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EP2LMA, Iran On The Air

A few weeks ago on February 9th, I wrote an article about working the Alborz DX Group station in Iran, EP2C. EP2C Article Link.  In the comments to that article, EP7AHN (Homed) and EP2LMA (Mohammad) stopped by to say hello.

Fast forward to this morning.  I saw the 20 Meter DX Cluster spot for Mohammad EP2LMA and could hear him quite well, but after a few calls some super strong local USA QRM had popped up unannounced (doesn’t anybody ask if the frequency is in use anymore?), and quite frankly trying to work Mohammad through their conversation was now impossible so I gave up.  Then a minute or so later when they finally stopped I was surprised to see that Mohammad did hear my first call and he did not give upNow in the clear, I heard EP2LMA calling me.

30 watts and some determination is all you need sometimes, witness:

N0UN working EP2LMA

 

Through their hard work and dedication, it appears Mohammad and the Alborz DX Group are quite active now.  And that’s a great thing for Amateur Radio!

Thanks for the QSO Mohammad!

QSL EP2LMA via Pedro EA5GL direct.

EP2LMA on QRZ

EP2LMA on Club Log

Alborz DX Group Website

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9X2CW Rwanda On The Air

Rwanda National FlagI wasn’t sure if 15 Meters was open this morning when I saw the spot for 9X2CW in Rwanda, but I’m glad I went and listened.  Eric (SM1TDE) operating as 9X2CW was “barely there”, but sometimes that’s all you need.  He did build up and peak a real S7 into Colorado just moments later but any time you have a chance to work Rwanda, you don’t wait for the peak – you go.  Especially simplex!

N0UN working 9X2CW 15 Meters CW

 

QSL 9X2CW via home call:  SM1TDE

9X2CW Online Log Check at Club Log

 

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5A1AL Libya OQRS and LoTW

5A1AL Abubaker (front row, white suit)

5A1AL Abubaker (front row, white suit)

5A1AL is an old friend of mine since the 90’s. Abubaker would regularly stop by 14.240 with WA2JUN (SK) and the 240 DX Group.  He was using the 5A1A Club Station in Tripoli back in the day.  Abubaker then traveled back and forth to Germany to earn his degree and well, 5A was rarely (if ever) heard from again.

Until a few years ago when Abubaker came back on the air.

Abubaker had to jump through many, many hoops to get licensed as 5A1AL, get accredited by the DXCC program and figure a way to get (and stay) on the air.  And he did all this while starting his new family.

His determination has always made many of us that know him smile, and even today 20 years later, he still makes me smile – here’s why:

I saw the spot for 5A1AL on 17 Meters CW this morning around 1600Z, so I swung the monobander to Libya, and there he was – a new bandfill for me!  And then a few hours later when I uploaded my log to LoTW (Logbook of The World), imagine my second smile when I saw Abubaker 5A1AL had beat me to it as my QSO was already confirmed from his side!

N0UN working 5A1AL Libya 17 Meters CW

 

Like Abubaker told me recently, “in Arabic, we say there is a connection between our hearts”.  My old friend, I couldn’t have said it better.

I wish much love, peace and tranquility for you, your country and your family Abubaker, thank-you.

QSL 5A1AL via OQRS at Club Log, LoTW AFTER February 11, 2017 (See 5A1AL QRZ Page for Information).

5A1AL Online Log Check and OQRS at Club Log

 

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A5A Bhutan On The Air

Foundation for Global ChildrenIt was quite a surprise to hear A5A Zorro (JH1AJT) from Bhutan yesterday at 0118Z on 20 Meters so I figured maybe we’d hear him again around the same time today – and Zorro did not disappoint.  What really surprised me was as soon as I made contact with A5A, I spotted him to the DX Cluster and other than one Japanese station, Zorro called CQ for 10 more minutes without a single contact before he had to leave for breakfast and more meetings.  The only thing I can figure is Colorado has all the propagation this time of year?  Usually when a rare DX station is spotted to the DX Cluster it turns into a free-for-all, and it turns into one quickly.  Not this time though.

Zorro, I salute you my friend for the fine work you do, thank-you!

N0UN working A5A Bhutan 20M SSB

 

To learn about the humanitarian work Zorro does, click the logo above or visit the English page of the “Foundation for Global Children” at:  http://www.fgc.or.jp/english/

QSL A5A via OQRS at Club Log, or direct to JH1AJT

A5A Online Log Check at Club Log (awaiting 2017 update)

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3XY3D Guinea On The Air, Fun!

Eat Sleep Ham Radio DXThis indeed may be my highlight QSO of 2017 so far.  I’ll set the stage – it’s 2230Z, 3:30 in the afternoon local time here in Denver, 2:30 on the West Coast, 5:30 on the East Coast. Broad daylight across North America and the absolute toughest time to “compete” for a QSO, especially into Africa. Everybody across North America is hearing 3XY3D in Guinea well at 0330Z. Even tougher, a simplex CW QSO. I guess the only thing harder would have been a weekend when everybody is off and playing radio. It took 15 minutes of listening to the pile-up just for my ears to get accustomed to 3XY3D’s tone, speed and rhythm, but once I did – I snagged him.  Hard to believe listening to this recording that you can actually train your brain to hear your target coming through at a fraction of the strength of the stations calling, but that little peanut in my coconut can still do it. What a great pile-up!  We need more of these!

N0UN working 3XY3D 20M CW (simplex)

 

For a band that’s been dead, he was a lot easier to work on 15 Meters SSB this morning!

N0UN working 3XY3D 15M SSB

 

QSL 3XY3D via F5OZC

More 3XY3D information at DX-World.net

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EP2C, Iran On The Air

EP2CI got up early this morning to see if 40 Meters longpath was open, but instead I saw the 20 Meter spot out of Europe for Iran, EP2C on 14.200 – listening 5 up.  It’s not often Colorado gets the propagation window to work Iran so I checked 20 Meters first.  Glad I did.  There was nothing on the longpath a little after sunrise, but turned shortpath and there they were.  I’d say Colorado had about a 20 – 25 minute window before they faded into the noise.  The TI2 down 2 kHz didn’t help matters either, but hey, that’s 20 Meters!

N0UN working EP2C Iran 20M SSB

 

EP2C is a 3 day (February 8-11th) DXpedition from Karaj City by several operators from the Alborz DX Group.  QRZ info

QSL EP2C via EA5GL

EP2C Online Log Check at Club Log (awaiting update 2017 operation)

EP2C Website

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ZS8Z Marion Island On The Air

ZS8Z QSL CardWell that was neat.  ZS8Z David is on the air from Marion Island.

I fell asleep in my operating chair, legs up on the desk, dreaming of DX (I guess) when the cell phone in my hand vibrated with a text message from my friend Keith, K0KE.  The message was simple – “ZS8Z on 7.174”.  Took me a couple seconds to wake up and figure out where the hell I was – then luckily W6KW was having a good old ragchew with David so he bought me some much needed time to square up on 40 Meters.

Good to talk to you old friend!

 

QSL ZS8Z via Keeper of the Log – Allan ZS1LS

ZS8Z on QRZ

I see David has already uploaded to Club Log – my 40M Q is in the log!  ZS8Z Online Log Check at Club Log.

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TL8TT On The Air

TL8TT Italian DXpedition Team TL8TT is on the air.  And what a signal!  Not sure what antennas and amplifiers they’re using, but they’ve been strong on every band.  There shouldn’t be any issues whatsoever making all logbooks here in the States.  Even on my 40 Meter Inverted L (tuned for 30M) they were exceptionally loud.  I’m not quite sure what happened on the 30M recording as I clearly worked him the first time, but then it appears either a K0UN called him or he was still waiting for my confirmation of N0UN.  Either way, never miss with the second shot, right?

N0UN working TL8TT 30M CW

 

And this time it was W0UN on 40 Meters before we got it worked out…

N0UN working TL8TT 40M CW

 

Man, I sure wish folks didn’t call on the DX transmit frequency!

Real Time Online Log for TL8TT

QSL TL8TT via Express LoTW via OQRS (same link as online log above).

 

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A Sad State of Affairs

14.247. For those that need a refresher – that’s 20 Meters (not 11 Meters). But you could have fooled me! It’s a busy band. I get it. But since when did a “net that meets here”, and a Special Event trump a Ham holding a frequency for almost two hours?

And don’t give me that “I didn’t hear him”, or “I didn’t know” crap. I call bullshit. If you didn’t hear one side, than surely you heard the other. What happened here was intentional and very, very deliberate.  And it’s happening more and more.

Here’s Robert (PB5X) who had been on frequency for almost two hours getting destroyed by other Hams that evidently have some kind of frequency use exemption for their N9FQC 14.247.5 Net and GB0HCC Special Event.

Good grief how this hobby has changed.  It’s embarrassing (to say the least).

 

Hey, where can I get one of those Net and Special Event “frequency use” exemptions?

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Blessings From The Vatican

It’s not everyday you can work Vatican station HV0A in Rome, Italy.  Nor is it everyday you get your motorcycle blessed by HV0A Vatican City radio operations room Manager, Francesco Valsecchi (IK0FVC) either.  Some of us rebels need all the help we can get, thanks Francesco!

N0UN working HV0A 20M SSB

 

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DXpedition Funding Round 2

In my last blog Post, “Damned If You Do” I mentioned how do we fund “minimalist” DXpeditions in the future.

Here’s a few radical DXpedition Funding ideas for nonconformists, mavericks and rebels:

Homer The HamPay to Play #1.  While you’re setting up camp on that remote rock, take a remote controlled radio and charge people across the world to work the pileups.  Yep, I’d pay to remote into a station on Bouvet just to work myself!  I’m sure there are hundreds, if not a thousand folks that would pay to take a 15 or 30 minute shift working a pileup from Bouvet.  “This is 3Y/N0UN, listening up five to fifty, QRZ?” Revolutionary, huh?  $50 a slot.  Pay the man.

Pay to Play #2.  How about Crowd Sourcing?  It’s a way to fund the absolute best operators that maximize QSO rates.  Presently there are some DXpedition teams that physically can’t even unload their boat, let alone operate with any kind of determination, intestinal fortitude or skill.  But they got the loot so they go!  Never mind you need full time doctors, helicopters and have to carry extra cases of Geritol.  Keep your money Pops, I’d rather donate to a Go Fund Me page for a young foreign operator that can blast CW at 50 words a minute without food, drink or sleep for days and days on end.  They are out there.  Radio assassins for hire.  Pay the man.

Pay to Play #3.  $25 QSL and LoTW requests.  You work’m, you want (or need) the card or LoTW confirmation?  40,000 QSO’s. 9,000 unique. 2,000 QSL or LoTW requests?  2,000 times $25 – $50,000.00 (on the back-end).  No bureau.  No LoTW after 6 months.  Pay the man.

Pay to Play #4.  “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”.  Yep, you heard that right.  $199 ahead of the DXpedition and they’ll call you on a preset frequency and time.  No pileups, no QRM, no nothing because nobody knows where you’re at.  Satellite phones work wonders in case of missed schedules.  “Hey Lump, I’m set up and on 14.153 listening 14.204.5 calling you, where you at Buddy?”  Pay the man.

Smack That DawgPay to Play #5.  Charge the folks who charge us.  That’s right.  You have a Website/forum or Blog that earns money from advertisers showing ads to DXers looking for news?  You have a subscription service that charges users a yearly fee that gives DXers the news?  Well, be like CNN, Fox and the rest of those news clearinghouses, move those DXers eyeballs and quit fighting over who gets the scoop.  You’ll get the “world exclusive announcement” for your news publication, just pay a real thousand dollars!  😉  You won’t even have to “leak” it.  Pay the man.

Pay to Play #6.  The ARRL should have some skin in this DXpedition game.  They created this cesspool with their DXCC program.  Why aren’t they breaking loose with some grants to DXpeditions?  I believe they have an operating budget of over 15 Million dollars.  Why can’t they throw their own damn dog a bone?  They sure do collect with their awards programs for national parks and centennial W1AW bullshit.  Oh, I see.  They create the business (and chaos), then only collect from their business (and chaos).  Don’t bogart that joint Homie.  Pay the man.

These are just a few of my ideas for funding a DXpedition.  I have several more.  In my next post (soon), I’ll attack the $800,000.00 versus $60,000 and $150,000 versus $15,000 DXpeditions.

I have a couple ideas there too.  And before I get started, know that many of my ideas do not go over well with the old timers that say it bucks their system.  Oh well.  I really don’t care what they think because when I see requests for 400, 500, 800 THOUSAND dollars from us and the rest of the Ham Radio Community for these Mega-DXpeditions I get to thinking WTF?  $800,000.00?

Let that sink in.  800 HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS for a team of operators to go to Bouvet and put some radios on the air so some of us can sit in the comfort of our shacks and try to work them through the idiots, carriers, asshats and Lids.  Where do you get that kind of money?  Better yet, WHY do you need that kind of money?

See you in the pileup!  Come to think of it, maybe you won’t (remember, Pay to Play #4 – “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”).

N0UN

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Damned If You Do…

The Establishment of DXpeditioneersYou’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

We’ve all heard it time and time again – “The Establishment” has certain criteria for DXpeditions.  A couple rules come to mind:

Rule #1.  The DXpedition team members personally pay for half of the total cost of the DXpedition.

So, say a DXpedition is expected to cost $200,000 – the team members pay for $100,000 of that.  Ten team members = $10,000 each – out of pocket.

You may be the best operator in the world, but if you can’t afford that personal contribution to the team – well you sit working the pileup from the superior comfort of your home while that 80 year old guy that can afford to play, plays.  Doesn’t matter they need the extra expense of helicopters, doctors and can’t lift a roll of coax off the floor – the rules clearly state: “you have to pay your way”.  And don’t be thinking about crowd sourcing (like Go Fund Me) your way in either.  No, that’s not allowed .  I know for fact a few A1 operators have tried this and they were quickly shamed.  You got no money?  You got no go.  That’s the rules!

Rule #2.  He who announces first, goes.

So, say a group is planning a DXpedition to BFE.  If you announce that 1, 2, maybe even 3 years in advance – well the Establishment Rules state you go and everybody else must stay away.  You announced it first, and since you announced it first it is now the Establishment Rule.

That’s just a couple of the Establishment Rules.  Oh, there’s a ton more, you know, all those rules that say, “this is the way it’s always been done” and “boy, don’t you argue those rules either!”   C’mon good readers of my Blog, everybody understands the “Big Boy” rules, right?

Wrong.

It’s just my opinion, but I think you’re starting to see pushback against those Establishment Rules from a few DXpeditioneers lately.

They don’t announce their intent.  They don’t go full bonkers showing up at every radio club and foundation begging for money a year before they go.  Hell, some even take the best of the best operators and don’t make them pay for half the total cost before they go.  They just go.

How are they funding their minimalist DXpeditions you ask?  That’s a whole ‘nother Blog post (soon).

Kinda’ refreshing, don’t you think?

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US Stations Spotted on DX Cluster

(Republished from my original January, 2014 article)

DX Cluster before US filter spotsI don’t know about you, but I am tired of seeing US Stations spotted on my DX Cluster.  It’s a waste of my valuable computer window space and besides, it’s called a DX Cluster for a reason.  Imagine that.

It’s not just US stations being spotted by DX, but I am REALLY tired of US stations spotting US stations!  Stuff like this ARRL point contest and NPOTA thingy is out of control in my opinion.  Really, how many times can W1AW be spotted?

Well, I did something about it.

If you are using Ham Radio Deluxe with a cluster node that is utilizing DX Spider software like I am (WA9PIE, GB7MBC, HB9DRV, etc.), here’s a few simple instructions.  For nodes utilizing CC Cluster software (VE7CC, W0MU, etc.), those commands are at the bottom of this article.

From your HRD Cluster Window (that shows your DX Cluster Spots), click “Show”

Then click, “Console”

Copy and paste this filter command into the “Command” window that is now showing:

reject/spot 0 call_dxcc 226

Press “enter” on your keyboard.

That’s it.  Whatever node you are on will remember that this filter is on, and the next time you log in it will load it automatically.  You only need to do it once.

Now, once you entered that command, there will be no more US station spots.  US stations can still spot any DX station (they will all show in your spotting window), but NO US Callsigns will be shown in your DX station column.  For example, even if a Russian spots W1AW/5, it will not show.

When you start HRD, it will show all spots (including US) until it loads up the standard commands, then the filter kicks in.  So don’t panic when you first restart (or start) your DX Cluster window, no more US spots will show in the DX column after it has booted.

The occasional special call like “N4D” or some off-the-wall special call like that may still sneak by, but all normal United States stations (like W1AW, yours and mine) will not.

If you ever want to cancel the filter, type this command:

clear/spots all

I’ve just compared my DX Cluster Window against all the unfiltered spots on DX Summit.  There must be a couple hundred United States spots that are NOT showing in my HRD Cluster window now!  Beautiful man, just beautiful.

For DX Cluster Nodes using CC Cluster software, these are the commands:

SET/FILTER DXCTY/REJECT K

and to clear the filter:

SET/NOFILTER

And there ya’ go!  Live in peace with no US spots (and self-spots) on the DX Cluster!  Did I mention it’s a DX Cluster?

Take a look at the DX Cluster spots before and after the USA callsign filter (click to enlarge):

Before the US callsign filter (a whole two DX stations):

DX Cluster before US filter spots

After the US callsign filter (all DX stations):

DX Cluster after US filter spots

Perfection!

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Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD) Updates

I originally wrote the post below back in May of 2012.  With all that’s currently going on with HRD over at QRZ, eHam and Reddit, I thought to bring my original post back to prominence.  And by the way, I still use the last FREE version of Ham Radio Deluxe (by Simon) with no issues whatsoever to this day (December 21, 2016).

Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD)The deal finalized 8 months ago in September, 2011, but it appears Ham Radio Deluxe was sold by Simon Brown (HB9DRV) to a group led by Mike Carper (WA9PIE), Randy Gawtry (K0CBH) and Rick Ruhl (W4PC).  Read the full story here on the ARRL Website.

This is the way it’s supposed to work.  You dedicate your time building an awesome product – then sell it and cash out!  Hopefully Simon did well.

The new website for Ham Radio Deluxe support is now at HRDSoftwareLLC.com.  There they have links to the new HRD Discussion Forum and also links to purchase their new version 5.21.

From everything I’ve been able to find out, it appears that all previous versions to 5.21 will always be free.  And me likes FREE!  Even though I was a steady Paypal donator to Simon previous to the sale, I think I’ll wait a bit before I pull the trigger on my credit card and pay $60 for their newest version.  I want to make sure they have the bugs worked out first.

While the new owners are working out their bugs, it dawned on me that I’d better find and grab the latest Logbook Country and Unique Database files before they disappear altogether.  For years K7PT did a fabulous job updating these files and making them available for all (and free) on his K7PT Website, but it seems he’s not doing that anymore with the ownership change.    So with K7PT not updating and with the Ham Radio Deluxe ownership change, I saved what I could find to MY server.  Surely in the coming months/years this program, Websites and files will disappear from the Internet but now I know where to look for them.  Anyway, here’s a few links to those latest files and the last, latest FREE version of Ham Radio Deluxe from Simon (right click link and “save as” to your computer):

LogbookCountryDataEx.xml (Updated April 1st, 2012)

UniqueCallSignDatabase.xml (updated April 10th, 2012)

And here’s a link to the latest FREE version of Ham Radio Deluxe (v5.0 Build 2893) built by Simon HB9DRV.

v5.0 Build 2893 Ham Radio Deluxe

Although there is another newer, FREE version from the new ownership group (v5.11a), Simon’s version (5.0, Build 2893) had worked perfect for me for the last year so I decided to stick with it and just update the LogbookCountryDataEX and UniqueCallSignDatabase .xml files for now.  When I booted v5.11a up, it scared me with a cheezy new ownership logo (with bubbles?) on it.  And with me not trusting the new ownership versions yet, I reloaded the last known free version from Simon (V5.0, Build 2893).

Perfect (for now), enjoy!

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DX Cluster Dunces

You would think after 44 years a Ham Radio operator that nothing I’d see or hear would bother me anymore.  You’d be wrong.

DX Cluster DunceIt started off innocently enough.  At 0330Z I asked five times if 7.155 MHz was in use – no replies.  So I set up camp.  1,450 watts and my 2 element 40 Meter beam pointed East.  Propagation was in and I called “CQ DX”.  A couple of stations from Argentina stopped by, then here came Africa!  Conditions were perfect and I got to enjoy talking to my old friend Tom, ZS1AFS (who stopped by for almost 30 minutes).  After wishing Tom and Suzie a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year I cleared and resumed my CQ DX at 0409Z.  A few more South Africans answered my call and I exchanged reports with them.  As I cleared those Q’s another friend, Andre in Namibia (V51B) stopped by at 0411Z.  I was enjoying Andre bringing me up to speed on his new 30/40 Meter two element quad when I saw this flash on the DX Cluster:

V51B Spot

N7EKD had spotted V51B, calling CQ?  And there it was.  The first DX Cluster Dunce spot.  Of course in-between overs with Andre I could now hear people trying to break-in, but I was in conversation with my friend and I had been holding the frequency for quite some time now – so I continued to hold the line.  After a 15 minute conversation with Andre, we wished each others families well for the Holidays and closed our QSO at 0425Z.

Because of that one bad spot from the first Cluster Dunce, now other Cluster Dunces had descended on the frequency to work V51B, but that’s when I heard the last two letters of my friend John’s (ZS6BNS) call, so I picked him up next.

It was at that point you’d thought I robbed a bank.  As I conversed with John and in-between short VOX breaks, I could hear the Cluster Dunces rumbling.  One told me to get off the frequency, “there’s DX here”.  Another told me to quit QRMing the frequency.  And on and on…

Anyway I worked John and even a few more ZS’s through the chaos before my neighbor Keith (K0KE) stopped in where we shut off the amplifiers and had a good old fashioned ragchew for another hour.

After I closed with Keith I went to the DX Cluster and tried to gain a little wisdom as to why anyone would spot the DX station I was working on a frequency I was holding – and I ran into this (from the same guy):

N7EKD DX Cluster Dunce

When I saw that it became clear to me what I was dealing with.  That single spot explained everything I needed to know.  N7EKD had spotted DX he didn’t even hear.  I pulled up more of his spots (and hundreds of self-spots) and decided to write this post for the Newbie DX Cluster User that may have stumbled and bumbled their way here onto my Blog and this post.  To those new DX Cluster Users – may I suggest starting your DX Cluster learning experience on page 53 of this fine document?

Ethics and Operating Procedures for the Radio Amateur

It’s a document that was written by experts in the field of DXing, John (ON4UN) and Mark (ON4WW).

To the rest of the DX Cluster Dunces, it’s a given it is hard to teach an old dog a new trick, but maybe you should grab your bifocals and read it too.  You just might learn how not to end up being mentioned in one of my Blog posts (rants).  😯

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