May 28, 2023

1900 US Counties Confirmed on

A BIG thank you to Richard, N7WFK, located in Canadian County, Oklahoma, for being my 1900th United States County contact confirmed on LoTW and (1900 out of 3,007).

I noticed that it took me much longer to complete the last 100 Counties than it did to go from 1700 to 1800 Counties.  My q-rate for making contacts with new US Counties has noticeably decreased.  All the same, I am undeterred as completing contacts with all 3,007 US Counties is a long-term goal.  One thing that I have learned in life is to enjoy the journey more than the arriving at the destination.

Chasing US Counties is great fun and if you are looking for a new challenge in amateur radio, I encourage you to dive in.  You may be surprised how far you have progressed already.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

May 26, 2023

Usefulness of Harmonics in Radio Direction Finding

Harmonics are undesired transmissions produced at multiples of the intended transmission frequency. 

Most radio frequency transmitters produce harmonics at relatively low power levels, as compared to the fundamental frequency (also called the first harmonic).  The second harmonic appears at double the frequency of the fundamental.  The third harmonic is at triple the frequency of the fundamental.  For example, if the fundamental transmit frequency is 146.550 MHz then the second harmonic would be at 146.550 * 2 = 293.1 MHz and the third harmonic would be at 146.550 * 3 = 439.65 MHz.  Harmonics are a potential source of radio frequency interference.

In general, in amateur radio transmitter harmonics are undesirable.  However, there is one situation where an amateur radio operating can benefit from harmonics - radio fox hunting.  

A wide-band receiver is useful for radio fox hunting

In a radio fox hunting, the objective is to locate a hidden transmitter.  Hunting with a wide-band receiver allows the radio fox hunter to tune to the hidden transmitted signal's 2nd and 3rd harmonic frequencies as a way of effectively reducing the received signal strength.  This can provide a competitive advantage since a weak received signal at a harmonic is much easier to locate directionally than a strong signal at the fundamental.

This technique works best when you are in close proximity to the fox transmitter.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

April 8, 2023

700 DXCC Challenge Contacts Confirmed on LoTW

A big THANK YOU To Lee, VE4DXR, in Winnepeg Canada for being my 700th confirmed DX contact on LoTW.  I need to confirm just 300 more DX contacts to earn the DXCC Challenge award.  

Even though Canada is relatively close, I hadn't previously managed to confirm a contact with a Canadian station on 12m since becoming a ham.  This is explained by the fact that my present home brew 80m Sky Loop antenna doesn't tune up on 12m and my previous last contacts on the band were in 2015.  12m was the final HF band that I needed with Canada which makes my contact with Lee, VE4DXR extra special.

The Winter of 2022 produced a barrage of 31 Atmospheric Rivers that inundated the Central Coast of California and brought 80 mile-per-hour winds.  The high winds shredded many limbs on our majestic cypress tree.  I have been using this particular tree as the primary support for my horizontal 80m sky loop antenna.  Innumerable broken limbs piled up on top of each other in several large tangles out-of-reach up in the tree and on top of my antenna.  Once things have settled down for tree specialists, I plan to hire a professional tree climber to remove the debris so I can put my 80m sky loop antenna back on the air.

Fortunately, I recently ordered a monoband 12m half wave end-fed antenna (EFH12) from Radio Wavz to take advantage of high band propagation conditions and to operate once again on the band after a long hiatus.  A vertical half-wave antenna is excellent for DX due to low take-off angle RF radiation pattern.

Once the storms passed, it only took a few minutes to improvise a temporary antenna setup using a bit of 550 cord and a telescopic 15-foot painters' pole.  I used the painters' pole as a support and the rope to provide distance between the antenna and the conductive pole.  I then leaned the pole upright against a tree near the shack to create a 55-degree sloper antenna configuration.  I also added a 24-inch wire terminated with alligator clips to ground the antenna's PL259 connector to the copper water entry point to my shack.  The grounding helped eliminate reflected RF coming into the shack due to using only a short length of coax.

I was impressed with the initial results obtained from this improvised setup when I quickly logged a good number of DX contacts on the 12m band.

  • PU2GHZ - Iuri - Brazil - 6008 miles
  • LU2NI - Carlos - Argentina - 5835 miles
  • HL2IFR - Ryu - Republic of Korea - 5693 miles
  • JF1NZW - Hiro - Japan - 5133 miles
  • E6CI - Leszek - Niue - 4980 miles
  • 5W1SA - Atsuo - Samoa - 4788 miles
  • J68HZ - William - Saint Lucia - 4046 miles
  • HI8VJS - Victor - Dominican Republic - 3382 miles
  • VE4DXR - Lee - Canada - 1517 miles
I am delighted with the results from my initial test of the Radio Wavz EFH12 antenna.  I plan on setting up the antenna in a permanent configuration in a vertical orientation with a longer run of coax.  I expect these improvements will yield even better results.  I look forward to working you on 12 meters soon.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

March 17, 2023

ClearNode One Year Review

My ClearNode went on the air one year ago (March 2022).  Over the last twelve months, the ClearNode has been a real pleasure to use.

NJ2X's ClearNode

I have thoroughly enjoyed connecting to AllStarLink, EchoLink, DMR enabled repeaters and nodes all around the world to monitor and make contacts.  Exploring other internet-enabled repeaters has helped me discover some wonderful repeater systems and nets.

I have also enjoyed being able to connect to repeaters covering backcountry locations here in California and talking with ham friends while they were camping with their HTs.  This worked remarkably well and was fun amateur radio activity.


My ClearNode has become an excellent DXing tool.  I am a US County hunter and I have found that connecting to nodes in target Counties and dropping my call is a great way to meet hams in those Counties and arrange skeds.  This has been a game changer in my US County hunting.

  • The ClearNode works really well
  • Gerry's support is just wonderful (a big THANK YOU to Gerry)
  • Nice iPhone app makes it easy to connect to AllStar Link and EchoLink nodes
  • Great DXing tool
  • Looks great in the shack
  • More amateur radio fun!
  • Allstar Link, EchoLink, and DMR enabled repeaters are a blast to use
  • Can't think of any cons

There are a couple more digital voice modes that the ClearNode supports that I haven't dived into yet such as P25, YSFN (Fusion), FCS (Fusion), and NXDN.  I am glad the ClearNode supports all these extended capabilities since it provides additional learning opportunities to explore down the road.

I am so glad I took the leap in 2022 and bought a ClearNode.  I regret that I didn't do it sooner since it has helped me expand my amateur radio horizons and have even more fun.

Thank you to Gerry and Node-Ventures for making a great product and standing behind it with outstanding support.  Kudos!

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

Be sure to check out my other ClearNode related articles on

March 11, 2023

Completed 17m ARRL DXCC Award

A big THANK YOU to Joel, ZF2RJ in the Cayman Islands for being my 100th DXCC confirmed contact on 17 Meters on LoTW.  I am delighted to have earned the ARRL 17m DXCC award.  It took many years to earn this award.  Feeling happy having completed it at last.

Flag of the Cayman Islands

As I write this, I have now completed DXCC on 10 Meters, 15 Meters, 17 Meters, and 20 Meters.  I am working on achieving DXCC on several bands.
  • 12 Meters - Haven't had a 12m antenna for many years.  Going to be installing one soon.
  • 30 Meters - Making good progress (92 qualifying contacts confirmed on LoTW)
  • 40 Meters - Making good progress (87 qualifying contacts confirmed on LoTW)
  • 80 Meters - Slow progress (38 qualifying contact confirmed on LoTW)
  • 160 Meters - No antenna.
I am also pursuing the DXCC Challenge Award which requires confirming at least 1,000 DXCC band-points on any Amateur bands, 160 through 6 meters (except 60 meters).  I presently have 696 contacts confirmed on LoTW toward the DXCC Challenge Award.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

February 18, 2023

1800 US Counties Confirmed on

A big THANK YOU to K5CBS (Cecil in Stone County, Mississippi) for the 20m contact and being my 1800th US County confirmed contact on LoTW (out of 3,007).

It has been a slow and steady process of accumulating County contacts.  I use the Logbook of The World (LoTW) to confirm contacts and load confirmations into  That adds an extra layer of difficulty as there are hams operating from desirable and somewhat rare County locations that do not use the LoTW.  Fortunately, most hams do use LoTW.

One of the fun aspects of chasing US County contacts is learning about all the interesting County names.  For example, I learned tonight that there are three Stone Counties in the United States.  So far I have confirmed one of three.
  • Stone County, AR
  • Stone County, MO
  • Stone County, MS - Confirmed
Chasing US Counties is great fun and if you are looking for a new challenge in amateur radio I encourage you to dive in.  You may be surprised how far you have progressed already.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

February 12, 2023

Made 10m contact with Norway today (no luck with Bouvet Island)

Bouvet Island has had a tremendous amount of attention from radio amateurs around the world this past week.  A DX expedition has been operating from the island under difficult conditions.

Bouvet Island, is located in the South Atlantic Ocean.  It is one of the world’s most isolated islands.  It is located 1,500 miles (2,400 km) southwest of the Cape of Good Hope of Africa and about 1,000 miles (1,600 km) north of the mainland of Antartica.

Bouvet Island

Bouvet Island is a rare DX location and contacts with the island are highly sought after by all those who chases DX in amateur radio.  For older hams, the DX expedition operating now, is possibly the opportunity of a lifetime to make the contact.  There will likely not be another DX expedition to Bouvet Island for many years to come.  The expedition will be pulling out on Monday, so it appears I have missed my opportunity.  Maybe next time.

I have been listening for the 3Y0J Bouvet Island station unsuccessfully.  There are an overwhelming number of stations calling.  It seems unlikely I will log a contact with the DX expedition given the propagation conditions and intense pileup.  Never say never though.  I will keep listening and call if the opportunity presents itself.

The best way to follow the Bouvet Island DX expedition operating schedule is via the 3Y0J facebook page.  They seem to have two simultaneous stations running.  The DX expedition could certainly use more given the worldwide demand.  Unfortunately, the island's difficult conditions seem to have interfered with logistics and plans.  We wish everyone on the crew a safe expedition and return trip home.

Overall, it was a good day for DX.  I logged a contact with 3C3CA (Ersoy) in Equatorial Guinea on 17m FT8 and LB6B (Ingebrigt) in Norway on 10m FT8.  Conditions were quite good.  Perhaps a bit quieter than usual by virtue of so many stations off chasing Bouvet and leaving the good DX for the rest of us.  Norway on 10m was the last band I needed (other than 160m).  This was my first contact with Equatorial Guinea.

Hoping to make contact with 5Z4VJ (Andy) in Kenya yet this weekend...

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

February 3, 2023

ClearNode Tip #4: Setting up ClearNode for DMR

Today was a good day.  I originally bought my ClearNode for accessing AllStar Net and EchoLink enabled repeaters.  I was delighted to learn that my ClearNode also supports DMR (Digital Mobile Radio) at no additional cost and using my same old analog HT.  What a bargain! I had been wanting to try out DMR since I learned of this capability when getting started with using my ClearNode.   

I use an inexpensive analog dual-band 2m/440Mhz HT to connect to my ClearNode which then connects me to linked repeaters all over the world.  ClearNode provides several new interesting ways to enjoy amateur radio and connecting with others.

There are a few steps required to setup DMR and the impression of these hurdles proved to be just enough to keep me from spending the time needed to learn how to configure my ClearNode for DMR.  A quiet Winter Sunday at home gave me just what I needed - uninterrupted time to read the step-by-step instructions and configure my node.

NJ2X's ClearNode

As with many new things in life, once you dive into actually doing it, you quickly find out that it was a whole lot easier than you had imagined in your uninformed mind.  Being human means tending to make assumptions.  It is a good idea to check assumptions to see if they are valid.

Here are the steps I followed to put my ClearNode on the air with DMR:
  1. Read the Digital Modes – Node-Ventures sections related to DMR.
  2. Register and setup an account with
  3. Register and setup an account with
  4. Configure ClearNode using the ClearNode App for iOS
    • Bridge Information
      • Navigate to Digital Bridge Setup and turn on “Enable Digital Bridge"
      • AMBE Mode and select "DMR"
      • Location = text that describes your node's location
      • Lattitude = your node location's latitude
      • Longitude = your node location's longitude
      • Height = your node's antenna height in meters
      • Information URL = your amateur radio website's URL
      • Talker Alias = <name> <callsign>
    • DMR Setup
      • DMR Network Host = (note: this is for BrandMaster)
      • DMR Hotspot Password = <password> (note: this is the same password you will enter on brandmeister under the SelfCare menu in the field called, "Hotspot Security")
      • Your DMR ID = <your DMR ID assign by>
      • This hotspot extension # (2-digit) = <##> (note: if this is your first node then use 01)
      • DMR Timeslot = use the default settings
      • DMR Color Code = use the default settings
      • USRP Gain = use the default settings
      • TLV Gain = use the default settings
      • Click "Save" on the upper righthand corner
      • Your ClearNode will save these configuration changes and restart  
  5. Log into your Brandmeister account
    • Navigate to the "SelfCare" menu
    • Enter the same password you entered into your ClearNode in the "DMR Hotspot Password" field.
    • Click "Save Password"
  6. Go to your ClearNode App on iOS
    • Click "Add Connection"
    • Select "Digital" on the lower righthand corner of the screen
    • Select "TG93 North-America" from the list that appears under Connection History
  7. Time to make your first DMR call
    • Using your radio and ClearNode, make a call
    • Listen for someone to call you back and have fun!
Configuring a ClearNode for DMR is pretty darn easy.  I regret not attempting to set up my ClearNode with DRM earlier.  Now I can have fun playing radio with AllStar Link, EchoLink, and DMR.

A big THANK YOU to Amy, K0AMY in Reno, NV, for answering my very first DMR call and for the nice QSO.  Amy gave me some helpful tips on finding fun nets to join on DMR.  During our QSO, I was impressed with the quality of Amy's DMR digital audio signal.  It sounded quite good, and I had zero difficulty understanding her every word.  I am looking forward giving DMR nets a try and making more great contacts using this fun internet-enabled digital mode.  Thank you for the tip Amy.

If you have a ClearNode, I hope this article has inspired you to spend the time to configure your ClearNode for DMR and join in the fun.  It is easier than it may appear when you first look into it.  You can do it!  I am looking forward to talking to you on DMR someday soon.

How was your experience with setting up your ClearNode for DMR.  Please leave a comment.  I would love to hear from you.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

Be sure to check out my other ClearNode related articles on

January 27, 2023

Own the day...

Sharing this quote from Emerson that put things in perspective.

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

January 19, 2023

Confirmed contacts in 1700 US Counties

Amateur radio is magical in many ways.  Just when you think you have hit a plateau in chasing DX contacts, a new one pops up and into the log.  Making contacts is just as much fun now as it was long ago when I started in ham radio.  The excitement of making new contacts never dulls.

I thought my Q-rate for new Counties had been slowing down.  I had some time off during the holiday with rainy weather that gave me more time to play on the radio.  The was just what I needed to knock out 100 new Counties.
NJ2X confirmed contacts with 1700 US Counties via

Thank you to 1700 hams who have helped me complete and confirm contacts with 1700 different US Counties so far.  This milestone, though far from the finish line, is a remarkable number that reminds me that it just may be possible to complete contacts in each of the 3,007 US Counties.  Ham radio helps us see that we can do what we set our minds to it.

I only have a couple of Counties to go in each of several states.  Looking forward to completing all such occurrences in the coming year.  I would love to hear from you if you happen to operate an amateur radio station from these Counties.
  • VT - Bennington, Franklin, Grand Isle, Orleans Counties
  • NJ - Hudson County
  • AZ - Greenlee County
Good DX and 73, NJ2X

January 15, 2023

Hack: Repurposing an old CD soft case to store ratcheting tiedown straps

It is a sad fact that we bury far too much in landfills.  I fund it rather satisfying to find ways to repurpose unused items to make them useful once again and keep them out of the landfill.

Zippered soft CD Case

In my youth, I had a pretty good CD collection.  I manage to also collect quite a few soft travel cases for CDs which I used in my vehicles.  CDs seem somewhat quaint today as most everyone has switched to playing music from mobile phones and satellite radio instead of using physical CDs.  As such, we have no use for our old, zippered CD soft cases.
What does one do with all those unused soft CD cases?  Let's repurpose them!

Ratcheting tie-down straps used in the garage and pickup truck are prone to becoming a tangled mass of clutter almost immediately after they are freed from their original packaging.  While cleaning out the attic, I realized that our old unused CD soft cases where the perfect size for storing unruly tie-down straps.  All I needed to do was use a box cutter to cut the stitches that attached the CD pages to the case interior and, presto! - the perfect storage case for tie-down straps.

Repurposed soft CD case for storing ratcheting tie-down straps.

Hope this 1-minute hack has inspired you to repurpose your own CD soft cases.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

January 2, 2023

12 Days of QRZ Award 2022

I have been having amateur radio fun with the new 12 Days of QRZ Award for 2022.  Starting on December 1, 2022, the award can be earned by logging and confirming contacts 12 days through February 28, 2023 on  

The award can be earned with mixed contacts across any band and also per band.  So
far, I have earned the award on 80m, 40m, 30m, 20m, and 17m.  I just need a couple more confirmed contacts to complete the 15m and 10m awards.  A total of 6,288 radio amateurs have earned the award at the time of this writing. 

You can find complete details here: QRZ Operating Awards Homepage - 12 Days of QRZ (2022)

There is plenty of time to earn this fun award.  A big THANK YOU to QRZ for their support of amateur radio through their various engaging awards programs.  I am enjoying pursuing awards and staying active in the hobby very much.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

January 1, 2023

2022 - My amateur radio year in review

I enjoy chasing amateur radio awards. Periodically, I like to stand back and take a look at my progress toward my award related goals. The New Year is a perfect time for reflection and evaluation. Here are a few statistics I collected related to my amateur radio operations for 2022 as of January 1, 2023.  It was a very good year for radio thanks to the return of sunspots.  Looking forward to even better conditions 2023.

Logbook of the World
  • Total QSO records = 13,428 (3,248 added in 2022)
  • Total QSL records = 8,826 (2,438 added in 2022)
  • WAS 5-Band = 250/250 = 100%
  • DXCC unique countries = 152
  • DXCC Challenge progress = 656/1000 = 66% (95 added in 2022)
  • DXCC 20m = 106
  • DXCC 15m = 104
  • DXCC 10m = 101
  • DXCC 40m progress = 84/100 = 84%
  • DXCC 30m progress = 83/100 = 83%
  • DXCC 80m progress = 36/100 = 36%
  • Number of grid squares confirmed = 1072 (219 added in 2022)
  • Number of US Counties confirmed = 1635 (695 added in 2022)
  • Number of bands with confirmed continents award = 8 (2 added in 2022) 
  • Number of bands with all 50 states confirmed = 7 (2 added in 2022)
  • Leaderboard:
    • Most Confirmed QSOs = #6,780 (9,204 QSOs)
    • Most Countries Worked = #6,780 (152 QSOs)
    • Most Band-Countries Worked = #8,691(665 QSOs)

Good DX and 73, NJ2X