Hi, my name is Marty Ray and I live in central Indiana. I have been a ham since 1980 (Novice call, KA9HQK) and I enjoy DXing, and Contesting.
I got started in amateur radio at age 16. I found out about ham radio when I saw a CQ magazine at the local grocery store. (yes, they had CQ at my small town grocery store!) I was lucky to have a ham living just a block away who became my mentor....(lookup K9QHO)... I went on to graduate from Purdue University and am now an engineer.
I hope that, someday, I too can be a good role model for a young ham!
After finishing my masters degree, I finally got active again in 2014. (I was virtually inactive since an ice storm destroyed my antennas in 2003, then busy working on my masters degree.)
CW, DXing and QRP
I operate CW on the HF bands and enjoy using straight keys, sidewipers and and bugs, (check out http://skccgroup.com). Most of my contacts are QRP using simple wire antennas (see http://naqcc.info). QRP really works --in the last five months of 2014, I worked 145 countries, 32 zones, and all 50 states with 5 watts and modest wire antennas (or mobile). In fact, the only antenna I had for the first couple of months was a 30m dipole @30', which I used for all bands. Later I added a 40m dipole @15' (NVIS) and then finally an OCF dipole cut for 80m @ 48' fed with ladder line and an inverted L for 160m. Also, a significant number of my DX contacts were made from the car during my daily commute.
Here is the breakdown band by band:
[note to QRP ops: When QRP dxing or contesting I strictly adhere to constraining my power output to less than 5 watts (or <1W in the case of milliwatting), but for normal everyday operating, if the other station is having trouble hearing me, I think it is a good practice to increase power to make it easier on the other op. I typically start at 5W and then increase power if I get a signal report with a Readability lower than 5. I used to keep it at 5 watts until I received an RST of something like a 339, but I have noticed that when other ops report RST 449, instead of saying "I am reading you with practically no difficulty", what many of them really mean is "I am having a lot of trouble hearing you". So, when I hear Readability=4, I bump my power output by 6dB or so. If it's Readability=3, I go +12dB. (Anything more and I have to turn on the amplifier : )]
I became interested in CW traffic nets in 2015. I hadn't given much thought to them since I was a Novice, but I ran across one and was really impressed (perhaps intrigued) with the proficiency of the operators and the way they conducted the net. I wasn't sure about doing it myself, but I discovered that in order to generate traffic to exercise the system, some operators play chess games by exchanging the moves via radiograms. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to get a game started with Ivin W9ILF, who was the net manager for the ARRL Indiana Section NTS CW Traffic Net.
If you are interested in CW, traffic nets provide an excellent means for improving your skills. My CW proficieny has dramatically improved after becoming involved in traffic handling. I have found traffic handling to be enjoyable and worthwhile, and I believe that manual traffic handling is still relevant. I think people are too complacent and take for granted our modern day infrastructure. If checking into a traffic net sounds interesting, but you don't know where to start, get in touch with me and I will try to get you headed in the right direction. --Oh, and in case you were wondering, Ivin won that first chess game...and the next, but I'm not giving up! Our games continue. [update: I have finally manged to beat Ivin a couple of times] I am looking for someone to play outside of Indiana. If you know how to play chess, please get in touch. (Beginner or expert, it doesn't matter. I am willing to embarrass myself in front of anyone on the chess board!). I am the Net Control Station (NCS) for the Indiana Section CW net (QIN) on Monday and Thurday evenings at 8PM Eastern. Also, I am honored to be a Radio Relay Internaltional (RRI) Inter-Area Network operator, previously known as Trans-Continental Corps (TCC).
My commute to work takes around an hour, so I operate mobile HF quite frequently. Since so many hams I work are asking about my setup, I decided it was time take some photos and describe the installation. The antenna is a Tarheel 100A-HP, with an MT-1 / MT-4FB mount. On my previous car I used a 102 inch whip on top of the loading coil, but this car sits a little higher off the ground, so I am using the 6 foot whip that came with the antenna. I’m sure I am giving up a little on the lower bands, but it seems to be working great on 40M through 10M. I haven’t had a chance to make any QSOs on 80M yet, but I called CQ on the way to work a few times and checked my signal using the Reverse Beacon Network and saw SNRs of >40dB, so I think it works okay on 80M (update: I had a 15 minute QSO on 80M with WB4JTT in Hawaii(!) right before sunrise on my way to work this morning, so it is definately working. --New update: 80M QRP mobile is working great in the mornings, I make QSOs with surprising ease, if/when I can find other early risers on the band).
More details: I mounted my KX3 to the dash using a ProClip mount, along with a RAM double socket arm and two VESA pattern 1” ball mount bases. The holes for mounting paddles on the KX3 just happen to be the right spacing for a VESA mount. Using just two screws seems to work fine, (I got the idea from Lidomounts.com). The antenna controller, (a West Mountain Radio Targetuner), is mounted on the center console using another ProClip mount.
I use a Begali Adventure iambic paddle with a magnetic base and a piece of 1/8 inch thick steel sitting on the arm rest. In my previous car, I used the paddle mounted directly to the KX3. It seems to work okay this way, but it is a little cramped, so I am still contemplating the paddle situation. (I don't have a microphone. I suppose one of these days I should break down and buy one, just in case I ever want to try SSB.)
Another aspect of the hobby that I enjoy is Summits On The Air (SOTA). After being inspired by videos posted by WG0AT and KK4NQQ, I decided to try it on a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. My first attempt (Cove Mountain) was foiled by an uncooperative black bear, but I did manage to activate Clingman's Dome. I didn't get any photos on the trail, but here are a couple of campsite/equipment photos.
Update: I returned to Cove Mountain in May 2015 and had a successful activation. There was once again a bear, but it was off the trail below Laurel falls. I really enjoyed the trip and plan to go again soon to try for another summit.
If you hear me on the air, stop by to say hi!
73, Marty N9SE
Supporter of Radio Relay International (RRI).
7917932 Last modified: 2017-02-21 13:52:16, 11778 bytes
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