Friday, May 24, 2024

So you like the great outdoors


I have been noticeably absent regarding my recipe series as I was recovering from COVID. Both my wife and I consider ourselves very fortunate as this is the first brush we have had with COVID-19. We are both fully vaccinated and it was like having a bad cold that would just not go away. Now I did lose my sense of smell and taste for about a week which was a bit weird. We did stay at home (about 10 days) until we tested negative. I will humour my readers with one soapbox moment.....a friend of mine mocked us both for staying home telling us it's the new cold bug get over it. My answer to that is "very true" BUT it also is very contagious and that is the problem as I see it. To wander around without taking precautions allows the bug to spread and more get sick. My friend, I would consider selfish in a way as it's all about "him". Wait until he has to go to the hospital but has to wait forever as staff are sick at home, and needs the police but response time is longer as some are off sick and so on. I am retired and could stay home for 10 days but to him I say at least wear a mask if you venture's not all about YOU. 

OK time to step off the soapbox now and get to the meat and potatoes of the next post. In the last few years, there has been an explosion in getting outdoors and operating radios.  We have Park on the air (POTA) summits on the air (SOTA) and then branch-offs from that. One of the main ingredients of this recipe is to love the outdoors. The modes of operation are SSB, CW and digital modes if you operate CW then some practice picking out code in a pileup, being able to pick out a call. I have listened to some POTA and SOTA activations and it can get very busy. It truly is an art to pick out calls in a pileup. Refining this art will help increase your contacts and the needed numbers for an official activation. Another ingredient is Increasing your knowledge about portable antennas and how best to set them up. Learning the ins and outs of your rig (most of the time a small compact unit) as when operating you won't have the luxury of a manual to refer to. Another ingredient is the art of organization it can make or break an activation. A simple BNC to PL-259 connector left at home can bring an activation to a fast end before it even starts. 

If you are doing a summit on the air an important part of the recipe is safety. I would not do it alone, if it's a crazy summit then bring along a sat-phone, GPS locator, and first aid kit as funny things can happen. The technology is there so use it. NEVER NEVER think it could ever happen to me.  

Most activation's are portable and a 100 watts signal is a dream which was left at home. For this reason, your best bang per watt may be CW or digital operations and not to worry SSB will do the trick as well. An important ingredient is to figure out how to spot yourself during an activation. This will get you folks listening for your peanut signal and buy you some contacts for the log. Another ingredient in my humble opinion is to get a good set of headphones. You could be in a park with other people and their noise, the wind and so on. Now having said that let me also include a very important ingredient and that is ham radio ambassadorship. If you are in public then the public is going to wonder what you are up to. Be ready to field questions and be ready to share about the hobby. It could be an onlooker, park ranger, police or who ever

Well there you go all done with the recipes of ham radio I  hope you enjoyed this little montage.

Saturday, May 4, 2024

3G0YA in the log on 20m CW.


 The other day I joined the 21st century loaded Ham Alert on my iPhone and set up Easter Island.  On the first attempt to enter 3G0YA into HamAlert, I did not add a CW only and was flooded with digi and SSB spots. I managed to check out some YouTube videos and got that organized. Up to this point, I have been hit and miss using the DXheat cluster with no luck. I have never been able to hear them just the pileup they were working. Well, yesterday morning Ham Alert told me to head over the 20m, I did that and there they were but only at S1. I waited and then they bumped up to S4 and away my call went out onto the waves of opportunity.

In the past, I have been hoping so badly for a DXpedition station to hear me so felt I somehow heard part or all of my call. To only let down that I was not actually in the log once I checked.  Hearing my call was only my ambitious imagination. This time when I dropped my call I was not sure if I heard or maybe imagined I heard my call. As Murphy would have it they went from S4 to S1 with their comeback to me.  I listened and maybe heard again VE9KK what the heck I tossed out my 5NN TU. 

I continued to listen and wow for a few moments they were S6 or more so I tried again and this time I was sure I made it in the log. They called back "VE9", I tossed my call again and they came back "VE9KK 5NN" The funny thing was when I checked Clublog I found I was in the log the first time and it was not Murphy playing with me.

Friday, May 3, 2024

So your a chatty Kathy...........Part 2


 In part 2 of CW recipes, we are going to take a peek at conversational CW. QSO CW is like Apple pie for our U.S. friends or Peameal bacon for us Canadians. It has been around for a long time and is a staple of the hobbyWhat are the ingredients for CW conversation......for sure an understanding of the code. Getting your code speed to a comfortable speed but hey with this CW foodie, any speed can bag you a QSO. I  would think this recipe calls for a code speed from 10-15wpm and then the sky is yours if you want. Also comfortable at using a key whatever type you choose to learn on. I would suggest a key as to the PC because with QSO CW the conversation can go in many directions if you let it. A  PC can do the trick but then there are your typing skills you have to brush up on...why not spend the time mastering sending code? This recipe calls for spending some time getting the sound of QTH, RST, TU, 73 and so on. Compared to contesting there are more group sounds you have to become familiar with. As you learn the group sounds then head copying these sounds will kick inSure you can still paper and pencil it for the name, QTH and call sign but head copy of the common QSO items puts you ahead of the game sort of speak

Accuracy is always nice but it's like sugar, salt and pepper that can be added later on. During a QSO recipe if you mess something up not a big deal....its a matter of dit dit dit and try it again. Over time the rust will be sanded off and your code will be nice and shiny. 

Just like when cooking something from a recipe where you have to taste it now and then, take it out of the oven to check on it or add a little more of something it is the same with QSO CW. You may be able to send very fast....faster than you can copy but remember those who do this can get burned as the person on the other end may come back to you at the same speed and you can heat up and get burned.

 Also like cooking things can change and you have to add something. Same with QSO CW understand that conditions can change noise level, fading (QSB) or the other person's code is let's say........sour and hard to copy well you can only do your best with what you have and add the salt of your experience to understand the QSO.  Finally just like in cooking when the timer dings the cooking is done and with QSO CW nothing wrong with hearing the timer and calling the QSO done. 

With the QSO recipe getting to a speed of 10-15wpm is good, turn the power of your radio to zero and practice sending with our key, get to know the sound of common QSO terms, and remember that dit dit dit fixes most things. Most of all relax and enjoy as we have all have frozen, got lost in receiving code, messed up sending and wished we could just hit the power switch and walk away. It's all part of getting the right QSO recipe mix. 

Here is a good links regarding the basic of a CW contact and making a CW contact

Thursday, April 25, 2024

What CW recipe do you want to learn....part one?


 Yes, you read it correctly......within the world of CW there are recipes that one finds they are following but before you follow a recipe you have to learn the ingredients for that recipe. The CW recipes that I am aware of are POTA including the other variations, conversational CW, DXpedition hunting and contesting. Most who want to learn CW do so with a particular interest in mind. Every recipe involves ingredients and each of the above CW recipes involves certain recipe ingredients that one needs to learn and get better and better at. So in part 1 let's begin with the one I am most familiar with....contesting. This was the main reason I wanted to learn CW. 

If you are interested in contesting then what are the ingredients for CW contesting.... Letters, numbers, speed and accuracy. How serious you want to get will determine such areas as speed but letters, numbers and accuracy will always be a mainstay in the recipe. Once you have the letters and numbers down you are then good to go for call sign and number string practice. There are many call sign and number practice programs on the internet. There is LWCO, Morse Code World, Morse Code Ninja and then there are programs as well such as Morse Runner, G4FON contest and RUFZxp contest programs to name a few. Best of all there is the real deal and that is getting on the air and operating contests. Start out doing search and pouncing call signs in a contest. Avoid call sign spotting programs as these do not exercise recall, retention and eventually instant recognition. As you continue to practice you will find with some letters and numbers that instant recognition is happening.

 There is a rhythm to CW contesting and you will find like all of us you will get used to the do I know this you ask? Well in a contest when a station goes off script you can get lost. For example, you get asked to QSY to 14.023 or PSE UR CALL AGN not to worry as I have read even the seasoned contesters get thrown off now and then. In contesting you will only have to instantly recognize a few phrases. Such as NR?, TU, and AGN? (sometimes with or without "?") and that is about it. 

There are some things if you choose you don't have to worry about in contesting. Because contesting programs such as N1MM+ do everything for you. Sending manual code is optional as macros within N1MM+ look after everything. You won't have to worry about recognizing common QSO words and phrases. 

So what will contesting do for you......your code accuracy will improve, your speed will improve and instant recognition will happen. Also when you dip your toes in the big boy pool and call "CQ TEST" you will have the joy of multiple stations coming back to you. The brain is an amazing thing and I can attest to the fact that when you practice (using the above-named contest programs) multiple stations come back to you in time your brain will pull out one station. You may or may not get the complete call but you will have something to go back to them with. 

In closing the recipe of CW contesting can include as many ingredients as you like. As you master one you can add another and so on. Not all like contesting and that is why in CW there are other recipes one can follow. Next time we are going to look at the CW conversational recipe. As a side note to have access to the G4FON program you need to join the Long Island CW club or LICW. I am a member and its an amazing group. Check out the link and see what they are all about.