Monthly Archives: July 2009

First Air Mobile contact!

Just finished eating dinner and was twirling around 20m when I heard a strong signal that identified himself as W5WRH Air Mobile. I listened for him to make 2 contacts before I gave my call, waiting just long enough for everyone else to finish their call in the pileup. Dan came back to me on my first call to him.

W5WRH/AM was at 30,000 feet above Cuba on his way to central Florida. He was in a 767 and booming in with a 59+ signal. He gave me a 54 report which was the same as most other stations he gave a report to in the time I listened before and after I made contact with him.

Thanks Dan for being my first air mobile contact and I’ve got a QSL card and SASE all written out already.


2009 NA RTTY QSO Party Recap

Yesterday was the 2009 NA RTTY QSO Party. As a single operator you can work 10 of the 12 contest hours. I needed to go pick up my 2 daughters at the airport yesterday so those 3 hours away in the afternoon easily covered the 2 off hours needed so I could operate the rest of the time without having to consider getting off the air.

I operated about 90 mins from the start of the contest before I needed to leave for the airport and it was all 20m and a few 15m contacts. I got back from the airport a bit before dark and spent more time on 20m before moving to 40m. 40m was pretty noisy at times with stations so on top of each other (they probably couldn’t hear each other but I could hear both) that even with the tightest RTTY filter they interfered with each other.

I moved back to 20m if I saw some spots such as for Alaska which I hadn’t yet logged but for the most part once it got dark I moved away from 20m. As the night went on 80m picked up and more activity moved there so I was moving back and forth between 40m and 80m. I probably spent about 40% of the time in run mode and 60% in S&P. Once I would go for a bit without anyone coming back to me in run mode I’d start spinning through the bands. At least for this contest finding a spot to Run wasn’t much of an issue, or I’m just more comfortable jumping in to spots now then I was a year ago.

Score summary:

        Band    QSOs     Pts  Sec   NA
         3.5      78      78   33    0
           7     132     132   44    1
          14     109     109   34    2
          21       4       4    3    0
       Total     323     323  114    3

            Score : 37,791


Phone friendly ham radio web sites

I have a Blackberry and have bookmarked a few ham radio related web sites on it. Some are specifically phone friendly and others are acceptable when viewed on the phones web browser. Below is my list – do you have others on your phone you’d recommend? If so, post them as a comment.

Callsign Lookup – I developed this phone friendly version of QRZ info and a static Google map

APRS Location – Using FindU’s site, just edit the link and add your own APRS identifier

DX Cluster – Mobile version of DX Cluster spots

ARRL LoTW – Though very not phone friendly, it allows me to view the latest QSLs that have come in.  I default to the DXCC Award QSL view and if I need to log in, it takes me there after logging in.

Let me know what sites you have bookmarked on your phone. I don’t have an iPhone/iTouch so if they are specific to those devices, I couldn’t use them. The ones above should work for any browser enabled phone.


Purchase decision – iPod Touch or Netbook?

I’m looking to purchase either an iPod Touch or Netbook. They both are about the same cost – $400 for each.  They are very different devices but based on my experience, what I do with them will be based on what I get and not get something based on what I want to do. I was looking at the newest netbook from Toshiba which boasts 9 hr battery life and bluetooth support.

I commute 2 hours a day on trains and today use my Blackberry for email (work and Gmail), browsing the web typically on phone friendly sites, viewing Facebook, etc. I will still have my Blackberry which would allow me to tether it to a netbook and surf over the air if I wanted, but that is less convenient then having an iPod Touch around. But with an iPod touch, I wouldn’t be able to use the web while on my commute.

On my Blackberry I can, and have, downloaded videos for various reasons, some of which are ham radio videos. The screen is smaller then it would be on an iPod Touch and of course smaller then if viewed on the netbook. I have also downloaded audio to my Blackberry and listened to Gordon West audio CDs while studying for those exams, music, etc. I even own an older iPod but I rarely use that and don’t carry it with me.

If I look at immediate known needs, with an iPod Touch I could watch more videos (free or paid downloads) in a handy package. I would investigate what apps (I’d likely pay for) that I’d download for ham radio such as an app for learning morse code, entertainment while on the train, etc. If I look at a netbook, I have software I can load on it now to deal with most anything I wanted including having my logging program, some morse code learning programs, a larger screen, iTunes to play audio/video, GPS, etc albeit it with a much heavier weight to carry during the commute.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.


2008 IARU Award and DXCC Certificate arrives

Had a bunch of ham postal mail yesterday.  My wife texted me on the way home to let me know. I figured it QSL cards or maybe a catalog or something.

First was an envelope from the ARRL and inside was a certificate for the 2008 IARU HF Championship for 1st Place Single Operator Phone Low Power in the Northern NJ Section.

The second larger envelope from the ARRL contained 2 large certificates for DXCC. One certificate is #42,829 and the other is for 20m.

Mail like this sure beats getting bills!!


Kenwood ACC2 13-pin DIN switchbox – options?

I have two ACC2 connections that I switch between on my Kenwood TS-2000. If I’m in a contest I use a home made cable for CW/FSK keying that connects to my serial port and if I’m operating casually, I use the SignaLink USB. Each plugs into the back of the TS-2000 in the ACC2 so I need to unplug/re-plug whenever I want to switch which I’m using.

I figured a 13-pin DIN switch would do the job but haven’t come across any to purchase or any plans on how to cobble one together. I don’t know if it is as straight forward as finding a generic switch box and changing the input/output connectors or if it is much more involved.

I found connectors for 13-pin DIN plugs and connectors at

Any ideas, suggestions or links are greatly appreciated!


First contact with Gibraltar – ZB2FK

Was just playing around yesterday and saw a spot for ZB2FK in Gibraltar on 20m CW. Tuned in and didn’t hear Ernest well but then he came in strong and I was able to make a contact. His QRZ page requested confirming the contact via email before sending direct for a QSL card and overnight I got an email back from ZB2FK that I indeed am in his log. I’ll send out a direct QSL card for this new one.


IARU HF World Championship Recap

This past weekend was the 2009 IARU HF World Championship. I started out when the contest began Saturday morning and worked it for a few hours before taking my kids to the airport for a trip to visit their grandparents.  After returning from the airport I operated a bit before heading out to dinner. In the evening I operated a bit more before thunderstorms rolled in and I called it a night.

I ended up logging 202 contacts with a just bit more CW Q’s then SSB Q’s. Because of the storms at night, 40m and 80m were noisy and I got off the air (mostly because of the storm but I was pretty beat anyway) so I missed out on the prime 40/80m time and US contacts and multipliers.

I didn’t notice anything exotic when making or reviewing the contacts other then my 2nd contact with a station in Nigeria that I’ve already sent a QSL card to via the bureau.

Here’s my score summary:

        Band  Mode  QSOs     Pts  Sec
         3.5  LSB      2       2    1
           7  CW      20      48   10
           7  LSB     11      23    6
          14  CW      77     195   25
          14  USB     75     181   23
          21  CW       7      21    0
          21  USB      9      25    4
          28  USB      1       3    1
       Total  Both   202     498   70

            Score : 34,860


Ham Radio Videos on the web

To kill time on my commute, I take ham radio videos and convert them for my Blackberry. The software I use is Any Video Converter free version. I put on earphones and listen to the videos on my train rides in/out of the city.

The places I’m aware of for ham radio videos are the following, but I’d really be interested if there are other sites that have videos I could view.

K7AGE on YouTube or any YouTube video converted or direct on my Blackberry

There’s also videos to view at Ham Radio Tube but the site isn’t Blackberry friendly like YouTube though viewing on a computer is fine. You can download the original videos as a FLV (Flash Video) file on to your computer and then convert it using the above mentioned software