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Monday, December 26, 2016

Inexpensive Way to Power ON/OFF a Station Accessory

Bert, N8NN, recently added a microHAM microKEYER II to his station.  In doing so he discovered a minor issue which he needed to solve regarding how to turn the microKEYER II on and off.  Bert uses a Yaesu FT-1000mp which conveniently has a 12 volt DC connector on the back to power small accessories but he needed to make a slight modification to allow that to turn his microKEYER II ON/OFF.  Here are Bert's comments:
"The Yaesu 12 volt DC output accessory connector on the back does not have adequate current capacity to power the microKEYER, and there is a caution in the microKEYER manual to not use it to power the microKEYER.  I power the microKEYER from a 1.2 amp wall wart.  The problem is that the on/off switch for the microKEYER is on the back of the box, hard to reach.  I don’t want to leave the microKEYER powered all the time, so I needed a relay to turn on the microKEYER when the Yaesu is powered up.  I found the perfect relay on Amazon at 

I put the circuit board in a small plastic box, powered the board from the Yaesu 12 volt accessory jack and cut the wall wart positive lead to insert the relay contacts.  Problem solved.  Photo attached."
This relay board only cost $5.39 from Amazon!  Bert found a super inexpensive way to control the turning on and off of his microKEYER II.  Nice job, Bert!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

WVDXA Receives Certificate from EP2A DX'pedition

Back in March, Garry, W8OI, collected donations from WVDXA members for the EP2A DX'pedition to Iran which occurred from April 15 - 25, 2016.  In total, 23 club members donated a total of $645 to this DX'pedition.  This is almost EXACTLY our average contribution to any DX'pedition.  However, it happens that out of 19 Club and Association donors to this DX'pedition, we were the SECOND largest donor, just behind the Northern California DX Foundation!


Below is a scan of the Certificate we received from the DX'pedition this week.  Also, we received two DVD's of their DX'pedition.  Anyone who wants to view that, just contact W8TN.  You can click on the photo below to see a larger image.

As of our most recent contribution to Bouvet, 3YØZ, the WVDXA has donated to 21 DX'pedition's and three times to Clublog for a total of nearly $15,000!  Pretty cool for a tiny bunch of mostly retired hams.  I'm definitely impressed!

Friday, May 13, 2016

May 2016 WVDXA Meeting at Jane Lew, WV

As I was not able to attend the meeting (DARN!) Hal, W8HC, has authored the following description of the affair and provided the photos.  THANKS, Hal!


Saturday was a wonderful day to be a member of WVDXA especially if you were in attendance at the meeting held at the impressive countryside QTH of Blair, W8KC, and Margaret Wright. 

Some 25 WVDXA members and guests were on hand for delicious gourmet food, DX fellowship and informative presentations.  I daresay our WVDXA meetings would rival any DX Club’s!

Bob Anthony, W8OM, (aka Papa November) took the ride up I-79 with me to Blair’s historic Jane Lew home which had once belonged to Howard Mason Gore (October 12, 1877 – June 20, 1947).  Gore served as 17th Governor of West Virginia from 1925 to 1929 and he previously served as the 8th Secretary of Agriculture from 1924 to 1925, during the administration of President Calvin Coolidge

We were warmly greeted by our gracious host Blair, and as soon as Bob and I entered the house, the mouth-watering aroma of Margaret’s lasagna baking in the oven immediately caught our attention.   

Other members were soon to arrive and we were treated to a pre-dinner “Show and Tell” which included a tour of Blair’s incredible downstairs hamshack.  Here we were introduced to his “Children.”  Well sort of… there was “Big Dawg,” “The Beast,” “Ole Yellar,” and “The Boss” some of the best looking homebrew amplifiers you would find anywhere!  Blair is an artisan when it comes to building amps and he has quite an awesome collection of classic Drake gear too!  Sorry about the drooling problem in your shack Blair!

Dinner was served and believe you me, the lasagna tasted every bit as good as it smelled.  There were salads and other great side dishes, garlic bread and meatballs… just an incredible spread.  Miraculously, everyone still found room for dessert, an array which included some of WV8RC’s spectacular home made pies and other assorted confections brought by the some of the guys.  If anyone left the Wright house hungry, it was his own fault!
Once the meal concluded, it was time for the business portion of the WVDXA meeting.  

Garry Ritchie, W8OI, was recognized for his recent award of #1 DXCC Honor Roll and proudly attended the meeting sporting his shiny new #1 HR pin.

A treasurer’s report was given with current balance of $295 followed by the “hat being passed” and another $263 being contributed to the “cause.”

The membership then voted to donate $100 to ClubLog as we have done in the past.

With the “business” out of the way it was time for the presentations.   Blair started things off with a show-and-tell that featured the K4AVU crimping tool used for easily installing the pesky PL-259 connectors.  He also demonstrated how to use DX Engineering’s coax cable stripping tool. Both of these items are “must haves” if you are looking for an “easier” way to install coax connectors. 

We were treated to a special WVDXA guest with the attendance of Wal Eckles, W8LRL.  Most of you already know that Wal is the “Top Dawg” on Top Band and is the only DXer in the world…. Yes, I said “World”… who has DXCC Honor Roll status ONLY with countries worked on 160-meters.  In fact, with deletes, Wal has worked a total of 342 entities on top band!  So it was a real privilege to hear Wal’s presentation as he gave us a great biographical account of his amateur/DX/160m career that has placed him at the pinnacle of top band DXing. 

Wal shared many photos and QSLs and has compiled quite a documentary that captures not only the W8LRL story but also chronicles some 160m “history” of top band operations that includes his correspondence and consultation with Mr. Top Band himself, Stew Perry, W1BB (SK). 

For those of us who have operated 160m or even attained DXCC on top band, we can appreciate the effort, patience and antenna work that would go in to attaining 342 countries on this difficult band! 

We were truly honored to have W8LRL in our midst!  [Ed. Note: Click on any photo to see a larger image.]

Wal, W8LRL
Although it was a “tough act” to follow, I, W8HC, was next up to give the K5P Palmyra Atoll presentation.  This was a slightly modified version of the team’s “official” PowerPoint presentation developed by John, K6MM. 
For those of you that weren’t in attendance, I do want to once again acknowledge and thank WVDXA for your generous support of our K5P DXpedition back in January. 

Following the K5P presentation, we adjourned and there were a few of us who made a final pass by the dessert tray before our group photo session.

It was indeed a great meeting with WV’s finest DXers… proud to be a WVDXA member and have such great company.

The photo below is Blair, W8KC, showing us his shack and a couple of his awesome home brewed amps.
Blair, W8KC
The group photograph below - Left to Right:

Dr. Jim Adams K4JWA, Garry Ritchie W8OI, Frank Powell KA8SYV, Rich Dillon K8VE, Gene Scherrer W8VZ, Bob Anthony W8OM, Wal Eckles W8LRL, Ron Selders W8UQ, Alan Carpenter W8OP, "Mac" Gray W8LMG, Anthony Simons W8AF, Al Worstell KE8UN, Blair Wright W8KC, Dave Poe W8IW, Steve Burgess KD8VNN, Hal Turley W8HC.
Attending but not pictured: Becky Thompson K8BT, Karl Thompson K8KT, Larry Fravel K8YYY, Rick Cummings WV8RC, Larry Chapman, N8ZL.
Group Photo - May 2016 WVDXA Meeting
Thanks again to Blair and Margaret for opening their home up to us and for the awesome hospitality and lasagna!!  We will need to do that again!!
Hal, W8HC

Friday, April 22, 2016

How Heard Island gave me W8OI a lifetime thrill

It all came down to this.  After decades of trying to confirm QSOs with every DXCC land mass in the world, a ham radio contact with one desolate island on the opposite side of our globe was all that I needed to finally reach the Top of the DXCC Honor Roll.   And after four years of planning, in March of this year a team of 12 strong and brave scientists, who were also ham radio operators, took a long, difficult voyage to get there to give me that QSO with the final DXCC entity I needed to “run the table.”

VK0EK team ready to depart Cape Town
The place is Heard Island.  It is about as far away from us in West Virginia as anything on earth can be.  It is close to Antarctica in the southern Indian Ocean.  No people live there, just animals, birds and perhaps thousands of other native species, many of which were heretofore undiscovered.  In addition to setting up amateur radio antennas and transceivers this crew was there to discover as many of those animals and plants as possible.  They were there to do serious research.

The story has a happy ending.  A wealth of scientific knowledge was uncovered and documented.  And thousands of hams around the world, like yours truly, got that last QSO needed to be able to say that they have worked and confirmed all 339 current entities on the DXCC list.  With the sunspot cycle dropping drastically, propagation to the US was poor much of the time but I was able to work Heard several times on CW, SSB and RTTY.  Many other hams logged this difficult one with a “whew” as they climbed another rung up the DXCC ladder.  By the time it ended, this VK0EK DXpedition made more than 75,000 QSOs with radio amateurs on every continent.  Perhaps you worked them too.  If you did, be thankful and consider the sacrifices they made for your pleasure.

Natives stand guard over tent city
As readers of this blog may recall, I was able to go on a DXpedition myself in 2009 to an uninhabited island in the Caribbean called Desecheo (KP5).  It was a “bucket list” trip for me, I personally worked thousands of hams world-wide around the clock for two weeks.  That K5D DXpedition logged 115,787 QSOs.  It was a satisfying accomplishment but it was also hard work and involved long, hot days with very little sleep and nearly a month away from home at my own expense.  So I appreciate what the Heard Island team went through.
For them it was a commitment of nearly seven weeks.  The international team first flew into Cape Town, South Africa from countries around the globe.  Next they sterilized everything they were taking with them because Heard Island is a nature preserve, not to be polluted.  They packed all of their radio gear, generators, fuel, food, water and an endless list of other stuff.  They then loaded all of that, along with themselves, on a vessel called The Braveheart and voyaged 12 long days to Heard.  That voyage was more than 3-thousand miles long and the ship averaged 11 miles per hour through cold and rough seas.  Imagine driving in an automobile night and day without stop at 11 miles an hour for 12 days going from the southern California coast  to the northeastern tip of Maine (about the same length of trip).  When the DXpedition ended another voyage of comparable distance was required departing Heard for Perth, Australia.  Then came the work of unpacking the ship before flying home to wherever.  And while on the island they struggled in bitterly cold weather erecting a huge field of antennas, a tent city had to be built, six stations had to be set up, then those stations had to be operated 24/7, all the research had to be carried out to discover new forms of life in the extremes and finally there was the “fun” of tearing it all down and packing it back aboard ship.

One of many antennas amid desolation
Wasn’t it nice of them to do that just so I could realize a nearly life-long ambition to confirm radio contacts with every entity in the world?  Hi hi.  After 63 years of hamming they put me right up on cloud nine.  

But best of all is the pride I feel in the fine company I share on that cloud.  The WVDXA has eight members at #1 DXCC Honor Roll.  In alphabetical order the other seven are N8DX, W8HC, W8OM (ex WA8VPN), W3UR, W8UV, W8WEJ, and WA8WV.  Three other members - K4OM, W8TN and W8QY - just need one more entity to have them all.   And three SK members made the #1 list before they moved on to that great ham shack in the sky - W8AH, W8QHG and W8GG.  Not bad for our little club, huh?

Friday, January 1, 2016

WVDXA is NO. 1 in Club Leagues on Club Log

The West Virginia DX Association (WVDXA) has now achieved the TOP of the Club League listing on Club Log.  Currently there are 110 clubs worldwide listed there and the fact that the WVDXA has reached the top of that listing is MAGNIFICENT!

We are certainly not an "old" club and not one with a huge membership.  But, the "DX Flame" burns strongly in all our members.  The camaraderie of this tightly-knit group of DX'ers is un-matched!  Those in the group who have been DX'ing for as much as 60 years are just as willing to help the newcomers as anyone else.

CONGRATULATIONS, guys!  This is the result of an untold number of hours of sweat, tears, and just plain hard work to put together your stations and to dig out those weak signals.

We ARE Number ONE!