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Ham Radio Craziness & “Ham Spirit”

This is starting to sound like a broken record.

I turned on my rig this morning, and in a matter of two minutes I heard some typical Ham Radio craziness.  First of all I heard a guy calling, "CQ 10 Meters", I turned the dial.  Then seconds later on 14.224 I heard a station lecturing the Extra Class operator on 14.224 that he was too close to the band edge for Generals.  He told the CQing station that since he was calling CQ only one kHz away from the General portion of the band that he was enticing and inviting Generals to answer his CQ call.  In fact, he went on to say that the last two people he worked were out-of-band Generals.  The CQing station replied that he was run off of 14.227 by a net that came up so he moved down three kHz to a clear spot, but if his CQ was offending anybody and in keeping with "Ham Spirit" he'd move again.  I couldn't for the life of me figure out why he should move at all, but in me also keeping with this thing called "Ham Spirit", I turned the dial - again.  I turned the dial straight into this Ham:

"Squawking" on 20 Meters

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Are you kidding me?  Squawking on 20 Meters?  "And we're standing by" (you got a mouse in your pocket?).  Oh Boy, all this fun in a manner of minutes!

An hour later even more craziness.  I'm scanning the band and ran across an old neighbor and good friend of mine on 14.238.5.  While listening to his conversation with another Ham, they commented that they've been talking on that frequency for an hour and a half but people keep encroaching from above and below on them.  Well, I wanted to say hello to my old friend, so I waited for Bryan to clear his QSO with Claude.  When Claude went to answer his ringing phone, I flipped the VOX on and called my friend Bryan.  It wasn't but a few minutes later the offending QRMer .5 (yep, 0.5) kHz below came up and insisted on breaking our QSO to demand that we move up a couple kHz as we were QRMing them.  At first I ignored the breaking station.  But he was persistent.  Finally I stated, "I'm talking to an old friend and you keep breaking - what is your emergency?"  Well, he didn't like the fact of being ignored, and he didn't like the tone of my voice (I guess), and he didn't like I ran straight over him while he was babbling to talk to my friend Bryan.  He wanted us to move up 2 kHz as to not QRM their conversation (that was QRMing us).  Imagine that!  In between VOX breaks I could hear him state that in keeping with Ham Spirit we should move up.  There's that pesky "Ham Spirit" again.  Just like a little hammer on my funny bone.  After what happened earlier this morning, I was tired of Ham Spirit.  I wanted to talk to my friend I haven't talked to in years and we had every right to converse as the frequency was his for damn near two hours.  I thought to myself, "phooey on Ham Spirit".  I keyed up and flatly refused his request to move.  I also told the breaking station to, "go away".  It took awhile, but Mr. QRMer man finally shut his pie hole and Bryan and I were able to continue our conversation.

All these examples of craziness beg the question, "how did we get to HERE"?  How did Ham Radio get to somebody QRMing a frequency that wasn't theirs.  How did we get to "squawking" on 20 Meters (really, WTF is squawking anyway?)?  How did we get to, "instead of a General Class station knowing their limitations, we should move because we're enticing them"?  How did we get to this thing called, "Ham Spirit" and "turn the dial"?

And the biggest question of them all, "how do we fix it"?

I am N0UN and I approve this message

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Two Close Stations and VU4KV

Man, that was tough, and LUCKY!

Let me paint you a picture.

Up here on the hill in Elizabeth, Colorado we have two stations with tri-band beams on towers with 230' between them.  I have a 10, 15 and 20 Meter Mirage KT-34XA, and my neighbor Jim (also my father-in-law) runs a 10, 15 and 20 Meter Bencher Skyhawk.  There's exactly 230 feet between tri-band beams on similar height towers.  We knew we'd run into problems when Jim was contemplating buying the undeveloped three acres next door to build his dream home on, but we also came to the conclusion that family is more important than Ham Radio and in time we'd figure it all out.  Better to have them nearby!  The land was purchased, scraped and this last summer they built Jim's custom dream home next door.  I must say, it's a real beauty!

After some "lazy" engineering to find the spot, I dug the hole for Jim's tower and I put up the HG-52SS with a Bencher Skyhawk.  Four yards of concrete later I still had a few more months to plan out how to do this "near-field" operating before my wife's parents moved in.  I figured I'd have all the answers by then.  Have I ever told you what happens when I try to "figure" something out?  My friend Keith (K0KE) came over and we ran some tests.  In a worse case scenario - with both tri-banders pointed at each other and Jim running exactly 1,500 watts on 20 Meters, we had 26 watts of RF on my antenna!  You read that right, 26 WATTS!

Figuring the gain of the antennas, the space between them, the power level, etc. we thought we might see 10 watts in a worst case scenario.  When that calibrated wattmeter read 26 watts, Keith and I just stared at each other and in unison sighed a collective, "oh shit".

Back to the drawing board.  There's no doubt 10 watts of RF will wipe out any radio's front-end.  It's also the maximum rating for just about all the front-end savers out there available for purchase.  10 watts is what I planned on, 26 is what I had.

Up until that test I had already "split" the RX/TX antenna through my Yaesu FT-1000MP MK V (RX IN & OUT jacks) and had purchased a DX Engineering RTR1-A Receive Antenna Interface for Jim's Yaesu FTDX-3000D.  I placed an Array Solutions AX-RXFEP front-end saver on each rigs RX antenna input and I also put a 5B4AGN 6 band TX BPF in each stations RX line in.  That would have protected both radios for up to 10 Watts of RF and provided some relief for off frequency inter-modulation.  But now we had 26 watts.  The front-end savers are rated up to 10 watts maximum.  What I thought would work was well underrated for what I had, 26 watts.  I needed more.

I went out for a cigarette where we debated the HUGE issue we had.  Running a PTT control line over 600' between stations came up.  Nulling his receiver when I transmitted (and visa-versa) came up.  Making "operating schedules" came up.  A whole slew of "off-the-cuff" thoughts came up, but none of them were really workable.  Then I blurted out, "what we need is a couple of "RF sensing switches.  When my antenna senses his power, it disconnects my RX antenna, and when I transmit his disconnects his RX antenna".  Keith got on the computer and typed in "RF sensing switch" and wouldn't you know it, MFJ makes one - and it's only $80.  A quick call to Ham Radio Outlet to see if they had a couple MFJ 1708 RF Sensing TR Switches proved they did.  I said, "put'm on the counter John, I'm on my way".

Now we're protected from each other.  When he transmits, my RX antenna opens, when I transmit, his RX antenna opens.  So far with the bandpass filters, front-end savers and RF sensing T/R relays on each rig we haven't had an equipment failure.  In fact, we've been on the same frequency chasing DX when either his or my relay clunks.  It's a little unnerving to hear my RX drop when I'm calling somebody, but we've worked through it.  The same happens for Jim.  Once his RX drops out from me transmitting, he steps aside.  Kind of like a "right-of-way".  No advance notice.  No phone calls.  No wires running 600 feet between the stations.  No operating calendars.  No fighting over antenna switches.  He operates when he feels like it, I operate when I feel like it.

But there is a downside.  And here it is.  Today, I'm on my 30 Meter Inverted L wire banging away on CW trying to work VU4KV when all of a sudden my RX drops!  Jim's on 10, 15 or 20 somewhere but as he's transmitting there, my RF sensing switch kicked me to the curb just as it was supposed to.  Since I only have one feedline for all my antennas, the switch is disconnecting my RX line while I'm transmitting.  Take a listen to my QSO with VU4KV on 30 Meters today.  How they stuck with me I don't know, but I sure am thankful they did!

N0UN working VU4KV Andaman & Nicobar 30M CW

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That sure was a looooong period of silence while Jim was talking!  It seemed like forever!  I called "blind" a couple times hoping Jim was finished transmitting and then maybe I'd hear if they came back to me.  You know the saying, "even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in awhile", lol.

Anyway, everything is working.  Everything is protected.  Everything is hunky-dory!  See you in the pileups!

VU4KV Online Log Check at Club Log

QSL VU4KV via W4VKU

VU4KV Website

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VU4CB Andaman and Nicobar

"You can't win the lottery unless you bought a ticket".

Knowing Krish (W4VKU, VU2VKU) and Pai (VU2PAI) had arrived Andaman and Nicobar Islands earlier from my "Daily DX" subscription, just before my Colorado evening sunset I turned the KT34XA to Campbell Island AS 033 in the Andaman and Nicobar group (339 degrees), loaded up the amp and was lying in wait on 20 Meters CW for them.  They did not disappoint.  Their first spots of their morning (our evening) were on 20 Meters CW listening way up.  I found a clear spot up 13 KHz and let'r fly.  Glad I got them when I did because their signal never peaked later.

N0UN working VU4CB 20 Meters CW

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VU4CB QSL Information

VU4CB Website

VU4CB Online Log Check at Club Log (Active Nov 12, 2014)

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Tromelin Island, FT4TA On The AIR

FT4TA on Tromelin Island would be an All Time New One (ATNO) for me at 325 of 340 Current DXCC Countries, so I made sure the DX Cluster alarms were set and over the last couple of weeks I finished some minor tweaks to the equipment and antennas.  I didn't want to miss out (again) on a DXCC Country as rare as Tromelin, and I surely didn't want to miss out on a point in the 2014 DX Marathon!

FT4TA showed up on 20 Meters Phone here this afternoon in Colorado with a good signal, but when I went up to listen to the pileup and check who was actually hearing Tromelin, my heart sank a bit as it seemed EVERY Ham in the world was calling.  That pileup was wide, and loud!  It didn't help that as big as the pile I could hear was, FT4TA was working a steady stream of Japanese stations that I could NOT hear.

And with big pileups come big problems such as people transmitting on the DX frequency, knucklehead jammers with nothing else to do, tuner-uppers, folks burping, etc.  It sometimes amazes me why we stick with this hobby.  Maybe we just don't know any better?  Possibly we're just creatures of habit?

Anyway, you work through it.  As frustrating as big pileups can be at times, I guess if you can hook the DX station over time, it makes the "catch" all that much better.  The longer the time to work that rare DX station, the more satisfactory the hunt and catch was.

Here's a snippet of me catching up to FT4TA Tromelin on 20 Meters SSB today:

N0UN working FT4TA Tromelin 20 Meters SSB

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Also, here's some info on FT4TA:

FT4TA Online Log Check at Club Log Here

FT4TA Website (in English) Here

QSL FT4TA via These Routes

Have fun in the FT4TA pileup!  And get ready for Navassa in a couple months.  THOSE pileups may very well be the Mother of all pileups, ever!

UPDATED.  I added a few more recordings working FT4TA on different bands and modes below.  I'll just say it's hard for me to believe the QRM in these pileups.  I'll leave it at that.

N0UN working FT4TA Tromelin on 40M CW - It appears this 40M Q was with a PIRATE!

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N0UN working FT4TA 40M longpath.  Hopefully this one is good!

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N0UN working FT4TA Tromelin on 17M SSB

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N0UN working FT4TA Tromelin on 15M SSB

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N0UN working FT4TA Tromelin on 10M SSB

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N0UN working FT4TA Tromelin on 40M SSB

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SATERN NET QRM and DXpeditions

So when a DXpedition shows up on a frequency (that wasn't in use), but it's a frequency that will be used by a NET - who wins?

Well this morning nobody won.

Here's the story:  VK9DLX on Lord Howe Island showed up on 14.264.9 this morning well BEFORE the SATERN NET showed up.  VK9DLX was transmitting on 14.264.9 and was listening up the band.  That's a common operational practice for a DXpedition.  No issues.

Here's the rub.  The SATERN NET that normally meets on 14.265 fired up their net on 14.263, just 1.9KHz away from the Lord Howe DXpedition.

And therein lies the problem.

Besides QRMing VK9DLX on 14.264.9 from 14.263 (less than 2KHz away), different unidentified participants from the SATERN NET would come up to 265 and declare to the world that the SATURN NET was down 2 at 14.263.  What a mess.  So much for working VK9DLX on 20 Meters this morning.

Even though the SATERN NET was told several times (by several Hams) that less than 2 KHz was too close, the net controller (N3HBX) continued the net on 14.263 anyway, thus wiping out any chance to work Lord Howe on 14.264.9 (listening up).  By the time the net concluded at 1538Z, propagation to the South Pacific was lost.  No chance to pick up LHI on 20 Meters SSB today.

And now the interesting part.

I went down 2KHz below the SATERN NET to 14.261 and asked five times if the frequency was in use.  No replies whatsoever.  I inserted my 2.0KHz SSB filter, shaped my notch to remove the splatter from above and called CQ.  I figured if they felt 1.9KHz separation was good enough, a little more at 2KHz would be fine too.

It didn't take long (seconds) for N3HBX (SATERN net control) to come to 261 and tell me that they had a net up 2KHz and that I was wiping them out.

My simple reply was that there's a Lord Howe station on 264.9 and they felt firing up 1.9KHz away was good enough, so given they gave Lord Howe 1.9 KHz, I gave the SATERN NET a full 2KHz.

Over the next 15 minutes (and in between the kibitzers from the SATERN NET), I did manage to work a low power California mobile and a Ham in Ohio that just installed his new G5RV antenna.  I'm pretty sure I made my point because I went back up 2 after completing my QSO's and heard this:

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I do give N3HBX some credit though as he did acknowledge I was 2 KHz away, and not transmitting on their frequency as he first insinuated.

Maybe the SATERN NET should take some of their own advice?  Here's another net controller (W0HMS) just moments later explaining how they usually move 3KHz:

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In a nutshell nobody won on 20 Meters today.  IF the SATERN NET had moved 3KHz away (or farther), many stations would have been able to work Lord Howe.  Even though the SATERN NET surely is an important part of radio communications, a bunch of guys spending their money to operate from Lord Howe Island and further the hobby is not to be dismissed either.

Now that you've read my ramblings, get away from your computer and go work some DX!

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E30FB Eritrea by Zorro, JH1AJT

Funny how life works out sometimes.

Today is my wife's birthday, so we were out on the Harley all day riding.  With an expected high today of 89 degrees in Denver, that's what she wanted to do.  And you never have to ask me to ride.  I'm ready anytime, to anywhere.  I will say I started getting a little nervous that I might miss Zorro operating from Eritrea as E30FB while we were burning up the highway late this afternoon though.  Then I got lucky.  I could feel a little chill in the air so I told her we'd better head a little closer to the house in case the temperature dipped any lower.  Well, by the time we got near the hill, she was done riding.  Perfect!  I figured I'd check the DX Cluster from my cell phone (which I had been avoiding all day) and sure enough, some brand new E30FB Eritrea 20 Meter spots by US Hams.

Up the hill and down to the shack I flew.  The rest is history.

N0UN working E30FB Eritrea 20 Meter SSB

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QSL E30FB via Zorro's home call JH1AJT

At the time of this post I don't see an Online Log Check for E30FB yet but I am sure Zorro will update that when he gets back to Japan. UPDATED: Just received this from the FGC Radio Team: "He does not have internet access thus we cannot get log data until his return to JA. We will upload the logs as soon as possible for online checking.  We will also provide OQRS and LoTW confirmation in due course."

Here's a few interesting links Zorro sent me about his humanitarian mission to Eritrea:

ERi-TV News 'Zena' (September 16, 2014) from EastAFRO on Vimeo.

ERi-TV News 'Zena' (September 15, 2014) from EastAFRO on Vimeo.

President Isaias Holds Talks With Japanese Delegation

Eritrean-Japanese Joint Consultative Meeting On Economic Domain Conducted

If you are generously willing to support FGC (Foundation for Global Children) activities in Eritrea, here’s the PayPal account for the mission;
e3@fgc.or.jp  Please do not forget to mention your call sign in the “Email to recipient: Subject or Message field” when you send.

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LIDs, Kids, Cops and Riff-Raff (Ham Radio)

riff·raff - noun: riff-raff - disreputable or undesirable people.

Something happened here.  How is possible that so many Hams can make the same mistake over and over and over (and over)?

Is it possible they really are that clueless?  I hear the same Hams in almost every pileup doing the same thing.  Transmitting on the DX stations frequency, calling out of turn, QRMing, carriers, cops and riff-raff.  100% complete and total disregard for what the Pileup Operator is requesting.  Why?

Worse than "why" is "how" do we fix this?  I'd love to hear your thoughts on what we can do to better the hobby we're trying to enjoy.

Sit back and listen to a few recordings I took of E30FB (Eritrea) operating on 20 Meters.  WOW!  And if by some chance you hear your voice or Callsign on Zorro's transmit frequency, well, what can I say?  Here's a clue, you're infamous!

Recording #1 E30FB 20 Meters Transmit Frequency

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Recording #2 E30FB 20 Meters Transmit Frequency

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Lord Howe Island JA0JHQ/VK9L

Nobu is up and running from Lord Howe Island as JA0JHQ/VK9L.

Earlier this evening I looked up what times any flights arrive on Lord Howe Island and it appeared to me the only "almost" daily flight to Lord Howe arrives around 2:10 PM local time (+10 1/2 GMT = 0340Z).  I figured give at least a few hours to get settled in and to erect the simplest of antennas and Nobu might make it on the air sometime around 0530Z or so.  He beat my prediction by over an hour as the first spot for JA0JHQ/VK9L was at 0405Z, just 25 minutes after the flight on August 10th was scheduled to land!  Now either Nobu is lightning fast, his flight got in early or maybe he got in yesterday?  I'm not sure.  I am sure he's in my log though!

N0UN working JA0JHQ/VK9L 15 Meters SSB

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QSL Nobu via his home call JA0JHQ

I don't see an Online Log Check for JA0JHQ/VK9L but if I do find one, I'll update this post.

How awesome is that when 15 Meters is still open at 11 PM local time?

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S01WS Western Sahara Pirate?

Well, you know the old saying, work first, worry later!

S01WS in Western Sahara had a good signal on my 40 Meter Inverted "L" wire this evening in Elizabeth, Colorado.  A couple three calls is all it took to log him.  Then I read this on their Website: "Last 2 August, after a last CQ in 7005 MHz at 00.22 UTC, the S01WS operator has proceeded to the closure of the station.  However, after being able to check later in DXSUMMIT and DXFUN, some pirate station has been usurping the Radio Club call sign for more than 30 minutes.  We don't have any record of the approximate number of false QSO's and we regret the damage that this unsporting behaviour may have caused to the radio amateurs who in good faith have done QSO with the false station.  Kind regards."

I guess I'll know soon enough if I made the real S01WS log as they do upload to Club Log.  Links provided below:

S01WS online Log Check at Club Log

S01WS Website

QSL S01WS via EA2JG

N0UN working S01WS 40M CW

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2014 CQ Magazine DX Marathon

CQ DX Marathon ContestWell seven months down with five to go in the 2014 CQ Magazine DX Marathon Contest and we're still chugging along at a pretty good clip.

I received my 2013 DX Marathon World Phone Winner Plaque in the mail a few weeks ago, and I have to say it's a really nice plaque.  I'm glad I put forth the effort.  I had a lot of fun competing in the pileups with some pretty well-known DXers.

There's several DX stations I'd like to thank publicly, but I can't mention them while I'm competing again in 2014.  If I did, other contestants would be all over them for schedules and such.  I won't do my friends that disservice.  I did thank them all individually and privately though.

For 2014, as of today (August 1st) I have a overall score of 317.  That's only 13 away from last years "Overall" winner OM3EY.  I would have tied OM3EY with 330 last year, but I entered the World "Phone" category.  You only get one submission "category".  I'm glad I did it that way because even though I would have tied OM3EY with 330, I do believe I would have lost the tiebreaker and I would have had to settle for 2nd Place in Overall.  This year is a little different.  I still may go Overall, I may go CW only, Phone only (again), I might even make a run at a single band.  I haven't decided yet.  We'll see how the final five months shake out and I'll make that call later.  It's a year long marathon contest, there's no hurry!  After 42 years a Ham without a plaque, here's a picture with my 2013 World Phone Winner Plaque:

N0UN: 2013 DX Marathon World Phone Winner

I've written quite extensively about my 2013 run in the DX Marathon.  If you're interested, here's a link to some of those past posts. DX Marathon Articles at N0UN.net

To learn more about the CQ Magazine DX Marathon, visit the Official Contest Website at DXMarathon.com

I'm off to chase #318, see you all in the pileups!  73

N0UN

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VQ9JC Diego Garcia, Chagos

Jim, VQ9JC is on the air from Diego Garcia Island in the Chagos Archipelago.  Interesting facts on Diego Garcia Island and the entire Chagos Archipelago can be found here via this Wikipedia Link (Chagos).

Jim had a good signal, but VK9EC was one down listening up on Jim's frequency so that made for some strong QRM, but we still got through.

QSL VQ9JC via his home call: ND9M

N0UN working VQ9JC on 17M CW

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I don't see any mention of an online log for VQ9JC, but if that changes in the near future I'll update this post.  Thanks for the Q's through the years Jim!

VQ9JC on QRZ

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VK9EC Cocos-Keeling On The Air

It's over 10,100 miles (16,307 km) to Cocos-Keeling Islands from Denver, Colorado. Almost half way around the world.

Earlier today I read this on the Cocos-Keeling Island DXpedition Website: "Good News and Bad News. We are now on Cocos-Keeling Island. We are all well. It is a good news. But we encountered a serious problem at Perth International Airport. Two transceivers, one linear amplifier and three antennas were not loaded to our aircraft due to some reasons. We have to minimize our operation on VK9C. Anyway, we started QRV on 40m and 30m yesterday. Please understand our unlucky condition."

Adding to the missing equipment issues, it's raining cats and dogs here this early evening in Denver.  My SWR was up and I had to suppress the static crashes with the Mark-V FT-1000MP noise blanker, notch, 12db of front end attenuation and kick in the 250 Hz CW filter.  Surely I wasn't going to hear them 10,000 miles away.  I thought for sure my chances of working VK9EC were slim to none.

Did I ever tell you what happens when I "think"?

N0UN working VK9EC Cocos-Keeling Islands on 15 M CW

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Then a few hours later:

N0UN working VK9EC Cocos-Keeling Islands on 15M SSB

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N0UN working VK9EC Cocos-Keeling Islands 17M CW

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QSL VK9EC via JF3PLF Direct or via Bureau. They'll also have Clublog (OQRS) and LoTW opened up after the DXpedition.  Check Website for updates.

VK9EC Online Log

VK9EC & VK9EX Website

Thanks Fella's! That's some GOOD DX!

UPDATED August 8th, 0100Z

They had a great signal from their second stop (VK9EX, Christmas Island) too!

N0UN working VK9EX Christmas Island 20M SSB

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C21BN Nauru On The Air

The early bird gets the worm, isn't that what they say?

Sunrise at 5:56 AM local time here in Elizabeth, Colorado - C21BN in the log on 40 Meters three minutes later at 5:59 (1159Z).

I keep thinking I need to put up a two element beam on 40 Meters, then I get pleasantly reminded this $5 Inverted "L" works just fine.

N0UN working C21BN 40M SSB

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QSL C21BN via Yuki's home call JH1NBN

Online Log Check for C21BN on Yuki's Website: http://www.1nbn.net/log/index-qso.html

JH1NBN on QRZ.com

JH1NBN Website

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SV2ASP/A Mount Athos On The Air!

A picture from Mount Athos.

If it looks like the Greek Team and Monk Apollo are all smiles wishing Zorro (JH1AJT) Happy Birthday, just think how many worldwide DXers are happy SV2ASP/A is back on the air with a new rig, amp, tower and antenna from Mount Athos!

Ham Spirit is alive and well!

Congratulations Gentlemen, thank-you and Happy Birthday Zorro!

More on Mount Athos here.

Mount Athos Team Wishing Zorro JH1AJT Happy Birthday!

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Self Spotting on the DX Cluster

I enjoy working DX.  One of the tools a DXer will use to sniff out DX is the DX Cluster.  That 24/7 'round the clock Internet system that will notify you that DX stations are "on the air".  The DX Cluster will tell you what the DX stations callsign is, who spotted him, what frequency he's on and more.  I have my DX Cluster loading through Ham Radio Deluxe software so along with station/frequency/time display, it also shows me the beam heading and distance in miles to the DX station from my QTH.

It's a great tool.  I've worked a lot of rare DX and DXpeditions using the DX Cluster.  But see here's the rub.  It's a DX Cluster.  Not a W1AW, USA, 13 Colonies, etc. spotting network.  Inherent in its name is DX CLUSTER.  So USA stations spotting USA stations is a waste of what little window space you and I have set aside for our DX Cluster program.  In my opinion, US stations spotting US stations is a waste - just like self-spotting.

And speaking of self-spotting on the DX Cluster, I just completed a "spirited" discussion via several emails with a Ham.  It stayed civil, but at times the discussion was on the brink of disaster.  See, I saw a station on 20 Meters that had obviously set up shop on a frequency and was working DX.  He had a good DX Pileup going.  Awesome stuff!  But the problem was he was self-spotting all the DX stations he was logging.  Now I don't know about you, but that annoyed me.  My DX Cluster window was cluttered with this specific station spotting all the stations he was working.  What good is that?  I looked him up on QRZ and sent him an e-mail simply asking, "Why are you self spotting on the DX Cluster?"

Among several back and forth e-mails, I wasn't getting my simple point across.  Here's three of his replies:

"If you are referring to my 20 meter activity last night, I was NOT self spotting. I was spotted by some of those who were working me as part of the ARRL Centennial QSO party. But thanks for being the self appointed cluster spotting police."

"Dude, I didn't spot myself.  Since I worked 5 or 6 Germans, Russians or Ukrainians, my log program may have spotted those automatically.  But that's NOT self spotting. Self spotting is SPOTTING YOUR OWN CALL SIGN. I've been a ham for almost 40 years; don't tell me how to operate unless you want to really piss me off."

"I don't know where you came up with that definition of "self-spotting", but the ARRL and I disagree with you.  "Self-spotting is the practice of announcing your own call and run frequency on the spotting network."  http://www.arrl.org/hf-operating-guidelines.  Perhaps you should brush up on rules, regs and best practices before you decide to send errant emails to other hams."

As you can see in his replies, the little light bulb in his head hadn't come on yet.

I found it a little hard to believe that even though I sent him a snapshot of my screen with his call spotting a long list of stations he was working back to back to back on his frequency, he couldn't grasp that he was self spotting.  Then I provided him this:

"You're something else.  Tough nut to crack.

You clog up thousands of DXers valuable Cluster window space with your self-spots, then when called out you try to snake your way through a discussion with excuse after excuse.

Let's see...  I didn't spot the DX you worked, the DX stations you worked didn't spot the DX you worked, casual folks listening didn't spot the DX you worked, YOU YOURSELF spotted the DX you worked.

I attached a snippet of you (using your words) "announcing your own call and run frequency on the spotting network" just in case you needed to "see" what you were doing.

Who was "Station Call Removed" spotting DX in his own pileup on his own frequency?  That's self-spotting.  It's a version of self-spotting rarely seen (because everyone knows better).  Imagine if everybody did what you do, sit on a frequency, call CQ and spot everybody they work."

Maybe he finally got the point, maybe not.  Maybe somebody reading this obscure Blog post on self-spotting to a DX Cluster will get it too, maybe not.  I felt it worthy to write about.  Read the ARRL guideline on self-spotting again, "Self-spotting is the practice of announcing your own call and run frequency on the spotting network".  When YOU post the DX YOU are working on YOUR frequency to the Cluster, you are self-spottingYOU are the spotter.  YOU are spotting your frequency.  Capisce?

If you think about it for a moment, spotting your own call in the "DX" as well as the "Spotter" column to the DX Cluster isn't 1/20th as bad as what this Ham was doing.  If some 9N7 station in Nepal spots himself on 14.195 calling CQ DX ONE TIME, that's 20 times less window space taken than when self-spotters are spotting their logbook.

And my DX Cluster alarm just went off, so with that I'll sign off my rant and do what DXers do, go work some DX.  See you in the pileups!

Related, including Remedy: US Stations Spotted on DX Cluster

UPDATED:  Just got an e-mail from a US Ham wondering what wasted window space I'm talking about with self-spotting.  I didn't have to look far.  Here's a snapshot of self-spotter HI8CSS:

Self-Spotting to the DX Cluster

This begs the question, "why?" Other than to create aggravation and frustration for Cluster users, what is gained for anybody anywhere by this type of self-spotting?

Posted in N0UN's Blog Posts.

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DX and DXpedition News Not Reliable

I don't know why it's happening lately, but several DX News outlets are publishing bogus DXpedition information.

And it's not just one source hosing up everything, but several.

The Daily DX

DX-World.netAbout the only DX news outlets I really trust anymore are Bernie's (W3UR) "The Daily DX", Col's (MM0NDX) DX-World.netDXCoffee and AT Comm DX News.  On this Blog, I carry an "aggregate" of several DX News sources I trust.  One DX News Feed scrolls across the top of my Blog, others are located in the right column on every page of my Website.  A sort of, "One Stop Shop" for DX information.  Click on their logos for more information.

One thing I've figured out is that some news outlets are scraping others content and republishing.  In the old days, this was a surefire way to root out the scraped content:  publish some bad info, then see who was republishing it without giving credit.  Add bogus scraped content to most of the bogus news being attributed to the wrong year and now we all have a real problem!  "Wrong year" as in the original DXpedition was planned in 2013, but is being re-posted as going forward in 2014.

N0UN

UPDATED: July 4th, 2014 1540Z

I did hear from a couple editors of DX News publications and they assured me that there was indeed some problems recently, but that there's also some "fixes" being discussed between many of the publications.  And that is good news for all of us that read them!  It seems to me that NO single news organization can gather all the dynamic DX news as it's unfolding, so republished (scraped) news is a fact of life.  Maybe part of the answer is to time/date/year/credit "stamp" all DX information?  I'm sure nobody at CNN wants to republish news from say, FoxNews, but at least if it's "time/date/year/source credited" us readers will have more accurate information no matter the source you're reading it from.  Just a thought.

I believe I found the source of most of the recent errors I've seen.  I just read the DARC (Deutscher Amateur Radio Club) DX Newsletter for July 2nd, 2014 and lo and behold they have at least three bad DX news stories.  Link to DARC DXNL July 2nd, 2014.  In a single publication one mistake?  That can happen to anybody.  Two?  Just a bad day.  Three or more?  C'mon, you have to be better than that!  The absolute worst part of their mistakes?  All three "bad" stories are from DXpeditions LAST YEAR (2013) that they re-posted as current for 2014!  Do the quick math, what does that tell you about where they're getting their information from?

Swell.

Posted in N0UN's Blog Posts.

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4W/HB9FLX Timor-Leste On The Air

You just never know who you're going to work when you call "CQ DX".

Calling CQ DX is kind of like fishing.  And all fishermen know every once-in-a-while you snag a big fish.  Here's a recording hooking big fish Felix, 4W/HB9FLX (Timor-Leste) on 20 Meters.

N0UN working 4W/HB9FLX (Timor-Leste) 20 Meters SSB

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With only 5 watts and a longwire, Felix wasn't very strong but then again Timor-Leste is just under 9,000 miles away from my QTH in Colorado.  That's almost 2,000 miles a watt!

4W/HB9FLX on QRZ.com

Felix at the controls in Timor-Leste

Felix, 4W/HB9FLX

QSL 4W/HB9FLX via home call either direct or via bureau.

Now that's some good DX!  Thanks Felix!

Posted in N0UN's Blog Posts.

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20 Meter Broadband Interference

June 10th, 2014

Any ideas on what this broadband interference is on 20 Meters?  It's been on for several hours today from 14.197 to 14.220.  Over 20 KHz wide, and loud.

20 Meter Broadband Interference

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From my QTH in Colorado it appears to peak at 15 degrees or so.  That puts it in-line with Greenland, Russia, Ukraine, Iran, etc.  At 20db over S9 it is a force, and it is wiping out all communications across a good portion of our Amateur Radio 20 Meter Band.

Anybody else wish to lend an observation, knowledge, speculate, or a beam heading?  I wonder if it's part of the Iranian Over The Horizon Radar System mentioned in a past post here:  Iranian Over The Horizon Radar.

I suspect to generate a signal that wide, that strong and for that long, it must be transmitting "megawatts" of RF power coupled to some heavy duty "high gain" antennas.

Somebody knows something...

Me thinks it may be time to round up a few hundred thousand Hams and send a lil' message back to the source?

UPDATED:  Well...  I think I just found the answers to my questions.  Just posted a few days ago on YouTube.  Oh boy, swell.  Here we go again...

Posted in N0UN's Blog Posts.

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DX Marathon Final Results

CQ DX Marathon ContestIt appears the 2013 DX Marathon Final and Expanded Results are published!  You can view them here: 2013 DX Marathon Final Results.  If you can't view an Adobe .pdf file, I've converted the single 3 page .pdf to three separate .jpg files (3 pages).  Click each page to enlarge in a new window:

2013 CQ DX Marathon Results Page 1 2013 CQ DX Marathon Results Page 2   2013 CQ DX Marathon Results Page 3

I sure was glad to see I did not make a single mistake on my submission.  After hours of checking and rechecking, I turned in a "claimed" score of 323 ALL PHONE, and I was credited with 323 ALL PHONE in my final tally.  I took a quick look at some other stations I had heard in the pileups during 2013, and sure enough quite a few of them lost points between their claimed scores and their final scores.  I call that "shrinkage".  For many the shrinkage was quite severe and surely cost some a few certificates, maybe even a couple category winners plaques.

I suspect several folks will be docked again this year as there have been MANY busted calls spotted on the DX Cluster so far in 2014.  To me it just makes sense to hear the DX station give his call, no matter how long it takes.  That's another reason I leave my recorder on for almost all my QSO's.  I see people over and over and over and over making the same mistake - working the incorrect station (or busted call) from the DX Cluster.  As an example, one DX Marathon contestant was using the Cluster to beg a XX9 (Macau) station to show up on 15 Meters SSB one day.  The frequency he spotted the ghost XX9 station on was just one kHz from a station in South Korea.  Sure enough, everybody jumped the gun and thought they were working the Macau station, but in fact they all worked the HL2 station.  Even though the HL2 station identified regularly, a bunch of folks still took the bait.  That cluster mucked up mess went on for TWO HOURS!  The XX9 station confirmed he was never on the air that day.  In two hours, how many Hams do you think logged XX9?  All that work the whole year long, just to have it subtracted from their claimed score at the end.  Oh well.  I've tried to correct busted calls on the DX Cluster as I hear them, but it's been an exercise in futility - so I don't do it anymore.

For those that follow my Blog, I've written extensively about my 2013 DX Marathon journey.  From playing around the first 5 months of the year, to getting serious about winning the last 7 months - I wrote about it.  Those DX Marathon posts are here:  Previous DX Marathon Posts.

I must say, it sure feels good to win the 2013 DX Marathon World Phone running away.  Think I'll grab a beer (or 6) out of the 'fridge right about now to celebrate.

To learn more about the year long DX Marathon Contest, visit DXMarathon.com.

Good luck to all contestants in the 2014 DX Marathon!

Posted in N0UN's Blog Posts.

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RM-11708, the ARRL and Me

You won't hear much about the ARRL's proposal (RM-11708) for wide band digital to the FCC. In fact, the rumor mill is awfully quiet about this one. Real quiet. As a matter of fact, too quiet.

I don't for the life of me understand why the ARRL would propose wide-band digital data modes to the FCC.

Not just "lend a push" from somebody else's initiative, but they are the ones who actually proposed RM-11708! For years, EVERYTHING about new cutting edge digital was to decrease bandwidth, decrease power, increase readability. Now this?

What comes to mind is almost too simple. The ARRL gains new Hams from all those mariners who will no longer need to purchase satellite internet and tracking systems to communicate.  And no more monthly service fees either.  They'll be able to read their e-mails and surf the web while at sea via high speed digital modes (like Pactor 4) on the Ham bands. That's A LOT of new Hams to bring into the League "sphere of influence", and that's not including all the advertisers that will be tripping over themselves to throw money at the ARRL for their wide-band product marketing.

In 2003 when the ITU changed their "Radio Regulations" and left it up to each country to decide whether they wished to keep Morse Code as a requirement for licensing, the ARRL was licking their chops. I suspect their eyes got all buggy when they realized 200, 300 THOUSAND (or more) new Hams could (and would) come aboard. That's just good for their business.  But at what cost to Amateur Radio?  Go listen to our bands.

I see it happening again with wide-band digital.

In my opinion it is nothing but another money grab. Hey, if they're willing to pester you for awards, lifetime memberships, inscribed bricks, engraved granite garden benches ($10,000) and then even provide "Legacy Circle" Estate Planning to you (so you can leave them money after you're dead), why wouldn't they go after THOUSANDS of mariners?  Too simple.

Maybe some smart, seasoned and well informed Ham(s) can show me the light here (because I just don't see the upside for Ham Radio). I only see SEVERAL downsides.  In my opinion running wide-band digital will only wipe out what's left of our existing digital and CW bands.  A couple three of these 2 - 3 kHz wide high-power monsters will easily wipe out 10 kc of bandwidth.  And that's from just a few stations!

Prepare your argument FOR this proposal well though. Guaranteed it's gonna' be a hard sell to this knucklehead because I don't drink Kool-aid (especially Grape flavored offered by ANY Ham).  The bottom line is RM-11708 is bad for Ham Radio.

N0UN (follow the money)

Public Filings on RM-11708

Sailing Community FOR RM-11708 (of course!)

Instructions for filing an RM-11708 comment

"Save RTTY" has some excellent information - must read at savertty.com

Posted in N0UN's Blog Posts.

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