W9IMS Accelerates into Another Special Event Season – with a Chance for an Indy Racing Certificate
By Brian D. Smith
It’s back to the track for collectors of W9IMS cards and certificates.
The first of this year’s three special events tied to the major races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will begin at midnight Eastern Time (0400 UTC) this Sunday, May 7, and continue through 11:59 p.m. (0359 UTC) the following Saturday, May 13.
And for hams and SWLs, your chance for a 2023 Checkered Flag Award begins – and could end – with it. To earn the certificate, you’ll need to contact or tune in W9IMS during all three special events this year: the Grand Prix, the Indianapolis 500 (May 22-28) and the NASCAR 200 at the Brickyard (August 7-13).
Catch W9IMS during Grand Prix week and you’re one-third of the way to Victory Lane. Miss it and you’ll have to wait till 2024 for another shot at the certificate.
So when and where do you find W9IMS? Any time of the day or night is possible, but prime time is from 6 to 10 p.m. (2200-0200 UTC) weekdays, and the prime bands are 40 and 20 meters (generally around 7.245 and 14.245 MHz). And this year, improved solar conditions could prompt a rare move to 15 and 10 meters, likely around 21.350 or 28.340 MHz.
The choice of frequencies will be gametime decisions based on a variety of factors, including QRM, band openings and the number of calling stations. So your surest move is to check W9IMS spots, which are frequently posted on DX Summit (www.dxsummit.fi).
While some on-air times are unscheduled, you can also increase your odds by going to the W9IMS QRZ page (www.w9ims.com) and clicking the Grand Prix link under the heading “2023 Operating Schedule” – which displays the shifts that operators have already signed up for.
If time is running short, listen for happy hour – the last blast on Race Day (May 13 for the Grand Prix), usually starting at 11 p.m. Indy time (0300 UTC). That’s when W9IMS ops traditionally switch to contest-style QSOs and exchange only signal reports so they can work as many stations as possible. But remember that W9IMS special events can end early if the station encounters sparse QSOs or adverse solar or weather conditions.
Should you manage to bag W9IMS, don’t celebrate for too long: The Indianapolis 500 special event begins on May 22, only 9 days after the end of Grand Prix week. Then comes the longer wait till the NASCAR race in August.
You’ll qualify for a new and unique QSL card for each W9IMS event you log, regardless of whether you snare all three in ’23. But why not complete the set and nab the certificate – starting with the first race this coming week?
Hams and SWLs alike are eligible for any and all W9IMS cards and certificates; you can even QSL via the bureau. And if you forgot to send in your information from a previous year, it’s still possible to obtain nearly all of the previous cards and certificates. Consult the W9IMS QRZ page for full details.
A collection of over 150 “QSL cards”, QSL? chronicles a moment in time before the Internet age, when global communication was thriving via amateur, or “ham”, radio operators.
Discovered by designer Roger Bova, the distinctly designed cards follow the international correspondence of one ham, station W2RP, who turned out to be the longest-standing licensed operator in The United States.
TAIPEI, Taiwan — On Tuesday nights, BX2AN sits near the Xindian River, motionless but for his thumb and middle finger, rhythmically tapping against two small metal paddles. They emit a sound each time his hand makes contact — from the right, a dit, or dot; from the left, a dah, or dash, the building blocks of the Morse code alphabet.
“Is anyone there?” he taps.
The replies come back in fits and starts: from Japan, then Greece, then Bulgaria. Each time, BX2AN, as he is known on the radio waves, jots down a series of numbers and letters: call signs, names, dates, locations. Then he adjusts a black round knob on his transceiver box, its screens glowing yellow in the dark.
There can be no doubt that this is his setup. That unique call sign is stamped across the front of his black radio set, scrawled in faded Sharpie on his travel mug and engraved in a plaque on his car dashboard. On the edge of his notepad, he’s absent-mindedly doodled it again, BX2AN.
In the corporeal world he is Lee Jiann-shing, a 71-year-old retired bakery owner, husband, father of five, grandfather of eight and a ham radio enthusiast for 30 years. Every week, he is the first to arrive at this regular meeting for Taipei’s amateur radio hobbyists.
[…]The self-governing island, about 100 miles east of China, is weighing wartime scenarios in the face of growing military aggression from its vastly more powerful neighbor. If cell towers are down and internet cables have been cut, the ability of shortwave radio frequencies to transmit long-distance messages could become crucial for civilians and officials alike. [Continue reading…]
CARACAS, Oct 26 (Reuters) – In July officials from Venezuela’s telecommunications regulator entered the Moda 105.1 FM radio station, in the northwestern state of Cojedes, accompanied by members of the national guard and demanding to see all the station’s licensing.
Hours later they stopped it broadcasting – making Moda one of at least 50 stations in Venezuela’s interior which have been closed so far this year by the Conatel regulator because it says they lack valid licenses.
The accelerated closures are a new step in efforts by the government of President Nicolas Maduro to control information and give state media hegemony over communications, journalist guilds and non-governmental organizations say, continuing a policy begun under his predecessor Hugo Chavez. [Continue reading…]
We have arrived at a milestone. The 100th edition of The ARRL Handbook for Radio Communications is here: Handbook 100. How do you celebrate the most widely used one-stop reference and guide to radio technology principles and practices? By continuing to fill the pages of another edition with the progress and achievement of radio amateurs. Handbook 100 is written for everyone with a desire to advance the pursuit of wireless technology. Here is your guide to radio experimentation, discovery, and innovation.
Each chapter is filled with the most up-to-date knowledge representative of the wide and ever-expanding range of interests among radio amateurs. There are practical, hands-on projects for all skill levels — from simple accessories and small power supplies to legal-limit amplifiers and high-gain antennas.
Radio electronics theory and principles
Circuit design and equipment
Signal transmission and propagation
Digital modulation and protocols
Antennas and transmission lines
Updated with new projects and content, including:
An all-new chapter on radio propagation covering a wide range of bands and modes
New and updated sections on electronic circuit simulation
New cavity filter and high-power HF filter projects
New coverage on digital protocols and modes
New material on RFI from low-voltage lighting and other sources
Revised sections covering new RF exposure limits
New content on portable station equipment, antennas, power, and assembly
New material on ferrite uses and types
New section on how to use portable SDR to locate sources of RFI …and more.
You can’t win the Indianapolis 500 until they wave the checkered flag – and you can’t win a W9IMS Checkered Flag Award unless you contact the Indy 500 special event.
You’ll have that opportunity from now through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, May 29 in Indianapolis (0359 UTC Monday, May 30) as W9IMS fires up daily on 20 and 40 meters SSB. usually on or around 7.245 and 14.245 MHz.
The Indy 500 special event is the second of three W9IMS operations commemorating the major auto races at the Speedway. The first event of 2022, which ended May 14, honored the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, and the third will run from July 25-31, during the week preceding the NASCAR Brickyard 200.
Both hams and SWLs are eligible for the Checkered Flag certificate and the three individual QSL cards, all of which boast new designs for 2022. To earn the certificate, however, you must work (or tune in) W9IMS during all three of this year’s special events – and it’s too late to catch the first race. But even if you miss the trifecta, you can still claim collectible QSLs from the other races.
Tips on finding W9IMS:
Check DX Summit (www.dxsummit.fi) for spots listing the current frequency or frequencies of W9IMS, if any. By typing “W9IMS” in the search box at upper right, you can customize it to show reports for only Indianapolis Motor Speedway special events.
Go to the W9IMS web page (www.w9ims.org) and look for the heading, “2022 Operating Schedule.” Click on the Indianapolis 500 link, which opens into a weeklong schedule listing individual operators and their reserved time slots. Your odds of catching W9IMS on the air improve significantly during these hours.
Prime operating time on weeknights is 6 to 10 p.m. Indy time (2200-0200 UTC). However, W9IMS can appear anytime, even on two bands at once, between now and 0400 UTC Monday, May 30.
Remember that the published schedule can be shortened by adverse circumstances, such as noisy band conditions, local thunderstorms or a lack of calling stations. Don’t wait till the final hour to chase W9IMS!
Operators often get on the air at unscheduled times. That’s why DX Summit is your best bet for locating W9IMS’s current spot(s).
W9IMS Special Event No. 1: The 2022 Certificate Chase Begins
By Brian D. Smith, W9IND
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, as the proverb goes, and the road to a 2022 W9IMS Checkered Flag Award begins with a single QSO – or a single SWL reception.
W9IMS will stage special event stations commemorating each of the three major races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year: the Grand Prix, the Indianapolis 500 and the NASCAR 200 at the Brickyard.
Your weeklong opportunity to complete the first of three required contacts with W9IMS starts Sunday, May 8, and ends at 11:59 p.m. Saturday, May 14 (0359 UTC Sunday, May 15). The special event schedule will resume only 8 days later with the Indy 500 operation (May 23-29), followed by the NASCAR 200 from July 25-31.
Individual QSL cards accompany each of the three events, and a Checkered Flag certificate awaits those who bag the trio. Hams and SWLs alike may apply for the cards and certificate; see www.w9ims.org for further information.
Where to find W9IMS? The station fires up on 20- and 40-meter General Class frequencies, usually on or near 14.245 and 7.245 MHz. But the easiest way to locate W9IMS is to check DX spots, especially on DX Summit at http://www.dxsummit.fi/
Type “W9IMS” in the search box at upper right and you’ll see which, if any, frequencies the station is currently occupying. Note that special event operations are not continuous throughout the week, but you’ll find scheduled times and operators on the W9IMS QRZ page – and there’s always the possibility of unscheduled appearances by operators with an hour or two to spare.
Any hour of the day or night is fair game, but the surest way to catch W9IMS is during prime time: weekdays from 6 to 10 p.m. Indy time or 2200 to 0200 UTC. And if all else fails, listen for happy hour – the last blast on Race Day (May 14 for the Grand Prix), usually starting at 11 p.m. Indy time or 0300 UTC. That’s when W9IMS ops traditionally switch to contest-style QSOs, exchanging only signal reports, to put as many stations in the log as possible.
Don’t stake your certificate on any announced schedule, however; W9IMS on-air times can be curtailed by adverse solar or weather conditions or a paucity of QSOs.
Likewise, the station has been known to activate an unannounced band, such as 80 meters, at the drop of a hat. Again, DX Summit and other DX spotting networks are your best friend in this regard.
Feel free to submit all of your 2022 QSL and certificate requests in the same envelope, and if you don’t have a QSL card, a printout of your W9IMS contacts or reception reports will suffice.
Kenyon is a radio archivist at heart. He has carefully preserved QSL cards that he received between 1956 and 1961–a time period many of us consider the zenith of international broadcasting and DXing.
From Ronald W. Kenyon’s collection
Kenyon’s book presents color reproductions of over 100 vintage QSL cards—most displaying both front and back—issued by 89 shortwave stations in 75 countries. For the uninitiated, he includes an introduction that acquaints with shortwave radio listening, submitting listener reports, and obtaining QSL cards. Radio enthusiasts will be familiar with these topics, but this addition is an important one since we often forget that we’ve a niche pursuit and for many of his readers, this will be their first introduction.
From Ronald W. Kenyon’s collection
Kenyon sent me a pre-sales sample of his book. It’s what I’d call a “coffee table” paperback. The format is 8.5 x 8.5 inches which gives each QSL image proper page space to be presented. The color reproduction and print in this publication is excellent.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed taking in Kenyon’s book at a very leisurely pace. It’s divided into three main sections:
Section One of his book is a gallery of 107 vintage QSL cards from radio stations in 78 countries.
Section Two features SWL and ham radio cards.
Section Three features seasonal greeting cards sent to listeners by radio broadcasters from nine countries.
There’s even an appendix featuring, “A Letter from Antarctica,” which recounts how Kenyon was linked to a British meteorologist at a base in Antarctica via a radio station in Montevideo, Uruguay of all places. A fabulous example of how radio–especially in the late 50s and early 60s–was a fabulous medium for connecting listeners across vast distances.
I’m a nostalgic fellow–especially during the Thanksgiving and Holiday season. I’ll admit: this wonderful, simple bit of radio nostalgia is just what the doctor ordered as we celebrate the season. We all can relate to and enjoy Kenyon’s gallery of radio nostalgia and history. Indeed, my hope is that his book will encourage others to document their radio journey as well.
Being a limited print, full-color, 150 page book, the price will be $35 US. However, the author has offered 10% off his book if ordered before December 31, 2020. That will lower the price to $31.50 US via Amazon.com or £23.95 via Amazon.co.uk.
If you enjoy browsing QSL cards like I do, you’ll love QSL: How I Traveled the World and Never Left Home. Certainly, a fabulous gift idea for the radio enthusiast in your world.
Amazon purchase links
(Please note that some of these are affiliate links that also support theSWLing Post)
Recently, I received correspondence from a former editor of the old SPEEDX club bulletin who provided copies of two pages from the bulletin from decades ago. These pages make clear that the QSL I obtained in an Ebay auction was not the card that Dave Sharp received:
Dave was, at one point, editor of the DX Montage section of SPEEDX. As can be seen, the ZOE card that he received was signed by a A.L. Patterson while the one I obtained through auction contained a different signer consistent with a QSL received by South African DX’er Eddie de Lange in 1973. However, the card I received was NOT the one pictured in a story about Tristan published in 2010 — the postmark date is different.
That story noted that three DX’ers from South Africa “did manage to receive and QSL ZOE Radio Tristan – Ray Cader, Gerry Wood and Eddie de Lange were among a handful of fortunate Radio Tristan QSL recipients. I am aware of only two other verifications – UK DX’er Anthony Pearce received a QSL in 1973 and Florida DX’er David Sharp received a verification in 1983.”
Since Dave Sharp noted that his QSL collection was unfortunately lost, the ZOE card I obtained through the eBay auction in 2019 was most likely one received by others in the South African group or possibly by the UK DX’er noted in the 2010 story about Tristan.
The headline out of all of this is that it’s quite possible that other Tristan QSLs are floating around out there.
– Dan Robinson
Wow! Thank you for sharing this follow-up story, Dan!
Readers: Please comment if you have a Tristan Da Cuhna QSL card in your collection! These are rare indeed!
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