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.

Friday, May 21, 2021

New toy! RigExpert 230 stick, Antenna fun, more furniture for the shack

Hello again! Just bought myself a new toy. Always wanted an antenna analyzer and I saw Randy's (K7AGE) review of this little beauty and knew I had to have it.

I want to compare my OCF 80-10M antenna with a Short Pro Line DX 160-10M

Link to RegExpert Stick 230

Below is the plot of my 80-6m OCF dipole. Though it is hard to see, the SWR for 160M is over 10:1. The plot was done with the AntScope2 program available from the website here AntScope2 Download
This is freeware software, so it does have some ruff edges.

It is hard to see, but the SWR for 160M is higher the 10:1. Obviously it won't work on 160M.

Shack Furniture
A couple of pieces of new furniture for the shack. Two bookcases, which were about 50 bucks each and a four foot wooden table for about 130 bucks. The table I needed for my keys. The table I had before was a little rickety and shook when I tried to use my bug. The bookcases fit nicely under my windows. Really spruced the place up!

Antenna Fun

Got one antenna project done. I was able to get my 2M/70CM Slim Jim mounted to the back of the garage. I had it temporally attached to my deck. It worked OK there but, with summer time coming and leaves out now, I was not getting into some repeaters. Plus I don't think my wife liked looking at it.

One little side note: My wife won't let me climb a ladder anymore so I asked the guy that does my lawn to hang it up for me. COVID has hit him pretty hard financially this last year, so he was glad to get the extra work. And I was glad to help him.

Temporary position

permanent position.

My other antenna project was to replace my 80-6M OCF Windom dipole with a short 160-6M OCF Windom dipole.

This project had some issues. First I wanted to add two extra ropes to each end. The first would be a backup/safety rope in case the primary rope broke. The second rope was in case the antenna broke at the end, I would have a way to pull the rope that was attached to the end of the antenna back down. 

Well when I tried to pull the two ropes up over the tree using the existing rope, the existing rope broke. So I lost my original rope. So now I had to try and get a new rope over the tree.

So I got out the old JARC antenna launcher pumped it up to 45 lbs. and shot a line over the tree. Well, I think 45 lbs. was a little too much. The damn thing went so far I couldn't find the projectile anywhere and ended up losing it.

Since I only had one projectile left, I had to pick a safer target. I stood in the woods, picked a reasonably clear spot. I pumped up to 35 lbs. this time. It turns out even 35 lbs. is a lot, I almost hit the house. Next time I think I will try less, maybe even 25 lbs.

Well anyways, I got a line up and raised to antenna. Not as high as I would like, but will have to do for now. I am so sore from all the back and forth and up and down the stairs. I am not use to it anymore.

Well long story short, I got the antenna up and it tunes up on all bands. Next step to gradually increase my power and hope my smoke detectors won't go off.

Next step will be to try and get the end higher. I need to make myself a few more projectiles though be fore I try that.

Center point. Maybe 35 feet high

chock at the end of the vertical radiator. Maybe 10 feet up

The in line inductor. The little blob next to the leaves.

closer view of inductor

This end is up about 40 feet.

The other end in a tree about 30-35 feet maybe.

Another view of the center

The inductor is about 10-15 from end on antenna.

Well, that is all for now. As soon as I make up some projectiles I will try and shot a new line.


Thursday, April 22, 2021

K3Y QSL cards arrive, Two meter rig finally on the air again

Hello again. I will try to publish more posts. Winter is ending and a nice Spring is shaping up. We did have snow last Friday which was very late in the season for this area. 

Maybe I will get the new antenna put up soon. The antenna I am speaking of is a reduced length 160-10 meter OCF dipole from RadioWavz.  It is 147 feet long as apposed to 246 feet for a full size 160M OCF. My 80M OCF dipole is 137 feet, so the extra 10 feet shouldn't be a problem here. It doesn't say it will work on 6 meters, but if it tunes up, it will be good enough. I got to get back on 160 meters!! 
Here is a link to the web site: Short 160m OCF dipole  

I also bought 500 feet of cord from DX Engineering to replace the cord that is there now. The cord has been up for over 2 years now and should probable be replaced. Plus I got some ideas about how to mitigate the problem of a broken antenna and or cord. I will let you know how that works out.

BTW I am vaccinated and good to go!! 

K3Y QSL Cards.

I received three K3Y QSL cards. I didn't expect the 2019 or the 2020 card because I didn't send in an envelope to the QSL bureau for these two years. I guess they must have been sitting there waiting for me. oops!!

2019 and 2020 I only got 18 of 19 regions so I didn't bother sending in an envelope. I guess I will have to change that. I also got an additional QSL from the bureau. I think I should keep a couple of envelopes there JIC. Here is a link to SKCC QSL Bureau.

Here are pictures of the K3Y QSL cards that I received. See my last post for more info on my K3Y activity. K3Y 2016-2021, Weird key failure, VOAProp fail, odd email from the ARRL and more!!

Two Meter Rig

Only took me a year and a half to run a piece of Coax. No tree or roof climbing, just connect the wire to both ends. I don't really use two meters that much any more, but that will change. I have checked-in to a couple of nets lately so that's a good start. Plus made contact with a couple of old friends.

I would like to relocate my 2m antenna form the deck to the back of the garage. It kind of looks "trailer parkish" where it is now. Plus I hope it gets a little better coverage if it is up higher.

What my 2 meter antenna looks like at the moment.


My activity has slowed down some lately. I bought a Kindle so I have been reading up a storm lately. I have read a lot about WWII lately, mostly about the Philippines. Some very interesting and moving accounts of those early times in the war.

I am still doing brags and WES, but not as aggressively as in the past. I am still working on the 2xQRP award. I now has 128 points and working towards Sx6.

 Well all for now CUL

- 73

Thursday, March 18, 2021

K3Y 2016-2021, Weird key failure, VOAProp fail, odd email from the ARRL and more!!

Well, back again. It has been interesting times.  

I remember a story a college history professor told us on our first day of class: 

"The old king had died and his son, who was not well like by one of the old kings advisor was to be crowned. At the ceremony Each person present was to say a few "flattering" remarks to the new king. The old advisor couldn't think of anything nice to say about the new king. So he thought about it for awhile and realized that the most interesting times in history were those of great turmoil. So when it came time for the old advisor to speak, he said "May you live in the most interesting of times".

For myself, I rather live in boring times, thank you very much!!

K3Y Events

Here it is February and the K3Y event has been over for about 2 weeks now. I ended up doing pretty good this year. I got the grand sweep and had 91 band slots with over 100 K3Y operators worked. My best year so far. The only thing I would have liked to do was to work 160M. But I have been too lazy in putting up an antenna for160M.

The below link is a google spreadsheet of my K3Y band map for the years 2016-2020.  I was actually able to use the skcc_skimmer to generate the band map for each year. Since my SKCCLogger file has all my contacts since Jan of 2015, all I had to do was set the K3Y_YEAR parameter to the year I wanted and relaunch skimmer. I then cut and pasted the chart into a text file and then imported the text file to Open Office spreadsheet. Pretty cool!

Click here -> K3Y 2016-2020 

Below is the band map for 2021 K3Y. Already sent in my SASE for my QSL card!

Key Failure
Had a very strange key failure recently. One morning I was all set to answer a CQ, but no transmit. I was able to narrow it down to my VibroPlex key, very strange. So I got out the old Ohm meter and started poking around, looking for a broken wire or loose connection. Plug was good, had continuity from the contacts all the way to the plug, except for the ground terminal, which tied to the base/paddles. So no contact between the paddle and the terminal post. So how can this happen?? What it turn out to be, was the screws that secure the paddle assemble to the base were loose. All I had to do was tighten the screws and all was good. Go figure!!

The two screws on the left had to be tightened

Log File corrected for K3Y
Back in 2016 and 2017, I missed logged all of my K3Y contacts. I erroneously put K3Y as the call instead of using the operators call. This royally screwed up my log. Fortunately, the comment block had the operators call along with the SKCC number, so I was able to set things right. It probable took about  an hour to fix, so all is good now.

Since I moved back to MA in 2018, I started to work on another LoTW CW WAS award. I finally got it last month. NV was my last holdout. Thanks to Tom W4FLL!!

I also have  received my Tx25 award.

Email from ARRL
So I received this email from the ARRL on Jan 17. I thought it was odd, especial the last paragraph. That is until I watch "60 minutes" on Feb 14 and there it was. Enough said.

ARRL on the Purpose of Amateur Radio


ARRL Web site

Jan 17, 2021, 2:42 PM
 to me

For over 100 years amateur radio and ARRL — the National Association for Amateur Radio® — have stood for the development of the science and art of communications, public service, and the enhancement of international goodwill. Amateur Radio’s long history and service to the public has solidified the well-earned reputation that “Amateur Radio saves lives.”

ARRL on the Purpose of Amateur Radio

For over 100 years amateur radio and ARRL — the National Association for 

Amateur Radio® — have stood for the development of the science and art of

 communications, public service, and the enhancement of international goodwill.

 Amateur Radio’s long history and service to the public has solidified the

 well-earned reputation that “Amateur Radio saves lives.”

Amateur Radio Operators, due to their history of public service, their training,

 and the requirement that they be licensed by the FCC have earned their status 

as a component of critical communications infrastructure and as a reliable 

resource “when all else fails."

Amateur Radio is about development of communications and responsible 

public service. Its misuse is inconsistent with its history of service and its 

statutory charter. ARRL does not support its misuse for purposes inconsistent 

with these values and purposes.


VOAProp fail
Twice now when Windows does an update, VOAProp kind of disappears. It is there on the tool bar, but does not display. It turns out I have to uninstall VOAProp and delete all the remaining files manually and then reinstall. A nuisance but at least it is back.

All for now see you soon 73!!

Sunday, January 24, 2021

New 160M sloper, K3Y event(2020), More RFI woes with hard Wired Smoke Detectors

Note: This post was started June 22 2020. I just couldn't bring myself to post at that time. I am finishing it now.

160M Sloper:
Sort of got my 160M sloper up and it doesn't work very well yet. The reason, I believe,  is that it is not very high. Only about 20 feet at the feed point and really doesn't slope much. I need to get it higher and a little more of a slope. I think I will wait for warmer weather. I need a longer feed line for one thing and more rope for another.

One side benefit, my OCF 80-6M Windom now tunes on 160M. I am going to say the reason for this there is about 40 foot stretch where both feed lines are parallel and next to each other.

Update: Well I tried to raise the slopper higher but met with disaster! The feed point end was tied high in a tree in front of my garage and the other end was tied to a tree trunk out back of the house. We had a pretty good wind storm one night and the line tied to the feed end broke and the whole thing came crashing down and busted. It also put a big dent in the side of the garage door. Not good at all, the XYL was not pleased!!!

So, I have bought a 160M to 6M OCF from RadioWavz . Hasn't gone up yet. I am waiting for some warmer weather. It is about 20 F today BTW. (Jan 24, 2021)

Flex 6300:
Discovered something about SmartSDR that I didn't know. Last week I put up a 160 meter sloper. I have connected it to the Ant2 input to my Flex 6300. So this means that when I am on the 160 meter band, I want Ant2 active.

At first I was a little confused how to do this. If all else fails, RTFM! It turns out, if you use the Band select button on the left of the display, and select your bands that way, and if you have already setup a receiver for that band, SmartSDR will use that receivers parameters. Otherwise, you will have to create one.

For almost since I started using my 6300, I have just been type in a frequency in the receiver window. Early on the band select would not keep my settings and I would have set it up again. This was fixed a long time ago, but I keep changing bands by typing in the frequency I wanted.

BTW Flex finally came out with a fix for all the DAX issues when Windows upgrades it software. New version is: I found out by accident via an email from the flex forum. There was no notification sent out but Flex. So it is a good thing to monitor the Flex forum.

RFI Woes:
Still have a problem with my hardwired smoke detectors and 20M. So for now I am only outputing 50 Watts on 20M. All other bands are fine.

K3Y Event:
Well, did OK this year in the K3Y, but failed to get AS this year. Below are some screens shots. Things of note: Worked 160-6 meters for region 1. This is more of a stunt, because I have several SKCC members who are very close to me. So the upper bands are basically line of sight or ground wave. Max, KH6ZM from HI was very strong and I got him on 6 bands including 10M!!

My layout for operating

Log results for K3Y. Only missed AS this year.

OK will post this now. Hope to post again after the 2021 K3Y.


Saturday, January 2, 2021

Chasing K3Y made easier

 Every year the SKCC has an anniversary in January called K3Y . There are several tools available to make it easier to find K3Y operators.

1) skcc_skimmer

2) SKCC Sked Page 

3) Your favorite logging program that has a comment field. I use the SKCCLogger by Ron AC2C.

For skcc_skimmer. There are several things you have to do to display K3Y spots.

1) K3Y has to be a goal.

2) K3Y_YEAR parameter has to be set to the correct year.

3) make sure skimmer is using the correct log file (*.adi)

When you log a K3Y, DO NOT  put K3Y as the call!! Use the operators call. Most K3Y operators will send their call when they send their name (for instance, Dave/KB1WOD) . If not, you can asked them for it or use the number they sent to look up their call. 

In the comment field of your log, put the K3Y call that was sent, for instance K3Y/0. 

On the sked page, K3Y operators can put "K3Y/X FREQ" in their status. This will show up in skimmer as a K3Y goal.

One thing that these tools can't do, is look for different operators for the same K3Y/X. Which is a category in the K3Y event.  Also, sometime someone on the sked page puts some like "Looking for K3Y/0 15M" in their status. Unfortunately, this will show up as a bogus goal if you are need the same thing.