Friday, October 19, 2018

Young pilots for VP6D Ducie Island DXpedition

Tomi HA9T and Mason KM4SII

It's nice to see young DXers entering the hobby and taking a real interest in contributing to the success of that aspect of ham radio.

Pilots for the VP6D DXpedition (set to start in a few hours) include Tomi HA9T for EU and Mason KM4SII as assistant NA pilot.

Tomi HA9T is 19 years old and a dedicated high-speed CW op with several competition awards for QRQ contests.

Mason KM4SII is 15 and has only been in the hobby for three years but has a current DXCC count of 191.

Both of these young DXers are involved in various youth organizations where they hopefully spread the word about the excitement of DXing and get more new blood into the hobby overall.


My low-band antenna is up as of yesterday - an 80m dipole (now at 115 feet/35m thanks to my drone) fed with 450-ohm ladder line for 30-80m operation and as a top-loaded vertical on 160/630m. VP6D should be easy pickins' from here. Good luck to all who need it.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

de Gerald K5SDR: FT8 – Tipping Point for Ham Radio?

From Gerald K5SDR, CEO of Flex:

This is a view from NASA of the sun today, October 9, 2018, and I am making 10m DX contacts one after another.  Zero sunspots but working DX on FT8!  Is FT8 creating a “tipping point” for amateur radio at the very bottom of the solar cycle?

Several years ago I was captivated by a book written by Malcolm Gladwell called, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.  Merriam-Webster defines tipping point as, “the critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place.”  In his book, Gladwell describes how, “The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.”  He shows us how the phenomenon applies to everything from flu epidemics to the explosion of new technologies. 

Does the FT8 mode included in WSJT-X software constitute a tipping point in ham radio for good or for harm?  There are many ham radio opinion blogs on the Internet that strongly or sometimes sarcastically take one or the other stance.  There is even an Internet poll asking, “Is FT8 damaging amateur radio?” At this moment it is 52% yes, 45% no and 3% undecided.[1]  All of the articles and videos I have seen agree on one undeniable fact – FT8 has since its introduction in June of 2017 achieved “killer app” or tipping point status.  Some think it will kill amateur radio and others believe that such innovations give the hobby new life. 

Comparison on CW of Flex 6300 and Apache Labs Anan-10e

For the past eight months I've had essentially two separate stations on my desk - the Flex 6300 with an Asus desktop PC and the little Anan-10e connected to a small Dell laptop. Either (and both, at times) feed the Elecraft KPA-500 amplifier when needed.

Without my consciously planning it, the Flex has become my CW rig and the Anan-10e has been dedicated to operating FT8. This makes sense since the Flex is the better CW rig.

A recently purchased splitter allowed me to make comparisons of both rigs on FT8 and WSPR a few months ago (those results are here). The results surprised me and generated a lot of email. A subsequent comparison (between the Flex and a small RSPDuo on FT8 and WSPR, here) also produced surprising results.

But digital modes only produce numbers, ie SNR, as comparative values. The human element - actually hearing the signal - is missing and, until last night, I had not compared the rigs on CW.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

W4XEN's 3D-printed protectors for MTR3 QRP rigs

In both of my hobbies, photography and ham radio, I see more and more grass-roots solutions being used to address issues thanks to the affordability of 3D printing and the creative minds of those using them.

Examples are numerous. In photography, one of those minds has conjured up a complete large format camera, printed one at a time - enter the Cameradactyl.

Closer to the topic of this blog, Caleb W4XEN has come up with a so-simple-it's-genius way of protecting the buttons and switches of an MTR QRP rig while stowed inside a pack with his 3D-printed covers.

They are currently available (in a variety of colors) only for the MTR3 rigs at Caleb's website. No word yet from him if he'll offer similar covers for other small QRP rigs.


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

10-watt amplifier kit now available from G0UPL

This is the amp that will eventually be used in Hans' upcoming QSX Transceiver kit, now available as a stand-alone kit to be used with other QRP rigs.

From Hans G0UPL:

"Comfortably produces 10W from 12V supply. Compact design with huge heatsink included, which will not overheat even on continuous 100% duty-cycle operation. 26dB gain with +/- 1dB gain flatness from 2 to 30MHz.