ZOE: More Tristan Da Cuhna QSL cards in the wild–?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who shares the following guest post:


SWLing Post readers may recall the story we published last year about the appearance of a rare QSL card from Tristan da Cunha. ZOE Tristan was for decades one of the most sought after stations — it used 3,290 kHz and had a power of 40 watts.

Recently, I received correspondence from a former editor of the old SPEEDX club bulletin who provided copies of two pages from the bulletin from decades ago. These pages make clear that the QSL I obtained in an Ebay auction was not the card that Dave Sharp received:

Dave was, at one point, editor of the DX Montage section of SPEEDX. As can be seen, the ZOE card that he received was signed by a A.L. Patterson while the one I obtained through auction contained a different signer consistent with a QSL received by South African DX’er Eddie de Lange in 1973. However, the card I received was NOT the one pictured in a story about Tristan published in 2010 — the postmark date is different.

That story noted that three DX’ers from South Africa “did manage to receive and QSL ZOE Radio Tristan – Ray Cader, Gerry Wood and Eddie de Lange were among a handful of fortunate Radio Tristan QSL recipients. I am aware of only two other verifications – UK DX’er Anthony Pearce received a QSL in 1973 and Florida DX’er David Sharp received a verification in 1983.”

Since Dave Sharp noted that his QSL collection was unfortunately lost, the ZOE card I obtained through the eBay auction in 2019 was most likely one received by others in the South African group or possibly by the UK DX’er noted in the 2010 story about Tristan.

The headline out of all of this is that it’s quite possible that other Tristan QSLs are floating around out there.

– Dan Robinson


Wow! Thank you for sharing this follow-up story, Dan!

Readers: Please comment if you have a Tristan Da Cuhna QSL card in your collection! These are rare indeed!

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Taking the Par EndFedz EFT-MTR triband antenna to the field!

The Par EndFedz EFT-MTR triband (40/30/20M) antenna

In July, I purchased a tiny QRP transceiver I’ve always wanted: the LnR Precision MTR-3B. It’s a genius, purpose-built little radio and a lot of fun to operate in the field.

It’s also rather bare-bones, only including a specific feature set built around ultra-portable CW operation.

While the MTR-3B has features like CW memory keying, a wide operating voltage (6-12 VDC), extremely low operating current (20 ma in receive), real-time 24 hour clock, and a full compliment of keying adjustments, it lacks other features like a volume control, SWR meter, speaker, and built-in antenna tuner.

Some of those may seem like big omissions but SOTA and POTA activators who like extremely lightweight/portable gear love the MTR-3B for being so purpose-built.

The MTR-3B (and its predecessors) operate on three bands: 40, 30, and 20 meters. These are, without a doubt, my favorite bands when operating portable since antenna lengths are reasonable.

Since the MTR-3B doesn’t have an internal ATU, you need to pack an external tuner or, better yet, a resonant antenna–ideally, one that can be used on all three bands.

Although many of my portable transceivers have built-in ATUs, I rarely use them because I primarily operate with resonant antennas. Resonant antennas are more efficient–giving you the maximum mileage per watt. In addition, they’re also more simple: connect them to the rig and hop on the air. No tuner or tuning required.

Since I keep self-contained field radio kits, my MTR-3B needed a dedicated resonant antenna.

The EFT Trail-Friendly antenna is incredibly compact and quite easy to deploy.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’m a big fan of the Par EndFedz Trail-friendly EFT tri-band antenna (above) which is resonant on 40, 20, and 10 meters.  I’ve activated well over 130 parks with this little antenna.

After I took delivery of the MTR-3B, I borrowed the Trail-friendly EFT antenna from my KX2 field kit. It worked well on 40 and 20 meters, but it doesn’t cover the 30 meter band. Also, by borrowing the EFT from the KX2 kit, I broke one of my rules: never borrow from one field kit to feed another. This led to me leaving the EFT hanging in a tree at a remote park and returning a week later–a three hour round-trip(!!!)–to retrieve it. (FYI, in all fairness, I also blamed my trusty canine companion for this mishap!)

Enter the Par EndFedz EFT-MTR triband antenna

A few months ago, Vibroplex purchased the Par antenna line from LnR Precision.

I was very pleased with this decision as I’m guessing LnR Precision wanted to hand off antenna production so they could focus on the very popular Mountain Topper transceiver line.

Vibroplex is owned by my buddy, Scott Robbins (W4PA), who is not only a successful entrepreneur, but also an award-winning contester and DXer. I’ve known Scott for years and knew he’d not only be a great steward of the Par product line, but also push new innovations.

I emailed Scott asking if Vibroplex had a field-portable antenna that would be resonant on 40, 30, and 20 meters. Turns out, there’s a Par antenna designed specifically to pair with the MTR-3 series transceivers: the Par EndFedz EFT-MTR.

Scott pointed me to a description of the antenna on the Vibroplex website:

The new EndFedz ® EFT-MTR is a 40m/30m/20m tri-band QRP antenna rated up to 25 watts. The “MTR” name was selected as LNR Precision developed this antenna to be the perfect companion to the wildly popular 40/30/20m Mountain Topper QRP transceiver. The EFT-MTR’s total length is 65′ of 22 AWG polystealth wire and weighs less than 4 ounces! It is built with the same high level of workmanship and quality that you have come to expect with all EndFedz ® antennas.

A particular innovation on this antenna: This EndFedz is a little different than previous designs. The user has the option to remove an SMA connector at the end of the 30M resonator to enable just 30 meters, or keep the SMA installed for 40 and 20 meters. Because of the broad bandwidth of the antenna, it is unlikely that it will require tuning in the vast majority of deployments. This is particularly true of 30 meters where the band is very narrow. As our tagline states, “They Just Work!”

Included with the EFT-MTR is the EndFedz Antenna Winder. Conveniently allowing winding up the antenna line to not have a tangled mess at the end. The winder will hold both the antenna and 25 feet of RG-174U coaxial cable (optional accessory).

Scott offered to send me an EFT-MTR to evaluate in the field (disclaimer: at no cost to me) and I accepted without hesitation, of course!

An EFT-MTR field review

I’ve taken the EFT-MTR antenna to three park activations at this point and have formed some opinions about it.

The EFT-MTR fits perfectly in a slide-in pocket in the main compartment of the Boot Boss.

First of all, I couldn’t be more pleased with the size as it fits perfectly in my MTR-3B field kit built around my Red Oxx Booty Boss pack.

I really like the built-in antenna winder: it’s larger than that of the EFT Trail-Friendly, but also much easier to wind up and manage post-activation.

I’ll admit, the length of the EFT-MTR was a bit surprising the first time I deployed it: 65 feet.  Keep in mind, though, I had been used to a much shorter 41 foot radiator on the EFT Trail-friendly. Occasionally, I operate in spots where I simply don’t have the room to deploy a long antenna. I also worried that the EFT-MTR resonance might be negatively affected by winding its way through trees and over a branches. The MTR-3B transceiver does not like high SWR values and has no built-in SWR meter to monitor it. Last thing I wanted to do was harm the MTR finals.

You might be able to spot the feed point of the EFT-MTR at my activation of K-6952 this week.

Fortunately, winding its way through trees doesn’t seem to have a significant impact on SWR.

Each time I’ve taken the EFT-MTR to the field, I’ve also taken my KX2 which I’ve used to read the antenna’s SWR value. So far, the difference has only been negligible and SWR well within the tolerances of the MTR-3B.  Score!

I should note here that since I’ve started using an arborist throw line, I’m also able to hang antennas much higher than I could before. This has had a huge impact on all of my field activities.

Removing the SMA cap changes the EFT-MTR from a 40/20 to a 30 meter resonant antenna.

To be resonant on 40, 20 and 30 meters, the EFT-MTR requires a field modification. On the coil about 2/3 the way up the antenna, there’s an SMA connector with a small screw on cap (see above). When the cap is on (thus completing the connection) the antenna is resonant on 40 and 20 meters. You must remove the cap for it to be resonant on 30 meters.

Since I’ve been using the EFT-MTR, I start an activation on 40 meters (which is typically my most productive band), then move to 20 meters (typically, my least productive). If I have the time, or need the extra contacts to confirm a valid activation, I lower the antenna, unscrew the SMA cap, and raise the antenna again.

I thought at first this would be a major pain, but it hasn’t. Now that I’m using an arborist throw line, it’s super easy to lower and raise antennas. But even when I’ve used fishing line, it really hasn’t been an issue.

The only issue I see is I’m afraid I’m going to lose that little SMA cap in the field. To prevent this, I’ve made it a routine to immediately put it in the internal zippered compartment of the Booty Boss pack. I might find a source for those caps, though, just in case I still lose this one.

I’ve been very pleased with the EFT-MTR’s performance. I’m guessing it’s actually higher gain than my beloved EFT Trail-Friendly antenna. On my last activation with the EFT-MTR, I knocked out eight 40 meter contacts in about eight minutes during a period of poor propagation. Note that the MTR-3B was only pushing 3 or 4 watts of power.

I then moved to 20 meters where, frankly, propagation was so crappy I didn’t hang out there long. Instead, I lowered the antenna, removed the SMA cap, and started calling on 30 meters. Within a few minutes, I racked up the rest of my contacts.

I was very pleased with how quickly the Reverse Beacon Network picked up my CQs and was thus auto-spotted on the POTA website.

Conclusion?

If you own a Mountain Topper MTR-3 series transceiver, I highly recommend the EFT-MTR antenna. As with my EFT Trail-friendly and Par sloper, the quality is top-shelf. I expect the EFT-MTR will last even longer than the EFT Trail-friendly since the winder is so accommodating and the in-line coil is designed so that it doesn’t snag on branches as easily.

I’m looking forward to much more field fun with the MTR-3B and EFT-MTR combo!

Click here to check out the EFT-MTR at Vibroplex.

Click here to check out Vibroplex’s full line of antennas.

Many thanks again to Scott at Vibroplex for sending me the EFT-MTR for evaluation!

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Disabling transmit on the Icom IC-7300 or Kenwood TS-590 series transceivers?

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Muthu, who writes with the following inquiry after reading our Xiegu G90 review:

Very nice review. I have a question.

I’m preparing for a restricted ham license in Hong Kong and may try transmitting for a couple of months. However, in the long run I plan to use the rig just as a receiver mainly for shortwave broadcast listening once I return back to India next year.

I’m considering Icom IC-7300 or an almost new Kenwood TS 590-S[…].

You said that there is no way to completely disable the transmitter on the Xiegu G90. Is there a way to completely disable transmit on the Icom IC-7300 or Kenwood TS-590?

Thank you for your question, Muthu. My hope is that SWLing Post readers who own the IC-7300 and/or TS-590 series transceivers can confirm.

I only had the IC-7300 on loan a few weeks during my evaluation/review period. While I feel like I recall the ability to disable transmit (or perhaps lower the output power to 0 watts), I’m not sure if that also applies to the internal ATU. I have no clue if this is possible with the TS-590S as I’ve never spent meaningful time with this fine transceiver.

Post readers: If you own either of these transceivers and can you confirm if transmit can be disabled on the IC-7300 or TS-590? Please feel free to comment!

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Mission RGO One Firmware update (2.10b) and pre-order form

A number of SWLing Post readers have been asking about the pricing and availability of the Mission RGO One transceiver.

RGO One designer, Boris (LZ2JR), has informed me that he’s published a new pre-order form available via the following link. The form specifies all options and pricing and applies to a third production run of the radio:

Click here to view the Mission RGO One pre-order form.

They’ve also announced firmware version 2.10b which improves ATU performance and addresses a number of other tweaks and user requests. Click here to read details and download the update.

Note that my full review of the Mission RGO transceiver is scheduled to publish in the November 2020 issue of The Spectrum Monitor magazine.

I took the RGO One on another Parks On The Air activation yesterday. Look for a post about it soon!

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Paul Walker to speak about DXing in remote Alaska

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Walker, who writes:

I’ve been asked by a ham radio club to do a presentation on DXing in rural central Alaska. I spent about 16 months in Galena, back in 2016 and 2017 while working as the program director for a public/community radio station.

It was a very unique situation with some special considerations one might not have to deal with elsewhere. I spent a lot of time and money experimenting there and had some pretty amazing results.

I will also briefly discuss what it was like as a radio broadcaster in Alaska and the technical challenges we faced in the course of doing business every day.

The presentation will be done using the Zoom smartphone app and website. You don’t need to have or enable the camera on your phone or computer to participate and there will also be options to simply dial in and listen by phone as well for those who don’t want to use the computer or have a smart phone.

The presentation will be on Friday October 30th at 8pm eastern time. Pre registration is required but its very simple and easy. I’d love to have you there. Please spread the word to any ham clubs, dxing clubs, email lists, facebook groups or messages boards.

Register in advance for the meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZItcuGhpz8tEtHwAmriwdCX7Sv-coWdSNt2

Longtime Post readers might recall Paul’s photos and recordings from Galena, Alaska–click here to read through the archives.

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Anon-Co publishes pricing and availability of Tecsun PL-990x packages

Anon-Co has just posted pricing and availability of the Tecsun PL-990x:

The PL-990x package like the pre-production unit I received costs $235 US shipped free via the postal service or via FedEx for an additional $9.00.

This package includes the Tecsun PL-990x, Tecsun EP-20 stereo earphones, 16GB microSD card, Tecsun AN-03L wire antenna, protective carrying pouch, charging cable, USB wall charger, radio amateur world map, and an English manual.

Click here to view the product page.

In October, Anon-Co will also start shipping a PL-990x package that comes in a hardcover case and an ICR-100 recorder. This version will be $283.00 US.

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FTIOM & UBMP, September 20-26

From the Isle of Music, September 20-26:
This week Yasek Manzano helps us present some of his own recent jazz recordings and the new compilation album Grecolandia.
The broadcasts take place:
1. For Eastern Europe but audible well beyond the target area in most of the Eastern Hemisphere (including parts of East Asia and Oceania) with 100Kw, Sunday 1500-1600 UTC on SpaceLine, 9400 KHz, from Sofia, Bulgaria (1800-1900 MSK)
2. For the Americas and parts of Europe, Tuesday 0000-0100 on WBCQ, 7490 kHz from Monticello, ME, USA (Monday 8-9PM EDT in the US).
3 & 4. For Europe and sometimes beyond, Tuesday 1900-2000 UTC and Saturday 1200-1300 UTC on Channel 292, 6070 kHz from Rohrbach, Germany.
Our Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/fromtheisleofmusic/
Our V-Kontakte page is https://vk.com/fromtheisleofmusic
Our Patreon page is https://www.patreon.com/tilford

Uncle Bill’s Melting Pot, September 20, 22 & 26:
Episode 183 presents some very enjoyable music from the Phillipines, from traditional instruments to Pinoy rock.
The transmissions take place:
1.Sunday 2200-2300 (6:00PM -7:00PM EDT) on WBCQ The Planet 7490 kHz from the US to the Americas and parts of Europe
2. Tuesday 2000-2100 UTC on Channel 292, 6070 kHz from Rohrbach, Germany for Europe.
3. Saturday 0800-0900 UTC on Channel 292, 9670 kHz from Rohrbach, Germany for Europe.
Our Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/UncleBillsMeltingPot/
Our V-Kontakte page is https://vk.com/fromtheisleofmusic
Our Patreon page is https://www.patreon.com/tilford

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