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


Fresh QSLs received from a bureau today


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: TNC-Pi APRS gate

I used the New Year’s eve long weekend to finish another project – TNC-Pi kit from Coastal Chipworks. I already experimented with APRS TinyTrak beacon before and noticed bad APRS coverage throughout Toronto, especially, east of DVP so I decided to put my own RX gateway to improve reception in the area.

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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 (qrpme.com) 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 QRPME.com) 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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712 active (on HF) hams in Canada according to ARRL LotW in 2014

If you happened to work any of the US ARRL Members during this year, and, you upload your logs to LotW, your score and QSO count will get displayed on ARRL Centennial QSO Party Leaderboard.

Out of curiosity, I checked how many Canadian hams participated (uploaded their logs) this year. After cleansing results (removing duplicate, visitor and special event callsigns), the total count came to about 715 VE hams only – not too bad! Out of this, 312 hams (44%) were in Ontario (VE3/VA3):


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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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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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