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Getting Caught Up With the Columns

Column #90 by John K3WWP. Just as FISTS is getting re-organized after the unfortunate well-documented happenings of the past couple years, I need to get my columns re-organized and back on track as well.

Of course the last Keynote was a memorable one for me with my picture on the cover and my keys pictured on the back as well as containing my 15-year streak interview in its entirety. Thanks to all who sent such wonderful comments about it. The contents of the article have provided me with material for this column. There are some things that need explaining after re-reading it.

First, the streak of course did not end at 15 years, and it is now around 6,075 days and if all goes well will reach 17 years this August.

Secondly an explanation of the keys is in order. The front cover shows my homebrew straight key, while the back cover shows a collection of other keys. The beautiful Begali straight key and paddle were gifts to me last summer from our NAQCC members. It went something like this. NAQCC President Tom WY3H came up with the idea, unbeknownst to me of asking members to make a small donation so he could purchase a nice simple straight key to present to me to thank me for the things I do in helping to run the NAQCC. As Tom and I both did when we started the club and vastly underestimated how many members we would have (we guessed 50 to 100, it's currently 5,450 plus), this time he vastly underestimated the number of donations and the amount he would collect. The generosity of the NAQCC members allowed him to purchase not the simple straight key, but two items from Begali, the Begali Blade Straight Key, and the Begali Magnetic Classic Paddle, plus have money left over to purchase a gift certificate to a very nice local restaurant. Yes, eating is another hobby of mine. HI.

Anyway I mention that here because many NAQCC members are also members of FISTS since our two clubs exist for much the same reasons but with the difference that the NAQCC is a QRP/CW club while FISTS is a CW club so that our activities do not conflict with, nor copy each other. Obviously I couldn't thank all who donated for the keys personally. In fact I don't even know who they all are. Thus if you are among the donors and didn't receive my thanks via my web site diary nor the NAQCC on-line newsletter, I want to take this opportunity to thank you here in the Keynote. I certainly appreciate the keys and the gift certificate, but more so, I appreciate the feelings and sentiment behind your generous donations.

At the end of the interview, I mentioned that this column would describe another streak-within-a-streak. I'll do that now.

Back in May of 2010, the NAQCC had as its monthly challenge, making QSOs with milliwatt power (less than 1 watt). I decided I'd try to get at least one mW QSO each day of the month. Not all that long before that, I had built an RF attenuator that when inserted between my rig and antenna tuner cut my 5 watts down to 930 mW which is what I used for the challenge. At that time I could only use the attenuator with the tuner so I was limited to 160-30 meters for mW power.

I easily made my goal of a mW QSO per day. So easily in fact, I decided to keep going after May ended. As I write this, it's March 26 and in 35 days the mW streak will reach a full year.

A few months ago, I rearranged my antenna switching setup so I could switch to the attenuator on any band from 160 through 6 meters. That more or less coincided with the awakening of the Sun from its long slumber which 'turned on' the higher frequency bands again. Now I was experiencing the thrill of DXing with QRPp (mW) power. I made 62 DX QSOs in the ARRL DX contest in February. Some of the more exciting ones being working Hawaii, Cape Verde, and many European countries.

Counting countries previously worked years ago with mW power from my homebrew transmitters, I now stand at 62 countries worked and I hope to make it to 100 by the end of 2011. In the Russian DX contest a couple weeks ago, I completed my mW WAC working RW0CWA and R0QA from Asiatic Russia. Working KH6 with mW and more recently North Dakota with mW brought me to 49 mW states, needing KL7 to complete a mW WAS.

All of this is further proof of the greatness and efficiency of CW as an operating mode. I've said this often, but it bears repeating. If you live in a situation where you can't run high power or put up big antennas, you can still succeed and have fun doing so with CW, QRP, and simple wire antennas. I believe I've proved that over the past almost 20 years now. -30-