The Other Side of SOTA: Failed Chasing

In today’s episode, I go on my typical Lunch Time on the Air™ (LTOTA) during my lunch hour at work in Rancho Cordova, and I fail at chasing two of my friends activating Summits on the Air (SOTA): – Jose K6HZR activating San Juan Hill (1 pt) W6/CT-230 – Scott N0OI activating Bertha Peak (8 pts) W6/CT-103 Heard voices on Jose’s frequency, but couldn’t verify if it was him. Heard lots of chasers answering Scott, but I guess he couldn’t hear me. In any case, it’s great to know fellow ham friends are out and about, and I’ll try to do my part to help them even if I don’t… Read More

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CW and FT8 and PSK, oh my!

In the past month, I’ve finally unblocked my antenna issues and made great strides in the digital realm of ham radio. Using the PreciseRF HG-1 magnetic loop antenna along with my RigExpert AA-600 to get the lowest possible SWR, I have found that I can get out to virtually all over the country simply from putting the antenna on the street. The loop only supports max 45W PEP, so it is definitely a low-power antenna. But I can only imagine how it would function if I were in a flat field or on a peak. With gray-line propagation some days, I see strong signal spots via Reverse Beacon Network or… Read More

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First CW QSO Confirmed

Today I received my first reply QSL card. And for a CW QSO, no less!   On March 7, 2018, during my lunch break I set up my mobile 40m hamstick in the office parking lot and surfed around the CW frequencies of 40m (i.e. 7.000 to 7.125 MHz). It was mostly me calling CQ and with no replies, but toward the end of the lunch hour, I heard someone coming in pretty loud, and slow enough that I could (mostly) make out the characters. By the second callsign send, I could visualize: AB6ET. I hoped I was getting it right. When AB6ET finished, I sent out, “AB6ET DE AD6DM… Read More

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Choosing the Next Rig

In my quest to find the next portable rig (I already decided), I made a comparison sheet with stats about the various rigs I was considering. Here is my portable rig matrix (including handhelds). Hopefully this list could be of help to others.  Bear in mind, I had specific goals in this rig evaluation: Portability of station setup Ease of use in multiple modes CW practice wherever I was Expansion of my amateur radio capabilities into other modes, e.g. APRS, packet, digital HF, base and mobile antenna improvement Versatility and integration with my existing setup While I was dead set on getting the Elecraft KX3 fully loaded, I decided… Read More

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Wiring a CW Paddle

Many HF transceivers use a stereo jack for the internal electronic keyer. Some have a 1/4″ jack, others have a 3.5mm jack. This is a note on how most of these are wired to a CW paddle. On a TRS cable (tip ring sleeve 3.5mm) Red: tip (left, dit) White: ring (right, dah) Yellow: sleeve (common ground) (this wire could also be black) If you’re right-handed, use the left paddle for the dit, which would go to the tip of the plug which would be the red connection. The white connection is the dah (right paddle) which goes to “ring” on the plug, adjacent to the tip. The common ground… Read More

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More CW Practice

Merry Christmas! Today I landed upon a video by KJ4YZI Eric of HamRadioConcepts (https://youtu.be/Jls-PiR-dBI) entitled “How I learned Morse code fast and easy”. I found the title suspect because CW is neither fast nor easy, but he did help me a lot with this simple video. He learned with the help of an Android app called Morse CT that allows him to practice by tapping the alphabet and numbers on his phone. It never occurred to me that I could tap on my phone screen to learn sending. I have been so slow going because the Koch method is tedious and very hard in the beginning. I was thinking I… Read More

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Being a Ham Means Figuring Things Out

A setback day today, as I finally received a USB audio cable for my attempts to use fldigi with my mac laptop (one of the few SDR programs that works on macOS). I was so looking forward to CQ’ing on my available bands with CW in an automated sense, but no luck. The USB audio cable I ordered (manufactured in Greece, no less), doesn’t seem to work. It is quite frustrating to wait forever for the requisite parts only for me to once again face the world of failure and non-support on Apple Mac computers. The ham software world is very driven by Windows software, something hams really need to… Read More

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