Thursday, March 25, 2010

Some nice lunchtime DX contacts mobile

I worked mobile HF at lunchtime on the hills overlooking Dundalk. I was pleased to work J38CW in Grenada. Colin is one half of a husband and wife team who are in Grenada for two weeks. The other half, Sharon, is J38SW. I got Colin on 15m CW.

I worked 8P5A, Tom in Barbados, on 15m USB, another nice one. I think I only have one contact into Barbados before today so that was good to get.

I then heard LU1ALF, Al in Buenos Aires, CQing on 21.235. It was his first shout and I gave out my call EI2KC/M twice and he picked me up straight away!! I might be wrong, but I think that it might have been my longest-distance contact from my mobile station so far, at 6,850+ miles.

I heard YB1FWO CQing on 21.235 USB. He was working a pile-up mostly from Europe but with some North America and Canada in there too. I kept calling Echo India Two Kilo Charlie Mobile but he didn't hear me unfortunately. He was coming up and down in QSB from 5/5 to 5/9.

73 for now.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Just worked my 100th entity on CW

I've just worked my 100th entity on CW, and have now edged ahead of phone, on which mode I have worked 97 entities. The 100th entity was Honduras. I worked HR2/NP3D just now (22:51UT) on 17M CW. It's great to hear anything on that band at such time, but even nicer to hear something a bit rarer from across the pond.

My 99th entity, earlier this evening, was IS0AFM from Sardinia, while my 98th, at 21:27UT was TO5SM in St, Martin.

23:24 Conditions are brilliant tonight. I just worked HI3TEJ in the Dominican Republic on 20m SSB, and I'm still hearing Stateside on 17m CW.

An afternoon in Clogherhead Lifeboat Station

A number of members of Dundalk Amateur Radio Society had the pleasure of a tour of the Clogherhead Lifeboat Station on Sunday afternoon after presenting the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institute) with a cheque for 325 euro, the proceeds of the recent Special Event Station EI7DAR to highlight the work of the lifeboats.

Society Chairman Thos Caffrey EI2JD handed over the cheque to RNLI PRO Peter Walsh. He was watched by Peter EI4HX, Jeff EI6CW, Pat EI2HX, Ben EI4IN, Tony EI4DIB, Aidan EI5KB, Peet EI7JQ, Jim 2I0SBI, Tom EI9CJ, and yours truly, Anthony EI2KC. The photo shows (L-R): EI2HX, EI4IN, 2I0SBI, EI2KC, EI9CJ, EI4DIB and EI7JQ with the cheque.

While on board the vessel, the Doris Bleasdale, there was particular interest in the boat's radio equipment, and the other most important life-saving piece of kit. (What, the lifebelts, you ask). No, the kettle. Pat EI2HX looked particularly parched!

The special event station was held over a recent weekend at the nearby QTH of Thos EI2JD who lives in view of the sea and the lifeboat station, and who has a long association with the RNLI. Some members retired to Thos' shack after the presentation, where Tom EI9CJ worked Monk Apollo SV2ASP/A and TL0A in the Central African Republic. Well done Tom.

See video from the Special Event Station here:

And see the lifeboat being brought onto shore here:

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Uruguay, Japan, Indonesia, India, Guatemala, Nigeria, Tunisia, Brazil, Argentina, Georgia - what a day!

An ordinary amateur like me might be a bit daunted heading into a weekend like this, with a big DX contest on. The cluster takes on a new look (right) with many shorter contest station callsigns showing up, and you would be forgiven for thinking "maybe I'll give the radio a miss for today because the bands will be packed with contest action". Well such an attitude would have deprived a modest station like me of many good DX contacts, and some of them were actually in the contest. I grabbed a couple of new countries today, including Indonesia which I have strived after for an age.

I heard a comment on SSB in the afternoon from an American station who said that "this is the best time of year" for DX because night and day are of equal length, giving everyone an equal chance. I don't know how true that is but it was borne out by a great day of DXing on my two verticals and 100 watts. Of course, the fact that there were a lot of contest stations on for the Russian DX contest helped enormously.

I worked my first Indonesia today. But not alone did I grab one YB prefix, but I managed to nab two in a row! I worked YB1ALL on 15m CW just after 2pm. He was a contest station so I gave him number 001. Half an hour later I bagged YB1FWO on 15m USB, 59 each way. I was impressed by some of the signals coming from that part of the world. But mostly I was impressed by the fact that I worked them!

I worked VU2PAI in India again, this time on 17m CW where he was enjoying quite a pile-up, and working 1KC up, I got Guatemala in the log with TG9IRP on 15m SSB. There was action too on 12 metres where SV9CVY Mike was blasting in. I told him he owed me money for a new needle! He said "likewise", and gave me 35dB over 9. Thanks Mike. Nice.

I then worked 5N50K, Nikola in Nigeria, for the fourth time, but this time on a new band - 10 metres! Africa was again featured when I put 3V8SS from Tunisia into the log. He was 59 on 15m USB. I worked five Brazil stations in total, with very good conditions in the late afternoon/evening on 10 metres into South America. The five Brazil stations I logged were all contest stations. Thanks guys. I managed to work one Argentinian station also (my favourite DX country!) when I contacted LP3U, another contest station, on 10m CW, at 18:19 UT. As I said, great conditions. In there also on 20m SSB was the very powerful Georgian contest station 4L8A who was 20 over 9. Thanks again to all for a wonderful day of DX.

As I write this, at 20:28, the higher frequency bands seem to be all closed - 10m, 12m and 15m and I'm only hearing one or two weak stations on 17m. 20m is still hopping though, and hopefully will be active well into the night with contest stations.

By the way, as of this moment I have worked an equal number of countries on phone and CW - 95 each.

73 for now. Happy DXing . . .

UPDATE: Of course, just after I posted this I worked another good one, Whisky One Whisky, W1W, a special event station commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Mohawks Amateur Radio Club. Doug was the operator. I gave him 53 and got 57 back. Congratulations on the special event station and best DX. (The club's own callsign is N1WW - see their website at

21:24: Update 2. I'm hearing AB0RJ on 18.140.5 USB and he's 59. He's working a GI0 station (Northern Ireland). There's also a strong W/GI0MPC on 18.155.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Three new countries today - Mongolia, Chagos Islands and Namibia

Well that was one heck of a day!! I was trying JT1CO on 20m CW this morning from the home shack but after 15 minutes, nothing. So I went mobile with my new Watson Multi-Ranger 9, and, lo and behold, I got him a quarter of a mile from the house! Nice. A new one. The photo above shows the bottom of the antenna mounted to the roof of the car with a triple magmount.

I worked Stateside on 15m with the mobile antenna at lunchtime and picked up plenty of European action too. I also worked into Israel.

Later from the home QTH I worked VQ9LA in Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean. A really nice one for the log. He was CQing on 15m CW and working 1KC up. Then to top it all off I nabbed V51AS, Frank in Namibia, on 17m CW. All in all a good day.

One of my favourite DX countries is Argentina. There are parts of Argentina which are 7,500 miles from Ireland so it's always nice to work. I got LU no fewer than three times today, once at just after midnight this morning on 40m SSB, then this evening on 10 metres SSB, 55 each way, and finally on 12m CW. Great.

I also worked EI4KC, my friend Brian (formerly EI7GVB) who passed his CW test the same day as me. We worked on 30m CW. Thanks Brian.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

10 metres open - good DX contacts made

18:39: 10 metres has been open since before 17:00. I have made contacts into South Africa, Brazil and Nigeria and am now hearing EC8ADS on 28.468 at 59. I heard a number of ZS (South Africa) stations for about half an hour around 17:30. Also I heard Bob VP8LP but he couldn't hear me, although he was working UK stations.

18:43: I just worked EC8ADS Alfred, 59 each way. He's very strong from the Canary Islands. Beautiful signal. I worked him on 50 watts only.

It was a good day. My very first contact of Saint Patrick's Day was a St. Patrick's Day special event callsign on 80m CW. He was GB0SP at 2 minutes past midnight.

A new one for me today was E21EJC in Thailand on 17m CW. I worked IH9YMC on Pantelleria island off Italy on 15m USB, and SV8CYV on Samos on 12m SSB. I snatched 5N7M on 15m CW and then caught him on 10m CW later on!! I also nabbed 5N50K on 12m CW. Another new one was XU7AAA - Cambodia. Great stuff. I got him on 20m CW in a pile-up. Another new one was VP5 - Turks & Caicos Islands when I worked VP5/W5SL on 12m CW.

18:54: I was about to report that 10m and 12m are both closed but right now I'm hearing a station on 28.530 USB. Wow - he is PY5QW in Brazil. Nice.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mystery fireball, blaze on Mourne Mountains

19:45: News is coming through on 2 metres of some sort of a fire on the Mourne Mountains which was preceded by a ball of fire falling through the sky. I am getting reports that the mountains are on fire. I will keep you posted . . .

21:35 UPDATE - short wave listeners are reporting that there are a number of fire units attending the blaze, which covers 4 square kilometres of mountainside. The fire is on the Cooley Mountains, not the Mournes. The blaze is, apparently, a good way up the mountain, a 40-minute hike according to one report. There are two separate blazes apparently. One amateur radio operator just phoned me to say he is in Carlingford village and the whole area is covered with a veil of smoke. He can see blue lights up on the mountain.

At this time, given that there are no corroborating reports, it seems that this blaze is just the latest in a series of night time gorse fires on the Cooley Mountain which have been happening on an almost nightly basis due to the dry spell. There have been numerous blazes over the past two weeks.

I contacted Astronomy Ireland who do not seem to have any reports of a fireball at this time, which would be unusual if a fireball event had occurred because they are usually flooded with emails and text messages and phone calls.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Orion guards my antenna system!

This is a photo I took in the back garden just a few minutes ago, at around 19:45 UT. It shows the brilliant constellation Orion beside some of my antennas. The antennas shown include one of my verticals, the Antron 99, which I use for 15m and 12m (and it does very well by the way, getting me into the Far East yesterday so I won't be getting rid of it any time soon!), and attached to the pole supporting the Antron is the 6m dipole. You can also see my discone for 2 metres and, if you look closely, you will see the ribbon line, and perhaps the wire itself, of my half-size G5RV.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Video - me working my first SSB contact into Japan

I was surprised and delighted by conditions on the bands today, particularly 17m and 15m, which were open into the Far East. I worked my first ever Japan contact, JR6AP, on 15m CW at 10.14am this morning. I was delighted. Then I worked BA1RB, same band, same mode, an hour later. He was in Beijing. At 12.18 I made contact with VR2XMT, Charlie in Hong Kong on 17m SSB. We exchanged 55 reports. At 12.16pm I worked BD5BAJ, Gao in China, on 17m SSB. I was successful with my first shout at JA3AOP, Aki in Japan, as shown in the video above. I was recording some of the Far East stations and just decided to shout and he got me first time. Needless to say I was delighted. I worked him with my Antron 99 antenna (designed for 11m - a leftover from my CB days but working extremely well) and 100 watts. Another new country today was Qatar when I worke A71CT, Sultan, at 12.33 on 17m. Tonight I worked FP5BZ, St Pierre and Miquelon, on 20m USB.

Currently it is 23:09 and I am still hearing Peru. Wow, 20m open to South America at this time. Great.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Next Amateur Radio licence exam date announced

The next Theory Examination for the Amateur Station Licence will be held on Wednesday, 7th July next at 2 p.m. in the ComReg Offices in Dublin and at other centres where warranted by the numbers.

Theory Examinations for the Amateur Station Licence are held twice yearly at the end of June/early July with a repeat examination at the end of September/early October. Under an arrangement with ComReg the IRTS is responsible for setting, organising and correcting the theory examination. The examination is usually held in the ComReg Offices in Dublin but, where the numbers warrant it, examinations can be held at other centres. Places for examinations at the ComReg Offices are limited and are allocated on a first come first served basis and will only be reserved on receipt of the examination fee. Intending candidates should forward the appropriate fee to Sean Nolan EI7CD, 12 Little Meadow, Pottery Road, Dunlaoghaire, Co. Dublin in order to reserve a place for the exam.

The fee is 50 Euro or 25 Euro for full-time registered students, repeat candidates and those who are retired, unemployed or have a disability. Cheques and Money Orders should be made payable to the IRTS. When forwarding the exam fee intending candidates should enclose their postal address as well as phone and e-mail contact details. The closing date for applications to sit the examination is announced on each occasion but is usually two weeks before the examination date.

Intending candidates should note that anyone who fails to produce a photo identity on the day of the examination will not be allowed to sit the examination. The photo ID can be a driving licence, a passport, an employment photo identity card or a student card containing a photograph. A national Garda photo ID is also acceptable.

Courses will be conducted during the Spring of 2010 to assist prospective candidates in their preparations for the upcoming exams. The areas where courses will be made available and the contact details for each area below...

Contact: Thos Caffrey EI2JD
Tel: 087 2953256

Contact: Steve Wright EI5DD
Tel: 087 2451218

Contact: Ger McNamara EI4GXB
Tel: 087 2532512

For more information visit the Irish Radio Transmitters Society website at

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My QSL cards for EI8GHB arrived today

Even though my old callsign, EI8GHB, became redundant last Friday afternoon, I have only just taken delivery of 1,000 QSL cards for that callsign, which I will begin to start sending via the bureau over the next couple of weeks. I'm happy enough with the end product. I like the fact that I took the photos for the card myself and did all the design work here in the shack. It looks good. On right is a photo of approximately 100 of the new cards spread out on the floor. I look forward to sending them and I hope that, if you've worked me, you look forward to receiving them.

On the subject of QSL cards, I received my very first QSL cards through the bureau the other day from EI2HX. I got cards from EA5XY, LZ1ZF and OM1AWA, so thank you all, and I will reciprocate.

The busy job of filling out QSL cards for 1,000 contacts on EI8GHB begins, just as I begin to contemplate what photo to use on my new QSL card for EI2KC. Dilemmas dilemmas!!

A bit of a lift on 2 metres, but not on 6 . . .

This morning there was a bit of a lift on 2 metres. I was monitoring 145.400 FM at around 8.30am when a Scottish accent broke through the squelch. I'm not sure who it was, because I didn't get a callsign, but he came up and down in QSB to about a 5 by 5, which wasn't bad. He was talking, among other things, about cod liver oil tablets and he also said he had to go to Woolworths to buy a bag. These are the things that you pick up sometimes on radio . . .

Given that 2m seemed to be in good nick - I was also hearing a very faint repeater on 145.675, on the same frequency as the Dundalk Repeater EI2CCR - I decided to scan 6 metres on the off chance that it was open.

But alas, nothing. I thought I heard a very faint beacon on 50.051, but I couldn't be sure. I CQd on 50.090 CW for about five minutes but nothing came back. Then, unfortunately, I had to leave the radio shack to go to work . . .

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A lovely email from the son of former IRTS President EI9F

The following email was received a few days ago and is reproduced here with the permission of its author. If anyone would like to share some memories of Bill EI9F, don't hesitate to drop us a line at hamradioireland AT gmail DOT com. Thanks.

Hello Anthony,

Watching your video clip brought me back 50 years or so, when I used to share a small room at home with my late father's radio ham "shack" along with all his "homebrew" radio equipment. While I slept on one side of a thin partition, he CQ'd the world on the other side looking for contacts, and the sound of his keying and atmospherics was a constant and re-assuring accompaniment to my slumbers. His "handle" was EI9F (work out the date of that one!) and when I last looked at the IRTS website he was still listed as an Honorary Life president of the society, or somesuch. He was proud of his keying ability, and taught me the skills involved at a very early age. Unfortunately I hadn't the interest to persevere, but many of those he taught at IRTS clubrooms (Leeson St ??) in the 50s and 60s went on to develop their interest in the hobby. He also composed and read a weekly news bulletin on air each Sunday morning in the late 60s and 70s.

I don't imagine that there's anybody left nowadays who might remember him, considering he would have reached his 100th birthday last year, but if there is, please pass on my regards. A "young" lad of that era was Jim Bartlett, who may still be around.

Peter McIlwaine (named after EI8G his best pal, Pete Daly)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A shack is not a proper shack without . . .

I always said a shack is not a real shack unless it displays a number plate with the amateur's callsign on it. So, today, I received a blank amateur radio licence plate from Tony EI4DIB. So we headed up to Homebase to get the stick-on characters and lo and behold, I suddenly have a licence plate with my new callsign on it. The photo above was taken here in the shack on Saturday afternoon.

I have worked some nice ones with the new call. My first CW contact with EI2KC was Senegal and my first phone contact was Trinidad.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Just got my new callsign - I am now EI2KC !!

I've just received correspondence from Comreg about my licence amendment. As a result of passing the morse test on February 14th, I was entitled to upgrade my licence from CEPT2 to CEPT1 and now have been issued with a shorter callsign.

From now on I shall be known as:


Echo India Two Kilo Charlie

I like it !

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

CQing at 35wpm on CW - thankfully nobody answered!

I made this video just for the pure fun. I wasn't getting much action on 20m tonight - probably because the band was pretty much closed except for the occasional US station. So I decided to ramp up the speed of the keyer in the FT-1000MP and give it a lash. I'm not sure what speed this is, but I guess it's around 35wpm. Maybe a more experience CW OP might tell me?

I'm glad nobody came back to my call. I'd never have been able to work them at that speed! It's easy enough to send your own callsign at high speed. The challenge comes with hearing what others are sending back at the same speed, and then having a full QSO at 35wpm. No thanks. I'm not ready for that yet.

Anyhow, thanks to DL2YCK, K9ARZ in Chicago and KN2CZZ in New York for coming back to my somewhat slower call ! 73