Upcoming ’29 BK QSO Party

courtesy: Lou, VE3AWA

This Saturday night as well as the next will be the annual Bruce Kelley 1929 QSO Party, otherwise known as the '1929 BK'.

Only transmitters that are 'era-appropriate' are allowed to be used. More specifically, transmitters must employ tubes that were available in 1929 or earlier, and transmitters must be self-excited. No crystals allowed! Crystals were new and largely unaffordable for most hams back in the depression days.

1929 marked a real turning point in amateur radio as governments finally cracked-down on things such as frequency stability, out of band operations and re-alignment of call districts. In short, hams were henceforth required to behave themselves and to clean up their signals and methods of operation.

courtesy: http://www.arrl.org/
Although the new rules did a lot to improve things when it came to 'signal purity', there was still a long way to go ... but the wheels of improvement had been officially set in motion. The next decade would see monumental changes in both transmitter and receiver architecture, as engineers along with some particularly gifted amateurs, strove to unlock the challenges of this relatively new technology.

If you tune across the CW bands during the next two Saturday nights, you will have the rare opportunity to hear exactly what the bands must have sounded like back in the early '30s'.

For the most part you will hear single tube Hartley, Colpitts or TNT oscillators along with a few two-tube MOPAs thrown in. Many of them will suffer the same problems encountered by the boys of '29 ... chirp, drift, buzzy notes and frequency instability from antennas swaying in the wind.

This year, signals should be a little louder as well, since the previous power limitation of 10W input has been increased to 25W.

The MOPAs will sound much better but some surprisingly nice-sounding signals can be heard coming from properly tuned and optimised single-tube oscillators. I recall being blown away by the lovely sounding signal I heard from such a rig when first tuning into the BK activity several years ago, only to learn that it was a self-excited Hartley using 1/4" copper tubing for the oscillator tank circuit!

The '29 watering-hole on 80m will be around 3550-3580 kilocycles (be careful not to confuse this with kilohertz!) while the early afternoon to post-sunset 40m activity will be found from 7100-7125 kc. There may even be a few on the very low end of 160m. Although many of these transmitter styles were used on 20m and higher, BK rule-makers have wisely decided not to inflict these sounds on the present populace as it would likely keep the 'Official Observers' busy for several days writing pink-slips.

You can learn more about amateur radio happenings leading up to and following the 1929 crackdown in my earlier series of 'Why '29' blogs here:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Those wishing to put something together for next year's event can find everything needed here:

Introduction To Building ... '29-Style

Building '29-Style - Part 1

Building '29-Style - Part 2

Heck, there me even be time to throw something together for the following Saturday if you have a few parts and an older tube or two ... the '27 comes to mind and is readily found in many junk boxes. Maybe you know an old-timer or two with lots of parts that could help you out.

Let's hope for good conditions for this event as the last few years have been adversely affected by geomagnetic storming. Poor propagation or not, I guarantee there will be plenty of '29ers busy calling 'CQ AWA' on the low bands.

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

Pikes Peak SOTA (W0C/FR-004) Winter Activation

Joyce/K0JJW and I had intended to hike Pikes Peak this year for a Summits On The Air (SOTA) activation but somehow the plan never came together. I still had my eye on it as a drive-up activation before the end of 2017. The road to the summit is open year round now but closes frequently due to snowstorms passing through. Saturday morning the road was open to 13 miles (out of 19 miles) with the promise that it would be open to the summit later in the morning. (Call 719 385-7325 for a recorded message on road conditions.) By the time we got to the toll gate around 10 am, the road was open to the summit.

pikes peak web cam k0jjw k0nr
K0JJW and K0NR caught on the Pikes Peak webcam, courtesy of Paul/W0RW

When we reached the summit, the weather conditions were 20 deg F with 20 mph winds, creating a windchill of 4 deg F. We were prepared for that having loaded up on the winter clothing. Still, it was freaking cold up there. As you can see in the webcam picture, there was only traces of snow on the summit.

To be SOTA-compliant, we had all of our gear loaded into our packs and walked some distance away from our vehicle to set up. Because of the wind, we chose the observation platform, tucked in behind one of the walls. Normally, that platform is to be avoided because its overrun with tourists but with the cold weather we only had a few people to contend with.

K0NR pikes peak sota
K0NR hunkered down out of the wind

Joyce set up on 2m fm (146.52) using a handheld transceiver (HT) with a vertical antenna. Even with her headset (foam protection on the microphone), the wind noise on her signal was significant. I started out on 2m fm but quickly moved up to 223.5 MHz and worked a few stations there, then on to 446.0 MHz. I had HTs and small yagi’s on both of those bands. Then I fired up 1.2 GHz with an Alinco HT (just 1W on that band) and a 16-element yagi. I worked Paul/W0RW, Gary/WB5PJB and Wayne/N0POH on that band. My QSO with N0POH in Aurora was a new personal best for distance on 23cm/1.2 GHz, at about 90 km.

I tried 2m SSB using my FT-817 but made only one contact: Jim/WB0GMR. Shortly thereafter, I switched back to 2m fm using the 25W mini-mobile rig with a 3-element yagi to work many more stations. Again, just running a bit of power and having a decent antenna on 2m fm was very effective at making radio contacts. I expected the Tytera radio to be overloaded with signals on the summit of Pikes but it actually held up well with just occasional bursts of interference.

Overall, we made 54 QSOs (not too shabby): 43 QSOs on 2m, 5 QSOs on 70cm and 3 QSOs on both 1.25m and 23cm. Our best DX was Jeff/N0XLF near Akron, CO for a distance of about 130 miles (on 2m and 70cm).

73, Bob K0NR

The post Pikes Peak SOTA (W0C/FR-004) Winter Activation 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].

Amateur Radio Weekly – Issue 183

Slow Scan TV from International Space Station Dec 5-6
The MAI-75 SSTV system in the Russian Service Module will be put through some extended testing.

What the heck is the ARRL Board thinking?
In effect, this is a gag order on a director if he disagrees with a Board decision.

KX2 firmware upgrade to increase power output
The latest KX2 field-test firmware allows power output to be set as high as 12 watts.

Success with the new AO-91 FM satellite
I did an AO-91 pass at 2 AM Sunday morning with the Kenwood TH-D72A. It was very different. It sounded crystal clear just like a local repeater.

Using a Baofeng transceiver to work Amateur Radio Satellites
I’m a brand new ham as of October 2017, and I had a really fun experience listening to RadFxSat Fox-1B AO-91 yesterday.

Come join the fun with Olivia on HF
Olivia offers keyboard-to-keyboard chatting for when you want to relax, and maybe make a friend.

VHF/UHF FM/DSTAR/DMR mobile installation
The setup includes an ICOM ID-4100 running on FM and D-Star on the VHF band, and a Hytera MD-652 running on FM and DMR on the UHF band.

Icom IC-R7100 and its clicking noise
Every time the squelch opens or closes, it produces a clicking noise.

EMCOMM Go Kit – Power Box
All together the power box weighs just under 31.5 lbs.
High on Solder

UK Amateur Radio license stats
Amateur Radio population in the UK has grown by approximately 10% over the past 5 years.

Oldest Ham F8IL, SK
Jean Touzot, F8IL, of Albi, France — said to have been the world’s oldest radio amateur — has died.


Failed SOTA Activation
Round trip: 10 miles with a 3,900 elevation change.

Getting Started with Chameleon F-LOOP 2.0 Magloop Antenna
The Chameleon F-LOOP 2.0 is a modular magnetic loop antenna system, which follows the Lego block philosophy often employed by Chameleon Antenna.

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.

CLE 225 Results

The recent CLE activity saw mixed conditions throughout North America. The general consensus was that propagation was just 'OK' but lightning noise continued to be a problem for some beacon hunters.

Here in B.C., propagation was fairly flat on all three nights, with Sunday night providing the lowest noise levels. Signals were generally weak and somewhat 'mushy' at times, with propagation still being affected by high speed solar winds and an elevated 'K' index.

North America  results show the following stats:

23 Reporters
184 Different NDBs heard
934 Reports

Most Heard NDBs:
Rprts QRG ID Name ITU
18 216,0 CLB Wilmington / Carolina Beach USA
14 198,0 DIW Dixon USA
14 223,0 YYW Armstrong CAN
13 200,0 UAB Anahim Lake CAN
12 206,0 QI Yarmouth CAN
12 214,0 LU Cultus' Abbotsford CAN
12 218,0 RL Red Lake CAN
12 227,0 CG Castlegar CAN
12 233,0 QN Nakina CAN
11 235,0 CN Cochrane CAN

I was happy to see that 'LU' near Abbotsford, B.C. and pictured in the last blog, was well heard. Reports of the mountain-meadow beacon came from Hawaii in the west to Illinois in the east and everywhere in between.

The following NDB's were heard here on Mayne Island, B.C., using the Perseus SDR feeding my low frequency inverted-L antenna, resonated to 200 KHz for the weekend event:

25 05:00 198.0 DIW Dixon, NC, USA
25 05:00 200.0 YJ Sidney Island, BC, CAN
26 10:00 200.0 UAB Anahim Lake, BC, CAN
25 07:00 201.0 ZWN Winnipeg, MB, CAN
26 09:00 201.0 YKX Kirkland Lake, ON, CAN
25 18:00 201.0 IP Y Mobile, AZ, USA
27 21:43 201.0 BV Bartlesville, OK, USA
25 07:00 203.0 ZKI Kitimat, BC, CAN
25 07:00 203.0 YBL Campbell River, BC, CAN
25 07:00 203.0 TCY Tracy, CA, USA
25 06:00 204.0 ZQR Regina, SK, CAN
25 10:00 204.0 YFY Iqaluit, NU, CAN
25 11:00 206.0 SOW Show Low, AZ, USA
26 06:00 206.0 IIB Independence, IA, USA
25 05:00 206.0 EF Castlegar, BC, CAN
25 10:00 207.0 YNE Norway House, MB, CAN
25 10:00 207.0 PY Fort Chipewyan, AB, CAN
25 09:00 208.0 YSK Sanikiluaq, NU, CAN
26 09:00 209.0 ITR Burlington, CO, USA
25 08:00 209.0 IB Atikokan, ON, CAN
25 09:00 209.0 HGT Jolon, CA, USA
25 06:00 209.0 CYT Yakataga, ALS
25 09:00 211.0 HDG Gooding, ID, USA
25 10:00 212.0 YGX Gillam, MB, CAN
25 10:00 212.0 CGL Juneau, ALS
26 13:00 212.0 CFV Coffeyville, KS, USA
25 05:00 214.0 LU Abbotsford, BC, CAN
27 06:00 214.0 CHX Choix, MEX
25 09:00 215.0 ZAB Edmonton, AB, CAN
25 08:00 216.0 GRF Fort Lewis, WA, USA
25 08:00 216.0 CLB Wilmington, NC, USA
25 06:00 218.0 RL Red Lake, ON, CAN
25 05:00 218.0 PR Prince Rupert, BC, CAN
26 08:00 218.0 AL Alton, IL, USA
25 06:00 219.0 ZRS Regina, SK, CAN
26 08:00 220.0 RBJ Tucson, AZ, USA
25 07:00 220.0 HLE Hailey, ID, USA
25 08:00 221.0 QU Grande Prairie, AB, CAN
25 08:00 222.0 WY Wrigley, NT, CAN
26 10:00 223.0 YYW Armstrong, ON, CAN
25 05:00 223.0 YKA Kamloops, BC, CAN
25 13:00 223.0 AFE Kake, ALS
25 05:00 224.0 DN Dauphin, MB, CAN
25 11:00 224.0 BK Baker Lake, NU, CAN
25 14:00 225.0 X5 Vegreville, AB, CAN
25 14:00 225.0 LWG Lewisburg, OR, USA
25 07:00 227.0 YAC Cat Lake, ON, CAN
27 09:00 227.0 FZ St. Louis, MO, USA
25 05:00 227.0 CG Castlegar, BC, CAN
25 05:00 227.0 9X Brooks Apt, AB, CAN
25 07:00 229.0 AKW Klawockt, ALS
25 06:00 230.0 YD Smithers, BC, CAN
25 09:00 230.0 VG Vermilion, AB, CAN
25 13:00 230.0 BI Bismarck, ND, USA
25 07:00 233.0 QN Nakina, ON, CAN
25 07:00 233.0 OKS Oshkosh, NE, USA
25 06:00 233.0 ALJ Hinchinbrook Island, ALS
25 11:00 236.0 YZA Ashcroft, BC, CAN
25 11:00 236.0 FOR Forsyth, MT, USA
26 11:00 238.0 K5 Maple Creek, SK, CAN
25 11:00 239.0 OJ High Level, AB, CAN
26 12:30 239.0 BBB Benson, MN, USA

The logs / reports from all participants may be viewed here on the NDB List website. 

As luck would have it, the three nights following the CLE have been fantastic on MF which seems to happen all to often.

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

Attention KX2 owners / users!

From Wayne N6KR on QRP-L this morning:

The latest KX2 field-test firmware allows power output to be set as high as 12 watts on 80 through 20 meters. (Max out is still 10 watts on 17-10 meters.) Supply voltage must be 12.8 V or higher on key-down. ~14 V supply recommended.

Yes, this is only about 1 dB, but it did help me snag XF1IM this morning on 20 CW.

We consider the change experimental at this point. Not all KX2s are guaranteed to hit 12 W on all of these bands, and this level is recommended for low duty-cycle use, i.e. hunt/pounce.

If you’d like to give it a try, please email me directly. (Editor's note: [email protected])

73, Wayne N6KR

So there you have it from The Man, himself!

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

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

SOTA, POTA, NPOTA ??? Now there’s NOTA

AND ....... if you're a space buff like me - this one's a goody!  NASA On The Air!

From the ARRL Website:

The Amateur Radio clubs at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) centers around the US have invited the Amateur Radio community to join the NASA On The Air (NOTA) special event. NOTA gets under way in December 2017 and continues through December 2018. In addition to being the agency’s 60th anniversary, 2018 will mark 50 years since NASA orbited the first human around the moon, and 20 years since the first elements of the International Space Station (ISS) were launched into low-Earth orbit.

Starting on Monday, December 11, 2017 (UTC), Amateur Radio club stations at various NASA centers and facilities will be on the air with special event operations to celebrate these monumental achievements, as well as current milestones. Some clubs will offer commemorative QSL cards, and a special certificate will be available indicating the number of NASA club stations worked on various bands and modes.

“We plan to have a web-based system for you to check your points total and download a printable certificate at the end of the event in December 2018,” the NASA announcement said. “Points will be awarded for each center worked on each band and mode (phone, CW, digital, and ‘space’ modes — satellites, meteor scatter, EME, ISS APRS).” That would, of course, include contacts with any of the Amateur Radio stations on the ISS.

Key anniversaries during NOTA include the 45th anniversary of Apollo 17 on December 11, 2017, which kicks off the event; NASA’s founding on July 29, 1958; the 20th anniversary of the ISS first element launch on November 20, 1998; the 20th anniversary of the ISS Node 1 Launch on December 4, 1998, and the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8 — launched on December 21, 1968, and returned on December 27 — marking the end of the event.

Ham radio clubs at various NASA facilities will sponsor their own special events to commemorate and celebrate specific events.

“We hope to be on the air for casual contacts and contests as well. All contacts with NASA club stations will count toward your total,” the announcement said. “QSL cards can be requested from each club you work and details will be on the individual QRZ.com profile page for each club call sign.”

I can imagine the pileups now!

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

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

Ground Station 33

After a few weeks of testing SatNOGS production Ground Station 33 is up and running. I think there are quite a lot of improvements to be made but essentially the non-rotator set up is looking average at best but reliable enough to be a production ground station. So in honour of the RF sinkhole that sucks up useful signals I call home, it has been named St Bees GS (well the reality of it is that I couldn’t think of a suitable name). So what is next?

First on the list is a new RPi. The current one is working but coughs and splutters a bit with some of the hard work. So I’ll be ordering a new one in due course. Secondly is settling on an antenna system. Currently the turnstile works but I can’t help think that a QFH, or maybe a pair (one for vhf and one for uhf) would be better. The last thing on the list is to resurrect the rotator. After setting fire to a few driver boards in the past I’ve ordered a new board and PSU and we’ll see if we can repeat the v1 success.

Trouble is, domestic duties will be spoiling plans but then again I do like a good game of rugby and a bacon roll in the winter sunshine is a good alternative. L’al fella (for all the Cumbrian folk) has had back to back games for the last 5 weeks and he’s keen to keep up the winning streak. More progress to follow.

Onwards and upwards (literally in this case)

Alex Hill, G7KSE, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Cumbria, UK. Contact him at [email protected].

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