Monthly Archives: January 2011

QRZ Callsign Lookup Windows Desktop Sidebar Gadget

After I started to use a Windows 7 notebook, though it works with Windows Vista as well, I created a simple Windows Sidebar Gadget that stays on my desktop all the time and allows me to quickly take a ham radio callsign and launch the QRZ page for that callsign in my web browser. The widget looks like the following on your desktop:

Installing it is easy and all you need to do is go to Microsoft’s Gadget Gallery at and click on the Download button and confirm you want to install the 3rd party gadget. Depending on your browser and setup, it will download the gadget install file or possibly start the install. If it downloads the gadget file to your computer, locate the file called QRZLookup.gadget and double click it to install.

If you ever want to remove it, the gadget gets installed, along with all other gadgets, to %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Sidebar\Gadgets and you can remove the QRZLookup.gadget directory. Only files are copied to that location and they are all viewable in the Gadgets directory if you want to poke around.

I hope you try the ham radio callsign lookup gadget and if you have any questions please let me know.


2011 ARRL January VHF Logs

I wrote about this past weekends VHF contest but I wasn’t sure yet about sending in my logs because I operated both as a limited rover and as a fixed station.  First thing the next morning after emailing the contest manager with my question, I received a response indicating I should submit submit separate logs for each category I operated. So I created 2 different logs in N1MM where I logged all 46 contacts where 1 log contained the 18 contacts made while I was mobile and operating in the rover category across the nearby 4 grid squares and then a second log for the contacts made when I was at home on my fixed station.

What I end up with are the following 2 submissions for the contest. All were for low power phone (FM or SSB) only:

Limited Rover:

   Band    QSOs    Pts  Grd
   144      15      15    3
   420       3       6    1
 Total      18      21    4

 Score : 84


  Band    QSOs    Pts  Grd
    50      12     12    3
   144      14     14    3
   420       2      4    2
 Total      28     30    8

 Score : 240


2011 ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes

I worked the 2011 BARTG RTTY Sprint

on Saturday so today I made some VHF contests.  It was about 9 degrees Fahrenheit out this morning so I wasn’t about to put up a temporary 2m beam like I did over the summer so I made do with what I have up. For 6m, I can tune the G5RV which is a big compromise but it works enough for local contacts. I used my 2m/70cm dual band vertical at home and I went mobile/rover through the 4 grid squares in my area (FN21, FN20, FN31 & FN30) where I can operate 2m and 70cm from my car HT to a mag mounted antenna.

Around 2:15pm I got out to the first location and made some contacts on 2m FM with 3 local hams that were around and listening. I could only hear 1 on 70cm from the car in any of the grid squares. I then drove the short loop to cover the 3 remaining grid squares and I was just finishing up another op came on so went around again. In the car I was able to log 18 FM contacts which is pretty good and more then I recall from past attempts. I really wish more folks in the area would just leave their rig on since everyone can do 2m FM simplex but that never seems to be the case.

After heading home I checked 6m & 2m SSB from time to time and worked folks here or there as I moved back and forth between the radio and the TV to watch the NFL championship games. Being able to work 2 or 3 bands with the same person makes your count go up, but with my setup, unless they are nearby or loud, I won’t know they are around to work them.

Looking at the contest rules, I’m a bit confused on what category (or categories) I need to submit my logs in. It might be that I submit only the contacts not being rover or only the contacts when I was rover and the others are added to the club score but not my individual score. Well, it seems to read that way to me.  My total logged came to 46 contacts contacts of which 18 were mobile/rover and the other 28 were from my home station.  I’ll be on hold for a bit until I get some further info from the ARRL or someone that is familiar with this type of situation. I guess I’ll have a follow-up post once I get some clarification.


2011 BARTG Sprint

I had some high hopes for the BARTG RTTY Sprint ham radio contest, but I woke up in the middle of the night and didn’t feel well and it continued throughout all of Saturday. I spent more time taking naps then I did on the air. None of the bands seemed to be doing very well while I was on, but with being able to work anyone, there was enough activity whenever I sat down at the radio to make a bunch of contacts. In the end I ended up logging 243 contacts across 4 bands. Nothing exotic logged or heard on my side.

Here’s the summary for the day:

  Band    QSOs    Pts  Cty  Sec  Cnt
   3.5      55     55    0    1    0
     7      62     62    3    9    1
    14      94     94   11    6    3
    21      32     32    9    0    0
 Total     243    243   23   16    4

 Score : 37,908


2011 ARRL RTTY Roundup Summary

I’m a little late getting this summary out from this past weekends ARRL RTTY Roundup ham radio contest. It’s a great contest and one I felt I had to do well in again since I won my first plaque for this contest last year.  My weekend looked clear and though we received snow the day before, the weather was just fine over the weekend.

I got started right at 1800z (1pm) on 20m and S&P’ed the band. I then switched over to 15m and quickly scanned that band. For a good part of the day I remained mostly on 20m popping back to 15m just a couple of times before the sun set. Started working 40m at dusk flipping back to 20m which was still active. I was all S&P so far as there was enough activity and stations to move at a good pace. There wasn’t a lot of DX that I heard so the DX mults were low. Once evening hit, other then some quick checks of 20m, I bounced back and forth between 40m & 80m alternating between S&P and running. Both 40m and 80m weren’t bad, noise wise, which was nice for a change.  On one check of 20m around 7pm local time there was a JA station booming in later then normal, but he wasn’t able to hear me. I ended up after the 1st 12 hours of the 24 hours you can be active with 459 Q’s vs 407 Q’s last year at the same time. Time for a 6 hour nap.

When I got started Sunday morning right at  1200z (7am), 80m was pretty busy and 40m was lighter so I S&Ped both bands. 15m had some nice DX and mults early in the morning. I was able to surpass last years 15m total quickly Sun morning. 20m starting to show some DX as well, but nothing too substantial. Had a nice run on 40m between 1500 & 1530z. I hit 600 Q’s @ 1600z. I hit 100 Q’s on 15m @ 1840z where last year I had 14 total 15m contacts. Matched my score from last year @ 701 Qs and 1906z. I reached 709 Q’s at 1925z matching last years logged total. At 2040z I finally worked VT for all US sections other then DC. Hit 800 Q’s at 2238z and finished with 848 total contacts. As the contest ended, I shut things down and headed out to my local ham radio clubs monthly meeting.

Though I didn’t log a DC station, I worked all states in a weekend. I did miss logging a bunch of Canadian territories. Even though I had 140 more contacts this year I worked only 2 additional multipliers then last year. I think a big reason for that was that there weren’t a lot of DX stations calling CQ and it’s rough for a 100w wire antenna guy to call CQ on 20m and be productive. A beam or amp would probably make a world of difference in that area.

Here’s the score summary from N1MM with my logs uploaded to LoTW, eQSL & QRZ:

 Band    QSOs    Pts  Sec   Cty
  3.5    209     209    8    1
    7    247     247    8    5
   14    283     283   36   19
   21    109     109    4   12
Total    848     848   56   37

Score : 78,864

In last years RTTY Roundup, I was able to take 1st place Low Power in the Hudson division with a score of 63,336 so I’m hopeful the jump to 78,864 (before any deductions) is good enough to repeat.

73 & thanks for all the contacts!

Morse code in a Wii video game

I don’t have this specific video game but I do have a Wii system so I’ll have to see if I can borrow this game from someone and hear it for myself. It seems that the video game Wii Sports Resort contains 3 morse code exchanges which are part of the background sounds that occur while playing and passing by the lighthouse. The 3 exchanges are:

Why does anyone use Morse code anymore?
Good question.

Morse code takes forever.
It sure does.

Does anyone out there know Morse code?
Sorry. Use your radio.

No one yet seems to know who on the game development team might have put this in. I’m sure someone will eventually fess up or find out.  Maybe the developer will come out with some video game that innocently teaches young kids morse code in order to progress through the levels.

Here’s a picture I found which seems to match the description of where in the game you might hear the morse code.


UPDATE: A co-worker saw this posting and he had this game at home so he brought it in for me along with the additional controller extension. I put it in Saturday morning before the RTTY Roundup and played just the flying game for a bit. It was fun, and as I approached the tower you could hear the morse code. Now who programmed it?

Call sign t-shirts – New Years deal!

Happy New Year everyone! I’m just back from a vacation that started on 12/22/2010. Other then the VHF radio in the car during the time I was in the car, I think this was the longest I wasn’t on the air and certainly on HF since I’ve been on HF. But my wire antennas survived a 2 foot snowstorm shortly after we left on vacation so I should be all set for the RTTY RoundUp this weekend.

I often get asked by people that see me wearing them, where I get my shirts, etc that has my ham radio call sign and my name on it. Everything so far has been purchased from CallsignWear at and they are great. In the items I have from them which is a great pullover fleece I always wear, a long sleeve t-short and 2 short sleeve t-shorts, I get my call sign and my name embroidered in. In the pile of emails I had waiting for me when I turned my Blackberry back on after getting back to the US was one from CallsignWear with their monthly special being $11 short sleeve t-shirts which happen to be exactly what I’m wearing now. If you are interested, check out for a couple bucks off their normal price. Good deal on a good product and I don’t get anything for recommending them.