#2: VE7BHX – Canada

ve7bhx

This is another “straggler” QSL card as far as it being a rag chew CW QSO I had long before I even knew what being a DXer meant. Canoe, B.C and where John lives now – Golden – are stunningly beautiful places in the Pacific Northwest (Google these towns).

ve7bhx-back

NA ITU Zone: 02-04, 09, 75 CQ Zone: 01-05

Added to the DXCC List: on the original 1937 list. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada

Flag

Rareness Factor: “Garden Variety DX with a touch of howdy neighbor”. However, on the low bands – especially 160M, the QSO is very much appreciated since anything on Top Band from the West Coast seems rare – hi hi

Current Clublog Most Wanted (as of this writing): #328

DXpeditions: there have been some to the far northern islands – mostly for IOTA.

Merit Badges

Garden Variety

Oh Canada!

Background

I was still living in San Francisco, but in the next year I would be very busy looking for a house in Lafayette, CA. I know that I looked on the Peninsula (Belmont – Davis Drive area – and San Mateo – Bunker Hill mostly) and in Marin (San Rafael, San Anselmo and Fairfax). I almost put an offer on a house in Fairfax, but tried the morning commute starting at 6 AM – and fuggettaboutit! I found what was back then a very little known oasis in the East Bay called “Lamorinda”. That stands for Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda. It had creeks, redwood and old oak trees and rolling hills like Marin, but better public schools, and BART. At the same time – work in my field was starting to shift a bit – you see – back in the day, if you were in IT – it was either the South Bay or maybe the Peninsula. I was the 127th employee at Oracle from 1984 – 1987 and 30th employee at Gupta Technologies from 1987 – 1991, and it seemed that all of my work at database software companies was in Menlo Park. In 1991 I took a job with the City and County of San Francisco. I lived in SF from 1984 – 1994 and usually commuted from the Sunset District (47th and Irving or 21st and Irving) back when 280 had no traffic. I could get to Menlo Park faster than taking the “N Judah” from the Sunset to Civic Center.

sst

N6KR Designed SST – Photos by Wilderness Radio

sst-inside

I’m glad that I used a “pre-DXCC” QSL card because there is one “clue” on the card that brings fantastic memories back. Notice that John congratulates me on my 2 watts. Oh yeah – that was a phase I went through, my “QRP Phase”.

sst nc40 sierra K2

The unveiling of the Elecraft K2 at the California Burger in Pleasanton, CA (bottom). Sierra, NorCal40A and SST above that

Back in 1992, I used to go to the Livermore Swap Meets on Sundays at what is now Chabot College. It used to be a Community College called Las Positas. My parents lived in Pleasanton, and my twin brother lives in Livermore – so I would go to the swap meet and visit with family.

I clearly remember after just a couple years calling CQ and having CW rag chews – mostly on 40M with the Icom IC-725 that it got boring fast. While working at the City and County of San Francisco, one of my clients was the OES, led by two guys who were ex Navy who brought in help from the Navy after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. Fun fact – I moved to London and completely missed that earthquake. When I returned, everything was cleaned up.

Anyway, I did try EMCOMM, and helped get ham radio stations in every SF Fire Batallion station in the City, but even that didn’t stick.

For a few years I did build QRP rigs, and especially remember the SST. I remember meeting Eric, N6KR and Wayne, WA6HHQ of Elecraft fame and even Tom, N6BT of Force-12 fame at the Livermore flea market. I had no idea one day I would become an avid DXer and become much closer to all three.

My fondest QRP memories was meeting others at the California Burger where it was an informal “show and tell”. It was a total “Maker” meeting way before Maker was coined as a thing. But I also am loving building stuff with the new Maker driven parts and ethos because Maker embodies the same camaraderie as we had at those NorCal QRP Club meetings.

DXCC Entity “Vital Stats”

20M QSO – QRP and easy since we were so close

The QSO was made during the West Coast mid day, on the Short Path, and the solar conditions were:

Cycle 22 Start 1986.8 Number 12.3 Peak 1989.6 Number 158.5 Years to Rise 2.8 Years to Fall 6.8 Cycle Length 9.7

The mean for 1993 was 94.5 – so we were about 5 years away from the bottom of the cycle and also when VK0IR would activate – which in many ways was a major “watershed” DXpedition – and one where my future fate would cross paths with one of the principles of that DXpedition.

This was a fun QRP QSO – just for fun – not for any DX related activity. I still had my old WA2QHN callsign even . .

Important DXCC Resources

  1. ARRL DXCC Standings – http://www.arrl.org/dxcc-standings
  2. LOTW – https://lotw.arrl.org/cgi-bin/lotw_page_auth/default
  3. Clublog – https://clublog.org/index.php
  4. The History of the DXCC by (me) – History of the DXCC

BTW – I think the best DXCC List is either found at Clublog or in LOTW. The ARRL DXCC Desk and other parts of its web site regarding DXCC almost look abandoned. Luckily, LOTW and their standings lists look well kept, supported and looked after.

Parting Shots

  1. Rusprint QSL cards were legendary and a standard way back when
  2. I have a really great spot in my heart for the QRP Community. They were Makers way before there were Makers, and they were always a lot of fun to hang with. Wayne Burdick is a true blue QRP-er – I saw his presentation at Pacificon and he is a SOTA kind of guy. He loves his KX2, and its an amazing lineage from the rigs you see above

2 thoughts on “#2: VE7BHX – Canada

  1. Nice reminiscences on the Bay Area “back when.” I only moved here in 2013 and have found that it’s beautiful but way too crowded for my tastes, but I stay (so far) because there really is no other place like it in terms of employment opportunities. Even in my time, I’ve seen some changes I don’t like, such as the closure of the local HRO and “Weird Stuff Warehouse,” and I suspect Halted is on its way out too. These local businesses made the place special, but they are fading, I think, because cutting edge technology is just no longer human scale. Software is becoming too complicated for one person to write, and hardware is too highly integrated to make rolling your own practical. It will be interesting to see what this trend brings to the Valley, and to our hobby.

    But, this area seems always to be viewed a bit in retrospect, unlike any other place I have known. I remember watching Vertigo, a film that came out in 1958, and in one scene two characters are looking at a painting of Gold Rush San Francisco. One of them turns to the other and says, “The things that spell San Francisco to me are disappearing fast… I should have liked to live here then!”

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    1. The funniest thing was it being 1991 and praying that IT would offer more jobs in SF so I wouldn’t have to commute down the Peninsula. Then the Dot Com Boom that (unfortunately) ruined SOMA and turned the Mission into Hipsterville. Some of that would have been fine – but it went way too far. But I have worked in SF and take BART in for decades now – with even some jobs in the East Bay – so the good part of the boom – and the second boom that started (sometime) after 2005 is that I am in the best place on earth as far as what I prepared for career wise.

      Housing is a serious issue – I was lucky to get in the housing market way before the first Dot Com Boom.

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