October 6, 2021

CWT Fun #hamradio contesting from an HOA in Idaho

How Loud is your Ham Radio Signal?

1300Z CWT 6AM Local PST (60-minute CW contest)

Wow. Ham Radio is fun again! Wednesday's CWT contests are always an adventure. I wanted to see how well my amateur radio station was getting out to the world. This is a fun way to test the short wave gear.

CWops, CWT: These 1-hour CW contests each Wednesday have become a lot of fun. 3000+ members and growing, 1-hour per session, and 4 times each Wednesday, year round. These are the CWops CWT contests

Are you new to ham radio or returning? Join us! -- (let's chat in the comments below)

This morning, from Northern Idaho, 40M was the only real band expected to be open at 5AM local, the first one of four contests expected today. I spun 20M quickly and did hear VE3EJ and a couple others but as they were quite weak and it was still dark, 40M was the obvious choice. 

My alarm is always set for 5:45AM in preparation of Wednesdays fun-mode on the radio, and I'm typically into a book by 4:30AM anyway, but a much needed 'loud and clear' is a welcomed reminder from the daily distractions, "the alert buzzer announcing that I turn the radio on and be ready to go" was heard while the Italian espresso on the stove percolated its final bubbling steam. The smell of a dark roast during the season change can be Christmas-like... (or reminiscent of a CQWW contest morning from yesteryear in any case).

In Idaho this time of year it's still dark outside, and has been that way for a few weeks now as the summer sunrise falls back until spring when these contests find 20M open at 6AM yet again, for this weekly CW festivus. 

With the fireplace warm, the coffee mug steaming, and the radio on 40M, I put on the headset and enter the world of Amateur Radio. A world so familiar, for so many years. Full of friendships and stories that go back to the mid-1980s...

Today was strangely, in a tin-can, sounding, like being under water. As if everyone was bouncing over the water above us, they were seemingly in another world. In the distance, and crystal clear, albeit weak I do hear a few W3's warming up. So the murky water is not entirely widespread yet the signals were fluttery and muted, everyone seemed to be S-0. For a while, I listened to K7RL who was running guys, as he should be. Mitch has a 180-foot tower over a salt water cliff scape towards all directions... he will make some noise and he had a steady stream of callers, one after another WB8's, W9's, and K4's and 5's were getting through to him, all of which were barely audible here. After a few minutes of bouncing between 20 and 40M, I settle back into 40M to hear K6RB and KC7V, who are both S9+ so the band is experiencing a sort of “spotlight opening.” Mike is not always an easy Q for me with the usual line up of ops calling him and he's been just S5-6 the past few weeks. I drop in my call and it's an easy Q. "GM Jon #77" - "GM Jon, 73 KC7V"... I work a few guys, realize the bands are not favoring the PNW of W7 and phase into a non-Wednesday style morning routine. 

Looking at the RBN report, my signal was okay but not commanding. There is a noon contest coming I’ll try to make time for.

Towards the end of the 6-7AM segment of CWT, I run a quick RBN test of my signal strength:

Who does hear me? 

K9IMM is the only RBN that hears me! That's a little odd. He usually reports much higher SNR for me and 8 dB is considered rather low, especially for today and considering the sound of the band. Good decision to lay low on this one. For good measure I went up to 20M and ran the same test, super loud into W8WWV and decent to KD7YZ who is on the east coast.  With just a few minutes left in the contest, this test was simply for the record. 

1900Z CWT: The Noon Test in W7

20-15M were both super fun today. Here is a few minutes of audio including 20-15M USA and European callers. (below: look at the signal strengths now!)

KL2A Equipment:
24' Greyline HF Vertical Antenna (aka DX Flagpole Antenna) in an HOA and 100W!

With the morning behind us, the 1900Z mid-day session really looked to be perking up. A quick RBN check showed that 15 and 20M were both open. With 20M full of ops already gunning it out, I tried my luck by starting on 15M and turned on the recorder.. (press play above).

Look at these signals: RBN (reversebeacon.net/KL2A)

K9IMM reports 39dB 
AC0C 43dB
K1TTT 21dB 
W1NT 23dB
KO7SS 38dB

These are real signal reports. Calling a quick CQ on 15 netted a little run. When it dried up, I spun to 20 and repeat back to 15M. Guys were calling from mainly the East Coast and a few Europeans today as well (HB9DAX, PA0INA, SQ9S) as the audio signals provide.

KL2A using 24' Greyline HF Vertical Antenna in an HOA and 100W.

How Loud is your Ham Radio Signal?

See how loud you are and where in the world you are being heard. Try this.

FT8 Map showcases the entire planet "live" on the air.
See the map, here: https://pskreporter.info/pskmap.html

RBN Signal Data: http://www.reversebeacon.net/srch.php

1. Find a clear frequency in the CW band
2. Call "CQ CQ your-call your-call"
3. Type your name in the Spot Search
4. See where you are heard around the world.

Did you try this experiment? How did it go? Let me know in the comments.

Remember, Ham Radio is fun again! 

73 KL2A

September 20, 2020

KL2A/P: NA Sprint CW | Sawtooth Wilderness, Idaho #hamradio #camping #prepper

NAQP CW Sprint by KL2A/P

Camping in the Sawtooth Wilderness @ Stanley Lake, Idaho.

Packed up my ski bag ham radio, portable go kit which included the Greyline OCF vertical antenna for HF, and headed for the mountains of Southcentral Idaho, north of Sun Valley in the Sawtooth Wilderness Preserve. Luck had it, there was a four-hour CW sprint contest called NAQP (North America QSO Party) Saturday night, just about the time I would land at a campground for the evening.

Arrived at the campsite amidst a smoke bank coming in from WA/OR.
Built the station in about 20 minutes and started about halfway into the contest.
Super quiet location that took a while to find. Most spots were below a hill along a river. This location was almost ridge-line. Once on the air, I felt pretty good considering half power or less at 40W. Almost everyone I called heard the signal.

24' Greyline DX Vertical tied to a stump. 3' of PVC pipe and ground support are not part of the active antenna. The lower dipole starts just above where the ladder line comes out (this exit and insulator is meant to be ground level by design but adding 3' to the height didn't hurt). 24' of radiator above the feed point.

Antenna System Order of parts: From the Antenna, the ladder line feedline transitions to a PL259 adapter that plugs into the LDG RT-100 remote tuner. Then, the RF Choke which is 7 ferrite slip-over-coax beads for adequate RF choking, then the 75' LMR-400 coax to the Suburban.

Cockpit inside the suburban. Using standard power from the 12V AC/DC outlet in the truck I was able to get 40W out without tripping the Chevy circuit breaker. The heater was on low to keep the fan noise down and the fingers warm. 40 and 80M were hopping full of CW signals from coast to coast. It felt like I was looking down on all of them from up here. Also, it seemed the stalls granite peaks around me were reflecting signal in my favor... it certainly felt I was indeed that loud compared to my home QTH below the hill.

KL2A/P Ski Bag Portable Ham Radio station:


Lately, this summer, I've been tinkering with HF vertical antenna designs at the lake house QTH in Northern Idaho. The QTH is great for swimming, boating, and relaxing on the beach deck but it is not a good QTH at all for radio other than working KL7, VE7, UA9 (Central Russia), or the occasional Northern European. Oh, it's a great shot due north and nowhere else as the hills are straight up in all other directions. #lakelife.

So, this camp trip was a great opportunity to try the ski bag radio station from another QTH. By comparison, it was night and day to the lake QTH. The campsite had no other people or structures for miles, super quiet, I could hear everything and everyone on the bands. W1-4 signals filled 40 and 80M CW (east coast) and I worked them easily on both bands with the 40W from the radio (not something that's possible thus far from the lake house with double the power, at 100W). You have to hear them, right?

Having guys hear me easily was a treat. Amazing what a quiet location and a high up in the hills take-off will do for a 24' vertical dipole antenna.
NA CW SPRINT: 140 QSOs in about 90-100 mins on the air.

Best 4-hours in radio!

Bonus: Tuned the bands at sunrise before packing out of camp and warming up the truck. It was cold in the tent, 28F at sunrise, and still smokey.

+ found PJ4A (NN3W) at the Bonaire Island Radio Station PJ4A on 20M WAE SSB
+ a 40M tune found W6YA working YF8HVY. Very quiet QTH in the mountain country.

W6YA + YF8HVY 40M CW DX (sunrise)

PJ4A (NN3W) WAE SSB 2020

May 28, 2012


My Location@12:41,5/29 Babesa-Thimphu Expy, Thimphu, Bhutan http://m.google.com/u/m/dCY32E

Bhutan DXpedition Update: May 29, 2012

May 29, 2012, from A5A Bhutan DXpedition

Greetings from Bhutan. A couple notes to report. The past few days have been full of official meetings for Zorro and his international survey team (Harvard, Waseda, The University of Tokyo, and SEISA) with the Bhutan Government officials. The Ministry of Education, Health, Economics, and even Bhutan's Football (soccer) The team has been on the calendar discussing future needs. KL2A and ZL1GO were in on the action as well entertaining 20+ university students in the A5A shack for a live demonstration of the radio and introducing (more politely, urging) the very exciting reality that some in the room would become charter members of the future Royal Thimphu College Radio Club. We called CQ and answered a CQ by M0REX. The FGC is delighted to donate the radio and equipment including ordering an installation of a new first radio tower for the club. The ceremony is forthcoming.

The radio condx are very good to the needed areas and we are working hard to be available on those paths. We have seen long openings in our darkness on the high bands, it is quite exciting. We have been running the 6m beacon most of the day and are working on the lower bands now as well. Club Log is underway as JJ1LIB has departed back to Japan and will officiate these duties daily. Please keep your comments coming, follow us on Twitter for live updates, and thank you for your support! We are honored to add one more to your rankings.

73 A5A Team Bhutan2012.com