Working HF Radio

From Kansas City, Missouri, USA

 
   
 

HF Radio fascinates me! It always has... The thrill of being able to have all the right conditions to come together at once to allow you to speak in real time, to someone on the other side of the planet has always brought excitement to me!

Since the Fall of 2013, I've been running a Kenwood TS-2000 under a Comet CHA-250B Vertical Antenna, and from time to time will put up wire dipoles and play with them. (See the link to Shack Antennas.) I still own a Yaesu FT-897D, but I intend to use it mainly for field use. I’ll admit that I may not be running a contest grade station, but I do get credible results. The spot map below, and the log of my recent contact speaks for itself.


I’m not an expert on working HF, but if there was any advice I might give to someone starting to work these bands, is hang in there, keep trying, and above all listen, listen, listen.

And most important...

Have Fun!

Update: July 18, 2014

National World War I Museum

My radio club, the Raytown Amateur Radio Club, K0GQ teamed up with the Radio Club of the National World War I Museum, WW1USA to host a Special Event Station and ARRL Field Day on their grounds. This video, produced by JD Dupuy, highlights the Raytown Amateur Radio Club at the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City on June 28/29, 2014. My hat is off to JD for producing such outstanding videos!


Update: March 24, 2013

My Favorite QSOs!

Every Ham has a few favorite or memorable contacts that stand out in their memory. Everyone always remembers their first contact, or their first DX contact.

My first licensed contact was with my friend Jeremy Widner, who at the time had the call sign of KD0HJV with our 2m HTs via the Raytown Repeater. Jeremy is AC0DX today. My first DX contact outside of North America was with Kentaro “Ken” Suzuki - JO7CVU from Sendai in Japan on 15 meter. Ken’s radio shack was destroyed in the great tsunami disaster in 2010, but we have traded e-mails since then.

One of my favorite contacts was via satellite while I was traveling. I was near Portland, Oregon on July 6, 2010, where I arranged to make contact with my friend Eddy Paul, KD0HZW near Kansas City. (He is KY0F today.) Our contact was made via satellite on AO-51, and is detailed on my web site at http://purplesage.biz/kd0hkd/satellite/Oregon.htm . You can also hear recordings of the QSO from that web site as well!

Back on May 22, 2011, I was at home, simply tuning around the bands, and not having much success. I dropped over to 6m and was not having much luck their either when I heard a voice calling CQ on 50.135 KHz. It turned out to be Bob Kimbrell – W0AO who was operating a back pack radio at Dayton, Ohio. Bob is from here in Kansas City, and is one of my friends at the Raytown Amateur Radio Club. By pure coincidence, Bob and I ran into each other on 6m while he was in Ohio!

Late in the evening during June of 2012, I was again at the home shack, spinning the dial, and not finding much on the air. This noise level was very low, but not much activity. On 15 meters, I heard a faint voice calling CQ to which I replied. There was a pause when the voice came back saying, “Wow! I turned on the radio to call for a few of my local mates, and I found a Yank! How’s it going?” The station was Ken Osborn – ZL3OZ in New Zealand! We were both surprised! Ken sent me a very nice, hand drawn QSL card.

You simply don’t know who or where you’re going to run into someone interesting on the ham radio bands!



Update: November 10, 2012

I passed the exam to earn my Amateur Extra License!

Was it easy? No. Was it difficult? I don’t know if difficult is the right word. I believe the correct way to describe it would be to say it was a challenge.

In the past, with my Technician and General License Tests, my approach had been different. For Technician, with my previous experience with electronics and broadcasting, I simply reviewed the Gordon West Study Guide, took the test, and passed. For my General, I actually studied the Gordon West Study Guide and drilled myself with the practice tests on QRZ.com until I was confident I could pass. For my Extra, I knew this would be more in depth and a challenge.

I used a several pronged approach to my preparation for the Extra exam. Naturally, I picked up the Gordon West Study Guide for the Extra Test. I always appreciated that he not only provided you with the examples of the questions, and the choice of answers, he also provided you with the reason why the answer was correct. Next, one of the members of the Raytown Amateur Radio Club, of which I am a member offered to lead study sessions for anyone interested in preparing for the Extra Exam. I’ve always done well when taught a subject by a human, so I certainly took advantage of this generous opportunity. (Thanks Robin!)

Finally, on the advice of a friend, I subscribed to Ham Test On-Line (http://www.hamradiolicenseexam.com) This is a subscription service which costs about $35.00. They describe their process as “The Software That Knows You!” I found this slogan to be true. Upon logging in, and clicking the button to study, you are presented with a page describing a theory you would need to learn. Not a real in-depth explanation, but a concise overview. Within the overview are links that can take you to other site that can provide more depth and detail if you want or need it.

Upon clicking next, it hits you right away with a question from the exam. Here’s where the software gets to “know you.” Like most on-line practice tests, this one will not let you move on until the correct response is received, but it remembers if you missed this question, and it will keep coming up again and again until you answer that question consistently correct. As you continue along, it will introduce new topics and overviews to teach you about the various things you should know, and it will continue to provide you with questions from previous topics to answer as a review, and will continue to hammer you on questions or areas that you’ve been showing difficulty until you’re getting it right.

For me, this was not simply drilling me, as in the case of other practice tests, it was actually teaching me the science and information I should know, while forcing me to pay attention to areas where I might be showing weakness.

While about one third of the way through my studies, on a whim I decided to take the exam for real while attending a local hamfest. I must admit that I failed, but I did not fail miserably! I had only worked one third of the way through the study material, and managed to fail by only two or three questions. I was not thrilled, but I was not disappointed either. I chalked this up to a good learning experience and got back to work!

Two weeks later, I was READY! I had reviewed my work via each of my three approaches, and even threw a few QRZ practice tests in for good measure. By this time, I was consistently passing my drills in the 95% bracket. I took the test for real at the next hamfest, and PASSED!

Everyone learns differently. The learning strategy I used worked for me, but it may not work for you.

In any case, for whatever class of license you are preparing for, I would certainly recommend Gordon West’s Study Guides. I would also highly recommend the investment in Ham Test On-Line. It was not that expensive, and it certainly helped me learn what I needed to know.
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