Saturday, December 29, 2012

A break from radio over Christmas

As you might have noticed, it's been a while since I updated the blog. I haven't been very active at all on HF, although I have maintained local activity here in Drogheda on the UHF and VHF bands. I had a busy and enjoyable Christmas and have been trying to clear a backlog of QSL cards, both direct and via the bureau.

The latest QSL card in the letterbox yesterday was from 3D2C,
Conway Reef dxpedition, confirming seven band slots.
I must say the bureau cards have become an absolute chore. I've been receiving over 200 cards for the last number of deliveries and it takes a while to get through them all. I've decided now that I will only be sending return cards via the bureau TWICE A YEAR - there simply isn't enough time to do everything! I have to prioritise direct cards, and I am a big fan of ARRL's Logbook of the World, which is by far the best and easiest way to QSL in my humble opinion.

There have been a couple of wind storms this week which have given my antennas a good battering, although at this moment in time everything seems to be fine.

In 2013, I hope to be one of a number of EI hams activating a new special event callsign, EI13CLAN, which is in celebration of a big event next year called "The Gathering", which aims to promote and celebrate all that is Irish. You can see more information about The Gathering on this website.

The special callsign EI80IRTS, celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Irish Radio Transmitters Society, will cease to be active on December 31st 2012, just a couple of days away, so if you hear the call on the bands, work it quickly before it's too late!!!

In the meantime, you can read more about EI13CLAN on Meet you on the bands in 2013!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My QSO with Norman E51E in South Cook Islands

I was pleasantly surprised today after seeing Norman Banks (5B4AIF) spotted on 20m from South Cook Islands as E51E to hear him quite well when I pointed the beam at him. Within a short time, a huge pile-up had developed, and he was unable to hear anyone. So he started working by numbers. Having started with 0 and working a few, he went to 1 and there weren't many 1s either. Pretty soon he was moving onto 2.

The above video shows my first call at him - the camera was running but I really didn't expect to get him with my first call. If you listen carefully you can hear that I hadn't even cleared my throat properly for the call. He heard me first call and I was in the log in no time.

Sorry about the loudness in the video, but I didn't realise how close I was to the camera at the time!! You can hear my whoops of delight at the end. South Cook Islands (E5-S) are 15,700 km from me, in the south Pacific Ocean. I was beaming northwest, on the short path, with the SP7IDX broadband hexbeam, running 400 watts. It was a new country for me on 20m.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Puerto Rico NP4A booming on 80 SSB

Above is a short video showing the huge signal from NP4A on 80 metres SSB. This is Pedro working Europe across the Atlantic at after 11pm local Ireland time. I was listening to him on my Butternut HF6V vertical antenna. Incredible signal. I had worked him a few minutes previously, and he gave me a new band slot.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

KH6MB Hawaii worked in Ireland with 100 watts

Above is a short video showing my QSO with KH6MB on 20 metres (14 Mhz) CW this evening after dark. There was a bit of flutter on his signal, but as you can see, I managed to nab him with my first call using just 100 watts.

Perhaps this video might serve as encouragement to some EI stations to go and learn "the code". I know some people will find it tough, but if you learn it you will also find it very rewarding, as your DXCC count will  increase dramatically.

In fairness, KH6MB is generally relatively easy to work when he's on. I have worked him in the past using just 100 watts and a vertical. My first QSO with him in February 2010, using my old callsign EI8GHB, was with my trusty Butternut vertical. I was thrilled to have worked him on 10 metres SSB in October of 2011, when that band was in brilliant shape.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Rotator up, ZL9 worked twice again, and HV0A

It was a good day in the shack here today. I could hear ZL9HR, the Campbell Island dxpedition, on 17m SSB on the long path. They were light enough, not moving the needle much. Within a couple of minutes I was in the log. It really was an easy QSO. That was 9.58am. A half an hour later - having tried for a short time on 40m CW without success - I tried on 15m CW. Again, they were better on the long path. I was calling 3 Khz up, where others seemed to be calling them, but then I heard ZL9HR working EI6FR, Declan, who is based in Dublin.

The ZL9HR Campebell Island dxpedition team
So I messaged Declan on Facebook assking for the split and he said he worked them 7 Khz up. So I went up to 21.042, and could indeed hear him working one or two Europeans. So I went down slightly, to 21.041.2 and within a couple of minutes I could hear "EI2KC 5NN" coming back through the ether! It was my sixth slot with ZL9, which was more than I could have anticipated. Thanks for the help Declan EI6FR! The ZL9HR dxpedition has since gone QRT, so six slots is my total. I am a happy man.

At shortly before 11am Tony EI4DIB and Pat EI2HX arrived at my QTH to help me put up the Yaesu G-450C rotator. Thankfully we had done a lot of work on Wednesday, including the wiring, and we were all ready to get it on the pole and under the hexbeam. It only took about an hour, but thankfully the hexbeam is so light that I could manage lifting it off the pole, and back onto the rotator, on my own.

Within a short time I was turning the beam from inside the shack and watching the signal meter as the various signals came up while the beam was turning towards them. First into the log was 3B8CF on 15m CW, followed shortly thereafter by J28NC (Djibouti). I was absolutely chuffed, upon turning southeast for HV0A, Francesco in the Vatican City, to work him on my FIRST CALL on 17 metres SSB through a simplex pile-up. He was a signal strength of 30dB over 9 here, as you can see in this short video, which I made immediately after working him:

Others to make it into the log before the bands closed this evening were SU9VB, Vlad in Egypt, on 17m CW with just one call using only 100 watts. I also nabbed 5X1NH, Nick in Uganda, on 20m CW. He has been very active, and has given me five bands so far. 

I did not participate in the ARRL 10 metres contest, and I'm so glad about that because propagation on 10m  is awful. I could only hear a few signals on the band today. It wouldn't have been much fun to be trying to ratch up a decent QSO rate in that contest . . .

Friday, December 7, 2012

ZL9HR worked in the narrowest of windows!

This morning I had a real dilemma. I was in the shack at about 7.50am and could see that some European ops were spotting ZL9HR (Campbell Island) on 17m CW. So I switched on the radio and listened but could not hear anything, except for the occasional slight hint of CW way off in the noise.

The problem? I had to go to Dublin today, and was planning to leave at 9.15am, to meet friends at 10am in the city. The dilemma was simple - either the signal from ZL9HR needed to come up, or I wouldn't get to work them.

While making breakfast etc. I kept an ear on the radio in the shack. I could hear tones way off in the murk, but nothing that would allow me to work them or copy them. I had the hexbeam pointed long path (although there is less than 300km in the difference between SP and LP because ZL9 is almost exactly opposite Ireland). There had been nothing on the short path. So long path seemed best.

At 8.45am I had to do the daily "school run". By that time, the signal from ZL9HR hadn't improved. I could return to the shack at 9am, but would have to leave again at about 9.15am. I did the school run, and to my pleasant surprise, when I returned at 9am the signal from Campbell had improved slightly. They were NOT moving the needle at all, and the QSB was considerable.

I had the linear ready for action, and listened around and it seemed he was generally listening 2-3 Khz up. I heard him working an EA6 and so I decided to call slightly below where the EA6 had worked him. Within no time at all, I could hear - quite faintly - "EI2KC 5NN" and came back with my usual "RR EI2KC 5NN TU". And that was it - I was in the log, with just moments to spare before heading out the door. I made a very quick video (below - excuse the poor quality, but it was made in a rush) showing his signal strength, or lack thereof! Having logged him, I switched all the equipment off, shut the computer down, locked up the house and set the alarm.

And boy, did I have a smile on my face while driving to Dublin!

That was slot number four for me, on top of 20m CW, 20m SSB and 30m CW. The dxpedition finishes on Sunday, so any more slots will be a bonus but I am very happy with what I have. ZL9 is my 281st DXCC worked from this humble station.

Tomorrow morning, if the weather is good enough, I will put up my Yaesu G-450C rotator onto the mast to turn the hexbeam - not on my own, of course, but hopefully with the help of Tony EI4DIB and Pat EI2HX. Up to now, I have been using the "Armstrong Method" HI HI. You can see a video of my new rotator below:

Monday, December 3, 2012

ZL9HR Campbell Island worked on two slots

Above is a short video of the ZL9HR Campbell Island dxpedition on 20m CW, just a couple of minutes after I worked them for a brand new country. I am chuffed to report that ZL9 is my 281st DXCC worked. I also nabbed them on 20m SSB a short time later.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

5T0SP Mauritania dxpedition booming on 20 metres

This is a short video showing the 5T0SP dxpedition to Mauritania in Africa, booming in with a big signal on 20 metres SSB. I was listening to them on a SP7IDX broadband hexbeam pointing roughly south. I had already worked them on that slot, and have since worked them on nine other slots too.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Video from the CQWW CW 2012 contest (EI2KC)

This is just a short video showing my operation during the closing stages of the CQWW CW 2012 contest on Sunday evening after 21:00 hours. The band was busy at that stage, because many multi-band ops were coming down there from the higher bands when they closed. Great fun.

Monday, November 26, 2012

CQWW CW 2012 - EI2KC claimed score!

I have just finished my participation in the CQWW CW contest 2012 and I have to report that it was fantastic for me. With just a 26-foot Butternut HF6V multiband vertical antenna, I managed to work 580 QSOs over the course of the weekend on 80 metres alone. I was participating as single band high power assisted on that band. I worked 65 DXCC and 15 zones. I think my zone count could have been a little bit better but I have no regrets with a claimed score of 60,560.

I just checked my log and it turns out I managed to work five new DXCC on 80m during the past 48 hours, bringing my total worked on that band to 123, so I am chuffed with that. I used the N1MM contest logging software and the interface is the CG Antenna SB-2000, which worked flawlessly.

The work I did on the Butternut on Friday paid off. The antenna can be made to resonate on any portion of the 80m band by sliding the 80m coil up and down. With a flat SWR of 1:1 the Acom managed 1,200 watts at one stage with 0 watts reflected.

Saturday evening was quiet on the band, but Sunday evening was a different story! As all the higher bands began to close, with the contest finishing at midnight, the multi band ops found their way down to the low bands, including 80m, where I had significant action at times. I ran a couple of pile-ups during the course of Sunday evening, and at one stage my rate was 88 QSOs per hour. Very nice, especially for this modest station in a small garden in the middle of a housing estate!

Anyway, I hope that those of you who participated enjoyed yourselves. It certainly was a great pleasure for me, and because 80m is generally poor during the day. I was able to spend some time with the family too!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

CQWW CQ - the story so far

Just a brief update about my participation on CQWW CW 2012. I am only taking part on 80 metres, with a view to increasing my DXCC worked/confirmed on that band. I am in the category 80m single op high power. I did search and pounce from midnight on Saturday morning for about two hours, and then a mixture of run station and search and pounce last night, on and off from about 5pm in the evening until 3.30am this morning.

My old Butternut, which is over 20 years old, was a bit grubby
so I cleaned around the capacitor assembly in advance of the
contest and it's working brilliantly.
At this moment in time, my totals are as follows (bearing in mind that I intend to return to the contest after dark this evening): QSOs: 329; Zones worked: 15; DXCC worked: 61. Total claimed score so far: 36,100.

The band is completely dead now. There's not a single signal to be heard on CW. That's how it was yesterday too, allowing me some time to do a bit of maintenance on the antenna. It is nicely resonant now, 1:1 where I need it, and I was able to get 1.2kW out yesterday with the Acom 1000 with only 1 watt returned!!

Some nice DXCC worked: P40F, PJ4A, HK1NA, J75Z, ZF1A, P40W, VP2V/AA7V, C5A, D4C. I may or may not enter a log. I didn't intend to enter the contest in a competitive capacity, rather just for enjoyment, and to get my DXCC count up on 80 metres. So we will see . . .

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Starting to get back to normal maybe?

After a prolonged period dealing with all the issues around the publication of my second book, I have started to become a wee bit more active again on HF. During the past week I have been catching up with the PT0S Dxpedition to St. Peter & Paul Rocks in the Atlantic, and I'm glad to say that I now have nine band slots, making me the third best EI behind EI9KC on 11 slots and EI2CN on 10 slots. I still need 15m SSB and 10m CW so hopefully I will get those slots before the expedition finishes.

A photo of my old Butternut HF-6V
Last night I put some RF into the Butternut vertical on 80 metres for only the second or third time since last winter. I also added a 66-foot radial under it (last year's two radials were both damaged by the lawn mower HI HI!!) and managed to get an SWR of 1.5:1 on the CW portion of the band. And that's where I caught some nice action in the early hours of this morning.

In the space of about an hour, after midnight, I managed to nab FOUR new DXCCs on the 80 metre band. They were, as follows: VP2V/AA7V, British Virgin Islands; P4/R5GA, Aruba; PJ2/DF9LJ, Curacao; HT9H, Nicaragua (regular prefix YN). Because the Butternut is only a 26-foot tall vertical, ground mounted in the middle of a housing estate, it does not hear half as well as an elevated dipole cut for that band. Hence it is difficult for me to work new DXCCs on it. So it turned out to be a really great night, bringing my total DXCC worked on 80 metres to 118. It's a band I would dearly love to do more on, and to enjoy more regularly, but it is a big challenge for me. Last winter was very rewarding because I got over the 100 DXCC mark for the first time. This winter I will just try to nab more new ones, and try to bring my LoTW confirmations on 80m from 89 up over 100 hopefully.

I have one issue with the Butternut that is troubling me though. After a while, the SWR suddenly jumps from 1.5:1 to about 3:1, and I have to adjust the linear. Then it will, after some time, come back to 1.5:1 again. At least 3:1 is manageable with the Acom 1000 but it's annoying me that the SWR is changing during the course of the night. If there's anybody with any suggestions as to why that might be happening, or indeed with any experience of Butternut SWR issues, I'd be glad to hear from you.

In the meantime, I got some nice contacts this morning, including Lord Howe Island again, this time on 17m CW. VK9/OH3JR was just in the back of the box, and working simplex, so there was considerable QRM. But I heard him calling "EI2?" and got him logged after a minute. PJ7I on 12m SSB was a new band slot and C6AUM in the Bahamas on 10m CW just a short time ago gave me DXCC #210 on that band. Here's my band stats now:

160m: 64 / 47
80m: 118/94
40m: 177/130
30m: 188/127
20m: 239/169
17m: 237/149
15m: 224/130
12m: 214/133
10m: 210/134
6m: 72/53

Monday, November 19, 2012

Lord Howe Island in the log on 21 Mhz CW

As many of you will know, I have been relatively inactive on HF lately, only sitting in the PT0S pile-ups occasionally. I haev been busy launching my Newgrange book, plus I have started writing my next book!!

St. Peter & Paul Rocks, where the PT0S dxpedition is based.
Anyhow, I managed just now to log Lord Howe Island on 15 metres CW. VK9/OH3JR is in the log after about 15 minutes of trying here. He is working a small split, up 1-2 KCs, and is barely lifting the needle on my Icom IC-756 PRO at the best of times. However, as many of you keen DXers will know, that's all that's needed most of the time!!

I only worked VK9-L once before, on 30 metres, with 100 watts. It's a great pleasure to work this rare one again!

Since my last update, I have managed to work PT0S, St. Peter & Paul Archipalego, on six band slots in total, so I am very pleased with that. The latest slot was 17m SSB.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

PT0S St. Peter & Paul Rocks in the log

I am glad to report that yesterday I got PT0S into the log on two different bands, having been quite inactive on radio for the past couple of weeks. I worked them on 20 metres SSB at 09.34 and then, after only a few calls, on 12m SSB at 17:34. Very glad to have this new one in my log. PT0S is a dxpedition to St. Peter and Paul Archipelago, which is located off Brazil in the Atlantic Ocean.

Famous Meath man Sean Boylan launched
'Newgrange: Monument to Immortality' in Navan.
The reason for my inactivity on radio is that I have been busy preparing for two launches of my new book, 'Newgrange: Monument to Immortality', which was launched in Drogheda last Friday evening and then in Navan, County Meath, on Wednesday evening.

I wrote the book during 2012, having started in January. I have been researching the monuments of the Boyne Valley and their associated mythology and astronomy for many years. I was previously the author, with Richard Moore, of 'Island of the Setting Sun: In Search of Ireland's Ancient Astronomers' in 2006, reprinted in 2008.

You can read more about the new book and see photos from the launch at the following links:

Monday, November 5, 2012

John EI7BA on making a good RG58 connection

This is a short video showing John EI7BA demonstrating how to make a good mechanical and electrical connection for RG58. His simple technique involves using copper house wire to strengthen the connections for both the braid and the centre core. John is well known to Irish and international radio amateurs as our country's foremost DXer. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

PT0S - the next "big" one - St. Peter and St. Paul

The Dxers of Ireland are awaiting the next big dxpeditions, which are PT0S from St. Peter & St. Paul Archipalego, and ZL9HR from Auckland Campbell Island. The first of these dxpeditions is imminent. Here is the latest update from PT0S:

PT0S, ST. PETER AND ST. PAUL ROCKS (Update). As per the PT0S Web page dated October 31st, from George, AA7JV [edited]: "Most of the PT0S team is now in Natal. Fred, PY2XB, is going to join us on November 3rd. All our gear has made it and is being stored at the local radio club. Because importation into Brazil can be difficult and slow, we feel that we have passed one of the most worrisome hurdles we've faced. We are now procuring supplies and items that we decided to purchase locally, such as car batteries, camping gear, etc. Local HAM-s, especially Mauricio Barreto, PS7RK, have been incredibly generous helping us to buy supplies and make the final preparations.

We are on schedule to leave for St. Peter and St. Paul Archipelago on November 5th. The weather forecast is favorable, which is good news, as seas can be rough along the 620 nautical mile passage. We -- and all our gear -- will be travelling on the 70 foot fishing boat Transmar II, along with 8 fishermen. It will be tight and the lighter the seas the more bearable the passage will be.

We are hoping for a good and productive operation, where in addition to getting a lot of calls into the log, the entire community will have fun. 

We will soon start publishing operating tips and advice on how to
work us best. In the meantime, please keep the following in mind: 'THE
DX'ERS CODE OF CONDUCT'." -- which is listed on their Web page at:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Three years as a licenced radio amateur

Thumbs up . . . operating the EI0W contest station down in
Thos EI2JD's QTH in Clogherhead.
I thought I should give brief mention to the fact that today marks the third anniversary of the receipt of my amateur radio licence. I received my first licence as EI8GHB on October 30th 2009. What a wonderful three years it's been. I've worked 278 DXCCs on HF, I've made lots and lots of valuable friends in the hobby, I've become a contributor to Echo Ireland magazine and even a member of the Irish Radio Transmitters' Society committee.

It really is a wonderful hobby, populated by lots of very interesting and, with hardly any exceptions, very decent and helpful operators and short wave listeners. In my first days on air I struggled to work the DX using a Kenwood 570D and a half-size G5RV which wasn't nearly high enough off the ground. The shack, and the antennas, have developed and evolved and escalated such that I am able to work the world from this humble location.

Thanks to everyone who's been there to share it with me. To all the local hams who have helped me install the antennas, and who have sold me cheap radios, and to all those around the globe with whom I have made a QSO. I recently passed the 16,000 QSO mark and continue to enjoy chatting with people all around the world.

Ours is a great hobby. There is a tremendous civic aspect to amateur radio, exemplified by local clubs holding meetings throughout the year, and by activities such as AREN (Amateur Radio Emergency Networks) which are there for times of disaster and difficulty.

Most of all, ours is a hobby of gentlemen and ladies, exemplified by the excellent attitude and operating practices and standards of the EI amateurs. Long may it last. Here's to a great future . . .

Video: Irish hams contact with Columbia in 1983

Thanks to Seamus EI4KE who spotted this great video on YouTube. It shows a contact between EI0RTS, the Irish Radio Transmitters' Society headquarter station, and the Space Shuttle Columbia back in 1983. Of course, Columbia was destroyed in an accident in February 2003 so this video is all the more poignant.

Here is more information about the video from its YouTube description:

This historic amateur radio contact took place in late 1983 when the Irish Radio Transmitters' Society set up a special station in the RTE museum in Rathmines to attempt to contact Owen Garriott aboard the shuttle Columbia. Garriott had a hand-held two-metre transceiver aboard the shuttle and, when time allowed, he would call other amateur radio stations on the ground as the shuttle passed over. Unfortunately, in 2003 the Columbia disintegrated on re-entry to the earth's atmosphere, killing all seven crew aboard.

Monday, October 29, 2012

New video: St. Helena Island on 10 metres

Conditions have been fantastic on 10 metres during the past couple of weeks, and the band really came to life over the weekend for the CQWW 2012 phone contest. Here, the day after the contest, is ZD7FT, Peter on St. Helena Island, working a pile-up into Europe.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dipping in and out of CQWW contest

I spent a bit of time in the CQWW Phone contest over the weekend, but not in a major competitive way because there were other things to be done HI HI! But I enjoyed my time on the bands, where I managed to chalk up 575 QSOs over four bands. I spent about two hours on Saturday and a good deal more on Sunday notching up contacts. I concentrated on 10 metres, where I reckon I also nabbed a few new DXCC. There were some nice ones to be worked, including VP9, VP5, HI, TI, YN HK and more. Nabbed Australia on 10 metres too which is always nice.

The Icom IC-756PRO is very handy for contesting because I can record four different snatches of audio for use in CQWW. Slot 1 was "Echo India Two Kilo Charlie" for calling DX stations. Slot 2 was "Five Nine One Four" for the exchange, while slots 3 and 4 were CQ slots for when I was sitting on a frequency. 10 metres was very lively over the weekend and it was great to hear it in such good condition. Long may it last!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Two very nice QSL cards in the post today

These two very nice cards arrived in the post today. They are from VK9CS, Cocos-Keeling Islands, and VK9XS, Christmas Island, which were both brand new DXCCs for me during September, just after I put the hexbeam up here. I worked VK9XS on 17m CW and 15m CW, and VK9CS on 17m and 12m CW. Absolutely thrilled to get these.

Some time on the air as EI80IRTS

The Irish Radio Transmitters Society (IRTS) is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year and as a result the special callsign EI80IRTS has been on the air since January 1st. I was recently asked by Ger EI4GXB and Thos EI2JD if I would consider operating on CW as EI80IRTS.

Since I now have an interface that can key my radio, the ICOM IC-756PRO, I decided I would give it a go. Over the past three days I have logged about 700 QSOs, a great majority of which were made with just 100 watts. The higher bands have been in great shape.

Much of my time was spent on 10m and 12m, early in the mornings for Asia and Pacific and late in the evenings for North America. I have had Australia, Japan and Singapore in the log in the mornings and lots of west coast USA in the evenings. I am using N1MM logger to log the calls.

I am very happy with my rate when there is a pile-up, but with changing band conditions, it's not always possible to have a pile-up!! I was running at 32wpm, which is a bit on the hot side, but I want to get used to going along at a good pace because I want to start taking part in more CW contests.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Icom IC-756 PRO - what a beauty!

I wanted to take a striking picture of this beautiful rig which has recently been added to the shack. I hope this does it justice. I have greatly enjoyed using this rig so far. It not only looks great, but it performs brilliantly too.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A good day's hunting for DX . . .

I didn't have a huge amount of time for HF activities today because I was taking part in a first aid course with the AREN North East group (Amateur Radio Emergency Network). However, the time I did allocate to HF was used wisely. I managed to get half an hour in the shack early this morning and nabbed TX5EG in French Polynesia on 20 metres CW with just 100 watts. Conditions seemed to be good to the Pacific at the time because shortly afterwards I worked ZL4PW on 12m CW, also with 100 watts. You can see what Paul's signal was like in the video below, which I made just after I had my QSO with him. The Icom is a new toy in the shack! The video was made with my Nikon D7000, and the audio was connected directly from the radio to the camera:
Shortly after that I worked another New Zealand QSO, this time it was ZL2MY on 17m CW. His name was Mike and he told me he has an Irish callsign, EI7CR. We later exchanged emails. He was very happy to hear EI, and it is a sure sign of improving conditions. New Zealand is one of the furthest places from Ireland and it's always a great pleasure to work the ZLs on HF.

Other highlights of the day include C50C The Gambia on 12m SSB, who had a booming signal, and a hefty pile-up from Europe and indeed further afield. It took me a while to work him but I eventually did. The second video below shows his signal strength just after I worked him. I worked the P29VCX dxpedition to Papua New Guinea on 20 metres side bands and then tonight on CW. I also nabbed 9J2GR in Zambia on 12m CW for a new country on that band, and then the absolute highlight of the day was working the T30PY Western Kiribati dxpedition on a second slot tonight, this time 17m CW.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A lovely old film about amateur radio

Some of you may have seen this before, but I came across this quaint old film from 1939 on YouTube. It's about amateur radio, and particular how this service can be utilised in emergency situations. Very interesting.

Friday, October 12, 2012

New cards in: Ogasawara and Minami Torishima

I am delighted to have received these two QSL cards recently. The one on the left is from JD1 Minami Torishima for our QSO on 17m CW, a brand new country for me when I worked him. On right is a card from JD1BMH in Ogasawara, another new DXCC when worked. These are both islands in the Pacific which are controlled by Japan, but count as separate DXCC.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

VK9XM Christmas Island worked on 12m SSB

This is a short video showing VK9XM on Christmas Island booming in on 12 metres SSB just after I had worked him with my first call on the hexbeam. As you can see, he was very strong here. Although Christmas Island is not a new DXCC for me, having recently bagged it as a new one, it was new for me on 12 metres.

I was delighted to break a huge pile-up this afternoon on 20m SSB to work EP3PK, Pooyan in Tehran, Iran, to get a brand new DXCC into the log, number 276!! The hexbeam is working wonders!!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Another new Pacific DXCC: H44PA Solomon Islands

Above is a video of my QSO this morning with Greg, H44PA, in the Solomon Islands, on 17m CW. This is another new country for me, my 275th DXCC worked and my tenth new DXCC since putting up the hexbeam. If you listen you can hear my obvious excitement at working the new one. His signal, with QSB, was up to 579 at times. Really, really thrilled with this one. There were very few people calling him, so obviously there was just good propagation between us at that moment. He had just worked a JA (Japan) station immediately before me. I think from his reaction he was pretty happy to work EI himself. I will definitely be sending a QSL card to Greg for this contact!! Cheers Greg!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

V73NS Marshall Islands QSO confirmed on LoTW

I've just checked my ARRL Logbook of the World Account and I am delighted to see that V73NS has confirmed our recent QSO on 15m CW. This is a brand new DXCC for me, never worked before.

My confirmation from V79NS
Remember that LoTW counts towards DXCC credit. It is a great service, and it's generally easy to upload your log if you use a computer log and have internet access. That brings to 229 confirmed DXCC on LoTW alone, not counting QSL cards.

In the past week I have sent cards to 5W0XT, JG8NQJ/JD1, 3D2MM/MM, XX9E, VK9CS, VK9XS, 3D2C and FK8CE. It will be a great pleasure to see many of those cards coming back!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Dxpeditions and DX to be listening out for

There is lots of potential rare DX to be worked over the next while, and indeed currently. The 3D2C dxpedition on Conway Reef in the south Pacific is still in full swing and is QRT on Friday, October 5th. Meanwhile, keep an ear out for KH8, American Samoa, from where N6XT and N7CQQ have been operating on RTTY and SSB.

Tristan de Cunha is currently being activated by Rob M0VFC and has been worked in EU with relative ease.

Starting this week is 5U5U, a three-man dxpedition to Niger in Africa, led by Chris, TL0A. The three operators will be active on all bands from 160m through 6m and will be there for two weeks. The three callsigns to be used will be 5U5U, 5U6E and 5U8NK.

BY1WXD/0 is operating from Tibet, but beware that Tibet AC4, is a deleted entity and does not count for DXCC.

Later in the month, on October 16th, the T30PY dxpedition to Western Kiribati starts. T30 is Clublog's 68th most wanted DXCC. See more information on the T30PY website.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

ZD9UW Tristan de Cunha logged as a new DXCC

ZD9 Tristan de Cunha in the south Atlantic is the 49th most wanted DXCC according to So when plans were announced for two British amateurs to travel there to activate this rare one, EI2KC was getting excited. Unfortunately, one of the pair, G3ZAY, was unable to make it, but Robert, M0VFC, has made it and was on air a short time ago on 15m SSB as ZD9UW.

Robert M0VFC is operating from Tristan de Cunha as ZD9UW.
Pretty soon he had a big pile, but was listening up 5 to 10 kc, which is not a huge split really. I felt like I had a chance. I switched on the linear and turned the hexbeam south and pretty soon I was calling on 21.335 with 400 watts. After less than 10 minutes, I could hear 'who is the Echo India three?' I thought maybe he was listening for me and I said 'Echo India Two Kilo Charlie' and he said 'Echo India Two only' and soon I was in the log for a brand new DXCC!!

That's nine new DXCC in less than three weeks, and all worked with the new hexbeam. The more I use it, the more I like it. Robert was not strong, and there was QSB on his signal, but he was strong enough to work and to be heard in EI. This is a brilliant hobby, with so many rewards.

Working ZD9 made up for the lack of time I had over the weekend for radio. The couple of times I sat down at the radio to try to work 3D2C on Conway Reef were brief, and sadly there was considerable QRM on both 20m SSB, where music was being played over them, and on 17m CW, where, at one stage, there were THREE CW signals QRMing them. Very sad. Let's hope they're back on those slots tomorrow and that all the lunatics are off at work or back at the asylum!

Six slots with Conway Reef but less time now

I now have six slots with Conway Reef. At least I hope I have six. I worked them on 15m SSB yesterday morning and I wasn't 100% sure that they said EI2KC, but I will wait for a log update. My other five QSOs are in the log alright.

I find the hexbeam is doing a terrific job. None of the slots took more than half an hour to work, and, honestly, in some cases I was only calling for a few minutes. I did try 10m CW yesterday for a while, but with musical activities to attend to over the weekend I have less time for radio. The split was incredible. They were listening 25kc up at one point. So as you can imagine, the pile-up calling them from EU must have been significant. I will wait for the pile to calm down before trying them on 10m.

I still need them on 17m CW, where there seems to be a dearth of activity. And surprisingly, I also need them on 20m SSB. I am listening on their QRG on 14.190 right now and, unfortunately, someone is jamming them with a slow scan signal. This is an unfortunate and regrettable side of the hobby, where disgruntled individuals cause QRM on a DX station.

Ah well, we need lots of patience in this hobby. It is usually rewarded, but sometimes not. I am glad to say I am enjoying Conway Reef 3D2C so far. Being unemployed does have its upside!! In between hunting for a new job, I can be at the radio during the daytime, something which was impossible while I was working full time!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

3D2C has only started - and they're in the log!

I am a very happy man. The 3D2C Conway Reef dxpedition has only just started. I could hear them quite well on 20m CW (14.020 listening up) with my hexbeam pointed due north. So I put on a split and started to call them. Within five calls, I could hear 'EI2KC 5NN' coming back through the ether. So I gave him 'RR EI2KC 5NN TU' and he was in the log! That's DXCC no. 273 for me, with eight new ones being worked in the past fortnight.

It always takes the pressure off a bit when you can work a dxpedition on the day it starts. There is always the anxiety of wondering if they will have to go QRT early, as happened with the JX5O dxpedition to Jan Mayen Island in July 2011. So although the pile-ups are always quite extreme at the beginning, it is nice to be able to break through the pile to give oneself a measure of peace of mind!

Below is a video showing the signal from 3D2C on 14 Mhz CW working EU at the time:

Update: Thursday September 27th - 3D2C worked on 15m CW also.
Friday September 28th - 3D2C worked on 17m SSB and 12m CW

Monday, September 24, 2012

A quick update on the DX

Since my last posting I have had more success working DX, and the more I use it the more I become convinced that the hexbeam is a great antenna. Here is a brief summary of the DX in the log:

My hexbeam (pluys 2m/6m beams and Butternut) under the stars.
I worked VK9CS (Cocos Keeling) again, this time on 17m CW, with just two calls.
This was followed by T8XX (Palau) on 15m SSB for a new country on that band.
The same day, I worked T8XX on 20m CW.

3D2GC in Fiji provided a brand new DXCC for me when I worked him on 15m CW. He was very, very light and to be perfectly honest it's possible I am not in the log, or have a busted call.
However, when I later worked him on 17m CW, I was definitely in his log this time.

T8XX made it into the log again, this time on 12m CW, giving me a new DXCC on that band. VK9CS got into the log on a third band, this time on 20m CW.

Just this morning, I worked VK7CW, Steve in Tasmania, on 17m CW using just 100 watts. This was followed a short time later by T8XX again, this time on 15m CW, also with 100 watts.

Later, I worked BD7IS in China on 15m SSB using just 100 watts for a new slot, and then YB0ETC in Indonesia on 10m CW for a new slot there. Glad to hear 10 metres in good shape!

Friday, September 21, 2012

VK9CS - Cocos-Keeling Island - in the log with 100 watts!

I am delighted to report that I just worked VK9CS on Cocos Keeling Island on 12m CW, using just 100 watts into my hexbeam. I had been trying him for about 20 minutes and he was weak, and of course I had to leave the shack, to drop one of the kids to preschool! When I came back 15 minutes later, the signal from VK9CS had gone up, peaking 579 at times.

I decided to work him with 100 watts while the linear was warming up. He came back 'EI2?' after my first call! I gave him the call twice and he came back 'EI2C?' and before long, I was in the log!

This is the same operator (JA1PBV) that gave me VK9XS, Christmas Island, within the past week. The hexbeam is working beautifully. I have nabbed FIVE new DXCC in a fortnight, all five of them in the Pacific/Oceania area. Brilliant. Really delighted.

Below is a video showing the signal from VK9CS just after I worked him.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A day in the life of EI2KC on the bands

As many of you will know, I was made redundant from my job as a newspaper editor over two months ago. In that time, I have been looking for a new job. While looking for a new job, I have also been trying to complete my next book, 'Newgrange - Monument to Immortality', which is being published next month.

The new hexbeam attached to the back wall of the shack. Also visible
are my Butternut vertical and the inverted Vs.
For a while I was relatively inactive on the bands, but have recently found, especially with the kids back at school, a bit of time for radio. Since the hexbeam went up here almost two weeks ago my hit rate with the DX has gone up dramatically.

To give you an idea what sort of DX I am working, I thought I would give you a run-down of the complete log for today, September 18th, 2012. I will exclude the three non-DX or non valuable QSOs in the log. Times are local

5W0QQ - Samoa - 20m SSB 08:26
AH0KY - Saipan/Northern Marianas - 15m SSB 10:56
JG8NQJ/JD1 - Minami Torishima - 17m CW - brand new DXCC! 11:25
AH0KY - Saipan/Northern Marianas - 17m SSB 12:57
KP2/K5WE - Virgin Islands - 20m CW 13:01
Z60K - Kosovo (but not a new entity yet) - 15m SSB, 15m CW, 20m CW, 17m CW 13:08-13:24
BH4IGO - China - 20m CW 15:18
P49T - Aruba - 15m SSB 15:44
JW9HH - Svalbard - 17m SSB 16:03
YB9/DJ7XJ - Indonesia - 20m CW 17:33
VK2DX - Australia - 40m CW 21:08
A92IO - Bahrain - 40m CW 21:11 - new band slot, thanks to EI3IO Dave!
VK7RF - Tasmania - 20m CW 21:25
JH3EUJ - Japan - 20m CW 21:40
JA6BJV - Japan - 20m CW 21:44
PY6AM - Brazil - 20m CW 21:46 (on the long path!)
VU2JOS - India - 20m CW 21:49
JA2IU - Japan - 20m CW 21:51
JA9BFM - Japan - 20m CW 21:55
VK7BO - Tasmania - 20m CW 21:58
T8XX - Belau - 30m CW 22:40 - new country on 30m!

Not bad for a day dipping in and out of the radio spectrum! I am particularly impressed with how the hexbeam is helping me to hear the weak Pacific stations that I might have found more difficult with the MA5B minibeam. I have worked four new DXCC in a week, all of them in the Pacific - VK9XS Christmas Island, V73NS Marshall Islands, JD1 Minami Torishima and 5W0XT/5W0QQ Samoa.

Monday, September 17, 2012

At least two, and possibly three, new DXCC today!

Despite suffering wind damage during a storm, the hexbeam was still proving its worth this morning when I pulled in two distant rare DX signals and nabbed the latest brace of DX entites for the EI2KC log. I saw VK9XS on Christmas Island spotted on 21 Mhz CW on the cluster. I sat on his QRG and could hear nothing. Not to be disappointed, I checked that the beam was pointing at him and then busied myself doing other things at the computer while still keeping an ear on the radio.

Marshall Islands, from where V73NS was transmitting
on 15m CW when I worked him as a new one.
A while later, I heard a weak CW signal coming up out of the noise. Pretty soon I could hear 'VK9XS UP', so I put the split on and tried to listen where he was working. It was difficult, because the pile was big and I wasn't hearing some of the Europeans he was coming back to. But eventually I had it bang on and pretty soon I heard 'EI?'. He had me as EI12KC initially but after a number of overs he came back with 'EI2KC 5NN' and I had a new DXCC in the log.

Less than 40 minutes later I started hearing V73NS from Marshall Islands, also on 15m CW, and gave him a call with 400 watts. He was very weak with a lot of QSB but pretty soon I was in his log too, making two new ones in less than an hour.

Also worked today with the hexbeam were VK8CAW (Australia) on 15m CW, DU3/N0QM (Philippines) on 15m cw, VK9XS (Christmas Island again) this time on 17m CW, and a couple of 9M2s, a couple of 9M6s and a DS4 in Korea. Nice!

I am grateful to Tony EI4DIB and Pat EI2HX for helping me make repairs to the hexbeam, and to Tony for his persistence in uncovering the cause of a fluctuating SWR. Thanks gents!!

Tonight there is a Z60K team on the air, from Kosovo. This is not a DXCC entity, at least not yet. I worked them on 20m SSB on the basis of 'work now, worry later'. If Kosovo becomes an entity any time soon, I will have it in the log!!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Delighted with NH8S Swains dxpedition results

The NH8S Swains Island dxpedition has gone QRT about three days earlier than expected. However, I am very happy with my results, having worked them on a total of nine band slots.
The 'league table' showing the top EIs in the NH8S log.

The last of those slots was on 15 metres SSB last night, but this morning I see my callsign is busted and I am listed as EI3KC. The result of this is that I appear to be in joint second place among the EIs who have worked NH8S, but in actual fact I should be joint first. I am not complaining though! I am extremely satisfied to have worked this rare and distant dx entity on so many slots.
My call was busted on 15 metres SSB.

The new hexbeam has certainly helped with that, and I managed two slots using the RTTY mode, one on 20m and one on 15m. I did not hear them on 40 metres at any stage, nor did I hear them on 12 metres, but only a couple of EI ops seem to have nabbed them on those bands so I am happy enough.

Below is a video showing how strong NH8S was on 20m SSB on my hexbeam a couple of mornings ago.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Swains in the log on 30m CW

I was the happiest ham alive this morning when, with all of Europe calling the NH8S Swains dxpedition, they picked my call out of the pile-up!! It took a while to work them. They were on 10.103, listening approx 3kc up, but I worked them 2.5 kc up. They kept calling "EI2 EI2" and of course I was QRMed but I just kept giving my call and eventually I heard EI2KC 5NN ! So I gave them 5NN and TU. So thrilled. I spent the rest of the morning with a smile on my face!!

I did not have time to make a video recording as I had to leave the kids to school. That was slot number four for me. They were strong for a while on 15m CW for a while in the middle of the day but I was not able to break the pile on that occasion. But I will keep trying for more slots . . .

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The ups and downs of QSLing

One aspect of amateur radio which can be both rewarding and frustrating is the exchange of QSL cards. I get a lot of QSL requests in through the IRTS bureau. Having processed some 700-800 cards over the past number of months, I had the pleasure yesterday of sorting all the outgoing cards into continents and countries so I could send them to the outgoing manager. Above is a photo showing the sorted cards. It can take a number of hours to process each incoming bundle and fill out the return card and mark everything off in the log. This amount of cards probably took about five or six hours to process. It is a time consuming business!

On the slightly less frustrating side of the QSL bureau is when you get some nice cards incoming. Today I received 183 incoming cards from the bureau. There were quite a few from the 'usual suspects' including Germany/Sloevnia/Bulgaria etc., but some nice and unusual ones too. Above is a card from JD1BMH, Ogasawara Island, which would be a new DXCC confirmed. Also on left is DP1POL from Antarctica. Other highlights include ZD8W Ascension Island, 9M2TO West Malaysia, and a bunch of cards from Japan. Nice.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Down goes the MA5B . . . up goes the Hexbeam!

Yesterday, after a long time thinking about it, I finally decided to take down the MA5B minibeam in favour of a second hand hexbeam. Although the MA5B has served me very well, being my first beam and being a big improvement over the Butternut vertical in many cases, the gain figures for the hexbeam are better and those who have them swear by them.

The Hex Team! Thos EI2JD, Pat EI2HX, Anthony EI2KC
and Tony EI4DIB. What a crew!
So it was with mixed feelings that I finally decided to swap them. My antenna team swung into action here on Tuesday and consisted of Thos EI2JD, Pat EI2HX and Tony EI4DIB, without whose help it would never have happened.

I already had the arms and the stay ropes of the hexbeam assembled to move things on a little bit. Working in a very confined space with the hex was difficult, but we worked well as a team, ironing out the problems as we went along.

We discovered too, regrettably, that my old Moonraker rotator is kaput, and had to make the decision to erect the hexbeam on an armstrong rotator for the moment. (For non hams, this simply means the pole is manually rotated, using just the strength of one's arm!!)

The whole operation took about four hours, with tea breaks! It was a lovely sunny day which made it easier and we got to work on our sun tans too HI! The hexbeam is lighter than the MA5B, and without the weight of the rotator the new structure does not need stay wires.

Upon completion, we did the SWR test. SWR is flat across the 20m band, and is around 1.5 - 1.7 on 17m, 15m and 12m. It is a bit high, inexplicably, on 10m, but at 3:1 the ATU will tune it and also the Acom 1000 will handle it if needed.

Who's a happy boy then?

Although band conditions have not been great since it was erected, I worked a good bit of DX yesterday evening and last night, and was impressed with the many 59+ signals I was seeing on the FT-1000MP. Here is a summary of DX worked:

Japan 20m CW 400 watts
Asiatic Russia 20m CW 400w
Sumatra (YB4) 15m SSB 400w
India 15m CW 100w
Svalbard 17m SSB 100w
Swaziland 15m SSB 100w
Tanzania 10m SSB 400w - new country on 10m!!
Few Stateside QSOs on 15m CW 100w
Dominican Republic 15m SSB 100w
Peru 12m SSB 400w (new band slot)
Nicaragua 15m CW 400w
Gibraltar 17m SSB 100w
St Lucia 15m SSB 100w
Venezuela 17m CW 100w

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Interesting QSO with QRP station in Pittsburg - video

I did something last night that I haven't done in ages. I put out a CQ on HF. I was running just 100 watts into the MA5B pointing north west for the States on 18 Mhz SSB and managed to run a bit of a pile-up. During the course of this pile-up, I picked out KB3RHR, Craig in Pittsburg, who was running just 5 watts from a Flex radio. He had a reasonably strong signal, 57 to 59 with QSB. Craig captured our QSO on video in his shack just after setting up his Flex 1500 radio. You can see the video below:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mount Leinster EI7MLR proves its worth again

I've just had a short chat with Chris GW7HAE/M through the Irish South Eastern Amateur Radio Group repeater network. Chris was operating from a handheld, using just half a watt, and a rubber duck antenna, from his car in Pembrokeshire. He was accessing the SEARG network through EI7MLR, the Mount Leinster 70 centimetres repeater. I was going back to him as EI2KC/P from my holiday QTH in Duncannon,, Co Wexford, through the Helvic Head 2 metre repeater EI2HHR on 145.675, using 5 watts on my Waccom UV5R handheld. An excellent contact.

Chris did fade for a few moments in QSB but otherwise held a good signal into EI7MLR for the duration of our 7 or 8 minute QSO.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Some interesting videos . . . maybe!

Here are two videos which might interest you. The first is a short video of a QSO I made from the top of Red Mountain, Donore, a hill about three or four miles from my QTH. I was operating a Waccom UV5R, a cheap Chinese imported handheld, inside the car, and managed to open the Mount Leinster 70cms (UHF) repeater - a total of 75 miles away!! The QSO was with Declan EI4GJB who is based in Limerick city. Declan was operating through the Devil's Bit 2m repeater which is connected to EI7MLR (Mount Leinster) through the South Eastern Amateur Radio Group (SEARG) network.

The second video is from M3UHQ, Lawrie, in England. If you move forward to 2:50 you might hear a familiar voice!!!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

D64K Comoros Island Dxpedition in the log

I had the pleasure of putting the D64K Comoros dxpedition into my log four times so far. Comoros is an island off the eastern coast of Africa. So far I have worked them on 15m SSB, 12m CW, 12m SSB and 10m SSB. Three of these four QSOs were made with just 100 watts of power, while 15m SSB was with 400 watts. All contacts were made with the MA5B minibeam.

The first QSO on 10m SSB was a broken call. They logged me as EI3KC, but within 40 minutes I had worked them a second time - again with 100w - and this time they had the call right !!

Comoros is my 265th DXCC. Not bad for a small station. I have not had much time for radio recently as the deadline for the completion of my new book approaches. I hope to give the draft manuscript to the publisher on Tuesday, all going well. In fact, I am still writing, even as I am trying to work Comoros !

Hopefully I will get D64K into the log a few more times before the dxpedition ends. You can see a video I made shortly after working them below:

Monday, August 6, 2012

Papua New Guinea - new country on 15m!!

This is P29FR booming in at 5/7 on my MA5B minibeam. I recorded this short clip about two minutes after I had worked him as a brand new country on 15 metres (21 Mhz). In fact, I have only worked Papua New Guinea on 20m and 12m previous to today, so it was a great contact.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

CY9M St. Paul Island Dxpedition ends

This blog has not been updated much recently. Since being made redundant I find myself busier than ever! I am looking for a job, obviously, but I am also writing my new book, which I hope to complete within the next week or so. Besides that, I haven't had much time for radio. I worked Israel 4X/4Z on 6 metres, giving me my 17th new DXCC on that band this season. My HF activity has been very sparse.

However, with the appearance of the CY9M St. Paul Island Dxpedition, I had to make some effort, albeit limited, to get them into the log. I managed to work them on six different band slots despite the time limitation, something I am extremely happy with.

Also on Monday my laptop failed and is still in the repair shop as we speak. I hope they can recover all my data. My entire log is on that laptop! Although I do back it up about once a month, I haven't done so recently so the latest backup is a month or so old. I think CY9M is my 264th DXCC on HF.

To have a look at what has been keeping me busy lately, have a look at this website:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

AREN training exercise in Drogheda

I participated in an AREN training exercise with other local hams in Drogheda today. AREN stands for Amateur Radio Emergency Network, which is a public service voluntary radio emergency network run by the Irish Radio Transmitters Society (IRTS) in conjunction with ComReg.

Taking shelter from a heavy rain shower. Pictured are: Thos EI2JD, Derek EI7CHB,
Tony EI4DIB, Ben EI4IN, Sean EI4IP, Pat EI2HX and Seamus EI3KE.
The training consisted of using radio communications plus a GPS device to track down various 'clues' which had been hidden in various areas of a park known as 'The Glen' at Newfoundwell in Drogheda. It was interesting, fun and educational.

The 'team', for which I did the radio comms, managed to find all five items using the GPS. When we found each item, there was a code written on the front which we had to relay to control. Control was manned by Thos EI2JD and Tony EI4DIB, who is the AREN Co-ordinator for the North East. After successful transmission of the code, we were then sent a question from control, relating to information on the back of each clue. On receipt of the question, we had to find the answer and relay it back to control before being given the coordinates for the next clue.

Pat EI2HX leads the team towards
the correct coordinates.
All going well, there will be weekly exercises in various parts of Drogheda and beyond. This training followed a very recent successful outing to Clogherhead, where local AREN volunteers provided emergency and backup communications for a 10 kilometre road race.

If you are interested in becoming an AREN volunteer, you can contact Tony Allen EI4DIB through his blog.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Lightning bolt strikes not far from my QTH

There was a thunderstorm near my QTH yesterday evening (Wednesday, July 11th). It raged for about half an hour. I left the camcorder at the back window looking out at my antennas, and managed to catch this fork lightning which must have struck less than a kilometre from my QTH. As you can see (or hear) in the video, the thunder comes about 2-3 seconds after the fork, so it was no more than a kilometre away. The antennas visible are the MA5B minibeam and in the background my Butternut vertical.

PS: I have been made redundant from my job. I finished on Monday. I am now trying to work full-time on completing my new book, 'Newgrange - Monument to Immortality'. As a result, I don't imagine I will have much time for radio or blogging but will do my best . . .

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Some nice QSLs in via the bureau

I received my biggest delivery of QSL cards to date from the IRTS bureau yesterday, and included in the bundle of 221 cards were some very nice ones. Perhaps the most exciting one was from ET3AA, Ethiopia, for QSOs on 10 metres SSB and 40m CW.

But there were cards also from UN7IZ in Kazakhstan (10m CW), OJ0B in Market Reef for six QSOs including top band and 80m, ED9M in Ceuta (40m CW), YB0MWM in Indonesia for 12m SSB, and MU0FAL in Guernsey for 80m and 12m CW.

Now all I have to do is process all the cards and write the returns !

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Busy with the book but grabbing new ones on 6m

It's been a very busy period for me with the deadline for my new book approaching, so there has been much less time for radio. However, that hasn't stopped me from grabbing some new DXCCs on 6 metres, where there has been a decent bit of action in recent weeks.

This is my VHF antenna system. On top is the 8-el XY 2m
 beam and underneath is the 3-element 6m beam.
I have now worked 11 new entities in the 2012 E season, having only worked two new ones in 2011. The main reason for that is because I now have a rotatable three-element beam on 6 metres, whereas last year I was using a fixed dipole. The new countries worked are:

4O Montenegro
C3 Andorra
CN Morocco
CT3 Madeira
CU Azores
EA9 Ceuta & Melilla
GI Northern Ireland
JX Jan Mayen
OY Faroe Islands
SV5 Dodacanese
FM Martinique

FM5WD in Martinique, worked yesterday on CW, was my first Caribbean contact since 2010, so I was chuffed with that one. I will be listening more often for Caribbean DX entities in the next few weeks if time allows.

In the meantime, the priority lies with my book 'Newgrange - Monument to Immortality', which is due to be presented to the publisher next month for publishing in October. But perhaps if I can listen to the Icom IC-746 while writing the book, I might catch a few more DXCC on 6m !! And improve on my current tally of 67 . . . .

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The receive on my IC-735 is gone quiet

I have a problem with my Icom IC-735. The RX is gone very quiet. I can still hear stations but the needle hardly moves at all. I am still able to TX and being heard quite well in G and EU but there's something amiss with the RX.

I read on the internet that poor RX can be related to a dry or cracked solder joint where the RX socket meets the main unit board. So I re-touched all the joints and still no improvement.

I love the IC-735 and especially the sensitivity of it. I would love some help in diagnosing and fixing this problem. Any help is welcome.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Very glad to catch A5A Bhutan on 40m

I am extremely happy to have worked the A5A Bhutan dxpedition on 40m CW this evening, just an hour before they went QRT. It gives me a new country on 40 metres, and gives me a total of seven slots with A5A, which I am extremely happy with. I had A5 worked on a few bands before this dxpedition, but I have filled out new bands and slots which I am very happy with. Of the seven slots worked, six were on CW, and one on SSB.

Also, I have not been as active on radio this past couple of weeks, as the deadline for my new book 'Newgrange - Monument to Immortality' is looming (in July) so I am concentrating on that.

But very happy with A5A on seven slots. Thanks guys!

Also worked tonight was OA4DX (Peru) for a new DXCC on 17m (CW) and also D3AA in Angola for a new DXCC on 40m, also on CW.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

New short film about North Cork Radio Group

This is a lovely little documentary about the North Cork Radio Group which has just been finished by Tom McCarthy. It is an excellently put together film about this group of radio enthusiasts and their activities. I think the film speaks for itself.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Some nice QSLs via the bureau

I recently took a delivery of QSL cards via the IRTS bureau service, which I must start processing. I got about 160 cards, and some interesting DX was included, which is pictured here.

I got cards from BV100 (Taiwan), RI1FJ (Franz Josef Land), VE6WQ (Alberta, Canada), UN0C (Kazakhstan),and a couple of stations from PJ4 (Bonaire). I love getting the nice cards through the bureau.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Three new DXCC worked on 6 metres

There have been some good openings on 6 metres these past couple of days. Due to work I could not get to a radio on Monday but today I was able to catch a few QSOs at around tea time. In fact, I managed to nab a total of THREE new DXCCs on the band, one after the other, within the space of half an hour or so.

The first was CN8KD, Mohamed in Morocco, on CW with a 579 signal each way. Then I nabbed EA9IE, Juan in Ceuta, on SSB, followed by C31CT in Andorra on CW. That made it DXCC numbers 59, 60 and 61 worked on 6m. A pleasant evening!

I hope the band continues to behave well in coming weeks and months to allow more new ones to be worked. I will be doing a lot less radio for the next month or so while I get my book on Newgrange finished, but I would be happy to dip in and out of 6 metres to nab new ones!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A5A Bhutan dxpedition begins

A dxpedition to A51 Bhutan has begun, using the callsign A5A. Already there are many spots on the bands for this exciting new one, which will no doubt provide the opportunity for many EIs to nab a new DXCC. Just checking my log I see that I have worked A5 on 30 metres, 15 metres and 10 metres. So it won't be a new one for me, but I will try to fill out some slots.

This is from the website of A5A: The FGC DX Group (*Foundation for Global Children) is pleased to announce our next multi-national DXpedition to Bhutan, callsign A5A. We will begin operations by May 24, 2012 and will run until June 6th. We will activate 80-6m including the WARC bands using modes: SSB, CW, and RTTY. We will erect high gain antennas, utilize receive antennas, and run amplifiers at 3 stations. The QTH is in the mountains (more info very soon) and we are aware of where Bhutan is needed most and will focus on these areas when the band is open there. Also, we intend to listen carefully to the needs of the DX community during the operation by monitoring the activity on our website (coming soon), and other social media outlets for band openings, and dialogue with the radio community. Please join our conversation.

Some nice new eQSL confirmations - including Pakistan

This was my first confirmation of Pakistan, which I also received via Logbook of the World, which was nice.

This one's from Alaska, for a QSO on RTTY the other night. The latest arrivals bring my total number of countries confirmed on eQSL to 147.
And I thought I might add this one, frm Western Australia, for a contact in December last on 10 metres. Very nice.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

VK9PN Lord Howe Island on the air

A mini dxpedition to Lord Howe Island has begun today. This rare entity in the Pacific is being activated by three operators for the duration of one week under the callsign VK9PN. They will operate on CW and SSB on all bands from 160 metres to 10 metres.

The main ops are Patrick VK2PN and Mira OK1NG and they will later be joined by Chris VK3FY for the CQ WPX CW contest.

For more information on this exciting dxpedition, visit their website:

Thankfully, I already have this rare DXCC in my log, having been just one of two EIs to have worked VK9OL last year.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Big signals on 40 metres from my old IC-735

This is Richard, MJ0UOO/P on Jersey Island with a huge pile-up on 40 metres SSB. I was listening to him on my old Icom IC-735 connected to a homwmade inverted v dipole resonant on 40m. About five minutes after this I called Richard and broke the pile-up with 100 watts.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Fabulous DX worked on RTTY and PSK31

A screenshot of my 17m RTTY QSO with Nam in South Korea
I had a wonderful night on the bands, mainly on digimodes. It started with S79RR in the Seychelles on 15m RTTY, a new one on that band. Later I worked HI8CSS, Guillermo in Dominican Republic, for a new band slot on 17 metres PSK. Then I had my first ever QSO with Japan on digital modes when JA1FVS answered my "CQ DX" call on 17m PSK31.

4Z5MX, Anatoly in Israel, also came back to the call, and I then worked HK3TK, Pepin in Bogota, Colombia, for a new band slot, also on 17m PSK.

The major highlights of the night were VR2XMT in Hong Kong on 20 metres RTTY, a new country on digi, worked on my Butternut vertical antenna, followed by DS5USH, Nam in South Korea, on 17 metres RTTY, another new band slot.

I also nabbed WL7E in Alaska on 17m RTTY, in addition to CE2WZ, David in Chile, which gave me a brand new country on digimodes on 17m PSK.

This all followed RI1ANF, in the South Shetland Islands near Antarctica, who I worked on 30 metres CW, giving me that new DXCC now on four bands.