Category Archives: On The Air

Articles and other information related to On The Air Operations, Special Events, Activations, DXxpeditions, Portable and Mobile On The Air Activities, Nets, etc.

Kids Day On The Air

Saturday, January 6th was ARRL Kids Day On the Air.  and we hosted a club event for kids at Fred, AB1OC and Anita, AB1QB’s QTH.  We had many fun activities for the kids including getting on the air via HF and Satellite, learning CW and demos of some cool Raspberry Pi projects.

Nora making her First Satellite Contact

Satellite Operation

The portable satellite station was set up and it was a great day for satellites as there were many good passes.  Fred helped many of the kids make their first Satellite contacts.

Keith, KC1IMK working the Satellites with Fred, AB1OC
Keith, KC1IMK working the Satellites with Fred, AB1OC

We had a total of 9 kids who participated in the event, along with their parents.

Mary, who attended with her brother, KA1LAS and father KC1IMI works the Satellites
Mary, who attended with her brother, KA1LAS, and her father KC1IMI, works the Satellites

Raspberry Pi, CW, Fox Hunting, and HAB Demos

We provided demos to the kids of several Raspberry Pi projects,  Pi-Lexa – a home built Raspberry Pi Alexa built by Connor, KC1GGX,  along with a CW decoder and the DX Alarm Clock.  Jamey, KC1ENX provided some CW demos including his favorite YouTube video – The Rhythm of the Code.  Fred, AB1OC did a show and tell of the High Altitude Balloon including pieces of the balloons that we in space and a Fox-Hunting demo.

HF Operation in the Shack
HF Operation in the Shack

We also went down to the shack and the kids got on the air and made some HF contacts.  Jamey, KC1ENX helped the kids to make contacts with other kids as well as adult Hams on the air.  The kids really enjoyed the HF operation. We did some live streaming on the N1FD Facebook page during the event.   Follow this link to see the live stream of some of our on-air activities during Kid’s Day.

AB1BY Gets On the Air

Abby, AB1BY shows off her log after running a huge pileup
Abby, AB1BY shows off her log after running a huge pileup

After most of the kids left, Abby, AB1BY took the mic and ran a huge pileup.  She was very popular on the air and did a great job of running the pileup.  We also streamed her pileup operation to Facebook and it got a huge response.

Overall, Kids Day On the Air was a fun day for both the kids and the adults.   We are looking forward to the next Kids Day in July!

Anita, AB1QB

N1FD Wins 2017 ARRL Rookie Roundup CW Multi-Op Area 1 Category!

The results are in..  The N1FD Multi-Op team of Jamey, KC1ENX, Abby, AB1BY and Mike, AB1YK has won the multi-op Area 1 category in the ARRL Rookie Roundup CW.

2017 ARRL Rookie Roundup CW Results
2017 ARRL Rookie Roundup CW Results

Detailed Score

The team’s CW skills are improving and score was almost double the score from last year!

N1FD Score Details for ARRL Rookie Roundup CW
N1FD Score Details for ARRL Rookie Roundup CW


We Out Foxed Them Again (Updated)!

More Fox Hunt fun this weekend – Bob, W1FDR shares his experiences.

I found both the foxes but I had to work really hard to do it. First I drove to the Home Depot area off of exit 6 and found the strongest signal in the parking area of mine falls park. It was very icy but it didn’t take me long to realize it wasn’t there so I went back across the bridge to the Nashua high school, the parking lots were full with activity and I did not know the area. So I drove to the Wiggins Park area and hiked over to where the foxes were. I was going to take a picture of the strongest fox but there were so many people walking by and I was so busy talking to them I forgot. I then went to find the weaker fox and I did take a picture or I had a picture taken by a passerby.

Then proceeded to help the economy in Nashua with Christmas shopping.


Bob Finds Our Foxes Again!
Bob Finds Our Foxes Again!

John, KB1MGI and his son Craig, KB1CGS also tracked down the large wily critter. Here is their story –

KB1CGS Craig my son and myself KB1MGI John both found the 146.565 Fox.

After circling the area around exit 6 we ended up at the parking area at Lincoln Park at the end of Coliseum Ave. Craig and I went over the icy Bridge and stayed on the left trail along the water.  Then we walked in circles for ever and we kept ending up at the base of a hill and still walking in circles over an over again.

When climbed up the steep hill to the main trail. At first we figured the fox was across the river behind the high school. Turning around and figured it was back down the hill. Then Craig said look at that stump I saw the tip of the antenna.

2 hours to find. Great job hiding the fox.

We did not look for the other one because it was getting dark soon.


John kb1mgi
Craig kc1cgs

John KB1MGI and His Son Craig KB1CGS Track Down The Large Wiley Critter
John KB1MGI and His Son Craig KB1CGS Track Down The Large Wiley Critter
We all had fun chasing down the N1FD foxes again this weekend! Their dens were in a very picturesque area.
N1FD Large and Small Foxes
N1FD Large and Small Foxes

Jamey, KC1ENX continues to try to outfox the hunters but so far we have been able to track down the N1FD critters.

Fred, AB1OC

Chasing those elusive Asian QSOs

Background: On December 4, 2017, I was making some casual FT8 QSOs on 40 meters when out of the blue, JR7AMZ answers my CQ. It was 6 pm local and the band was full of the usual Europeans. What a totally unexpected surprise! Working Asia from New England is a huge challenge usually requiring multi-element direct beams. And my verticals were beaming toward Europe.

 Today, December 15th, I was up at 6 am, a little earlier than usual and for some reason, I had a desire to work Asia. So I configured my verticals for broadside bi-directional pattern of 160 and 340 degrees. ( If not the short path, maybe I can catch an Asian on the long path.)

Contesters and DXer tend to be very knowledgeable about radio propagation from their own extensive observations. Knowing what bands to operate on and at what times given the current state of the ionosphere can give a “contester” a winning edge or help a DXer contact an elusive country. Let’s look at the mechanics of long skip propagation:

If the frequency is too high, your signal will not be reflected and your RF will be ‘out of this world’. But there is one ideal frequency wherein your signal will be reflected for the longest distance. With the proper vertical wave angle, you can get up to 1800 miles. Beyond that, you need multiple hops. The more hops, the lower the signal strength due to reflection losses.

Typical ground reflection losses for DX hops are 3 dB for poorly conducting ground and 0.5 dB for sea water. 3dB represents a loss of half the signal.

With 11-bands to choose, how do I determine the proper band to use on a real-time basis? I could go to the Reverse Beacon Network ( and configure it to display 100 spots received from spotters in Zone 5 and scroll down till I find Asian stations spotted. But remember these are reports of stations already received, worked, and spotted.

Or I could go to VOACAP ( and see the “prediction” for the New England to Asia path. See:

An ionosonde results from an “ionospheric sounder” instrument used to monitor and measure the ionosphere. You can think of Ionosondes as ‘fish finders’ that find, instead of schools of fish, regions of electrons and electrically charged atoms and molecules in the upper atmosphere.

The first ionosondes were invented in the 1920s, grew in sophistication during the 1930s, and were used by both sides during WWII to identify the best shortwave communication frequencies. Ionosonde systems incorporate a transmitter tunable from as low as 500-kHz to as high at 40-MHz (1.6 to 12-MHz sweeps are a more typical range), antennas usually pointed straight up, and a receiver that tracks the transmitter listening for echoes reflected back to earth. It is, in other words, a radar system.

The Ionosphere is in constant flux. The global ionosonde network is periodically mapping the ionosphere measuring the highest frequency that reflected back to earth (this is Fc, the critical frequency) and at what height above the earth that occurs. The critical frequency is proportional to charged particle density in each ionospheric layer. Signals at frequencies above Fc at the F2 layer (highest ionospheric layer) continue off into space instead of coming back to earth.

Knowing the critical frequency at various points around the world enables calculation of MUF (Maximum Usable Frequency) for shortwave radio broadcast and two-way radio communication in those regions. A useful rule of thumb is the MUF will be around three times the Fc. So, for a Fc of 6.2-MHz, the MUF for signals transiting that region of the ionosphere would be around 18.7-MHz. In such conditions, the amateur 17-meter band, centered on 18.1-MHz, would be a great choice for long distance communication, as would the 20-meter band (14-MHz). The 15-meter band (21 MHz), on the other hand, would likely be ‘dead’ for paths across that region.

Why is the MUF so much higher than the Fc? Radio waves propagated over long distances are refracted (bent) back to earth at acute angles, not ‘bounced’ back to earth like a handball off a wall. Less ionization is needed for refraction at low angles than for a return of a signal transmitted straight up. (See

Now the magic begins. To determine the MUF for your location is one thing. But for a circuit, you need the MUF at the destination. Then, for obvious reasons, your band choice would be the lower of the two.

From this website, you will find Sounders around the world:

We are lucky as one sounder is in our backyard: MHJ45 Millstone Hill, Westford, MA. For Asia, I use JJ433 Jeju Island, Korea which is an island off the South Coast of Korea.

It’s 5 am. Millstone shows MUF 9.68 MHz and Jeju 8.57 MHz so 40 meters would be the frequency. Sure enough, the FT8 decoder shows JE7JDL and JH0INP working many stateside QSOs. No luck! Now at 6 am, Millstone shows MUF 15.11 MHz and Jeju 9.15 MHz. Time to switch to 30 meters. There’s JA7WND, JK1IQK, and JE8CIC! I keep calling not to no avail. Maybe next time!

At Least I know I’m on the right frequency! I’m confident I work my share of Asian this winter!

73,  Layne AE1N