CQ CQ CQ #HamRadio Saturday – of Vatican Radio and Geomagnetic Storms

phantom ham radio operatorOn the cusp of Sunday last, sleepless, I turned on my rig and heard on 40m at 7250 Vatican Radio’s morning broadcast of Mass in Latin (OF). The celebrant sounded French. You can get VR’s Rome station 105FM perfectly over the interwebs, of course…. now.

This called up from memory my first year of U.S. seminary. I would turn on a tiny short wave radio, a German Philips about the size of a cigarette pack with a wire attachable antenna, and try to hear Vatican Radio. Those were hard days. So hungry were we for sanity that even Vatican Radio sounded good. It was as if I… we … were in the gulag listening to a contraband radio hidden under the barrack’s floorboards as the searchlights flashed passed the barred wooden shutters. Lookouts peered through cracks in the walls for the patrolling guards. Those were hard days, I can tell you. The walls and wire, the dogs, the food – or lack of it. The constant psychological manipulation, incessant harassment and punishment for tiny infraction like citing Trent or wearing black socks. But we made it. I made it, at least. I tunnelled out of there and went to Rome to finish up. But the scars… the scars… they will never leave me now. Even now I can see the faces of the men who were lost. The faces…

But on to happier themes.

On the suggestion of one of you commentators, I reached out to the esteemed artist Daniel Mitsui about the possibility of designing a QSL card, not only for me, personally, but perhaps also for a couple special events I have in mind.

If Mr. Mitsui is interested (he isn’t the swiftest of correspondents), perhaps he would take commission for QSL cards. This could be a new niche for him. I especially like guiding your attention to him, not only for his fine sacred art, but also because he has a daughter who has needed a lot of medical attention… and you know what that entails.

Speaking of my seminary days, K4MIA is running an event in honor of MIA/POWs this month. I heard him the other day at 14.260. There was quite a pile up and the big signals were simply overpowering me. Also, the guy running the event, “Mike”, though he seems like a great fellow, is pretty pokey in getting those QSOs acknowledged. Also, he has in interesting way of approaching the contacts. He will call for individual numbers, for example, just people in 2 or in 4. I could’ve strangled him the other night when he took a whole bunch of calls from different regions in order… 1, 2, 3… and only ONE call from 9. Grrrrrrr. And I have a lot of travel coming up. Frustrating.

I am developing some ideas for special events.  I’m looking for a way to use the Vatican’s station (HV0A) sometime when I am in Rome. I know a priest in Rome who is a ham.  Perhaps he’d like to cooperate in this venture. I’d also like to do a special event in honor of Card. Burke, perhaps for an anniversary, using the station of the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta (1AoC), also in Rome. The later could generate some attention for the charitable works of the Knights.

Anyway, this morning (Saturday) I turned on the rig and heard a little less noise on 20m. I have presently strung up a dipole in an inverted V, but it slopes at about a 45 angle for reasons that depend on the layout of the balcony. I’ve got about a 1.25 SWR. I also have a vertical.

Right now, afternoon (Saturday), I hear some fierce contests going on. I don’t quite get what they are reciting back and forth.  A new thing!

In any event… that’s my ham radio update.   I will turn the rig on later.  Maybe we can find each other.

There were great auroras last night, I hear. The geomagnetic storm is subsiding now, according to Spaceweather, but it could flare up again as Earth passes through the wake of the CME. NOAA forecasters estimate a 70% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on 12 September.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. CandS says:

    I’m set up for 20m at present. Searching through for sounds of activity. Just made contact with Kansas City, MO from eastern Massachusetts.

  2. Maltese says:

    Well, Father, we’ll need good Priests (like you) with ham radios for the days ahead! Sorry you had to live through your own Gulag to emerge the man-of-fortitude you are!

  3. CandS says:

    Hearing contests on 14.170.00 and 14.180.00 (out of my operating privileges!).

  4. acardnal says:

    I enjoyed that paragraph about your seminary days, Fr. Z. You could be another Malachi Martin!

  5. I finally made contact with K4MIA! The band is shaky but he got me in West Palm Beach.

  6. MWindsor says:

    What freq?

  7. MWindsor says:

    Lots of static again from here.

  8. CandS says:

    I switched over to 2m to try to make contact with a friend who just got his Technician license when I did. Is anybody still on 20m? I also heard K4MIA very well and lots of people talking to him.

  9. CandS: I can get on briefly again, but I have super early morning with two Masses (EF and OF) with a 1st Communion and an EF Baptism.

  10. CandS says:

    I’m back on 20m if anyone is still out there.

  11. CandS says:

    If you have a frequency you’d like to try, just let me know.

  12. In a few minutes, I’ll get on 20m. Set yourself up on an open frequency and post it here.

  13. CandS says:

    Okay, I’m on 14.280.00 and not hearing anything right now. I’ll wait there for you.

  14. I hear something in the mud

  15. CandS says:

    I’m not hearing anything. Went out and turned the buddipole around a bit. Nothing different.

  16. CandS says:

    I might hear you, but it’s so far down I can’t be sure.

  17. CandS says:

    So, I’ve got the Buddipole up 19ft in a dipole configuration for 20m, as they tell you to do it out of the box. That has really bad SWR for me, but I go through to Kansas City tonight. I need to learn more about all of this and how to tweak things. I think I can hear someone answering back, but, as you say, it is way down in the mud.

  18. something is going on but I can’t make it out. I’m calling CQ.

  19. Fr. Bryan says:

    jumping onto 20 meters frequency?

  20. CandS says:

    let me pull the dipole down and adjust things a bit and see if it helps.

  21. right now I’m on 14280

  22. Fr. Bryan says:

    Me too, Someone is calling CQ, way down in the mud.

  23. CandS says:

    I’m back and will call CQ again.

  24. MWindsor says:

    Gave up. I could only hear a couple of stations in California, but they couldn’t hear me. There were a couple of others in Mexico. I couldn’t make out anything east or north of me at all.

  25. moving to another frequency – 14245

  26. Fr. Bryan says:

    I am hearing a station Call AN7BV about 2×2. Way down in the mud on 14280. Anyone here with that call?

  27. Fr. Bryan says:

    There at 14.245

  28. Fr. Bryan says:

    Calling CQ on 14.245

  29. Fr. Bryan says:

    OK, I’m not hearing that.

  30. just barely hearing someone on 245

  31. Fr. Bryan says:

    Comment on the di-pole: that should help quite a bit.

  32. Fr. Bryan says:

    Called CQ, nothing heard on 245

  33. I think the band is gone for tonight. I heard some vets talking about how it was going a couple hours back. Maybe we should all try on Sunday? late morn? early afternoon? early evening?

  34. Fr. Bryan says:

    We could try on 40 meters. Otherwise, I am headed out for vacation tomorrow and will be gone till the 26th.

  35. Fr. Bryan says:

    20 meters seems to fade out at night, and 40 picks up

  36. CandS says:

    I moved to 12.245 too. Just called CQ.

    However, it’s sprinkling here. Dark. My guy lines are coming loose and I’m worried it’s going to tip over. :)

  37. Fr. Bryan says:

    Nobody on 7.238

  38. CandS says:

    okay, I’m pulling down the buddipole for tonight. I’ll check back here tomorrow.

  39. I’m not set up for 40m right now and it would be tough to switch. And I must be up before 0600h. Nice try. We’ll get it one day.

  40. Fr. Bryan says:

    OK. I am up at 0500 h so I am ready to shut down too. One day we will get a QSO on HF. That dipole will help allot with that.

  41. CandS says:

    I was probably doing all kinds of things you’re not supposed to do. I tried reconfiguring the 20m Buddipole setup on the fly (a V formation, extending the telescopic whips a bit more or less), leaving it all plugged in, even tried moving it up on the deck unguyed. I need to learn more about what I’m doing!

    Time to pray and tuck the kids in though!

  42. Fr. Bryan says:

    From now till the 26th won’t have HF since I will be in Michigan on vacation. I will have Echolink up there though. Will be watching the blog, and hope to make contact on the radio soon. 73 de KD8ZFF

  43. Fr Bryan: I think I also will be on the road. I have a lot of travel coming up until about 8 Oct, just a few days here and there at home. It would be nice to have a more portable rig or… in lieu of that… some friendly ham who would lend his serious station for an event!

    Are there any ham readers in Cleveland, Tokyo or New York City with a station?

  44. MouseTemplar says:

    Father Z., reading your Ham notes here inspired me and I sat for and passed my Tech and General last night. On the anniversary of 9-11!


    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  45. Elizabeth D says:

    To the ecclesiastical “preppers”: someone is selling an antique host iron on eBay, it is pretty neat however it is NOT cheap:


  46. Elizabeth D says:

    Oh, I was trying to figure out what those lines were on the opposite side of the host iron and I realized it is to “score” the back side of the large priest hosts so they can be broken in half and then a piece broken off easily for the chalice. Seems like a well designed thing.

  47. CandS says:

    I’m going to go out and set up the antenna and see what’s happening on 20m.

  48. I’ll get on in a few minutes (it’s 1511 CDT).

  49. CandS says:

    I’ve been listening my way down from 14.350 to 14.248 at present, working my way down the dial.

  50. I’m on and listening. There is a contest today.

  51. CandS says:

    Have a favorite frequency? I can hear the contests too. I talked to a guy in Georgia briefly on my way down. I didn’t hear him asking for DX, but he was listening for Europe it turned out.

  52. pick one and I’ll look for you – watch this combox

  53. CandS says:

    How about 14.330? I just talked to Germany! Very cool, but I kind of messed up too!

  54. CandS says:

    I just tried calling CQ on 14.330. There might be someone there as well, but I can’t hear. Maybe better to move to 14.337.00. I’m there now: 14.337.00.

  55. CandS says:

    I can hear something there too. 14.340.00 sounds clear.

  56. CandS says:

    I’m there too. Just called CQ.

  57. I hear someone in the mud.

  58. CandS says:

    I tweaked the antenna a bit. I’m wondering if there’s anything I can do to try to improve conditions?

  59. CandS says:

    Want to try a different band? I could set up for something else.

  60. CandS says:

    This is day 3 at this for me, so if you have any recommendations, let me know. I could quickly reconfigure for 40m, or 17, 15, 12, 10.

  61. setting up for others is hard at the mo

  62. CandS says:

    Could also do 30m. Just don’t know enough about what is good depending on time of day and conditions.

  63. CandS says:

    Staying on 20, could try something lower, but there’s a lot going on down on the lower part of the band.

  64. CandS says:

    How about 14.312? I’m there now.

  65. I’ll try to get an antenna set up for 40m, but it’ll take a few.

  66. meanwhile listen on 14.325 to see if it is clear

  67. CandS says:

    I’ll go ahead and try switching over. I can do it quickly, but I don’t know how reliable the Buddipole is the higher I go up. We can see. That’s not you then? On 14.312? I can hear something very faint.

  68. Okay… I’ve moved to 40m.

  69. CandS says:

    Just joined you at 7.180. Called CQ.

  70. CandS says:

    I can hear someone there, but it’s not you.

  71. CandS says:

    7.185 lots of talking.

  72. okay a couple guys just took over 7.180 – some tuning going on – apparently the Bengals are doing alright too

    moving to 7.205

  73. CandS says:

    Want to try another frequency?

  74. CandS says:

    I’m now at 7.205.00