SKCC 5123T----- FISTS 14979----- Flying Pigs 2331----- NAQCC 3610-----QRP ARCI 14176-----Polar Bear 257

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Field Day 2017: Final Plans

I am a bit obsessive about Field Day but Why Not! In my teen ham years, I remember the local club dropped off a generator and left Field Day to four of us teenage hams. We knew how to string up some dipoles and did Field Day on our own. That does not seem to happen anymore.

This year I will be doing Field Day at Falling Waters State Park near Chipley, Florida. I reserved the call N4Y for the event. I can't invite the general public to the camping area. However, we welcome all the campers.

Prior to Field Day on Friday, I will operate as N4KGL and the contacts will count for KFF-1864 Parks On The Air. Friday night is informally known as QRP Night We will look for other groups participating on CW QRP frequencies.

Our Field Day starts at 1800 UTC or 1 PM CDT Saturday. It is 24 hours but due to checkout time being 1 PM Sunday I will tear down at 11 AM.

The rig will be my Icom 7300 and a 30 by 20 ft vertical loop. The bottom wire is 10 feet above the ground. It is fed at the bottom center with an AH-4 tuner. I have 100 AH of battery power and a solar panel. I also will have a rig on 2 meters and a 4 element yagi.

We will be one transmitter (Class B) One or two-person portable: Rick NZ2I will be the second op. The Section is Northern Florida NFL So our exchange is 1B NFL on CW and One Bravo North Florida on phone

Phone contacts count one point each.
CW contacts count two points each.
Digital contacts count two points each

The power multiplier will be 2 X for less than 150 watts. I am bailing out on QRP this time.

We should qualify for at least for these bonuses:
  • 100 points Publicity. I submitted a story to the Washington CountyNews
  • 100 points for being on on emergency power. I have us covered with 100 AH of batteries plus a solar power assist.
  • 100 points for being in a public place
  • 100 points for a public information table.
  • 100 Points for Section Manager Message and up to 100 points for message handling. I am working with Phil N4STC to relay messages via 2-meter simplex. He will be Field Day Mobile.
  • 100 bonus points for Field Day groups making a minimum of five QSOs without using power from commercial mains or petroleum-driven generator. I can use the supercapacitor setup for this.We can charge it up with a human power generator or solar.
  • 100 points for social media. I posted to the Google+ Field Day Community.
  • 50 points for submitting via the web.
There are a few more possible bonuses like youth operators, and so forth. See

The Panama City ARC will be at the Bay County EOC as usual operating with a the W4B callsign. Phil N4STC of Panama City will be Field Day mobile. There will also be KE4FD operating in Bay County contact K4LIX Jim for info.

Good Luck on FD,

Greg N4KGL 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

June Second Saturday Sprint

Today was the Second Second Saturday Sprint for June. The SSS is sponsored by the Google+  QRP Field Ops Community and runs from May through October. I decided to deploy the Field Day Loop in the front yard. I got out early and set it up. I captured the setup on video. I also used an ArtCraft AH4 Interface box successfully with the Icom AH-4. This allows me to initiate tuning of the AH-4 from the Elecraft KX2.

I took on a challenge today I chose to operate QRP. I also decided to feed the loop from the bottom corner for vertical polarization. I knew that was not the best idea for 40 meters. It was OK on 20 meters. It is preferred on 15 meters for the loop, but no signals heard on 15.
N4KGL Field Day Loop
I started on 40 CW and was glad to hear my friend Don KK4QAM in Sweetwater, Alabama. This was followed by local contacts with Mike KM4ELJ, Bob KK4DIV, and Don KK4DWC. Bob KK4DIV was set up at Under The Oaks Park about 12 miles away. Next was 20 CW, I had four SKCC contacts and one casual contact. I went to 2 meters and worked KK4DWC Don, N1HQ Jack, N4FA Charlie all on simplex. I rounded the two hours out with Jack N1HQ on 20 SSB. He lives on my street. I was pleased to work N9XG doing SOTA on 40 CW and KJ4UHR on 40 SSB in Kentucky.  It felt like the bands were weak, but I can't complain about a page of contacts.

The Icom AH-4 for tuning the loop

The ArtCraft AH-4 interface box

I will go back to feeding the loop at the bottom center for Field Day. But, I had to give the bottom corner feed a try. I will be setting up at Falling Waters State Park on Friday afternoon, June 23rd with the same antenna. That evening will be QRP Night. So basically I will be ready ahead of time. I can do some contacts for Parks On The Air Saturday morning. I will kick off Field Day using the call N4Y and category 1A. at 1800 UTC Saturday.

The Elecraft KX2

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Overnight POTA Activation and Field Day 2017 Dry Run

I did my first overnight camping trip at Falling Waters State Park Florida. This was a POTA activation for KFF-1864 and a dry run for Field Day 2017. I was at campsite 11 which will be the same campsite for Field Day. I was glad to see that the loop antenna fit well. I placed it in in the center of the pull-in area. It did get the interest up of the neighboring campers. They came by for a chat and said they were quite impressed with the push-up process. Of course, they did not know what it was for until they asked. Doug my immediate campsite neighbor is going to put photos of the antenna on his travel blog. He and his wife Barbara travel in an A-shaped camping trailer. Doug says Linda and I could have lots of fun camping.

I had a mix of contacts including working my friends in Panama City, POTA chasers, and museum ships. A highlight was working EA8ARI at EAFF-0079. This qualifies for WWFF Park to Park awards. I also worked KH6ZM in Hawaii on 40 meters CW. I had 56 contacts total. The antenna performed well for US and DX.

Photo by Doug Peterson
I slept in the tent-cot I brought. It is an easy setup. Thanks to Rick NZ2I for the idea. The one test I did not get was enduring a downpour. It thinks it would disrupt operating. We will see what Field Day brings. I am real confident I have the right piece parts gathered. The Icom 7300 was a joy to operate. I will operate Field Day with a few friends. The callsign will be N4Y. I am ready to go.

Photo by Doug Peterson

Doug's camping trailer.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Mission: Field Day 2017 Update

Saturday, I set up the Field Day loop antenna again in the front yard. This was an opportunity to test the antenna with the Icom AH-4 tuner. While I was there, I substantially pulled together much the gear I would use in Field Day. This included the Icom IC-7300, battery, my solar panel and the 10 ft by 10 ft canopy and so forth. It is helpful to see and use them together. It helps build confidence that my pack up will be complete. The video below gives the tour. I only made a few contacts on 40 and 20, but I am feeling good about the loop. I did have a good QSO with Tom WD0HBR in Dothan on 40 meters. The loop tuned well on 40 through 10 meters. So I am going to stick with the Icom AH-4 tuner.

My location for Field day this year is Falling Waters State Park in Chipley, Florida. I have reserved the same campsite I will use for Field Day for this Friday night, June 2nd as a pre-Field Day test. I can get the feel on how my gear and the antenna will fit. Who knows I might get new ideas or discover adjustments. It also will be an opportunity to activate Falling Waters for the Parks On The Air Program WWFF-KFF. The park is reference KFF-1864. Here is the announcement:

KFF-1864 Activation by N4KGL
From: Saturday, June 3rd 2017, 12:00 am UTC
To: Saturday, June 3rd 2017, 4:00 pm UTC 
I plan to camp out and activate KFF-1864 Falling Waters State Park in Northwest Florida. I will operate mostly 40 and 20 meters using CW and SSB. This is a warm up for ARRL Field Day as I will use the same site for that event. I will spot on DX Cluster see See WWFF-KFF Parks On The Air details at I should be in the range of the AC4QB 145.330 repeater. Chasers welcome. I submit the logs to WWFF and you automatically get credit.
Greg N4KGL
Note: Field Day is June 24-25, 2017. I will be using callsign N4Y. My category is 1A, and the section is Northern Florida NFL.

Monday, May 22, 2017

N4KGL Field Day Loop Antenna Refinements

On Sunday afternoon I spent some more time on my Field Day Loop. I measured it out and put the insulators at the right places. I also setup a feed point at the bottom center and the bottom corner. I made a 300-ohm jumper to the AH-4 tuner. I have not tested it with the AH-4 yet. Thanks to Myron WV0H for help with analysis of this antenna. 

This is a 100 ft wire loop 30 ft across by 20 ft high. The bottom wire is 10 ft above the ground. It is NVIS antenna on 40 meters and has 39 deg elevated lobes broadside on 20 meters when fed at the bottom center. It has low angle radiation on 20 through 10 meters when fed a the bottom corner. The three poles are strapped to angle iron driven in 1ft in the ground. The poles allow raising the loop in push-up fashion. It is designed to fit in a camp site without using trees or extending beyond the bounds of the camp site. I can use the Icom AH-4 tuner or a matching transformer with a tuner at the rig. The 300-ohm feedline and the tuner can be switched from bottom center to bottom corner.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The May 2017 Second Saturday Sprint

The 2017 Second Saturday Sprints sponsored by QRP Field Ops Google Plus Community began on May 14th. These are two hours 1900 UTC to 2100 UTC. See the rules at this link. The goal is to work other members of the group. However, any contacts you make will count. Therefore you can leverage off of other events. This is good practice for RaDAR style ops. I leveraged off of SKCC contacts and Arkansas QSO Party. Likewise I have a cadre of local chasers. They had no problem working me in town on HF. I also made contacts with them on 2 meter simplex.

Note the three poles for the loop antenna.

I setup in the front yard of my house. I wanted to test an antenna configuration for the upcoming Field Day. The antenna is a 30 ft long by 20 ft high loop supported by three 30 ft fiberglass poles. The motivation for the loop is to stay within the confines of the camp site at Falling Waters State Park. I anchored the poles with a length of angle iron. I pound them in the ground about one foot and strap the poles to them. I can attach the wires at the top of the poles and push the poles up. There is no weight at the top other than the wire going across. This is pretty easy to erect. The loop is fed at the bottom center which is about ten feet high. I used a Chameleon 5 to 1 transformer at the feed point and 30 feet of  RG-8X to the tuner which is an LDG IT-100. The rig was my Icom 7100 on battery.

The Chameleon 5 to 1 transformer at the bottom center of the loop
For the sprint I started on 40 meters. There was very little activity on the band perhaps due to conditions. I did snag local chasers Rick NZ2I, Bob WB4BLX and Bob KK4DIV. So I don't think I can draw any conclusions about the antenna on 40. I hope on the next test the band is more active. On 20 meters the band was better. I worked six stations out of town with no problem I also got WB4BLX, KK4DIV and Phil N4STC near by. So I will give the loop antenna a passing grade on 20 meters.

Angle iron at the base of the Jackite 31 ft poles.

Myron WV0H kindly did some analysis on the antenna configuration. The analysis indicated that using larger coax like LM400 would be beneficial to reduce losses. I have many options for feeding and matching the antenna. I may try 300 ohm line as well. Note, I plan to dry run Field Day on June 2nd at the Falling Water Camp site. Then I can custom fit this antenna to the site. Of course I have many antenna options to consider.

Operating from the shade

I am looking forward to future Second Saturday sprints. I hope to work some members next time. I also did some satellite work earlier in the day. I met with Bob KK4DIV and Bob WB4BLX behind the PCARC Club house. I was able to get three on FO29. So I got a good dose of ham radio on Saturday.

FO 29 linear Satellite Ops. Photo by Bob KK4DIV

Friday, April 28, 2017

Mission: Field Day 2017

I decided to do this year's June 24/25 ARRL Field Day apart from the local club. I have a camp site reserved at Falling Waters State Park near Chipley, Florida just South of I-10.  The funny thing is I am not a camper so we will see how that goes. Being new to camping, I better stay out of trouble, Therefore, I plan on keeping my antennas out of the trees and within the limits of the camp site.

For planning purposes lets say I have 30 feet of linear space for an antenna. So I envision a 30 foot long and 20 foot tall vertical loop. I can support that with two 31 foot Jackite poles. The bottom of the loop will be ten feet off the ground and fed at the bottom center with an Icom AH-4 tuner. It seems I have read that in a wooded area horizontal polarization is better. Myron WV0H modeled the loop and says it will be a good NVIS antenna on 40 meters and has a 39 deg lobes broadside on 20 meters. That should do fine for Field Day. Of course, I better try to setup and test this antenna with the tuner before the event.

I have an Icom IC-7300 that gets light use so I am leaning toward using it for the event. I like the spectrum scope to help walk across the bands. I am likely going non QRP but the jury is still out. I will be all non-commercial power using LiFePO4 batteries from Bioenno with solar assist. The site is partial shade.I have a 10 by 10 foot pop up canopy with a bug screen. For sleep, if I get any I have a new tent cot.

I have some buddies that will drop by and possibly operate. I actually reserved the call N4Y November 4 Yankee. Maybe they will bring some food because Suzy and I will get hungry. There are more details to work on. If you are not out on your own for Field Day check in with your local club. Our Panama City ARC will operate from the Bay County EOC.