Christmas has come and gone – we had a great time here in Kansas. We had friends over Christmas Eve for dinner. The XYL made a huge feast and I took advantage of the home cooking. Meanwhile, we tracked Santa via the NORAD/Google Earth website. At 7pm, we were actually able to raise Santa via EchoLink and the USA Reflector. The kids enjoyed talking to Santa and where able to get in their last minute requests. After the guests left, I helped the 5 year-old put out milk and cookies for Santa. Then it was upstairs for a bedtime reading of The Night Before Christmas. Once the harmonics were snug in their beds (… not sure about the dancing sugar plums, more like dancing Zhu Zhu hamsters), the elves went into overtime setting up for the following morning (to include hanging the stockings with care). With the work finally complete, I was able to watch the last 30 minutes of It’s A Wonderful Life. I have seen it a million times, but always enjoy the sappy ending.
Christmas morning finally arrived. With a flurry of discarded (and ever growing pile of) wrapping paper – treasures were revealed. Lots of toys for the girls – to include an astronaut Barbie doll for the 5 year old (oddly enough, they don’t make a ham radio Barbie). I received an excellent book: Array of Light: Straight Talk About Antennas and Related Subjects (Third Edition) by Tom Schiller, N6BT. My dad picked the book up for me at Pacificon and I was quite surprised when I opened it. Mr. Schiller is a prolific author of antenna articles, co-founder of Force 12, and the dad of one of my good high school friends. Little did I know back then that my friend’s dad was a ham radio guru.
Next out of Santa’s sack with my name on it was the DVAP.
The DV Access Point Dongle is a neat device that plugs into an internet-connected computer’s USB port and allows you to access the D-Star network without having to go through a local D-Star enabled repeater. With my Icom IC-92AD, the DVAP is a perfect solution to access D-Stars. With the IC-92ADs ability to monitor two frequencies simultaneously allows me to connect and monitor a D-Star reflector or repeater while also listening to my embedded EchoIRLP node. It is a veritable cornucopia of ham radio VOIP.
From: Dave Gingrich
To: irlp at yahoogroups.com
Sent: Friday, December 03, 2010 6:42 PM
Subject: [irlp] Happy New Year announce
Well, it’s that time again. The annual IRLP New Years Eve QSO party is set for (you guessed it) New Years Eve! Beginning at 1030 UTC Friday December 31 (30 minutes before midnight in New Zealand) through 1030 UTC Saturday January 1 (30 minutes after midnight in Hawaii). All on Reflector 9200. No net control stations, just stop in and enjoy party as the New year celebration wends its way around the planet! Welcome 2011!
I am in the process of getting an EchoIRLP node up and running back here in Kansas. Previously I have been using EchoLink to talk with the XYL. I’d use the iPad app from my QTH in Korea and connect to my wife’s EchoLink node here in Kansas – usually while she is mobile around the local area. Here van has a Kenwood TM-D710A and is interfaced to GPS for APRS, so it is easy for me to see when she is out and about. I’ve now brought online my EchoIRLP node in Korea and thought it would make communications a bit more stable if I had an identical node back here in Kansas.
The node here in Kansas is:
IRLP node: 3553
EchoLink node: 518994
It looks like the EchoLink side is experiencing some difficulties right now, but the IRLP side is good to go.
In addition to the IRLP New Years fun, the hams here in Leavenworth run a New Year’s Eve check-in net called something like the Buffalo Chip Net. I have been able to participate the past two years and am looking forward to checking in this year as well. It is fun (and a little surprising) to hear the number of local hams check-in.
Last week was busy – I spent the whole time down in Seoul attending meeting after meeting with my evenings spent on a bunk bed in a communal room (trying to save a little cash for Uncle Sam). The week was productive, but tiring. The main US military garrison in Seoul, Yongsan, has a lot of amenities that you will not find up at my camp. I got to enjoy many of the various restaurants located there as well as venturing off into Seoul itself, located just outside the gates. Two key finds in Seoul: a restaurant that serves American Chinese food and an Irish pub that serves Guinness from the tap. I enjoy Korean food quite a bit, but also like a variety. Most people know that Chinese food in the US does not come close to resembling the actual cuisine of China… and I have no problem with that. Serve me up some Orange Chicken or General Tsao and I am a happy man. Top it off with a fresh pint of Guinness… now you’re talking.
However, by Saturday morning I was still tired and unmotivated to put up my Buddipole… despite the lure of the 10M contest. I did have a QSO with my dad via EchoLink. He used an app on his Android cell phone and connected through my EchoIRLP node (EchoLink Node #496698 and IRLP Node #3370). My friend brought by some freshly made Hotteok. These pancakes are delicious and I enjoyed them while they were still hot with some coffee. Still wasn’t motivated to put up the Buddipole.
Sunday – the Buddipole went up. A 10M dipole with the Buddipole consists of only the 9.5ft whips on either side of the VersaTee. 10M was not really cooperating. In all I had only nine contacts: Australia, Malaysia, The Philippines, and Guam. Surprisingly, I only heard one JA and he couldn’t hear me. No stations from Asiatic Russia either.
After sunset, I switched the antenna from a 10M dipole to a 40M vertical. I thought I might look for some JA stations to practice my CW. I have yet to understand how the JA’s use 40M. The JAs can use phone down to 7.030 MHz. This compacts the CW to between 7.000 and 7.030 MHz. PSK-31 is suppose to be around 7.038, but I have never seen any PSK-31 traffic on 40M over here. I must be looking in the wrong place. Shortwave stations still come in at 7.100 MHz and above. So after sunset, all the 40M action is wedged between 7.000 and 7.100 MHz. So far I have not found any one band location where the QRS folks hang out (like the old Novice band in the US). Maybe with a bit more listening I can crack the code on how the JAs manage 40M.
As for the HLs… I’ve only heard two on the air. Where are all the HLs?
Here’s the good news… cue Bing Crosby… I am heading back to Kansas for leave this coming Friday! Christmas at home with the XYL and harmonics!!
I spent Saturday filling out QSL cards, stuffing them in envelopes, and putting on $0.98 worth of postage for the USPS first class international air mail rate. To make life easier I ran both the return envelopes and main envelopes through the printer to get my address on. It would be easier to get some kind of mailing label sheets, which I think I will try to find when I get home for Christmas. Any way you slice it, filling out QSL cards and getting them in the mail takes a while. Keeping me entertained during the QSL card envelope stuffing session was the Insomniac Net through my IRLP node.
Sunday I woke up early and put up my Buddipole antenna, configuring it as a dipole for 20M. Exceptional DX catches for the day were:
UN7FU – Kazakhstan
WH0/WH7C – Northern Mariana Islands
FK8GX – New Caledonia Island
CW3TD – Timoteo Dominguez Island, Uruguay
I am continually surprised by my ability to work stations in South America. I’m not sure what path I am getting the propagation from. There is no one single time of day for my South American contacts – some are in the morning, others in the afternoon.
Today was the first day using my MicroHam USB III. The device is small, just larger than a pack of cards. The radio cable, which comes with the interface, is very well shielded. I used the USB III for both CW and PSK – the device worked well in both modes. Is the MicroHam USB III better than the West Mountain Radio USB PnP RIGBlaster? From a performance standpoint, I think it does a better. With PSK streams, I was able to detect and have QSOs with much weaker signals using the USB III. The fact that the USB III has its own soundcard is a big plus.
Almost done reading A Year of DX by Bob Locher, W9KNI. Bob details his year-long run in the CQ DX Marathon. The reader gets to sit side-by-side with Bob as he uses his Elecraft K3 and DX cluster alarm to work country after country. Bob demonstrates the importance of researching the various rare entities, determining when they might become active and how best to work them. The book is divided month by month, detailing the QSO with each new entity. Between the month chapters are useful chapters concerned with amplifiers, SSB phone techniques, and an amusing Walter Mitty-esque short story themed around DX contacts. I’m enjoying the book and recommend it (…potential stocking stuffer!).