WU7FAmateur(HAM) Radio site

Welcome to the web site for WU7F in UT

NAQCC # 257

CW Ops # 1351

SKCC # 1766

 

I suspect that the reason you are visiting this site is because we have had a QSO on the air. If so, thank you very much! If by chance you are not already a 'Ham Radio Operator' – then I invite you to learn more about it and join us on the air. It's a lot of fun. You can learn more about it at www.arrl.org or thousands of other websites dedicated to helping newcomers get started. The rest of my content on this page is intended primarily for other ham radio operators.

I've got my ticket in 1979 while in high school. My interest in radio, electronics, and computers morphed into a career in related fields - although I never strayed far from ham radio, my activity dropped considerably for a number of years while bouncing around living in different apartments.

Current Activity

CW Ops CW Academy – What a great program!  I signed up for one of their courses and made more progress in 4 weeks than I had in the previous 10 years!  The course actually lasts 8 weeks, and as I type this, I'm just past the half-way point.

There are three levels, and depending on where you are starting from, you can start at Level I, or skip to something a bit higher.  You can read more about it here – but sign-up (or tell your friends to sign-up) – but do it as soon as possible, because there is quite a waiting list, and it's likely to grow longer because the program is so popular.

CW Ops is a fun group – and they have a weekly event called “CWT” - check it out on their website – you don't have to be a member to join in the fun.  Warning:  It's addictive!  ;-)

 

NAQCC is also a great group.  It's a bit more specialized in that it focuses on using low-power in addition to using CW.  Several activities always going on, including a monthly “sprint” that lasts two hours.  The NAQCC has only been around for 10 years, but has over 7000 members across the world.  Turn your power down and give it a try.  It's a lot of fun.

 

I have an Elecraft KX3 radio that I really enjoy using! My previous experience with Elecraft was building a K2 and using that for several years. I really loved using that rig. I sold it (reluctantly) so I could justify the purchase of the KX3 in the summer of 2013.  It's the best rig I've ever used.

Current station:

 

I run CW (International Morse Code) almost 100% of the time. CW QRP works! I've done it almost exclusively for about 12 years!  I will turn it up past 5W if the Op on the other end is having a difficult time copying me in a ragchew – but it is surprising how well 5W or lower actually works.

Here is a photo of my previous radio – K2. The paddles belong to my son – a gift to him by the builder – K8RA, Jerry. It was a prototype of one of several models he sells.

 

My antenna is an Inverted-Vee @ 33 ft (11 M) – fed with open-wire and balun with a very short piece of coax from the balun to the rig

CW and QRP

I learned CW to pass some licenses when I first got involved with Ham Radio. As soon as I upgraded to General, I figured that I wouldn't use CW much anymore, because I really wanted to 'talk' to people on SSB. I was also an early adopter of Packet radio in the early 80's. The funny thing was that while on HF, I often found myself hanging around the Novice portion of the band. I should mention that my first radio was an old Heathkit DX 40 (considered very old even at that time) with crystals for only four frequencies I could transmit on. As a 'General' with my new Kenwood TS-120s that I had at the time, it seemed odd that I would return to those parts of the band that I had previously been relegated to. I guess there was some nostalgia – but I also found that CW was enjoyable. That's not the way I would have described it before my license upgrade that allowed me to do something other than CW! I think I was just rebelling a bit because I was 'forced' to learn the code. I'm sure glad I did, or I would have been missing out on what has since become my favorite part of ham radio!
[Note: Learning CW (International Morse Code) is no longer required for getting a license in the US... but there is no law that says you can't learn and use it, and many, like myself, prefer it over other modes of radio communication]

Let's move ahead a couple of decades...

I was doing some work for a company that required that I work out of a condo near Denver, CO. This was around 2002. I had my new Kenwood TS-570 with me and with extra time on my hands in the evenings, I thought it would be great to operate from this location. It turns out that I had to run a 'stealth' antenna that looped through the apartment and out to the balcony. When I would try to transmit, the alarm system in the condo would go off! I had to turn my power down below 10 Watts so the RFI wouldn't trip the alarm in my apartment. The prospect of running such low power with such a poor antenna setup was not appealing, but some research on the Internet revealed that others have been successful with QRP and simple wire antenna's (K3WWP's site was particularly inspirational to me). What really “sold” me was the fact that I was making contacts – including a contact on 12 meters with China! I had never worked China previously (at 100W), yet I just did it with 5 watts!

I love to go camping and take a radio with me.  The KX3 draws very little current (about 150 mA) on receive. Compare that with the 2A draw of the Kenwood TS-570 – and you can understand why the K2 and now the KX3 was such a nice upgrade for me. They also have much better receivers. That makes a big difference in the enjoyability factor!

I should also mention that I am very grateful to the operators I have had the pleasure to contact over the years when I'm running QRP. I know I don't always have a booming signal – but its the ham on the other side who is listening carefully to pull me out. I often get RST reports of 579 or 599... but I know there are plenty of 429's as well. Regardless of power levels being run, I am very happy to have a CW QSO.

Maritime Mobile

After the tech bubble burst, I decided to become a Merchant Marine and sail as anElectronics/Radio Officer”. I only did this for a couple of years, but I thought I'd mention it here because I run into a lot of operators on the air that are ex-Navy, Coast Guard, or have some commercial radio experience.  By the time I went to sea, CW was no longer used to communicate with shore stations for commercial traffic.  It has been replaced with GMDSS – a system that utilizes a combination of satellite, mf, hf, and vhf using digital modes modes or at least using digital as an alert and preamble to a voice message. You still need to have a Commercial 2nd Class Radiotelegraph license to get the required certification to sail as a Radio Officer (even though they don't use CW). Even though the shipping companies don't use CW, it didn't stop me from making CW contacts! In some of the areas near Asia, I heard quite a bit of CW traffic on the commercial bands – mostly from fishing vessels. I kept a sked with another Radio Officer (who also happens to be my ham “Elmer” (“ham-speak” for “mentor”) from high school). We would make ship-to-ship contacts on commercial bands, or make contacts on the ham bands if one of us was not at sea at the time. In fact, I still stay in touch with him while he is at sea, since he continues with that line of work.

One of the ships I sailed on didn't have a CW key. So I made one out of a couple of steak knives from the galley. I just connected an 'alligator clip' to each blade, and taped the wooden handles together. Pressing down on one knife blade made contact with the other. I'm not sure, but it seemed to really “cut” through the QRM a little better! ;-)

 


Here is a shot of my son, Mike - KD7UUB, operating CW from a "Field Day" site in the Uinta Mountain range, elevation is about 10K feet (This photo was published in QST)

 



Hope to work you on the air soon. 73/72 de WU7F