The Olde Ruggelstone Pub at Widdecombe in the Moor

My Mother was from Hele Village – a part of Torquay in Devon, England. I found my Mom’s house on Google Earth recently, but I have a memory stuck in my head from when I lived in London (SW10 on Hollywood Road across from the Hollywood Pub!) – and traveled down to Devon and Cornwall as much as I could. The Olde Ruggelstone Pub in Devon – read on . . . .

The family surname is East – can’t get much more English than that! I love it because I love geography.

Apparently, the name East originated from the East of London, which makes sense because my Grandfather was a Cockney from London who moved his family to Devon at the onset of WWII.

Anyway, when I lived there in the late 80’s, I made it a priority to visit my Mothers brother (my Uncle) and other relatives who live in Newton Abbot in Devon – on Hay Tor Road – which looks right at Hay Tor up on Dartmoor. I still have relatives in Bracknell and Winkfield – near Windsor, but I guess Devon and Cornwall left the biggest impression on me.  I took the train from Paddington to Devon and Cornwall many times.

The picture you see above for many years was a pub! No kidding. My Uncle – who drove livestock trucks over Dartmoor and Exmoor – took me to the Ruggelstone Inn for a pint. He knew all of the back stories. The woman who poured our pints (as my uncle told me) was a “Spinster who lived above the pub. The beer casks were cooled by an inlet or pipe from that stream”.

I feel blessed to know a little British story that I will bet many in England might not even know.

St. Pancras Church – Widdecombe in the Moor

My fathers side of the family were “Evangelisch” from Stuttgart, which I think ended up being Lutheran. 

Interesting fact, the name Holoch means “person from high Glen or Glade” which makes total sense because Stuttgart is in a very hilly area. So both surnames in my family are based on geo physical references.

My Mothers side of the family were Episcopal, and while I’m not very religious, I do identify mostly with the Episcopal Church and religion. Its “Catholic lite” – “all the liturgy and none of the guilt” . . .

All of this leads to where I was brought up – in the very British looking county in NJ – Sussex County, the town of Newton. (WA2QHN).


20M: Up, Up and Away!

Tomorrow I will get the new mast in place so I can get the 2 element home brewed 20M yagi up to 50′ from 27-ish feet.

The model is only sort of correct. I will end up with 12 dB F/B and 4 dB gain, and a lower take off angle

Beautiful November

I used to think October was my favorite month, but I realize that here in Northern California, most of October feels like the final winding down of summer.

Wow, the colors this year are even better than last, but they are much shorter. They started much later and seem to be  in a hurry to drop off the trees. It’s a lot like an Ice Wine, where the last grapes or dry farmed tomatoes are picked, where they might not even seem as large or bright colored as previous fruits, but which have a rich, almost hearty rustic taste.

Our Ginko tree is just starting to burst into its bright yellow – gold color, and back in December 2012, just months before I made Honor Roll, (where the last of the gingko trees leaves were on my roof) did a video of the Diablo DXers and I launching a 40M dipole up 70′ into my trees (actually my neighbors trees without them finding out!).

That antenna garnered me my last ATNO towards DXCC Honor Roll – with Monk Apollo, SV2ASP/A.

Funny how the yellow gingko leaves make the perfect segue to my next blog post!

CW: Always the King for DXing

This morning I called VK9MT on FT8, and he was -15 dB at best, -18 dB at worst, but I decoded him. He kept calling CQ even though there were a ton of people responding. I made one mistake  (forgot to click on even / first) but someone on the ON4KST Chat helped get me straight fast.

On Top Band I still don’t think VK9MT is hearing all that well – many call him – and his rate is very slow – maybe 1 QSO a minute. I also noticed that with QSB, the QSO’s on FT8 dragged on.

SO my initital exuberance for FT8 as a DXpedition mode is now “not so much”. This is because a good DXpeditioner on CW – and with a decent RX antenna with reasonable noise level can crank out QSO’s much faster.

My entire career has been keeping up on all of the latest in Hardware and software technologies, but there is this truly wonderful feeling I’m having about CW aka Morse Code. It’s a truly digital mode that is so short in it’s exchange, it’s amazing how useful it is after all these years.

Telegraph during Victorian times was the first technical social network, and it is certainly relevant in ham radio today.

Viva el CW!

ARRL International Grid Chase 2018

Wow – this going to be incredibly fun. I might do this using just 100 watts and FT8. In fact, I’ll bet FT8 steals the show on this one. The ARRL is genius in recent years regarding operating activities. The Triple Play, then NPOTA. I’ve struggled to not partake because I’m trying to wrap up DXCC.

But FT8 and this new Grid Square 2018 operating activity, especially using my KX3-Line might be too much not to get hooked. It will also be a lot more casual than DXCC.

Its like the CQ Field Award, but the ARRL is advertising it as a follow up to the highly successful NPOTA.

I think its pretty brilliant and will be a huge success.

Top Band Whack a Mole

The elusive Top Band QSO Mole . . . 

I’ve been up early hoping to work VK9MA, and I have heard them each morning – the first morning quite well after sunrise, but I had an issue with my matching circuit. The next day I fixed that after work.

Right now I’m hoping their signal will come up some so I can have a clear QSO – the worst is to think you made a QSO but aren’t sure. If they do stay on the island as planned, I will have 6 or 7 more mornings to try to work them – so I’m not panicking, yet. This is still way better than VK9MT – who were chased off the island. I hope this team gets to stay for the duration.

We have rain static this morning (S9+ noise on my TX antenna, but RX antenna seems OK), but I still hear them. I can clearly hear “Up 3”, but if he came back to me I’d be lucky to hear my call. We are half way through grey line as I write this, and I can only hope that we get what we had a few days ago – where he was the strongest up to 1/2 hour after sunrise.

DXCC on 160M is a real accomplishment from the West Coast, but more importantly, from my QTH surrounded by hills. I do need to work every Top Band activation between now and KH1 to make DXCC and 9BDXCC.

Until then, I feel like I am playing Top Band Whack a Mole, and I’m wondering how the hell I even made it to 90 – hi hi

3Y0Z and Inverted L as an All Band Antenna

With the High Pass Tee tuner at the base, I can easily switch the tuning of the Inverted Vee to work on all bands. This is great because it gives me bands that I wasn’t bothering with with 3Y0Z. I have concentrated on 160 – 20M, and want ONE QSO with 3Y0Z. Once I’m in the log, I’m done. The 3Y0Z web site has nice propagation predictions, and while they hve to be taken with a grain of salt, its important to think in terms of probabilities.

The site shows 80, 40, 30, 20 open with 20M the best and 40M second best. I have two elements on each of these bands. I had been thinking anything above 20M would be a waste of time, given that we are almost at the bottom of the cycle, but the site says that 17 and 15 might have very short openings, but decent propagation.

The West Coast had a big advantage on Top Band for FT5ZM and VK0EK, but this time around, the West Coast will have very nice openings on 160M because we will both be in the grey line at the same time – but competition from the East Coast and EU will be fierce – much more than with the aforementioned.

The Inverted L wont be great above 30M, and because 20 and 40M will be the “money bands”, I can see me getting one QSO on 20M nd an insurance QSO on 40M.

The low bands will have a great grey line during our evening. Once EU and the East Coast gets theirs, we should be in great shape.

On 20M and above, the high bands will be dark when the US has daylight and at the end of daylight on Bouvet. Since the high bands go quiet just after sunset in the Northern Hemisphere and stays open longer in the southern hemisphere during their summer, we will have good conditions and probability to work them.