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.
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.
Here is an interesting announcement from: www.yi9pse.com
YI9PSE is the first DXpedition to Kurdistan.
The YI9PSE team has received the approval and blessing of the Kurdistan Regional Government to conduct the first DXpedition from Kurdistan. The YI9PSE team has been invited to demonstrate amateur radio to the Kurdistan Regional Government Ministry of Interior officials, who will visit and observe the YI9PSE DXpedition team in action.
We hope to have a signal on the air late in the evening of the 2nd, and we must tear down our station on the evening of April 11th. We will have ten day visas issued by the Kurdistan Regional Government.
The Kurdistan Regional Government officials are very excited to learn more about amateur radio and see the first DXpedition from Kurdistan take place. They have reviewed, approved of our plans and blessed our operation.
The YI9PSE DXpedition Team.
For those not in the know, Kurdistan is the northern portion of Iraq and the Kurds consider themselves an autonomous entity – which is seen as a contentious concept by the rest of Iraq (Turkey and Iran are also not excited about the idea of a “Kurdistan”). While I applaud the team’s effort, I question the judgment of an operation like this. I wish these gentlemen the best of luck and hope they remain safe but I think they are unnecessarily putting themselves in danger (although I would probably go with them if I had the opportunity).
In meeting my requirement to speak to a community group, school, or other organized gathering of citizens – I debuted my presentation tonight to the Wheat State Wireless Association’s April club meeting – located in Paola, KS.
The club had about a dozen members in attendance – seems like a very nice club, a good number hams who were very friendly and welcoming.
Overall, I think the presentation went well. I think I am going to add a slide that shows the specific equipment that I used while in Iraq and maybe another slide showing the WinLink path between Germany, my station in Iraq, and the one in Qatar. I think maybe a handout as well that includes some of the QST articles that talk about amateur operations in Iraq. The presentation time ran about 30 minutes or so. It seemed like the audience was interested and there were a handful of questions afterwards. One young woman approached me afterwards and told me about how her grandfather was a member of Navy MARS during the Vietnam War and operated phone patches. She said she had never really understood what that was about and that my presentation made her realize the great value her grandfather provided the military personnel and their loved ones. She also said she remembered going into his radio room that had racks of old tube radios and the distinct smell that used to produce when they were in operation.
I have my notes mostly finished and will add a link to my presentation slides here soon.
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.
The title of this post is a little misleading. As I mentioned before, I am attending the Army’s Command & General Staff College (CGSC) here at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas (… I bet you thought I was out here in Kansas just for the nice weather). One of the new requirements we have as students at is to egage in “Strategic Communication”. Wikipedia defines strategic communications as: communicating a concept, a process, or data that satisfies a long term strategic goal of an organization by allowing facilitation of advanced planning. Our requirements as students to engage in strategic communication does not exactly line up with that definition, but I think it gives you an idea of where the Army is headed. The bottom line is the Army wants to develop officers who are familiar and comfortable in dealing with the media in order to get the Army’s “message” out. In the past the military has been traditionally media shy (understatement), either making heavy use of the “no comment” or deferring to our public relations officers. No more. The Army recognizes this is the new media age and those that get their story out first, in a clear and understandable fashion are likely to better garner public support… both domestic and international. Okay… so back to school. My requirements, as related to strategic communications, are to: (1) participate in an actual media interview (television, print, or radio), (2) speak to a community group, school, or other organized gathering of citizens, (3) write professionally by submitting a letter to the editor, Op-Ed piece, or article for publication, and (4) participate in a reputable blog about their military service.
#4 is pretty easy. I think I can figure out how to blog.
#3 not too hard. I can either repurpose one of my existing papers and send in to a newspaper or I can try to be original and maybe send something in to ARRL.
#2 is a bit harder. What I have decided to do for that is put together a presentation of amateur radio operations by military members who are deployed… kind of a DXpedition in a Combat Zone. I have a lot of information on amateur radio operations by folks in both Afghanistan and Iraq and I can use my own experience as well. Then I have to find an amateur radio club to give the talk to. Ideally I need to have all of this complete by the end of March.
…and #1. That is the hardest, in my opinion. Knowing the challenge of this particular requirement, our instructors are allowing us to get credit if we are able to call and get on a radio talk show. This interpretation makes the requirement a little less severe. Now I have to find a radio talk show to call. There are several here in the Kansas City area that I am scoping out:
KCUR: Up To Date
KMBZ: Shanin & Parks
I also found some great advise on how to be prepared before I call at both NPR and KCUR.
Wish me luck.
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.
On SKN He Was There
There once was a man from the city
Who didn’t know how to “dah-ditty.”
He said with chagrin
As he turned the low end,
“To not know the code is a pity.”
So he made up his mind not to bend,
To dig out his key once again,
To grunt and to try,
And not whine and cry;
And his effort was worth it, my friend.
On SKN he was there,
Someone had answered his prayer.
His fist was real clean,
If you know what I mean,
And he smiles with a confident air.
- Hunt Turner, K0HT
New Year Resolutions For 2008
- Maximize the time I spend with my family – make that time count!
- Improve my CW skills. Learn to use my J-38 with a bit of skill.
- Build (and make a QSO with) a QRP kit HF transceiver.
… when I return to the US
- Complete remaining contacts and receive QSL cards in order to qualify for DXCC.
- Streamline amateur radio operations to achieve the following:
(1) Home operation – redesign my home station around my TS-930S. Small footprint and a ascetically pleasing setup.
(2) Mobile operation – centered around the IC-706MKIIG, AH-4 tuner, and the Icom whip antenna. A clean install with solid performance.
(3) Portable operation – rack mounted case with IC-7000.
- Sell, trade, or give away equipment I don’t need….. less is more.
After a painful few weeks of being off the internet, we are now back online through a satellite internet service.
During the internet outage, MARS Winlink/Airmail worked like a champ – allowing me to stay in contact with friends and family. I am impressed with the reliability of WL2K.
Iraq to Be Back on the Air Later This Month (Nov 13, 2007) — Diya Sayah, YI1DZ, President of the Iraqi Amateur Radio Society (IARS), announced today that effective November 20, all Amateur Radio activity will be “back to normal” in Iraq. Sayah said, “All Amateur Radio operators in Iraq who carry a valid Iraqi license will be able to use their radios according to regulations of IARU Region 1 and the IARS.” Amateur Radio activity in Iraq was suspended in March of this year, with the suspension affecting both Iraqi citizens as well as any foreigners — including military personnel and contractors — who have been on the air from Iraq. The request to halt all ham radio activity and the issuance of licenses in Iraq originated with a letter from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as part of a new security plan, Sayah said.