This informal blog-style page is a running account of news at the station since 2004.

FT-2000 info
Terrain analysis
SteppIR info
40M rotary dipole project
40M half-square project
40M vertical array project
80M vertical array project
Spider beam project
Hex beam project
CDE meter scale project
Bencher BY-2 paddles
RTTY contesting tips

Contest scores


Here's the news from Grid Square DO00hb

Aug. 30, 2010
Updated contest results to August 2010.

Aug. 26 , 2010
Created a handy online calculator for figuring lengths of Christman phasing 71- and 84-degree lines for 2-element verticals spaced 1/4-wavelength apart.

Aug. 19 , 2010
Updated info about my fave 40M antenna: the twin half-square array.

Aug. 17 , 2010
Added a new antenna page about my Steppir 40M hybrid yagi using a fixed wire element off the boom.

June 30, 2010
Updated contest results to June 2010.

May 18, 2010
Noted the induction of Don Hill and Bob Locher into the CQ Contest and DX Halls of Fame.

May 18, 2010
Updated my LoTW totals.

Mar. 29, 2010
Added the second Contest Focus feature story -- covering the 2010 WPX SSB contest.

Mar. 11, 2010
Updated the State QSO Party "multi-contest" section file to correct a typo for Middlesex county, CT (it should convert to MIC not MID).

Feb. 22, 2010
Added first Contest Focus feature story -- a preview and summary of a major contest.

Feb. 17, 2010
Updated information about phasing lines for the 40M twin-vertical array -- and added audio of signals in both directions.

Feb. 15, 2010
Added page about Athena contest log analysis.

Feb. 5, 2010
Added propagation tools page.

Jan. 10, 2010
Updated my QSL information. I can no longer QSL direct cards that arrive without return postage.

Dec. 30, 2009
Farewell to Bob VE6YR SK

Oct. 19, 2009
Updated contest results to mid-October 2009.

Sept. 18, 2009
Discovered that my FT-920 went deaf -- no receive.

July 23, 2009
Posted the August 2009 CQ Ham Radio Japan magazine article about VA7ST.

July 20, 2009
Updated contest results to mid-July 2009.

May 2, 2009
SteppIR antenna is up and on the air!

April 24 , 2009
SteppIR arrived from Fluid Motion ahead of schedule (had expected four week's shipping time... see shipping diary).

March 31 , 2009
Finally made the decision to get a new HF antenna. Today I ordered a new SteppIR 3-element plus 40M/30M dipole. A month or so of waiting begins.

January 28, 2009
Updated contest results to end of January 2009.

January 14, 2009
Yaesu updated the FT-2000 EDSP software to v11.39, making an important engineering change. Made a noticeable difference in the DSP digital noise reduction.

I have new stand-alone pages for my 40M wire vertical array and 40M half-square array changes (the verticals have been taken down because they really messed up the half-square pattern to the U.S.)

I have new stand-alone pages for my 40M wire vertical array and 40M half-square array changes (the verticals have been taken down because they really messed up the half-square pattern to the U.S.)

January 2 , 2009
Yaesu made 2009 a very happy new year for FT-2000 owners with the Performance Enhancement Program firmware update v.142. The EDSP software was updated to v11.29. Turns this great radio into a stellar radio.

December 21 , 2008
Christmas holidays are underway. First order of business: a quick contest (OKDX RTTY), and housekeeping on this site. Updated my Logbook of the World totals.

A few notes about recent computer upgrades:

In mid-December 2008, I replaced a 17" CRT monitor with a new Acer 20" widescreen. Required a new video card for the computer, so I picked up a $39 PCI ATI Radeon 7500 from Tiger Direct ($1.99 shipping!) and got 4GB of memory for the family computer ($12 ea.). Both system upgrades have proven to be extraordinary enhancements.

The shack computer now has 20" and 15" LCD monitors -- just about perfect for my operating style (propagation, telnet and windows on the small monitor, and up to SO2R N1MM + MMTTY windows on the big monitor).

The computer is a 2001-vintage 933 PIII (HP Pavilion 7850 maxed out with a whopping 512MB of RAM) with three PCI slots and two onboard serial ports. To run both the FT-2000 and FT-920 as a two-radio setup, I need at least four serial ports.

Alas, the four-port expansion PCI card I bought a year ago is unreliable (hangs Windows XP on startup sometimes). So I have purchased a cheapie $8 USB 2.0 PCI card (four-port) and a pair of $9 USB-to-Serial cables from a chap on eBay (iliveinca, a mail-order shop in Vancouver, B.C.). Got everything for under $30, including free shipping via Canada Post. The cables arrived in four days; card expected in another day or two.

If the $9 USB-to-Serial cables work for rig control and FSK/CW keying, I'll get a couple more ASAP because when I upgrade to a new computer I doubt it will even have one onboard serial port.

I recently began trying a free utility called eBoostr. It makes our 4GB dual-core family computer much faster (using system RAM instead of the hard drive for Windows file caching). The older, slower shack computer only has USB 1.2, so a 2GB memory stick doesn't work so well for eBoostr "boosting." Hoping the new USB 2.0 card will change that and give me a bit more system speed for radio software use.

November 14 , 2008
Updated information about the antennas currently in use here at VA7ST. Includes notes about coax chokes, the Mosley Classic-33 and 20M SWR bandwidth tweaking.

Also added all-new terrain analysis for this QTH -- some pretty dramatic advantages for a short-tower operator!

September 6, 2008
The British Columbia DX Club includes a great bunch of much-celebrated DXers and contest operators. I was invited to attend their 2008 meeting on Vancouver Island by BCDXC President Paul Peters VE7BZ.

It's an honour to be invited as a guest to one of these informal and highly entertaining get-togethers, and so I left home at 2:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning (Sept. 6, 2008) to catch an 8 a.m. ferry from Vancouver's Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo's Departure Bay.

Full story with photos

August 7 , 2008
Canada Post delivered two envelopes today: ARRL DXCC RTTY certificate #1958, and the DXCC RTTY lapel pin. All 100 countries for the RTTY award were confirmed via Logbook of the World. I could have applied for DXCC CW years ago using QSL cards, but waited to confirm RTTY before joining "the club."

My current country totals for DXCC

June 16 , 2008
SO2R Update: Ordered the 80M #404, 40M #405 and 20M #407 single-band filters from I.C.E. Radio Products on May 30. The filters will enable single-operator two-radio (SO2R) mode here with the FT-2000 and FT-920. They arrived Thursday, June 12. Outstanding delivery time from I.C.E., given that they had to clear customs.

I.C.E. ships my preferred way -- U.S. Postal Service, not UPS. You can tell they know what they're doing for international orders. They had the package well-prepared with the appropriate duty-free numbers, etc. for fast processing at the border.

Picked 'em up from the post office on Saturday morning and pressed them into service for a few hours on Saturday night on 20M/40M in the ANARTS RTTY contest, but lousy conditions didn't produce many Qs. The gear seemed to provide good isolation of the rigs, though, and N1MM works like a charm for SO2R RTTY.

June 11, 2008
Important information for ANARTS RTTY Contesters:
The official ANARTS web page has a link to the official "exchange points" table for their contest. The page will display correctly if you use Internet Explorer, but not Firefox.

SM3CER's Contest Calendar site offers the table in an HTML format that all web browsers can display.

View the ANARTS Points Table

May 6, 2008
Added new observations about the FT-2000 -- including N1MM Logger DVK macro commands, and a warning about the FT-2000 internal keyer problem (it only offers Type B keying, useless to guys who didn't grow up with it).

May 4, 2008
Went to Kelowna's Orchard City ARC ham swap this morning. Finally got the Bencher paddles I waited 26 years to own!

Apr. 25, 2008
Posted information about the new 80M phased vertical array.

Mar. 26, 2008
Added image of the QTH showing layout of the 40M half-squares. Also added two audio recordings to show the fairly dramatic difference between these antennas when listening to Caribbean stations (VP5 and CM6).

Jan. 1, 2008
Updated contest results to end of December 2007.

Oct. 10, 2007
Updated contest results to October 2007.

Sep. 30, 2007
Added information about my new FT-2000 transceiver.

Added information about my Logbook of the World totals.

Apr. 8, 2007
Redesigned the meter scale for my CDE Rotator control box. Full details...

Awaiting BC Hydro crew repair of a substation pole to remove the radio noise interference.

Feb. 25, 2007

  • SB-221 amp working great -- used in RAC Winter, CQWW WPX RTTY and ARRL DX CW with good results in each.
  • MFJ-1026 noise canceling signal enhancer arrived two business days after I finalized my order with Durham Radio. Great delivery time! Picked up several days after it arrived at the Post Office -- on Saturday of ARRL DX CW. Used it in NAQP RTTY and it worked extremely well on 20M power line noise. S7-8 knocked down to S2.
  • Also received some new RG8X coax lines (100-footers) so replaced feed to the Crappie dipole and can now report that it works like a charm. It's at 55' with the tower cranked up, and did fine service in ARRL DX CW and NAQP RTTY in February.
  • Have all the steel cable to re-string my wire antennas but haven't yet had a good break in the weather when there's no contest to operate in. Definitely need to rework the 40M pair of 40M delta loops. Though design-wise they're identical, they have not worked nearly as well as the original loops I used last year. Could be the 75-ohm matching 1/40-wave lines aren't quite right.
Here's how to wire your serial port FSK and CW circuit VA7ST-style.

Larger image

Believe it or not, this "spider-leg" point-to-point wiring worked fine. But, knowing how mortified Jim VE7FO would be if he ever saw this, I did redo it all properly using tiny perf-board for mounting inside a DB9 connector shell.

January 25, 2007

  • Updated contest results to Jan. 2007.
  • Week before Christmas I bought an SB-221 amplifier with full Harbach mods + 10M and nearly new 3-500Z tubes. Used it plenty already and it's a super addition to the station. Best $600 I've spent on non-antenna gear. Drove 8 hours each way over three scary mountain passes to get it. Worth the drive!
  • With the new amp comes the need for consistent drive power, so I finally wired up the one-transistor + one-resistor computer interface for FSK RTTY keying. Works so much nicer than AFSK -- no level adjustments at all. Just set the power and go.
  • Have rekindled the BC Hydro search for powerline noise. It is a debilitating 160M through 10M condition, making contesting almost impossible. Now suspect lines near a substation across the valley. Expert coming from Vancouver again in a few weeks to look again.
  • Need to re-string my wire antennas after a week of major windstorms in early January. Existing catenary rope is sagging and frayed by tree limbs. Plan to run steel rope up to top of pine (90'), with a pulley at the top to support a catenary rope 130' to another tree. From this will hang 2x40M delta loops, 2x80M delta loops (probably 75% size) and a better 160M inverted-L.

August 27, 2006

  • Built a linear-loaded 40M rotatable dipole and installed it on the tower this week.

    (Update Jan. 2007: never got this antenna to play -- coax up the tower may be dead. I only tilt the tower over once a year, in early summer so it's up there strong as heck even in gale-force winds, but I don't use it because it is shorted out somewhere. Will rebuild in summer 2007 with bigger wire, better feedpoint construction and new coax.)

August 14, 2006

  • Received new QSL cards from UX5UO Print. They are stunning! I even posted a review of the service on
  • Have installed my old Hygain 18AVT/WB on the ground in the middle of the back lawn. Have 36 radials laid out on the grass, pinned using various types of staples made of rather stiff, thick copper and aluminum wire. So far the kids and dog have not pulled them up. (Keeping fingers crossed.)
  • Arranged two new 1/4-wave tall wire 40M verticals in the pine forest. They're spaced 33 feet apart, north and south. I'm trying ot phase these with 3/4-waves of RG6 (75 ohm) coax running between them, and feeding the south vertical, hoping for an endfire pattern pointing north over the pole.

    Works a bit, but think I need to adjust the length of coax for a better north pattern.
  • In the August 12 WAE CW contest, I discovered that by turning one of my wire inverted-V beams from aiming E-W to aim N-S I could actually work a few EU stations. (Duh!).

    I will permanently turn what used to be the director of my West-facing inv.-V to point N-S.

April 21, 2006

  • Contest scores have been updated to April 2006.
  • Last week swapped 700Mhz PIII laptop (128MB RAM) with son's PIII 966 with half-gig of RAM. N1MM more responsive, especially with other apps running, such as CW Tune In, a web browser, etc. Plus, more screen real estate.
  • Over the past month I have removed the 80M and 40M delta loop arrays, and put up inverted-V wire beams.
    • 2 elements on 80M aimed SE at 70'
    • 3 elements on 40M aimed SE at 70'
    • 2 elements on 40M aimed NW at 60'
  • In March, I installed a 40M 2-element inverted-V wire beam pointed at 45 degrees (roughly Europe and Africa). Height is just 50' or so. Hears EU quite well.
  • Solar cycle nearing the bottom now. Conditions very lousy (SFI=75 and A has been high, so it's noisy)
  • BC Hydro expert coming up week of April 24, 2006, for second attempt at locating power line noise source.

Nov. 1, 2005

  • Contest scores have been updated to October 2005.
  • Learned this week of the passing of W0ETC. After a long and courageous battle with lymphatic leukemia, Larry died on Oct. 25. He will be missed by many in the contesting community. A memorial page has been established, should you wish to leave a note about your memories of Larry L. Lindblom.

April 19, 2005

  • RFI noise destroying radio reception. Suspect pole reported to BC Hydro -- they are actively working on the situation. Suspect pole not the problem... still looking.
  • My contesting activity pages have been updated with July to November 2004 reports.

Nov. 30, 2004

  • CQWW CW 2004 is over... I shattered my previous best Q total with 1,421 contacts (plus 30 dupes). Sure was fun breaking 1,000 Qs. Mults not where they should be, but the new 80M delta loops and tribander yagi worked quite nicely.|
  • Nov. 23, 2004
    Almost ready for this weekend's CQWW CW -- the grand daddy of all contests, in my books. Worked Belize and Netherlands Antilles fairly easily on the new 40M delta this evening. Heard Japan on 80M grayline this morning, so antennas are playing well. Will try hanging a 160M inverted-L (80' up, 50' horizontal) on Saturday morning.
  • Nov. 10, 2004
    Added many more contest scores to the listings.
  • Nov. 8 , 2004... Sweepstakes CW just finished -- new 80M dual delta loops and 40M delta loop worked great (100+ Qs on each band).
  • Next station improvement will be getting the 80M delta loops to work as driver/reflector. The array is just a driver right now -- reflector 40' to the east doesn't perceptibly add to performance. Must fix that.
  • InRad 400hz and 250hz CW filters arrived the day of the CQWW SSB contest. I took three hours off that night, mid-contest, to install the filter mod board in the FT-920. Made a world of difference to the radio. Just not for SSB, hi.
  • Sept. 27 , 2004... Tired but can't wipe the grin off my face after the CQWW RTTY contest. New antenna made a world of difference.
  • Ordered 400hz and 250hz CW filters from InRad today. Got blown to pieces by QRM on Saturday and Sunday. Signals wall to wall from 14055 to 14030, and could barely copy a single one amongst the horde.
  • Planning to hang an inverted-L for 80m soon. Only 65 contacts on the weekend -- missed lots of eastern U.S. mults and Qs.
  • Will extend the 18' boom of the yagi to 24' and load it for 40M... see how a rotatable dipole does for me in upcoming contests.
  • Tower Is Up!
    On Tuesday, September 7, 2004, we poured concrete for the base of the tower. I waited for the concrete to cure 28 days, just like the experts said I should. All right. I didn't. On the morning of September 18 I put the tower in its base, bolted the Classic-33 onto the mast and cranked the tilt-over handle. Up she went, no problems with the base, bolts or tower itself.

    Didn't extend the tower to its full height until the moment CQWW RTTY started (0005z) on September 25. Boy, was I thrilled with the results of this long-awaited piece of radio equipment.

    Quadrupled my 2003 score (102,000 up to 460,000) and my QSO count went from under 267 to 760 -- including 429 Qs on 20m and 160 on 15m!

    See my entire CQWW RTTY 2004 story on 3830

    I have received some great encouragement from hams around the world who worked me for the first time with the new antenna....

"...just wanted to let you know, I feel your efforts paid off... Great signal on 20 and 15. See ya in the pile ups. 73 Andy (VE9DX)."

"Happy to work VA7ST for first time - new antenna worked well Bud... 73 Nasko LZ9R."

"Had to send a note to congratulate you on getting a tower up and a little more Antenna.
I see you have already noticed the difference :), good luck in future contesting. 73 Earl VE7IN"

Notes like these mean a lot! Thanks fellas.

Older News...

  • Had a Blast in BARTG Spring RTTY
    Just completed BARTG Spring RTTY (Mar. 21, 2004) and had a great time in this final contest from the home we've lived in for the past 12 years. Made about 140 more QSOs than last year and nearly doubled the multiplier count from 65 to 113. More details about my weekend are on the 3830 Contest Score Rumors site.

    See a complete list of my contest scores
    (Note: OK, the list isn't quite complete -- about two-thirds of my 2002 and 2003 scores are there, with more coming.)
  • We're Moving
    The cross-town trek to a new QTH takes place on March 31. See the Location section for details on how I expect the new location to play on the air. Summary: Waaay better than the old place.

    Kids are looking forward to having a big new house. They're now old enough that they want their own separate bedrooms, after sharing a room since they were toddlers. (Kim and I think they're going to have separation anxiety, hi.)

    [Update July 14, 2004: Move went very well -- one day, all family members accounted for, hi.]
  • New Antenna
    I have enlisted my father and his big Dodge Cummings diesel truck to pick up a new-to-me Mosley Classic 33 (CL33) tribander on April 2 (2004). I will meet dad at his place near Summerland, BC, and we'll drive down to Osoyoos, BC, to get the antenna.

    Later this year, we will return to Osoyoos to collect the tower I am buying -- a 40-foot crank-up, tilt-over U.S. Towers MA40.

    Can't put the CL33 up till I have the tower, and the ham I'm buying it from needs that for a while longer. At the new place my antennas will initially be wire and maybe my Spider Beam. Sure am looking forward to having a proven beam up higher than the house eaves.

    [Update July 14, 2004: Still waiting for the call -- tower and beam have been paid for, just waiting for my friend to sell his house.]
  • Contests Don't Stop
    Plan to operate in a couple of contests in early April, if I can get a G5RV strung up in between moving in and unpacking.

    [Update: July 14, 2004: Sure did get in on lots of contests after moving to the new place.]