Monthly Archives: July 2014

Anderson Power Poles (Part 2)

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Anderson Power Poles For 12 Volt Ham Radio Connections

These are very handy for all sorts of your 12 volt ham radio projects!  

Will be looking for these at the next hamfest!

How To Make A CAT5 Network Cable

Recently I remodeled the attached garage into an additional room (which will include my revised ham shack) so that it became a functional area.  Before hanging the dry wall I ran both electrical circuits and a network circuit so that I could not only supply power to the whole room but also 2 circuits for my ham radio equipment and computers.  After pulling the CAT5 cables I had to terminate them for hooking up the wireless router and computers.  This video shows and explains the exact sequence of the individual multicolored CAT5 wires and the order they need to be slipped into the connectors before they are crimped.  WRITE DOWN THE WIRE COLOR CODE ORDER GIVEN IN THE VIDEO TO USE WHEN YOU ARE READY TO MAKE THE CONNECTIONS. 

GPS and APRS… A Marriage Made In The Heavens

24satellite

How GPS Works

Basic APRS – An Introduction

Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS)

(Click link above for the ARRL APRS webpage explaining APRS)

 The Global Positioning System, or GPS, is pretty amazing and chances are, it’s playing a much greater role in your life than you realize. Anthony explains how GPS works and tells you about some pretty cool upgrades coming soon.

GPS
http://www.gps.gov/
“Official U.S. Government information about the Global Positioning System (GPS) and related topics”

GPS Modernization Video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chNQW2…

GPS is getting an $8-billion upgrade
http://articles.latimes.com/2010/may/…
“Without it, ATMs would stop spitting out cash, Wall Street could blunder billions of dollars in stock trades and clueless drivers would get lost.”

New Satellites Could Make GPS Harder to Jam
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/…
“Without GPS, drones can’t fly, communications networks can’t function, and you don’t have a chance of figuring out how to get to your Aunt Sadie’s place in New Jersey. And right now, GPS is highly vulnerable because its weak signals are coming from an aging constellation of satellites.”

How GPS Receivers Work
http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/…
“Our ancestors had to go to pretty extreme measures to keep from getting lost. They erected monumental landmarks, laboriously drafted detailed maps and learned to read the stars in the night sky.”

Check out the Air Force Collaboratory:
https://collaboratory.airforce.com/

Watch More:

How Collaboration Leads To Great Ideas
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ga1_a4…

How Robots Help Search And Rescue Teams
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1Jztu…

Voyager 1: Where To Next?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRbG3y…

Space Weather Impacts Everyone… including amateur radio!

space weather

From the U.S. National Weather Service YouTube page… click video links below…

We rely on advanced technology for almost everything we do today. Satellite communications, GPS applications, and the electric power grid provide the backbone to our Nation’s economic vitality and national security. This technology however, is vulnerable to a threat from space — our Sun. Eruptions from the Sun can have a profound impact on society. In Boulder, Colorado NOAA space weather forecasters maintain a constant vigil on the Sun, alerting a diverse customer base when storms are imminent. Operators from many sectors will take mitigating actions to protect the critical infrastructure that we have come to depend on.

An Introduction to Space Weather and the Space Weather Prediction Center

Space Weather Impacts: Communications

Space Weather Impacts: GPS

Space Weather Impacts: Power

Radio Signal Identification (Sample Audio and Waterfall Images)

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Did you ever wonder what some of those strange radio signal beeps, boops, squeals and braps are when you tune across the radio frequencies?  Click the link below for a neat wiki page, off one of The DXZone and Sigidwiki.com website pages, that not only allows you to listen to short audio segments of them but also shows what the signal looks like in a waterfall image.

Signal Identification Guide

 

Kent Morse Tutor

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Kent Morse Tutor
Android App available from Google Play

HELP TO LEARN, IMPROVE AND MAINTAIN YOUR MORSE CODE PROFICIENCY

The FREE KENT Morse tutor app generates random Morse code in groups of 5, or random length groups of 1 to 10 characters and lesson lengths of up to 250 groups of characters.

The selectable letters, numbers and punctuation’s can be played individually or in any combination.

Code speeds from 5 WPM to 40 WPM can be selected in 1 WPM steps, and an independent delay can be inserted between characters. This feature allows you to learn each character at the correct speed but allows thinking time between characters. as you improve, the delay can be reduced.

The tone can be set between 500hz and 1750hz

Please visit Google Play to download the free version of the android app

Cool Android App to help you turn into a CW Pro!  Learning the Morse Code is not hard and adds extra fun when you warm up the radio.  Click on the link above from The DXZone website for more information about the smartphone app.

Historical Events in Amature Radio… 1894 to 1998

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This is a fun read about our amateur radio hobby from it’s infancy.  Well written factoids from The Ham Radio Files website.  Click the link below for the article…

Historical Events in Amateur Radio

RS232C DE-9 Pin Outs (M/F)

   dsub9m Male

dsub9f

Female

Again, DXZone has the information needed if you are needing to wire up an RS232 cable for an amateur radio project.  Click the link below for which pin does what!

RS232C DE-9 Pin Outs

Feed Lines… A Basic Understanding

The ARRL Website has excellent information on their website about all things amateur radio.  This article explains the basics about some of the more common feed lines in use for antenna construction and the termination to your ham radio equipment.  Check the link below…

Feed Lines… ARRL.Org

Tips on Soldering Projects

Z25_Soldering

The DXZone is another resource I can turn to for insightful articles and information.  Check out the link below for solid soldering tips and how to do a good job on your next homebrewing or kit project!

8 Awesome Tips And Tutorial Videos On Soldering

The Doublet Antenna

I have helped build and used two of these Doublet Antennas during the 2014 Field Day Contest and they worked great!  Worked many stations on CW, Phone, and PSK31.  Works great across many HF bands.  A little over 120 feet long.  WR8S (Bill Shultz), WD8WQK (Tom Graf) and I are going to make one for my ham shack as soon as I order the parts. Take a look at Ray Heffer’s explanation of the Doublet Antenna and a diagram by N4UJW below.

8010doublet

Ham Radio Reference Site… RigReference.Com

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I stumbled onto this really cool website called RigReference.Com and was able to find some information on several older pieces of equipment I have in my ham shack.  Here is what their website says…

Who we are

RigReference.com is designed for and by Ham Radio enthusiasts. RigReference.com provides information about new and vintage amateur radio equipment (rigs) and allows and encourages members to share their opinions about these rigs.

RigReference.com is always looking for amateur related news, especially new equipment announcements. If you’ve seen or heard anything interesting please don’t hesitate to contact us!

RigReference.com explicitly does not sell ham radio equipment and/or parts.

Twitter… @RigReference

First Radio? Icom 718 HF Radio

The Icom 718 HF Ham Radio is suggested by many hams as the ideal beginner’s HF rig. The QRZ.COM website had a good forum post on best radios for beginners HF Rig For Beginners  (See reviews of the Icom 718 at the end of this post.)

Icom 718 HF Radio from the Amateur Electronic Supply (AES Website) website

Core Specifications
Receive Range: 0.030-29.999 MHz
Transmit Range: 1.800-1.999, 3.500-3.999, 7.000-7.300, 10.100-10.150, 14.000-14.350, 18.068-18.168, 21.000-21.450, 24.890-24.990, 28.000-29.700 MHz
Mode: USB, LSB, CW, RTTY (FSK), AM
Transmit Power: SSB, CW, RTTY 2-100W; AM 2-40W
Memory Channels: 101 (99 regular, 2 scan edges)The HF bands allow you to communicate over long distances covering many km even to the other side of the world. With the superior performance found in the IC-718 such as wide dvnamic range, high C/N ratio, and full duty operation you will find making these contacts easy. Experience the combination of the latest RF and digital technology, along with the size and simplified operation. You will see the IC-718 will be the most practical rig you will ever own.Front mounted loud speaker
The IC-718 has a speaker mounted on the front panel. With the speaker facing the operator, audio sounds can be clearly heard without impediment during operation. It is no longer necessary to manually increase the volume to try and capture audio sounds.

Superior basic performance
The IC-718 has 0.03-29.999999 MHz* general coverage receive capability. A 4-element system is employed for the 1st receive mixer, providing superior receive IMD, especially from in-band near-by interfering signals. A well-designed double-conversion system to help minimize image and spurious responses for better signal fidelity, is also built-in. A newly designed PLL circuit has been adopted to improve C/N ratio characteristics. The combination of the 4-element system mixer and new PLL circuit allows superior basic performance as that of a commercial grade transceiver.
*Guaranteed range: 0.5-29.999999 MHz

DSP capability*
The DSP includes the following to give you superior receiver quality in your shack, vehicle or during DX’pedition. *DSP is built in to U.S. models, but may be optional outside the U.S. Please check with your dealer.
Noise reduction:
Pulls desired AF signals from noise. Outstanding S/N ratio is achieved, providing clean audio in SSB, AM and FM.
Automatic Notch filter:
This automatically minimizes beat signals and heterodynes while preserving the receive signal. Also, the notch frequency is automatically adjusted to follow interfering beat signals – for example, reducing interference from RTTY signals during SSB operation.

Interference rejection – IF shift
To reject interference, the IC-718 has an IF shift function which shifts the center frequency of the IF passband electronically to reduce adjacent interference.

Microphone compressor
This feature compresses microphone audio input to increase average audio output level. The result is, that talk power is increased. The compression level is adjustable for your preference. This function is effective for long distance communication, or when propagation conditions are poor.

RF gain control
RF gain control is combined with the squelch control. The RF gain adjusts minimum response receiver gain, and ignores signals weaker than the pre-set level – providing pleasant stand-by, or scanning.

Ample CW features
An electronic keyer with a variable dot/dash ratio (2.8:1 to 4.8:1) control is built-in. By simply connecting a paddle, easy CW operation can be made. The CW pitch and the key speed are also variable from 300-900 Hz, 6-60 wpm, respectively. Of course, full break-in capability is available with the adjustable break-in delay.

VOX operation
A VOX (Voice operated transmission) is included with the IC-718. It provides handsfree operation by detecting audio signals from the microphone. It’ s easy! Flexible filter selection

Flexible Filter Selection
An optional IF filter can be installed into the transceiver to suit your operating preference.

High frequency stability
When the optional CR-338 HIGH STABILITY CRYSTAL UNIT is installed, you get a very high frequency stability of ±0.5 ppm.

Selectable antenna tuner
Either the optional antenna tuner unit, AT-180 or AH-4 can be used with the IC-718 to suit your installing conditions, or operating style. Of course, the AH-4 control circuit is built into the IC-718.

Simple operation
The IC-718 is equipped with a minimum number of switches and controls for superior feature selectability. The 10-key pad on the front panel for entering directly an operating frequency, or a memory channel number. The auto tuning steps function helps quick tuning is activate when turning the dial quickly. And the band stacking register is very convenient when changing operating bands.

Digital S/RF meter
Built-in multi functional digital S/RF meter indicates signal strength level while receiving, and either transmit output power, ALC level or VSWR ratio while transmitting.

Optional voice synthesizer
A clear, electronically-generated voice announces operating frequency, mode and receiving signal strength level when the optional voice synthesizer unit, UT-102, is installed.

Other features
• USB, LSB, CW, RTTY(FSK) and AM modes are built-in
• Level adjustable noise blanker
• RF attenuator and Pre-amplifier
• Variety of scanning function types
• Total 101 memory channels are available
• Hand microphone is supplied, and more…

Includes:
• Hand microphone
• DC power cable
• Spare fuse (FGB 20A)
• Spare fuse (FGB 4A)

Dim: 9.4″w x 3.75″h x 9.4″d; 8.5 lb.

Download Manual: IC-718

Download Brochure: IC-718  

Reviews of the Icom 718 from eHam.net   eHam.net reviews of the Icom 718

How Does a Multimeter Work?

Afrotechmods is a very insightful and easy to understand YouTube channel to follow on basic electronics.  Here he talks about multimeters and their usage in our ham shack.  I have several different digital and analog multimeters and their usage often depends upon the application and project.  He does other excellent videos, so check him out!

Solar Super Storm of 2012 Near Miss… Ham’s Better Be Prepared

This is why ham radio operators need to be prepared for such a massive solar event.  If the rest of the grid (power and internet) were to go down, it could take a long time for it to be repaired.  Ham radio communications might become critical in every community.  Are we prepared and proficient to aid our communities?

Link to full article… Near Miss: The Solar Superstorm of July 2012

WM2U’s PSK31 Webpage

This is BAD PSK31 signal identification... keep it clean!

This is BAD PSK31 signal identification… keep it clean!

Good article on PSK31 by WM2U that has all sorts of good information.  Also his Tip List is below.

http://www.qsl.net/wm2u/psk31.html

 WM2U’s Tip List for PSK31

  • Set sound card sampling rate to 11025Hz
  • This must be at least a 16 bit sound card.
  • No Signal observed? Check your WAVE slider is not zero.

  • Set Rx and Tx frequencies to 1000Hz.
    NOTE: This value will get you up and running but if you plan on using a filter change it to the center frequency.
  • If using LSB check the “Inverted QPSK” box.
  • Too much noise! Try using a narrow CW filter.
  • Using a Word Processor, write your buffered messages and save them as .txt files, placing em! in a folder called ‘buffers’ created in the main PSK31 folder.
    NOTE: This is NOT a form of type ahead buffer. It is simply a method to pre write ‘Standard’ messages hence saving you keyboarding time.
  • READ THE HELP FILES.
    • Your sound card output must NOT overdrive your Mic Input.
    • Do not overdrive the sound card input from the Radio.
    • Get used to the Waterfall/Phase indicators for tuning.
    • Do not use your Speech Processor.
    • Be patient. This is a new mode. You will not find all the features you are used to yet!

Who is W2AEW ?

Check out his website and all of his YouTube videos!  His bio follows…

His website can be found at http://www.qsl.net/w2aew/  

His YouTube Channel can be found at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiqd3GLTluk2s_IBt7p_LjA

intheshack_web

My name is Alan Wolke. I am an Electrical Engineer, currently working as an RF Application Engineer for Tektronix – which means I get paid to play with Spectrum Analyzers and other fun RF and high frequency stuff. As a Field Engineer, I am on the road a LOT. Fortunately, I run an FT-857D in the car, so I can be found playing radio during my trips between various customers around the Northest. Former work focused on hardware validation of read-channel circuits for hard disk drives, and also concentrated on applications support for analog, high speed, RF, and backplane/datacom/telecom circuit and integrated circuit designs for various communications and fiber optic applications to well over 10Gb/s, and involved various circuit technologies including Silicon bipolar, Silicon-Germanium HBT, CMOS, and BiCMOS processes, GaAs MESFET and HBT processes, and various 850nm and 1300nm LEDs, PIN photodiodes and Laserdiodes. Shameless self-promotion links: here are links to things I’ve done that are published on the web (at a previous company): Paper 1Paper 2Paper 3Patent (some of the Paper links are broken, since the company has since been bought out…). You can read more about me from my interview as the Featured Engineer on the EEWeb site from 2 April, 2012.

I was originally licensed as a Novice Class in the late seventies while in High School as KA2IZZ. We had an Amateur Radio Club there (Matawan Regional High School in NJ) under the direction of WA2SLK. I dropped out of the hobby when I went to college at NJIT, and then entered the workforce. Some friends at work got me interested in Amateur Radio again (N3GH, K2TW, K4MMG, W2PI), but my renewal privileges on KA2IZZ long since expired. So, I started over as a Technician with the call KC2BOG. After about a year and a half, I upgraded to Tech Plus and bought some HF equipment in September 1998. I applied for the vanity call W2AEW in September also, and received it in October 1998. I spent October working on my CW with some friendly “encouragement” from my friend and co-worker WA2NDH (now W2CSK), and upgraded to Advanced Class in November 1998. So, since my HF privileges are fairly new, I find myself working new states and countries all of the time. Great Fun!!! I frequent many of the local 2m repeaters in central NJ, and spend most of my HF time on 20m and 17m. I tested for the Extra Class license in February 2000. I passed the written test, but missed too many questions on the 20wpm code test (I did better than I thought I would though ;-). So, I became an Extra-Lite or Advanced-Plus after April 15th, 2000 anyway, HI HI!

Other interests besides the radio include MGB carsRX-8mountain-bikingNASCAR racing (go Mark Martin!), woodworking, home improvement, and TV/VCR repair (previous life) and of course, diddling around with circuits for fun.

My wife Nancy and I are busy getting settled in our new/old house. We moved in during the summer of 2009, and absolutely love the place. The shack and HF antenna went up in October 2009 – back on the air after a several year hiatus.

 

How to zero-beat WWV to check or adjust a Frequency Counter’s accuracy by W2AEW

This is another cool video by W2AEW.  He does the best job of explaining theory I have found.  His videos are excellent and his schematics and formula explanations are easy to understand.  I have exchanged messages with him and he encourages us to follow his blog and learn.  Also check out his website below!

This video shows how to zero-beat the WWV signal as a tool to adjust the frequency reference of an old frequency counter. It demonstrates the concept of zero-beat’ing a test signal against the WWV carrier. Since the WWV carrier is likely more accurate than any other frequency reference that most hobbiests and hams have in their labs, this is a useful technique. It can be used to check or adjust the 10MHz reference in the counter, if it has one, or can be used to very precisely set the output frequency of a signal generator which can then be used as a test signal for the frequency counter.

Similar techniques can be used to adjust the frequency accuracy of a ham radio’s reference. Several years ago, I wrote up a procedure that I put on my website. If can be found here:
http://www.qsl.net/w2aew/adjustrig.htm

 

Basics of RF Mixers in Radio Receivers / Mixer Tutorial / Frequency Conversion by W2AEW

This video describes the basic properties of RF mixers, in the context of using them for frequency conversion/translation such in the application of a radio receiver. The input and output signals are shown on the oscilloscope, and the spectrum of the output is also shown, illustrating the various frequency components that are produced by the mixing process. The concept of IF filtering in a receiver is also illustrated. The video does not go into the design of mixers, the different types of mixers, or how to select a mixer for a given application.

What is a dB, dBm, dBu, dBc, etc. on a Spectrum Analyzer? by W2AEW

This tutorial video gives the basics of the typical amplitude units used on a spectrum analyzer. It gives a basic description of the electronic definition of the decibel (dB), some of the properties of the dB, why it is used. It describes that the dB is a relative measurement. These relative measurements can be expressed as absolute measurements when a known reference is used/implied. This is where the terms dBm, dBu, dBmv, etc. come from. Finally, the term dBc is described. Each of the descriptions is followed with practical examples and demonstrations on an oscilloscope and spectrum analyzer.

Tektronix Oscilloscope Triggering controls and their usage by W2AEW

This video describes the Triggering controls on a typical Tektronix analog oscilloscope. Other analog scopes will typically be similar. The video presents the Trigger Level, Slope, Source, Coupling, Mode and Holdoff controls, and how each of them are used and their affect on the triggering capability of the scope.

Spectrum Analyzer Basics / Tutorial, and the Tektronix 1401A by W2AEW

I picked up a Tek 1401A Spectrum Analyzer at a hamfest recently, and it inspired me to do a video or two. This one presents a generic block diagram and tutorial of what a conventional swept spectrum analyzer is and how it works. It also shows a quick demo of the Tektronix 1401A Spectrum Analyzer Module from the mid-70’s.

Basic Spectrum Analyzer Do’s and Dont’s … by W2AEW

…or, how NOT to blow up your Spectrum Analyzer! This video covers the very basics of how to safely use your spectrum analyzer without damaging it, and how to setup the basic controls to get usable results. It is not intended to be a full tutorial on how to use a Spectrum Analyzer, just enough to allow you to use with without damaging it, and how the “Auto” coupled settings for things like the vertical Attenuator, the RBW and Sweep operate.

Measure Capacitors and Inductors with an Oscilloscope and some basic parts by W2AEW

This video shows how to measure the value of unknown capacitors and inductors using your oscilloscope and a simple pulse generator. There are many ways to do this, but this video focuses on just two basic techniques. The video was inspired by this blog post on scopejunction.com:
http://www.scopejunction.com/author.a…
The techniques are very simple, and are a good example of basic principles of RC and LC circuits. Another bonus is that it shows another use for the fast-edge pulse generator that was shown in a video I posted several days earlier on making your own basic TDR:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cP6w2…
The capacitors are measured by simply measuring the RC time constant, and the inductors are measured by making a simple LC tank circuit and measuring the resonant frequency.

Use a scope to measure the length and impedance of coax by W2AEW

This video shows one way to use a scope and function generator to measure the length of a piece of coax transmission line as well as estimate its impedance. It uses a “poor man’s TDR” type of measurement by launching a pulse into the coax and measuring how long it takes to return after being reflected by the open circuit end. This same technique can be used to determine the distance to a fault (open or short). A simple method for determining the impedance of the line is also shown.

This video touches briefly on transmission line and reflection theory, but is definitely not intended to dive deep into these topics. There are literally books written about this topic – so that won’t be covered here.

 

Basics of OpAmp Circuits by W2AEW

This tutorial discusses some general rules of thumb that make it easy to understand and analyze the operation of most opamp circuits. It presents some ideal properties of opamps, and discusses how negative feedback generally causes the input voltage difference to be equal to zero (input voltages are made equal by the action of negative feedback). In other words, the output will do whatever it can to make the input voltages equal. Applying this simple fact makes it easy to analyze most opamp circuits.

 

ARRL at 100: A Century of Ham Radio

Very interesting video about the ARRL at 100 years of growth.  The history of radio is fascinating!

Solder Up an XLR Audio Cable

If you are going to connect audio equipment devices you will most likely run into the XLR male and female connectors at some point.  Or maybe you need to repair a cable that is no longer working.  This video is a good example of how to make the proper connections!  It’s not difficult to do.

Basic Transmitter and Antenna Tuning… A Sweet Match

This is a simple video primer on using an antenna tuner to reduce your Standing Wave Ratio (SWR) and find the ideal tuning match between your transmitter and the antenna to maximize your output power to the antenna.  This basic principle applies to other antenna tuners of other design and configurations.  Always read your radio Operation Manual AND your Antenna Tuner manual for proper procedure for your set-up BEFORE you apply the power!  Initial tuning into a Dummy Load should be made before a quick final tune-up on the actual frequency you are planning to communicate on.

 

Elecraft KX3 Demo and Connect to iPad Videos

I had the pleasure of playing with two Elecraft KX3 radios during ARRL Field Day 2014 running CW and PSK31 modes.  Both radios worked like a charm off of battery power and we racked up some excellent contacts during the hours of the contest.  I want to thank Bill (WR8S) and Tom (KD8WQK) for letting me get may hands on their toys! Definitely on my WISHLIST!

kx3

The KX3 HF Radio is pictured above.  The optional 100 Watt Amplifier is pictured below.

 kxpa100_fr_1280

Watch the Elecraft KX3 Demo Video below…

Connect the KX3 to an iPad…

World Radiosport Team Championship 2014

WRTC 2014 FA

The World Series of Team Communications… the Super Bowl of DX… the World Cup of Amateur Radio… it’s called World Radiosport Team Championship (WRTC2014).

World Radiosport Team Championship 2014
July 8-14, 2014

The World Radiosport Team Championship (WRTC) is a competition between two-person teams of amateur radio operators testing their skills to make contacts with other Amateur Radio operators around the world over a 24 hour period. All teams use identical antennas from the same geographic region, eliminating all variables except operating ability.

WRTC2014 included 59 competing teams from 29 qualifying regions around the world. Competitors represented 38 different countries.

Medal winners

Medal winners at WRTC2014 (N6TV photo)

Gold

Daniel Craig, N6MJ – United States
Chris Hurlbut, KL9A – United States

Silver

Rastislav Hrnko, OM3BH – Slovakia
Jozef Lang, OM3GI – Slovakia

Bronze

Manfred Wolf DJ5MW – Germany
Stefan von Baltz DL1IAO – Germany

Source:  WRTC website

(Click video below for the WRTC2014 Promo Video…)

 

 WRTC website…  http://www.wrtc2014.org/

QRP DXing… by JOHN SHANNON – K3WWP

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John Shannon (K3WWP) kindly permits me to post his recent article here for your enjoyment.  His contact information and websites are listed at the end of this article.  Also, check out and join the NAQCC website at http://www.naqcc.info/

NAQCC NEWS   ISSUE 193 JULY 2014

You can’t work DX on HF unless you run high power and have a big antenna farm. How many times have you heard that? Believe it or not even one ARRL employee was very skeptical about the ability to work DX otherwise. Maybe still is.

Anyway I’m writing this to dispel that notion. I also do it by example as many of you probably already know. Let me start by describing my station in detail. My rigs since I became active again in the early 1990s have been homebrew, Kenwood TS-570D, Kenwood TS-480SAT, Elecraft K-2, and now the wonderful Elecraft KX3. All have a couple things in common. They have never been used on any mode but CW. They have never been used at more than 5 watts output power (except for two experimental QSOs and one accidental one – that’s another story just mentioned here for 100% accuracy).

My antennas consist of a random wire most of which is in my attic for 160 through 30 meters, a 20 meters flat-top inverted vee in my attic, a 15 meters vertical dipole mounted on the side of my house, a 10 meters sloping dipole on my porch roof, and a 6 meters rotatable dipole in my attic. As KB7MBI puts it, that’s not an antenna farm, that’s an antenna victory garden.

With that setup I have made 19,140 DX (non-W/VE) QSOs since the early 1990s from at total of 219 countries (entities) on all continents and 36 of the 40 CQ zones. Currently as of May 29, 2014 I have made at least one DX QSO each and every day since March 1, 2013 – a total of 455 consecutive days.

With that preamble to let you know that I probably know what I’m talking about, I’m going to tell you how you can do just the same, probably even better if you have better antennas and a better location than I do. Oh, I neglected to say I don’t live on a remote hilltop somewhere, but right in the middle of a small town with its attendant man-made QRN. The town is located in a river valley with surrounding hills making a visible horizon of a couple degrees up to around 10 degrees.

I think the above proves it is possible to work DX with just 5 watts or less output and simple wire antennas. Of course it’s not as easy as working DX with 1 kilowatt and stacked 4 over 4 beams, but it’s not as hard as many hams think. I believe that ANYONE, without a great deal of effort, can get the basic DXCC award using nothing more than QRP/CW and a wire antenna. I worked 100 countries in just the first 78 days of the year 2000 as part of the ARRL Millennium Award program. Here are some tips to hopefully help you in your DX efforts.

Basically there’s not a lot you need to know to successfully work DX. First of all, a lot of good DX is only available via some high speed CW operators, so the faster you can copy, the easier it will be to work the DX station and move on to others. Of course since you don’t really have to copy a lot of info in most cases, you can get by at lower copying speeds. When you get right down to it, all you really need to copy is the DX station’s call, and your own call. But still you’ll be much better off being able to copy at least 30 WPM which is not all that hard to do with some good practice. If you can copy everything involved in the DX operation, you’ll be much more prepared to work the DX.

You also should know something about propagation as I mentioned in a previous newsletter. That way you won’t waste time in mid-afternoon trying to work DX on 80 or 40, nor time in the middle of the night trying to work something on 10 meters. Not to say there aren’t times mid-day DX on 80 or especially 40 is possible, or 10 meters DX late at night, but generally it’s not.

The most important thing to remember about DXing, no matter what power or antennas you are using, is to LISTEN before you do anything. Of course, before you can work the DX, you have to be able to hear it.

Once you find a DX station, you then LISTEN some more to find out the station’s mode of operation and just where HE is listening. For example, if you hear him work a station right on his frequency, then you know he’s listening there. Zero beat him and get ready to call, but again don’t jump in too quickly.

LISTEN to find out the pattern of the DX station’s exchange. When the DX is trying to work as many stations as possible as quickly as possible, the exchange should go like this:

Station – Sends
X2XXX – CQ DX X2XXX K
K3WWP – K3WWP
X2XXX – K3WWP 599
K3WWP – TU 599
X2XXX – TU

Sometimes after the exchange of info, the DX station will just say TU as in this example, and then start listening for replies. Other times he will send QRZ?, or QRZ? de X2XXX, or just X2XXX. Some stations send dit dit. Whatever it is, learn when the DX station is done with a QSO and ready for the next call before you jump in. Do everything right and you’ll have your QSO or at least a better chance at the QSO than someone who has no idea what is going on.

Of course that is the ideal situation, and it is not going to work that way every time, even for the most powerful station in the world, and certainly not for the QRPer with his wire antenna. Not to say it doesn’t happen, though. A few times I have beaten out a fair sized pileup to work a DX station. Why? Often it is simply favorable propagation, but there are also things you can do to help.

Be sure your signal is as clean and crisp as possible and your keying is as close to perfect as possible. DX stations often mention that it is not always the strongest signal that is easiest to copy in a pileup. Often a weaker clean signal with perfect keying is easier to copy. If you have a memory keyer, use that to send your call. It is possible to get nervous when trying for some rare DX, and be sloppy sending even our own call.

Another thing that helps at times is to delay for a second sending your call so that the last letter or two extends past the main buzz of the pileup. In my case, the DX station would then hear the WP and send WP? Then I send my call again, and make the QSO. That is assuming there is no other WP in the pileup, and everyone acts properly and does not transmit again if their call doesn’t contain a WP. And we know the odds of that. Generally anyone who has a W in their call transmits, everyone with a P transmits, and others will transmit even though their call has nothing close to a WP in it. The best of the DX stations in this case will send WP? KN KN and keep doing this until everyone else shuts up except the WP station. If a DX station does this often enough, he can really take control of a pileup and make it manageable.

If you’re totally aware of what is going on, you can sometimes catch a station switching from simplex to split (more about that below) operation, and be one of the first ones to switch. I’ve several times gotten an easy DX QSO that way. Or catching a station switching to another band and being the first one to do so and working him easily. Again that gets back to LISTENING which a lot of folks seem not to do.

If you keep calling him without an answer, try to figure out why. It could be that propagation is currently favoring another area. If he is working one W6 after another, and you are a W1, that could be the case or he may have his beam pointed to California at the moment. This is a good time to just note his frequency or store it in a memory in your receiver, and look for someone else. Come back later and see if the DX station is working stations in your area. If so, jump in and try again.

Some QRP stations like to sign /QRP at the end of their call in a pile-up. I don’t think it’s necessary, and I NEVER do it for the following reasons:

1. I don’t feel my QRP should be pointed out as a special situation. I’m just another station in the pile, not someone special because I’m only using 5 watts or less.
2. I am sure some QRO stations cheat and sign /QRP, and I certainly don’t want to be accused of that by those who don’t know that I am a 100% QRPer.
3. It does take an appreciable amount of time to send /QRP when you are dealing with running hundreds of stations per hour, especially if it has to be repeated. If I make a contact, there’s a chance I’ll have to repeat
my info since my sigs are weak, and repeating /QRP along with the other info may annoy not only the DX station, but others waiting in the pile. I hate slowing down DXpeditions or contesters like that.
4. To back up what I say in item 3 above, famous DXpeditioner G3SXW in his book “Up Two” urges operators calling him not to use /QRP. Then there is this quote from the 3B9C DXpedition web site to further denounce using /QRP: “We have received a few e-mails demanding that we amend logs to show /QRP. We are aware that some operators at 3B9C have been logging /QRP but it is DXpedition policy that we do not do so. /QRP does not form part of the legal callsign in any country and, as far as we are aware, no QRP awards require the callsign to be suffixed with /QRP. Therefore the /QRP suffix has no place in the 3B9C DXpedition log. You know whether you worked us on QRP or not and that should be all that is needed.”

If a pileup gets too huge and the pile obliterates the DX station, then the DX operator will switch to split frequency operation. This is when the DX station transmits on one frequency, and listens on another, usually higher, frequency.

If you hear a DX station say UP (or UP1, UP2, etc.), that means he is listening to a frequency higher than his. The number is the number of kHz higher than his transmitting frequency. Leave your receive frequency on the DX station, and set your transmit frequency UP to where the DX is listening. If he just says UP with no number, generally that means UP 1, but not always. Then you have to find the pileup yourself. Once you determine where the DX station is listening, follow the same procedures listed for simplex or same frequency operation. Just be sure you are transmitting and listening on the right frequencies. Every rig seems to have a slightly different way of accomplishing this. I’ll describe two ways it can be done with a KX3.

1. Tap the A>B button twice to copy the A VFO frequency and settings into the B VFO. Hold in the A>B button to activate split operation. Now the A VFO shows the receive frequency, and B can be tuned with the B VFO knob to set the transmit frequency. Then if desired, the headphones can be split via a menu setting so the DX is heard in the left ear and the pile in the right ear. That way you can hear who the DX is working in the pile in your right ear and the KX3 will then be set to transmit on that frequency.
2. Use the XIT feature to offset the transmit frequency from the receive frequency.

I always use #1 above, so I’m not totally familiar with XIT operation.

If the pileup is huge, you might be better off transmitting slightly higher than the main pile. The DX station will often explore the upper (usually) edge of a pileup if he can’t pick out calls from the main section of the pile. This is where the clever QRPer can often steal a QSO from the QRO stations. It’s really a chess game, and whole sections of DXing books have been devoted to breaking a pileup.

Often times the DX station will be operating split frequency but not saying so. This is where listening comes in. If you hear the DX working one station after another, but don’t hear any of the stations he is working, it’s time to tune UP and see if he is indeed working split frequency. Or you can go ahead and transmit on the DX frequency, and the self appointed DX policemen will very impolitely and illegally tell you the DX is listening UP. It’s always better to know what’s going on before you do any transmitting.

That’s enough about the pile-up type of DXing. If you want to know more, just get on the air and practice, or read one of the many excellent books that have been written about DXing.

Let’s touch on a few other DX topics at random. What about the QRPer calling CQ DX using his wire antenna. It’s probably useless most of the time, but I have had DX stations answer my regular CQ’s many times. This usually happens on 10M when conditions are really good, but it also happens on other bands. I currently have about 3 dozen countries worked via answers to my CQ’s. Strangely, my most distant QSO ever came when VK6HQ answered my regular CQ on 30M one evening. I was so shocked and excited I could hardly send. Even after the QSO, I was wondering if it was really true that I worked a VK6. It was, because I received his QSL card in a couple of weeks. However something like that is the exception rather than the rule for QRP CQ’s. Once in a while lightning strikes twice and a couple years later John, VK6HQ again answered my CQ on 30M. This time it led to a long distance phone call from John, and follow up Emails between us. This is one of the rewards of DXing – having one of your contacts become a friend.

The easiest time to work DX is in contests, because the best operators in the world often go to exotic locations for contests to make themselves more desirable or just to activate some rare country. Plus you have the super contest stations in various countries operating with their huge antennas and state of the art receiving equipment. They are the ones who can dig out the weakest of signals, and are glad to do so for those few extra points they will get in the contest. Those points may just help them beat out another top notch contester. You may have a tough time beating the pileups at the beginning of a contest, but often these super contest stations almost go begging for QSO’s near the end of a contest period. Then is the time you may easily work them.

Also for the week or so just before the big DX contests, many of the stations setting up for the contest will check out their equipment by working as many folks as possible. At these times they may also operate on the WARC bands (30, 17, 12) which are not available for operation in the contest itself. They often stay at their locations for a few days after contests also.

Always let the DX station dictate the type of QSO. If you answer a DX station outside a pileup, and he still sends just a report, you do the same. You will earn the respect of the DX station and those working him. There’s nothing more frustrating that having a DX station send only RST and the station working him sending seemingly his entire life history. If the DX station does send something like RST, QTH, and Name (OP), then you may be fortunate enough to find yourself with a DX rag chew. Send your QTH (maybe just the state), and name, and maybe mention you are running QRP. It doesn’t happen too often, but I have had some very nice rag chews with DX stations. I recall a few I especially enjoyed. I chatted for a half hour with a German who was on vacation in the Canary Islands. A PJ2 wanted to know all about my QTH. I had a nice chat with an Italian talking about my Italian heritage (my mother was Italian). A German asked me all about my QRP rig. A station in Haiti was new to operating CW and asked me several questions about it.
There were others as well. These are the DX QSO’s I find really rewarding, although I appreciate the RST only ones also. You CAN rag chew with DX using QRP when conditions are good.

There’s much more good info about DXing on my web site at http://home.windstream.net/johnshan/. I hope you’ll visit. I also hope you’ll be as successful as I have been working DX. I KNOW you can be if you just apply yourself.

73 and gud DX.

 

* John K3WWP – 100% CW / QRP – Proudly promoting Morse Code:

* On the air with my KX3 #2325, K2 #6418, KX-1 #02101

* As NAQCC VP – # 0002 FC # 1 – http://naqcc.info/

* As FISTS Keynote QRP Columnist – # 2002 – http://www.fists.org/

* With my CW-QRP site – http://home.windstream.net/johnshan/

 

CQ Field Day 2014 de WR8S

2014_Field_Day_Logo_333_X_220

Operating Field Day Station WR8S from high atop Chestnut Ridge in north central West By God Virginia, Bill Shultz (WR8S), Tom Graf (KD8WQK) and Spence Graham (KB8FIR) ran QRP CW and PSK31 modes on 2 Elecraft KX3 radios.  It was a great weekend with excellent chums!

Heil Sound lets me hear the world!

download

For those of us Hams with old ears, I highly recommend looking into Bob Heil’s solutions for professional quality headsets.  I have an older Heil headset I used many years ago but now am considering the model below for added quality as my hearing ability is considerably lower than it was… really thinking about either the Pro-Set or Pro-Set Elite model.  Bob Heil is a legend in professional audio and worked with Joe Walsh, Peter Frampton (Bob invented Frampton’s “Talk Box”), Jeff Beck, Slash, Richie Sambora and The Who… so he KNOWS audio!  Also, check out the video below that tells what the audio industry thinks about Bob Heil… and hear some of the great music he was responsible for.

Click link below for the Heil Sound website…

http://www.heilsound.com/amateur/  

 

PSE-trans

Coax, Wires, Cables, Connectors, Insulators, Rope for the Amateur Radio Operator

coaxcable

If you are looking for coax, antenna wire, connectors, rotor cable, insulators, rope or the tools to make antennas Davis RF Company is a place I like to use.

 

Click link below to go to the Davis RF website…

Davis RF Company

antenna-7

Magnets that grab your attention

800px-VFPt_cylindrical_magnets_attracting.svg    This is a good website to find all sorts, configuration and strengths of magnets for all kinds of projects. (I made a inexpensive stir-plate to propagate larger volumes of yeast to pitch into batches of homemade beer using Neodymium magnets glued to an old computer fan.)

Click link below to go to the Amazing Magnets website…

http://www.amazingmagnets.com/  

neodymium-discs

Ham Nation Episode 36: Connect An Audio Mixer To Your Transmitter

Another great YouTube show!       Ham Nation

This episode speaks about hooking up and audio mixer to your transmitter with Bob Heil and Gordon West, et al.  Every show is packed full of information about many different facets of the hobby.  Watch them all! (Segment begins at 41:45 in the video…)

Hosts: Bob Heil (K9EID), Gordon West (WB6NOA), George Thomas (W5JDX), and Leo Laporte (W6TWT)

 

 

 

Ham radio equipment I have used over they years…

I has been fun to own, sell and trade some good equipment over they years!  I enjoyed every one of those old friends and worked many stations with them.

Ramsey Kits

HR-SERIES

 

I have built four different radios from Ramsey and they are fun to build, easy to layout, and you learn a lot of radio design.  Built the 40 Meter QRP Receiver and Transmitter, the Aircraft Receiver, Infrared Transmitter and Receiver kits.  A great way to pass a rainy day!   (Click link below to go to their website…)

 

http://www.ramseyelectronics.com/  

Operating PSK (Power Point)

psk31-header

 

This is another fine explanation of PKS31 operations.  It is a Power Point presentation by John MacFarlane VE7AXU / VA7PX from 2008… but it still gives you some sound knowledge!  (Click link below to begin…)

Operating_PSK PPT

Intro to PSK31 and a Good PSK31 Guide

Tons of fun on PSK31

Tons of fun on PSK31

 

BPSK31.COM does a great job of explaining how to get on the air with PSK31 technology.  (Click link below for another excellent resource.)

 

BPSK31 Website

Field Day & PSK31 Macros

This is BAD PSK31 signal identification... keep it clean!

This is BAD PSK31 signal identification… keep it clean!

 

Running PSK31 on Field Day in 2014 was a BLAST!  We soon learned that a set a easy to use macros sped up our contacts in the contest.  The link below is an excellent resource to consider.

 

http://www2.mmae.ucf.edu/wiki/Psk31_field_day_macros

 

 

Proper PSK31 Audio Level Setup with a Scope, RF Power Meter, and ALC indicator

Another SUPERB W2AEW video!  I love PSK31 and this is a GREAT video explaining how to have a clean and crisp signal showing up in everyone’s waterfall.

 

 

 

Simple Station Monitor for Ham Radio using an Oscilloscope

W2AEW does a FANTASTIC job of explaining all sorts of nifty concepts in Ham Radio.  I follow his videos on YouTube and spend many evenings learning from this fine gent!  I also have some of his books as reference material.

I am gonna HAVE a scope some day!

 

 

 

 

Collection of Connector Pinouts & Cable Descriptions

rs232-pinout1

 

Need to figure out what cables to use or what the pinout configuration should be?  This is a nice resource for just that!

 

Welcome to the Hardware Book. Internet’s largest free collection of connector pinouts and cable descriptions.   (Click the following link…)  http://www.hardwarebook.info/  

Every Ham Needs To Make A Crystal Radio… AT LEAST ONCE!

crystal-radio

 

My daughter made a crystal radio set over 15 years ago for a school Science Fair.  It worked great!  But she took 2nd Place (to a freakin’ terrarium) because the (freakin’) science TEACHER indicated to me that “the sound wasn’t very loud”… C’est la vie!  (I should have tried to drive my 1 KW linear amplifier with it!)

 

Try one of these great XTAL SET SOCIETY kits…  http://www.midnightscience.com/

 

dunwoody2

Eurorack UB-1202 Audio Mixer Review

This is the 12-Channel audio mixer I picked up at the 2014 Dayton Hamvention Flea Market for $50… and I love it!

 

QRP Kits by Hendrick

srx01         srx03

 

Hendrick QRP Kits… It’s always good to have a mental health break from time to time!  Grab a soldering iron and make some smoke!

http://www.qrpkits.com/

Rainbow Kits

th (6)

 

http://www.rainbowkits.com/index.html    (Click on the link for the webpage to open.)

I have made several of these kits over the years.  Also, they are fun science projects for kids.  If you like to tinker in the ham shack when the weather prevents outdoor activity, try one of these projects!

 

playwithlifeorg

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4 out of 5 dentists recommend this WordPress.com site

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Tinkertoytech's Blog

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KC4LMD

Chronicling my pursuit of amateur radio’s "Worked All Neighbors" award

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"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe." -- John Muir

Hackaday

Fresh hacks every day

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Tactical HF

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slightly sub-orbital testing facility

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