Category Archives: DX Interests

W9DXCC Convention & Banquet

Have made plans to attend “The 61st W9DXCC DX CONVENTION & BANQUET – September 20 & 21, 2013″ in Elk Grove IL.

Good friend George W9EVT is coming down, and will be joined by Bill KC9YBL for part of the event.  Unfortunately school/work commitments will leave two of my licensed sons at home – hope they keep off my Flex-6700 [Grin].




Looks to be an excellent schedule again this year – details at the Website:



Society of Midwest Contesters

We will join the SMC (Society of Midwest Contesters) for Pizza Friday night – Website:

Let me know if you will be there, and perhaps we can chat in person!



VOA Radiogram — More Digital PSK Mode Trials

Again I received fairly late notice that this weekend Voice of America is trial broadcasting several PSK mode broadcasts.

VoA Radiogram

VOA Radiogram — “Soft launch” of VOA Radiogram this weekend.

  • Modes menu for VOA Radiogram, March 23/24, 2013

    VOA Radiogram for March 23/24 will be similar to the past weekend’s program in that it features the PSK modes. Much of Kim’s script will be the same. In this weekend’s broadcast, however, only one mode at a time will be transmitted. This should improve the signal-to-noise ratio and ability to decode each mode.

    Each will be centered on 1500 Hz:

    1. BPSK31 (1:00)
    2. PSK63F (1:00)
    3. BPSK63 (1:00)
    4. PSKR125 (1:00)
    5. PSKR250 (1:00)
    6. PSKR500 (1:00)
    7. PSKR1000 (1:00)
    8. PSKR125 (3:45) Plain text
    9. PSKR250 (2:40) Flmsg* formatted (with html)
    10. MFSK32 (0:55) Image

    *Install Flmsg. Then, in Fldigi: Configure > Misc >  NBEMS > under Reception of flmsg files click Open with flmsg and Open in browser, and below that state where your Flmsg file is located.

    If decoding performance is still not satisfactory, VOA Radiogram in future weekends will feature more robust modes, such as MFSK, MT63, and Olivia.

    See VOA Radiogram: how to decode the modes.

    VOA Radiogram transmission schedule
    (all days and times UTC)
    Sat 1600-1630 17860 kHz
    Sun 0230-0300 5745 kHz
    Sun 1300-1330 6095 kHz
    Sun 1930-2000 15670 kHz
    All via the Edward R. Murrow transmitting station in North Carolina.

    Please send reception reports, audio samples, screenshots, etc.,  to

This is a neat extension of both the use of the PSK digital modes more popular in Amateur Radio and VoA broadcast mission.



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VOA Radiogram — Digital PSK Mode Trials

I received fairly late notice that this weekend Voice of America is trial broadcasting several PSK mode broadcasts.

VoA Radiogram

This is a neat adventure, as the technology could allow some significant upgrades to the VoA system.

List is:

VOA Radiogram — “Soft launch” of VOA Radiogram this weekend.

Transmission schedule (all days and times are UTC) from the Transmitting Station in North Carolina.:

Saturday 1600-1630 17860 kHz
Sunday 0230-0300 5745 kHz (Saturday evening in North America)
Sunday 1300-1330 6095 kHz
Sunday 1930-2000 15670 kHz

Instructions on using PSK to decode the modes is at:

This is a neat extension of both the use of the PSK digital modes more popular in Amateur Radio and VoA broadcast mission.




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Thank you to our Incoming QSL Bureau Teams

I think we all often forget to say “Thank You!” to the excellent service the Incoming QSL Bureaus provide.

In my case I use the Ninth District QSL Bureau run by the Northern Illinois DX Association (link: ) and they are an excellent group. Thank you!!

Here is a few out of the latest batch received:

DX Cards Just Received 29Nov12

A few of yesterday’s inbound DX QSL Cards

Countries in this mini-batch were:

  • Bulgaria
  • Poland
  • Japan
  • Russia – Asian
  • Russia – European
  • Moldova
  • Chile
  • Namibia (V5) – New QSL Country Confirmation for me
  • Mexico
  • Finland
  • Slovenia

NIDXA has all the information on how things work, what they cost, and “Do & Don’t Do Items.”

BTW your bureau is based on your call sign number.  There are also various interest groups that have their own bureaus for their members’ use (OMISS and 3905cc come to mind).

Again a thank you to the volunteers!



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Risk vs. Reward – Returning to Common Sense in DXpeditions

When is the risk worth the reward of mounting a DXpedition to a rare entity?

Over the last several years some amazing efforts have been made to activate places like Scarborough Reef (BS7H), Rockall Island ( MM0RAI/p and upcoming MS0INT and other hazardous locals.

These operations put radio amateurs and their support crews at considerable risk.

Bluntly, they are not worth the level of risk being undertaken, much less are they worthwhile in an economic sense.

One cannot think of any non-emergency radio QSO (contact) that is worth putting another radio amateur in danger, much less worth losing a life to make that QSO.

These ultra-rugged DXpeditions certainly cross both those lines.

It is one thing if duty takes a person to a risky remote dangerous location, and they happen to be able to work QSOs as a radio amateur. It is quite another to foolishly egg on our fellow hams to undertake these risks for purely hobby reasons.

Could you forgive yourself if you were at the other end of the QSO when disaster struck down the DXpeditioneer you were in QSO with? Even one step removed making the connection less personal, could you look an DXpeditioneer’s XYL widow and family in the eye? Could you tell them “and it was worth it?”

Every task we undertake a certain element of risk – even typing for this blog is riskier than some alternative activities and safer than some other possible activities. We quantify perceived risk with “common sense.” It is a temporary set-aside of that “common sense” that leads us to encourage DXpeitions with off-skew Risk vs. Reward benefits.

What to do about it?

Some fellow hams simply won’t work risk crazy DXpeditions, to distance themselves from the problem.

Others use their checkbooks and sponsor only DXpeitions that are sensible.

Some call for the award bodies (ARRL, CQ, IOTA and such…) to simply disallow any DXpedition that is high peril.

I’m thinking as a community we need to do all three, and add a fourth item – get our “DX Drive” back in check.

There is no place to work that someone else hasn’t already worked. They might not be hams, but a radio contact of some sort has happened before.

DXing is often claimed to be a personal journey of self-challenge. Perhaps if we held that more important than encouraging high risk DXpeditions for personal vanity and brief peer recognition, we would be better off.



DigiFest Action gave way to DXing for this Operator

Working DigiFest seemed a fine idea for the weekend.  Plan was to work on of the three sessions, and if I really had a blast work another one.

After working hard to get a few PSK63 and Hellschreiber contacts over a couple hours DigiFest just wasn’t doing it.

So pulled the microphone back forward on the desk and did hunt & search DXing on 10, 12, 15, 17 and 20m.

Very quickly I was able add some DX, whether first time worked for that country (Jordan) or filling in County/Band/Modes:

10m CT9/DJ4UF Madeira
10m WH7W Hawaii (O’ahu)
12m IS0HQJ Sardina
12m OE3DIA Austria
15m 7X4AN Algeria
15m F5SVQ France
15m 4O3A Montenegro
15m ZL2WL New Zeeland
17m E77DX Bosnia and Herzegovina
20m YU9DX Serbia
20m 9A9RR Croatia (IOTA EU-016)
20m JY5HX Jordan
20m EO2012UA Ukraine
Special Event Stations 20m W7OTV and W6Z

I could not hear Bhutan A5A well enough to call, though it was exciting to hear those stations who could hear A5A doing their QSOs. As a rule I do not “call blind” like some unfortunate fellow hams do. I will listen until I am certain I can complete a QSO before calling.

The changing band conditions pushed DX from 10m to 20m during the brief period I operated SSB and I chose to pursue other interests (A good friend had major surgery and we learned he was able & welcoming visitors. Also I had just received a signed copy of a novel being released in a few weeks, which I wanted to read for review) after leaving the station run in RX mode only for a while listening. Never did key up the station again during the weekend.

What wasn’t happening with DigiFest? The number of participants I could hear was low and band conditions were not great from this QTH during the time slot I worked. I also didn’t get myself pumped up enough to make exchanging “599 Grid Square” appeal. Some stations were doing a QSY-Mode working through the allowable modes one after another with any station they could keep on frequency. That was moderately interesting.

I also didn’t properly prepare. One of the boys had borrowed (with permission) the stereo speakers from the small unit in the radio room, which in the past I had often played when working a digital contest. As the intended wine cellar for the house, the radio room was darn cold and I should have dragged out a heater. Seems odd to need added heat first weekend of June, but the room was cold.

I also didn’t do one of the main things effective contesters need to do. I didn’t properly arrange my schedule and clear it from conflicts during planned operating periods. Working digital can be prone to “mind wandering” sessions, which I was quickly guilty of as well.

My station location is rather isolated in the house, which is a disadvantage at times. I’d enjoy having an operating location in the midst of the household where I could see outside and enjoy more of home life – even if that compromised serious operating. I’d like to retain the radio room for more focused efforts. Future project there.

Nonetheless even poor band conditions and multiple distractions didn’t keep me from a small bit of DX and some radio fun!





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