Tag Archives: QRP

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 www.bsandersen.com

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!

Hawaii Homeless Ham Still Finds Time to Work the World QRP

From Amateur Radio News – Hawaii homeless ham still finds time to work the world QRP

Reposted by Matt, N1ZGN

Honolulu, HI
16 July 2017

If you live in Honolulu you have seen the homeless on the beaches, in the parks, beside the road, in the woods, you name it, they are around. A lot of media attention has been given to the homeless problem in Hawaii, mainly on Oahu. If you are visiting Hawaii then it has probably stood out as you drive from the Airport to the hotels.

You may hear him on a QRP radio or if you are on Oahu you may hear him on the 2m nets or talking late into the evening. Alex, KH7CX, in some ways, may be unconventional. You see, Alex is homeless, sleeps on a bench, gets his mail and showers at a church, and uses a storage facility for his personal items. In his spare time his main passion is QRP-SSB DXing.

I’ve know Alex for maybe 7 or 8 years. I heard he was homeless before but he does not strike me as a homeless person. I know that is a stereotype for homeless people but looking at him you would not know he was homeless and we had never talked about it before and he is always happy, smiling, and ready to help. We recently had time to talk at a event that he helped out with.

So why is Alex homeless in Hawaii and still working his radio to make contacts? Living in Hawaii is expensive and the biggest expense is housing. Hawaii has an estimated 7,900 homeless, which is up 4%. That’s according to data from a released federal report, which says Hawaii ranked third in states with the highest rate of unsheltered homeless people. California, Oregon, Nevada, and Mississippi round out the top five. These are the latest statistics I could find and they represent the 2015/2016 count.

Of the 7,900 homeless living in Hawaii, more than half are living in places like the streets, vehicles, and parks. (Did you know it is illegal to live in a vehicle in Hawaii? There is a state law banning anyone from sleeping or living in their cars overnight. Habitating in a vehicle between six p-m and six a-m is a violation of the law on city and county streets,”)

Alex does handyman jobs, mainly on boats, and some of the boat owners trade his work for a bed on the boat and money or either money or a bed.

Does he feel safe? Surprisingly he does. He knows the others around him and stays out of trouble. He is concerned about the drug use that goes on around him and in the open but tries to stay clear of those areas.

He doesn’t have a cell phone and uses the public library computers to update his QRZ log and to look at the solar weather data. Alex recently educated me on the sun spot reports on QRZ. He looks at the K index and the Signal Noise Level Readings. He wants the K index as low as possible and the noise level low. He doesn’t care about the A index. It seems to work for him, he has worked all the continents. He even finds time to keep his QRZ’d logbook up to date.

As Alex says on his QRZ Page, “I operate exclusively open-air portable-QRP from a local Beach-Park using a Yaesu FT-817ND – Powered by an external 9 A/h 12.8 V Lithium Battery Running 5 watts into my self made resonant monobander “New Carolina Windom” antennas for 20m , 40m or 10m – ( performing just great without any tuner ! ): “.

Homeless Ham
QRP In The Park

The antenna is set-up in a flat -” Inverted V ” configuration with the apex at about 7m to 15m (22 to 49 feet) above the ground/sea level. Mainly beaming South and North, hung up between 3 coconut palm-trees.

He has managed to work all 7 continents with his setup ( in SSB ) ….with zero, or just a few, sunspots most of the time.

Alex says that he wants real QSL’s only and he doesn’t use a bureau. He says we are losing that feel of a card in our hand and have something to hold, feel, and look back on to remember the contact. He is homeless but still takes the time to send a QSL card, maybe a lesson for us all.

ARRL Public Information Officer – Honolulu


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 http://www.amateurradio.com 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 AmateurRadio.com and writes from New Hampshire, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

The original article may be found here.

MT. Hale and 30 Meters (in the rain)


The White Mountains National Forest

Dennis, K1LGQ

Dennis Marandos – K1LGQ

The trip to the mountain had been planned four weeks in advance and I was to guide my seventeen-year-old son, Justin and his two friends, on a Saturday hike in the White Mountains in northern New Hampshire. The date was May 27th and it was agreed that I would bring along my radio gear because I am the driver and the guy who knows how to climb Mt. Hale. It was agreed that Justin wouldn’t complain when I took an hour off from our climb for me to string a dipole and work some DX just waiting for my QRP signal east and westward wound. My son with his two friends packed into dad’s car and headed due north driving one hundred twenty miles to the White Mountains National Forest. For those people who are unfamiliar with the North Country, New Hampshire has a great number of mountains along with the other five New England states, and NH, in fact, has forty-eight foothills that are 4,000 feet or better. This may seem quite mundane, however, hiking and “hill topping” with a handy on these ridges is “primo” in this part of the country.

The gang arrived at Zealand trail, Halebrook & Lend-A-Hand trails at 9:15 ready to zoom up the miles of pure fun. I had my handy, my 30 meters “30-40” home brew rig with me and a pretty heavy 12-volt gel-cell battery. I knew the kids, who were all 17 years old, would complain if I asked them to carry my gear, so I opted to carry a ‘large’ knapsack with water, small lunch, extra socks, sweatshirt, and long pants by myself. The backpack was pretty heavy, but you have to know what to expect for weather when climbing any mountain. I also had my key, earphones, and dipole in a waterproof bag neatly stored till we reached the top.

As we climbed, the early morning sun was vibrant as in just about any corner of the U.S., but when the clouds started rolling in on our climb at ten in the morning, the weather was truly undefined for that day. Sure, you can listen to the National Weather stations, but the NWS tends to extend their prognostications to include everything, just in case anybody should question their forecasts. The sky was navy blue and the air temperature was a cool 65 degrees—just right. The precipitation was damp from the previous night and we were headed onto an easy climb, and total time to the top was estimated at about two hours or less.

I couldn’t wait till we got to the top of Mt. Hale and do some QRP operating. The boys were twenty feet ahead of me, throughout the entire climb, and they had a much lighter backpack. I kept insisting that they shouldn’t run so often or they would be out of strength by the time they reached the top. Right! I am talking to three teenage boys! That was an exasperation of time.

As we drew nearer the top, you could feel the air turn denser and the temperature dropped a bit more. The tree line was thinning, but never to the point of an overall rock surface. The total height of Mt. Hale is 4,054 feet, and the trail began at the 2,100-foot level. I was psyched about operating from the mountain and kept thinking of how I would set up my portable station. Over and over I kept asking myself which direction way was south and which was west. I wanted especially to work the west coast and Europe if I could

Finally, when the crew was ten feet away from where the old ranger station used to be on top of Mt. Hale, I yelled to the ghosts of the mountain that I was coming, ready or not. I wanted to clear the area and not have something senseless happen like have my RF flow into the absorbing rocks nearby—never to be heard from again. At this moment, the sky had turned pretty gray and the temperature must have dropped another ten degrees since we started our excursion from the base, but worst of all was the intimidating spitting of droplets on my glasses. This was New England, and if you particularly don’t like the weather, just wait a short while and the elements will change. I knew what to do, after all–I am Mr. Cool and a smart Dad. You don’t think for a minute that I would bring my son and two of his friends on a hike and have the weather turn on us?

The environment factors were increasing and I knew something was up, but I was resolute to get my station up and operating. The boys wanted to eat their lunch first, and being the group leader, I suggested the boys not eat and drink too fast for they might get dizzy after a strenuous climb. Again, I forgot who I was talking to. Out came their bags of Nachos, potato chips, and heavy duty caffeinated Coca Cola along with sugar desserts made with chemicals I couldn’t even pronounce on the side of the bags. Ugh! Give me a break, but I insisted we set up my station real soon, so the boys could walk around a bit while I did some CW.

Fate has a way of presenting farrago weather to the unsuspecting neophyte in the wilds. No sooner did I reach into my knapsack for my radio gear, and no sooner did I uncurl my dipole, it started to RAIN! I mean, this was the mother of all storms and Armageddon was just a warm up. The boys had brought jackets, with rain hoods, while I only had a hand towel, socks, and a sweatshirt. It didn’t look like the rain was going to stop and I motioned to the boys to just sit tight for a few minutes while this ‘bimbo’ rain cloud passed overhead. Fifteen minutes had gone by and the rain was filling anything that could hold moisture. It looked like the hike was a wash and we started down another trail. Yikes! I wanted to operate!

The climb down the mountain is always easier, but nastier because gravity tends to push forward. I instructed the boys to walk slowly so they wouldn’t slip and roll the rest of the way, but there I go again…I forgot who I was talking to. Three teenage boys, who had their fill of whatever chemicals were in their lunch, bouncing down the side of Mt. Hale and having a pretty good time. I kept my vociferation comments within their ear shot and reminded them I had the keys to the car, which was another six miles away. Okay, perhaps a half mile away.

I am pretty sure the troops hadn’t traveled twenty minutes down the mount when the sky opened with beautiful rays of the sun and bright patches of azure blue. I couldn’t believe it! The weather was perfect and here I was going the wrong direction. Great! Do I ask the guys to turn around and head back to the summit so I can do a little CW and have my time, or do I keep going down because they’re running at a gallop and I am not? Superfluous to say, we kept descending more and more, side-stepping the six-inch puddles of water and four foot wide streams in our path.

After we got to the car and unpacked our gear from our backpacks, my son and his two friends said they had a remarkable time climbing the mountain and asked if they could do it again…if I wanted to take them.  They even gestured that they would carry my gear next time. I gasped for breath and managed to grin from ear-to-ear and said, “You’re on!”

What I thought was a hike into hell, a death march straight up, the torture of climbing a wet mountain—the boys thought was a pretty COOL episode. What other dads would have bothered to take the ‘guys’ onto a mountain, have twenty-foot visibility at the top and gracefully become thoroughly soaked? They had fun, but it bordered on what the definition of fun was. I had to say I sure did miss operating at 4,054 feet on 30 meters, but they did say they would carry my gear next time. I hope my marine battery won’t be too heavy for them. YES!


Post Script: This hike took place a few decades ago and my son is much older now. However, the facts remain and it still lingers in my mind what a “wonderful” day we had despite the little rain that fell. I certainly hope I can “puff” all the way to the top and try again.