Another one got away

Band conditions seem to have deteriorated lately. Bob W3BBO and I were discussing this on Saturday. The upper bands, 10, 12, 15 Meters still have signals on them, but they seem to be not as plentiful and nowhere as strong as they were just a month or six weeks ago. Just after the cold weather broke here in NJ and I resumed my QRP sessions, it seemed like each lunchtime from the car netted 3 our 4 or even 5 DX stations per sitting.

Lately, those kind of band conditions seem to have disappeared. Signals are fewer and weaker. But today was a case of the one that got away. I was tuning up and down the bands and heard JY9CF on 12 Meters. He was kind of loud and was calling "CQ USA ONLY". I tried, and wasn't being heard. But I did have time, as I heard him early on during lunch hour and he was getting louder. I figured giving just a little bit more time, I just might have nabbed him. However, many non-USA stations began calling, and the operator was getting frustrated as a few times he sent, "PLS LSN USA ONLY". As his signal strength to me increased, so did his frustration. Finally he announced he was going QRT.

Rats! My gut was telling me that with a just a bit more time ...... maybe. I am pretty certain that if I was home and had the shack KX3 fired up to the 75/100 Watt neighborhood, that I would have garnered a new country. It seems that 5 Watts and the Buddistick just didn't cut it today, even though the JY9 station was the loudest I have ever heard here.

On the bright side, I did have a short QSO with Jim N0UR on 20 Meters. I have worked Jim in many Sprints and many QRP Fox hunts. It was good to hook up with him in an "everyday QSO" situation. Jim was running 4 Watts from his Flex1500 and he was a good, solid 579 here into New Jersey (when QSB wasn't kicking in).

BTW, Paul NA5N has announced the theme for this year's QRPTTF - "Tres de Mayo" considering how close this year's event is to Cinco de Mayo.  I have already decided what I am going to do to be "in theme" - but I am NOT sharing until after the event.  All the rules can be found here:

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].

Troubles with the FT-950

Having some issues with my Yaesu FT-950. On Friday I noticed the 950 had a high SWR reading on 40m. Tried tuning and it wouldn’t correct the issue. I went back to 20m and over the weekend worked almost 200 SSB contacts without issue and was receiving solid signal reports on my audio all weekend long. Last night I tried working W1AW/5 on 40m and again couldn’t get the 950 to tune.

I decided to connect the 950 to a dummy load and check it out. I used my LDG AT-600ProII and the analog meter in bypass mode to record the following measurements with the FT-950 in CW mode and sending a continuous carrier.

10m – flat SWR and 50w fwd power
12m – flat SWR and 35w fwd power
15m – flat SWR and 25w fwd power
17m – flat SWR and 15w fwd power
20m – flat SWR and 10w fwd power
30m – flat SWR and 0w fwd power
40m – flat SWR and 0w fwd power
80m – flat SWR and 0w fwd power
160m – flat SWR and 0w fwd power

About 15 minutes later I repeated the tests, which produced different results as noted below:

10m – 35w
12m – 20w
15m – 15w
17m – 10w
20m – 5w
30m – 0
40 – 0
80 – 0
160 – 0

I’m a bit perplexed as to what is going on. I’m going to try another power supply tonight, but I have a feeling the 950 will need to take a trip to California and spend some time in the Yaesu hospital. I’ve also performed a full factory reset, but still getting the same results. Anyone else have any other bright ideas?

If the 950 does need to take a trip to California, I’m hoping Yaesu can turn it around in time to have it back for my stint operating W1AW/Ø.

Until next time…

73 de KDØBIK

Jerry Taylor, KD0BIK, is a regular contributor to and writes from Colorado, USA. He is the host of the Practical Amateur Radio Podcast. Contact him at [email protected].


The Lord may be risen, but the bands were down.
Paul Stam, PC4T, is a regular contributor to and writes from the Netherlands. Contact him at [email protected].

Printing your own QSL cards using HAMQSLer

Anyone who knows me well may be slightly taken aback to find me writing about QSL cards! Each to their own, but it's a part of the hobby that really doesn't appeal to me at all. However, I've always said that I think it's nice to be able to QSL contacts which are special to you in some way.

And so it was, I felt, the other day when I worked Berend, PA3ARK on FO-29. Berend often inspires me to try something new and so I thought it might be nice to try and create a QSL to commemorate the QSO.

I looked around and found the HAMQSLer program from VA3HJ. I managed to get past the 'the final courtesy of a QSO is a QSL'statement at the top of the website! In my opinion, the final courtesy of a QSO is to say 73, but therein lies why I find myself at odds with the 'every contact must be QSLed' brigade!

The program is free to download and I found it well-designed and easy to use. I did have to install the Microsoft .Net framework 4.5.1 and install it on my PC before I could install the software.

I was able to import a background image of a photo of our village church to use. I really had wanted to try and use one of the aerial photographs I took of the village when I flew over in G3WGV's aircraft a couple of years back. However, I found the colours didn't really lend themselves to overlaying text on top of the photo. Actually, I'm sure a more artistically gifted person would have managed, but I opted for the easy approach - one where I had a nice blue sky, where I could place most of the text.

I found that I was able to setup various static text fields and create a QSOs box, which could be populated  from an ADIF file from my logger.

After a bit of resizing and trying various options, I was ready to import my ADIF records. I did tweak the Mode field in the ADIF record, so that I could show that the QSO took place on a satellite. The logger, of course, records that I was (in this case) transmitting on 144MHz, but not that it was a satellite QSO. I wanted this to be clear, so I amended the Mode field in the ADIF field to say CW Via FO-29, which I thought was clearer.

Here's what it produced, which I am quite pleased with. Of course, it looks much better on screen than on my slightly dodgy printer, which is normally just used for printing text. Nothing to stop me putting it onto a USB stick, though and taking it into the local photo printing establishment before popping into the post to Berend!

Tim Kirby, G4VXE, is a regular contributor to and writes from Oxfordshire, England. Contact him at [email protected].

Spring Peepers on Johnson Road

I heard spring peepers for the first time this year. I hiked in an old field off Johnson Road and worked Russia, Panama and a couple of stations in the Michigan QSO Party.


I hiked about a quarter of a mile on a trail from the road and turned south skirting the edge of the field when I heard the peepers. I know where they are! There’s a vernal pool down a horse path through a large and prickly raspberry patch. I look through the woods and onto the small pond. Every time one of these tiny frogs sings, his body trembles enough to send circular ripples into the pond. They are, of course, calling CQ. It is a clear sign of spring and I am overjoyed.


I wandered through this overgrown field for a while. I was searching for a warm spot out of the wind. It’s only about 45F with a stiff breeze and a bit chilly. I pass the telltale signs of a long winter… tiny holes in the grass where mice and voles have sought cover while enduring the bitter cold.

I set up under a tall pine tree on a little hillside facing the sun.


I heave my wire over a branch and tune the KX3 on 20 meters. Stations are strong, but they don’t hear me well. I work UA2FL who is operating the Mineira DX Contest from Russia. Then I work two stations in the Michigan QSO party… N8KS and K8BZ. I switch to 12 meters. HO100CANAL is calling CQ and he answers right away. This is a special event station in Panama celebrating the opening of the canal 100 years ago.

With this I pack up and head back to the car. I check for ticks (usually out
by now) but thankfully, I don’t find any. Maybe the hard winter has reduced
their numbers.

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

Holy Saturday

The next day, the one following the day of preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember that this impostor while still alive said, ‘After three days I will be raised up.

Give orders, then, that the grave be secured until the third day, lest his disciples come and steal him and say to the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead.’ This last imposture would be worse than the first.”

Pilate said to them, “The guard is yours; go secure it as best you can.” So they went and secured the tomb by fixing a seal to the stone and setting the guard.
Larry Makoski, W2LJ, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Jersey, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

Happy Easter

INCOMING STORM CLOUDS: Three or four CMEs that left the sun earlier this week will arrive in quick succession this weekend. Mostly, the blows they deliver to Earth's magnetic field are expected to be weak, but the combined impacts could stir up significant geomagnetic activity. NOAA forecasters put the odds of a high-latitude geomagnetic storm at 55% on Saturday, increasing to 75% on Sunday. Check for updates.

Paul Stam, PC4T, is a regular contributor to and writes from the Netherlands. Contact him at [email protected].

Ham Radio Helping Communities

I was asked to write a final paper for my University of Phoenix Class on a topic that I was passionate about. I thought that how Ham Radio helps communities would be a good paper as wells help others understand a little more about what makes Ham’s so passionate about the topic. I received an A on the paper and in the class and thought I would share with the community. The interesting part of the paper is that two of the people in the class were doing some disaster planning as they lived on the West Coast and they are getting more and more worried about earthquakes. My teacher is now going to get his license and I send the other person more information about the process. Add a Ham a year is my goal.

Here is the full post:


Nick Palomba, N1IC, is a regular contributor to and writes from Florida, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

Good Friday 2014

What makes Good Friday good?” you ask.
A challenge! A rather daunting task.
Some may dismiss it with a shrug and a smirk,
And consider it another day off work.
Others, religious, pious as such,
Take a few minutes for a mournful watch;
Merchants unlock their doors with glee,
Anticipating the pre-Easter shopping spree.
A bunny here, a chocolate egg there,
Symbols of a society that doesn’t care.
“Care?” you say, “Do you mean me?”
“What’s there to care; how can this be?”
It’s the cross, you forget, that rugged wood,
That makes Good Friday eternally good.
What’s so good about the death of an ancient man,
Who died long before my life began?
This man, who on this earth once trod,
Was not only man, but the Son of God.
That wood, that tree, that old rugged cross,
Was the symbol of gain and the symbol of loss.
To those who believe, it is the promise of gain;
The hope that, like Jesus, we’ll rise again!
For the skeptic, the doubter, the meaning is loss;
An eternal gulf, which no one can cross.
Good Friday is good, because of the death
Of Jesus the Savior, who gave His last breath
So you, friend, and I, could be cleared of our guilt,
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb that was spilt.
Mourn not, my dear soul, for the death of the Lamb,
For that cross made the bridge to the Great I AM.
Christ paid the price, rose again to God’s side,
And brought us next Sunday: the Resurrection-tide!

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

Old Hill Village is Flooded

Tim W3ATB and I hiked down to Old Hill Village today. The Pemigewasset River is up more than 20 feet and the area is inaccessible. We set up in a small field and worked the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Belgium and Alabama. We had a grand time.


We hike into the Corps of Engineers flood control area along Needle Shop Brook. We detour and clamber down a steep hill to get near the brook. It’s exhilarating to see the water racing through the narrow channel, filling the air with mist.

As we get closer to the flood plain the road disappears. The river has become a huge lake of more than 1000 acres and millions of gallons of water held back by the Franklin Falls Dam perhaps 8 miles downstream.


Melting snow and recent rains have left their mark. Three miles upstream a man drowned a couple of days ago in the Smith River. Search teams have been called back because it’s too dangerous.

Tim and I find a safe operating position in an overgrown field above the water’s edge. We toss a line over the branch of a small maple tree and pull up a sloper. I am using the KX3 and the internal tuner. I hear OK2PDY calling CQ on 15 meters and complete a quick exchange. He gives me a 559 and he is 579. In just a minute I work Frank PA1FP in the Netherlands. I am only 539 and he is 589.


We’ve brought our jackets because the temperatures dipped into the 30s the last couple of days. But my thermometer reads 60 in warm spring sun. I hand the key to Tim and he answers N4RAY who is calling CQ from Alabama. Rodney gives us a 579. He is QRP but is a strong 599.

Before calling it quits, I snag one more QSO… this time with a special event station in Belgium. OS16M is celebrating Morse Heritage Day. We exchange quick 599s and pack up. Unless we get more rain the water will recede in a few days and dry out within a week.

We’ll be back soon with bicycles to explore some of the most beautiful countryside in New Hampshire.

Thanks to W3ATB for the photos.

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

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