HCRA/SOTA Jerks – 630 meter Challenge Results

The15 States worked by the winner, Bob/WA1OJN

Last fall HCRA and SOTA Jerks put forth a 630 meter challenge to our members. The idea and rules were simple. Get people interested in operating on the new band and offer a $100 prize for achieving the longest confirmed QSO. Yes, there were other rules but lets keep it simple. We’re all about simple!

Staying with simple we’ll let the operators tell their own story.


Bob/WA1OJN – First Place and wins the $100 prize!

“It’s been a Hell of a ride, and I really enjoyed it!  Thanks for the motivation, got me back to the basics on Ham Radio and I learned a lot! Met some great people and had a lot of fun.”


“My longest confirmed QSO ( and the longest in general) was W7UIV in WA state at 2296.96 miles by the link you provided.”


“My longest WSPR that was received by another station was LA2XPA in Norway at 3383.5 miles.  See attached PDF.  I know this doesn’t count as a QSO, but pretty amazing. Total of 54 QSOs: JT9(51), FT8(2) and CW(1).”

“All done with a Kenwood TS-440 feeding a WA3ETD 25W converter. Antenna is converted 80M dipole 136 horizontal, 25 feet vertical with home made variometer.”

Thanks for the great effort Bob and glad to see you had fun. As an added bonus Bob will be showing off parts of his 630m station at HCRA’s April 6th Show & Tell meeting – don’t miss it!



“First off, a big congratulations to Bob for his outstanding efforts into 630 meters. 54 QSO’s are indeed impressive, there’s not a lot of unique stations to work (yet) on the MF bands. I was quite surprised with the distances possible with low power and small antennas. Some said, “will you even be able to make a QSO across town?”. I guess the answer is YES!”

“I ended up with 29 QSO’s, JT9(25, CW (3) and FT8 (1). I could hear a lot farther than I could work with only 20 watts going into an inverted L antenna. The vertical portion of the antenna is 80′, horizontal about 175′, fed through a fixed tuned loading coil and a half dozen ‘on ground’ radials.  My farthest QSO was with ZF1EJ in the Cayman Islands, a distance of 1668 miles. That means Bob only whipped me by 628 miles! Oh well….”

“My station consists of an Elecraft K3s, MFSolutions down converter modified to be a simple 20W amplifier and an Inverted L antenna. Most receiving was done on a 650′ reversible beverage.”


Nick modified his IC-735 to work on 630 meters. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to get a viable antenna built before winter arrived. He ended up making one CW QSO with Jim, KK1W, confirmed on LotW for a distance of 7 miles. Hopefully Nick will be up and running on 630 next fall and making lots of digital QSO’s


The SWL’s


Al didn’t have time to put together a transmit station but received a QSL from AA1A for a beacon reception: Here’s the details:

I am hearing your AA1A beacon on 473.9 KHz. I’m listening with an old IC-706, antenna is a 160m inverted L. The signal does not  indicate on my S-meter, and is pretty close to the noise level, but I don’t expect this rig to be much good at receiving at this frequency. According to QRZ.com I am 105 miles from you in FN32qq. This  is my first go at doing anything on this band.  I have a few other projects to finish before I try to make a transmitter. I wonder what you are using for transmitter and antenna?”
“Maybe you have already heard, one of the clubs I belong to is sponsoring a VLF contest. The info is on their website: https://hcra.org/

Al,   N1AW

“Hi Al, QSL 474 cw and that was a rare CW beacon try,  am usually on WSPR for automatic unattended operation. The TX is a IC718 feeding a home brew transverter then in to a PA amp then directly in to the wire vertical loop, forget radials and variometers!!… That is interesting hcra page, let’s get going and show them how its done, eh?? You will need a few dozen watts minus antenna efficiency to come out @ 5W radiated, also you are in the side null of my loop so that’s pretty good receiving…”



Frandy listened with his K3 for KK1W’s CW signal on 630m and was able to copy it, a distance of 27 miles. KK1W, being lazy, didn’t send a SWL card.


James did a lot of listening on 630 meters with his Kenwood TS-590. Unfortunately the 590, like the K3s, only generates about 0.5 milliwatts on 630 meters. That’s just not enough power to run barefoot on 630. I’m not sure if James was able to copy signals from either me or Bob, but I think he did. If so the distances would be 37 and 8 miles respectively.


That about wraps it up for our first 630 meter challenge. Thanks to HCRA and the SOTA Jerks for contributing $50 from each club towards the prize and allowing us the opportunity to run the challenge. Everyone learned from their efforts: building and tuning antennas for 630m, designing and building loading coils, modifying radios and amplifiers, learning new digital modes, understanding MF propagation…  the list goes on.  Our entrants elected not to ‘sit on the sidelines’ but get active and try new things. Not everything worked as planned but, in the end they were successful and had fun. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Good luck with your amateur radio adventures in 2018!



630 Meter Contest ends tonight at 6:59 PM (2359Z)!

Who will claim the $100 distance prize? Please submit your entry as follows:

WSPR stations received at KK1W on a typical evening

Submit your longest confirmed QSO to Jim Mullen via email or USPS by March 15th 2018
Email: kk1w.jim@gmail.com or USPS to 144 Tower Hill Rd, Brimfield, MA 01010
Enclose an SASE for return of any submitted cards

No need to submit cards unless you can’t copy or scan them. Use the tools linked in the original article to calculate your longest distance confirmation.

To keep things interesting it would be great if everyone who participated, whether or not you confirmed contacts or simply listened on the band, sends me the following:

1. Number of QSO’s made and if possible broken down by mode.
2. Longest QSO (unconfirmed or confirmed).
3. Brief station description (if I don’t already have it).
4. If SWL a brief overview of activity and mode.

Going forward prospective MF operators (630m & 2200m) can make use of this information an an indication of what to expect when they are QRV on Medium Frequency.

The prize will be awarded along with a quick overview of activity at our April 6th meeting. This is also our Show & Tell meeting. Why not enter something you built for 630m? Maybe you can go home with multiple prizes 

Many thanks to everyone participating. You folks are pioneers on a new amateur band. Exciting stuff our hobby and our club, keep up the good work!

HCRA Clublog Challenge 2017 – Results

HCRA encourages its members to get on the air. Every year we host a “Clublog challenge” where members can compete with each other to see who can make the most contacts throughout the year. HCRA and its members use the clublog.org service as a way to keep track of contacts. Members just upload their logs to the site throughout the year and we’ll take care of the rest.

2017 was quite an interesting year. Compared to years before, you can see how the solar cycle affected the amount of contacts that were made this year. There was an approximate 1/3 decrease in band contacts from last year. Only 3 people made DXCC this year compared to 6 last year.

There are some improvements compared to last year. The WARC band counts have increased. 160m is being utilized and there is an increase in 6 meter contacts as well.
There were some members that were more active this year.

We are still a couple years away from solar minimum. Hopefully that doesn’t discourage anyone. There are contacts still to be made! Lots of All Time New Ones (ATNO) out there.

Overall Winners

Category 1st 2nd 3rd
DXCC NU1O (219) NF1G (216) NV1Q (157)
Slots NU1O (660) K1NZ (448) NF1G (420)

Certificates will be available to the overall winners at the February 2018 meeting. 

Band Winners

Band 1st 2nd 3rd
160 KK1W (69) K1NZ (45) WD1S (24)
80 K1NZ (71) NV1Q (52) NU1O (50)
60 K1NZ (31) W1AST (9) KK1W (5)
40 NU1O (133) K1NZ (93) W1AST (53)
30 NF1G (79) K1NZ (79) NU1O (51)
20 NU1O(176) NV1Q (121) K1VOI (108)
17 NF1G (78) NU1O (63) K1VOI (54)
15 NU1O (115) NV1Q (94) K1VOI (60)
12 NF1G (46) NU1O (20) W1MJB (14)
10 NU1O (47) NV1Q (27) K1VOI (16)
6 NF1G (8) W1AST (5) WD1S (2)

Certificates are available upon request. 

Complete Standings

Rank Callsign 160 80 60 40 30 20 17 15 12 10 6 DXCC Slots
1 NU1O 5 50 0 133 51 176 63 115 20 47 0 219 660
2 NF1G 0 38 0 46 85 70 78 44 46 5 8 216 420
3 NV1Q 5 52 0 41 32 121 23 94 8 27 1 157 404
4 K1VOI 0 25 0 49 3 108 54 60 9 16 0 138 324
5 K1NZ 45 71 31 93 79 73 9 46 0 1 0 129 448
6 W1AST 0 14 9 53 15 98 48 31 3 8 5 129 284
7 KK1W 69 27 5 29 7 19 20 6 0 6 1 104 189
8 N1HM 2 3 1 13 0 75 9 35 1 4 1 93 144
9 NT1K 3 28 2 50 0 66 0 36 0 3 1 88 189
10 N1FTP 0 1 0 16 0 68 4 23 0 1 1 82 114
11 N1AW 1 12 0 34 9 33 25 12 0 3 0 81 129
12 AB1WT 1 8 1 7 0 32 40 31 2 5 1 77 128
13 KX1X 0 2 0 37 0 13 3 15 0 3 0 52 73
14 W1MJB 0 5 0 1 1 23 17 19 14 7 0 48 87
15 WD1S 24 7 0 22 3 24 0 0 0 2 2 48 84
16 W1PY 3 5 0 7 3 21 8 2 0 0 0 37 49
17 K1VWQ 1 3 0 10 1 23 1 7 0 7 1 34 54
18 KB1VSX 0 0 0 3 0 8 0 0 0 0 0 10 11
19 KB1VWQ 1 1 0 3 0 6 0 0 0 1 1 7 13
20 KC1PUG 0 1 0 2 1 5 2 1 0 0 0 7 12
21 N1MFL 0 0 0 1 0 3 0 0 0 2 1 5 7
22 KC1BDF 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 3

Certificates for anyone who participated are available upon request. 

If you are a current HCRA member, have a clublog account and would like to participate in the 2018 challenge, you can join our club on clublog.org. We’ve written a how-to for those who haven’t joined. You must have a clublog.org account in order to participate. Those who’ve already joined our clublog group in the past are already added for 2018. Just upload your logs.

Thanks for reading,
Jeffrey Bail (NT1K)

630 Meter Challenge

630 Meter Challenge – Halftime Update:

A map of WSPR stations received at KK1W on a typical evening. (http://wsprnet.org/drupal/wsprnet/map)

The HCRA/SOTA Jerks 630 meter challenge crosses the halfway point January 1, 2018. So far close to a half dozen members have made QSO’s or SWL reports on our new, medium frequency (MF) band.  Here’s a quick overview of their achievements so far along with station descriptions and photos. Not sure about the 630 Challenge? Details can be found here. The purpose of the event is to encourage members of both clubs to expand their amateur radio horizons, “Go Low” and enjoy ham radio fun. There’s a list of links at the end to get you started on your exploration below WHYN AM if you’re so inclined.

Stations completing at least one QSO on 630 meters:

Bob/WA1OJN – First member QRV!

WA1OJN’s Shack. The MF Systems 630m converter is at the far right on the top shelf.

Bob was our first member QRV on 472 MHz. Bob hadn’t done any home-brew for many years and was excited by the Challenge announcement at the October meeting.  Here, in his own words, is his description of progress to date on 630m:

I have had QSOs with 13 stations in 8 states on JT9 with a max distance of just under 900 miles.  On WSPR I have been received in north western Canada at 2047 miles.  Unfortunately that guy does not currently have transmit capability.
My antenna is a converted 80M dipole at 25 feet with a length of 137 feet and I am using a WA3ETD converter attached to my TS-440S driving it from WSJT-X software on a Windows XP machine.
WA1OJN’s Variometer for 630m. Remote tuned using a gear motor and controlled by a battery powered switchbox in the shack.
I have been licensed since 1972 and this has really been an exciting project forcing me to get back into building stuff.  I have learned a lot about RFI with my smoke detectors, the importance of proper grounding, impedance matching and a bunch more.  Really gets you back to basics.  It’s really fun to find the limits and try to push it a bit more.  The other night a guy over 1000 miles away had me at -29 on JT9 with my grid square and signal report and just couldn’t get my RRR and 73.  I tried cranking up the power supply voltage but nothing would do it.  Now that I have remote antenna tuning I might have been able to do a quick tune and put him in the log.  It is amazing that even a 300Hz frequency change will require re-tuning.
I have found all the guys to be super helpful and some great chat rooms.  One thing I find interesting, is although most of the HF contacts I have made are using LotW, I would say the majority of the guys on 630M do not use LotW and are into paper QSLs.

K1NZ and KK1W share the next spot

Nick/K1NZ and Jim/KK1W made their first QSO on 630 by working each other! Separated by a vast 7 miles here’s their story:


K1NZ’s Shack

Nick’s station consists of an Icom 735 and a 160m Inverted-L antenna. The Icom is fully capable of transceive on 472 MHz and Nick had been monitoring WSPR and JT9 activity for a few weeks. When KK1W got his station QRV on the new band they decided to try a CW QSO. Guess what, it worked! Signals were weak but readable with a 339R/599S report at Nick’s end. Power was very low at Nick’s station because of high SWR concerns.

K1NZ at work modifying the main board of his IC-735.

Since that QSO Nick has made modifications to the IC735 to improve RX and TX and hopes to get a resonant antenna up soon. One thing is certain, it’s not expensive to get on this band but it takes some ‘experimentation’ and good old ham tinkering to make it happen.



KK1W’s 472KHz shack.

Jim’s stations features an Elecraft K3s, MF Solutions converter, an Inverted L antenna for TX and a 650′ Beverage for RX. The K3s is a great receiver on 472 MHz (with the general coverage filter) but sports only a half milliwatt (0.0005 watts) output! Getting that tiny signal boosted is the job of the MF Systems converter. The converter was modified to use only the amplifier portion and puts out about 20 watts.

KK1W’s loading/tuning coil for 630m Inverted L antenna

The Inverted L antenna has 75′ of vertical, about 175′ horizontal and a half dozen 100′ ground radials. It’s tuned with a loading coil wound on a 2 gallon plastic pail.

Results have been good so far with over 20 QSO’s, two on CW, one on FT8 and the balance on JT9 with 9 states and three countries. Jim’s longest QSO to date was with ZF1EJ in the Cayman Islands approximately 1600 miles.

Plans for station improvement include a variometer to replace the fixed tuned coil and more power. With only 20 watts his station is a “rabbit with big ears” hearing much better than it can be heard.

Stations listening on 630 meters:


WD1S Shack

James is an avid 160m operator with a nice location in Chesterfield, MA. His station consists of a Kenwood TS-590 and various wire antennas. He has been receiving signals on 472 and 137 MHz since the beginning of the challenge.

Like the K3 his TS-590 has very low output on 472HKz. James has tried to work a few local stations but his 1mw signal is just not heard, at least so far.


Frandy added a general coverage filter to his K3 and is using a G5RV for receiving. To date he has copied KK1W’s CW CQ and NDB’s lower in the band. He has obtained an MF Solutions converter and hopes to get on the air soon feeding an Inverted L antenna.

Mid-Challenge Wrap Up:

This wraps up our mid-Challenge activities. There are others expressing interest in the band including George/KC1V and Bob/W1QA but we’re not aware of their progress to date.

There’s remains plenty of time to get into the fun of MF over the next few months. Winter months are great for these frequencies with little atmospheric interference. It is amazing the distances achievable on these so called ‘low bands’ and you will be too – if you give it a try. Many ham transceivers and most general coverage receivers can receive below 500 KHz. Besides amateur activity on 472 KHz and 137 KHz there’s many interesting signals at VLF frequencies. Between the two amateur bands are many non-directional aircraft beacons (NDB’s). How many or how far can they be heard? Give it a listen and use one of the links below to see where they are located. Interested in digital modes? WSPR, JT9 and FT8 abound on both bands.

Why not make a 2018 resolution to spin the tuning knob and “Go Low for big fun”

Happy New Year!


Interesting and useful links:

The links below have proven very useful for our members. They concentrate on the basics and will get you QRV on 630m quickly.


VLF Contest Announcement

VLF Competition

VLF Bandscope


As you know the FCC has recently approved amateur radio use on the VLF (Very Low Frequency) bands starting September 15th, 2017. These bands are 135.7 to 135.8 kHZ (2,200 meters) and 472 to 479 kHz (630 meters). More information can be found about the authorization and bands by clicking the links.

It’s unlikely anyone will be using these bands for a SOTA activation but nevertheless the SOTA Jerks have proposed a QSO competition to spark interest in the new allocations. Our two clubs have gathered together $100 to award the winner of the competition. In the spirit of keeping things simple we’ve made the rules easy to follow. It’s up to you, the station builder/operators to do the heavy lifting on this one!


  1. Eligibility
    1. All participants must be hold the proper license and permissions to use the VLF bands.
      1. Bands are open to General and above and permission must be secured by applying to UTC.
    2. All participants must be a member in good standing in either club.
    3. No participant shall have held an experimental license for these bands. We are looking for new folks to give VLF a try
  2. Contest Period
    1. Contest starts October 15th, 2017 at 0000z
    2. Contest ends March 15th, 2018 at 2359z
    3. Winner will be announced at HCRA’s April 6th 2018 meeting
  3. Bands
    1. 630 or 2,200 meters only
  4. Mode
    1. Any mode authorized for 630m or 2,200m
  5. Prize
    1. The winner will receive a $100 gift certificate to DX Engineering
  6. Selection criteria
    1. The winner is the operator with the longest distance, confirmed QSO.
      1. Distance determined by Latitude/Longitude of each station.
        1. Here’s a handy on-line calculator: https://www.mapdevelopers.com/distance_from_to.php
      2. Confirmation Proof by LotW or card only
      3. All entries must contain proof of confirmation and the distance calculated between the two stations.
      4. In the event of a tie a drawing will be held to determine the winner.
  1. Entry Requirements
    1. Submit your longest confirmed QSO to Jim Mullen via email or USPS by March 15th 2018
      1. Email: kk1w.jim@gmail.com or USPS to 144 Tower Hill Rd, Brimfield, MA 01010
        1. Enclose an SASE for return of any submitted cards

That’s all there is to it. As of this writing there are at least two transceivers that can be used without modification on VLF frequencies: Kenwood TS590 and Elecraft K3s. The Elecraft K3 can be modified to use these bands. Transverter kits for VLF are available, here’s one for under $100.

VLF Transverter Kit

These bands are more like our AM broadcast bands (think WHYN-AM 560) than traditional bands. Antenna size and power levels are limited so it shouldn’t cost a lot to be QRV on either of the bands. It will take some ingenuity and good ole’ ham ‘experimentation and modification’, which is exactly what amateur radio is all about.

There are many blogs on the web about VLF and the new bands. Here’s one from AE5X to get you started. These bands can be really interesting once you start digging a little deeper. Your efforts represent the start of a new ham radio frontier!


Good luck and may the longest QSO win!

HCRA and SOTA Jerks

Slides and Information from HCRA’s Contest University

Did you miss HCRA’s contest university that was part of our “Share The Knowledge” seris this past fall? No problem! We’ve uploaded the slides from our presentations. Also included are links to sites and software that was mentioned during the class

Click Here For The PDF (.pdf) of “HCRA Introduction To Contesting”
Click Here For The Powerpoint (.pptx) of “HCRA Introduction To Contesting”

Click Here For The PDF (.pdf) of “Small Station – Bang For The Buck”
Click Here For The Powerpoint (.pptx) of “Small Station – Band For The Buck”

Here are some notable links that were mention during the presentation

N1MM Logger Plus – Commonly used software by HCRA members (Free)
Wintest – Another popular software (50eu)
N3FJP – Popular contest software ($10USD-$70USD)

Other Links
WA7BNM Contest Calendar – Find out about upcoming contests
VOAcap Online – Excellent propagation prediction website
N1MM Tips and Tricks – Make use of N1MM easier and could get higher scores
YCCC – Yankee Clipper Contest Club – New England base contesting club
NEQP – New England QSO party

HCRA Contest University – Slides And Links

Thanks to all who attended HCRA Contest University. Hopefully it was beneficial. Here are the slides (in PDF format) and notable links.

HCRA – Introduction To Contesting Presentation

HCRA – Small station Bang For The Buck Presentation

VOAcap Online – Propagation Prediction Website/Software
Contest Calendar – Upcoming Contest Schedule
3830 Scores – Study your colleagues
CQcontest.net – Live contest scores

HCRA Is Now On Club Log

HCRA is now listed as a club on ClubLog.org. This allows HCRA members who use clublog to see how they rank against other HCRA members in DXCC standings. HCRA could also compete with other clubs. This could create friendly competition  within the club as well as with other clubs. It can also benefit knowing that if your fellow club member made contact with a certain DX entity, that it could be possible for you as well.

If you are a HCRA who uses electronic QSL services such as LoTW, QRZ.com and eQSL.cc then it would be stongly suggest that you create an account at clublog.org, upload your logs and join the HCRA club on ClubLog to see where you stand.

If you are a ClubLog member and would like to Join the HCRA League, please do the following

1: Go to Clublog.Org and Sign In.

ClubLog1If you do not have an account, you can sign up for free and upload a log. Please follow the instructions on ClubLog.org

2: Once you’re signed in, Click Settings



Located on top of the page, Click on the Setting Link

3: Click on the “Clubs” Link/Button located near the top of the page


4: Look for “HCRA – Hampden County Amateur Radio Association”: in the list, Highlight it and click the “Join Club(s)” button under the list



Please note that members have to be manually added to the club to prevent random people from joining in. Once approved you should be able to view your standings.

ClubLog6On the left side of the page, please click “DXCC Leagues” then choose HCRA from the dropdown list and then click “Generate DXCC League” button. You should now be able to see standings from all HCRA members that are participating on ClubLog. Please note that if you don’t see your callsign right away, don’t worry. Sometimes it takes a day for the lists to repopulate on the server which we have no control over.

Thanks for Participating!



Conditions Look Good for ARRL 10 Meter Contest December 13-14

Always a favorite among serious and casual contesters alike, the 2014 ARRL 10 Meter Contest may enjoy excellent worldwide openings, plus a record number of participants! Activity in the CQ World Wide CW contest in late November was through the roof, with some operators reporting better 10 meter conditions than they could ever remember.

“Don’t miss out on this opportunity to work the world, before the Sun works its way back into a slumber,” ARRL Contest Branch Manager Matt Wilhelm, W1MSW, urged.

There are a few new twists this year. Single Operator stations using assistance will no longer be categorized as Multioperator entries. Also, nine new Unlimited categories have been added: Single Operator QRP, Low Power, and High Power CW Only, Phone Only, or Mixed Mode.

Single or Multioperator stations may operate for up to 36 hours. Technicians have phone privileges from 28.300 to 28.500 MHz, so operators new to contesting, or even to HF operating, can take part.

All stations will send a signal report as part of the contest exchange. Stations in the US (including Alaska and Hawaii), Canada, and Mexico will send their state or province abbreviations as part of the exchange; stations in the District of Columbia stations will send “DC.” DX stations (including KH2, KP4, etc) will also send a sequential serial number starting with 001.

The 2014 ARRL 10 Meter Contest gets underway at 0000 UTC on Saturday, December 13 (Friday, December 12, in US time zones). It concludes at 2359 UTC on Sunday, December 14. Logs should be e-mailed or postmarked by 0000 UTC Wednesday, January 14, 2014. Mail paper logs to ARRL 10 Meter Contest, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111.

(Copied from ARRL newsletter)