Elmering and mentoring…

Posted: October 10, 2017 in Uncategorized


The Northern California DX Club (NCDXC) recently launched their “Elmer Project” which is open to anyone to participate. The goal of the NCDXC Elmering Project is to help other amateurs become active on the HF bands. Their program covers not only DXing but all phases of HF operation, station building, equipment selection and antennas. There is also a track for General License Exam Preparation as well as advanced topics. The classes are provided at no cost over Webex.

I feel that this is a really great way for those interested in amateur radio to learn and possibly becoming licensed “Hams”. They can learn from the comfort of their home and at their own pace. They can watch the presentations as much as needed to fully understand the concepts presented.

You can find out more information about the NCDXC Elmering Project at this link: http://www.ncdxc.org/pages/elmer.html

STEAM Program students learning electronics theory and building kits. 

Another great example of Elmering and Mentoring is the great Youth Program at Dorothy Grant Elementary School in Fontana, California. David Collingham-K3LP and Teacher Beverly Matheson-WA6BK run a program called STEAM, where students are learning about electronics and amateur radio. They are learning about electronics theory and they have been building kits to demonstrate their knowledge.

Dorothy Grant students learning amateur radio operations and getting “on the air” with their K6DGE Club Station.

They have radios donated by ICOM-Ray Novak inside the classroom, complete with a tower and various antennas. They established the K6DGE Dorothy Grant Elementary Club Station and they are active on the air making contacts. Dave and Beverly have also been instrumental in helping some of the students establish their own stations at home.
They have held various mentoring/license preparation events with VE testing. Over fifty of the students have received their amateur licenses!

This is really a great program! You can find out more at http://www.K6DGE.com

What do you think?


Fun with 5T5OK…

Posted: September 28, 2017 in Uncategorized


I’ve really had fun this week working the 5T5OK Czech DXpedition team from Mauritania. For such a small team, they have done a really effective job in giving out contacts from Mauritania on all of the bands. This team was recently active from Togo as 5V7P.

As I write this, they are approaching 42,000 contacts in eleven days of operation. Their signals have been quite strong at times and their Operating team has been quite effective. There was almost no advance publicity (or donations) for this team yet they have managed an effective operation on a small scale and small budget.


Their attention to 80 and 160 meters is most appreciated as they have really put the time and effort in on these much wanted bands. On their Facebook page, I can see that they used one Hexbeam, one Spiderbeam and verticals for 160, 80, 60 and 30 meters. They used a four square array for 40 meters and a 17m VDA. Lastly a 5 element Yagi was used on six meters. Quite an antenna set up for a small team.


Photos courtesy of the 5T5OK Team. 

Overall, a really nice, effective and enjoyable activation of Mauritania by the 5T5OK Czech DXpedition team.

What do you think?

Is the end near for the Alpha 9500?

Posted: September 20, 2017 in Uncategorized


I have owned two Alpha 9500 amplifiers. The first amp was a very low serial number and was a “wild and wooly beast” That amplifier had a mind of its own and I sold it having been dissatisfied with it. A few years later, I bought a used Alpha 9500 and enjoyed it for a few years before moving to a solid state, instant on amplifier.

As ownership of Alpha Amplifiers has changed hands several times, the prices and availability of this amplifier has fluctuated wildly. At its height, this amplifier sold for $7995. In contrast to today where the future of this amplifier is increasingly in doubt among some of us, I have seen used excellent condition Alpha 9500s sell for $4,000.

Last week on QRZ.Com I saw an Alpha 9500 sell for $3,000 as the seller wanted to buy a new solid state amp. With late model Alpha 9500s selling for $3,000 to $4,000 I don’t see how the current owner/manufacturer of Alpha amplifiers can continue to produce or sell them for upwards of $6,995. With the new Elecraft and Expert solid state amps selling for well below that, the big gun tube amplifier such as the Alpha 9500 might be a dinosaur with its future in doubt.

What do you think?

My thoughts on list operations…

Posted: September 15, 2017 in Uncategorized


DX comes in many shapes and forms. Some of our favorite DX comes from big “Mega DXpeditions” where we know that we have a good chance to make a rare and wanted contact. Sometimes we have to work the DX station the way that the DX wants to be worked. Some DX operators prefer not to have a large and unwieldy pileup. Sometimes the DX station wants to have a brief chat or exchange of pleasantries in addition to an exchange of signal reports.

Not so common anymore but occasionally there are “List Operations”. The List Operation has a control operator who takes a list of callers wanting to work the rare DX station that may be available. Last week, there was a flurry of activity on 40 meters SSB as David-ZS8Z made daily appearances on a list operation being run by Stan-KE5EE.

There is no question that ZS8Z on Marion Island is a rare and coveted contact. David-ZS8Z is a relatively new DX operator and he prefers not to have a wild and crazy pileup. That is certainly his choice.

Some DXers will argue that these list operations are “spoon fed” DX and will look down upon these contacts. My perspective is that a contact is a contact and if it is the only way you can get this rare DX then you ought to go for it. From my West Coast perspective, it was nice to actually hear David and not have to compete with all of the guys seeking their annual Marathon points and Challenge band slots. The list operation was run in a sane and calm manner that made the contacts fast and easy. I appreciate Stan-KE5EE for running these list operations and for making it possible for many stations to work David-ZS8Z.


What do you think?



Who is Low Cost Ham Radio.com?

Posted: September 11, 2017 in Uncategorized


Recently, a new ham radio website was launched. The URL is http://www.lowcosthamradio.com

This site states “Amateur radio should not be an hobby for the rich people! in recent years, however, we have witnessed increased equipment costs which can dissuade a lot of people, especially young people from becoming amateur radio”

It goes on further to state ” This is insane for the wealth of the entire community. LowCostHamradio.com doesn’t want a muscle hobby where the rich race to get more and more KW to overcome others”

The website touts some of the features and benefits of low cost radios by BaoFeng and Xeigu. These are cheap, difficult to use radios manufactured in China.  The website lists several reviews and tries to get you to sign you up for their updates.

What I find strange about this website is that no where do they list who they are, what their ham call signs are. In fact, the registration for the lowcosthamradio.com domain was done confidentially. This means they pay a fee to the domain registration organization to keep the ownership of this website private. Typically, websites of a dubious nature such as porn sites or other illegal schemes employ the private registration. IF this is a legit website, why are they secretive about who they are?

So before I give this website any credence, I want to know who is behind LowCostHamradio.com

Don’t you want to know?

Exciting times ahead part II

Posted: September 3, 2017 in Uncategorized

In addition to the rare and exciting DXpeditions that have been announced, there is also some exciting new gear on the horizon and a new and very exciting digital mode to enjoy.


Sales for ICOM’s long anticipated IC-7610 are expected very soon. But wait! There is more! Just revealed at the Tokyo Ham Fair 2017 is a new ICOM IC-9700 SDR 144/440/1296 all mode rig!


The new ICOM IC-9700 at the Tokyo Ham fair.

Elecraft has received FCC approval for their new KPA1500 legal limit solid state amplifier and they are now taking orders. I’m very excited about this new amp. If it operates as well as the KPA500/KAT500 combo it will be a huge hit!


The Elecraft KPA1500 shown at IDXC Visalia 2017.

SBE is taking orders for their new Expert 1.5K-FA legal limit solid state amplifier.


It has got a little more power output than the venerable Expert 1.3K-FA in a similar light and nimble package. Ideal for DXpeditions!

Flex Radio is also taking orders for their legal limit “Power Genius” solid state amplifier.


Its a great time to be in the market for a new rig or amplifier. And lastly, many of us are enjoying the new FT8 Digital mode by Joe Taylor K1JT. Its a faster and fun way to work some rare ones via this new digital mode.


Here is an image of FT8 by Jim Heath W6LG. You can view a presentation on how to use this new mode here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3iuPyIFhco

So we have new rigs, new amplifiers and an exciting new mode to enjoy. Indeed, exciting times are ahead!

What do you think?

Exciting times ahead!

Posted: August 26, 2017 in Uncategorized


I am extremely excited about both announced and the parade of yet to be announced DXpeditions in the pipeline. I feel that very exciting times are ahead!

The early 2018 “mega Dxpedition” to Bouvet Island, led by the “best of the best” will surely be exciting!  Their world-class team will certainly do a great job despite the many obstacles and challenges that they will encounter along the way.  Their planning and preparations are extremely impressive and this group will certainly do the best job possible. Wishing them all success!


The KH1-Baker Island Team has just launched their website. They have also assembled a world class crew capable of a great performance. I hope that propagation and weather allows them to meet their DXpeditions goals.

They plan to be active for ten days in late June/early July 2018. That’s not exactly a prime propagation window as say compared to March/April or September/October would be. Low bands will certainly be affected by these dates. Let’s hope that their Sponsors are excited enough by their plans to help them move forward.

Weather may also be a factor for the KH1-Baker team as the Central Pacific hurricane season is from June 1 to November 3rd (according to accuweather.com)

Let’s hope the bad weather and poor propagation that has plagued other recent South Pacific DXpeditions does not adversely affect the KH1-Baker Team.  You can see their new website here: http://baker2018.net


And let’s not forget the previously announced DXpeditions to VK9-Christmas Island, VK9-Cocos Keeling and the November Dxpedition to Mellish Reef by the VK9MA team. I’m also looking forward to working many of my 3D2R/3D2C team mates as they activate Spratly in March 2018 as 9M0W.


Lastly, in March 2018, Seb-F5UFX and his amazing French Team will activate 3B7-St. Brandon. 

Definitely exciting times ahead!

What do you think?