Tag Archives: Elmer

How to QSL a DX Station?

QSL Step 1 - QSL Piece Parts
Step 1 – QSL Piece Parts

Congratulations on your first DX or important US contact! You may already have a QSL card made and you are wondering how to go about getting a card from the DX station to confirm your contact.

QSL Step 2 - Inner Return Envelope
Step 2 – Inner Return Envelope

I think that Green Stamps are the best way to go. There are a few countries where its illegal to accept US currency but you can use green stamps (USD bills) for 99% of what you¹ll ever QSL and they are easier for many folks outside the US than an IRC would be.

QSL Step 3 - Outer Envelope Stuffed
Step 3 – Outer Envelope Stuffed

Its important to properly package and seal a QSL with green stamps to avoid postal theft which is, unfortunately, common in many parts of the world. We use a system consisting of an envelope in an envelope.

QSL Step 4 - Outer Envelope Sealed
Step 4 – Outer Envelope Sealed

Note the taping of the outside envelope including the corners – this is an important deterrent to postal theft. Also note that the double envelope makes it nearly impossible to see that there are $$ inside. Also note how the $$ bills are folded and spaced around the QSL card to make the final result appear thin.

QSL Step 5 - QSL Ready to Mail
Step 5 – QSL Ready to Mail

US QSLs or QSLs to stations with US QSL managers are simpler. You just include an SASE in lieu of green stamps. We get about a 70% return QSL rate on our direct QSLs this way which is very good. All of these steps are designed to reduce the likelihood of postal theft.

You should also get up on Logbook of the World (LoTW) and Clublog. These are two sites that can make confirming contacts easier, faster and less expense. LoTW is an ARRL tool that used a double-blind system (neither party knows what it the other¹s logs). LoTW confirmations are accepted by the ARRL for all of their awards (DXCC, WAS, VUCC, etc). You don¹t get a card but you can apply these confirmations to ARRL awards. Clublog offers an online log checking and QSL request service. Our club call (N1FD) has our logs on Clublog for example and you can request a card via the QSL  or via direct mail (for a fee to cover postage). Most of the major Expeditions and many special events as well as individual operators use Clublog so you can tell if you are “in the log” and a subset will provide OQRS (online card requests) as described above. I would also recommend subscribing to the W1 Bureau. This path is slow (sometimes getting a card takes 2 years, almost never less than 6 mo) but the cost of QSL¹ing this way is very low. Not all HAMs subscribe to the worldwide Bureau system and not all countries have a QSL Bureau but most do.
Fred (AB1OC)

Becoming A Great Elmer

There is much being said and written these days about the importance of bringing new people, especially young people, into our Hobby. There are many obvious reasons for this. As we all get older or get busy with other aspects of our lives, some will leave the hobby. Also, we have the use of many commercially valuable portions of the RF spectrum and there is always pressure to reallocate bands or segments of bands which are not fully utilized.In my mind, the most important reason to bring new HAMs into our hobby has to do with the energy and new ideas that these folks bring to Amateur Radio. Amateur Radio has always been a learning hobby and new folks help us to keep this important part of what makes our hobby so much fun vibrant.

Anita (AB1QB) and I try to put a lot of time and energy into getting folks started in Amateur Radio and helping them to build their skills and progress. Our Amateur Radio License Classes and the youth outreach work that we’ve been doing are two good examples of this. To make these efforts as successful as they can be, it’s also very important to provide good opportunities for folks who are new to various aspects of Amateur Radio to learn and gain experience. This means becoming an “Elmer” or a HAM Radio mentor to people who are less experienced in some part of the hobby than you are….

Source: Our HAM Station | Our notes on the construction and operation of a multi-op Amateur Radio Station

3D Printing for Fun and Homebrewing

I recently picked up a mini 3D printer made by M3D.com because I wanted to channel my inner-maker and see what it was like to dabble in 3D printing, but I didn’t want to spend the $1k-$2k or more for trying out something that I might not like.

This particular printer has a capability of printing objects up to 5.9″ x 5.9″ x 5.9″ in both PLA and ABS.  It is not the fastest printer out there, but with a little patience and sub $400 prices, I was willing to give it a try.

3D Printer

After unpacking the printer and settling on the white filament for my first dive into 3D printing, I looked for something that was simple, small, and easy to print.  I picked a flop-eared bunny for one of my daughters for Easter.  I pulled this 3D model from a well-stocked source of 3D models called Thingiverse.

3D Printer Widget

It was easy to get the printer up-n-running.  Here is a sequence of photos during the 4-hour process with the final image being the bunny with all raft and supports removed.

3D Printer in Operation 3D Printer in Operation 3D Printer in Operation 3D Printer in Operation

Now that I got thru my first successful 3D print.  I started thinking more of what can I print that might be practical and useful?  I know I have always wanted something to keep my charging cords from falling behind a desk or nightstand, so you can print these:

3D Printer Cables

And how about a nice custom case for that new Raspberry Pi you recently got?  Or custom printing some other little project box?

Raspberry Pi Case made with a 3D Printer

There are many helpful projects you can print that already exist on the Internet and many colors to choose from.  Want to strike out on your own and brew your own custom widget?  Here is a chance to learn 3D modeling and there a quite a few freeware versions of software to choose from.   I recommend going to a site like 3D Printing for Beginners for starters.  There appears to be quite a bit of info on this site to keep you busy in learning about 3D printing.

Wayne, AG1A

Join us for the ARRL Rookie Roundup SSB on April 17!!

Are you a new Ham who has received your first license in the past 3 years? Are you interested in finding out what contesting is all about?   The ARRL has a contest just for you! The ARRL Rookie Roundup SSB is coming up on Sunday, April 17 from 18:00 UTC until 23:59 UTC (2 pm – 8 pm) and it is just for “Rookies”. We will be fielding a Multi-Op entry from the AB1OC/AB1QB QTH using our club callsign, N1FD.

Non-rookies can help by getting on the air and working rookies in the contest! See the ARRL Rookie Roundup Site for the rules and exchange.

AB1OC Antenna Tower
AB1OC Antenna Tower

We will hold elmering sessions for the contest to help you learn how to operate our station and use a contest logger the weekend of April 9th and 10th.  Join us at one of three sessions :

  • Saturday, April 9 at 10:00 am
  • Saturday, April 9th at 2:00 pm
  • Sunday, April 10th at 1:00 pm

The rules for the Rookie Roundup are on the ARRL website at http://www.arrl.org/rookie-roundup. If you are a rookie and you are interested in operating in the contest, or just visiting our station and watching the operation, contact Anita, AB1QB at [email protected].

AB1OC/AB1QB Shack
AB1OC/AB1QB Shack