Friday, October 23, 2009

Free at last!

I haven't posted much for a while because I have been too busy doing school work. Thankfully, I just finished my last college class and now have my Bachelor's degree in Computer Science. Working full time while raising a family and taking college classes can drain on you and I am glad it is behind me!

Since finishing school, I have been more active on HF. I worked a handfull of PSK31 contacts including 4U1UN. 4U1UN is the UN Headquarters station in New York. This was the first time I have heard this station on the air since being licensed 15+ years ago.

They were calling CQ on 30 meters using RTTY split. I got set up and tried about 10 times to break through the pileup while picking up my basement. I saw 4U1UN report that they were going to take a short break which was fine by me. When they came back online, I saw them work one station and I jumped in right after. I was shocked when they came back to me! In fact, I royally messed up my reply because I was not expecting their call so soon.

I have also been on 40 and 80 meter PSK31 and have had some success working stateside stations.

That's all for now.

Joe N0NS

Monday, June 22, 2009

Recent Activity

Many good things have happened over the past several months.

WAS: It's official, I have worked every state in this great union! I have 49 of the 50 states confirmed with paper QSL cards and the one missing card (MA) is confirmed by LOTW. Many thanks to all of you who have sent me your QSL card! The next obstacle is actually getting the certificate. I am not an ARRL member as of yet which means I have to become a member to apply for the WAS award. The ARRL requires US hams to be ARRL members to apply for ARRL awards which means I"m looking at spending $40 to get the WAS certificate.

Antennas: My GAP Eagle DX has finally been relocated from the middle of my back yard, to being up in the air where it should rightfully be. It is located on a mast that is about 15' tall which places the tip of the antenna at about 35'. I was able to secure the mast to the house and place guy wires to support the antenna. After hooking the antenna up after the move, I worked Guatemala City, Guatemala on RTTY, using 50W. Yay!

Field Day 2009: Field Day is next weekend and my buddy Tom W0EA and I are going to operate QRP from a park. We've decided to try out low power because his rig tops out at 20W and operating QRP during field day nets some pretty impressive bonus multipliers! If you hear W0EA/QRP, that will be us!

73 Joe N0NS

Monday, April 6, 2009


I fixed my PSK interface this week.  The audio plug had a loose connection which made for intermittent audio.  It is back up and works great!

I called CQ on 40 meters and worked a local here in Cedar Rapids followed by a guy in New York.  Both were very loud and easy copies!

I am currently taking a Linear Algebra class and in three weeks, will be taking the summer off.  I am heading up to Canada in May to go fishing and am going to bring the HF setup with me.  I hope to operate a lot up there when not fishing.  The cabins do not have power so I will be on battery power.  This will be the first time I've operated HF away from my home QTH and the first time operating out of country!  I plan on operating mostly CW and some SSB.

I hope to hear you then!

73  Joe  N0NS

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The time does fly...

It has been a while since I updated my blog. The primary reason is my college class load has really been tough on me.

Speaking of college classes, I just wrapped up my Senior Capstone class in which I wrote software to control my Kenwood TS-450S HF rig using the CAT interface.

I built my own interface cable and wrote all of the software. It took eight weeks and a lot of testing but it works very nicely!

The only bad thing is I spent so much time writing code, I did not get to operate. :-(

The good news is the class is done, and I have three more classes before I graduate!

As far as operating... I just worked Jim W0CML out in Parker, CO on 80 meter CW. The band was very good this morning, Jim was 599+20. It was good to work CW again...

More later!

73 Joe N0NS

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Of paddles and interfaces...

My new class started. It is a Senior Capstone. Basically I have eight weeks to design a software project. I chose to build a CAT cable for my Kenwood TS-450S and write software to control said radio. I ordered the CAT cable parts from Jameco and built the cable/electronics this weekend. I am happy to say that it works! I am still in the ground stages of writing the software but have had success with reading and writing frequencies to the radio. I will try to post the source when I finish. Overall, it has been an excellent learning experience for me because I have always wanted to control something via the computer's serial port. The board (pictured below) is basically a converter that changes the RS-232 signal which has the logical bits swinging above and below ground to a standard TTL level. It was fairly easy to build and implement.

I was given a big surprise by my fellow amateur co-worker. He dropped off a Bencher paddle at my desk and said "here, this is yours"....!!!! It made my homebrew paddle go obsolete immediately. I must say I was happy to build my own paddle, but having a heavy commercially built paddle wins for me! With that, I have made a few digital QSO's as of late and a few CW QSO's. Most of my time now is spent trying to debug the CAT software.

My new bencher!

Hope to hear you soon!


Joe N0NS

Monday, January 5, 2009

Two, thank you...

Only two states left to go for WAS. I confirmed MO for WAS! Yay!

I was off for Christmas shutdown and was busy doing a lot of different things. It is a special time for me because it is the only time during the year that I do not have classes or work so I have the chance to truly relax and get things around the house done too. This break I visited my family in Waterloo a few times and my wife and I are in the process of re-finishing our kitchen floor.

On the radio side of things, I have been having trouble with my digital interface box I built. I suspect the variable pot is bad. This is causing no audio from my computer to reach my radio. The problem is intermittent and the last time I thought it was fixed, it was not working the next day.

I worked Croatia on 80 meters the other night. It was at about 1AM local time (0700Z) and I heard a 9A calling CQ and not getting any responces. When I answered him, he came right back to me. Mind you I am using a 40 meter dipole on 80 meters! I am not sure how I am pulling it off but I am more then happy to work DX late night while everyone else is asleep!

Take care,

Joe N0NS

Saturday, December 6, 2008

And then there were three!

A big thanks to the gentlemen at the Yankee Clipper Contest club KI1G for sending me a QSL card from Rhode Island! I also want to thank Devin KB1OSI for sending me his QSL card from New Hampshire! This means I am down to three states before my WAS certificate is in hand. I need Misouri, Mississippi, and Delaware.

Other then that, I have been camped out on the SKCC SKED page and having nice ragchews with the good guys on that site.

That's it for now, stay warm! Joe N0NS