Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Here Comes The '29 QSO Party!

courtesy: Lou, VE3AWA




This Saturday night as well as the next will be the annual Bruce Kelley 1929 QSO Party, otherwise known as the '1929 BK'.





Only transmitters that are 'era-appropriate' are allowed to be used. More specifically, transmitters must employ tubes that were available in 1929 or earlier, and transmitters must be self-excited. No crystals allowed! Crystals were new and largely unaffordable for most hams back in the depression days.

The year of 1929 marked a real turning point in amateur radio as governments finally cracked-down on things such as frequency stability, out of band operations and re-alignment of call districts. In short, hams were henceforth required to behave themselves and to clean up their signals and methods of operation.

courtesy: http://www.arrl.org/
Although the new rules did a lot to improve things when it came to 'signal purity', there was still a long way to go ... but the wheels of improvement had been officially set in motion. The next decade would see monumental changes in both transmitter and receiver architecture, as engineers along with some particularly gifted amateurs, strove to unlock the challenges of this relatively new technology.

If you tune across the CW bands during the next two Saturday nights, you will have the rare opportunity to hear exactly what the bands must have sounded like back in the early '30s'.

For the most part you will hear single-tube Hartley, Colpitts or TNT oscillators along with a few two-tube MOPAs thrown in. Many of them will suffer the same problems encountered by the boys of '29 ... chirp, drift, buzzy notes and frequency instability from antennas swaying in the wind.

Again this year, signals should be a little louder as well, since the previous long-time power limitation of 10W input has been increased to 25W.

The MOPAs will sound much better but some surprisingly nice-sounding signals can be heard coming from properly tuned and optimised single-tube oscillators. I recall being blown away by the lovely sounding signal I heard from such a rig when first tuning into the BK activity several years ago, only to learn that it was a self-excited Hartley using 1/4" copper tubing for the oscillator tank circuit!

The '29 watering-hole on 80m will be around 3550-3580 kilocycles (be careful not to confuse this with kilohertz!) while the early afternoon to post-sunset 40m activity will be found from 7100-7125 kc. There may even be a few on the very low end of 160m. Although many of these transmitter styles were used on 20m and higher, BK rule-makers have wisely decided not to inflict these sounds on the present populace as it would likely keep the 'Official Observers' busy for several days writing pink-slips.

This year I will leave the MOPA on the shelf and set up my Hull Hartley as I haven't used it since building the MOPA a few years ago. If it's very windy (almost assured), the Hartley will really sound like 1929!


My own Hull Hartley

You can learn more about amateur radio happenings leading up to and following the 1929 crackdown in my earlier series of 'Why '29' blogs here:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Those wishing to put something together for next year's event can find everything needed here:

Introduction To Building ... '29-Style

Building '29-Style - Part 1

Building '29-Style - Part 2

Heck, there may even be time to throw something together for the following Saturday if you have a few parts and an older tube or two ... the '27 comes to mind and is readily found in many junk boxes. Maybe you know an old-timer or two with lots of parts that could help you out.

Let's hope for good conditions for this event as the last few years have been adversely affected by geomagnetic storming. Poor propagation or not, I guarantee there will be plenty of '29ers busy calling 'CQ AWA' on the low bands.

Complete BK details are available here.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

CLE237 Results

Last weekend's CLE237 was truly a workout. Not only was the format challenging, hunting for different grid square fields, but propagation was superb ... a vast departure from the normal CLE propagation-curse!
This combination resulted in many daytime hours spent reviewing three nights of Perseus recordings, the downside of being able to sleep all night rather than staying up until 0300 while listening live!




All told, 118 NDBs in 41 different grid fields were logged. Of these 118 stations, 12 were 'new catches'. After DXing NDBs since 1985, new catches are getting harder and harder to find but last week's great conditions were the best heard here in several years.

Today's quiet Sun!

With a very quiet Sun for a couple of weeks now, these great MF conditions are what many have been waiting for since the last solar low many years ago ... propagation below the broadcast band can be truly remarkable when these quiet conditions continue for many weeks at a time.

Here are a few interesting CLE catches as recorded on the Perseus SDR.

GREENLAND


MARSHALL ISLANDS
                                            

NDBs QY (Sydney, Nova Scotia), YBB (Pelly Bay, Nunavut)and 3Z (Russell, Manitoba) all sharing 263kHz within a few Hz of each other.



My full CLE237 log is shown below. As usual, a Perseus SDR and an 'inverted-L' (resonated to 300kHz) was used for the activity.


AH
28 13:30  403     TUT   Pago Pago, SMA

AL
28 13:30  400     MDY   Midway, MDW

AO
27 12:30  283     DUT   Dutch Harbor, ALS
27 12:30  341     ELF   Cold Bay, ALS
27 12:30  385     EHM   Cape Newenham, ALS
27 12:30  390     HBT   Borland, ALS

AP
27 06:00  263     OAY   Norton Bay, ALS
27 13:30  275     CZF   Cape Romanzof, ALS
27 13:00  325     BVK   Buckland, ALS
27 13:30  347     TNC   Tin City, ALS
27 13:00  356     HHM   Kotzebue, ALS

BG
27 13:30  352     RG    Rarotonga, CKS

BK
27 13:30  332     POA   Pahoa, HWA

BL
27 14:00  353     LLD   Lanai, HWA

BO
27 12:00  277     ACE   Kachemak, ALS
27 12:00  355     AUB   King Salmon, ALS
27 12:00  394     RWO   Kodiak, ALS
27 12:00  411     ILI   Iliamna, ALS
27 12:00  429     BTS   Dillingham, ALS

BP
27 12:00  212     CGL   Juneau, ALS
27 13:00  257     CUN   Fairbanks, ALS
27 12:00  346     OLT   Soldotna, ALS
27 12:30  347     DJN   Delta Junction, ALS
27 12:00  350     VTR   McGrath, ALS

BQ
27 13:00  376     PVQ   Deadhorse, ALS

CN
27 06:00  378     AP    Mayne Island, BC, CAN (MY NEAREST)
27 12:00  266     SLE   Salem, OR, USA
27 07:00  356     PND   Portland, OR, USA
27 06:00  356     MEF   Medford, OR, USA
27 06:00  404     MOG   Montegue, CA, USA

CM
27 07:00  203     TCY   Tracy, CA, USA
29 04:00  385     MR    Pacific Grove, CA, USA

CO
27 12:00  266     ICK   Annette Island, ALS
27 12:00  358     SIT   Sitka, ALS
27 12:00  396     CMJ   Ketchikan, ALS
27 12:00  414     IME   Sitka, ALS
27 12:00  529     SQM   Sumner Strait, ALS

CP
27 13:30  222     WY    Wrigley, NT, CAN
27 11:30  254     EV    Inuvik, NT, CAN
27 14:00  284     YOC   Old Crow, YT, CAN
27 08:00  380     YUB   Tuktoyaktuk, NT, CAN
27 12:00  392     ZFN   Tulita, NT, CAN

CQ
29 06:00  321     YSY   Sachs Harbour, NT, CAN

DM
27 08:30  242     EL    El Paso, TX, USA
27 10:00  278     CEP   Ruidoso, NM, USA
27 06:00  326     MA    Midland, TX, USA
27 12:00  338     RYN   Tucson, AZ, USA
27 13:00  341     OIN   Oberlin, KS, USA

DN
27 09:00  233     BR    Brandon, MB, CAN
27 09:00  275     HIN   Chadron, NE, USA
27 09:00  383     CNP   Chappell, NE, USA
27 09:00  400     FN    Fort Collins, CO, USA
27 09:00  414     GRN   Gordon, NE, USA

DP
27 08:00  207     PY    Fort Chipewyan, AB, CAN
27 08:00  212     BY    Beechy, SK, CAN
27 08:00  219     ZRS   Regina, SK, CAN
27 08:00  221     QU    Grande Prairie, AB, CAN
27 08:00  230     VG    Vermilion, AB, CAN

DQ
27 08:30  361     HI    Holman, NT, CAN

EL
27 06:00  260     MTH   Marathon, FL, USA
27 10:00  269     AR    New Iberia, LA, USA
27 10:00  329     HMA   Hondo, TX, USA
27 06:00  332     FIS   Key West, FL, USA


EM
27 07:00  263     CVM   Alton, IL, USA
27 07:00  332     IC    Wichita, KS, USA
27 07:00  335     BV    Batesville, AR, USA
27 07:00  338     UMP   Indianapolis, IN, USA
27 07:00  349     GW    Greenwood, MS, USA

EN
27 12:00  257     JYR   York, NE, USA
27 06:00  329     PMV   Plattsmouth, NE, USA
27 06:00  360     SW    Warroad, MN, USA
27 08:00  368     VIQ   Neillsville, WI, USA
27 09:00  368     PNM   Princeton, MN, USA

EO
27 07:00  212     YGX   Gillam, MB, CAN
27 08:00  216     YFA   Fort Albany, ON, CAN
27 08:00  218     RL    Red Lake, ON, CAN
27 08:00  224     MO    Moosonee, ON, CAN
27 08:00  258     ZSJ   Sandy Lake, ON, CAN

EP
27 06:00  224     BK    Baker Lake, NU, CAN
27 09:00  241     YGT   Igloolik, NU, CAN
27 08:00  263     YBB   Kugaaruk, NU, CAN
27 10:00  329     YEK   Arviat, NU, CAN
27 10:00  335     YUT   Repulse Bay, NU, CAN

EQ
27 04:00  365     YGZ   Grise Fiord, NU, CAN

FI
27 05:00  365     PAL   Palma, EQA

FK
28 05:00  369     ZDX   Saint Johns, ATG
27 06:00  391     DDP   Vega Baja, PTR
27 05:00  415     CBC   Cayman Brac, CYM


FL
27 09:00  376     ZIN   Matthew Town, BAH

FM
29 05:00  198     DIW   Dixon, NC, USA

FN
27 08:00  289     YLQ   La Tuque, QC, CAN
27 08:00  373     YXK   Rimouski, QC, CAN
27 05:00  392     ML    Charlevoix, QC, CAN
27 05:00  407     ZHU   Montreal, QC, CAN
27 07:00  516     YWA   Petawawa, ON, CAN

FO
27 10:00  208     YSK   Sanikiluaq, NU, CAN
27 18:37  323     KR    Schefferville, QC, CAN
27 10:00  351     YKQ   Waskaganish, QC, CAN
27 10:00  390     VP    Kuujjuaq, QC, CAN
27 08:00  396     YPH   Inukjuak, QC, CAN

FP
27 09:00  277     YLC   Kimmirut, NU, CAN
27 10:00  338     YPX   Puvirnituq, QC, CAN
28 10:00  358     YKG   Kangiqsujuaq, QC, CAN

FQ
29 07:00  256     YCY   Clyde River, NU, CAN

GN
27 10:00  263     QY    Sydney, NS, CAN
27 08:00  280     QX    Gander, NL, CAN
27 08:00  350     DF    Deer Lake, NL, CAN

GO
28 08:00  220     BX    Lourdes de Blanc, QC, CAN
28 08:30  281     CA    Cartwright, NL, CAN
28 10:00  396     JC    Rigolet, NL, CAN

GQ
28 06:00  399     UP    Upernavik, GRL

QJ
27 12:00  366     PNI   Pohnpei Island, FSM

QL
27 13:00  343     ML    Minami Tori Shima, MTS
27 12:00  360     OX    Iwo Jima, VOI

QO
28 13:30  437     OG    Okha, RSE

RG
27 12:30  260     NF    Norfolk Island, NFK

RJ
27 12:00  316     MAJ   Majuro Atoll, MHL
27 12:00  393     UKS   Kosrae, FSM


As always, complete CLE results (worldwide) can be viewed in detail here.

All-in-all, an exhausting but delightful weekend of listening and great propagation ... so many signals to hear ... welcome to solar-low!