Most Viewed Posts

Just a few of the most viewed posts so far in 2021 just in case you missed them. I hope you are enjoying a wonderful holiday weekend. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Ghost of DeSoto - The school library had one book, CALLING CQ, that was written by Clinton B. DeSoto and published in 1941.
  • News from Elecraft - Elecraft announced that it’s the end of the line for the KPA100, an internal amplifier for the still popular K2 transceiver.

Thinking Local

I ordered a turkey online and paid a considerable extra fee to make certain it would arrive before Thanksgiving.

Guarantees and confirmations flowed via email from the company over the last week assuring me that a UPS man would be delivering the package prior to the holiday. You can probably guess what happened next. The phone rang yesterday morning with some out of state number and the lady on the other end said that although the turkey had been shipped on time, they had just been alerted by UPS that it wasn’t going to make it to my door until Friday.

After the initial panic subsided, and after kicking myself multiple times for ordering online, I suddenly remembered that I do live in Central Indiana and if I drive just outside the city limits I can throw a rock and hit a half-dozen farms. It took all of an hour to locate a fresh turkey and for considerably less money than I had paid online.

I’ll not make that stupid mistake again…

That all got me thinking about how much “stuff” we order online and while most of it isn’t as time-sensitive as the main course for Thanksgiving dinner, now I’m on a mission, no, let’s call it a crusade, to buy local. I’m sure the UPS delay of my turkey was related to Covid and the “supply chain” and all the other usual suspects blamed for such things these days, but I think the root cause is that we have built an unsustainable system of commerce.

Fortunately, we have everything needed for the big feast tomorrow and I’m incredibly thankful for living in flyover country where we have abundant sources of good water and endless storehouses of food thanks to thousands of hard working farmers, many of them my neighbors, who work tirelessly to feed a nation.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Fish in a Barrel

I ordered the AX2 portable 20M whip antenna from Elecraft yesterday.

I already have the multi-band AX1 with the 40M adapter and all the associated bits and bobs including a separate tripod mount that makes picnic table activation a snap. I’ve had good results with this short, low-power radiator that easily fits in a lunch bag and though it only covers a single band, the AX2 is even smaller so I wanted to take it for a spin.

Being this late in the season I’m less inclined to take it for a test drive deep in the field, but my favorite operating location remains the backyard where the first test-run will take place. It will be paired with the KX3 and I’ll set some target, like using only the AX2 for the next 50 contacts - or something like that.

It should go without saying that this is not a great antenna. If you have a place to toss a wire then do that, it will outperform these whip antennas. Small antennas like these aren’t magic and certainly are not the solution to antenna restrictions, etc.

The attraction for me is two-fold. First, I like that a picnic table can become an operating position in one minute. Plus, I appreciate the challenge that comes from using low-power and less than ideal antennas in unique situations.

Anything more than that and it’s just shooting fish in a barrel.


Return to Real

It seems the Dayton Hamvention will happen in 2022.

Having been canceled these last two years due to the global pandemic I’m a little skeptical, but making plans to attend. With the event still six months away who knows what the virus situation will be then? Still, the tickets are printed and the area hotels are booked solid so a lot of folks see this as a done-deal and I hope they’re right.

After avoiding large crowds for nearly two years I guess I will need to work up a little courage to get up close and personal with more than 30,000 others coming from points unknown with perhaps half of them vaccinated.

Many details are still in the works, but we know the Contest activities have moved from the Crowne Plaza in downtown Dayton out to the Hope Hotel near Wright-Patterson, a definite step-up in the accommodations and surroundings. It’s also a lot closer to Xenia.

Assuming I go, I’ll slip over to the fairgrounds on Friday, weather permitting, just to put an eyeball on whatever might be new and exciting in the world of ham radio. I don’t generally buy anything that requires hauling out of there these days. Ordering online with direct delivery is just too convenient to pass on.

Unless of course Unobtanium is discovered in the flea market…

It will be nice to catch-up with old friends and maybe shake the hands of a few of those adventurers destined for Bouvet, Crozet, and other exotic ports of call over the coming year.

These are real things, important aspects that have been lacking from the virtual hamfests that have tried to replace them with bits on a screen.

Ham radio is a real thing and I like to think the return to Dayton and other real hamfests, conferences, and meetings will mark the beginning of the end of the short-lived love affair many have had with these virtual hamfests during the days of Covid.


Lazy Sunday

We spent much of Friday and Saturday working on the Great Leaf Gathering. Our home is surrounded by big trees that seem to shed endless leaves and we usually spend several days (about now) every year in the clean-up process. It requires at least three BIG efforts to get them all blown, bagged, and hauled away.

It was important to get that work done yesterday as a cold rain rolled into the area overnight. Our timing was good and today I’m able to enjoy the lazy rain from the warm, dry side of the window.

Listened

I managed to catch-up on SolderSmoke (the podcast) last week thanks to the commute time caused by a rare out-of-town trip for work. It was episode 234 and N6QW mentioned one of his latest projects, the PSSST-20, a scratch built minimalist SSB transceiver (Pete’s Simple Seven SSB Transceiver):

Our goal is to create a fully functioning “Minimalist” SSB transceiver using something different than the currently popular bilateral (Bitx) topology and in doing so use the minimum number of transistor devices. The ensuing webpages describe a fully functional and operational 20M SSB transceiver that uses a total of 7 transistors, Five of those transistors are 2N2222A, the 6th is a 2N2219A and the 7th is now a RD006HHF1. With some shopping all seven can be purchased for under $10 total. The output power is 4 Watts with the RD006HHF1. If you stick with the IRF510 the cost is under $5.

Watched

I caught Wayne, N6KR of Elecraft on the Coffee and Ham Radios video podcast. Burdick described the Elecraft design philosophy and more. It’s detailed (and long) at about 100 minutes, but fans of the company will find it time well-spent.


Future of Amateur Radio

The IARU Region 1 Workshop on the Future of Amateur Radio yielded BIG goals seen as essential for future growth. I’m certain radio amateurs of all regions would embrace these as they are consistent with the messaging of other organizations interested in the future of the hobby. Almost as though these were taken from a coordinated global playbook and it’s a very good book!

There is a lot to digest here, go read the full document for yourself.

The focus is clear; we will use our radio spectrum as a playground for fun, education, and innovation. The intended results are compelling and summed up well by the stated vision for results in the coming decade:

“By 2031, amateur radio will be booming throughout Region 1. It will have evolved into one of the leading expert communities for science and technology enthusiasts. It will be justly respected and admired, both for the opportunities for self-development it offers and for the value it brings to society as a whole ”.

I intend to wear that phrase (“evolved into one of the leading expert communities for science and technology enthusiasts”) out over the coming months and years at KE9V.net.

If we can’t achieve that, we need to find a new hobby!

Key values ​considered ​guiding principles and that should not be compromised:

FUN, ENJOYMENT, PASSION, HOBBY

Experiencing the magic of radio / electronics / wireless communications, as an adventure of a lifetime (for all ages), for personal interest only, not for commercial purposes. Amateur radio is not just fun: We are passionate about using electromagnetic communications and technology to achieve and improve ourselves. We enjoy personal interaction with like-minded people and we want to serve our society.

GLOBAL COMMUNITY OF RADIO HOBBIES

The global ham radio community is an inclusive environment without borders. The “HAM spirit” is used within the community and is a multicultural, apolitical, open-minded and tolerant concept where friendship is built around the world. In this community common interests are shared and developed.

PRACTICAL EXPERIMENTATION (TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATION)

The freedom to experiment. Curiosity-driven experimentation with communication technology and techniques, reusing existing techniques and improving them, understanding and exploring the physics of electromagnetic propagation.

INNOVATION

A focus on creativity and innovation around cutting edge technology and an intense curiosity about what might be possible. Development of new techniques.

LEARNING AND EDUCATION (TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATIONS)

One of the foundations of amateur radio is continuous self-training and education within technologies and communications. Curiosity and the desire to break existing technical boundaries are strong drivers, as well as sharing knowledge within the community to educate and help others.

VALUE FOR SOCIETY

Promote interest in scientific and technological issues throughout society. Amateur radio also provides trained radio operators and radio engineers to companies. They provide logistical support and radio communication expertise in emergency situations and public events.


Transatlantic Tests Celebration

Over the course of the next few weeks ham radio enthusiasts will be hearing a lot about the Transatlantic Tests.

In December 1921, ARRL sent Paul F. Godley, 2ZE, as its representative to listen for amateur signals from North America during the Second Transatlantic Tests. Setting up his listening station in Ardrossan, on the west coast of Scotland, Godley received the signals of more than two dozen US amateur radio stations, the first on December 12 (UTC) from 1BCG in Connecticut.

That milestone is considered the beginning of “DX” for the amateur radio service and given the centennial of that event is quickly approaching, activities are lining up to celebrate it.

Like this one in Canada:

Beginning in mid-November 2021, the York Region Amateur Radio Club (YRARC) will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first transatlantic Amateur Radio transmission by a Canadian Amateur. This took place on the evening of December 9, 1921 by Edward Rogers Senior using the call sign 3BP from the grounds of Pickering College in Newmarket, Ontario, in the heart of York Region.

Plenty more events like this are planned.

Take a look here and I’m certain you can find a reason to celebrate a hundred years of DX!


December QST Delayed

Those pesky virus induced supply chain issues that have disrupted all sorts of diverse commerce and have created a delay in the delivery of QST magazine, the membership journal of ARRL:

Due to the widespread paper shortage and related supply chain issues, the December 2021 issue of QST will mail approximately one week later than usual, arriving in homes the week of November 22.

Electronics components have been particularly hard hit by these disruptions and have seriously impacted the auto industry, but who would have thought we would see a widespread paper shortage delaying delivery of a printed magazine?

Printed copies of QST magazine and Thanksgiving turkeys appear just the latest items to be impacted by those lingering supply chain issues.

How long will the disruptions last and what will be next?

The good news is that ARRL members can read the digital edition of the December issue now.


DJ4ZC New DARC Honorary Member

Prof. Dr. Karl Meinzer, DJ4ZC, has been appointed as the new DARC honorary member. This was announced by DARC chairman Christian Entsfellner, DL3MBG, at the virtual conference of the Amateur Council - replacing the cancelled General Assembly - on the 13th. November announced. OM Meinzer developed enthusiasm for amateur radio at a young age. At the age of 17, he obtained amateur radio approval in 1957.

He passed the Abitur along with physics studies and completed his doctorate. He spent his professional life at the University of Marburg, here especially in the development laboratory for electronics until his retirement in 2005. The rooms of the ZEL were also the seat of the AMSAT-DL. Numerous OSCAR satellites were created in the laboratories in Marburg: AO-10, AO-13, AO-21, AO-40. Phase 3E is de facto completed, but is still waiting for a suitable starting opportunity.

A special operating system works in all satellites built by the AMSAT-DL, on which OM Meinzer has played a significant role. Meinzer does not skimp on sharing his expertise and so he is still in close contact with the board of AMSAT-DL today.

It is not surprising that DJ4ZC was one of the first radio amateurs to work over QO-100. In addition, Prof. Dr. Karl Meinzer on further technical radio tests. He was obsessed with testing whether you can inflect radio signals on the planet Venus. In fact, he succeeded with 5 kW to 2.4 GHz, including a water-cooled magnetron. Especially for these tests, he had a special permit from the Federal Network Agency.

But he also succeeded in an astonishing way in earlier years: As early as 1964, he set a track record of 70 cm, between his then hometown of Iserlohn and Switzerland. And even then he was on 433 MHz EME QRV and sparked with Puerto Rico. He is one of the few classic cars that keeps pace with modern technology, explains Christian Entsfellner, DL3MBG. “There are only three Keplerian laws, in which everything can be done,” OM Meinzer explained once, says DL3MBG.

Unfortunately, he is reluctant to present his skills, but the AMSAT Board always likes to rely on his expertise, says the DARC chairman who subsequently gave him all the best for the 82nd wishes for a birthday. The DARC unanimously decided to give you honorary membership for the merits.

“I am pleased to welcome you as a new honorary member,” concludes DL3MBG. DJ4ZC thanks you with a stir. My life has always been characterized by amateur radio. However, the services were sometimes only possible by other people, explains OM Meinzer touched. I hope to be able to continue to contribute to amateur radio and DARC in the future. Unfortunately, communication behavior in society has changed. So it is a challenge for the DARC. However, I hope that technology will regain more importance.

Ultimately, amateur radio must prove that it is useful for society, says Prof. Dr. Meinzer in conclusion.

NOTE: translated online, apologies for any language discrepancies


TO9W Low Bands Activation

The TO9W Team is returning to Saint Martin and plan to be on the air December 1st thru the 10th.

During the final team meeting last minute antenna accessories were packed away in the cases. Final software testing of laptops will be done this week. The TO9W Facebook page has been created and will be used for photos and real time updates during the operation.

The team’s primary focus will be on 40, 80 and 160 meters during hours of darkness but will also operate 30 through 6 depending on openings. Planned modes include CW, SSB, FT8 and some limited RTTY. FT8 operation will be Fox/Hound mode on DXpedition frequencies if there are many callers. There may be some activity on 60 meters as time permits.

TO9W will be an entry in the ARRL 160 Meter contest, 3-5 December.

W9ILY will handle QSL requests. All QSOs will be posted on LOTW. QSL cards will be available. Club Log OQRS for both direct and bureau cards is preferred. Cards may be requested direct to W9ILY. IRCs can’t be accepted but requests via the bureau are OK.

“Saint Martin is part of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean Sea. It comprises two separate countries, divided between its northern French side, called Saint-Martin, and its southern Dutch side, Sint Maarten. The island is home to busy resort beaches and secluded coves. It’s also known for fusion cuisine, vibrant nightlife and duty-free shops selling jewelry and liquor” - Google


Overworked Elves

The number of Elecraft K4 transceivers now appearing in the wild is growing with at least 400 of them having been shipped so far based on the serial numbers. The shipping status page is being updated about every ten days or so and when it does, the list moves about two months forward.

All that to say that the delivery date for my K4 remains unknown though all this activity gives me reason to be hopeful even though I’m at nearly the tail-end of a really long line. Waters and Stanton, the UK distributor even commented positively this week on the upcoming availability of the new transceiver so I take that with guarded optimism.

There’s even a mailing list used to proffer guesses based on circumstantial evidence on when the units will be delivered.

I’ve managed my own K4 receipt anxiety by considering that the software is still being regularly updated so waiting a little longer means I should have a more mature product experience. I like to think that with hundreds of them now being put into daily use that the whole new complex radio shakedown process is being executed by many, many unpaid volunteers.

My own best guess on when my K4 will arrive?

Based on a lot of sketchy information I don’t expect to see it before March or April next year. With a couple of important DXpeditions planned for late 2022 and early 2023 I hope to have had the new transceiver long enough to have figured out how to use it properly before hitting the dogpile.

Fingers crossed that forest fires and problems with the electronics supply chain don’t again obstruct what seems a steady output from the overworked elves in Watsonville, California.


Veterans Day 2021

Honoring all who served


Crozet Island

The hills are alive with the sounds of DXpedition planning!

After the long, virus induced dry-spell there are finally multiple operations to get excited about and to look forward to. The latest announcement being an expedition to Crozet Island, number three on the Most Wanted List according to Club Log.

The operation is planned to begin in December 2022 and INDEXA, the International DX Association, has already signed on as one of the principal sponsors:

INDEXA is pleased to announce that we are supporting the CROZET DXpedition being planned for December 2022-March 2023 by Terry F6CUK. On behalf of the generous members and supporters of INDEXA, the Officers and Board of Directors wish Terry a safe and successful DXpedition.

The Crozet Islands are a sub-Antarctic archipelago of small islands in the southern Indian Ocean. They form one of the five administrative districts of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands. The islands were discovered in 1772, by French explorer Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne. His second-in-command Jules (Julien-Marie) Crozet landed on Île de la Possession, claiming the archipelago for France.

It’s remote location along with the fact that ham radio operators last invaded the island more than a decade ago has made Crozet Island a highly coveted DX conquest.

The International DX Association (INDEXA) is incorporated as a non-profit organization and has been managed by volunteers without compensation since 1983. In its many years of service to the DX community it has sponsored hundreds of DXpeditions to rare and semi-rare entities.

Join INDEXA today and help support this and other operations like it.


SS-40 Digital Transceiver

Announcing the SS-40 Digital Transceiver: The site includes all the information you need to build your own, with schematics, parts lists, Gerber files for the PCB and all the microcode to run it. All the parts needed are easily available to the builders.

The SS-40 Digital Transceiver project is a high-performance transceiver built for 40 meters. This is a “quarantine” project designed by Jim Kortge K8IQY with Mike Maiorana KU4QO. The basis of the receiver is Jim’s excellent SS-40 receiver. The transceiver is built with separate functional modules.

  • Receiver
  • Digital VFO and Control
  • Transmitter and PIN switching
  • Input Attenuator

The receiver is based on the ADE-1 mixer with an NE602 product detector. There is a 7-element IF filter at 11MHz. There is a very effective AGC that controls both the input RF amp and the IF signal level. The receiver is exceptionally quiet and sensitive.

The transmitter is a class-E design similar to that in the QRP Labs QCX. It provides 4 to 5 watts out with a 12v supply that is easily within FCC purity requirements. It also uses a PIN diode T/R switch that is sequenced by the CPU, which greatly reduces big-signal intermodulation artifacts of simple diode-switched transceivers.

The Arduino NANO based Digital Control board provides agile VFO and transmit signals, as well as an iambic keyer, sideband switching, RIT and T/R control.

The modules can be built as needed to create different configurations.

The receiver can be built alone and driven with an external VFO.

The attenuator can be used on other transceivers.

The digital VFO/control can be used stand-alone as well.

The transmitter/PIN board can be used to add a CW transmitter to an existing receiver.

This project is being released to encourage experimentation. It is released under the license listed on this github page.

The firmware, as well as the schematics and gerber files for the boards are contained in this GitHub repository.


Midwest Microwave

Thanks to the efforts of Gedas, W8BYA, in Ft. Wayne, Indiana 10 GHz activity in the Midwest has taken a big step forward. He has inspired a lot of hams around this area to get on the air more often and it’s been fun to watch the action grow. There’s a group (Midwest Microwave) and a mailing list where the microwave crowd can hang out.

This group is primarily for helping uW ops in the Midwest area stay in touch with each other. But we welcome uW users from outside our region. Feel free to setup skeds, make announcements of band openings, equipment changes, or of general uW interest. Ask questions if help is needed and even list uW related items to sell (just don’t go overboard). Please try to limit OT messages and to try to keep the S/N ratio of posted messages high.

I learned of the group a few months ago when I stumbled across this video showing a 330km rain-scatter contact on 10 GHz and thought, “I could do that”. We have rain and snow (scatter) in abundance in these parts. Maybe I can do microwave work without being in the proximity of mountains?

Eclectic? Certainly. Cool? Hell yeah!


YASME Grant and Excellence Award

YASME Foundation Grant and Excellence Award:

The Board of Directors of The Yasme Foundation announces that it has made the following grant at its recent board meeting. Seychelles Amateur Radio Association (SARA) to establish a facility for the recently formed amateur radio club.

The Board of Directors of The Yasme Foundation is pleased to announce the latest recipient of the Yasme Excellence Award: Steve Babcock, VE6WZ. Steve is recognized for his contribution to the art of lowband antennas and remote operating. Steve has made available to the amateur community countless hours of instructional videos, for free, on his YouTube channel and QRZ.COM page.

The Yasme Foundation was originally organized in 1959 to support the adventures of Danny Weil, VP2VB. Danny was one of the first to travel to more than one location to operate – often solo in a sailboat and lugging hundreds of pounds of radio equipment – specifically to provide DXers with a “new one.”. YASME was the name of Danny’s boat (all of Danny’s sailboats were named “YASME”, derived from “yasume,” the Japanese word meaning “to make tranquil”).

Supported by a sizable bequest from the estate of the famed husband and wife DX team of Lloyd Colvin, W6KG (SK) and Iris Colvin, W6QL (SK) in 1998, Yasme’s activities today are conducted by a Board of Directors made up of volunteers who hold or have held responsible positions in business, law and technical areas.


Results of Artemis II Proposal

Frank Bauer, KA3HDO and ARISS-USA Executive Director announced yesterday that the Amateur Radio Exploration (AREx) team of ARISS and AMSAT proposal to fly amateur radio hardware and cameras on NASA’s Artemis II mission to the moon was not “competitively selected”.

Artemis II will be the first crewed and second lunar mission conducted under NASA’s Artemis program, which has the overall goal of establishing a sustained presence on the moon to ultimately support sending humans to Mars.

The opportunity provided a better look at the overall selection process and despite not being selected this time, KA3HDO said this experience will be beneficial down the road:

Despite this loss, the AREx team learned a great deal in the development of the proposal and were able to significantly refine our lunar payload design concept. A concept that can now meet Gateway payload requirements. This new design will position our amateur radio team for future lunar opportunity requests as well as to communicate our readiness to fly as a payload on the Lunar Gateway mission.

Humans are moving into space and in the same way the polar explorers brought amateur radio along with them in the 20th century, 21st century space explorers will do the same.

In many ways the future of ham radio is in space.

In another decade hams won’t chase satellites in low-earth orbit, but will instead point their antennas at outposts on the moon and eventually, Mars. Our need for accelerated innovation in the area of deep space communication networks to support these planned missions will be the fuel that sustains and grows our hobby deep into its Second Century and beyond.


News from Elecraft

Elecraft announced that it’s the end of the line for the KPA100, an internal amplifier for the still popular K2 transceiver. The original K2 was made available as a low-power only radio until a few years later when Elecraft released the KPA100 option:

We are sad to announce that due to obsolete parts issue, we will no longer offer the KPA100 internal amplifier kit that could be purchased with the K2 Transceiver Kit.  We started offering the KPA100 in 2002 and have sold over 2500 kits.  We are currently working on an alternative amplifier solution using our KXPA100 for K2 owners.

I built my K2 (#524) in 1999 and it served as the primary transceiver in my shack for the next ten years. I never did add the 100W option, but that combo was very popular and made for a highly-valued and useful amateur radio transceiver for the better part of a decade.

The November Elecraft Newsletter also pointed to higher prices coming this month due to lingering supply-chain issues:

By now you may have seen and heard the numerous communications regarding the impact the global pandemic is having on supply chains, and what has in turn resulted in price increases of raw material, parts, and transportation costs. Unfortunately, we have also been affected by these increases. Given this situation, we will be increasing prices of products across all product lines on November 15, 2021. Any orders before November 15, 2021 will be honored at the lower prices.

I’m still at the back of a long line waiting for my K4 but the latest update to the much watched (by K4 customers) Estimated Shipping Date shows continued progress on clearing the backlog. Slow and steady might win the race, but I’m just hoping to live long enough to get one in the shack!


The End is Near

November’s opening salvo brought the lowest morning temperature of the season. 34.5F when I got up this morning and the forecast for the next several days is for even colder mornings. No complaints from me about the plunging temps, but time is flying by as we race toward the end of a second year of life in the pandemic.

Let’s see, I’m down to 95 days until I retire. Sorry, I just have to work that countdown into the blog every chance I get.

The end of another month meant back-up work on the server last night. Sooner or later I’m going to automate that process. You could call me cheap since Linode offers to perform that service for $2.50 a month which is probably a great value for some Web sites. But given my blog resides in a single folder and backing it up is dirt simple and, I guess, not worth a couple of bucks a month to me. Maybe I am cheap?

I think we’re finally finished with all the planned conferences and symposia for another season. Thank goodness, I’m completely conference’d out and going outdoors even to rake leaves seems a much better way to spend the next few weekends. Well, that and the antenna work that’s ongoing and never seems to be finished.

This month brings with it a lot of ham radio action. The ARRL Sweepstakes (CW and SSB) and the CQWW CW are the biggies of course, but these are sandwiched in and around so much other on-air activity that hams may hardly have time to take note of the change in the weather.

At least until we start scraping ice off windshields…


Digging in the Log

The scuttlebutt has been that 15 meters has been showing some signs of life in recent days and that kind of chatter got me taking a nostalgic trip thru my station log looking at my recent activity on the band. There wasn’t much to brag about over the last decade. The higher HF bands were downright stingy over the course of Cycle 24, especially to a guy with a hundred watts and a dipole.

But there was that time in November of 2014 when I worked ZD8O on Ascension Island. Not remarkable, it’s ranked 161 on the Most Wanted list today. Still, it’s an exotic taste of DX being an isolated volcanic island below the Equator in the South Atlantic Ocean. It’s roughly 1,000 miles (1,600 km) from the coast of Africa and 1,400 miles (2,300 km) from the coast of Brazil.

Wikipedia says the population there in 2016 was just 806 souls.

Marko, N5ZO was on the island for the CQ WW contest though I snagged him a few days earlier, before the CW contest got underway.

He confirmed a few days later via LoTW so I never requested a card. Right this moment I wish I had the paper to memorialize our contact, it looks like I can still order it for a couple bucks via OQRS, but that desire will probably subside in a few days.

I hope 15 meters comes roaring back to life as we move farther off the bottom of this cycle. I’ve worked plenty of good DX on that band, but that was so long ago that looking back through the logs was like looking at vacation photos in an old family picture album. I remember that stuff, but just barely.


CQ WW SSB this Weekend

The CQ WW SSB event takes place this weekend.

It’s the largest Amateur Radio competition in the world. Over 35,000 participants take to the airwaves on the last weekend of October (SSB) and November (CW) with the goal of making as many contacts with as many different DXCC entities and CQ Zones as possible.

There are updates to the rules for the 2021 CQ WW that include a new YOUTH overlay that will be available to all competitors who are 25 years old or under and a new EXPLORER category has been established permitting amateurs to participate in the contest while experimenting creatively with Internet-linked stations and other new technologies. The goal of this category is to encourage innovation in operating strategies, station design, and technology adaptation.

Complete rules are available here - and if you’re interested in reviewing how the rules have evolved, visit the CQ WW Rules Archive that has a copy of the rules for every year from the original contest in 1948 to the present day.

Good luck in the contest!


Bouvet 3Y0J Expedition Milestone

A recent update from the 3Y0J DXpedition to Bouvet Island, November 2022 team:

We have reached our first payment milestone for the Marama vessel contract. Today we have paid the first deposit, and with this payment we confirm our plans of activating the #2 most wanted entity Bouvet. We would like to thank each individual and club who has contributed to this payment with their upfront support, especially thanks to our Lead sponsor NCDXF.

There has also been some news from the team about their initial antenna planning:

We have run extensive HFTA analysis that shows our signals is predicated to be STRONG all over the planet. We will bring a mix of antennas with us with different material and technology. We have prepared a main antenna farm, backup antennas and a replacement strategy. We have focused on bringing quality products with us. You can expect our 160m top-loaded vertical to be 21 m tall and our Yagis will be 7 to 10m up on solid antenna masts that can withstand 35 to 44 m/s wind.

One of those antennas, the NEW InnovAntenna DXR3-Bouvet, a 20, 15 and 10 meter HF Yagi with 6 interlaced elements on a short 10.2 ft. (3.1m) boom with a maximum element length of 38.0 ft. (11.6m) and a turning radius of 19.4 ft. (5.9m), is built to handle high winds up to 107 mph (172 kph). It will be available for purchase in the US from DXEngineering later this year.

The antennas will soon be shipped to Norway for inspection and testing, we have a site off the west coast to test the equipment in harsh weather. Some low band verticals will be shipped to Arizona for assembling and testing, some Yagis will be shipped to New York, and finally top-band antennas will be sent to Hungary.

With a deposit having been made on the vessel and antennas being tested, the project now moves into an accelerated phase and though it remains a year away, we can practically see Bouvet Island in the viewfinder!

Let’s make it happen – support 3Y0J.


EA4GPZ Receives G3AAJ Trophy

Daniel Estévez, EA4GPZ (M0HXM) was awarded the G3AAJ Trophy at the recently concluded 2021 AMSAT UK Colloquium. The trophy is awarded annually to the individual (or group of individuals) who have given outstanding service to the amateur radio satellite service.

The award is made at the discretion of the AMSAT-UK committee. The Cup was donated to AMSAT-UK by the late Ron Broadbent, G3AAJ, and was first awarded in 1996.

EA4GPZ’s voluntary contributions include his GNU Radio and SDR developments as well as his frequent online mentoring of all things related to tracking and decoding signals from space.

Daniel holds a PhD in Mathematics and a BSc in Computer Science from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and currently works as a GNSS engineer at GMV where his primary duties are the development of GNSS receivers and signal simulators for the GPS and Galileo systems.

AMSAT-UK is a wholly voluntary club. All its officers and members do any work on a purely voluntary basis. AMSAT-UK has no paid employees, and is run solely to support its members in their pursuit of their hobby of amateur radio space activities. It does not undertake any commercial activities.


Results for 2021 TAPR BoD Election

The 2021 TAPR Board of Directors election is now complete and the results are available: Scotty Cowling, WA2DFI, George Byrkit, K9TRV, and Dan Babcock, N4XWE win with 32.7%, 23.6%, and 23.4% of the vote each, as follows:

  • Dan Babcock, N4XWE: 98 votes (23.4%)
  • George Byrkit, K9TRV: 99 votes (23.6%)
  • Scotty Cowling, WA2DFI: 137 votes (32.7%)
  • Mark Thompson, WB9QZB: 85 votes (20.3%)

TAPR is a community that provides leadership and resources to radio amateurs for the purpose of advancing the radio art.

The goals of TAPR are to 1) support R&D efforts in the area of amateur digital communications, 2) disseminate information on packet and digital communications, 3) provide affordable and useful kits for experimenters and hobbyists, 4) pursue and help advance the amateur art of communications, and 5) support publications, meetings, and standards in the area of amateur digital communications.

Support the mission by becoming a member today!


AMSAT-UK Online Colloquium

The AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium will be held as an online Zoom Webinar on Sunday the 24th October 2021. You don’t have to be a member of AMSAT-UK to attend, and the event is free.

The Colloquium will run from 10.45 BST to approximately 16.00 BST (0945-1500 GMT). A full programme is below.

Please register before the 24th, or join live.

The 2021 colloquium will also be streamed via YouTube.

The event will be hosted by members of AMSAT-UK and formally opened by our Chairman, Martin Sweeting, G3YJO.

Each presentation will be followed by a 5 minute Q+A session, which will allow those viewing via Zoom, to pose questions to the speakers.

The 2021 colloquium will be followed by the AMSAT-UK Annual General Meeting and after a short break there will be an informal evening discussion session on ‘all things satellite.’

Programme

10.30 Webinar web site opens
10.45 – 11.00 Official opening by Martin Sweeting, G3YJO
11.00 – 11.30 IARU Amateur Satellite co-ordination
11.30 – 12.00 AMSAT-DL Peter Guelzow DB2OS
12.00 – 13.00 Lunch break
13.00 – 13.30 Robert Bankston KE4AL President AMSAT North America 13.30 – 14.00 STAR-XL: AMSAT-UK Payload
14.15– 14.30 STAR-XL: X-Band Upconverter & Dual Band L/X Patch
14.30 – 14:45 Coffee Break
14.45 – 15.00 Iain Young G7III – QO-100 using a SkyQ Dish
15.00 – 15.30 David Johnson B2Space Presentation
15.30 – 16.00 Satellite Operating. Peter Goodhall 2M0SQL
16.00 – 16.05 Announcement of G3AAJ Trophy –G3YJO
16.05 End of Colloquium
16.05 – 16.35 AMSAT-UK AGM
17.30 Onwards. Informal session. Q/A and audience participation


Sales of TX-500 Suspended

Sources in Russia are reporting the following news from Lab599 about the current shipping status of the TX-500 HF transceiver:

“Retail sales of the TX-500 transceiver from the factory are currently suspended. First of all, this is due to the fact that Lab599 is a production company - the development and production of new products is a priority for us, and it is in this direction that we would like to continue development. Now we are negotiating cooperation with retailers of radio equipment in Russia, and in the future, our company’s products can be purchased from an official distributor. As soon as the organizational issues are resolved, we will publish information about the distributor on our website in the purchase section. Secondly: we are also affected by the global shortage of components and there are certain difficulties with supplies and the associated decrease in production volumes.

We apologize for the inconvenience caused by this and thank you for your understanding.”


Heathkit a Guide to the Amateur Radio Products

Heathkit spanned an entire generation of radio amateurs and left in its wake a lifetime of kit building memories that remain strong to this day. I came along at the tail-end of that generation and built new from kit an HW-7, HW-8, and HW-16 along with an HG-10B VFO. I later owned an HW-101 but I bought that one already assembled by another ham.

The company offered great value and an opportunity to be involved in the process of creation. It was the perfect embodiment of the ethos of amateur radio and succeeded at that until times changed and it no longer could.

When I saw the 3rd edition book from Chuck Penson, WA7ZZE - Heathkit A Guide to Amateur Radio Products become available I placed my order. It arrived yesterday and I was not disappointed. Not at all. This beautiful book is no lightweight, side-by-side it makes the ARRL Operating Manual look a little skinny and rivals the ARRL Handbook in its heft.

This book is the ultimate reference guide to Heathkit amateur radio equipment. This greatly expanded third edition contains every kit-form amateur radio product the company ever made (about 250) in 426 pages divided into 14 chapters.

Hundreds of sharp, clear, black and white photos include front, rear, and interior views, often accompanied by illustrations from the assembly manuals. The text includes a brief technical description with historical notes and context when appropriate.

Each product includes full specifications and references to reviews and modifications published in popular magazines of the day.

A 60-page introduction includes a profusely illustrated history of the company, with a foreword by former Heath Company executive vice president and general manager Chas Gilmore, W8IAI. 

Written for buyers, sellers, collectors, users, and those who just want to browse the Heath catalog again. If you loved Heathkits, you want this book in your shack. I suppose it could also make a great Christmas present for any true Heathkit fan, but better buy two - once you’ve seen it you won’t want to give it up…


Fall Happens

The weather has been pretty spectacular in these parts for the last week or so. Fall is settling in nicely over the Heartland and it won’t be long until the first frost of the season makes an appearance. The dry spell at the end of the Summer probably ruined any chance we had for a colorful Fall around here. The leaves have mostly been turning brown and then turning loose prematurely.

It’s been getting down into the low 40s overnight and I have turned the furnace on the last few mornings just to knock the chill off the house. When we bought this place I was determined to install a wood burning stove for just such purpose as well as to provide back-up heat, but I never got round to it.

Heating with natural gas has been cheap enough that it seemed like too much trouble. But now comes news that natural gas prices are going to be unusually high this season and that has me reconsidering the wood/pellet stove idea - though it’s too late now to bother with this season.

Still, I love this time of year and there are other advantages that go beyond just the crisp air, spiced cider, fall festivals, and sweatshirts as a lifestyle. Radio advantages. With the nights getting longer conditions on 160 meters are slowly improving.

If the upcoming Pre-Stew event (October 23) gets your juices flowing then this month’s free QST article, The Beverage Antenna, 100 Years Later by Ward Silver, NØAX, and Frank Donovan, W3LPL might make you cuckoo for TopBand.

Don’t forget to vote for your favorite QST article for November.


W6SFM Bug Roundup Reminder

I own a beautifully restored Vibroplex Standard Original bug circa 1962 and I’m not ashamed to tell you that I’ve yet to master it. I bought it from a friend who restored it several years ago and it has remained mostly on the shelf ever since. I’ve consoled myself with the notion that mastering it will be a retirement project.

With only 108 days, 15 hours, and 30 minutes until I retire (see how I snuck the countdown in again?) I’ve started thinking again about that task ahead. If you’re a CW operator who has already mastered the bug then here’s a reminder, the W6SFM Bug Roundup Event takes place next month.

W6SFM – The Samuel F. Morse Amateur Radio Club, a Sacramento, California based CW enthusiast club wanted a special time to bring bug operators together on the air. In the same spirit as ARRL’s Straight Key Night, participants are encouraged to make simple, conversational, “chewing-the-fat” QSOs using their bug type key. This is an opportunity to exercise, share and exhibit your personalized fist. This is NOT a contest. Call “CQ BR” so folks know you are a Bug Roundup Participant.

Date: November 19-21 Local PST (Nov. 20 - 21 UTC)

Time: 4:00 PM Friday to 4:00 PM Sunday Pacific Time Local (00:00 UTC through 00:00 UTC )

Bands: 160, 80m, 40m, 20m, 15m, & 10m CW freqs. X.040 MHz – X.050 MHz (IE. 7.045 MHz)

Because this is not a contest 17 & 30 meters are acceptable, but not preferred.

For the WARC bands use X.100 - X.110 MHz (I.E. 18.105 MHz)

Feel Free to contact the club if you have any questions.

I won’t be ready in time for the event this year, my fist sounds so bad when using a bug that I’m ashamed to put it on the air. But this time NEXT year I hope to show-off my newly developed skill!


16th Annual ARRL Auction Ends

The 16th Annual ARRL Online Auction ended last night and I see that I won a couple items. No equipment for me this time, just a couple of old books. The event generally features QST “Product Review” items, vintage gear, classic books, novelties, and the ever-popular ARRL Lab “Mystery” boxes.

I ended up with a 1935 edition of the book, The Beginner’s Story of Radio by B. Francis Dashiell with a colophon that declared:

A clear and simple description of the fascinating mystery of Radio, written in words that are easily understood and avoiding complicated technicalities.

This book is written for the millions who, interested in radio, desire an intelligent understanding of what goes on within their receivers.

We especially recommend this book to the youth of America from whose ranks must be drawn men who will carry on, to ends now unimaginable, the work of the pioneers.

The other bid won was for a nice edition of Amateur Radio Stations of the United States which lists every valid amateur radio license issued thru June 30, 1931. The book was published by the US Department of Commerce.

These two seemed liked items I probably wouldn’t just happen across at an antique mall or hamfest. I probably paid a little more than what these were actually worth, but I look forward to adding them to my collection and it was for a good cause.

Proceeds from the yearly Online Auction go directly to ARRL’s education programs, including promoting activities to license new hams, strengthening Amateur Radio’s emergency service training, offering continuing technical and operating education, and creating instructional materials.