WAØTDA Remote Base Ham Radio

Operate an amateur radio station from anywhere with an Internet connection.

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Antenna status notes: 14 February 2023

W0EQO station with IC-7300 and PC

W0ZSW is now using the 80 – 6 m off center fed (OCF) dipole.

WA0TDA is now using the 160 – 6 m inverted vee maypole.

W0EQO is now using the 300′ W0OXB Special dipole fed with 450 Ohm ladder line for 160 – 6 m operation.


  • The OCF dipole is not ideally positioned after damage early in the winter.  It does work, but expect signals to be reduced due to the fact that it is not high enough – and repairs cannot move forward in the winter.
  • The inverted vee maypole does not tune to a low SWR everywhere – some 160 m frequencies may not be ideal.
  • The OXB Special dipole does not tune on every frequency.  Check the SWR as you operate the antenna tuner.
  • Avoid overdriving the radios – the IC-7300 is prone to momentary shutdowns if overdriven.  This results in the radio losing the USB connection to the rig control computer, and you will lose control of the radio.  The station is then effectively off the air until a system admin intervenes to restart the host software.
  • Please report problems to wa0tda@arrl.net.


Remotes available for MN QSO Party

screenshot of RCForb software keypad

HF propagation has been great lately, and sunspot numbers are up.  The Minnesota QSO Party is this Saturday, and the remotes are avilable for you use, should you wish to participate via HF remote base operation.

Remember that the stations are located in these counties when you identify:

  • WA0TDA – Washington (WSH)
  • W0EQO – Hubbard (HUB)
  • W0ZSW – Washington (WSH)

25th Annual Minnesota QSO Party

Presented by the Minnesota Wireless Association

Saturday, February 4th, 2023

Hours: 1400 UTC (8:00 AM CST) to 2400 UTC (6:00 PM CST)

More information:  https://www.w0aa.org/mn-qso-party/

Q: Is ham radio a good hobby for young people?

close-up of IC-7200 radio

ChatGPT:  Ham radio can be a great hobby for young people, as it allows them to learn about electronics, communication, and technology while also providing an opportunity to make new friends and connections with people all around the world. In order to get started with ham radio, young people will need to obtain a license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This typically involves passing a written exam that covers basic electronics and radio theory, as well as some rules and regulations. Once they have a license, young people can use ham radio to communicate with other ham radio operators, participate in contests and activities, and even provide emergency communications in the event of a disaster. Ham radio can be a challenging and rewarding hobby that can provide young people with a sense of accomplishment and pride.

Antenna tuning affected by wet weather

Dipole antenna with ladder line feed

Most HF remote base stations use some kind of multiband wire antenna.  Often these wire antennas must go through and be supported by trees, especially if the antennas are really long and have to be fitted into limited space.   For example, a half-wave dipole antenna for the 75 meter phone band will be in the neighborhood of 120 – 125 feet (36 – 37 meters) long.  That amount of wire often will need to be threaded through trees to make in fit into the space available.

Although insulated wire is used for the radiating length, the wire is going to be in contact with foliage and branches at some points along its length.  As long as the weather is dry and the branches and leaves are not wet, this arrangement works pretty well.  It’s when the rain, snow, and ice begin that we see the antenna get detuned by the moisture and increased coupling of the radiating wire to the branches and foliage.   Although the insulation on the antenna wire blocks direct current, RF energy is easily passed from wire to tree, especially in wet weather.

With this extra loading, the antenna will no longer be “in tune” with the usual automatic antenna tuner memories that work so well in dry weather.  It will be necessary to run the tuning cycle again, sometimes more than once, while observing the SWR reading on the radio interface.   Often the band will come alive with received signals after this new tuning cycle is complete.  This is a good indication that you are on the right track, and as long as the radio does not return a “HIGH SWR” notice when you transmit, you should be good to go on that frequency.

When the weather dries out, the tuning will revert to normal, so be sure to run the tuning cycle again and make sure the SWR reading is low once again.



How do I find out which stations are online right now?

Mouse pad & mouse

Remotehams provides a real-time list of stations around the world that are up and running.  It’s easy to access with your web browser;  just go to http://www.remotehams.com/online.html and you will see a long list arranged in alpha-numeric order.

It will look something like this:

Online List screenshot

Online List screenshot

At the time I took this screenshot, there were 279 stations listed,123 Open to All, 199 TX Capable, and 172 Club Based (which usually requires club membership, but not always.)   It can be hard to find exactly the station callsign you want in that long list, so use this easy trick to search:

First, ignore the search box at the upper left of the page.  It is a site-wide search, not a search for stations that are online.  Instead, with the online list page open, type <CTRL> F  (Press the <CTRL> key and the F key at the same time.)  This will bring up a new search field where you can type the callsign you want to find.

Search screenshot

Search screenshot

The search item, in this case wa0tda, will appear on the page:

Screenshot search result

Screenshot search result

Now you can see the station status.  Easy-peasy!


Thunderstorm outages continue


July in Minnesota brings the hottest weather of the year, typically a few weeks after the summer solstice.  The sun is at its highest and the days are long.  With the heat, there is also an increase in humidity – our climate is described by geographers as a “humid continental climate”.   

What does this mean for our remote base HF stations?   Well, there are a few things to consider if you are a remote HF operator:

  • Humid, hot air breeds thunderstorms, and they can pop up with little warning.  Lightning damage to the stations is best avoided by shutting the stations down and disconnecting the antennas until the threat of storms passes.   If you are a remote user and try connecting to a station and find that it is unavailable, it is most likely a thunderstorm shutdown.  Some shutdowns are preemptive; the stations may be disconnected even if there is only a threat of storms developing.  This must be done because the station admins cannot be available 24/7 to respond  instantly to every storm threat.  These shutdowns are not always reflected on this website as they are quite common, and the stations are generally returned to service soon after the storm threat passes.   For example, if storms are predicted in the early morning, the stations will be disconnected the evening before.
  • Thunderstorms create lightning static – QRN – and conditions on longer wavelength bands like 160 and 80 meters may be very poor with high levels of noise even though the actual storms may be hundreds of miles away.
  • Consider using other bands like 20, 17, 15, and 10 meters.  Don’t forget to check out the 6 meter band as summer propagation may open the band to long distance contacts.  These bands are less affected by lightning static.
  • What happens if lightning damages a station?   Of course it depends on the extent of the damage.  If the radio gear is damaged, it will take some time for volunteers to assess and deal with it.  If other infrastructure, such as internet or power systems are damaged, outside help may be needed.  Repairs may take a long time, depending on the availability of labor and parts.  Obviously it is best to try to avoid lightning damage in the first place.
  • If a station is found to be unexpectedly offline, you may contact station admins to make them aware of it.  You can always check out one of the other stations.

Thanks for your understanding and help!

73 – Pat


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