ARRL 10 Meter Contest

When the band is open, 10 meters is the band for QRP DXing–great DX can be worked with very low power and very modest antennas.

The entire world congregates on 10 meters on the second full weekend of December for the ARRL 10 Meter Contest. This year this contest falls on the weekend of December 8-9, 2012. Complete rules can be found here: It is worthwhile to note that this contest allows participation by both CW and phone operators.

We are approaching the peak of sunspot cycle 24 and conditions on 10 meters should be excellent for working DX. Even those not interested in the contest per se should take advantage of the propagation and the sheer numbers of DX stations on the band to work some “new ones”.

A Few Hours in the ARRL 160 Meter Contest

I was able to spend about three hours participating in the ARRL 160 Meter Contest this past weekend. I operated CW-only, using my Elecraft K2 running 5-watts, and my primary antenna was my low 195′ Inverted-L tuned with an LDG Z-11 QRP autotuner.

I concentrated on working new sections but even so managed to make 72 QSOs with stations in 30 sections; this translated into an hourly rate of about 24 QSOs per hour–not bad for QRP into a compromise antenna.  I worked stations in the states shown in the map below, plus Ontario. (My station is located in southeastern Ohio.)

Although my primary antenna was my Inverted-L, I also shorted the feedline of my windowline-fed 135′ doublet at the tuner and fed the antenna against ground; this antenna allowed me to make one QSO I couldn’t make with the Inverted-L.

I had been hoping to work a DX station or two and heard but wasn’t able to work just one non-US, non-Canadian station, a station in the Bahamas.

Upcoming “Top Band” Events

Winter is the time to operate on 160-meters. Within the next six weeks we find not one, not two, but three 160-meter contests.

November 29, 2012 (0000-0600 UTC ): QRP ARCI Top Band Sprint (rules) — note that this the evening of Wednesday, November 28 in North America!

November 30 – December 2, 2012 (2200 UTC Friday – 1600 UTC Sunday): ARRL 160 Meter Contest (rules); this contest includes a QRP class.

December 29 – 30 (1500 UTC Saturday – 1500 UTC Sunday):  Stew Perry Top Band Distance Challenge (rules); this contest includes a QRP class.

If you don’t have a dedicated 160-meter antenna but have a 40m or 80m dipole/doublet, try shorting the feedline at the radio and work it against ground through an antenna tuner; this will convert your dipole/doublet into a vertical with a really big “top hat”.


Ten-Tec holiday specials include QRP kits

Ten-Tec is discounting their 1380 and 1330 QRP kits for the holiday season. They’ve also extended their discount on the R4030 QRP tranceiver (details below).

(Source: Ten-Tec)

The 1380 and 1330 QRP transceiver kits, which are regularly priced at $124.00, are $99.00 through Christmas.  These are great QRP kits and many are used on the air daily and in QRP contests.   It is great fun to work 80 meter QRP in the winter months,  so order yours today.

The R4030 transceiver is still at $188.00 from their list of $249.00 and this price will continue through Christmas.  This is a great trail friendly QRP transceiver with lots of features like an LCD frequency readout display, cw memories and much more.  This is a great price for a full-featured QRP rig.  Read more about the R4030 at!-Two-Band-CW-QRP-Transceiver-%252d-40-%252d-30-Meters.html

The days of the IRC may be limited

Unless protested, the International Reply Coupon will be phased out in 2013 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

(Source: ARRL)

If the US Postal Service (USPS) gets its way, it will no longer sell International Reply Coupons (IRCs) after January 27, 2013. According to the October 23 edition of the Federal Register, there is not sufficient demand for the USPS to continue offering IRCs to customers; however, per the Universal Postal Union (UPUregulations, the USPS must continue to exchange (redeem) IRCs that have been purchased in foreign countries and presented at USPS facilities. The current Nairobi model is valid through December 31, 2013. Comments on this proposed change will be accepted through November 23, 2012.[…]

Read the full article on the ARRL website.

Readers, I need your voice!

Interested in a good cause?  Many of you may know that besides being a ham, I’m also an avid shortwave radio enthusiast and I run a radio based charity.

At the moment, we’re working hard to stop the Radio Canada International Sackville, New Brunswick, shortwave transmission site from being completely dismantled and taken off the air.

I’ve been communicating with the Canadian press and the Departments of Heritage and Public Safety. It’s difficult–if not impossible–to stop a political process that has already been initiated, but some of us are making an attempt nonetheless because this transmission site is so vital.

So I started a petition–it’s only been two days, but we have already received over 200 signatures from around the globe. Clearly, we’re not the only ones who believe that sacking Sackville is a foolhardy plan, and want Canadian powers-that-be to reconsider.

Here is the petition–take a look at the comments for yourself:

Could you please take a few moments out of your day to sign this petition and have your say? It takes less than a minute. This will automatically email the appropriate Canadian politicians who could, at the very least, put a halt to the destruction of the RCI Sackville site.  Also, please consider sharing this with your QRP and ham radio networks, clubs, and email groups. The more voices, the more signature, the better!

Of course, you don’t have to be Canadian to sign (after all, I’m not), just someone who cares about radio and believes in its role in domestic security and international relations. If you are Canadian, consider writing a letter to Canada’s Heritage Minister, the Hon. James Moore (, and your Minister of Public Safety, the Hon. Vic Toews, to let them know this requires immediate attention.

Feeling like Don Quixote today?  Join me. Towers up, windmills down!



NPR’s Robert Krulwich comments on EME and extra-terrestrial morse code

(Source: National Public Radio)





This is the moon as Morse code.

[…]All over the world, ham radio operators and Morse Code enthusiasts beam dot, dash messages straight at the moon, then wait 2.7 seconds for the signal to bounce back. They call these “E.M.E.” transmissions, which stands for “Earth-Moon-Earth” or — more popularly — “moonbouncing.” I suppose it’s fun to smack little beeps against a sleepy rock 239,000 miles away and have those beeps come flying back at you. Plus, it’s easy.

[…]Not so long ago, a Scottish artist, Katie Paterson, turned Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata into Morse code, (yup, you can do that, too) and bounced it off the moon. Some musical phrases got trapped in moon craters and didn’t come back, which she found so intriguing, she put the ricocheted, fragmented Moonlight Sonata on a player piano and you can now see her MoonBounced, Morse-Coded piece being not performed by anyone, the keys going up and down on their own, on YouTube.

I’m a huge fan of Krulwich’s witty science articles and am thoroughly impressed that he brings CW into the popular press. Nevermind his tongue-in-cheek!

PS: As I wrote Robert, I think Artemis would love to hear the “sacred language.”

Read Krulwich’s full article by clicking here.

Upcoming Event — 2012 QRP ARCI Fall QSO Party

This coming weekend is the 2012 QRP ARCI Fall QSO Party, one of the  most popular contests of the QRP calendar. This year, new entry categories are based on the antenna used; those participating with a simple wire antenna or a vertical won’t be competing against those using beams or other multi-element antennas.

The Fall QSO Party runs from 1200UTC on Saturday the 13th through 2400UTC on Sunday the 14th.

Here are the complete rules:

I won’t be competing in the Fall QSO Party to win. Instead, I’ll do as I’ve done several times in the past–I’ll use this event as an opportunity for what might be my last outdoor “field event” of the year. A good friend and I will be spending a few hours at Mt. Gilead State Park in north-central Ohio enjoying what promises to be beautiful fall weather, good friendship, and an opportunity to enjoy CW in the great outdoors.

If you participate in the Fall QSO Party, you are very likely to hear stations participating in the Pennsylvania and Arizona QSO Parties. Here are the rules for these two events:

Pennsylvania QSO Party:

Arizona QSO Party:


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