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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Tuning SWR with an Antenna Analyzer

If you’re at all into antennas aside from your handheld rubber duck antenna, you should try to get an antenna analyzer. Here I am using a RigExpert AA-600: Before using this device, I would just go by the radio’s SWR reading (a poor display of SWR “bars”) to determine if I was close to resonance. The quad-band vertical antenna I have supposedly works with 10m, 6m, 2m, and 40cm. I never had much success with adjusting the end tip of the antenna for 10m until I started evaluating readings using the AA-600. My target frequency was 28.400 MHz for the LARC weekly 10m net, and 28.457 MHz for the SDARC… Read More

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80m RTTY

I found a load of RTTY on 80m band on Sunday night (1/7/2018). I tuned to 3580 kHz and found a particularly strong signal, so I hooked up my USB soundcard to my laptop, fired up fldigi and made attempts to reply, but I guess my QRP setup didn’t get heard in all the pileup chatter. Turns out, January 6-7 was “ARRL RTTY Roundup“, a nationwide contest to make contacts in the digital format, so it was easy to catch the conversations on almost all HF bands. I found the CQ‘s in this format a bit odd, and didn’t really know how to format my responses or how to call… Read More

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What is this transmission?

I checked in to W6VVR Vaca Valley Radio Club net this evening and they said post-net they’d be hopping on to 7.190MHz. Quickly set up my bugcatcher for 40m and listened, but nothing heard, except for a QSO in progress on 7.192 from Arizona to Los Angeles. So I thought I’d tune around on the new Extra sections of 7.075-7.100MHz (Hawaii and Alaska can use this for voice, but we mainlanders can’t.) Was expecting CW and perhaps some blurty digital sounds. Instead I found this: What is this? I imagine it’s a digital mode (somewhat like Olivia) but I’ve never heard anything like it. Makes me think of a harmonic… Read More

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Got my first QSL card!

Whoa. Unexpected but received my first QSL card in the mail today from my 2nd ever (and farthest so far) interstate contact: WD1W in Colorado. What a great ham tradition. I gotta get me some QSL cards made up to send to people.

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First HF QSOs! ID, CO, and SoCal

This afternoon I went to my brother-in-law’s property about 8 miles from my house, where he has nice wide open lot, and I set up my N9SAB 40m-6m off-center fed dipole with a portable flagpole (20ft high). I figured the open space would do some good for the signal. I set up with an inverted V configuration, had my FT-857D with YT-100 tuner and 7ah battery, and even unfolded the 39w solar panel to help the battery. My goal was to make my first contact on 20m today. I tuned around on 14MHz and heard a very busy band, with a couple of notable hams blasting through with their high… Read More

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