Tag Archives: HL2/AD7MI

Logs and QSL cards

Since I logged my first HF QSO back in 2005 I have been using one type or another of software logging. I have also enjoyed exchanging QSL cards but never developed a good system at keeping them organized. Jumping from one logging program to the next, managing the “sent” and “received” QSL card fields have been hit or miss. A good portion of my contacts were uploaded to eQSL. Some were pushed out to LoTW. But I am not at all certain that either accurately reflects all my logged contacts. Compounding the problem has been multiple moves and military facilitated DXpeditions to Iraq and Korea. So what I am left with is a filing cabinet drawer full of QSL cards and a hard drive full of various log files.

It would be nice to get this mess sorted out.

I taking a three-step approach to establish order out of chaos.

(1) Gather all my software based log files. Use a file format compatible with fldigi and convert all the log files accordingly… with the end result of one consolidated log.

(2) Organize all QSL cards by date. I have a few boxes that QSL cards fit in nicely as well as tabbed dividers. This will allow me to fairly easily crosscheck the cards I have against the digital log.

(3) Stick with fldigi as my logging program. Update the QSL card “sent” and “receive” fields as I mail out cards or receive them. File received cards by date of contact.

(BONUS) I am pretty sure I achieved DXCC back in 2007, but have never been able to sit down and pull out the 100 cards I need. With a consolidated log and QSL cards organized by date, I will be able to easily find my 100 cards.

The Lansing, KS Hamshack

Progress has been slow in getting my shack setup at the new QTH in Lansing, KS. I had success running three differnt feedlines from the shack, through a narrow path between the basement ceiling and the main floor to an access box on the houses exterior wall exiting to the side yard. I purchased 50′ coax cables for each run, thinking that 50′ feet might have been too long. However, 50′ ended up being right on the nose, offering me just the right amount of slack in the hamshack and easily reaching the access panel on the exterior wall.

I have unpacked the majority of my equipment that came from Korea and from the old house in Leavenworth. The weather station and VHF/UHF antenna is temporarily mounted on our deck. The plan is to mount it on the chimney, but I am going to need some help getting it up there.

I have a Buddipole up in the side yard and connected it up to one of the feedlines. I fired up the K3 and the radio seems to be working well. Next I tried connecting the Microham USB III digital interface, but have run into some trouble in getting it to cooperate with fldigi. This time, once I get everything working, I am going to copy down all the settings as well as the connections to make sure next time I move it, I don’t have such a steep curve to re-figure out what I had already figured out some time ago.

Some minor problems I am encountering (besides the fldigi/Microham USB III): the weather station gets buggy when I am transmitting on VHF and the weather station software freezes up when I transmit on 40M. The later problem is nothing new and I had limited success trouble shooting the problem by adding chokes to the weather station data display power supply and putting the computer that runs the weather station software on an UPS. The VHF transmission problem is new. I have a 2″ PVC pipe that both the VHF antenna and the weather station are mounted on. I have not previously had a problem with any interference from the VHF antenna, but I will try and move the weather station down the PVC pipe a bit and see if that eliminates the interference issue.

Tasks that still await me: cleaning up the workbench, clearing out the excess boxes that are lying around, organize the QSL cards. I need to establish (and stick with) a system for managing QSL cards. I am pretty sure I have enough cards to get my DXCC, but I have to put the cards in order. I also have a stack of cards to send to the outgoing bureau for the YI9MI operation and a handfull for HL2/AD7MI and HL9MI.

Does the US Military issue Amateur Radio Licenses?

Yes, they do! At least over here in South Korea.

Before arriving to Korea last year, I began researching the licensing procedures. I have known fellow soldiers who have served over here in Korea and were able to get an HL callsign and get on the air. By reviewing an old Army regulation that was specific to Korea, I saw that there was a process where a soldier could submit a memorandum requesting to be issued an HL9 prefixed callsign. The soldier is required to already possess an FCC amateur license. However, a problem emerged. No one knew who to submit the request to. There are a number of American hams over here, most who work in some aspect for the US military. These individuals generally do not qualify for an HL9 callsign and therefore the general knowledge of how to go about applying for these HL9 licenses was lost. The process to apply for a standard South Korean amateur radio license is straight forward and is what I did. I was subsequently issued the callsign HL2/AD7MI, with the “2″ in HL2 signifying the geographical area where I am stationed. The callsign got me on the air, but I soon learned the difficulties in using such an unwieldy callsign (“Hotel Lima Two Stroke Alpha Delta Seven Mike India” is a mouthful).

The good news – an Air Force ham, who is stationed down at the US military headquarters in Seoul, kept plugging away at the HL9 issue and was successful in not only getting issued an HL9 callsign but also was able to define the process for the rest of us. Finally having an organization identified to submit my request to, I was issued my new callsign: HL9MI. I am looking forward to getting on the air and breaking it in.

As far as I know, Korea is the only place where the US military issues callsigns. Back after WWII, it was a common practice but it was discontinued in Japan and Germany once their amateur radio programs stood back up with their civilian governments. Amateur radio licenses for US military in Germany is issued through the US military (at least that is how it worked in 2002), but that program is run by the German government. Even in Iraq, licenses were initially issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority before the responsibility was transferred to the Iraqi civilian government. The Afghan government is responsible for the issuing of callsigns for NATO military serving in Afghanistan. It is interesting that here in Korea, 60 years after the civilian government of South Korea stood up, there is still an active provision for the US military to issue amateur radio callsigns.

On a radio safari

Today was a real adventure on the airwaves. I only made 12 contacts, but there were a few that are quite memorable. My location here in South Korea affords me the ability to make contact with exotic locations even with my modest Buddipole antenna. The first contact wasn’t actually a contact – tuning around 20M, I stumbled across 9W6HLM and 9W6BOB operating from Borneo (yes, 9W6BOB is Borneo Bob… how cool is that?). Both stations were on the air, leisurely trolling for contacts… although they couldn’t hear me. I was able to hear them work Denis, WA5TYJ, in New Mexico. Fortunately, the noise level for me was very low and I could just hear Denis.

The next two contacts were with JA’s – a completely unremarkable accomplishment from the QTH here in HL-land. However, they were made using my newly basedlined Linux Ubuntu hamputer using CQRLOG, Fldigi, and Flrig. Again, an unremarkable accomplishment on the face of it… until you hear about my trials and tribulations of getting it working.

Then I worked ZS6CCY, a South African station, on 20M phone! That was pretty exciting. I switched to Fldigi to give PSK31 a try and was able to work a few Russian stations. Then booming down the waterfall came Kim, HL2DYS. I had yet to work another station here in South Korea… but I had to be patient. Kim was working the South Pacific and Europe. When there was a hole, a jumped in and we had a great QSO. Hopefully I will be able to meet Kim soon for an eyeball QSO.

There was a major JA phone contest underway, so I decided to head up to 17M and see if I could scare up another phone contact. While spinning and grinning I fell upon V73RS… Rob on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Wow!! He was just above the noise level and I was his first contact before the spotters got him and the pile-up hit. Rob stuck with me, which is saying something. First – because my callsign here is HL2/AD7MI…. which is horrendously difficult to pass across less than desirable band conditions. Second – Rob wanted the name of my city, which is Uijeongbu (I spell: Uniform India Juliet Echo Oscar November Golf Bravo Uniform). It is quite a mouthful. The pileup kept building, but Rob stayed with the QSO and told me he was there on Kwajalein and that I should look for him on 10M, as conditions generally more favorable for a 2-way exchange.

Back to 20M where I worked another Russian station. Then I snagged JT1DN, a station for Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. It is hard to get more exotic than Ulaanbaatar. Mongolia is not actually far from Korea, but it was my first contact ever with the country and I won’t soon forget it.

Maintaining the exotic theme – my next contact was with YC9ETJ – Bali Island, Indonesia. Agung had quite a pile up and I was glad to get picked up by him.

Sunset and the grayline approached and I was successful in working Poland and Norway. All in all – I was quite excited with the contacts for the day.

Buddipole to the rescue

Spinning & Grinning has been quiet for too long. Life here in Korea has been really quite busy. But I can’t complain about the commute, with my quarters only a short three minute hike to the bunker where I work. I don’t go off the camp here nearly as much as I should. By the time I get to my room after work, I am usually just too tired to make the effort. Summers in Korea are HOT. Not Iraq hot, but more of a Georgia heat… with all the humidity. I don’t have a car here, so all my movement is on foot and using public transit. The summer made it fairly uncomfortable to go out and explore. Now the summer is gone and the weather is just right, in my opinion.

My quarters here in Korea are not conducive for amateur radio operations. There are low-lying power lines everywhere and not many trees. It is also impossible to establish a permanent feedline exiting my room as there is no existing access and I can’t drill a hole through the wall without incurring the wrath of the garrison commander.

The answer: the Buddipole. I’ve read NE1RD’s blog on his 100lbs DXpedition and am well acquainted with the virtues of the Buddipole. With a Buddipole, I would be able to quickly set up and take down an antenna that would let me get on the HF bands. For a feedline, I would be able to support a short run out of my window and out to the Buddipole that would have to be located nearby.

Coinciding with the CQ WW DX Contest, I decided to set up the Buddipole and give it a try. I’ve used Hamstick dipoles before without much success. I didn’t have high hopes for the Buddipole, simply for the fact that it is a compromise antenna and I had it set up right next to a three story building. I should have had much more confidence. When I fired up the rig, 20M was alive with activity and I had a 1:1.0 SWR. It was a great feeling to be behind the mike again and I enjoyed logging the contacts.

Now I need to go get some QSL cards printed up for HL2/AD7MI.