Monthly Archives: April 2007

iCard Series – No. 5




Why Can’t We Be Friends – Diversity Made Possible through Amateur Radio

It was a pleasurable surprise to find one of my youngsters had written me into their school work. The project had asked the middle-school students to identify people involved in social diversity and to write about them.


Though I had forgotten about a discussion we’d shared in the shack, where we had pondered on the great equalizer of Amateur Radio in making distant friends, apparently he had not forgot.

While making DX QSOs I had pointed out that in many (if not most) cases I’d never know what the DX Station operator looked like, what their family was like, what their philosophies, politics, religion & interests outside of Amateur Radio were – for the most part I’d only know that I had met a new friend with who I shared an interest in making the world a little bit more friendly, smaller and better.

We’d briefly focus on what we share – what we had in common – setting aside any imagined or real differences.

I didn’t think that stating the obvious was worthy of capture in someone else’s writings, specially when the other people my son wrote of were able to share their messages so widely.

Then again maybe touching one young mind with ideas of focusing on sharing what we have in common isn’t such a bad start for me either.



Transistors a’Bakin’ – Interesting New Solid State Amp Options

Dayton looks to be way fun – lots of new gear to see.

Interesting there look to be a number of instant-on solid-state linear HF amps coming out:

Elecraft KPA800

Expert 1K Amp

And there are rumblings of two more new amps…

Should be neat!



It’s Almost Like Being There – The DX Ragchew

So often making a DX contact, specially one that is spotted on the DX clusters, is not much more than exchanges of names, signal reports and perhaps working conditions. Seems a bit hollow – sort of like the 10-cent taxi-dances in an old pulp fiction novel.

It is nice to catch a DX station in the mood to ragchew, to really have a chat. I’ve not made much of a dent in the visiting the world’s countries (maybe at best 20 countries, though several for months or a year plus at a visit) leaving me thirsting to learn about what life is like in a DX station’s country.


There are DX Stations who will do just about anything not to be spotted and only do ragchew contacts. Several even state on their websites that they will delay confirming QSO’s for stations who ignore their no-spot request.

Over the past couple years I’ve had lovely long chats with stations in Crete, New Zealand, England, Greenland, British Virgin Islands, South Africa, Swaziland, Costa Rica, Sardina Lebanon, and many more DX countries.

Learned a lot and for those few minutes was able to see something of what it is like at the DX Station’s QTH.

Seems to be more what Amateur Radio is about.



Getting Island Ready – Equipment for the Step-In Island Activation

Getting my gear together for Activation of Step-In Island next weekend.

A 20m Hamstick Dipole is tuned & ready.  Using the Timewave AntennaSmith made this a very process.  After tuning & cutting 8 inches of whip off (from the base end of course) to reach best SWR, I marked the whips for reference.

The double non-captive setscrews to hold the whip in a Hamstick and the loose nut of the version of Hamstick Dipole plate I’m using don’t impress.  Each case the hardware would be very easy to loose in the field, and is not hardware you’re likely to have for other purposes.  Hoping to replace the setscrews with small thumbscrews and the attach nut with a wingnut.

 The portable mast is a quandry.  My usual Army-Surplus mast is overkill.  It was designed for a serious antenna in rough field conditions.  I’ll have to look at options or just put this small antenna on the heavy mast.

The FT-897 is good to go.  Wouldn’t really even need to the LDG Tuner with the results of tuning by AntennaSmith, but it will come along too.

I’d forgotten that the batteries were still with the Amateur I bought the rig from, and they will first be here Monday.  As a backup an Aircraft battery is ready to go.


Between things this weekend all the gear will go through a test-run in the yard.  I may take the gear portable just for grins tomorrow as well. 

Logsheets have been roughed-up on the MacBook.  My custom on a small event like this is to primarily log manually, and later enter them electronically.  Seems odd that in the shack I log electronically, with brief backup working sheets I don’t retain once the electronic logs are backup up off-site, yet on Island activations I’ve mostly paper-logged.

Next Saturday Carl KA9WYK our local radio club president will be joining me for the activation.  The club has a fund raiser (a Bratwurst Stand) that day, so we’ll be hoping to get the qualifying QSOs and those ready & waiting right away.  That was we can go help the club’s efforts at the Brat Fry.