A ham club at a bacon festival: what’s not to like?

(Source: Roanoke Times)

(Source: Roanoke Times)

Many thanks to the Southgate ARC for bringing this to my attention:

The Roanoke Times reports that radio hams were among those attending a bacon festival

The newspaper says hams from the Roanoke Valley Amateur Radio Club, W4CA, showed up.

“It’s the ham club at the bacon festival,” club member Jim Martin AK4LB explained.

Read the full story at

Roanoke Valley Amateur Radio Club

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HackRF: an open source SDR transceiver

HackRF prototype (Source: ossmann.blogspot.com)

HackRF prototype (Source: ossmann.blogspot.com)

[From my shortwave radio blog...]

Michael Ossmann is making a business out of developing and producing open-source hardware.

His latest creation is called HackRF, and in less than a day, it has been fully backed on Kickstarter raising over $290,000 US with 25 days left to go in the campaign (at time of posting). Backers can contribute to this campaign with some confidence as Ossmann has successfully delivered products from Kickstarter in the past.

What makes HackRF unique is the fact that the stand alone unit can operate between 30 MHz and 6 GHz; a frequency range substantially wider than any SDR currently on the market. Indeed, when combined with the Ham It Up converter, the HackRF will also cover HF bands and lower.

Additionally, HackRF is a fully open-source transceiver; applications are limited only to a developer’s imagination. You could potentially use HackRF for ham radio, radio astronomy, scanning, shortwave radio listening, remote control applications, wide band monitoring, and commercial/industrial applications. If you use two HackRFs in tandem, they’ll even work in full-duplex applications.

Though the project is fully-backed, you can still support HackRF in the Kickstarter phase and save a bit on the eventual retail cost of the unit. Production units are expected to ship early 2014. Check out the HackRF Kickstarter video below:

Additional information:

Posted in Announcements, News, Product Announcements, Software Defined Radio | Tagged , | 2 Comments

“The Weakest Solar Cycle in 100 Years”

Past three solar cycles (Source: Sky and Telescope)

Past three solar cycles (Source: Sky and Telescope)

Thanks to QRPer.com contributor Eric (WD8RIF) for passing along this story from Sky and Telescope.

Scientists are unsure why this solar peak has been less than stellar:

(Source: Sky and Telescope)

Scientists are struggling to explain the Sun’s bizarre recent behavior. Is it a fluke, or a sign of a deeper trend?

The Sun is acting weird. It typically puts on a pageant of magnetic activity every 11 years for aurora watchers and sungazers alike, but this time it overslept. When it finally woke up (a year late), it gave the weakest performance in 100 years.<

What’s even weirder is that scientists, who aren’t usually shy about tossing hypotheses about, are at a loss for a good explanation. Three scientists, David Hathaway (NASA / Marshall Space Flight Center), Giuliana de Toma (High Altitude Observatory), and Matthew Penn (National Solar Observatory) presented possible explanations at this month’s meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Solar Physics Division, but their results sparked a lively debate rather than a scientific consensus. [Continue reading...]

Posted in Articles, News | Tagged , | 1 Comment

A review of the Elecraft KX3 on The SWLing Post

IMG_6686Many of you know that I’m not only into QRP, but I’m an avid shortwave radio listener, as well.

If you’re an SWLer, too, you might might consider venturing over to my shortwave radio blog, The SWLing Post, where I just published a review of the Elecraft KX3. Unlike other reviews of the KX3, this was originally written for the May 2013 issue of Monitoring Times Magazine and focuses on the KX3 as a shortwave radio receiver.

Click here to read the full review.

Posted in Portable, QRP, QRP Radios, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

BBC World Service interviews Paul (N6PSE)who is attempting to organize a DXpedition to North Korea

(Source: BBC World Service)

A small group of US ham radio enthusiasts have been in North Korea recently to ask for permission to set up a ‘pop up’ ham radio station there. Paul Ewing is one of them; he wants to lead a group to set up a call sign for two weeks, to make contacts around the world from perhaps the most isolated society in the world. The BBC’s Dan Damon asked Paul to explain.

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This Sunday: the first annual SYBO QRP contest

hot-sun-thermometerThis Sunday (July 14, 2013) from 16:00-22:00 UTC, grab your QRP rig and head for the outdoors in the new SYBO (Scorch Your Butt Off) contest. According to the SYBO website, this contest is all about operating in hot weather conditions (something very easy to find this year in North America); a nice contrast to the FYBO (Freeze Your Butt Off) winter QRP contest.

Basic rules and exchange are as follows:

(Source: SYBO)

Scorch Your Butt Off QRP contest
SUNDAY, July 14, 2013 1600-2200 UTC
Categories -

  • Single Op Field or home
  • Multi Single Field or home
  • Multi Multi Field or home
  • SOTA – Summits On The Air Field (not the house roof)

QRP 5 watts max CW around QRP calling frequencies 10, 15, 20 and 40 meters
One point per contact – one contact with each station per band

Exchange -
RST, SPC (State, Province or Country), Name, Power, Temperature (Fahrenheit)
at the operator’s position. Indoor stations must report Indoor temperature.
Example – 559, NJ, Larry, 5W, 85F

Multipliers -
States, Provinces and DXCC count once each band
Field Stations x 4
Alternative Power (including batteries) x 2
QRPp (less than 1W) x 2
SOTA stations – add 100 points* to their SYBO score per summit activated
* Bonus points do not count towards SOTA awards

Highest Operating Temperature (at your operating location -

Below 90 F = x1; Cool weather

90 – 99 F = x2; Break out that Hawaiian shirt

100 – 104 F = x3; Just starting to warm the rattlesnakes up

105 – 109 F = x4; BBQ weather

110 – 114 F = x5; A nice sauna temperature

115F and UP = x6. Am I smelling bacon frying?

Outdoor ops use this Heat Index.

Rules and directions for submitting your results can be found on the SYBO website.

Have fun! Please stay safe and hydrated in this summer QRP contest!

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Ten-Tec Argonaut VI on Sherwood’s Receiver Test Table

Rob Sherwood, with Sherwood Engineering, just updated his receiver test data table with the Ten-Tec Model 539 Argonaut:


The Argonaut VI certainly holds it own in comparison with contest grade radios.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Elecraft taking orders for the KXPA100; a portable 100 watt amplifier with built-in ATU

(Source: Elecraft)

KXPA100FrontJune 17, 2013

Now accepting orders for the Elecraft KXPA100 100 W Amplifier

We have received FCC certification and are putting on the finishing touches and performing our field test on the KXPA100. We’re now taking orders for deliveries planned to start in the next 60 days (mid to late August).

You will find a direct link for ordering the KXPA100 below, at the bottom of this email. (This order form is not yet visible on our regular web page.)

KXPA100 features include:

  • 100 W output on 160-6 m with 5 W input typical
  • 13.8 VDC powered; 20 A typical current drain
  • 7 lbs with KXAT100 installed. 10 x 5.125 x 4.25″
  • Compact unit ideal for both desktop and mobile use
  • Solid-state diode T/R switching — fast, silent T/R and QSK
  • Large convection-cooled heat sink for reliable and quiet operation
  • Modern design with rugged MOSFET output stage
  • Internal wide-range automatic antenna tuner (KXAT100 ATU option)
  • Second antenna jack provided with KXAT100 ATU option; controlled by KX3′s ANT switch
  • Fast, bright LED bar graphs for power and status; KXAT100 ATU option adds SWR bar graph
  • Seamless integration with the Elecraft KX3 transceiver
  • Works well with any low-power transceiver, requiring only RF and PA KEY inputs
  • RF-based frequency counter automatically switches bands with any rig
  • Optional band-data input support the K3/10, KX3, Yaesu FT-817, Icom IC-703, and other rigs
  • Dual APP power connectors for additional friction-fit if needed (mobile); optional daisy-chaining of 13.8 V to power rig
  • Optional KXPACBL adapter connects KX3 to the KXPA100 with a single cable for keying, band data, and control
  • KXPA100′s PC port allows use of remote-control and logging applications with the KX3 without software configuration changes
  • KXAT100 internal ATU option matches 10:1 SWR (5:1 typical on 160 m and 6 m); uses Elecraft’s fast matching algorithm
  • KXAT100 ATU settings saved per band, per band segment, and per antenna for instant recall

KXPA100RearWe look forward to receiving your KXPA100 order and we hope it will accompany you on many adventures to come!

Wayne, N6KR
Eric, WA6HHQ

KXPA100 On-Line Order Form
(Please use this web order form so that our phone sales team will not be overloaded.)
Orders will be processed in the order received.


For additional questions, you can also reach us at sales@elecraft.com

Posted in Announcements, News, Product Announcements | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Yamaha CM500 Headphones on sale: you need a set

The Yamaha CM500 headphones

The Yamaha CM500 headphones: the best $45 you’ve ever spent for a ham radio accessory.

Probably one of the most cost-effective ham radio purchases I’ve ever made was a pair of Yamaha CM500 headphones.

My buddy Dave Anderson (K4SV) first told me about them as he prefers them to much pricier models he’s owned.

The Yamaha CM500′s have amazing audio fidelity for ham radio purposes (also for SWLing). Best yet, they have a built-in boom mic that produces beautiful audio in phone modes. I’ve gotten many, many compliments using the CM500 on the air.

You’ll be happy to know that if you just purchased an Elecraft KX3, you simply plug in the CM500 headphone and mic connectors, adjust your mic and VOX gains and you’re in business! True plug-and-play.

The normal price of a set of CM500′s is around $55 US; even at that price, I challenge you to find any boom head sets that match its quality.

But when they go on sale? Like right now? You can snag them for $44.99!!! (at Sam Ash Music) This is an excellent value and a no-brainer! If you don’t take my word for it, just read some of these eHam reviews.

The CM500′s are marketed to musicians, so you won’t necessarily find them at a ham radio retailer. Sam Ash tends to have the best pricing and they usually put the CM500′s on sale once a year or so. If they run out, you can still get that pricing in backorders.

Father’s day is around the corner. A subtle and strategic hint might just land you a pair of these!

Click here to view the Yamaha CM500 headphones on Sam Ash.

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Kenwood TS-990S on Sherwood’s Receiver Test Table

Rob Sherwood, with Sherwood Engineering, just updated his receiver test data table with the Kenwood TS-990S:

TS990S-TestThe TS-990S comes in 13th place, sorted by third-order dynamic range narrow spaced, just under the Flex-1500 QRP SDR transceiver. Of course, the TS-990S performed quite well when compared with other benchmark receivers. It is interesting to note, however, that the bulk of the TS-990S competitors are priced at much lower price points.



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