40M and West Coast Morning (QRP) DXing

Pt. Reyes Station KPH

Every morning during the summer, Oceania, the Pacific and Asia pound into the SF Bay Area. In fact, even rare DX like FT5ZM, VK0EK, FT5WG and others have been worked and easily.

With QRP its more of a challenge, making the DX we west coasters take for granted something special. Soon – the DX activity will open up to the Caribbean and Central and South America at our sunset and beyond. In the Winter, the long path to EU opens up as well – so year round, solar cycle round, 40M is where its at. Band conditions are usually quieter than during our evening.

I expect that each and every QRP QSO will be cherished – a lot more than when I ran QRO.

Life’s Rich Balance

Life’s Rich Pageant by R.E.M.

Perhaps the most important lesson I have learned this year is to really achieve balance in my life. When I was younger, I used to put way too many eggs in one basket – I would work 70 hour weeks or I would spend all of my time worrying about my kids – the lesson I learned is you can care too much. I think naturally, men have that cave man gene – to go out and hunt and collect, and that “more is better”, leading to a tipped scale.

Work tends to be the one aspect of life where you can fall into a trap where you care too much – and when you mix emotion and business together, that’s when you set yourself up in a vulnerable position. The same thing can happen with taking care of your kids or aging adults – I know – I have done all of these things.

This year has been a year of very serious discipline – eating smaller portions of better food, going to the gym and burning 800 calories a day minimum – my highest recorded day was 3850 – but where I have averaged about 1000 calories a day. At work I have worked very hard – and yes – smarter than usual – and where I am delivering a system that is much better than last year, albeit along the same lines – but where I learned last year – no matter how good that system was – this years is much better – so don’t get too enamored with what you do today – and certainly don’t put too much emotional energy in it. I have been religiously playing guitar, and for just over 2 years I have been commuting with a bike – and I have no car of my own. I also spend time on my hobbies.

What I have learned is that switching gears and “time boxing” how much emotional and physical energy I spend on any one thing leads to a much more balanced and healthy life. I feel way better and am much happier than I was before – and I have always been upbeat. The problem before is that I did leave myself open for a vulnerability by tipping the scale too far in one direction.

I think what is happening is that I have enough separate interests and “diversions” that it acts like insurance against disappointment when one thing goes south. If one of many interests flags, I can take comfort in the safe harbor of many other things going well. And one thing you can count on in life is that “2 out of 3 ain’t bad” – is a better way to set expectations – that the best you can realistically expect is that most things in life will go well, but that its never perfect. And that many times – what seems like a really bad situation turns out to be the most enriching thing that can happen – and that the pain of it can turn into the best that life has to offer. This has happened with work – from last year to this year.

The magic in this thinking is that by proper expectation setting, all things then seem to go better – there is a balancing or blending of ingredients that is like a great recipe – where when you get all of the right ingredients in the right proportion, the meal is a big success.

FREQ 300 QSO #8: D73F – South Korea

Special Event Station D73F Logo – South Korea

D73F was pounding in here – and it was about 2 hours before his sunset. He did have a hard time hearing me – but I am sure it would have been better if he was in the greyline. As it was, he sent K6YR – which I get from time to time just because the 2 by 1 sometimes throws the other station off.

The Watts per Mile or Watts per Kilometer are not in the long distance range that the VK6 was – so I will only report that metric when I beat my previous best. VK6LW still stands as the best – at 1820 Miles Per Watt, and he was about 9100 miles away. That’s pretty excellent for 5 watts in my book.

Free Range 300 QRP DX Logo

My good friend Jeff, K1NSS did it again – created something fun and whimsical. Part of what I love about Ham Radio and especially DXing is that we all can get our technical and non technical skills exercised and put to good use. There are many operating activities – contests and awards, and DXpeditions that require a certain amount of marketing, better known as “buzz”. In fact, it is very similar to a fund raising walkathon or runner or cycling event – there is the event, the marketing, the volunteers, and best of all, a camaraderie. In short – we create a positive and healthy community. For a short while – these events add some spice to our lives. Best yet – as DXers we can create our own challenges and pursue our own goals. Play the game as you’d like – get your FREQ on!

My personal rules and goals ended up being simple:

  1. Work ANY combination of 300 DXCC and IOTA entities
  2. Use CW and 5 watts only – leaving any “magical amplification” to my antenna work and operating skill
  3. Create a binder of paper (cardboard?) QSL cards sent and received direct

I have heard from several DXers who really like this idea.




Worked All Europe – WAE

Click on the image for a full view – Yowza! WAE Contest in August sure is great for DXers

With 5 watts I was heard – but only as a partial call in Spain on 20M. With zero sunspots – I didn’t even expect that any EU station would ask 6R? I hear F6AGM on 40M before our sunset, but I am not to hopeful that I can work any EU – too many big guns swarming the EU stations.




On Logging . . . .

The Erie Lackawanna Railroad Logbook

This is a train log that logged trains that traveled along the line that went from Chicago through New York State and Pennsylvania, then New Jersey, and which finally ended up in New York City. It defines my youth – in the 1960’s, the train tracks were pulled up in Newton, NJ, and the old train station then fell into disrepair. This particular logbook is unused – and it has columns perfect for a Ham Radio Log.

Newton, NJ Station – Erie Lackawanna Spur Line

The Erie Lackawanna tracks crossed south of Rochester, NY, where I spent my first year out of college at Kodak – and where I lived in Fairport – a town right on the Erie Canal. South of this train line – I went to college at Lock Haven State College in Lock Haven, PA.

The Erie Lackawanna train traveled from Pennsylvania to New Jersey – here at the Delaware Water Gap

There is a famous viaduct bridge that carried the trains across the Delaware River to NJ and then more or less following where Route 80 is. During High School – after we all had cars – we would skip school and climb around the bridge – it was open and you could crawl around the viaduct parts and look down at the Delaware River. I know I partook in “Senior Skip Day” – where I didn’t get in trouble. I pretty much stayed out of trouble – heck – all my life – heh heh.

Chicago to NYC along the Erie Lackawanna (click on the map for a better view. Newton is in that little offset at the bottom right)

I will use this hardbound logbook for my 300 Free Range QRP DX QSO’s. It is in great shape, but the cover has some dings – so its not a collectors piece, and I will ceremoniously write entries using a pretty cool fountain pen:

This will most likely be my “last logbook”, because I expect that getting to 300 entities from any combination of entities on the DXCC and IOTA lists will take a good 20 years. I base this on making Honor Roll in 11 years – but where I had full power and a big antenna (at one point). I also believe that the amount of CW DX will dwindle over these years.

Maybe – like the logbook shown above, or the railroad station in Newton, NJ – I will become a true relic of a bygone era?

Here is one last bit of nostalgia – a 1962 ARRL MiniLog – purchased in Braintree, MA at a Radio Shack – for $.30:

Time marches on!

The Fall Harvest Season is Here (Happy Friday!)

The best Fall colors I have seen on the West Coast are right in my own back yard!

I must have lucked out fall color wise – every year, the trees on my property offer so many different colors its like an “Autumn Museum”. I started looking for a decent Fall color photo – and they are all in my own photo folders and are all here at the Orinda house.

Fall colors in Orinda, CA? You betcha!

This week was a veritable “Fall Harvest” – I was interviewed at my gym because I have now lost 17 pounds this year – 12 at my new gym. I have been the leader in the Orinda Anytime Fitness Gym for July and August.

At work yesterday, my small team and I were giving high fives – we have data loading into our React Single Page App for our CCPA Compliance app and system. I’m scheduled to start meeting with other companies in San Francisco who have heard about what we are doing and want in on the action. There is talk of a patent too. I couldn’t be happier because I saw a big gap in the available GDPR, CCPA and HIPPA compliance tools, and designed and built something that would be very affordable, flexible and scalable.

The dry farmed tomatoes are in – always the very first indicator that we are heading into Fall. If you have never had dry farmed tomatoes – you have to – they are out of this world.

Here in the shack and out in the back yard I am now onto the next long DX journey – and it just makes too much sense and feels just right. To avoid the “Post DXCC HR Blues”, I did a really great job on the shack re-do and love being surrounded by the Collins gear and the little KX-3 and IC-7300. Somehow is all makes sense. The new shelving arrangement and little workbench with test gear is a joy.

The third of 3 great books I have read – Learning React and JavaScript was one of several big deals this year

What especially nice is knowing that what I have designed and built is something we have to do by law. We are a heavily regulated data company and already have had the discipline and good “data hygiene”. CCPA ups the ante, and I have started seeing other companies just get started looking for people to hire to manage this – and frankly – they are already a bit too late. I’m glowing in my foresight that started last year and culminated in the “Fall Bounty” that is just about to unfold – yesterdays success was a marker that we will be on time and stay on time.We are right where we need to be – its one of those things where when it feels right – you know its right.

I suppose I will have to have my one pumpkin ale this year – maybe . . .

A brew pub just opened in Moraga – along our bike route, and next to it – the Orchard Supply Hardware store is being re-incarnated as Outdoor Supply Hardware, which really makes me happy – I was very sad when Osh closed – and apparently so were many others. They will open this Fall.

OK – Happy Friday, and get ready for Fall – and the great Fall DX that starts in September in the Northern Hemisphere. Right now, 40M is much quieter than it has been – and every 2 – 3 days the noise from some solar disturbance subsides and I can hear DX worth chasing – especially in the early morning.