All posts by robbie

Ossabaw and Wassaw Island POTA

Here is the plan for myself and Eddie Stephan on April 29, 2023. We plan to have Ossabaw on 40m for a 30 minute window around 12:15pm local time. Then we will do 20m to help anyone not local for the next hour or so.

Because it is two of us on one boat, we will do SSB only. 100 watts to a random wire on a 31’ Jackite pole on the boat. I am building a mount for it and testing it out this weekend.

Around 2:15pm we will depart for Wassaw Island. We will play there a little less. We’re trying to be back on dry land around 6pm to activate Fort McAllister before heading back home for the four hour drive. It’s going to be a long day!

Don’t worry. If you miss us, Claude Ray is going again in June.

We’re helping out about three people specifically in addition to just having fun playing radio on a boat! It’s going to make for some good YouTube footage.

A little info on the plan:

I have a 16’ Jon boat with a 20hp Mercury. It’s not made for saltwater, but I don’t care. It’s not the first time I’ve plopped it in the ocean, and it won’t be the last. I just clean it when I get home.

I’m building a mount that will use the front seat post hole to hold the 31’ Jackite pole in the air. The antenna will be a 28’ random wire with a K6ARK 9:1 balun. The rig will be a Yaesu FT-891 and a LDG tuner. I know it works because that’s my secondary (non-rove) antenna. We will have two 40Ah LifePO4 battery banks. We probably won’t need 80Ah, but better to be safe than sorry. We will also have a New Super Antenna as a back up.

We will dine on Diet Mt. Dew and meat sticks and bathe in sunscreen. The entire trip will be captured by my GoPro and our phones. I’ll upload an edited version with highlights of the trip to my YouTube channel, and on those days that the propagation doesn’t suit you, you can watch it. 😎

Eddie and I plan on rapid firing a dual Optivator activation, so we probably will rapid fire callsigns and reports so we can fit as many in as we can. It’s a long ride there and back! We hope to make many POTAfolks happy!

Elecraft KX2 Serial Remote Control using an Arduino Nano – DIY Programming Project with Electronics

Temporary link to video (unreleased)

Source Code (Arduino Sketch) –

Video Script:
Demonstration of what I’ve made! While the KX2 has all of the functions built in, I wanted a way to quickly make changes without having to dig through menus and button combinations. The major reason that I wanted to make a control box is for sending pre-recorded messages in CW and SSB modes. Almost every time I pushed the MSG button I would inadvertently tap the VFO and change my transmit frequency. Then I found some other settings that I would like to have one button push to activate. A couple of settings could take several minutes to set up if they get out of whack, and they can be done in less than a second with the simple push of a button.

For CW, switches 1 through 3 send a pre-recorded CW message. Switch 5 changes the filter settings to a weak signal setting.

The SSB mode has two pre-recorded message switches and settings to reset the AF GAIN, MIC GAIN, and COMPRESSION levels.

The data setting changes a ton of things so you can hook the KX2 to a PC for digital modes. It would take quite some time to make those changes, and this macro sets it up in a matter of seconds.

Finally, all settings have an RF GAIN reduction macro to reduce the gain in the presence of strong signals. As programmed it will reduce the AF GAIN by -3, -5, -10, -20, and -60dB without needing to use the settings menu.

The Anderson Powerpole connectors allow you to use a power supply to power both the Arduino Nano and the radio, if needed.

Construction Segment – The Nuts and Bolts
Shown here is my prototype that I built on a breadboard with the Arduino Uno. Prior to this point I gathered the following materials for my build. If you build the exact model that I did, you’ll need:
1 – Arduino Nano
5 – single pole single throw momentary switches
1 – 3.5mm TRS (stereo) jack
2 – 15A Anderson Powerpoles
About a dozen jumper wires in assorted colors plus two 10AWG wires to loop power from one Powerpole to the other.
I used Q Dope as a temporary adhesive to hold a few things in place
I 3D printed a dual Anderson mount found at Thingiverse Anderson PowerPole “Wall” Mounts by VCHSRobotics December 16, 2015
You’ll need an enclosure. I used a box that my guitar pickup was shipped in. 3D printing an enclosure would have been my choice, but I found this while looking for parts, and I liked it!
I gathered some of the parts to do a dry fit on the enclosure to make sure everything could be crammed in there.
I cut the end of the enclosure to install the Powerpoles and power for the Arduino board.
Next I used Scotch tape, a permanent marker, and a pair of calipers to score where I wanted the switch holes to be.
Carefully, I drilled each hole to the size of the panel mount switches.
I used jumper wires with one end cut off to connect the switches to the Arduino Nano. I soldered the power and ground directly to the board. I also soldered three jumpers to the TRS jack for the serial communications to the KX2.
The next step was to program the Arduino Nano and test functionality before “gluing” the jumper wires and placing the Arduino board into the enclosure.
Everything is closed up so alpha testing can commence.
I printed a label, albeit incorrect and not final, to adhere to the front of the remote control box. Buttons 4 and 5 are swapped, and I added more functions after I tested the system live in the field during a #POTA activation.
This image is me alpha testing my design in real time during a real #POTA activation at K-2195 Reed Bingham State Park. I discovered that there were some timing issues that I needed to correct in the software, and I made a list of additional functions that I wanted to add.

Files hosted at

#elecraft #kx2 #pota #arduino #hamradio #amateur #radio #diy #electronics #parks on the #air

Arduino Controlled Fox Transmitter with DTMF Control

The Fox Box wiring diagram and parts list

Arduino Sketch zip (from Google Drive)

After making the Arduino Fox controller, I decided to take this one a little bit further by adding DTMF decoding to it so the fox could be controlled remotely. The program is much more complicated so I tried to separate the Morse Code section while leaving the DTMF portion of the program in the main Sketch.

The main part is building the circuit and programming the Arduino. At minimum, be sure to change your call sign in the morseCode.h file on line 28. Modify anything else to suit your fancy. Add more DTMF codes for even greater control. The main DTMF code is “51” to start transmitting and “50” to turn off transmitting.

Have fun and 73 de W1RCP -Rob

Arduino Controlled Fox Transmitter

Arduino Sketch (from Google Drive)
Arduino Sketch V2 (from Google Drive)
Arduino Sketch V3 (from Google Drive)
V2 is a little easier to read, and I changed the functions. V3 is just a different animal to see if I could write the program to use less space. It is not easy to modify AT ALL! Have fun with them.

Arduino Fox Wiring Diagram

This won’t be one of those long winded posts. I hope that the picture is worth more than a thousand words. I’ve wanted to make an Arduino controlled fox transmitter for Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) that didn’t take an engineering degree to make. Yeah, the programming might have been a bit, but I’ve commented it enough that it shouldn’t be too difficult to see what is happening.

If you don’t already have it, download the Arduino IDE from and get a copy of my code from the top of this post. At minimum change the call sign in the Arduino sketch to your call then download it to the Arduino. Make the circuit as shown in the diagram. That’s really all.

Using Multiple Programs with One Radio Com Port

A friend of mine asked me a question the other day that intrigued me. He wanted to know if he could poll his IC-7300 using both AClog and the SKCC Logger at the same time. Initially I told him no because you can’t access a Com Port from more than one program at a time, but I got to thinking that there HAD to be some way to do it.

I searched the web looking for “how to share a com port,” and I was not disappointed. After a little bit of digging I found a program that created a virtual serial port, and the cost was not prohibitive.

The program is called VSPE and is an abbreviation of Virtual Serial Ports Emulator created by I downloaded the program for testing purposes only. Using two loggers at the same time isn’t how I run my shack, but some folks like to keep their stuff in different places, and this will serve the purpose.

A note of caution: This will not work with WSJT-X that I know of. I’m not into FT8 anymore, so after I tried a few times I gave up.

Here is a video that explains how to set this program up to share your com port using two different logging programs.

W1RCP & SKCC Senator Run

I started trying to learn CW as far back as 2013, and I finally got brave enough to try a CW QSO in 2014. On April 6, 2014 I called CQ on 10m and had a 20 minute QSO with W5ZIT. It was my first and last CW QSO for another 2 years.

Fast forward to March 2016, and I finally got brave enough to try calling CQ using CW again. I made a successful QSO and discovered there were online clubs for CW. One of the clubs that I joined was the Straight Key Century Club. On March 31, 2016 I was given my number 15375. Things were good for a few months.

From March 31 to June 19, 2016 I made 70 QSOs with members of the SKCC organization, but I didn’t know there were awards. At the time I had 58 QSOs that qualified towards the Centurian award. After June 19, 2016 I quit CW because of noise on the band and kids that wouldn’t let me play. It took several more years and a few circumstances to get me back in action.

In the early 2021 year I had two good friends of mine (Eddie, KO4NLL and Billy, KO4NLK) take and pass their FCC examinations. Then they passed their General exams, and I was hooked on helping them set up stations and get on the air. I too started to get back on the air. I purchased an Icom IC-7300 just like my friends! In March 2021 (there’s something about March!) I started playing radio again by chasing FT8. During the 13 Colonies Special Event I also got brave enough to chase a few parks on CW. They were simple exchanges and nice enough to slow down for me. Then I wanted the TM13COL France Bonus station, and the only way to get it was CW. I started chasing more POTA on CW, and then one night on July 7, 2021 I had a 30 minute ragchew with Art, WB8CCR, and he asked a great question.

“I see you work a lot of FT8. How do you like and what do you like best about it?” I later emailed Art because I couldn’t send my answer at the speed I was going (slow), and I was starting to get ear fatigue, too. It really had me thinking. I used to enjoy CW. I was really good at it back in 2016, but I let a few hiccups get in the way. They were just excuses.

Then one day the FT8 program was shut down and never opened again! On July 22, 2021 I decided to take the plunge back into CW with SKCC. Head first. Full speed ahead (which wasn’t fast and very sloppy). So here’s how my run for Senator went:

QSOs are “Qualifying QSOs” for SKCC award purposes for this timeline
From July 2021 to 7 Aug 2021 I finished my first 100 QSOs for Centurian
10 Aug 2021 —> Tx1 +50 QSOs
21 Aug 2021 —> Tx2 +50 QSOs
8 Sep 2021 —> Tx3 +50 QSOs
14 Sep 2021 —> Tx4 +50 QSOs
24 Sept 2021 —> Tx5 +50 QSOs
4 Oct 2021 —> Tx6 +50 QSOs
11 Oct 2021 —> Tx7 +50 QSOs
18 Oct 2021 —> Tx8 +50 QSOs
5 Nov 2021 —> Senator! +200 QSOs

There are so many more awards to shoot for in the SKCC organization. Centurian, Tribune, and Senator are main awards, but there are ragchew awards, marathon awards, triple key awards (TKA), WAS, Prefix awards, and others. If you’re a veteran of CW or a newcomer, please consider the Straight Key Century Club, and Keep CW Alive!

Homebrew Cootie/Side Swiper

Playing radio with the Straight Key Century Club (SKCC) is fun, and I wanted to try out a new key so I went to Lowe’s and spent about $20 on some stuff to make a Cootie or Side Swiper.

Parts needed:

4 – small brackets with screws
3 – #10-32 x 3/4″ screws
8 – #10-32 nuts
1 – hacksaw blade
2 – furniture slider felts
– wood or some kind of base
1 – zip tie
– a few feet of wire (2 or 3 conductor)
1 – mono or stereo plug that fits your rig

The first step was to sand the paint off of the saw blade. I used a wire wheel to make this easy. Then I cut a 4.5″ piece of the blade for the spring arm. I drilled the original hole in the end of the saw blade so the screws could pass through. Then I sandwiched the blade between two brackets and secured it with a screw and nut. I used a cutoff wheel to shorten the screw so I could reach the other hole in the bracket when I mount it to the base.

The next step was finding the center of the poplar board that I cut for the base to mount the parts onto. I found the center and mounted the spring arm and the pivot base first. Once it was centered I drilled two pilot holes in the poplar and then secured the spring arm and pivot base assembly to the base.

Once the pivot base was in place I started finding the locations for the left and right contacts. I could have moved them a little closer to the spring arm to allow for more adjustment, but if I need less spacing I could change the 3/4″ screw for a 1″ screw. After attaching the left and right contacts to the base, I threaded one nut onto each screw and then placed the screws (contacts) into the brackets and secured them with another nut. At this point the Cootie was almost ready. Now we need to wire it up.

To wire mine up I chose to use three wires. If I wanted to use it like a single lever paddle I could. You could use two wires and a jumper from the left and right contacts if you did not plan on using it as anything but a sideswiper. For the SKCC, all code must be sent manually so to make this Cootie compliant with the rules I chose to use gator clips to short the two contacts together (as shown in the image above). I wired mine with the dots on the right side and the dashes on the left and the ground/common on the pivot base. I used a USB cable for my wires and connected it to my Icom IC-7300 according to the owner’s manual (page 18-4). A true cootie would only need a mono plug, but I chose to make it where I could use it for Parks on the Air as either an electronic bug (using the IC-7300 settings) or as a single paddle (again with IC-7300 settings).

Edit 11-19-2021:
After a long CW QSO with Rob, W2ITT, I decided that I should turn the screws around for the contacts and grind them to a point. I also mounted the wires under the bracket to eliminate two nuts. The contacts were developing some chatter or bounce, and I didn’t like it. I kept having to sand the heads of the screws, and I think this ultimately will solve the chatter issue.