Sunday, October 15, 2017

POTA DX and an ATNO at home

Up too early on a Sunday to activate KFF-4417, truck already loaded. Drove up 59, left on 2025, then right on some dirt road for a few miles.Two deer, many cows, some horsies, millions of mosquitoes.

Alofted my PAR end-fed as an inverted V, thought all was well SWR-wise, then remembered PAR multi-banders are rated at 25W max. 100 watts saturated yon core and caused brief high SWR. Up with the aluminum vertical, outward with three radials, works more better.

Spotted myself and was called by many, including DX. Always a Good Omen.

Returned home, saw 3C0L spotted on 17m CW and thought is was Equatorial Guinea. Worked him anyway then learned that 3C0 is Annabon, an All-Time New One for me, worked accidentally. #326.

Still my mind is on 630 meters - ATNO's aren't the thrill they once were. I've become jaded.

Friday, October 13, 2017

LF/MF: A whole new market for radio equipment?

It will be interesting to see what new products hit the market in the coming months in response to US hams now having access to two new bands.

Although many hams think they don't have room for an antenna on such long wavelengths, manufacturers will convince them that they do. And they won't be wrong in that assertion as long as expectations are realistic.

Highly efficient modes like WSPR and JT9 mitigate some of the inefficiencies of short antennas. Antennas that would not have offered acceptable performance on these bands in the days of SSB and CW will now allow city dwelling hams to be successfully active.

Transverters and amplifiers are currently only offered by one-man outfits. Will they eventually become mainstream, appearing in QST? Will commercially made variometers soon be offered from MFJ? Product reviews for commercially made RF current meters, "scope matches" and other specialized (but simple) test equipment can't be far off.

630/2200 meters has so far been the realm of experimenters and homebrewers. It won't remain that way for long.

630-meter operation APPROVED

Received via email today (13 Oct 2017) from

"Dear John Harper (AE5X),

This notice is being provided to Approve your proposed amateur radio station in the 472.0 - 479.0 band(s) at the following coordinates:  30⁰ N 2’ 33”, 95⁰ W 14’ 96”.   UTC has determined that your proposed amateur radio station would not operate within a horizontal distance of one kilometer from a transmission line that conducts a power line carrier (PLC) signal in the 472.0 - 479.0 bands.

An amateur operator must not operate an amateur station if UTC responds that the proposed amateur station is located within 1 km of a transmission line with a PLC system that operates on the same frequency or frequency range.  Amateur operators are advised that their operations within 1 km of a PLC system could cause interference to PLC systems that are used by electric utilities to protect their electric transmission systems against faults and electrical outages.  Interference from amateur operations could affect the operation of PLC systems, thereby affecting the reliability of electric utility operations.  As such, amateur operators are advised not to operate any amateur stations within 1 km of a transmission line with a PLC system that operates on the same frequency or frequency range, and amateur operators will be subject to FCC enforcement for unauthorized operations, as well as potential legal liability for damages that result from interference caused by amateur operations to PLC systems.

Please direct any questions to the undersigned.

Mike Etzel"

I've cancelled my scheduled POTA activation for this weekend and will be working on my 630-meter antenna instead. WSPR transmitting set-up is ready to go (pending antenna) at the 22-watt level. 300 watt amp still a work in progress.

Details: posts labeled '630m'

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

New antenna analyzer

Important note: See my comment (in Comments section) below.


For some time now I've been wanting to replace my ancient MFJ-259 with something lighter, smaller and more capable.

Enter the FA-VA4 Vector Analyzer kit from FunkAmateur in Germany.

Box73 accidentally sent my kit to Don AE4DD in Atlanta. Don emailed me to let me know he was forwarding the kit on to me and provided me with a UPS tracking number. We exchanged a few emails and Don refuses to let me reimburse him for his cost and time. He is a fairly new ham and told me that he has received much help in the hobby and that he is happy to "pay it forward."

Don, you're a true Gentleman - thank you.

Described as a partial kit, the FA-VA4 can be assembled in about 45 minutes and results in a piece of test equipment that weighs in at 10 ounces. More importantly, the FA-VA4 operates down to 100 kHz (and up to 100 MHz) making it ideal for the new 630/2200-meter bands. The MFJ's lower limit was 1.8 MHz.

Monday, October 9, 2017

A good day for DX and a good day at the mailbox

From the doldrums to DX season...

Contacts over the summer months have been few and far between with most of my radioing dedicated to WSPRing with the Ultimate 3S or building myself onto the new low bands. But three stations spotted on the cluster made me hit the ON switch on the Flex and give the Ham IV rotator a spin or two.

Shortly after working H40GC the UPS man delivered a package from Germany containing what I believe will be a very useful kit. More about that Wednesday Tuesday.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

QCX designer G0UPL discusses his CW/WSPR QRP transceiver kit


WSPRing to myself on 630 meters

My new dummy load arrived yesterday allowing me to finally test the 80-to-630 meter transverter I built a few weeks ago. I had tested it briefly with a small under-rated load but lacked the ability to do so for a 2-minute WSPR transmission.

With the Ultimate 3S outputting 200 milliwatts on a frequency of 3675.7 kHz, the transverter mixed it with 3.2 MHz and provided a 15 watt output (17 watts DC in) on the 475.7 kHz frequency.

Operation was stable and I was my own first contact on this band, decoding the transmissions on my Flex. BTW, that's an efficiency of 88% and note that 15-watts output was produced with a miniscule input.

And now to send a QSL to myself...

I'm making progress on the 300 watt amplifier and will test it soon.