Sunday, February 4, 2024

Wallpaper, another great K3Y event and Remembering Curt K2CWM

 I'm back! I haven't posted since May 2023. I got sidetracked for the Summer and Fall playing golf and really didn't do too much Ham radio. Actually none at all. 

But January came along and my favorite activity was in full swing (K3Y)  so here I am, so let's get started!


Last spring I decide to get my ARRL DXCC. I was finally awarded it on May 6 2023. I decided it was time to put up some wallpaper. The ones displayed aren't all of my awards, just the ones I felt needed to be displayed. 

I also use but yet to achieve either WAS or DXCC. I have certainly made enough contacts to earn these awards but I guess people are not using the service as much as LoTW and QRZ. Actually, QRZ can import my LoTW log so I guess it is just LoTW more then QRZ. (nit picking).

ARRL WAS and DXCC also QRZ DX and WAS.

These are some of my SKCC awards, WAS-S, Senator and 2xQRP

K3Y Event:

K3Y event is now over and it was a great month for me. I've posted some stats for the month below.

(last years totals)

Total QSO for January : 281 (208)

Total SKCC Brags : 170 (130)

Total K3Y unique operates worked : 135 (115)

Total Band slots : 124 (120) 

US Entities Worked (50 States + DC & PR): 45

Continents: 6 out of 6

DX Entities: 13 out of 18

As you can see results are much better than last years. I also got the Grand Sweep.  QSL card are usually sent out before June. Anyone can participate, you don't have to be a member and you can still get a QSL card.

We are pretty much at the peak of sunspot cycle so it was much easy to make those rare contacts. For equipment I have a Flex 6400 100W and an 80-10M OCF Windom dipole up maybe 35 to 50 feet. Really don't need much to do well.

Log band slot map

Remembering Curt K2CWM:
I never meet Curt in person but we chatted many times in QSOs and on the Sked page. He always left a comment on my posts to encourage me to keep at it. We were also FB friends and I followed his  many  exploits and his travels to Tennessee to visit his family. I do miss him. God Bless Curt 73!

All for now. Hope to post again soon.


Saturday, May 6, 2023

Linux, the Anarchist of OSs, K3Y QSL card and working on DXCC

Time for a little update.


In my last post, someone suggested I install Linux on my old laptop computer.  Ubuntu seemed like a reasonable choice. The problem with any distribution of Linux is there is really no organized plan. And if there is a bug... Oh Well! Really wished I had not done this. I ended up losing my Windows installation. I guess I will never learn my lesson on Linux. Both the SKCCLogger and skcc_skimmer run on Linux. I just wish there was a native version of SmartSDR for Linux.

K3Y QSL card:

I have received my K3Y QSL card last March.  Below are the pictures of the front and back of the card. It was nice to get the grand sweep again. This is my favorite SKCC event.


Senator x7:
Finally made it to Sx7. It has been really difficult this last year going from x6 to x7. A lot of Ts are doing POTA and are not likely to do a SKCC number exchange. Also many now want to do Marathons or Ragchews and will not do just a number exchange. 

I have over 10,000 SKCC contacts in my log. I think I am going to limit my SKCC activity to sprints only from now on.


The next thing I would like to accomplish is DXCC. For this, I am doing FT8. It seems the fastest and easiest way to do this now. 

As of this writing, I have 100 for LoTW, 96 for and 100 for QRZ. Hope to finish this soon. Already have my QRZ and LoTW certificates on the way.

Screen shot of my FT8 setup

Something total different:

I heard this quote awhile ago and I thought it worth repeating. 

I believe that it is better to tell the truth than a lie. I believe it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe it is better to know than to be ignorant."

H. L. Mencken

I would also like to add "I believe it is better to love than to hate."

All for now. Next time I hope to have finished the DXCC for

73 - KB1WOD

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

New life for my old HP laptop, Flex6400 scare, Social Media Police ( wannabes)

 HP Laptop:

I bought this HP back in 2010. It has been largely a disappointment, but I decided to try and extend its usefulness by adding another 4G of memory, bring it up to a total of 8G which is the most it will take. Also the battery was not holding a charge so I bought a new battery for about $30 from BattDepot. The cost of the memory was only $15 from  MemoryStock.

Adding the memory help some especially since this PC was upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 8 and finally to Window 10 64bit.  Only issue now is it won't be able to upgrade to Windows 11 due to some BIOS issue.

Flex6400 scare:

Well, it happened to me again. My 6400 starting losing communication with my computer. But this time we were able to recover, and I think I know what might of caused the problem!

A month after I received my first 6400, I tried setting it up with SmartLink. Just to see if I could get it running, which it seem to run correctly. Not really being interested in remote operating and not willing to add all the traffic to my local network, I powered down my radio and reconnected it directly to my computers Ethernet port and powered it back up. That seems to be when I started having communication problems. see the post: 

 So for some stupid reason, I decided to redo the experiment. I was going to see if I could allow some of our local hams to get on the HF bands who could not do so from their QTH for what ever reason.

Well, guess what? you guessed it, I started having communication issues again. Fortunately, between updating to the latest software and doing a factory reset, we were able to resolve the problem. We meaning Flex tech support. They do a great job. Very responsive and knowledgeable.

Social Media Police (wannabes):

Well, I posted this on a Facebook page and got a couple of comments that questioned the "relevance" to that particular page. Implying I should not have posted.

What is the relevance? Look at it! This is wrong on so many levels. First, someone is overdriving his audio and generating spurious harmonics that are exceeding bandwidth restriction and causing interference over at least 70kHz on the band. 

As you can see, It is interfering with a CW signal on 28050kHz. Which by the way, is one of the calling frequencies for a certain club. So I ask you is this relevant? (rhetorical)

The good thing about a blog is you don't have to accept comments.

I think I have said enough.

All for now 73!!!

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Andy's Ham Radio For Linux, K3Y 2023

Time for some updates

Andy's Ham Radio For Linux:

The nice thing about Ham Radio is there is so many variations of the hobby. One such variation is software programs that aid and enhance the enjoyment of Ham Radio.

The other day a local Ham Radio Club (NSRA) invited Andy KB1OIQ SKCC #6265S to give a presentation of his Linux base collection of Ham Radio software that he has integrated on to an Ubuntu distribution of  Linux. Andy is a very personable and energetic and has just released his 25th version of his distribution.

Here is a link to his presentation on YouTube that he gave to the RATPAC group. This the same presentation as he gave us.

Andy KB1OIQ and Dave(me) KB1WOD ( Team Flannel HIHI)

I first "meet" Andy late 2013 early 2014. At this time I was living in Wakefield, MA and working in Boxborough, MA. A 40 minute drive one way on a very busy Interstate 495. I had put one of my Baofeng HT in the car so I would have something to do on those long rides to and from work.  The PART Westford repeater is located about half way between Wakefield and Boxborough so I could reach it for almost my whole commute and I was a regular user. Andy was a regular check-in and we chatted many times.

Andy also participates as a K3Y operator during SKM . Please visit his QRZ page and watch his presentation (Links above). I am sure you will enjoy it.


K3Y event is over and it was a great month for me. I will post some stats for the month.

Total QSO : 208

Total Brags : 130

Total K3Y unique operates : 115

Total Bands slots : 120 

Not too bad considering I didn't start until the 7th. I also got the Grand Sweep.  QSL card are usually sent out before June. Anyone can participate, you don't have to be a member.

Band slots I had QSOs

This years QSL design was by Steve N0XC # 10091

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

K3Y QSL cards, Flex-6400 update, New radio - VGC VR N7500, RFI solved finally (I hope)

 Time for some updates.

Well, K3Y is under way so I thought I would post same past QSL cards.

K3Y QSL Cards:

Just thought I would put these here.

Flex-6400 update:
Well the replacement 6400 has been working great now for about a year. At some point I would like to try the remote capability of the software.

There was a problem with version 3.3.29 where the radio would forget the ATU settings when switching bands but that was solved in the next version 3.3.32. I have been happily running 3.3.32 for almost a year now. 

Vero NR-7500:
This radio is a headless 2M 70CM radio with APRS capability.

2M, 70CM with APRS

Attached Mic.

I bought this radio sometime ago. Here is the link to there web page N7500. It has some interesting feature. I like the hardware, but the software, documentation and support is less the acceptable.

As you can see there is no front panel controls. Everything is controlled via a Blue Tooth connected Android or iOS device that is running their app called HT that can be download via the play store. You may have to type in "VGC VR-N7500" to find it.

However, channel select and volume can be controlled via the Mic. If you press the OK button, it will announce the channel you are presently on. Pressing the M button will effect the functions of the up and down button. For volume mode it will change the volume up or down and for channel mode, it will change the channel up or down.

This is a YouTube video that is the best I have seen on the product Review by Tech Minds 

Here is another review that you might like:

 VGC VR-N7500: APRS! Android, iOS, Bluetooth, Dual Band 2m/7cm Ham Radio Review


I think I finally solved my 20M RFI problem that was setting off my smoke detectors.

I bought 25 clip-on chokes and put them on both the antenna lead wire and the power cable for the smoke detector. It seem to work at full power. If this doesn't fix it, I don't what to do next.

Bought the chokes form Digi Key

Clip-on chokes spaced about 5 to 7 feet apart on antenna lead cable.

Clip-on chokes on power cable to the smoke detector.

All for now 73!

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Flex-6400 issues, end of K3Y, 2xQRP award, and more!!


Well, my brand new 6400 died less then a month after I received it. The problem seems to be that the audio, spectrum and waterfall data was not being sent by the radio all the time. There would be times it would start working for about 10-15 seconds and then just stop. 

However, the command interface seem to work fine. Also it was still able to transmit.

I was communicating with an apps person for awhile. Since nothing he suggested worked, I got a phone call from Dan Quigley, N7HQ, the support director, who connect to my Flex via TeamViewer and determined there was nothing else that could be done remotely. Dan started the process of having Flex build me another 6400 to be shipped to me before I had to send the broken radio back.

This whole process took about 12 days. I have the new 6400 running now. Hope I have better luck with it.

I discovered there is a bug in the CW mode. If you set the the delay in the P/CW window to certain values, it will randomly stop transmitting. But it does recover, so you only lose a little. This seems to be a know bug and if I set the delay to a small value it does not happen.

Flex-6400 number 1

K3Y event:

January was the SKCC anniversary event. It lasted from Jan 2nd to the 31st.  This is the second year in a row that I was able to complete the grand sweep.

I worked 86 out of 174 band slots, 110 K3Y operators worked, 12 DX Entities out of 17 worked, 5 Canadian Prov/Terr of possible 6 and 42 states worked. 

All in all a good result. Not bad considering I worked the last 11 days with no WARC bands.

My band slot results for the 2022 K3Y Event.

2xQRP award:

This award I am very proud of. It took me sometime to get, but it was worth it.


I ended up with 147 brags for January. Might be my best brag total ever.
I had 47 QSO in the January WES. I have not been as active in the WES lately. Hope to change that in the future. 

February's WES I did a little better, 70 QSOs. All were S&P, no CQing this WES.

Bands seem to be opening up. I have had a lot more 12 and 10M QSO lately. Come on Cycle 25!!!

Repair of DG-5:

Well I finally seem to have fixed all the problems with the DG-5 Digital Display for my TS-520S. I had to replace a 7454 IC that had a bad input. I also re-soldered all the through holes and ran a piece of copper wire through each. Hopefully this is the end of it!

before: The digit third from left should be a "0"

After Third digit is now a "0"

Well, I guess I will end this here. CUL es 73

Thursday, December 30, 2021

NEAR-Fest failure on my part, COVID, New Radio !!

Yes, it has been awhile. A lot has happen in the past few months, not all good. 


The week before NEAR-Fest, my wife and I went for a three day vacation up to Vermont. We didn't realize how many people would be up there this year. They were wall to wall. Needless to say, we both got COVID. That ruined my plans to have a table for the SKCC at NEAR-Fest the next week. A couple of SKCC member tried to man the table in my stead, but without the banners not many people know who they were. Sorry for that guys. I hope to do better. However with the latest surge of COVID, I am not sure the NEAR-Fest will be on in the spring.

Thanks to Mark, NX1K and all the rest who help out.


As I stated, my wife and I got COVID. I was pretty sick for about 10 days. My wife had somewhat milder symptoms. I am still have some problems with a lingering cough. The doctor did a x-ray and it showed my lungs have some scaring. I am going to have another x-ray next month to see if it has gotten any better. By the way, we are both vaccinated and wore mask when ever we went in side anywhere. So you can still get COVID even if you are vaccinated and take precautions. 

Do yourself a favor, DON'T GET COVID!! get vaccinated please. A Ham friend for mine and his wife didn't get vaccinated. They both got COVID and died. Very sad.

New Radio:

As my Christmas/birthday/Christmas/birthday gift from my wife for the next two years , I traded in my 6300 for a brand new 6400. Just got it yesterday and am having a ball with it.

My new Flex-6400

I trade my 6300 in for the 6400. So I was without my Flex for about 3 weeks. I had to send my 6300 back to Flex so they could check it out before they would finalize my purchase of the 6400. It took a week for shipping, another week for them to check out my 6300 and then another week to ship my 6400. So in the mean time, I set up my Kenwood TS-520S and used that for awhile.

I don't have an antenna tuner for the TS-520S, so before I setup the TS-520S, I checked my OCF antenna with my RigExpert antenna analyzer.
80, 40 and 20 meters seem to be OK to run without a tuner. 15 meters was a little iffy. Since the TS-520S has tube finals and I wasn't going to be doing a lot of 15M QSOs, I figured it would be OK for the short term, and it was.

Analysis of me 80-6M OCF 

While my 6300 was back at Flex, I was using my Kenwood TS-520S.


I hit a couple of milestones recently. I finally got a 150 points for the 2xQRP award (still waiting for it to be approved) and also made Sx6. In general I have not been as active recently but hope the change that next month when the K3Y event is going on.

160-6M OCF:

Well this is on hold now. Because I was sick with COVID, I missed my opportunity to run some new lines to hang the antenna. I will try again in the spring (I hope). 

All for now. Thanks for dropping by es 73!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

NEAR-Fest info, 160-6M OCF repaired and other stuff (SKED page audio work around)

 Well I guess it's time for another post.


Just reserved my spot for the Oct 15,16 NEAR-Fest . There are three of four of us that will man the table for the two days. If you come to NEAR-Fest, stop by to have your picture taken at the both and have it published in the Rag Chew.

By the way, I am looking for videos and picture that I can put on my laptop to display. If anyone has anything they want to share, I would appreciate it.

160-6M OCF repair:

After much back and forth with RadioWavz , I was finally able to order the coil that broke. I modified the connections a little to provide some strain relief to the connections. I am hoping between the strain relief, D rings and zip ties, it will hold up a little better. I will wait until sometime this fall to put it back up. Too many leaves on the trees right now.

Modified coil connections.


As always working on the next level of awards. I have several band awards waiting to be submitted but just haven't gotten around to sending them in.

I have about 50 more Ts I need for Sx6.  Hopefully I can finish that soon.

I also have 138/150 points for my 2xQRP award.

I hang around the SKED page most days to see if I can help out. Not many people that could use my number ask for a QSO. I use to be all over people for QSOs when I was working towards Tx8 and Senator. Go figure.

SKED page audio work around:

I have noticed several people complaining about their attempts to post or PM someone being ignored. If you are using Chrome or Edge, the audio alerts don't always seem to work. I have trouble with PMs. When someone PMs me for the first time, I do not get an audio alert and I miss them quite often.

What I do to somewhat solve this problem is to open a second SKED page tab and then select the PM tab. There is no need to select someone to PM just the PM tab. What this will do, is to enable the audio alerts in the "everyone" tab. So when anyone post in the everyone tab, an alert will sound. Unfortunately, any post will sound so at times, you might get a lot of dings. Also any PMing you get will also generate an alert. I then can go to the first SKED page and can hear the alerts and see the messages.

This is in the category of "who would of thought?":

 I was recently reading a book about the life of a B-52 pilot.

 The Sluggo Chronicles: Memoirs of an Old Bomber Pilot. He mention a movie that was produced  by the Air Force that he was a part of while he was in pilot training. The movie is called "The Year of 53 Weeks" and is about what they went through during pilot training. He mentioned it was on YouTube.  What I didn't realize until after the video was over, is that it was put there by the US National Archives. It turns out the US Archives offers quite a lot of material on line.

Go visit and poke around for a while.

For you new guys:

The SKCC for intellectually challenged

All for now 73

Thursday, June 10, 2021

20 Meter RFI problem solved, 160-6M antenna failure.

 20 Meter RFI problem solved

Since I moved into my shack above the garage, I have had RFI issues with my hard wired smoke detectors on 20 meters.

 Well, recently I put up a new OCF dipole antenna that was suppose to give me 160-6 meters. While I was checking it out, I gradually increased the power on all bands checking for bad things. When I got to 20 meters, I was able to increase the power to 100% (70 Watts) without the smoke detectors going off. My first thought was that the new antenna did a better job of containing the RFI issue. I don't think this is correct.

Unfortunately, or serendipitously, the 160-6 meter antenna broke (see below) and I put my old 80-6 meter OCF back up. I again slowly increased power on 20 meters waiting for the smoke detectors to go off, but again, they didn't.

What had changed? Then I realized that since my initial setup back in Oct of 2019, I had purchased three metal shelves and set them up against one of the walls in the storage area. The antenna coax is behind the shelves. I believe the shelves are shielding the smoke detector from my antenna wire. Hey, that's my story and I am sticking to it hi hi. Bottom line, I haven't had any problems since.

You can see my antenna coax on the floor behind the shelves. 

Antenna Failure
Well my 160-6M OCF did not hold up to the winds I get here. It broke where I thought it would, at the inductor. The wires are soldered into the terminal lugs, not crimped, and there is no strain relief on the terminals. Depending on a soldered joint for mechanical connection is not a good idea. For one thing, solder will deteriorate when exposed to the weather and for another, a cold solder joint could also compromise the connection.

Well it looks like I have another antenna repair project to look forward to, oh joy!

I am going to try and add some strain relief to these connections.

Terminal connection to inductor

Failed connection on inductor.

Poor solder connection on the antenna wire end that was soldered to the terminal lug.

Well, enough for now.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

More antenna fun, Field Day coming up!

 Repair of Antennas

I had two antennas that need some repair work done on them. My 80-10M EFHW had two breaks in the wire. My 160M sloper had a damaged end cap that needed to be replaced. Repairs have been make without too much difficulty.

Spliced wire in two placed and then heat shrink over the splices.

New end cap(white) on 160M sloper.

As you might remember, I only had one projectile left for my antenna launcher. Well, I ended up with none. I tried to shot another line higher up from the woods and got my last projectile stuck in a tree. So none left.

So I had to make up some more. That wasn't so difficult to do, except just finding the parts to do it was a little bit of a problem. It turns out 3/4" PVC pipe and end caps are popular for lawn irrigation system. Well this time of year a lot of places are sold out of end caps. It took me awhile to find some, but I did, and I made up 4 new projectiles. You can buy the 3/4" PVC in 2' sections which allows you to have four 6" sections. Just the right size.

Four new projectiles.

BTW, my antenna is not doing so good mechanically. With the rain and winds we've been getting lately, it keeps drooping more and more and I keep having to to raise it up a little. I have got to get a line over the trees up higher.

I ended up taking down my 160-10M OCF. It was just not up correctly. It has been raining the last couple of days here, so putting it back up will have to wait awhile.
Test of 160-6M OCF dipole
I did a SWR plot of my 160-6M OCF dipole. I am a little disappointed in the 160M band. I was hoping it would be better then what is shows. I am hoping that raising it up higher might help. We will see. 

SWR plot of short 160-6M OCF dipole

SWR plot for 80-6M OCF dipole

SWR for 160M (160-6M OCF)

Field Day
Some of the members of the local club, CAARA, are trying to setup a Field Day site. Field Day this year is June 26-27.  I don't usually do Field Day, but this year I think I will go so I can meet some of the local guys. Also I have quite a bit of spare antenna stuff that I can lend to the effort. Here is a list of of things I have available:

  1. 40-20-10M Fan dipole
  2. 80-6M OCF dipole
  3. 15M dipole
  4. 80-6M EFHW
  5. 100' Coax cable
  6. 80M sloper
  7. 160M sloper
  8. ~400' of rope
  9.  25' Coax cable
All for now. I will post again when I get my antenna back up.


P.S. this page had issues had to redo it a little.