SOTA Activation W1/AM-381 Mt Agamenticus

This is an easy drive up to the summit type operation and is perfect for the tourist or business traveler.

This makes it a lot simpler to get an activation in the log.

I did let the Ranger know what I was planning to do and they were very pleased with the ask first approach. I used a and was anxious to try out the Xiegu G90 Radio as the built in tuner would make things easier to get going. I didn’t think I would have the room to get set up a proper linked dipole for 40m and 20m. So I focused on 20m contacts

This is also a commercial site so my handheld was getting desensed but I did manage to squeeze out a simplex contact with N1DID who was mobile. I could practically see her from the summit driving down I95.

Pretty much a simple activation with wonderful views and a great interpretation center and gift shop.

The highlight was working NM8GS which was a USA-394 Lighthouse activation from Light Ship Huron in Port Huron Michigan. Also working W0MNA in Kansas made the longest distance that day.



Good evening. This is John VE3IPS, net control station for the Toronto Baofeng Users Group Tuesday night Net.

The Toronto Baofeng Users Group Tuesday Night Net is an informal net that meets at 1930 hours every Tuesday evening. We welcome participation by all amateurs.

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The purpose of the net is to take check ins; to inform you of TBUG activities; and to provide news

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That concludes this evening’s Toronto Baofeng Users Group  Tuesday Night Net. Thank you for participating. We had [number] check ins this evening. 73.

This is John VE3IPS returning the repeater to normal amateur use.

How to increase Power Output on the Icom 7300 and other Icoms

Icom engineers seem to continue to design their radios to be finicky when it comes to the ALC

The Icom 7100 and my 746 and even 756 had the same problem with lower than average power output as they do not want an aggressive ALC.

An Automatic Level Control (ALC) circuit governs the signal strength going into the power amplifier of the transmitter. It keeps the amplifier input in the designed range for linear operation without causing distortion.

Depending on the ALC circuit design and how aggressive it is driven by the microphone output level can cause distortion to result.

Try these settings and it may be best to use two tones or a recorded audio track to help adjust the ALC until the output power does not increase any further, then back off a bit.

Also use a little bit of compression

1. Start with no compression
2. While observing your ALC meter adjust the MIC gain so that you are peaking between 1/4 and 1/2 of full scale. Ideally with a normal voice the sweet spot is probably a third with occasional peaks at 3. If you use compression for me level 4 works out to be the best for contests

I suggest you also follow this for lower power use and especially if driving a high power amplifier where distortion products will be more noticeable and can cause QRM

I do need to take some notes but I am finding my Heils put out more mic audio than the stock Icom mics and thus if I do not check the ALC, I find if I am pushing hard on it and it does its job by backing off the power output to avoid distortion to occur.





Xiegu G90 Power Draw on Transmit Test

I love the G90 for its fast built in antenna tuner and 20W power output. With the lack of sunspots the availability to have some extra power is handy. Its either a 1 or 2 S unit increase depending on the receiving ends radio

Xiegu claims 8A draw which seemed a bit high compared to other radios so I benched the radio after doing the Power Pole mod to measure what reality is

I found the following @13.8 Volts using a number 12 gauge power cable to my PSU with CW

Power Output       Current Amps

5W                        2.9

10W                     3.5

15W                     4.0

20W                    4.5

I use the Bioenno batteries which has proven to be a great match especially for SSB as I can use a smaller battery and use the SSB swings to peak higher with a smaller battery

The antenna was an end fed tossed over the balcony drooping down with easy contacts into the East Coast

Tokyo Ham Fair 2020 – NEW DATE

Tokyo Ham Fair 2020 will be held on October 31st and November 1st.

The venues will be the Tokyo Big Sight West, Hall 3 and 4.

Tokyo Ham Fair, the largest amateur radio event in Japan, was first held in 1977 at Harumi Fairgrounds which was located in Harumi, Tokyo, and has been held annually ever since.

Since the 3rd fair, JARL has been holding the fair on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays late in August so that student hams can easily attend. Since then, Tokyo Ham Fair has been well known as a distinctive summer event for Japanese hams. The number of visitors was first just around 25,000. However, attendance increased to around 61,000 in 1993. In 1996, the venue was changed to Tokyo Big Sight, which is located in Ariake, Tokyo. From 1999 to 2001, the venue was Pacifico Yokohama, located in Yokohama, Kanagawa prefecture.

VHF Mountain Topping in the USA – SOTA

VHF Mountain Topping in the USA – SOTA

Mountaintoppers and SOTA fans enjoy getting up to a high point and look to make contacts. These contacts are typically on the national simplex channel 146.52, however SSB on 144.200 is also a fun mode.

Here are some mountains to check out:


Pack Monadnock, NH 2310 ft SOTA W1/HA-041- Line of sight towards Boston

Mount Washington, NH  6288 ft SOTA W1/HA-001

Mount Greylock, MA 3491 ft SOTA W1/MB-001

Mt. Equinox, Arlington, VT   3810 ft SOTA W1/GM-003

High Point, NJ 1800 ft W2NJ-001 – LOS intyo New York City

Spruce Knob, WV 3391 m W8V/PH-007,

Mount Mitchell, NC 6684 ft W4C/CM-001

Pacifico Mountain , CA 7500 ft W6/CT-015 LOS towards Los Angeles

Mount Pinos, CA 8800 ft W6/CC-002

Mount Palomar, CA 6100 ft  W6/CT-020

San Francisco Bay area coverage.

Mount Diablo, CA 3849 ft W6/CC-045 SOTA

SFO area and beyond I made a contact into Nevada which was 155 miles on 2m FM

Mount Ashland, OR 7500 ft W7O/CS-019

Brain Head, UT 11,315 ft W7U/SU-016

Mount Rose, NV  10,000 ft  W7N/WC-001

S Meters are Wrong? can you hear me OK?

I always understood that an S unit was a difference of 6db if you were transmitting 5 watts then 20 watts the S meter at the far end would register 1 more S unit

Now it seems that things have changed and according to  DJ0IP, Most recent Japanese transceivers are using just 3 dB per S-Unit. This makes the received signal look stronger and is this a marketing gimmick or the real world now

The standard 50uv signal denotes S9 and is used to align S meters to that standard and continues but the linearity between S units has changed

The performance of the S meter is measured in the big Radcom reviews as stated by G8ADD, and this is what they give for a random selection of recent transceivers:

FTDX101D 2.5 – 3.0 dB
IC9700 – 2.5 dB
TS890S – 3.5 dB
IC7610 – 3.0 dB
IC7300 – 3.0 dB

FT891 – 3.0 dB.

I guess my 59 over 40db signal running 20 watts to a wire in a tree has become meaningless and should now be “Can you hear me ok?”

What makes a contest radio?

We had a chat at ham club and usually it turns to radios and equipment.


I made a comment that the radio that was being discussed is that it was a garbage radio unfit for ham use let alone CB radio and the other fellow said “I have one too and it works great for me”

“Yeah but you guys are not active on HF or even contests” I replied

“NO I am busy and I hate contests. I get on for an hour or so every once and a while and look for a rag chew. I dont understand contests”

“You have the perfect radio then and it more than meets your needs, that great” I replied

But then the other ham says he thinks his radios broken because when he does contests its hard for him to understand anything and I replied “yeah your radio is not suitable for that because the front end performance is not designed for that activity” You need a better radio my friend if that is important to you

So to me a contest radio is all about the front end performance. Every radio is sensitive enough that the specification for it means little unless you are doing low signal work on EME or 160m cw so one must focus on the DYNAMIC RANGE or DR3 figure. This is important because the figure determines if the rdio signal you are listeing to will be affected by another signal that is 2khz or 20khz away. The stronger that signal is the more it can affect what you are trying to listen to if the DR3 is say 70 db for your radio. Trust me the 20db difference is a big deal.

The best Contest Radios have a DR3 of around 100 db and a better affordable radio would have figures of 85-90 db and up

Sherwood Engineering looks the 2KHz DR3 and the 20KHz DR3 figures in its tests.

Rob states that figures of 80db for SSB and 90db for CW operators are good target figures so look for a radio that has these types of specs if you enjoy contest and field style operating.

I used a Yaesu FT450D during the Marconi contest and the weak signal I was trying to receive was getting crunched by nearby CW signals from the US. These signals were only a few Khz away and the roofing filter (3khz is too wide for CW and allows signals within that range to be in the passband). I was disappointed that this radio was not contest worthy. The DR3 at 2Khz is a poor 67db. Yaesu never inteneded this for contests and they suggest the 5000, 9000 or 3000. But the guy who bought the FT450D off me loves the radio and he likes to get on 40m and ragchew all night. CW and contests are not his operating interests.

More details here:

Click to access fetch.php

The ARRL also uses a thrid order IMD as a DR3 test

Click to access QST_Aug_2004_p32-36(1).pdf

Now lets add another trusted adviser AB4OJ who uses Noise power ratio testing or NPR and you can align his testing against the ARRL’s and Sherwoods to gain a common agremment.

The top radio is now the FTDX-101D and after an hour with it at the HRO Salem store test bench I was very pleased with its performance that I was thinking on the drive back that I wonder what the DR3 figures are and a I saw that Sherwood has them at 110 db for both. WOW now that may be the new Contest radio. Yaesu has a 600 Hz roofing filter that is a big deal on CW and yes Elecraft has those as well on the K3.

These are pure performance figures that has nothing to do with ergonomics, if the audio is clean on receive, DSP and Noise Blanker performance.

Contest Radios cost money but for the active Contester they are needed if your are working it for 12-24 hours. Casual ops will be happy with a $1500 radio or even a $1000 radio

My FT-817 is around 65db and you notice that very much but then its a shoulder radio not a contest radio.

The SOTA people have now been discussing hand held performance on these figures for 2m operation on FM and its another interesting discussion point to understand

I can confirm that for SOTA work the Icom V82 beats the Icom 51a and then my FT70DR up on the summit where commercial repeaters are a problem. The Yaesu FT-817 is better as its got a band pass filter to help keep stuff above 148 Mhz out of the receiver passband. Those cheap chinese radios? Forget it they can be useless at at the summit due to lack of a real front end.

Things to consider when buying a radio





Amateur Radio (G3TXQ SK) – UnUn Experiments

Steve was diagnosed with metastatic stage-4 Prostate Cancer in February 2016, which led to Spinal Cord Compression in April 2017. He was confined to bed or a wheelchair.

December 2018

Sunday 30th: Steve passed away peacefully in his sleep last night

He leaves behind an incrdible legacy of antenna work and innovations

Check out

Amateur Radio (G3TXQ) – UnUn experiments


Multiband antennas comprising a non-resonant length of wire that is fed via coax and an impedance transforming UnUn have become very popular of late – they are convenient and a low cost alternative to siting a remote tuner at the base of the vertical. The inclusion of the UnUn is designed to limit the high SWRs that would occur on some bands, and thereby avoid some of the very high coax losses which might otherwise occur. This page describes a series of experiments I carried out to try to understand better how typical UnUns perform in this application.

B. Antenna and SWR

The antenna comprised 40ft of insulated wire taped to a fibreglass fishing pole mounted vertically at ground level on the corner of my garage. It was fed via a length of RG58 coax from the nearby shack. The following chart shows the measured SWR on the 80m thru 10m bands under four different sets of conditions:

The green bars show the performance with the feed coax connected directly to the vertical; no UnUn was used, there was no connection to any ground system, and no RF choke was used. The SWR varied from a low of 5.9:1 on 10m to a high of 49:1 on 30m. Given that no ground system was used we might wonder what forms “the other half of the antenna”:

The answer is clear when we add a common-mode choke at the feedpoint to prevent current flowing on the outside surface of the coax braid – we get the performance shown by the turquoise bars. With the exception of the 30m and 15m bands all of the SWRs are worse – often by a very large margin. This demonstrates that, as expected, if you have no ground system the coax braid becomes an integral part of the antenna system.

Next I added a modest radial system comprising six 25ft wires laying on the ground and arranged as evenly as I could within the constraints of my back yard; the results are shown by the grey bars. On all bands except 30m there is an improvement in the SWR – on most bands a very significant improvement.

Finally I added at the feedpoint a 4:1 UnUn comprising 12 bifilar turns on a T200-2 iron dust core; the results are shown by the red bars. Other than on 15m the UnUn produces a further reduction in SWR which never exceeds 26:1 on any band.

C. UnUn variations

I next decided to investigate how UnUns of different designs compared. I wound a 9:1 UnUn comprising 9 trifilar turns on a T200-2 core, a 4:1 UnUn comprising 12 bifilar turns on a FT240-61 core, and a 4:1 UnUn comprising 12 bifilar turns on a FT240-31 core; here are the results:

Clearly, introducing any of the UnUns makes a dramatic improvement to the SWR on most of the bands; the exceptions are those bands where the SWR is already low. Choosing between the various UnUn designs is not easy – one does better than the others on a few bands, but is worse on others. Taken overall, with this particular antenna the 9:1 UnUn wound on Type 2 material probably has the edge.

D. Impedance transformations

What is not obvious from these results is just what impedance transformations are being introduced by the UnUns. Particularly at the lower frequencies, a combination of the low permeability of iron dust material and the reactive antenna impedance means that the impedance transformation ratio is far from the 4:1 or 9:1 that might naively be assumed.

For example the 4:1 UnUn might be expected to transform an 80m load impedance of 12-j236 to 3-j59; in fact it transforms it to a wildly different 367+j480. This arises because the UnUn is far from being an ideal transformer, and its low inductive reactance combines with the capacitive reactance of the load to form a tuned circuit which, if close to resonance, will produce impedance transformations far removed from the ideal. Fortunately, this does not matter in this application – the actual impedance is largely irrelevant because a tuner is used at the shack to provide a match to 50 Ohms. But it does mean that any theoretical evaluation of these types of antenna system is suspect if it assumes that the UnUns behave as ideal impedance transformers.

E. UnUn Losses

A further consideration with the UnUn is what loss it introduces to the antenna system. Knowing the UnUn secondary impedance and the antenna impedance, we can estimate the losses introduced by each design:

Notice that losses with the Type 31 material are significantly higher than with any of the other designs. This is to be expected because the complex permeability of the Type 31 ferrite mix has a large resistive component; this is an advantage in common-mode choke applications, but not so useful when acting as the core of a transformer potentially handling high voltages.

Of the remaining designs, the 4:1 UnUn wound on Type 2 material probably has the highest loss. To put the numbers in context, a loss of 0.4dB means that the safe power dissipation of a T200 size core would be reached at an applied average power level of 110W.

With all the UnUn designs, loss becomes much higher at low frequencies if the antenna is shortened; so be very wary of the power-handling claims for UnUns wound on T200-2 toroids and used with short antennas.

It’s also worth noting that at low frequencies, where the antenna is electrically short and its reactance is high compared to its radiation resistance, high voltages can be generated across the UnUn at modest power levels. For example, if this 40ft antenna were radiating 100W there would be a voltage of over 1kV pk across the UnUn; well-designed UnUns will have winding insulation which takes account of this.

F. Overall performance

Just because one design of UnUn has slightly more loss than another doesn’t necessarily mean that its transmitted signal will be weaker; if that design results in a lower SWR on the feedline – and therefore lower feedline loss – it could still produce the net greater signal. To take account of these factors I measured the signal picked up from the antenna by a local receiver, and swapped between the UnUn designs. The bar chart shows the results referenced to the signal from the vertical without an UnUn. Again, with this particular antenna, the 9:1 UnUn wound on Type 2 iron dust material gives the best overall results.

Most of the signal strength results can be explained by reference to the preceding charts. For example, on 80m the 9:1 UnUn produces the lowest SWR on the feedline, and itself has the second lowest UnUn loss; so we might expect it would produce the highest signal strength.

G. Conclusions

  • An UnUn can significantly reduce the range of SWRs on the coax feedline – and therefore reduce feedline losses – on a majority of bands
  • All four UnUn designs produced a broadly similar SWR reduction, but with this particular length of antenna the 9:1 UnUn had marginally the best overall performance
  • UnUns can be lossy, particularly at low frequencies where the antenna is electrically short, and small cores can easily be overheated at quite modest transmit powers
  • Lossy ferrite mixes are a poor choice for this application
  • Typical UnUns wound on iron dust cores are far from being ideal impedance transformers at low frequencies when handling the reactive loads represented by electrically short antennas. Any theoretical analysis which assumes they produce 4:1 or 9:1 impedance transformations is suspect