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My dog, Mr. Socks

I have been licensed for quite some time (since 1983) but I was dormant on HF after only 3 years. 25 years later, in 2011, I went back on the air. Now with a couple more years behind me, I'm having a lot of fun and it is still exciting to make a QSO.

The latest addition to my shack and collection of radios is a KX2.  My KX3 is wonderful (now my main rig at the home station), but the KX2 is so darned small that it is a much better companion for travel.  The KX2 made a quantum leap in battery usability and life with the Li-ion internal.  Not a perfect solution, but there is little else that compares to it.  I have been working on shedding unnecessary items and recently I have been operating with a wire, counterpoise and the internal tuner or a mag loop I built.  I often launch a wire with a slingshot, but believe it or not, there are a number of states in which it is illegal to own/use a slingshot.  Since I go to several of these states, I definitely do not look for trouble. 

If you have come to find information on my trips to Tanzania, click here for my 5H3DX QRZ page. There also is information regarding the organization for which I work on the previous link, or found at http://ihptz.org

I have had the pleasure of five mini-expeditions to Tanzania (5H9CP & 5H3DX), one to South Africa (ZS1/VE3ISD), also Bonaire (PJ4/NK8O) and St. Thomas USVI (NK8O/KP2). As always, it is nice to be on the receiving end of a pile-up. Bonaire was quite fun; QRP with a simple vertical clipped on a bush in the front of the house. I managed just shy of 500 QSOs, recorded 66 DXCC entities and 36 states.  For Tanzanian operations, I have added the KXPA100 and PX3.  I had a bit more signal than I had last time.  I am a little more prepared for pileups, although I admit that I am not a mega-DX hound. I have a hexbeam in Tanzania that is not yet put together put together because it lacks a tower or suitable pole.  A tuned vertical works very well but a long doublet between the mango trees does a great job.  The bands have not been great, and it's amazing that each year has been worse than the previous one.  My 2017 trip is over now. Plans were to operate digitial modes, but that didn't happen due to a soundcard dongle that went missing in action.  I did activate the first AllStar node ever in East Africa though.  There's a trip in the offing for 2018.

I now have achieved DXCC with my 5H3DX call at 100 watts.  NK8O has 122 DXCC entities confirmed, with well over 100 of those were worked with 5 watts.

PX3 on 10 meters. Who says there's never any activity on 10 meters?  Well, maybe not lately...

If you think QRP is a waste of time, then try the thrill of working Slovenia (over 1000 miles/watt), Estonia, France, Italy, Russia (Moscow), and yes, even Christmas Island (Kiritimati) on 5 watts and in less than 3 months on the air! I'm sure others have done better but it's great stuff nonetheless. I now have worked all 50 states QRP and I have over 100 QSOs at more than 1000 miles per watt.  I was quite thrilled to work Neil, V73NS, on Marshall Island through a huge pileup.

Best distance to date: 10,354 miles or 2.07 miles per milliwatt to 3B8CF in Maritius, 28 March 2012 on 30 meters. It continues to engender great excitement when these ops reply. Slightly less notable but no less of a feat, I am able to work my brother-in-law, WB8CMU - Fred, QRP to QRP. Fred is very restricted with his antenna setup. Not a reliable path by any means, but we have had times where we sounded like a full KW to each other (or close enough!). I was in Ohio recently at Fred's QTH, and we both were able to work Rodriguez Island with his 817ND and 4 watts.  That is almost 2500 miles per watt on HF.

Industry Canada was kind enough to reactivate my Canadian station license. I was assigned VE3ISD. This call used to belong to friend and mentor, Eric Stabler. Eric is now a silent key, but it is fitting to remember him and to reactivate his call sign. He was a strong proponent of Morse code and an excellent teacher. He donated many hours to Amateur Radio as a traffic handler on the NTS, worked to teach many students the art of Morse code, and volunteered for numerous events in the Niagara Peninsula for the NPARC. Eric is gone, but not forgotten.

I have completed a few, and I have several projects in process. I love the smell of rosin and firing up the soldering iron. Here is the RF board of my K2 in progress. Now completed, it is a fun radio to use.

 

K2 serial number 7525

The rig was "deaf" on 17 meters, but I finally sent it back to Elecraft and they fixed it without charge.  It was a bad component causing the problem. I also had Elecraft fix whatever I had done wrong in assembling the ATU.  Everything works well now.  CAT works under Linux and OS X (I'm not a Windows user). There was a small RTFM issue with CAT.  It helps when you read the directions and find that the port speed for the K2 is 4800 baud. Linux doesn't care about the port setting but OS X does.

I can't emphasize enough how wonderful it is to work with a company like Elecraft. For every problem I have encountered with any of the radios, they have been prompt and exceedingly helpful in resolving any issues. Nothing against any of the big players, Icom, Yaesu, and Kenwood. They have some fine products and I have owned radios from each of them. But I can guarantee the principal designers won't work with you to fix any issues you might have. Nonetheless, this is standard for Elecraft.

Current home station - KX3/PX3 with amp, TenTec 539, IC-7100, Mac mini with dual monitors.
Yes, that is an old CB radio on the left. I'm not a snob, but honestly, I never hear anything on that rig.

Second desk has a K2, HW8, 4sQRP Cricket & the Hardrock 50 (not shown)

Latest acquisition is an Icom IC-7100.  It is being used to experiement with digital modes.  The TenTec 539 - Argonaut VI.  It is a nice radio, but it gets used mostly with the HR-50 so I have auto-tune capabilities. The HR-50 can be used in QRP mode if desired.  The amp does not need to be inline.  I just don't like twiddling with knobs on a tuner that much anymore, and the 539 does not have an option for an internal tuner. I'm glad I bought the 539 when I did.  The retail price has doubled and the so has the selling price.  The 539 has a problem with keying. When you use a straight key, it is VERY sensitive to any resistance in the keying line.  It tends to make the rig "stutter" and takes perfectly good hand keying sound a little sloppy, due to clipping the beginning of the element.  This is overcome by using the DIN connector on the back of the rig to key it.  I had a cable made for my straight key, and to have the radio key my amplifiers.  It is a significant improvement.  The 539 has some nice features but I must say that overall, even the aging K2 seems to be a better radio in a lot of ways.  It is sad that TenTec appears to be defunct now, or at least a very user unfriendly company if it does come back to life.  We shall see what happens.

The build of my Hardrock 50 amplifier amplifier was a good project.  It is quite a nice kit and generally very easy to build. The transformers are a minor challenge.  I am a little proud of the nice, neat toroids.  The autotuner for the HR-50 is now installed and it is a fine addition to my station.  This amp is useful with the TT-539 and even though the KX2 has an autotuner built in, with a small interface it will do automatic band switching. This makes it ideal for field use if you can afford the weight and want a little extra power.  The autotuner also can be used in "QRP mode" simply to add tuning functionality to rigs without internal tuners, or used with the cloud burning 50 watt output.

 

I recently assembled the KXPA100 amplifier for the KX3.  Mostly I wanted it for operating from Tanzania.  It's not fair to be a juicy DX station and not have enough power even to be heard.  Changes to the regulations in Tanzania no longer specifically prohibit amplifiers. The rules in Tanzania now only specify a maximum station output of 100 watts.  I have a station that remains at the hospital complex, so I don't have to carry the entire station back and forth anymore.

Wow, this radio stuff is FUN!

SKCC #8952T
NAQCC #5873
4SQRP #843

My current favorite keys: Paddle UR5CDX CT 73 MB.  An excellent key with fine workmanship and very solid.  UR5CDX's keys are very reasonably priced.  They also are much better than what you will find from most other makers and by far the best value for money. (http://www.ur5cdx.com).  If you are considering a new paddle, I urge you to look at Yuri's offerings. I have no financial interests in his endeavor, but he makes a very high quality product at a bargain price.

Straight key: Begali Spark. Different from most keys I have used before, but it is stable and very smooth.  I hesitated to purchase another Begali key due to the price, but this one is reasonable compared to the competition, and well worth the investment.

Begali Blade.  It's a pleasure to pound brass with this key.

Begali Blade

This is my latest experiment, a homebrew magnetic loop antenna. It breaks down into suitcase sized parts.  So far, I have worked a number of DX stations, including Wales, Spain, France, Madeira Island, and I also added Algeria to my DXCC.

One of the best things about Amateur Radio as a hobby is that there is always something new to do.  I added Allstar to my radio repetoire.  It is a mode that uses a conventional FM, VHF or UHF, and routes it out to the world via an open source telephony program known as Asterisk.  It has remarkable fidelity, and it is reminiscent of what repeaters used to be "back in the day."  The difference is this: instead of having one repeater connected, there may be as many as 100 repeaters, various Allstar nodes, Echolink nodes, and cross-mode bridges from DMR and other digital modes.  My local repeater was so "dead" that I gave up on it long ago.  This gives new life to my FM handheld radios.  I have spoken simulataneously in a round-table discussion to stations in diverse corners of the world!  Some would argue that it's "not ham radio" because audio goes over the Internet.  I would argue that it is amateur innovation at its best, making use of diverse technologies to add to the hobby.  One of the largest (the largest?) hubs is in the UK.  Aside from the novelty of hearing the UK accents and many others as though they were next door, there is a certain amount of charm in the etiquette one finds there.  (https://www.hubnetwork.uk, nodes: 41223, 41522, or low bandwidth 43845.  Echolink node: 393154)

I should add a note about my logging program. I use RumLogNG, a Mac only program written by Tom, DL2RUM.  It's freeware, and the latest incarnation is available on the Appstore.  There's a companion program for iPad as well.  These are freeware, but right up there with the best software I have ever used.  RumLogNG has a "Contest Window" built-in, so it is possible to move pretty seamlessly between regular logging and DX or contest logging.

When I am not on HF, you often can find me on CWCOM, channel 1000, sending Morse code over the internet.  I have found working non-ham Morse ops to be a lot of fun. Both my sending and receiving has improved greatly, because these guys can talk forever.  I have met and "worked" ops in Australia, China, Germany, India, Italy, UK, USA, and New Zealand.

I think you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.  I have been having a bit of fun of late, operating on PSK31 and some of the other digital modes.  Fldigi is a pretty amazing computer program. 

Finally, if you've read this far, you might not mind a little brag line.  The 2015 ARRL Field Day results are posted.  For my first solo endeavor, I placed #1 in both Kansas and Midwest Division in the 1B1B category, and #8 nationwide in the same category.  I was #4 in Kansas for all classes and all multipliers.  It was fun, but I think I will go multi-op next time I make a serious Field Day effort.  I only worked about 14 hours of the 28 hour event because I'm getting too old to go without sleep forever and a day.

72/73,

Chas

NK8O
5H3DX
VE3ISD
PJ4/NK8O
NK8O/KP2
ex VE3OCF, N8FZR, 5H9CP

 

 

 

8564439 Last modified: 2018-01-07 02:16:38, 15775 bytes

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QRZ Logbook Summary for - NK8O
Latest Contacts for NK8O at QRZ.com
dedateband mode grid Country op
HC1MD 2014-02-09 30m CW FI09ts Ecuador Dr. Rick Dorsch (NE8Z)
WIAW/KH6 2014-02-09 20m CW EM17iq United States
K2HRS 2014-02-08 20m CW FN10rc United States George
WA5RML 2014-02-08 20m CW EM12jq United States Andy
FK8IK 2014-02-08 10m CW RG37fr New Caledonia Michel (Mic) AUSSOURD
NA6D 2014-02-08 10m CW CM98ir United States Ralph
J38XX 2014-02-08 10m CW FK92dc Grenada Ulf Ehrlich
WB8CMU 2014-02-08 30m CW EN90im United States Fritz
KO8L 2014-02-08 30m CW EN91gi United States Dale
FK8DD 2014-02-07 10m CW RG37fs New Caledonia (Sam) Samuel TOROPE
AB7LK 2014-02-07 10m CW CN86ng United States Gary
W1AW/KH6 2014-02-07 10m CW EM17iq United States
VY2CAK 2014-02-07 10m CW FN86oe Canada Darin
W7MDK 2014-02-07 10m CW DN16sl United States Dick
ZS1JX 2014-02-07 40m CW JF96ri South Africa Peter

Book Totals: 1307 qso's   439 confirmed Get a free logbook at QRZ.COM


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