Just got an email this morning from FCC about approved allocation of a new callsign as per my application – WA4PAW.

Obtaining US callsign / license

Had a great time stopping by the Broward ARC meeting in Ft.Lauderdale last night; met a great bunch of very friendly hams there.

Even though reciprocal agreements between US & Canada allow VE3 hams to operate, I though it may be a good idea to attempt a US amateur license exam and obtain a callsign from FCC given the opportunity. So I showed up at 6:30pm at the club, and then wrote and successfully passed both Technician and General exams.

Each exam was only 35 multiple-choice questions (fairly easy ones compared to the Canadian Basic exam). To pass, 26 correct answers were required. There was one question I didn’t have answer for – how many hams are required by FCC to open a club. I guessed 3 and the right answer was 4.

There was not much time left to attempt the final Extra exam this time, plus I was not preparing for it, so will probably give it a try next time.

Now having the exam papers submitted to FCC, a random sequential callsign is to be allocated within 15 days.

73 for now!



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: http://www.hoffswell.com/n9ssa/mpwcalc.html


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!


CQ WW contest – QRP

Made a few quick contacts during CQ Worldwide contest today using 5 watts only (FT817ND).

The stations coming S9 and stronger had no problems picking up my signal. The stations coming S7/S8 or lower couldn’t hear me.

QRN was high on all bands. Few contacts on 20m, not luck on 15m. Caribbean and Europe came strong on 10 meters. The farthest distance worked – 7,147 km (Bosnia & Herzegovina) on 28.400 USB at 1400Z (E7DX).

E7DX antenna farm in Bosnia Herzegovina

Centennial W1AW WAS award (2014)

Received new awards in the mail today:


Now duly framed and proudly displayed on the wall.


New QSL cards received and confirmed

Received new QSLs from a bureau today. Wrote and sent back via bureau 39 QSOs today (ooh):

  • ES5QD

Took me almost 2 hours of handwriting – that’s just 20 Qs per hour!! I also noticed that most of the Qs have been already confirmed via LotW so a paper card was probably not really necessary. Still, nice artwork and good memories, so thank you everyone for your QSL cards!

Also thank you CR2X for confirming all of our QSOs for over the last 3 years.

P.S. If anyone is missing a card from me – drop me a line to {my callsign}@gmail.com

UPD: 2015-08-26 QSL cards reached outgoing bureau in Ottawa, being sorted and now en-route to destinations


100 DX entities confirmed via LotW (118 worked)


The Logbook of the World is sure gaining popularity! More than 53% of the QSO I had submitted to LotW had been confirmed (QSL-ed)! This is every second QSO, and a so much better ratio compared to 25-30% confirmation rate on average it was, when I started uploading my logs to LotW three years ago. I also start getting LotW QSLs for QSO dated 2011-2012 now meaning many people start uploading their old logs.

According to the logs, I worked almost 100 DXCC in about a first year I got somewhat active on HF with my 31′ long-wire antenna and 5 watts or sometime 100 watts of power, after getting a license. Confirming these took so much longer though.

Some entities just don’t have too many ham operators there (like Greenland for example), and some countries don’t have reliable access to Internet either (like Cuba). Sending a QSL-card directly to a rare DXCC entity may cost up to $10 considering the cost of postage, cards, and a small contribution. And the answer is not guaranteed.

Confirming 100 contacts by direct QSL-requests is costly so normally you use a QSL bureau or (even better!) an instant electronic confirmation system such as the Logbook of the World (LotW).

As of today, I had 118 DXCC entities contacted, out of which 98 were confirmed via LotW and 6 more by QSL cards (direct), while I was waiting for a QSL card or LotW confirmation from the remaining ones.

Today, two more appeared confirmed on LotW so I could finally submit an application for a basic (mixed) DXCC award via LotW completely without needing to mail / check any QSL cards. Which I just did:

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Triple Play WAS Award