WB4IUY's Random Blog

I've been in Amateur Radio since 1974, and still find new and interesting things to do. I like to build, restore, and operate on the air. This is a blog of various info about my Ham Radio operations and activities, projects, and opinions. Visit www.WB4IUY.net for the lowdown at WB4IUY.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ham Radio Nation DX Spotting Tool

Ham Rado Nation (HRN) has it's own DX Spotting window. You can log in and join for free, and it's loaded with ham radio related tools and even an awards program! Ham Radio Nation is kinda like Facebook for hams, by hams. You can check it out at hamradionation.com

Anyway, when you log in, you'll see the "DX Spots" link in the toolbar. This is a great way to see what other members are spotting, hearing, and working. It also might help members work other members by watching that link. If you haven't used it yet, pop over and paste in your spots, even if you also post it to DX Summit and such. Hope to see you on the HRN DX Spotting circuit!


Friday, December 2, 2011

10m RTTY Contest this weekend!

With 10 meters being very active recently, I expect the 10m RTTY contest to be a lot of fun this weekend. I work RTTY on 10m with an old Hal Telereader most of the time, just because it's old, vintage and one of the true "oldie-but-goodies". If you want a real stand-alone interface with it's own built-in display, this is one to watch out for at swap meets. It works CW as well, and does a great job at both without the use of a computer. You can see a pic of it here: http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/decoders/cwr6850.html

I also use my computer and Ham Radio Deluxe. While it does a great job at RTTY, it still does not copy a cleanly as the old Hal Telereader CWR-6850 manufactured around 1983.

No matter how you get on RTTY, it's an old school but FUN mode. Being 100% duty cycle, you have to be careful with your rig and amp so you don't damage anything. The contest is this weekend, and has a 100w limit. I'd recommend that you run your amp if you have one, turn the rig down to drive the amp to only 100w, and everything will be nice and cool for the contest.

Go HERE for more info on the contest, and I hope to see you on the air!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Collecting Visitor Flags...

I've been setting up a flag counter from flagcounters.com for visitors to my site. Kinda neat, shows country of origin. Check it out at:



Sunday, November 6, 2011

Great Fan Dipole Diagram

This is a nice fan dipole drawing from YC8PVU. I have built many of these over the years with different band combinations. You can add 160, WARC, & 6m using same concept. Nice to have muitiband antenna that doesn't require an antenna tuner and automatically bandswitches. These work great!

The 30mm (a little over 1") separation at the feed points is good, but I try to keep the distant ends about 6" apart per band. I've found this helps minimize coupling that causes your wire length measurements to be a little off. Cut your wire...s about 5% longer than the typical dipole formula, to give yourself some tuning range. Tune the lowest band wires first, and work your way up to the highest bands. Don't solder the wire wrap at the distant ends (where it comes through the insulator and wraps back around and twists onto itself to secure it) until you're finished. Just twist and pull back up for testing. You'll have to tune the whole antenna system about twice because there is a little interaction between bands, but when you're finished, it's a killer and simple setup. I've even put this in the attic of a friend's house by stabling it to the rafters nearest the roof, and 'zig-zagging' the low band wires (80 m) just to get is all up there. Tuned it up, and he was working DX with 100w like mad. Was a good answer for him, because he couldn't have any outside antennas!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

ARRL September VHF QSO Party, 9/10/11-9/12/11

Playing around on the ARRL VHF QSO Party this weekend, primarily on 2m & 6m SSB. It runs from 1800 UTC Saturday and ends 0300 UTC Monday (September 10-12, 2011). Not really making a serious effort, but it's neat to pick up a few new grids and help out with those that are making an effort to pack in a good score. Nice to see activity on 2m SSB! You can see more about it at: http://www.arrl.org/september-vhf-qso-party

It's about 11:30pm local time, Saturday night, and I'm still hearing a few signals on the band.


- I just worked W8ZN on 144.195 & 50.220 at abt 11:02pm EST FM05 FM19
- Worked KO4YC on 50.220 & 144.230 , FM05 FM17
- Worked K3TUF on 50.150 & 144.210 FN10 <-> FM05 NC to PA on 2m at 11:50pm EST. Not bad for a dead band!
- Worked K4LY on 50.190 & 144.187 FM05 <-> EM85
- Worked KN4SM on 50.190 & 144.187 FM05 <-> FM16
- Worked W3SO on 144.2128 & 50.163 FM05 NC <-> FN00 PA, not bad!
- Worked W4IY on 50140.0 & 144.950 FM05 <-> FM08


Friday, September 2, 2011

LX-DXpedition on the air until 9/6

A group from the Low Land DXpedition Team are active in Luxembourg from Aug 30th through Sept 6th. I just worked LX/PA3EWP Ron on the LX-DXpedition, on 10.142.93 mhz 30m RTTY. It was an easy work with 50 watts into a non-resonant 40m sloper & tuner. They're on several bands and modes for the next few days, so it'll be fun trying to work them. They're using a new logging system powered by the CQFriends webserver.

Update: DX 10.104.04 LX/PA3EWP CW @ 2:02Z on 9/3/11. Nice sig into NC! Easy w/50w on 40m sloper & tuner

Update 2: DX 18083.04 LX/PA7FM . Worked on 80m Dipole w/tuner. Need to put up WARC antennas!

You can find out more about this DXpedition at www.CQFriends.com . See you on the bands!


Thursday, August 4, 2011

The CFARS FREE Hamfest was Saturday, 7/6/11

The CFARS hamfest was Saturday, Aug 6th, in Fayetteville NC. There was no admission charge and no fee for tables. Tailgating is permitted, if you could take the heat. Their website is http://www.CFARSNC.org.

There was a test session on site, walk-in's were accepted, and you needed to be there at 9am (testing at 9:30). If you were selling, you could get in as early as 6:30 am to set up. General admission was from 8am until 12-noon.

The site was in the Reeves Auditorium on the campus of the Methodist University, Hwy 401 North (5400 Ramsey Street, Fayetteville). The test session was in the Science building (look for the building with the tall tower behind Reeves Auditorium).

My oldest son, Chris KF4DBX, and I got up at 4am, pulled out at 4:30am, and headed that way. It was only about 65 miles from my home location. The raind was coming down so hard I could barely see the lines on the hiway, and I was worried about unloading at the site. We stopped along the way for breakfast, and headed onward. By the time we arrived, and weather had cleard and all was well. The swapmeet area was air conditioned, as was the test session site. Chris upgraded his call to General class, we sold a bit of goodies, picked up some goodies, and had a great time. We're ooking forward to next year, already!

There are a few pics on my facebook page HERE .


Saturday, July 30, 2011

APRS Keyboard QSOs, where did they go?

Many years ago (around 1995 or so), in a land not too far away (Zebulon NC), Jay KQ4MS and I put up the first APRS node east of Charlotte. At that time, we were cut off from the outside world, and used it for our own local keyboard chatting. From time to time, we would have band openings, and could work guys out in the western parts of NC and into Virginia. It was a lot of fun! Some of us had trackers and could see each other moving about, but for the most part we had daily communications via APRS.

The clock spun ahead, and other nodes began to appear on the map. It was awesome, we could easily work folks on the keyboard every night over a 3 state area. Friendships developed, and things improved in the network. Lots of folks were getting interested and wanted to participate in this network of mostly low altitude nodes.

We continued to revolve around the sun, and newer protocols arose that really helped with the unwanted ping-ponging, equipment got better, and lots more hams appeared on the scenes. Many of us had a blast every night, making keyboard contacts all around, even through the I-Gates that were beginning to pop up, and the many HF gateways that would allow us to work folks all over the US via RF APRS.

Sometime shortly after that, a new breed of APRS ops began to emerge that discouraged keyboarding due to the increased overhead on the network. Some of us got blacklisted on nodes and could no longer communicate with each other, and other were publicly chastised on the APRS forums. I closed my APRS station down and moved on to other modes of operation that were fun for me.

I recently got back on APRS, and discovered the crowds that were _all about_ APRS, telling the rest of us "how it should be done", are no longer there. There is a moderate amount of traffic, but a lot of the folks who used to operate APRS are now gone. What a shame, but that is the cycle we so often see on various modes of Ham Radio... AMTOR, SSTV, 2m repeaters, etc... Those of us who have been in the hobby many years have seen this over and over.

I've been sending out a CQ on APRS when I'm in the shack, and have been pleasantly surprised by making keyboard contacts with others who are interested in doing the same thing, once again. The maps aren't as crowded as they once were, but there are still lots of folks who enjoy actually communicating via APRS, even for just a short "hello" and to set up a schedule on a repeater or HF.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Working Split, QSX, Up Up...please learn!!

I spent a goodly amount of time today, trying to work ST0R, and realized that there is a huge problem... People either don't listen to the DX station when they say things like "up 5 to 10", "qsx +3", etc., maybe they don't hear the DX at all and are just calling from cluster spots, or truly don't understand how to work split.

Those of us who do understand, have all made mistakes, and that's not what I'm typing about.. I've been a ham and DX'er since 1974, and the ST0R pileup is among the worst of the worst. The ST0R ops are great, its the rest of us who are calling on top, QRMing, and just being plain stupid.

Please, please,please.... before you jump into a pileup, understand how to work split, LISTEN to the DX, and behave!!!. It makes things much easier on everyone involved.

P.S. To all Kilocycle Cops and Frequency Cops: Why do you feel you have to have to handle the situation? Your constant additional comments turned the ST0R zoo into an even bigger mess! Yesterday, there was MORE QRM from the "Radio Police" than from those who were too stupid to follow the instructions from ST0R. Whew!

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

CQ WW VHF Contest - 7/16-17!

This weekend is the CQ WorldWide VHF contest. It runs from 18:00Z Saturday 7/16 through 21:00Z Sunday 7/17. The full rules for it can be found HERE . Dust off your 2m & 6m rigs and get on the air. You can work all modes, and even FM... The only prohibited FM frequency is 146.52, the USA National Simplex Frequency, but all other standard simplex frequencies are acceptable like 146.49, 146.55, and 146.58. The contest exchange is [Callsign & Grid Square], signal reports are not necessary. Hope to see you on the air!!

Dave Wb4IUY

Huge UHF & 6m opening, 7/14/11

Wow... I hate I missed the huge band opening on 440 this morning. Was driving to work and working KD4PBS on the 442.075 repeater, and the inverted repeater pair in New England was coming into NC so strong that it was covering us up locally. I don't understand the logic behind the northeast coordinating repeaters backward from the rest of the US, but there must be a reason...I guess...

Anyway, I also noticed loads of spots on the DX Cluster for Europe being worked from the US on 6m. Oh well, works gets in the way of fun, all the time ;-)

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Reactivate Your 2m SSB Station!

I got my first taste of 2m SSB back in 1991 when Dave Wood W4EJ (then WB4KPD) demonstrated his 2m SSB station to me and I saw all the contacts he made on that band/mode. I looked around for something to fit my tight budget and get me on the air, and finally did so on June 14, 1992. My wife and I lived in an apartment in Wilson NC, and we were allowed to install a small tower there. I was using an old Heathkit SB-500 2m Transverter with my Heathkit SB-301 rx & SB-401 tx. It cranked out about 100 watts, and the receiver was fair to "so-so". The antenna I used was a Cushcraft 17B3 up about 50 feet, fed with a chunk of 9913 coax. It worked well, and I was very surprised at how many people were on that band/mode combo. I made contacts all up and down the east coast, and half-way out across the midwest. I had a blast, and was fairly active on 2m SSB until around June of 1993, when we bought a new home and moved.

Time marched on...I put up a somewhat larger tower at my new QTH, but didn't get around to putting up my 2m SSB antenna and getting back on 2m SSB until January 19th, 2008. WOW... I didn't realize how long I had been off the air, until I thought about it a bit. Once back on, I heard almost no one. I thought perhaps I had a feedline or antenna problem, or some issue with my transverter due to having been off the air so long. I did feedline loss tests, checked my gear our for rx sensitivity in the workshop, etc..but all seem OK. My antenna was now at about 117', about 67 feet higher than before. My QTH was in a much better location...now at 375' above sea level, whereas the old QTH was only about 100' asl.

I continued to listen constantly, call CQ on a regular basis, work the contests, etc. I worked stations from time to time, and worked some good ones many states away. I finally came to realize that there simply aren't as many people on the air on 2m SSB as there were in the early 90's. I've worked many people on 6m and HF, and have asked about their 2m SSB capability. Many reported things like "I took down the antennas because there weren't enough people on to talk to", "I haven't turned the rig on in years", "I never hear anyone on", etc. I've established that there are many, many hams out there with the equipment and antennas that simply don't switch them on.

What prompted me to write this? It came to me this morning, after working the only person I've heard on today, and listening to him call CQW for the last hour with no other responses. 2 points I felt were important to remember were:

1- If no one turns on their rigs, there will be no one to make contact with.

2- The band is quiet in most cases...turn your rig on, set the squelch lightly (if your rig has an all-mode squelch, mine doesn't), or turn the volume down low. You'll be able to hear when those lonesome ops are calling, and start making contacts again on 2m SSB!

Lastly, try to get on a make a few contacts in the sprints and contests. It's a great time to find activity at it's highest, and the activity is much appreciated by all ops. Get back on 2m SSB and let's QSO!!

One note... It's not expensive. I "upgraded" from my 60's vintage Heathkit transverter to a late 70's vintage Icom IC-211 & Vocom amp that gives me about 50 watts output from an all solid-state station with a good receiver. I know, it's still old stuff, but I got the entire station for $100 and I work everything I hear anyone else work...maybe not as good, maybe I have to call a few more times due to my weaker signal, but it still gets the job done (on the cheap!)

73 es cu on 2m SSB!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

6m Open on July 4th Weekend!

Wow, this has been an active weekend on 6 meters. Quite by accident, I worked into Italy from NC with my meager 100w station. So far, I've worked:


The propogation is there...get your 6m rigs hooked up and on the air! Many of my contacts are automatically posted on my FaceBook page at facebook.com/wb4iuy. Hope to see you on the air and I hope you have a Happy Holiday Weekend!

Dave Wb4IUY

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Field Day until 21:00z!

Field Day isn't automatically over at 18:00z on Sun. Field Day runs until 21:00z for class A& B stations who didn't start setup untill 18:00z, and for all class C, D, E, & F stations. Keep on rolling!


Saturday, June 11, 2011

IC-756 Display fix and 60m added!

I bought my IC-756 back around '95. It has been a great radio, except that the display began to fail a few years ago and Icom would not support it. They came out with the Pro-series 756's, and had no displays for the repair of the $2500+ radio I bought in '95.

I continued to put up with the problem, and it continued to get worse and worse...to the point where I could almost not read the display and had to rely on HRD and a CI-V interface to read some functions and frequency on the computer in the shack.

In recent years, a ham Richard Rosenberger PA7FA in the Netherlands designed a replacement display for it. You can see his display kit at http://www.pa7fa.nl

I was about to send the front of my rig to him to have his new display kit installed (I couldn't possibly handle all the SMD soldering and such), when I got a message from Bob wa8ulw stating that he had an old 756 that had been struck by lightning and that it had a good display. Wow...was I ever relieved to hear this!

Bob and I worked the deal, the faceplate assembly from his 756 arrived at my doorsteps this morning, and it's already on the rig and looking good as new. While I was doing the work, I modified the 756 to add the use of the 60m ham band to it's range of transmit frequencies.

Check out the before and after pics, including the little SMD jumper I had to remove to allow transmission on the 60m band...


BAD storm & June VHF Contest

Wow... while getting ready for the June VHF contest this weekend, we had one heck of an electrical storm tonight (Fri, June 10th). Multi-discharge lightning strikes all around us, some so close there was no delay between the flash of lightning, crack of the air, and the BOOM from the thunder. Thank goodness I had disconnected everything in the shack prior. The power was out for a while and we were running on our whole house generator.

It's now 1:30am June 11th. The storm has finally passed, leaving cooler temps and over 3" of rainfall behind. You can see my weather station online, along with the weather data archives from my location, at http://www.ipass.net/wb4iuy/radio/wb4iuy5b.htm .

Have all of my gear reconnected, all antennas tested, and ready for the contest! You can see the rules for the test at http://www.arrl.org/june-vhf-qso-party . Hope to see you on the air on 6m or 2m during the test!


Monday, June 6, 2011

6m improving quickly!

Nice to see such great activity on 6m these recent days. Along with working all around the USA, I've been making contacts all over the eastern half of Canada, and down into the islands such as Turks & Caicos, Cayman Is, etc. Get your rigs on 6m and keep the squelch open to hear the weak ones, it looks like we're going to have a great summer. Oh, BTW, don't forget the ARRL VHF contest this coming weekend!!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

CQ SSB WPX Contest...

Wow...the CQ WPX contest brought out loads of great contacts on the HF bands. I've been working 10m a bit this afternoon, and making contacts all over the South Pacific, and a few out into the Atlantic. Band conditions on 10 are great. Worked EB8AH, AH7NA, KH2L, ZL1AAO, VK3NW, ZL3IO, VK4KW, VK4WIP, VN4NM, VK4EMM, and VK1CC for examples. It's great to see these improved openings on 10m, and the contests really bring out the ops to make these contacts possible.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

6m SSB Net - 50.200 from FM06

Don't forget the NC 6m SSB net this and every Saturday morning on 50.200. Based in FM06, Eddie KD4CPV calls in all directions with his huge yagi antenna. In operation for many years, a nice size group of folks always check in for this net.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

ARRL Int'l DX Contest, SSB. 10 is open!

Working the ARRL Inter. SSB DX Contest this morning, and 10m is WIDE OPEN! Just worked into Namibia, Africa on 28.417! Loads of stations active this morning (Saturday, 3/5). Check out more info on it at: http://www.arrl.org/arrl-dx . See you on the bands!

...adding a bit more after the contest finished on 3/6. I found Zambia, Canary Is, Madeira Is, Saudi Arabia, Sardinia, Nigeria, Namibia and more between 28.500-28.600!
The contest was a great way to spend the day inside, especially with the rain and such going on. Other than a bit of rain noise, the band conditions were nice. I worked 10m only, logged 156 contacts, 47 countries, and made 21996 points in the contest. I had a blast, and was my first long sit-down with a contest since 1994!


Sunday, February 20, 2011

AWA AM QSO Party, 2/19-20/11

I'm working the AWA AM QSO Party tonight and tomorrow. It runs from 23:00z Saturday 2/19 through 23:00z Sunday 2/20. There's more info at http://www.antiquewireless.org/pdf/2011am_rules.pdf . Switch your rig to AM and join the fun!


Sunday, February 6, 2011

AM Transmitter Rally, Feb 5-6!

For those of you who enjoy working a bit of AM with whatever rig you have, there's a fun, low key event running this weekend called the AM Transmitter Rally. It's more of a huge ragchew event, and you can learn more about it here:


I'm been having a blast, and working lots of stations on AM from all over. Folks are running everything from homebrew, military, conventional, and the new flex radio stuff. Check it out!


Awards Tracker Updated!

David W5DJT has updated the Awards Tracker program again. It can now export files in adif format. There are two types of adif files. One that is compliant with the adif 2.2.x standards and one that works if imported into ACLog. You can download the latest version of this cool tool at:



Saturday, January 15, 2011


The ARRL Logbook of the World has now added the ability to confirm, track, and obtain VUCC on all bands from 50mhz and up. This is a feature that has been a long time in coming, and should be a nice perk for those working VHF/UHF/SHF frequencies to help obtain the VUCC awards. Additionally, they included the coveted Fred Fish Award in the system as well.

Log into your LOTW account, select AWARDS, and click the 'Create New VUCC Award Account' button. You must set one rule for it to work, and it'll walk you through that. If you have been operating from the same location, or locations within the 200km requirement of the ARRL, simply choose "Call Sign" and it'll do the rest.

If you're not on LOTW, sign up at https://p1k.arrl.org/lotwuser/default . You can simply upload your files from your currentl logging program in ADIF format (most all logs export in that format), and you'll be in business. Another perk of doing this is it provides an online backup of your logs, in case you have a computer crash.