Posts Tagged ‘Condo ham radio’

My QRP signal is spotted in Europe!

I had some down time over the weekend and felt it was time to spin the K3's VFO and see what was out there. I started on 15m it really did not seem all that busy but I was hearing some German stations so the band was open. My Elecraft P3 is great as I was able to get a snapshot of the CW portion of 15m. This allows me to not spend time moving up and down the band blindly and maybe just missing some stations as they end their transmission. One could end up concluding the band is dead and move on when in fact they just missed a station or stations calling CQ and waiting for a reply.  I ended up calling CQ in and around the QRP watering hole at 21.060, in the past I have checked the Reverse Beacon Network (or RBN)  just to see how my QRP signal was doing. At this new QTH
P3 on 20m showing some signals
for some reason I have been only able to get spotted in Canada and the U.S. To my surprise when I checked RBN I had been spotted in Hungary, Switzerland and Germany. I was very shocked and it kept me on the band calling CQ. Unfortunately there was no answers I then moved onto 17m and was spotted in France but again no answers to my CQ! I then ventured down to my standby band of 20m and found F5GPE Pierre calling CQ. His signal was in around 559 and I gave him a call and he came back to me with a report of 539. I did send him an email thanking him for the contact, he did get back to me giving me more details about his setup.

It’s a cold one out there!

Steam coming off the water down at the lake
The little motor in the antenna
Today is supposed to be one of the coldest days this winter and up to this point we have had some very cold days! This morning I went out to get our food shopping done and going from the car to the market it was so cold it took your breath away. We live in a condo and in the underground garage the temp was -7C, most of the time it's well above 0C but not today. The temp this morning without the windchill was -22C and the weather is forecasting later later today with the windchill it  will drop to around -40C!! Today is a good time to stay indoors and play radio. The MFJ 1788 seems to have no problem in this cold weather. As a matter of fact the colder the weather be better the SWR, the little motor that operates the large capacitor has no problems in this weather. This afternoon I'm hanging out on 20m at the QRP watering hole of 14.060 calling CQ and listening. I was calling on 15m and it really did not seem like the band was open I then moved up to 20m. Since I was calling CQ I checked the Reverse Beacon Network and noticed that on 15m I was spotted by F5MUX from France. This is the first spot EVER for me from my new location being spotted  outside of the U.S. Well it's getting late in the afternoon and I was skunked on the bands today…..oh well maybe later this evening!

Armchair ham radio at it’s best!

The armchair setup
There have been evenings when Im relaxing and icing on the cake to the evening would be the added flavour of ham radio. Having said that I do have a "shack" in the condo but there are times when you are in the Lazy boy chair and sitting in the cold hard wooden chair at the radio desk just does not turn my crank! While relaxing in the chair and thinking of radio I came up with a nice solution to bringing ham radio to the Lazy boy chair. On a side table I am able to comfortably place my Elecraft KX3 and the MFJ 1788 control head. I ran a shorter piece of RG8X coax from the MFJ 1788 loop to it's control box. From the control box to the KX3 the RG8X is rather bulky so I used a piece of RG58U coax that came with BNC connectors on each end. The MFJ control box require a voltage source from 9 to 16 volts to work. To make things more simple I used a 13 volt DC power pack that I can recharge. The KX3 is powered by my Astron power supply back at the radio desk, in the condo that is not to far
A closer look 
away. The key Im using is my Palm radio mini Paddle since the KX3 is on a side table to my left using the KX3 paddle would be awkward. The Palm paddle can nicely sit in front of me and I have a 3 ring binder with a metal plate on it the palm paddles magnets hold it secure. I brought along my iPad mini as I can look calls up on QRZ.COM and am looking into a logging program for it, one that I can upload to LOTW and club log.  During my short operation on Saturday evening I was able to contact VE1BA in Nova Scotia my RST was 589 with some QSB and our QSO was a KX3 x KX3 and QRP x QRP contact. It was a nice QSO as we chatted about the weather, antennas and rigs. On Sunday I was almost able to complete a contact with W9MIC as the conditions on 20m were not all that great. I really can't log W9MIC as the contact really was not completed as we both faded into the noise floor. Another benefit of this setup is I have the opportunity to use my KX3 and become more familiar with it. There have been times when I have been using my KX3 out in the park and forgot how to do certain functions……maybe those moments will be far and few between.
The op desk with Palm paddle

Weather VS MFJ 1788 loop

Outcome of my damp MFJ 1788
The weather has been up and down up this way from snow and minus 2C then up to plus 14C it's the top end of the temp scale that I enjoy but that will soon come to an end as winter is on it's way! While on the subject of the warmer weather also comes showers and damp weather, for some reason this has an affect on my MFJ 1788 isoloop. In past I have found my antenna to be SWR sensitive to the damp and or humid weather. I had posted on some of the mag loop user groups to see if  others had the same issue. I was not able to get lots of responses but the consensus was that weather really had no effect on others loop! I ended up taking my loop apart and just checking out the insides and all looked good.
The work of the internal tuner
Once the damp and or humid weather changed all was well with the loop. The effect on the antenna is the SWR will not go below 2.7:1 on any given band but any other time the SWR would be either flat or close to it. I posted about this very problem this past summer on my blog and it really was not a humid summer so the problem did not arise that often. Now that it has happened again my own conclusion is the damp weather has an effect on the dielectric characteristics of the air that separates the capacitor plates in the antenna. This by no means is a scientific conclusion but as for simple old me it's the conclusion I am leaning toward. I do have an internal antenna tuner in the Elecraft K3 and my Elecraft KX3,
The SWR of the antenna
this allows me to lower the SWR so the rig does not see the high SWR.

Almost QRP/QRP contact

My drive to get our snows on....just in time!
Relaxing at the radio with some tea
Have to go into work on Sunday so I wanted to spend some relaxing time at the radio this afternoon and see what was up on the bands. I started out on 17m and it did have some DX on there but it faded very fast. I then received a call from our veterinary that our cats food was in for pickup so it was off to get that. When I returned it seemed that 17m things were just not happening. I jumped down to 20m and came across KB3RUN/QRP calling CQ I came back to him and he did hear me BUT this nasty QRN came over the radio and wiped out his signal all together. It seems to be a plasma TV that is in the area somewhere and by the time I filtered it out KB3RUN/QRP was gone. I did send an email just to let him know I did not forget about him. Most times on my contacts and almost contacts I send an email to thank the op for the contact.

Nice to get back in the radio chair agian.

Nice to get back on the air again
Just this morning I was looking over my last blog post and could not believe it was posted 3 weeks ago! I will say that things here at VE3WDM have been busy and it has not been with radio time. We had our Thanksgiving holiday last weekend and that weekend was packed with family things, shopping and making a turkey dinner. This year for the first time I tried cooking the turkey on the BBQ using the rotisserie, seems it turns out much better when the bird is done old style in the and learn. The other sliver of my time was taken up with work and once you factor in sleeping and eating not much time was left for radio. Last evening I pulled a 12 hour evening shift at work and arrived home this morning not feeling to bad so Julie and went out for a nice breakfast and then home to some well deserved radio time. The rig was tuned to 17m and I heard GI4DOH calling
loud and clear  from Northern Ireland. I gave him some calls but was not heard but I did hang in there and finally my 5 watts made it to him. It was nice to get back on the radio as I find this to be a very relaxing time. I then jumped off 17m and over to 20m but there was a huge contest presence there (not that there is anything wrong with that I am a huge contest fan) so it was back up to 17m again. It seemed that for this afternoon Richard was going to be my only contact but it sure was nice to get back on the air again!

Another QRPp contact with the MFJ 1788 antenna

Transmitting with my wet noodle
I was off work on Friday and in the afternoon I found some time to get on the radio, I was pleased to see conditions had somewhat improved. The bands most active for me were 20 and 17 meters. The MFJ 1788 loop was very good at picking up DX I heard but was not able to contact G3XOV from England his signal was a strong S8 but as I waited for him to clear the callers who were before me his signal faded to S2 I still tried but was not able to make the contact. I then came across a station who's call started with "Z" that letter always gets my attention. From these parts a "Z" call could be very good DX. The call was Z63MED very odd call I thought maybe a special event station, I looked it up on QRZ.COM and found out it was a station from Kosovo. This country is still a developing story when it comes to ham radio. It does not as of yet have DXCC recognition as it just became a country in 2008. For more Kosovo ham radio history go to QRZ.COM and look up the call Z60A this is the call for the Amateur Radio Society of Kosovo.
Now for the exciting news…….I ended up only making one contact and it was with EG4GET and this I found out was a special event station in Spain and has to do with football or soccer as we know it here in North America. There are 20 special event stations you can contact and contact (from North America) with 5 gets you a silver award and 10 will get you the gold award, for more information follow this link . So back to the exciting news…….I dropped the power on my K3 to 1 watt and made the contact with this special event station without really any trouble for a distance of 3,754 miles per watt! Looking back when I moved into the condo and only being able to use a small antenna  in less than ideal conditions I felt my DX was going to be south of the boarder and that's it. I have come full circle to hitting over and above thousand miles per watt contacts. My record for miles per watt at this location is still 18,470 per watt in the ARRL CW contest.

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!

Have a ham radio product or service?
Consider advertising on our site.

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: