November 27, 2022

What happened to GlobalQSL? Unused credits? Were QSL cards actually sent?

Many years ago, when I first learned about GlobalQSL, I found the proposition immediately compelling.  For a relatively low cost, you could upload your QSL data and GlobalQSL would print double-sided full-color QSL cards, of your own design, and mail them to anywhere in the world.  It seemed like a good value which greatly simplified sending international QSL cards.  I bought credits and began using the service for all my international QSL cards.



Somewhere along the way the company seems to have stopped keeping their end of the bargain.  The GlobalQSL website is no longer functional and customer credits have apparently vaporized.   Customers are left wondering what happened to GlobalQSL?  What happened to the unused credits?  Did the company actually send QSL's or simply pocket the money?  Why no communication to customers explaining what happened?

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

November 13, 2022

Completed 10m DXCC

The return of 10 meters band activity has been a blast.  I am thankful for elevated sunspot activity in 2022. Today, I completed and confirmed my 100th 10m contact required to earn the 10m ARRL DX Century Club (DXCC) Award.  A big THANK YOU to Pierrick (HH2MK in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti) for the contact and confirmation on the LoTW.  I have made these contacts with a modest 100W transceiver and a homebrew 80m Skywire antenna.

This contact also brings me a bit closure to earning the ARRL DXCC Challenge Award.  I have 642 contacts out of a total of 1000 required for the award.

Flag of Haiti


Good DX and 73, NJ2X

10m Worked All States and 5-Band WAS

Today I made contact and confirmed on LoTW my last two States required to complete the ARRL 10m Worked All States Award.  These were also the last two contacts I needed complete the ARRL 5-Band Worked All States Award.  Today was a good day for radio, 100W, and my homebrew 80m skywire antenna!

A big THANK YOU to both Christian (KI0D in South Dakota) and Joe (AI0Y in North Dakota) for helping me complete and confirm these last two remaining contacts.  North Dakota and South Dakota had become rare DX on 10m for me after many months of searching.  I am delighted conditions were favorable this morning.

Thank you also to the ARRL for creating the Worked All States awards.  These awards have been a lot of fun to work on over the years and have kept me interested in the hobby of amateur radio.

North Dakota and South Dakota





Good DX and 73, NJ2X

November 11, 2022

October 24, 2022

1,500 US Counties Confirmed on QRZ.com

Made good progress hunting US Counties over the prior month confirming 100 new ones on QRZ.com.  Confirming all 3007 is a labor of love and I am not 49.9% there.  Not sure I will actually reach 100%.  All the same, I enjoy the process and challenge.

1500 US States Confirmed on QRZ.com

North Dakota and South Dakota seemed to be my most challenging States.  I often wonder if I have an antenna null toward ND and SD?   

I have a feeling completing contacts with all AK Counties could be the most difficult in the long run given the enormity of the State and the relatively small, concentrated population.


Good DX and 73, NJ2X




October 12, 2022

Two-Way Radio Communication for Scouts

Radio and scouting are a great combination.  Scouting recognizes the interest of scouts in radio and reflects this in the annual Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) and the Radio Merit BadgeJOTA is the world's largest scouting activity.


Scouting is the ideal time to earn an amateur radio license.  Making your first amateur radio contact with your own call sign as a scout is amazing experience. Making contact with your other scouting friends is even more fun.

Scouts BSA Radio Merit Badge

A two-way radio is also an important piece of communication and safety equipment on backcountry outings where mobile phone coverage is absent.  Scouts can use FRS walkie-talkies to communicate with each other while at camp or hiking with no license required.  Amateur radio licensed scouts can use their own amateur radio two-way radios.  Regardless of the class of equipment, it is important for scouts to learn good radio operating practices.  Here are some helpful guidelines to good operating practices based on the Scout Law.

Good Operating Practices

  • Be prepared - Think about what you are going to say before transmitting.

  • Be trustworthy - Take care of troop radios and return them in the same condition they were issued.

  • Be loyal - Keep your antenna in a vertical position and elevate it to improve signal strength.  If you are in a structure, try moving near an open window or moving outdoors to improve signal strength.

  • Be helpful - Press the push-to-talk button and pause one second before speaking.  There is a short delay before your radio begins transmitting.  Pausing will prevent your message from being cut off.

  • Be courteous - When initiating a transmission, first identify your intended recipient then identify yourself.  This avoids confusion on shared frequencies.  Example: “Jill this is Jane, do you copy?”

  • Be kind - Give the person you are calling time to respond.  Remember, they may have heard your call and are unable to respond immediately.

  • Be thrifty - Use short, clear, and concise messages over the radio to save battery life.  Repeat essential parts of the message to help make sure it is understood.  Keep your radio on and monitor for safety, accountability, and patrol/troop messages.

  • Be clean - Speak across the radio microphone rather than directly into it in order to produce a clear undistorted message.


Scout radio operations also benefit from the use of standardized vocabulary of basic radio terms.  These terms are known as pro-words.

Radio Pro-Words

  • Mayday - Used as a distress call in an emergency situation.  When used, repeat three times: mayday, mayday, mayday.

  • Correction - I made an error in this transmission.  I will continue with the last correct word.

  • Radio check - This means, “What is my signal strength and readability?”  Responses include: “Loud and clear” (or 59), “Weak but readable,” “Weak and distorted,” “Strong and distorted.”

  • Over - I have finished speaking.

  • Say again - Please repeat your last message.

  • Stand-by - This means, I acknowledge your transmission.  Please wait for me to respond.

  • Go-ahead - I am listening and can respond.  Please proceed with your message.

  • I spell - Say this prior to spelling a difficult or ambiguous-sounding word.

  • Read back - Please repeat my entire transmission back to me.

  • Roger - Message received and understood.

  • Affirmative / Negative - Yes / No

  • Out - Our conversation is finished.


The ability of Scouts to communicate using radio under difficult conditions is enhanced by having the ability to spell words using the international phonetic alphabet.  There are times when our spoken words cannot be understood when transmitted over the radio.  This can be caused by a weak signal or high noise levels.  Often, our words can be understood via radio by spelling the words out using the phonetic alphabet.  Knowing how to do this is a critical survival skill for Scouts.

Phonetic Alphabet

A Alpha

E Echo

I India

M Mike

Q Quebec

U Uniform

Y Yankee

B Bravo

F Foxtrot

J Juliet

N November

R Romeo

V Victor

Z Zulu

C Charlie

G Golf

K Kilo

O Oscar

S Sierra

W Whiskey


D Delta

H Hotel

L Lima

P Papa

T Tango

X X-ray




Have fun in the outdoors and be prepared.  Having a radio transceiver and knowing how to use it is an invaluable asset since it provides additional options to communicate in the event of an emergency.


Good DX and 73, NJ2X


September 16, 2022

1,400 US Counties Confirmed on QRZ.COM

US County hunting is a long difficult process.  It is good to celebrate milestones along the journey.  Today, I confirmed 1400 US Counties on QRZ.com.  It is a step forward toward completing contacts with all 3,007 US Counties in the 50 states. 



Good DX and 73, NJ2X

September 11, 2022

1,000,000 Views

I was rather surprised to see that today, NJ2X.com passed the 1,000,000 views mark.  This wasn't something I was paying attention to or anticipating.  It is fun to see all the same.  Thank you to all of you who are interested in adventure in amateur radio.

1,000,000 Views!





Good DX and 73, NJ2X

Confirmed contacts with 10 out 10 New Hampshire Counties

I have been slowly accumulating United States County contacts toward the QRZ.com United States Counties Award.  This is a rather ambitious award (at least for me) as there are 3007 US Counties.  It certainly takes patience to work and confirm contacts with them all.  As with any challenging journey, it is important to stop and smell the roses when they appear.

I recently confirmed my last New Hampshire County (10 out of 10) with a 30m FT8 contact with W1GQQ (Alan) located in Coos County, NH.  That brings my total number of States completed toward the United States Counties Award to five.  Just 45 more US States to go! :-)

Flag of the great State of New Hampshire

The great State of New Hampshire is also well known as the Live Free or Die State.  Each time I see the state's motto, I am reminded of the spirit of fierce American independence conveyed by Patrick Henry's 1775 speech.

"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" -- Patrick Henry, 1775

Are you collecting US County contacts?  If yes, what is your strategy?  Do you happen to know someone who has successfully completed this award?  How did they go about it?  Please leave a comment.  Would love to hear from you.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

August 14, 2022

BLM campgrounds need friends like YOU!

I just returned from a family Perseid meteor shower viewing campout in Northern California at a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) campground far from civilization and far from light pollution.  Mother nature's lightshow was stunning.  We enjoyed breathtaking views of The Milkyway, a full Moon, and meteors streaking across the sky all night.

Meteor Shower

We knew the location would be a great for meteor viewing since we had stayed there many times over the years.  It is a dry camp with clean pit toilets and a well-maintained road and a half-dozen treed camp sites each with fire rings, covered picnic tables, and plenty of space between the sites.  As a basic campground, it was just perfect for our needs.  The campground doesn’t get much use (or trash) since it far from crowds and is mostly frequented by sportsmen who tend to be respectful caretakers of natural resources.

While breakfast was being prepared, we walked our campsite picking up the odd bits of trash such as bottle caps, pull tabs, rusty nails, unidentifiable metal bits, aluminum foil, cigarette butts, plastic wire ties, wrappers, plastic detritus, broken glass, etc. 

Our family practice is to make our campsites better than we found them.  This is easy to do and only takes a few minutes at the end of every outing after packing up.  All the trash goes straight into the garbage bag which we pack out.  A clean campsite helps others enjoy the site, and we believe this tends to promote a mindset of keeping the camp clean.  Clean tends to attract clean and trash tends attract trash.

Our camp breakfast preparation took a little longer than expected, so we made good use of the wait time by extending our cleanup to include the other unoccupied campsites.  This was also easy to do as it only took a few more minutes to pick up trash in each site.  This particular BLM campground was free of charge, and a cleanup was our way of expressing gratitude and paying it forward to the next happy campers who will come after us. 

Make your campsite better than you found it


BLM campgrounds need more friends to help keep them clean and beautiful.  Each of us can make a meaningful difference.  Bring a garbage bag (or two) whenever you go to BLM properties and take a few minutes during your trip to make it better than you found it and then haul the trash away with you when you leave.  If more of us adopt this habit just imagine how much more pleasurable our collective camping experiences would be.  It starts with shifting mindset and behaving like a steward of our County's beautiful public lands.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X


June 24, 2022

The most popular ham radio event of 2022

“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

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

May 22, 2022

WP4RQP Digital QSL Card


I received this beautiful digital QSL card today from Jonnathan, WP4RQP in Puerto Rico.  Thank you for the QSO Jonnathan.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

April 19, 2022

Digital QSL card from W5DMA

I received a really nice electronic QSL card today from Jovan, W5DMA in Colorado.  The card features a beautiful photo of the Rockies.

W5DMA Digital QSL Card


Good DX and 73, NJ2X

April 14, 2022

Completed 20m ARRL DXCC Award

A big THANK YOU to Guille (OA4DVG in Lima, Peru) for being my 100th confirmed LoTW contact on 20m toward the DX Century Club award.  I am delighted to have earned the ARRL 20m DXCC Award after many years of being active on the air.


Flag of Peru

This contact brings my total number of band-entity LoTW confirmed contacts to 590.  It is a long journey toward the DXCC Challenge award.  The challenge award requires working and confirming at least 1,000 DXCC band-entities on any Amateur bands, 160 through 6 meters (except 60 meters).

Good DX and 73, NJ2X 

April 11, 2022

Completed 15m ARRL DXCC Award

A big THANK YOU to Eric (FK8HM in Noumea City, New Caledonia) for being my 100th confirmed LoTW contact on 15m toward the DX Century Club award.  I am delighted to have earned the ARRL 15m DXCC Award after many years of being active on the air.

This contact brings my total number of band-entity LoTW confirmed contacts to 599.  It is a long journey toward the DXCC Challenge award.  The challenge award requires working and confirming at least 1,000 DXCC band-entities on any Amateur bands, 160 through 6 meters (except 60 meters).

Flag of New Caledonia


Good DX and 73, NJ2X

March 25, 2022

ClearNode Tip #3: DTMF Commands

The ClearNode FM Hotspot for AllStarLink and EchoLink can be handily linked to other nodes via the ClearNode mobile phone app (iPhone or Android).  The mobile phone app is easy and convenient to use to look up nodes and connect.
Kenwood TH-F6A Triband Amateur Radio Transceiver

AllStarLink supports DTMF commands that allow you to control your node using only your radio.  It is good to know how to use these commands.  A few possible use cases:
  • Your mobile phone is charging, upgrading, or is otherwise unavailable.
  • You want to share your node with a friend, family member, or neighbor and don't want to share your mobile app credentials.
  • You are communicating via radio through another node and want to control it via DTMF tones.

AllStarLink Node DTMF Nodes
To use these commands, first press and hold your radio's PTT while entering the command through the radio's keypad and then releasing the PTT.

*1node - Link Disconnect
*2node - Link Connect (Monitor Only)
*3node - Link Connect

*70 - Link Status (Locally connected nodes)
*71 - Disconnect Permanently Connected Links
*73 - Permanently Connect Links
*75 - Full Status (Avoid using if you are connected to a AllStarLink hub)
*76 - Disconnect ALL Links
*77 - Reconnect Links (Disconnected by command above)
*81 - Say Time of Day (local)
*980 - Say App_rpt Version


Dual tone multi-frequency (DTMF) was developed by Bell System. DTMF was introduced for public use on Nov. 18, 1963. It is known by the trademark Touch-Tone.


Good DX and 73, NJ2X




March 23, 2022

ClearNode Tip #2: Antenna Upgrade

The ClearNode comes with a stubby antenna.  The stubby has the advantage of having a low-profile.  It has the disadvantages of being a compromise antenna - reduced efficiency, lower gain, and potentially some portion of the signal being reflected back into the transceiver.

You can improve your antenna gain and efficiency by swapping the stubby antenna for a larger 440m SMA vertical antenna.  I happened to have a SMA 2m/440m dual band rubber duck antenna in a drawer, so it was a easy no-cost upgrade for my ClearNode.

ClearNode with SMA 2m/440 dual-band rubber duck antenna
ClearNode on the bench with a SMA 2m/440Mhz dual band rubber duck

Upgrading my ClearNode antenna provided excellent coverage in my home, yard, and neighborhood with full quieting and crisp clean audio.  I was surprised to find that I can even reach my node with an HT transmitting with 1w from 1 mile away.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X


March 22, 2022

Completed ARRL 80M Worked All States Award

I completed the ARRL 80M Worked All States Award tonight with a FT8 contact with Chris, KI1P in the great State of Vermont.  A big THANK YOU to Chris for an outstanding job with his excellent station.  I had been searching for VT on 80m for quite some time, so it was downright thrilling to make contact with the Green Mountain State and the leading producer of maple syrup.

Vermont State Flag

Next challenge is to complete 5-Band WAS (just three states to go).

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

March 21, 2022

Confirmed 8 out of 8 Connecticut County Contacts

I have been slowly accumulating United States County contacts toward the QRZ.com United States Counties Award.  This is a rather ambitious award (at least for me) as there are 3007 US Counties.  It certainly takes patience to work and confirm contacts with them all.  As with any challenging journey, it is important to stop and smell the roses when they appear.

I recently confirmed my last Connecticut County (8 out of 8) with a 10m FT8 contact with KG5TA (Gregory) located in Windham County, CT.  That brings my total number of States completed toward the United States Counties Award to four.  Just 46 more US States to go! :-)
  1. Fairfield County ✓
  2. Hartford County ✓
  3. Litchfield County ✓
  4. Middlesex County ✓
  5. New Haven County ✓
  6. New London County ✓
  7. Tolland County ✓
  8. Windham County ✓

State flag of Connecticut

Are you collecting US County contacts?  If yes, what is your strategy?  Do you happen to know someone who has successfully completed this award?  How did they go about it?  Please leave a comment.  Would love to hear from you.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

March 20, 2022

ClearNode Tip #1: NOAA warnings

Your ClearNode unit comes complete with software capable of receiving and announcing NOAA warnings for your local County area on your local node.  AutoSky is a Skywarn program designed to work with Allstar.  AutoSky automatically generates simple NOAA voice alerts such as, "tornado watch", "flood warning", and "severe thunderstorm warning" at the drop of transmissions.  It is capable of alert messages that would be encountered in a Skywarn system.

NOAA Logo

This feature is easy to setup on the ClearNode unit using the ClearNode mobile application available on both iPhone and Android.  Steps to enable AutoSky:
  1. Lauch the ClearNode app on your mobile phone.  Note both the mobile device and your ClearNode node must be communicating with the Internet.
  2. Select your node
  3. Scroll down to "Node setup" and select "AllStar Setup"
  4. Scroll down to "Weather Options"
  5. Confirm your correct zip code is listed next to "Zip for weather"
  6. Confirm your correct NWS County Code is listed next to "NWS County Code"
  7. Move the slider to the right (green) for the option, "Enable AutoSky at book"
  8. A "Node Setup" popup will appear that can be used to save and restart your node
  9. Go to the MOde Details menu and select TimedEvents
  10. Enable “AutoSky Check Advisories"
  11. Save to commit this change

To test the AutoSky configuration, monitor the ClearNode via radio and listen for a computer voice give an update regarding weather advisories.  A notice will be given based on the "Play AutoSky every (ms)" setting. The default is set to 30 minutes.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X


March 17, 2022

ClearNode Allstar Link and Echolink hotspot node is on the air

My ClearNode AllStarLink/EchoLink (FM hotspot) simplex node arrived today from Node-Ventures.  Fun!  

For those unfamiliar with AllStarLink, a node is a computer that connects to the AllStarLink network.  A node is often interfaced with an amateur radio and is connected to the internet. Radios can range in size from a repeater to a low power radio integrated into a node (as is the case with the ClearNode).  A node enables the owner to connect to other nodes in the AllStarLink network.

It was super easy to setup and get on the air.  My ClearNode unit came preconfigured so there wasn't much to do other than attach the 440Mhz band antenna and power it up.  I really like the durable case and overall simplicity of the design.



The ClearNode puts out about 500mW and comes with a stubby antenna.  I considered using the stock antenna though I was concerned that it may limit my ability to connect when operating from the backyard with my HT.  I decided to repurpose an unused dual-band rubber duck SMA antenna I had in a drawer to enjoy a bit more gain and extended range.

Testing NJ2X's Clearnode Allstar / Echolink node
 
The ClearNode worked great with both AllStarLink and EchoLink.  I was able to link with repeater nodes all over the world easily using the ClearNode iPhome app.  The software worked flawlessly and offers a ton of configuration options for those that love to experiment.  Node-Ventures have also done an excellent job those who want a simple plug-and-play node.  Kudos!

EchoLink icon

AllStarLink logo
I talked to several hams on various repeaters and then checked-in on the Puget Sound Repeater Group's Nine O’clock Net on WW7PSR in Seattle, Washington.

Coverage around the house was strong with full quieting while using my dual-band HT set to low-power (1W).  This coming weekend I plan to do further testing around the house and outdoor coverage with my HT.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X


February 25, 2022

1000 Counties confirmed on QRZ.com

Thanks to Doug, W5VAX in Bryan, OK for confirming my1000th US County on QRZ.com today.  I am now 33% complete.  Only 2,007 US Counties yet to confirm.  :-)

I reached 800 Counties Confirmed on qrz.com on July 17, 2021.  I have noticed that that rate of QSO's with new Counties is growing slower.  My hypothesis is that the first thousand US County contacts were in places with generally a higher density of active hams.

I have also noticed a fair number of my contacts don't upload their QSO data to qrz.com.  That is a pity as it makes it much more difficult to complete awards.  Hoping more hams join in the fun.

Not sure I will ever complete contacts with all US Counties.  It sure is fun trying.

Good DX and 73, NJ2X


WSJT-X Tip #2: Call 1st

QSO's using FT8 are often fast and furious.  When conditions are favorable it is easy to end up in a pileup situation with many stations calling you at once.  WSJT-X includes a helpful feature that enables the software to automatically respond to the first decoded responder to your CQ.  Just check the box labelled, "Call 1st".

This is very helpful to keep up with the pace of QSO's.  It is not intended to be a substitute for an operator actively controlling their station.




Good DX and 73, NJ2X


Related articles:
© Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM, 2022. 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.

February 21, 2022

Yard Sale Radios

On occasion, I will pick up a cheap radio for sale at a yard sale.  When I say cheap, I mean something like one dollar US.  Sometimes, a radio will even be in a box marked "free".  Typically, the radio comes without an owner's manual, batteries, or any kind of indication that it works or not.  Sellers are just happy to unload their stuff.

One of the nice things about buying these pigs-in-a-poke radios is that more often than not, they are fully functional.  The trouble is usually that the former owner misplaced the manual and has no idea how to make the radio work.  The other possibility is that the owner originally bought the radio a pair of radio and lost one of the units.

Having knowledge of radios, a couple of batteries, and willingness to search the Internet for a manual will often turn $1 into a working radio in a few minutes.

Here is an example of a radio (Audiovox GRMS-1353 with NOAA) I picked up at a yard sale for $1 that works perfectly.  I found the Adiovox GRMS-1353 Owner's Manual on-line and had the radio pulling in NOAA within a few minutes.

Audiovox GMRS-1535

Most of the time, these yard-sale finds are NOAA, FRS, GMRS, or CB radios.  Occasionally, a vintage 2m HT will appear in yard sales though at a higher cost.  Happy hunting for your next radio bargain,

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

February 13, 2022

CA2EIH QSL Card

I received this nice electronic QSL card from Heinrich (CA2EIH) from Chile.  It is wonderful to make friends around the world through amateur radio.
CA2EIH QSL card

Good DX and 73, NJ2X

January 1, 2022

2021 - 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 2021 as of January 1, 2022.


Logbook of the World
  • Total QSO records = 10,180 
  • Total QSL records = 6,388
  • WAS 5-Band progress = 243/250 = 97% 
  • DXCC Challenge progress = 561/1000 = 56%
  • DXCC 20m progress = 96/100 = 96%
  • DXCC 15m progress = 96/100 = 96%
  • DXCC 10m progress = 85/100 = 85%
  • DXCC 40m progress = 79/100 = 79%
  • DXCC 30m progress = 55/100 = 55%
  • DXCC 80m progress = 21/100 = 21%
QRZ.com
  • Number of grid squares confirmed = 853
  • Number of US Counties confirmed = 940
  • Number of bands with confirmed continents award = 6 
  • Number of bands with all 50 states confirmed = 5
  • Leaderboard:
    • Most Confirmed QSOs = #9,636 (4,940 QSOs)
    • Most Countries Worked = #11,903 (140 QSOs)
    • Most Band-Countries Worked = #9,175 (532 QSOs)

Good DX and 73, NJ2X