Easter Island

Easter Island is a remote volcanic island in Polynesia and special territory of Chile. Its native name is Rapa Nui. It’s famed for its archaeological sites including nearly 900 monumental statues called moai, created by inhabitants during the 13th–16th centuries.

It’s one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world. The nearest inhabited land is Pitcairn Island, 1289 miles away and the nearest continental point lies in central Chile, 2182 miles to the east.

From the radio amateur’s perspective Easter Island is in CQ Zone 12 with a primary prefix of CE0Y and is ranked 94th on the Most Wanted List. It isn’t considered terribly rare since there has been plenty of activity from there, but having never confirmed it on any band or mode it’s rare to me.

I mentioned yesterday having read that Roberto would be there this week operating vacation style as CE0Y/CE3CT with a preference for CW. I added an alert for his call sign to my logging program in the event he was spotted. Just a few hours later my phone trilled with a spot for him on 15 CW.

I tuned across him and he was weak. So weak in fact that I decided not to call unless the copy improved. Fortunately, his signal began to slowly rise and within 20 minutes or so he was solid copy here. I dropped my call about three times and finally made contact with Roberto and promptly celebrated with a glass of Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon, a nice Chilean wine!

Roberto’s QRZ page says he will be uploading his logs to LoTW when he gets back home near Santiago in a few days. Happy dance!


Approaching the Harvest

Summer continues its speedy journey and there are now just thirty-seven days until autumn. The oppressive heat that dogged us during July has oddly given way to a cooler August. Of course just that mention could get us slapped with a crushing heat wave, but the ten-day forecast for this area shows high temps only in the 70s and 80s. And ten more days brings us precariously close to the end of this month…

I haven’t been on the air for more than two-weeks lacking the inspiration required to generate RF I guess. We’ve been working in the yard a lot more lately and a host of other things have simply crowded the schedule. This busy work won’t end soon so I’ll just have to carve some radio fun time into my calendar.

A little more motivation to fire the station up this week is the report that CE0Y/CE3CT (Easter Island), Roberto, has been on the air “holiday style,” for a few days already and plans to stay until the 18th with a focus on CW — and he uploads to both Club Log and LoTW.

When I reported that the K7K Kiska Island confirmation hit my LoTW account a few days ago it escaped my attention that the 17m phone contact made was one of only four still needed for worked all states on that mode. I have WAS CW and Digital and now lack just three states (ID, SD, UT) on phone and hope to wrap that up soon and pick up the Triple-Play award.

The Kiska Island operation was good for me in several ways having added park K-0143 to my POTA Hunters log, NA-070 to my IOTA list, and a needed new state to my WAS phone account.

LoTW confirmations have slowed to a trickle recently, but I’ve been surprised by the number of HQ stations confirming from the recent IARU contest. Club station confirmations are somewhat rare as these group efforts require even more work after a contest with little reward to members going that extra mile.

Since last reported I have received these:

K7K, OP0HQ, 5Z4VJ, CU3HN, E73ENS, GJ0KYZ, KL7J, LZ0HQ, OD5ZZ, SP9MRP, SV1CQN, TA7I, YO9HP, YC4AVN.

My sincere thanks to each for working me and for confirming our contacts via LoTW.


Return of the KX3

I just received notice from Elecraft that the repairs on my KX3 were completed and the transceiver should arrive back here sometime next week. I had been warned by the company that repair times were running 15-20 weeks so I wasn’t expecting to get it back this soon. Seven weeks door-to-door and I will be happy to have it back in the shack in factory-fresh form.

Given that I intend to promote the KX3 to a more primary position in the shack I’ve been on the hunt for a better way to mount it. I’ve tried all the usual “stands” that simply prop up the radio without providing a rigid mounting for it. These all improve the desktop viewing angle but they slide all over the desk whenever I press a button or bump the VFO. I’d like to have it securely attached to a heavier frame and went looking for such when I asked for recommendations on the Elecraft-KX group.

Most of the replies received were about how to secure the radio to the “stand” using velcro, paper clips, etc. And there is a nice long thread about various mounting methods. But a couple of the replies received suggested the Side KX mount coupled with something like this. At least it looks a lot more promising than paper clips and bubblegum and I intend to acquire that hardware as it meets my criteria for a “solid” desktop holder.


K7K Kiska Island in the Log

The K7K Expedition to Kiska Island uploaded their logs to Club Log a few nights ago. At that time the record showed 11,200 contacts having been made, a very successful operation. And then last night I noticed my contacts with the expedition also appeared in LoTW. It was a big effort and a difficult journey to a remote and rugged location for the team and I appreciate all the effort to make this one a reality and put K7K in the log!


Across the Pond

I’ve been a member of the GQRP Club for many years having joined from across the pond to gain access to their excellent quarterly publication, Sprat Magazine.

During many of the paper purges that takes place regularly here I’ve lost some of the older editions. So today I placed an order for “Sprat on a stick”, the publication in electronic format on a memory stick. The latest version (8th generation) covers issues 1-184, an amazingly deep resource to have on hand and readily accessible without the need to house the large printed back-log of actual magazines.

I also purchased a ticket for the livestream of the 2022 G-QRP Club Convention that will take place next month in the real world in parallel with the Telford Hamfest at the Harper Adams University just north of Telford in the UK. I hope to attend in person some day, but for now being able to attend virtually will have to do.

One of the oldest specialty clubs for low-power radio enthusiasts in the world, the G-QRP club was formed by Rev. George Dobbs G3RJV (SK) in 1974 and continues to enjoy healthy growth and participation these many years later.


Walking in the Rain

Yesterday morning’s rain storm caused me to skip my daily walk. I don’t mind getting wet, but there was thunder and lightning so I gave myself a pass for the day. This morning it’s raining again but with no thunder and it’s so much cooler that I had to get out and feel the weather. I actually like walking in the rain so while I didn’t do a full four miles today, I did get in two and a half miles before calling it quits.

During the walk I enjoyed the latest edition of the SolderSmoke podcast. At the 36:21 mark Pete dropped a sharp yet restrained rant on the new ARRL Radio Lab that’s worth a listen. It was the first I had heard about it. Despite being an ARRL Life Member I don’t pay much attention to the organization anymore. It’s become a pitiful source for ham radio news and I know they have been running around like crazy people trying to guide the hobby by whatever navigational beacon some marketing firm promises them they can attract younger enthusiasts.

For me the endless calls for change to “save ham radio” is another version of American politics. I’ve lost all interest. You ever hear the story of the boy who cried wolf? Every election is now apparently “the most important election in the history of the USA and the future of democracy depends on your vote”. I just don’t care. I feel terrible that we’re going to leave our children and grandchildren this steaming pile of dog crap that defines 21st century America, but such is life on a spinning rock lost in space.

Anyway, Pete’s rant was about the oddly spartan nature of the new ARRL Radio Lab. A “movable table with a keyboard and two monitors” (along with some rack-mounted commercial equipment) is the way he put it. No test gear, not even a soldering iron. This is a modern radio “lab” you say?

(By the way, kudos to the intern in the video, KI5HTA, who did an excellent job describing this new ARRL project)

This isn’t surprising, ham radio continues to move further from its foundation of technical skills and know-how and anyone you ask about it will tell you these changes are necessary in order to keep up with the times. Many declare that everything about the hobby has to change. Ham radio is too old, too antiquated, too difficult to understand, too racist, too deeply ingrained with misogynistic attitudes, not interesting to young people, there’s not enough internet, software, or big HD screens, it needs more sizzle, less bacon, blah, blah, blah.

Like with politics, I’ll leave it to others to fret about the future while I continue calling ‘CQ’ until ham radio dies, or until I do. Or until the only signals left to be found on any band is FT8 and I wouldn’t bet against that happening before the rigor mortis sets in…


Another Milestone

A sophomore in high school I turned sixteen in 1975. For my birthday Dad gave me a ’72 Chevy Nova with the provision that I had to buy my own gas and insurance for it. Though I had been mowing lawns and delivering newspapers for years before that, it was time to get a real job. That’s when I became a part-time dishwasher at a Ponderosa Steakhouse and kicked-off 47 years of continuous working for a living.

That came to an end exactly six months ago today when I retired.

I spent forty of those years toiling as an engineer and project manager, a career that allowed me to travel all over the world. As with any job there were high points and low points, the worst being too much time spent on the road away from family.

The global pandemic kept me working from home for the last two years of my career and in some ways prepared me for retirement. I really couldn’t imagine going back to an office environment after two years at home so when the time came to go back into an office I chose early retirement.

After six months I’m still adjusting to the retired life. Everyone warned me (many times) not to just quit working and lay on the couch. I hardly needed that advice, but it’s easy to see several days slip by having not accomplished much. An endless to-do list helps plus I started walking a few miles every morning which seems to add some structure to each day.

The best parts of being retired are pretty much what you would expect. The dread of Monday mornings that sometimes appeared on Sunday evenings as the weekend was drawing to a close is gone. Had you asked me a year ago if I considered my job to be stressful I would have honestly told you “no” though it does feel like a load has been lifted and I’m really liking that.

There has been more time for ham radio, but it’s easy to get burned out on even that. I’ve really had a problem trying to avoid frequently refreshing my LoTW account to see if any more DXCC has confirmed our contact…

The list of outdoor work that still needs doing includes a big landscaping project and endless antenna work. These are limited by weather and season and while there are still months before the snow starts flying I keep a close eye on the calendar and weather reports. I quit work at the tail-end of winter and have mostly stayed busy outside ever since.

It should be interesting to see how I handle so much free time when November rolls around and the lawn equipment goes into hibernation. I have lined up several QRP kit projects to build along with some plans to build a crystal radio or three. I built many of these when I was a kid in school and I look forward to reliving that part of my youth.

The bottom line for me after six months out of the work-a-day world is this; retired life is good and it sure beats working for a living!


Saint Helena

Way down in the South Atlantic Ocean, somewhere between Africa and South America lies the isolated island of Saint Helena. 1,200 miles from it’s nearest neighbor, the 4,700 square mile island with a population of around 4,400 remains a British possession, one of three constituent parts of the British Overseas Territory that also includes Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.

I didn’t know anything about Saint Helena before the IOTA contest last weekend, I couldn’t even point to it on a map. You learn a lot of world geography while chasing DX. To be clear, ZD7 wasn’t in my log before or after the contest. I wasn’t even home.

But I thought the weekend activity might be a good chance to test a feature of my primary logging application, MacLoggerDX. A built-in alarm can monitor a DX cluster and filter the spots through options I setup so that when a particular spot of interest arrives it can send that info to my phone.

In this case, my selections caused the alarm to activate whenever DX was spotted on 15 CW and not already in my log. Multiple bands and modes can be added, but I didn’t want to leave the house and have my phone bombarded by DX spots.

That all worked to plan. While I was at the grocery I received a message that ZD7BG was spotted on 15 CW. Given that I wasn’t home this was informational only. But later when I returned I was curious enough about the island I have never worked to do a little digging.

Best I can tell there are only a handful of active radio amateurs actually living on Saint Helena. Given its remote location and few potential operators I assumed it might be fairly rare. I suppose “rare” is a different thing to different folks but I was surprised to discover it only #194 on the Most Wanted List. Sure, I need it in my log, but even I don’t consider that ranking to be “rare”.

A little searching turned up that Saint Helena has been frequently visited by DXers who also activate the island. The most recent I found was a visit by Gerard G3WIP who spent three months there in 2021.

I assume this kind of temporary activity from outside visitors along with a little activity from licensed “Saints” on the island works to keep ZD7 down the list and for that we should all be grateful.

Related:


New DX Marathon Manager

The DX Marathon program has a new manager:

Please join me in welcoming Mark, WC3W as the new manager of the DX Marathon! Mark will lead a team to continue the development and growth of the DX Marathon. If you would like to be a part of the DX Marathon team, please contact Mark right away: WC3W at dxmarathon dot com. He will be contacting many of you as he builds the new DX Marathon team. Mark is looking for a database manager, web site managers, software programmers, etc.

I will remain involved for some time to assure a smooth transition. The official transfer date is January 1, 2023. Please give Mark your full support!

73 John K9EL

Related Post:


Taking Stock

The end of another month means taking stock of how the DXCC adventure is progressing. I’m currently standing at 126 worked and 113 confirmed (mixed), the gap between worked and confirmed having widened by a few more this month.

Not much progress from last month though there were confirmations received for 3 ATNO’s during July. The big mover was band slots confirmed towards the DXCC Challenge. A thousand are required to earn the award and that remains far enough down the road that it’s difficult to even imagine.

Still, I added 42 to this total during July bringing me up to 350. With five months left this year and a few big DX contests coming up I can imagine having 500 by year end…

So far this year I’ve worked 91 DX entities, a total I keep separate for the DX Marathon where the worked country total resets every January 1st.

Through the month of July I have made 1539 total QSO’s split almost evenly between CW and digital. Assuming a decent run to the end of the year I expect to have added about 3000 total contacts to the log in 2022. Not a large number for some, but a very successful year for me, most of it coming after I retired in February.

Not surprisingly I’m seeing a higher rate of return (LoTW confirmations) from the digital work than from CW. My DXCC (confirmed) totals for digital currently stand at 84 and for CW at 80 with one deleted entity. I anticipate completing DXCC CW and digital by the end of 2022.

On the domestic front I still need four confirmed phone contacts (AK, ID, SD, UT) to achieve Worked All States Phone. I already have WAS CW and Digital. I hope to knock these out by the end of the year which will result in obtaining the ARRL Triple-Play Award.

There remains plenty of work to be done, on the air and off. Continuous improvement of the station and antennas has yielded tangible results and right now I’m feeling pretty good about these efforts even though I’m late to this game.

Most of my work this year has been on 20-17-15 meters. Now that we’ve moved past the solstice band conditions will begin to change heading into the second half of the year. Shorter daylight hours means 80-40-30 meters will begin their ascendancy and I want to be prepared to take advantage of that before the leaves have fallen.

Related Posts


K7K Kiska Island

When the K7K island expedition got underway yesterday I caught them on 20 meters using FT8 in Fox and Hound mode. It happened pretty fast, a few calls and an RR73 coming back at me. As these things go it was as painless as it gets and certainly beats sitting for hours in a dogpile.

A few hours later I saw them spotted on 17 meters using CW. I don’t know who the operator was for that shift but he was good. Smooth as silk, listening up a little when I worked him. Another painless interaction. Good.

I left the radio on frequency and turned the volume up so I could still hear it in the background while I was in another room. I get a kick out of listening (after I’ve made contact!) to the station reeling off callers while getting some sense for his band conditions by the call signs being repeated.

Because he was operating split I never heard the pile, just the K7K operator. On occasion some lost soul would wander in and call him on his frequency, but otherwise it was just the expedition signal. Strong, clear, and smooth.

An hour or so into this transcendental CW listening exercise something obvious occurred to me. You can’t do this on FT8. Just a random thought though I did sorta high-five myself (in my head) for having thought of it…


Typical Radio Amateur

From the classic, 200 Meters and Down - The Story of Amateur Radio written by Clinton B. DeSoto and published in 1936. The book opens with a description of the typical radio amateur of that era. While that trajectory has been altered by nearly 90 years of time, a few things sound oddly familiar…

The typical radio amateur of 1936 is a young man 25 years of age. He holds a license issued by the Federal Communications Commission qualifying him as an Amateur Radio Operator, Class B, and as the licensee of an Amateur Radio Station, all valid for a term of three years.

His station, which is homemade from manufactured parts purchased largely at the neighborhood parts store, utilizes radiotelegraphy exclusively, although he expects some day to try radiotelephony. The actual value of his station is about one hundred dollars. The power of the transmitter is moderate, amounting to about 100 watts input to a pair of Type 10 transmitting tubes in the output amplifier stage, which is excited by a crystal-controlled oscillator. The receiver utilizes three tubes and is of the regenerative type, with one stage of radio-frequency and one of audio-frequency amplification. His antenna system consists of a 130 foot wire with a two-wire transmission line perhaps 60 feet long, suspended well up in the clear outside his home.

This young man is a high-school graduate. He works for a living, is self-supporting, unmarried, and is employed at a technical trade. He is quite well-liked in his community, respected for his knowledge of radio with the respect due an expert. He is somewhat lax in fulfilling his social obligations, not through lack of inclination but because of lack of time. He’ll probably be married soon, and then there will be a hiatus in his amateur career, although he will eventually return to the game. He has been interested in radio for several years, a licensed amateur for nearly three. During that time he has expended approximately three hundred dollars upon his hobby.

Such is the typical radio amateur of 1936. Individuals, inevitably, depart widely from this norm. In age, they range from 8 to 80; in education, from those who halted in the grammar grades to the erudite holders of doctor’s degrees; in social status, from convicts in federal prisons to scions of wealthy families and the son of an ex-president of the United States; in occupation, from coal miners and bellhops to major executives in giant corporations. Nor are they all men: to their numbers must be added several hundred licensed feminine operators, married and unmarried, and these fall between the extremes of a little 9 year-old girl operator who can beat professionals at their own game and an aged mother who keeps in touch with her distant son - and other sons, as well- by means of amateur radio communication.


Uncomfortable Rate

I discontinued exchanging paper QSL cards several years ago and now use LoTW only. That decision was based on increasing postage costs and a significant jump in the number of QSO’s I make each year. My first decade as a ham I averaged about 200 contacts a year. That has grown to more than 3,000 a year and the practice just didn’t seem sustainable over the remainder of my radio life.

The US Postmaster General said last May 5th, 2022, that the mailing industry needs to be prepared for USPS to raise prices on its products “at an uncomfortable rate” until it reaches a point where the agency is on track to be self-sustaining in the long term.

I gambled that Logbook of the World (LoTW) would eventually become the de facto standard for contact confirmation. That hasn’t happened (yet) though my own totals reflect a return rate of just under 60 percent, about the same rate that cards appeared in the mailbox. And since LoTW confirmations count for ARRL award credit without additional effort on my part (like getting cards checked), the decision to use it exclusively wasn’t all that difficult.

I know I’m missing some confirmations going this route, but I believe time is on my side as the cost of postage will continue to rise unabated and hams will eventually migrate to some method of electronic confirmation or give up the practice of QSLing altogether. I simply can’t imagine the fraternity considering that preferable to simply setting up and using an LoTW account.

Additional Reading


Odd Lots

Russian paddles, the world’s smallest wide-range automatic antenna tuner, new INDEXA newsletter, bumblebees will soon take flight, and rain finally returns to the Heartland.

We hadn’t had much rain here for more than a month and with temperatures consistently above 90F the grass had stopped growing and turned brown. I haven’t mowed the lawn in three weeks. And then yesterday we got 5.25 inches of liquid gold over 24 hours. Flash flooding all around was a problem, sure, but the lawn drunk it all up and looks especially green this morning.

N6KR made an interesting comment about the availability of the ever popular, but nearly impossible to purchase, Elecraft T1 auto-tuner. He said, “Yes, some T1 parts were backordered, but they’re rolling off the assembly line now”. A quick check show it still being listed as unavailable, but maybe soon?

Plenty of pent-up demand exists for this new Morse paddle. It’s a matching unit for the TX-500 transceiver which is manufactured in Russia and at the moment a tough item to purchase. Despite the war and the embargoes some wiggle room might be possible based on this recent posting:

There is news about the purchase of the CW-500 key - we agreed with HRO, we are preparing a batch of keys for shipment. I think within a month the keys will go on sale in the US.

The Summer 2022 issue of the INDEXA Newsletter (Issue 136) is now available for download. Highlights include: A Tribute to Franz Langner, DJ9ZB (SK); Tips and Techniques to Enhance Your Operating and DX Skills; 2022 Hamention Update; 3Y0J Bouvet DXpedition Update and more…

Time to sign-up for your Bumblebee number, complete details can be found here:

The Adventure Radio Society 2022 Flight of the Bumblebees takes place on July 31. It is a four-hour event that has become one of the most popular QRP activities of the year.

Bumblebees (QRP’ers operating from field locations) will be venturing across North America to work other participating stations for four hours of great fun. Home-based stations can work Bumblebees or other home-based stations.


POTA Hunting

The Parks on the Air program has made field radio one of the most popular facets of amateur radio. It has quickly driven the development of smaller, lighter, more energy efficient equipment while igniting a multitude of concepts for unique portable antennas. Park activators now blanket the US and more than a hundred different countries making the “hunt” an interesting and rewarding part of the game.


More Fallout

Scandinavian Activity Contests 2022 CANCELLED

“The SAC Contest Committee has unanimously decided to cancel this year’s two sections of the Contest. Our decision has been made due to the ongoing war in the region and in consideration of the IARU declaration about friendship between people. We hope that the situation will change for the better, so that we can once again compete against each other as the SAC rules dictate”.

I attended elementary school in the 1960s and still recall the weekly practice of getting under our desks in school in case of nuclear attack. As a ten year-old I was convinced the world would be destroyed by the Soviets and their nuclear arsenal.

When I grew up and the worst hadn’t happened, I lost the fear of an inevitable nuclear conflagration. Leaders from both sides would have to be criminally insane to launch such action and the politics of mutually assured destruction seemed sufficient to live a life free from that concern.

Fifty years later the dystopian fears of my youth have moved back to the front burner. I think the world is closer to nuclear destruction today than when I was crouched beneath my 4th grade desk. The avoidance of such conflict has always been predicated on the notion that world leaders with access to weapons of mass destruction aren’t insane.

The unprovoked and continued war on Ukraine is an obvious signal that the safety of the world is now in the hands of a madman.

The disruption of something as trivial as a ham radio contest is an infinitesimal protest compared to the death and destruction being needlessly inflicted on a peaceful nation. But it serves notice that the entire world is watching this lunatic and no one is safe…


Twenty Years On

Spinning the dial on the low-end of the 20 meter band last night I spun across FM5BH calling CQ. The call seemed familiar and though I have worked Martinique, I gave him a call. A minute later he was in the log and I kept looking for more without much luck.

When I was done for the night I thought I’d double-check that call. Sure enough, I had worked FM5BH before, nearly twenty years ago. We last worked on February 15th, 2003. Same band, same mode, nearly the the same frequency.

I consider myself fortunate to work operators whose consistency spans time. It’s a comfortable luxury to find such reliable stations pounding away into the aether some twenty-years on.


Amateur Radio DXpeditions


IARU-HF Results

Some hams don’t care for radio contests, but I would contend that big contests actually create HF propagation. That’s what permits me to say band conditions on Friday night were lousy while on Saturday, after the IARU-HF got underway, I only needed to touch my key to provoke a response from the other side of the planet.

I played the contest CW only on 20 and 15 meters. The only US stations I called were W1AW/3 and 4U1UN – if you don’t count Alaska and Hawaii. I quit after putting 50 in the log in an hour and a half, but as I was preparing my results for submission this morning I noticed a mistake that reduced my total contacts to 49.

That included 29 countries on five continents (AS,EU,NA,OC,SA). According to my logging program, the total DX miles (not counting any in the US) equaled 197,372, an average of 4,199 miles per contact. That resulted in a claimed score of 4,122.

It will also yield a few more savory fills if those stations confirm the contacts. They probably won’t. Most were contest clubs who don’t QSL. Still, I noticed a nice uptick this morning in my LoTW totals thanks to the individual stations worked.

Seems like something to keep in mind for the next time?

I also found a couple of LoTW confirmations for ATNO’s from stations worked weeks before this contest. Probably prompted to upload their logs at the same time they handle the paperwork generated by the IARU contest. Hopefully, a few more like these might dribble in over the course of the week. Fingers crossed!


Friday Night Radio

The evening of radio got underway for me with the hour long K1USN SST. The sprint begins at 4pm local which is always daylight here so I usually play it on 20 meters. Band conditions weren’t good and that’s being generous. “Lousy” is a better adjective for HF band conditions of late.

A few months ago there was some reason to believe that Cycle 25 was going to prove those experts wrong who claimed the new cycle would look a lot like the previous crummy cycle. Hope springs eternal I suppose, but now that the summer doldrums have taken hold I wouldn’t give you ten-bucks for Cycle 25. Just my opinion.

Still, the 20 meter band has maintained its value and even delivered a little DX through thick and thin. So despite the rapid fading and incredibly light signals I managed 22 contacts including CT7AUP. There’s only a handful of DX who regularly work this sprint so it’s always a treat to hear them.

After the sprint, and after dinner, I was back in the shack to see what might be up. Tuning on 20 CW I stumbled over a pile that turned out to be Rich, NN3W operating 4O/NN3W from Montenegro. Took three or four calls to get him in the log which will be a new one for me on 20 CW if he confirms.

Moving on, I switched to digital to check on six meters and sure enough, there were signals present. That’s rare enough to warrant some attention though this season hasn’t been good to me and it’s my own fault. I have a three-element beam for 50MHz (and an unused rotor!) that has remained in the box for more than a year.

Finding a good place to install it isn’t easy and I’m a world-class procrastinator. Maybe next year?

I’ve been using a vertical on 6m which has yielded unsatisfying results. I have added a few new states this year but no DX. The Magic Band has been open a lot, but for me these have been weak openings into various corners of the US and they’re always the same. The Northeast, Florida, Texas, and a few states in the upper midwest.

After the six meter expedition I checked out 20 and 15 again making a few contacts along the way though nothing that was sorely needed. I managed to work VP2EIH on Anguilla, a slot-filler for 15 meters that notched one more on the DXCC Challenge.

I closed the station at 11pm local and called it a night. The bands have turned stingy and collecting DX has been like pulling teeth, but I’m hopeful that the IARU Contest this weekend might offer up a few more savory entries for the log.

Confirmations received recently via LoTW: EA7BD, SP3DOF, F5RRS, KL7J, YV1GIY, VP2EIH, CT7AUP, TF3VS, F6KRK, J69DS, OZ1RH, HI3A, ZF2OO, 9A4ZM


Newsletter Publishing

Years ago I published a weekly ham radio newsletter, something I toiled at for nearly a year before pulling the plug. The rigors of writing regularly and against a deadline were sufficient to convince me I might not be suited for the task.

(Blogging is easy by comparison. Write what you want, when you want, as infrequently as you want, and hit the button)

Understanding the effort and commitment required for success in that sort of endeavor has made me really admire the work of N8GNJ with his Zero Retries Newsletter. When Steve first launched his weekly letter I wondered if it might be a short-lived venture.

Now that ZR has entered a second year of publication it’s obvious I was wrong about that. His work and success has encouraged me to consider a second foray into that medium. I’ve got this idea, not yet formed enough to make an announcement, but I have been comparing potential platform options. Steve uses Substack for Zero Retries and that seems to have become the mother of all letter publishing platforms, but there are other options.

Revue, Ghost, Buttondown, etc. Tinyletter was what I used with my newsletter and it’s still around. The problem with all of them is that they want to be that friendly small company solution right now, with high hopes of selling out to a much larger company later making it impossible to know who a newsletter author will end up in bed with a few years down the road.

I could handle the subscription and distribution via mailman or some such tool running on my own server, but that’s a lot of additional work and the kind of thing that could doom a newsletter before it ever had time to gain traction.

Still, choosing a suitable platform is the easy part.

Creating compelling content is the major component of any such enterprise as is the execution of getting it all assembled and out the door on a regular schedule. Not to mention this would be a not for profit work of passion with no reward other than the work.

Not exactly the kind of job description that draws a crowd.


War Wounds

The 2022 IARU HF World Championship takes place this weekend. As you might imagine, the unprovoked aggression against Ukraine has drawn lines in the international amateur radio community.

Given the nature of personal radio, a hobby without borders, amateur radio always strives to remain above politics. That doesn’t mean that certain actions, especially the waging of an unprovoked aggression against innocent citizens shouldn’t provoke strong opinions and actions.

Czech contest team OL2HQ has decided to cancel its participation in IARU HF World Championship 2022. We refuse to take part in competition without our colleagues from Ukraine and make a QSO with aggressor stations at the same time.

Lithuanian Amateur Radio Society and LY0HQ team also has decided to cancel the operation in the 2022 IARU HF Championship as colleagues from Czech Republic did. And this comes from solidarity with Ukrainian radio amateurs who currently cannot represent their state in this Championship.

Others will likely follow suit and no matter how this event turns out, there should be an asterisk next to published results as this will not be a normal radiosport event.


Happy Independence Day!

We had no plans for 4th of July this year so I spent the day at home after my morning walk. It was too hot to do anything much outside anyway with the high being 94F. I did spend a little time in the backyard with the TX-500, a small battery, a portable vertical and frosty cold cerveza.

Band conditions weren’t good and pickings were pretty slim. I did manage to snag ten of the thirteen colonies and maybe will try to finish that off later, but I doubt it. I did work several POTA stations including KD3D (PA), W8MSC (MI), NA4A (AL), and WV3V (WY). Signals were all light to nearly imaginary, but somehow it all worked out.

Toss in a few DX contacts and one new state worked (and confirmed) on 6 meters and that rounded out a low-stress day of radio.

Hope you enjoyed the holiday too!


DX Marathon in Transition

John, K9EL announced several months ago that he intended to step down as manager of the DX Marathon program and at that time no replacement had yet to be found. While it seems no one person will take his spot, plans are now underway for a transition to a team effort and they’re looking for more help:

Several months ago, I announced that I was stepping down from managing CQ’s DX Marathon after the 2022 DX Marathon is scored. Several interested parties contacted me and we had some frank discussions. Most felt that the Marathon was poised for some significant growth and that it was too much for one person to absorb. Mark, WC3W, has also forecasted some significant growth in the Marathon and has been working with me on a vision and mission statement along with some key positions descriptions that would allow for volunteer participation. Mark is willing to head up a team of volunteers who would manage the Marathon starting with the 2023 edition. By dividing up the work and responsibilities across the team, our growth plans and ideas can become a reality. I will remain involved and part of the team to assure a smooth transition. If you have any interest in participating and would like to join the new DX Marathon team, please contact Mark, WC3W. We would like to get this kicked off as soon as possible so that we will be ready for the 2023 Marathon year.


KX3 Going to California

I shipped my KX3 back to the factory on Friday. It won’t arrive there until Thursday according to Fedex and that will begin the 15 to 20 week clock currently required for service and upgrades at Elecraft. It seems like a crazy amount of repair time, but such is the new world order. It’s not yet the 4th of July and the KX3 might be gone until we begin shopping for a Thanksgiving turkey…

Meanwhile, my order for a fully-loaded KX2 was placed ten days ago with an estimate of 12-16 weeks for delivery. I could have it in hand before the KX3 arrives back home.

All my portable activities now fall to the perfectly capable TX-500. It’s good to have back-up equipment, but now all my eggs are in that basket for any field work.


Field Day Results

My Field Day operation for 2022 went almost to plan. Working from the backyard using 50 watts and the portable CHA MPAS Lite antenna my intent was to put 100 Phone contacts in the log. That all worked as planned except it ended up being an all CW effort.

When the appointed hour arrived I had decided to test 20M with a quick CW contact or two and somehow that rolled into one after another until I saw that I was closing in on a hundred contacts after about three hours of work spent around a couple of breaks. With a hundred in the bank I decided to declare “success” and call it quits before I got any deeper into it.

Summary Results

First thing Sunday morning I submitted my totals to the ARRL and merged everything into my main log. LoTW wasn’t busy then as it processed the upload rather quickly for it being such a busy weekend of radio. And with that, another Field Day is in the can.

Random Thoughts on Field Day 2022

  • Boos and raspberries to those CW ops running 30-40wpm and spitting dits in every direction. They apparently don't understand what Field Day is or how diverse an audience tried to work them without success. You pop into FD running more than 30wpm and you're a LID. Plain and simple.
  • The bands (I used 40, 20, 15) were in decent shape although I experienced a lot of rapid QSB on 20 in the afternoon that made copy a little tougher. But even with my modest setup I managed to work the East coast, West coast, Canada, and Puerto Rico from here in Central Indiana.
  • The N3FJP logging software for Field Day was spectacular. It worked perfectly and not a hiccup was noted. I paid for the full package a few months ago which includes the main logging application plus access to all the contests and specialty events logging and I've never regretted it.
  • Jim, W1PID had the best low-impact Field Day setup imaginable. I'm going to copy his approach next year. I continue to invest in making my backyard more comfortable as I see it as the future of ham radio for me. 10 contacts from the backyard are worth 500 from the shack. Can't explain it, don't know why, but I suppose it's all mixed up with the joy that comes from playing radio in the great outdoors...

Field Day

It’s time for another Field Day weekend. The weather in these parts looks to be hot and dry for Saturday with a slight chance of thunder on Sunday though I wouldn’t worry, thunderstorms are rare as rubies around here anymore.

Field Day is ham radio’s open house. Every June, more than 40,000 hams throughout North America set up temporary transmitting stations in public places to demonstrate ham radio’s science, skill and service to our communities and our nation. It combines public service, emergency preparedness, community outreach, and technical skills all in a single event. Field Day has been an annual event since 1933, and remains the most popular event in ham radio.

You still have just enough time to bone-up on the rules or to find a local club participating in the event here.

Good luck, have fun, stay safe, use sunscreen, bug spray, and stay well hydrated. Field Day is supposed to be fun and no one should get sick or injured during amateur radio’s massive play date in the great outdoors!


DXCC POTA

I enjoy the Parks on the Air program. Though I’m not rabid about it whenver I hear a “CQ POTA” I respond and in so doing have worked (“Hunted”) over 200 operations. I’ve yet to activate a park which surprises me because I assumed that would become a regular activity after retiring, but some how I’ve managed to stay busy with other things and haven’t yet had the opportunity. I expect that will change soon enough.

The POTA program offers many awards and a new one appeared in my account this week. The DX Hunter award seen below. I assume this is a brand new award, but I could be wrong about that. I haven’t seen any announcement or explanation about it.

I have noticed that international park operations as part of the POTA program are on the increase:

We are up to 112 DX entities and still growing!!

I’ve been pleasantly surprised to work a handful of DX stations in what used to be a long list of domestic contacts only. Some of those that I’ve worked include Canada, England, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, and St. Paul Island and now that there are more than a hundred entities participating in the program it looks like DXCC POTA might become another thing worthy of chase.


Era of Deprivation

Despite having several top-notch transceivers intended for field use, I’ve wanted to add a fully-loaded KX2 to the line-up for a long time. But every time I visit the Elecraft Web site intent on placing an order I’m faced with a reminder that it will be 12-16 weeks before it ships.

This has prompted me to pass on the purchase figuring eventually that long lead-time will be reduced to something more palatable.

Yet, availability has never improved. Not in a year or more at least, so I went ahead and placed an order and now stand in a long queue with everyone else. 12-16 weeks the order tells me. Had I placed an order when I first starting looking I would have already it so the deed is done, the order is placed, and now I wait.

Time spent on the Elecraft Web site got me thinking that I need to send my KX3 back to the factory for a minor repair and a full checkout. It’s an expensive bit a kit and I want to keep it in top-flight condition.

An email to support garnered a prompt reply with an estimate and a return authorization – and a request:

Please acknowledge the long lead time on the KX3 repair estimate.

I hadn’t paid attention, but re-reading the estimate I see this:

We are currently running 15 to 20 business weeks for upgrades and repairs after receiving your equipment.

Holy crap on a cracker!

I’m not just picking on Elecraft here, nothing is “fast” anymore. I’m on a year-long waiting list to purchase a new HF amplifier and earlier this year I went looking for a simple multi-band vertical and couldn’t find what I was looking for in stock anywhere. All the major dealers Web sites said “we expect deliveries of this item in August 2022” – that was in February.

I know, I know, there’s a chip shortage and a parts shortage and the high cost of diesel fuel plus the Covid shutdowns and you can’t hire anyone and my dog ate my homework… At this point I think it should just be assumed that we will never get back to “normal” and that this era of deprivation is the new normal.

Fortunately, ham radio items are a luxury and not a requirement for life on this planet. Long delays to have a transceiver repaired or upgraded is the very definition of a “first world problem” but it seems the only thing to be done about it is to maintain multiples of everything so when one requires service a year-long wait doesn’t upset the first world apple cart.


Growing Season

Summer in the Heartland is off to a bit of a rough start. The heat wave that visited us last week drove temperatures into the high 90s for days before cooling down over the weekend. This week we are heaed back up into the high 90s for another round of hot weather. This is unusual because it’s just June and summer doesn’t officially begin here until tomorrow.

We typically see high temperatures later in the season, like mid to late August. But the recent high temps have been 13 degrees higher than normal for this time of year and I’ve noticed my grass seems to have stopped growing, something not usually seen until August. In any other year I’d still be mowing twice a week right now, but the extreme heat has dried everything up and there’s almost no rain in the forecast.

We took a Sunday afternoon drive yesterday (yes, even with gas at five bucks a gallon!) out into farm country and noticed that the corn isn’t progressing as well as it should either. Conventional wisdom here is that the corn should be “knee-high” by the 4th of July and while there is still time to make that (two more weeks) it probably won’t without some additional rainfall. In fact, that bit of folk wisdom didn’t count on the impact of fertilizers and pesticides. These days the corn should be even taller owing to the chemicals used in modern farming.

We stopped at a couple of farmstands along the way and there wasn’t much being offered in the way of fresh vegetables for sale either and we recalled news in the spring about the high-cost of fertilizer this year that prompted many farmers to say that they wouldn’t be using nearly as much this season.

Looks like maybe they didn’t?

It’s tough to see how a nation as populous as this one can feed its people without heavy doses of fertilizer and a decent growing season. If farms underperform then prices are going to continue to climb at the grocery checkout. But that would be good news compared to a widespread crop failure that might make food difficult to obtain at any price…