Mobile hamsticks as a portable antenna

Every year in April, on International Amateur Radio Day, I try not to miss an opportunity to make a few new contacts. Luckily, this year was no exception to the tradition.

However, my options were limited as my present QTH explicitly restricts any aerials, poles, etc.

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Heard in Hawaii – 4,732 miles per watt

Great ops and good band conditions make it happen. Just a week after a 1,200 miles per watt QSO, there is now a 4,732 miles per watt QRP QSO with Massimo KH6ZM in beautiful Hawaii (Grid: BK29ik).

2016-03-08 03:57 KH6ZM 40m 7.054 CW BK29ik Hawaii MASSIMO A ZENOBI

Massimo used a kW into a 2-el Yagi but received me on a beverage antenna with cascaded preamps. He was coming 599 into Florida on my 7′ long mobile 40m hamstick. My 1 watt across 4,732 miles landed a 559 report and encouraging comments.

Thank you Massimo for a QSO!

Very 73’s!


1,200 miles per watt

What else to do on a leap day? Try to do something you never had time for, of course! For instance – QRP!

The conditions were outstanding on 20m today. Worked a good friend of mine in Toronto 1,200 miles away on SSB using just 1 watt of power both ways just before sunset.

The reports were 519 or rather 509 but still fairly decent copy on both sides. He used a low-hanging dipole and I had a 7′ tall hamstick on the roof of my car.

The following calculator courtesy of N9SSA can be used for quickly estimating distance between two stations:


CQ 20 DE VA3PAW / W4 / QRP

Had a few minutes after lunch to test how well the hamstick whip antenna is working. Well, it’s working!

5W QRP into hamstick


My position is shown incorrectly as I should’ve added /W4 instead of /4 during the call.

The farthest station seems to be VE2WU near Montreal, QC! Not too bad for 5W QRP into a mobile whip.

Paul VA3PAW / QRP / W4 mobile

Mobile shack

Happened to be in W4 (Florida) this winter so I took my FT817 with me. Thanks to reciprocity between Canada and the US, I can operate using my Canadian callsign while in the US.

Being in a car country, it looked sensible to me to set up a mobile shack. My VE3 elmer has had a great success with MFJ miniature hamsticks mounted on the trunk of his car so I started looking in that direction too.

After quick research on what’s available at HRO online, I ordered two versions of MFJ hamsticks: miniature 3′ and longer 7′ hamsticks for the most popular bands. For the base, I ordered a mighty MFJ-336T mag mount with 3/8″ mount.

The first one to arrive and to install was MFJ-1620 – 7 feet tall antenna for 20m. The fiberglass base is about 4 feet long and is hollow inside. A stainless steel whip that screws on top is adjustable.


When fully extended, it resonated nicely on 13.540 MHz (perfect 1:1 match!) which was way too low… After shortening the whip by about 4″ the center of resonance shifted towards 14.060 QRP CW frequency (with the lowest SWR about 1:1.2). Could not get it match 1:1 anymore.

The whip is very hard to cut. After some trial and errors, the best tool happened to be a triangular file. Cut through the steel half-way then snapped it easily.

While busy with all this hard work, I did not notice it got really dark outside and the 20m band faded away. After scanning back and forth, a weak but workable signal of ZL3GA emerged and my tiny 5W signal just barely made it across the Pacific (7,220 nautical miles!) . Not bad for QRP with a mobile whip!

The 40m was alive and kicking so the next one to install is a 7 MHz hamstick.

The length of the whip makes driving a bit difficult – have to watch out for clearance, low hanging tree branches, etc. Also, at speeds of more than 45 mph, the whip starts buzzing in the wind.

Photo of my new mobile shack:

Mobile QRP

Hope to see you on the air!


Added CW endorsement to my license

While at VE3MIS Hamex hamfest last Saturday, noticed they are running CW exams so used the opportunity to finally add CW endorsement to my license. Passed the 5 wpm test with flying colors!

New Year’s eve building marathon: Rockmite QRPp 30m transceiver

I was always curios about WARC bands and in particular the 30m band my trusty Kenwood TS-520 lacks. I have it thanks to my FT-817ND but still, in part due to my love of experimentation with radio kits, last spring I ordered a Rockmite 30m kit from Rex W1REX ( and one more 40m version of it. This used to be a very inexpensive kit costing $27 only. These days it’s $45 and comes with a spare pair of crystals. Any mods (AF gain, TX efficiency, etc) are extra. The kit has successfully arrived to Toronto after 5 weeks. During BoM inspection of the 30m kit, I noticed one band capacitor supplied was wrong value and that I got two SA612 mixers and no amplifier IC. Luckily I had enough capacitors of various values ordered from eBay before so finding a replacement was not a problem. The amplifier chip I borrowed from the 40m kit and immediately ordered a pack of 20 on eBay from China for a mere $4 in case I ever need a spare handy… Rex W1REX (from admitted the kit sorting and handling issues he endured while training a new helper and shortly sent me missing audio amp chip at no charge along with my next order. After finishing sorting components according to the BoM I started building the kit.

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2014 CQ Worldwide DX Contest, CW

Encouraged by W2LJ post about his plans on participating in upcoming CQ Worldwide DX Contest in QRP CW category, I decided to give it a try as well.

I did not bother turning up the radio on the Friday night and Saturday morning due to extreme pile-ups. The Saturday afternoon, and then Sunday were much calmer so my tiny QRP signal and omni-directional no-gain 31′ long-wire antenna had more chances between the big-guns.

Thanks to the great antennas on the other side of the QSO and great ears/equipment, there usually was no problem making a QSO. I had to QRS and repeat the call two-three times sometime but that was it.

The band conditions were great. I only wish the local noise was lower as I could not hear any JA this time on my long-wire antenna, although they would probably hear me. The farthest station was VK4KW in Australia on 15m. I also added 3 new DXCC entities: 3B8MU (MAURITIUS ISLAND), P33W (CYPRUS), and 4L8A (GEORGIA).

The total count is 179 QSO, 83 countries, and 57,276 points claimed.

5 watts can go a long way

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IARU HF Championship results + WRTC 2014

Sent my IARU HF contest log to ARRL. Was running 100W and a vertical 40m wire antenna after sunset; mostly S&P CW with some occasional SSB.

Got 220 Qs, 26 ITU zones and 24 HQ stations here. Also, contacted all of the 59 WRTC competing stations (three-letter K1*, N1*, W1* callsigns).

Conditions during the day weren’t good on neither band; at night it was so much better – especially 40m and 80m.

Class: SO Mixed LP
Operating Time (hrs): 9

 Band  CW Qs  Ph Qs  Zones  HQ Mults
   80:    7             1       1
   40:  107     46     10      13
   20:   46      3      8      10
   15:    8      2      6       0
   10:    1             1        
Total:  169     51     26      24  
Total Score = 32,200


Field Day 2014 and RAC Canada Day contest

This year the ARRL Field Day and RAC Canada Day contest were coincidentally only 1 day apart. As I had a campsite booked for 3 nights in Bon Echo provincial park, this presented a great opportunity to test my new FT817ND in the field and participate in both events in QRP CW category.

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