Yet another brilliant contribution to Amateur Radio Literature..

..elevating the whole level even higher.

I'm one of those who strongly believe that CW in Ham Radio is the soul and the beating heart of our hobby.

So, it was a great surprise today to stumble on a newly-published ebook written by Carlo IK0YGJ freely available on the web !
Make sure you don't miss this one. You may click here to download it.

The "Zen and the Art of Radiotelegraphy" will not only guide you on how to learn CW the right way, but also assist you on how to build up your CW skills further on, beyond the learning phase. It's simply a great piece of writing.

Apart from Carlo's book I do appreciate a lot Chuck's K7QO work, which has helped me loads, especially his manual: it's written in a clear, straightforward way providing all the essentials. Make sure you visit his webpage by clicking here, it's really worth reading what a one-of-a-kind, talented and gifted man like Chuck has to say to us upon the art of CW. His method is also being used by the CW club FISTS. It's also really interesting to check out a presentation for CW training by Chuck, here.

Additionally to the resources above, as well as Morse Runner and RufzXP software which comprise the backbone of my daily training, Fabian's DJ1YFK "Learn CW Online" simply has it all and not only; it has available a series of special features that you cannot find elsewhere. Fabian needs no introduction, just let another gifted CW op and avid contester, who whistles CW like a rapid fire assist you to work further on your skills. If you still haven't tried LCWO, try it here.

Personally speaking, I really struggled coping with CW at the beginning: I had to learn it absolutely all on my own, which of course ended up by learning it the wrong way and I really struggled to get rid of the bad habits along the way, till the code started to feel smooth and enjoyable. I even failed at my first exams (in SV land, CW 5wpm exam is still a requirement to get on HF) and all in all, the whole thing didn't come easy for me, since I didn't have any elmer to guide me. Wish I had all the above material available then. It could have saved me a considerable amount of time and effort, let alone all the negative thinking such as "I ain't learn it, no matter how hard I try !".

Thanks to a truly kind and generous man, Bob N2OO, CW became for me the most important and exciting element in my Ham Radio life. He was the one who let me share the brilliant CW experience through a world-class operator's ears & fingers, as well as overcome shyness and build up my confidence to start living up the ultimate excitement and pleasure in Ham Radio: CW.
vy 73 es cwfe Vicky SV2KBS

Grrrlz power !

Here you have a compilation of all the YL Contests I am aware of (if I'm missing any, I would really appreciate it if you'd let me know !). Please feel free to view it and distribute it to YL radio-friends by clicking here.

Many of these, attract numerous life-long & respected YL operators to get on the air, especially on CW activity with avid participation.

Since the YLs are rather rare species in Ham Radio, I strongly believe that such activities comprise a great opportunity to encourage and trigger the YLs worldwide to get on the air and get known better to each other as well as become acquainted with several interesting YL projects that take place.

I will give it a good try to be QRV in as many as possible - hope to see you on the air ! Have fun and happy DXing !
33 !

"I understand the concept of cleaning just not as it applies to me.."

Announcing the "Most Dangerous Ham Shack Award". You could send in your application today and have the chance to proudly display your accomplished shack award ! :-)
Yepp ! The way a shack should be: tremendously messy, in true ham tradition !

If I would nominate a fellow ham for this award (although I could be eligible for this award too !), then I'd go for my good radio buddy SV7AMJ, a great fellow ham and electronics technician by trade (note: his picture is NOT shot at his own shack !!!).
I still recall myself looking desperately for a soldering iron in his shack (where absolutely everything, including his vintage equipment collection, was covered with a yellow/brown layer of oily, sticky gunk because he is a fanatic smoker), and finally found it (!) under a pile of small and large papers, cat food, a dozen of books, electronic components, his daughter's toys, a couple of dead tubes and a half-eaten apple.
If there were 3 guys sitting in his shack, then the fourth person should be hovering on the ceiling, above all the debris & junk in order to have access :-)

A few words for my "quickie" sketch now. Was sketched up at 0200 local time. I found a picture of this shack somewhere on the web, I have absolutely no idea whose is it, but I loved it at first sight for its unique character (maybe I saw something of my own in it !) and what I found really challenging, were the numerous details in it, although it was impossible to reproduce them all.
Used soft pencils and a little of charcoal for a few details - I'm in "Sketch-Lust" mode again ! Will post more soon :-)

Don't panic !

It wasn't hard to find a title: I borrowed it from "The Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy" without thinking it twice, because I feel it's by far the most appropriate one.

The trigger for this, was SV8RX's post-wish for New Year !

Well, when someone like me, who has gotten his/her ticket during the absolute quietness of the solar activity -and while we thought that the activity had hit the bottom, it was eventually going even lower- oh well, I think that the amateur radio generation I belong to, has built another mentality upon this.

I believe that we do perceive things in a much more optimistic way, considering that we have lived up only the worst, which is the norm for us (the worst solar recession of the century actually.. now that's bad luck, isn't it ?), so we have absolutely no other option apart from looking upwards, for the better.

From my personal experience, what felt really painful was the lack of 10m and 12m QSOs in my log during the first term after I got my license. So back then, I was convinced that I had assembled my antenna wrong and this ended up in numerous tilt-up-and-downs struggling to find something wrong to justify the zero QSOs on the high bands :-)
(never found anything wrong though and I had to hide this conclusion every time from the guys -mostly fellow university students non-hams- who were assisting me!)

So here's the part where I go all genius, to get started thinking positive ! All I had to do was to flip a solar activity chart around 180 degrees. And.. voilà ! Now everything starts to make sense (awesome isn't it ?!)

Allright, I stop whining, things on the air feel much better as time passes by, and the numbers have started to climb up impressively, indeed.

Last but not at least, I want to share a very interesting article I came across, which explains the zero SSN on the long term that took place by analyzing sonograms in a straightforward and comprehensible-for-the-rest-of-us way. You may read it here, just scroll down to locate it.

Keep smiling :o)

Ladies, get ready ! Oil your paddles, have your mics done.. Midwinter Contest's coming up !

Although I missed it last year (I was on the move), this year I won't.

I am really looking forward to meeting all the YL radio-friends again on the air !

Mostly the EU YLs though, since the overseas YLs seem not be acquainted with this Dutch YL Contest which attracts a decent number of YLs annually, both on SSB and CW section.
Each leg lasts only 4 hours -for 2010 the dates will be 9 & 10 January for CW and SSB respectively- making it a fun and flexible activity, to start the new year with along with YLs!

You may find the current MW Contest rules by clicking here.
So, if you are chasing YL ops, make sure you won't miss this one !

Apart from this, I compiled a YL Contest Calendar, with all those contests in, that encourage YL participation. I am still awaiting for a few updates to come up and then I will have it published.

Have fun !

P.S: The Midwinter Contest manager is Chantal PA3GQG/VP8YLH, who also manages the PACC Contest from this year on ! You go girl !

End of a season !

2009 is history and from the ham radio point of view, it was finished with three awesome contests by my side: CQWW CW Contest (I was on as SOSB(A)/40HP), 9A CW Contest (CW SO-40M LOW) and DARC XMAS Contest (SO-CW-LOW)

All in all, I had a ball. I can still feel my eyes twinkling and my ears jingling, and any sound that I hear these days is being automatically converted to CW rhyme (eg I start wondering why do the collar doves keep singing “A, A” today ?!)
I also feel really thankful to Vagelis SV2BFN for letting me sneak into his shack and operate.

It was great meeting radio friends on the air competing, as well as working world-class operators that whistle CW on contests like rapid fire.

The most special contest of the three though, was the DARC XMAS Test. Since it's a sprint contest it requires a totally different approach, so it was really nice to get acquainted with something I never tried before and it turned out to be really fun, so I am really looking forward to clicking the upcoming EU Sprints !

And now.. something like a “founding declaration” of this blog :-) before signing off from here to start my post-contest recovery.
I was triggered to create this blog while I was showing pictures to a good radio buddy who suggested: “I guess that it's time you'd get started with writing and sharing”.
And I finally decided to do so, mostly because I feel the need to share all those things that I love, with good friends and relatives that for various reasons we are apart and I really don't want to lose touch from.

Looking back over my shoulder, I can say for sure, that 2009 was an exciting year, with many moments that let me shift my ham radio experience into a higher gear and live it up, as well as with numerous unique, impossible-to-forget, amusing landscapes, heartwarming hikes and moments along with great guys that took me high and I recall with joy..

I will try to keep this blog posted.
Sometimes I am lucky. Sometimes I write. The case is, that rarely those “sometimes” synchronize - I do not promise much for now, but yes, I will also exist here.

di dit

P.S. The pictures on this post are not current, they're from CQWWSSB '08, from SV2BFN shack where we participated as J42T. My camera was somewhere stuffed in a backpack, so no pics from the contests mentioned above :-(