Sunday, October 18, 2009

NY State QSO Party - 2009

Hello All,

I know it's been sometime since I posted, external commitments have kept me busy. I had a chance to operate on 40Ms for about 2 hours yesterday. During this the NY State QSO Party was in full force and I was able to work many stations in a relatively short period of time. I used my Yaesu FT-817 and 40M OCF Dipole running 5Ws.

Here is a video from my contact with K2QMF on 40M.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

ICOM 735 Plastic Trimmer Caps

Hello All,

Well I finished up replacing the plastic trimmer caps in my ICOM 735 (IC-735), in the end after a few trips to the hardware store and Radio Shack I assembled the right collection of tools and was able to remove the old caps and replace with the new ceramic caps.

When I first encountered the problem of the distorted voice I went to and posted a question to the Elmers post. I discovered that ICOM had used a set of plastic trimmers that were prone to failure. The solution is to replace the plastic trimmer caps with ceramic ones.

I used the following link as my overall guidance for replacing and tuning the trimmer caps. Also, the ICOM service bulletin can be found at the following link, The only delta I found from the preceding link and reaching success was abandoning the idea that you could desolder the top of the metal box (containing the PLL trimmers). In lieu of this I purchased a desolder iron from Radio Shack for $10 and removed the entire box from the bottom of the board. This eliminates the need for a "heavy-duty" soldering gun. The desolder iron has a suction device built into it, which allows you to extract the solder directly from the board. The picture on the left is a photo after the trimmers have been replaced, however the large metal box on the bottom left is where the trimmers are housed.

After removing the box from the bottom you will see what is shown in the picture to the left. I took this picture after replacing the old plastic trimmers, however it gives you an idea of what is under the "hood". From what I read in multiple posts the bee's wax is a "stabilizer" for the trimmers and prevents noises caused by motion and movement of the radio in the RX and TX audio. I used my DVM to adjust each trimmer cap to approx. 6.5 Volts as specified by the service manual and previous link provided in the blog. You'll also want to reference the service manual for reassembly.

I purchased my parts directly from Icom and they arrived just a few days later. All in all, once you give up on trying to remove the cover from the top (at least in my case), it turns out to be a fairly straight forward job.

Here are a few more photos of my installation prior to reassembling the radio.


Monday, August 31, 2009

My OMISS Number!

Greetings All,

I got my OMISS member # tonight, 6644, while checking into the 40M net.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ham Radio Deluxe Logbook w/ Mac OSX Backend

Hello All,

I've been searching for a good logging program for sometime now. Not being very high on MS Windows and it's long term reliability and stability. I'm a Mac/OSX guy, however one of the best HAM radio application suites I've found is Ham Radio Deluxe ( only runs in Windows. With the recent release of HRD Beta version 5, the developers have created a new stand alone logging program (HRD Logbook). I've been experimenting with the HRD Logbook for a few weeks and have grown to like it. It also allows you the flexibility to use either MS Access, MySQL, or SQL Server for its back end.

So, I setup a small Windows XP VM in Parallels on my Macbook for which I'm running the front end HRD Logbook and DM780 (for PSK31) applications, on the back end I installed and configured MySQL server on my iMac (connected to my home network). My iMac has a 1TB RAID 0 attached to it and is my primary iPhoto and iTunes sever and backup.

Setup is fairly straight forward:

Step 1: Download HRD Deluxe Version 5 from the HRD Website (

Step 2: Download MySQL Server from (I used the Mac OSX 10.5 x86 Version)

Step 3: Download the MySQL Administrative GUI Tools from

Step 4: Install MySQL Server (I created a symbolic link to my RAID e.g., ln -s /usr/local/mysql /Volumes/RAID/mysql)

Step 5: Install the MySQL Startup Item from the Disk Image

Step 6: Copy "cp /usr/local/mysql/my-large.cnf to /etc/my.cnf"

Step 6: Start the MySQL Server "sudo /Library/StartupItems/MySQLCOM/MySQLCOM start"

Step 7: Install the MySQL Admin Tools on your Mac

Step 8: Login to the localhost as root (probably no password unless you set it)

Step 9: Click on Catalogs and create a new db called hr_deluxe

Step 10: Click on the accounts tab and add a new user, I called mine hrd

Step 11: Click on the right arrow and look for the % sign under the user name and click on this

Step 12: Select all of the available privileges and move them into the assigned category

Step 13: Install the MySQL OBC connector ( on the Windows machine that will be running HRD

Step 14: Install Ham Radio Deluxe

Step 15: Launch the HRD Logbook

Step 16: Click on Tools and then ODBC Manager

Step 17: Click "Add", Data Source Name = hrd_logbook, Description = HRD Logbook, Server =your mac's ip, User=hrd, Password=what u set, Database=hr_deluxe, click "Ok"

Step 18: Click on "Logbook", then "Databases", then "Manager", click on "Add" then click on the drop down under "or select" and select hrd_logbook. Then enter your user name and password for the "hrd" user

Step 19: Enjoy

HRD Logbook allows you to readily import ADIF files and exports from other HRD Logbooks, so if you are traveling you could use the local database and sync when you get home.

Here are some screen shots of portions of the install. When I have some more time I'll attempt to align with the steps.


Friday, August 28, 2009

OMISS Member Application

Hello All,

This afternoon I submitted my member application to the OMISS association. Earlier in the week I made 3 succesful contacts with current members, which qualified me for member status. Membership is $7 for your lifetime. OMISS is a worked all states net, which promotes and supports the aquisition of the WAS plus the net specific awards they sponsor.

More info can be found at .

I'm looking forward to posting my member number.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009



This evening I checked into the OMISS 40M Net using my FT-817 and 40M OCF Dipole at 5W. Using this combination I successful worked KD8HZC in Michigan, W4CSL in Georgia, and ND8F in Georgia. The OMISS requires 2 successful QSOs with current OMISS members to qualify for membership. I worked 3 out of 3 OMISS members this evening (plus net control), so I can now apply for my membership and receive my #. The main objectives of the net are to promote good will, to pass emergency, formal and informal traffic, and for members to work each other for awards (from the OMISS website). As I'm working towards my Worked All States award, this is a great opportunity and means to achieve this goal.

More information can be found at


Sunday, August 23, 2009

40M OCF Dipole Anntenna

Hello All,

What do you get when you combine zip ties, a 2x4, a 4x4 bolted to a deck, reel of 12 pound fishing line (bought on sale for $1.88), and a 33' Push Up mast for which all hope was almost lost for? Well, you get a half way decent mast system that gets a 40M OCF Dipole up around 20' or so .

The following video shows you the base of the antenna, the whole system up in the air, and SWR readings for 40M, 20M, and 2M.



Hurricane Bill - EchoLink/IRLP and HWN

Good Morning,

As Hurricane Bill makes his way up the coast Amateur's are activating their stations, some as net controls, contributors, and relay stations. This morning I brought up the EchoMac software and plan to bring online my HF station on 20M, in the event that the net requires a relay between New England and Net Control.

The Hurricane Watch Net will be online this morning at 0800EDT on 14.325MHZ, for more information please see the link below:

The VoIP/IRLP net came online this morning at 0400EDT, for more information please see the link below:

ARRL, has also posted a good synopsis of the upcoming hurricane operations, more information can be found at the following link:


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Portable at the Beach

Hello All,

Another good day at the beach and I also managed to pick up a few more contacts. This afternoon I setup and then moved my MP-1 at an attempt to clear some of the QRM. In doing so, my SWR changed resulting in a non-optimized configuration. I used my MFJ-259B to tune my MP-1 antenna to a reasonable match for 20M. I've included a You Tube video of the 259B, the MP-1, and finally the FT-817 showing no SWR bars while operating PSK-31. Upon making my adjustments I made contact with WB2MIC of Vermont. I apologize for the lack of narration, however the preceding text captures the essence of the video.

My portable setup is as follows:
Radio: Yaesu FT-817
PSK Interface: Rigblaster NOMIC
Antenna: MP-1
Accessory: MFJ-259B Antenna Analyzer



Saturday, August 15, 2009

40M from the Beach

Hello All,

Just finished a few quick qsos from the beach using PSK-31 on 40M.
20M had a lot of noise, plus the best the mp1 want to match at was
around 2:1. So, I gave 40M a run for which the mp1 load up around a
1:1 match and there was less noise. Overall, one contact with Cuba
and another into Tampa, FL.

Until next time.



Hello All,

Greetings from Myrtle Beach, SC I'm here on one last vacation before
the end of summer. I plan to operate portable during the evening
hours, stay tuned for operating times and frequencies.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

MD 2009 QSO Party


We'll the QSO party is now over and I met my personal goal of exceeding the minimum 50 Points required to receive a participant certificate. I operated QRP 100% of the time and accumulated a total of 396 Points, which included
both SSB and PSK31 on 20M and 40M. I learned that I have near zero capability on VHF/UHF as I had no MD contacts during the QSO party.
I got a chance to use my Off Center Fed 40M dipole antenna and my old stand by 20m dipole. While the dipole worked out great the MFJ-1910 mast did not work as well and was very disappointing for $79.

Overall, I made several great contacts from Europe (Germany [PSK31 Club Station] and Italy[ Light House]) to Indiana and everything else in between!

The first picture is of my setup in doors, the heat drove me in off the back porch. On the left is my FT-817ND which is connected using a Rigblaster NOMIC to the Dell Laptop on the right running DM780 Beta 5 for PSK31 on 14.070MHZ. My Macbook is directly to the right of the 817 and is running N3FPJ's contest logging software, which is well worth the $6 paid. In the background is my IC-735 which was
connected to my 40M OCF Dipole to monitor the other band while I worked 20M digital.

As you can see from my backyard, the new OCF dipole is almost invisible to the general eye. I'm working to add a small hook to the point of my house to attach a pulley that
will allow me to hoist my dipoles up further in the air. I currently have my dipole secured from my 2nd floor bath room window.
More photographs of my QSO Party setup can be found at KB3LMC's Ham Radio Photos.

Great fun, so will leave you with a couple of videos of my setup from this weekend.


Monday, August 3, 2009

MDC QSO Party this Weekend

Hello All,

This upcoming weekend is the MDC QSO contest and will run from Saturday (8 August) Noon until Midnight [EDT] to Sunday (9 August) Noon until 8:00pm. I plan to be on the air a portion of the weekend with a goal of making the 50 QSO point mark to be eligible for a participant certificate.

In preparation for this great event I ordered a new 33' Fiberglass Mast and 40M DX-OCF Windom antenna which has an operating range of 40M-6M. I've also have an old discone antenna in the garage, which should be resonate on 2Ms to try to work some local DX. Look for me on 10M (if open) and 20M during the day and 40M at night. I'm going to attempt to work the entire contest QRP with my FT-817, so we'll see what we come up with.

For more information on the MDC QSO party, please see the following link


Ten Meters: Alive and Well in Maryland

Hello All,

Yesterday afternoon I discovered the world of 10M, as it was alive and well in the Mid-Atlantic. The Ten-Ten Summer Phone contest provided a good amount of activity on the band. I worked stations both in Oklahoma and Illinois on a good skip into the Mid-West. N9ETH (Brian) of Waliconda, IL using his IC-706MkIIg had a great signal into my QTH and sounded like he was sitting at the table with me having a conversation.

I used my MP-1 which I tuned with my MFJ-259B and ICOM 735 running at 80W.

With any luck, the 10M band will be open for next weekends QSO party in MD. Look for me on the 20M and perhaps 10M bands operating as KB3LMC at my home QTH.



Sunday, August 2, 2009

Amateur Radio Light House Society Weekend QSO Contest

Hello All,

Over the last few weeks and the coming there have been and will be several exciting contests. I've "dabbled" some in each and plan to participate in next week's MD QSO Party.

Of particular interest this week and into next week is the Amateur Radio Light House Society's Weekend QSO contest. More information is available at for the contest and general information on the society.

So far, this weekend I've worked 2 lighthouses in the North East (20M band conditions have been less then desirable), N1QLL/ USA 1119 (in Maine) and N2OB/USA 1812 (in New Jersey) using my FT-817 at 5W.

The following is a Flip video of AA1KS operating at USA 459, I was unable to work him.

The contest continues through next weekend, with several additional lighthouse activations.



Wednesday, July 15, 2009

MFJ-259B Antenna Analyzer


Last week I purchased a MFJ-259B Antenna Analyzer from HRO. First and for most, remember that HRO (incidentally like West Marine for boating things), has an excellent price matching policy. So, remember prior to buying anything at HRO, do a Google or Froogle search for the best price. In my experience on the East Coast, I've found the Delaware store to be the most responsive via e-mail. In the end I got the MFJ-259B for $239.00.

So, to the 259B. First, this is probably the best piece of equipment I've bought yet. I quickly connected the 259B to my current antenna (20M dipole) and discovered I was way off with my SWR (the cutting will commence this weekend! However, I discovered that I had a perfect match on the MP-1 (SWR 1:1) on 20M using noise as my only source of tuning. 40M on the MP-1 was similar, however I could not get better than SWR ~2:1, most likely due to my counterpoise (the BBQ grill).

The 259B is a great addition and I'm looking forward to constructing some new antennas for 10M and 6Ms.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Field Day 2009

Hello All,

Well Field Day 2009 is behind us and fortunately I had just a little bit of time to get on the air and make a few contacts.  I started late on Saturday on 20M and then worked 40M in the morning and then 20M SSB voice in the afternoon.  All total I made 29 contacts (17 digital and 12 ssb) for a total of 92 Points with the power multiplier.  In the end I operated at 2D MDC (2=FT-817 and IC-735, D=Home Commercial Power, and MDC=Maryland District of Columbia).  I used both my 20M dipole, which I got up another ~6' to a total of 20' and the MP-1.  The MP-1 worked great both on 40M digital and 20M ssb.  I discovered that the low-pass filter I was using on the 20M has gone bad and was causing serious issues in my system (I've since removed and remedied the problems it was causing).

I must admit that I got bit by the contest bug with field day, especially with the ssb voice operations.  It's a great exercise of brain coordination given the amount of information you need to track.  I'm looking forward to the next contest event to give it a try again.

Although, not as elaborate as I envisioned, field day turned out to be a great experience.  I'll leave you with a flip video of a New England station calling Field Day CQ.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ham on the Grill

Hello All,

It's been sometime since I last blog, just home after a great vacation, I found sometime this afternoon to turn on the radio.  With field day around the corner I want to make sure that everything is still functional.  

Late this afternoon, I  connected my FT-817 to my MP-1 vertical antenna.  Over the course of roughly 1.5 hours, I made 4 contacts Germany (DF1KBN), Brazil (ZY0F),  Italy (IZ1OQT) and Puerto Rico (KP4DXC).  Both the Laptop and FT-817 ran on battery power for ~ 1.5 hours.  The 817 was pushing 2.5W to the MP-1 with 25' of coax connecting the radio to the antenna.

The MP-1 Super Antenna has a MFJ 10' Telescoping whip attached to it, in lieu of the 4' whip that comes standard with the antenna.  I highly recommend purchasing a longer whip, it will make a world of difference in your SWR.


 I shot the following videos with my Flip while operating:  

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sporadic E Link


I came across a good link for a website that provides "real-time" Sporadic E reporting.



Monday, May 11, 2009

Field Day 2009


Field day is just around the corner, KG4JZM (Andrew) and I are preparing for operations on over the course of 27-28 June. For our field day activity, we are planning to "camp out" in my back yard in Stevensville, MD and run off of "generator power" during field day. We plan to operate as a Class A Non-Club / Emergency Power station operating on generator and battery power.

Station ID: KB3LMC 4A MDC

Our station will be made up of the following;
  1. ICOM IC-735 HF Transciver
  2. Yaseau FT-817 HF/VHF All Mode QRP Transciver
  3. Yaseau VX-150 VHF HT
  4. High Power VHF Rig
Based on ease of operation and points the plan is to operate 2 PSK-31 Stations and 2 FM VHF Voice stations.

Shopping List:
40M Dipole Antenna
PSK-31 Interface for FT-817

Stay tuned for more



Friday, May 8, 2009

IRLP Resources


Well I'm down in NC at my in-laws for my sister-in-law's engagement party. I took my VX-150 HT with me to try to "phone home" using Internet Radio Linking Protocol (IRLP).

I looked up the local repeaters in Greensboro, NC and found that W4GSO had a 2M repeater online that was IRLP linked. After fiddiling with DTMF tones a few times a local ham called back and asked if I needed any help. It turns out that the computer attached to the repeater crashed and the IRLP link was down. So, better luck next time. Fourtantely, I did find some great links / resources on IRLP, my links are as follows: - Realtime list of IRLP nodes online (I wish I found this first) - Map of IRLP nodes with radio interfaces (repeaters and simplex links) - Generic information on how to interface your radio with DTMF tones to the IRLP system


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Kitchen Table Operating...


Last night I jumped on 40M with the FT-817 and Super Antenna MP-1.  Late yesterday afternoon I tuned the MP-1 by adjusting the screw driver portion to maximum noise from the receiver.  The band was fading somewhat as the evening went on, however I managed to make 3 contacts including 1DX all at ~5W of power.  All of this with a vertical compromise antenna and a QRP radio!


Thursday, April 2, 2009

APRS Anyone?


After reading an article on digital sound card TNC interfaces in the latest issue of CQ Magazine, I was inspired to download some software and try it out. For my interface, I'm using the AGW Packet Enginer along with UI-View for APRS mapping / monitor application. Along with UI-View I'm also running AGW Monitor for debuging purposes. For a packet interface to my FT-817 I'm using my RIGBlaster NOMIC connected via the Microphone RJ-45 slot.

APRS Mapping Software - UIView

AGWPE and AGWMonitor

Setup Notes:
I first tried to use my Windows VISTA laptop with AGWPE and UI-View. This produced mixed results and many instabilities, so I then revereted back to a Windows XP machine, which seems to have solved many issues.

All in all it is interesting and certainitly worthy of more investigation. 

Stay tuned for more.


Sunday, March 15, 2009


Hello All,

I recently added a new radio to the collection, a Yaseu FT-817 low power QRP rig. The FT-817 is an all mode transceiver that covers the HF and VHF/UHF bands through 70cm. To date I've been using my IC-735 at ~20W exclusively on 20M using PSK-31. This setup has worked extremely well, however since getting my General license I've been intriqued by the 817, mainly by it size and capability.

Today, I got the opportunity to plug the 817 into my 20M dipole and try out the world of low power.  W5NA of Hattiesburg, MS was my first QSO, running around 5W peak, Joe and I had a great QSO with strong signals.  Joe gave me a 599 QST and good IMD report.  Prior to getting on air (following the directions of K7AGE from his PSK-31 videos @ I adjusted my speaker output from my laptop to maintain my ALC to about 1 bar.

In addition to making a few excellent state side contacts (MS, KS, LA), I also picked up a DX contact.  I responded to FG5LA's of Guadeloupe CQ and to my surprise he called back and we QSLd.

W5NA, also provided some excellent links on Intermodulation Distortion, the are as follows:

That's all for now.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

More DX and Google Earth Plots

Hello Everyone,

Another weekend has gone by with some new DX into the Netherlands, France (again), Romania, and even some place called California (my first US West Coast Contact!).

I've begin to get used to Digital Master 780, it as some great features including an integrated logging utility (that interfaces with eQSL) and a really neat feature that allows you to plot your logged contacts in Google Earth. Here are a few plots of my US, South America, and Europe contacts from January 26th to present day.



Wednesday, March 4, 2009

System Block Diagram

Hello All,

I wanted to post a block diagram of my current setup.  The center of the system is an ICOM-735 HF Transceiver.  As my primary mode today is PSK-31, I'm using a Rigblaster NoMIC as an audio interface and keying mechanism for the radio transmit.  My current antenna is a Radiowavz 20M dipole fed by ~50' of COAX at 12'.  I've been experimenting with both Digipan 2.0 and HRD DM780 for my PSK31 software.  Although Digipan is much simpler to work with, DM780's features are impressive.  Next time I'm on the air, I will post a screen cap of the DM780 waterfall interface.  My typical power level is between 10-20W, which I've been successful with both state side and international contacts.

Stay tuned for more.


Monday, March 2, 2009

My first DX QSL Card


Today I logged into eQSL and to my surprise I had received an electronic QSL card from T14ADS, this is my first QSL card from DX.  

Exciting times.


Snow Monday

Hello Everyone,

It's a snowy Monday here in Maryland.  We've got about 8" of snow on the ground here in Stevensville, MD with a lot of blowing snow.

Here's a picture of my 20M dipole before I lowered it this morning.


Sunday, March 1, 2009


Hello Everyone,

So it had to happen sometime, I experienced my first DX contact this afternoon.  I made contact with F8CED "Cyrille" of LA Bernerie, France.

That was then followed by T14ADS of Costa Rica and PD9GD of the Netherlands.

I used the same setup 20M dipole, up 12' on the painters pole, with the IC-735.



Saturday, February 28, 2009

PSK Optimum Frequency Finder

Hello Again,

I found another useful link...This one calculates the optimum PSK 31 frequency based on your location.


PSK Automatic Propagation Reporter

Hello All,

I discovered this great website this evening.

Take a look at my signal report.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Another Blog & Contact


Just wanted to provide an additional link to another blogger:

Last night I picked up another QSO with K9QVB of IL. I pulled down my 20M dipole tonight, because we have rain / snow in the forecast and I have not yet weatherized the coax connection to the antenna.


Fellow Blogger

I wanted to share another blog address with you from G8UBJ.



As I continue to get my feet wet I've quickly learned about "QSLing".  Recently, I setup my eQSL account for electronic QSL cards.  Using the Digipan 2.0 software I am able to save an ADIF log file and upload it to eqsl and in a few clicks produce a new QSL card and transmit.

The URL is as follows:

If anyone has any suggestions on logging software please feel free to comment.  Thus far, I've been using the eQSL website to keep track of my contacts. 


Monday, February 16, 2009

The New Plan and Way Forward

Now that we are all caught up with the story to date, let's recap what has worked well.

ICOM 735 - Paid $90 - Great Purchase
RADIOWAVZ 20M Dipole - $42 w/Shipping from Ham Radio Warehouse (HRO) - Great Purchase
Rigblaster NOMIC - $50 from HRO - Great Purchase
Radioshack SWR/Power Meter w/ Extra stuff - Paid $16 on Ebay...Great Purchase

MFJ Travel Tuner - Paid $100 from HRO - Still in the Box
MP-1 - Although I made my first QSO with this antenna, it was difficult for a new ham - Paid too much $180 w/80M coil and replacement 10' Whip.

Going forward, my current plan is to get sometype of push up pole tower (comments welcomed), like the MFJ fiberglass 32' latching pole (to get my dipole up higher), either full size or shortned 40M diple, and a smaller form factor HF radio (the 735 is a little heavy for portable work).

My new plan is to assemble a station that will fit in a backpack (including the computer and excluding the push up mast). So, regardless of if I want to take it out to my backyard, on my boat, or on a trip its in a small form factor and ready to go (comments welcomed). For now I'm sticking with PSK-31, it is easy to get setup, easy to log, and a lot of fun (which is the most important part).

So, I'm now focused into working the United States and reducing the foot print of my station and improving its mobility.


Another 2 good QSOs

So, yesterday was Sunday which gave me another opportunity to plug up the radio and give it a try.

I caught 2 more QSOs on 20M with KB0ASQ of NE and WA5KPE of MS. Same setup as before running about 20W of power.


Time to by a Dipole

Given that i have 2 children under the age of 5 (one more on the way) my time is very much limited. After 2 attempts to construct my own dipoles I made the choice to cough up $37 and by a Radiowavz dipole from HRO in VA. Although, there is a lot of talk about why would anyone by a commercial dipole it simply comes down to time. In my case I had to weigh construction versus having some fun and getting on air.

So, as the story progresses the dipole was my 4th best purchase. After getting the dipole I took it up to the attic and first mounted it in the raptures with hopes of being able to relocate from the garge to the guest bedroom. As it turns out the QRM in the attic was a little to much. Luckly, we had a break in the cold with a warm day, so I took the dipole out of the attic, grabed my 12' painters pole, 50' of the coax I got with the swr/power meter from Ebay, some old line from my sailboat, and put my dipole up in an inverted-v.

With my radio ontop of table on the deck, my laptop, trusted radioshack meter, rigblaster nomic, and my new dipole. This got me a good 599 contact into Palm Bay, FL with N4URW on 8 Feb at about 10W. Success again! As the package said, "there is nothing like a tuned dipole" and I might add with a half-way decent RF choke balun.

Finnaly, I'm getting some where, more to come.


My First QSO

Frustrated with trying to get the MP1 to load up and dealing with the tiny SWR meter on the Icom 735, I broke down and made my 3rd good purchase. For $16 including shipping I bought a radioshack SWR/Power meter, 100' of RG8 Coax, and a low-pass filter on Ebay. The new meter with a much larger display aloud me to tune to the MP-1 and get it to finnaly resonate (with a decent SWR).

So, my setup was as follows: MP-1 (in my garage), attached to the Radioshack meter, attached to the ICOM-735 with a Rigblaster NOMIC attached to my laptop running Digipan 2.0. Low and behold I made my first QSO to the Midwest (I since have now begin using for logging and QSL card management). Running about 20W I got out in the dark around 8:00pm EDT on 20M.

Finnaly success!

On to the next chapter....


The Original Plan

Ok, so now it is time for the new hams to begin taking notes on what not to do (save yourself a lot of time and money).

Being a sailboat owner now for 3 years I should have applied my same lessons learned from boat ownership to radio. What I've learned about boat ownership is that it is either a complete money hole in the water or just a minor money hole. My experiences with upgrades and repairs have been devise a good plan, do what you can do within your own skill level (call a pro when you really need it), and always keep in mind that even the smallest project can quickly erupt into a major effort (both time and money).

So, with radio I violated the first rule....Not having a good plan...After constructing my first make shift dipole I switched gears and went vertical. Worse over I selected a MP1 antenna from Super Antennas. The first night I had the antenna I opened the box quickly assembled the antenna and attached it to my back deck. I did not tighten down the screws on the mount, so once up down came the antenna which then broke the 4' whip in half (errrr....).

Ok, let's push pause, there are two problems here. One, I did not take my time to assemble and erect the antenna correctly and two a completely green operator bought a compromise (screwdriver) antenna! What was I thinking (actually, I wasn't and got caught up in the raving reviews about the portability of the antenna (most likely from very experienced hams w/ Antenna Analyzers).

Now being invested into the MP-1 I purchased a replacement whip (this time 10') and moved out. By now it was October and the holidays were bearing down (we were host 20 family members for Thanksgiving, so getting ready began to take priority). After replacing the whip and the ground radials that came with the MP-1 I was determined to make a contact.

So, now the question was which mode? Voice, data, cw? After googling around I decided that PSK-31 would be the best start (in future posts you'll find that this was the best decision I made). With PSK31 selected and still no luck with getting the MP-1 to resonate, I made a trip down to HRO with a friend and purchased a new MFJ Travel Tuner and RIGBLASTER NOMIC (excellent purchase).

At this point I started attempting to get on the air in September, it was now October, and it would not be January until I made my first contact (mostly due to the holidays).

Next post I'll talk about my first QSO and my way forward...


My Frist HF Rig - Got Radio but no Plan

After passing my General Class exam I began to search for my first HF Radio. I was fortunate enough to find someone selling a ICOM-735 (w/ the plastic door) for $100, I negotiated down to $90 and picked up the rig the next day. Living on the Chesapeake Bay and being an avid sailor it was only natural that my first radio would come from a fellow sailor. He had just purchased a new boat and readying to make his passage to the Caribbean prior to the winter settling. He had just purchased a new ICOM 706MKII for his upcoming passage while outfiting his new boat.

Not knowing if the unit worked first hand I purchased it on a chance. Once I got home I connected it to a 12V power supply and she powered up. Next I fabbed up a homemade dipole cut for 20M. This did not work out, mostly due to lack of patience and wanting to get on the air, without a good plan. It worked great for RX at only 4' up it did well on 20M, 40M, and 80M.

Although, I now had a radio, I did not have a good plan to get on the air (mode, antenna, etc).

Check out my next blog for my original plan (after not having a plan to start).


Sunday, February 15, 2009


Hi and welcome to my new blog.  

The intention of my blog is to step you thru my personal experiences of becoming a general class HAM and getting onto HF with a simple and effective station.

I upgraded my license on September 15, 2008 and since then have been working to build my HF station.  

Although, many good resources exist on the Internet ( is an excellent source of information, I thought it would be helpful to publish my experiences.

As blogs are meant to be interactive, I am looking forward to seeing everyones comments and inputs.