Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ah, that's better

As noted a couple of weeks ago, my "big" radio, the Icom 756 Pro II, has been repaired by Icom (replaced the final transistors and aligned the radio), and arrived back at home this past Thursday. All is working just great now, with power output definitely up to spec. When I got home Thursday night, I disconnected the 706MkIIG that I'd been using for the past month, and hooked up the 756 again. This takes a few minutes, since in addition to just the power and antenna, I've got a different microphone, a different Rigblaster (for digital modes), and somewhat different audio and keying methods. I think I only managed to hook one cable up (harmlessly) to the wrong place, but it was a reminder that I really need to finish labeling all the cables. (I'd started a very long time ago, getting all the antenna cables labeled, but not getting much farther.) Seems like that's something to put on my list for one of the spring or summer nights when there are storms in the area and I can't operate.

Anyway, as soon as I got hooked up on Thursday night, I spun the dial around a bit to see if I could find some DX to work, and I came upon CO6LC on 20m phone. Hardly rare DX, but a non-local ham, and I was able to easily work him. Whew, that was a relief. A few minutes later, I worked Alex, A45WD on 30m, which was a new band for me for Oman. Thanks to Alex for being so patient. The conditions weren't very good, and it took a few minutes for him to get my callsign correct, but he stuck with me and made the contact work.

As luck would have it, I had planned to work from home the following day anyway, so I had the possibility of making a few contacts here and there during the day. One of the things that I was looking forward to was to work Bruce, XW1B in Laos. I'd heard Bruce one morning maybe a month or so ago quite strong, and we started emailing back and forth and have wound up chatting on the computer fairly often. It turns out that after living and DXing from Florida for a long time, Bruce has moved to Laos and has been very actively DXing from there. He's been on most mornings (my time) at around 1200Z and then again around 12 hours late, and works mostly CW and RTTY. Judging from what he's told me, and from what I've seen on the packet clusters, he's been making a lot of folks very happy, since Laos is still relatively rare. In fact, Bruce, and his boss Larry, XW1A, are two of only 3 hams who live full-time in Laos.

On Friday morning (my time) Bruce was running US stations on RTTY, and doing a great job. We'd previously worked out arrangements so that if I could hear him OK, we'd try to make a contact. (Although I have Laos confirmed on phone, I still needed it on RTTY and CW). We'd tried a couple of times before, but without success. Fortunately for me, things worked out a whole lot better this time. Initially, I tried calling along with the rest of the pileup, but Bruce wasn't able to hear my 100 watts in the midst of the folks who were running more power and better antennas. At that point, Bruce called me, and after I responded a couple of times (and the pileup finally stood by), we were able to make a valid contact, with Bruce giving me a 559. I'm really grateful to Bruce for his patience, and frankly, it's just plain fun having a new "ham radio friend" (as my wife calls them) who is located on the other side of the world.

That contact definitely started my day off right, and although an attempt to work CW a bit later in the morning didn't work, I feel pretty confident that we'll make this work soon. It really does go to show you what's possible even during a solar minimum, with fairly poor propagation. I'm hoping that a few more of the Cycle 24 spots start popping up, along with improved propagation soon.


  1. Wow! I feel honored to be mentioned in your blog David! A treat to work you on RTTY - now let's get a CW Q in your log! Best to you and the family! de Bruce XW1B

  2. David,

    I really enjoy reading your blog. Always seems to give me a boost to fire up the radio!

    73 Phil

  3. Bruce: I'm looking forward to that CW contact, and maybe someday I'll convince you to pick up a microphone as well.

    Phil: Thanks for the nice comment. It does make me feel good to know that folks out there are reading and enjoying the blog.

    David, K2DBK