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Topics - gil

Antennas / Field Expedient Antenna Systems.
May 22, 2018, 01:57:42 pm
Morse Code / Can Morse Code Still Save You?
May 22, 2018, 07:00:32 am
Hello. This article is intended for Eham. I would like you guy's opinion before sending it over, corrections, etc.? Thanks.



Jack Binns was awakened by a tremendous crashing sound, screaming metal and a shudder that ran through the ship. As the wireless operator, Binns knew immediately what to do. Fortunately his long-wire antenna was still up and he had backup battery power. Jack started sending CQD on his spark-gap transmitter, ultimately saving four thousand lives from his ship, the Republic, and those of the Florida, the vessel that hit them in the fog. It was on January 23rd, 1909, and the first significant use of Morse code to save a great number of lives at sea. Can Morse code still save you today?

By 2000 Morse code was officially retired by most nations and in 2007 the FCC dropped the code requirement for amateur radio operators. Since then the amateur bands have been booming with code on the lower part of most Ham bands.

The proliferation of cheap and small CW transceivers, often offered as kits, and activities like SOTA and other "On The Air" groups has sprinkled the RF landscape with dits and dahs. Kits like Hans Summer's QCX sold and are selling by the thousand. Nary a week goes by without hearing someone mentioning their CW kit by Steve Weber or Dave Benson. Why not? Morse code is very efficient and doesn't require a computer or tablet. Radios are ultra-light and sip current, often using less on transmit than most modern rigs on receive, all the while outputting a comfortable five Watts. You can power them with eight AA cells or three 18650 cells, again very light. Amateur radio is no longer confined to the shack, or at least, portable operations are much easier today.

How long before someone calls for help in Morse code on an amateur band? Is Morse code a viable option and are we listening? If you have stories, please share them here.

I'll be honest, I use a satellite two-way system at sea or while hiking where there is no cellular phone coverage. Although I have never pressed the SOS button, the position reporting works pretty well. I also carry a small CW radio as a backup. It fits in a little tea tin can, including batteries, antenna, key and earphones; covers 20/30/40m. I would bet my life on it. I have no doubt any operator hearing the proverbial SOS pro-code would jump on it like a bear on honey. Five Watts into a full size antenna pretty much guarantees that someone will hear you somewhere. The recorded message looping function of most small CW rigs is a great asset in that regard. Not everyone can spend a few hundred dollars for a satellite handheld plus a monthly subscription...

What would you do if you heard an SOS, aside from answering of course? Do you know how to send a "Pan Pan" (non life threatening emergency) in Morse? It's XXX.

I once asked the Reverse Beacon Network if their CW skimmers detected SOS calls. The answer was no. I really would like to see this implemented, just a few lines of code, to listen for SOS and XXX.

A small CW QRP radio should be part of every Ham's collection. It might just get you off the couch and operating outside, climbing hills even. It could be very useful when stranded somewhere without phone or Internet. It can also spark interest in people meeting you. We need fresh blood in this hobby, and it won't happen without some efforts to increase visibility.

My opinion is that Morse code is still a viable means of calling for help, given the performance of new frequency-agile tiny portable transceivers. Until we get new exotic battery chemistries and integrated tablet transceivers, CW will remain the mode of choice for hikers and adventurers, even if only by a few dedicated amateurs.


I created a new WhatsApp Radio Preppers group for real-time chat and on-air/sked announcements. Since members will be in my phone's contacts, I must limit their number, so spots are limited. To do this, I am limiting access to patrons: | Patrons get extra stuff for helping out, like extra videos, photos and updates. Note that this is more related to my YouTube Channel ( than this forum, but I didn't want to leave anyone out. Well, I am in a way... Sorry about that. Inviting everyone simply isn't an option. I just don't have the time, and this site as well as my YouTube channel are operating in the red. You will still get on-air/sked announcements here but WhatsApp is instantaneous... I also must limit and identify who gets my phone number for obvious reasons. Thank you for your understanding. I hope to see you there!

General Discussion / Site Upgrade, May 2018.
May 04, 2018, 06:54:04 am
Hello. I upgraded the site to SMF 2.0.15. As usual, please let me know if you notice any glitches. I also upgraded my hosting plan from 1GB to 3GB. Attachments are working again, as well as my email address. The automatic Twitter package isn't working, so I need to troubleshoot it...

Have a great week-end!


Thank you Julian for re-posting and suggesting that I make a video on the subject in the first place :)

I also would like to say to all my viewers on YouTube that Julian and I are not in competition. We experiment, we try different things. I also have learned plenty from his channel. I had no idea for instance that you could use APRS for messaging on HF! Sometimes I think "how is he going to make this work?" Then he goes freeze his butt off in the snow and does it. His observations from this article are right on many counts. A minimalistic approach is a compromise, trading features we think are most important for others we believe we can live without. Of course, we are going to disagree; it creates learning opportunities. I will clarify a few points here before getting to the challenge. Guys, keep the debate civil. My video is in no way a critique of Julian's work and I highly suggest everyone to subscribe to him on YouTube.

QuoteGil uses a CW only radio. Benefits of this is portability and low current draw. Downsides, it's only one mode, and it's only 3 bands.

Like Julian who doesn't only use a 100W radio, I don't only use a 3-band radio. My Weber MTR is certainly my favorite rig, but it's missing 80m, which in my opinion is a very important band. I will probably at some point get the MTR4b.

Indeed, for myself, I believe CW is all I need in most cases. Why? Because it works and has for more than a century of radio. Telegraphy used to send everything from birthday wishes to market trends across the Atlantic. New digital modes are even more efficient, no doubt, but none of those setups fit in my shirt pocket, yet. I favor simple systems to limit failure points.

QuoteGil shows us his very cheap Chinese solar panel Choetech

I would love a Power Film panel! I would buy a small one. I am not favoring cheap Chinese panels, though they have the merit to exist and work. That's all I have at this time. I have no doubt there are better solutions. I really should have more than one, not a good situation right now... Bottom line is, not everyone can afford high-priced gear. If all they can buy is a cheap solar panel and a $50 CW radio, it's good to know the option exists.

QuoteFinally, Gil keeps focusing on the large capacity battery Builds and QRO radio on the channel.

Actually, I was not focusing on it at all. I only used the 1A/5A number as a general example, the only one that came to mind at the time. The last thing I want is a CW/QRP VS Digital/QRO debate. It's comparing apples to oranges.

QuoteGil's philosophy is one way, but I have never seen him fully test in the field.

I might say I have... We can't easily "fully test in the field." Everything we do is a simulation, simple tests. I have walked for two weeks with a 50lbs backpack in total autonomy in the Pyrenees, but more often than not I am much closer to home and only out for a few hours. I think it is true for both of us. Granted, Finland's climate is definitely harsher than the North of France, which is already as cold as I care to experience. The thing is, I do this mainly for fun, so putting myself in dangerous or very uncomfortable situations to test a radio isn't on my menu. If I want an adventure, I'll get on a small sailboat solo out of sight of land; there is nothing more humbling and exhilarating than that. That said, I don't mind challenges.

If I found myself isolated and injured, I would record an SOS message on my little MTR and send it on a loop. It would probably transmit for a couple days before my three 18650s run out, while I take care of myself the best I can. Like I have said before, I would bet my life on it.

QuoteI suggested to Gil that he do a training scenario to prove his philosophy actually works. A scenario where he's lost with a broken ankle. His goal, send out his exact position over CW, without having a pre-planned sked with any other operator. Do you think Gil would succeed? Let's see if Gil goes for it.

Challenge accepted!

I will pack a small CW-only radio, hike out to some isolated campsite, make contact and ask whomever to send my geographical coordinates to a friend's email address. That is a fairly complex message needing the utmost precision to succeed. Would that work or are there other requirements? Ok, let's make it more of a challenge because really, this is way too easy: I will not return home until I succeed, no matter how long it takes. I will have to set up some time for this, so I don't know when that will be yet, this year for sure.

Honestly, this should not take more than an hour... If it was a real SOS ... --- ... someone would jump on it like a fly on honey within minutes.

Maybe that would finally convince Julian to learn Morse code  ;)

General Discussion / Radio Prepper on
April 03, 2018, 11:43:28 am

Given what's going on with YouTube, I decided to open a mirror channel on, which is an open-source social network respecting freedom of speech. It seems to be banned here in France of course... One more reason to use it... I might open a third channel backup on as well.

You guys know by now that I am a big fan of Morse code, and for good reasons. Here is a perfect example of why. It wasn't so long ago... Satellite comms failed, nothing went through, but Morse on 500kHz saved everyone's bacon, 519 passengers and crew.


Our quota for disk space is almost full. I will extend the hosting plan, but in the meantime, everyone, please delete old private messages you no longer need, thanks!

I know some people are going to offer hosting solutions, but the site will stay where it is because of Iceland's privacy laws, thank you.

Net Activity / Radio Vacation, March 2018.
March 22, 2018, 09:45:28 am
Hi guys. I am leaving at 3AM for Tenerife in the Canary Islands. My KX2 is coming along, with the QRPGuys 17ft vertical antenna (four 10ft radials). I tested it in my backyard and it seems to work great. Unfortunately my Weber Slop Bucket radio does not work (yet)... Last year I was not able to make any contact from the same island, which is really surprising. It is far from everything... Watch the reverse beacon network for EA8/AK4YH this week-end and during the week.

It's a bit too "touristy" for me but it will be nice to get away from the cold for a week...


Antennas / Revisiting the EA3GCY MEF-1 EFHW Tuner.
March 09, 2018, 02:00:28 pm

A while ago I tested the MEF-1 but had some trouble adjusting the SWR. The problem was actually due to my MR-100 antenna analyzer. I tried again and this time got a perfect SWR, from 1.1:1 on 14MHz to 2:1 on 14.35MHz. That's a lot of bandwidth. My wire is 33ft long, or 10.1m. The Reverse Beacon Network report was quite surprising with quite a few spots from the United States! Now I need one for a 30m end-fed.

Technical Corner / I finished my Weber Soda Pop!
March 06, 2018, 05:09:36 pm

I finally got it all done!

  • Added an acrylic green screen.

  • Three 18650 cells in the case.

  • Inboard balanced charger.

  • Inboard MPPT solar charge controller.

  • Balanced port and lead for external charger.

  • Mini speaker.

I destroyed two acrylic screens and one speaker before getting it all packed up :o
The plug near the speaker is the balanced charging port.
Time to get my ass outside now  ;D


The FT-818 provides 6W of solid output power with external DC power source. The supplied Ni-MH battery pack (SBR-32MH) has been upgraded to now provide larger battery capacity - 9.6v/1900mAh. The recent launch of several new satellites is a certain indicator that the large global community of satellite enthusiasts are going to be a very delighted to learn that the FT-818 includes the build in TCXO-9 oscillator that gives the FT-818 fantastic frequency stability (+/-0.5ppm). 5Mhz band (WRC-15 frequency is also available on the new FT-818.

The FT-818 includes all the useful functions that are included in the FT-817ND: Dual VFO's, Split frequency operation; IF Shift; Clarifier "R.I.T"; IF Noise Blanker; RF Gain and Squelch control; IPO (Intercept Point Opimisation); AM Aircraft reception; AM and FM Broadcast reception; VOX; Built-in electronic keyer; Adjustable CW pitch; Automatic Repeater Shift (ARS); Built in CTCSS Encoder/Decoder; 208 memory channels with 10 memory groups; two antenna connectors; automatic power off (APO) and Time out Timer (TOT) functions; and so on.

Radio Features:

- Increased power output 6W(SSB, CW, FM) 2.0W(AM Carrier) *NEW!
- Improved frequency stability ±0.5 ppm : Built-in TCXO-9 *NEW!
- Larger battery capacity : 9.6V/1,900mAh (SBR-32) *NEW!
- 5MHz band (WRC-15 + UK frequency) Operation available *NEW!
- 208 Memory Channels / 10 Memory Groups
- Operates on 160-10m , HF, 6m, 2m and 70 cm Bands
- Ultra Compact and Portable
- Two Antenna Connectors
- IF Shift, IF Noise Blanker, IPO, ATT
- CW "Semi-Break-in", CW Reverse, CW Pitch Control
- Built-in Electronic Keyer
- Multi-Color Easy to see LCD
- Internal Battery Operation Capability
- ARS Automatic Repeater Shift
- APO Automatic Power Off
- Front Panel Key Lock Mode

Supplied Accessories:

Hand Microphone(MH-31A8J)
Battery (SBR-32 9.6V 1900mAh Ni-MH )
Battery Case (FBA-28) (Requires 8 "AA: batteries)
Whip Antenna for 50/144/430 MHz (YHA-63)
DC Cable (E-DC-6)
Shoulder Strap, Ferrite Core, Rubber Foot
Operating Manual
Battery Charger (PA-48)

Frequency Ranges: RX 100 kHz - 30 MHz
50 MHz - 54 MHz
76 MHz - 108 MHz
87.5 MHz - 108 MHz
430 MHz - 440 MHz
TX 1.8 MHz - 54 MHz
(5.2500 MHz - 5.4065 MHz) WRC-15 + UK
144 MHz - 146 MHz
430 MHz - 440 MHz (Amateur Bands only)
Circuit Type: Double-Conversion Superheterodyne (SSB/CW/AM/FM)
Single-Conversion Superheterodyne (WFM)
Modulation Type: A1A(CW), A3E(AM), J3E(LSB,USB), F3E(FM), F1D(PACKET), F2D(PACKET)
RF Power Output : 6 W (SSB/CW/FM), 2 W (AM Carrier) @13.8 V
Memory Channels: 208
Case Size(W x H x D): 135 x 38 x 165 mm w/o knob and connector
Weight: 900 g (w/o Battery, Antenna and Microphone)

Sent from my SM-G928F using Tapatalk

Morse Code / Watch me on the Reverse Beacon Network!
February 22, 2018, 06:02:45 pm

Morse Code / Old Footage, QRP Camping in Florida.
February 19, 2018, 06:14:54 am

General Discussion / Video on bands and ranges.
February 14, 2018, 02:52:39 pm

General Discussion / Major Sheldon’s Last Watt.
February 08, 2018, 06:32:39 pm
Hello. Here is a short story sent to me by Wayne (N6KR) at Elecraft. The author is W. A Taylor.
Click on the attachment below to get the PDF file.