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.


HCRA Clublog Challenge 2016 Winners Are In

HCRA like to encourage on air activity from our members. We compete in a few contests and challenges every year. This year HCRA participated in the “Clublog Challenge”. The goal was to make as many contacts with as many countries or entities throughout the year. At the end of the year, we would tally up the results and hand out certificates to everyone involved. We used a service called Clublog. Approved HCRA members would periodically upload their log files to clublog where DXCC contacts are sorted and by each band, overall unique DXCC contacts and the sum of unique DXCC contacts on each band. It proved to be very successful in 2015 so we did it again in 2016. We now have 25 HCRA members participating in the year long event.


Category 1st 2nd 3rd
DXCC NU1O (248) NF1G (229) NV1Q (199)
SLOTS NU1O (882) NF1G (737) KK1W (720)

Congrats to Christopher Scibelli (NU1O), Paul Kelliher (NF1G), Juegren Malner (NV1Q) and James Mullen (KK1W)

Band Winners Are

Category 1st 2nd 3rd
160 KK1W (80) K1NZ (26) WD1S (15)
80 KK1W (87) NV1Q (71) K1NZ (67)
60 K1NZ (21) NU1O (4) KK1W (2)
40 NU1O (190) KK1W (120) W1MSW (109)
30 NF1G (102) NU1O (84) KK1W (37)
20 NU1O (211) NV1Q (134) N1FTP (127)
17 NF1G (186) NU1O (93) AB1WT (71)
15 NU1O (127) KK1W (121) NF1G (119)
12 NF1G (88) W1MJB (26) NU1O (24)
10 KK1W (92) NU1O (75) NV1Q (73)
6 NU1O (2) W1AST (2)

Thank you to those who participated. Certificates are available to all those who participated in 2016 at the next meeting. Hopefully we can do this again in 2017 and put some incentives to get members on the air.

If you’re an HCRA member and you are interested in participating in the Clublog challenge, We’ve setup a step-by-step guide in how to become a clublog member.

Overall Results

Rank Callsign 160 80 60 40 30 20 17 15 12 10 6 DXCC Slots Range
1 NU1O 5 67 4 190 84 211 93 127 24 75 2 248 882 29 yrs
2 NF1G 0 18 0 75 102 110 186 119 88 39 0 229 737 2 yrs
3 NV1Q 9 71 0 86 24 134 54 118 19 73 0 199 588 38 yrs
4 KK1W 80 87 2 120 37 126 38 121 16 92 1 185 720 41 yrs
5 N1FTP 0 4 0 40 0 127 12 79 0 30 1 150 293 8 yrs
6 W1MSW 0 51 0 109 5 114 18 108 1 47 0 149 453 6 yrs
8 W1AST 0 16 0 43 1 93 51 51 3 37 2 131 297 8 yrs
7 K1VOI 0 11 0 42 14 96 34 84 8 32 0 131 321 16 yrs
9 AB1WT 0 18 0 33 0 76 71 49 13 22 1 125 283 3 yrs
10 N1HM 1 4 0 25 0 92 26 45 4 10 0 124 207 2 yrs
11 KX1X 1 30 0 59 4 66 10 86 0 57 0 115 313 19 yrs
12 K1NZ 26 67 21 86 6 52 11 48 1 11 0 113 329 6 yrs
13 N1AW 0 12 0 25 5 70 9 22 1 6 1 101 151 3 yrs
14 W1MJB 0 11 0 10 13 39 50 34 26 8 1 97 192 14 yrs
15 WD1S 15 34 0 57 4 74 2 36 0 23 1 95 246 5 yrs
16 AB1XW 0 5 0 44 0 84 0 68 0 9 0 95 210 4 yrs
17 WN1E1 0 4 0 44 24 59 7 68 2 16 0 92 224 26 yrs
18 KB1VWQ 1 2 0 14 1 37 3 5 1 2 1 46 67 6 yrs
19 KC1BDF 0 0 0 5 0 37 0 0 0 1 0 37 43 2 yrs
20 WA1MOW 0 0 0 2 0 11 7 0 3 4 0 24 27 1 yrs
21 KB1VSX 0 1 0 2 0 19 2 0 0 2 0 20 26 0 yrs
22 KC1PUG 0 2 0 11 0 12 0 0 0 0 0 18 25 0 yrs
23 KC1BTA 0 0 0 1 0 7 0 3 0 3 0 11 14 2 yrs
24 NT1K 0 1 0 2 0 5 0 2 0 1 0 9 11 7 yrs
25 N1MFL 0 1 0 2 0 7 1 0 0 0 0 7 11 4 yrs

Thanks for reading! Stay On The Air
– Jeff

HCRA is READY for Field Day – are YOU!

About seven days from now HCRA will be blasting the airwaves with “CQ Field” day from School St. Park in nearby Agawam, MA. Our plans have solidified to a 5A operation, perhaps even 6A, the usual superb four towers with beams on 40, 20, 15 and 10 and dipoles for 80/75. a Saturday VE session, lots of operators, KX2 raffle tickets and….

FOOD! Alan/AB1XW will be serving up dogs and burgers, “on the house” Saturday evening. A perfect way to stoke the fires for an all-night operation.

Read all the details and see the participants by clicking here.  After looking through the list you’ll see a few spots where we could use YOUR help. What would you like to do?

1. We can make 100 points by simply originating an NTS message to our Section Manager and up to an additional 100 points by sending 10 radiograms. Are you ready for the challenge? It’s easy and shouldn’t take more than an hour at most. Want to give it a try? Contact Jim/KK1W for more info.

2. Are you a good teacher? There’s another 100 points on the table for organizing an educational activity. It could be as simple as showing how to get active on digital modes or constructing a wire dipole. Interested, contact Jeff/NT1K or Jim/KK1W and we can get you going.

3. Finally, we can make up to another 100 points for “Youth Participation”. Any operator under 18, that makes at least one FD QSO earns HCRA 20 points. If we get five youth operators we make another 100 points! How cool is that? Remember they (or you) don’t have to be licensed to operate at Field Day. It’s a perfect opportunity to expose youngsters to a hobby that could shape their future. Time your visit just before Saturday evening and have a burger or hot dog for your (and their) efforts.

Don’t forget to pick up a KX2 raffle ticket while visiting Field Day. A mere $10 donation could bring you a spanking new Elecraft KX2!

The weather forecast looks promising and plans are in place. What are you waiting for, all we need is YOU!

More ISS SSTV passes this weekend… Maybe


February 11, 2015

Another Round of SSTV Activity from the ISS is scheduled for Late February
Space enthusiasts have another chance to receive SSTV image transmissions activity from the International Space Station.  Participants can anticipate watching for the transmissions from February 21, 2015 through February 23, 2015.

The pictures to be downlinked will be a repeat of the Series 1 images commemorating Russian space history that were previously sent during the weekend of December 18, 2014 until December 20, 2014.

SSTV transmissions will begin running non-stop on February 21 and ending at 21:30 UTC on February 23. As in previous sessions, the mode used to transmit the Slow Scan TV signals will be PD180 producing a high quality images with a frame scan of 187 seconds. A total of 12 different photos will be sent throughout an operation period. The transmit frequency will be 145.800 MHz with a 3-minute off time between transmissions. Received images can be uploaded to the image gallery found at http://www.spaceflightsoftware.com/ARISS_SSTV/index.php .

Plans are being discussed for transmitting new images from space enthusiasts around the world in upcoming months. Watch for more details that will be released about the upcoming SSTV transmissions to begin February 21.

Just a couple days after… NASA announced Upcoming EVA (Space Walk) was delayed to the same weekend as the planned transmissions.  Amateur radio equipment needs to be shut off during the EVA. Rumors are floating around about delaying the SSTV transmissions until the 22nd-24th. 

Stay tuned to the following website to see if it’s still going to happen

If everything goes as planned, there are many chances to catch the ISS here in Hampden county. Below is an image of the upcoming ISS passes. The passes in the red box were originally going to be transmitting SSTV. Still not sure if it’s going to happen.

ISSPass4If there is indeed a transmission, there are some really good overhead passes. All that is needed for the pass is receiver that can receive VHF, Audio cable, Laptop with SSTV software that can decode PD180 Mode (MMSSTV) and either a handheld directional antenna (Tape measure yagi for example)

Stay Tuned…