Getting on HF: The Fiddle Factor

We’ve had a steady stream of new licensees come into our radio club driven mostly by our highly-successful Technician license class. Many of these licensees have gone on to get their General license so they can have fun on the HF bands. I’ve given advice and aid to a variety of people as they get their HF station set up and I’ve come to appreciate that for Average Joe Ham this is a big step. I’ve also noted some recurring problems that get in the way of success on the HF bands, which I’d like to explore here. Recently, I asked my twitter followers for input and got some great ideas from them, too. Thanks!

A basic wire antenna for the high frequency (HF) bands.

Here’s what I came up with as the four main barriers to success on HF.

Antenna restrictions

The first barrier that pops up are antenna restrictions which can come in the form of zoning regulations, protective covenants (homeowners associations), spouse’s opinion, potential objections from neighbors and your own sense of aesthetics.  Any of these can limit the type and size of antennas you can or will install. More to the point, this can be a showstopper for some folks. They may decide that they simply can’t have an HF antenna on their property.

Of course, HF antennas tend to be large due to the longer wavelengths used (compared to simple VHF antennas). But there are some compact antenna designs that use magnetic loops, loading coils, etc.


The second issue that often pops up is radio frequency interference (RFI) from sources such as power lines and consumer devices. These issues can be very frustrating because you have to do two things: identify the source of the noise and eliminate it. If the problem is power line noise, your local utility is supposed to be capable of finding and correcting the problem. Some are better than others. Consumer devices are a huge problem due to the common use of high-speed digital circuits. If the interfering device is in your home, that makes it a bit easier to deal with…if it’s somewhere in the neighborhood, then its harder to diagnose and fix.

My twitter followers mentioned that solar electric systems often radiate RF energy (and they are a growing trend). Here in Colorado, we are seeing more problems with cannabis grow operations that use RF-ugly industrial grow lights.  But Part 15 consumer electronics are a big and growing problem…too often they are little RFI generators.


I hesitate to add cost to the list but I do think it’s a factor. A starter HF station costs something like this (your mileage may vary): $750 for a new transceiver (think Yaesu FT-450 class), $100 for a power supply, $100 for wire antenna (homebrew) and coax => ~$1000.  Yes, you can buy used gear and get this cost down…maybe to half ($500)?

Comparing this to a Baofeng HT purchase ($30), it is a lot more money. However, it is on the same level as other significant consumer electronics purchases such as a high end smartphone or mid-range notebook PC. As someone correctly pointed out to me, the utility of a notebook PC is very clear…you will get value out of it…but success with HF is still a gamble. What if you spend $1k on an HF station and never have any success with it?

Now let’s say the lot is not that big and there are only a few supports available to hang the antenna. Now you need to fiddle with the antenna design to perhaps shorten it and compromise how it is being hung. So we have an additional fiddle factor which results in an F2 (or F squared) situation.
Now suppose we decide to use a more finicky antenna design…perhaps a magnetic loop or a multiband dipole. (A magnetic is inherently narrowband, so you have to tune it for the specific operating frequency. A multiband dipole will need to be tuned for each band of operation and they usually interact.) This adds another fiddle factor bring us to an F3 level challenge. Next we consult our homeowners association rules and find out that there are physical restrictions on how we can mount an antenna…and they might be vague and arbitrary. This gets us into F4 territory.
Now put yourself in the position of a radio ham getting on HF the first time. These issues, especially the fiddle factor, can really get in the way of successful radio operating. In my next post, I’ll look at some ways of dealing with these issues.
73 Bob K0NR

The post Getting on HF: The Fiddle Factor 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].

LHS Episode #247: Linux Audio Deep Dive

Welcome to Episode 247 of Linux in the Ham Shack. In this episode, we take a deep look at audio routing in Linux. We examine topics from the different audio servers and subsystems in Linux, to applications for audio routing, broadcasting, digital audio workstations and more. To help us in our quest for deeper understanding, we have enlisted Noah Chelliah, KC0SKE, of the Ask Noah Show who lets us know just how little we know about audio on Linux. At least until the end of this episode. Thank you 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].

Weekly Propagation Summary – 2018 Sep 17 16:10 UTC

Weekly Propagation Summary (2018 Sep 17 16:10 UTC)

Here is this week’s space weather and geophysical report, issued 2018 Sep 17 0146 UTC.

Highlights of Solar and Geomagnetic Activity 10 – 16 September 2018

Solar activity was very low throughout the period. Region 2722 (S07, Lo=215, class/area Bxo/10 on 11 Sep) produced the strongest flare of the period, a B1 flare at 11/0759 UTC. The region decayed to plage in the following days. No Earth-directed CMEs were observed in available coronagraph imagery.

No proton events were observed at geosynchronous orbit.

The greater than 2 MeV electron flux at geosynchronous orbit ranged from normal background to high levels. High levels were reached on 12-16 Sep and moderate levels were reached on 10-11 Sep. All enhancements in electron flux are associated with the influence of a positive polarity CH HSS.

Geomagnetic field activity ranged from quiet to G2 (Moderate) geomagnetic storm levels. The onset of a CIR ahead of a positive polarity CH HSS on 10 Sep increased geomagnetic activity to G1 levels. As wind speeds increased to around 550 km/s on 11 Sep, geomagnetic activity further increased to G2 (Moderate) geomagnetic storm levels. Total magnetic field strength (Bt) peaked at 15 nT late on 10 Sep. Bt then decreased to near 5-6 nT by mid-day on 11 Sep, which decreased the geomagnetic response to mostly quiet to active levels. One additional period of isolated G1 (Minor) geomagnetic storming was observed early on 14 Sep. Wind speeds persisted at elevated levels through 16 Sep, with a notable increase to a peak around 650 km/s observed early on 15 Sep. As wind speeds decreased, quiet to unsettled levels on 15 Sep gave way to quiet levels on 16 Sep.

Forecast of Solar and Geomagnetic Activity 17 September – 13 October 2018

Solar activity is expected to be very low 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 at moderate levels on 06-08 Oct and at high levels for the remainder of the outlook period. All enhancements in electron flux are expected due to multiple, recurrent CH HSSs.

Geomagnetic field activity is expected to range from quiet to G2 (Moderate) geomagnetic storm levels. G2 (Moderate) geomagnetic storm levels are expected on 08 Oct; G1 (Minor) geomagnetic storm levels are expected on 07 Oct and 10 Oct; active conditions are expected on 17 Sep, 23 Sep, 02 Oct and 11 Oct; unsettled conditions are expected on 18 Sep, 24 Sep, 01 Oct, 09 Oct and 12 Oct. All levels of elevated geomagnetic activity are due to the anticipated influence of multiple, recurrent CH HSSs.

Don’t forget to visit our live space weather and radio propagation web site, at:

Live Aurora mapping is at

If you are on Twitter, please follow these two users: 1. 2.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Be sure to subscribe to our space weather and propagation email group, on

Spread the word!

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Links of interest:

+ Amazon space weather books:

Space Weather and Ham Radio YouTube Channel News:

I am working on launching a YouTube channel overhaul, that includes series of videos about space weather, radio signal propagation, and more.

Additionally, I am working on improving the educational efforts via the email, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, and other activities.

You can help!

Please consider becoming a Patron of these space weather and radio communications services, beginning with the YouTube channel:

The YouTube channel:


Tomas Hood, NW7US, is a regular contributor to 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 276 – Antennas for Portable Amateur / Ham Radio Operation

In this episode, Martin M1MRB is joined by Leslie G0CIB, Edmund M0MNG, Matthew M0NJX and Bill N3JIX to discuss the latest Amateur / Ham Radio news. Colin M6BOY rounds up the news in brief, and this episode’s feature is - Antenna for Portable Amateur / Ham Radio Operation bu Ed Durrant DD5LP


We would like to thank Neil Connor (M6CUE) and our monthly and annual subscription donors for keeping the podcast advert free. To donate, please visit -

  • 100th Anniversary of the First Radio Contact Between Australia and United Kingdom
  • MB7PBR DAPNET POCSAG Pager Gateway Licensed
  • Teenage Amateur Radio Operator Makes Contact with Spanish Royalty
  • UK Amateur Radio Licensing History
  • Lunar Satellite Transmits Pictures to Radio Hams
  • 100th Anniversary of Poland's Independence
  • Brazilian Access to Amateur Radio Bands Increases
  • Introduction to Amateur Digital Television Booklet

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

AmateurLogic 121: Hamfests from Huntsville to Tokyo

AmateurLogic.TV Episode 120 is now available for download.

In this episode we cover a few new products and fun at Huntsville Hamfest and Tokyo Hamfair.



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].

The Fall “Classic Exchange”

W7OS - Radio Club of Tacoma working the CX
This fall's running of the CW "Classic Exchange" will take place on Sunday, September 23 and on Tuesday, September 25. The following week will see the Phone "Classic Exchange", on Sunday, September 30 and on Tuesday, October 2.

The "CX" encourages participants to use older vintage gear including any homebrew equipment, both receivers and transmitters. A unique scoring system provides bonus points for various equipment and combinations as well as encouraging 'repeat contacts' when you switch to different equipment.

W8KM and his wonderful vintage station

No vintage gear? ... no problem! All amateurs are invited to participate and get in on the fun no matter what they are using and submit their scores.

K3MD's Heathkit AT-1 and Hallicrafters HT-37 ready for the CX

The CX is a low-key relaxing affair and the 'extra' Tuesday operating period should encourage a lot of midweek activity from the vast numbers of retired operators who cherish and run older gear.

Lots of combos ready at W4BOH's CX setup

K6ZI, Las Vegas - WWII ARC-5s ready to go

For complete details, see the web site announcement here.

If you've never entered the Classic Exchange, why not give it a try this year as it truly is a case of 'the more the merrier' ... and eastern operators, make sure to keep the porch light on for us out west!

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

Amateur Radio Weekly – Issue 218

Preparing Ham Radio response to Hurricane Florence
Amateur radio emergency communications groups throughout North and South Carolina and surrounding areas are gearing up for a possibly massive impact on communications infrastructure.
CQ Newsroom

How to listen to Hurricane Watch Net frequencies
The Hurricane Watch Net is a group of amateur radio operators who are trained and organized “to provide essential communications support to the National Hurricane Center during times of Hurricane emergencies.”
The SWLing Post

Worldwide refractive index forecasts
Maps are fully customizable and show refractive index from 80° S to 80° N worlwide.
Beyond the Horizon

[PDF] Introduction to Amateur Digital Television
High-Definition, Digital, Amateur Television — Confirmation photo showing an image received over a distance of 77 miles using a 3 watt, DVB-T transmitter.

ARRL September VHF 2018 results
Rain on Saturday, Cloudy and Dry on Sunday. Good fun but exhausting.

Electronics concept posters
We’ve covered Ohm’s Law, Alternating Current vs Direct Current and Analog and Digital Signals. Each poster is high-resolution and ready to print out up to 24″ x 36″.
SparkFun Electronics

Virtual serial port options for Ham Radio operators
For Hams looking for a reliable solution to create virtual COM port pairs on Windows.

Ham Shack-In-A-Box
With a go box, having all my radios are mounted in a single portable box with the radio gear and power connections set up means I will have much longer to operate – and that much more isn’t left to chance.
Soliloquy Blog

Testing FreeDV: Digital voice over HF
This video shows the 700C mode having the ability to decode with 50% of its carriers removed.

Installing Winlink on a Raspberry Pi
Installing and setting up Pat Winlink on a RPi 3.

Forwarding WSJT-X QSOs to Ham Radio Deluxe
Setup WSJT-X to forward QSOs to HRD Logbook without having to use additional software. Works with FT8Call too.

Receiving GOES-15,16,17 and Himawari 8 HRIT
In this video we go through the hardware and software needed to receive these gorgeous images and what is contained in the signals we receive.
The Thought Emporium


Get Amateur Radio Weekly in your inbox.

Sign-up here

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

Subscribe FREE to's
Amateur Radio Newsletter

We never share your e-mail address.

Do you like to write?
Interesting project to share?
Helpful tips and ideas for other hams?

Submit an article and we will review it for publication on!

Are you a reporter covering ham radio?
Find ham radio experts for your story.

How to Set Up a Ham Radio Blog
Get started in less than 15 minutes!

  • Matt W1MST, Managing Editor

Sign up for our free
Amateur Radio Newsletter

Enter your e-mail address: