Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

2 Nights Before Christmas – Ron Litt, K5HM

December 18th, 2019 Comments off

Two nights before Christmas and up at the shop,

Santa was checking his sleigh for the big hop.

His APRS was already on line,

So, the gang down at NORAD could track him 5 – 9.

The new HF rig was tuned up on 20.

He knew that 100 watts would be plenty.

“I’ll be on VOX for this flight”, he said in his head.

I have to be able to look straight ahead.”

So, sideband it is for the big night tomorrow.

I hope the CW guys won’t be too full of sorrow.

The two-meter rig was already encoded,

With every repeater that could be uploaded.

They’ll know when Santa’s near; they won’t be surprised,

And make sure the kids have all closed their eyes.

He stopped for a moment then gave a big start,

When he suddenly realized he was missing a part.

“Of course!”, he shouted. “its my laptop PC!

I won’t get far without it on my knee.”

“Its got my log and my list and my flight plan too,

Though I always have Rudolph to guide me through.”

He pulled out his wallet once more to check,

That his FCC license was there for the trek.

“Well, it looks like I’m ready”, they heard him declare,

“I’ll be single op unassisted for the entire affair.”

“I better get some rest now before the big night,

So, I can be ready for the long flight.”

And they heard him exclaim as he walked off to bed,

“CQ, CQ, CQ . . . QRZed?”

Merry Christmas Y’all

73,  Ron, K5HM

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Awards to Win – Ron Litt, K5HM

December 18th, 2019 Comments off

WAZ, DXCC, WAS, IOTA; certificates of achievement that are clear testimony to your operating prowess. Chasing awards is a niche segment of amateur radio; some might call it a cult, to aspire to capturing every possible certificate.

After reading up on various awards available, I learned of several unique awards that fill in some blank spots. For Example:

WOTA – Wal-Marts On The Air. Requires proof of QSO’s with amateur radio stations operating from at least 400 Wal-Mart locations. Individuals or clubs may activate an individual Wal-Mart location at any time and notify WOTA authorities by registering the activation in the WOTA worldwide data base. The WOTA committee will issue a unique WOTA number for the location. Each QSO submitted for credit must be a current activation at the time of contact. There are over 6,600 Wal-Mart locations worldwide. Good Luck.

Contact with Sam’s Club locations do not count for WOTA credit. The WOTA committee is contemplating offering a separate award for Sam’s Clubs on The Air (SCOTA) later this year.

FFOTA (Fast Food On The AIR) announced in 2013. There are special endorsements for MDOTA (McDonalds On The Air), JIBOTA (Jack In the Box On The Air) and KFCOTA (you can probably figure this one out for yourself).

Academy Award Award – Given for contact with hams in cities where a movie filmed in that location won the Academy Award for Best Picture. The same city cannot be used multiple times. Only one city per film. Sorry, extraterrestrial locations such as Remulak, Vulcan and other mythical locations cannot be used for this award. In addition to the certificate, each award includes a package of microwave popcorn.

Special 78th anniversary Commemorative Casablanca Award – Commemorates the 78th anniversary of the Humphrey Bogart film. The award is earned for contacts with hams in the area of the former French Morocco whose first names are: Rick, Ilsa, Victor, Louis, Heinrich, Sascha, Carl or . . . Sam (as in “Play it again Sam”)

Ring of Fire Award – This award is given to hams who have contacted portable operations located on the rim of at least five active volcanoes. Considering the element of danger for the expedition operators, this is the only award in the world that is reciprocal. A person may earn this for themselves by going to five different volcanoes and contacting at least one other amateur before running for their life. Note – There is no power limit for this award although Ring of Fire expeditions favor lightweight QRP gear in order not to hinder their need for a rapid departure!

And, my personal favorite:

The Next Year Award – This is the most prestigious of all amateur radio awards because the standard of achievement is quite high. Off hand, I can’t recall a single person, who has won this award. It is given to amateurs who have delayed, put off or deferred making or completing any changes in their equipment, operating skill, club participation or license class. The amateur eligible for the award must apply themselves. Of course, by doing so, one is automatically disqualified for the award, having accomplished something in the process.

Good Luck Award Hunter!

Categories: Articles

Where in the World is . . . Côte d’Ivoire (TU) ITU Zone 45 CQ Zone 35

October 8th, 2019 Comments off

Where in the World is . . . Côte d’Ivoire (TU) ITU Zone 45 CQ Zone 35

Ivory Coast or officially The Republic of Côte d’Ivoire is a West African country with beach resorts, rainforests and a French-colonial legacy. Surrounded on the east by Ghana, on the west by Guinea and Liberia and on the North by Burkina Faso and Mali.

For more than three decades after its independence from France, Ivory Coast was known for its religious and ethnic harmony, as well as its well-developed economy.

The Western African country was hailed as a model of stability. But an armed rebellion in 2002 split the nation in two; a Muslim North and a Christian South. Since then, peace deals alternated with renewed violence as the country slowly edged its way towards a political resolution of the conflict. Despite the instability, Ivory Coast is the world’s largest exporter of cocoa beans, and its citizens enjoy a relatively high level of income compared to other countries in the region.

Abidjan, on the Atlantic coast, is the country’s major urban center. Its modern landmarks include, the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro It surpasses even St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, with an exterior area of 340,000 square feet Finished in 1990, its design is said to have been inspired by its Vatican City sibling, with a hefty dose of Renaissance and Baroque style. It can hold about 18,000 worshipers, though is very rarely full. North of the central business district, Banco National Park is a rainforest preserve with hiking trails.

The first Europeans to explore the West African coast were the Portuguese. Other European sea powers soon followed, and trade was established with many of the coastal peoples of West Africa. The absence of sheltered harbors along its coastline prevented Europeans from establishing permanent trading posts. The slave trade had little effect on the peoples of Ivory Coast, though s profitable trade in ivory was carried out during the seventeenth century, but it brought about such a decline in elephants that the trade itself virtually had died out by the beginning of the eighteenth century.

Only in the mid-nineteenth century did the French establish themselves firmly in Ivory Coast. Activity along the coast stimulated European interest in the interior. France wanted to maintain a presence in the region to stem the increasing influence of the British along the Gulf of Guinea coast.

In 1885 France and Germany brought all the European powers with interests in Africa to rationalize what became known as the European scramble for colonies in Africa. That conference set off a scramble for territory, primarily by France, Britain, Portugal, and Belgium. Eventually, Ivory Coast b ecame an independent nation in 1960.

The literacy rate in Ivory Coast is low. Only 48% can read and many children between the age of 6 and 10 are not enrolled in school. Likewise, the healthcare system is not well built out in the country. HIV Aids are prevalent in much of the population. Also, postnatal heath issues are a problem as well. Medical care is supplemented by Africa Mercy (, a fully equipped hospital ship that makes regular visits to Ivory Coast.

According to Club Log’s Most wanted DXCC list, Ivory Coast is listed at the 141st Most Wanted DXCC entity. QRZ lists a total of 93 Amateur Radio Operators. About 30% of these from various DXpeditions or temporary visitors. In 2011, I had a QSO with TU2T, the Italian DXpedition team and in 2017, I worked TU7C, a DXpedition sponsored by the Radio Club de Provins (F6KOP).

Reporting from the Dark Side,

Ron, K5HM

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Where in the World is . . .Duhacsek Park KK5W 10A STX GOTA-K5DX FD 2019

July 26th, 2019 Comments off

In the beginning, the site was without form and void, but we could see it had potential. It wasn’t much really. Just a little 50-acre greenspace donated to the City of Sugar Land, Texas by Walter and Virginia Duhacsek. The property included the Duhacsek homestead; a midcentury single-story residence though empty of furniture, could be used for group activities. 

After three years of negotiations with the city, we got permission to use the park for our field day activities in 2018. Last year was a trial run for 2019.

At 0000 UTC Friday the transformation began. Four Houston area clubs came together for Field Day 2019. Dubbed the Quad Club Mega-Field Day it included amateurs from the Brazos Valley Amateur Radio Club (BVARC), Texas DX Society (TDXS), Katy Amateur Radio Society KARS) and Houston Echo Society.

To read the complete article follow this link

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Where in the World is. . . Easter Island (CE0) CQ Zone 12, ITU Zone 63 IOTA SA-001

June 26th, 2019 Comments off

Mysterious Easter Island. Think giant statues built by native peoples. They were immigrants from Polynesia, who first arrived by canoe somewhere around 1200. That’s 1200 AD, not time for lunch.

The natives named their island Rapa Nui (Great Rapa) or alternatively “Navel of the World”, which can also be translated as “the end of the land.” It was named Easter Island by the first European who landed on the island on Easter Sunday in 1722. The island was claimed by Chile in 1888 and the inhabitants were subsequently given Chilean citizenship.

The statues, called MOAI were sculpted from hardened volcanic ash, which is not very durable. Some MOAI are over 80 feet tall. So far, nearly 900 statues have been discovered. Some MOAI face the ocean and islanders differ as to how they got there.  One island tradition says they “walked” there. Others, suggesting the people may have used a series of ropes and log rollers. Some widely publicized “experts” at one time suggested extraterrestrial beings were somehow involved.

Figure 1 Moto Nui

For unknown reasons, a coup by native military leaders called matatoa had brought a new cult based around a previously unexceptional God Make-make. In the cult of the birdman, a competition was established in which every year a representative of each clan, chosen by the leaders, would swim across shark-infested waters to Motu Nui, a nearby islet, to search for the season’s first egg laid by a manutara. The first swimmer to return with an egg and successfully climb back up the cliff to Orongo ( a village on the tip of the island), would be named “Birdman of the year” and secure control over distribution of the island’s resources for his clan for the year. The tradition was still in existence at the time of first contact by Europeans but was suppressed by Christian missionaries in the 1860s.

Easter Island is one of the world’s most isolated inhabited islands. It is Easter Island is located more than 2200 miles west of the Chilean coast. It is closer to Antarctica. Its closest inhabited neighbor is the Juan Fernandez Islands, 1,150 miles to the east.

The climate is subtropical. The warmest months are January through March, when the average temperature is 73 °F, and the coolest months are June through August, when the average temperature is 64 °F. Average annual precipitation is about 49 inches.

Easter Island boasts no natural harbor, but ships can anchor off Hanga Roa on the west coast; it is the island’s largest village, with a population of roughly 3,300. In 1995, UNESCO named Easter Island a World Heritage site. It is now home to a mixed population, mostly of Polynesian ancestry and made up of the descendants of the Long-Ears and Short-Ears. Spanish is generally spoken, and the island has developed an economy largely based on tourism.

Numerous DXpeditions, large and small have made their way to Easter Island to activate CE0. Almost forty are listed in QRZ. According to the Clublog DXCC Most Wanted list, Easter stands at No. 103 slot out of 340.

Reporting from the Dark Side,

Ron Litt, K5HM

Standby for Next Month’s Monster Article!

Where in the World is. . Duhacsek Park?


Categories: Articles

Where in the World is . . . Brunei (V8) CQ Zone 28 IOTA OC-088

June 19th, 2019 Comments off

Brunei, officially known as the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace. OR Negara Brunei Darussalam in Malay. It’s located on the northwest coast of the island of Borneo. On three sides bordered by Malaysia and facing the South China Sea.

It’s a good place to live, with its principal product being oil. Considered a “fully developed” country by the IMF. According to Forbes Magazine it ranks as the fifth richest nation on the planet. The country has zero debt.

Brunei’s government is a constitutional monarchy. Under Brunei’s constitution, the Sultan is the head of state with full executive authority. Since 1962, this authority has included emergency powers, which are renewed every two years. The country has been under hypothetical martial law since 1962. The Sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah also serves as the state’s Prime Minister, Finance Minister and Defense Minister. As Mel Brooks observed, it is good to be king.

Petroleum was discovered in 1926. Oil and natural gas have been the basis of Brunei’s development and wealth since the late 20th century.

This is a devoutly Muslim nation; land of gold-plated mosques and wooden water villages, a nation so rich from its oil and gas resources that no one pays tax. It is a seven-hour flight from Melbourne but Brunei is little known and very much underrated for travelers. Brunei is clean and virtually free of crime with pristine rainforests, palm-fringed beaches and palatial resorts.

In this land of over 400,000, there are approximately 400 licensed amateurs. According to Club Log, it is 109th on the Most Wanted DX entity, List

Reporting from the Dark Side,  Ron, K5HM

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Where in the World is Saint Paul Island (CY9) CQ Zone 5 ITU Zone 9 IOTA NA-094

March 30th, 2019 Comments off

Where in the World is Saint Paul Island (CY9) CQ Zone 5 ITU Zone 9 IOTA NA-094

S t. Paul Island is a small uninhabited island located approximately 15 mi northeast of Cape Breton Island, Newfoundland in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  It is at the northern end of the Appalachian Mountains; the highest point is 485 feet atop “Croggan Mountain.”  St. Paul Island is approximately three miles long by one mile wide at its widest point. It is extremely rugged with its shores being completely encircled by rockface cliffs.  To find out more…Where in the World is St Paul Island

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The Great Harvey Wells Caper Part 2 By Ron Litt, K5HM

February 18th, 2019 Comments off

The Great Harvey Wells Caper Part 2

By Ron Litt, K5HM

I stared at her for a long time. A pristine beauty with big black eyes and creamy white face. She looked back at me from the magazine. A salty trail of perspiration formed on my upper lip. Six months earlier, I discovered her buried in the back pages of QST. Each month as a new issue arrived, I grabbed it, turned quickly to the ad to be sure she was still there; the Harvey Wells Band Master Z-Match Antenna Coupler. I had to have it.

For the last two years I had one single band antenna for 20 meters. It was great, but I was getting close to my WAS and I needed practically all the New England states. Connecticut and New Jersey were almost impossible from New York City without a 40 or 80 meter antenna. I was desperate.  To finish the story download and read The Great Harvey Wells Caper Part 2

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The Great Harvey Wells Caper Part 1

February 16th, 2019 Comments off

It was April in New York City. I was on my way home from the regular weekly breakfast with the Queens County Bagel, Bowling and Spark Club.

These were the halcyon days of kid-dom on the cusp of adulthood. I had my General Class ticket now for about two years. Got my acceptance letter from college and it was six months before anybody would hear of Sputnik. Life was good.

As I walked home from the bus stop, I was thinking about getting on the air today and rolling up a few new states for my WAS. I needed South Dakota and my old buddy Ralph from the QCBB&SC said there were only three active hams in the whole state. I could see that South Dakota was going to be a real challenge.

I climbed the front steps two at a time, walked through the front door and headed directly for my basement ham shack. I am halfway down the hall when I hear my old man say, “Where are you going?”

Any kid who has reached the age of five, immediately recognizes the peril in that question. It’s not a question really, it more a combination of Red Alert, General Quarters and Take Cover simultaneously.

I turned around to see the old man advancing toward me. He was upset. I tried to think of anything I did or failed to do in the last twenty-four hours. I aced my Physics quiz, took out the trash last night, and didn’t leave any wet towels in the bathroom; check, check, check.

He was about two feet away when he stopped, thrust a letter in front of me and said, “What’s this?” His hand was shaking so much, I couldn’t read the envelope at first but it looked very important. Eventually, the oscillation decayed enough for me to see better. It was one of those business window envelopes with no stamp. The top right-hand corner of the envelope contained the words, U.S. Government Official Business!

The old man was really wound up; like a pressure cooker ready to explode. He’d lived his life avoiding entanglements with authority. He was 4-F for the draft in WWII, voted at least once in every election and was an associate member of the Police Benevolent Association. Any unexpected things that had to do with “Official Business” made him very nervous.

Desperately, I tried to think of something that would get him in such a lather. I had gotten my draft card six weeks ago. Maybe this was the dreaded, “Greetings from Uncle Sam” letter. Then I noticed the return address; Federal Communications Commission, Washington, DC.

I stopped breathing. The FCC! This was worse than getting drafted. Looking through the window of the envelope I could see the paper inside. A pink ticket!

The envelope was torn open. At the top of the page, I could see the words, Notice of Violation! He’d already read it and assumed the worst; a life sentence for me at Leavenworth. I was doomed!

Flight was the only response I had. I grabbed the letter and ran for the basement. I read and re-read the notice several times. Cold sweat was dripping off me.

The letter said that my signal had been observed operating at a frequency out of the band at such and such time and date. It demanded I explain what happened. That I take immediate steps to prevent this from happening in the future and that I report those steps to the FCC within 30 days. No wonder the old man was upset. Single handedly, I had brought the wrath of the entire federal government down on our home.

I pulled out my log and started flipping pages; hoping this was a mistake. Some other guy with a similar call sign, maybe. The time in the letter was around 2 AM. Was the FCC really awake that late?

I ran my thumb down the logbook pages slowly, hoping against hope. Yikes! There it was. At the alleged hour, I had been on the air. What could I do? “The old man was right, you’re going to Leavenworth “, said the voice in my head.

That night I’d logged several calls to DX stations who were calling CQ on the other side of the 20 meter band edge. The last entry in the log that night was a guy in VK-land that I had finally managed to work. I was so excited, I almost woke the old man out of a sound sleep to tell him. I must have strayed too close to the band edge!

Maybe I’ll just throw myself on the mercy of the court. “Your honor, I’m just a kid. I didn’t know I was committing a crime.” “I fell in with a bad crowd; they dared me to do it!”

In a panic, I called my old buddy Ralph on the land line. Ralph was a charter member of the QCBB&SC. He knew everything about ham radio. He had been a ham so long that he said Marconi was his Elmer.

After an eternity of rings, he answered. Without giving him a chance to say hello, I unloaded on Ralph in one single breath. When I finally finished, Ralph calmed me down and assured me that I was not going to Leavenworth. “Yeah kid (everyone was a kid to Ralph), I got my first pink ticket in ’36”, he said softly, as if someone were listening.

What a relief! My old buddy Ralph, the greatest Elmer of all time had gotten at least a couple pink tickets and he was still walking around a free man. There was a ray of hope for me!

I could swear he was grinning on the other side of the phone. The voice in my head said, “Yeah, they’ll probably confiscate all your radio gear instead.”

It was only two years earlier that I went to the FCC offices in Manhattan to take my General exam under the watchful eye of Lurch, the examiner. I still remember the big bullpen where the FCC guys worked. They were all dressed alike too; white shirts rolled up to the elbow, black ties and black pants. It was the official FCC uniform. I didn’t know what would be worse; just quietly going off to Leavenworth or having a squad of FCC men in black show up at my house in front of all the neighbors!

“Listen kid”, he began; his voice had a way of piercing through the QRM in my head. “You just need an accurate marker for the band edge. A crystal calibrator. You can pick one up at Harrison Radio for about ten bucks.”

I could hear Ralph take a deep breath. He’d been a chain smoker for twenty years, so his inhale had a signature wheeze, just like a good CW operator’s fist.

Then he continued, “The dial markings on your VFO ain’t worth the plastic they’re printed on kid. So, when you are chasing DX, don’t get any closer than three kc to the band edge marker, no matter what.”

“Hey Ralph”, I said “What about the letter I have to write? What should I say?” Ralph started in again, “Listen kid, just tell them the truth, you’ll be fine. See you later kid.” And then there was a click.

I sat for a long time; thinking. The U.S. phone band ended at 14200 KC. Most of the good DX was always just below that great divide. We worked split back then, running full carrier double sideband AM, pushing as close to the band edge as we dared, calling for that rare station we needed.

I wasn’t willing to give up a whole three kc of band, if I didn’t need to do it. Maybe I could just turn down the mike gain. Just listening to twenty meters some nights it was easy to see how everybody pushed the limit. Still, I was willing to do or say anything get back in the old man’s good graces and the FCC off my back! Finally, the beginnings of a diabolical plan began to form in my head. If I played my cards right, I would solve my FCC problem and then some.

To be continued

Reporting from the Dark Side,

Ron Litt, K5HM

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Where in the World is . . . Western Sahara (S0) CQ Zone 33

February 16th, 2019 Comments off

No, not Best Western Sahara, it is really Western Sahara.

Formerly Spanish Morocco, it is disputed territory on the West Coast of Africa, roughly Southeast of the Kingdom of Morocco. Occupied by Spain since the late 19th century, the Spanish relinquished control of the area in 1975. Since then, two thirds of the country has been claimed by Morocco as part of what is calls the Southern Provinces.

A war then erupted between Morocco and the Sahrawi national liberation movement, who proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). Morocco eventually secured effective control of most of the territory, including all the major cities and natural resources.

Western Sahara’s economy is based almost entirely on fishing and phosphate mining which employs two thirds of its work force.

A largely Saharan desert landscape and climate, 40% the country’s population of roughly 500,000 live in the city of Laâyoune near the Atlantic Ocean.

Ham Radio is still in its infancy here. reports only 5 licensed call signs including S01WS, which belongs to the Sahrawi Amateur Radio Union URS.

According to Club Log, Western Sahara is the 73rd most wanted DX entity.

Reporting from the Dark Side,

Ron Litt, K5HM

Categories: Articles