New Handbook additions

Some new amateur radio handbooks got added to the collection this week.

At a used bookstore with a much larger selection of amateur radio related books than expected, I found a hardcover 1989 ARRL Handbook in pretty good shape and decided to add it to the collection.

Front cover of the 1989 ARRL Handbook
1989 ARRL Handbook

It’s about as hefty as the 1988 ARRL Handbook that was added to the collection a while back. I really like the 1980s and 1990s ARRL Handbooks for all the homebrew projects they have in them.

Thanks to my father-in-law, I also now have a 23rd edition of the Radio Handbook by William Orr/W6SAI, which will go along with the 17th edition Radio Handbook I was given a while back.

Front cover of the 23th edition Radio Handbook by William Orr W6SAI
1997 23rd edition Radio Handbook by William Orr W6SAI

He also gave me a copy of an 8th edition of The Radio Amateur’s Handbook by A. Frederick Collins, from 1940.

Front cover of The Radio Amateur's Handbook by A Frederick Collins
1940 8th edition of The Radio Amateur’s Handbook by A. Frederick Collins
Title page for The Radio Amateur's Handbook.  The left page is a photograph looking up to the top of a tall tower.  The title page reads: A complete and practical g uide to radio construction and repair by A. Frederick Collins author of Wireless Telegraphy.  Eighth edition revised by E. L. Bragdon radio editor of The New York Sun.
Title page of The Radio Amateur’s Handbook

Lots of good info in these books. Going to have to make some more room on the shelves to squeeze these in.

Portable ambitions

Time on the air has been pretty scant lately, mostly because of being busy with other things and partly because of not having a permanent antenna (aside from the ones in the attic).

The 10m dipole up in the attic got some use in the ARRL 10m contest a few weeks ago. I was only operating casually in between working on other things, but managed about 5 contacts or so. Seemed to work reasonably well. That, Field Day and the NC and SC QSO parties have been about the only times I’ve been on the air this year.

For 2024, I think I need to spend more time getting back on the air. To that end, I’ve decided to make learning about and developing skills for portable operations one of my 2024 ham radio goals.

While walking out to one of the mailboxes in the subdivision, I noticed one of the common areas around the mailboxes had a few trees that managed to survive the home construction. Seemed like it would make a good spot to practice setting up portable operations. No tables or chairs to sit at though unfortunately.

SC QSO Party 2023 Results

While looking up the details for the 2024 SC QSO party, I saw the results for the 2023 SC QSO party, which I had forgotten to look for earlier.

W4BXC did reasonably well with a total score of 9696 points, 78 QSOs and 500 bonus points. That was good enough to put us in the top 20 for the Fixed Station (Phone) category (143 stations in that category).

The 2024 SC QSO party is coming up Feb 24. Looking forward to that and the NC QSO party the next day.

Field Day 2023

This year, W4BXC was on the air for Field Day as a 1E SC station after we noticed one of the Field Day FAQs said

Convenient access across one’s backyard to their home station facilities is not in keeping with the spirit of Class A or Class B portable operations. Such convenient backyard operations on property of home stations remain either Class D (commercial power) or Class E (emergency power), even if home antenna structures are not used.

ARRL Field Day 2023 packet

Like last year, we had the radio running on three deep cycle batteries connected in series, and they had no problems providing enough power to keep the radio transmitting at 100W the entire time we were operating.

Radios and laptop set up for ARRL Field Day 2023
Radios and laptop set up for ARRL Field Day 2023
Antenna set up for ARRL Field Day 2023
Antenna set up for ARRL Field Day 2023

I also set up a recently acquired Kenwood TM-221A 2m radio to monitor repeater activity.

Kenwood TM-221A mobile radio set up for ARRL Field Day 2023
Kenwood TM-221A mobile radio set up for ARRL Field Day 2023

I noticed this computer speaker used a 9V DC power supply, so I decided to power it with a 9V battery and connect it to the radio. Worked out pretty nicely. Note: if you notice that the noise characteristics from the speaker have changed, it probably means the battery is going dead and needs to be replaced. Took me a while to figure out what was going on.

Computer speaker connected to a 9V battery for power
Computer speaker connected to a 9V battery for power

The bands were crowded but pretty mushy during the day on Saturday. Lots of noise, quiet stations fading in and out, and only a few really loud ones. Things started getting better into the late afternoon and early evening and stations out on the west coast in the LAX and SDG (San Diego) sections started coming in pretty well. We waited for the ARRL Field Day bulletin and copied it down before calling it a night.

The next morning I got back on the air and worked a bunch more stations. A nice mix of sections across the country and into Canada. All the contacts we made ended up being on the 20m and 40m bands. Made a few forays up to 10m, but heard absolutely nothing there which kind of surprised me.

Ended up with a total of 106 contacts in the log for a total of 212 QSO points. 350 bonus points brought our total score up to 562 points. Final score might end up being a bit higher, because this year we’ve got some of W4BXC’s non-local members participating as well.

USS Yorktown (CV-10) Commissioning 80th Anniversary

USS Yorktown (CV-10) aircraft carrier at Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum

The special event station to commemorate the Yorktown’s 80th anniversary went reasonably well. It was a nice day and good weather for operating on the ship. Ended up with a total of 5 other people joining me to run the station. Two of us were operating, and the others shared logging duties (two were new-ish hams and didn’t want to get on the air yet).

Ended up operating for just under 4 hours and got about 27 contacts in the log, all on 20m. Even had a bit of a pile-up going for a few minutes at one point.

Heard lots of POTA and Michigan QSO party stations while tuning around the band. It was an interesting day on 20m. The stations I heard and contacted were either super loud or really faint and hard to hear, without much in-between.

Even though we didn’t get as many contacts as I expected, it was still a fun day of operating. It’s been a while since I was last operating in the club room. I think I need to spend more time playing on the radio there.