The Solar Activity Is Taking Its Toll on Propagation


this whole week the rate ham radios not been good in the morning. Even on our local nets (by local nets I mean those that cover the United States and station near where I am as opposed to DX.) Signals have not been good and we’ve had a hard time talking to one another. But you find the occasional station that pops out loud and clear for a while. Then propagation changes and that station goes out again . So is in and out propagation but then I’ve been used to that most all my ham career. I’ve been comparing the Kenwood TS 2000 and the icom 706 and the 706 beats it hands down. I guess I just got a lemon, which I tend to do more often than other people. I should’ve taken Ellen’s advice to get a TEN Tec. She got their plant tour there in Sevierville Tennessee and she was very impressed but the real motive for wanting me to get the ten tec was that we would have to go back up there to the plant if something happened and then there would be an excuse to stay there in Pidgeon Forge. She loves that place very much and it is one of her favorites.
I heard sometimes talk about “reverse beacon.” It sounds intriguing to me in a good way to track DX propagation and I’ve been trying to find out more about it but have really gotten educated on it yet. But I like these things and I enjoy utilizing the computer is much as possible in my hamming activity. As they say, “it sure ain’t your grandpa’s ham radio.” In this case, I am grandpa. I have enjoyed ham radio for many years and I’m thankful for it. It’s just a beautiful way to spend time and make more friends. The hobby get your mind off of other things and it is a very good hobby to have. I also enjoy fishing but it is a hobby duty in solitude or with one or two people and ham radio is more social thing. But you can enjoy them both. I met some hams they were almost hermits and another hounds they were very very social. I never was much of a Hamfest creature but do enjoy going to them from time to time. I’m not much at buying and selling because I never was very good at bargaining. But I do very much enjoy going there and meeting the use one. Okay

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Good Two Meter Opening Yesterday

We had an excellent opening on two meters yesterday. I woke up in the middle of the night as I do lots of times and came in here to check out the vhf propagation report and saw lots of red showing all across the southern states and extending out into the West Indes. After getting another nap I went out to the ham shack and was able to work quite a few stations on 144.200 sideband or thereabouts. I was really excited about the opening. I think they are more fun because they are so rare. I was able to work Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Florida. I think that the ducting was just in the north of the Gulf of Mexico. Then later in the day six meters was open with E skip. Was a very good day for VHF. I am looking forward to more of these openings which I think will increase with the sunspot cycle if it hasn’t topped out yet. I am hoping to work in the vhf contest this coming week end if possible.

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Propagation and The Alabama QSO Party

This post was published to Tladotse’s Weblog at 8:52:11 AM 5/31/2012
Propagation Seems to be in the Doldrums

Well, I still get on the radio every day but I don’t seem to be working as much DX is the recent past. The sunspot number and the solar flux number have gone down in the past few days. But when “Old Sol,” or rotates around I expect propagation to pick up some. Sometimes you can find a real good station on a band that otherwise seems to be dead in the station may be all the way around the world or 180° out of geophase with me. I have been hearing some very good stations on 12 m recently, but they all seem to have such a pile of that I could not break through. Everybody wanted to talk to them. Oh well, the harder the challenge the better is when you do get someone into the log. I’ve been able to copy most of the dxpeditions very well here but I have missed a couple of them that never could hear me. I am convinced I can work anywhere in the world with 100w and a dipole if it is the right time of day and there are sufficient freckles on the sun. The more I do it the more I think that chasing dx is like hunting only you don’t have to clean the game.
I am planning to work the “Alabama QSO Party” this coming Saturday. You can find rules for the qso party at the following URL http://www.alabamaqsoparty.org/ . We will be operating the station W4GEN in Geneva County Alabama. Please work us if you can.

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My DX40 and HR10 Era

Last time I wrote about my first rig. After I put the HR10 receiver together I used it with the homebrew transmitter for a while. Then one day I heard of a fellow in Montgomery, Alabama who had a DX40 for sale and I thought that would be great, I could run AM and CW on it and get out about 45 watts peak. That was lots of power for me. I bought the DX40 and was very very proud and happy bringing it home. Just sitting and looking at it was fun. I think the amount that I payed for it was $25 but that was lots for those days and especially lots for me because seemed like I was always short of money those days. The picture is my neice Pam sitting at my ham rig as I described it. I set the rig up at my parents house since I was doing lots of moving around trying to go to school and every other quarter working on the co-op plan. Fortunately, I was able to work for the FCC at the Powder Springs, Georgia monitoring station, which as I said was very influencial in my getting my license in the first place.
I installed a dipole up in the pecan tree in my parents back yard and made lots of qsos using that set up. Of course I did not work very much dx but every contact counted as dx for me then. Each one was a thrill and a new adventure. In those days the fight between SSB and AMers was just beginning. I remember hearing lots of the old timers calling SSB operators “slopbuckets” in those days. In that era of AM when you got into a group and your turn rolled around you just keyed your transmitter and talked till you got out of breath and then turned it over to the next fellow and he did the same and it went on around through the group. Very seldom did people use VOX.

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My First Transmitter 6AG7 driving an 807


I started talking about building my first rig in the last post and said that my Elmer, Carl Wilson (W4IUD) helped me build my first transmitter, which was a 6ag7 tube driving an 807 tube, and it probably did good to get out 25 watts. After I got my ticket down in Atlanta Carl said, “Now that you got your license you need a rig to get on the air. Come on over to the house and we will see what we can do.” I went over to Carl’s house there in Marietta, Georgia the first free evening that I had. He had the schematic that I posted last time, but he really didn’t need a schematic because he had it all in his head. We rummaged through his junk box until we had enough parts to proceed to solder them together. We first made the chassis by taking an aluminum box and a Greenlee chassis punch and made the holes for the tube and coil sockets; we installed the solder lugs under the chassis and proceeded to assemble the transmitter. It was lot of fun and learning, but I’ll have to admit that Carl did most of the work. We put a metal cage over the top of the rig to keep the 807 from radiating until it got to the antenna. He also showed me a trick where you can use an incandescent light bulb for a dummy load picture of 807 tubeand tune the rig up to get the brightest light out of the bulb as you dipped the plate. You would make adjustments on the grid and then dip the plate current till you got the maximum out that you were going to get. A 40 watt bulb was just right to do the tirck. Then theoretically it would be loaded for a 50 ohm antenna.
My first receiver to use with the transmitter was a Hallicrafters that was so broad that it would receive a whole band at one time, but it had a small bandspread knob on it, which would give a little separation but one could still hear several stations at one time. Later when I thought that I was wealthy I replaced the Hallicrafters with a Heathkit HR10 which I thought was a great improvement. I ordered a kit and watched the mail waiting for it to come. When It did arrive, I really had fun sorting and identifying all the parts, and then I soldered it together but when I had it all done I turned it on and heard nothing. I was very green at troubleshooting at the time. So I had a friend from church, actually my father’s age who worked in electronc repair. He was not a ham himself, although he worked in electronics repair. He was one of those people who are naturally good at doing things. He also liked to fish and building fishing boats. Well, he took the receiver, and right away he said, “you’ve got the B plus voltage shorted out.” In a jiffy, we fixed that and the receiver worked liked a charm that is if you didn’t go above 20 meters where the sensitivity was quite lacking.
I made my first qso on 40 meters with a station in Pensacola, Florida, which was quite thrilling. In fact, my hand was shacking on the key when I went back to him. But everything went well and I had made my first contact. However, my heart continued to race and my nerves jumping for a good long time every time I made a contact.

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First Rig

First Rig

This is a schematic of the first transmitter that I had with a 6ag7 driving an 807. It didn’t have much power out but it worked well.

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Old Times in Hamming and Elmers

The band was quite get this morning but I do not work many people because it didn’t have too long to stay on the air. Ten meters was really hopping and many signals were on the air.

I was reminiscing this morning about the many people that have affected my life as a ham. There was the one that first introduced me to the thought of ham radio, Rex Bagwell. We were in high school, and we talked lots. He kept telling me about this new thing that he was into called Ham Radio. Well, it very soon caught my interest, and I started thinking about it, and I wanted to get in on the action also. However, I got mixed up about what he was talking about, and I read an article about Citizen’s Band Radio in a magazine, so I started finding out about that. At that time citizen’s banders built their own radios and experimented with them. This was before the era of “Smokey and the Bandet.” Well I read about it and pretty soon got caught up in other things and let radio go by the wayside. I almost sent off for a Citizen’s band license at that time. Then you had to have a license and call sign to transmit on the eleven meter band. I finally did send off for a license but never did anything about it. It is the way with teenagers that their attention is easily diverted into other things. I did not every get a radio or make a contact with that license. It was quite difficult to get on the CB band in that day and time.

As luck would have it after I started to college at Auburn University I joined the CoOp plan which is where one goes to school for a quarter and then works a quarter alternately. I just happened to be assigned to the FCC in Powder Springs, Georgia. There were several hams working and boy did I hear about amateur radio. One of the Hams kind of took me under his wings and began to encourage me to get my license. But I did not need much encouragement. I started studying and the technical part was fairly easy for me but the morse code gave me a bit of trouble. The hams at Powder Springs gave me lots of tips on how to learn it. One of these was to read road signs out in morse code as one rides down the road. Well for quite a while I translated every road sign that I could see into code. Know I sounded funny going down the road daying, “Dit, didah,dah,didah,didahdahdah,dahdahdah,dit,dididit.” I however perservered at it.

After much study and worring I finally felt I was ready to go down to Atlanta and take my test. I will tell about the test next time.

73 Good luck and DX-W4TKI Kennon

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