de N4DFP

My New Call is K4DFH

David F. Hammack

Licensed since March 1980

OMISS #: 4098

 Welcome to my Virtual Ham Shack! 

In November of 2003 I had to take an early retirement, so I am no longer driving a truck. I thought I would miss it, but guess what? I don't; not a bit!

I have been off the air for almost 10 years, but... N4DFP is on the air again! I retired my Kenwood TS-440/Sat, and just got an Icom IC-706. What a difference a "generation" makes! I am now feeding that into the W5GI "Mystery Antenna" from K4TR. I returned to service on 180403 @ 1335Z, joining the ECARS net on 40m. I really am enjoying ham radio again. I am giving some serious thought to a uBitx QRP rig to play around with.

I just added my first ever "dream rig" to my station. My operating desk now proudly sports a Yaesu FT-901DM. I have it now in full time operation, and the receiver is better than either my TS-440, or the Icom 706. It seems to talk as good as it hears. This rig truly is "a dream come true"!

Station Info:
Rig: Yaesu FT-901DM  w/ MFJ 939 AT

Antenna: K4TR built, W5GI Collinear Dipole @ 17'
State: SC
County: Kershaw
Grid: EM94pg

My antenna is a "tree hanger" right now. I have an Army surplus, 4" sectional, aluminum mast, 45' long.  I plan to top that with 10' of 1-1/2" galvanized mast to get the antenna center up to 55'. I will then hang the W5GI in an "inverted-Vee" configuration. Hopefully I can make this happen before summer '18 gets here.

Thanks to WD4PIC, and the fine folks at the Carolina Amateur Radio Club,
in Lincolnton, North Carolina for hosting me to their VE

Got my Extra! 04/26/18

So that's the latest in my never ending (or at least let's hope not soon) story. Look for me on the air. My favorite bands are 40m, 20m, and 17m, as the propagation flies.


Once Upon a Time...

rig4.jpg rig1.jpg
ant1.jpg ant2.jpg

This was my first 18 wheel mobile setup

Look for me on the air...

Daily AM: 7251KHz..................................................... SouthCARS (3515)

Daily AM: 7255KHZ......................................................... ECARS: (40072)

Daily AM: 14300KHz.....................................Intercontinental Traffic Net

Daily PM: 14300KHz...................................Maritime Mobile Service Net

Daily PM: 7185KHZ............................................................ OMISS (4098)

Solar Weather for Hams

Current Solar Space Weather
Courtesy of Japan's National Institute of Information and Communications Technology

Last 30 days of Solar-Terrestrial Activity based on data from sunspot groups and solar flares, solar wind data from ACE, geosynchronous observation from GOES satellite, and K index from Kakioka magnetic observatory.

So… You Want To Get Your Ham License...

(Or Upgrade)

Good for you! I know it looks like a daunting task, but relax. Millions have taken all elements, and passed; you will too! There are some helpful study aids available, for free.

My first recommendation is the training videos by KE0OG, on YouTube. He has a series of videos for each license class. He follows the ARRL License Study guides, and they are helpful. I would recommend the purchase, but they not absolutely necessary.

The next recommendation is Again, you can study for any of the Amateur License classes, using Flash Cards, and Practice Exams. If you are having trouble with a particular sub-element, you can drill on that sub-element. The Answers include an explanation of the material by clicking the upper right corner.

With these study aids you should quickly become knowledgeable for any license you are studying for. Now a bit of advice. There is a healthy dose of math involved in amateur radio. There aren’t that many questions on the test, but there are quite a few in the question pool. Don’t let that scare you off. KE0OG does a good job of covering the material in his videos. The best advice I can give is, as you work through the Flash Cards and Practice Exams, for every math question, work every problem, every time, even if you know what the answer is. As you work the problems, you will develop a procedural memory for working them with your calculator. You may well reach the point that you start punching the keys before you fully assess the problem.

Can the uBitX Return Ham Radio To Its Roots?

You often hear the question, “Is a QRP rig OK as a first HF rig?" Almost invariably, the rote answer is, “No, because <insert favorite nonsense here>.” I say this, tongue firmly in cheek, because I am guilty, too. Lately I have been browsing the web, and what I see has changed my mind.
There is a little radio out there with the potential to change ham radio. The concept has been around for over ten years, but it seems to be exploding now, the uBitX transceiver. It started out as a concept in India by Ashhar Farhan, VU2ESE. His idea was for a radio, that anyone could build, from scratch, for less than $10. He succeeded, and the BitX 20 (bi-directional transceiver, 20m) was born. Over the years, Farhan has refined and expanded the idea into a general coverage transceiver, all-band capable. Now he employs a collective of women to build the concept into a single board, QRP transceiver that you can buy for just over $100. There is a catch. It comes in a cardboard box, as an assembled and tested, single-board radio, but you have to assemble it into a cabinet, mounting the controls, and the input and output jacks.

This is very reminiscent of ham radio when I first considered it over 50 years ago. As now, a manufactured radio was expensive, maybe more so than today, but you had options. A lot of table radios had shortwave capability, some of them were pretty sensitive, a few of them were capable of receiving SSB and CW (much like SDR today). If not, an outboard BFO to receive CW & SSB was a simple project. So, receiving signals was not really an issue, but how do you reach out and touch…?

All was not lost. There were a number of simple transmitters that could be built inexpensively, from a handful of parts, and with relative ease. The one that sticks in my mind is the “Tuna Tin 40”. Here is YS1RS's version...

The Tuna Tin 40!

This and your table top radio would get you on the air. If you decided you wanted a little more power, a single tube linear amplifier, putting out 20W to 30W was just another cheap, easy project. Want a better receiver? By the time you have done all of this, it is not a real challenge to build your own.
And of course, then there were HeathKit, and Knight Radio kits...
The uBitX once again makes this kind of ham radio possible. For a little over $100 you get an all-band, HF, SSB/CW radio, ready to go on the air. All you have to do is assemble it.

The kit is not what most people think of when the they think “kit”. The boards are completely assembled. All you have to is provide a case (folks have used small toolboxes, lunch boxes, plastic cake boxes, and even wooden boxes), and mount the boards, jacks and controls in it. Some minor alignment may be required, but should not be a major issue. The transmitter is rated at 10W out, so it’s not a giant, but it will get you on air, and with a little persistence, you WILL make contacts. I suggest you try checking into some of the abundance of nets. If net control can’t hear you, someone will relay you, and many nets give priority to QRP (low power) stations. The best news, this radio only runs about $110, shipped to your door, at . There may be a bit of a wait to get it, as they are increasing in popularity, but I think it may be worth the wait.

Want more power? There is a 70W amplifier kit, widely available, that will hook right up to it starting at less than $20... all you have to do is build it. Add a low pass filter after it, and you're in business!
In pounce per ounce, it is cheaper and easier to get into ham radio today, than it was 50 years ago!

I think the uBitX explosion has the potential to take ham radio back to its roots, much as it was back when I first considered ham radio, 50 years ago. Somehow, I don't think this is a "bad thing" for Ham Radio.

The uBitX Kit

uBitX Kit

My QSL Card


I have been thinking about QSL Cards…

QSL’ing is a long held tradition in ham radio, but it is expensive to get cards printed, and postal rates have gone up. It is REALLY expensive to QSL now. I was thinking… in the modern digital age, everyone has a computer. Everyone has a printer. Everyone has Email. Most folks even have an email address on their call look-up...
I wonder what folks would think if they got an email QSL card that looked like this? You could print it out, and add it to your collection, or store it in a QSL card directory on your computer, or in the cloud, or all 3. I think this idea would greatly reduce the cost of QSL’ing, and maybe bring it back into popular focus…

Sample QSL Card

Now, I know you're thinking, "That sounds like eQSL." Well, Not exactly... you see, with eQSL, you send in your log and forget about it. QSL cards are automatically generated from matching the database. It is not a personal confirmation from one ham to another. THAT is the attraction of QSL’ing to me. Since long before awards and contests were ever thought of, the whole point of a QSL has always been personal confirmation from one ham, to another ham that yes, you did have a QSO. A buro database matched confirmation is like an "eyewitness report". It is a third party affidavit that your log matched the contacts log, not a QSL card. On the other hand. an email QSL card, from one ham to another is that kind of personal confirmation; a buro generated QSL is not that kind of personal. Database matched confirmation is great for contesting and awards, but it just does not compete with Ham 2 Ham confirmation.

I have heard complaints...

"You're just too durned cheap to spend the money to send me a card! You want ME to spend money to print YOUR card?"

Let's think about this a moment. If I send you an email QSL card, it's true, it costs me nothing, and it costs you a nickel to a quarter, depending on the quality you want, to print it. Yeah, that kinda makes me sound cheap, but, if you turn around and send me an email QSL card, it costs you nothing, and it costs me same nickel or quarter to print your card.
Now consider, how many QSL cards have you mailed out at rate of $0.75 to $2.00 a card, if you enclose an SASE, and gotten... nothing for it? Be honest with yourself, how many times have you gotten a card, and neglected, or simply forgot, to send a return card? I know when I was sending paper cards, I got about a 50% return rate. Wouldn't you rather spend a nickel to a quarter to print out the card you have, rather than spend up to 2 bucks and have nothing to show for it?

My New QSL Card?

QSL de N4DF, Camden, SC

Memories of days gone by...let me share a few

Build your own Transmitting Air Variables!

Check out my Transmatch!

Cheap, Easy, Even Attractive, Single Paddle for Your Keyer


I was surfing the web and came across this antenna design. If it works as claimed, it will outperform a dipole AND will be completely unnoticeable! Properly constructed and painted, this antenna would be indistinguishable from a sewer roof vent! If you have CCR's and/or Deed Restrictions you MUST check this out! Get ready for homebrew home improvement!

OK, I know this is a controversial design and I am familiar with the TANSTAAFL Principle. However, it should be cheap and fun to build W0KPH's little test version. Maybe this is one of those things I'll play around with now that I am retired

Introducing the EH Antenna
Designing the EH Antenna - WB5CXC

Where in the world is WA1DO...

ITU Zones

I would like to introduce you to one of the finest ham radio aids available today. No It isn't another Logging program; there are plenty of great ones out there, but what I have found sadly lacking was a really comprehensive Ham Atlas of the world. I have found one and it is FREE. The web site of Takumi Nomura , JF9EXF is devoted to just such a project. I urge you to check it out. It is complete with fully navigable maps for DXCC, CQ zones, ITU zones, ITU regions, Grid Squares, and even even beam heading maps. Mr. Takumi has put a TREMENDOUS amount of work into this; when I downloaded it to PDF it was over 560 pages (almost 14Mb), so drop by his guest book and drop him a note of thanks.

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Copyright 2003-2018 David Hammack, A.R.S. N4DFP