Ham Radio Outside the Box

A Directional Antenna With Just One Straight Wire – Crazy?

Being called crazy is a compliment to my ears. It means I am doing something different, something unusual. I strive to be “crazy” every day. It is only by doing crazy stuff that we innovate and discover new ideas and new ways of doing things. Today I decided to do two crazy things. First, I…

Has POTA Become a Radio Sport Contest?

Parks On The Air (POTA) may have started out as a fun way to get outside into the Big Blue Sky Shack and play radio, but now it has become very competitive. Those who like to take a casual approach to activating parks can still enjoy their hobby their way, but others have a different,…

I Fell Off the QRP Wagon and Regretted It Already

Only use enough power to make the contact. That’s the advice often given to hams. How much is enough? One way to find out is to get on the air and start making waves. Or, I thought, check the propagation numbers, evaluate the site elevation and make a turkey-brained guess about how much power I…

A Magic Ground Mobile Antenna

Let me start by confessing; I don’t operate HF mobile. So my “mobile” HF antenna is only suitable for stationary “shack-in-a-truck” operations. Driving requires my full attention … and so does CW operation! I mount one of my two portable vertical antennas on a short aluminum pole which in turn is mounted on the hitch…

Snow and Freezing Spray – QRP Madness

Saturday 7th January was the date of the first Polar Bear Moonlight Madness Event (PBMME) of the year. In fact, as a new member of the group, it was my first ever PBMME. The group is called the Polar Bear QRP Ops. It is an amateur radio group who are active with portable QRP operation…

Pairing the PFR-3 with an EFHW Antenna

My previous outing with my trusty old Hendricks PFR-3 portable field radio (see QRP on Deck) was with a Random Wire antenna. The big advantage of the random wire is that it is non-resonant on any band and can be tuned on any band. I prefer to use resonant antennas that can be paired with…

A Snowshoe Trek Across the Ice Shelf for a Late Year POTA Activation

We had a lot of snow over the Christmas weekend but I wanted to get out and do one last POTA activation before the end of 2022. I chose VE-5651 Hibou Conservation Area near my hometown of Owen Sound, Ontario. Hibou Conservation Area in Summer Hibou Conservation Area sits along the shore of Georgian Bay…

Let’s Dump RS(T) Signal Reports!

How much use is a signal report – really? In theory it is a good idea to tell the ham at the other end of the magic, invisible wire how well you are receiving their signal. In practice the report you send is of little to no use whatsoever. Why is that? I can cite…

How to find out if your common mode current choke really works

What is common mode current? It is the current that flows along the outer surface of your coax shield from your antenna back towards your radio. It can cause SWR problems, erratic behaviour of radio equipment and even RF shocks when you touch metal parts of your rig. A coax cable has three conductors! Due…

QRP On Deck

We had a little light snow today and the temperature was hovering just below freezing, but I wanted to get outside and check out one of my old QRP rigs. The radio of the day was my Hendricks PFR-3. The “PFR” stands for Portable Field Radio. The PFR-3 is (or was; I’m not sure if…

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