JT65 FUN and Easing Back In

This will be a very brief blog update.  The last time I updated my blog site was soon after the first of the year.  I provided (or tried to provide) an explanation to my long absence both on the bands, the blogosphere and the podcast airwaves.  I’m not going to go rehash that as you can read that posting here.    However, one thing I did mention in that posting was amateur radio was by no means the cause of my grief, it (among a few other things) just reminded me of it. 

Anyway, last night I had a bit of free time and decided to go down to my basement ham shack and switch on the computers, switch on the radios and see what was happening on the bands.  My Yaesu FT-897 was parked on 14.076 (right where I had left it almost a year ago) and much to my surprise everything still worked.  After syncing my PC clock (it was some 4+ minutes off) I fired up HRD, launched the JT65-HF software and the waterfall began filling up.  It was a good feeling answering my first CQ in almost a year. 

I’m not sure just how active I will be in the coming weeks or months.  My intention is to enjoy the hobby and see where things lead me.  Regarding my podcast (The Practical Amateur Radio Podcast), I really don’t want it to just fade away.   While it has been 14+ months since I released an episode, the site still gets a lot of traffic and I occasionally still receive emails asking what is going on.  But before PARP ever returns, I need to get engaged back into the hobby.  I’ve always said I was only at my very best podcasting about amateur radio when I was active and involved.

In closing, I want to thank those of you who wrote to me over the past year.  The words of encouragement really helped.  I can’t remember who told me this, but one of the comments or emails I received just simply told me that amateur radio would still be here when I was ready to come back.  Yep…that’s right! 

Until next time…

73 de KDØBIK  aka Jerry

Posted in Amateur Radio Tagged

A long time coming….

This blog post is LOOOOONNNNGGGG overdue and for that I’m truly sorry.  I suppose when one builds some sort of following via social media and through blogging and podcasting and then just vanishes the concern may arise.  Please allow me to take a moment to provide some explanation.

As many of you know I was actively pursuing a QSO a day in 2014 and having an absolute blast operating in the ARRL Centennial QSO Party.  While my podcast had suffered a few months of neglect, I was active on Twitter and actively blogging about my progress with the QSO a Day and the ARRL Centennial operations.  All was going well until mid August then everything changed.  The life (and world) my wife and I had created just simply crashed around us in a devastating manner.

My wife and I do not have any children.  She and I were both raised around animals and grew up with dogs and cats in our lives.  While I had spent much of my adult life without animals, this all changed when I met my wife and she moved to the US.  I became the daddy of two cats (Socks and Moustey).  Socks and Moustey traveled to the US (Denver) on a British Airways Boeing 777 and in their long life had managed to live in three different countries (Belgium, England and US). 

We lost Socks in the fall of 2008.  At the time he was 15-16 years old and had lived a good life.  My wife had given him the very best life a pussy cat could ever want.  At the time of Socks’ passing, Moustey was also 15-16 years old and we were concerned if she remained the only cat in our house that she might suffer.  So we adopted a kitten and named him Skye.

Now, after about two years we realized that Moustey really wanted a more relaxed and less stressful life from what Skye (being 2 years old) wanted.  So we adopted another kitten (Mickey) in 2010.  Mickey and Skye were best friends and Moustey was allowed to gracefully retire for the most part and our little family was happy and content.

Moustey passed away on August 8 of 2013 at the age of 23 years old.  About 30 minutes after Moustey left us to go to the Rainbow Bridge, I received a call from my mom that my grandmother had passed away.  This all happened the week before my wife and I were scheduled to fly to Belgium to visit her family.  August 2013 was not a great month.  But as we would soon discover, August 2014 was going to be even worse.

Mickey began throwing up.  Now this is just something cats do and if you are a cat person….you know this.  So after the second day we decided to take Mickey to the vet.  We took him to our local vet and he was examined.  The vet could find nothing wrong.  He performed an x-ray and scan.  No blockages detected…basically nothing detected to give any cause of alarm.  We were sent home with some medicine and told all should be fine in 24 hours.

24 hours later Mickey was not improving.  He was not eating and he was not drinking.  My wife and I decided to take him to the 24 hour animal hospital. After about 30 minutes, we were told what they thought might be the cause and for the first time in my life I heard the term dysautonomia. 

Dysautonomia is a disease which attacks the central nervous system and causes it to malfunction.  Additional scans and x-rays were performed of Mickey’s esophagus and stomach.  Basically the disease prevents the esophagus from delivering food into the stomach and also fails to prevent the stomach acids from flowing up the esophagus.  Basically causing an extremely bad case of acid refux.

There are many other symptoms which Mickey exhibited.  Sort of the final test to determine if he had Dysautonomia was  his heart rate.  His heart rate was very low and when given a dose of atropine (which normally causes the heart rate to increase) his stayed low. 

We were told Mickey only had a few days (at best) to live and we took him home with us and spent about four hours with him before we had a service come to our home to help him pass away peacefully.

While I dearly loved both Mickey and Skye very much, Mickey was my little buddy.  He would follow me all around the house.  I taught him to play fetch when he was just a kitten and we were very close.  Mickey was only 4 years old.

Of course, panic started to set in and we asked the hospital if it was possible for Skye to also have this disease.  They told us it was very rare and while we were very sad to have lost Mickey, we were both determined to show a brave front around Skye and knew he would also miss Mickey very much.

Just a few days after we said goodbye to Mickey, Skye began throwing up.  We called the hospital and they reassured us how rare it would be for Skye to also get this.  And we should understand that Skye is grieving as well and to relax.

Well….less than a week later we were saying our goodbyes to Skye.  He also developed this cruel disease.  Skye died one week after Mickey.  Skye was 6 years old.

We all face the certainty of death.  We are born and we will die.  The same applies to cats.  While we grieved for Socks and Moustey….we accepted the fact that it was their time.  They lived a long and good life.  But this just simply is not the case with Mickey and Skye.  They were taken from us far, far too early. 

Unfortunately, we do not know what caused Dysautonomia to come crashing into our lives.  Most vets still say it is rare for the disease to pass from one to another.  I guess we suspect food.  But as I said, we have no proof.

Anyway….my wife and I still struggle with this loss.  It may sound strange, but when I started to think about getting on the air, or doing anything amateur radio related….I thought about my cats and it made me sad.  Yes, I’m still sad and I know that ham radio isn’t the cause of anything and I know my interest will return.  But this is why I’ve been mostly silent.

Thank you for understanding and thank you for reading. 

73,

Jerry

KDØBIK

Posted in News, Personal

2014 QSO A Day Challenge–50% Complete

I’m late in getting this update published.  I was on vacation (staycation at home) as June ended and July began.  This past week was my first week back and I was swamped at work.  But all is on track and I’ve completed at least one QSO each and every day in 2014 and the challenge is well over 50% complete. 

In addition, to keeping my QSO per day streak alive…I’ve also managed to add at least one new DX entity each month in 2014.  June was no exception with the addition of Saint Lucia.   This makes 10 new DX entities added to my log this year. 

As I started with my May update, my progress in the 2014 ARRL Centennial QSO Party continues to progress.   The numbers below are as of mid July.

Centennial Points Score:  9,049

Total QSO’s:  1,539

Rank (All): 1,230

Rank (Colorado): 14th

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The QSO breakdown for June is as follows:

Mode  Number QSO’s

JT65 20

JT9 32

SSB 538

PSK31 0

MFSK16 0

RTTY 0

2m FM 0

Additional notes of interest:

DX Stations Worked in June – 44

New DX Entities in June – 1

New DX Entities for 2014 – 10

Total QSO’s for June – 590

Total QSO’s for 2014 – 2,234

Total consecutive QSO days – 181

Days left in 2014 – 184

Until next time…

73 de KDØBIK

Posted in Amateur Radio, QSO A Day Tagged

QSO A Day Challenge–May 2014

You may remember from the April update regarding my QSO a day goal, that I had broke my monthly QSO record (which was 393 in November 2013) with a whopping 599 QSO’s in April.  Well that record didn’t stand long.  My total QSO numbers for May topped out with 826 QSO’s.  However, I also made 504 QSO’s while operating as W1AW/Ø on two different shifts the week Colorado hosted the portable operation.  While the 504 Q’s will be kept separate and not included in my main log, I’m honestly pleased to have made a total of 1,330 QSO’s in the month of May 2014.   Again, this monthly report will only address the 826 QSO’s from my own callsign (KD0BIK).

In addition to a QSO each and every day in April, I also managed to add a few new DX entities to my growing list and quest for DXCC status.  I worked stations for the first time in Antigua & Barbuda, Lithuania and Lebanon.  May marks the 5th consecutive month of adding at least one new DX entity to my list. 

Starting with this months update, I will also list my ongoing progress in the ARRL Centennial QSO Party.  I’m not a big contester, but I am really having fun getting on the air as much as possible and making contacts.  As a VE I’m worth 5 points and sure….it’s also fun to accumulate the points.  I’ve been successful at working a few “big point stations”, but I’ve found most of my contacts are with ARRL Members (1 pts.), ARRL Life Members (2 pts.) and Fellow ARRL VE’s (5 pts).  As of the end of May, my results are as follows:

Centennial Points Score:  6,664

Total QSO’s:  1,201

Rank (All): 1,495

Rank (Colorado): 18th

Finally, since really getting a lot more “radio active” in the past few months I’ve heard from many who listen to my podcast (Practical Amateur Radio Podcast) and readers of my blogs.  I’ve also worked many of you on the air in the past 2-3 months.  Most all tell me the same thing and that is I’ve inspired them to do their own QSO a day challenge and you are all on track to making it happen.   Keep it up!  But make sure you are having fun while doing it. 

image

The QSO breakdown for May is as follows:

Mode  Number QSO’s

JT65 62

JT9 0

SSB 463

PSK31 0

MFSK16 1

RTTY 0

2m FM 0

Additional notes of interest:

DX Stations Worked in May – 75

New DX Entities in May – 3

Total QSO’s for May – 826

Total QSO’s for 2014 – 1,644

Total consecutive QSO days – 151

Days left in 2014 – 214

Until next time…

73 de KDØBIK

Posted in Amateur Radio, QSO A Day Tagged

KDØBIK operating as W1AW/Ø

Colorado’s first week to host the W1AW/Ø portable station in celebration of the ARRL Centennial events has come and gone.  This particular week was a busy week for me both at work and in the hobby of amateur radio.  In addition to working two shifts operating W1AW/Ø, I also presented the Summits on the Air program presentation to two area amateur radio clubs.  Yes…I also managed to keep my streak of at least one QSO a day alive.

As Colorado began hosting the W1AW/Ø portable operations, we also fell right into the middle of a weather pattern which almost like clockwork the heavy storms would roll into the Denver area from the west.  These storms produced all your typical spring storm weather scenarios including rain (lots of rain in some areas), hail (enough to bring out the snow plows), thunder bolts and lightning (all very, very frightening) and yes…tornados.   Tornados are somewhat rare in the metro Denver area, but this particular week we had sightings just about every day.

My first shift to operate W1AW/Ø was scheduled to begin at 0000z on Friday, (Thursday evening local).  The storms rolled through Denver right on cue with tornado sirens and flashing of lightning around the area.  Below radar image captured about two hours before my shift would start.

photo

Thankfully the clouds parted just before the start of my shift.

photo

On time, I began calling CQ on 20m.  There had been a short gap between operators and our fellow hams were ready to attempt to work Colorado.  Quickly I built a small pileup and began operating the strongest stations I could hear.  I’m really glad I spent many evenings operating just as my own callsign and sharpening my skills in working small pileups.

If you’ve been listening to the HF bands in the past week or two, you certainly know conditions have been poor with noise levels very high on the bands.  Of course the storms which had moved through Colorado certainly were not helping with overall conditions.

My friend Martin, W3MLK was my first contact and he was kind enough to run a few minutes of video/audio and posted on YouTube.  Martin’s QTH is in Delaware.   Thank you Martin for recording my audio.

Statistically speaking, my Thursday shift was far easier and a lot more enjoyable as band conditions were stronger.  I managed 348 QSO’s during my three hour shift compared to only 156 on Sunday morning (1500 – 1800z).  While I’m not sure how this compares with other operators, I enjoyed my time operating W1AW/Ø and representing the Centennial State of Colorado in the ARRL Centennial Event.  It was a lot of fun!

OK….it’s now time to get back to work.  My lunch break is over and this is another busy week in the office.

Until next time…

73 de KDØBIK

Posted in Amateur Radio, Radio Sport Tagged , ,