ZF2NR: Another Slacker DXpedition

Operating from countries outside the US can be a lot of fun. I just completed another another Slacker DXpedition, this time to the Cayman Islands. The formula for this type of operation is simple: identify an interesting vacation spot that is also considered DX, travel there with friends & family, take along some compact radio gear and get on the air. A key point is to not overdo the radio operating or the friends & family will veto any radio activity on future trips.

Licensing for the Cayman Islands is relatively easy if you hold a US FCC amateur radio license. Complete info can be found on the Ofreq web site. Licensing for the Caymans is typical of many Caribbean countries: fill out the application form, send it to Ofreq by email along with a copy of your US license, passport and $25US. Visitor call signs have the prefix ZF2 and you can request your favorite two-letter suffix. That’s how I got ZF2NR.

I was issued a Class A license which has all operating privileges. My spouse Joyce/K0JJW holds a US General Class license and was issued a Cayman Class B license, which has limited HF privileges (no phone on 40m, 20m, or 17m). So keep that in mind if you have a General Class license.

Grand Cayman is in grid EK-99 and is IOTA NA-016.

My equipment strategy was the same as my V29RW operation on Antigua (see V29RW: Slacker DXpedition to Antigua).  The basic kit is a Yaesu FT-991 driving a  end-fed halfwave (EFHW) wire antenna for the band of interest. Never underestimate the power of getting a halfwave antenna up into the air. The FT-991 fits in my carry-on bag and it covers all bands from HF through 70cm.

There is a 2m repeater (146.76 MHz) on Grand Cayman that works quite well. We received a friendly welcome on the repeater from Phil ZF1PB and several other Cayman hams.

Vacation Home

Our group rented a nice vacation home near Rum Point on the north side of Grand Cayman. This place is right on the water with an excellent sand beach. Denny KB9PDF/ZF2PF and I put up the EFHW 20m antenna supported by my SOTAbeams pole strapped to a palm tree. This setup worked quite well and we soon had a nice pileup of stations calling us on 20m. We did have some issues with local noise sources, the worst of which was traced to some dimmer switches in the house. This is one of the problems with a portable setup like this…you never know what RFI problems you’ll encounter. Later in the week, we put up a 40m EFHW and made a few contacts on that band, too.

Denny KB9DPF/ZF2PF watches as Bob K0NR/ZF2NR operates 20m ssb at the vacation home.
The view from the vacation home. Look closely and you can see the SOTAbeams pole attached to a palm tree supporting the 20m EFHW antenna.


Bruce/K0BJ suggested that I check into using the Cayman Amateur Radio Society club station (ZF1A) which they make available to visiting hams. I connected with Eden/ZF1EJ who confirmed that the station was available later in the week. Again, I did not want to overdo the radio thing, so we settled on operating at ZF1A during the middle of the day on Wednesday.

The HF log periodic antenna at ZF1A.

This turned out to be a great move. ZF1A has multiple towers with some very capable antennas. Like I always say: Never underestimate the power of using a large directional antenna on top of a big tower.  Eden/ZF1EJ met us at the station (it is literally in his backyard) and helped us get situated. Our operating strategy was simple: use the highest HF phone band that had good propagation and work as many stations as possible. We were also prepared to use FT8 if things were really bad but that was not needed. It turned out that 15m was dead but 17m was open into North America and Europe, so we did most of our operating there.

Bob/K0NR operating as ZF2NR at the ZF1A club station

Here’s a short video to give you a taste of the pileup.

I did work some of the folks back home, which was a treat: K0AV, W0CP, K0BJ, W0RLY, W0GAS, WG0AT, KD0RQU. I had noticed that Steve/WG0AT was doing a Summits On The Air (SOTA) activation on Crooked Top Mountain (W0C/SP-090) and I gave him a call. Being QRP, his signal was very weak at my location but he could hear me with no problem.

Here’s the QSO audio that Steve recorded on his end:


We worked two OSCAR satellite passes (AO-91, AO-92) using a pair of handheld radios and an Arrow 2m/70cm yagi antenna. The pair of handhelds gave us full-duplex capability: I ran the 70cm uplink on my HT while Denny ran the downlink on 2m. No surprise to find the FM satellites quite busy and a bit frustrating to work. I logged these stations from ZF2NR: KI0G, K3SV, TI2CDA, TI4DJ, HP2VX.


My ZF2NR log shows 376 HF QSOs, most of them made by me. Joyce K0JJW/ZF2JW braved the pileup to make a few contacts. Denny/KB9DPF had some additional contacts as ZF2PF.  QSL to our home callsigns.

I’ve loaded the ZF2NR log into Logbook of The World.

Band Mode QSOs
   7 LSB    5 
  14 USB   65
  18 USB  306
 Total    376

In retrospect, I realized that we had the antenna pointed north most of the time and we probably should have looked in other directions. In particular, we only worked a few South American stations.

Most important is that a good time was had by all. Thanks to everyone that worked us while we were in the Cayman Islands.

73, Bob K0NR/ZF2NR

The post ZF2NR: Another Slacker DXpedition appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Bob Witte, KØNR, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Colorado, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

Weekly Propagation Summary – 2018 Mar 19 16:10 UTC

Weekly Propagation Summary (2018 Mar 19 16:10 UTC)

Here is this week’s space weather and geophysical report, issued 2018 Mar 19 0555 UTC.

Highlights of Solar and Geomagnetic Activity 12 – 18 March 2018

Solar activity was very low throughout the period. The only numbered regions were 2701 (S12, L=99, class/area=Axx/10 on 15 March) and 2702 (N22, L=109, class/area=Bxo/5 on 17 March). Neither region managed any flare activity. No Earth-directed CMEs were observed during the period.

No proton events were observed at geosynchronous orbit.

The greater than 2 MeV electron flux at geosynchronous orbit was at high levels on 16-18 March. Normal levels were observed on 12-15 March.

Geomagnetic field activity reached G2-Moderate storm levels on 18 March and active levels on 14-17 March due to the influence of a negative polarity CH HSS. Quiet to unsettled levels were observed throughout the rest of the week.

Forecast of Solar and Geomagnetic Activity 19 March – 14 April 2018

Solar activity is expected to be at very low levels throughout the outlook period.

No proton events are expected at geosynchronous orbit.

The greater than 2 MeV electron flux at geosynchronous orbit is expected to be high levels on 19-20, 22-26 March, and 12-14 April. Normal to moderate levels are expected for the rest of the period.

Geomagnetic field activity is likely to be at G1 (Minor) storm levels on 19 March and 12 April with active periods likely on 20-24 March and 11, 13-14 April, due to effects of multiple recurrent CH HSSs. Quiet to unsettled levels are expected for the remainder of the outlook period.

Don’t forget to visit our live space weather and radio propagation web site, at: http://SunSpotWatch.com/

Live Aurora mapping is at http://aurora.sunspotwatch.com/

If you are on Twitter, please follow these two users: 1. https://Twitter.com/NW7US 2. https://Twitter.com/hfradiospacewx

Check out the stunning view of our Sun in action, as seen during the last five years with the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXN-MdoGM9g

= = = = =

BOOK SALE: Space Weather and Sun Science – get these from Amazon, and help us stay online!

NOTICE: When you buy this (or any item after starting with this link), you are helping us keep our SunSpotWatch.com and other resources “on the air” (up and running!). In other words, you are helping the entire community. So, check out this book:

Here is the link to Amazon: http://g.nw7us.us/fbssw-aSWSC

We’re on Facebook: http://NW7US.us/swhfr

Tomas Hood, NW7US, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Nebraska, USA. Tomas is the Space Weather and Radio Propagation Contributing Editor to 'CQ Amateur Radio Magazine', 'The Spectrum Monitor', and 'RadioUser UK Magazine'.

ICQ Podcast Episode 262 – Upgrading To Your Next Radio

In this episode, Martin is joined by Chris Howard M0TCH, Dan Romanchik KB6NU, and Ed Durrant DD5LP to discuss the latest Amateur / Ham Radio news. Colin M6BOY rounds up the news in brief, and this episode’s feature is - Upgrading to your next radio by Chris Howard M0TCH

ICQ Amateur/Ham Radio Podcast Donors We would like to thank our monthly and annual subscription donors for keeping the podcast advert free. To donate, please visit - http://www.icqpodcast.com/donate

PR Mention Bill Barnes N3JIX sponsored a Pennsylvania QSO Award in the name of ICQ Amateur/Ham Radio Podcast - http://www.nittany-arc.net/paqsosponsor.html

  • Nigeria Next to Get 60GHz
  • 2018 State of Ham Radio Survey
  • 2m Radio Support for Long Distance Walker
  • Irish Ham Radio Examination Report
  • Trevor Baylis, Wind-up Radio Inventor Passes
  • Reduced Power for Swedish Amateur Radio Operators
  • Radio Drone Makes KH6JF/MM Accessible Using FT8
  • Auction of Former Amateur Radio Spectrum
  • First Tunisian Individual Ham Radio Licenses Issued
  • D-STAR Repeater GB7IC Nears 2000 Registrations

Colin Butler, M6BOY, is the host of the ICQ Podcast, a weekly radio show about Amateur Radio. Contact him at [email protected].

Amateur Radio Weekly – Issue 198

2 meter vertical dipole build
This antenna offers an air choke to keep stray RF from wondering back into the shack, since I’m pushing 65 watts.

A simple field strength meter
A simple FS meter is the simplest thing to make and is good enough to see if the antenna under test is radiating more power than your old ground plane, old mobile vertical or just radiating at all in a particular direction or in all directions.
Surrey Amateur Radio Club

APRS beacon with Uputronics GPS Board and a Raspberry Pi 3
This is a detailed, step-by-step guide to using an Uputronics GPS board as the main component of a Pi based APRS position beacon.

FCC accuses stealthy startup of launching rogue satellites
The U.S. communications agency says tiny Internet of Things satellites from Swarm Technologies could endanger other spacecraft.

The grand G3YUH Morse Key Project
How to build an excellent key for very little cost and with no special tools.

Power supply restoration
I wasn’t sure if the transformers or caps were shot, but I liked the look of it and figured it would make a cool enclosure for something else if I couldn’t get it working.

Tennessee middle school students will send a CubeSat into space
NASA has informed Robertsville Middle School in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, that its “RamSat” 2U CubeSat proposal has been accepted for participation in NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative.

DMR/FM VHF/UHF mobile installation
The VHF transceiver is a Hytera MD-652, and the UHF transceiver in a handheld PD782G using a Hytera car kit docking station combined with a 5W IN – 40W OUT DMR compatible UHF amplifier.


Video captured inside the Woodpecker’s operations facility
The top secret military base hidden in Chernobyl’s exclusion zone.

Overview of the LNR W4OP Loop
Overview and field trial of the LNR Precision W4OP loop antenna.

The story of radio broadcasting
1944 Westinghouse Radio Stations, Inc.

Amateur Radio Weekly is curated by Cale Mooth K4HCK. Sign up free to receive ham radio's most relevant news, projects, technology and events by e-mail each week at http://www.hamweekly.com.

LHS Episode #214: The Weekender V

It's time for The Weekender again! And this weekend is St. Patrick's Day. So make sure to wear green, lest you be pinched unmercifully. And while you're at it, check out some of the Open Source and amateur radio-related events going on this weekend. You might also want to try our recommendations for Scotch, Irish-themed food and much more. Thank you so much for listening.

73 de The LHS Crew

Russ Woodman, K5TUX, co-hosts the Linux in the Ham Shack podcast which is available for download in both MP3 and OGG audio format. Contact him at [email protected].

AmateurLogic 115: Hamfest Acadian Style

AmateurLogic.TV Episode 115 is now available for download.

Tommy, George and Emile visit the 2018 Acadiana Hamfest in Rayne, LA. Good food, good friends and good times in South Louisiana. We visit with vendors and attendees to find out what makes this event so special. Emile teaches Tommy and George the proper way to eat Crawfish.

1:14:21 of a Hamfest unlike any other.


George Thomas, W5JDX, is co-host of AmateurLogic.TV, an original amateur radio video program hosted by George Thomas (W5JDX), Tommy Martin (N5ZNO), Peter Berrett (VK3PB), and Emile Diodene (KE5QKR). Contact him at [email protected].

My 2018 Novice Rig Roundup (NRR) Highlights

courtesy: arrl.org

Well this year's NRR has come and gone, providing a full nine days of CW fun for those of us that love old radios.

Once again, the ether filled with signals spawned from the old classic Novice-class workhorses that many of today's 'seasoned' amateurs used in their first stations, way back in their teen years. In many respects, the NRR is as close to a real time machine that you'll find, allowing participants to experience the joys, and sometimes the frustrations, of operating CW with their favorite old rigs from the past.

For me, just like last year, the NRR once again provided many notable highlights over the nine day event.

Almost topping the list was just experiencing the variety of old classics and hearing how well almost all of them sounded. Numerous Knight T-60s, Drake 2NTs, Heath DX-40s, Johnson Adventurers and Eico 720s, along with a nice variety of homebrew MOPAs and one-tube power oscillators graced the nightly airwaves. These oft-forgotten shelf-queens always seem to develop super-powers, far beyond their expectations, when the NRR rolls around!

I was really surprised to work so many T-60s, a small and inexpensive 60 watt transmitter kit from 1962 using a popular 6DQ6 television  sweep tube ... one never expected to achieve such RF greatness! I was very impressed with every one that I heard.

What radio-struck pre-Novice teen, dreaming about getting on the air, could resist a clever ad like this.

Scott, KA9P's 80m T-60 signal sounded as sweet as it looks in his 2018 setup, paired with his Heathkit HR-10B inhaler.

KA9P 2018 NRR station with RAF Vulcan bomber Type 51 hand pump

Right up there with the plethora of T-60s was the Drake 2NT, another great sounding radio and also my choice for this year's event. My summer refurbishing project, described here, proved a worthy companion, although my much-treasured VF-1 VFO's short term drift probably had my 2NT getting red in the face whenever I took her off of crystal control to scurry around the band, seeking out the CQ'ers. I've had a love-hate relationship with the VF-1 ever since buying my first one back in '63!

VE7SL 2018 NRR with 2NT, VF-1 and my Original '63 Vibroplex

Yet another 2NT packed a powerful punch from West Virginia, keyed by Dave, W3NP, when we exchanged 579 reports on 40m, 45 minutes before sunset.

W3NP - 2018 NRR setup
This year's band conditions were excellent as both 40 and 80m sounded much as I remember them sounding back in the 60's ... loaded with strong North American CW signals almost every night. Unfortunately, Solar Cycle 24 has taken its toll on 15m and although the band appeared to often have daily though somewhat dicey propagation, there appeared to be few NRR stations using the band.

I made three contacts on 15m this year: W5IQS in Texas, K2YWE in Maryland and WN4NRR in Florida, whose S9 reply to my 'CQ NRR' just about took my head off ... what a nice surprise to hear the booming signal from Bry's 2NT powerhouse. Dan, K2YWE, was no slouch either, as his Globe Scout was music to my ears when his signal quickly rose out of the noise just long enough to make the coast-to-coast journey. If the predictions for future solar cycles become reality, there may be many more NRRs before we experience the magic of 15m once again.

K2YWE's Globe Scout and Adventurer were worked on all three bands!

My NRR exchanges with George, N3GJ (KA3JWJ) in Pennsylvania, truly demonstrated just how well the low bands were performing. More than an hour before my local sunset, I responded to his 569 40m 'CQ NRR' only to learn that his signal, now reaching a solid 579, was coming from an original Ameco AC-1! This one-tube crystal-controlled power oscillator has, over the years, reached Holy Grail status among many amateurs. Originals are guarded like precious jewels and handed down from father to son ... or in George's case, from uncle to nephew!

N3GJ and his all powerful original AC-1
I was astounded at the strength of his signal and before exchanging '73's added 'CUL on 80', not really thinking how low the chances of that might really be. Two hours later, his even stronger 'CQ NRR' was heard on 80m, as his 579 signal flirted with reaching S8 ... all emanating from just a low hanging inverted-V.  It's nights like this that remind me how I was bitten by the radio bug so many years ago and to have them coincide with the NRR was an added bonus. I've rated my contacts with George's AC-1 the highlight of this year's NRR for me!

Heathkits were plentiful too, with the DX-60 seeming to be the rig of choice, often paired with the matching HG-10 VFO. Both Mark, VA7MM and Gary, W8PU, packed a wallop with these fine examples.

VA7MM - 2018 NRR set-up

W8PU - 2018 NRR set-up

But it wasn't just DX-60s representing Benton Harbor engineering in the NRR. All of these neat old Heaths made it out to the west coast, sometimes on both 40 and 80. KN8RHM's (Rick) HW-16 made it here on 40m with a solid signal almost every night, while KE4OH (Steve) sported a modernized DX-20 in the form of Heath's HX-11. Steve even received the highly-treasured 'OO' report for his NRR chirp ... good job!

KN8RHM - HW-16 NRR set-up
KE4OH - HX-11 NRR station
Not to be forgotten was the ubiquitous DX-40, used by several, including this proud old warhorse, lovingly keyed by Doug, N3PDT.

N3PDT - DX-40 NRR transmitter

Rich, WN7NRR / AG5M operating in nearby Washington state put some of his 44 crystals to work with his HW-16 ... that's some collection!

WN7NRR - HW-16 NTT set-up
It seems that many NRRers are as adept with a soldering iron as they are with a hand key, as several homebrew transmitters were worked from here as well.

Howie, WB2AWQ in Reno, was using his homebrew pair of 807s, driven with a Millen 90700 swing-arm VFO from 1945. Most shacks worldwide, including the Novices, found plenty of use for the 807 as they were dirt-cheap in the post war surplus market. The filament has a beautiful illumination and if a bit gassy as most are by now, emit a wonderous blue glow with each press of the key.

WB2AWQ - 807s
Millen VFO from 1945 at WB2AWQ
KD7JG (Joe) in Oregon, sported a 12 volt version of the 807, a 1625, in his home brew rock-crusher. With 25 watts into his ladderline-fed 160m inverted-V, his 599 signal up here was hard to miss on both 40 and 80m.

KD7JG's 1625 NRR mainstay
K4IBZ down in Florida also utilized the magical 6DQ6 sweep tube in his homebrew rig for 80 and 40m. Bill was worked on both bands from here with his 10 watts receiving a 569 on both contacts.

K4IBZ's 10 watter
AA8V, Greg in Maryland, used an LM-13 war surplus frequency meter to drive a popular Novice pairing of the 6AG7 / 6146 at 90W input ... good enough for a 579 report on 40m, 30 minutes before my sunset.

AA8V's homebrew NRR stack
The runner-up highlight was my 80m QSO with Lou, VE3BDV / VE3AWA who flirted briefly with the Grim Reaper to work me on his Bare-Essentials 50C5 crystal controlled power oscillator at 7 watts. This thing is scary, being driven directly from the A.C. mains supply ... but he survived long enough to complete our QSO on 3568 kHz.

VE3BDV / VE3AWA - 50C5 Bare - Essentials power oscillator
There are many more stories to share and you can soon read them all on the NRR 2018 Soapbox page once it gets published. If you participated, be sure to post your station picture and tell us about your experience!

I finished up the NRR with 123 contacts, a lot better than last year's event when I was running the Longfeller at 5 watts.

If you think that you might enjoy participating in the next event then now is the time to start preparing ... just 353 more sleeps until the 2019 NRR begins!!

Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

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