The Chawed Rag – April 2024

Volume 54 Issue 3 – April 2024

Here’s The Chawed Rag for April 2024. We’ve got a huge solar storm, what’s to become of MFJ, more on the hackable Quansheng UV-K5(8) HT, RWK Newest Hangout, Tracking the Skies Overhead, an update from W5RLP, the usual upcoming events and news and so much more. Hope you enjoy! – KD4C

President’s Update

Greetings RWK!

It’s April (well not really, the April Chawed Rag is a bit late!), and we’re in the middle of Spring Weather in North Texas, so lots of rain and so far not too much severe weather (at least not in Richardson). But it always pays to be weather aware!

And speaking of storms, as I type this, we’re experiencing one of the largest solar storms in the last 20+ years – a G5-level event! The solar flux is well over 200 and the Planetary K index is 9 and there’s a chance for aurora down to the mid-latitudes. There have been 8 distinct solar emissions in the last few days that will cause continued radio disruptions all weekend.

Is this a sign of the end of the world? Doubtful. But it IS a sign that we are within a few months of Solar Maximum of Cycle 25, the 11 year cycle caused by the Sun’s rotating magnetic core. The cycle that heavily affects our lives as hams.

Aside from the temporary disruptions like we will experience this weekend, the recent HF band conditions have been fantastic. 10 Meters is open worldwide on a daily basis, and we have lots of random 6 Meter openings. 20M, 17M and 15M have been fantastic as well. HF conditions are the best in over 20 (maybe 30) years. Are you taking part?

I remember experiencing the peak conditions back in 1981, during Solar Cycle 21, regarded as the second best cycle on record (Cycle 19 was legendary). I remember thinking that nightly 10M SSB openings to VK/ZL land were just “normal” and they would continue forever. 3 years later, they were gone.

My point is this: these are the best that HF conditions will be for the foreseeable future, and 3 years from now, we will be lamenting for their return. If you are a new Technician, NOW is the time to upgrade and get on the HF bands to experience these great times. If you’re sitting in your HOA community, NOW is the time to get a stealth (or maybe not) antenna up. Get in on the fun NOW, cause it will not last long.

And speaking of getting on the air (see what I did there?), Field Day 2024 is coming (always the fourth full weekend in June!). Field Day is the largest on-air event for amateur radio, with around 40,000 hams on the air with 3,000-4,000 group and club stations, plus unknown numbers of individual stations. We’ve started talking about what RWK Field Day will be this year, and how we can fix the things that went wrong and improve the things that went right. More to come closer to the event, but mark your calendars (especially if you are a new ham).

Our Spring POTA event on April 20 was rained out but we’ve penciled in June 1st for another attempt. So start dusting off and sprucing up your POTA setup – or just come and use ours! And RSVP when you see the HCOL invite to let us know that you’re interested!

Up next for RWK is our 3rd annual Team Foxhunt (Sat May 18 – after the Monthly Breakfast). A perfect opportunity for those of you that haven’t gotten on the foxhunt bandwagon to do so and learn how the pros do it!

Thanks for being a RWK Member! – 73 de KD4C (feedback:

Please share any interesting ham-related stuff you’ve seen or have been doing. Doesn’t matter how raw or badly written, we’ll make you look good and help you show off what you’ve been doing – see the right column for details. With over 300 members, if everyone in the klub sent just one contribution to the Chawed Rag each year, we would have plenty of content for each issue.

This Month’s Chawed Rag Features

What’s To Become of MFJ?

By Chip Coker KD4C

As you may have heard by now, Martin Jue of MFJ Enterprises has announced his intention to “ceas[e] its on-site production in Starkville, Mississippi on May 17, 2024”. Martin cites his age (he is 80!) and the fact that COVID impacted his business as major factors in the decision.

After 52 years of operations, what is to become of a major manufacturer of Ham Radio equipment and antennas? It’s already been announced that MFJ will not have their usual display at Dayton. Is MFJ (and it’s associated brands Hy-Gain, Cushcraft, Ameritron, Mirage, and Vectronics) going out of business?

Full Disclosure: I have no inside knowledge and the following is just my specilation/educated guess. But it’s a logical guess.

There have been rumors that he was trying to sell the business as a whole (including the facilities and staff in Starkville), but the word was he wanted too much money for the operation as a whole.  Someone mentioned DX Engineering making an offer (which makes sense) but it was not accepted.

The wording in Martin’s email/statement is very specific.  It does *not* say that MFJ is going out of business.  It says “MFJ is ceasing its on-site production” in Starkville. In fact, he specifically says that Warranty and Non-Warranty repairs will continue, and that sales of existing stock will continue. This means that Martin wants to preserve the value of the brands.

This very specific wording most likely means that the various lines will be broken up and sold off.  Some will be bought by existing people (like maybe the antenna brands Cushcraft and Hy-Gain to DXE) and some may be spun off to pure China fabrication (Ameritron?) instead of the boards made in China and final assembly in Starkville.  There are a lot of products in the MFJ line, and some of them will likely be discontinued.  But whatever the form of breakup, it is clear from Martin’s wording that manufacturing in Starkville is done.  Thus the “ceasing on-site production” wording. He just couldn’t find someone as committed to the Starkville operation as he was.

This move buys time for the breakup without totally devaluing what’s left of the brands.  Thus the “we’ll continue to do service” wording.

I don’t doubt that COVID took a bite out of MFJ and that Martin is too old to invest the energy to rebound and adapt.

I hope that some (most?) of the lines survive (looking at you Hy-Gain and Cushcraft) because ham radio would be at a loss without many of them.

Best Wishes to Martin for a long life dedicated to amateur radio, and hopes for a quick resolution and landing for what’s left of MFJ.

The Best Firmware (to date) for the Quansheng UV-K5(8)?

By Chip Coker KD4C

Last Month’s Chawed Rag feature on the Quansheng UV-K5(8) and/or the UV-K6 got a lot of attention (I’m still awaiting my commission check from Quansheng – I think RWK members bought at least 20 of them). While not an outstanding performance radio (what do you expect for $20?), the firmware mods make this such a fun unit to experiment with! And for $20, buy two and have fun comparing!

Last month I teased you with at least 6 “extra” capabilities in various versions of custom firmware. Well, this month I have some even better news – someone has combined most of these extras into a single firmware load! He has managed to cram a lot of wanted features into one load. As he brags on his github page, “only 39 bytes of memory left”.

I’m now running this firmware version on both of my K5(8)s and I love all the extras – Yaesu and Icom could learn a few things to improve their UI (User Interfaces). The F4HWN Version 2.7 firmware adds the following to the base radio:

  • Change the display layout and fonts and invert the display
  • Add a spectrum display with up/down scanning
  • Add a RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator) value to the screen – extremely handy for foxhunting – much better than a bar graph s-meter
  • Open up the frequency range of the radio down to 15 Meters (the lower limit of the hardware chip in the radio)
  • Add air band capability and AM reception to all frequencies
  • Add SSB mode to receive SSB and CW
  • Two different memory scan lists

You can find the F4HWN firmware here: And uploading the firmware couldn’t be easier. You don’t have to use special software for your computer – you can do it using a web browser (Edge or Chrome) and your favorite Baofeng programming cable. After you have your radio in firmware update mode (turn on with PTT key pressed), insert the programming cable and hit “Flash with the Browser”.

If you want to find all the current mods to this little radio, YouTube is your friend. There are dozens of videos showing the latest options. I expect another burst of sales this month (I need the commissions!). If there is enough interest, we might be persuaded to include this in an upcoming QRV Tech session.

Repeater News

Just a brief update on two of our three Digital Voice Repeaters.

443.375 Multi-Mode Repeater – After a few months of shakedown on this repeater, it’s ready to find some loyal users. On DMR, we have permanently attached TS1 to Brandmeister TG3148 (Texas), so if you aren’t within range of the repeater but have a DMR HotSpot connected to Brandmeister, you can connect to TG3148 and communicate through the RWK repeater. You no longer have to “key up” to connect to TG3148. TS2 is still available to link to any other Brandmeister group by “keying up” on that group through RF. Connecting to HotSpot users was one of the reasons for this Multi-Mode Repeater (since it’s not currently possible through our other DMR Repeater (440.375). So give it a whirl and lets get some chatter going.

As always, this repeater is also available for D-Star and M17 use. There’s a bit of M17 traffic, but not much D-Star use. We are not permanently connected to a reflector, but you can initiate that through your radio. If you have a favorite D-Star Reflector, let us know and we’ll entertain a connection to it.

We’ve also re-enabled FM on this repeater (it was off for some M17 testing), so you’re free to use it on “plain” FM (PL110.9). And we also have it connected to Allstar so we may be linking to other repeaters on occasion.

444.725 RWK Fusion/Wires-X Repeater – As Andrew mentioned, we have changed the FM access from PL110.9 to DCS624 to resolve some interference problems, so update your programming when you get a chance. If you have this repeater as an analog FM channel, you’ll hear the Fusion Buzz until you update the access tone on receive. Of course, this change doesn’t affect Fusion operation at all.

We are also considering changing the default Wires-X room for this repeater. Right now, it defaults to the “Texas-Nexus” room (unless temporarily commanded to some other room). We’ve had some requests to change the default room to the “America’s Kansas City Wide”. Why? They have a very active room that is very popular and used by several in the local area. It and AmericaLink are by far the most linked rooms from the RWK Fusion repeater. If you are a Fusion user and have opinions on this, we want to hear from you!

Upcoming Hamfest Schedule

We’ve started the spring hamfest season! (and already missed a few). Here is our list of the upcoming hamfests in our area:

May 17-19 – Dayton Hamvention

The grandaddy of them all. Every ham should go to Dayton at least once! Several inside sheds with vendors and manufacturers as well as large outdoor flea market. Take your mud boots!

June 14-15 – DFW Ham Expo

For the third year, Twice the Hamfest! Twice the time (Friday and Saturday), twice the space, twice the tables. This upstart hamfest just keeps getting bigger and better.

RWK Membership

You Should Be On The RWK Discord

By Chip Coker KD4C

What is Discord you say? It’s an online message/chat community with origins in the online gaming community. RWK has been using it on a small scale since COVID but it’s been slowly growing and getting busier, and now we have over 100 people in the RWK Discord Server.

Discord is a great additional resource for RWK members communicate with each other or to ask (or answer) questions. Our current “channel” list is shown at left, and you can see channels for DX (mostly current DX spots), POTA, foxhunt, and a place for new hams to ask questions. We occasionally go off-topic, and that should be in “non-radio”.

In general, there are usually several chats going on and it’s usually a lot of fun and a good source of information. You can also post pictures and short videos, which is handy, as well as screen share and voice chat.

We also have some small group channels that are for select members only, including a channel just for our youth members.

We know that online chat is not for everyone, but “if you know, you know”. Come by and say “hi”. Discord is a free service (although they do sometimes bug you to spend money). The server invite is here: .

You can use your existing Discord account (or you can create one if this is your first use of Discord). Once you join the RWK server, please change your Discord “nickname” to Name – Callsign so we know who you are. Then one of the moderators will tag you as a RWK member or guest and you can participate.


Tracking Aircraft With SDR and ADS-B

By Chip Coker KD4C

Several months ago, as part of a RWK QRV Tech session on Software Defined Receivers (which you can still watch here), One of the demos that I gave was a way of using a $25 SDR to track the airplanes that are in the air (hopefully high) overhead your QTH. Every airplane in controlled airspace (which is most of DFW) is required to have an ADS-B transponder that broadcasts the aircraft’s position, course and altitude on one of two frequencies once per second. For less than $50, you can use a cheap RTL-SDR and a Raspberry Pi to receive these broadcasts and plot aircraft positions. It’s interesting to see what’s flying overhead at all hours of the day, and to watch arrivals and departures from DFW and Love Field (especially when it gets busy).

I’ve had one of these going continuously for several months. Recently on Discord (see above), there was a discussion about building one, and Shawn KI5PXG found a better implementation of the ADS-B decoding software (TAR1090) that’s also much easier to install. I converted my older system and it’s much better than the old version that I was running!

Here’s an example showing the map and aircraft tracking table:

TAR1090 Map and ADS-B Tracking

This is super easy to install on a Raspberry Pi. Assuming you already have a Pi up and running, just go to and use the single-line install script – it does everything for you (but make sure you set your location after installing). The page has all the instructions (if you want to read) but you mostly won’t need them.

Enjoy stalking the overhead skies!

Upcoming Ham Radio Events

These ham radio related events are coming up soon.

Lewis & Clark Trail on the Air – June 1-16

The Lewis and Clark Trail on the Air special event is an on air activity that commemorates the historic Lewis and Clark Trail. The trail covers 4900 miles through 16 states. Operating modes include SSB phone, FM phone, CW, and FT8. Any combination of modes toward working all 16 states is allowed. A schedule for planned operations for each participating state will be posted on the CCARC website. Certificates can be requested for two classes of participation: the Expedition Partner Certificate (awarded to any station working all 16 states) and the Trail Companion Certificate (awarded to any station working one or more states). The event is sponsored by the Clark County Amateur Radio Club with support and participation from clubs in all 16 states along the historic trail.

Vintage Computer Festival – June 14-16th at UTD

The Vintage Computer Festival is back and bigger & better than last year (and it’s no longer competing with Field Day – thanks Jay!

More info and tickets:

Chawed Rag Pic of the Month

Bob Perkins W5RLP in his new home in Florida (Photo: W5RLP)

For those that have been under a rock the last few months, RWK VP Bob Perkins W5RLP has moved to Florida (although we’re still wondering why). He sends this picture of his new condo’s view and says “I’m enjoying the beach. Getting settled. I brought too much stuff. I have a lot of boxes of stuff from my ham shack and really no place to put it. I’ll figure something out in time. I’ve joined the local Ham club DBARA and have also attended the local Volusia county ARES monthly meeting. I’ll probably join the county ARES group.” In the mean time, he promises to show up on the Friday Zoom and pop in to the occasional RWK Meeting when he’s not out on the beach.

Ham Radio Bits & Bytes

Voice of America Museum

If you’re going to Dayton, set aside some time and make a side trip to the Voice of America Museum in West Chester, OH. Aside from being a lesson in Radio History, many VOA technology advances came from Collins Radio.

Voice of America Museum

More On The Current Solar Storm

I know that I’ve mentioned Dr. Tamitha Skov before in the Chawed Rag, but there really is no better source for the latest in Space Weather. This clip explains the current G5-level solar event in an accessible format that can be understood by most. Subscribe to Tamitha’s YouTube channel to stay current on how space weather impacts your ham radio adventures.

Last Month’s Program

Last Month our program was on on “Receiver Performance – Signals and Noise” with our own Ken Noblett N5UA. Multi-mode receivers will be discussed. What makes a poor, good,  better,  best receiver in the real world presence of weak signals, fading, noise and interference. Ken will share his experiences developing receivers to perform in tough environments, and what you can do to optimize your setup.

If you missed last month’s (or any previous) RWK General Meeting, you can always watch the video available from the RWK website.

Upcoming Events

You can always view the RWK Calendar to see our monthly events.

RWK New Members

We have several new members for the month, including some new hams that our VE Team tested recently. If you see them at RWK events or hear them on our repeaters, please say hello.

Anna Ernst KJ5FSA
Kirk Hooks KJ5FRZ
Michael Tishlias N5WSO
Rob Whitener KI5AON
Barron Brittingham K5GOD
Tobie Booth KJ5FSM

RWK Membership – 374 Active Members

To check your renewal date and Renew your RWK Membership, go to and select Pay Club Dues from the menu.

RWK Hats Are Back!


We have a new supply of the popular RWK Hats. They are available at any Hungry Hams lunch or you can order from the website and we will mail it to you!

For Sale

The Klub has a few ham assets available for sale to Klub members at a deep discount. Please email if interested. Have something to sell? Send a short description, photo, and offer price to us.

Weekend Foxhunts

RWK holds at least one foxhunt every weekend and many weekends there are two foxes available to hunt. A monthly prize drawing is held for klub members that successfully find the fox.

You can always “watch” the hunt in real time by viewing the foxhunt logs:



To read more about foxhunts and learn some hunting tips, see our foxhunt page:

Hungry Hams

We always have a good group for our weekly Hungry Hams Lunches every Weds at noon at Sonny Bryan’s BBQ on Campbell at UTD. Why not join us?

Hungry Hams Lunch
Recent Hungry Hams Lunch at Sonny Bryan’s BBQ (Photo: KD5OUG)

Don’t forget about the Hungry Hams Monthly Breakfast every third Saturday at 8am at Southern Recipes Kitchen on Plano Parkway.

Recent Hungry Hams Breakfast (Photo: KD4C

Share Your Activities In The Chawed Rag

The RWK is always looking for content to publish in The Chawed Rag. If you have an article, technical subject, project or fun story you would like to contribute, please submit it to the editor at

To submit an article to the Editor for consideration, please put your article into a single Word Document, or if that is not possible, collect all of your article’s components into a folder and create a zip archive of all of it. Then simply email the Word Doc or zip file to

Need to Renew Your ARRL Membership?

If you are joining the ARRL for the first time, the RWK is entitled to $15 of your ARRL dues, and if you renew your ARRL membership, the RWK is entitled to $5. You now can just apply directly on the ARRL website (instead of filling on a paper form). When you apply (or renew), there will be a place on the application form for you to designate the Richardson Wireless Klub as your primary club. If you do that, then RWK gets the money that we are entitled to. (this change is effective June 1 2022) Web renewals with club is still in work at ARRL

Here’s the link to join/renew your ARRL Membership:

Interested in Helping the Klub?

The Klub needs YOU! We are looking for members that want to help with the following:

  • Website content updates
  • Ham Activities (Field Day and Public Service events)
  • New Ham Coordinator
  • Foxhunt Data Administrator

Contact KD4C for more information.

Support RWK by Buying Stuff!

We also are members of Kroger Community Rewards, so if you shop at Kroger, we can get $! Here is information on how to sign up.

The Chawed Rag

A monthly publication of the Richardson Wireless Klub, PO Box 830232, Richardson TX 75083. The Club Callsign is K5RWK.

Original content from this newsletter is Copyright 2024 by the Richardson Wireless Klub and the bylined author(s). Content may be reused by other Amateur Radio organizations with appropriate credit, notification (to the Editor), and source linkage.

Contributions are welcome – please send material to

Club Officers:
– Chip Coker KD4C
Vice-President – Bob Perkins W5RLP
Secretary – Josh Barfield N4NZ
Treasurer – Michael Masterson WT9V
Trustee – Andrew Koenig KE5GDB
Activities – Adam Butt KG5MMK
Public Service – Don Klick KG5CK
Education – Shawn Prestridge KI5PXG
Membership –
Youth – Joe Hammond N1JOE
Quartermaster – Jon Suehiro NN5T

Meetings of the Board of Directors are held monthly on the first Thursday of the month and are open to any member in good standing of the club. Please contact any club officer if you would like to attend.