Almost time for 13 Colonies

This is one of my favorite times of the year for my ham radio hobby.  There’s Field Day, of course, and that’s followed immediately by the 13 Colonies special event.  This event celebrates the founding of our country with one station set up in each of the original 13 colonies using callsigns K2A-K2M and two bonus stations, WM3PEN and GB13COL (located in England).  It runs from July 1, 2018@1300 UTC to July 8, 2018@0400 UTC.  This event started in 2008.  I’ve participated twice and even had a “clean sweep” one year.  I’m looking forward to participating in it again.  This time, though, I will have 80 meter capability which helps tremendously in my working the states that are very close to me.

You can get a certificate for the event and you may also get QSL cards from each individual station (you’ll need to look up each station on QRZ for their requirements to get a QSL card).

There’s always a good pileup with each station but I have found that your patience does pay off.  Many people will give up after a while and let you jump in even on 100 watts and a wire antenna.  The “big gun” stations will come and go.

If you’re wanting to try out a contest for the first time, I recommend this event.  It’s pretty easy, fun, and the station operators are a pretty patient bunch.

For more information on the 13 Colonies special event, please check out the 13 Colonies website.

(I am not associated in any way with the event or its organizers except that I really enjoy participating.)

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You never know

I was talking to one of my co-workers, Kelsey, today at work.  She’s a nice young woman who helps me out occasionally in my daily job functions (I am an IT technician).  Today I was telling her about Field Day and as I started to go into my usual non-ham explanation about FD, she stopped me and said “I know what Field Day is; I’m a ham also.”  Come to find out, she’s also known as KJ4GFJ.  That just about floored me.  It’s one thing to run into another ham but to meet a YL ham these days, for me, is not a daily occurrence.  Her father is KJ4GFI.

I know of a few other co-workers who are interested in becoming hams also.  So I am trying my best to get them excited about the hobby.  I hope I can be a good Elmer to them and help them get their licenses.  I explain to people that ham radio is still a vibrant and interesting hobby even with the world being interconnected via the Internet.

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Back at it

Last night I decided to get on the air a little. Worked a station in Brazil and then a station in Illinois (a 14-year-old girl named Abby who was calling /AG). Not bad for the rather poor antenna installation I have right now. My dad and I are going to extend the antenna from 84 feet to 100 feet tonight and reshoot the far end of the antenna into a slightly higher tree on our property in time for Field Day. I’m seriously considering purchasing a 130′ EFHW antenna from myantennas.com. It’s a good price and has a large transformer on it. I really can’t use any other antennas currently, save for a vertical, in my current living situation.

Speaking of Field Day, I set up my registered copy of N3FJP’s Field Day logging software. I wish I had a headset and a footswitch for FD as I could keep the hands on the keyboard. Maybe I’ll have that for next year. I plan on visiting a few other Field Day operations in the local area Saturday afternoon and then spend my evening working FD from home.
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Interesting ham radio book

I was browsing the Web today and I came across this book called “Handheld Radio Field Guide”. It explains how to program 65 different handheld radios from the front panel. A very interesting read, I’m sure. I might get a copy for myself. You can check out the book at http://handheldradio.net/.

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New radio

My new Yaesu FT-450D is working nicely. I spent a couple of hours last night getting to know how to operate it. So far, so good. I’d like to get a desk mic or a Heil headset with a footswitch. I’m taking my Yaesu 2 meter rig out of the Pathfinder and will put it in the shack so I’ll have that to use. I’m looking at extending my wire antenna out several feet. It needs to be re-shot into the tree I’m using for the support on the far end. There’s a lot to be done in the shack. A lot of small but important improvements.
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Coming back alive…

I purchased a used Yaesu FT-450D last week in excellent near-new condition. It should be here tomorrow. I’ve also purchased a new (to me) computer for the ham shack and am setting up my Signalink for use with the 450D. I can’t wait to get back on the air. I’m installing the ICOM 706 into my 1995 Nissan Pathfinder for DXing out in the woods on the fly. I did work a station on 40 meters Saturday during the West Virginia QSO party. Now, though, it’s time for bed. Looking forward to having the new shack configuration up and running in time for Field Day. I found my key for N3FJP’s Field Day logging program so I’ll be set.

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Still alive

I’m still alive just not very active on the air. My work has really taken up a lot of time, especially in the past month or so. I’m working 60+ hours a week currently. But this should end by Christmas. I’m wanting to buy a larger EFHW antenna and mount it on the roof of the shed so perhaps I can cut down on the QRM that’s all over my incoming signal. Hopefully the next two months will slow down a bit for me and I can get back on the air and start catching up on QSL cards too.

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More antennas

I’m thinking about buying a larger end-fed half-wave dipole antenna that uses a 9:1 UNUN, perhaps something like this. I know I could build one myself but right now, I just don’t have the time nor the patience to try to build anything. I’m also going to try to get this mounted on the shed roof using a tripod and a tallish pipe to mount the UNUN on. I’m figuring if I can get some more height on the antenna that might help with the RFI that I’m getting in the received signal. It certainly can’t hurt.

I’m also considering buying a Yaesu FT-891 instead of the FT-857D. I really don’t use VHF/UHF that much and the 891 is considerably cheaper than the 857D. There’s a possibility that I might be moving into an apartment with a friend/possible roommate so the smaller I can keep my shack, the better off it will be for me later on.

It’s supposed to be a little cooler this weekend so Dad and I are hoping to get the door on the shack. If that happens, I’ll be on the air more often with a nice cool air-conditioned shack. Might even bring Felix in with me to hang out in the cool air.

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Cold at last

I bought a small A/C window unit and installed it in the shack this weekend.  Now to get the door installed and I’ll have the walls up on the shack.  It’ll be nice not to melt inside of the shack during these dog days of summer.  I haven’t done much on the air work since propagation has been rotten.  I’ve been looking into changing antennas for when it gets cooler and I will start to get on the air more often.

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Fixed TQSL problems

I had recently upgraded TQSL from 2.0.3 to 2.3.1 and I was getting this odd error:

tqsl: symbol lookup error: tqsl: undefined symbol: tQSL_ImportSerial

After much hair pulling and teeth gnashing, I discovered that I needed to compile TQSL with the “static library” option instead of dynamically generating the library using the “-DTQSLLIB_STATIC=YES” modifier when calling cmake.  Lo and behold, TQSL works fine now.  I had to get a new security certificate since I recently put a fresh install of Slackware 64 14.2 stable on my laptop.  I’ll try this on the shack computer to make sure it works.

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