Sunday, February 28, 2010

India (VU3DJQ)

Today I made a QSO with India on the 15m band. I was using my FT857D and I got a signal report of 54. When I looked up the callsign on I found out that the operator (Ram) is from Narela (a name very similar to my surname Varela), one of the subdivisions of the North West district of Delhi.
I also found out that he is a silver member on eQSL, so I am looking forward to receiving his card because I do not have this country confirmed yet.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Clan is growing: Three-way QSO with ON4FB and G0TBI

Last Friday I organized a sked with ON4FB in Belgium and G0TBI joined us from England. The bad news is that my camcorder's battery was empty so I couldn't record the QSO as I wanted. The good news is that Alex recorded everything from his shack. Unfortunately we cannot hear G0TBI (Stuart) because his signal was received in Spain but not in Belgium.
In this first video Alex is using an FT897 with a 500W linear amplifier:

As I told him that his signal was good and he didn't need so much power, he decided to try his PRC320... with a 100W linear amplifier:

I reassured him again that the rig's standard power was more than enough, so he finally switched off the amplifier. Here the QSO with his PRC-320 barefoot:

As you can see, the standard 30W are more than enough for communication.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Poland: Thirteenth country confirmed with the 320

Today I received an eQSL for a QSO on the 15m band with Polish station SP7IDX (Waldi). This makes the thirteenth countru confirmed for my eDX award.
Today I also met José Luis (EA1HNP) and made some QSOs with the FT857D because the weather was too bad for staying outside with the PRC-320. I made a QSO with Canadian station VE7FE (Jurgen) on the 15m band. Then I moved to 20m and made a QSO with Brazilian station PY5QW (operator Vigand) from Curitiba and another one with KC2R (Bernie) from Central New York.
Bernie was first licensed in 1954 as ZB1CO on the island of Malta. Royal Corps of Signals, British Army. His second call was DL4NT ( & club station DL4ACW ) with the U.S. Air Force, Germany, 1956 - 1959. His first U.S. call was WB2GJN in 1963. Finally, he has held his present call, KC2R, since 1979.

DX net with the PRC-320

Yesterday evening I checked into a DX net with the PRC-320 and I made a couple of QSOs. One of them was with KB3NXT (Joe), who gave me a signal report of 54. On the right side you can see the eQSL he just sent me last night.
The weather was not very good as you will probably notice from the video. At the end it even started raining a bit.

By the way, I was using the smaller 1Ah battery this time because the bigger one was too low after several days of operation, at least for DX work.

Ireland with the Clansman

This is a video of a QSO with Irish station EI2CR (operator Sean) from Dublin on the 20m band. My 4Ah was running low after several days of operation, but was enough for a quick QSO.

From my experience, Ireland is not an easy country to make, probably because there are not many registered radio amateurs as compared to other countries.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Looking for North America on 15m

I am looking for QSOs with North American stations on the 15m band. The reason for this is that I have realized that I only need that area in order to qualify for a 15m endorsement on my WAC (Worked All Continents) award.
Fifteem meters has always been my favourite band, for a number o reasons. In first place, it is a great band for very lond distance contacts with modest power and antennas. Secondly, the band is usually less crouded than 20m. The third reason is somewhat nostalgic, because 15m was one of the bands that I was allowed to use when I first got my amateur radio licence in 1992.
Yesterday I made a couple of QSOs on this band. The first was with Canadian station VE3SKP (Steve) from Ottawa. The second one was with W8ERN (Angelo, see the picture on the right) from Brighton, Michigan. He was using an Icom 746proIII and a 3-element stepIR beam.

Monday, February 22, 2010

One morning, three bands, seven countries

Sunday morning was very productive with the PRC-320. I made ten QSOs with seven countries in three different bands. I started on my newly discovered 12m band with a couple of QSOs with Lithuania (LY1CX, Auris) and Crete (SV9CVY, Mike).
Then I moved to the 15m band and made contacts with Poland (SP6VWX- Robert and SP7IDX - Waldi), Antigua and Barbuda (V21DB, Derrick), Kazahstan (UN0LE, Serge from Kustanai) and the Czech Republic (OK2WED, Petr). Here you can see a video of the QSO recorded by José Luis (EA1HNP), who popped by to see how the Clansman worked:

Finally, I tried the 20m band, where I checked into what I believe was the Southern Cross DX Net coordinated by Jack (W1FDY), in which I have already participated in the past. I made QSOs with him and two other American stations: KB3NXT (Joe, from PA) and KC8OFH.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My first QSO on the 12m band

Today I made what I believe to be my first QSO ever on the 12m band. It was a QSO with EW8A (Igor) from Rechitsa, Belarus. I was using my FT857 with the FC40 auto tuner and the 4m whip.
Rechytsa is a town in the Homiel Province of Belarus. It is center of Rechitsa district. The city is situated at the mouth of Rechitsa river, flowing into Dnieper. The population is 65,532 as of 2005.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Republic of Macedonia on 15m (Z30U)

Today I made a QSO on the 15m band with Z30U (Alec) from the Republic of Macedonia. The truth is that I did not know where that strange prefix was from when I made the qso.
Macedonia, officially the Republic of Macedonia, is a country located in the Vardar Macedonia region in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeastern Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991. It became a member of the United Nations in 1993, but as a result of a dispute with Greece over its name, it was agreed that it would be provisionally referred to within the United Nations as the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, sometimes abbreviated as FYROM, until the dispute with Greece is settled.
Macedonia is a landlocked country that is geographically clearly defined by a central valley formed by the Vardar river and framed along its borders by mountain ranges. The terrain is mostly rugged, located between the Šar Mountains and Osogovo, which frame the valley of the Vardar river. Three large lakes — Lake Ohrid, Lake Prespa and Dojran Lake — lie on the southern borders, bisected by the frontiers with Albania and Greece. Ohrid is considered to be one of the oldest lakes and biotopes in the world.[19] The region is seismically active and has been the site of destructive earthquakes in the past, most recently in 1963 when Skopje was heavily damaged by a major earthquake, killing over 1,000.

Northern Ireland: No. 12 with the PRC-320 and no. 65 overall

I have just received this nice eQSL from GI3SG (Martin), which adds one DXCC entity to the list, both with the PRC-320 (no. 12) and overall (no. 65). The objective is to get 25 countries validly confirmed by eQSL as EC1CW/P with my Clansman radio in order to qualify for an eDX award.
I have also received a very nice eQSL for a QSO I made today with Jim (MM0JVB) in Scotland. I was operating portable with José Luis (EA1HNP) on a hill close to the city of A Coruña. There was very strong QRM so I could not talk much to Jim, but the nice view from his eQSL pays off. I hope to catch him again soon with better conditions.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Clansman PRC-320 sked: The Clan reunited

Today I had a sked with a Belgian fellow ham on the 20m band. Alex is also a fan of military radios and we agreed to meet on 14.250 Mhz at 10.00 UTC in order to to try the PRC320. In this first QSO, he is using a Kenwood TS-50 with an auto-tuner and a 6m-long military vertical:

We tried at different power levels for the Kenwood (100, 50 and 10W), but the real test was to try the two Clansman radios together, from Spain and Belgium, respectively:

At first his antenna was not properly tuned, and you can notice a big improvement after this is accomplished. I think the propagation also helped a bit at the end of the QSO. Two Clansman radios together again... the Clan reunited.

Northern Ireland and Bulgaria with the PRC-320

Today I have made a couple of QSOs on 15m with the PRC-320 and the 4m whip. It seem that it tunes acceptably well on that band just at the limit, so the 17m band would be the only left. The first QSO was with LZ1ND (Ted) and the second one with LZ1ANA.
I also made a very interestning QSO on the 20m band with the Northern Irish station GI3SG (Martin) from Belfast. This calllsign belonged to his late grandfather John Martin, who worked for the MOD during World War II as a VI (Voluntary Interceptor) and his family asked Martin to apply for his callsign in his memory.
Martin's previous callsign was MI3UDX. He feels very privileged to be able to continue his Pops callsign and looks forward to working the bands. He has always been interested in vintage valve equipment and transceivers, and especially the HF bands on SSB, both as a SWL and more recently as an amateur station.
He began his first use of radio using a spark-gap generator in the Royal Signals during the 1st World War. He gained his Northern Ireland experimental radio licence in 1936. He was involved in receiving signals and forwarding them on to Bletchley Park for deciphering (The Enigma Code). Martin recently received information that he worked at a very secret DF location called Gilnahirk which until recently could not be divulged (the 60-year rule). He survived a parachute mine hitting the bottom of his street, and moved to another address, and continued transmitting.
His shack was entirely self constructed, and had a huge PA rack mainly consisting of 807 type Valves. He had a very novel way of rotating a yagi beam by a system of pinions and cogs turned by hand inside his shack by a car steering wheel! He was very adept at morse code and his party piece was to send with either hand! A red light bulb iluminated outside his shack whilst he was transmitting meaning no admittance unless Invited! Martin's mother had relayed this info to him. She was never invited! Martin WAS invited several times to listen as a small boy in the 1960s!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Serbia: Country no. 11 with the "kornjaca"

I have just received an eQSLfor a qso with the Serbian station YU2MMA (operator Milos) on the 20m band. I got a signal report of 52.
I was using my PRC320 of which there was an LSB version that was called "kornjaca", which means turtle in Serbian. This makes the country number 11 validly confirmed via eQSL for my eDX award (I need 25).
Looking at his entry it seems that he also likes working DX and when he has free time, he is mobile/portable with a home made vertical for the 20m band.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The joy of Indonesia (YB2JOY)

Today I made further tests with the PRC320, with the help of EA1AQ and EA1LQ.
Then I decided to test the FT857D with 4m whip and the FC-40 autotuner. I started with a couple of QSOs on the 20m band. The first one with IB1AB (Soyer) from North Cyprus and the second one with S51GL (Miro) from Slovenia. Then I moved to the 17m band and made a QSO with SM0OWX (Chris).
Then I decided to try my favourite band (15m) and heard an Indonesian satation (YB2JOY) in a QSO with a German station (DR...) that I couldn't copy. I waited until the end of the QSO and called the Indonesian station, who told me to move 5kHz up. I moved there and called again, and got a signal report of 58. The operator's name was Tomo, from the city of Kudus, in Central Java.
The city of Kudus was something of an important Islamic holy city in the sixteenth century. It is the only place in Java that has permanently acquired an Arabic name ('al-Quds', Jerusalem). Sunan Kudus, one of the nine Wali Sanga, was said to have been the fifth imam (head) of the mosque of Demak and a major leader of the 1527 campaign against 'Majapahit', before moving to Kudus.
The Mosque of Kudus (Masjid Menara) which dates from this period, remains a local landmark to this day. It is notable for both its perseverance of pre-Islamic architectural forms such as Old Javanese split doorways and Hindu-Buddhist influenced Majapahit-style brickwork, and for its name al-Manar or al-Aqsa. The date AH 956 (AD 1549) is inscribed over the mihrab (nice indicating the direction of Mecca).
The distance of 13,000km is my record of 2010, with 100W, a 4m whip and the propagation prediction indicating "POOR" conditions on the 15m band. Not bad.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Moxon antenna project

Today I made three QSOs on the 20m band. The first was with the Russian station RZ3AL (Pavel) from near Moscow. The second QSO was with the Slovenian station S53IV (Damjan) with whom I have made a QSO not long ago. Here is the video of the QSO.

Damjan was using 100W into a Moxon antenna, which, as Damjan explains, is a 2 element beam. The Moxon is a directional antenna system that is gaining in popularity because it offers three very distinct advantages over a typical two element Yagi: (1) Small in physical size; (2) Outstanding front to back ratio; and (3) The Moxon is a 50 ohm antenna. You can read more about it at
When I was on my way back I stopped by José Luis (EA1HNP) who had set an inverted-V dipole on a nearby field in order to participate in the RTTY contest. I set up my 4m whip and made a quick QSO with the Duch station PF1MO in order to show him the virtues of the Clansmasn PRC320 radio system.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Scotland: No. 10 with the Clansman

I have just received this nice eQSL from MM3YCG (Callum) confirming a QSO on the 20m band a couple of weeks ago. This makes the tenth validly confirmed DXCC entity with my Clansman PRC320.
Clansman is the name of a radio system used by the British Army. Clansman was developed by SRDE in the 1970s, to satisfy a General Staff Requirement (GSR) laid down in 1965. Built by Racal, MEL and Plessey, Clansman represented a considerable advance over existing radios being offered to the Armed Forces at the time. It replaced the aging Larkspur radio system, and proved to be more flexible, reliable and far lighter. The technological advances achieved in the design of Clansman allowed the introduction of Single SideBand (SSB) operation and NarrowBand Frequency Modulation (NBFM) to field-level communications for the first time.
Clansman has been in use by British forces since the early 1980s in most recent UK military operations, the first active use being by 2nd Bn the Parachute Regiment in the Falkland Islands operation in 1982. It is in the process of being replaced by the new digital Bowman communication system.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Greece: no. 9 with the 320

I have received an eQSL from J47XCF, special event station for the Xanthi Carnival Festival in Greece. This makes the country number 9 confirmed with the PRC-320. My objective is to get to 25 in order to qualify for the eDX award.
Probably the LSB mod that I am planning to undertake with the help of Antonio (EB1AAL) is going to help. The necessary oscillator is on the mail from the UK so it will be probably over here next week.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

PRC-320 on the 17m band

Today there was good propagation again so I decided to take the PRC-320 out. First I tried on the 20m band, as usual, but there were too many stations so I decided to move to the 17m band. As you may know, my 4m whip does not tune on that band, so I thought I could remove the top section of the antenna. On the following video you can see the process:

I made tree QSOs in total. The first one was with the Canary Islands, EA8AAW (Andrés Pérez) from Gran Canaria.

The second QSO was with SV2MAP (Giannis) from Ptolemaida in the North of Greece.

The third one was with 9H1ET (John) from Malta.

Then there was some terrible QRM so I looked around and found the source... a police van with a radio jammer had parked close to me. Game over for today.

Good propagation and the PRC-320

Yesterday I was looking at my website and saw that the little box on the left column indicated there was good propagation on the 20m band, so I decided to take the PRC-320 to Monte de San Pedro, a hill just outside the city, by the sea. The afternoon couldn't be more productive. I made QSOs with Greece, Bosnia, Scotland, USA and Dominica.
In Greece, I made a QSO with J47XCF, special event station for the Xanthi Carnival Festival operated by Tilemachos. Xanthi is a modern city, rich in history, traditions and customs, and with many attractions for the visitors (including the surrounding areas). It is worth visiting the city during the Carnival (Καρναβάλι) (either February or March as dates change) and during the Old Town Festival (beginning of September). Also, one should not miss the Xanthi Bazaar (Παζάρι) every Saturday. Xanthi is known as "The city of the thousand colours".
In the US, I made a QSO with WX3B (Tim) from Maryland. In Scotland, 2M0YCG (Callum) from near Glasgow. In Bosnia, E73E (Igor) from Pale. Finally, in Dominica, I made a QSO with J79XBI (Seth), although we lost contact in the end due to QSO and some splatter QRM from powerful nearby stations.
Dominica has been nicknamed the "Nature Isle of the Caribbean" for its seemingly unspoiled natural beauty. It is the youngest island in the Lesser Antilles, still being formed by geothermal-volcanic activity, as evidenced by the world's second-largest boiling lake. The island features lush mountainous rainforests, home of many rare plant, animal and bird species. There are xeric areas in some of the western coastal regions, but heavy rainfall can be expected inland. The Sisserou Parrot (also known as the Imperial Amazon), the island's national bird, is featured on the national flag. Dominica's economy is heavily dependent on both tourism and agriculture. Christopher Columbus named the island after the day of the week on which he spotted it, a Sunday (dominica in Latin), November 3, 1493.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Country no. 8 confirmed: Belgium

Yesterday's second QSO, with ON7USB (Geert), has provided me with a new country confirmed on eQSL. This raises the number to eight but there is still a long way to go until the 25 country target... The woman on the picture is his XYL ON3DQ who shares the hobby with Geert.
By the way, I am still using the 1Ah battery, which has probably rejuvenated itseld and now probably holds more than the nominal charge. These NiCd batteries are really strong. Now I understand why the military have chosen them.

Belgian field day with the PRC-320

Yesterday the weather was much better and a good opportunity for a couple of QSOs with the PRC320. The result is a couple of QSOs with Belgium that you can see on the following video:

Now the sound is better than on the previous video. The reason is that, as you may have already noticed, I put the radio's handset just in front of the camera's mic.

Monday, February 8, 2010

USA and Canada with the PRC-320

On Sunday evening I made a couple of QSOs with North America on the 20m band. The first one was with K3AQ (Luke) from the state of Pensylvania, near Philadelphia. The second QSO was with VA2PW (Peter) from Quebec, Canada.

As you can see from the video, the weather was fine when I set up the antenna, but it started raining soon afterwards...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Pedestrian mobile with the PRC-320

Today I went pedestrian mobile with the PRC-320. It was a nice experience that I would like to repeat, although it was difficult to make any contact at all.
The 2.4m whip is not very efficient on 20m which, together with the use of a single counterpoise wire and the limited power, makes it hard to compet with full fledged fixed stations.
Finally, I managed to make a QSO with EA8CEQ (Manolo) from the La Palma, in the Canary Islands. He usually has a very good signal and today was no exception. Thanks again for his patience and willingness to help. On the picture I am celebrating the QSO with a friend.
As you can see, I was using the smaller 1Ah battery. Next time I will try with the bigger 4Ah one. The pedestrian activity was not planned, and I didn't have the antenna gooseneck fitting, which would allow to put the antenna vertical, and that should help. I will also insvestigate the effect of different counterpoise systems.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

From Denmark into Space (OZ2SPACE)

Saturday was a good day with the PRC-320. I made three QSOs. One with the Danish special event station OZ2SPACE. This callsign is a contribution to our friends in the local Danish rocket and space project called Copenhagen Suborbitals. If you want to see more about what they do you can visit
In short, it is a group of experts and hobby persons working for free! to make a space limit rocket and space ship to launch a person into space. This group have now tested rocket motors in all sizes and are now ready for full size ground test and flight this summer.
Then I made a very interesting QSO with Riccardo (IZ1GDB) from Torino, who was operating with 100W into a vertical antenna. He told me he had also operated portable as EH5FL, activating a Spanish lighthouse with some fellow hams. He also put me on the cluster, which allowed me to make a quick qso with the German station DL6SRD.

What Riccardo didn't tell me but I found out later is that he was also active as YO8/IZ1GDB from Borlesti, in the the Moldova region of Romania. You can see him on teh above video. That's funny because I was also active as YO8/EC1CW a couple of years ago.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Burlamacco and the Carnevale di Viareggio

Today I made a QSO with a couple of stations near Milan, on the 20m band with the PRC-320. The first one was with I2YKT (Tino) from Voghera, 70km South of Milan. The temperature over there was 4 degrees C. He gave me a serial number or 050 for the International Carnival of Viareggio.
On the right you can see a picture of Burlamacco, the clown-like figure which presides over the carnival in the Tuscan town of Viareggio, and is the town's mascot. Burlamacco was first depicted in 1931 by Uberto Bonetti; A competition had been held for the design of the mascot and his was the winning entry. He had chosen the red and white of the outfit from the traditional colours of the umbrellas on the beach at Viareggio and the name came 8 years later; it is derived from the Burlamacca river. To this day Burlamacco remains a feature of the carnival and there is a statue of him all the year round on the Lungomare in Viareggio.
The other QSO was with David (IZ2LRT) who speaks perfect Spanish and complemented me on the modulation of the PRC-320, and asked be about the antenna I was using.

Canarias (EA8/ON5JV)

Yesterday I made a QSO with Jean (EA8/ON5JV) in Tijoco Bajo, in the South of Tenerife, with the PRC-320. He told me he was using 100W into a dipole cut for the 20m band.
His favourite ham activity is DXing, hunting new DXCC entities and IOTA islands, as well as activations during his holidays. Other callsigns he has had include OR4B (special call), 9H3NF, CT3/, EA8/, SU/, 5B/, DL/, EA/, EA6, EA7,/ F/, G/, LX/, PA/, SV/, SV5/, SV8/, SV9/, and TK/. He is in the DXCC honor roll with 333 out of 336 entities confirmed, and in the IOTA honor roll with 583. He also shares his station with his wife Georgette ON6AK.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ukraine: Seventh country confirmed with the 320

I have just received an eQSL for the QSO with Ukraine during the 2010 UBA SSB contest last weekend that you can see on video a couple of posts below. As you can see from his eQSL, Vlad also liked the video.
This makes the seventh country confirmed though eQSL as EC1CW/P with my Clansman series PRC-320 station. The other countries are Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Russia (European), Slovenia and USA. Curiously enough, I still haven't managed to get Spain confirmed.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

From Argentina to South Africa

Today I made a couple of QSOs with the FT857D because it was too cold to stay outside with the PRC-320. The first one was on the 15m band with LU4VL (operator Juan) from the province of Río Negro, in the South of Argentina. Juan told me it was sunny and very hot over there, and that he was working with an old FT101ZD, a linear amplifier at 600W and a multiband yagi 25m above the ground.
The second QSO was on the 20m band with the South African station ZS6CCY (operator Bill). First licenced ZE1DX in 1970 in what was formerly Rhodesia and trained in radiocommunication engineering, he moved to Perth, Western Australia, in 1981 as VK6ACY. Over there he ran a successful radio networking and high site business. But 20 year past-time of photo graphic safaris on the Zambezi River,Lake Cahora Bassa-Mocambique and the Okavango Delta, Botswana, led to full time game ranching in the Waterberg area of South Africa upon returning home in 1999. Previously keen on EME, he conducted the irst Africa/USA 144Mhz EME in May 1975 with WA6LET. His favourite bands now are 20 and 75 with a 6 element monoband yagi at 95ft and a full size 4 square respectively. The picture shows the base of one of the 75m 4 square vertcals.

Triple S with the PRC320

Yesterday I made three interesting QSOs with the PRC320, all of them with countries starting with S: Sweden, Scotland and Slovenia. The first QSO was with the Swedish station SM5CAK (operator Lars), 200Km South West of Stockholm.
The second QSO was with MM3YCG (Callum) from Scotland. I am very happy for this QSO because Callum is registered on eQSL, so I expect to get a new country confirmed some day. He also enjoys operating portable while out walking - running about 5 Watts with the FT-817. As you can see from the picture on the right, he also has a nice shack.
The third QSO was with Igor (S59WT) in Slovenia, who was working from the Hinko Kosir Radioclub (S59EKL) in Velenje. I told him about my "kornjaca" transceiver and he said he knew it from his time in the army.
Velenje is a municipality with 33.331 inhabitants in the northeast of Slovenia. Stari Velenje (the old part at the foot of the castle) is mentioned for the first time 1264 and 1374 as small market town and was a center of handicraft and trade. Due to lignite mining, the city expanded especially after World War II. After the death of Yugoslav president for life Tito it was renamed Titovo Velenje in 1981, but the old name was returned to the city in 1991, shortly before Slovenia became independent.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Slovenia (S53IV)

I have just received this beutiful eQSL from Slovenia for a QSO on the 20m band with S53IV (operator Damjan).
I made this QSO using 30W and my Yaesu FT-857D transceiver cith the 4m whip and the FC-40 antenna tuner. I usually don't use higher power on this band because I get RFI into my rig that I haven't been able to solve yet, but I am working on it.