Quadruple QSO party weekend

There hasn’t been a whole lot of radio activity going on here lately since Field Day.

There were four state QSO parties going on this weekend (AZ, NV, PA, SD).  After getting a SD station (W0SD), I decided to try to get at least one contact in the other three.  I wasn’t able to find any more SD stations, but I did manage three contacts in AZ, three in NV, and eight in PA.

While tuning around the other bands (there wasn’t a whole lot), I scored contacts with hams in the Dominican Republic and Slovenia.  There was also someone in Spain, but he had a bit of a pileup going that I wasn’t able to get through.

Also came across the AMSAT International net that I listened to for a little bit.

Good weekend to be on the air.

Field Day 2018

This year’s Field Day was a pretty good one.

Started off doing the first hour of Field Day at home running the radio off battery power. With the radio running 25-50 W, I racked up a few good contacts tuning around 10m, mostly from up and down the east coast.

Field Day antenna setup at the house
Field Day antenna setup at the house

Then it was off to the usual Field Day on the USS Yorktown with the  club. This year we were operating with 2 stations plus a GOTA station that appeared to attract some interest.

The GOTA station was run on battery that was being charged by a solar panel, and also featured a couple of VHF go kits and some Morse code keyers to play with.

At the usual operating locations, people were busy making Field Day contacts. I spent about an hour at the phone station operating, but listening to the band chaos wore me out pretty quickly, so I switched over to logging for a bit.

WA4USN CW/digital station
WA4USN CW/digital station

WA4USN phone station
WA4USN phone station

Spent another hour operating Field Day from home on Sunday morning and was able to score a bunch more contacts fairly easily. Then it was back to the Yorktown to finish off the last couple hours of Field Day and then pack everything away.

At home, I ended up with about 25 contacts over the two hours I was operating. On the Yorktown, the club ended up with 582 contacts spread out over 4 bands and 4 modes. Pretty good this year. Maybe it was the sacrifice of AJ4UQ’s HT to the ocean that helped this year.

We were lucky enough to have a couple of CW operators who were going at a pretty steady pace both days. It was fun to watch them operating. Some day I hope to be there doing CW.

Sunday CW operating for Field Day
Sunday CW operating for Field Day

New battery for the Voltohmyst

Finally got around to replacing the old corroded soldered-in D cell in the RCA Voltohmyst with a new battery today.

1.5V Battery
1.5V Battery

Snipped the wires off the battery and into the trash it went. Had to drill out a rivet to remove the battery holder clip.

Voltohmyst battery removed
Voltohmyst battery removed

The battery holder is a little on the big side and just fits into the space vacated by the old battery and clip. Soldered the wires onto the battery holder and fastened it to the Voltohmyst using some double sided tape.

New battery holder
New battery holder

Now it’s got a new battery that can be replaced whenever it’s needed.

New battery installed
New battery installed

Next thing to do is go through the  manual and read up on how to calibrate the meter.

Museum Ships Weekend 2018

I ended up being busier than originally anticipated and was only able to operate in Museum Ships Weekend for a few hours Saturday afternoon.

I started off with doing some logging. Band conditions on 20m were pretty crummy and there wasn’t a whole lot of activity we could hear, but we managed to hunt down about 6 other museum ships.

Then it was my turn on the radio and managed to nab a couple more museum ships. Found an open frequency to start calling on, made a few contacts into the Midwest and Northeast. Then a pileup happened and I was working stations as far as CA, and even a few DX stations (Austria, Belgium, and Italy). That lasted about 30 minutes, and then as quickly as the band opened, it shut down again. Towards the end, static crashes from thunderstorms rolling in from the west obliterated any signals we could make out on 20m.

I decided to call it a day around 6PM and turned things over to the evening crew, but I’m not sure they were able to dig up much more activity even after the thunderstorms went by.

There were about 48 contacts, including 10 museum ships (I think) by the time I left. I’ll find out later how the rest of the weekend went.

An Instructograph

While I was rummaging around through the club’s storage room yesterday, I came across an old Instructograph machine. I’m not sure how old this particular unit iss, but it looks like it has definitely seen better days.

Instructograph label
Instructograph label

Instructograph
Instructograph

Instructograph
Instructograph

It’s a paper tape based Morse code trainer with the Morse code encoded as holes in the paper tape. Along with the Instructograph were nine tins containing other tapes. Seven of them were rusted closed so I didn’t try to force them open. A couple were left open, including the one already on the Instructograph.

Instructograph tape tins
Instructograph tape tins

Instructograph tin
Instructograph tin

Open instructograph tin
Open instructograph tin

The Instructograph is essentially just an automatic straight keyer with an audio oscillator. As the paper tape moves between the contacts, the key is closed where the dots and dashes are punched out of the paper and generates the tone. The tapes are double-sided, so when you finish playing one, you just flip it over, thread it back onto the machine and play the other side.

Instructograph contact switch
Instructograph contact switch

I think the tape speed would have been controlled using this lever on the panel.

Instructograph speed control
Instructograph speed control

No idea if the Instructograph still works or what kind of condition the innards are in. The paper tapes are in somewhat delicate condition and I’m not sure if they’d hold up to much playing anymore if the Instructograph did work.