December 31, 2021

Need a little help from my friends on 80m and 10m to finish 5-Band WAS

Howdy Hams,

I am darn close to finishing the ARRL 5-Band WAS award.  I could use a little help from my friends.  Would love to hear from you if you happen to live in one of the states listed below and would be willing to schedule a contact with you.  The contacts can be via phone or any digital mode.


80 Meters
  • Alaska (phone)
  • Maine (phone)
  • North Dakota (phone)
  • Rhode Island (phone)
  • South Dakota (phone)
10 Meters
  • Connecticut (digital)
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
I am looking forward to hearing from you and adding a contact to the Logbook of the World.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

K8UKE New Year's Eve QSL Card

I received this beautiful QSL card today from Ted, K8UKE.  Utah is one of the most photogenic places on Earth.




Good DX and 73, NJ2X

Auld Lang Syne

Auld Lang Syne
by Robert Burns, 1788

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
... ... And auld lang syne!


Chorus
For auld lang syne, my dear, 
For auld lang syne.
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.


And surely ye’ll be your pint stowp!
And surely I’ll be mine!

And we’ll tak a cup o’kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
Sin’ auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin’ auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fere!
And gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right gude-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.



NJ2X.COM Kindle edition is now available.

Happy New Year, Good DX and 73, NJ2X




December 16, 2021

The correct way to wear a mask

When wearing a mask, remember, blue on the outside, the white on the inside.

Mask: BLUE on the outside



Good DX and 73, NJ2X

October 15, 2021

JOTA 2021

Jamboree-on-the-Air provides the opportunity for millions of Scouts around the world to meet on the air via Amateur Radio.


JOTA (Jamboree-on-the-Air) is the world’s largest Scout event taking place on the over the airwaves. Held every year in October, the event connects millions of young people around the world for a full weekend of online activities that promote friendship and global citizenship. JOTA enables young people and volunteers to participate in fun and engaging group activities over the Internet and amateur radio focused on developing 21st century skills through Scouting.

This year, JOTA takes place from 15 to 17 October. JOTA aims to support young people of all ages to learn about radio communications technology, the values of global citizenship, and their role in creating a better world.

Learn more about JOTA

ARRL JOTA page

I will be operating amateur radio on VHF, UHF, HF, and Echolink all weekend.  See you on the air!

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

July 31, 2021

NASA Updates Coverage, Invites Public to Virtually Join Starliner Launch

NASA Updates Coverage, Invites Public to Virtually Join Starliner Launch: NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch, launch, and docking activities for the agency’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission to the International Space Station.








July 17, 2021

800 Counties Confirmed on qrz.com

There are a lot of US Counties!  To be exact, there are 3,007 US counties according to the US Census Bureau.  I am collecting them one at a time on amateur radio with confirmed contacts tracked on qrz.com as part of United States Counties Award.

So far, my strategy is to simply make random QSOs without regard to County location.  That will likely change if I ever decide I want to fill County gaps and make contacts with stations in less populated Counties.

Today I hit 800 confirmed US Counties out of 3,006 which is 26.6%.  Only 2,206 US Counties to go!  I have confirmed contacts with all Counties in three States.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

June 25, 2021

The most popular ham radio event of all...

“The most popular ham radio event of all is called ARRL Field Day, held on the fourth full weekend of June every year. More”
― ARRL Inc., The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual



Have a safe and happy Field Day!

73, 

NJ2X

June 21, 2021

King Kamehameha Celebration 2021

I was delighted to receive this beautiful QSL card for participating in the 2021 special event celebrating King Kamehameha.

K6K QSL Card



Good DX and 73, NJ2X

June 18, 2021

Amateur Radio Kids Day 2021

Amateur Radio Kids Day 2021 falls on June 19, 2021 

Kids Day always runs from 1800 UTC through 2359 UTC. Operate as much or as little as you like.


The preferred exchange for kids day contacts is: name, age, location and favorite color. Be sure to work the same station again if an operator has changed.  When calling, the suggested call is: “CQ Kids Day.”

All participants are eligible to receive a nice certificate from the ARRL.  Check out the ARRL's kids day web page for more details:


Good DX and 73, NJ2X

May 30, 2021

Point Reyes to Mt. Loma Prieta WINS System Repeater (89 miles) on an HT

I recently went on a daytrip adventure up the California coast on the beautiful Route 1.  A nice long drive was the perfect opportunity to bring along my new 10w Wouxun KG-UV9D Mate dual-band FM transceiver and have some fun giving it a workout.

KG-UV9D Mate 10w dual-band HT

The radio performed very well throughout the trip using only the stock antenna.  I tested the radio's reception and transmitting capabilities at each turnout when we would stop to take in a vista.  The battery lasted all-day long with more than 75% remaining at day's end.

Of all the contacts I made during the day, I was most surprised at making 70 cm full-quieting contacts with the WINS System repeater on Mt. Loma Prieta, California (K6JSI) from both Mt. Tamalpias (66 miles) and again from Point Reyes Lighthouse (89 miles).


These impressive contacts are a testament to both the KG-UV9D Mate HT and the Loma Prieta WINS System repeater.  So the next time you find yourself at Point Reyes, California, be sure to make a call to the Loma Prieta, CA WINS System repeater (K6JSI) 442.900 MHz  (+) 162.2 Hz tone.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X


May 18, 2021

Completed the ARRL 15m Digital Worked All States Award from California

A big THANK YOU to N7MJ (Jack) for helping me complete the ARRL 15m Digital Worked All States (WAS) award with our FT8 15m contact between Wyoming and California.  We both confirmed on LoTW.  It is amazing how much fun you can have with 100w, a length of coaxial cable, and a little wire.

State flag of Wyoming



Good DX and 73, NJ2X

May 7, 2021

750 unique US State Counties confirmed on QRZ

A big THANK YOU to AA2EC, Ellie Mae, for completing my 750th confirmed unique US State county contact on QRZ.  Ellie Mae's QTH is in Columbia County, New York.  Ellie Mae, thanks for the new county on 17m.


Columbia County Flag, New York, USA


Good DX and 73, NJ2X

WSJT-X Tip #1: JTAlert

An outstanding companion to WSJT-X is JTAlert.  JTAlert monitors the stations you receive and provides feedback to help you choose which stations to select for a contact.  



Helpful alerts include:
  • Identifies stations you worked before
  • Color codes stations that are calling CQ in green
  • Color codes stations in grey that are in the middle of a QSO
  • Flags wanted callsigns
  • Flags wanted US States
  • Flags DXCCs
  • Ignores callsigns
 JTAlert is a must-have companion for anyone using WSJT-X.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X


Related posts




© Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

May 2, 2021

Completed the ARRL 30m Digital WAS Award from California

A big THANK YOU to W1BFA (Michael of Maine) for helping me complete the ARRL 30m Digital WAS award with our FT8 30m coast-to-coast contact between Maine and California.  We both confirmed on LoTW.  It is amazing how much fun you can have with 100w, a length of coaxial cable, and some wire.

Maine State Flag


Good DX and 73, NJ2X

April 27, 2021

Last Man Standing Special Event March 2021 Certificate!

My Last Man Standing Special Event March 2021 certificate arrived today!  Fun!  A big THANK YOU to the show and hams for putting on wonderful event.





Good DX and 73, 
NJ2X

April 10, 2021

Amateur Radio Wilderness Protocol

Radio amateurs spending time in the backcountry with their radios are asked to follow The Wilderness Protocol to potentially help someone in an emergency.  Communication capabilities in an emergency situation are extremely important.  Backcountry locations are often without mobile phone service and out of reach of amateur radio repeaters.  

Light-weight low-power amateur radio transceivers (handy-talkies) are easy to carry and provide the possibility of simplex communication in an emergency situation.  However, amateur radio in the backcountry is useful for summoning help only when there is someone listening.  The Wilderness Protocol is described in the ARRL ARES Emergency Resource Manual encourages radio amateurs to listen:
The Wilderness protocol calls for hams in the wilderness to announce their presence on, and to monitor, the national calling frequencies for five minutes beginning at the top of the hour, every three hours from 7 AM to 7 PM while in the back country. A ham in a remote location may be able to relay emergency information through another wilderness ham who has better access to a repeater. National calling frequencies: 52.525, 146.52, 223.50, 446.00, 1294.50 MHz.
The above frequencies are FM simplex calling frequencies in the the US.  It is a good idea to listen on all the prescribed frequencies that your radio is capable of receiving, even if your radio doesn't necessarily transmit on those same frequencies.  You may intercept a call for help and be able to relay it to another station on a frequency your radio does transmit on.

The Wilderness Protocol schedule of listening times are all local times.
  • 7:00 AM to 7:05 AM
  • 10:00 AM to 10:05 AM
  • 1:00 PM to 1:05 PM
  • 4:00 PM to 4:05 PM
  • 7:00 PM to 7:05 PM
California backcountry


It is also a good idea to transmit your call sign once or twice so that others will be alerted to your presence.  Someone experiencing an emergency may hear your transmission and be prompted to respond by asking for your help.
The Wilderness Protocol is simply a recommendation that those outside of repeater range monitor standard simplex channels at specific times in case others have priority or emergency calls. -- FM & Repeaters”, June 1996 QST, p. 85.
As radio amateurs, we can make a difference by using our radios, knowledge, skills, and The Wilderness Protocol.  Now that you know about The Wilderness Protocol, be sure share this information with others including your family, your ham friends, your child's scout troop, your fellow amateur radio club members, and others in your circle.


Good DX and 73, NJ2X


April 2, 2021

500th contact toward the ARRL DXCC Challenge Award

I have been chasing DX for more than a decade now on HF with nothing more than a 100w transceiver, a length of coaxial cable, and some wire slung up in the trees.  I enjoy the thrill of making new DX contacts in far away places.  The magic of radio never gets old.

I recently crossed a major milestone with my 500th DXCC contact toward the ARRL DXCC Challenge award.  This award requires 1000 unique contacts in a combination of band and DXCC entity.  This is indeed an aptly named award.  It is my goal finish it while I am above ground and able to enjoying the hobby.

I was positively delighted to have my 500th contact be with Antarctica 9153 miles from my QTH in California.  Now that is what I call DX!  I managed to complete one other contact with Antarctica many years ago which also happened to also coincide with the solar minimum.  Antarctica has remained one of my most memorable contacts since.  It was wonderful to have Antarctica be my 500th DXCC contact.  Achieving this 50% milestone has renewed my commitment to earn the DXCC Challenge award.  Hope to make many more contacts with Antarctica on my way to the 1000th DXCC contact.

A big THANK YOU to Felix, DP1POL for the contact on 30m.  DP1POL is located at the German research station Neumayer III in Antarctica, which is about 1,300 miles North of the South Pole.

Penguins in Antarctica



Good DX and 73, NJ2X

March 14, 2021

Amateur Radio Computer Clock Synchronization

Weak signal work with modes such as FT8, FT4, and JT65 all require software running on a computer with its time synchronized.  The consequence of running a computer with its internal clock substantially out of sync is to neither be able to decode signals nor have your signals decoded by others.

You may have noticed hearing strong stations that were not decoding.  It is likely that their computer’s clock was substantially out of sync with yours.



With the WSJT-X application, synchronization is measured by the DT value (time-differential).  Small DT values are necessary for effective communication.  If you happen to see an abundance of FT8 signals on the waterfall yet few decodes, or a distinct bias of negative DT values on decode, these are indicators that your computer’s clock is in need of synchronization. 

Curious about your computer's clock synchronization?  Use time.is to get a measurement of your computer's clock against a standard.

On Windows 10, it is fairly easy to manually sync the computer's clock.  Though it is also easy to forget to do this periodically which can lead to the computer's clock becoming unacceptably out-of-sync resulting in lost QSO's.  Computers are supposed to do this type of work for us humans anyway!

Fortunately, there is a handy little utility called NetTime that takes the work out of keeping your computer's clock synchronized within a millisecond.  NetTime is a Simple Network Time Protocol (SNTP) client and it is easy to install and configure.  The only real change I made to the default settings is setting the update interval to 15 minutes.  15 minutes happens to be the most frequent update value possible in the application.



Hope this helps you make more digital contacts.  See you on the air.


Good DX and 73, NJ2X

February 15, 2021

Ten Terms and Abbreviations Every New Radio Amateur Needs to Learn

Amateur Radio, like any other area of interest has its own vernacular.  Fortunately, there are an abundance of resources available to help decode what these terms mean.  Here are ten terms that every new ham needs to learn with links to the associated Wikipedia page.


Good DX and 73, NJ2X

February 7, 2021

40m Skywire Loop Antenna Experiment

I have been curious about skywire antennas since becoming a ham.  I first learned about skywire antennas initially from a contacts made with hams operating on skywire loop antennas.  Over the years I have received many recommendations to give one a try.

I decided it was high time to build my own homebrew skywire loop antenna with the goal of constructing it from various pieces-parts available in the shack.  There is simply no better way to spend a Sunday than making something in the workshop with the HF transceiver running.

A full wavelength skyloop antenna has a nominal impedance of 120 ohms depending on various factors.  The ideal antenna impedance is 50 ohms which would match a 50 ohm coaxial cable and 50 ohm transceiver.  A skywire antenna would work more efficiently with a 2.5-to-1 balun to transform the antenna impedance to more closely match the 50-ohm coaxial cable.  

A balun is an electrical device that converts between a balanced signal and an unbalanced signal. There are many different types of baluns including those that transform impedances.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a 2-to-1 or 2.5-to-1 balun in the workshop.  I did have a 1-to-1 balun and a box of type-43 ferrite beads.  I decided using a 1-to-1 balun and ferrites would be close enough and help keep common mode currents off my coaxial cable.  I also had an unused coaxial antenna center conductor, a spool of wire, and a few insulators.  These were enough parts to give the 40m skyloop a ago!

A skywire loop antenna is exactly as it sounds a single wire in the shape of a circle (ideally) some other shape such as a square, rectangle, or triangle and suspended horizontally.  To calculate resonance of #18 wire, the following formula can be used:

Length in feet = 1005 / frequency in MHz

For example, at the FT8 40m calling frequency a resonant skywire = 142 ft. = 1005 / 7.074 Mhz

Skywire Loop Antenna Bill of Materials
  • 136 ft of Poly-STEALTH 18 gauge wire from Davis RF
  • qty 11 type-43 ferrite beads 1/2" snap on
  • CE-1 Deluxe Dipole Antenna Center Feed from Spi-Ro Manufacturing
  • 1-to-1 Balun Designs Maxi Choke Balun (5kW) dual core model 1115du
  • qty 3 "dog-bone" type insulators
  • Self-sealing silicon tape
  • 3M electrical tape
  • Stuff - dielectric water proofing filler for coaxial connectors

CE-1 Deluxe Dipole Antenna Center Feed

1-to-1 balun connected with LMR400 with ferrites connected to the antenna center feed 

I used trees to support my skywire loop antenna.  Two of the corners were up around 40ft and the other two were on the low side at around 20 ft.  Not ideal but good enough to tune up and work some DX.  I used floating insulators when hanging the antenna.  Floating insulators allows free movement of the insulators and antenna wire while adjusting the antenna.  It allows provides freedom of movement due to tree sway.

The goal in hanging a skywire loop antenna is to maximize the enclosed area of the antenna.  Given infinite hangers, a circle would yield the maximum enclosed area.  Fortunately, the skywire doesn't require perfection.  A rectangle with four hanging points works very well too.

The Poly-STEALTH antenna wire from Davis RF is wonderful to work with - strong, light, and nearly invisible.  136 ft. of #18 wire weighed only 0.136 lbs. which is much less than my multiband fan dipole.  The insulators and rope weighed more than the entire antenna.

Initial Results

I was delighted to find that I my Kenwood TS-480SAT's build-in antenna tuner would tune the skywire on 40m, 20m, 17m, 15m, 10m, and 6m effortlessly.  This is a great way to begin testing a new antenna - no tuning or trimming.  Next I fired up FT8 and worked 20m and 40m contacts as the grey-line passed on into the evening.  The signal-to-noise ratio seemed improved as compared to my fan-dipole antenna.  I quickly made contacts with stations near and far including:
  • 40m KN4APP, NV - 203 miles
  • 40m AB6ZQ, CA  387 miles
  • 40m KE7JBK, AZ - 597 miles
  • 40m N7DBO, UT - 600 miles
  • 40m KF7UGG, OR - 618 miles
  • 40m K7EAZ, AZ - 694 miles
  • 40m KS7TU, WA - 792 miles
  • 40m KG5ZZB, TX - 1460 miles
  • 20m KB0BRO, MN - 1565 miles
  • 20m W9RF, IL - 1797 miles
  • 20m KH6AN, HI - 2353 miles
  • 40m N3MK, VA - 2527 miles
  • 20m JA9DJX, Japan - 5286 miles
  • 20m LU8DN, Argentina - 6597 miles
  • 20m ZL1IA, New Zealand - 6732 miles
The 40m Skywire experimental antenna was a huge success.  The antenna worked perfectly the first time I tuned it up.  It is remarkable how flexible the antenna is using just a build-in antenna tuner.  No adjustment or fine tuning was required to get on the air on multiple bands.  It also performed very well at the bottom of the sunspot cycle.  Overall, I am pleased with the outcome and would recommend a skywire loop antenna to anyone with suitable supports, a few inexpensive parts, and a Sunday to experiment.  It is a surprisingly good antenna for very little cost.

I am looking forward to trying out the new skywire antenna on 17m, 15m, 10m, and 6m when the bands are open.  I am also looking forward to a future experiment with an 80m skywire loop antenna.


Good DX and 73, NJ2X

February 6, 2021

Completed the ARRL 17m Digital Worked All States Award from California

Thanks to Robert (N7QT) in the great State of Washington, I completed the ARRL 17m Digital Worked All States Award this afternoon from California.  Robert and I made an FT8 contact on 17m with ease.  17m WA contacts had proven difficult in the past for me.  There seems to be a narrow window that my signal would propagate into WA on 17m.  I believe this has to do with the orientation of my antenna and take angles.  Robert's excellent station made all the different in the contact.

Washington State Flag



Good DX and 73, NJ2X

January 22, 2021

Collection of vintage amateur radio books and magazines

I stumbled on a fascinating collection of links to vintage radio frequency books and magazines.  It contains some really useful amateur radio relevant material.  While browsing, I found several outstanding books on antennas that inspired ideas for future projects.  If you have an interest in radio, this site is definitely worth checking out.





Good DX and 73, NJ2X

January 18, 2021

Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2021

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a federal holiday in the United States marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year. King's birthday was January 15, 1929.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today. -- Martin Luther King Jr. August 28, 1963

Martin Luther King, Jr.



January 17, 2021

Completed the ARRL 20m Digital Worked All States Award from California

Thanks to Karl (N8NA) in the great State of Delaware, I completed the ARRL 20m Digital Worked All States Award this morning.  Karl and I made FT8 contacts on 20m and 15m with ease.  15m was in poor condition with only a couple of other stations being decoded at the time.  Regardless, we managed to make the contact work.  We tried 10m out of curiosity and the band wasn't open.



Good DX and 73, NJ2X

January 10, 2021 Radio Scavenge Around Field Exercise

On January 10, 2021, I had the opportunity to participate in the Santa Cruz County ARES Scavenge Around Field Exercise with my family and we had an excellent time.  A radio scavenge around exercise is a fun activity designed to maintain safe social distancing while improving participant's amateur radio skills and knowledge of local County geography and repeater coverage.

Santa Cruz County FEMA Map

The scavenge around exercise was a three-hour event.  It started with participants checking into a SAFE Resource Net and being assigned a SAFE tactical net from one of three other area repeaters.  Participants then changed frequency to their assigned tactical net and checked in for tasks.  

The tasks involved driving to a location which was either an intersection or a address and answering a question that was given as part of the task regarding what you observe at the location.  The task assignments often involved the participant driving to a distant and possibly unfamiliar part of the County.  This made the task interesting for participants.

After completing a task, the tactical net control operator would ask each participant if they would like another task assignment.  Toward the end of the exercise, participants checking into their tactical nets would be asked to contact the resource net control to demobilize.  After demobilizing, the final check-in was when the participant had arrived home safely.

It was a beautiful day for driving and our family enjoyed this activity very much.  We are all licensed hams though we only used one call sign for the check-in and tasks since we were travelling together in one vehicle.

Good job Santa Cruz County ARES!  We are looking forward to joining in another ARES Scavenger Around Field Exercise again soon.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

January 8, 2021

The great teacher inspires...

This quote echoes the EDGE method - Explain, Demonstrate, Guide, Enable.

‘The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.’ ― William Arthur Ward




Good DX and 73, NJ2X

January 3, 2021

Provide the conditions...

"I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn." – Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein 1921




Good DX and 73, NJ2X

January 1, 2021

Configuring WSJT-X with a Kenwood TS-480SAT and SignaLink USB

Communicating on HF using various digital modes is a ton of fun.  There has been a significant shift in the popularity of digital modes toward FT8 over the last couple of years.  PSK31, JT65, and other digital modes have nearly disappeared from the bands.  This means hams need to join in the FT8 craze if they want to operate digital modes and actually make contacts.  WSJT-X is my preferred software for JT65, FT8, and FT4.  In this post, I will share how I have configured my station for WSJT-X digital HF communication.

Station Control

I use a Kenwood TS-480SAT that is capable of 100W on HF and 6M.  The TS-480SAT is interfaced to the computer for radio control through the radio's serial port through a Keyspan USA-19HS USB adapter.  The radio's audio is interfaced to the computer from the TS-480SAT's data port through a SignaLink Integrated USB Sound Card.  I have used this configuration for years with excellent results.

Kenwood TS-480SAT

SignaLink Integrated USB Sound Card

WSJT-X Settings Configuration

Radio
  • Cat Control - Serial Port: COM3
  • Serial Port Parameters: Baud Rate = 57600
  • Data Bits: Default
  • Stop Bits: Default
  • Handshake: Hardware
  • Force Control Lines: DTR and RTS are both blank
  • PTT Method: CAT
  • Transmit Audio Source: Rear/Data
  • Mode: USB
  • Split Operation: None
Audio
  • Input: USB Audio CODEC - Mono
  • Output: USB Audio CODEC - Mono

TS-480 SAT Configuration

Menu 56 Com Port Parameters = 57600
Menu 60 VOX Operation With Data Input = Off


Be sure to check out my article on setting up WSJT-X for automatic logging with Ham Radio Deluxe.


Good DX and 73, NJ2X


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