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QSL: LoTW or Direct

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I received my Novice license in 1979 at the age of 15 and was issued the call sign KA8HLX. I upgraded to General shortly thereafter but retained my novice call sign. My first rig was a Heathkit HW-8 that I built myself and I was limited to QRP CW exclusively in those early years. After starting college in 1982 I operated very sporadically over the next couple of years until I went totally QRT in March 1984. College, then career, and then family commitments kept me away from the hobby. However, I kept my license up to date and after 30+ years I'm back on the air! I passed the Extra Class exam in January 2015 and subsequently changed my call to AK5SD.


I upload to Logbook of the World (LoTW) regularly. I'm also happy to send out a paper QSL card upon request or if you send me your card and a SASE. My QRZ picture shows the front of my QSL card. The artwork was done by Jeff, K1NSS, over at www.dashtoons.com. If you'd like your own custom QSL design, give him a shout.

Summits on the Air (SOTA)

On February 28, 2015 I had a chance QSO with a station calling "CQ for Summits on the Air". That station was being operated by Patrick, KI4SVM, and I responded to his CQ to find out what he was doing operating from a mountaintop. SOTA is a organization of radio amateurs that encourages portable operation in mountainous areas. There are awards for activators (those who ascend to the summits) and chasers (who either operate from home, a local hilltop or are even Activators on other summits). By the time the QSO was over, I knew I wanted to get involved in SOTA. I love to hike and I enjoy ham radio, so why not put the chocolate and peanut butter together?

I hastily assembled a portable station consisting of an Elecraft KX3 in a custom made go-box and an AlexLoop antenna. I made my first summit activation on May 12, 2015 on my way to the Dayton Hamvention. I've been having great fun with it ever since. My go-box was recently feature on the QRPer blog. You can find a bill of materials there if you want to make one of your own.

KX3 Go-Box

KX3 Go-Box

Activating Mt. Herman with Steve, WG0AT and his goats, Peanut and Boo.

Activating Mt. Herman with WG0AT

Peanut letting me know who the alpha goat is.

Facing off with Peanut

In April of 2016 I earned the "Shack Sloth" certificate by accumulating 1,000 chaser points. I still have a long way to go before earning the coveted "Mountain Goat" award, but I am working on it!

Since I have to travel in order to do most of my summit activations (Central Texas does not have many SOTA summits), I've had the opportunity to activate in numerous different associations. In June of 2017 I activated my 10th association to earn the Mountain Explorer Silver award.

My Home Station

My first rig at the home QTH after getting back into the hobby was a Kenwood TS-590S. I modified the Kenwood to use a FUNcube Dongle Pro+ as a pan-adapter controlled by the Windows software HDSDR (running under Parallels). This is a great performing radio and panadater setup for under $2000.

Intrigued by how the pan-adapter changed my operating style and enjoyment, in December 2016 I took the plunge an bought a FlexRadio Systems FLEX-6300 software defined radio (SDR). There are still things I like about the TS-590S better, such as knobbed controls and better noise reduction, but FlexRadio now has the Maestro control console and they are reportedly working to improve the noise mitigation features in SmartSDR. The FLEX-6300 is driving a multi-band resonant end-fed antenna from the HyEnd Company up about 10 meters.

My shack computer is a 15" MacBook Pro driving a Dell UltraSharp U3415W 34-inch wide-screen monitor. Software includes SmartSDR for controlling the FLEX-6300, MacLoggerDX for logging and spotting, and FLDIGI for digital modes. Using Parallels virtualualization software, I am able to run Windows programs and Mac programs side-by-side.

FlexRadio Systems FLEX-6300

HyEndFed 5-band 80/40/20/(15)/10m Resonant End-Fed Antenna

HyEndFed 5 Band 80/40/20/(15)/10m Resonant End-Fed Antenna

MacLoggerDX and SmartSDR running on a Dell UltraSharp U3415W Wide-Screen Monitor

Other Awards

DXCC Mixed

DXCC Phone

8313087 Last modified: 2017-09-04 16:58:56, 7145 bytes

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