Tag Archives: qsl cards

Logs and QSL cards

Since I logged my first HF QSO back in 2005 I have been using one type or another of software logging. I have also enjoyed exchanging QSL cards but never developed a good system at keeping them organized. Jumping from one logging program to the next, managing the “sent” and “received” QSL card fields have been hit or miss. A good portion of my contacts were uploaded to eQSL. Some were pushed out to LoTW. But I am not at all certain that either accurately reflects all my logged contacts. Compounding the problem has been multiple moves and military facilitated DXpeditions to Iraq and Korea. So what I am left with is a filing cabinet drawer full of QSL cards and a hard drive full of various log files.

It would be nice to get this mess sorted out.

I taking a three-step approach to establish order out of chaos.

(1) Gather all my software based log files. Use a file format compatible with fldigi and convert all the log files accordingly… with the end result of one consolidated log.

(2) Organize all QSL cards by date. I have a few boxes that QSL cards fit in nicely as well as tabbed dividers. This will allow me to fairly easily crosscheck the cards I have against the digital log.

(3) Stick with fldigi as my logging program. Update the QSL card “sent” and “receive” fields as I mail out cards or receive them. File received cards by date of contact.

(BONUS) I am pretty sure I achieved DXCC back in 2007, but have never been able to sit down and pull out the 100 cards I need. With a consolidated log and QSL cards organized by date, I will be able to easily find my 100 cards.

What’s going on in the hamshack?

(1) Two shelves are up. I offloaded my computer that handles the weather station, my printer, the EchoIRLP node, and the TM-D710A that supports both the weather station via APRS and the EchoIRLP node. I put wheels on the hamshack table after I moved it from the rental we were in to our current house. This raised the table to the perfect height, allowing my chair to slide under. The wheels also allow me to swing the table out to get to the back side and take care of any wiring issues with a fair degree of ease. But the weight of the equipment that piled up on the far end of the table made it hard to move. With the equipment I rarely touch placed up on the shelves, the table is much easier to move.

(2) I got my West Mountain Radio Super PWRgate PG40S hooked up. And it works! Additionaly, I have an UPS hooked up. So I should be good for backup power to run the weather/APRS station.

(3) The maps are up! I have the world map and a North America map. It looks like Millennia Arts no longer produce these maps. Who can blame them? I purchased these maps in 2006 and how many additional entities have there been since then? I’d imagine it is just not cost effective to produce up-to-date, high-quality maps like these.

(4) My kindergardener had a weekend project to collect 100 of something. Why not a 100 QSL cards? I dug through my pile pieceing together a variety of cards. Not quite ready for DXCC submission, but going through my tub-o-cards has motivated me to organize my card collection (… and prep for my DXCC submission).

(5) Speaking of QSL cards, it is time to address the “log problem”. Since my first DX contact (VP5VAC, 21 May 2005, on 6M), I have jumped around to differnt logging programs (and different computer OSes). I have txt files, MDB files, and adi files. Logs from special event stations, lighthouse activations, Field Day, Iraq, Korea, and just sitting in front of the rig spinning and grinning. I have used LoTW and eQSL. I’ve also had a few different callsigns. It is time to establish the MASTER LOG. One-stop-shopping for all my contacts that exist currently as some form of a digital log. The tool to get me to where I need to be appears to be DX Shell’s Contest LogChecker. The application will allow me to take many different types of formated logs and combine them together.

(6) Were we speaking of QSL cards? Jeff, KE9V, says he is getting out of the QSL card game. [AE5X as well] I can understand his motivations and why he arrived at the decision to forego the hard copy QSL card. I may, someday, arrive at a similar decision. Although it looks like AA6E is proud of his card. But as of now, I still love QSL cards… desinging my own, sending them, receiving them, getting that fat package from the Buro, etc. That being said, I designed a new QSL card for my new QTH here in Lansing, KS:

…. I hope to receive them soon – and hope to work you soon so I can send one your way.

The Lansing, KS Hamshack


Progress has been slow in getting my shack setup at the new QTH in Lansing, KS. I had success running three differnt feedlines from the shack, through a narrow path between the basement ceiling and the main floor to an access box on the houses exterior wall exiting to the side yard. I purchased 50′ coax cables for each run, thinking that 50′ feet might have been too long. However, 50′ ended up being right on the nose, offering me just the right amount of slack in the hamshack and easily reaching the access panel on the exterior wall.

I have unpacked the majority of my equipment that came from Korea and from the old house in Leavenworth. The weather station and VHF/UHF antenna is temporarily mounted on our deck. The plan is to mount it on the chimney, but I am going to need some help getting it up there.

I have a Buddipole up in the side yard and connected it up to one of the feedlines. I fired up the K3 and the radio seems to be working well. Next I tried connecting the Microham USB III digital interface, but have run into some trouble in getting it to cooperate with fldigi. This time, once I get everything working, I am going to copy down all the settings as well as the connections to make sure next time I move it, I don’t have such a steep curve to re-figure out what I had already figured out some time ago.

Some minor problems I am encountering (besides the fldigi/Microham USB III): the weather station gets buggy when I am transmitting on VHF and the weather station software freezes up when I transmit on 40M. The later problem is nothing new and I had limited success trouble shooting the problem by adding chokes to the weather station data display power supply and putting the computer that runs the weather station software on an UPS. The VHF transmission problem is new. I have a 2″ PVC pipe that both the VHF antenna and the weather station are mounted on. I have not previously had a problem with any interference from the VHF antenna, but I will try and move the weather station down the PVC pipe a bit and see if that eliminates the interference issue.

Tasks that still await me: cleaning up the workbench, clearing out the excess boxes that are lying around, organize the QSL cards. I need to establish (and stick with) a system for managing QSL cards. I am pretty sure I have enough cards to get my DXCC, but I have to put the cards in order. I also have a stack of cards to send to the outgoing bureau for the YI9MI operation and a handfull for HL2/AD7MI and HL9MI.

W1AW

I’ve had QSOs with W1AW when they’ve been at the Dayton Hamfest as well as other locations around the country, but I had never logged the home station back in Connecticut. That is until I was on my way back from the National World War I Museum where we had an offsite class followed by a guided tour of the museum. I’d been to the museum twice before without a guide and it was great having a guide this time. Our seminar leader is a colonel in the German Army, one of our classmates is from the British Army, and our PhD for this block is from Australia – so it was great getting an international perspective to WWI. As Americans, we tend to be myopic about WWI, not realizing that we only entered at the very end of the war. While our contribution was critical, it was a small sacrifice compared to how Europe had suffered. The museum is excellent – half is devoted to the war before US entry and the other covering the American Expeditionary Force.

But I digress – yes… the QSO with W1AW. I was on my way back to Leavenworth from the museum in Kansas City and was tuning around 20M. Up pops W1AW, the guest op was Mark from southern California, with a booming signal. I got him on the second call and am now happily in the log.

I am looking forward to the arrival of my new QSL cards so I can send one out (along with the SASE) to get a QSL card from W1AW.

Launching The Loop Skywire

Back in early October I finally strung an HF antenna here at the Kansas QTH. The antenna was a RadioWavz End Fed Zep. The performance was mixed and I never did get it to load on 75M. I am a believer in the magic of a dipole (132′ fed with ladderline). But the geography of the Kansas QTH would really only support a dipole running east/west and radiating north/south… not what I wanted. The End Fed Zep was a compromise allowing me to make the antenna run north/south and radiating east/west. As I said, the performance was lacking. In comes the Loop Skywire. A past QST article talks about setting up a horizontal loop: The Skywire Loop, November 1985.

The author, Dave Fischer (W7FB) avoids theory and talks about just the specifics of construction and antenna performance. The basic principles of setting up the horizontal loop include its horizontal position over ground and maximizing the enclosed area within the loop. Ideally, the loop is installed as a circle – but reality tends to make it look more like a square… a compromise between number of skyhooks/antenna wire supports and maximum enclosed area. Ideal height above ground is 40 feet, but the higher the better. Like most wire antennas that you try to use beyond their fundamental harmonic, it is recommended you feed the loop with ladderline to minimize feedline loss. To determine the length of wire required for the loop divide 1005 by your fundamental frequency in MHz. If you set up a loop for 80M, it should also provide good performance from 80M up to 10M. The loop should radiate omnidirectionally and greatly minimize local RF noise. It’s low take off angle also supports good DX performance.

At the recent hamfest I went to in Kansas City, I purchased two 150′ rolls of #14 flex-weave copper antenna wire as well as a few 100′ rolls 3/32″ black Dacron rope. From MFJ I had a 6-pack of ceramic insulators. I had about 75′ of 300-omh ladderline as well as a ladderline feedpoint insulator. Along with my CVS19 Pneumatic Antenna Launcher – I was ready to fly this skywire.

Installation took all afternoon, but the weather was great and I took my time. I ended up with 6 antenna supports, trying my best to make it as circular as possible. My CVS19 Launcher continues to perform well. My bicycle pump broke so I switched to the 12v roadside tire pump in the XYL’s emergency auto kit. This made for a quick turn around for prepping the CSV19 for successive antenna wie support lines. Setting up most of the ceramic insulators as “floating” allowed me to apportion the copper wire as needed around the loop. In the end, my loop was a bit less than 300′ and had the shape of a long oval rather than a square (or circle).

After connecting a 4:1 voltage balun to the ladderline and running coax to my LDG AT-200 Pro tuner I was on the air. My first observation was that the antenna was very quiet. Were previously I had S3 to S5 background noise, the noise floor dropped to S1 or in some cases was completely gone. The loop tunes easily from 80M to 10M.

Another indicator of success – a 20M QSO with my dad, KD6EUG, in California. A goal that has been on my list for almost a year. I was also able to work stations in British Columbia, Maine, Michigan, and Oklahoma. There are still a few more adjustments I want to make on the loop, but so far I am pretty happy with it and look forward to seeing what more it can do.

I guess now I need to make a QSL card for the Leavenworth, KS QTH so I can send one to KD6EUG.

YI9MI QSLing

I have devoted a significant amount of time to plow through QSL cards for my YI9MI operation in Iraq last year. The highlight was getting a few cards with actual valid CW contacts. The hard part was sending QSL cards back to folks who had contacts with the CW pirate station. I know this isn’t a news flash, but why does the Post Office never know what to do with an IRC? I handed over a stack and it took a few phone calls before the postman working the counter said I could get one 0.94 airmail stamp for each IRC. I know that is not the right answer, but at least I got the QSL cards in the mail. So now all the direct QSLs have been taken care of and I will get the QSL BURO cards finished by the end of the week. I have never used the ARRL’s outgoing QSL bureau before, so this will be a learning experience.
I have been reviewing the rules this year’s field day. It looks like my dad and I will be running a 2B field day site. Now we have to figure out what antennas we are going to use. I would like to try a wire vertical in addition to the flattop dipole we are putting up.

Saturday


I am (at long last) catching up on all the QSL cards from my YI9MI operation in Iraq. Lots of cards through the ARRL Incoming Bureau and good deal of direct as well. I was able to answer many of the cards from Iraq – those who acted quickly and sent their card early got them back. I just have not had a lot of time since I have been back to complete the task, but am finally making headway. The biggest issue was the pirate station who was using my callsign (YI9MI) and making CW contacts. The pirate was a very proficient CW op and worked most of Europe and Japan… from what I can see for the QSL cards I am getting. When I was operating from Iraq I’d see a spot for my call on the DX cluster showing a CW freq and quickly discovered my callsign was being pirated. I put a note on QRZ to check my logbook to confirm the contact before sending a QSL card but it looks like many did not.

The next step is to try to figure out how to get all the YI9MI contacts on LOTW. I think I got them all on eQSL, but I need to check.

A Sunday In November

Temperatures have dropped here in eastern Kansas, off the Missouri and Platte Rivers. Morning temps are getting down to the high teens but we’ve had generally clear skies – so no snow yet.

Been having a problem with my Toyota Tundra. I had the shocks replaced about two months ago, but I am still having a suspension issues. Often when I drive over uneven pavement I hear a type of popping or low banging. I’m dropping the truck off tomorrow morning at a garage in town and I hope they identify and fix the problem.

I popped the first cap on the KC Ale this past Thursday. One word: Tasty! I was so happy with the results that I brought in a 12-pack to distribute to my small group at CGSC. We will see what kind of feed back I get tomorrow. The KC Ale batch has a great cooper color, medium head, slight hoppy aroma. The taste is crisp and smooth, no off-flavors.

The California Common batch went into secondary fermentation last Tuesday (18 NOV). I’ll try to get it bottled up this coming Wednesday (26 NOV). Then it should be ready for a first by 11 DEC… a good day to celebrate my last night class for this term.

While the CGSC program here at Fort Leavenworth is considered a Masters-level program, it does not award a degree at graduation (unlike the Navy’s program in Monterey or the Air Force in Alabama). Therefore, in order to get a masters, I signed up to take two night classes a week and then by graduation I’ll get the degree. It is a bit of pain now, but this is really the only opportunity I am going to get to earn a master’s degree.

Back to beer: I need to get crackin’ and cook up the batch of Raspberry Wheat. If I am able to get it into primary fermentation today, I should be able to hit secondary fermentation by next Sunday (30 NOV) and then bottle by 14 DEC. It should be nice and tasty by New Year’s Eve.

I need to put together a sample pack for my Team Jedi brethren (Team Jedi are the fine folks I spent my last year in Iraq with). So it looks like the pack will consist of ESB, KC Ale, California Common, and the Raspberry Wheat.

I’ve also had a request from the 7-land Inbound QSL Bureau back in Oregon. I received an email from Marc, NC7M, who let me know I had 200+ QSL cards headed my way. I need to also replenish my postal funds for the bureau. And next week – I will answer all the YI9MI QSL card request that I have… which is quite a significant pile.