QRP… A reminder

Yesterday (December 27 2022) on a HF Net I heard an operator stating that he was operating QRP when he checked in with the NCS (and no it was not me)

The NCS asked what power level he was using and he proudly replied “10w”. The NCS commented that he thought QRP was 5W and a short gruff debate followed with the NCS saying it was not worth arguing over and he then continued the net.

You might remember that I covered this before in a blog post:


and I don’t believe things have changed since then.

If you feel like it check my previous post (above) and draw your own conclusions

Happy New Year to all



Over the years I have owned 3 QRP Rigs

FT817 (5w) Flex 1500 (5w) and XEIGU X5105 (5w)

Still reading the manual

Well two weeks later and 100 new POTA parks in my log and I am still learning “new stuff”….

The FT991a is living up to all its hype and is a dream to operate… If you use it right out of the box with the default settings its a good radio…

A dream to operate

If you RTFM and customize your Transmit audio settings and your Receive filter settings its a FANTASTIC radio to use.

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post…

So far I have added 100 unique parks to my Parks list… A few in CW but most of them in SSB.

This would also include the K7K DXPedition to Kiska Island in SSB (95w ssb and CW (40w). Both contacts were made on 17m

Above from their website…

No digital at this time but until I’m sure that my NUE PSK Modem that works well my my older Yaesu Radios will also work well with the 991a I am not going to take a chance on bricking the rig…

As I mentioned above I have even made a few CW contacts. The 991a has a very good built in Contest Keyer and when I use it with my IPAD and the HotPawz Decoding app I can “5nn TU” with the best of them. My contacts have all been Search and Pounce and I use an app to fill in the blanks but… Its still a contact…

Now before the flames start let me remind you of my post back in December where I described the Pro’s and Con’s of the setup. It can’t decode a bad fist but as most of the people I am contacting are also using keyers… It works for me… And for the record (full disclosure here) my XIEGU X5105 has a contest keyer built in along with a fairly good decoder also built in…. Still nothing but S&P but still much better than nothing.

For now I am still very pleased with my purchase and looking forward to more DXPeditions and POTA contacts. It will be the perfect way to finish the summer along with starting of the fall season…


Caught the 13 Colonies Stations

It started during the RAC Canada Day Contest on July 1st when I started answering CQ’s on 40m from a station with a call of K2D. During the contest K2B and K2L also made it into my log.

On July 2nd while I was hunting some POTA K2M also made it into my log for a total of 4 of the Special Event Stations in the bag

On July 3rd once again hunting POTA I also managed to get K2K, K2A, K2G and K2F for a total of 8 of the 13 now in my log.

On July 4th in between wishing any US station that was calling CQ or answered my CQ a happy 4th of July. I also managed to get K2J and K2E for a total of 8 logged with only 3 to go.

July 5th was a busy time with K2I, K2C and K2H along with the Bonus Stations WM3PEN and TM13COL logged,

And on July 7th the final Bonus Station GB13COL was captured for the Clean Sweep

So there you have it ….. 13 Colonies and 3 Bonus Stations in 7 days… And for the most part I did have fun…

For those who might be wondering about the operating conditions used….The HF RIG is a Yaesu FT 950 running at approx 95w on SSB. My antenna is a 50 foot long inverted L with approx 150 feet of radials that run along the edge of fence and small yard. I use the SGC 237 auto tuner to bring it all together and it gives me excellent results on 10-80m and tolerable results on 6m, 60m and 160m but it does work on all the above mentioned bands. This setup has to be stealthy as the CONDO Corporation or HOA group does not like antennas but I’m still on the air after 4 years here

However on the downside of things…. The just plain stupid operators who could not figure out the words “UP 5-10” or “He’s working split” while the bulk of operators were trying to get GB13COL and TM13COL in the logs…. Right behind them were the operators who could not figure out what “by the numbers” meant when the DX stations were calling for specific calling areas to try and ease the pile ups.

And as always the self proclaimed DX POLICE had to increase the frequency QRM by telling each individual several times of their mistakes

In some cases the behavior was so bad that the DX Stations were forced to shut down for a while…. People calling on top of other operators…. People calling on top of the DX Station??? (really guys if you can’t hear him then why are you even calling???) and of course the operators who insist on tuning up their AMPS and antennas on the DX Frequency…

The stations who benefit the most from the 13 Colonies event have to remember that to the DX Stations it means nothing(Ok to the British it means something but not what it does to the Americans) and the French are just being nice to try and help out. I tell you they had more patience than I would of had and I for one thank them for what they did for us.

Last night (July 7th around 0030utc) when I was getting frustrated by the lack of brains in the pile up …I Tweeted the following:

“Starting to believe that on the #hamRadio Exams for any class that includes #HF they should have to prove that they understand the words “SPLIT” and “Listening up” and know to use the function”

I feel the same today even before the joy of successfully completing the event wears off

Once again… Thanks to the various operators of the K2A to K2m stations and also the WM3PEN operators and of course the various operators of TM13COL and GB13COL.


Is it DX if….we can’t confirm?

Todays RANT (you don’t see that many of them) is about the multitude of station out there (any you know who you are) who will not “E”confirm their QSOs on the numerous QSL platforms…

These would be the stations that must have some sort of internet access as their QRZ page shows really nice new, shiny and expensive ham toys but still refuse to confirm without a QSL card sent with a few green stamps for return postage.

QRZ’s logbook is free and as your QRZ page is being used you must know about the log… EQSL is also free and if I can figure out how to use it then its easy to use. I mention these two first as these are normally the ones that the new operators use and getting some sort of confirmation for one of their first QSO’s could go a long way to keeping them in the hobby. Kind of a positive enforcement thing…. You make the contacts… They get confirmed… you get a warm fuzzy feeling and then make more contacts….

Now if you decide this DXing is for you then you might want to jump through the hoops and sign up for logbook of the world. If you are NOT an American Amateur it is free to use and it gives you an excellent record of your confirmed contacts… ( I believe its also free to use for American Hams but they can’t get the ARRL awards without paying… Don’t quote me on this one… its been a while since I looked into it)

Even as someone who has no desire to do it 21st century style in most cases you already have to use a computer to submit your logs to CQWW or ARRL and many more contest organizations so why not take the extra couple of minutes and at least (for the good of the hobby and the new hams) submit your logs to one of the Electronic QSL services named above.

For the record I (on a daily basis) upload my logs to LoTW, EQSL and QRZ.com with the later 2 for the benefit of other hams…. I do collect the ARRL awards such as DXCC, WAS and TRIPLE PLAY so the LoTW upload is for me…


New Pota Activation

Now I haven’t really been blogging much, mostly because I have been spending much of my radio time just hunting the elusive pota stations. Its been going quite well and so far I have worked just over 1100 individual parks in 6 different DXCC entities all from the comfort of my shack.

But you remember me mentioning the arrival of my new QRP rig and today I decided to take it out for its second trip. I also brought out my SotaBeams wire antenna and used my MFJ 33 foot long mast to use the antenna in the vertical configuration

We went to Lemoines Point in Kingston and activated VE5141 and did it with “5W and a wire…”

The band conditions seemed much better before I left but I did manage to get the necessary 10 contacts to complete the activation…

The weather was good but the bands were rough and I honestly wonder how those activators manage to give me all the parks I have been hunting… Its much easier to hunt…. more comfortable as well…

See you later and don’t forget to:


New #QRP radio arrives

Friday morning my new radio arrived. I look forward to getting the XIEGU X5105 Portable QRP radio operating in the next couple of days. And with regards to my previous post…. With 5w output the radio is a QRP Radio…. and no debate on what power did it have it set at as the best it can do its 5w (using the internal battery or a external power source)

Here is the Specs

X5105 General Specifications

* Frequency coverage: 1 – 55MHz RX, TX only on Amateur bands
* Operating modes: AM, FM, LSB, USB, CW
* Channel Memories: 100
* Antenna Impedance: 50 Ohm
* Nominal Supply Voltage: 13.8 V DC +/- 15%, negative ground
* Operating Voltage: 9.0 – 15.0 V DC, negative ground
* Internal Battery: 12 V 3800 mAh hybrid polymer Li-Ion
* Current Consumption: RX – 660 mA or less, TX – 2,5 A or less
* Operating Temperature: -10°C to +60°C
* Frequency Stability: +/- 2 ppm in first 60 min, 1 ppm per hour thereafter (at 25° C)
* Dimensions: 160 x 100 x 46 mm (6³⁄₅” x 3¾” x 1⁹⁄₁₀”)
* Weight: 0.94 kg (2.15 lb) excluding microphone

X5105 Receiver Specifications

* Type: Double Conversion Superheterodyne with Audio Digital Signal Processing
* IF Frequency: 70.455 MHz & 10.695 MHz
* Sensitivity SSB/CW: 0.25 μV
* Sensitivity AM: 10 μV (500 kHz-1.8 MHz), 2 μV (1.8 MHz-54 MHz)
* Sensitivity FM: 0.35 μV (28 MHz-54 MHz)
* SSB Selectivity: -6 dB @ 2.4 kHz, -60 dB @ 4.6 kHz
* CW Selectivity: -6 dB @ 500 Hz, -60 dB @ 2 kHz
* AM Selectivity: -6 dB @ 6 kHz, -60dB @ 25 kHz
* FM Selectivity: -6 dB @ 12 kHz, -60dB @ 25 kHz (12 dB SINAD)
* Image Rejection: 70 dB
* IF Rejection: 60 dB
* Audio Output (internal speaker): 0.6 Watt @ 4 Ω 10% THD
* Headphone output Impedance: 4 to 8 Ω (will not drive an external passive speaker)

X5105 Transmitter Specifications

* Output Power: 5 Watt SSB, 1.5 Watt AM Carrier @ 13.8 V DC
* SSB Modulation Type: Balanced modulation
* AM Modulation Type: Low level amplitude modulation
* FM Modulation Type: Variable reactance frequency modulation
* Spurious Rejection: >45 dB
* Carrier suppression: >40 dB
* Sideband Spurious Rejection: >50 dB
* SSB Frequency Response: 400 Hz-2.8 kHz (-6dB)
* FM Max Deviation: +/- 5 kHz
* External Mic Impedance: 200Ω to 10kΩ (Nominal 600Ω)

As I sold off all my portable antennas when I sold my old FT817 will be building a couple of antennas before I get to properly test things out.

As soon I have gathered enough data to have an opinion on the radio I will share it with you


First impression of the Morse Decoder by Hot Paw productions

This was written 1 day (16 hours) after we bought the app from the Apple App store. It seems to be very basic but good. If anything changes I’ll do a follow up post.

This is a app for Apple IPhone and Apple IPad. When you go to the app store it will tell you if the app will work with the device you are currently using to connect with the app store.

Searching the app store for Hot Paw Productions should bring you to the app if its still available.

So here we go…

I downloaded the app from the Apple App store and away we went. It worked right out of the box (or right after installing) on my I Pad. The cost was about $15.00 Cdn after taxes…

Just to remind you this is a CW Decoding app ONLY (no FT8/PSK or any other sound card modes) and you will need some sort of device for transmitting CW. Straight Key or Keyer the choices are yours.

Right off the bat lets say that if you are looking for a decoder to see what the group on the weekly slow speed CW roundtable net are talking about you will most likely disapointed.

Remember the old “Garbage in = Garbage out” saying? Well if the person sending the code has a bad fist then…. The app can’t fix bad sending…

However if you want to use it to pick up the occasional rare DX station or a few extra multipliers in contesting or copy the ARRL Bulletins then this is about the best $15.00 you can spend (in my opinion)… It reads good code, normally that means contest quality computer keyer generated code and its good as what it does.

As an example last night there was the ARRL 160m cw contest. I started reading the screen and even though things were crowded I was able to make out complete contest exchanges. Just for $h!ts and Giggles I opened up the book of words for my Yaesu FT950 and figured out how to use the built in contest keyer and also how to program the keyers memories .

Memory 1 was: VA3QV (my callsign)

Memory 2 was : 5nn ONE (the contest exchange I had to send)

Memory 3 was : 73 TU (thanks)

Memorys 4 and 5 were not used

And heres how it worked:

I found a station calling CQ Test with his callsign and tuned the dial on to him…

I replied with Memory 1.

He replied by giving my call and then his exchange 5nn CT

I replied with Memory 2 then Memory 3

He acknowledged and then went to calling again.

I made 5 more contacts just to prove the 1st one was not a fluke and as a result contesting stations in the following RAC/ARRL sections got the rare “Ontario East (ONE) multi. They were GTA, MDC, CT, MN, WPA and OH.

Some comments and suggestions:

I suggest that if you buy the app, get used to it by copying the ARRL code practice on HF. Check the ARRL website for times and freqs. They send computer generated code and so its about as perfect CW as you can get. Read the manual that comes with your radio for the fine tuning on receiving CW signals or just tune by ear for the proper pitch. It worked for me fairly easily as I was used to the tuning aspect from using other decoding software

Don’t get discouraged it you don’t get it right the first time. Unfortunately its not the software…. Its either the poor cw being sent (remember the local roundtable comment) or you just have to make a very tiny adjustment to the VFO to change the pitch ever so slightly.

It has been suggested that you connect from your receivers audio output to the audio input on your apple device. I chose not to as just putting the IPad on top of my radio (see Pic) worked well enough for me. It may not for you though especially if your shack tends to be noisy.

IPad is right beside the radio speaker

As an added bonus I can use it on my other Apple Device so in the shack I have it on my IPad and its already been installed on my IPhone so its ready for portable ops (POTA) with my FT 450 and the Wolf River coil on a Tripod when the weather warms up

This is not the only app out there but its one of the few I have tried that really worked well for me. I have and still use CW Get which is software that runs on my laptop. The DM780 part of Ham Radio Deluxe also works good but HRD is more expensive than this app and its all I need. Not all the other stuff that HRD offers.

DISCLAIMER: It worked for me, It might work for you, BUT IT MIGHT NOT work for you, so you Buy at your own risk. You pays your money and takes your chances.


PS…. Thanks to Rich VE3MHY who had left a review for the app at the app store and answered a couple of questions I had quickly and honestly. His opinions confirmed what I had been thinking

Compromise HF antennas

I think I have to change the terminology that I normally use to describe my normal Home HF antenna….

They have to be stealthy but I can no longer think of them as “compromise”. Its working great for the operating conditions here….

If you are putting up the best darn antenna you can that keeps you on the air and fits in with your local operating conditions, its a great antenna and not really a compromise antenna.

Remember using a 10-160 OCF dipole in an inverted V (rather than in a flat top) is not a compromise…. Its just getting the antenna to fit in your yard or operating location. Running a 43 foot vertical with lots of radials (instead of a 10-40 OCF due to yard size or lack of trees) is not a compromise. A 48 foot tower is not a compromise (because the local municipal restricts the height of towers so you can’t put up that 100 foot self supporting one in your city lot)

Now there are little things like municipal bylaws, HOA restrictions, Condo restrictions, Rental restrictions, cranky neighbors and of course family opinions (to name a few) might come into play when trying to install your antenna.

Its not a restriction…. it becomes a challenge….. it challenges you to put up the most effective antenna you can while trying to make everyone else happy. If you are successful in completing your challenge it should make you happy as well.

The antenna of choice here is an end fed random (about 50 feet or so) length wire being fed by my SGC237 auto tuner. It is in an “inverted Vee” configuration with the wire leaving the tuner and thrown over a tree branch then it terminates at my back fence. I also have some random length radials (counterpoises) running north/south and east/west along the fence perimeter. Using the magic in the SGC 237 I am able to make contacts on all Amateur Bands between 6m and 160m. This antenna is not fancy…. its actually cheap…. (How much does 100 feet of automotive wire cost at Princess Auto???). Its fairly (75%) stealthy. So far no one is complaining about it and the “Condo Cops” has not been knocking at my door (yet).


Is it the best antenna? NO…

Does it work? YES…

Is it stealthy? YES..

Am I making contacts? YES (Including a VK on 40SSB)

Could I do better? NO… (Not here at least)

There you have it… although I could do better, its the best I can do while living where we do. So I no longer feel I have a “compromise antenna”…. Its actually a “pretty good antenna”.


PS…. This is just a reminder to those of us who operate in an “antenna challenged” environment that HF contacts are actually possiable.

So far 46 states confirmed from here in Digital and 31 states confirmed in SSB and nothing yet in CW….Sooner or perhaps later I will finally work on my CW log again.


#hamradio Contest Weekend (again)

Last weekend we had the ARRL SSB Sweepstakes and it seemed to go well. I had no complaints… and as with all contests… I plan to( expect to) :

a Have fun (I did)

bGive out the “Rare ONE (Ontario East) ” Multi so those who are actually taking contesting seriously have a chance to get bragging rights for their accomplishments (I managed to give out “ONE” out to 50 stations)

Clean Sweep if you contact all 84 sections

c– Either increase my State totals or my DXCC totals depending on what the actual contest of the day leans towards. (I did- increased my confirmed SSB WAS totals up to 30 from 20 and if everyone left that I contacted confirms on LoTW I should be up to 37 confirmed)

Now this weekend is the CQ WW CW contest ( https://www.cqww.com/) and its a popular one…

I’ve only participated in this contest once (2015) and managed to successfully obtain my regular goals and so I was pleased. My best (and only) showing was with a Flex 1500 (QRP) and between the decoding program CW Get and the built in computer keyer in the software needed to run the Flex (remember its a SDR) I also managed some wallpaper.

I have to admit for this one my computer did 99% of the heavy lifting

But following the line of selling then regreting it I did (in September 2019) at the OARC Hamfest in Carp sell my Winkeyer USB Computer Keyer.

Another case of I don’t need it so why not sell it… I can always find another one later. Well no luck finding one so now I won’t be operating any CW (or very little) until I can replace that now badly needed piece of kit… As always hindsight is always 20/20.

Once I find one it will take the place of the Keyer Programming in the Flex (which I also sold) and then I can try and regain what little CW skills I had (or thought I had) in the past.

If you have the skills to participate then enjoy the contest….

Other than that enjoy your weekend


ps ….. and don’t forget the RAC Canada Winter Contest is coming up in 3 weeks. Listen for me there

Catching up on some paperwork

Well I still hate computers but… I was able to get my logging program talking to Logbook of the world and so….

Any contacts (I logged) that happened before September 2021 have been uploaded to LoTW. This includes POTA contacts in the same time frame.

My 2 DX contacts from October have been uploaded and VJ4K (Australia) has already been confirmed.

All of my POTA for September and early have been uploaded..

All remaining contacts will be entered then uploaded.

Still lots to catch up on. Next on the list is getting computer talking to the Sound Card for better use of the Digital modes after I get the POTA logs completed