W0ZSW users welcome to use WA0TDA

Update:  As of 14 June, WA0TDA and W0ZSW are now on their own antenna systems.  WA0TDA uses the maypole inverted vee system, while W0ZSW uses an end-fed zepp for operation on 160 through 6m, with 17 & 12 m excluded.

Please feel free to request WA0TDA transmit access if you have at least a USA General Class license and want to try a remote HF radio!

Dual position antenna switch

The manual antenna switch at W0ZSW is used to switch in the dummy load during testing.

What happened:

Summer chores…   All the stuff that can’t be done in the winter gets pushed into the nice weather months here in Minnesota.  The snow is gone, the days are getting long, and it’s time for yard and landscaping work.  This summer that includes tree trimming and removal – and that poses a problem for the W0ZSW antenna system, a 270 foot dipole that runs through no fewer than seven trees at the WA0TDA QTH.  Five of those seven trees are either going to be trimmed and shaped or removed altogether, so of course the antenna had to come down.

Station W0EQO in northern Minnesota was not affected by this work and remains available.

Contect wa0tda@arrl.net for WA0TDA station access or to report problems with W0EQO and W0ZSW.

Have a GREAT summer, everyone!

Summer antenna work

The hard line coax emerges from the earth at the base of the HF9V vertical antenna, connecting to a 75 ohm matching section.

The hard line coax emerges from the earth at the base of the HF9V vertical antenna, connecting to a 75 ohm matching section.









Alas, I have had to remove a 270′ W0OXB dipole antenna which ran through a half dozen trees on the property.  The reason is that one of the trees is being taken down, and three of the others are being heavily trimmed and shaped.

This leaves a choice of either the Butternut HF9V vertical antenna with lots of radials beneath it, or the inverted vee maypole system.  Both are fed underground with direct burial coax and both cover 80 through 6 meters.

When you log on to the station, the popup message will tell you which antenna is in use that day.

Trading winter snows for summer woes

HF9V vertical antenna in the winter

HF9V vertical antenna in the winter

It wasn’t but a few short weeks ago that the backyard looked like this – snow everywhere.  Then as suddenly as the flip of a switch, the Twin Cities greened up and the snow was gone.  April, usually a rainy month, was a snowy one, and spring tried really hard, but instead of rain we had thundersnow.

Now that spring/summer seems to be here for sure, we can expect more of that lightning and thunder – and that means more shutdowns of stations W0ZSW and WA0TDA, which are both on the same property.  Antennas are disconnected when lightning threatens to minimize damage to the stations and the connected computer network.

Sometimes the thunderstorms pop up unexpectedly as the air warms and rises over southern Minnesota.  This can mean that the stations will be taken offline with little or no notice.  Other times the passage of a frontal boundary will be well predicted and the stations can be shut down in advance of the front’s arrival.

Thunderstorm activity will cause loud static (QRN), especially on the lower frequency HF bands.  When you hear loud cracks and pops on the bands, you may want to finish up your QSO in case the station needs to be shut down.  In the evening or early morning  QRN may skip in from storms in the southern part of the USA, and this is not concern for station damage in Minnesota, though it may interfere with your QSO.

Have fun with the stations and enjoy a GREAT, safe summer!

73 – Pat



Failure Reporting

3.925 MHz on the IC-7200


It is possible for remote stations to have a partial failure – the station will appear when a user logs in, but although the interface is responsive for frequency changes and other settings, there is no audio.  This means that the audio server has failed, and the RCForb server application needs to be halted and restarted on the host computer.  Only a station admin can do this, so please be sure to email wa0tda@arrl.net to alert me.  If I don’t hear from users, the station may remain out of service, so I really appreciate your help with this.


73 – Pat

Maintenance Note: Power supply change

close-up of IC-7200 radio


Some users have had issues with spontaneous shutdown of the IC-7200 on voice peaks, especially with the COMP enabled.  This morning the aging Astron RS-20 power supply was switched out in favor of an SEC-1223 switching supply, which will provide adequate power on peaks to avoid shutdown.

When the rig spontaneously shuts down, the USB connection to the host computer is broken momentarily before the IC-7200 restarts.  On restart of the radio, the USB connection is NOT automatically reestablished.  This results in the station going offline until manual intervention by the admin is performed.  The host software will “hang” and must be manually halted with the Windows Task Manager, then restarted.  On restart the USB connection to the radio is then properly reestablished and the station is back on line.

It is easy to see why we want to avoid this problem!  Please report issues to me via email.

73 – Pat


Operating Tip – Reporting Problems

Mouse pad & mouseWhen operating the remote via the Windows RCForb software, you find that the station connects as expected and you hear sound.  This is good, because that means you have both rig control and VoIP for audio.

But what about when something unexpected happens?  For example, let’s say you are using the Android app on your smartphone and attempt to connect to a station.  The connection is made, but a warning appears stating that the VoIP server is not working.  The station is connected, so there is rig control but no audio.  You should disconnect and report the problem.

This can happen because of a problem on the station’s host computer, and it will not be noticed by users of the Windows app, only users of the Android app.  This is not to say that Windows users might not be affected at other times.  I have observed problems like this cropping up when Windows is setting itself up for updates.

If you experience this problem, please let the station admin know about it.  If it happens with this station, email wa0tda@arrl.net and let me know what app you are using and what kind of behavior the station was exhibiting.

Thank you for your help!

73 – Pat