The “BK 1929 QSO Party” From BC

With this being my final blogspot of 2017, let me take this opportunity to wish all readers and radio friends season's greetings and good health and happiness in the coming new year.  It's hard to believe that this is blog posting #470, having started blogging in the spring of 2014 ... how time flies when you're having fun. It flies even quicker when your both old and having fun at the same time!


The AWA's annual premier operating event, the "Bruce Kelley 1929 QSO Party", affectionately known as the "BK", has once again come and gone and some have already begun the countdown to next year's fun!

The hoped-for good conditions, not seen in the past few years, almost became a reality as it wasn't a complete washout like last year's event. Spread over two consecutive Saturday evenings, the best conditions were on the second night, but with just a few east coast stations making it into the log. Several of the 'eastern regulars' were just never heard here, as the band was not quite up to par ... maybe next year will see a return to the great low band conditions of the past.

As usual, I began on 40m, shortly after the BK start at around 1500 local time, and a good hour and a half before local sunset. Usually, 40m isn't too productive until closer to sunset and then, only briefly, as eastern stations have usually moved down to 80m just as the band opens up out here. Contacts with KØPK (MN) and K4JYS (KY) were followed by exchanges with locals VE7BDQ (John) and new BK'er VE7CNF (Toby).

As always, K4JYS's 1929 designed Hartley oscillator using a 210 at 20W input, made it up to this region consistently and was 559 with over an hour of daylight remaining.

K4JYS's 210 Hartley

John and Toby both chose to build relatively rare 1929 designed Colpitts oscillators and were both exceptionally strong here.

VE7BDQ's Colpitts 45s


VE7CNF's Colpitts 45s

Here is a recording of VE7CNF's Colpitts on 80m thanks to Mark, VA7MM.

KK7UV, Steve in Montana, called in next, using his painstakingly restored REL MOPA (Master Oscillator Power Amplifier). His 5W input was a solid S7 here.

KK7UV's REL

Moving down to 80m just after 1700 local time, netted contacts with WB9WHG (WI), KØSM (NY), W2ICE (NY), WA9WFA (MN) and W8KGI (NM) all before dinner hour.

I think Scott (WA9WFA) may be the only other Colpitts user and was a solid 569 here using his pair of 10s at 20W input.

WA9WFA's Colpitts '10s

The band slowly deteriorated later in the evening but not before working N4GJV (NC) on his 3W Hartley oscillator and then finishing with back to back contacts with KØPK and KØKP, both in MN.

KØKP's Hartley '10

Weekend two started again in daylight on 40m, with the 25W Hartley signal of W2AN in New York booming into Mayne Island at 589! Truly remarkable with sunset being over 30 minutes away. What looked to be a really good night shaping up turned out to be disappointing once again ... but for a few strong 'spotlight' openings to the east, most east coast signals evaded me once again.

W2AN's Hartley 203A

Back on 80 right at sunset brought W2AN (NY) once again followed by WØNYQ (MN) with his 4W TNT doing a nice job at 569.

WØNYQ's 4W TNT with a 245

80m contacts were completed with N8YE (OH), NO3M (PA), W3GMS (PA) and the highlight of the evening, N2OUV, Joe in NY, running his 10W '29 Hartley and peaking 579 on the transcontinental path. I rarely work Joe but when I do it's always a delight as it was his YouTube video that originally inspired me to become a '29 builder and participant!

N2OUV's 211 Hartley



Hats off as well to Joe, W3GMS in PA whose rare original 18W TNT was putting an impressively solid signal into the west coast for over an hour ... he must have a great antenna.


W3GMS's Original '29 210 TNT

Once again, I used my homebrew MOPA using type '10s for all contacts but I could have just as readily used my Hull Hartley or TNT as there was absolutely no wind on either weekend ... a very rare happening here on the ocean!

VE7SL's '10  MOPA
I had just 23 AWA contacts this year, maybe the poorest result for me so far. I went QRT at around 12 a.m. EST but normally would have stayed later and risen early for the east coast on 80 and 40 but for the fact that I had injured my back earlier in the week and found it very difficult to sit for any length of time ... just twisting around to zero the VFO on the rig sitting behind me was difficult.

One great positive was the appearance of several newcomers to the '29 Party, which seems to be growing in popularity each year. There is still a lot of interest in '29-style construction it would seem and if this is something that you might like to try for next year's event, here are some helpful guidelines from some of my previous blogs to help get those homebrew juices flowing. It's never too early to warm-up that soldering iron!
There is also some hands-on '29-style building info on my website that can be reached here.

While you are at it, don't forget to sign onto the AWAGroup of '29 Builders as there is plenty of help, discussion and good advice waiting for you there.



Hopefully we will see YOU and your new '29 transmitter next year along with those expected great band conditions!
Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

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