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Chadron, Nebraksa hamfest, 1967

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The young man seventh from the right is me, WA0QMZ. My dad, WA0OQX, is eighth from the right in the back row.

Great weekend on 160 meters

This weekend was the ARRL 160 meter contest, which is always one of my favorites. I operated for a few hours Friday night, had a couple of long runs going, and ran for a few hours in the early evening on Saturday. The result was over 600 contests, and I had a great time. Next weekend is the ARRL 10 meter contest, which is really almost the opposite as far a propogation and hours of operation goes. With the low sunspot numbers, I'm not expecting much, but I'll be on. I am learning more and more on contesting. My lesson from this one is, "If you're running a frequency and getting a high rate of hourly contacts, don't quit to go watch a football game or something. When you come back, the contest and conditions will have changed, so don't expect to pick up where you left off. I've read that advice before, but I saw it first-hand Saturday night. If I'd kept operating Saturday night, I could have added another 200 contacts or so, but I went to watch Nebrask

DX contest

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I spent some time working the CQ Worldwide DX contest this weekend. I learned a good lesson -- keep checking the bands. The contetst started Friday night, and I tuned around on 40 meters. I could hear a few Europeans, who were being swamped by hundreds of US operators calling them. That wasn't the contest I remembered, so I went upstairs and did something else. Saturday morning wasn't much better. I worked a few Asians on 40 meters to get started, then moved to 20. There I heard just a few Europeans, again being hounded by hundreds of US operators. With my vertical, I don't stand much of a chance in that situation. I made a few contacts, but soon gave up and did something else. Then late afternoon I went back in the shack and listed on 15. I could hear Asians, and made contacts. Then I ate dinner, and came back down to 40 meters. There were the Europeans, all over the band. I spent the night working them. It's still a thrill to hear that faint signal from half-w

CW decoder

I was having a very nice conversation (at 30+ words per minute on cw) with Bill, KA1RVM, this morning. We were talking about radios -- my favoroite subject -- and started talking about cw decoders. I told him I was surprised how well the decoder on the K3 worked, and picked up the camera and shot this quick video of the K3 decoding Bill's last transmission.

KG0GY wins Field Day 2b2

Last summer's Field Day results were just posted, and my cousin, Brad, KG0GY, did all right. We finished third in the section of Nebraska, behind the large operations put on by the Lincoln and Omaha clubs. But to our surprise, we finished first place nationally in our classification of 2B2, a group (not a club) with two stations and two operators. There weren't a large number of entries in that category, and there is Brad's call at the top of the list. I'm not sure how we beat this next year. In a side note, it is 70 degrees in Chicago today, not bad for middle of November. I'm sitting on my deck in the sun writing this.

Slow sweepstakes

Last weekend was the CW Sweepstakes, probably the biggest and most challenging of North American contests. I had planned on making a major effort to work a clean sweep -- all 80 sections -- but discovered I had an old friend and his wife visiting over the weekend. It was hard to tell them "No, don't come, I have a ham radio contest." So instead I did a very modest effort -- in about 2.5 hours of operating I made roughly 140 contacts. I had a good run going on 40 meters Sunday morning, and did some search and pounce just to listen around the bands. Actually, it was a little liberating not to have to try to beat last year's score and make that clean sweep. Maybe next year. Meanwhile, there are plenty of other contests coming up this winter. Maybe I'll make a big effort on the 160 meter contest next month. Phone Sweepstakes is two weeks away, and I'll dabble in that a little, but I just don't see the challenge of working a phone contest. Maybe if I had a be

Another new old radio

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Last Saturday I heard a local ham saying he had an old HW-16 for sale. It is a cw transceiver made by Heathkit in the '70s and designed for the Novice class license holder back then -- a low-power, crystal controlled transmitter. I stopped by on my way home from work a couple days later, and by Wednesday night I was on 80 CW with my one crystal at 3841 calling CQ. First call I was answered by KB8AXS, Mike in Cincinnati. My bug -- a semi-automatic key -- fell apart in the middle of the contact and I finished up with the hand key. That's old-time ham radio, a straight key and simple CW only radio. So that's my new vintage station. Look for me on 3841.

Old friends

Tonight I heard an old friend, N9HAL, calling CQ on 80 meters. I ran into a guy named Bob from Wisconsin a few years ago on 40 cw. We started talking and trading personal information. It turned out we were both originally from Nebraska. Then he asked me if I used to be WA0QMZ. It turned out he used to be WA0ODM, we went to junior high and high school toghether and were both helped along by the same group of older hams in Sidney, NE, the small town we grew up in. Small world. Bob and I have had some random schedules, but most often we just hear each other on 80 or 40 once or twice a year, and then spend some time catching up. It gives me a nice bridge to the past, plus we have a lot in common today and talk about fixing up old radios, operating CW, and some random things. Contacts like that are why this is such a nice hobby. In other radio activity, I did operate the Illinois QSO party last weekend and made roughly 200 contacts. I had hoped to do more, but wasn't feeling 100 perc

Got Midway DXpedition

This week the K4M DXpedition to Midway Island has been on the air. I made a few half-hearted tries at working them on 17 meters this week in the late afternoon, and heard them before work on Friday morning on 40 meters, but didn't have time to chase it. So this morning (Saturday) I got up at 4 a.m. as they are only on the air for a few more days. By 4:40 I had them in the log on 40 meter cw and I got them on 30 meters by 5:30. I spent a little time on 80, but I couldn't hear them very well. I actually heard them better on 160 this morning, but didn't have any luck snagging them there. I tried a little on 40 SSB, but at that point the sun was coming up. Oh well, I got them on two bands, so I'm happy. Now it's 7 a.m. and I'm ready for a nap. Tomorrow is the Illinois QSO party, and I plan on hitting it hard. I'll have an update tomorrow night. There is a new radio in the house. I've had sellers remorse ever since I sold my Icom 756ProIII a year and a hal

Early morning DX

This morning the Oceana DX contest was on, and there on the bottom of 40 were quite a few Australians and New Zealanders calling CQ. I worked everyone I heard. Nice to start the weekend with a little DX on 40. Gearing up for Illinois QSO party next weekend. I plan on hitting it hard from the home station. I'm not exactly in a rare county -- DuPage -- but looking at last year's results I didn't do bad. It would be nice to break into the top 10 this year.