Category Archives: CW and QRP

Articles related to CW and QRP (low-power) operating and equipment. Articles related to learning and using Morse Code are also included here.

Member Spotlight – B. Scott Andersen, NE1RD

NE1RD on Mt. Wachusett

Bio of B. Scott Andersen, NE1RD

I got my start in ham radio not long ago. In 2002, after years of encouragement from a good friend, I finally looked into the hobby. “You’ll love it,” my friend said. “It’s right up your alley.” I confess I was skeptical, and even a little uncomfortable watching him make a simple call on a 2m radio he had in his car. “Go ahead and talk,” he said. I was well outside my comfort zone.

I’ve tried to remember those feelings as I show new people our world. It can seem strange, and aspects of it still seem strange, even after all these years. “It isn’t just one hobby,” my friend admitted. “It’s 99 different hobbies. You just pick the ones that interest you.”

I have taken his advice, and now I’m involved in some of the ones that most intrigued me. Not long after being licensed, I entered my first contest. It was October of 2002, the sunspots were still active, and I worked over three hundred stations in just a few hours. I was completely hooked on contesting! A lot of the things that made me nervous in the car that day were absent here. There were no long conversations; they just wanted my exchange (5905), and on they went!

The thing that really captured my attention, though, was a DVD of a DXpedition run by the Microlite Penguin team and their trip to South Sandwich Island and Southern Thule. These guys were amazing! Small radios, lightweight gear, well-conceived but modest antennas, and they worked the world. This was something I wanted to do.

So, in the next few years, I spent most of my free time thinking about ham radio, and lightweight DXpeditioning in particular. Contesting just helped me increase my DXCC totals, and hone my skills. The culmination of all that thinking was captured in my blog “The 100 Pound DXpedition.” You can get a PDF of all these brief articles from a link on my website

As part of this DXpeditioning interest, I also spent a great deal of time thinking about antennas, and portable antennas in particular. My book “Buddipole in the Field” was the result of some of this work. You can get the free PDF from the Buddipole User Group on Yahoo!, or from a link on my website. The Buddipole has provided a good platform for many of my experiments, and DXpeditions.

I’ve always been a nerd, interested in electronics, physics, mathematics, and the like. Ham radio has provided me a way to transition from the abstract to the concrete. It is one thing to think about radio theory. It is another to build a working radio. I’ve been building kits since the 1970’s, but ham radio has given me many new opportunities. I’m particularly fond of Elecraft kits having built two K2s, three K1s, and two KX1s. They are all fabulous radios, and building them was deeply satisfying.

I am still working, so ham radio sometimes takes a backseat to my responsibilities, but it is never far from my mind. I’ve also learned just a little patience through all this. Building up a country list for DXCC, and chasing various radio awards must be done over time (usually years) and it has paid off. I now have 8-band DXCC, WAS in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire, ARRL Challenge, and various CQ WPX awards. They look great on my wall and are a reminder that anything worthwhile requires both hard work and patience.

After all this time, I’m still very much a student of the hobby. I’m shameless about asking questions and always try to take advantage of any opportunity to see and try new things. I can only hope that this passion continues through the coming years. It has been a joy for this first fifteen, certainly!

Remote Control Ham Station Enhancements

As explained in a previous article, we have been working on enhancing our Remote Control Ham Station system. The upgrades include additional remote client options, better remote networking via the Internet, and better integration with our microHAM system.

Source: Remote Operating Enhancements | Our HAM Station

As part of the fall upgrade plans at our station, we have completed quite a few enhancements to the Remote Operating Gateway and associated client devices in our station. The upgrades include:

You can read more on our Stationproject Blog about our Remote Control Ham Station Enhancements.

We try to do some station upgrades in the fall of each year to maximize our operating fun during the winter months. We always welcome members who want to join in on our projects as a means to learn about station building. More to come as we make progress with our planned projects.

Special thanks to Dave, K1DLM who has helped us with ideas for several aspects of this project.

Fred, AB1OC

QRP From The Seashore

Are we spending too much time fretting over the sunspot cycle and complaining about poor band conditions? Maybe we should forget about all that and just GET ON THE AIR!  Jim Cluett, W1PID, of Sanbornton, NH knows how to enjoy life! His recent posting to is so interesting, I am posting it here. (Be sure to check to comments at the end of his article).  Also, how fortunate we are to live in the Granite State!      20 July 2017 posted by Layne AE1N

QRP from the Seashore by Jim W1PID

Seashore QRP op

Judy and I drove over to the beach today. It was glorious! We got lots of sun, had a fantastic walk and I operated in the CWT sprint for a few minutes. The highlight of the operating was making a beach-to-beach QRP QSO with K4KRW in North Carolina.

Seashore QRP

We drove over to Rye Harbor in the morning and had a picnic lunch as soon as we arrived. Then we walked a couple of miles along the beach. After this Judy lay down on the shore to soak up some sun. I rode my bike about a half mile inland to play radio for a while. I’d brought a kite, but there wasn’t quite enough wind to lift an antenna… so I went in search of some trees. I found a wildlife area not too far from the road. A narrow path leads through the woods to a platform overlooking a beautiful inland marsh.

More Seashore QRP

Except for the heat (the high 80s in the shade), the spot was perfect. I had a 30-foot tree nearby and set up the wire as a sloper. The little deck even had a chair and a bench to operate on. I ran the KX3 on 20 meters and right away worked IK0YVV in Italy. Marco gave me a 559. Then I worked Gilly, WA5SNL in Texas. He also gave me a 559.

Seashore QRP Portable Rig

After signing I tuned up to the QRP frequency. K4KRW, Richard, was calling CQ. To my delight, he was operating from a beach in North Carolina with a KX3 and an end-fed wire. But… his wire was lifted by a kite! We had a great QSO and exchanged 559 signal reports. What a thrill to work another KX3 operator on the beach!

Now the CWT sprint had started and I joined in. I only operated for 10 minutes, because by now my shirt was drenched and I’d had enough of this heat. Here’s my log. I’ve changed it to reflect the other station’s QTH instead of the CWOPS member number used in the real exchange:

  • 19 Jul-17 1840 14.028 IK0YVV CW 559 579 Italy Marco
  • 19 Jul-17 1848 14.029 WA5SNL CW 559 579 TX Gilly
  • 19 Jul-17 1854 14.060 K4KRW CW 559 559 NC Richard
  • 19 Jul-17 1902 14.036 AA3B CW 599 599 PA Bud
  • 19 Jul-17 1903 14.035 K9CT CW 599 599 IL Craig
  • 19 Jul-17 1903 14.034 AD8J CW 599 599 NC John
  • 19 Jul-17 1905 14.032 K4RO CW 599 599 TN Kirk
  • 19 Jul-17 1907 14.026 N4ZZ CW 599 599 TN Doc
  • 19 Jul-17 1908 14.036 N2SR CW 599 599 NJ Tom
  • 19 Jul-17 1909 14.034 NR4M CW 599 599 VA Steve

With this, I packed up and headed back to Rye Harbor. This is really a beautiful spot. Wild rugosa roses form a hedge along the road and fill the air with fragrance. Next to the harbor is a little state park with facilities. It’s a perfect place to spend the day.

Still More Seashore QRP

Jim Cluett, W1PID, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Hampshire, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

The original article may be found here.

Why the Navy Sees Morse Code as the Future of Communications

Sometimes the Best Solution is the tried and true solution with today’s technological innovations. In this case secure communications without the need for internet or radio transmissions. Maybe ARRL will give extra Field Day point for this mode of communications?              Layne AE1N

Why the Navy Sees Morse Code as the Future of Communication

by Kyle Maxey

posted on July 18, 2017 |

A signal lamp aboard the USS Stout beam message in Morse to the USS Monterey. (Image courtesy of the U.S. Navy.)

A signal lamp aboard the USS Stout beam message in Morse to the USS Monterey. (Image courtesy of the U.S. Navy.)

For centuries, mariners around the globe have used lamps and shutters to beam messages via Morse code from ship to ship. But today, Morse code isn’t being learned by every sailor, even though lamp light communication is still being used.

So, how we reconcile these two facts? Well, if you’re the U.S. Navy you update your lamp light communication systems to encode the modern form of Morse code: texting.

In a test recent carried out aboard the USS Stout, the U.S. Navy used a new mechanism it calls the Flashing Light to Text Converter (FLTC) system. During the test, sailors aboard the Stout fired off text messages and the FLTC converted them to their Morse code lamp light signals which were interpreted by the USS Monterey, moored at a dock in Norfolk, Virginia.

“The best part of this flashing light converter is how easy it is for sailors to use,” said Scott Lowery, a Naval Surface Warfare Center engineer. “It’s very intuitive because it mirrors the messaging systems used on iPhones. You just type your message and send it with the push of a button.”

In fact, the system seems so intuitive to use that the sailors decided to play one the most literalist jokes in the book when asked to send Lowery a message. “I asked them to text me something random, so they signaled the word ‘random,” said Lowery. Taking the rather lame attempt at humor in stride, Lowery added. “Simple, but it shows the system is working.”

Though the FLTC is still in its prototype phase, the Office of Naval Research seems to be developing a foolproof system for delivering messages even if radio communications are down. Essentially, the FLTC uses nothing more than a lamps that are either LED-based (they can flicker on and off digitally) or have shutters that are controlled by fast acting stepper motors which open and close mechanically, and a GoPro camera for receiving incoming messages.

The neat bit of technology that ties these elements together is an algorithm that can interpret text message sent from a computer, of handheld device, convert them to Morse code, clap out the message via light, and vice versa.

With this successful test, the U.S. Navy asserts that it’s developed a system that it can quickly deploy to its fleet. With a few more tests under its belt, the U.S. aquatic fleet could have FLTC system out to its ships sometime in 2018.