March 21, 2022

Confirmed 8 out of 8 Connecticut County Contacts

I have been slowly accumulating United States County contacts toward the 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.


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

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

I reached 800 Counties Confirmed on 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  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


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

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%
  • 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

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!

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


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

Good DX and 73, NJ2X