All Things HF: November 2017

First thing out of the chute would be my observations on HF band conditions from late October to the middle of November. There were a dozen days in a row with no sunspots observed resulting in low SFI numbers. As we all know, HF propagation improves during the winter months for whatever reason even though the aforementioned numbers are less than encouraging. I am on HF almost every day looking for whatever is available with good signals whether it be DX or a rag chewing QSO.

The past 30 days have been proven once again, HF propagation is good during the winter months regardless of sunspots or lack thereof allowing me to enjoy what I like best in this hobby and that’s getting on the bands calling CQ or answering a DX looking for ATNO’s for his/hers 5 band DXCC.

From the git go I have always logged every HF contact made using contact software for my logging computer. Logging is not a requirement of the FCC and so its up to the operator to log or not to log. I started chasing DX for awards as soon as I had HF privileges along with working all states, all continents including working all zones. Logging was a necessity plus I always felt logging was the responsible way to operate. After long conversations with myself along with achieving the awards, I decided to quit logging with two exceptions. I will log all ATNO’s along with logging for anyone who needs my QSL card.

Its improved my disposition (smile) while operating HF along with removing a self-imposed requirement while working contests, casual rag chews and answering DX CQ’s that are nothing more than a contact lasting 10 seconds. There are lots of valid reasons to log all HF contacts for those of you working the paper chase along with those of you that work multiple digital modes…as for me, I’m getting more laid back in my operating procedures.

Now its time to remind you operators, log or no log, to sit at your station, find an open frequency and call CQ because someone somewhere is listening for your call…don’t disappoint them. Have a very blessed and happy Thanksgiving from my station in Huntersville to your station.

Best 73 es gud DX from Bob/WØZPE

New Digital Mode FT-8

New Digital Mode FT-8

Written by Lyle KØLFV

I am very thankful that a couple of my Ham Radio friends encouraged me to try out the new FT-8 Digital Mode and if you are looking for a new mode to operate I would suggest that you would give it a try.

All you need to operate this mode is a computer, your HF Transceiver and a Radio Control Interface.  One of the more popular Control Interfaces would be the SignalLink manufactured by Tigertronics.  The operating program software is WSJT-X and is a free download from  You will also need to download NTP Meinberg, a program to keep your computer clock accurate.

A brief write up from the ARRL:  FT8 Mode is Latest Bright Shiny Object in Amateur Radio Digital World.  FT8 — the latest digital bauble to capture the imagination of the Amateur Radio community — has been luring away many of those already using the popular JT65 “weak-signal” mode. FT8 is included in the release of WSJT-X, version 1.8.0.   Among its biggest advantages is a shorter transmit-receive cycle, meaning quicker contacts. The notes for the “candidate” release say that FT8 offers “sensitivity down to –20 dB on the AWGN channel.” Contacts are four times faster than with JT65 or JT9, and an entire FT8 contact can take place in about 1 minute.  FT8 is an excellent mode for HF DXing and for situations like multi-hop Es on 6 meters, where deep QSB may make fast and reliable completion of QSOs desirable.

On a recent Sunday afternoon I operated FT-8 for a few hours and made many contacts into Europe on 20M.  Countries worked included Germany, Croatia, Spain, England, France, Netherlands, Italy, Scotland, Wales, Belgium, N.Ireland, Canada, Ukraine and a number of US contacts.  Operating Ham Radio for years I have never contacted so my Countries in such a short time.  It was the most fun I have had operating for a long time.  However, I also love working Field Day and some of the DX contests that are available to work.

During our 2017 Fox Hunt and Picnic Mitch ADØHJ and myself set up a rotatable dipole and a FT8 station at Lum Park and in a couple of hours had logged 50 contacts for WØUJ.

Mitch ADØHJ and Lyle KØLFV Operating FT-8 at Lum Park during our Annual 2017 Fox Hunt and Picnic

Operating KØLFV/5

On a recent trip to visit my son Matt KCØNAF and family in Houston I set up my son’s station to operate FT-8 and had a good time making many US, Cuban and South American contacts.   I download the software, installed a Signal Link interface and started to operate.  After working out some bugs with the software and transceiver settings and getting my son’s dipole antenna up higher in the air, I was able to make many contacts when I had time to operate.  Very busy family and household.

Pictured is KØLFV/5 operating the station of Matt KCØNAF.  Matt lives in the Woodlands which is a approximately 20 miles north of Downtown Houston.

Screenshot of PSK Reporter

You will not want to miss our upcoming November Membership Meeting.  The program will be on the setting up and use of the new digital mode FT-8.  Additional features of operating FT-8 is how you link to a website called PSK Reporter that will show you additional information on how your signal is doing and who has heard you.  Our plan is to have an operating station set up to demo all the great features of FT-8.  Program will be presented by Mitch ADØHJ and Lyle KØLFV.

Meeting is scheduled for Thursday November 30th and will be held at the Brainerd Fire Station starting at 7 PM.

BAARC CQ WW DX Contest 2017

During the weekend of October 27- 29, the BAARC participated in the CQ WW DX SSB Contest. The club exercised the small club trailer with a 3 element beam and a multi-band dipole.

Many thanks go out to the preparation work that went on ahead of this event by Lyle KØLFV, Mitch ADØHJ, Al WØRC, Steve NØCRM, Ron KØGOP, John WØWY, and Nick WØNY. Many items needed to be pulled together to make the event happen, we needed antennas collected, radios and computers collected as well as configured. We needed some trailer modifications and antenna tower support modifications.

On Friday afternoon Mitch pulled the small trailer out to the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds and started initial trailer setup and some preliminary antenna preparation. Steve and Al arrived later in the afternoon and helped assemble, raise, guy, and secure the tower. On that Friday afternoon the temperature was around 32 degrees with snowflakes in the air and wind gusts in the 17-24 MPH range.

After getting the tower and beam up, and the rotor connected we tested the SWR on the beam antenna and connected it to a club radio. The trailer came alive with the sound CQ’s coming fast and furious.

After initial testing, it was now on to assembling push-up mast rigs (3) for the multi-band dipole antenna. The setup of the wire antenna was completed in the dark with snow and cold windy conditions. Nick NØNY arrived early evening with a Heathkit SB-200 Linear Amplifier.

W0UJ's Contest Summary Report for CQ-WW
Created by N3FJP's CQ WW DX Contest Log
Version 5.5

Total Contacts = 230
Total Points = 80,115

Operating Period: 2017/10/28 01:06 - 2017/10/29 22:30

Total op time (breaks > 30 min deducted): 21:05:49
Total op time (breaks > 60 min deducted): 25:23:28

Avg Qs/Hr (breaks > 30 min deducted): 10.9

Total Contacts by Band and Mode:

Band       CW   Phone     Dig   Total       %
----       --   -----     ---   -----     ---
  80        0      14       0      14       6
  40        0      35       0      35      15
  20        0     122       0     122      53
  15        0      59       0      59      26
           --   -----     ---   -----     ---
Total       0     230       0     230     100

Total Contacts by Country:

Country                      Total     %
-------                      -----   ---
USA                             33    14
Canada                          23    10
Brazil                          11     5
Hawaii                          10     4
Federal Republic of Germany      8     3
Canary Is.                       6     3
Morocco                          6     3
Bonaire                          5     2
Dominican Republic               5     2
Italy                            5     2
Chile                            4     2
European Russia                  4     2
Lithuania                        4     2
Madeira Is.                      4     2
Netherlands                      4     2
Serbia                           4     2
Alaska                           3     1
Argentina                        3     1
Belize                           3     1
Curacao                          3     1
England                          3     1
Finland                          3     1
France                           3     1
French Guiana                    3     1
Jamaica                          3     1
Portugal                         3     1
Slovenia                         3     1
Ukraine                          3     1
Uruguay                          3     1
Venezuela                        3     1
Aruba                            2     1
Australia                        2     1
Barbados                         2     1
Belarus                          2     1
Belgium                          2     1
Cape Verde                       2     1
Cayman Is.                       2     1
Croatia                          2     1
Cuba                             2     1
Czech Republic                   2     1
Denmark                          2     1
Hungary                          2     1
Latvia                           2     1
Spain                            2     1
Suriname                         2     1
Trinidad & Tobago                2     1
Austria                          1     0
Azores                           1     0
Bulgaria                         1     0
Colombia                         1     0
Costa Rica                       1     0
Ecuador                          1     0
Estonia                          1     0
Ireland                          1     0
Liberia                          1     0
Luxembourg                       1     0
Mexico                           1     0
Norway                           1     0
Poland                           1     0
Romania                          1     0
Scotland                         1     0
Sicily                           1     0
Slovak Republic                  1     0
Sweden                           1     0
Tonga                            1     0
US Virgin Is.                    1     0

Total = 66

Total DX Miles (QSOs in USA not counted) = 742,639
Average miles per DX QSO = 3,770

October Club Meeting 2017

Our club meeting in October was a “Show & Tell” meeting.

We had members bring in items to show and talk about that they have used or developed while enjoying the hobby of amateur radio.

Al W0RC brought in a display of various tubes and talked about the “Project” he made during a correspondence class on his journey into radio.

Ron K0GOP shared a story and equipment built by a fellow ham Jim Whiting K0VAN, these radios were QRP rigs and exhibited some fantastic workmanship.

Nick W0NY demonstrated the 3D printer that he has used for many useful items for the club.

Mitch  AD0HJ showed a new technology

  • The ZUMspot RPi is an advanced radio module board.
  • Paired with a Raspberry Pi and the MMDVM software becomes a small and efficient multi-mode digital hotspot.
  • Supports DMR, P-25, D-Star and System Fusion