After a long dry spell, I am back at the weblog. The reason for my absence is simple — there was so much work to prepare for my testimony in Austin, Texas that by the end of the day there was little energy to write.
I had things to write about. I spent some of my time in the field running the radio (Parks On the Air activations, mostly) and enjoying time with The Girl. But there just was not enough energy left in the tank at the end of the day.
My testimony was completed last week. I returned home Friday morning, quite early. After retrieving The Girl from her trainer’s, we got in some exercise and then I came home and crashed. I am getting better and attending to my other project work now. I am spending time with my Girl and even doing a little radio play.
There is a small group of operators in Reno that are strictly QRP (low power) CW Mode (Morse Code) operators. They are a club of sorts, but really an anti-club because they do not have a formal structure. Now that the pandemic is less of a concern, monthly meetings for breakfast and chat are happening again. Every ten days or so there is an net (which is ham-speak for a group chat on the air). The net provides an opportunity to run the radio, practice Morse Code, and check in with friends.
The net protocol is simple:
- Net control issues a general call (CQ) announcing the net.
- Net control calls for station check-ins.
- Net control acknowledges each station and asks for a repeat of the call sign if it was not copied the first time.
- Net control calls each station in turn for the exchange.
- Net control calls for any late check-ins and then works any that respond.
- Net control closes the net.
The exchange is simple as well. It is operator name, signal report, location, rig, antenna, and power. The speed is slow speed, with net control calling at ten words per minute (that’s quite slow) and responding to calling stations at their speed.
I drove up Goni Road about 0900h (net meets at 1000h local in the summer), turned west on a trail, and parked the rig on an open spot off the trail. The antenna was a length of wire (25f) thrown over the top of the sagebrush (the Sagebrush Antenna) and a second length of wire about the same length thrown on the ground. The wires were directly connected to the radio. I used my Elecraft KX1 radio for this outing, which contains an excellent antenna matching unit and makes about four watts on the 40-meter band.
I readily heard net control call from his location at Hidden Valley Park on the eastern side of Reno. I listened as the other stations called and he acknowledged them and made his list. When the check-ins slowed, I sent my call, identified myself as a portable station (AG7TX/P) and was acknowledged.
I then listened as each station sent their information. I copied some of it, but not all of it. This is a mode that I am not used to. Most of my operations are contest-like, being SOTA, POTA, QSO parties, and contests. So it is excellent practice for me to listen to this code and work at catching the words.
My turn came and I sent my exchange, fumbling a bit with the KX1 key. I do not usually use the factory key for the KX1 and its touch is different than my usual keys. But I got my exchange sent and was acknowledged.
Net control closed the net. I put away my station (which took only a few minutes). Then I got The Girl out for a hike. We were both ready and I wanted to get it done before the heat came. So, up the hill we went.
This hill is straight up. There are no flat spots. So I climbed until I needed to pause and catch my breath. Then I climbed again until I needed to catch my breath. You can induct…
It was a good climb and good for my legs. At the top we paused to walk around a bit and for me to drink a little water to wet my throat. While there, I admired the view of Washoe Lake with Slide Mountain in the background.
After my rest, we headed back down the hill. It was a great workout for my old legs, which had been cooped up too much over the last ten days. I was pretty spent when we reached the bottom of the hill and turned toward the 4Runner.
There I paused to send a text message to friends along with a couple of photographs. My ham buddies like to see the countryside here.
It was a good outing and a good net. Life is good.