CW OPS – Life-Time Membership #2346
Update – October 23, 2022
I began running POTA (Parks on the Air) on October 10, 2020 at Eisenhower State Park (K-2335) in Kansas. I attempted 3 activations in the park that weekend, but due to circumstances out of my control and in full control by Murphy’s Law, one of the 3 activations was not considered an activation. Information regarding my Murphy’s Law experience can be found on the Grayson County Amateur Radio Club Website at https://graysoncountyarc.org/?s=murphy%27s+law. To this date, I now have 239 total activations in parks across the country. POTA has pretty much taken over my interests in the hobby. I do some hunting of parks from home, but my main interest is to be the activator at the parks. I recently had a very exciting experience while traveling through Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. I stopped at a few parks in those states and had absolutely a blast making activations and hundreds of POTA contacts. A prior traveling adventure in 2021 had me activating parks in Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Wisconsin.
Radios I’ve used at the parks include a FT-891, TS-590SG, IC-7100, Xiego G90, QCX QRP and QCX QRP Classis, Elecraft KX-1, and a QDX (QRP) digital transceiver. I’ve done activations at the parks from picnic tables, my car and from a bicycle I have equipped with a radio, antenna and paddle attached to the handlebars.
I’ve used a variety of antennas, starting with a dipole, end fed wire using 64:1, 49:1 and 9:1 ununs, vertical antennas and magnetic loop antennas. My favorite antenna is the end-fed wire, using the sparkplug unun, either the 100W version – 49:1 or the 50W version – 64:1.
My son Chris (K5KDE) and I have activated several parks together, while I normally run mostly CW, and my son Chris runs either SSB or FT8 it’s a terrific way for us to get together and share family time together.
During a recent Grayson County Radio Club Special Event called the Eisenhower Birthday Event celebrating the would-be birthday of President Dwight Eisenhower’s 132nd birthday, using the callsign W5O, I managed to make contacts from the Eisenhower Birthplace, Eisenhower State Park, Ray Roberts Lake State Park and Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge. The activity went on for a week.
As I’ve said many times, Parks-On-The-Air (POTA) is a very fun experience and is a habit-forming activity in the hobby. I can usually be found on several bands running CW at regular frequencies when available that I use quite a bit, namely on 10-meters (28.045), 12-meters (24.945), 15-meters (21.045), 17-meters (18.145), 20-meters (14.045), 30-meters (10.145), 40-meters (7.045), 80-meters (3.545). Recently I’ve started running some Sideband and Digital from the parks, but mainly operate CW.
From the Beginning…
My journey into Amateur Radio began when I was just age 14 back in 1966 when I built a Heathkit HW16 CW transceiver for 80 40 and 15 meters. It contained a triple-heterodyne receiver front end, and the receiver was hot. I was first licensed as a novice operator holding the call – WN8ZIQ back in the day, then gradually moved up next as WA8ZIQ (Technician and General class), KC8NZ (Advanced Class), finally reaching the rank (Extra Class) – KT8D before graduating high school in 1970. During the entire tenure of acquiring my licenses, Morse code was a mandatory requirement for a license, up to 20 WPM. But then I moved to 5-Land, to Louisiana and decided I still wanted another call. I gave up my 2×1 call – KT8D for my present call of KW5CW. I bet you can’t figure out why and what my favorite mode is? You shouldn’t have to guess too hard on that one.
After almost 55 years into this hobby, I can also be found on the DMR BM North America Talk Group 93 and Texas Statewide Talk Group 3148. Another I frequently visit is The DMR BM Worldwide Talk Group 91. On the low bands, I run 40-meter CW around 7.045, which has been my standard operating frequency on 40-CW for the past 50 years. That was until the digital modes of JT65, JT9 and the new FT4 and FT8 modes and the JS8CALL mode appeared on the scene. I’m not as active as I used to be when I first started running digital, but when it comes down to it, CW is the mode that I love and I’m always going back to it. All of this is because of my recent retirement from IBM and joining the Grayson County Amateur Radio Club which sparked my interest in Digital Communications and narrow band FM modes. I’m one of those Die-Hard CW guys who once said that I’d never work any other mode, but guess what? There is more to ham radio than just CW. Now in retirement from IBM, I never get bored sitting at home because I normally just don’t sit at home. I’m usually at the parks running POTA.
My radio station consists of various brands of radios. Currently, I run the Kenwood TS-590SG for a home station rig, after acquiring it as a door prize in 2016 from a newly opened store in Plano, Texas called Ham Radio Outlet. Just two weeks after winning that fantastic radio, I won a second door prize, another low band mobile radio from HRO, the Alinco DX-SR9T which I use as a mobile CW rig when I’m out-and-about. Prior to those winnings, I never won so much as a ‘red-cent’. I also use older Drake equipment, including the TR7 solid-state transceiver, MN2700 tuner, and most all Drake accessories.
Well if that weren’t enough of radios, I’ve decided to also purchase a Xiego G90 SDR QRP radio. It’s a Chinese radio that has become very popular and is very supportive with groups.io and software updates. I normally use it to run CW QRP at around 5 watts and it works very well on just a dipole or ground mounted Hustler vertical antenna. The highest output power on the radio is 20 Watts but rarely run full power, and have also used it to run a little FT8 using a homebrew magnetic loop antenna that works on 40-30-20 meters, but again, I’m always running back to CW because that mode interests me the most. .
In the recent past, I’ve been pretty active with the ICOM-7100 All-band HF/VHF/UHF radio running POTA in a newly created GO-KIT incorporating the radio from the parks. Also, you may find me driving down the road making a contact or two, usually on 40 meters and a standby frequency of 7.045 mhz using a Yaesu FT-891.I also discovered the excellent filtering system for CW in the FT-891 and now use it almost exclusively while running POTA, unless I want to run mobile QRP. After only 5 weeks of operation, it developed receiver sensitivity issues and I had to get it repaired. This SDR Chinese radio just runs and runs. I’ve had my first POTA activation in Kansas a few years ago using the Xiegu G90 radio, using the call W5K in Kansas, and also as a special event station commemorating the birthday of President Dwight Eisenhower at the Eisenhower State Park also located in Kansas.That was the very first park activation ever for me with POTA. Murphy’s Law took over the event, but I managed to get through it. Details of that trip can be found on my club website at https://graysoncountyarc.org/?s=murphy%27s+law.
As far as antennas, I use wire antennas and short verticials because of HOA limitations at my residence, and also frequently use a short inductively coupled 40-meter vertical, ground-mounted and stands at 8 feet tall. The antenna design is the brain-child of my good friend and fellow CW operator who is now SK from Girard Ohio – Don Moler – N8BKR. Other antennas I use are a homebrew magnetic loop antenna on 20, 30 and 40 meters. Occasionally, I push up my ground-mounted 24 foot 6BTV Huster vertical antenna at home utilizing a DX-Engineering Tilt Base so I can rotate the antenna back to the ground before daylight. At the POTA park activations, I usually use one of 3 vertical antennas. One is a ground mounted short vertical employing the Wolf-River Coil, and the other is a fully automatic antenna called the Tarheel. It works well in activations, as it is auto-tuned to frequencies I operate by a controller known as the Ameritron Model SDC-104 Automatic Screwdriver Antenna Controller. (NO ANTENNA TUNING REQUIRED). The 3rd is a 1/4 wave on 20 that can be adjusted to 17,15,12 and 10 meters. .
Presently, I’m a member of the Grayson County Amateur Radio Club (GCARC) located in Sherman, Texas and was acting Vice-President of the Club for 2016 and 2017 and was Treasurer in 2018 and 2019. For 2018, I also have been the club’s newsletter editor of the GCARC monthly newsletter, now going on for over 5 years and also the webmaster for the club website which is located at www.graysoncountyarc.org which I created and now manage, as of March 16th, 2018, when it went live on the internet, written originally in the Joomla language. It was been converted to WordPress but presently has issues and plans are to rebuild it this winter. As a member of the club, I also became involved in teaching Morse code classes, one in 2015, and another in 2016 as I thoroughly enjoy helping others learn the almost lost art of CW.
The Special Events I did operate in 2022 using W5I or W5O on CW QRP operation this year are as follows…
Winter Field Day (Non-ARRL sponsored Event)
Perrin Field Museum Special Event – (W5P) Operating frequencies 3.545, 5.373, 7.045, 14.045, 18.075, 21.045, 24.945, 28.045
Red River Bridge River War Special Event (W5R) – Operating frequencies 3.545, 5.373, 7.045, 14.045, 18.075, 21.045, 24.945, 28.045
Eisenhower Special Event as (W5O) – Operating frequencies 3.545, 5.373, 7.045, 10.145,14.045, 18.075, 21.045, 24.945, 28.045
I plan to run all three special club events in 2023. .
Since I have the time these days at home, I’ll plan to start running the CWops Mini-CWT Tests that run several times each month but POTA activities take priority. These activities give me the chance to hone my CW Skills. The CWops event just lasts for an hour several times each month, but if you like CW and contesting, it is allot of fun but 2nd only to POTA.
I did operate a contest that was not GCARC club sponsored that I operated in May 2019 as a guest operator during the Worldwide WPX CW Contest, using the call W0QQQ which is located at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. I was able to drum up 501 CW contacts during the weekend event. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, I was not able to travel during any contests this year, so maybe in the future, I’ll get another chance to travel to Kansas and work a contest from there with my friend Kurt – AD0WE. We share a common interest in CW and I encourage anyone who reads this page also check out Kurt’s QRZ page. If you EVER had the urge to learn CW the easy way, check out Kurt’s CW Ninja pages and check out his course.
For 25 years, I worked at IBM as a computer engineer maintaining IBM mainframe hardware such as CPU’s, data libraries, data storage disk systems, and attached network devices. I’ve previously managed accounts such as the Federal Reserve Bank, Fidelity Investments, and Capgemini, My most recent account prior to retirement was CitiGroup, maintaining two large data centers for this customer. But as of February 28, 2018, I turned age 66 and officially retired from IBM. What a great feeling. Gee, it’s already now going on almost 5 years into retirement.!
Now being retired, I plan to become even more active in amateur radio, as I will continue to build up my contesting skills to participate in most ARRL and CQ CW contests that run throughout the year along with traveling in the mobile and maybe participate in a DX-pedition or two. One of my short term goals and actually a dream of mine would be to go back home to Youngstown, Ohio, and hookup with an old friend, K3LR of DX-Engineering, and maybe work a contest with him, and maybe even go on a DX-pedition with him someday. I’ve been dreaming about that day for over 30 years. If you ever want to see an out-of-sight Contest station, just lookup K3LR on QRZ.
Similar to contesting, I find that operating POTA (Parks-On-The-Air), an excellent means of keeping up contesting skills for contesting. For the past few years now, I’ve been activating parks in different states and having fun activating as a CW operator. Last year, I took a trek up to Wisconsin and worked from several parks along the way. My past goal was to successfully activating as many parks as possible and acquire the ‘KILO’ award, which shows working at least 1000 contacts from a specific park. My upcoming goal is to activate as many parks as possible. To date, I’ve have 237 successful activations and visited 46 parks accross the country. This year, I took a trip to Louisianna to vist relatives and on the way I couldn’t resist activating parks on the way and while I was there in Louisiana. I even took a trip furher east from Louisiana and activated parks in Mississippi, Alabama and and Florida. It looks as if my traveling ventures will continue before the first of the year, as I have plans to soon travel up the east cost and activate parks from Florida to New York City and then west through Pennsylvania Ohio, Wisconsin, then back south to Texas.
My wife, Virginia, whom I married in 2007 after two other failed marriages, is the love of my life. She claims that she will get into this hobby soon, but I’m not holding my breath. She refers my CW operations as ‘dit-dit’. She claims I ‘dit-dit’ allot and she’s right. SHe is extremely understanding and encourages me to operate and have fun in the hobby.
If you happened to work me on CW, I hope that I can brighten up your day a little. Let’s have some fun with CW on the radio. If you ever listen to my POTA activations or actually worked me during one of them, you could guess that I’m having an extreme level of fun and it goes on for hours.
Dit Dit Dit Dah Dit Dah (SK)
DX Code of Conduct
- I will listen and listen and then listen again before calling.
- I will only call if I can copy the DX station properly.
- I will not trust the DX cluster and will be sure of the DX station’s call sign before calling.
- I will not interfere with the DX station nor anyone calling and will never tune-up on the DX frequency or in the QSX slot.
- I will wait for the DX station to end a contact before I call.
- I will always send my full call sign.
- I will call and then listen for a reasonable interval. I will not call continuously.
- I will not transmit when the DX operator calls another call sign, not mine.
- I will not transmit when the DX operator queries a call sign, not like mine.
- I will not transmit when the DX station requests geographic areas other than mine.
- When the DX operator calls me, I will not repeat my call sign unless I think he has copied it incorrectly.
- I will be thankful if and when I do make a contact.
- I will respect my fellow hams and conduct myself so as to earn their respect.
73 and HAPPY CW HUNTING
James – KW5CW