Program Your Yaesu MH-59A8J Microphone for better Usability (FT-857D)

Andre Vk1AD a SOTA expert and Yaesu owner of the FT-857D created a useful cheat sheet for programming the radio for his SOTA activities for use with the optional MH-59 Remote DTMF Mic. Check out his blog and he has a ton of useful information

In order to use the microphone you need to perform the following tasks:

  1. Set menu #59.
  2. Plug in the mic.
  3. Configure ALC settings
  4. Configure FM/AM microphone gain.
  5. Configure custom buttons.

The MH-59A8J microphone adds the following useful features:

  • Rotary control for VFO
  • Programmable keys
  • additional function buttons


End Fed 9:1 Magic Wire Lengths

The end fed longwire has become a very popular antenna for field and portable use. I wouldn’t use one for my base station as the dipoles and verticals are the preferred way to go. If i have antenna restrictions then this antenna can help you get on the air and make contacts.

Due to the nature of wavelength and impedance at various frequencies there is a magic wire length to use for this type of balun. Remember, the 9:1 balun is doing a conversion of impedance from about 450-700 ohms down to 50 ohms. The antenna cannot be an actual 1/4 wave length on any ham band. Thus 8, 16, 32, 68 lengths are ruled out. For example a 32 foot length is actually a half wave on 20m with an impedance of about 3500 ohms and requires a 50:1 balun.

The magic lengths to use with the End Fed longwire is 29, 35.5, 41, 58, 71 and 84 feet

I use a 29 foot wire with my PackTenna 9:1 balun for 40m-10m and then add a 28 foot length for better coverage on 80m when needed.

Tokyo Ham Fair and Huntsville Hamfest- Kenwood TH-D74 Released D-Star Radio

Kenwood has released the TH-D74 D-Star handheld today. The programming Software will be available on the website as its initial release.

I had a chance to talk to Don Arnold W6GPS who is at the Huntsville Hamfest assisting Kenwood with their North American launch now that the Japanese got the first release and I was not surprised how great the audio on the radio was on D-Star. I am contact number 7 on this new radio. Maybe I should ask for a QSL card???

Here are some features that got overlooked that make this hand held a very interesting one:

  • Bluetooth enabled KISS TNC for Packet
    Receiver and Transmitter EQ settings
    Bar antenna for reception below 10Mhz
  • IF output @ 12Khz with a bandwidth of 15 khz through the USB port – SDR in here?
    CW Filter of 03Khz and a SSB filter of 2.3Khz
    AM Filter of 7Khz
  • Wideband receive up to 525Mhz
  • APRS and GPS

Pricing will be  around $700 to $900 US… should be firmed up in a few days if not announced at the Huntsville Hamfest.

This radio will be a category killer…….and as usual there is a pop up D-Star repeater just for the Ham Fair Event


Hamufea during the session of 2016 to let us know so that we set up a temporary D-STAR repeater station (Internet connection) to the Tokyo Big Sight in the venue. Please use.


  • Call sign: JP1YJJ (planned)
  • Frequency: 439.07MHz (DV), 439.25MHz (DV), 1291.31MHz (DV), 1270.625MHz (DD)
  • Local IP:
  • Operational period: within Hamufea period of August 20, 21 days (August 19, is expected to carry out a pilot with the installation)



3IPS GOTA ANTENNA – 3 Wires Integrated Portable System

Here is a super simple tuned for 20m or a multi band untuned antenna (needs atuner) that can be used for Get on The Air (GOTA) Operations.

I call it the 3IPS GOTA Antenna.

3 wires, Integrated Portable System GOTA Antenna

This will require a trip to your local sporting goods store and dollar store to gather some stuff to put this antenna system together

You need a 20 foot fishing pole. They are known as Crappie poles but in Canada its a Shakespeare Wonderpole  (they used to make CB antennas back in the day).

  • 3 lengths of #26 silky wire or #18 gauge speaker wire
  • 3 plastic insulators
  • 3 Nite eze Carabiners
  • 100 feet of Nite Eze reflective paracord
  • 1:1 Balun
  • 25-35 feet of coax
  • Large Zip Lock bag

You can easily make a dipole, a inverted V, a vertical or even a sloper

You can save some money if you replace the 20 foot pole with a tree

In my Packtenna Mini video you can see the Wonderpole on a tripod

BTW you could also use a Painter pole

3ips gota antenna

The JP1QEC Garden Beam SOTA Antenna

sota japan

Japan is blessed with many mountains and for many hams this means SOTA. Summits on the Air is wonderful for those that want to combine hiking and ham radio in a single activity. The Yaesu FT-817 is a popular radio for this activity. Japan has thousands of SOTA summits to be activated. Ontario has practically none.

I have been communicating back and forth with Akira Motohashi JP1QEC ( . Akira-san is an active SOTA expert and has created an interesting antenna concept. It is a 2 element vertical beam for 20m that uses a passive reflector element. It is light and compact and easily deployed to provide some gain and directivity to mountain top activity.

He tested it during his JA/ST-017 summit of Mt Minoyama

I made a quick and dirty 10m version as a Proof of Concept and using a Field Strength Meter does show some directivity as designed. I plan to make a proper 20m version for field work with my QRP radios and for Field day use. I am trying to decide if I use #26 silky wire or #18 for more strength. I have made some translations and look forward to more new antenna designs from Akira-san and more SOTA JP activity.

The GardemBeam-QEC details are as follows:

(1)   Wire length and arrangement


The lengths indicated must be multiplied by 0.96 for the reducing coefficient. The 50 ohm coax cable connects directly to the Feeding point as in the figure. The center conductor of the coax is connected to the vertical wire element that is 5.14m. This is the radiator.

The coax shield is connected to the wire that is 5.7m, and to another counter poise. The counter poise is made of the same kind of wire, and length is about 4.4m. I recommend to make 2 wires or more.

The 5.7m wire and the 5.29m (Passive Reflector) wire are connected at the bending point.

The calculations are for a total length of 5.29mX0.96+5.7=10.7m i, the bend is at 5.7m. 5.7m is the actual  distance between the radiator and reflector. This 5.7m spacing is equivalent to the spacing of a boom on a  YAGI.

(2) Beam pattern calculated by MMANA-GAL



This isthea frequency dependency of the calculated SWR by MMANA-GAL. It could be a little high, but this is a reasonable value, I think.

(3) Finally, the total shape with the counter poise


In this figure, counter poise were attached to both feeding point and bend point. But, I always am using GardenBeam-QEC without one at the bending point.

If you look at the design you can see Akira has a wire coounterpoise that connects to the radiator insulator that he has homebrwed.

A way of setting of this antenna on the mountain.

(A) Tips of Radiator and Reflector are connected to  thin ropes that are 10m long

(B) A plastic bottle filled water is tied to the another tip of the rope.

(C) Throw the bottle up to the tree branch.

(D) Pull the rope and stretch the element.


Go out and make some contacts


Yaesu FT-817 Integration to the Elecraft T1 Tuner

The proper way to tidy up the cables between the FT-817 and the T1 tuner. Note the power cord strain relief  as per OH2KJ. I am using and Anderson pole on mine as the power connector jack.

The ground screw is a M3-6mm one

817 and t1


World’s Smallest Stand-Alone ATU!
The Elecraft T1 is the only automatic antenna tuner that’s sized to match today’s small QRP rigs. It’s one-fourth the size of most other compact ATUs. And at just 5 ounces, the T1 is the ideal backpacking accessory.

Use with any Low-Power Transceiver
The T1 can be used with any 0.5-W to 20-W transceiver covering bands in the 160-6 m range. This includes kits, home-built rigs, and commercial transceivers such as the FT-817, IC703, Ten-Tec Argonaut, SG2020, etc.

Quick, Convenient, and Accurate
The T1’s 7-inductor, 7-capacitor L-network provides a wide matching range, and its re-tune time from memory is just 1 to 2 seconds. Equally important, the T1 always tries to achieve a 1.0:1 SWR—it doesn’t stop at 1.5:1 or 2.0:1 like some tuners. You won’t even need to change modes to tune. You can use SSB voice or a keyer as well as a constant carrier (AM, FM, CW, etc.).

FT-817 Remote-Control Option
For even greater convenience, we offer a “smart” remote control adapter for use with the Yaesu FT-817 . On any band change, the adapter’s micro controller sends band data to the T1, which quickly recalls the appropriate network settings. Imagine instant QSY without the need to transmit-less QRM, less hassle!

t1 InsideT1 main board_a

ft817 go kit

Barrie Amateur Radio Club – International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend (ILLW)

Subject: Club Lighthouse Activation Event

Members of the Barrie Amateur Radio Club will be setting up beside the Victoria Harbour Lighthouse this coming Saturday, 20 August for the International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend (ILLW).

See for more info on ILLW. See for more about the Victoria Harbour lighthouse.
We will be arriving at about 9:30 or 10am Saturday morning, and will operate into the afternoon depending on weather, band conditions and number of people. We will be using the club call VE3GCB with the club’s TS-480 transceiver (100W SSB) and a multiband dipole.
You can see pictures from previous years under VE3GCB on the website.
The address for the lighthouse is listed as 283 William St. but you can’t park there. To reach the lighthouse parking area, you must turn right (up the hill) onto Albert St., then right on Jephson St., then right on Florence St. which becomes St. Marys Cr. If you have a GPS, enter 64 St Marys Crescent in Victoria Harbour. After reaching this address, proceed down the trail off the end of the street through the trees to the lighthouse parking area.
Come out and have some fun operating during this annual BARC lighthouse activation.
lighthouse victoria

Antenna Baluns I have known and Love

I walk through a box of baluns I have known and love. Spoiler Alert: you may be induced to get some of your own

BALUN comes from “Balanced to Unbalanced” This usually means connecting a balanced load such as a dipole antenna to an unbalanced input such as a 50- ohm coaxial cable. The shield side of the cable is usually grounded.

BALUNS can also change impedance levels. For example, 4:1, or 200 ohm to 50 ohm or 300 ohm to 75 ohm.

UNUN means “Unbalanced to Unbalanced” This is a device inserted into a coaxial transmission line usually to reduce “common mode” currents – more on that later.

Your  balun performs two important functions:

1. It provides a convenient connection interface between coaxial cable and either ladder line or a longwire antenna

2. It converts from an unbalanced source (e.g., a transmitter or tuner with coaxial output) to a balanced transmission line (e.g., ladder line)

In addition, the balun provides a 4:1 impedance conversion permitting use of higher impedance antennas and transmission lines for example

pocket baluns

I have made a bunch of different pocket baluns all fairly small that fit into a pocket. I cleaned out the bins at Sayal for these little hammond boxes