Category Archives: CW and QRP

Articles related to CW and QRP (low-power) operating and equipment. Articles related to learning and using Morse Code are also included here.

QRP From The Seashore

Are we spending too much time fretting over the sunspot cycle and complaining about poor band conditions? Maybe we should forget about all that and just GET ON THE AIR!  Jim Cluett, W1PID, of Sanbornton, NH knows how to enjoy life! His recent posting to http://www.amateurradio.com is so interesting, I am posting it here. (Be sure to check to comments at the end of his article).  Also, how fortunate we are to live in the Granite State!      20 July 2017 posted by Layne AE1N

QRP from the Seashore by Jim W1PID

Seashore QRP op

Judy and I drove over to the beach today. It was glorious! We got lots of sun, had a fantastic walk and I operated in the CWT sprint for a few minutes. The highlight of the operating was making a beach-to-beach QRP QSO with K4KRW in North Carolina.

Seashore QRP

We drove over to Rye Harbor in the morning and had a picnic lunch as soon as we arrived. Then we walked a couple of miles along the beach. After this Judy lay down on the shore to soak up some sun. I rode my bike about a half mile inland to play radio for a while. I’d brought a kite, but there wasn’t quite enough wind to lift an antenna… so I went in search of some trees. I found a wildlife area not too far from the road. A narrow path leads through the woods to a platform overlooking a beautiful inland marsh.

More Seashore QRP

Except for the heat (the high 80s in the shade), the spot was perfect. I had a 30-foot tree nearby and set up the wire as a sloper. The little deck even had a chair and a bench to operate on. I ran the KX3 on 20 meters and right away worked IK0YVV in Italy. Marco gave me a 559. Then I worked Gilly, WA5SNL in Texas. He also gave me a 559.

Seashore QRP Portable Rig

After signing I tuned up to the QRP frequency. K4KRW, Richard, was calling CQ. To my delight, he was operating from a beach in North Carolina with a KX3 and an end-fed wire. But… his wire was lifted by a kite! We had a great QSO and exchanged 559 signal reports. What a thrill to work another KX3 operator on the beach!

Now the CWT sprint had started and I joined in. I only operated for 10 minutes, because by now my shirt was drenched and I’d had enough of this heat. Here’s my log. I’ve changed it to reflect the other station’s QTH instead of the CWOPS member number used in the real exchange:

  • 19 Jul-17 1840 14.028 IK0YVV CW 559 579 Italy Marco
  • 19 Jul-17 1848 14.029 WA5SNL CW 559 579 TX Gilly
  • 19 Jul-17 1854 14.060 K4KRW CW 559 559 NC Richard
  • 19 Jul-17 1902 14.036 AA3B CW 599 599 PA Bud
  • 19 Jul-17 1903 14.035 K9CT CW 599 599 IL Craig
  • 19 Jul-17 1903 14.034 AD8J CW 599 599 NC John
  • 19 Jul-17 1905 14.032 K4RO CW 599 599 TN Kirk
  • 19 Jul-17 1907 14.026 N4ZZ CW 599 599 TN Doc
  • 19 Jul-17 1908 14.036 N2SR CW 599 599 NJ Tom
  • 19 Jul-17 1909 14.034 NR4M CW 599 599 VA Steve

With this, I packed up and headed back to Rye Harbor. This is really a beautiful spot. Wild rugosa roses form a hedge along the road and fill the air with fragrance. Next to the harbor is a little state park with facilities. It’s a perfect place to spend the day.

Still More Seashore QRP

Jim Cluett, W1PID, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New Hampshire, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

The original article may be found here.

Why the Navy Sees Morse Code as the Future of Communications

Sometimes the Best Solution is the tried and true solution with today’s technological innovations. In this case secure communications without the need for internet or radio transmissions. Maybe ARRL will give extra Field Day point for this mode of communications?              Layne AE1N

Why the Navy Sees Morse Code as the Future of Communication

by Kyle Maxey

http://www.engineering.com/DesignerEdge/DesignerEdgeArticles/ArticleID/15283/Why-the-Navy-Sees-Morse-Code-as-the-Future-of-Communication.aspx

posted on July 18, 2017 |

A signal lamp aboard the USS Stout beam message in Morse to the USS Monterey. (Image courtesy of the U.S. Navy.)

A signal lamp aboard the USS Stout beam message in Morse to the USS Monterey. (Image courtesy of the U.S. Navy.)

For centuries, mariners around the globe have used lamps and shutters to beam messages via Morse code from ship to ship. But today, Morse code isn’t being learned by every sailor, even though lamp light communication is still being used.

So, how we reconcile these two facts? Well, if you’re the U.S. Navy you update your lamp light communication systems to encode the modern form of Morse code: texting.

In a test recent carried out aboard the USS Stout, the U.S. Navy used a new mechanism it calls the Flashing Light to Text Converter (FLTC) system. During the test, sailors aboard the Stout fired off text messages and the FLTC converted them to their Morse code lamp light signals which were interpreted by the USS Monterey, moored at a dock in Norfolk, Virginia.

“The best part of this flashing light converter is how easy it is for sailors to use,” said Scott Lowery, a Naval Surface Warfare Center engineer. “It’s very intuitive because it mirrors the messaging systems used on iPhones. You just type your message and send it with the push of a button.”

In fact, the system seems so intuitive to use that the sailors decided to play one the most literalist jokes in the book when asked to send Lowery a message. “I asked them to text me something random, so they signaled the word ‘random,” said Lowery. Taking the rather lame attempt at humor in stride, Lowery added. “Simple, but it shows the system is working.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dpdBPyIoLA

Though the FLTC is still in its prototype phase, the Office of Naval Research seems to be developing a foolproof system for delivering messages even if radio communications are down. Essentially, the FLTC uses nothing more than a lamps that are either LED-based (they can flicker on and off digitally) or have shutters that are controlled by fast acting stepper motors which open and close mechanically, and a GoPro camera for receiving incoming messages.

The neat bit of technology that ties these elements together is an algorithm that can interpret text message sent from a computer, of handheld device, convert them to Morse code, clap out the message via light, and vice versa.

With this successful test, the U.S. Navy asserts that it’s developed a system that it can quickly deploy to its fleet. With a few more tests under its belt, the U.S. aquatic fleet could have FLTC system out to its ships sometime in 2018.

Sights From Field Day 2017

Field Day 2017 is but a memory for us now. Dave, K1DLM, our Field Day Chairman, and the entire Field Day team did a great job with putting together our Field Day operation this year.

We are still adding up our score and collecting pictures and video from everyone. I wanted to get something out quickly so that we could begin to enjoy some of the memories. So here is my quick Sights from Field Day 2017….

Field Day 2017 Telegraph Article
Our Field Day Telegraph Article

We did a fantastic job on publicity this year…

Field Day 2017 - Parking Lot Was Full
The Parking Lot Was Full

and the parking lot was full of visitors and members on Saturday and Sunday.

Field Day 2017 Public Info Tent Was A Hit
Our Public Info Tent Is A Hit

Our updated Public Information Tent was a hot spot for our many visitors (over 45 visitors signed our guest register)!

Field day 2017 Visitors - ARRL Section Leaders - Peter, K1PJS And John, K1UAF
ARRL Section Leaders – Peter, K1PJS And John, K1UAF

The ARRL “brass” came out early to congratulate Dave, K1DLM our Field Day Chairman, and to tour our site.

Field day 2017 Food Was Awesome!
The Food Was Awesome!

The food was unbelievably good – thanks, Valerie!!! And the N1FD cafe’ was a hot-spot as usual.

Field Day 2017 Site Setup On The Upper Field
Site Setup On The Upper Field

Site setup at Hollis-Brookline High School began with the 40M V-Beam.

Field Day 2017 Site Setup On The Upper Field - The 60 Ft Tower Coming Together
Site Setup On The Upper Field – The 60 Ft Tower Coming Together

The tower team began on the lower field by setting up the new 60 ft. tower.

Field Day 2017 - The V-Beam Was Back
The V-Beam Was Back

The 40M V-beam was awesome as ever and went up in record time…

Field Day 2017 - A New 60 Ft Tower
New 60 Ft Tower

and our new 60 ft. tower was a sight to behold!

Field Day 2017 - 40M SSB Station
40M SSB Station

We built lots of stations – 3 SSB, 3 CW, a GOTA station, a 6M Station with a new yagi, and a computer controller Satellite Station. We also setup a 2M/70cm Go Kit for talk-in and APRS demos. All totaled, we had 10 transmitters on the air! Our exchange was 7A NH.

Field Day 2017 Solar Power Setup
Solar Power Setup

We got our Solar-Battery bonus late on Saturday.

Field Day 2017 - Brian, AB1ZO Operating SSB
Brian, AB1ZO Operating SSB

Everyone operated very hard and we made more contacts than last year!

Field Day 2017 CW Ops - Dennis, K1LGQ
CW Ops – Dennis, K1LGQ

Our CW operators were amazing again this year. Here’s Dennis banging out CW QSOs. Dave, KM3T even operated SO2R for a period – calling “CQ” and working contacts on both 20M and 40M CW at the same time! Gene, W3UA brought his CW skimmer and we set up an OCF dipole to provide on-site CW spots.

Field Day 2017 - And The Generators Played On...
And The Generators Played On…

And the new generators worked flawlessly and were much easier to service.

Field Day 2017 - Curtis, N1CMD Making Satellite Fun!
Curtis, N1CMD Making Satellite Fun!

Curtis, N1CMD ran our Satellite Station 2.0 and wowed everyone while making satellite contacts….

Field Day 2017 Satellite Station 20 In Action
Satellite Station 20 In Action

and our visitors got a kick out of seeing the computer controlled satellite antennas.

Team Finchum In Action
Team Finchum In Action

Team Finchum was in high gear as always – here’s Abby, AB1BY operating with her brother Connor, KC1GGX. It seemed like Abby was on every SSB station that I looked at all weekend long…

New Digital Station For Field Day 2017
New Digital Station For 2017

Our new SDR powered Digital Station worked well and we had lots of digital contacts using the antennas on the new 60 ft. tower.

Field Day 2017 SDR GOTA Was Cool!
The SDR GOTA Was Cool!

The SDR-based GOTA station worked out super well. Ira, KC1EMJ was our GOTA coach and was busy on Saturday and Sunday introducing our guests and newly licensed members to “high-tech” Amateur Radio. We had many young people try Amateur Radio for the very first time on our GOTA station.

Field Day 2017 Remote SDR System
Remote SDR System

We operated the two SDRs for the Digital and GOTA station remotely over a coax cable data link between the upper and lower fields. Pierce, K1FOP and Dave, K1DLM put together this high-tech setup and the underpinning data networking system.

Field Day 2017 - John, W1SMN and Desmond, WK1V Operating SSB
John, W1SMN, and Desmond, WK1V Operating SSB

Did I mention that we operated hard making lots of QSOs?…

Field Day 2017 Drone Sighting
Drone Sighting

There were Drone sighting all weekend long…

and Desmond, WK1V got some amazing video from the air.

It was a lot of fun operating as N1FD, 7A NH!

Anita, AB1QB, our scoring chairman is still working on tallying up our score but it will be higher than last year.

Please take a minute and send me any photos or video that you have from Field Day 2017. We’ll be producing a video of all of the fun for the Field Day 2017 Recap at our club meeting on July 11th. Don’t miss it!

Fred, AB1OC

Hashtags: #ARRLFD #N1FD

MT. Hale and 30 Meters (in the rain)

MT. HALE and 30 METERS QRP

The White Mountains National Forest

Dennis, K1LGQ

Dennis Marandos – K1LGQ

The trip to the mountain had been planned four weeks in advance and I was to guide my seventeen-year-old son, Justin and his two friends, on a Saturday hike in the White Mountains in northern New Hampshire. The date was May 27th and it was agreed that I would bring along my radio gear because I am the driver and the guy who knows how to climb Mt. Hale. It was agreed that Justin wouldn’t complain when I took an hour off from our climb for me to string a dipole and work some DX just waiting for my QRP signal east and westward wound. My son with his two friends packed into dad’s car and headed due north driving one hundred twenty miles to the White Mountains National Forest. For those people who are unfamiliar with the North Country, New Hampshire has a great number of mountains along with the other five New England states, and NH, in fact, has forty-eight foothills that are 4,000 feet or better. This may seem quite mundane, however, hiking and “hill topping” with a handy on these ridges is “primo” in this part of the country.

The gang arrived at Zealand trail, Halebrook & Lend-A-Hand trails at 9:15 ready to zoom up the miles of pure fun. I had my handy, my 30 meters “30-40” home brew rig with me and a pretty heavy 12-volt gel-cell battery. I knew the kids, who were all 17 years old, would complain if I asked them to carry my gear, so I opted to carry a ‘large’ knapsack with water, small lunch, extra socks, sweatshirt, and long pants by myself. The backpack was pretty heavy, but you have to know what to expect for weather when climbing any mountain. I also had my key, earphones, and dipole in a waterproof bag neatly stored till we reached the top.

As we climbed, the early morning sun was vibrant as in just about any corner of the U.S., but when the clouds started rolling in on our climb at ten in the morning, the weather was truly undefined for that day. Sure, you can listen to the National Weather stations, but the NWS tends to extend their prognostications to include everything, just in case anybody should question their forecasts. The sky was navy blue and the air temperature was a cool 65 degrees—just right. The precipitation was damp from the previous night and we were headed onto an easy climb, and total time to the top was estimated at about two hours or less.

I couldn’t wait till we got to the top of Mt. Hale and do some QRP operating. The boys were twenty feet ahead of me, throughout the entire climb, and they had a much lighter backpack. I kept insisting that they shouldn’t run so often or they would be out of strength by the time they reached the top. Right! I am talking to three teenage boys! That was an exasperation of time.

As we drew nearer the top, you could feel the air turn denser and the temperature dropped a bit more. The tree line was thinning, but never to the point of an overall rock surface. The total height of Mt. Hale is 4,054 feet, and the trail began at the 2,100-foot level. I was psyched about operating from the mountain and kept thinking of how I would set up my portable station. Over and over I kept asking myself which direction way was south and which was west. I wanted especially to work the west coast and Europe if I could

Finally, when the crew was ten feet away from where the old ranger station used to be on top of Mt. Hale, I yelled to the ghosts of the mountain that I was coming, ready or not. I wanted to clear the area and not have something senseless happen like have my RF flow into the absorbing rocks nearby—never to be heard from again. At this moment, the sky had turned pretty gray and the temperature must have dropped another ten degrees since we started our excursion from the base, but worst of all was the intimidating spitting of droplets on my glasses. This was New England, and if you particularly don’t like the weather, just wait a short while and the elements will change. I knew what to do, after all–I am Mr. Cool and a smart Dad. You don’t think for a minute that I would bring my son and two of his friends on a hike and have the weather turn on us?

The environment factors were increasing and I knew something was up, but I was resolute to get my station up and operating. The boys wanted to eat their lunch first, and being the group leader, I suggested the boys not eat and drink too fast for they might get dizzy after a strenuous climb. Again, I forgot who I was talking to. Out came their bags of Nachos, potato chips, and heavy duty caffeinated Coca Cola along with sugar desserts made with chemicals I couldn’t even pronounce on the side of the bags. Ugh! Give me a break, but I insisted we set up my station real soon, so the boys could walk around a bit while I did some CW.

Fate has a way of presenting farrago weather to the unsuspecting neophyte in the wilds. No sooner did I reach into my knapsack for my radio gear, and no sooner did I uncurl my dipole, it started to RAIN! I mean, this was the mother of all storms and Armageddon was just a warm up. The boys had brought jackets, with rain hoods, while I only had a hand towel, socks, and a sweatshirt. It didn’t look like the rain was going to stop and I motioned to the boys to just sit tight for a few minutes while this ‘bimbo’ rain cloud passed overhead. Fifteen minutes had gone by and the rain was filling anything that could hold moisture. It looked like the hike was a wash and we started down another trail. Yikes! I wanted to operate!

The climb down the mountain is always easier, but nastier because gravity tends to push forward. I instructed the boys to walk slowly so they wouldn’t slip and roll the rest of the way, but there I go again…I forgot who I was talking to. Three teenage boys, who had their fill of whatever chemicals were in their lunch, bouncing down the side of Mt. Hale and having a pretty good time. I kept my vociferation comments within their ear shot and reminded them I had the keys to the car, which was another six miles away. Okay, perhaps a half mile away.

I am pretty sure the troops hadn’t traveled twenty minutes down the mount when the sky opened with beautiful rays of the sun and bright patches of azure blue. I couldn’t believe it! The weather was perfect and here I was going the wrong direction. Great! Do I ask the guys to turn around and head back to the summit so I can do a little CW and have my time, or do I keep going down because they’re running at a gallop and I am not? Superfluous to say, we kept descending more and more, side-stepping the six-inch puddles of water and four foot wide streams in our path.

After we got to the car and unpacked our gear from our backpacks, my son and his two friends said they had a remarkable time climbing the mountain and asked if they could do it again…if I wanted to take them.  They even gestured that they would carry my gear next time. I gasped for breath and managed to grin from ear-to-ear and said, “You’re on!”

What I thought was a hike into hell, a death march straight up, the torture of climbing a wet mountain—the boys thought was a pretty COOL episode. What other dads would have bothered to take the ‘guys’ onto a mountain, have twenty-foot visibility at the top and gracefully become thoroughly soaked? They had fun, but it bordered on what the definition of fun was. I had to say I sure did miss operating at 4,054 feet on 30 meters, but they did say they would carry my gear next time. I hope my marine battery won’t be too heavy for them. YES!

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Post Script: This hike took place a few decades ago and my son is much older now. However, the facts remain and it still lingers in my mind what a “wonderful” day we had despite the little rain that fell. I certainly hope I can “puff” all the way to the top and try again.