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Messages - bkmoore

You can't go wrong starting on 40m. Most slow speed CW is between 7.050 and 7.060 or above 7.110 MHz.
Antennas / Easy to Make Doublet for QRP
April 11, 2020, 01:48:10 am
While browsing the NorCal QRP web site, I stumbled upon this very nice design for a portable doublet antenna: Norcal Doublet

Since I operate portable QRP, I am always looking for new antenna ideas, and up to now have never found a center-fed dipole that I was happy with. I ordered 65 feet of 4-strand ribbon cable for $9.99, made end insulators from an old paint mixing stick, and used a few odds and ends from my junk box. I made the elements each 22 feet in length, per the Norcal design, but left the remainder of the cable to be a feed line, so that I could lengthen the elements later on if I want to. I attached one end to a tree, and used two collapsable poles for the center and other end. The antenna was perfectly horizontal at 20 feet. Setup took only a few minutes.

I used a QRP-Guys Multi-Z tuner, which can take balanced line. I was able to tune the doublet on 40, 30 and 20 meters. Using my 5 watt, 40m QCX transceiver, I made an initial QSO with someone in San Diego, distance 246 miles. He reported my signal at 599. I made a second QSO into Utah, distance 310 miles, reporting 559. This was mid afternoon, so the band hadn't completely opened up yet.

I really like this antenna. It is it is very light, easy to setup, the feed line loss is minimal, and so far has given me very good results. I may lengthen the elements to 33 feet each, which is close to the recommended length for a 40m doublet. I will also make a 4:1 balun, so I can connect it directly to my K2's auto tuner.

For me personally, my ideal field setup would be a combination of a vertical, such as the QRP guys trio-band vertical, and this antenna. This antenna would also work very well in a stealth installation.


"Who are these Experts?" Sorry... I was basing what I said off of a book I read, "The Art and Skill of Radio-Telegraphy" by William G. Pierpont N0HFF. I am obviously not a pro, so I can only go off of what I read and my own self training, and my very limited experience in CW.

I guess the point I was trying to make is head copy and paper copy are separate skills, and if you write everything down and never learn to head copy, it can become a handicap.

PS: I am interested in participating in CW traffic nets, even though it's completely obsolete and hardly anyone sends radiograms any more. But in a natural disaster, it could become a very useful skill. So I do care about being able to accurately copy messages, as opposed to just carrying on a conversation.
The experts say, throw away the pencil and learn to head copy. And that is a good skill to have. When I'm on the air, it's mostly head copy with a few notes. Writing down every letter can turn into a handicap. But OTOH, for passing messages, traffic nets, etc. you need to be able to copy morse code. So I have practiced both, because I want to be able to use morse code for more than just on-the-air QSOs.

Copying code takes a lot of practice. I occasionally copy the W1AW transmissions, especially the 18 WPM propagation report, because it contains a good mix of characters, symbols, and letters. And I recently received a certificate from the 20 WPM qualifying run. I hope to qualify at 25 and 30 WPM some day. The trick is to learn to copy from behind. That is you wait until you recognize the word before writing it down, and while writing, you're listening for the next word. It's not easy, but it's kind of fun.
I guess I'll chime in again. I used the Koch method at 15 WPM and 20 WPM character speed. I typed in my copy on a PC, so the computer could grade it instantly. I don't know if head copy is right or wrong, but typing my copy worked for me and I don't think it slowed my learning down. The purpose of the Koch method is to teach your mind to instantly recognize Morse code characters, and how can you know if you recognized the correct character unless you have some form of copy? Character recognition is the foundation for everything else, and eventually you'll start to recognize common words, and be able to head copy much of what's being sent on the air.
There's a difference between memorizing and learning. If you want to memorize the code, that video is fine. If you want to learn the code to communicate, I wouldn't recommend it. I personally learned by using the Koch method at 15 WPM. You start out listening to 2 letters, and add letters one at a time. This method worked for me and I am now at 25 WPM.
Antennas / QRP Guys 80/60m Vertical Antenna
October 13, 2019, 02:07:28 am

After some good success with the QRP-Guys vertical tri-band (20/30/40 m) antenna, I decided to give the 80/60m vertical antenna a try. I do not have much space and wanted to be able to use 80 meters. In short, it is a coil-loaded vertical with taps to select 80m, 75m and 60m bands. I built the antenna according to the instructions and found it had a high SWR on 80 meters. It could probably be tuned to a 1:1 SWR by taking some turns out of the coil, but that may sacrifice performance on 75m and 60m. I decided to leave the antenna as is, since my Elecraft K2's internal tuner can match the impedence without any difficulty. You do need to use the taps for 75m. The first time I tried the antenna on 75 meters, I forgot the set the tap and my tuner couldn't find a match.

I am in central CA and had no problem making several CW QSOs into Arizona and Washington with good signal reports at QRP power.  I could hear and see my signal clearly on the KFS WebSDR, located about 100 miles away. I didn't try SSB with the antenna yet, band conditions were bad and there was nobody I cared to talk to. (Lots of politics and ranting about former spouses, etc...)

Although not a product review, I think this is a good antenna for 80m regional communications. It's only $20, is extremely portable, has a very small foot print, and is very easy to set up. I look forward to trying this antenna in more situations and am curious if more radials will increase its performance.

I am curious to hear from others who have this antenna and their experiences. Especially if anyone gets this antenna to work on 80 meters without a tuner.


Antennas / Re: Elmer help/advice needed
September 30, 2019, 09:11:47 pm
Have you considered a 1/4-wave vertical? Here's a design that looks like it's easy to make:


General Discussion / Re: Lab599 Discovery TX-500
September 21, 2019, 09:58:44 pm
Gil - maybe if there's someone on this forum who happens speaks Russian, or Ukrainian, they could contact them on your behalf???

RadioRay - please let us know when you get your Hallicrafters Nine-Zillion. But it doesn't look very portable.  ;)

General Discussion / Re: Lab599 Discovery TX-500
September 21, 2019, 12:46:49 am
Quote from: Sparks on September 20, 2019, 10:18:03 pm
The Lab599 Discovery TX-500 has been widely discussed in the ham sphere for some months now. Nobody has found any substantial information, and some label it 'vaporware'.....

I guess it may be too good to be true. I know from personal experience that going from a demonstration prototype to a market-ready product is extremely difficult, and I can only wish these guys success and hope they get their radio out the door.

OTOH I probably wouldn't put off getting a KX2. But even if this radio never reaches market status, the design may influence others in building better portable radios in the future. I would love to see a ruggedized KX2 or KX3 for example. But I'm sure the market for such a radio is very small and it's probably difficult to justify the non recurring development cost and still be able to offer such a radio at a consumer-friendly price point. I don't see a market for. $10,000 + QRP radio, outside of the military for example.
General Discussion / Re: Lab599 Discovery TX-500
September 20, 2019, 05:25:22 pm
I have been lusting after a KX2 to take up into the High Sierras. But if this radio turns out to work as well as it looks, I know which radio I'm going to be asking Santa for.  :D I also think having 6 meters is a very good thing in a field radio.
General Discussion / Lab599 Discovery TX-500
September 20, 2019, 01:57:43 pm

I just stumbled on this new radio from The case is machined from a solid block of aluminum, so it looks like it might be a much more durable field radio than the KX2. Has anyone here seen this radio before?


Thanks Gil,

When the solar cycle picks back up, I'll be here. Or I may move back to Germany and you won't need the solar cycle to reach me. But it all depends on how my future career develops.... Right now Germany makes no sense for my professional future.


Morse Code / west coast, beginners CW practice group?
August 23, 2019, 06:17:35 pm
I am still learning the code and was wondering if any other beginners here would be interested in having a no-stress, beginner-friendly rag chew on 40 meters? I just want to talk about rigs, antennas, weather, mountains, airplanes, anything.... other than religion or politics. I run QRP portable, so my signals can be weak but I have had good success in most of the western states when conditions are right.

I have most of my QSOs at about 13 WPM and am comfortable at that speed. I can copy much faster if the quality of code is good. And I am happy to slow down too if the other person is also a beginner. We all started out struggling to get all the letters and I am new enough to remember how difficult that can be. Some of the old timers on the air seem to have forgotten what it was like to be a beginner and I have had one or two discouraging QSOs where I had to politely sign off and spin the dial. Also, I will never tell someone to send with a particular device, or use a particular setup. Radio is supposed to be a hobby and every one should use what they like and how they like. If you're on the air and we're communicating, then your setup works and is good!
General Discussion / Just passed the Exra-Class exam
August 19, 2019, 11:42:12 am
Hi All,

After about six months of practice and studying, I passed the Extra exam this past weekend. I was well prepared, but still several of the questions stumped me. I didn't think I passed when I handed it in for grading and had to wait in suspense while all the VEs graded the exam. They had good poker faces. Anyway, went home, didn't get on 80m SSB or anything like that. But thought I'd mention it here. I don't really need the extra for what I do in amateur radio, but thought of it as a challenge and an opportunity to learn more about amateur radio.

Maybe I'll get a 2x2 or 1x2 call sign, but I'm not sure if it's worth the trouble of changing.