Sunday, March 19, 2017

Windows 10 Anniversary BSD.. IT'S ALIVE!! K3Y event, Andy K3UK is retiring, WES events, Brags, Latest Flex 6000 updates and NRR.

Well it has been four months since I last posted. I was going to wait until I got my K3Y QSL card in the mail, but that hasn't happened yet. So when it does I will update this post.

Windows 10 BSD:
Well finally my computer is back to running fine. The latest updates to windows has resolved my once a day Blue Screen of Death. So this gives me less reason to buy that shiny new thing.

K3Y Event:
This is a month long event in January, where volunteers use the special event call K3Y/* (* is 0-9, KH6, KL6, KP4). You try to work as many regions and bands as you can. There are also DX regions. However they can not use the K3Y call sign since they are not U.S. areas. They usually call CQ K3Y then their own call sign. Not hard to tell what region they are in.

Last year I filled in a 101 slots. This year only 70. Might not seem so good. But the top station with all Bands-Areas was only 110, so not too bad I would say there were 20 stations that got more then me.

Like last year, I only was able to get 18 out of the 19 regions. Last year it was AS I couldn't get. This year is was SA I couldn't get. This had more to do with lack of reliable operators and what band they were working at what time. If you are interested about the K3Y event, follow the link below:
K3Y Home Page

I have 467 QSOs since Nov 26. 1 SSB 11 JT9 and all the rest CW.

Did not do WES in December 2016 or January 2017. I did do February and March of 2017.
Month   QSOs    overall    QRO
Feb        101       21            13
March     57       33             20

Finished off 2016 with 52 brags in Nov and 51 in Dec for a total of 872 brags for 2016. An average of 72 brags a month and in 10th place for the year.

For 2017 brags counts are 62 for January and 80 for February. Not in the top 12 yet but consistence is what counts. We will see how we have done by the end of the year.

Flex 6000 Software:
Well the "beta" releases are over and now I have upgraded to version 1.10.16 All went well. Had a slight problem with the CAT interface, but was able to resolve it easily. I could not happier with this radio. Just works like a charm.

Andy K3UK retiring:
Andy hosted the SKCC sked page for many years. He has decided to retire and give up the sked page. I want to thank Andy for all his fine work and wish him the best of luck in his retirement.


Since Andy no longer maintains the sked page, Mark K7MJG has developed a new sked page. It will be under the control of the SKCC group and therefore has a new link:

SKCC Sked Page

Novice Rig Roundup:
This was my first time participating in the NRR. Only made 5 QSOs all on 40ms but had fun. Also made me realize how much better the Flex is then my old novice rig. Biggest problem with the HW-8 is it is a double side band receiver. Effectively you have demodulation of signals above and below the carrier. Very hard to use with a crowded band. I have had this rig pictured here before. I have a home made antenna tuner and some extra goodies in the big box, such as SWR meter, audio filter and a digital frequency read out. The key is a MFJ-553. Cheap but works just fine.
HW-8 Novice rig

LoTW: JT9 WAS 20m. I have been working on this one for over a year.The hardest states to get were the ones closest to VT. I believe MA was the last state I got.

I am still working on JT9 WAS 20m. There I need NM. I have the QSO but the station has not or will not confirm it. Which is funny, because he confirmed it in LoTW and he is active on Go figure.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Windows 10 Blue screen of death!! Boat load of QSOs and more

Windows 10 anniversary Update:
The saga continues!! Well Microsoft got me again! They forced the update on me and this is the results. Once a day my PC crashes. The good thing is, it is only once a day and if I reboot before it crashes, it doesn't happen for the rest of the day. Definitely a clue as to what is wrong, don't you think?

Windows 10 Blue Screen of Death
Since Aug 16, 2016 I have 543 CW QSOs logged and 56 JT9 QSOs logged. I am still missing a couple states for 20m JT9 on both LoTW and I am missing MA for LoTW and NM for  I haven't been trying real hard for that. It will happen when it happens. As you can see with only 56 QSOs in three months, I am not really working at it.

WES results for Sept, Oct and Nov 2016:
Month    QSOs  Overall  QRO
Sept         82         24         18
Oct           82         27         20
Nov          93         18         13

Results have been OK. I just S&P, never call CQ. I could probable do a lot better If I did call CQ for awhile. I also cherry pick. Looking for QSOs that will get me closer to one of my goals.

I have not participated in the  SKS for Sept, Oct or Nov. I am usually busy doing something with my wife. We like to play a hand of cribbage every night. We also have about a 1/2 dozen TV shows we like to watch together. After all, she did let me buy my Flex-6300 HIHI.

I have started to put more of an effort into the brags.  I had 104 in Aug, 99 in Sept and 76 in Oct. I am 9th overall for the year so far. Two months to go and falling way behind my goal of 100 brags a month.

Radio is doing very good. New SW updates seem to install rather easily. The next release is going to allow the USB ports on the radio to be used by some devices but not the FlexControl knob.

CWFUN event:
There was an event on Oct 22, 2016. There were 60 people registered but only 34 participants. I was 10th. out of 31 who turned in logs. Always have a fun time with this. Wished more people participated.

Well I finally switched over to a cootie. Or more exactly, single level Vibroplex wired as a cootie. My hand was just getting too tired using my straight key and I was making too many mistakes. So for better or worst I am now a cootie guy.

Vibroplex Single level key wired as a cootie.
Waiting for a few WAS 20m endorsements from LoTW. Manly digital.

Had to do a little antenna work a couple of weeks back. We had some heavy snow, not a whole lot, but enough to sag my antenna almost to the ground. I also think a branch broke in the tree is was in. So I had to pull it back up to it's original high. So I am good to go!

Nothing to report on this. I have about 3 weeks of vacation that I am taking in December so I will try to at least finish the BiTX20.

All for now - 73

Monday, August 15, 2016

Dog days of Summer.

Like the title says, things are slow.

Well I made Senator times 2 this last week. That is another unique 200 SKCC Tribune or Senator contacts.  I didn't do the WES or SKS in June. For the WES I was away for the weekend so didn't operate. For the SKS, just lazy this month. Update: Now it is August!! It is taking me forever to post this. So for July, I didn't do the WES again for two reasons:
1) was down in MA visiting with the my grandson and
2) Wind storm took down my ant.

I was able to do the July SKS but stayed on 40m because I was using my fan dipole that is in the attic. It causes RFI problems on 20ms so I limited my operating to 40.

Got my OCF back up before the Aug WES. Boy did I miss having it. I was able to work one day of the Aug WES and made 36 contacts.

Sunday we went to the "Wings over Vermont" air show in Burlington, VT so no operating Sunday. However, I did get to shake the hand of Col. Charles McGee one of the Tuskegee airmen from the famed Red Tails. See picture below. What an honor!!

Col. Charles McGee Red Tail pilot. He is 96 years old

I did manage to record 51 Brag QSOs for June.

I have been doing some more JT9 operating. I would like to get 20m WAS on LoTW.  Right now I have 46. I am missing MA, NE, UT and, of course, VT.
For DXCC, I have 74 in both LoTW and This will come. I am not really chasing it at the moment.

Working on the 160m Slopper. First attempt to hang the rope failed. Mono-filament line broke when I tried to pull attached rope over the top of the tree. I think I need heaver line.

Well 160m is on hold for awhile. We had a HUGH wind storm on July 23 which brought down the tree that was holding up one end of my OCF dipole. It has taken me awhile to get it back up. Oh ya, It also took out my Slim Jim ant so no 2 meters either.
Tree holding up my antenna laying on the left. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Near-Fest, more on projects and first Japanese CW contact

NEAR-Fest was in April this year and it was a good day. Clear skies and about 65~70.  The highlight for me was the home made apple pie at the church concession stand. HIHI

I actually went there looking for a "cootie" sideswiper key. I know I saw some there last year. Well there was none to be had. Oh well, I guess I will look on eBay and see if I can get one there. update: I bought a VibroPlex Single Level Paddle key. Let's see how I do with that.

I did pick up a in-line choke for me 160m antenna projects. Just waiting for the weather to get better to put it up.

I meet up with a ham I know from MA. His name is Brian WO1VES (wolves). Below is a picture of him dressed up in his wolf outfit. If you look closely, you can see the canine teeth, his tail and also two "tags" in his left ear. BTW the gentleman next to Brian is Harry WA1VVH. Sorry Harry.

April WES and SKS:
Had 41 QSOs in this months WES. Only spent Sunday doing the sprint. I was visiting my new grandson down in MA on Saturday. I was 52nd overall out of 243 and 40th out of 165 in the QRO 100 Watts or less category. Not fantastic but respectable.

For the SKS, I had 21 QSOs. I was 23rd overall out of 110 and 18th out of 86 in the QRO 100 Watts or less category. Again respectable.

Pretty much settled into a routine. I watch the SKCC sked page and also the SKCC skimmer looking for people that I can help or that can help me.

I have had 350 QSO logged in LoTW since Feb 21. Out of the 350 QSOs, 340 were CW and 10 were JT9.

I have been practicing with my SpeedX key. I still have problems with the dits.

I also was awarded DXCx25 and DXQx50. These are SKCC DX contacts. The DXC is unique countries and DXQ is unique SKCC members. The numbers represent the number of contacts.

I made my first Japanese CW contact on April 4. Was very surprised to see JR2IUB call sign pop up on the SKCC skimmer. Took a few tries but was able to complete the QSO with Takeya Saitoh. Thank you Take-San! Here is the QSL card form Take-San.

Rig has been preforming well. I discovered that if I set the filter bandwidth to 800 Hz and use both the NR (noise reduction) and APF (audio peaking filter), I am better able to hear weak signals. Still at software version 1.5. Don't see a reason to up grade as yet.

I have been doing things for my projects. First of all I have buying more tools. I was not very well equipped so I have purchased several useful tools: a board holder, a pin crimping tool and a really nice solder station that allows me to do surface mount components.

I have acquired most of the components for my WRAPS projects. Just a few more parts from the local hardware store to get.

The BITX20 project is sitting in the board holder. I plan on soldering some connectors on the PA board so I don't keep breaking the wires off the board. More work on this this coming month.

WAS awards:
Well I was finally able to get my ARRL CW WAS award (LoTW). I have them framed but not hung up yet. "Real Son Now"

OK I'll end it here for now - 73

Sunday, February 21, 2016

K3Y anniversary event, WAS awards and MORE!!(click bait)

K3Y anniversary event:
Had a total of 94 K3Y contacts. Only region I was not able to get was Asia and the only band I was not able to work was 6 meters. Asian stations only had a total on 101 QSOs, the lowest of all regions (only three operators). 6 meters only had 15 total QSOs, the lowest of all bands. So not to get either is understandable, especially being in VT. If you go here K3Y-statistics participants and search on my call sign, you can see my results. I think next year I will try and work as a K3Y station. I still lack a little confidence to have done it this year. After all, I have only had my license for four years and CW is still a struggle for me. I also want to use my Speed-X semi-automatic key. My hand gets very tired using the straight key. But I still need a lot of practice before I am comfortable using it.

160m Sloper antenna:
I have been encouraged by the few 160 meters QSOs I have had with my OCF 80-6 meter dipole to think about putting up a 160 meter Sloper antenna. I ordered one from   for about $70.00 or so. I think they are $20.00 off at the moment. I am curious to see how it performs. The reason I decided to get a separate antenna for 160 is I worry about the high SWR with my OCF dipole. I keep the power low so as not, hopefully, damage my radio.

160 meter Sloper

WAS awards:
Well I finally got the ARRL mixed mode WAS (LoTW). I already have mixed mode WAS from QRZ and, and Mixed CW on QRZ. I am one shy of 50 for ARRL CW. I need North Dakota. If you know anyone in ND that uses LoTW and is willing to do some CW, please let me know.

February WES:
Did not do the January WES. I was down in MA for a family get together, so I missed it. However, I did manage to work the February WES and had my personal best of 110 QSOs. I was 22nd overall and 13th in my category. Propagation was very good, with a number of 10 meter contacts.

I am pretty much a CW geek now. It is all I have done for the last couple of months. Occasionally someone will ask me for a digital or SSB QSO for WAS, but that is about it.

Since Jan 8 I have had 249 QSOs of which I have recorded 82 as K3Y, which I shouldn't have, but oh well. I have asked  K3Y operators to let me know if they wanted me to log them under their personal call sign and some did.  Some logged QSOs to so I confirmed them already and also unloaded to LoTW. However, LoTW does not let you know if another station is waiting for you to confirm their QSL, so I don't know if they want my QSL or not. One of things I don't like about LoTW.

I did not participate in the NAQCC January or February sprints or the SKS in January. Hope to do the February SKS.

The rig has been working great. There has been two software updates, but I have not yet installed them. There is always some issue with CAT and DAX ports not working correctly so I will wait awhile. Basically the 1.6 release has more to do with contesting then anything else. The 1.5 release still has the problem of forgetting settings when changing bands but I get around that by typing in the frequency in rather then changing the band. The devil you know right?

Windows 10:
I have been running Windows 10 now with no real problems. I had it crash when I was trying to do something with Skype, I think, but I really don't use Skype so not an issue right now.

Well let me say it. I have been very lazy with projects so shame on me.

If you have any comments or ideas I would like to hear them.

All for now -73-

Friday, January 8, 2016

Software is my friend, software is my friend, A chicken in every pot!!

Windows 10:
Well for some strange reason I was able to upgrade my computer that wasn't able to be upgraded  before because of problems with the graphics driver software not being compatible with Windows 10. Go figure!

Windows 10 installed easily and works fine on my computer. The only issue was I had to completed uninstall SmartSDR including removing all hidden devices in the device manager. The big benefit is all my USB serial devices seem to work now.

My Ham computer running Windows 10 (32 bit version)

Got my SKCC Tx8 Nov 21. That was quite a struggle. Got my Sx1 on Jan 3. "As your Senator, I promise you a chicken in every pot!". I am the first Senator from Vermont. There are only 57 SKCC members in Vermont so I don't know if this is such a big deal. Also got my SKCC WAS on Jan 7. All I need now is IA C/T/S for WAS-C.

January is also SKCC month long anniversary event, K3Y. See K3Y Home Page for details.
I have 42 confirmed contacts out of a possible 129 and It is only the 8th today, so I should get a few more.

I will keep trying to get more levels and improve my sprint scores as I go on.

Don't know what my next big goal will be.

Since Oct 23 I have 620 QSOs logged in LoTW. Really pounding the Brass HIHI! Of those, 22 are JT9. I am trying to get WAS for JT9 on 20 meters got about 5 to go.

All is good now with the rig. Since I was able to upgrade my "old" clunker to Windows 10, everything seems to work just fine., including the FlexControl!!

FlexControl now works great!!

NAQCC Sprint:
I did both the November and December sprints. I was 2nd in November with 13 QSOs and 3rd in December with 10 QSOs in my category. This is a fun event to do. Try it sometime.

I also did both the November and December sprints. I was 21st overall and 18th in my category in  November with 70 QSOs and 33rd overall and 21st in my category in December with 78 QSOs. Always have a good time with this event.

Participated in both the November and December two hour sprints. For November I was 37th overall and 31st in my category. For December I was 32nd overall and 27th in my category.

I participated in Event 17 and was 7th with 28 QSOs. This is a small event with only 29 participants of which I only had 15 unique call signs logged.

I have been practicing with my Speed-X bug with the 1.9 oz weight. doing OK but need much more practice before I start to use it on the air. (too many or too few dits)

Speed-X with 1.9 oz weight.

Installed a new program called VOAProp from this link VOAProp  It is a graphical display of probable propagation paths for any point you chose ( probably your home QTH) to any other point. It uses the VOACAP forecasting software (Voice Of America Coverage Analysis Program)  to generate the data for display. This software is not perfect!! It will only give you a feel for how well you will get to certain areas of the world. It is still a good idea to actually check the bands to see how there are doing.

For instance, station E5SKCC from South Cook Islands was on 40 meters. VOAProp said there was no path from my QTH to there. However, I heard him and we exchanged info. So use it as an aid to where you are more likely to be successful with a QSO.

One last thing. I think W8AMZ store is out of business. Web page is gone. It is a shame, I really liked their antennas and they were a little cheaper then other companies.

That is all I can think of for now.

73 Dave KB1WOD

Friday, October 23, 2015

Its time again! Another great operating stretch, 160m QSOs, More on the Flex6300 saga, QRP and a Blogger returns

Been awhile so probable time for some updates.

Doing a lot of radio again this past month and a half. 499 QSOs for Sept and OCT. 325 CW and 174 digital QSOs.

I have made it to SKCC Tx6. So less then 100 unique SKCC C/T/S contacts to get to Tx8. Then I can start working towards my S. For that you need 200 unique T/S SKCC QSOs. Which can be duplicate call signs of those I made for my T1-8, but new QSOs. So that one should go quickly. Even though it is limited to T and S, it shouldn't take that long. There are very few Cs out there compared to Ts and Ss.

Also I meet a nice young man on the SKCC Sked page. His name is Will and his call sign is W3WKV. Obviously he is SKCC member and has just gotten his S in record time and probable the youngest to do so. Look him up on QRZ, I think you will be impressed. I know I am.

Since I have a "do anything I want" radio now, I have been starting to do more QRP. I participated in the NAQCC sprint in October and did OK. I wound up third for region 1. Here is a link to the results page  NAQCC Oct sprint results

I have been working on my SKCC WAS. I have 49 WAS and 47 WAS-C I need HI, for both and IA and NM for WAS-C.

One thing to mention, I am chasing WAS and DXCC but not real hard. Except for the NM SKCC contact, I have never really went out of my way to get a QSO. If I hear someone on the air, I will try and chase them, but other then that, not much.

Even though my OCF dipole is only suppose to go down to 80m, I have had three 160m QSOs in the last month. I wonder what the antennas SWR is? I asked the question on the SKCC Facebook group. Got a variety of answers and comments to say the least.

The October WES went very well. I had 69 QSOs and I was 18th overall and 14th in the 100 Watts or less category.The only drawback was the bonus was based on how many different key manufacturers you could get. Well I don't know my key's manufacturer because it is a Navy flame proof key, which was made by several companies and the number is not visible on the key. So every time I had to spell out Navy flame proof. My hand was a little sore afterwards.

 I have such a beautiful radio and they have to put software in it!! On going trails an tribulations with my Flex-6300. It seems like bugs in software is like "Wack-A-Mole", you knock one down and another pops up.  Last time I report that my radio would crash sometimes when I changed bands. Well that has seem to have gone away. My new mole is it has developed Alzheimer's. It seems to forget my settings when switching bands or on power cycle. Not all settings, but some. Most notable the AGC circuit. Operating CW I do not like the AGC on, so I turn it off, so switching bands is a real nonsense because it turns the AGC back on. I wounder what new horror awaits me in the next release.

But as much as I complain, it is a wonderful radio. Switching bands is as easy as typing in a new frequency or a couple of mouse clicks. If you buy a Flex-6000 series, do buy the built in ATU. I think it is only a couple of hundred dollars but well worth it, especially the memory for the settings. So once you are tuned, it will remember the settings for the next time you go to that band.

Last time I said I was going to buy the FlexControl and I did. Unfortunately my computer has issues with USB serial devices. USB serial devices don't work on my computer and I have not been able to find a solution. I know the FlexControl works because I installed on a different computer running Windows 10 and it worked fine. So I thought why don't I upgrade my computer to Windows 10?! No such luck. It complains my builtin graphics card is not compatible with Windows 10 and I have to buy a new computer. Well that ain't happening!! So I have a nice FlexControl waiting for a new computer. RSN!!

Hotel Tango November Blog:
 Is back! After a year and half of no post, Kate has started up again. She is retired now and has time to do things she just couldn't do while she was working. She is very much into NTS and was usually the source of a lot of the traffic we use to get when I was working the 2m nets in MA.

She has some real good info on wave propagation, especially for the lower HF bands. Good reading and informative. Please visit her blog here : Hotel Tango November Blog

NAQCC Anniversary Event:
 Now that I have a Radio that has a decent receiver and can adjust the power level to QRP levels, I am participating in more QRP activities. The NAQCC anniversary event was one such event. There were 10 N#A station around the country working QRP, one in each region. I was able to get 9 out of the 10, only region 6 was missing. Most I worked QRP but a couple I worked 60 Watts because I wasn't sure I would get them. It was fun hunting them down!

BTW I used both the NAQCC spotter page and the RBN web page. There are people that don't like using spots but I say, use what is available. You can only do so much by searching and looking at a panadapter.

Well I better end this here or I will never finish it

73 Dave KB1WOD

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Best month ever!! Raves for SKCC programs and some useful JT65/9 programs and sites also more on Flex-6300


August 2015 has been my best month for operating on the HF bands. A total of 255 QSOs, of which 177 were CW, 6 were JT65, 71 were JT9 and 1 SSB. This compares with 70 total contacts for July.
The reason for such a large jump in contacts, Has to do with several tools I started using,  and deciding to go for my "S" suffix for SKCC in earnest.

The tools are:
K3UK SKCC SHED page   , the K7MJG SKCC skimmer  and the AC2C's SKCCLogger  

The K3UK SHED page allows you to schedule contacts with other SKCC members. It is more or less a chap room that allows quick exchanges to setup QSOs. You can also send private messages and post a status next to your call sign. (Like were you might be listening)

The SKCC skimmer is a Python utility that uses several source to determine who is available to help you achieve your goals. It also lets you know who you might help to achieve their goals. It takes it sources from the SKCC group's data base, your log file, the SKCC SHED page and RBN skimmers that are geographically near your location. It also keep tracks of your log and lets you know when you qualify for an award. Very cool program!!

AC2C's SKCCLogger is setup for SKCC contacts. It lets you know, when you enter a call sign, whether or not it is already in your log and displays any previous contacts with the same call sign. It will also generate list of contacts that you can use to submit to the SKCC group for awards, such as "T" or "C". 

In my opinion, these programs are a must if you wish to achieve awards in a reasonable time frame.

I also realized something that I should have know from the beginning. Not all SKCC members participate in the awards. So I have learned that when you see a SKCC member on the skimmer without a suffix(C,T,S), listen to their CQ. If they are not calling "CQ SKCC", then chances are they will not exchange numbers.


Crashed again. Same type of crash as before, but on 40 meters this time. I was able to recover as before. Haven't heard anything from Flex. Hopefully the next release will fix it. Today I broke down and ordered the FlexControl USB tuning knob. One thing I don't like about SmartSDR is it is very difficult to adjust the volume. I am always grabbing the wrong thing with the mouse.

JT65/9 Tools:

Stumbled onto a interesting program and video on the other day.
 JT65 and JT9 are easier than ever . It talks about using JT9/65 on Flex 6300 SDR and a utility called JTAlert. The YouTube video is OK. A little slow in parts but well worth watching. Jon K7CO did a great job in my opinion. Watch the whole thing, you will get a lot out of this video if you are a JT9/65 user.

Anything to add, please do.

73 Dave KB1WOD

Saturday, August 15, 2015

More antenna stuff, operating and Log book conversion

Well I guess it has been long enough since my last post. Lets see what has been happening.

Finally got my 2m/70cm Slim Jim antenna up. It is hanging in a tree in the back yard. I have two of these antennas. I had one for each of my QTHs when I had two houses. So I got a spare.

As far as repeaters, I can only get four from my house. Williamstown, Norwich, Windsor and Bolton. Have made about a half a dozen contacts, mostly on the Bolton repeater.

Doing some more CW a little PSK31 and JT65. A new mode I have been using is JT9. Less bandwidth then JT65 and 2db more sensitive then JT65. Here is a link for information on this mode. JT9 info I find that JT65 gets very crowded and it is sometimes very hard to get into a QSO.

My code speed is improving and I am starting to do some coping in my head. But I still write most everything down when I am in a QSO.

This last weekend (Aug 8,9) I was able to get in some WES contacts. 35 in all and 6 cootie contacts for 90 bonus points. I was 71st overall and 53 in the QRO category.  I was not able to do June or July due to prior commitments.

Log Book:
I was able to get enough SKCC contacts to get my Tx2. My biggest problem was converting the excel spreadsheet I used for my T to an adif format so I could import it into the SKCC logger program. Which I am using for the rest of the TxN. That took me all day. Basically you convert each cell into the appropriate adif format then save it as a text file. The following link is where I found the basics.

AB2RF Excel-ADIF-conversion link

These are the cell commands I used for my conversion. I am using open office, so the commands are slightly different then from Microsoft excel.


The biggest issue I had was getting the date formatted correctly. I ended up making the dates just numbers and then it worked ok using the cell command above for the date. There is probable a better way to do the date, but I am only going to do this once so as long as I get there I am fine.


Finally got the Kenwood TS-520S back on the air. I have my SpeedX key on it. I hope to learn how to use it.

Better post this now or I will never get done.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Flex-6300 update, air cannon, Shack update etc....

Greetings!! Well lets get started. To summarize:
Garage and landscaping are finally complete so now I have no excuses to put up my OCF dipole.  
I have a very nice workbench now so I can get on with some of my construction projects. 
I have installed the RF amp into my, for lack of a better name, QRP accessory box. 
Flex radio seems to be working very well. 
I have done a lot of JT65 and a little JT9 in the last couple of months. 


So my first tasks was getting the guide ropes up over a couple of trees in my yard. I first tried a $5.00 sling shot but failed miserably. I could not get enough power to get the 4 oz. weight up 20 feet, let alone 70 to 100 feet. Finally one of the straps broke and that was the end of that. So what were my options?
1) bow and arrow
2) model helicopter
3) rod and reel or
4) air cannon.

Well I don't have a bow and arrow. The helicopter that I have I doubt would work. It is just a $50.00 toy I bought for my wife as a joke Christmas gift. The rod and reel I could not get and accuracy or any real height. So I settled on the air cannon. 

I bought the one from the JARC in Joplin MO. Here is a link to their website Joplin Amateur Radio Club. Probable the only downside to this was I had to assemble it myself.  I was afraid I would not get a good seal and it would be useless. But the instructions were excellent and there are several YouTube videos that help. I was really surprised how well it worked. Highly recommend it if you are in need of one. ( and can't borrow one)

It took several tries to get the rope over the trees. Try to use this on a day that is not windy!

I bought the  W8AMZ  80-6m OCF dipole with the 20 foot vertical radiator kit. It is pretty much an all band antenna, if you use an antenna tuner, which my Flex 6300 has.

The JARC Antenna Launcher

You can see the center of the OCF dipole on the left side. The wire runs to the pine tree on the right. I blew this up so up can see better where the wire goes in the tree.

This is my entry into my shack. Yes that is a toilet flange. I just have to get some steel wool to stuff into the outside to keep the critters out.

The white PVC in the center of the picture is the line isolator. I plan to attach the feed line to the edge of the roof.
Update: Tacked up the antenna wire and stuffed the flange with steel wool. Should be much more secure!

My wife is standing in front of the pine tree where one end of my antenna is attached. It is up about 80 feet, not to the top of the tree.

This is the other tree the antenna is tied to. The rope went completely over the tree. BTW my wife is 5' 5"

Shack Update:

So everything seems to be moving along OK. As you can see below, I have my workbench.

My workbench. 12 feet long and 36 inches high. Those beautiful chairs were $45 a piece. The equipment on the left is for my day job, on the right is my radio stuff.

So what things do I have left to do for my shack? Well the biggest is to get my ground in. I had the electrician put a ground rod in by the edge of the garage and a heavy gauge wire run up the the shack. I plan to install a 10 foot 1/2 inch copper pipe on the wall under the windows. I then plan to connect grounds to all my equipment that has to do with radios. I don't think I will attach my work computer to it.

Flex Radio:

The good news is they solved the direct connection issue. I can now run the latest software on my 6300 using a direct connection to my computer.

This version has a beta version of freeDV. I have used freeDV before with my Kenwood TS-520S using an interface box and the freeDV PC software. So I had a clue what I should do. However is wasn't clear how to setup the Flex at first. Then I read the manual and it turned out to be rather simple.


I finally installed the RF amp into my QRP project. It works fine. What I did discover, though, is the reason the frequency counter was having trouble with 15 meter at transmit, was because the amplitude of the signal coming from my HW-8 was dropping way down. So it probable was not getting enough signal for a reliable reading.

I am going to look at this more closely. I want to see if the other bands do the same. I will also check the HW-8 manual to see if there is a reason for that.

As a side note: My Flex 6300 makes an excellent spectrum analyzer. I was able to look at the RF output from the HW-8 to see how well it was doing.

I haven't done anymore on the Key All project or the BITX20. The Key All, I will put it the box next. Just to finish it off.

The BITX20 is the next to get done. Really there is that much to do. Now that I got some decent equipment, it should not be that hard.


I have around sixty CW contacts since my last post. That's about 2 1/2 months. Though for June I only have 3, not too good. I have been practicing using "Just Learn Morse Code" at 20 wpm with character speed at 25, though not as often as I would like.

I think that's enough for now. As I write these post I am trying to set them up in a more or less standard way. As things progress, I will get better at it.

Bye for now and thanks for reading my post!