I’m Retiring from the ARRL DXCC and QRO and Going 100% QRP

I’ve been having a blast running QRP only with my KX-3 for several months now

Our week in Bend so far has just been wonderful. Even though my antenna is about as compromised as I would ever want:

Seriously compromised end fed portable QRP antenna (for DX) – but its works great for NVIS!

I’m having a blast – because my expectations are “commensurate with my situation”. Its not a DX antenna – although I did hear one BA (Chinese) very weakly the other morning – but its a pretty good NVIS antenna for use on 75 and 40M SSB. I’ve had little problems checking into nets – and that has been fun since with Thanksgiving its been festive on the air – and more interesting than usual listening to SSB stations. I usually prefer CW DXing . . .

My fabulous AB-577 and SteppIR UrbanBeam

Using the NVIS end fed antenna now has me realizing with no doubt – that my UrbanBeam up 55′ is a very serious DX antenna. One of my fine young sons is house sitting for us and says the tower and antenna are fine after this last wind storm. Another is happening this week. These are tests for the additional height. This means after I get home I am jacking the tower up to its full 65′ – or a full quarter wave on 40M.

The good Monk is my antenna “Patron Saint” – he keepeth mine antenna safe . . . 

The significance here is that if you ever had tried to work Monk Apollo on 40M from the West Coast – you were one of the few and very lucky. I did because I did have a full sized dipole up just under 70′ tall – aimed right at SV2ASP/A. This is how I know that a 40M dipole up 70′ is really a killer antenna – something happens when you get an antenna up that high . . . Even going from 55′ to 70′ made a big difference for dxing. The supports for that antenna were on my neighbors property – and they are no longer there – they were cut down literally months after I made Honor Roll – in fact – as I was leaving for Visalia 2013 – when we started “selling” VK0EK. Yeah – lots of pretty durned cool memories for sure!

My last ATNO for DXCC Honor Roll – New Years Eve – 2012/3

I am now officially off the ARRL DXCC chase – I am hanging up that “key”. I no longer care a bit about Bouvet or Glorioso – falling 2 short of DXCC HR #1 is just fine by me – I’m done. However, I am full on and 100% in on:

My new operating pursuit – 300 DXCC and / or IOTA entities using only 5 watts

In other news – it looks like I have takers for my Collins Gold Dust Twins. I predict either one guy will purchase all gear – or two others will purchase the TX and RX separately. In any case, I will replace the space they take up with QRP and Maker stuff. My shack will have more room for experimenting and staying on the good graces of this goon – Vinnie “The Educator” . . .

Get educated – or Else . . . 

Anyway, being portable in the field – even in Grandma’s Spy “safe house” already has me thinking “Mission Accomplished”. I tried to get into “Vintage Ham”, and am partially there (I will keep the National SW-3 “forever” and will build my silly QRP Spy Radio) – but the Gold Dust Twins were a “Bridge Too Far”. However – it looks like they will have a new home – so my care and loving expense won’t be “for naught”. I’ll lose several hundreds of dollars – but I guess waxing philosophically, I did get the full experience of the twins – by getting them on the air and making a handful of QSO’s. I don’t know how much experience is worth . . . I’d like to think “priceless” – hahahahah. My wife does see the worth in the fact that I learned how to use an oscilloscope and signal generator, so there’s that.

OK – so – 2019 was a big transition year as far as Ham Radio is concerned (and work even more so – but that’s a parallel blog thread) – and now I know for sure the direction I am heading as we speed into 2020, and even what I will do when I retire in 5-ish years (yeah – I even know when I want to retire now).

This week off has been a watershed as far as making plans for the future . . .


Beautiful Sunny Winter Day

The sunny blue sky after the Blizzard – always beautiful

Its funny – even though I left the northeast in 1982, I do remember the good parts. The first bright blue sunny day after a major snowstorm is always a great day.

Tree with rising sun and deer tracks

Being in the high desert – its true that with the dryness – it always feels 10 degrees warmer than it is. I was surprised that with the temperature only in the 20’s – I never felt cold (especially since we were walking).

No spirits in the bottle today – just a sunny blue sky

The next several days are supposed to be warmer – so we might get lucky as far as the roads are concerned. But for now – we are enjoying what has turned out to be a pretty epic Thanksgiving – this one is unique and one for the record books already.

The Troubleshooters

From the January 1967 Radio Electronics Magazine

He can fix your push button phone or guided missile system – what have you?

A Winter Wonderland

A beautiful Winters Day

We took a nice “pre Thanksgiving dinner” walk (2.8 miles) on the snowy streets and through several parks. We crossed the Deschutes River on 2 foot bridges, and it was just gorgeous.

Patio Furniture in the Snow

The days of summer seem a distant past – but we are sure getting close to the end of this year. I will be so busy in 2020 at work that I am very Thankful to have this chance to relax and just have fun. It sure is a bonus to experience the season with the snow.

Photo by Kat . . . 

Meter for Bayou Jumper

0 – 5 ma Meter for the Bayou Jumper – this will be perfect  – if I can get it to deflect “enough”

I will have to modify the (very simple) Field Strength meter circuit so this meter will approximate 0 to 5 watts output. I expect it will be as simple as changing with the potentiometer and antenna size and routing under the cover. I will avoid having to add a powered / amplified circuit as much as possible.

The simple “RF Sniffer” from ARRL QST October 1979 calls for a 0-50 ma meter

The original article erroneously left off one .01 uf capacitor . . . 

A reader suggested this circuit for a voltage doubler – so I will try each option and see what drives the meter best. The capacitors are both .01 uf and the diodes are both 1N34A Germanium diodes. I’m guessing the pot can be changed depending on sensitivity to the meter . . . I can even use the KX-3 set to 5 watts and then use a resistor in place of the pot (maybe). The entire circuit will be connected on the back of the meter – so that will be very easy.

If I can’t get the 0-5 ma meter to deflect “enough”, I do have this on hand:

A New Old Stock (NOS) meter that matches the circuit description

I’ll have a few meters to play with – and I do have one that does work nicely already – but its a VU meter which just doesn’t cut the “period” of the piece. Many times a “happy accident” will happen – so its fun to play around with different components.

Its Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Santa ready for the slopes

Rudolph looks ready to lead the way to the Cross Country ski trails – oh wait – is that Blitzen?


Real icicles!

A big Honker – lets see how big this one gets . . .

Gold Dust Twins – Black Friday Closeout Sale!

Completely refurbished Collins Gold Dust Twins for sale

I’ve decided to sell the Gold Dust Twins. Everything except the power supply was refurbished by Howard, W3HM. I restored the power supply (electrically), but did not have the case powder coated. The RX, TX and Speaker are all re-powder coated and re-stenciled professionally. I also have a custom built TR switch by W3HM – powder coated and stenciled to match the Gold Dust Twins “era”. I will throw in the D-104 – it is also reconditioned and has a great new cartridge inside.

Its listed on QRZ, QTH and eHam for $3000 – but if you come pick it up – I will give you the deal of a lifetime.

I will not ship – but I would part the units out if you come pick them up.