Illinois QSO Party and MFJ-290K4

My Kenwood TS-520 came with an old and beaten CB mic so I needed a replacement asap. MFJ had a Kenwood replacement mic on their website which I immediately ordered:



The price was sweet – just $19.99. However, once the shipping & handling got added, the total went up to $44 which more than doubled the original price.

Still, I badly needed a new mic so I went ahead and ordered it hoping that will solve my problem quickly. It turned out to be rather naive though:

1. Right after I paid the order, the status changed to inventory check – apparently MFJ didn’t have it in stock or couldn’t find it on their huge warehouse. It took nearly 3 months and couple of reminder emails for the status to change to shipped.

2. Once the mic arrived, it was DOA. After opeining the mic and the connector, I realized that the connector was incorrectly soldered. Also, there was a gap between the connector sleeve so the wire was loose and the two of the four wires were broken. A few turns of electrical tape, opening up a mic, and resoldering connector and the wires inside the mic fixed the problems.

3. According to MFJ website, the mic comes with extra long cord. Well, the cable was only about 10″ long… is that extra long?

4. The sensitivity and a response of the mic were mediocre at best; had to shout every time using it.

5. Today, after one year of moderate use, the cable finally failed completely right in the middle of Illinois QSO Party. RIP MFJ.

Resume – I paid to $45 for a defective mic; it took 3 months to deliver; the mic was DOA, and the cable failed after 1 year of moderate use. Not sure if I ever risk buy anything from MFJ again.

Luckily, I had a used TenTec desk mic I bought for $40 at a hamfest in Brampton which needed a new connector. The mic  needed a fresh battery and a new connector.

Ten Tec mic

Ten Tec mic

After opening the mic, studying the PCB and identifying which wire goes where, I resoldered the connector going to the rig and was back on air calling CQ ILQP just in time to realize that the party ended 5 minutes ago…

On a good side, the TenTec mic seems to be working quite well – I had a short qso with Keith N8WSM from West Virginia giving me a good report and apparently my audio was okay. He was off frequency though for some reason – I wonder if my transmitting frequency is slightly off and my rig needs a realignment.

Update: a friendly ham noticed on air about my mic feedback was too strong; seems like the output voltage is to high – a 330kOhm resistor in series with the mic output seems to have fixed the issue.


Get your own azimuthal map in 30 seconds

While googling for an azimuthal map for Toronto location, I came across a great web tool – the NS6T’s Azimuthal Map

Using it, you can generate an azimuthal map for a particular QTH.

If you live in Toronto, you can use the attached ones I have generated for FN03 grid QTH (Toronto, ON) using his site:

If you think NS6T’s service is worthwhile and would like to show your appreciation, I encourage you to make a donation to the K6LRG repeater and contest operation (look for the donate bottom near the bottom of their website)

W1AW portable 6 in the log

Just worked W1AW/6 active from Pacificon 2012 in Santa Clara, CA! Finally got W1AW in the log – now need to exchange QSL cards!

VK finally

Very happy to have finally worked 3 stations in Australia on 40m ago: VK4UC, VK4KW, and VK3HF.

Worked them in the clear from the 1st try! It definitely pays to wake up at 4am in the morning!