What’s New

The short answer is “Not much.” I have had so many things going on other than ham radio that it’s had to take a back seat. Work has been very busy, trying to resolve issues with an 800 MHz trunked system. I think we have a handle on what’s going on now, though.

I don’t know if I mentioned it before, but I am pretty heavily involved in Scouting, and the Troop I work with has several camping trips coming up in the next month, and I’ve been working with the boys planning those. I’m also getting my course materials together to work with them on their religious awards. Busy!

Hopefully, I’ll get some time in on the radio this weekend. Bought a new cooking stove and refrigerator this week, and it’s supposed to be delivered on Friday, so I’ve taken the day off to be there for the delivery. Maybe I’ll get on during the wait.

I’ve also been looking pretty closely at the new Ten Tec Rebel 506 QRP, open source transceiver. That really interests me. An affordable SDR radio. Hmmm …

73 de Dick

Progress report

All in all, the bands have been in pretty good shape lately. Good openings on those above 20 meters, and the usual suspects 20 meters and down. I’ve certainly enjoyed listening and operating after work in the evenings.

There’s a solar storm going on now, so I’m not sure what the bands will be like tonight. I’ve got a radio club meeting tonight with dinner beforehand, so I doubt that I’ll get much chance to try operating this evening. But, I’ll at least check the bands. Just like a fisherman, you never know what you’ll catch until you put your line into the water :-).

I was just thinking the other evening … yeah, sure, I miss the operating with a few hundred watts and a tribander at 75 feet when I was exotic DX, but I’m having lots of fun with my height-challenged Windom and 31-ft vertical at ground level. I guess it’s all relative … even with limited antennas I’m doing a lot better than those with a license and no antenna (thus, no operating :-(). I’m not a fanatical op, spending hours every night at the rig, but I do enjoy it when I have a chance to get on the air … and, I do snag a few good ones.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that you can’t work ’em unless you get on the air. Good operating practices can boost your signal a bit at the other end. Having been DX, I can say that power and S-units aren’t all that matters.

73 de Dick


Well, I’m still wringing out the new vertical. I’m likin’ it! I had time to work a couple of stations tonight — European Russia on 20 and Greenland on 12. The XP3 station was booming in … 59+ at times. He had a respectable pileup going and I grabbed him sending my callsign once.

Overall though, the bands don’t seem too lively. Not much action on either antenna here at just past 0000Z. It was better earlier in the evening. Now’s a good time to catch up on YouTube πŸ™‚ .


73 de Dick

Good Weekend

OK, I was pretty happy with the performance of the new vertical. I cleaned up the installation and it looks OK now. I still have to bury the coax, but I did operate with it this weekend. l worked a few new countries/bands/modes and even a couple of US stations on 80-meter CW. I’m quite pleased with it.

The 17-meter band was quite good today. I listened to a Welsh YL working the states for a couple of hours, and she was booming in here. The Scandinavians were coming in well on most bands for the contest. All-in-all, a good weekend for working ham radio.

73 de Dick K4FTW

Fiddlin’ with antennas

At the Virginia Beach Hamfest a couple of weekends ago, I took a pretty close look at the Eagle One Vertical and said to myself, “I could build one like that!”

So I did.

It’s nowhere near as pretty, but it does work. I’ve got it sort of temporarily lashed to a clothesline pole with bungee cords, and the wire is on the outside of the Jackite pole I used. I’ve got one radial of some indeterminate length and a 4:1 UnUn dangling between the RG-8X and the antenna and radial wire. Like I said, not pretty. But I’ve got to straighten everything up before I head to work in the morning. Can’t leave anything on the ground. The guy is coming to cut the grass, and he has been known to chop up a few wires.

This weekend I’ll try to clean up the installation and make it more of a permanent-looking job. I’ve worked a few stations on it tonight, and it seems to perform OK. Actually, it’s comparable to the 40-Meter Carolina Windom I’ve got up … signal strengths seem about the same in most cases. Gives me another option.

One place it excels, though (relatively speaking) is on 80-Meters. The Windom will not tune on 80, and this will tune right down to 1 point zip to 1. Yes, I know it’s not that efficient, but at least the FT-450D will work into it.

I’ll keep you informed as I get more familiar with it and let you know if it pans out. Until then…

73 de Dick K4FTW


Even though it’s been a while since I posted, I have done a bit of hamming. This morning, I tuned around and found 9A3OS on 15M CW. He was literally the only CW station I heard on that band … and he was 599. Where was everyone else? Obviously listening — not transmitting.

I’m going to participate in the CQ WW WPX CW contest this weekend. Hopefully, I’ll pick up a few new ones. It’ll be hit or miss, though … it’s our wedding anniversary, and the XYL has plans! I’ll try to fit in some operating when she’s not executing her plans!!

I recently bought and assembled a k1el WinKeyer USB and really am pleased with it. I’ve got it interfaced to the computer, so I’ll be using it in conjunction with N1MM software to give it a good workout during the contest. The only problem I had with it was no output onΒ  KEY 1, but KEY 2 worked fine. An exam with a magnifying glass quickly found an unsoldered pin on U3. Oops, my bad! A bit of solder fixed that just fine.

Well, I’ve got to run and take care of a honey-do … I took some time off from work this week to make a long Memorial Day weekend. I have to use a few days before the end of June. If you’re contesting this weekend … good luck! See you when I can!

Update to my update πŸ™‚ 5/28 …

I did get on for a while during the contest and worked 104 stations. I picked up a few new countries, so it was worth it. I did my duty a couple of days as grillmaster, making burnt offerings on my new Weber grill. It’s been so long since I grilled anything outside, that I had forgotten how much flavor charcoal and a few hickory chips can add to a plain old hamburger!

I spent a couple of hours trying to get my WeedWhacker running. It worked fine last summer before I put it away, but now it doesn’t want to start. I’ve got some weeds out by the fence that have stalks that could almost support an antenna!

‘Til next time …

73 de Dick K4FTW

Station Photo

I just snapped a photo of the shack setup and am posting it here. Outside, I’ve got a 40-meter Windom in an inverted-vee configuration, with the apex at about 25 feet. Yeah, not a great antenna, but it’s sure better than NO antenna.

I listened around a bit today and worked some 30 and 40 meter CW. Forty meters is pretty well populated tonight, and it’s a good night to be indoors. Here it is spring, and it’s snowing again on the Virginia coast.

I’ve been noticing a constant carrier on 14.030.50 … no idea what it is. Saw some mention of it on one of the QRZ forums that I noticed. Oh well, I guess it’ll just have to be one of the great mysteries of life.

K4FTW station