Hunting For NDBs In CLE186

 "LU" - 214kHz Abbotsford, B.C.  Has been heard from W1-KH6

Yes, it's once again time for the monthly Co-ordinted Listening Event (CLE) for NDB hunters....the 186th event. These always interesting and popular affairs take place over three nights, with this one starting on Friday, Sept 26th at local noon and running until Monday, Sept 29th, local noon. CLE186 covers the frequency range of 350.0 to 369.9kHz only.

These listening events serve several purposes. They:

  • determine, worldwide, which beacons are actually in service and on-the-air so the online database can be kept up-to-date
  • determine, worldwide, which beacons are out-of-service or have gone silent since the last CLE covering this range
  • will indicate the state of propagation conditions at the various participant locations
  • will give you an indication of how well your LF/MF receiving system is working
  • give participants a fun yet challenging activity to keep their listening skills honed

Final details can be found at the NDB List website, and worldwide results, for every participant, will be posted here a few days after the event.

The very active Yahoo ndblist Group is a great place to learn more about the 'Art of NDB DXing' or to meet other listeners in your region. There is a lot of good information available there and new members are always very welcome.

If you are contemplating getting started on 630m, listening for NDBs  is an excellent way to test out your receive capabilities as there are several NDBs located near this part of the spectrum.


You need not be an ndblist member to participate in the CLEs and all reports, no matter how small, are of much value to the organizers. Reports may be sent to the ndblist or e-mailed to either myself or CLE co- ordinator, Brian Keyte (G3SIA).

Please...don't be shy and do give CLE186 a try....then let us know what NDB's can be heard from your location! Your report can then be added to the worldwide database.

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

TX Factor – Episode 5 is Live

Silcoates School ARC

Silcoates School ARC

In this episode Bob McCreadie reports from the recent AMSAT-UK Colloquium, and finds time to test out the SuperAntenna Superstick delux package. Nick Bennett travels north and discovers a rather remarkable radio club. And we reveal the winner of our first free-to-enter competition.

See the new episode at

We hope you enjoy the show!

TX Factor Team

Nick Bennett 2EØFGQ co-hosts TX Factor with Bob McCreadie GØFGX and Mike Marsh G1IAR. Contact the team at [email protected]

Keep trying and you will finally get it!

My first PSK31 contact
For some time now I have been trying to get my feet wet with the digital modes and have had no luck. This morning I gave it another go with the setup, in the past I have tried Fldigi, Digipan, Digital Master 780 and WinPSK and the list goes on. These are all great programs as many use them and have great success but as for me I just was not able to make them tick with my set up. I became frustrated and it was do to me just not figuring out the setup. As I said this morning I tried it again but from another angle, there are two programs I use to control my rig from my PC the first being N4PY's program and the other program is DXlab. The DXlab program has many modules  from rig control, logbook, propagation, DX cluster and a digital program that's called Winwarbler! DXlab already controls my
Screen shot 
radio and does a fine job of it so I added the Winwarbler module and with a few configuration tweaks I had radio control and was able to read signals from the waterfall. It was now time for the moment of truth to see if I am transmitting a PSK signal. On 20m I pressed the "call CQ" macro button and low and behold my power meter showed 5 watts making it's way to the antenna!!! Next was to find someone calling CQ and make my first contact with PSK31. I saw W1AW/5 calling CQ and I gave him a call and W1AW/5 came back to me with a 599 report. I now can say that I am PSK active but there was not much time left to make any other contacts as things around the house had to be done. I was thrilled to get things up and running and the waterfall was very busy. One of the drawbacks to Winwabler is it's limited to PSK and RTTY but for now I'm ok with that.
The K3 all ready to go
This is the setup that I am running….
Rig is the Elecraft K3 in DATA A mode set at 5 watts
The sound card interface is the Signalink USB
Software is DXlab's  Winwabler
Antenna is the MFJ 1788
Some of the items on the "to do list" are
1. Set the macro's up as they are generic ones right now.
2. Learn more about the Winwabler  program.

Mike Weir, VE3WDM, is a regular contributor to and writes from Ontario, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

Zero Distance Communication


What exactly is “zero distance communication”?

Matt, W1MST, is the editor of

Hiking with the MFJ Cub – DX with 2 Watts

Today I took a step back 15 years and went for a hike with an old MFJ Cub and a plain dipole. I worked Wales and Wisconsin with only 2 watts.

I hiked up to the cabin at Knox Mountain and had a beautiful afternoon.


As I approached the pond I found a small patch of mountain gentians near the old dam. The pond was beautiful in the afternoon sunlight.


An old cabin overlooks the pond. I set up my gear just on the other side of the front porch under the wild cherry tree.


I tossed a line over a high branch and pulled up a half wave dipole fed with RG-174. I hung a water bottle from the low end. This way I could use the dipole as a vertical.


I plugged the dipole into the 20 meter MFJ Cub without a tuner. I searched around for a while and soon heard GW0FZY from Wales calling CQ. Justin had a strong signal and was kind enough to answer me. He gave me a 569. There was some QSB earlier on, but toward the end of the QSO he sent, “Solid Jim… FB on UR hike.” It was an absolute pleasure to work Justin all the way across the ocean!


The little Cub performed well… I think I built it nearly 15 years ago from a kit. I used to hike with it all the time.

Next I answered Ron W9UW in Wisconsin. Ron was very gracious and sent, “UR doing a great job there with 2W.” Ron also gave me a 569.

I packed up the gear for the downhill journey. I took one last photo of the pond.


As I left the blue jays sent 73 with their “Dee Dee Dee” calls. Along the trail, I treasured each moment. As I noticed the change in color, I realized our days are numbered before the woods turn gray.

Jim Cluett, W1PID, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Hampshire, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

630m Wilkinson Power Combiner

It's often easier to achieve high power on 630m or LF by combining lower powered amplifiers than it is to build a single high-power rig. A simple Class D push-pull switching FET amplifier can readily produce 400-500W when operated in the 35V range. Combining two such amplifiers, both sharing a common oscillator / driver stage, would yield 800-1000W output...probably much more than needed on 630m.

The low parts-count of the amplifier stage in the GW3UEP Class-E transmitter should easily produce 150-200W when run at a slightly higher drain voltage and proper heatsinking. Combining two such modules would yield 300-400W output at very low cost.

Combining can be done with a Two-Way (3-port) Wilkinson Splitter / Combiner. Splitters and Combiners are one and the same, depending on which ends are used for input(s) / output(s). When used in the 'combine' mode, insertion losses are virtually zero and mainly due to the miniscule resistive losses of the coils.

Combiner component values can be calculated the old fashioned way or by using one of the numerous online calculators. This excellent online video by Sebastian (KF5OBS) explains exactly how to calculate component values for the truly dedicated amongst us:


He also has a new video showing how to calculate values for combiners having more than two outputs, should you want to combine three or more individual amplifier modules.

The first combiner I built was for my 2200m kW and combined the output of two 500W Class-D modules:

The air core coils are high-Q, cheap and easy to produce. If space is important, the inductors could just as easily be made using frequency-suitable powdered iron toroids, but at more expense. In actual operation, I have never been able to detect any heat from any of the combiner components, even when running a full kW at lengthy keydown periods of several minutes during QRSS transmissions, affirming the almost 'zero' insertion loss when used in the combining mode.

When I decided to use the same amplifier on 630m, a suitable circuit was designed and built for that band as well:

The terminating / balancing resistor (R) is used only as a safety device in case one of the two amplifiers fails during operation. It allows the still-working amplifier to safely dump some of its power into the load without destroying itself. Under normal operation, no current flows through this resistor so no power is wasted, assuming both inputs are equal. I have read of some schemes that will sense any current flow through 'R' and immediately shutdown the entire transmitter, thus allowing a resistor of lower dissipation to be used for 'R'.

Another benefit of the Wilkinson L-C Combiner is its filtering capability, as it works extremely well as a LPF. Neither my 2200m kW or 630m kW use any low-pass filtering other than that provided by the combiner's L-C network. It also seems to work well as a buffer of sorts, as both myself and VE7TIL noticed with our 2200m systems. We immediately stopped blowing FETs mysteriously when operating at full power. The amplifiers did not seem to react any longer to reactive components suddenly appearing in the antenna system or somewhere in the output network....everything was 100% more stable and reliable it seemed.

I can envision an exciting project consisting of a pair of GW3UEP finals feeding a toroid-based combiner, all in a very small footprint.

Should you choose to combine a pair of amplifiers for 630m, here are the values that were used in my own combiner:

          C1  9.4nF
          C2  4.7nF
          L    23.5uH (13T on 4.25" OD PVC pipe)
          R    100 ohm
More information on Wilkinson Combiners can be found here.

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

Making your radio time interesting is what counts!

I spent some time on 20m in the CW portion of the band and as always I wanted to make contacts with the lowest power possible. I came across 9A2G who was calling CQ and at the time he was not to busy with takers. This is a great opportunity for me to drop my call to someone who is listening. I started out at 500mW's and moved all the way up to 5 watts and nothing no contact. He did have some stations answer his CQ  and some where very weak so  he had good ears but not for VE3WDM. I then came across EG7MAL and I worked my way up to 5 watts and he came back to me with VE3?. He decided to move on as I was just not making the trip. At this point I was wondering how my low power signal was doing so I decided to call CQ at the QRP watering hole on 20m. I was checking with the Reverse Beacon Network to see how I was doing.  My 500mW signal was heard by AA4VV in North Carolina which was just over 1,000 miles per watt. I then bumped my power up to 1 watt and was very happy to see F4DXW was hearing me which meant my 1 watt of power made it 3461 miles. I did not make any contacts but I did find a way to make the radio evening a bit exciting even without making a two way contact.

Mike Weir, VE3WDM, is a regular contributor to and writes from Ontario, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

If this is what Autumn brings

then I will take it!

I had two very nice DX QSOs during lunch today.  These were not "UR 599 TU 73" QSOs, nor were they exactly ragchews. But they were a nice change of pace from the typical "wham, bam, thank you Ma'am" kind of micro-QSOs that seem to be so prevalent these days.

The first was with Vic SM7ZDI who answered my CQ on 18.086 MHz.  Vic was using a Yaesu FT-1000D at 100 Watts to a Windom. He had a good 569 signal and gave me the same. Vic told me that it was about 8C (46F) in Sweden. I was very grateful for the 65F (18C) that we had today, when I had heard that.


My next QSO was on 20 Meters and this time I was the one answering the CQ - that of Bob, G3PJT. Bob hails from Cambridge and was using his brand new KX3!  I was his second QSO and he sounded great. His antenna was a 3 element Yagi up about 17 Meters.  Bob was telling me that he also has a K3, so he's quite familiar with the Elecraft line.  It was cool being his second QSO and providing him with a 2X KX3 QRP QSO, to boot.


It was fun having a "normal", unhurried QSOs with two new Ham friends from outside the US. If only they were ALL like this!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Larry Makoski, W2LJ, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Jersey, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

It ended…..

…..the long spell without rain that is. We had over a 100 mm during the last 24 hours in Longtan, but the south of Taiwan was worse off with some serious flooding. The temperature has dropped to a cool 22 degrees Celsius, but the forecast tells us that it will be back up to 35 degrees in no time and it will stay that way for the next week.

Despite it being hot and muggy I did spend some time in the shack on Sunday. Tried to fix the fan in the radiation shield of my weather station, but then my digital multi-meter refused to cooperate. Put the fan aside and spend an hour searching for the problem, but without a second DMM it is kind of difficult. I’ve had this DMM for the last 20 years and it was a gift from my father. It gave me a lot of joy during that time, but there is an end to everything so I am not too sentimental about retiring it. Besides, 20 year old technology is rather dated.

But what to buy as a replacement? The market is flooded with Chinese equipment delivered directly to your door. I am not a professional and only use a DMM for basic measurements and one of those Chinese ones should be good enough for me. On the other hand a nice Fluke would make my future measurements look a bit more professional. So I turned to the internet and the EEVblog website for some advice. Dave has made a buyers guide special on digital multimeters and it is both fun and entertaining to watch. Funny to see my 20 year old instrument in a slightly updated version passing by, but Dave makes pretty convincing points to not buy a similar model again with safety (actually lack of) as the main point. So go for quality and higher specs, but do I really need accuracy better than 0.5% and true RMS measurements? Probably not. But maybe once I get more options or better readings I find that they are really handy and then why have I waited so long in getting them?

Usually I try to find the best value for money. By searching RS and our local eBay site I narrowed down my list to the Agilent U1232A and the Fluke 115, because they are brand names and come out great in tests without being shabby on features. I also looked at lesser known and Taiwanese brands but funnily enough Taiwanese brands like Brymen are hard to get here Taiwan. Chinese brands, on the other hand, are not and one brand stood out a bit, namely Uni-T. Martin Lorton had very indept review of the Uni-T 61E on YouTube and I guess I will go with one of those. They are not the latest greatest, not the fastest, but they seem well build, accurate, safe and only a third of the price of a Fluke 115. A Sunday afternoon well spent and another problem solved.

Hans "Fong" van den Boogert, BX2ABT, is a regular contributor to and writes from Taiwan. Contact him at [email protected].

SKCC StraightKey Splendor

I was reminded this week of all the fun that the Straight Key Century Club (SKCC) guys are having when receiving a nice e-mail from Bill, W0EJ:

I have a question for you. The Straight Key Century Club has started to issue the 1,000 MPW Award and we are finalizing a certificate for the recipient to print off as we do for most of our awards. The majority of our certificates have a watermark that is usually some form of bug, straight key, or sideswiper.
For this QRP award certificate, would you object if we took your photo of your 6L6 tri-tet-ten transmitter and used it for a water mark? As a watermark, it would be faded and somewhat visible under the text on the certificate. We took the liberty of “drafting” a certificate to show you how it would look with the watermark of your 6L6.
We have another option, but your transmitter would be such a natural that I couldn't pass up asking to see if it would be OK with you to use an image.
In anticipation of your reply I thank you for your consideration.
Bill - W0EJ

Since 2006, this 12,000 strong group of CW diehards have been doing their best to promote the magnificence of the mechanical key in everyday operation. With monthly operating events, awards, Elmering and an online sked page, there are plenty of fun activities for both newcomers and old hands to enjoy what was once the only way to send CW.

I can well recall tuning the CW bands as a newly-licenced teen in the mid 60's. Electronic keyers were just beginning to show up but the vast majority of amateurs still "pounded brass" with a straight key or with some type of bug. I held out for about two years before I parked my straight key and spent my Saturday job money on a brand new Vibroplex original, which I still use from time to time.

Even as late as the early 60's,  it was still easy to recognize many stations simply by the rhythm of their fist. Like fingerprints, no two were ever the same except for the truly gifted, who were able to send almost perfect CW by hand ...such an amazing thing to hear and sadly, not heard often anymore....but, not if the SKCC can help it!

Getting back to Bill's mail....I was more than happy to grant permission to use the photograph of my little 6L6 Tri-Tet-Ten that I have had so much fun with over the past few winters on 10m CW during the peak of Cycle 24. I think their new 1000 Miles-Per -Watt award looks just great.....

 ....and here is what you need to do to earn one for your wall:

SKCC Introduces 1000 MPW Award

The SKCC is rolling out a 1,000 Miles per Watt Award, established to recognize the achievement of contacting another SKCC member using QRP power limits over longer distances.

A QSO must meet the qualifications of (Distance of QSO) / (Power Output in Watts) = 1,000 miles or more. Only the station applying for the award must operate at QRP levels. QSOs made on or after Sept. 1, 2014, are eligible.

For full details, see the award's main page.

Please check out the SKCC's homepage and consider signing-up...or drop by the  K3UK SKCC Sked Page and get in on the fun....but, be sure to leave your keyer unplugged and enjoy some straight-key splendor!

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

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