Tuesday, February 27, 2024

February 2024 Update on the Bands Above 50 MHz

 I hope you have been enjoying the improving band conditions, especially on 6 meters.  I must confess I’ve spent some time on HF, adding to my DXCC totals.  Lots of activity on 10 meters, but even 40 meters and 80 meters are cooperating some evenings.  

Back to VHF and Above.  This month, we have several upcoming events to tell you about.  There are plenty of places, from the west coast to the east coast, to gather with other VHF, UHF, and Microwave enthusiasts to swap stories, gear, and even learn something new!


My thanks to all who work to put these events together and promote them.  Please always send along any news about meetings, conferences, and on-air activities.  I’m happy to publish them.


2024 Conferences of Note

First up is MUD (not the kind all this rain is creating) but the Microwave Update.  This year’s conference is in Vancouver, British Columbia and will be held October 3rd through the 5th.  Mark Thompson, VE7AFZ, reports that all info about the conference can be found here -  Microwave Update 2024


From Bill Caldwell, N0LNO, comes news of the Central States VHF Society meeting in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in July of this year.  More info here at the CSVHF web site at  http://www.csvhfs.org From experience I can tell you this is a knowledgeable group, with outstanding presentations.  Their proceedings publication is not to be missed.

Jay Baack, N1AV writes to let us know of the upcoming EME conference to be held near Trenton, New Jersey August 9th through the 11th.  While the focus of the conference is 432 MHz and above, those interested in working EME on 50, 144, and 222 are certainly welcome! There will be presentations, fellowship, and even an "EME101" course offered during the conference.  If you are at all interested in the world of "moon bounce" this is a great place to start.  Find the details at https://eme2024trenton.org

Odds and Ends

CAT Display Project

Luis, EA5DOM, from IM98 on the Mediterranean Spanish coast, writes to tell us of a project that may be of interest to those who use selected radios as IF decks for transverters on the higher bands.  Called Maxicom, this project is designed for operators using Yaesu radios as IF for their transverters. Maxicom has been developed in less than a year by Julio, EB4CUV (software) and Luis, (hardware) This is  basically a CAT display for Yaesu FT817/818/857/897. It is not only a nice color touch screen but also includes unique tools for the rover and portable microwave operator.


Some of the nicer features include an audio waterfall, memories by band to allow for storing regularly used frequencies, and a Sun AZ/EL indicator for calibration/alignment purposes.  The project is sold as a kit.  

Here are Dropbox links to the current user manual and Kit assembly manual in English


A link to buy the project HamBuy shop link is here

Any questions or interest, contact EA5DOM directly by email -  

(Note – I do not (yet) own one of these, and have no financial interest in the project)


10 Ghz Activity


From Pete, N0OY, we learn that he and WQOP made a couple of snow scatter contacts @1600z on February 16, their first. Both stations were on the back end of a large snow mass heading Northeast from Kansas.  Pete expects that others would find conditions ok for doing the same in similar circumstances.  Signals were 55a both ways and with about 1 khz of doppler. Sounded like spring!


Ron, W9ZIH has returned to the air on 10 Ghz and reports a successful contact with WD9BGA in Wisconsin at about 90 miles on February 22nd.  Signals were strong enough to support SSB transmissions, even with QSB.

On the Bench at N4DTF

Two projects of note around here.  First, in the interest of advancing technology, I am working to implement a Cariboulite SDR using a Raspberry Pi.  (Photo A) This device is a HAT for the 40 pin connector on the RPi.  Thus far, configuring the software is the biggest challenge.  Stay tuned for more updates on this little transceiver, which covers 30 MHz to 6 GHZ.  

Second, I am getting closer to having my Hallicrafters SR-400 "Hurricane" on the air.  (Photo B) Recent work included testing and replacing various components, especially capacitors, plus two tubes that tested bad.  Always something to "fiddle" with.

Making Contacts

Get on the air and make some contacts!  As we move closer to spring, tropospheric openings will be more common, you can watch for these via the Hepburn Maps at https://dxinfocentre.com/tropo.html

6 meters is experiencing a variety of propagation, including some F2 (HF – like propagation) when the solar flux rises above 150-175.  Watch www.DXmaps.com for openings.  Remember that there is a group of operators on 50.145 every morning using SSB to work meteor scatter, look for them beginning around 6 am local time.  Visit the Sidewinders on Two page to find a local 2 meter SSB/phone net at https://www.swotrc.net/TheSWOTRCHP.aspx

Finally, get your 222 Mhz equipment on the air around 6pm local time on Tuesdays, you will find a great group of ops on phone, EME and of course digital modes on Tuesday evenings.


Please continue to update me on your events and activities and I will post them here!








Wednesday, January 24, 2024

January 2024 Update on the Bands Above 50Mhz

Greetings and Happy New Year!.  Here are a few items regarding VHF and above frequencies that I hope you will find of interest.


Insights on the Magic Band

Just after the new year, a nice surprise turned up in my mailbox.  Jim Wilson, K5ND, sent me a copy of his new book “Magic Band Revealed.”  This is an update of Jim’s previous work on 6 meters and VHF in general, including work from his web site at K5ND.net.  I found this updated version to be chock full of old and new wisdom, and was able to read through it easily as Jim’s style is light and informative, even when handling more complex matters.  I’ve been on 6 meters for a while, and have learned much from this fickle, yet engaging band.  However, I found much in K5ND’s new book to help me expand my horizons on 50 to 54 Mhz.  In particular his treatment of meteor scatter (easier than you might think) and EME have instilled in me a desire to focus on these areas as next steps in leveraging 6 meters to make more contacts!  Finally, Jim has included a section on using SDR (software defined radio) techniques to improve your receive capabilities which is fascinating.  This is especially timely as several of the leaders from the Fred Fish Memorial Award (that provides recognition for those who confirm contacts with all 488 grid squares in the CONUS) have declared that SDR receive has been an important addition to their 6 meter operating position.

It is important to remember that the entire 6 meter band, and all modes of operating, are available to every licensed amateur in the US.  Here’s another way to leverage your Technician class license and gain valuable operating and technological experience.


I highly recommend Jim’s book.  It is available through his website at K5ND.net, and all the other usual sources.  If you read it, let me (and K5ND) know what you think!


New Microwave Group

Mark Thompson, WB9QZB, reports that there is a new group focused on microwaves, the Northern Illinois Microwave Group.  The purpose of the Northern Illinois Microwave Group is to promote the use of the UHF, Microwave & Millimeter Wave bands in Illinois and surrounding areas. 


Microwave enthusiasts and those interested in Microwave activity are encouraged to join the group at: 





December and January contacts to New Zealand


This year’s winter season into the south pacific has been good, and continues even as I write this on January 22, 2024.  Our friend Bob, ZL1RS, wrote on December 19, 2023, at 10:15:

“As a matter of possible interest, the approximate antenna and power for the ZL callsigns appearing in the screen shots from FT8 that several folks posted on social media are as follows”

ZL1SWW:      4 or 5 ele Yagi and 350W
ZL1AKW:       6 ele Yagi and 1kW
ZL1BQD:       3 or 4 ele Yagi and 100W
ZL1RS:          a 3-stack of 5 ele Yagis and 1kW
ZL3OZ:          3 ele Yagi and 70W, remote hill top QTH ~2500 feet ASL
ZL3GAV:       vertical and 100W?
ZL3RC:          7 ele Yagi and 1kW


Thanks to Bob for sharing this info.  Always interesting to see the operating conditions on the other end of the DX contact.  Don’t forget – when FT8 signals are strong, consider trying SSB and CW as well!!!



Well-known amateur radio operator and volunteer Joel Harrison, W5ZN, has announced renewed operations on 432 Mhz from his excellent station in EM45.  Joel is good on QRZ if you want to discuss 70cm weak signal work or arrange a sked.

That's all for this time.  73 and Good DX and Grid Chasing!!!!

Please keep me up to date on your operating activities, projects, and clubs.