Cockpit error

Don’t you hate it when you have an embarrasing “cockpit error” situation in your shack?

I just had one. This weekend, I had a professional tower climber replace the mast clamps on my M2 Orion 2800 rotor. It was a tough job and we were both really tired. After the work was completed, I discovered that I had a terrible SWR issue. My thoughts immediately raced ahead to having lost a EHU motor on my SteppIR DB 36 antenna or having shredded the control cable at the junction box. I envisioned weeks of down time and additional expenses.

Then I discovered the coax switch in my shack was in the wrong position and my trusty K3 had no antenna connected to it. As Homer Simpson would say: Doh!

I seem to make this mistake a few times a year. Does this happen to you?

What do you think?

In the past few years, very cheap amateur radios have been hitting the market. Most of these radios are manufactured in China at very low cost to the consumer.


The Luiton LT-425UV sells for $89.

For example, the Quad band (2 meters, 1.25 meters, 70cm and 350 Mhz) 25 watt Luiton LT-425UV is being sold on for $89.00 USD. That is about one fifth the cost of a comparable Japanese manufactured rig from ICOM, Yaesu, Kenwood or Alinco. Btech and Baofeng also manufacture and sell very low cost radios that are considerable lower in cost and quality than comparable radios from the major Japanese manufacturers. The Baofeng UV-5R V2+ sells for $35.00 which is on fourth the price of comparable Japanese radios.


While I haven’t done any research, I am concerned that the popularity of these low cost rigs may be hurting the sales and future production plans of quality amateur equipment vendors such as ICOM, Yaesu, Kenwood and Alinco. For example, the Wouxun X108G multiband QRP HF radio sells for $499. That is less than half of the cost of comparable Japanese radios.


Another concern that I have is that many of these low cost radios can also easily be programed and used on Public Safety portions of the VHF and UHF bands. In fact, incidents of jammers and unlicensed operators on Public Safety radios systems is increasing. These cheap Chinese radios can be purchased and programmed by anyone. No license is required for the purchase.


The Wouxon X108G QRP HF transceiver sells for $499

I’ve got to wonder if these cheap Chinese radios are being dumped on the market, possibly being sold at a loss just to gain a foothold in the amateur radio market. Are hams that are buying these cheap low quality radios inadvertently helping put the hurt on the venerable Japanese manufacturers of high quality radios for amateur use.

Will we see more low cost and low quality rigs enter the HF arena and put the hurt on the Japanese manufacturers as well as American manufacturers Elecraft and Flex Radio?

I would like to see the FCC step in and test these radios and require than they cannot be programed on Public Safety frequencies. These radios should be tested for transmission quality and their ability to operate wide band/narrow band.

In the long term, these low cost and low quality radios might just be harming the hobby of Amateur Radio.

What do you think?

Congratulations DARA!

Posted: May 22, 2017 in Uncategorized


Congratulations to the Dayton Amateur Radio Association for a very successful Hamvention 2017!

This year, Hamvention was moved to the Green County Fairgrounds & Expo Center as the Hara Arena was closed and is being torn down. The great folks at DARA worked really hard to find a new venue for Hamvention and by all accounts, they pulled off a really great event for 2017.


The Green County Fairgrounds & Expo Center

The Dayton Amateur Radio Association has been conducting the annual Hamvention since 1952 and in 1964 the event was moved to the Hara Arena.

Hamvention is one of the biggest and best events in the amateur radio realm and if you have yet to attend, well the new venue is a great reason to plan to attend in 2018.

What do you think?

The thrill of DX!

Posted: May 14, 2017 in Uncategorized


I’ve been a serious DXer for nearly thirty years. I am glad to say that the thrill of working DX has never worn off. While DXing has evolved largely to a quick “you are five-nine bye” there are those special QSOs or contacts that seem almost magical.

From my location near San Francisco, working the Middle East is always a thrill. With the exception of Abdallah-9K2GS, the signals are generally weak and fluttery as the path is over the North Pole. I have worked several SU9 stations in Egypt which denotes a foreign Ham operator but I had never heard or worked an Egyptian.

A few nights ago, conditions on 40 meters at our sunset were truly spectacular. I was copying Said-SU1SK very well. His pileup was not very large and he was enjoying chatting and saying hello with his many contacts. After a few calls, I worked Said. He was very excited to be working the US West Coast and we exchanged more than just signal reports. He asked about my antenna and my power level. We both knew that conditions were superb and this contact seemed a lot more like “magic” than most of our contacts.

After many years of DXing, its always a thrill to have these kinds of contacts. There are times when conditions are really good whether there are sunspots or not. These are my favorite kind of contacts and this one with Said-SU1SK will be memorable for some time.

What do you think?

Why not use LoTW?

Posted: May 8, 2017 in Uncategorized


Today’s Blog entry comes from Victor 4X6GP who asks, Why don’t more DX operations use LoTW?

Victor writes: I am reading my favorite DX bulletin and I come across a note that an operator who shall be call-less here
will be operating from a semi-rare location on a certain date.

“QSL direct to K____, USA with an SASE and DX 2 USD, no LoTW. He will have a log search on Club Log.”

My question is, “why no LoTW?” If he will be uploading to Club Log he can certainly upload to LoTW too.
If he wants to finance his operation with donations that he expects to receive with the QSLs, then why
not use the OQRS option to donate a small sum in return for a LoTW upload?

He is not the only one. Time and again I see hams announcing their operations and adding “QSL via the home call” or
via a manager in the US, Italy, Russia, Japan, or somewhere else.

These methods approximately double the cost of each QSL for me, since it costs me almost $2 US to send an envelope
halfway around the world. Then I have to obtain US dollars or Euros, put them in the envelope and hope that they
safely get out of my country and arrive at their destination. Much of the time they don’t!

My postal service is very slow and somewhat unreliable. It is not so great in many other countries, either.

As a DXer, I live and die by confirmations that are accepted for DXCC. Other than paper cards, which I
must send to the US or have checked by the ONE ham in my entire country who is authorized to do that, LoTW
is the only way to confirm a QSO.

Why do so many DX operations not use LoTW?

What do you think?

While I was attending the International DX Convention in Visalia, California last week. I sat and chatted with many DXers from all over the world. I asked them: What do you want in a Dxpedition?

By far, most DXers told me that they wanted a team of competent and able operators, who could handle big pileups with skill and finesse. They also want operators and leaders who know and understand propagation and make proper band selections by time of day. They want the Dxpedition to do everything possible to enable the DXers to work them. They told me that some DXpeditions seem to “go to bed too early” and miss important band openings to certain areas of the globe.

Many DXers told me that they like a log checking feature. Almost everyone said that a daily upload to Clublog was sufficient and they didn’t need real time logging.

DXers said that they like to see pictures from the operation and they want to know and understand the challenges at the other end of the pileup.

DXers told me that they are very interested in 160 meters and that proper emphasis should be made to have a good antenna, powerful amp and experienced top band operators.

DXers told me that Social Media was of little importance to them. “just have a good website” was said to me.” Show me how propagation will be in my area”. Have an easy method to obtain the QSL card.

DXers told me that they feel that the best DXpeditions use regional Pilot Relay stations. These people are in tune with the Dxpedition and aware of the propagation and they can best guide the Dxpedition to meet the demand for contacts.

Several DXers told me that if a Dxpedition makes bold statements such as they are also going to Kerguelen or activating a second camp on the other side of the Volcano, then they should really keep their promises. DXers tend to make donations based on promises and they feel wronged when they are not achieved.

DXers told me that they really enjoy it when the Dxpedition Team meets their audience at places such as IDXC and the Dayton Hamvention. They like the rapport that they develop with the teams and their members.

DXers told me that they like the concept of “pure DX”. They don’t want to work a remote station being operated from somewhere else. They want to experience the contact purely through radio.


What do you think?


At the 2017 IDXC in Visalia, the subject of out of turn calling and bad pileup behavior was discussed among DXers and DXpedition Leaders. Here is an article written by Steve-N6SJ:

When a DXer stands by and listens while the DX operator is completing his QSO with another caller, he will get himself in the log sooner.

The very fastest pileup would be one where no one else calls while the DX is completing his current QSO.  But this is unheard of on the bands today.

These days the normal behavior is for many other DXers to keep calling while the DX operator struggles to complete the current QSO.  Every additional caller simply adds to the QRM and frequently leads to the DX station needing to ask for multiple repeats to clarify a partial call.

Each extra exchange for “fills” or a call correction could have instead been a new QSO with yet another DXer.  But unfortunately that joy is delayed while the DX loses time trying to log a solid QSO through all the QRM.

Any DXer should be able to grasp this simple concept:

Each time you call out of turn, you are delaying your own QSO.

Are you calling out of turn?  Well first, can you actually hear the DX station?  If not, you will only cause QRM by calling.  I have heard many DXers calling at the same time the DX is transmitting.  They obviously are not hearing the DX and will never be in the log.

Do you hear the DX send a report to another call sign that is not yours?  If so, sending your own call will only make it harder for the DX to complete his QSO.  Each additional transmission required to finish the contact keeps you from getting into the log.

Yes, there are times when you may hear the DX send a partial call very similar to your own, followed by a “?” or “again?”, eg., N6S? on cw, or “The N6S, again?” on SSB.  In this case it is likely the DX heard you and needs to confirm your call.  By all means try again.  But when the partial call is nothing like your own, stand by.  Calling in that case is just wishful thinking, and will simply delay your own QSO.

When E30FB was fading fast on 30M CW back a couple of years, I heard the DX operator Dima RA9USU reply with “N6S?” several times.  I kept calling, but also heard fifteen or twenty other stations who kept calling at the same time.  Only one was another N6 prefix, but his suffix was M or K, nothing like S.  The rest of the callers were K7’s, N7’s K6’s, WA6’s, etc.  Dima hung in there through 9 or 10 exchanges before he got my call right and completed our QSO.  After me he worked two more stations and the band closed.  If those other callers had stood by and let me finish my own QSO sooner, Dima could have worked another 6 or 8 of them before the band closed.  They all shot themselves in the foot, and never got in the log.  E30FB was QRT the next day.

If you’re a smart DXer, you’ll stand by while the DX finishes his current QSO.  The very next QSO might be your own!

What do you think?