Category - Blog

A Christmas Present from UA4WHX!


Well it’s taken a few years and a lot of help from others behind the scenes but this morning i was pleased to open a self-addressed envelope which i sent outward bound in 2005. Inside were paper Qsl Card confirmations of 10 DXCC’s and 2 of them being new IOTA. The cards were from World traveller and DXpeditioner Vladimir Bykov UA4WHX, from a trip he did around the Countries of Africa around 2005.

Vlad told us some time ago now :-  ”Hello everyone! You must have been wondering if it is true. And the answer is – it is. It is all history now. For now – no more being on the air from Africa. I leave almost 310,000 QSOs behind me, 21 DXCC entities, almost 26 months of life, two radios gone and one finger missing. But I do have lots of people happy – that is what matters’’.

The Countries visited by Vlad can be seen from this impressive list of Callsigns:-


Thanks to all the team behind the scenes who have managed to get the cards out and thanks once more goes out to Vlad for his excellent DX’

If you would like to see more of the Qsl Cards that have been received from Vladimir then please have a look in the Qsl Card section of the Gallery where most have been uploaded.


73 de Charles…

WFF – World Flora Fauna Links


On this page i will list the other Countries that are currently taking part and are active in the World Flora Fauna Program.

If you want any further information or you would like a link to your WFF site on here, then please
email me here and i will add your links and information to the page.

I hope you find it both interesting and helpful –  73 de Charles

(Click on the images to go to their site!)


Moldavian Flora Fauna

Ukraine Flora Fauna

Argentina Flora Fauna

(No Award available at this time)

Belgium Flora Fauna

(No Award available at this time)

Portugal Flora Fauna

Poland Flora Fauna


Germany Flora Fauna


Kazakhstan Flora Fauna

Belarus Flora Fauna

(No Award available at this time)

Spain Flora Fauna

Italy Flora Fauna

Romania Flora Fauna

Bulgaria Flora Fauna


Hungary Flora Fauna

(No Award available at this time)

Lithuania Flora Fauna

Australia Flora Fauna

(No Award available at this time)

Azerbaijan Flora Fauna

(No Award available at this time)

Croatia Flora Fauna

(No Award available at this time)

If you would like a link to your WFF page to be shown here then please click here and email me with the details.

Thanks, 73 de Charles…..


ONFF – Belgian Flora Fauna



Belgium is the latest Country to become involved with the World Flora Fauna Programme and spear-heading the activities from ON is my good friend Gino ON3SSB.

There are approximately 15 ONFF areas, none of which have ever been activated. We hope to see some of them on air during 2010 but at this stage the planning is still in the early stages. Just to wet your appetite, here are some details and photographs of one of the areas –

The ‘SASHUL & VUURTORENWEIDEN Nature Domain’   –   ”ONFF – ØØ7” & ”ONFF – ØØ8”


From the coastal road, a sharp contrast in landscape is immediately noticeable between Heist and Zeebrugge. Bee_OrcghidThe low pastures and ponds surrounding the old lighthouse (De Vuurtorenweiden) are in distinct contrast to the new, more westerly artificial plateau (De Sashul) which itself stands a full 5 metres higher. They are seperated by the ‘Barnse Vaartje’, a tree-lined drainage ditch carrying run-off from the coastal road.

‘De Vuurtorenweiden’ are a vestige of the historical polder grasslands of Heist and Ramskapelle. They have known a turbulent history: After a period of peat formation, silt was deposited where the sea broke through and flooded the area (3rd – 4th century) then, from the 11th Century onwards, the land was gradually reclaimed from the sea, and finally peat was extracted (from the Middle Ages, until the beginning of the 20th Century).

The raised soil of the ‘Sashul’ mainly consists of shell-rich calcareous sand. The -admittedly artificial -physical environment saxifrageof the ‘Sashul’ is therefore very similar to the natual physical environment of the young, calcaerous coastal dunes. This can be sen very clearly from the vegitation. The shallow depressions which are mainly flooded in winter and spring, and dry in late summer, are covered with a pioneer vegitation mostley found in moist dune valleys. Here you can find ‘knotted pearlwort’, ‘lesser centaury’ and ‘brookweed’ along with species remeniscent of the salty origin of the raised sand : ‘sea pearlwort’, ‘strawberry clover’, ‘buck’s-horn plantain’ and ‘sea aster’. the moderatly or very dry ‘dune’ ridges are covered with Vuurtodune grassland vegitation with ‘rue-leaved saxifrage’, ‘sea mouse-ear’, ‘lesser hawkbit’, ‘bird’s foot-trefoil’ and ‘field modder’.

The Fauna – The ‘Vuurtorenweiden’ and the ‘Barnse Vaartjc’ do very well as nesting grounds for ‘water rail’, ‘moorhen’, ‘coot’, ‘mallard’, ‘reed bunting’, ‘reed warbler’ and ‘blue throat’ and since 2001 the ‘canada goose’. During the winter and migration periods the pools and water meadows around the old lighthouse are a favourite spot for quite a number of water birds including the ‘northern shoveller’, ‘common teal’, ‘gorgancy’, ‘godwall’, ‘mallard’, ‘common shelduck’ and ‘common snipe’.

During the winter the ‘Sashul’ looks rather desolate. The stoney sand bed of the pools contains too little food to attract many water birds and waders. OystercatcherNevertheless the inconspicuous ‘jacksnipe’ often stops here to feed whilst his much sturdier cousin, the ‘woodcock’, takes a rest in the undergrowth and bushes. From early spring to midsummer the shallow pools and surrounding open land covered in short grass witness an explosion of insect life, which in turns attracts many feeding birds. The shingle beaches around the pools become very popular with the ‘little ringed plover’ and the ‘pied wagtail’, whilst the short vegetation of the banks and shallow pools attract meadow birds (‘northern lapwing’), coastal birds (‘oystercatcher’ and ‘common redshank’) and water birds (‘mallard and coot’).

Since the ‘Sashul’ lies on an important migration route for coastal birds, its thickets and bushes make an ideal resting place for many songbirds during the spring and summer migrations. Regular travellers on the open plain are the small ‘Turdidae’, ‘northern wheatear’ and ‘winchat’, ‘white pied flycatcher’, ‘firecrest’ and even ‘wryneck’mare regularly observed. Rabbits also thrive on the Mallard‘Sashul’ and help to keep the grass cropped short. Their natural enemy the weasel is also present.
Many amphibians have also been observed in the ‘Barnse Vaartje’, the ponds of the ‘Vuurtorenweiden’ and the ‘Sashul’, IMAG1499including the ‘common toad’, ‘common frog’, ‘european water frog’ and ‘smooth newt’.

During the winter of 1999 – 2000 AMINAL -Nature division transformed the former goods marshalling yard into the ‘Sashul Nature Domain’.
Traces of the industrial occupation and illegal dumping were removed, pools deepened and relief added in the form of marram dunes made of sea sand. Clay-Shell footpaths, a bird observation hut and benches were also provided.

The previously planted exotic ‘white poplars’, whose root suckers endangered the valuable spontaneous vegetation, were removed and replaced with indigenous shrubs and trees.

Shetland Ponies keep the major part of the ‘Sashul’ landscape open by grazing. They are accustomed to a rough climate and a meagre diet due to them originating from the Shetland Islands. The ‘Vuurtoreenweiden’ are extensivly grazed by Cattle and Horses.






I would like to wish Gino and all other Belgium ONFF operators the best of luck.

I hope they enjoy this programme and that it gives them as much
fulfilment as it does for me.

To contact the ONFF representative click here.


73 de Charles…….

Tnx to : Ministerie van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap afdeling Natuur for allowing the use of text and material
from their Office,
Patrick Piesen ON7PP for the ONFF Logo design, Gino Vandeweghe ON3SSB
& to the Photographers of freeshare photography


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VE3LYC – Outstanding contribution to IOTA




Dealing with the latter two activations, Fox Island, Nunavut, Canada is located in the Hudson Bay 40Km East of Churchill, Manitoba. It is 4Km away from the mainland itself.  At low tide an large number of Islands become visible where birds nest, seals, whales and other large animals are in abundance and this is why it is given the name ‘Polar Bear Capital of the World’. 3,600 qso’s were made from this location in the 66 hours of the operation giving stations from 61 DXCC’s the opportunity of the new IOTA.


Gilmour Island is 160Km West of Puvirnituq, Quebec and again, it is also in the Hudson Bay and part of the Ottawa group of Islands. Qso count for this Island was 3,087 and 66 DXCC’s worked despite being hampered with 80kmh winds and temperatures of below 0’ C.

.Recent update (tnx )

It appears that another trip is in the planning for 2010 too. Most keen IOTA chasers will be aware of the failed attempt by Ken G3OCAvy0a-iota and himself to activate East Pen Island, Nunavut, NA-231 (Zone 4) back in 2007.

Having listened to his report at the HFC Wyboston it appeared that they were beset by problems, many of which were to do with the weather and indeed the indigenous persons fwho lived in the areas of interest to them. This in turn affected transport etc and as the unfortunate saga continued to drain away at their money and resources they had several wasted days before they had no option but to call it a day and return home.

For three days during the period March 26 – 31, 2010, Cezar will attempt again to activate this all time new IOTA. Intended callsign will be VY0V, which will be applied for in due course. At this time, Cezar is looking for group and individual donors who understand and appreciate the nature of this difficult project and are willing to join in the effort. Support for this project is welcome via PayPal at


Thanks for the new ones (#459 & #460) Cezar, an outstanding achievement on all counts!

73 de Charles….

‘G3TXQ Hexbeam’…now available from MW0JZE


One of the most talked about antennas of the last few years has been the Hexbeam. It has been available for a while but now the broadband version for 6 of the HF Bands is now available in kit form from Anthony MW0JZE.

This version is very easy to erect even for a novice at antenna building and having built two of this particular version for our trip on Ramsey Island earlier in the year, i can personally recommend both their performance and build quality.

Several members of MC0SHL (Strumblehead DX & Contest Group) now use this as their main Station Antenna and they are very impressed with its performance and its ease of construction.

For more information on the Broadband Hexbeam, see the link ”G3TXQ – Hexbeam Kit” in the Menu to the left where you can be directed to some statistics as well as the contact details for MW0JZE.

73 de Charles………

G3TXF – ‘Pushing the envelope’ on Qsl Cards!



It’s nice to see that even with the introduction of Internet based Qsl Cards on systems such as (Electronic Qsl Card Centre) and LOTW (Logbook Of The World), the collection of the original paper Qsl Card is still avalued part of the hobby for so many. Indeed although both Nigel and I are staunt users and supporters of LOTW, we still love to send and crave to receive the paper cards with as much enthusiasm as before LOTW was introduced. It is still an integral part of the hobby for many so please continue to support your Bureau’s and indeed both your Qsl managers and Qsl Printers.

G3TXF2If you would like to see more information of the DX Trips undertaken by Nigel and maybe more about his amazing collection of Qsl Cards then please visit his personal website by clicking on the link below:-

You can also see a collection of the Qsl Cards used by Nigel by looking in the ‘Gallery’ under ‘Qsl Cards’, several are shown on the page titled ‘UX5UO Qsl Cards’ and just a few at the bottom of this article.

On behalf of Gennady UX5UO and of the wider Amateur Radio Community I would like to say thanks to Nigel for his continued support both for purchasing the cards and also for making the trips possible which have given many of us some nice and often rare DX band slots in the process.

Well done & thanks Nigel!



Acom 1000 Mod


This modification to the Acom 1000 is to add an additional Fan to the Amplifier.

I have been aware recently of how the temperature is very high whilst running qro in the Digital Mode (RTTY) Contests.
Although the Amplifier copes exceedingly well in the conditions, I thought i would feel a lot happier if i could reduce the cooling time down more efficiently. I have a colleague that had done a similiar modification in the Acom 2000 and thus the reason for this modification.

The proceedure was very easy and did not require any soldering at all. It was however easier to have another colleague to assist though as it can be a bit tricky manouvering the transformer whilst trying to carry out the work on the circuit board within the Amp.acom_area_wkin
The first job is to remove the top cover from the Acom. It is easy to do but as always, make sure you have plenty of space to work, some clean cloths and/or towels etc then as the cover and other items are removed you will have no accidents such as screwdriver scratches or dents as the proceedure moves on.

Once the cover has been removed, familiarise yourself with the Transformer and the area of the Amplifier in which you are going to work. The fan itself will be attached to the outside of the case and to do this we need to remove the transformer. The are we will be working on is shown in the photograph to the right.

I am sure you will be aware which part of the Amplifier is the Transformer so no need to insert a photograph to show that, by my non-tech standards even i know that hi!
The next thing we need to do is to negotiate our way into the Amplifier to move the transformer and therefore gain access to the area where we need to be. We need to remove four screws which hold the rear grill in place and to do this it is easier to remove the Transformer rather than fiddling about with fat fingers and struggling as a result. It should be noted here that i bought the second fan from the UK Acom agent, Ron Stone at Vine Antennas. This fan already came with four longer screws which are needed to bridge the larger distance created by adding this new unit. The four screws in place at the moment are not sufficient to complete this task.

If you turn the Chassis onto its side you will see there are a significant number of screws in the bottom cover however we are only interested in the four large bolts that are shown in the bottom left of the photograph to the left of this text.  After removing the two connecting cables from the transformer, carefully remove the two farthest bolts. So still secured with two of the four bolts, move the amplifier over the edge of the bench and remove the other two and this will leave the transformer free to be moved. It is important not to take out all four bolts at the same time as that will leave the transformer unsecured and free to slide whereever inside the case and which would ultimately cause damage to the componants or chassis.Once the K800_SNV33423transformer is out you will see that you have a large amount of room now so you can manoeuvre about with ease. Next step is to remove the grill from the rear ventilation space. Just undo the four small screws and remove it.

Now comes the trickiest part of the job and that is to run the two wires from the new fan, through the hole and to pass them through a very small hole in the circuit board directly above the access hole and directly adjacent to the chassis of the amp.
We found it easier to pass both wires through some old wire sleeving and then to pass the sleeving through the hole in the circuit board to its designated position. Of course a small straw or something similar could be used should you feel it necessary. Once both wires are through the hole in the circuit board, you will see adjacent to the
hole that there is a small 24v connection point which is ready to accept the wires from the fan.

At this point we can now secure both the fan and grill back in place and remembering to use the four long screws that we mentioned earlier in the project.

Two cautionary notes here! The first is regarding the grill which you can deal with now or leave until later. We have to be careful to ensure that the fan blades in the new fan do not catch at all on the rear ventilation grill when it is replaced. You will see in the Photo here that the after completion the grill is bevelled inwards which without doubt would catch the blades (Photo above). I found it easier just to add a little pressure to the grill in order that it would bevel out and avoid any chance of it catching at all when re-built.
If it does catch after it is putback together, a small self-tapper slightly screwed in to the grill will allow you to pull it away without a problem of damage.

The other note is to remember, have you fitted the fan in the correct orientation? The fan will have an arrow marked somewhere on its edge which shows in which direction the air will flow when connected. You must ensure you have it correct or the Amp will overheat instead of cooling down!
The correct way....

The fan should pull air into the Amplifier (the arrow points in). You may feel some turbulence around the
fan entry which can mislead you into thinking it is extracting air, but it is not.

I will post the results of the modification on here in a few weeks but certainly at this stage i can say the cooling time and resulting temperature is far less than without the mod.

And finally………….If your workbench and Acom now look like these two photo’s – you went wrong somewhere hi !


( Thanks to Ron Stone at Vine Antennas for supply of the Fan and also John G4RCG for the
help and use of his superior equipment to complete the task!!)

73 de Charles…..

Vine Antennas


Vine Antennas pride themselves on selling ONLY High Class radio products from a wide range of suppliers.

In late 1994, Ron, GW3YDX, (an active DX and contest operator) set up Vine Antenna Products, mainly to source antennas which were not available on the UK market, and to counter the very limited choice available to the UK amateur at that time.

Since then, the product range has expanded to include valve amplifiers from Alpha Power (Formerly ETO) and ACOM Ltd, VHF transistor amplifiers from T E Systems in California, rotators from several manufacturers, and the excellent crystal and mechanical filters from INRAD.

They have very recently taken another step forward, and started selling transceivers from TenTec. They are now UK and Eire main agents for several of the main USA antenna manufacturers such as Tennadyne, Force 12, M-squared, GAP Antennas, and SteppIR. Vine Antennas are also now the main UK retail outlet for Optibeam and the excellent Versatower range as well as being able to supply Tennamast masts. They now also produce their own range of VHF yagis for 6 and 4m, too.


Vine Antennas have a simple rule when selecting products – “NO RUBBISH”, even if it would produce a whopping margin.



”You get what you pay for”

Ron Stone GW3YDX



K9AJ Mike McGirr on SA-062



As mentioned to us at his recent presentation at Silcoates School in Wakefield, Mike McGirr (K9AJ) is now Qrv on the dxpedition to Coroa Vermelha Island in South America as PW6C.

The IOTA group SA-062 is composed by two islands: Coroa Vermelha Island and Coroa da Barra Island. These close by islets are situated on the coast of Nova Viçosa, State of Bahia. Coroa Vermelha, the biggest island, is located about 10 nautical miles from the coast.

This island is formed mainly by sand banks which form small beaches in the middle of the atlantic ocean. These sand banks are rounded by coral reefs, and in low tides are formed natural pools with very good places for scuba diving.  The second island is just a small coral reef that only appears above the ocean on certain periods of the year, and is called Coroa da Barra Island or Sebastião Gomes Reefs as known by some natives.

The IOTA SA-062 Group is the actual 6th most wanted IOTA group in South America, and 2nd most wanted in Brazil.

This DXpedition will be qrv until November 17, by a group of 6 operators who will deal with around the clock operations giving the world wide IOTA community the opportunity to confirm this rare IOTA group. 

Good luck to the group and we wish them all well, tnx for the new one Mike (# 461)!

73 de Charles

ONFF soon to be Qrv!!


It was good to hear this week that Belgium now have activators ready to go in the World Flora Fauna programme. The ONFF numbers cover around 18 different National Parks and Nature reserves in Belgium and congratulations to Gino ON3SSB for his appointment as ONFF’s Co-ordinator for the programme.

I don’t believe any of these numbers have yet been activated so along with the GFF team, ONFF have plenty of ‘new ones’ to give away. ONFF_redPlease keep an ear to the radio and an eye on the cluster and when you hear the ONFF team please give them their support.

Winter is fast approaching and all WFF activators need your support and encouragement to get wrapped up on a freezing cold day to activate these areas on our behalf. If anyone reading this blog has any interest in activating new areas (whichever Country you are in) please contact either myself, Gino or any other WFF representative and we can give you all the information you require.

Have a good weekend and batten down the hatches until the storms pass at the end of next week!

73 de Charles