Wednesday, November 18, 2020

My Own Ham Radio Repeater

Over the last several years, I've been learning about ham radio repeaters. I started learning from Jack Norris W4TWX, Terry Jones W4TL, Ron Olexa KA3JIJ and a few others.  I starting getting involved in the maintenance of the local machines and have helped troubleshoot and deploy a few here and there.  But I've always wanted to own my very own repeater.  Nothing too fancy.  A simple FM VHF repeater with a decent coverage located in Habersham County.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Nice 2m Contacts With a Low Vertical Antenna

When I moved to the new QTH, I just stood up my Diamond X200 2m/70cm antenna on the fence in the back yard. It works well enough for most FM repeaters I use, but I have not had high expectations for SSB, FT8, or FM simplex.  

While working from home, I noticed my 2m radio picking up distant repeaters collocated on the same frequencies as our local ones. I started playing around with 2m FT8 and made several good contacts including WA4CQG in Auburn, AL (176 miles), WN4WDE in Piedmont, AL (126 miles), WB4HIE in Glen Alpine, NC (124 miles), and WB4JPG in Dothan, AL (255 miles)!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

New QTH in EM84fm


About 4 years ago, my wife and I bought a house in EM84fn.  It was a bit of a fixer upper.  We worked on it diligently and decided to sell it due to the COVID-19 driven market conditions and the lower interest rates.  Pictured above is our new home in EM84fm. 

Monday, September 14, 2020

Scaling Down the HF Station


Several years back, I purchased a Yaesu FTDX1200.  Later, I was able to acquire a Yaesu Quadra System (1000w solid-state amp) and a Mosley triband yagi.  For a couple years, I was running my dream station!  I loved the big look of the FTDX1200.  I had a custom 3 speaker external audio setup on the rig, a SignaLink, and a Heil PR-781.  I devoted the whole room to being a dedicated Ham Shack!  

At some point, life got busy.  I was not very interested in playing on HF as much and when I did it just seemed too easy (yet cumbersome to deal with all the wires).  Then, my wife and I started planning to move.  The housing market being as it was meant we got a good offer quickly and with a quick closing date.  The new place is in a subdivision with the dreaded HOA.  

Instead of being worried or upset, I see this as an opportunity.  I got rid of the tower and yagi, the Quadra System, Heil mic and boom arm, and traded the FTDX1200 for an ICOM IC-7300.  I've been very impressed with the IC-9700 and since the perfect match to that rig is the 7300, I decided that would be a simpler and cleaner way to go.  When we get moved, I'll experiment with antennas and I'm planning a home office with radios rather than a dedicated ham shack.  I'm just using the 9700 and 7300 with their stock mics, and internal speakers.  The funny part far, I'm loving it.  I've had just as much fun and am looking forward to the challenge of figuring out the antenna(s) I'm going to need at the new house.

73 fer now de W4LSG sk

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

IC-9700 Coming Soon to My Shack

ICOM IC-9700

I've had an interest for a while in VHF SSB and FT8.  I also wanted a more robust radio for my regular FM repeater use.  Using dual band mobiles in the shack just started to feel like a compromise.  Or maybe I just want to sound like I can justify a new rig, in case the XYL is reading this!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Great 10m Opening to South Pacific - 3D2AG, FO5QB, VK4MA

W4LSG 10m DX

I always like to find opportunities to work something unusual.  I like to try to work all bands and modes.  As such, I look for opportunities to make contacts on 10m and 6m whenever they happen to be open.  I've noticed a few openings on these bands lately.  I recently caught a 10m opening with great conditions into South America.  I worked Brazil, Argentina, and Chile several times before the band closed and went back to silence.  A few years ago I made a couple 10m contacts in Europe which stunned be given the lack of sunspot activity.  Given that I have not been an active ham during a peak sunspot time, I think I've made some good contacts on the 6m and 10m.

Monday, April 13, 2020

2020 Georgia QSO Party - W4LSG

I decided on a whim that since the COVID-19 scare came up and we have been staying at home as much as possible that it might be worth trying to get on the air and represent my state during the 2020 Georgia QSO party from my QTH.  I had a few things to do so I knew I would not be able to work the event from start time to end time, but I thought it could be a fun thing to do anyway. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Testing FT4 and Contact with WA9PIE

When I first started using FT4, I found that it would log inconsistently and made for some manual work to get all of my online logs/QSL services to match.  So I stopped using it.  At some point, Mike Carper (WA9PIE), owner of HRD, sent a newsletter advising that HRD now supported FT4 correctly.  I tested the new version on my system and found that though it did seem to log correctly in HRD and possibly if sent from HRD to LoTW, it did not send correctly to QRZ, eQSL, or  I reported my findings via the HamRadioDeluxe user forum where Mike replied and advised they understood the problems.  Not long after, another release of HRD was available that should fix these issues.  I downloaded and installed the new version and did some testing immediately.  It was actually working 100% as expected!  While I was testing, I actually ran across WA9PIE working 20m FT4!  I gave him many calls before he replied, but we did make a QSO and I have him in the log.  Neat contact!

73 de W4LSG sk

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Worked Gabon on 10m - TR8CA

I have been messing around with FT4 some lately.  I haven't gotten much into it since it caused some logging/QSL headaches.  However I saw someone spot TR8CA in Gabon on 10m FT4.  I thought a few things...first I thought this was probably spotted on the wrong band on accident.  Then I though perhaps it was correct but the spotter was just really close.  In any case, I moved over to 10m FT4 and pointed the yagi in the direction of Gabon.  Sure enough, I began decoding TR8CA.  So I gave a few calls and was very surprised to get a response!  Gabon was not a new country for me, but it was a really awesome contact to have made at 6,300+ miles away on 10m band!

73 and good DX de W4LSG sk

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Worked Thailand - E20EHQ

For whatever reason, I tend to keep my Mosley yagi antenna pointed towards Asia. I'm always on the lookout for stations in this area.  I was glad to see E20EHQ come in on 20m FT8 from 9,000 miles away!  We worked each other with -13 SNR reports both ways.  This was a great contact and a new one for me!

Thailand is a country at the center of the Southeast Asian Indochinese Peninsula composed of 76 provinces. At 198,120 square miles and over 68 million people, Thailand is the world's 50th-largest country by total area and the 21st-most-populous country. Thailand is bordered to the north by Myanmar and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and the southern extremity of Myanmar. Its maritime boundaries include Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand to the southeast, and Indonesia and India on the Andaman Sea to the southwest.

73 and good DX de W4LSG sk

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Worked Zambia - 9J2LA

I was pleased to be able to put a new one in the log!  9J2LA was on 40m FT8 F/H and after a few calls, I was able to work them!

Zambia is a landlocked country in Southern-Central Africa . Its neighbors are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique to the southeast, Zimbabwe and Botswana to the south, Namibia to the southwest, and Angola to the west.

73 and good DX de W4LSG sk

Monday, February 24, 2020

Worked South Orkney Islands - VP8PJ & ZL1NA/MM

One night while working 20m FT8, I ran across ZL1NA/MM.  I usually look up /MM callsigns on QRZ to see if I can tell anything about them.  I was surprised to find out ZL1NA/MM was the station aboard the RV Braveheart on the way to South Orkney Island for the VP8PJ DXpedition.  While waiting for them to arrive and get setup, I found this video from the 4 years ago.  I was impressed with the video and very excited to work VP8PJ once they were QRV. 

I saw some spots on the DX cluster just to find out that they were not real.  Watching for updates from the Perseverance DX Group via twitter, I waited for the real stations to be on the air.

I finally found them on 14.185mHz USB QSX 5-10 up.  I pointed my Mosley in their direction, switched on the VL-1000 and began calling.  I could hear them very well so I continued calling for over an hour.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a response and then the band went quiet.

The next day, I found them on 20m FT8 and 17m FT8, but was unable to make contact.  Finally, I again heard them calling CQ on 14.185mHz USB QSX 14.195mHZ. I gave 1 call and got an immediate response...well they replied "Whiskey 4 Lima Sierra you're 5 9."  Worried, they didn't copy my whole call, I called again and said "Whiskey 4 Lima Sierra Golf...Lima Sierra Germany, you are 5 9 in GA".  Their reply was obscured with QRN but I believe they copied 100% and then said QRZ again.

Thus far, they have not uploaded logs. So I'll keep checking and try to work them on another band/mode as well.  I tried for quite a while to work them on 7.056mHz FT8 F/H, but didn't get a reply.  I want to make sure I get them confirmed in my log!

W4LSG to VP8PJ South Orkney Islands DXpedition

The South Orkney Islands are a group of islands in the Southern Ocean, about 375 miles north-east of the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula and 524 miles south-west of South Georgia Island. They have a total area of about 240 square miles. The islands are claimed both by Britain (as part of the British Antarctic Territory since 1962, previously as a Falkland Islands Dependency), and by Argentina as part of Argentine Antarctica.

73 and good DX de W4LSG sk

[UPDATE 2/26/2020]
VP8PJ uploaded their logs and my contact has been confirmed!

[UPDATE 3/2/2020]
I was able to work VP8PJ again over the weekend on 80m and 60m FT8!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Worked Cote D'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) - TU5PCT

A little bit earlier, I was trying to make contact with Norfolk Island on 17m but I never could get a reply.  When they suddenly disappeared from 17m, I went to 20m to see if they relocated there. I didn't see them, but I did find something interesting.  I saw TU5PCT show up in WSJT-X in deep purple from Cote D'Ivoire.  I knew it was something I needed to work! I couldn't pronounce the name and naturally had no idea where it was.  Those always make the best contacts Hi Hi!  I had a bit of trouble working them for some reason.  I would call a few times and get a reply, but then it would fall apart before we could finish the contact. This happened 3 times, but finally on the 4th try I was able to complete the contact and get them in the log!

Ivory Coast is a country located on the south coast of West Africa. Ivory Coast's political capital is Yamoussoukro in the center of the country, while its economic capital and largest city is the port city of Abidjan. It borders Guinea to the northwest, Liberia to the west, Mali to the northwest, Burkina Faso to the northeast, Ghana to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea (Atlantic Ocean) to the south.

73 and good DX de W4LSG sk

Friday, February 21, 2020

Worked South Sudan - Z81D

For some reason, I thought I had already worked South Sudan before. When Z81D showed up on my FT8 screen, I was wondering why it was in the dark purple color.  I gave a few calls and was able to work him and get him in the log. Later after a little review, I realized I was mistaken and South Sudan was indeed a new DXCC entity for me!

South Sudan is a landlocked country in East-Central Africa.  It is bordered by Sudan to the north, Ethiopia to the east, Kenya to the southeast, Uganda to the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the southwest and the Central African Republic to the west.

73 and good DX de W4LSG sk

Worked St. Barthelemy - FJ/WW1X

I was pleased to see FJ/WW1X in St. Barthelemy show up on the DX cluster.  They were spotted on 20m SSB. St Barthelemy was a new DXCC Entity for me.  I was able to work them easily and put them in the log. 

After working the station, I found that Rockwell-WW1X seemed like a pretty cool guy.  He's involved in POTA, SOTA, DXpeditions, and  It would be nice to meet him on the air or even in person at some point.  Very inspirational!

 St. Barthelemy is an overseas collectivity of France in the Caribbean. Often abbreviated to St-Barth in French, and St. Barths or St. Barts in English, the island lies about 22 miles south-east of the Dutch-country Sint Maarten and north-east of the Dutch islands of Saba, Sint Eustatius, and the independent country of Saint Kitts and Nevis.

73 and good DX de W4LSG sk

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Worked Kenya - 5Z4/G3AB

While working 20m FT8, I saw 5Z4/G3AB in Kenya show up.  The deep purple color in WSJT-X let me know it was a new country for me.  So I gave some calls and got it in the log!  Andy is resident in Kenya for the next few years and is working with the temporary call 5Z4/G3AB until his full 5Z4 call is assigned.

At over 7,900 miles away, Kenya is  is a country in Africa with 47 semiautonomous counties governed by elected governors. Kenya is bordered by South Sudan to the northwest, Ethiopia to the north, Somalia to the east, Uganda to the west, Tanzania to the south, and the Indian Ocean to the southeast.

73 and good DX de W4LSG sk

Friday, January 17, 2020

Making Your First Ham Radio QSO Contact

W4LSG describes some basics for making your first ham radio QSO contact.  How do you find and access a repeater (frequency, offset, PL tone)?  How do you join a ham radio QSO?  How do you start a QSO on a repeater not in use?  How do you call for a ham on a repeater?  How do you know when to ID during a QSO? How do you make a simplex ham radio call?

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Getting Started in Ham Radio

W4LSG describes some basics for getting into ham radio.  Starting with listening to scanners and SDRs, HT radios, mobile radios, power supplies, and antennas.

Monday, January 13, 2020

What is Ham Radio?

What is amateur radio or ham radio?  A brief explanation of what ham radio is, who uses ham radio, what ham radio can be used for.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Worked Palestine - E44RU

After some antenna troubles in customs, the Russian Robinson Club finally was on the air as E44RU.  I was lucky enough to make a QSO with them on 40m FT8.

At 6,300+ miles away, Palestine is a de jure sovereign state in Western Asia claiming the West Bank (bordering Israel and Jordan) and Gaza Strip (bordering Israel and Egypt) with East Jerusalem as the designated capital, although its administrative center is currently located in Ramallah. The entirety of territory claimed by the State of Palestine has been occupied since 1948, first by Egypt and Jordan and then by Israel after the Six-Day War in 1967.

73 and good DX de W4LSG sk

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