Couple new QSL cards of note; end of summer down-time; SC QSO Party

w0zqMy bid to grab a CW contact during the Kansas QSO Party a few weeks back was confirmed recently when I received a QSL card from W0ZQ. That was an interesting weekend, as the Hawaii QSO Party was also on the airwaves and I needed phone and CW contacts from both states for my Triple Play award. W0ZQ was the only Kansas CW station I heard that weekend, so I was excited to receive his card.

I think the last time I blogged I hadn’t received either CW or phone confirmations from Hawaii. I’m happy to report my single phone contact and one of my CW contacts from the island QSLed via Logbook of the Work, so that state has been swept as well!

ab1qb_frontThis week I also received a card from Anita, AB1QB. This one was especially meaningful, as I follow the blog she and her husband Fred, AB1OC, write, titled  Our Ham Station. Fred and Anita have put together one hell of a world-class ham shack. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, except for W1AW and that insane station in Finland, Radio Arcala.

Anita and I had a QSO during the ARRL RTTY Rookie Round-up, and I believe she won the contest. Her signal was the loudest I heard during that particular effort, which ended up being my worst contest showing of the summer.

ab1qb_backAnyway, her QSL card is as high-class as her ham shack, and I appreciated the views on the back of the card also.

Other developments

With the season for sporadic-E having petered away along with the summer, I’ve dismantled the 6-meter antenna and packed up the mast. We recently sealed our rear deck and I needed to remove the antenna so we could finish the job.

I haven’t had a QSO on any bands for about three weeks now, owing to a strange fascination I’ve suddenly acquired for comic books. I can’t get enough of ’em. I’m teaching a photography class again, and it’s rekindled my love of traditional black and white film processes. My students seem to be enjoying it too, but when I’m out shooting, developing and scanning, I’m obviously not in the ham shack making QSOs. There’s also a matter of some steampunk cosplay that I won’t elaborate on at the moment. Hehe.

S.C. QSO Party

I’ll jump back into the fray this weekend for the S.C. QSO Party, and I plan to operate as a rover with Dwayne, N4LDL, on the eastern side of the state. I’ll post my spots on Twitter via the #hamradio and #scqso hashtags. We may be using Dwayne’s call or mine; I’ll try to make a distinction in my spot postings. If all goes well, we’ll hit some low-population counties.

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Halfway to DXCC; first QSL cards mailed

I received a Logbook of the World confirmation last night from Suriname, which marks my 50th DXCC country confirmed. I have more than 80 unconfirmed in my log. I thought I would be farther along in the DXCC effort by this point, but I took a detour from DXing to pursue Worked All States, and now the WAS Triple Play, and I’ve actually enjoyed that effort quite a bit.

I’m a little disappointed my Hawaiian contacts from last weekend have not been confirmed yet, and my sole CW contact from the Kansas QSO Party apparently doesn’t use LOTW. I don’t understand how an American amateur station that operates as part of a major QSO party, isn’t using Logbook of the World, but it’s their choice.

I sent out my first batch of QSL cards this week, responding to cards I received more than a year ago in some cases. I also sent some cards out to some memorable stations, including my first CW contacts.

Stacks of QSL cards

qsl_stacked

That’s a fine looking QSL card, if I say so myself. Who wants one?

Many thanks again go out to Jeff, K1NSS at dashtoons.com for bringing my “ham in space” idea to life, and to Randy of KB3IFH QSL Cards, for the great print quality and speed in getting the cards to me. I think I sent him a payment on a Sunday and my cards were in my mailbox by Friday.

 

Finally, a QSL card to be proud of

It’s taken me nearly two years, but I finally have a QSL card design that I am proud of!

Some months ago I discovered the ham radio-based art of Jeff, K1NSS, at his website, http://www.dashtoons.com. Recently, he mentioned he was looking to take on some QSL card design jobs at a very reasonable rate. I mentally filed that away and didn’t think much about it. Earlier this week I was browsing his site and got a kick out of some of his latest designs. I decided to shoot him an e-mail with a couple concepts I was thinking of.

I knew I wanted to incorporate our dogs somehow, but I’ve also been considering some sort of flying pig/pigs in space theme in the style of classic sci-fi. I was prepared to have him create two different designs if needed. To my surprise, Jeff wrote me back immediately and pitched a design that involved a pig flying a starship with my dogs as space cadets riding along. I thought it sounded great, so I sent him a half dozen photos of our pets.

The next day he had a preliminary design for me that was largely complete. Some of the elements still needed coloring and he wanted to know about the types of radios I used. He also mentioned he wanted to include a Cosmophone vintage radio in the design somewhere. I thought the rough design looked fantastic and I had no changes to suggest; I just let the artist do his thing!

Today the final design came though and man, it’s amazing! I really appreciate how he captured the subtle expressions of our two dogs, Sweet Pea and Manny. They really do look just like that. Also, notice my K3 hanging out back there? Above that is the Knight Kit “Star Roamer” receiver from Allied Radio, and below, the fabled “SSB transceiver of legend and song” the Cosmophone 35. Those touches came directly from Jeff. Even the quirky bowling alley-style font he selected works for the vintage sci-fi theme.

To top it off, Jeff’s rates are more than reasonable. I can honestly say this is one of the best purchases I have made related to ham radio.

100th post, a new QSL card, and an election

Ugh. So ALL of October went by and I didn’t make a single QSO. Not even digital modes. But October was a busy month. Back-to-back weekends shooting weddings out of town (Hilton Head and Aiken), a product shoot, and HOURS of late night photo editing. As soon as I got caught up, I agreed to shoot bridal portraits for a client this past weekend. We came back with many beautiful images, which will require several more nights of editing. I’m not complaining. It feels good to get back to being a photographer again, even if it’s just on the weekends.

Also in October, the YL and I had a deck installed on the rear of our home. I already have plans to lash up my Buddistick and enjoy some outdoor radio at some point in the future.

Speaking of that Buddistick: One of the first contacts I made with it, N1MX working from the station at W1AW, sent me a QSL card today after reading about my contact with him on this blog! What a strange, circular world we live in, hehe. I especially enjoyed reading his personal note on the back.

 

Thanks Michael! I will always cherish that contact!

I promised a note on “an election” but I’m not talking about the presidential race… Sure, I’ll head to the polls at some point tomorrow and cast my ballot, but I’m MOST excited about club elections we held tonight at the meeting of the Columbia Amateur Radio Club.

I now proudly hold the position of club treasurer-elect! Sure, I “ran” unopposed (well, in fact, ALL the candidates did), but someone out there had to nominate me. I couldn’t be happier to be honest. This is really a great group of guys, and as I’ve written here, I’ve participated in many club activities this year, from charity runs, walks and bike rides, to winter and summer field day, VE sessions, workshops, weekly nets, and I haven’t missed a meeting in a year. Had no idea I’d get nominated for an officer position, but I’m really honored and can’t wait to get started!

QSL card concept

I desperately need to get QSL cards made. While I enjoy receiving them, they are not a crucial aspect of the hobby for me. I’ve been on Logbook of the World since I started, and if that’s good enough for the ARRL, it’s good enough for me.

Every now and then someone sends me a beautiful QSL card and I want to reciprocate since they invested the time and postage. I feel like it’s rude not to respond.

Here’s a design I was playing with tonight. The image is one I shot back in the winter, looking back towards the city of Columbia during a nice moonrise.

KK4DSD QSL card concept, #1

 

A beautiful QSL card from Ohio

I had a nice JT65 QSO last week with John, KD8BIN, and this week I received his beautifully-designed QSL card:

It looks like John is really into AMSAT — Even his postage was custom-made and included a graphic of a satellite and the names of some of the birds he’s worked. His QRZ page shows his LEO sat rig, which looks like a lot of fun.

All this talk of satellites reminds me of why I got into this hobby to begin with. I really wanted to work the ISS and some of the FM satellites. I planned to buy that Arrow LEO antenna (never did, I had it in my hands at the Charlotte Hamfest this winter, but just didn’t pull the trigger on the purchase). My 847 is a fine rig for working satellites.

Ultimately, I lost the urge for it because I got an HF rig and started yapping with folks. And no one answers on the ISS as of late.

I do miss ARISSat-1. I decoded some SSTV from it using my iPhone and my VX-7 handheld. I heard the secret words and reported the telemetry back to the project leaders a few times. Then it de-orbited a few weeks later, I upgraded my license, started working on HF, and never looked back. Perhaps it’s time to give it another shot.

And it’s also time for me to get off the dime and get some QSL cards made. I also need to finish the shack, install the J-pole, get a power distribution system, etc. It never ends!

A QSL card from New Orleans

I received a beautiful QSL card from W5WWL out of New Orleans today. It was a nice surprise too, considering I’ve somewhat resigned myself to only use LoTW rather than try to exchange cards. Still, I should have a stack of cards on-hand so I can reciprocate when I do receive one. I should also use the ARRL bureau now that I’m a member. Anyway, I remember my contact with W5WWL pretty well, as the operator there knew a good bit about my hometown here.

The flip-side is nice also, as it contains some history: