Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Move to new Blog

I have officially moved my blog to my new home,

Please update your links and please follow me to my new home!

73, Jack K4SAC

Sunday, July 13, 2008


I have been absent for a few days....I have been working on a new version of this blog.

Check it out at

Please let me know what you think of the new blog, it is still a work in progress.

I will post when I actually move over full time to the new blog.

73, Jack K4SAC

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Software review:N1MM part two

The last installment, I talked about the N1MM entry window and some of the features of N1MM.

Today I am going to go a little deeper and explain some of the features. I am going to break this review into bite sized pieces so that you dont get bored reading a bunch of stuff at one sitting.

Last entry, I talked about a bandmap feature, N1MM has a bandmap feature that if you are connected to a dx cluster, you can actually see the stations that are spotted along a bandmap of your VFO.

As you can see the dx cluster has populated the bandmap with the calls that have been posted to the cluster. Calls in red are new multipliers. You can hold your mouse over one of the spots and you can see more information.

You can zoom in and out on the bandmap using the [+] and [-] keys. If you click on a callsign, if you have your radio interfaced, your radio will automatically go to that frequency and populate the entry window with the call of that station.

When you complete a QSO and tune off the frequency – the spot’s color code turns to grey, so that you know at a glance that you have worked the station already, and won’t waste time when you come back to that frequency again.

You may say, I don't use packet or dx clusters....well the bandmap is STILL useful. As you S&P your way up and down the band, each station you’ve worked will be marked with a grey self-spot, so you can skip by them the next time even if you have no packet spots.

Right clicking on the band map gives you other options as well

To read more about N1MM's software, please check out

Credit: N1MM Quick Start Guide

Monday, July 07, 2008

Software review: N1MM Logger part one

This is a review of the freeware contest logging program N1MM.

This is the program I use here at K4SAC for contest logging.

I wanted to do a review on this program, but it is so full featured and robust, you just cant do it in one review. So I am going to break this review up into several chunks.

N1MM logger is one of a few contest logging programs that embrace SO2R/SO2V operation.

The N1MM Logger is a freeware program designed to do contest logging and some general logging. It is not a general logging program with award tracking etc. but is mainly a contest logging program to use with a lot of different supported contests.

There are many features found on the N1MM logger.
1) Digital Voice Keying
2) Automatic CW generation
3) RTTY support (uses the MMTTY engine)
4) PSK31 and PSK 63 support
5) bandmaps
6)packet window
7)beam heading and sunrise/sunset
8)Check partial
9)Multiplier window
10)telnet support
11)winkey support
12)SO2R/SO2V support
13)statisical reports
14)greyline program
and many other features....

The meat and potatoes of this program is the log entry window.

Below is a screenshot of the log entry window

As you can see the entry wndow is jampacked with information
As you type in the call of the station you are working, you see the bearing, the milage, and the long path at the bottom of the entry window

The color of the station callsign tells you what kind of multiplier it is.
If the callsign is RED, it is a Single Multiplier Example: CQWW - qso is either zone or country multiplier (one multipliers)

If the callsign is Green, it is a Double or better Multiplier Example: CQWW - qso is a zone and a country multiplier (two multipliers)

If the callsign is Blue it is a new contact.

If the callsign is GREY, it is a Dupe contact or an unworkable station in a non-workable country. This means that you don't need this station because he is a dupe or you are not even 'allowed' to work him in this contest according the contest rules.

You may notice the 2 colored dots right below the Callsign box. Those are to tell you which had RX(recieve) and TX(transmit) focus. Green dot/LED - This VFO/Radio has receive (RX) and keyboard focus. RX and keyboard focus are always together. Red dot/LED - This VFO/Radio has transmit (TX) focus

(Run/S&P) designators are shown. Ru means the station is in running mode, and SP means the station is in S&P mode

At the very bottom you will see the status bar. This information on the left is country, zone, and continent. The middle is QSO's/Multipliers/Zones and the right is the Current score.

Now you may be reading all this and think it is confusing. Once you actually install it and start playing with it, you will find that this program is fairly intuitive and easy to lean. Yes there are a ton of features that take time to learn, but for a small pistol contestor you can get by without 99% of the stuff and just use the program in its basic form.

Bug fixes come fairly fast as there is a Yahoo group that the developers monitor and respond rather quickly.

Stay tuned for part two of this review......

You can find out more by visiting

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th of July

As a former Air Force soldier, I just would like to take a minute on this holiday to recognize all of the brave soldiers that we have, Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marines that stand up for us each day and protect our freedoms.

From the Revolutionary War to Present day Iraq, Americans have been able to depend on our soldiers to protect our freedoms for which was fought for.

The brave women and men of our armed forces need our support and our gratitude as they continue to carry on their missions.

Not only do they deserve and need our support while they are in the service, they deserve and need our support after they leave the service and return to civilian life.

Today, if you see a soldier, stand up and thank him/her for their service to their country.

May God bless you all and enjoy your 4th of July.

73, Jack K4SAC

Radio shack power supply recall

From the shortwave yahoo group:

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Office of Information and Public Affairs
Washington, DC 20207

July 2, 2008
Release #08-319

Firm's Recall Hotline: (800) 843-7422
CPSC Recall Hotline: (800) 638-2772
CPSC Media Contact: (301) 504-7908

RadioShack Recalls Power Supplies Due to Electrocution and Fire Hazards

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall
of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

Name of Product: 13.8V DC Power Supplies

Units: About 160,000

Importer: RadioShack Corp., of Fort Worth, Texas

Hazard: The recalled power supplies are wired incorrectly, posing electrocution and fire hazards.

Incidents/Injuries: None reported.

Description: The recall involves RadioShack 13.8V DC Power Supplies, catalog numbers 22-507 and 22-508 with date codes from 08A04 through 01A08.

Date code format is MMAYY where MM is the month and YY is the year. The catalog number and date code are located on the back of the power supply.
Power Supplies with a green dot on the product and the product's packaging have already been repaired and are not included in the recall.

Sold at: RadioShack stores nationwide from October 2004 through January 2008 for between $50 and $85.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should unplug the recalled power supply immediately and take it to any RadioShack store for a free repair. Registered owners of the recalled power supplies will be mailed a notice.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact RadioShack at 800-843-7422 anytime, or visit the firm's website at:
To see this recall on CPSC's web site, including pictures of the recalled products, please go to:


Thursday, July 03, 2008

What a diverse hobby we have to enjoy

As ham radio operators, we enjoy a diverse range of different things that we can participate in within our hobby.

Contesting, DX'ing, CW, SSB, VHF, UHF, Satellite, County Hunting, DXCC, SSTV, PSK31, IRLP, and RTTY are all different facets of this wonderful hobby that we can partake in.

Each of us have a favorite mode or part of the hobby that we focus on, and we tend to forget that there is this wonderful range of options that we have.

A good analogy to this is the world's population. We have Caucasian, African-American, Latin, Asian, Europeon, and Arab races just to name a few. In today's world we have to be more tolerant of race and culture because we have a worldwide culture now. Bias and ignorance have no place in today's world wide society.

As hams, we need to be more tolerant of fellow hams that practice different modes than what we like. Myself, I focus on contesting, dxing, and cw. Even though I focus on those areas, I do not belittle those hams that enjoy their own aspects of ham radio. I feel that we need to have people that enjoy all these different aspects of ham radio, that those different areas help keep the hobby alive and people interested.

As a long time ham, I have been a CW operator since 1974. When no-code was proposed, there was a roar of disgust from the ham populace and a bias against no-coders. Eventually that has died down, although some hams are still biased, the majority of the ham populace has come to accept, if not embrace, the new hams.

It should not surprise me though, that some of the new hams themselves would harbor their own biases.

I wrote about the History of Field Day in a blog post here

In the town I live in, there was 3 different Field Day operations.

The FD operation I participated in, the 4 of us, was with a dx'ing and contest group (KY Indiana DX Association) and our focus is contesting. We do the 160 contests, and usually play in the SS contest but we focus on FD each year the past few years.

The other groups were casual operations, which is perfectly fine and fulfills the needs of those operators. Some people just want to get together for the companionship and the cameraderie and that is a wonderful thing if that is what all the operators want to do.

Some people view FD as a test of their emergency equipment and a test of their endurance and skill sets. If a group of people are focused on that as a group, that is certainly fine as well.

The point is, that there is something in FD for everyone, whether you are a casual operator, or a hard core operator or somewhere in between.

Later on after FD was over, on the local 2 meter repeater, there was some of the new hams that were rag chewing and talking about the different operations. The point was made that FD should be a casual operation and be about the fellowship and comraderie of being together and that working FD like a contest is not what it is about.

As I listened, I couldnt help but think about the biases we see all too often in ham radio and it just isnt the bias of the older operators either.....

Rag Chewers hate Contesters or Traffic Handlers hate Contesters, or DX'ers hate List Operations, or PSK31/RTTY ops hate AMTOR/PACTOR stations, or SSB operators hate AM operators, No-Code vs CW .......repeater operators hate IRLP, etc etc etc.

The fight for frequency spectrum continues to grow. Our frequency allocations could be a very rich bankroll for the FCC if they ever decided to auction off our frequencies.

As hams, we need to put aside our internal biases and learn to work together and co-exist in harmony, because if we don't, and we don't increase our numbers, we may find that our valuable frequecy bands will be put up for sale to the highest bidder.........

73, Jack K4SAC

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

ARRL wins versus BPL and FCC???

On October 23rd, 2007, The ARRL argued case # 06-1343 at the United Stated Court of Appeals (District of Columbia district) on the FCC's handling of the BPL issue.

On April 25th, 2008 the Court ruled on the matter.

According to the ruling found here (Adobe acrobat reader required) the ARRL met the burden of proof that the " FCC failed to satisfy the notice and comment requirements of the Administrative
Procedure Act (“APA”) by redacting studies on which it relied in promulgating the rule and failed to provide a reasoned explanation for its choice of the extrapolation factor for measuring Access BPL emissions."

At issue here was the long standing tradition by the FCC that unlicensed operators must not cause harmful interference to licensed operations (Part 15 operations) , i.e. that a unlicensed device must not cause harmful interference, and if found to cause interference, that unlicensed operator must cease operation.

The second point at issue here was that the FCC relied on a study, which was redacted when released to the public, to remove possibly contrary evidence to the conclusion that the FCC wanted to reach.

The FCC stated that it relied on it study to reach its conclusions and when the ARRL filed a FOIA request to see the data, the FCC denied that request. The ARRL filed a second FOIA request, then at that point the FCC released the redacted studies.

The ARRL then petitioned the Court to review on 4 points
1) That the FCC went against 70 years of precedent by using Section 302 to rule that unlicensed stations could cause harmful interference to licensed stations within limits
2) The studies that the FCC relied on were not released to the public in unredacted for, thus violating the APA (Administrative Procedure Act)
3) That the FCC's 40 db per decade decay assumption was flawed in citing what was "harmful interference'
4) That the FCC failed to consider locating BPL devices between 30-50MHZ to mitigate harmful interference.

Basically the Court in favor of the league on (2) and (3), remanding the rule back to the FCC.

Credit: US Appeals Court and ARRL

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Field Day 2008

Field Day 2008 has come and gone.

This year saw 15 meters open up and even 10 meters for some periods of time.

Many special event stations were noticed on the bands.

The KY Indiana DX Association consisting of K4SAC, AA4RL, KJ4EVH, and KY4COE operated FD from EM67.

We made just a shade over 1020 Qso's, over 90% on CW.

We had a great time and look forward to next year's run!

73, Jack K4SAC

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Firefox phones home.......

I was disturbed to learn that Firefox makes unrequested connections....I thought those of you that read this blog may want to know....Click on my title to go to the original article. 73, Jack K4SAC

Firefox makes unrequested connections

Some people are particularly concerned about the connections Firefox makes to the internet, especially when such connections are made with no apparent cause. This article will explain the various reasons why Firefox may legitimately make a connection to the internet, and how you can stop it from doing so if you so desire.

Loopback connection

A loopback connection (to IP address can be made by Firefox on non-Unix machines. In this case the browser is communicating with itself as expected, and it is not recommended that this communication be blocked. See bug 100154 for more information.

Live Bookmarks updating

Live Bookmarks automatically reload themselves on a regular basis, and in doing so will make a connection to the internet. Deleting all your Live Bookmarks will stop these connections from being made.

Auto-update checking

Warning: Disabling update checking is not recommended and will leave you open to security vulnerabilities that get fixed in newer versions.

Firefox occasionally checks to see if any updates are available for itself, for your add-ons (extensions, themes, etc), and for your search engines. To disable these checks:

  1. At the top of the Firefox windowOn the menu bar, click on the ToolsFirefoxEdit menu, and select Options...Preferences....
  2. Select the Advanced icon.
  3. Select the Update tab.
  4. Uncheck Firefox, Installed Add-ons, and Search Engines.

Home page loading

Your home page may be loading. To change your home page to something that doesn't generate connections to the internet:

  1. At the top of the Firefox windowOn the menu bar, click on the ToolsFirefoxEdit menu, and select Options...Preferences....
  2. Select the Main icon.
  3. Set When Firefox starts to Show a blank page.

Anti-phishing list updating

Warning: Disabling the anti-phishing protection is not recommended, as it will leave you vulnerable to untrustworthy web-sites that might try to steal your financial information and/or your identity.

The phishing protection list may be updating itself. To turn this off:

  1. At the top of the Firefox windowOn the menu bar, click on the ToolsFirefoxEdit menu, and select Options...Preferences....
  2. Select the Security icon.
  3. Uncheck Tell me if the site I'm visiting is a suspected forgery.
Firefox 3:

Anti-malware list updating

Warning: Disabling the anti-malware protection is not recommended, as it will leave you vulnerable to untrustworthy web-sites that might try to infect you with a virus, trojan or spyware.

The malware protection list may be updating itself. To turn this off:

  1. At the top of the Firefox windowOn the menu bar, click on the ToolsFirefoxEdit menu, and select Options...Preferences....
  2. Select the Security icon.
  3. Uncheck Tell me if the site I'm visiting is a suspected attack site.

Firefox will prefetch certain links if any of the web sites you are viewing uses the special prefetch-link tag. For more information, please see the Link Prefetching FAQ. To disable prefetching:

  1. In the Location bar, type about:config, and press EnterReturn.
    • The about:config "This might void your warranty!" warning page may appear. Click I'll be careful, I promise!, to continue to the about:config page.
  2. In the about:config page, search for the preference network.prefetch-next.
  3. Observe the Value column of the network.prefetch-next row.
    • If it is set to false then do nothing.
    • If it is set to true, double-click on it to set it to false.

Extension blocklist updating

Warning: Disabling blocklist updating is not recommended and may result in you using extensions known to be untrustworthy.

Firefox may be updating its extension blocklist. To disable this:

  1. In the Location bar, type about:config, and press EnterReturn.
    • The about:config "This might void your warranty!" warning page may appear. Click I'll be careful, I promise!, to continue to the about:config page.
  2. In the about:config page, search for the preference extensions.blocklist.enabled.
  3. Observe the Value column of the extensions.blocklist.enabled row.
    • If it is set to false then do nothing.
    • If it is set to true, double-click on it to set it to false.

Live Title updating

If you have any Live Title bookmarks, they may be updating themselves. Deleting all your Live Title bookmarks will stop these connections from being made. For more information, please see the Microsummaries wiki page.


An extension you have installed may be making a connection to a web site that it relies on. For example, a connection to a web site to synchronize your bookmarks, a connection to a web site to update a list of sites to block, etc. Or it is possible an extension could be changing the expected behavior of Firefox in other ways. For example, FasterFox extension has an option to prefetch all links.

To easily disable all of your extensions please read the Safe Mode article, paying particular attention to the Disable all add-ons option under the Make Changes and Restart section.

Firefox 3:

Downloads restarted

When you start Firefox, any interrupted downloads from your previous browsing session may be automatically resumed.

  1. From the menu bar at the top of the Firefox window, select the Tools menu and then select the Downloads menu item.
  2. Ensure nothing is currently being downloaded

Infected with malware

If your machine is infected with a virus, trojan, or spyware, then Firefox's internet connection may be being piggybacked in order for the malware to communicate with its author or to deliver adverts onto your machine, etc. If you suspect this is the case, consider seeking specialized advice from one of these malware support sites:

Please be aware that Mozilla is not responsible for the content of third-party web sites.


Technology Tip

If you need to share files between computers and have an internet connection at each computer, Microsoft has come out with a free(for now) service. That you can hold up to 5 GB online.

You have to have a Microsoft Live ID (which I think hotmail accounts work for that)

below is the blurb from Microsoft about this new service...

· 5 GB of free online storage, available from any computer with Internet access.

· Create personal, shared, and public folders -- you decide who has access to each folder.

· Windows Live SkyDrive works well on any Windows or Macintosh computer with Firefox 1.5 or higher, or Internet Explorer 6 or higher.

How we help protect your files

· Your personal folders are password-protected with your Windows Live ID, so only you have access.

· When you create a shared folder, the friends you're sharing with need to sign in with their own Windows Live ID and password.

· Just like at your online bank, all file transfers are protected using Secure Socket Layers (SSL).


· Use personal folders to back up important files that are only for you.

· Get to your files from any computer with Internet access by signing in with your Windows Live ID.


· Shared folders make it easy to collaborate with coworkers or classmates.

· You decide how much control each person has over each shared folder. Some can just read what's there: others can add and delete files.

· Everyone who is sharing uses their own Windows Live ID.


· With public folders, anyone on the Internet can view your files, but they can't change them.

· Want to show your public files to others? Just send them a link! Each folder and file has its own web address.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

New Worked All KY Counties Award

The QCWA Bluegrass Chapter 214 is sponsoring a new Worked ALL Kentucky Counties Award.

The rules are:

Contact and confirm with each of the 120 counties of Kentucky
Any Band
Any Mode
No date restrictions
SWL's may also apply
No Endorsements are available

Applicants must use The Bluegrass Chapter 214 application form and county list.
Both are available for downloading from the Bluegrass Chapter 214 offical website or by sending an SASE to the award manager.
If you are a current holder of a USA-CA 3077 all is required is an filled out application and fee.
Upon completion submit a filled out county list and application with a fee of $7.00.
The award manager reserves the right to request contact confirmation to check for validity.
Mail application and completed counties list to the Worked All Kentucky Award manager:

Dave Vest, K8DV
2934 Rontina Drive
Goshen, Ohio 45122
Questions may be directed via e-mail to or via a SASE to the award manager.

Amateur Radio Week in KY

Gov Steve Beshear, Governor of Kentucky has proclaimed June 22nd-29th as Amateur Radio Week in Kentucky.

A copy of the proclamation can be found at this link here

Friday, June 20, 2008

CQD or SOS????

As a avid CW operator, I had always thought that SOS stood for 'Save Our Souls'

The BBC recently published an article outlining the history of CQ, CQD, and SOS.

In the early days of radio there was no voice communication. It was all morse code.

Before radio, ships in distress could only signal other ships in range using lights, flags or flares.

But before SOS the was a distress signal called CQD.

CQ was a general call to demand attention from all stations, preceding a time signal or other announcement. The Marconi company, the dominant power in early radio, suggested this signal be appended with a D to work as a distress signal.

Many people thought CQD meant 'Come Quick Danger' but in reality it did not mean anything except a distress call.

The year 1906 brought a wireless telegraphy conference in Berlin, and there was a pressure to agree on a common signal.

The Italians uses SSSDDD, the Germans used SOE, and everyone used CQD.

The conference decided to use SOS and set the effective date as July 1st, 1908.

Many mistakenly believed it stood for Save Our Souls, or Sinking Of Ship, or Send Out Succour or Save Our Ship.

The first ship believed to have sent an SOS was the American steamer Arapahoe in 1909.

When the Titanic was sinking in 1912, its operator first sent out CQD and then SOS, alternating.

So that is the story of the morse distress signal.

73, Jack K4SAC


Thursday, June 19, 2008


As most hams know, the solar cycle controls the amount of sunspots on the sun, which in turn affects the propagation here on Earth.

The solar cycle tends to run in 11 year cycles, where the maximum activity occurs in the middle of the sunspot cycle and the minimum occurs at the bottom of the 11 yr cycle as it transitions from one cycle to the next.

Unfortunately, there is not usually a sharp transition, the bottom may hang around for 2 years or more.

Solar activity is defined as sunspots, solar flares, or even solar eruptions(eruptions of gas from the Sun.)

The last cycle reached its peak in 2001 and is currently at the end of its cycle transitioning into the new cycle.

What has scientists that track solar cycles concerned is that this minimum has produced no solar activity at all. While some inactivity is normal, this period of inactivity has stretched longer than normal.

In the past there have been some extended periods of inactivity. There was a period in the past where the sun did not produce sunspots for 50 years, from 1650 to 1700.

This affect ham radio operators, because during the sunspot minima low bands such as 160, 80 and 40 become the workhorse bands because the propagation does not get up to the 20-10 bands as easily.

Some links that talk about propagation:

N0HR's propagation page

N3KL's propagation page

Solar Cycle 24 Page (Excellent site)

WM7D Solar Page

N6RT's Propagation page

And a link to propagation software

So those spots on the sun do affect us more than you know!


73, Jack K4SAC

Blog List....

On the right of my blog, you can see that I am posting excerpts from other ham radio blogs around the blogosphere.

There are many ham radio blogs out here, so I can't post them all, but check out my blog list and links for other information.

K9JY has a good series running on Club Program Ideas, so those of you that are club officers, give his series a look!

73, Jack K4SAC

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Field Day History

Field Day is coming upon us June 28th and June 29th and I thought I would write a bit about how Field Day began.

In 1933, The June 1933 QST announced that the second Saturday in June, for a period of 27 hours, starting at 4 pm local time, that hams would go into the "field" and set up portable stations.

W1BDI F.E. Handy said:
“The real object of this contest is to test ‘portables’ wherever they may be available.… If successful, we want to make it an annual affair.”

The scoring of that first contest was each QSO with fixed stations will count 1 point, contacts
with other portables count 2 points, and DX contacts count 3 points. Multiply QSO
points by the total number of ARRL sections, plus countries worked

September 1933 QST announced the winner of the 1st Annual Field Day was W4PAW. They made 62 QSOs and had 28 sections for a total of 1876 points.

1934 Field Day #2 is announced.

1936 Field Day was so popular that a second Field Day was held August 22nd-23rd of that year. The highest qso total for June was 143 and the highest QSo total for August was 136.

1937-Field day #5 is announced for June 19th-20th. The FD message bonus was added. The winning qso for this FD was 204 QSO's at a rate of 7.5 qsos/hr.

1938- Field Day period goes from 4 pm Saturday Local time to 6 pm Sunday Local time.

1939- the first rule to include all station apparatus must fall within a 100 ft radius excluding antennas.

1940-The 100' rules is changed to 500'. Home stations are allowed to work FD.

1941- The ARRL inadvertently forces a nationwide start time by notifying the FCC of the Field day period and the FCC communication 73-D references a single start time for all ham stations for Field Day from 4pm EST June 7th to 6pm EST June 8th.

1942-1945 All Ham activity ceases.

1946-Field day returns and adds a VHF only category

1948- 11 meters (now the CB band) is added for a Field Day Band. FD is shortened to 24 hrs. Battery and Emergency power categories are added.

1949- Mobile category added to FD.

1950- The modern day FD classes are established. The circle is increased to 1000'

1951- To encourage home emergency power, a home emergency power class is added Class D while home stations off power mains are class E.

1957- Simultaneous starts return, starts 4 pm EST and ends 4pm PST the next day. Anyone can operate 24 of the 27 operating period. 10,000th ham participates.

1963-ARRL rules that a FD site can only use one callsign.

1968- Setup within the 27 hr period is mandatory and the start time is moved to 1900z. All home stations are moved to Class D.

1969- The setup rule is hugely unpopular so ARRL changes the rule so that if you wait to set up you can operate the whole 27 hrs, otherwise you can only operate 24 hrs of the 27.

1970- A free Novice station is allowed. Starting time is moved to 1800z.

1972- Battery results are listed separately.

1973- Repeater rule is waived for satellite contacts and a 50 point sat bonus is included for the first time.

1974- A 100 point bonus is added for making contacts solely by natural power. 15 minutes rule for band changes is instituted.

1975- the Explosion of SSB leads the ARRL to institute a 2X multiplier for CW contacts.

1976- 10,000 qso mark is broken by W1VV/1

1977- The natural power bonus disappears and techs are now allowed to operate the Novice station. The 2X CW rule becomes permanent.

1980- RST is replaced with category and class for the exchange. Setup time is changed again, nothing can be set up before the 24 hr period. natural power comes back as a 100 point bonus. Sat and FD message bonuses increase to 100 points.

1981- Due to the popularity of packet radio, a 100 point bonus is instituted for one packet QSO and the repeater rules are waived for qso's through a digipeater. The Yankee Clipper Contest Club W2RQ turn in an impressive 11,201 qso total for Field Day.

1984- power multiplier is changed from 200 watts to anything less than 150 watts.

1993- Due to the influx of Technicians, a 100 point bonus is added for making 10 VHF/UHF contacts and a free VHF/UHF station is allowed class A and B.

1994- The modern FD record is set by K6CAB 15A by getting 3450 QRP QSO's for a total score of 30,150

1998- Free packet station and bonus are eliminated, but RTTY/PSK31 are added as a 3rd FD mode. The 100 point bonus for VHF/UHF stations is deleted.

So that is the history of Field Day. We've come a long way Baby!

Credit: December 1999 QST

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dayton Hamfest-The Future????

Inspired by a post on K9ZW's blog , He is having a discussion about the future of Dayton hamfest.

I was going to go to Dayton this year, but due to work issues at the last minute I was not able to attend.

Many of the posters on Steve's blog say that Hara Arena was in bad shape, that the Crowne Plaza (where many of the contesting and dx groups hold their hospitality rooms) was in bad shape.

Should the Dayton hamfest be moved to another city? Has Dayton had its heyday?

Vendors at Dayton this year reported an increase in sales much to everyone's surprise.

Tell me what you think and read Steve's blog as well.

73, Jack K4SAC

Monday, June 16, 2008

Ham radio, and licensing

I was discussing how licensing has changed over the years.

I was 13 years old when I got my first ticket in 1974, I had to drive about a 4 hour drive to Indianapolis, IN to take my exam in front of an FCC examiner. The question pool was secret, you had to have the knowledge, not memorize a bunch of questions. You had to take your morse code test, sending and recieving, they had a machine that had a bunch of head phones attached to it and you listened to the code through the headphones.

You had to get 1 minute of solid copy on your paper.

My Novice ticket if I remember right(it has been a few yrs) was only good for 2 years (originally it was 1 yr) and 75 Watts.

I was limited to xtal control, so I had crystals for a few different frequencies in the 80 and 40 meter band. I would call CQ on one of my xtal frequencies and had to tune my rcvr up and down the band to listen for a reply. Talk about inefficent use of bandspace!

Finally transmitters such as the Heathkit DX60 came out and you could hook a VFO to it and QSY up and down the band. That was so neat, you could actually get calls on the same frequency you transmitted on.

W1AW was my friend as I would listen faithfully to the code practice to get my speed up so I could get my General ticket within the 1 yr timeframe. W4OYI would get on the air and help me also by qsoing me and pushing me on my cw speed.

Finally, I made the trip to Indianapolis and sat for my General and passed it. 13 wpm code...By that time I was copying 20 wpm, but I was so nervous taking the test I barely copied the 13wpm.

Another year went by and I went to take my Advanced exam. That was the hardest written exam I think I have ever taken. It was even harder then my 2nd class Radiotelegraph Commercial ticket I eventually got. I know it was harder than my extra exam. There were tube schematics on it, one of them I remember was a tube type colpitts osciallator!

Then finally I got my Extra ticket. This one I ended up driving to Atlanta Ga and taking it. At that time, at Indianapolis, they would only give the exams like 4 times a year and they weren't giving the Extra in Indianapolis before college started and the only way to get it before I went to college was to drive to Atlanta and take it. By this time I was copying 25 wpm or better, but again in front of that FCC examiner, that 20 wpm sounded a lot faster.

But in those days of FCC examiners, they did have a license you could get sort of like the tests you take now. There was a ham license called the Conditional license. It granted basically the same priviledges as a General license, except you took the exam in front of another ham.

It was originally intended to be for people that had disabilities that prevented them from traveling to take the test in front of an FCC examiner.

This was the precusor to todays VE exams.

Like anything not monitored properly, there were abuses of the Conditional license process which led the FCC to re-examine some Conditional Licensees in front of an FCC examiner and eventually the FCC abolished the Conditional license.

Today the licensing process is totally different.

You no longer have to drive hours away to sit in front of an FCC examiner to get your ham license. The Novice license no longer exists and although some Advanced licensees are still alive once those licensees die out, there will no longer be any Advanced licenses.

Today you can get the Technician, General and Extra. You no longer have to know the code to get a ham license.

Today the license pools are published with the exact questions and answers to the test questions.

Today there are VEC's which accredit examiners and it takes 3 VE's to give tests. The FCC learned from the days of the Conditional that one tester is subject to impropieties, but if you have 3 you are less likely to have abuses of the system.(Although that is not a given as there have been some VE test sessions that have been discredited.)

Even though I have been licensed for 34 years and I am a CW operator, I am not going to sit here and preach that the old way was better. Times have changed and society itself has changed and most of all the focus on ham radio from the FCC's point of view has changed.

What hasnt changed over the years is the fact that the Amateur Radio Service has been a self-policing service and internally we try to correct the abuses we see or hear about. It is up to us as licensees and us Old Timers to not denegrate the new licensees but to teach the proper ways of operation and for us OTers to set the example for the newer licensees to emulate.

But self-policing hasn't been enough and over the years the FCC Spectrum Enforcement Division Riley Hollingsworth has been enforcing the Ham Radio rules and you can read the list of enforcement actions that the FCC has taken

We need to continue to be active on the HF bands and especially our VHF and UHF bands, as spectrum allocation is getting very competative and there are certainly many services that would love to take away our frequency allocations. There is big money to be made by the government in frequency allocations and if we as a Amateur service do not make good use of our frequency allocations, then we could possibly look at losing frequencies in the future.

Yes, Ham radio has changed a lot over the years since 1894 when Marconi first sent a wireless radio signal across the English Channel. The Ham radio landscape has changed numerous times and probably will change again.

I can honestly say that Ham radio has given me one of the greatest pleasures in the past 34 years and that I hope it continues to give me pleasure, but also that it continues to flourish.

73, Jack K4SAC

6 Meters

The last few days 6 meters has been opening up like crazy here in EM67.

If you have 6 meters give a listen.....if you have 6 on your radio, but dont have an antenna, you can make a 6 meter dipole and it doesnt take a lot of room.

Click on the link below on instuctions on how to make a 6 meter dipole!


Jack K4SAC

Sunday, April 06, 2008

International Marconi Day 2008

The Maritime Radio Historical Society (MRHS) is pleased to announce that its amateur station K6KPH will be participating in International Marconi Day 2008.

International Marconi Day (IMD), sponsored by the Cornish Amateur Radio Club, is a 24-hour amateur radio event held annually to celebrate the birth of Guglielmo Marconi on the 25th April 1874.

IMD is usually held on the Saturday closest to Marconi's birthday, when amateur radio stations are operated from original historic sites around the world.
Stations may apply to the Cornish Amateur Radio Club for awards for contacting these stations.

With transmitters at the site established in Bolinas, CA by the American Marconi Company in 1913, K6KPH has a direct connection to the great inventor.

K6KPH will begin IMD operations at 5:00pm pdt (0000gmt) on Saturday, 26 April. Transmitting frequencies will be 3550.0, 7050.0 and 14050.0kc. All transmissions will of course be in Morse code.

The public is invited to visit K6KPH to observe the station in action. Qualified Morse operators wishing to operate K6KPH are invited to bring their keys and headphones. No amateur license is required.

Those intending to visit should reply to this message for detailed information and directions.

For more information about International Marconi Day see the Cornish Radio Club's Web page at:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Logbook of the World

Many hams still are not familiar with the Logbook of the World by ARRL. There is a good PDF article that explains exactly what the LoTW is about here. (You must have Adobe acrobat reader to read this. You can download it here)

There is an FAQ about the LoTW program that explain most questions about LoTW here and most current logging programs export now to LoTW, so there is no reason not to be using LoTW.

As you can see from this posting, it is possible to achieve honor roll status using LoTW

"Mar 7, 2008: 300 Entities Confirmed in LoTW by K4DY -- Les, K4DY has confirmed 302 entities in Logbook of the World! Congratulations Les. Les says "My current total on LoTW is 302 (with deletes)/298 (current countries). I am up to 1,914 Challenge Countries. This was as of 02/19/2008. I am importing the LoTW Report directly into a separate Logbook program. It is Logger 32. This way I can tell at a glance where I stand since only LoTW QSO confirmations are in the log." (Credit:LOTW website)

Currently there are upwards of 150 million QSO's in LOTW
"Dec 19, 2007: 150 Million QSOs and Counting -- LoTW's latest milestone was passed today when the QSO counter clicked past 150 million QSOs entered into the system." (Credit: LOTW website)

So if you have been waiting, now is the time to go to and get started uploading your logs!


Jack K4SAC

Kermadec Island Operation approved

ARRL DXCC Desk Approves ZL1GO/8 Operation (Mar 13, 2008)

ARRL DXCC Manager Bill Moore, NC1L, reports that the 2007 ZL1GO/8 DXpedition to Kermadec Island has been approved for DXCC credit. "If you had cards rejected for this operation, please send an e-mail to the ARRL DXCC Desk to have your DXCC record updated," Moore said.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Space Shuttle comms

Space Shuttle comms have been heard on 259.700 AM

You can go and find out your pass predictions and monitor the space shuttle and get some real DX!


Jack K4SAC

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


ARRL DXCC Desk Approves 3C7Y Operation (Mar 2, 2008)

ARRL DXCC Manager Bill Moore, NC1L, reports that the 2007 3C7Y DXpedition to Equatorial Guinea has been approved for DXCC credit. "If you had cards rejected for this operation, please send an e-mail to the ARRL DXCC Desk to have your DXCC record updated," Moore said.

Link to this item

Thursday, February 21, 2008

CQ 160-Meter Contest, SSB: 0000Z, Feb 23 to 2359Z, Feb 24

Just a reminder that the CQ 160 contest is this weekend.

The rules are located here

The mailing deadline for the CW logs is February 28, 2008 and the SSB logs is March 31st, 2008.

Remember the DX window from 1830kc to 1835kc.

The contest committee will be keeping an eye on the internet chat rooms, see my post here for the problems during the 160 CW contest.

Good luck!


Jack K4SAC


The Ducie Island gang have institued several ways to QSL. You need to pay attention as you may be wasting your QSL if you do not follow the instructions!

Their preferred method is to use their Online QSL Request System (OQRS)

From the VP6DX website:

The QSL's will be sent in this order:
Online DIRECT QSL requests
Direct QSL requests
Online BUREAU QSL requests

There is no way to send your card(s) through the bureau!
We will confirm the online QSL requests for bureau cards at the very last after the direct requests are processed (probably 8-12 month after the expedition).
AGAIN: PLEASE DO NOT send cards via the bureau!

To use the Online QSL Request System:

Online QSL Request
A special service for the VP6DX DXpedition is the Online QSL Request System (OQRS) for bureau and DIRECT QSL cards, based on an online form and the QSL Label Software BV.

This is no E-QSL system. The callsigns and QSO data of the requests are stored in a database and you will automatically receive a real printed QSL card via the bureau or DIRECT to your mailbox without sending your own QSL card if you are in the log!

If you choose the DIRECT option, you will be asked for a minimum donation of USD 5,- (EUR 3,-). This saves you time and reduces the QSL bureau workload.

If you want to use this request please keep in mind:

Enter your QSL request (for all your QSOs with VP6DX) only once

Do not send any further cards via the bureau then! This means extra, unnecessary work for us.

We do not answer E-Mail QSL requests!

Good Hunting and Good DX,

73, Jack K4SAC

[Credit: VP6DX website]

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Internet Chat Room Controversy posted a column about a new controversy that is coming to the attention of contesting officials at CQ Magazine.

During the CQ 160 CW contest some of the operators were using the ON4KST chat room apparently to solicit contacts.

Apparently the CQ 160 rules do not prohibit chat rooms like the CQ WW rules do. The CQ WW rules state that:

The CQWW rules state: "The use by an entrant of any non-amateur means such as telephones, telegrams, internet, or the use of packet to solicit contacts during the contest is unsportsmanlike and the entry is subject to disqualification."

You can download the January 26 log and the January 27th log by clicking on those links, or you can download an Excel spreadsheet of the logs. (Courtesy of

Many operators of the CQ 160 CW contest that used the chatroom have decided to reclassify their logs as checklogs so as to not run afoul of the contest committee.

"Please do not use chat rooms for the CQ WW 160 SSB or ANY contests sponsored by CQ magazine!" said outgoing CQ 160 Contest Director Dave Thompson K4JRB.

"Single operator use puts them in Multi operator just as using packet/Dx Summit spots would do," Thompson added.

Multi Operators should not solicit contacts or ask for spots just as with self spotting on packet/DX summit."

"The chat rooms will be a definite No No," says Andy Blank N2NT, who is taking over the CQ160 contests. "Not allowed for any category."

Hopefully we will be seeing rules changes in place for the 2009 contests.


Jack K4SAC


Saturday, February 16, 2008

BBC to end English SW transmissions to Europe

Radio Frequencies

Shortwave changes for Europe - February 2008
All remaining BBC World Service shortwave transmissions to Europe will close on 18th February 2008.
This will be a loss to some listeners, but there are alternative ways of hearing BBC programmes.
This change is being made in line with listener trends in radio. Increasing numbers of people around the world are choosing to listen to radio on a range of other platforms.
For more information about other ways to listen, please follow the link: Europe
Frequency chart with transmitter details for this region


From To Days Frequency (kHz)
05:00 08:00 Daily 6195
06:00 08:00 Daily 9410
07:00 10:00 Daily 12095
14:00 17:00 Sat. only 9410
16:00 18:00 Daily 9410, 11665*
18:00 20:00 Daily 5875
18:00 22:00 Daily 6195

*West Africa programmes

Ducie info

News #16- 2008 Feb 15
Directly from Ducie Island:

ARRL DX CW contest starts soon. VP6DX will participate in a limited

* On the CW contest bands 160, 80, 40, 20 15 and 10, we probably
will not be at the "normal" frequencies. Operators will pick a
frequency based on band conditions. Each operator will make his own
decisions about split vs simplex operation, depending on the situation
at the time.

* We will answer ALL callers (USA/VE and others), and send our
contest exchange and log the exchanges received from contest participants.

* We won't be chasing multipliers and will not be able to handle
pass requests. If another band is open at all, we should have a signal there.
QSYs to check non-open bands are time-consuming (manual filter and
changes) and not a good use of our time on the island.

Meanwhile, other radios will be on non-contest bands and band
segments; e.g., 20m SSB or 30m RTTY. These non-contest segment
operations will continue as they have the last few days: split
operations, with priority to difficult propagation paths.

We anticipate no 20m RTTY or 40m SSB during the contest.

The contest ends at Feb 17/2359z and it will be late afternoon (4pm) here.
40m will be just opening to Europe, and the low bands will open during the
next three hours.

Kosovo Operation

Kosovo Press Release # 1 February 16, 2008

A multi-national group of Amateur Radio operators is now in Kosovo in an effort to support and help revitalize Amateur Radio locally.

The initial team members will begin activity today. Activity will be on all bands on CW and SSB. Look for YU8/G3TXF, YU8/N7NG, YU8/OH2BH, YU8/OH2PM, YU8/ON8NC and YU8/W3UR.

More details will be released when available. QSL via the operator's home callsign.

PS - The above release may be forward Editor of The Daily DX, The Weekly DX - Editor of How's DX?


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ducie Island Dxpedition

News #14- 2008 Feb 13

I just had a telephone call with Carsten (DL6LAU) on Ducie Island. The reason we did not get any update or online log from the island is that they had no time until now because of a big workload to setup the stations and antennas.
They plan to go "online" in the next 6-12 hours so we expect the first online logs around noon on Thursday. Please be aware that the data connection via Iridium is very sensible so it can last a long time to upload the online logs.

After 1,5 days of operation they have now about 28,000 QSOs in the log (about 17,000 after the first 24 hours!). They already started RTTY operation on 20m with over 700 QSOs at the moment. In some days we expect also RTTY operation on 30m.

Antenna construction is still in progress. Some antennas for 12m and 10m are missing. Today they are at the installation of the Beverage antennas for the low bands.

All team members are in a good shape (except some sunburns) and they have a lot of fun. A problem is the extreme heat during the day which makes it nearly impossible for the night operators to sleep.

Tomorrow we will get some more news from the island. Please stay tuned.

We would be delighted if DX editors would publish this information as widely as possible and DXers bring it to the attention of their clubs and fellow DXers.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

CW Skimmer Vs. Contesting

If you are a contester, you have probably heard about this new software package called "CW Skimmer."

There is currently a debate raging about the use of CW SKimmer in contesting.

For those that don't know what CW Skimmer is, the link to it is

According to VE3NEA (who has created some truly outstanding ham radio software), CW Skimmer is a :

1) a very sensitive CW decoding algorithm based on the methods of Bayesian statistics;
simulatneous decoding of ALL cw signals in the receiver passband - up to 700 signals can be decoded in parallel on a 3-GHz P4 if a wideband receiver is used;

2)a fast waterfall display, with a resolution sufficient for reading Morse Code dots and dashes visually; the callsigns are extracted from the decoded messages, and the traces on the waterfall are labeled with stations' callsigns;

3) a DSP processor with a noise blanker, AGC, and a sharp, variable-bandwidth CW filter;
4 ) I/Q Recorder and player

Many contesters are being very vocal about this new software and it has certainly sparked a controversy in the contesting arena about its use.

Pete Smith N4ZR wrote an article about its use (You must have adobe acrobat reader installed to read it)

Whether you are for this type of software or against it, one thing is for certain....The face of contesting and dx'ing is about to be changed. Whether it is for good or bad remains to be seen.

73, Jack K4SAC


KR2Q on the Elecraft list serv posted this which pretty much sums up all the arguments you will see against this new software. I won't try to paraphrase Doug, but will copy his post here for you to read.

Feb 06, 2008; 08:05pm it is in a nutshell.
1. CW Skimmer will profoundly change serious-level contesting forever

2. Serious contesters use two radios at once (called SO2R or single op, 2 radios). While they CQ on one band (using a memory keyer...voice or cw), they TUNE a 2nd band, looking for additional contacts, using their 2nd radio. This is very intense contesting and require super-human concentration and skill to be really successful. It means that you are constantly switching focus from the Radio A to Radio B (the switching is automatic, controlled by the contest software).

3. Currently, tuning the 2nd band is a manual process, requiring one to (a) find stations between CQs on the other band, and (b) copy who it is and (c) then decide if you need it or not and if you do, (d) work it while not "losing" your "RUN" frequency (the first radio frequency where you are CQing and working guys who answer your CQs).

4. With CW Skimmer, one no longer has to use their skill to (a) tune the 2nd band and (b) figure out who it is. The computer does this for you....and all at once for the whole band.

5. The entire basis for CONTESTING is competition...a competition of who has the best set of HUMAN skills...skills at using their equipment, but mostly skills at copying callsigns and working guys and tuning a second radio and doing the same. With CW Skimmer, the "second radio" skill is effectively eliminated. The computer does it for you. This is VERY FAR from DSP, or a yagi, or an amp, or an electronic keyer because. Those things made CHORES easier. This thing makes the only human element left (tuning the band and finding callsign) meaningless. It eliminates the HUMAN element. All you need now is a clerk to "point and shoot" or "point and click" whatever you want to call it.

6. With this "tool," a single op can now be SO6R and have a CW SKimmer on every band. Someone will write a script so that multipliers bubble up as found...and even non-mults, but new Q's, will be easily flagged (and worked). YOu wont have to "waste" time tuning and copying the callsign of stuff that you already worked.

7. CW decoders (such as included on Elecraft K3) only copy one signal, which YOU tuned to. This thing does the whole band at once.

8. Yes, it is like an "automatic" packet/internet band-mapping tool, except that use of those places one in the "Assisted" or "unlimited" category, separate and apart from "single op all band." Under the current rules for all contest, the addition of CW Skimmer will NOT cause a change in category away from Single Op All Band to the Assisted or Unlimited category. How could it? Nobody else is helping you get the callsigns.

9. For many, especially those who feel that "packet ruined contesting" or that "packet ruined DXing," this may turn out to be the "packet ruined contesting" of the 21st century. As many have pointed out (if you want to read A LOT on this, go to the CQ-Contest Reflector: ), with this "tool," there is currently no way to tell if the guy has a 2nd op in the shack, is using packet, or is using CW SKimmer. It makes adjudication a nightmare (probably, impossible).

10. Serious SOAB contesters have long done everything possible to keep their category separate and apart from packet/internet users. They want to keep the category "pure." This will make that job very, very difficult. Why keep it "out?" The same reason sailboat races do not allow engines/motors. The same reason why the Daytona 500 does not allow jet engines to be used. The same reason why people climb mountains instead of taking a helicopter. The same reason why some folks only Bow-Hunt.

Sorry for the bandwidth, but there seems to be a fair about of interest in this topic. Hope this helps paint a clearer picture. de Doug KR2Q

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