Monday, December 9, 2019


 Factoids, corrections and plans........

RGO One & RSPduo

Those quick on the draw may have noticed a posting here yesterday regarding the RGO One and RSPduo. I used the RSPduo for the first time yesterday to display the output of the RGO One's 9 MHz IF in order for it to serve as a pan display. As soon as I powered it up I saw a pile-up on 20m for 4U1UN and, thanks to being able to see where the action was, I worked him on the first call.

I made a video of the whole thing using the closest camera available - my phone. In other words, I made a low-quality video - and a vertical one at that. Only after posting it to YouTube did I see the degradation in quality from the camera, vertical format and YT's magic. I quickly deleted it.

But I will re-shoot a similar demo with a real camera.

Starry, starry night

Don McLean, Vincent Van Gogh - and a radio - were absent from my recent trip to Big Bend National Park where I took the banner photo above. That pic is one of a series of 400 I made (ISO 3200, 30 seconds, f/2.8) that I compiled into a 16-sec time-lapse video. I plan to return sometime between January and May, this time with a radio to occupy my time as the Nikon clicks away in the night - mounted to one of these.

That'll be in grid DL89 - which brings me to the next topic:

Activation of DL88

This rare grid is in a remote area of an already remote park and requires 4WD and a high-clearance vehicle to access. The risk of getting stuck with no cellular service and no other humans for many miles is such that I won't do this alone or with one vehicle. So, if anyone reading this feels like making DL88 a multi-op event - and has a suitable truck/jeep - let me know. Ideally, we would take both vehicles and a tow rope.

Add radios, antennas, batteries, steaks, a grill...

Phaser kits

Despite what it says on their website, all 4 bands of the Phaser-series digital QRP transceiver kits are available for order. The first round of 100 has been sold out & parts are now being ordered for a second batch, due to ship in mid-January.

From George N2APB:

Round 1 is now sold out!
- 100 orders have been received. 
- The first 25 set to ship on Monday Dec 16
- Others to ship between then and Christmas
- An online list will (soon) show orders and shipping status.

Round 2 orders being accepted.
- Parts acquisition has begun,
- Shipping should start around mid-January.
- Updates will be posted when we have lead-times.

KD1JV's next kit - it's a Go!

Photos of the prototype are here...and here is an update from Steve:

"I believe I can actually fit it into the Altoids tin. I reworked the layouts to make more sense. I hadn’t actually thought of this as package deal at first or what it would go into.

I haven’t measured the current yet, but it will be significant. The Si clock chip is power hungry, so it will probably come in at about 50 ma.

The display will require cutting a big hole in the tin which would make it really wobbly and I know how you guys hate cutting big holes in the tin. So, what I’ll do is make a 3d board for a front panel. The lid of the tin would be removed and the board assembly set into the bottom of the tin. The PCB front panel would then replace the lid. The lid could then be stuck on the bottom of the tin to keep it official looking.

I think I will do an initial run of just 25 of these to keep from getting swamped and get the usual little issues resolved before going crazy. Like I said with the first post, I have a couple of other project to finish before I get serious with this one (something for QRPGUYS and LNR).

So, we’re looking at and ETA of around February."

ARRL 160m Contest

Despite having a vertical antenna with no real RF ground system I now lack only one state for 160m WAS. North Dakota (of course).

I heard very little DX in the contest - and very few other US stations working DX. It seemed mostly a domestic event and I'm wondering if CQ Magazine's contest in January will be the same. I'm thinking of placing a few above-ground radials just for the duration of the contest. With any luck, I'll be using a K4.


  1. ARRL 160: "DX-to-DX QSOs do not count for contest credit."
    CQ 160: "to contact other amateurs in as many U.S. states, Canadian provinces, **and countries** as possible utilizing the 160 meter band."

    CQ's 160 fiesta is far more popular. You'll be hearing much more DX if propagation allows. Maybe even me ;o)

    My 160 TX wire is currently down but I heard quite some loud USA on my RX loop just after my sunrise Saturday. And a strong XE who would have been a new country for me on Top Band.

    I've had a lot of success with my elevated radial system. Success relative to no antenna or low dipoles of course.
    I have a set of two tuned elevated radials for 80 and one set for 160. I tuned them as a dipole at about 2.5-3m above the lawn, then opened up the feed point and attached as two times two radials (2 for 80, 2 for 160).

    People seem to be happy with the 'folded counterpoise' too. That might be even better.

    Stuff to contemplate...


    1. Hi Franki,

      Yes, I can see the substantial differences in motivation for DX stations to participate in these contests. I think the ARRL DX Contest is the same with DX-DX not counting. I ordered an active loop antenna a few weeks ago and have been attempting to coax some use out of it as a rx antenna for 160m but no joy. That's what I get for buying the cheap $30 eBay model. I also have a PA0RDT active whip on order. Topband is frustrating for me because, even with radials, my tx antenna is still going to be poor on rx. What type of loop do you use?

      For a while I considered the folded counterpoise antenna you mentioned. I even ordered the transformer designed specifically for it but sold it to a local ham who offered me what I paid for it.

      I'll listen for you on CQ 160 - it would be a hoot to work you on that band!

      73 - John

    2. Hello John
      I’ll elaborate some…

      You say: “the ARRL DX Contest is the same with DX-DX not counting”. While that statement is true if you consider the rules, it is an entirely different story because of the five other bands. Take my case: with my moderate station I have tons of fun on the higher bands including 40, and do quite well on 80. On 160 it’s a compromise and I have to rely on propagation to push me well over the Atlantic.
      In ARRL 160, if I get on, I have to be extremely lucky to work 50-100 stations. My best score in ARRL DX is about 100-110 US stations on Top Band but I make 1500-2000 W/VE QSO in total on the other bands. Truth be told: my best scores in ARRL DX were made when the higher bands were open and these years netted only 60-80 QSO on 160m.

      ARRL DX in fact is a very enjoyable contest because every contact is DX and from here most of the USA including TX ☺ is easy. There is always some band open even in the cycle’s low. Why would I bother to crank up my tower and pull up the 160m wire if at best I make 100 QSO? I’m not really a 160m specialist and couldn’t care less. But when I can work only USA/CA on the other bands, I’m game!

      About the loop.
      In 2007 I put up a complete K9AY loop. That kinda worked but it’s squeezed in between all my TX antennas which was a problem and it takes a lot of real estate in my modest garden. Later on I bought the active loop made by Wellbrook in the UK. Pretty expensive but it worked. I could lower the noise and feel some directivity.

      It wasn’t a miracle though. The fact that it carried DC over the coax was a bit of a problem too when switching between radios and combining it with other RX antennas so I got rid of it. We also bought 400m² extra land on the other side of the TX-antennas which opened up the possibility for simpler and gigger RX loops. A K9AY array takes up too much real estate though. So I made two separate RX triangles (3x 7m wire), terminated with 450 ohm and coupled with a 9:1 binocular core transformer. I placed these alongside the hedge of the garden, one towards USA and one towards ZL/JA (90° apart). This way the plane of the triangle is in line with the hedge and it remains ‘2D’ and it doesn’t get in the way nor takes up space. I feed it with a stackmatch so I can listen A/A+B/B. These loops only cost a few euros and really make listening in diversity mode very easy up to 40m with the K3+2nd RX.

      In some cases these loops are the difference between endless ?? AGN AGN ?? and a sure shot QSO. But the best is the ability to listen in diversity mode. I love that.

    3. Thanks for the info Franki. I do have possibilities for a rx antenna - at least a temporary one. There is a large vacant property behind my house (that was a golf course until recently) and I have a fenceline leading to it. I'll be looking in your countryman's book (ON4UN) for ideas of utilizing it if only for the CQ 160 Contest. 160m is my best chance of working new ones - the higher bands offer that chance only rarely these days, thus the new interest in topband.

      73 - John