IOTA contest partisapation

This was the first year I took part in the IOTA (islands on the air) contest and I very much enjoyed the time I spent in the contest. It was very well attended and many Island stations were there and waiting to be contacted. I found the band conditions on my end were very challenging at times with stations going from S9 to barley above the noise floor. This is one of the challenges of a contest and just makes things more interesting. I would say it was a nice change to hear lots of stations in the contest, a sure sign that the solar cycle is improving.  As a participant in the IOTA contest you can enter as CW, SSB or both and I choose to enter as a CW op. 

The radio I used was the Icom 7610 with the filter set to 250 Hz with the APF (Audio Peak Filter)  feature turned on. My antenna was an Endfed multiband antenna and my power output was 100 watts. One of the memorable contact I made was Cuba. With all the issues going on there it was nice to be able to make contact with that island. 

I was on the air for about 3 hours in total and made 53 contacts for a score of 5,124. It sure is not a record but I very much enjoyed my time on the radio and that's what it's all about. 

Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

Can You Hear a 1-dB Change?

Decibels are commonly used in electronic communications to describe and compare signal levels. I’ve often heard that one dB is considered to be the smallest change that a typical person can detect by ear. I recently came across this website that is set up to generate different audio tones and to do a blind test of how small of a change you can detect.

I started with testing for 6-dB and 3-dB changes. Easy Peasy. Then I tried the 1-dB test. I could detect the change in level fairly consistently but I did have to concentrate. Continuing on to the 0.5-dB change, I had a very high failure rate. It was very difficult to detect that small of a change. So I have to conclude that 1 dB is about the limit for a change I can hear.

How about you? Take the test on the website and let us know how you did.

There are many other audio tests to explore on that site, including the highest frequency you can hear, the minimum pitch change you can hear, etc. Check it out:

73 Bob K0NR

The post Can You Hear a 1-dB Change? appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

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



They say that hindsight is 20/20 and really no matter what age you are I bet you have looked back on something and would have done it differently. My mom used to tell me that if things went along perfectly you would never have a chance to grow and learn. She was right but some decisions I made looking back if I made them differently the growing and learning would have been faster and easier. But what fun is that eh......If we all had 20/20 hindsight as Amateur radio op's how would things be different? For me, I would not have to purchase AGAIN items that at the time I thought I would never need. Also in retrospect, there were times I sold equipment for the lust of other equipment and in some cases regretted it. 

So what are some of my hindsight 20/20 slash regrets...............selling my first rig it was a Kenwood TS-520SE I had the AT-200 tuner, DG5 digital display and the VFO 520S. At that time it was traded in for a shiny used Icom 745. but in hindsight, I sure wish I had kept it as it was the first rig I had but I do have some nice pictures of it. 

Very early in my years, I had a part-time job at an Amateur Radio store called Hobbytronics (no longer in the biz). It was there I was able to purchase my first brand new rig and yes you guessed it I traded my Icom 745 for a brand spanking new Icom 735. No regrets here but it had me realize the one can trade up to bigger and better! 

At the next point in my ham radio adventures, I drank the Elecraft Koolaid.....I started with the KX1 that I built and was thrilled with it when it worked. I then added the K2 (actually 2 of them) I then took the leap to a K3. The KX1 and K2's eventually were sold and the "ham bucks" were used to purchase needed items like a brand spanking new Elecraft KX3!!!  In hindsight did I need it, no not really at all the K2's were loaded and served me well both at home and portable but I WANTED a KX3. I regret getting rid of both K2's as I built them from scratch and they actually work. 

Then the loaded K3 was sold for my retirement gift to me an Icom 7610. I had great success with the K3 and how it was able to be upgraded via a simple download over the internet. The Icom was the same and it too could be upgraded with the latest and greatest software........WRONG! I found out the hard way that Icom most of the time upgrades to fix issues and not to added new features. To cut Icom some slack they did just this year provide some upgrades but with Icom it's all about the bottom line and not that there is anything wrong with that. So should I had stuck with my fully loaded K3.......yes I think so but hindsight is 20/20

I was comforted in the fact that I still had ONE Elecraft rig in the trusty KX3 for portable op's and if ever my Icom 7610 went down. Here comes another regret, my PC was old and showing its age. I decided to look around the net to see how I could upgrade my PC and it turned out that this retired guy was a bit short on cash to upgrade the PC to where I wanted it. I was looking at the KX3 and it really was used for portable op's which for the past 2 years never happened. I convinced myself it was just gathering dust (regret) and so I sold it along with its accessories. I was able to use those ham bucks to do a total upgrade of the PC. Looking back it was regret to part with the KX3 but what is done is done and I do have a very nice PC. 

Don't get me started on radio add-on stuff......I have sold more items than I can mention and then purchased them again!!! Ok, let's just list some:

Sold LDG tuner AT 600 and ended up getting LDG 200pro

Sold MFJ 1026 to purchase the same 

Sold Alpha Delta 3 position switch to purchasing the same

LF Engineering H-800 active antenna to purchase the same

LP 100 Telepost meter to purchase CN 901 meter 

The list can go on but to spare me from deep depression :) I will stop here. So what regrets/ 20/20 hindsight decisions have you made and I hope to hear from some of you so I don't feel I am the only one in this boat.

Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

10 meters was active this afternoon.


FT8 waterfall on 10m 
Around 19:30 UTC I tuned to 10m and warmed up my JTDX program and I was pleased to see a very busy waterfall. I threw my call in and was answered by some U.S. stations but also the Netherlands with a report of -13. I did have a German op call me but the FT8 gods were not smiling on us and a complete contact was not made. 

PSK reporter had me being spotted in the U.S. and Europe as well. 

Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

Hunting For NDBs In CLE 270


YPO - Peawanuck, ON - 401kHz (

It's CLE time! 'CLE's are 'Co-ordinated  Listening Events, and NDB DXers around the world focus their listening time on one small slice of  the NDB spectrum.

It's another normal one again with a 20kHz window -- the hunting ground is 400.0 - 419.9kHz.

A 'challenge target' for listeners in North America is YPO - 401kHz in Peawanuck, ... in north - central Ontario just south of Hudson Bay. Listen for YPO's upper sideband on 401.399kHz. YPO has been heard in Europe, throughout North America and west to Hawaii. Its 125W and ~70' tower work well!

When tuning for NDBs, put your receiver in the CW mode and listen for the NDB's CW identifier, repeated every few seconds. Listen for U.S. NDB identifiers approximately 1 kHz higher or lower than the published transmitted frequency since these beacons are modulated with a 1020 Hz tone approximately.

For example, now decommissioned, 'AA' near Fargo, ND, transmitted on 365 kHz and its upper sideband CW identifier was tuned at 366.025 kHz while its lower sideband CW ident could be tuned at 363.946 kHz. Its USB tone was actually 1025 Hz while its LSB tone was 1054 Hz.

Often, one sideband will be much stronger than the other so if you don't hear the first one, try listening on the other sideband.

Canadian NDBs normally have an USB tone only, usually very close to 400 Hz. They also have a long dash (keydown) following the CW identifier.

All NDBs heard in North America will be listed in the RNA database (updated daily) while those heard in Europe may be found in the REU database. Beacons heard outside of these regions will be found in the RWW database. These databases have recently been re-vamped and are slicker than ever before!

From CLE organizers comes the following CLE info:


Our 270th Coordinated Listening Event starts on Friday.

This frequency range is not packed with signals for any of us, but if conditions are OK there could be some nice surprises.

Do join in, whether you have days to spare, or only an hour or so over the weekend. 


     Days:     Friday 23 July - Monday 26 July 2021

     Times:   Start and end at midday your LOCAL time

     Range:   400 - 419.9 kHz


Please log all the NDBs that you can identify with nominal (listed) frequencies in the range - it includes 400 kHz, but not 420 kHz - plus any UNIDs that you come across there.

Send your final log to the List (no attachments please) with ‘CLE270’ and 'FINAL' in its title.

Show on each line:

    #   The Date (e.g.  '2021-07-23', etc.,  or just '23' )

    #   The Time in UTC (the day changes at 00:00 UTC).

    #   kHz  - the nominal published frequency, if known.

    #   The Call Ident.

Please show those main items FIRST.   Other optional details such as Location and Distance go LATER in the same line.

As always, of course, tell us your own location and brief details of the equipment that you were using during the Event.

We will send the usual 'Any More Logs?' email at about 19:00 UTC on Tuesday so that you can check that your log has been found OK.

Do make sure that your log has arrived on the List by 08:00 UTC on Wednesday 28 July at the very latest.

We hope to complete making the combined results within a day or two.

You can find full details about current and past CLEs from the CLE page   It includes access to CLE270 seeklists for your part of the World, prepared from the previous loggings in Rxx.

Good listening

    Brian and Joachim


From:      Brian Keyte G3SIA      ndbcle'at'

Location:  Surrey,  SE England     (CLE coordinator)


(If you would like to listen remotely  you could use any one remote receiver for your loggings, stating its location and owner and with their permission if required. 

A remote listener may NOT also use another receiver, local or remote, to make further loggings for the same CLE)

These listening events serve several purposes. They

• determine, worldwide, which beacons are actually in service and on-the-air so the newly-re-vamped Rxx 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 there a few days after the event.

The NDB List Group is a great place to learn more about the 'Art of NDB DXing' or to meet other DXers in your region. There is a lot of good information available there and new members are always very welcome. As well, you can follow the results of other CLE participants from night to night as propagation is always an active topic of discussion.

You need not be an NDB List member to participate in the CLEs and all reports, no matter how small, are of much value to the organizers.

Remember - 'First-time' logs are always VERY welcome!

Reports may be sent to the NDB List Group or e-mailed to CLE co-ordinator, Brian Keyte (G3SIA), whose address appears above. If you are a member of the group, all final results will also be e-mailed and posted there.

Please ... give the CLE 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 to help keep it up-to-date.

Have fun and good hunting!






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

GMRS: Basic Radio Communications

A mobile GMRS transceiver made by Midland USA.

Lately, I’ve been talking with people in search of basic radio communications for their friends or family. They end up talking to me because someone steered them to ham radio as a solution and I teach ham radio license classes. Of course, I am happy to pull them into the wonderful ham radio world but sometimes the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) might be a better way of meeting their needs.

I have a GMRS license and have written about it. See GMRS: The Other UHF Band.  GMRS is a good fit for local communications, perhaps just using simplex or with repeaters, if available in your area.  FCC regulations (Part 95) require you to have a license (and pay a fee) to use GMRS. Unlike ham radio, the license does not require you to pass an exam and the license is valid for you and your family members.

Common Uses

GMRS works well for family communication “around town” or some local area. Depending on the type of equipment used, simplex range of 10 or 15 miles is achievable, maybe more. The use of repeaters can extend this a lot further. You might even decide to put a GMRS repeater on the air, which is not too difficult of a project.

Another common use of GMRS is when a group is traveling down the highway in multiple vehicles. Yes, you might be able to just use your mobile phone to stay in touch but a two-way radio may be a better solution (especially when mobile phone coverage is poor or non-existent). Many off-road vehicle clubs have discovered GMRS and use it for communicating during trail rides.

GMRS is also a great tool for outdoor activities such as camping, hunting, hiking and skiing. It is a handy way of staying in touch with your tribe, while not depending on the mobile phone network.


A GMRS handheld transceiver made by Wouxun.

GMRS often gets confused with the Family Radio Service (FRS). They both include the use of inexpensive, low-power handheld radios and they share many of the same frequencies. When the FCC authorized FRS, GMRS was already an established radio service and it squeezed FRS into the same band. FRS radios were limited to lower output power, so many manufacturers decided to offer combination FRS/GMRS radios, which operated at higher power levels. The user was supposed to obtain a GMRS license to use this type of radio but most people didn’t bother with it. (Most people probably didn’t even know of the requirement.)  The FCC also specified 2.5 kHz (half deviation) FM for the FRS radios on the same channels as the existing 5 kHz deviation GMRS radios. Intermingling an unlicensed radio service with a licensed service was probably not a wise move. In general, the FCC regulations caused a lot of confusion between the two services.

In 2017, the FCC adopted a major revision to the GMRS rules to clean up some of the problems with the service. In particular, the regulations now prohibit the sale of combination FRS/GMRS radios. A great idea but a bit too late in the game.

The GMRS rules are pretty easy to understand, so take a look here: FCC Part 95 – Personal Radio Services


There are basic handheld transceivers for GMRS. They look and act a lot like the FRS radios that are widely available, but GMRS can provide more capability. An advanced handheld radio will have support for using repeaters (transmit offset) and higher power (up to 5 watts).

This GMRS radio has the display and controls integrated into the microphone, for easy installation.

To dramatically improve the radio range, you can use GMRS mobile and base stations that can run even more power, up to 50 watts. More importantly, you can use external antennas on your vehicle or your house. These can make a huge difference in performance. (FRS is limited to handheld transceivers and the permanently-attached rubber duck antenna.)

For radio amateurs, this should all sound pretty familiar. GMRS looks and acts a lot like an FM transceiver on the 440 MHz (70 cm) band. It is a great alternative for local radio communications for people not interested in a technical hobby such as amateur radio.

The post GMRS: Basic Radio Communications appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

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

ICQ Podcast Episode 355 – Portable Operations Challenge 2021

In this episode, Martin (M1MRB) is joined by Leslie Butterfield G0CIB, Dan Romanchik KB6NU and Edmund Spicer M0MNG to discuss the latest Amateur / Ham Radio news. Colin (M6BOY) rounds up the news in brief and in the episode we feature Portable Operations Challenge 2021


We would like to thank Steve Murphy (M7XSM), Frank Westphal (K6FW), Nigel Wells (2W0CGM), Grant Porter (KG4SDR), Dino Papas KL0S, Dave Lufkin (KB3JRJ), and our monthly and annual subscription donors for keeping the podcast advert free. To donate, please visit -

  • Swiss Radio Amateurs Face Fee to use QO-100
  • Janet K0JE and Janice K0JA - Ham Radio Twins
  • FCC Reaffirms Fine for Marketing Non-Compliant RF Equipment
  • Ham Radio Helping Lifelong Hobbyists Stay Mentally Fit in Old Age
  • Presentation Tracks announced for QSO Expo
  • RSGB Publishes Amateur Radio Survey Summary
  • Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) Community Meeting

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

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