Cheap Desk Magnifying Unit For Home-Brewers!

As a QRPer I follow a small group of hams that post to the Fireflies QRP org.

If you like to build kits or home brew like me, check out Larry’s W2LJ’s find about a much needed accessory for the shack.

Yeah I know, I can hear it now… Banggood is a company located in China. I have purchased several kits and other odds n ends from Banggood without problems. The only downside… It can take several weeks for delivery.

Psst: If you happen to be a first time buyer over at Banggood, there is a coupon offer and you may be able to get the magnifier for a few dollars!

I’m going to take advantage of this low price because I have been using a small magnifying glass attached to one of those portable alligator clamp stands.

This magnifying glass will help tremendously with these old, tired eyeballs!

Larry W2LJ has been posting on his own blog for years. You may find many of his posts informative. His Blog can be found here.

72 es 73 de KE2YK

My FT8 Station Going Portable Tomorrow

N3HAL and I will be taking the Frankenstein portable FT8 station to parts unknown tomorrow July 18th somewhere on Long Island.

The FT8 portable station is made up of a conglomeration of parts that should work together well enough to hopefully make a few contacts.

Station hardware includes an Elecraft KX3 at ~ 7 watts equipped with a Cooler KX Plus, Bioenno LiFePO4 BLF-1212A battery, Powerwerx PWrbox-PP Multi Connect Battery Box, Kindle Fire Tablet, Raspbery PI 3B+ with real time clock, usb gps, usb sound card, cables for rig control power and audio.

Station software includes Raspian Buster O/S, FLRig v 1.3.51, Wsjt-x v 2.2.2

As us FT8 ops know the app will not function without clock syncronization. So the usb GPS gets connected just long enough to insure the real time clock and in turn system clocks are in sync.

The Pi is running as a HotSpot handing out IP addresses via DHCP and will have no internet connection. At this point I see no reason to tether it to my iPhone.

Antenna system will vary depending on our location.

We also plan to take an HF SSB rig along to activate a state park or two (parks on the air) POTA. If so I’ll be logging with HamLog since it has a template for POTA and SOTA activations.

Anyway be sure to stay tuned for our results, comments and complaints! Can you improve on perfection? LMAO!


Fire Island NY Aerial View

FT8 Portable Update

Here’s the update from yesterday’s FT8 portable operations “first excursion“. As easily predicted here on Long Island on any hot sunny day, all the good local hidden spots close to water’s edge are busy as hell. Anywhere near “free” beach / salt water access was jammed with cars. So we got as close as possible to water’s edge ( ~ 100 feet) without wasting a lot of time searching all the back streets.

The Good: Bringing the system up worked as planned and was 100% on receive. Fiddling around with the KX3 got us temporarily stuck in FSK D Split Filter Mode. But thanks to the internet over cell service we brought up the KX3 manual and quickly set the filter back to DATA A mode.

The Bad and Ugly: Partly due to the lack of a good location close to salt water, running 7 watts with an inadequate antenna system, we made no contacts.

The plan for the next outing is to bring along my TIA vertical antenna system from Wolf River Coils and give it a go!

73 de KE2YK

My Fav Portable Ham Radio Apps

Over the years I have collected around 18 Ham Radio apps for my iPhone and iPad. I use a couple of the apps when working portable and others when hanging in the shack. (At times I think the XYL wants to do the hanging!)


Hamlog provides a general logging function and templates for logging parks on the air (POTA) and summits on the air (SOTA) contacts.

Since I am a POTA activator, the POTA logging template is perfect for my field operations. Hamlog can also log contacts based on a “user defined” template.

Hamlog is of those apps which also contains a huge list of Ham Radio tools in addition to its primary function. To get an idea how many tools are found in this free app click here.

Hamlog is authored by Nick / N3WG and is just one of a suite of products offered under Pignology LLC. Among the lineup, Pignology sells wireless rig control (Piglet) and rig remote control (PigRemote). Take a look at the Pignology product lineup here.

After each activation Hamlog provides an easy email function to send the adif log to the local POTA admin so that folks who worked the activation(s) get credit.


Hamclock is the free app I use to double check UTC time against my old grab and go MFJ UTC desk clock. When in the field, the app also provides my current grid square and lat, lon info. More info on Hamclock can be found here.


DX ToolBox offers an array of Ham Radio tools. Propagation based on time and Frequency, MUF/LUF, Grayline Map, Propagation Map and detailed solar information are among the tools on the DXToolBox list. More info on DX ToolBox can be found here.


I rarely get feedback but I’ll ask anyway… What is your favorite IOS or Android field app?

72 and 73 de KE2YK