Co-ordinator

Busy day…..

(1) Complete support pole for G5RV feed point….
– this is complete except for the guy-wire. I need to get guy-wire for the upper 1/3 and lower 1/3 of the mast. I think the mast is going to work out well. It is composed of two painter’s poles (Mr. Long Arm). Each has a maximum length of 23′. For the upper section, I cut away the handle on the bottom. This will allow me to nest the upper portion’s lower 1/3 into the bottom portion’s top 1/3 of the pole. I think the total height of the mast will be around 38′. Also drilled a hole in the very top of the upper section and put an eye-bolt through it. Attached to the eye-bolt is a d-ring. I will attach the top of the feed point for the G5RV to the d-ring. As long as I can get some guy-wire… I’ll be good to go.

(2) Prep supports for the G5RV ends….
– got two large buckets from Home Depot. I placed a 3″ piece of PVC pipe (length just over the lip of the bucket) vertically in the center of the bucket. Around the pipe I put in about 4″ of cement. Turned about pretty good. I’ll be able to slide in a 2 1/2″ PVC pipe (10′ long) into the bucket and use it to secure the ends of the G5RV.

(3) Get a pop-up shelter for the operations table….
– got it at Target. 10′ by 10′ with a mosquito net. It will probably due okay in light rain, but not much more.

… and that was it for the list.

I did set up the FT-817 outside with my new RigBlaster NOMIC. Worked pretty good, got an PSK31 contact on 20M from Iowa with 5 watts. Have not set up the Tokyo amp yet.

Preparation for W4M

Only 5 days left to prep for the W4M special invent station. The recon is complete – I’m moving off the moat down to the Irwin Battery. The upper battery puts me at almost the same height of the Old Point Comfort Lighthouse. And the view is fantastic.

What’s left to do:
(1) Complete support pole for G5RV feed point
(2) Prep supports for the G5RV ends
(3) Get a pop-up shelter for the operations table
(4) Fix dipole vertical
– re-solder connection to base
– strengthen pole support
(5) Update USAARS website
(6) Create special event operator script
(7) Prep log books

12 Reasons Why CW is my ” FAV ” mode.

1. Simplicity – If anyone would really take a good look at what Morse Code consists of, they would see that it is truely a very simple system. Basically CW is a “Digital” mode. Being on and off keying. The duration of each tone and combination of long and short tones tells us what letter, number or punctuation is being sent. Could it be possibile that we try to oversimplify it to the extent that it becomes difficult and an unreachable target or goal?

2. Fun – To me this simple language is like a secret code known only to those select few who dare to take time and effort to learn it as a communication tool. It is fun to communicate with others who have become a member of this sort of “Secret Society” Although it is not that secret, there seems to be a calling for other Hams to partake in it.

3. Relaxing – There are times after a long and stressful day, that just sitting down and trying to relax just doesn’t work out. I have found that working CW takes my mind off of things as I try to decipher what my fellow ham is trying to tell me. There is some concentration needed to copy code and there is relaxation in the transposition of these Dots and Dashes.

4. Exciting – The ability to communicate in using a language that only the whole world of CW operators know and use, is exciting. I heard an operator working a contest that was collecting SSB contacts and then for some reason I thought he was talking to himself and as I retuned a little to his signal, I heard the tones from a CW signal. Even though it wasn’t a true 2 way conversation, I was still impressed that he was able to talk to a CW operator as well as a SSB operator.

5. Frustrating – Yes… it is true… CW can be frustrating… There are times when I would like to contact that much needed station, only to not get the return QSO. Then there are times when I get a station that is sending a little faster than I and when I try to match his speed he speeds up even faster, as if I was not allowed to send as fast as he could send and he had to be the faster station. CW is a means of communications NOT a race to see who can send the fastest. More often than not, the operators who try to send faster, make so many mistakes, it would have been better if they just slowed down to start with.

6. Unique – CW is a very unique way to communicate as in, not every Ham throughout the world uses Morse Code but the ones who do are very respectful.

7. Respectful – of each other and the code that we use has become sort of “code”. That is good radio practices, not to step on the other guy as he speaks, and to always treat each other as ladies and gentlemen whichever the case may be.

8. Never reports of enforcements from the FCC. – If you were to look into the FCC enforcements listing on the ARRL web site, you will see actions towards people causing interferance on repeaters, some about RFI, and others about advertising on the Ham air waves, which I believe are against FCC rules. But you will find very few if any actions about Code. As stated above that is where the respect comes into play.

9. CW cuts through propagation – I have read and heard where CW played a large part in saving the lives of people in danger during Katrina.

10. First line of communications – I believe that code was the first form of communications that brought on the rescues early on during this tragedy.

11. Historical – CW was the first means for the Railroad and the Western Union to talk with each other within their infrastructure. It became the grandfather of Ham radio, and the only way to communicate at the beginning of amateur radio.

12. Defeated!!! (Fearfully) – This in not a reason that I enjoy CW but in my opinion, the entry level has become downgraded to where geting a license has become very easy. As more and more operators acquire a license they really don’t want to or value CW. Yes it is old, and yes there are newermore up to date means of digital communications but they require a computer and the internet to run them. If this infrastructure is damaged or challenged in any way communication becomes difficult. It is my hope that the ARRL and FCC will see the value in CW and keep it in the licensing structure.

A Simple ‘Iambic Paddle’ for Travelers

From : Charles & Sandra Cohen

Scott —

Sorry, no parts list. And the bottom is covered by silicone rubber, so a photo won’t help you.

Radio Shack should have everything except maybe the two switches. Those, you could get at any electronic parts distributor as “tactile switches”. They come in various sizes. Mine are 12mm square, with a 160 gm activation force. (less activation force would be better, but I wouldn’t want anything smaller).

The top of my phone jack was transparent, and I could figure out which pin (on the bottom) corresponded to which phone plug contact. You might have to enlarge one or two holes in the board, and I bent or broke one unused pin. But the rest of the pins go through the holes to the back of the board, and hold the phone jack in place.

Each switch has four pins (two for each side of the switch contacts). I just pushed them through the holes in the board without any sockets. The pins fit tightly enough so there’s no play after the pins are soldered (as described next).

On the back of the board, there are four wires soldered in place:

One from the “dit” switch to the “tip” contact of the phone jack;

One from the “dah” switch to the “middle ring” contact of the phone jack;

One from the “ground” (outer barrel) contact of the phone jack to the _other side_ of the “dit” switch;

Another from the “ground” contact of the phone jack to the _other side_ of the “dah” switch.

The ceramic fridge magnets (Krazy-glued to the back) are thick enough so that the pins of the switches and phone jack don’t touch the FT-817. I covered the soldered joints with silicone sealant — no possibility for accidental shorts, that way.

That’s it. This was one of the few times that something I built worked right on the first try. This is _not_ a fancy project.

Good luck !


K9YA Code Practice Net – SLOW

Wednesday May 17, 2006
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
This event repeats on the third Wednesday of every month.
Event Location: 7.137 MHz (plus or minus QRM)
Street: http://www.k9ya.org
Listen for CQ Slow Net—send your callsign. We QRS to the speed of the slowest
op. We’re here to have fun and practice code.

UTC: Currently 24ØØ Z

FREQUENCY: 7.137 MHz +/- QRM

Venture crew 59 – Jambo Scoutfest 2006

Venture Crew 59 will host a Special Event Station KC3BSA at the Jambo Scoutfest 2006. Jambo 2006 will be held on the Kutztown University Campus in Pennsylvania from May 19-May 21. There will be approximately five thousand scouts attending this event. VC59 will put SSB/CW, PSK31, SSTV, EcoLink, & 2M/6M stations on the air this weekend starting Friday evening.

VC59 will mail out a great-looking certificate for working KC3BSA. For QSL information and additional info click on the link below. We’ll be listening for you – KC3BSA!