Lab599 TX-500 Firmware 1.14.05

Another firmware drop from the folks at Lab599 for their excellent portable transceiver the TX-500. From the changelog:

v1.14.05 (2022.08.08)
- Improved CW decoder function 
  * Increased maximum decoding speed
  * Font fixed
- Added CW encoder function — character input of CW messages
- Improved work with memory cells: the transceiver saves the current memory mode when turned on/off
- General fixes and improvements

It’s great to see a company continuing to improve features in their products. Looking to get this loaded up later today and take it for a test drive.

Lab599 TX-500 1.13.13 Firmware

The team at Lab599 is really working hard on adding CW decoding and assorted fixes to this fine radio.

A new firmware v1.13.13 is available for download at

From the change log:

v1.13.13 (2022.06.30)
- [BETA] CW Decoder: extended CW detector capture bandwidth
- Fixed iambic keyer "A" mode (TNX DL9MA)
- Fixed display of CW decoder in SWR monitor mode
- Disabled NR in DIG mode

POTA Failure and Nature Success

I took some time away from work and family to decompress in nature.

I’ve previously written about Afton State Park (K-2466) near my QTH here in Minnesota. It is a beautiful park located on the shore of the St. Croix river which separates Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The hike into the campsites is not tremendously long at just about 1 mile, but there is both a steep downhill and uphill section that can get the heartrate up a bit, so I chose to go lightweight this trip.

Equipment included:

  • Elecraft KX2 (new to me – more on that in a follow up post)
  • Elecraft AX1 antenna
  • BaMaTech BaMaKey TP-111 (see previous post for a review)

I knew going into this that the AX1 is a severely compromised antenna, however I didn’t want to haul in a throw line to run an EFHW or dipole, nor did I want the weight and mass of one of my larger verticals.

This was going to be, and was a challenge.

In the end, I logged 5 contacts. Signal reports weren’t great – as expected – but I greatly appreciate the effort those old men put forth to pull my signal out of the ether. Given I was on 20 meters, no surprise to see the distances for each contact.

Created at

You can see a quick video I did upon returning this morning showing the area, the setup, and some of the flora and fauna I encountered.

Even though I failed the activation, it was a great time and beautiful scenery. Just what the doctor ordered!

The Ninja of Morse and How to Support Him

Along my CW journey – which I am still trudging along on – I have benefited greatly from Kurt Zoglmann (AD0WE) and his site Morse Code Ninja (link).

Kurt has produced literally weeks and weeks of audio files of various categories in speeds of 15-50wpm (*gulp* – that speed just sounds like noise to me still), all of which is freely available for download. You can see the dozens of categories on his Practice page (link).

His YouTube channel additionally has videos of the audio files so you have multiple options for playback.

Example Video

Given how many hours I’ve spent using his work over the last year plus of my learning CW, and how many others I’ve spoken with that have also benefited, I am suggesting that a small donation to continue to fund his efforts is a good thing that, if able, you should consider doing.

He has a link to do so on his contact page (link).

No I am not affiliated with him or his site, just a very grateful consumer of his efforts.

Having a software development background I know how time intensive projects like his can be, and for him to put it out there for everyone to use freely speaks to his love for the hobby and desire to grow it even more. Hosting a website and having bandwidth for file download isn’t cheap, and I like to encourage people like him to continue so that we can all benefit for years to come.

<Featured Image is by Raphaël Cubertafon on Unsplash>

Wilderness Protocol

I’ve been licensed since 2008, and though I’ve seen mention of Wilderness Protocol, I’ve never been clear on what that means.

I generally carry an HT when I venture out into the woods, and I definitely carry one along with my vehicle mounted mobile when I’m traveling cross country. Cell phone coverage is generally good, but…

Knowing that the 2 meter and 70 centimeter calling frequencies are 146.520 and 446.000 respectively, I never gave much more thought to what to use beyond having those programmed into my HT.

I came across a couple of articles recently that were both news to me, and a common sense approach to both receiving help in a time of need, and to being willing and able to lend help.

ARRL ARES Field Resources Manual Article

Harris County ARES Article

This is probably old news to many, but I’m posting here to increase visibility and keep as a reference for myself.

Hopefully it is useful to you and you never need it.


This is what the ARRL has published on the matter:

The Wilderness protocol (see page 101, August 1995 QST) calls for hams in the wilderness to announce their presence on, and to monitor, the national calling frequencies for five minutes beginning at the top of the hour, every three hours from 7 AM to 7 PM while in the backcountry. A ham in a remote location may be able to relay emergency information through another wilderness ham who has better access to a repeater. National calling frequencies: 52.525, 146.52, 223.50, 446.00, 1294.50 MHz.

ARRL ARES Field Manual pg. 87 (linked above)

I am hoping that this is helpful to folks, especially now as temperatures are warming up here in the northern latitudes and more people are getting outdoors.

Have fun out there! (safely)

The featured image in this post is from Yosemite National Park, taken during our family road trip in 2019