Posts Tagged ‘bug’

I Need You in My Log! SKCC K3Y/0 Special Event (January 2016)

I need your help!

Come meet me on the shortwave (HF) ham bands for the Morse code (CW mode) special event, the Straight Key Century Club (SKCC) celebration, with special callsign, K3Y. During the shifts (time slots) listed below, I am the control operator as K3Y/0.

Tomas, NW7US - operating Morse code as special event station, K3Y/0I need you to make a contact with me.

This special event takes place every year during January. We celebrate the legacy of Morse code, and promote Morse code and manual creation of the code by any non-electronic (digital) device and method. Which means that we love mechanical bugs, straight keys, two ends of a wire, or any other manual device, if Morse code is generated. The Straight Key Century Club is a free membership group. The link to their website is below.

I need you to make a contact with me, during my scheduled times, listed below.

NOTE: YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE A MEMBER OF THE (free) SKCC GROUP. To get into my logbook, you meet me on my frequency, and use Morse code to communicate with me. It is painless. If you must, you can use computer-generated Morse code. Or, you can tap it out on any Morse code signalling device, like a bug, a set of paddles, or a straight key; whatever you choose to make Morse code emanate from your HF transmitter.

HOWEVER: For those of you who want to get fully immersed in the spirit of this event, you are invited to use a straight key. And, as a bonus, you may and can join the SKCC group for FREE. Then, you would have your own SKCC number. That’d be cool; we SKCC members use that number in our exchange during our QSO information exchange. But, you don’t need that. Since it is free, why not?

What is needed is simply you, getting on the shortwave band, finding me, hearing me, and responding to me with Morse code. In other words, we need to have a QSO using Morse code. I am not a fast operator, so no problem if you are not very fast. I’ll meet your speed.

In any case, here are some of the times I will be on the air as K3Y/0… please dust off your straight key, bug, paddles, whatever, and make a QSO with me. Thanks!

My current schedule:

UTC Start/End (remember, these are NOT your local times, but are the UTC (GMT) times!)


(revised times, as of edit date)


00:00 - 02:59 19-Jan-16
00:00 - 02:59 20-Jan-16
00:00 - 02:59 21-Jan-16
00:00 - 02:59 22-Jan-16
00:00 - 05:59 23-Jan-16
14:00 - 18:59 23-Jan-16
20:00 - 21:59 23-Jan-16
00:00 - 02:59 24-Jan-16
14:00 - 18:59 24-Jan-16
21:00 - 21:59 24-Jan-16
00:00 - 02:59 25-Jan-16
00:00 - 02:59 26-Jan-16
00:00 - 02:59 27-Jan-16
00:00 - 02:59 28-Jan-16
00:00 - 02:59 29-Jan-16
00:00 - 05:59 30-Jan-16
13:00 - 18:59 30-Jan-16
20:00 - 21:59 30-Jan-16
00:00 - 03:59 31-Jan-16
13:00 - 23:59 31-Jan-16

Now, what frequency will I be on?

To find out what frequency I am on:

Visit http://g.nw7us.us/sched4SKCC and look on the right side for my callsign, NW7US. I usually post my frequency of operation right after my call sign.

Typically, evening operation is 30m, then 40m, and then possibly 80m.

If you are trying to alert me to your presence, you may message me on my personal Facebook profile, under my “Tomas David Hood” profile messages, but I may not see that right away.

Here is the detail covering the K3Y operation and the SKCC group: http://skccgroup.com/k3y

73 de NW7US
dit dit

This was last year:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfRvITFpTb4

..
Tomas, NW7US - operating Morse code as special event station, K3Y/0

..

It’s been a while

It's been a while since I really made an effort to use the ol' Vibroplex.  I gave the contacts a decent cleaning today and gave it a whirl in a QSO with Art K8CIT. I don't think I sounded terrible - and I hope Art didn't think so either. I could use some more practise, though, and I will continue to use it more often.

I haven't run this piece in a long time. It's from my old webpage on how to adjust a bug:

Using a bug is a real fun part of using Morse Code.  Adjusting one properly so that it works right for you and doesn't frustrate the heck out of you is easy; if you take your time and work methodically. Refer to the photo below for reference.


The first thing you do is to back off all the adjusting screws quite a bit.  Not all the way; but far enough out so that everything is nowhere near being set.  Once that's done you want to adjust the action of the pendulum.  Unscrew "A" - this is the pivot point for the pendulum.  Slowly tighten it. You'll know you have it adjusted correctly when the pendulum moves from side to side freely with no binding; but, at the same time, you can move the finger pieces up and down with your fingers and feel very little or no play.

The next thing you want to do is to adjust screw "B".  Allow the pendulum to hit the damper.  Screw in "B" to the point where you can either see or just perceive the pendulum has touched the damper.  Stop there and secure the screw with the knurled lock nut.  It is important not to move the pendulum too far away from the damper or else you will not be able to reliably stop your "dits".

The next thing you want to do is adjust the  left trunnion screw -  D.  This will control the amount of side to side travel of the pendulum.  For smooth code this gap should be very small.  I take a piece of ordinary printer paper, fold it in half to double it and adjust the spacing so that the paper will just slip between the point of the screw and the pendulum.  This results in a very small amount of side to side travel.  The end result is a nice and clean transition between "dits" and "dahs".  I do the same thing for the amount of spacing for the "dah" contact at C.  I turn that trunnion screw in so that the paper slips in the gap easily with no binding, then I lock the set screw in place to keep the setting.

The next thing you want to do is adjust the "dits" making part of your bug.  This is done by adjusting "E".  When "E" is adjusted correctly, you should be able to swing the pendulum to make "dits"; and get 10 to 15 "dits" before the pendulum dampens out and comes to a rest.

"F" controls the tension of the "dit" action.  I find it best to tension the spring about half way.  Hopefully, if you follow this guide and play around a little bit and experiment, you will find the "sweet spot" that will allow you to send really glassy smooth Morse Code.

Sending with a Bug is just as much fun as sending with a keyer and paddles.  However, sending with a Bug allows you to add a little personality.  Listening to CW sent with a keyer sounds sterile compared to that sent with a Bug.

If you need to slow down the speed of your Bug to a point that's even slower than what you can get with the weight(s) positioned all the way to the end of the pendulum, then clip a clothes pin or a few alligator clips to the end of the pendulum.  This will slow down a Bug to an effective speed as low as 13 words per minute or so.

In my opinion, you know that your bug is adjusted properly when you can send characters like X, Y, Q, C, F and L with little effort, and they sound good - or at least recognizable in my case!

Here's a great video that shows you how to do it, also:


72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

New Year’s Day 2015

So I began 2015 in a manner not much different from where 2014 left off.  It was a quiet day, as it was a day off from work. It was quite cold here today, but that did not keep me out of the shack. The hoodie sweat shirt idea worked well. Even though it's only 59F (15C) down here, I remained comfortably warm. I think that keeping my head covered was indeed the key to feeling warmer.

I participated in the QRP ARCI New Year's Day Sprint as planned, but was disappointed in the lack of activity.  I guess everyone was sleeping off a night of merry-making and partying. In the 2 & 1/2 hours that I was on the air, I made only over just a dozen QRP ARCI contacts.  It's a good thing that it's SKN, as the bands were busy and I was able to fill in with a couple rag chews in between to keep me from falling asleep at the key.

15 Meters seemed to be the good band for the Sprint. It was less noisy than 20 Meters, and it seemed that it was there that I was hearing the most activity. Towards the end of the Sprint, 40 Meters perked up with some local QRP activity.

After dinner, I came down to participate in a little more SKN, garnering a few rag chews using my refurbished Vibroplex Original.


I was pleasantly surprised that for not having used it in a while, that my fist wasn't all that bad! I cleaned the contacts by rubbing them using a spare QSL card and re-adjusted the spacing and tension. Pretty soon I was sounding almost as good as my keyer and paddles. Notice I said almost, not quite as good as that but not horrid, either. I guess using a bug is like riding a bicycle - once you become comfortable at it, you never forget how.

I finished up the evening by tuning across 30 Meters to hear 1A0C from the Sovereign Order of Malta (Thanks for the clarification, Karl DK5LP) running a pileup. It was a pretty good pileup but he was quite strong - about 579 and getting stronger. I stayed with him for about a 1/2 hour, trying with 5 Watts. As this is a special one for me, I ended up turning up the juice to 85 Watts and nabbed him on my third attempt after that.  The DXpedition is there for about five more days, so I will try again over the weekend using QRP - if I hear them.


The Sovereign Order of Malta is a charitable arm of the Catholic Church.  They have been in existence since around 1050 and are dedicated to helping the sick and poor throughout the world. Recently, Raymond Cardinal Burke was named patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a man whom I admire greatly. It was a special treat to have worked them.

So Amateur Radio-wise, 2015 is off to a flying start. I hope it keeps going that way all year long! Let's see if I can work both Foxes in the 80 Meter Fox hunt tonight. ( I did. Yay! )

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

This post is going to get me into trouble!

John KK4ITN left a comment on my post "Conditions" over at AmateurRadio.com. Here's a line from it:

"Seems when the bands are down every person with a ‘bug’ is out calling cq. Wish they would put code oscillators and dummie loads on sale. Dits at 20 wpm and dahs at 5 wpm."

I guess it's not directly related to band conditions, and I'm not sure that John's claim is 1,000,000% accurate, however - he makes an excellent point.

Not to dump on bug users, because I have a bug. I like using a bug. Using a straight key makes the arthritis in my hands go "Hey! Stop that!" But unless I've practiced with my bug (off the air) for a while .... my sending can be pretty bad.  So I try to make it a point to take the KX3 "off the air" and practice sending with my bug on a regular basis.  Not as regularly as I should, but I try to keep in decent practice.

I agree with John and I would posit that listening to someone use a bug (or even a straight key or paddles, for that matter), who doesn't know how to use it properly, is akin to listening to nails being scratched across a blackboard. NB: For any younger readers, a blackboard is what we used in school before the advent of whiteboards and smartboards.  If you scrape your fingernails across the surface of a blackboard, it makes a sound unlike anything you've ever heard. It literally hurts to listen to it.  It will make your teeth ache. There's something about human fingernails and slate that just don't mix. Listening to someone scratch a balloon is almost as bad. But .... I digress.

The phrase, "Dits at 20 wpm and dahs at 5 wpm" resonated with me.  Morse Code sent like that is not only unreadable - even worse, it's unbearable.  No one is asking that all Morse be sent so that it sounds like it's coming from a keyer or a computer - but for Pete's sake - at least make sure your sending is copyable!

I would suggest that anyone who is inclined to use a bug perform this little exercise.  Send some Morse and record it, either with a tape recorder (do they still make those?), or, I believe most smartphones have a voice recorder feature. Do it off the air. Either send your RF into a dummy load or turn off your "VOX" - that usually will put your rig into code practice oscillator mode.

Send some Morse, listen to it, and copy what you sent. Be honest and critical with yourself. If you can honestly copy what you've sent, then you're probably good enough to go live. It might even be a good idea to wait a day or two between the sending part and the listening to yourself part - just in order to make it a bit more objective.

I can tell you for a fact, that I have done this - I have listened to my own bug fist - and have said, "Oh my!".  It was a rude, but necessary awakening. I am totally glad that I did not subject my fellow Hams to what I had thought was decent sending.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Today was a lot of fun

Well, actually last night AND today were a lot of fun!  And there’s more to go tonight as the 40 Meter QRP Fox hunts start up again tonight.

I ended up working only three stations last night. First, I had a quick 2X QRP QSO with Dave NE5DL down in Texas on 20 Meters to start SKN off.  That was followed by two rag chews. The first was on 40 Meters with N4LZY, Jerry in Tennessee and was followed by a chew with K3OWZ, John in PA.  John was  using a Heathkit Apache and a National NC303 receiver.  Good stuff!

I was on the air off and on for a good portion of today. I worked Dan SM5IMO in Sweden, and had a nice chat with John VE1BA in Nova Scotia.  John was running three Watts and had a killer signal into NJ.  That was followed up by a nice chat with another John – K4BAI in Georgia.  John and I meet up in the QRP sprints and the Fox hunts.  John is a “Ham’s Ham” and a gentleman to boot.  It’s always extremely nice hooking up with K4BAI.

I worked Dave K3Y/2 on 40 Meters.  LOUD signal into New Jersey from New York state.

The I had an experience that was unique.  I was working Stan AEØSL on 20 Meters when the band kicked out on us and we both faded away into the QSB.  From there, I jumped on up to 17 Meters and worked VP2MRV in Montserrat.  After finishing up with Nao, I began to tune around 17 Meters and whom should my wandering ears hear calling CQ?  None other than Stan AEØSL, who I had just worked only minutes before on 20 Meters.  He was much, much louder on 17 Meters and we were able to finish up our busted QSO.  Now how many times has that happened to you?  Dare I say – not many?

I then finished up my afternoon by busting a small pileup to work K1GI/VP9 in Bermuda.  A pileup for Bermuda you ask?  Well, yes.  There were hardly ANY signals on 17 Meters, so in this instance, even Bermuda was like chum to a shark.

Last night and today, the majority of my Morse was sent with my Vibroplex Original that I restored a few years back.  I was surprised how quickly I was able to send decent  presentable code.  It’s like the old adage about riding a bicycle – that once you learn, you never forget.  I didn’t sound atrocious to the point that I was embarrassed to be using it; because believe me, if I was that bad I would not have subjected anyone’s ears to a bad cacophony of dits and dahs.  Also, the Reverse Beacon Network was picking up my CQs, so the skimmers were able to decode my sending.  And if the computers were able to figure it out, then a real live Ham should have had even less trouble.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had the opportunity to spend so much of a day in the shack, behind the radio. I thoroughly enjoyed it and could get quite used to it, given the chance.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP – When you care to send the very least!

Hot!

The first day of Summer came as a prototypical Summer day – hot and humid!  The high temperature did reach 96F (35C) and is expected to be about the same tomorrow (maybe a little higher) and in the 90s on Friday. A heatwave is defined as a period of at least three days with temps in the 90s – so Summer is starting off with a bang!

Unfortunately, our air conditioning unit picked a heckuva time to give up the ghost!  We have a repairman coming tomorrow and I am keeping my fingers crossed that we will not need a new compressor.  Our Central AC unit was not brandy new when we bought the house 14 years ago, so it may be time for a new one. Eeep!

On the CW-Bugs Yahoo group, Donnie WA9TGT posted a picture of a beautiful (and I mean beautiful!) picture of a bug that he fabricated himself.  I would love to post a copy here; but the original is in his picture folder on the group, so  it is not public property.  If you are a member of the group, however, you can take a  look-see for yourself at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cw_bugs/photos/recent/1291589982/view  It is a thing of beauty and I wish I had the talent to make things like this.

Now for something not radio related: If you have a kindle and are also on Facebook, here’s a site to “like”:
http://www.facebook.com/EreaderNewsToday

Over the past few months I have been able to “buy” about 30 or 40 books for FREE.  There are all types of genres available and there may be days when it seems that nothing good is being offered except for a bunch of turkeys.  But then the days come when there are a lot of good mysteries, suspense novels, thrillers, etc. In true Ham fashion, stuff that’s offered for free can’t be all bad, can it?

This weekend is Field Day and the weather here in the Northeast looks to be perfect for it. I will not be participating this year as my sister and I have to finish clearing out my Mom’s apartment before the end of the month.  We’ve gotten a lot taken care of so far; and are about halfway done.  I think all the small stuff will be boxed up and moved out this weekend.  Whatever furniture is left over will be donated to charity and will be picked up next week.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP – When you care to send the very least!

The opposite of the other night

It’s like going from the ridiculous to the sublime.

Tonight a real treat was in store. My CQ on 40 Meters (yes, 40 Meters was quiet tonight, yay!) was answered by K4BXN, Crit who hails from Hendersonville, NC .  Crit and I have QSO’ed a few times before; and as always, listening to his fist is pure pleasure.  Crit was using an old bug with his K3, and if he hadn’t mentioned it, you would have thought for sure that he was using an electronic keyer and paddles.

Courtesy of K4BXN and QRZ.com

Perfect spacing and perfect sending – period.  Music to my ears. And sending Morse like that with a bug is no mean feat.  From my own experience, I know it’s so easy to develop a swing. Not that a swing is necessarily a bad thing – but it can be if you’re not careful.  It takes a lot of practice and a lot of skill to be as good as K4BXN.  But boy, is it a treat to listen to!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP – When you care to send the very least!


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