Five new DXCC entities in the log

Since moving to Calvert County and getting my Carolina Windom up (radiating East-West) I’ve added five new DXCC entities to my logs:

  1. Kuwait – 9K2WA – 20m SSB
  2. Wallis & Futuna Islands – FW5JJ – 17m CW
  3. San Andres & Providencia – 5J0X – 10m SSB and 10m CW
  4. Kazakhstan – UN1L – 15m RTTY
  5. American Samoa – KH8/DL6JGN – 12m CW

I guess my antenna is up high enough!  I’ll keep watching the cluster and grabbing what I can.  I’m also working towards my SKCC Centurion award and have been adding QSOs to my list.  More on this later.

Posted in DXCC, SKCC | Leave a comment

New maritime mobile QSL

While I haven’t worked much in the way of DX since moving onto the boat I have worked some (and would like to work more!).  I’ve been contemplating using a different QSL card for those contacts and last night I opened up GIMP and started playing around.  I’m pretty happy with what I came up with:

W4OTN/MM QSL Card

W4OTN/MM QSL Card

The back of the card has a nice picture of our surroundings coming out of the channel at Smith Island.  To see that, though, you’ll have to work me while I’m on the boat.  I hope I get to send this card out to lots of people!

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An alternative to QRZ.com

If you’ve been a QRZ.com user for a while you probably noticed a lock-down of information in recent years.  The effort prevents amateur radio operators from using automated methods (like logging software) to collect contact information on their fellow radio operators.  And while you can easily establish an account and pay for the service you can also obtain the same information for free.

HamQTH.com offers the same callsign lookup features for free.  Established as a way to make the CQRLOG logging software function without having to pay for free information, the service provides all the same callsign lookup features, log verification features, and page personalization all at the low cost of free.

Taking a look at my page you’ll see all the same information from QRZ.com but also propagation conditions and a log search function.  Take a look around and setup your account.  I suspect you’ll find these tools quite useful and at the correct price.

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Updated Airmail System.NTSD.ini file

I just got an update from WB2FTX with some changes to the Airmail System.NTSD.ini file.  I’ve posted the latest version on the Airmail NTS ini file page.

Posted in Digital Operations, National Traffic System | Comments Off

Upcoming IOTA Activations

I’m currently planning on two IOTA DXpeditions: Smith Island (NA-140) and Hatteras (Pea) Island (NA-067).  The DXpedition to Smith Island is up in the air due to my having to sail there but the latter to Hatteras Island will definitely happen unless there is some hurricane that forces us to stay home.

Smith Island

Smith Island is a small island in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay.  Available only by boat, we’ll be sailing there to operate from the marina using shore-based antennas and transceivers.  I’ll provide an update as it gets closer to the time to make our way south.  Operation will be over the last weekend in July 2013 for the annual IOTA Contest.  Operation will be most likely be 10m through 40m phone.  I may be able to do some CW as well depending on how much practice I get before then.

Smith Island isn’t going to happen for the IOTA contest this year. I will try to make it over there later this year, however.

Hatteras Island

I’ll be on vacation August 4th through the 10th on Hatteras Island.  Operating will be vacation-style and I’ll try to be available 6m through 40m, phone and CW.  I know this island group has been well represented in the past so I don’t expect many pileups but maybe I can work some rare ones myself!

Again, I’ll update this post as time gets closer for these events to happen.

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Spring morning propagation

Whew, the last week or so has shown changes in the regular morning HF propagation.  At 1200Z I usually check into the Waterway Radio and Cruising Club net on 7268kHz.  During the winter WA6CCA near Washington, DC (~44km away) is usually loud but now I haven’t been able to hear him at all.  ND7K down in Marathon, Florida is now the strongest shore station on the net at a distance of ~1618km.

I’m not sure I’ve taken notice of a condition change on 20-meters but W5WAZ, roughly 1985km away, on 14300kHz usually has a pretty good signal into Maryland during his shift on the Intercon net.

We’ll have to see how things change as we move into the Summer months.

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CHIRP – Open source programming of your amateur radio

Cross post with Sparks’ Linux blog.

A screenshot of CHIRP

CHIRP

In the past I’ve been frustrated by a lack of Linux-supported software for programming my amateur radios. Sure, the Kenwood software that they gave you to use would kinda work under Wine but it’s Wine and who wants to operate under that? Last year I discovered a project that aimed to solve my problem. CHIRP is an open source alternative to other pieces of software that allow you to program your radios. Supporting many of the current radio models, this software allows you to create your channel list and then use that on every radio you own.

Last year when I tried the software it wouldn’t program frequencies in the 70-cm band correctly. That bug has been fixed and many features added as well. There are even static lists of frequencies one might want to include on their radio including the FRS channels, 60m channels, NOAA weather radio channels, and others. The software even interfaces with online frequency repositories making it easy to program repeaters into your radio when you are traveling to a new area.

The software is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows and is currently available in the Fedora software repositories (sudo yum install chirp).

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Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station Tour

The SWLing Post ran a post on a Monitoring Times article about the VOA transmitter facility in Greenville, NC.  The article featured a friend of mine, Macon WB4PMQ, and provides a good summary of what you’ll find at Site A.  I hope my readers will enjoy reading it as well.

Posted in Shortwave Listening, Voice of America (VOA) | Comments Off

The Voice of Russia

Voice of Russia QSL Card

Voice of Russia QSL Card

In a recent rash of shortwave QSLs being received the Voice of Russia was not to be left out.  They sent me a nice QSL honoring their 50 years of manned space flight, 1961 to 2011.  I have been a listener of VOR for a number of years and in this particular case I confirmed receiving their broadcast on 9800kHz as well as 9665kHz.

They have some interesting programs, like Red Line, that give an interesting view on the world.  As always, I listen for the music of which they do have several programs for that.

I’ve found that shortwave stations really do want you to provide signal reports and will happily add you to their mailing list.  I usually receive schedule and frequency updates a couple of times a year and maybe some stickers or other items displaying the radio station’s logo.  And it’s always neat to see their QSL cards, some of which change monthly.

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My new club… Anne Arundel Radio Club

Last night I ventured out to the greater Davidsonville area to meet some of the people I’ve been talking to on the local repeater and to join the club.  I’ve always felt that it was important to support the local club financially as well as with my time.  The members of the AARC made me feel right at home by showing me club shack and the club repeaters, also hosted from the same building.  They seem like a very active group so I’m excited to be a part of the club.

Now if I can just remember everyone’s name and callsign…

Posted in Anne Arundel Radio Club, Clubs | Comments Off