Reaching out to stations from HF QSOs 25 years ago….

1-30-2023 –

Hello! 

Please pardon the intrusion.  My name is Scott.  My call was KD5CAS from August 1997 to November 1999, when I became W5WZ.

I was thinking about my first HF QSOs back in September and October 1997, and wanted to reach out to those 18 hams who patiently endured those QSOs with a brand-new ham only 26 years old.  I could barely copy CW at the time, so I’m sure I wasn’t much for conversation.  Searching QRZ, only four remain with active licenses and an email address in the QRZ records.  So this email is being sent to those four.  If you were the person at the other end of one of these QSOs, I’d love to hear from you.

And, if you happen to have notes in your logbook about our QSO, or have my inbound QSL card, I would love to have a digital scan or photo of that to add to my radio history.

I was licensed as a technician plus at the time.  The rig was a Kenwood TS-430, and the antenna was a ladder-line feed 132-foot dipole.

I’ve been active on HF continually for the past 25 years.  I’ve grown to love DXing and contesting.  With lots of help from others, we’ve built a competitive contest station at my home in Louisiana.  

Along the way, my wife and all four children earned ham licenses.

I’ve attended the Dayton Hamvention 9 times, and have ham friends all around the world.

My basic radio info is found on QRZ at https://www.qrz.com/db/W5WZ

Twenty years of radio exploits are documented at https://www.w5wz.com/

I’m grateful for my elmer, W5LA, who is a close friend to this day.  And likewise, I’m grateful to you for the QSO in my radio infancy.  I wanted you to know that this has been an enjoyable journey, and you each are a part of it.

Thank you so much,

73, Scott, W5WZ (ex KD5CAS)


I was pleased to receive replies via email from two of the four:


Well Hello Scott,

It has certainly been a while. Back when we had our QSO I believe I just upgraded to extra and upgraded from a Kenwood TS-440SAT to a new Icom IC-756. While I had taken a break from the hobby I have upgraded the station over the years. When we had our QSO I was running the Icom 756 with a Cushcraft R-7000 40-10 meter vertical, I no longer have the 756 but I still have the R-7000, the matching network failed a few years ago and is now just a pile of parts. I still have my Astron RS-50M power supply, MFJ-986 tuner and still use my AEA PK-88 that I used to digipeat through the MIR space station, now used through the ISS. My station now consists of two Icom IC-775DSP transceivers, Alpha 76A, Palstar AT-1500CV,(soon to be upgraded to a Palstar AT 4K) MFJ-986, Icom IC-2000, two Heil ICM boom mics, and a Icom IC-9700 all mode VHF/UHF transceiver, soon to be paired with a Icom IC-7300. My primary antennas are a Buckmaster 3kW off center 7 band dipole, an inverted L for 160 and various VHF/UHF antennas. I just purchased a High Gain 640 AV and a Comet GP-95 VHF/UHF vertical but have not installed them yet. I have included a link to my general album that I have posted both of the QSL cards I received form you and the current state of my HAM / Test and measurement shack. https://photos.app.goo.gl/gksC6mUmF7UaUMz27

QSL cards sent by me to N7UQA for my 10th and 155th QSOs ever

73 and thanks for the links.

Craig Petersen – N7UQA

Thanks for your email. congrats.. I was 37 then..

62 now still working with new cw ops. Just helped a guy on 20 cw today.

73, Dennis WD9DWE

Incremental Improvements and Maintenance

1/16/2023 – As the station grows and matures, there is always work to be done!

This evening I accomplished some improvement items in the shack for position C, to enable more efficient in-band Search & Pounce integration with position B

  • Installed Y-Box on K3 at position C
  • Built cable to connect EA4TX Interlock to Y-Box at position C
  • Built cable to connect Top Ten Band Decoder to Y-Box at position C
  • Built cable to connect Top Ten Band Decoder to Dunestar 600 bandpass filter at position C
  • Tested the function of Y-Box, Interlock, Band Decoder, and Dunestar at position C

1/18/2023 – I made six laminated N1MM+ “help” cards, containing many key assignments and some cool macro commands. They are printed on both sides, with unique data on each side. The MS-Word file is available here.

Laminated N1MM+ “hint card”. These should be an asset to operators in the fog of war moments.

January 2023 – NAQP CW at W5WZ M/2

1/14/2023 – Five operators gathered for the Jan-2023 NAQP CW at W5WZ, competing as a M/2 entry. Past efforts from W5WZ have made the “top ten” box, so our goals were high.

With the improving band conditions, we have been looking forward to the 2023 spring series of NAQP contests. About a week ago, I got sick and didn’t feel like doing anything at the station all week.

  • A few items remain undone on the maintenance list:
  • Stringing out the feedline for three “non-mowing season” beverages for NW, SE, SW;
  • Replacing the balun on the KT-34 used for Run2 in-band S&P radio;
  • After recent heavy rains, the 160 Inv-L is non-functional, cause unknown;
  • Middle C-31XR TicRing position pot needed replacing (finished 1.5 hrs before contest start);
  • Need new cable between EA4TX Interlock and K3 at position C;
  • West beverage is deaf, either shorted transformer or open termination resistor.

As for the NAQP CW contest, we gathered a few more ops than normal: station regulars W5WZ, WM5H along with W5LA, KD5YS, and first time guest op K5TS. We knew we wanted to open on 10 and 15 meters, although many times from our location if those bands are open they are too long to sustain good rates for us. So, with that in mind, we began.

Although we didn’t make as many QSOs as we hoped, I think this was as much fun as we’ve ever had in an NAQP CW, and also our highest score, due to the mult counts on the 10 & 15 bands that haven’t been good in several years.

Band QSOs Mults
160: 0 0
80: 318 54
40: 250 60
20: 449 62
15: 307 54
10: 172 36
Total: 1496 266 Total Score 397,936

Elecraft K3 – Line Out TX Monitor

Dec 2022 / Jan 2023 —

I have been trying to setup up the K3 and Mumble to enable proper audio for remote operation.  The issue encountered was at the remote location, microphone input was being played back into my ears with the round trip induced latency, essentially “jamming” my ability to speak coherently.

Thanks to an email with the exact solution from Kazu M0CFW, M5Z, JK3GAD, I have figured it out!  K3 LIN OUT has a TX MON setting that was added later than my printed user manuals (K3 # 251, so it has been around a while).

K3 MCU 5.58 / DSP 2.88 / FPF 1.26, 3-16-2017

* PREAMP 2 (ON KXV3B) NOW USABLE ON 15 AND 17 M: PREAMP 2 improves noise figure by about 6 dB on 15 m and 3 dB on 17 m relative to PREAMP 1.

* TX LINE OUT (MONITOR) LEVEL NOW ADJUSTABLE: In CONFIG:LIN OUT menu entry, tap ‘2’  (REV switch) to set the “T=” level (TX monitor). Tap ‘2’ again to return to the RX LINE OUT setting

K3 documentation and software update

All three of my K3 had TX MON = 30.  Adjust to 0, Mumble problem 100% resolved!

I remember now that this was set to provide ability to record N1MM voice keyer messages on the fly! Because I didn’t remember, I’ve made notes in the config matrix of all my K3 manuals.

–Scott, W5WZ

Nov SS SSB @ KG5VK

I drove 4 hours over to Ben Franklin, Texas to participate with the KG5VK team for the 2022 ARRL November Sweepstakes SSB.

There were several firsts for me in this trip: First time to operate from the NTX section. First time to operate a Flex radio, a 6600. First time to operate with Steve KG5VK since he moved from Louisiana to Texas. Check our score on 3830.

It was windy, cold, and the ground was muddy, so I didn’t spend much time outdoors. I didn’t take any photos of the station either. I must be slacking. But Steve did take a picture of me operating!

W5WZ operating at KG5VK during 2022 ARRL November Sweepstakes SSB

BIC – An important part of contesting

Keeping your butt in the chair is an important part of contesting. Sometimes the chair is the source of discomfort that leads to diminished BIC time. The chairs in my shack were a mixture of cheap and hand-me-down office task chairs that were not very comfortable.

Mixture of chairs – 3 very cheap task chairs and one moderate quality chair that I selfishly always use.

Yesterday my wife KW5MOM and I were shopping for a new bed for the guest bedroom. I saw some used chairs in the corner and asked about them. The proprietor told me they were $50 each. So I made a deal for five of the Herman Miller chairs.

A pair of the five “new-to-me” Herman Miller chairs, which are highly adjustable.

I hope my shack guests will find them more comfortable. At the very least, all the chairs are the same now.

If you have thoughts or experiences regarding chairs for the contest station, please comment below!

Boom + Microphone + Mount <$90

A year ago I wrote about my Christmas 2018 “self-gift”, the pair of JBL Control 2P powered monitor speakers that I integrated into my shack with a Mackie 1202-VLZ Pro. This continues to be enjoyed in my shack because I can listen to multiple sources without being tethered by a headset cord.

Similarly, I’ve been tethered by headset cord to all my microphones because they are all headset mikes. For some time, I had desired an articulating boom + microphone setup. However, I did not want to pay for brand new equipment just to try something out, and I wasn’t really sure how or where I would mount it to not be in the way when not using it.

I had read on the Elecraft reflector some interesting commentary about brands of microphones. As the K3 has a built-in transmit equalizer, it seemed the consensus leaned away from the brand that is marketed as the elite microphones for ham radio. I studied some other brands and the frequency response and cardioid patterns of several microphones.

Shure PGA 48 response charts

Soon, I found one that I was willing to buy and try. I found a new condition, open box Shure PGA48 with a 15-ft XLR cable and mic clip on eBay for $33 to my door.

What’s in the box.

At the same time on eBay, I found a used mic boom, Heil PL2 missing the cable covers and any type of mount, for $50 to my door. Tiny zip ties will hold the cable just fine.

The items arrived, and I was left with figuring out a way to mount the boom. An ‘ah-ha’ moment struck, and a simple solution was found. My radio desk has a brace under the tabletop in just the right place. I drilled a 5/8″ hole through the tabletop and into the 2×4 brace for a total depth of 2 inches. After vacuuming the shavings out, I pressed a steel sleeve bushing O.D. 5/8″, I.D. 1/2″, Length 1-1/2″ ($3 at the local hardware store) into the hole, creating a flush-mount for the boom to sit in. It works perfectly!

$3 steel sleeve bushing O.D. 5/8″, I.D. 1/2″, Length 1-1/2

Next was to listen to how I sounded with the existing TX EQ settings in the K3. I had a set of “rotating” TX macros set up to allow me to quickly step through five different TX EQ settings.

RAG-1 TE+06+06+00+06+00+04+08+12;MN110;SWT24;SWT21;SWT14;
RAG-2 TE+00+00+10+04+04+06+08+12;MN110;SWT27;SWT21;SWT14;
DX TE+00+00+00-06+00+04+08+12;MN110;SWT29;SWT21;SWT14;
VERY-DX TE-06-06+00-06+00+04+08+12;MN110;SWT33;SWT21;SWT14;
FLAT TE+00+00+00+00+00+00+00+00;MN110;SWT13;SWT21;SWT14;

After transmitting at 0.1 watts on 10m and listening via another K3 on a distant beverage antenna, I have settled on these as my initial settings for the new microphone:

SHURE TE-16-14-04+00+02+04+08+12;MN110;SWT34;SWT21;SWT14;
SHURE-DX TE-16-16-10-06+04+06+08+12;MN110;SWT32;SWT21;SWT14;

Yesterday afternoon, I enjoyed many casual QSOs on 17m and 20m using the completely “untethered” accessories. I even experimented with VOX and improved the settings to work effectively with the Shure mic.

And here it is! Boom + Microphone + Mount <$90

Summary: This is a worthwhile purchase and it will enhance my casual operating enjoyment.

ARRL Field Day – 2020

Call: W5WZ
Operator(s): W5WZ WM5H
Station: W5WZ

Class: 2E LP
QTH: LA
Operating Time (hrs): 19:37

Summary:

Band CW Qs Ph Qs

80: 94 0
40: 318 15
20: 791 3
15: 711 172
10: 172 125


Total: 2086 315 2401 Total Score = 8,974

2019 CQ WW CW M/S HP

First time every for a Multi-Op of any major CW contest. We had fun, and wished for more operators to share the fun and BIC time.

As always, thanks to WM5H for pre-contest work getting the station ready and for good food.

Very glad to have my elmer, Jim W5LA, BIC for the majority of the run workload. We are going to make a serious contester out of him!

Band QSOs Zones Countries
160: 67 14 41
80: 168 24 82
40: 256 31 110
20: 775 34 133
15: 89 23 75
10: 39 11 21
Total: 1394 137 462 Total Score 2,210,909

During a post-contest phone call with K8AZ, Tom remarked that a country count more than 400 in the M/S category is a serious competitive effort.