Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 DX Marathon - Summary

My entry has been turned in to the DX Marathon manager.  I will find out on January 18 what the high claimed scores are and whether I made top 5 in the claimed score (prior to adjustment by the DX Marathon checkers).

Current Countries 107
Current Zones 26
Current Score 133

Friday, December 29, 2017

New Milestone For 80m Band - Reaching 150

2017 has been a banner year for the low bands - with the emphasis on my operating having been exclusively 80m and 160m for the past year.    It has taken me 4 years to reach DXCC on 80m and another 3 years to get to 150 DXCC.  To be fair, however, much of that time was spent in other pursuits - which extended the elapsed time.  For example - all of 2016 was focused on QRP DX Marathon.  In 2015, 1  took advantage of the sunspot cycle to go after DX in the high bands.   It would have taken much longer had I not been focused in the low bands in 2017.  The slope of the curves will certainly be shallower in 2018 - but it is nice to end the year with a couple of bangs -DXCC on 160m and 150 DXCC on 80m.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Low Band Update - Run Up to 100 Confirmations on 160m

December 2

ZA1WW just uploaded to Clublog.  The 80m QSO was confirmed but the 160m QSO was not.  One more day left - so I still have a chance - so if I don't get them max entitlement is 107.  It has been a good ride.  I will now close this post now that 100 has been confirmed.

December 01

Worked Austria OE3DIA for #108 at 0358 UTC.   Unfortunately he does not upload to LOTW. YN2CC confirmed in LOTW for #100.  The award has been applied for.  I am hoping the worked and confirmed lines will converge by years end.  I have written off a few stations that will not QSL despite having sent cards to.

November 30

It is now horse race for #100 before the end of the year.   I now have 7 horses in that race VK9MA 2:1 odds, OX/OZ1LXJ 5:1, LZ2WO 10:1, FG/F6ARC 3:1 (he says he will upload after CQ WW), same with YN2CC about 3:1 , 9Y4/VE3EY at 3:1,and the TK is about 5:1.   I emailed N7QT and he is thinking mid December before he uploads to LOTW on VK9MA.

November 28

J5T just confirmed in LOTW.  I also worked Albania ZA1WW last night on 80m for a new one for #149.  Worked ZA1WW on 160m as well for #107.

November 24
Worked a new one upon coming home after Thanksgiving dinner - 9Y4/VE3EY for #106 -  a short pitch shot into Zone 9 - and he was loud too.  There will be a lot of stations on tonight before the start of the CQ WW testing their rigs and setup.  It will be a good time to be on the air and listening.  Incidentally my "watched pot" just burped a big bubble - H40GC just uploaded to LOTW.

November 23
Worked three new ones for DX Marathon and two new ones for DXCC - YN2CC - Nicaragua at
0402 on 23Nov17 - for #104 and TK/S53CC - Corsica for #105.  Now it is just a waiting game waiting for confirmations to roll in.  They say "a watched pot never boils".   It is absolutely true.   No matter how many times I check LOTW - it does not seem to change - stuck with the same old numbers.

November 20
Worked FG/F6ARC at 0102 UTC on 1829 kHz for #103

November 17
Worked J5T at 0238 UTC for #102.  The log is real time so there was immediate confirmation.  An hour later - was able to work J5T on 80m for #148

November 11
Worked LZ2WO Bulgaria during the OM/OK contest.  Here is another chance to get a confirmation ahead of OX/OZ1LXJ for #100.  So with  97 QSLs in hand - just need LOTW uploads from VK9MA, H40GC and LZ2WO is my best bet for right now.   It is just a pure guess on when OX/OZ1LXJ will send his card.  But there are now 2 paths to 100 which is better than none.
On the 80m front, was able to work VK9MA on 11Nov at 12:01 UTC.  Propagation was good that morning and it was not as hard as the 160m QSO.  This brings me closer to the 150 DXCC mark at #147.

November 10
Slovenia station S51V finally confirmed via a card in the mail for #100.  H40GC promises to upload to LOTW by 11/26/17 for those that sent QSL requests via OQRS.  VK9MA expects to upload to LOTW shortly after arriving from the expedition - Nov 17, 2017.   FP/G7VJR's card is also on hand.  The wild card is OX/OZ1LXJ.  I have sent away for his card.

November 8
Almost worked VK9MA - came back to me several times with NY?  but the callers were all calling UP3 - he was working all of NA on one split..  Almost haad to leave to go to work as he was peaking.  Finally got through at 1150 UTC for #99.

November 7
Worked Per LA7FDA.  Per immediately confirmed in LOTW - WooHoo #98.   During the evening, the 160m band was wide open to EU.  I was able to work OH2, LY.

November 5
So far no luck on 3C1L on 160m.  There were a couple of days when the DX was strong.   Now trying VK9MA on 80m.  VK9 peaked between 0730 -0745 local time but no luck.  At least PZ5K confirmed in Clublog and I have now sent OQRS.    OX/OZ1LXJ has not posted to LOTW sent email when he might upload to LOTW.

October 31
Just worked PZ5K on 80 for #146.  Chatted with him and thanked him for both QSOs on 160 and 80 which were both new one in the ON4KST chat room. RI1ANO South Shetland Is. just confirmed in LOTW for #147 on 80m

October 30
Just worked PZ5K at 0911 on 30OCT at 1.828 MHz for #97

October 25
RI1F Franz Josef Land just confirmed in LOTW for #96.  Saw CT1 and TZ4 in the cluster, both needed entities, also Uruguay but nothing active on the RBN that I need.

October 23
Gee whiz - 3COL was loud last night but the dog pile was deep.  No luck.  Guess 3CO will have t wait for 80/160 - doubt I will get through the pileups.  OX/OZ1LXJ is still working top band.  I worked him again for insurance.

October 19
The pileups on 3C0L have been merciless on 160m.  The DX operator is very good but I can't figure out his pattern.   They are not on the air tonight near 0000 UTC.   But who knows they might be on later.  OX/OZ1LXJ is on 160m working simplex - a needed entity.  This is for #96.  QRZ says that he will have a log search option later and he looks to be uploading to LOTW.   It was a clean QSO though so it should be good.

October 15
160m antenna is down.   Need the weekend for repairs.  RI1F/EU-190 has confirmed in Clublog and a QSL card has been requested.  This is for #95

6 October
Worked RI1F at 0156 UTC on 160m on 07OCT.   He has not uploaded any logs yet into Clublog.   Hopefully this is #95.

3 October
H40GC worked as a new one on 160m on 1.822 at 11:09 on 01OCT17, Count is now up to 94.  Now also confirmed in Clublog and QSL requested

26 September
5T5OK and FP/G7VJR both confirmed in Clublog and QSLs have been requested.   Count is now up to 93.  Finally got 5T5OK last night on 160m.

24 September
5W0RA is lurking out there.  AA1K heard him this morning way past my sun rise.   He might be stronger just at my sunrise. Intelligence says 1123 is near peak for sunrise - as AB4I spotted him with a 559 signal in SW VA.

23 September
Not much luck tonight.  Saw Mali being spotted TZ4AM - he was able to work some Europeans.  Lots of callers from NA - but he was so weak.  He sounds like he is there buried in the static crashes - not copyable though.  Better luck next time.  5T5OK is out there but resorted to FT8 after not really hearing anything on CW.  Jeff TZ4AM switched over to 40 CW.  I needed Mali on that band.   Switched over to the the vertical and was able to get Jeff.

Friday, November 10, 2017

2017 Field Day Results - Drum Roll Please

The 2017 Field Day results are to be published in the December QST.

This is how our club did ..........  12th place overall in the 2A classification, tops in SC and 2nd in Roanoke ARRL Division.   We got beat by another NC station.  We beat the station that beat us in 2016 but another NC took the leader position.  The margin was only 244 points.   We did better than last year's overall position (16th) versus this year (12th)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

New ATNO #306 Burundi 9U4M

I am not sure they have amplifiers yet because they are not that strong - esp. on 20m.  I did get lucky on 30m.    It took a few repeats for him to copy my signal.

This is from their website:

"Hallo everybody

So, despite any more difficulties we are on air. As the world of hams knows we arrived in Bujumbura with all the permissions and licences signed and approved but the local authorities of customs  stop all the equipments (antennas and radios) tho check one by one and this formal step take time, much time..hi

Anyway we made our best, believe us, put up  3 home made antennas, switch on 3 radios and startend already Monday Evening to made many qsos.

The latest news are quite good and we are very confident that all the equipments will be out from the custom deposit tomorrow,Wednesday in the late morning

Keep on touch ad listen listen,all the 9U4M waiting for you!!

Ciao de Antonio and Gab"

So apparently they have a makeshift operation until Wednesday when their amplifiers and antennas arrive.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Back in the Saddle - Lowband Update

It has been a while since I worked DX.  Mauritania 5T5OK is on the air running only 100W.   I was able to get them with just a few calls on 80m CW.    They were loud at my QTH this evening.  They were much louder than FP/M0BLF at the moment.   I need both for 160m but my 160m antenna is showing high SWR.  I need to inspect the matchbox/balun - I suspect there is water inside from Irma.  The 80m balun appears to be well behaved.

Well after the inspection, a tree limb took down the antenna.  After the repair, the antenna is back up and running again on top band

I was able to work FP/DH5FS on 80m but could not bust the pileup on FP/M0WUT.  Still waiting for FP to get back on top band.  They appear to be on coffee break.   5T5OK I can hear even when they only have 100W but they can't seem to hear my KW.

Finally got Michael FP/G7VJR on 160.  This brings the 160m total to 92.     Still working on 5T5OK.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Total Solar Eclipse 2017

The faint lines on the first video are from the support ropes on my hex beam taken from the deck on my house.  The second video is from Illinois.  It was an amazing sight to behold.  The photo below was taken by my son Paul.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Rage About The New Mode FT8 by Joe Taylor

There has been a lot of talk and activity around the JT mode FT8 by Joe Taylor.  This mode improves throughput in the JT modes by 4X over the various permutations of JT65 (JT9, JT65-A).   The QSO;s go fast.  Transmit times are only 15 seconds where only 12 seconds or so are in key down - similarly for receive times.

Some tips however:

Remember to download the latest version of TQSL version 2.3.1

This is not enough:  update this latest version with the latest Configuration file version 11 which just got released by the ARRL on August 14.  This allows an ADIF file written by the logging program as FT8 to be recognized by LOTW.   ACLog does not have a Pull Down for FT8 and you must enter it manually in the field for mode.

Unfortunately,although there is a lot of activity, I still have a hard time getting any new DXCC entities since all my QSOs seem to be with entities I have digital QSOs before.   I guess patience until more of the rarer entities adopt it.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

2017 Amateur Radio Field Day

For this year - I am the Field Day chairperson and so had the job of organizing and mobilizing the many club members of the Greer Amateur Radio Club. Just to recap last year's result - we were in the 2A class (2 transmitter club stations).  Rusty Kirkpatrick WU2T was the chairperson last year.  We ended up 16th nationally in 2A class and 2nd in the Roanoke Division of the ARRL.  We took first place in SC.  Our points total was 7670 last year and this is the score we had to beat this year.

For 2017 - what we did that is the same as last year.
We used the same K3s we used last year - thanks to Dave K4SV
We used the same tribander on the trailer mounted tower - thanks to Dave K4SV
We used the same home brewed hex beam I constructed
We had two transmitters - one dedicated to CW and one dedicated to SSB
We had a Get On The Air or GOTA station.
We had round the clock coverage

What we did differently for 2017
We had dedicated antennas for both transmitters.   The SSB station had 40m and 80m dipoles I constructed in addition to the tower mounted tribander 3 element yagi.  The CW station had the hex beam for 20-15-10 and the CrankIR for 40m and 80m.  Originally I had planned to have Bob ND7Js 80m vertical but unfortunately this did not happen.  This meant reeling the crank on the CrankIR in the middle of the night to convert it to 80m operation and then back to 40m in the morning.
We had a VHF station for 6 meters.

Here is a video put together by Dave Anderson K4SV

Results for 2017
QSOs overall 2300 plus (since it has not been submitted - subject to adjustment
1073 QSOs on SSB, 1185 QSOS on CW
Band CW Phone Dig Total %
---- -- ----- --- ----- ---
   80 143 159 0 302 13
   40 483 51 0 534 24
   20 428 650 0 1,078 48
   15 121 128 0 249 11
    6 10 84 0 94 4
    2 0 1 0 1 0
            -- ----- --- ----- ---
Main Stations Total 1,185 1,073 0 2,258 100


Grand Total = 1232 CW and 1158 Phone

QSO Points =  2464 CQ and 1158 Phone = 3622 Points x 2 Power Multiplier =7244 Points

Total Contacts by Operator:

Operator Total
-------- ----- ---
K4SV 433 WG4MC 255 AG3R 214  W4RCW 179  WN4AFP 209  NY4G 156 W4FC 155 KE4EA 131  K1IT 101  WU2T 101  KD4S 98  W4EEY 86  ND7J 69  WB4OQL 78  KZ4M 38 K4VOI 7  W4VX 6  KN4EUM 11  KJ4TID 2 K1SBI 37 KM4VJC 24
Total = 21

Total Contacts by Antenna

CrankIR 626 28%
Hexbeam 549 24%
80m Dipole 159 7%
40m Dipole 51 2.2%
Force12 778 34.4%
6m beam 94 4.1%


Emergency Power  200 POINTS
Media Publicity 100 POINTS
Set Up in Public Place  100 POINTS
Information Booth 100 Points
Message to SM 100 POINTS
Educational Activity 100 POINTS
W1AW Field Day Message 100 POINTS
Electronic Submittal 50 POINTS
Social Media 100 POINTS

OVERALL POINTS - 8274 points

Here are some photos from the operation.

The GOTA screenhouse - I believe that is Ron WB4OQL

A view of Lake Robinson

Inside the GOTA tent - A TS480 set up for digital modes and an ICOM 706 fgor 6 meters


Operation now in full swing - Pete AG3R under the watchful eye of Dave K4SV

Last year's captain Rusty WU2T

Carl W4RCW on SSB

Dave K4SV taking a video

Howard K1SBI making QSO's

That is a CrankIR in the foreground near the lake which served as the antenna for the CW ops on 40m and 80m

Matt Case KG4MC standing in front of y home brew hexbeam

There is Dave K4SV/s Force 12 Tribander on a trailer mounted tower

Husband and wife team Vicki KS4VJ and Dave KE4EA

Howard and family.  That is his son Sammy

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Getting Things Ready for Field Day

Plans for Field Day

3 antennas for CW station
3 antennas for the SSB station

The CW station will have this hexbeam - with 3 bands on it.   I obtained the weight on a digital luggage scale at 16.5 pounds.  

Thursday, June 1, 2017

DX Marathon 2016 Scores - Made Top 10

Formula Class - 5 Watt

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Making a Hexbeam Air Dielectric Coaxial Centerpost Feedline from Scratch

Most everybody I know has an NA4RR or K4KIO centerpost - myself included.   I have used a K4KIO centerpost in the past and had been happy with it.  I then decided to build center-post out of PVC pipe with the coax connections inside to prevent water from making contact with the foam core insulation and ruining the dielectric insulation between center conductor and shield.   I used it for about 6 months and decided to make a change to NA4RR's version and this has been on my home station for the better part of 2 years.  I did some research and captured the following equations to construct the equivalent of a 50 ohm (or as close to it) coaxial feedline.

For round coax, make the inside diameter of the outside conductor 2.302 times larger than the diameter of the inside conductor.

If the shield is square, and the inner conductor is still round, make the inside length of one side of the shield 2.134 times larger than the diameter of the inside conductor.

The derivation is as follows:

A coaxial transmission line has some inductance per unit length L, and some capacitance per unit length C. The conductors also have some (very low) resistance R, and the dielectric has some (very low) conductance G. Though it's important to note that these properties are distributed throughout the entire length of the transmission line, lumping them all together we can model a transmission line as:
transmission line schematic model
The characteristic impedance is then:
The characteristic impedance is then:

  • R is the resistance per unit length, considering the two conductors to be in series,
  • L is the inductance per unit length,
  • G is the conductance of the dielectric per unit length,
  • C is the capacitance per unit length,
  • j is the imaginary unit, and
  • ω is the angular frequency.
If we assume a good conductor and dielectric, then R and G are negligible1. The equation then simplifies to:

For round coaxial transmission lines, we can calculate C and L as:


Putting these together and simplifying we get:
For an air dielectric, ϵr and μr are so close to 1 than you can further simplify:

You can also see that only the ratio of the diameters of the conductors are relevant, so it doesn't matter what units of length are used, as long as they are the same.
We can solve for D/d, and set Z0=50Ω:

So in my case - 0.625" diameter and 1.5" diameter aluminum tubing are available from DX Engineering.  If I use average wall diameter for the outside tube and the OD of the inside tube, the ratio of D/d in this case is 2.3  which is really close. 
My plan is to put fiberglass sleeves around the bolts to insulate it from the outer shield along with nylon washers on the inside and outside.  Here is a scaled picture below