About Me

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Taylorsville, NC, United States
Hi all. I am age 62 and was happily married to Irene for 27 years until her untimely death on March 24th, 2012. I have 3 children, 2 sons, 1 daughter, and 1 grandson, 3 granddaughters, My hobby and favorite past time for 27 years as of October 16, 2023 is "Amateur Radio", better known as Ham Radio. I make friends all over the world using voice, digital, and International Morse Code. CW (Morse Code) is my favorite mode!

Thursday, October 8, 2020


After running the new replacement Yaesu FT-991A that HRO shipped to me and after having used it on SSB, CW, 2 meter FM, and on the digital modes of Hellschreiber a.k.a. Feld Hell, FSKH-105 Hell A.K.A. FM Hell, JS8Call, and FT8 modes from July 22, 2020 until June 29, 2022 I have not had any problems at all! I get unsolicited compliments on the audio using a Yaesu MD-100A8X desktop microphone with it and that's without having the built-in parametric equalizer turned on! I do have the switch settings beneath the base of the MD-100A8X mic set with the MAIN/FIL switch set to ON, the two TONE switches, HIGH EMPHASIS switch set to ON, and the LOW CUT switch set on position 2. It has performed flawlessly and I love all the filtering capabilities and the Contour filter that I can turn up to around 260 hertz and pull weak signals from the noise as well as boost the audio on sideband stations I cannot hear well. It works great and even puts the receive on my Yaesu FT-1000MP Mark V to shame on CW mode. I can use the 2 preamps and boost a CW signal of 2 S-units to around S-5 on the 30 meter band with the preamp on my FT-1000MP Mark-V and boost that same signal to a S-9 signal using Preamp 2 on the FT-991A! I'm going to hear stations on CW now I could never even hear before using the Mark-V and that's saying a lot because the FT-1000MP Mark-V is a quad-conversion receiver and has a great receiver. I really like the APF (Automatic Peaking Filter) on CW mode because it brings the CW signals that are close to noise floor out of the QRN so I hear them much better! Also, I really like the ZIN button that automatically zero beats CW signals so I'm dead on frequency with the other station in about 1 second. I am so glad I chose the FT-991A over the Icom IC-7300 because I've had 3 different owners of both radios tell me that the FT-991A has a much less noisy receiver than the IC-7300 they own. Another great thing is the radio has it's own soundcard and digital interface built right in and I can operate digital modes with only 1 USB cable between the radio and my PC that has a standard USB plug on the PC end and a printer type plug on the end that plugs in the back of the FT-991A. No more audio wires lying everywhere going to and from a West Mountain Radio Rigblaster digital interface! I use it on VHF and HF phone, CW, FT8, and Feld Hell a.k.a. Hellschreiber modes weekly. The only thing that concerns me is Yaesu's technical/repair service because I have read about numerous hams on numerous amateur radio forums that had radios they sent to Yaesu for service and could not get anyone at the Cyprus, California repair center to answer the telephone, return a call when they left them a message, and never received a reply when they emailed them! I wonder what's up with that? This is my fourth Yaesu HF radio, I also own a FT-897D as well as the FT-1000MP Mark-V and now the FT-991A and historically Yaesu has had good customer service and it concerns me greatly if I have to return it for any kind of servicing because the FT-991A has a 3 years manufacturer's warranty. One thing I dislike on the FT-991A that the IC-7300 does have is that it doesn't have a IF out so I can connnect a external pan adaptor to it unless I buy and install a G4HUP PAT (Panoramic Adaptor Tap) board and do a tap on the IF stage of the radio plus have to run a small coaxial cable to a SNA jack to connect a RTL-SDR dongle to in order to use HDSDR for a external pan adaptor. I have that setup on my FT-1000MP Mark-V and it works great! All in all, ignoring Yaesu's current lousy customer service record, on a scale of 1 to 10 I rate my FT-991A at 9 and it's probably the best multiband HF/VHF/UHF/C4FM + 6 & 60 meters rig I have ever owned and I consider it a keeper!  "I absolutely love ūüíĖ my new Yaesu FT-991A!" Very 73 de Cliff, KU4GW. 

*NOTE: I was licensed 25 years as of October 16, 2021, Amateur Extra Class licensee since April 19, 1997. and am now a member of the QCWA (Quarter Century Wireless Association) membership # 38573 as well as a member of QCWA Local NC Piedmont Chapter 126 membership # 279.    

Very 73 from Cliff, KU4GW

Proud member of the ARRL A-1 Operator Club (Elected to full membership April 11, 2012)

Sunday, July 26, 2020


I've been a amateur radio operator since October 16, 1996, Amateur Extra class licensee since April 1997 and have owned several radios over the years, but until recently I had never purchased a brand new radio, I've always bought second hand radios to save a lot of money. I started out with a Icom IC-745 I ran for my first 8 years on HF, then a Kenwood TS-570D I ran for 4 years, and then a Yaesu FT-1000MP Mark-V (I've owned two of those now since a direct lightning strike tore up my first one.) See Direct Lightning Strike June 6, 2011 

Well, when Congress announced the stimulus check that went out in April 2020 I decided I was going to purchase a Yaesu FT-991A from HRO (Ham Radio Outlet). I found a open box one at the Woodbridge, VA location that was priced at 10% savings plus $100 off on a instant coupon discount being offered by Yaesu and $30 off in the Spring Savings sale being offered by HRO that were set to expire on May 1st, 2020. I bought it on April 29th before the discounts went away and after NC added their 7% sales tax of $73.50 I got the radio for a total purchase price of $949.96! 

I received the radio on Friday, May 1st, but never got to enjoy it until the following week because apparently HRO never ever bothered to check the radio out after the original buyer returned it within 10 days of the date of purchase because there was no power cord in the box with the radio! I spoke with Steve Gilmore, W4SHG, HRO's National Sales Manager, via email and he shipped me a power cord the following Monday, May 4th that arrived Tuesday, May 5th, 2020. I ran the radio a few days and really liked all the features, but then it began having a problem. The power output on HF would be working fine and then suddenly the meters stopped working and so did the transmitter power output. I could turn the radio off and then back on again and it would start working again, but only briefly until it would do the same thing again. I called Steve Gilmore and he had UPS come by and pick the radio up on Monday, May 11th. Steve said they didn't have anymore FT-991A radios in stock, but he would ship me a new one as soon as they did. 

Well, I emailed him on May 25th, 2020 and ask him if he had any idea when they would be getting them back in stock and he replied, "we have been told the first week of June".  Over another month went by and on June 30, 2020 I emailed Steve Gilmore, W4HSG, again and said, Do you have an update from Yaesu on the arrival of the FT-991A's? Also, it would go a long way toward future purchases/sales if you would take a few minutes of your time to keep your customers updated on things like this rather than make them have to contact you instead. 

Steve never even replied to my second email and to this date he never has! I found out on Friday, July 17th from my friend Donnie, KN4RA, that HRO had the FT-991A's back in stock at 7 different HRO locations although Steve Gilmore nor anyone else at Ham Radio Outlet in Woodbridge, VA bothered to email, telephone, or notify me of at all, nevermind they had almost $1000.00 of my money they had since April 29th, 2020! 

I called them on Saturday, July 18, 2020 and the guy who answered the telephone at first acted like he didn't know what to tell me and told me he would telephone me back that day and let me know something. Well, he kept his word and at 4:56 PM he called me and told me he was shipping me a new radio on Monday, July 20th and it arrived via UPS on Wednesday, July 22nd! Finally! They shipped me a new in the box factory new FT-991A! 

I learned one thing from this experience and that is when spending a thousand dollars on amateur radio equipment good customer service is of utmost importance, something HRO in Woodbridge, VA and that Steve Gilmore, W4HSG, HRO's National Sales Manager, don't seem to grasp! Also, I learned from this experience that I will never ever purchase another item from Ham Radio Outlet! I'll go with Gigaparts, DX Engineering, or any company that treats me like they would want to be treated themselves if they were the customer! 

I could have just let this slide and not mentioned a word of it to anyone, but if me posting this saves just one person from getting jerked around by HRO's customer service the way I was I will have accomplished what I set out to do by telling my story. I still don't understand why! Did they think I was just a dumb NC Appalachian mountain hillbilly they could do any old way without any repercussion? I have no idea why!

HRO needs to adopt the strategy that a man adopted in 1912 when he bought a chain of 3 stores called "The Golden Rule" stores because the Golden Rule says, "Do Unto Other As You Would Have Them Do Unto You". This man made a great success of his business with that strategy towards customer service. The man's name was James Cash Penney, but he was more widely known as J.C. Penney. 

*Note: I have receipts & emails to support everything I have stated in this blog post. 

Revised: July 28, 2020

Sunday, December 17, 2017


The past couple of years I had gotten almost completely away from CW and digital modes due to falling in with a couple different local 75 meter phone groups, but I finally got fed up with all the malicious interference/QRM and arguing, both which are rampant on 75 meter phone so this past week I abandoned it and have returned to my favorite modes of operating where the QRMers and Lids are few and far between. 

I've also been doing a bit of operating on Feld Hell also known as Hellschreiber. I was very involved in that mode about 4 years ago when I used to call a weekly net for the Feld Hell Club and also helped man the W8H Feld Hell Special Event Station at the 2013 Dayton Hamvention. (Photo below). I sure have missed operating these modes where most amateur radio operators still behave with integrity!

When the FCC dropped the Morse code requirement from the amateur licensing structure on February 23, 2007 they made a huge mistake! I speak from 21 years experience because since that happened all kinds of undesirable people have been showing up on the HF phone bands and the lack of any enforcement by the Federal Communications Commission has not helped matters! There are people that roam the phone bands for the specific purpose of malicious interference! I know this from my observations as a ARRL Official Observer since August 6, 2008. It's the absolute worst I've ever heard it! 7.200 Mhz on the 40 meter band is a excellent example of how the FCC is not doing it's job! If you can't stand vulgar language stay away from that frequency altogether! Back during the aftermath of Hurricane Charlie there were QRMers interfering with WX4NHC, the amateur radio station at the National Hurricane Center and the Hurricane Watch Net trying to get information from and into the affected area of the hurricane damage! The Morse code requirement for licensing helped to weed out the majority of these kind of people because most of them would not put forth that much effort to get a license! It's just a shame that the FCC sits idly by and allows these things to happen on a daily basis although they get paid very well for sitting on their hands or playing on the internet all day long at the taxpayer's expense. I'd be ashamed to take advantage of my fellow Americans the way they're doing! I really don't see how they sleep at night! 

Back to the subject of CW or Continuous Wave, the method used to transmit Morse code by the on and off switching of a continuous radio wave, It has always been my most favorite mode on amateur radio, I think it's partly a nostalgia thing in my mind, but it's also where you will meet some of the nicest folks who conduct themselves with integrity and maintain the high traditional standards of the U.S. Amateur Radio Service and that is why I like it so well! If the FCC were to ever do away with the frequency spectrum they've set aside for CW operation that would be the end of my interest in the hobby! 

I have recently set up my station to operate on the newer digital modes of JT65, FT8, and FT9, but my preference are the more personal digital modes where I can actually have a conversation with someone instead of just swapping a callsign and signal report for the sake of getting them in my logbook. That's also how I feel about contesting on amateur radio. I got into the hobby for relaxtion and enjoyment and a quick signal report exchange or seeing how many people I can contact in a certain length of time isn't relaxing to me although it may be to some people = "different strokes for different folks!" I may participate in a 2 hour sprint, but I just don't have enough patience to operate in a 48 hour long contest. For digital mode operating I'm using my Yaesu FT-1000MP Mark V transceiver with a FT-897D for a backup radio and I use Digital Master 780 in the last free version of Ham Radio Deluxe software, but use WSJT-X software and JT Alert 2.1.2 for JT65, FT8, and FT9 digital modes. I use a West Mountain Radio Rigblaster M8 digital interface on a Dell 17R (N7010) 17 inch laptop PC. My current antenna is a 260 feet (79.3 meters) long doublet antenna fed with 450 ohm ladder line up only 30 feet (9.14 meters) high and I use a Palstar AT1500CV manual roller inductor antenna tuner. I also have a Hustler 5BTV vertical antenna in the works and just got a home brewed tilt-over mounting bracket for it courtesy of my good friend KM4JPL Jim in Grifton, NC. Also a radial plate that was made for me by NC4WS Wayne of Pikeville, NC who is now SK as of July 9, 2017.

Anyway, I'm so happy to be back and I think I'm staying this time! I certainly had better not hold my breath waiting on the Federal Communications Commission to do their jobs in enforcing U.S.G.S.§ 47 CFR Part 97 of the FCC Rules and Regulations that are intended to govern the U.S. Amateur Radio Service! Although there are a few Lids = Bad Operators on CW and digital modes I find they are very few and far between, but on phone they're everywhere!  Hope to catch you on the bands!

Very 73 from KU4GW Cliff

ARRL Member for 22 Years, Member of the ARRL A-1 Operator Club since April 11, 2012
FISTS CW Club #16001, NAQCC #1491, Flying Pigs QRP International #1183
SKCC #652C, 4SQRP #536, QRP-ARCI #15877, Feld Hell Club #62, 30 Meter Digital Group = 30MDG #865, Digital Modes Club = DMC #6362

Friday, November 7, 2014

Well, It's About Time!

      It's been almost two years since I last posted to my blog so I hope everyone will forgive me for my absence. Ever since my dear wife Irene passed away back on March 24th, 2012 I just haven't been the same and am just now getting so I'm dealing with losing her. Irene was the best thing that has ever happened to me my entire life and she spent 28 wonderful years with me and we raised 3 fantastic children together. When she passed away we had only 1 grandchild, but now I have three!
A grandson who just started school this fall and one granddaughter who was born on April 2, 2013 and another granddaughter born on April 23, 2014. Every time my son, who is a Gunnery Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, deploys, I get a new grandchild when he returns home! LOL!
      So what's been going on with me as far as amateur radio? Well, I've been doing a lot more DX chasing the past 2 years, no contesting, just hunt & pounce or using the Reverse Beacon Network or DX Watch to spot them. Last count I was up to 115 DXCC entities, not all confirmed. I use eQSL, LoTW, and ClubLog to confirm QSOs with. I no longer use the ARRL Outgoing QSL Bureau. I really like the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) the best for DX chasing because it finds the stations as soon as they call CQ, many times before a pileup has started. I worked E51NOU on South Cook Island just this week thanks to a RBN spot and there wasn't a soul around when I got him my first try! Not long after that someone posted him to DX Watch and the pileup really built up fast once that happened. I like using RBN with the receive stations filter on the website set to post only stations heard in ITU zone 8 which is where I'm located. Works great and is, in my opinion, one of the best kept secrets in amateur radio, especially when compared to any of the DX cluster or DX spotter pages.
      I have also been into working a few digital modes over the years with Feld Hell a.k.a. Hellschreiber and PSK31 being my favorite modes, but now thanks to computer issues I'm off the digital modes for the time being. After I installed last months Windows Critical Updates it messed my computer up and many others as well from what I read on a recent ZDnet article. It caused my computer to reboot while the updates were still installing which is a big no no when installing updates! Microsoft admits they goofed, but that doesn't help me any! I wound up having to do a clean install of Windows 7 (64-bit) and start over. Well, mostly, I was fortunate enough to have a backup to install all my app data and photos from plus I back them all up on cloud storage via Google Drive and Dropbox as well. I highly recommend using Google Drive over Dropbox because as I found out you can only recover Dropbox photo backups by right clicking and then left clicking "save as" one at a time for every single photo while with Google Drive you can download the entire folder of photos all at once! Much much better! Anyway, back to digital, after the reinstall of Windows 7 I now have 2 new problems! Both of the comports on the small board in the left back corner of my Dell N7010 laptop have stopped working and about a week later my wireless network adapter quit too! I'm using a old external USB wireless network adapter for the time being. The 2 comports that stopped working were the ones I used for digital! One of them connected to the CAT (Computer Assisted Technology) port on the back of my Yaesu FT-1000MP Mark V and I used it to run Ham Radio Deluxe and Digital Master 780 through. I also used the other comport to run a West Mountain Radio Rigblaster M8 digital interface to get the audio into and out of the rig. The CAT port one only controls the rigs frequency and PTT while the Rigblaster delivers the audio. I know that the Mark V has a built-in digital interface accessible via the Packet jack DIN plug port on the back of the radio, but I already had the Rigblaster wired up and working from my previous HF rig and my favorite saying, especially when it comes to computer stuff, and learned over time the hard way, is "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" Anyway, until I can get my comports working again no digital modes for me! It's not like I worked a lot of digital anyway, but I like knowing I can when I get ready to so that's a priority on my get fixed list! I do CW more than any other mode on amateur radio as it is and has always been my most favorite mode!
      In other news, I recently attended the Shelby, NC Hamfest again on Labor Day weekend with my good friend since high school, W4WWF Dale. Dale pulled a huge camper to the Cleveland County Fairgrounds and we made a 3 day event of the hamfest. Shelby Hamfest's slogan is "the granddaddy of them all" and it is as far as the biggest hamfest in the entire state of North Carolina!
No comparison to the Dayton Hamvention which I was fortunate enough to attend for the very first time in 2013 thanks to another great ham friend W8LEW Lou! Lou offered to and did pay my way to Dayton including round-trip airfare, lodging at the Springhill Suites at the Marriott, and even my ticket to the Hamvention! I thought I'd fall out of my chair when Lou emailed me in fall 2012 and offered to do that! I made it! I finally made it to the Mecca of Amateur Radio, the Dayton Hamvention! I have posted a slew of photos from both the Shelby Hamfest and the 2013 Dayton Hamvention if you would like to see them.
      I have much more to talk about, but I'll save that for my next update which, if I can keep the schedule, I would like to start posting a update to, at least every 2 or 3 weeks from here on out. Thanks a lot for reading my blog and be sure to sign my Guestbook! Until next time very 73 from KU4GW Cliff in the beautiful foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of northwest North Carolina (Alexander County - Grid EM95iv).

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Guglielmo Marconi story

I saw this story posted on the blog of IV3JVH, only it was in Italian, so I thought I would convert it to English and post it to my blog with the permission of IV3 JVH Emanule of course! Marconi is one of my radio heroes although I give credit for the invention of radio to Nikola Tesla.

Guglielmo Marconi story

Born 25 April 1874 in Bologna, Italy

      In his villa in Pontecchio, at Bologna, he discovered that by connecting a generator of electrical oscillations in a wire isolated in the air (antenna) and the earth, was obtained by an efficient radiator of electric waves and that these waves could be detected at a distance about 2 km from a receiver connected to it as well a wire isolated in the air (antenna) and the earth.

Marconi for young, had suffered the clearest insights of the great convenience and possible future of his invention. But also realized the need for large financial resources for the development of new communication system he devised. He therefore went to February 2, 1896 in London, accompanied by his mother, who, by their own relatives, gave him the presentation of the chief engineer of the Post Office in London, Sir William Preece.

In the spring of 1897, Marconi demonstrated the ability to communicate at a distance of about 4 km Salisbury (England), a distance that a little later was increased to 15 km. Developed 'then a competition between the governments of the great nations of Marconi to get a practical demonstration of its new system of telegraphy.

The Italian Government, on the initiative of the Secretary of the Navy B.Brin, begged M. ritornre of Italy in order to perform experiments in radio-telegraphy on ships of the Royal Marina. Marconi joined the invitation and in 1897 gave practical demonstrations of his invention prior to Rome and then on R.Nave San Martino in La Spezia, by means of which he felt the chance to telegraph at a distance of about 18 km.

Following these first practical demonstrations generously given by Marconi with full confidence and above all in the interest of communications for the safety of life at sea, were built in a short time at the great nations new associates with the Marconi Company, founded in 1897 in England, or competing with it.

Large and unexpected obstacles that were opposed to the development of Marconi's invention: the high mountains, the curvature of the earth, the sun, the interference between close stations, the atmospheric electrical discharges, etc.., Which appeared in principle insurmountable obstacles the rapid and practical development of wireless telegraphy.

These obstacles They provided powerful elements to justify the coldness of the government after an initial period of enthusiasm, skepticism of the technicians, the distrust of financiers. But Marconi managed to win brilliantly and tenaciously, with subsequent refinements, all obstacles oppostigli by nature and by man.

M. Create the first wireless apparatus with syntonic circuits to ensure the independence of contemporary communications more nearby stations (patent 7777).

established the first radiotelegraph communications, despite the curvature of the earth, between stations at a distance of about 300 km., ie between S: Catherine the Isle of Wight and Cape Lizard in Cornwall.

In December demonstrates for the first time the possibility of transmitting telegraph signals across the Atlantic between Polchu (England) and St. John's, Newfoundland. This success confirms entirely the opinion of M. already expressed after connecting Cape Lizard - S. Catherine, that the electric waves would not have been arrested by the curvature of the earth and that they could be transmitted to any distance on our planet. This view, in contrast to all existing theories, was strenuously opposed by leading scientists.

February. M. discovers a fact, which became common knowledge, and that is that, with waves of about 1000 m., the transmission range is much greater at night than during the day.
Following the first wing radio-electric transmission accomplished by the Atlantic Ocean and the resulting value taken from their patents, M. wrote to the Secretary of the Navy in Rome that he granted the R. Italian government on free use of its patents and the free play of his equipment in the arsenals of the state in the interest of Italian military radio communications.

July-December: R.N. Carlo Alberto
experiences the magnetic detector

radiotelegraph communications between the United States and England
The two main applications:
Radio-maritime services for public safety at sea liner

property directives of horizontal antennas
first applications of diode Fleming

inaugurates the first regular public radiotelegraph between Europe and America

first dramatic rescue in high-Atlantic collision between the steamships Republic and Florida.
Special laws are enacted to make it compulsory installation of radio stations on board ships.

Titanic sinks in
The Marconi system was officially adopted by England for the imperial telegraph network meant to connect England with all of its colonies.

first applications of vacuum tubes in the transmitters and radio-first.
During World War Marconi participates as an officer, before the Army and then the Navy.

in Genoa resumed his studies on the shortwave. Parabolic reflector.

first voice transmission from England to Australia

Merger of the company with the company Marconi cable English.

In the presence of Pope Pius XI inaugurated the microwave link between the Vatican City and Castel Gandolfo.

In the history of science and its applications can not remember another inventor who, like Marconi, after realizing his invention, it is always kept at the head of the development of it, and he has personally directed the main applications around the globe. For this purpose has been particularly advantageous the great activity and the particular initiative of M. move quickly in the most distant countries eseguirele his experiences ...

with comfortable sun laboratory experiments the radio would never have progressed.

Marconi has so far crossed the Atlantic 87 times and finished in 1933. Marconi died in 1937.

Reprinted with permission of IV3VJH

Very 73 de Cliff - KU4GW

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Use of the AS CW Prosign

I notice that a lot of stations I work on CW are unfamiliar with the AS prosign which means “stand by”. I wish that more hams were familiar with this prosign because I know of many times when the phone would ring with a important call from my doctor or pharmacy that I needed to take or someone would be knocking on the door I would send AS and then the other station would start sending again at length as if I'd never sent it. I had mentioned this on several CW/Amateur Radio related Facebook pages and GQ0SDT Jonathon in the U.K. stated that is us older more experienced CW operator's responsibility to educate the newer CW operators about this and he is exactly right so that's why I'm posting this on my blog and I hope that others who read this will share this information! I also contacted QST and CQ Magazines and ask if they would ask their CW columnists to mention it in their magazine columns to educate the newer operators about the AS prosign. Pass it on! Until next post very 73!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Finally! A Blog Update!

This is the first post I've made this year! Sorry for that, but my life has changed drastically since my last post! On March 24th, 2012 I lost my beloved wife of 27 years and mother of my three children, Irene, due to a pulmonary embolism. I have been in deep depression ever since her death. She suffered her 3rd  heart attack while hospitalized in Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC.  She was only 48 years old! She was awaiting surgery to implant a LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device)    because her previous 2 heart attacks had damaged her heart to the point that it was only pumping at 19% capacity, but I guess God had other plans for her.  It's going to take me years to ever get over losing her!    She was the most caring and giving person I have ever known! She changed me for the better over the years and I am a better person for it! I will never ever forget her and will always feel that she was a true blessing to me from God!    

IRENE FOX "Renie"                                                                 

Now I will update you on my amateur radio activities. I recently received two wonderful surprises that were both totally unexpected! About a month ago I went to check the mailbox and there was a large envelope from the ARRL. My first thought when I saw it was that it was probably a reminder that my membership was about to expire, but much to my surprise and delight this is what was in the mailbox!

Not in a million years did I ever expect this! I've been a ham for 15 years now and I had pretty well given up the thought of ever being a member of the A-1 Operator Club. It has been in existence since May 1933 and all hams worldwide are eligible for membership, but the only way you can become a member is if two existing members nominate you and if you solicit a member for a nomination it automatically disqualifies you of ever becoming a member! There are to this date only 5,825 members worldwide! The A-1 Operator Club has represented an unsolicited acknowledgment of one's high standing among one's peers and I am extremely grateful to be a member of this elite group, to me this is my greatest accomplishment in the amateur radio hobby!

The other surprise I received is a great one also! I had recently sold my Yaesu DVR-2 digital voice recorder that came along with the Yaesu FT-1000MP Mark V transceiver I bought last June after a May 22nd, 2011 thunderstorm destroyed my previous Mark V along with almost ever piece of electronic equipment in the entire house, $6200 damage total! I never did use the DVR-2 so I sold it with the intent of purchasing a QRP CW rig or a kit to build one, but as Murphy's Law usually rears it's ugly head I wound up having to use part of the $145 I got for it to put new brake pads and rotors on the front of my daughter's car so I only had $65 left! I was talking with my good friend WD4CWE Don Miller in Burlington, NC on 3.895 Mhz LSB and was telling Don about this and I told him if he heard of anyone that may have a used one or a kit for $65 to let me know. That conversation took place on Saturday April 21st, 2012. Well, two days later after having sat up all night playing on the ham radio & computer I was still sleeping at lunch time and my daughter Elizabeth woke me up and said "Hey Dad, do you know someone from Dolly Parton Parkway in Sevierville, Tennessee?" and I replied, "that's where Ten-Tec is!" Liz said "what's that?" and I said "Tennessee Technical!". She then said, "Well, the UPS just left a box here for you from there!" I said, "Well, bring it in here and open it!" Inside was a brand spanking new Ten-Tec R4020 QRP CW transceiver and on the invoice was written: "Mr. Fox - A Gift For You From Your Friends On 3895!" Can you believe it? Those guys set me up with a $249 QRP rig and it could not have arrived at a better time for you see, Tuesday April 24th, 2012 was the one month anniversary of my dear wife's death. I was dreading waking up that day because I just knew I was going to be very depressed, but getting the new rig sure cheered me up! It absolutely made my day! I thank the good Lord for whom ever it was that did this for me and will be forever grateful! I am making a 44 feet long center-fed dipole fed with 450 ohm ladder line to use as my QRP antenna and hope to be operating from some mountain top or park very soon! Mount Mitchell is only about a 2 hour drive from my home QTH and is 6,684 feet above sea level. It is the highest mountain east of the Mississippi River! Also, Grandfather Mountain is even closer, about a 90 minute drive, and is at 5,946 feet above sea level! So if your a CW operator be listening for me around the CW QRP watering holes on 7.030, 7.040, and 14.060! I used to think that one could not do very well running only 5 watts, but after joining the  NAQCC (North American QRP CW Club), I'm NAQCC#1491, and working about 90 minutes of their QRP Sprint one night I got a attitude adjustment as far as QRP capabilities! I worked 23 station in 17 states that night! After that I was hooked! 


On another ham radio topic I have been working a little bit of digital, mainly Hellschreiber A.K.A. Feld Hell around 7.073 USB on 40 meters. I often call the Feld Hell Club Net on Thursdays beginning at 0045 UTC (Wednesday evening at 8:45 PM EDT in North America). My Feld Hell membership number is 62. The Feld Hell Club currently has 3,836 members! I like it better than PSK31 because it has a duty cycle much like CW and so does not heat the radio's finals near as bad as 100% duty cycle modes such as PSK31, MFSK, and a lot of other digital modes so check it out sometime! For much more information on Hellschreiber check out the Feld Hell Club's website at  
Now I want to put in a word for my favorite ham radio net and that is the "Freewheelers Net" held nightly beginning 0300 UTC, 11:00 PM EDT, on 3.916 LSB. It is, in my opinion, the best camaraderie net on amateur radio! These are a great bunch of hams that welcome all newcomers to join in! The Freewheelers Net has a Yahoo Group at Come join in on the fun! You will certainly feel welcome!

Well,  that's the latest from the KU4GW hamshack and I will do my best not to wait so long before making my next post! Hope to catch you "on the air" soon! Thanks for reading my blog!
Very 73!
Cliff - KU4GW

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Multiple Myeloma Update + Ham Radio Update

      It's been quiet a while since I've posted anything, let alone an update on my battle with Multiple Myeloma (MM). The main reason for this is my MM was in remission for 3 years & 4 months after my autologous stem cell transplant (SCT) in late 2007, but returned in stage 1 back in March 2011 with an m-spike protein level of 1.1. For those reading my blog not familiar with what MM is here's a definition: Multiple myeloma, also known as plasma cell myeloma or Kahler's disease (after Otto Kahler), is a cancer of plasma cells, a type of white blood cells normally responsible for the production of antibodies. Collections of abnormal cells accumulate in bones, where they cause bone lesions (abnormal areas of tissue), and in the bone marrow where they interfere with the production of normal blood cells. Most cases of myeloma also feature the production of a paraprotein, an abnormal antibody that can cause kidney problems and interferes with the production of normal antibodies leading to immunodeficiencyHypercalcemia (high calcium levels) is often encounteredAfter my SCT I had bloodwork done every quarter of the year so if it did return it would be caught hopefully in an early stage and that worked out well because it showed up in stage 1 in March. I immediately returned to Wake Forest University's Comprehensive Cancer Center in Winston-Salem, NC for an appointment with my oncologist, Associate Professor Dr. Denise Levitan, to begin treatment again. She put me on a drug called Revlimid, the brand name, but the actual drug name is Lenalidomide. This along with dexamethasone which I take 5 pills at once every 7 days for 3 weeks each month. I get 1 week off of both drugs each month and so far the combination of the 2 are working well for me. Just last month my m-spike protein level dropped all the way to 0.10! That's almost in complete remission again! Oh yeah, for a detailed description of what a M-spike protein is go to this: . M-spike proteins show up in both blood tests and urine tests. Anyway, that's where I'm currently at in my cancer battle. There is no known cure for MM, but you can live a lot of years with it because it is treatable and I'm hopeful that someday a cure will be found. I feel pretty good most of the time, but I have occasional bad feeling days as well. For lots more info on multiple myeloma check out and all the links on as well.
      As far as my radio hobby goes I always have fun on ham radio! I check in frequently with all my friends on the Freewheelers Net on 3916 Khz and am also having a lot of fun operating CW (Morse Code) with the Straight Key Century Club, I'm SKCC#652. Last check SKCC has 8,460 members as of October 6th, 2011! I also participate with the QRP guys in the North American QRP CW Club, I'm NACCC#1491 and with the Flying Pigs QRP International Club, I'm FP#1183. Well, that's my much needed update so I'm gonna run for now and work some of the October SKCC Weekend Sprintathon which had only 3 hours left of which I've yet to work any of this month so hope to hear you on the air! 

Very 73,
Cliff - KU4GW 

Sunday, June 26, 2011


It finally happened after 35 years in the radio hobby! Was in QSO with W4EQ John in Lake Norman, NC when the Weather Alert radio alarmed with a severe thunderstorm warning for Alexander County. I immediately signed off with John and told him I was unhooking. I brought up the Firefox web browser to check the Intellicast Weather Radar and I saw a large hook echo close to 2 miles from edge to edge with a huge indention in the center. I unhooked both my coaxes and grounded them to the ground wire coming from outside the window that is attached to a 8 foot ground rod 7 1/2 feet deep in red clay soil. I have 2 short pieces of copper wire with an alligator clip soldered on each end and I clip one end of each  to the ground wire  and the other to the collar (shield) of the PL-259 connectors. I had everything in the shack disconnected, but the computer and it hit sounding like a large tree cracking just outside the kitchen window at the back of the house followed by a huge noise that sounded like an explosion. In that split second it destroyed my 2 cordless telephones, answering machine,  Direct TV satellite receiver, my 42" flat screen hi-def Vizio TV, DVD/VCR combo, desktop computer,Exceluis RF phone line filter, Rigblaster Plus digital interface, and proceeded from the PC sound card and Rigblaster into my Yaesu FT-1000MP Mark V and even destroyed the HC-5 full-range mic element in my Heil Proset Plus headset! I ended up with about $6,200 in damages with 2 small trees lying on the house from the 90 MPH winds! A hard lesson learned that took over a month to finally get all settled up with through the homeowner's insurance. Thank God I had full replacement coverage on personal property! Got me another FT-1000MP Mark V for $1,700 with all the optional SSB filters, the roofing filter mod, and the DVS-2 digital voice recorder all included! Everything has been repaired or replaced now. Thanks to W4WWF  Dale (now a Silent Key as of February 23rd, 2017 after a 3 year battle with lung cancer) for loaning me a Yaesu FT-857D to run until I got another rig so I wasn't totally off the air! From here on out I'll be unhooking everything including telephone lines when a storm approaches! Sending my old FT-1000MP Mark V off for repair. KI4NR says I'm looking at around a $500 repair because the lightning entered the radio through the CAT port which usually damages the microprocessor and the entire CAT board has to be replaced. You can't buy just the microprocessor. The CAT board alone from Yaesu is $315! Got the power company coming out this week to install Triple Surge Guard lightning protection on my power meter, satellite dish, and telephone line. I'll still be unhooking! I had all these items on surge protectors which were totally useless! There is no such thing as protection from a direct lightning strike! Where I had the coaxes grounded the lightning came through the ground and burned the ground wire completely in two plus literally welded one of the alligator clips to the ground wire! Well, that's the story of my first and I sure hope my only direct lightning strike ever! Was very scary especially with the high winds we had! I have a huge oak tree at the NW corner of my hamshack, same direction the wind was coming from, that would completely flatten my house should it ever come down. This was a fast moving storm with a forward speed of 60 MPH so it didn't take very long to pass over. One of the trees fell across my 260 feet doublet dipole antenna and broke it right at the dog bone insulator on one end, but the antenna still tunes the same so it's OK. I just need to raise it up another 30 feet, only 30 feet high on that end right now and still up close to 60 feet on the opposite end, an extreme sloper for the time being, but still performing very well from my elevation of 1,434 feet ASL on the NE slope of Bald Knob Mountain ( SOTA=Summits On The Air Locator: ) . I hope I never ever have to repeat this story on a blog again!

 Very 73,
Cliff - KU4GW

Yaesu FT-1000MP Mark-V Lightning Damage