Monthly Archives: November 2020

We took a virtual vacation today

Weather was really nice for late November in Wisconsin today. Sunny and 50F/10c.

So I started up our 40 year old Citroen CX Athena and we did what we called our “virtual European vacation.”

The CX under the hood.

The CX is now a Wisconsin car on collector’s plates.

At our harbor they painted a tank to look like a giant fishing bobber.

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The Fifty-Dollar Filter – FCC’s Proposed $50 for Ten Year Ham License Fee

Somehow our government has figured out that to maintain a radio amateur’s license costs $5/year and is proposing to recover that cost from each of us.

Actually Congress passed legislation directing expense recovery by user fees.

Well I say the numbers are rubbish.

In the past the vanity-license fee was assessed on a similar basis resulting in a $x.xx/per year fee.  Numbers like $4.17 or $2.13 in form, not a rounded even dollar.

When the true incremental costs above a regular license were used, the the ongoing yearly fee disappeared.  Once established there was no significant difference to carrying either a sequential or a vanity listing.

Of course the previously collected faux-fees were retained rather than refunded.

Afraid our Amateur Radio community is being railroaded again.

The question being put to us is not whether the amount of the fee is accurate.

Instead we are being asked to comment on a feel-good exercise as whether the legally required expense recovery is legitimate.

Personally the proposed fee conceptually amortized at $5 per year as a user fee will not interfere with my pursuit of our hobby.

But I do expect some of my sons who have Tech and General class licenses but are seldom on the air to join the ranks of “former amateur licensees” as they won’t be bothered to jump through the renewal hoops and pay for a license they presently are not using.  I anticipate our all-licensee family will drop from Five licensed amateurs to 1 or possibly 2.  I will certainly renew, but the wife and our sons won’t, expect perhaps one son who earned his general a while back.

This weeding out of the inactive or lightly active will have dual impact – a continued decline in overall licensees which will politically be used against the amateur radio hobby for frequency and support grabs.

And you can expect the fees to treble or more as the total expense is reallocated over a smaller groups of licenses.

So brace for this $50 per 10-year fee becoming $150+ per ten-year period after the first 6-7 years of fees, and then continuing to escalate in years after that.

With enough decline in fee paying licensees it isn’t unreasonable to anticipate a $50/year ($500 for the ten year) levy or higher within the next 15-20 years.

Some hams are noting the ARRL’s opposition and attributing it being self-serving for the ARRL as an organization, which may be part true.

But unless we push hard to get to keep this Pandora’s Box from being opened it will be our wallets that suffer, our feeder system of lightly active amateurs who some later embrace the hobby in a bigger way, and the barrier to entry for new hams that will cause the real damage to our hobby.



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K9ZW LoTW Updates

Over the years I have been an on-again/off-again LoTW participant. Really my uploading logs is more about helping others than any sort of personal effort.

I’ve never gone through the process of adding in what paper DX QSLs and logs could be added to my LoTW totals. Hard to get interested enough to dedicate the hours to sort this out.

My paper QSLing is way behind, and I am currently in the midst of having my cards redesigned with the updates to my current QTH.

I am intrigued with nearly 50% of my QSOs uploaded to LoTW having been confirmed.  Guess that show the system does work.



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FlexRadio/4o3a TunerGenius XL – SO2R or 3-port version?

Last weekend Mike WB6DJI posted a very good question about the FlexRadio/4o3a TGXL TunerGenius and choosing between the two initial versions:

SO2R versus 1inx3out TGXL version debate

Placed my preference back in Sept 2020 for the1inx3out TGXL version with FRS

Never operated SO2R but have a 6600M and PGXL ( acquired over 3 years ago )

My Bands are 40 meter dipole with a 20meter thru 6meters using a HexBeam
Use my radio remote with a Palstar HF Auto for now

Thought 3 Bands Remotely would be good if I want to use 3 different antennas like with I do with the Palstar HF Auto

Been on the fence in trying to decide if SO2R is

Do not use 2 Bands at same time with My HF

I chase some DX but not in 24hr DX contests

What are your thoughts Steve



Mike WB6DJI followed this up with an email, as he too like myself is trying to figure out which version would work best for our particular station setup.

So everyone is on the same page the SO2R version (Single Operator 2 Radios) is optimized to rapidly alternate between essentially two parallel RF paths. The paths are distinct and cannot cross. I’ve read a 20ms path-flip number, once each path is stored in memory.  When the radio is a multi-SCU (Spectral Capture Unit) FlexRadio (6700/6600) the single physical radio is well suited to take the place of both radios in the SO2R equation.

The 3-port version is optimized for a single RF path and basically has a 3-port antenna switch integrated into the tuner.  There needs to be a separate feed line from the three possible antennas, one to each designated port.  I’ve not picked out a specific switch time, but the same 5ms for solutions stored in memory would seem likely.

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Legendary Arecibo Telescope in Puerto Rico to Be Demolished

The National Science Foundation (NSF), which oversees Arecibo, has decided the Arecibo Telescope cannot be repaired without risking human life, which brings an end to its 57 years of astronomical discoveries.

Damaged beyond repair by recent cable failure, the suspended Arecibo telescope will be decommissioned (largely dismantled) before someone gets hurt or killed.

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SDRSliceLabel launched by Ray Andrews K9DUR

Nice utility as announced by Ray Andrews K9DUR.

He has already done updates, and expect this nice add-on to evolve.

Sat, 14 Nov 2020 09:50:31 PST
I have just released a new utility for use with SmartSDR. The utility is named “SDRSliceLabel” and allows you to display customizable labels for each open slice in SmartSDR. Messages with different text & in different colors can be displayed depending on the slice frequency and mode. This is similar to the functionality provided by the BandText table in the PowerSDR database.

You can learn more about SDRSliceLabel on my website:

73, Ray Andrews, K9DUR