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

Sunday, July 17, 2016

RaDAR Challenge July 2016.

I did better this time in regard to minimizing the pack-up. My rig was the Elecraft KX2. The internal LiPo battery works well. I can wean off taking an external 10 amp hour battery. I still had my hands full with antennas. I carried the Alexloop deployed and the Elk beam. I did use a simple non-resonant wire recommended by Wayne N6KR at the last stop. Perhaps that was all I needed. The Elk did payoff for simplex contacts. I also had it for a SO-50 pass. I was there but the satellite was not. I may have been confused on the time of the pass.





I did not get any RaDAR to RaDAR contacts I had a schedule with Tom G0SBW and Eddie ZS6BNE. I heard nil from here.  Myron WV0H in Colorado got up early to listen for me but no joy.




I did operate at three locations during the four hours. I had a lot of help from locals WB4BLX, N4VSP, KK4DWC, K4LIX and WB8PAF operating W4RYZ. I also found another local K7LES at random on 20 meters SSB. I enjoyed working WB2GAI off the bridge. He was strong for QRP. Likewise, it was fun to work W4HZL. He was NPOTA at TR21. Signals were slim on the bands.



I missed having Suzy along. I think she would have changed my luck for DX.




Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Second Saturday Sprint (SSS) for July 2016

Jim K0RGI has come up with a new sprint concept for field ops and their chasers. It is the Second Saturday Sprint (SSS). Visit the QRP Field Ops Community on Google+.  The Sprints are May through October. So get your member number and join us. Mine is 103.





I chose to setup in my front yard. Suzy stayed in the A/C while I operated. I used the new Elecraft KX2 and the N6BT Bravo 7K vertical. The sprint is just two hours. I take advantage of local chasers on HF and 2 meter FM simplex. You can count other events and casual contacts in addition to other members of the QRP Field Ops community. I use a similar strategy for the RaDAR Challenge. In the RaDAR Challenge you move after every five contacts.



I got 17 contacts and no QFO ops this time. The KX2 did well. I operated the whole event on the LiPo internal battery pack and had plenty juice left.



Saturday, July 2, 2016

Take the RaDAR Challenge on July 16, 2016

UPDATE: A 4 hour operating period in the 24 hour window on July 16, 2016 UTC is suggested. 

RaDAR Is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio

1. Aim
The RaDAR “Challenge” is a unique event aimed at promoting the use of Rapidly Deployable Amateur Radio stations. This challenge is for all licensed radio amateurs not limited to South Africa. A RaDAR operator can take part in any of the three defined categories (see point 7) which may be changed at any time during the challenge. The points system is so structured as to encourage portable RaDAR operations, especially moveable RaDAR stations. Moveable RaDAR stations rely on fixed and portable stations as a point of contact using channelised frequencies. “Search and pounce” techniques are also allowed.

2. Date and Time
From 00:00 UTC to 23:59 UTC on Saturday 16 July 2016. A 24 hour window will give equal opportunity to the international community of RaDAR operators. RaDAR operators are sugessted to chose a four hour operating period during the 24 hour window,.

3. Bands and Modes
All amateur bands are allowed including cross band contacts via amateur radio satellites.
Modes – CW, SSB, AM, FM or any legal digital mode. QSOs via terrestrial repeaters will NOT be allowed.

4. Suggested HF calling frequencies
See http://zs6bne.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/radar-calling-frequencies/ for the latest international list of frequencies. The WARC bands can be used considering this is a RaDAR Challenge and not a contest as such. It provides better opportunities for RaDAR contacts during difficult propagation conditions. Recommended digital modes frequencies – Refer to the South African Radio League Contest Manual, General Rule 15.

5. Exchange
The RaDAR challenge requires more than a minimalistic information exchange. Accurate information exchange is considered more important than a large QSO count.
Call sign, name, RS(T) report, QTH and grid locator. Note the grid locator can change as RaDAR operators are allowed to move position at any time. The grid locator of six characters is acceptable but should preferably be accurate to 10 characters for higher
position accuracy. Smartphone applications are generally used to establish more than a 6-character grid locator. If working non-participating stations, call sign, name, RST and QTH is acceptable.

6. Scoring
1 point per QSO.
Individual QSOs – per mode, per band, per satellite, per call sign.
If the moving RaDAR station has moved the required distance (see point 7) contact can be made with a previously worked station, again.

7. Categories and multipliers
The following multipliers are applicable to determine the final score. If category/mode of transport changes were made during the challenge, than calculate accordingly.

X 1 – RaDAR Fixed station (At home or in another building)
X 2 – RaDAR Field station (Portable – away from home)
X 3 – Moving RaDAR station – See modes of transport below.

Modes of transport and required movement distances (moving RaDAR stations only)
Vehicles, motorcycles and motorboats etc. (Motorised transport) – 6 km
Bicycles – 2 km
On foot and paddle canoes – 1 km
Wheelchairs – 500 m
Aeronautical mobile stations are considered moving stations and can communicate at any convenient time.

Note: Moving RaDAR stations can move at any time but are required to move to the next destination after five contacts have been made from the present location. The move needs to cover the required distance before further contacts are allowed to be made. This requirement tests the ability to rapidly re-deploy your amateur radio field station.

9. Bonus points (All categories)
Five (5) points (The equivalent of five QSOs) for a minimum of one satellite or any digital modes QSO involving a computer, smartphone or digital modes device. (For clarity thereafter 1 point per Satellite / Digital modes QSO).
Five (5) points for the first successful same continent RaDAR to RaDAR QSO (As may be confirmed by the extensive information exchange.
Five (5) points for the first intercontinental (DX) QSO
Ten (10) points for the first successful inter continental (DX) RaDAR to RaDAR QSO (As may be confirmed by the extensive information exchange).

10. Log Sheets
Log sheets must be submitted by 26 April 2016  and sent by e-mail to edleighton@gmail.com.

See https://zs6bne.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/11046905_10152762072212759_727315224761083499_n.jpg for a log sheet specifically designed for the 2016 RaDAR contest.
Note: A photo of the station (JPG format) MUST accompany every log entry. A photo is required for each new location that moveable stations visit. These photos are used to promote amateur radio and the RaDAR concept showing where amateur radio can be used to communicate from and in the many different ways.

The above is an excerpt from from http://www.sarl.org.za/Web3/Members/DoDocDownload.aspx?X=20151130131559djqp8afPgb.PDF

Visit zs6bne.wordpress.com and https://plus.google.com/communities/109283065808971118728 for more info about RaDAR.

You are also encouraged to enter your RaDAR Op Plan at http://radarops.co.za/index.php/planned-ops/

I encourage all hams to participate a. Let us know your plans and results. Good luck and be safe!

Greg N4KGL
www.N4KGL.info




Wednesday, June 29, 2016

2016 Field Day Comments

The Panama City ARC operated 2F at the Bay County EOC using callsign W4B. We have been doing Field Day there for a number of years. I setup an outside station. The other station was in an air conditioned classroom. I always operate battery even though it does not help under the F category. So here are some comments on this year.

The outdoor station


1. There was no rain or threat of rain. I thought it always rains on Field Day! Of course it was hot. It did not bother me much except for setup and teardown. I was glad to have Phil and Steve helping me with the gear.

The 130 foot doublet

2. The 40 amp hour LiFePO4 battery charged with a 100 watt solar panel did a great job. There was plenty of sunshine. I ran up to 100 watts with no problem.



3. The 130 foot doublet antenna performed well. I started with the SGC 237 tuner. It seemed to work at first, but later it would not finish tuning. So I am unsure of what is up there. I changed the Icom AH-4 tuner and it worked perfectly.

4. The Icom 7100 was doing great. However, the power dropped to a few watts. The base part happened to be in the direct sun. I hope it returns to normal. I switched to The Icom 7300. It worked awesome. I enjoyed the spectrum display even on the crowded bands.

5. I helped get two granddaughters of Don KK4DWC get on the air, That was a joy!

6. Doug Helms KM4TOF is a new ham and he got his first QSOs on our Field Day station. He was doing a good job and said operating was addictive.

7.  The 500 foot Skyloop was setup in the front parking lot and required 150 foot of coax. However it was "SuperFlex" a very low loss type that Phil N4STC provided. The loop did well on 40 meters. 80 meters only had a few stations and I heard nil on 160 meters.

The alternative energy setup with solar panels, supercapacitor and the KX3.
8. I did an educational activity on the supercapacitor bank. I also used the supercapacitor for the alternative energy bonus. I got five contacts with the KX3 for the bonus. The supercapacitor was being charged by solar panels. There has been lots of interest in the solar/supercapacitor setup.



9. The inside folks had fun too. Bob Leasko WB8PAF operated at least 23 of 24 hours steady on CW. That will help our score.

10. OK time to start planing for next year! There will be more about the Panama City ARC Field day on the w4ryz.org site after the logs are reviewed and the pictures are gathered.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The 2nd Second Saturday Sprint.(SSS)

Jim K0RGI has come up with a new sprint concept for field ops and their chasers. It is the Second Saturday Sprint (SSS). Visit the QRP Field Ops Community on Google+.  The Sprints are May through October. So get your member number and join us. Mine is 103.

Bravo 7K vertical
For the June 11th SSS Suzy and I returned to Kinsaul Park in Lynn Haven Florida. There were some thunderstorms passing through. Fortunately, I was in a pavilion and could keep the gear dry. My rig was the Elecraft KX3. The antenna was the N6BT Bravo 7K. I also used the Alexloop.



In the SSS you can contact other QRP Field Ops members but you also get credit for other events and casual QSOs. I scored a contact with Pat N0SHU #102 in Missouri at the start on 20 CW. I had five contacts with locals via 2 meters simplex. I used a HT with an Elk Log Periodic for those. I had five SKCC contacts. One on 40 meters and the rest on 20 CW. A couple more local HF contacts including N1HQ #104 gave me 13 QSOs total. We will see how I do on a score. I did run 10 watts so that is a 1.5 multiplier verses the 7 multiplier for 5 watts.


Elk antenna and HT used for 2 meter simplex.
These SSS sprints are a lot of fun.Thanks for all the locals who helped out. I also enjoyed seeing Jason N4JTC who stopped by.

Suzy

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Testing Field Day Antennas

I am offering a couple of new antennas for our club field day. Of course, it is best to test them before the event to know at least that they tune up. I was able to do that on Saturday.

Feedpoint for 160 meter loop
The first is a dream antenna. That would be a 160 meter full wave loop. Chameleon Antennas has an 80 meter Skyloop and Carl will fix you up with a 160 meter version.  It is 500 feet long and it has a 4 to 1 balun. We deployed it on an open field. It would not have been possible with out the fiberglass poles Mike KM4ELJ provided. They are 28 feet tall and are fairly rigid at the top. They are designed for flags. Mike  has ten of them and we used seven. We setup the supports 80 feet from a central point. This approximates a circle. It did not take long to deploy. But one hitch was that a boater had parked a truck on our wire when we were not looking. We are near a boat ramp. The boater had left. Fortunately Mike had a floor jack in his truck and jacked up the truck and freed our wire. The antenna SWR was about 3 to 1 on 160, less that 2 to1 on 80. A bit high on 40 and less that 1.5 to 1 on 20. We will be using a short coax run and a tuner. We made some 80 meter contacts with good reports. The layout won't be as easy at our Field Day location. We will be working around parking lots and ponds on the property. Thanks to Mike KM4ELJ and Jim K4LIX for help with the setup.

One of the 28 foot flag poles


The second antenna was a 130 foot doublet I got from DX Engineering. I followed their instructions and cut a 1/8 wave section of 300 ohm feedline adjusted for velocity factor, That was about 31 feet. I have an Icom AH-4 tuner which I like as it integrates well with my Icom 7100. It can feed balanced line antenna like the doublet. Deploying this antenna is fairly easy. I use a mast made of camo poles with a tripod at the center and four Jackite fiberglass poles to support the legs. It tuned on 80 through 10. I skipped around and made contacts on 80, 40 and 20. I think we are good.

130 foot doublet
Icom 7100 and the Icom AH-4 Tuner
Our club also has a NA4RR Hex Beam also for field day. It will be on a portable tower. Of course we may have even more antennas but the loop, doublet and hexbeam are a good combo for three transmitters. The Panama City ARC plans to be 3F from the Bay County EOC Our callsign will be W4B. The EOC has indoor air conditioned space but we will also have a battery powered outdoor rig as well. If you like antennas Field Day is a good time to try them out.

Suzy supervised our testing.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

N4P National Park Biodiversity Festival Special Event Report

"I love it when a plan comes together" applies to our of N4P operation on May 21st. Our team operated N4P as one of the exhibits at the Biodiversity Festival at Naval Live Oaks near Gulf Breeze, Florida. We provided a science based activity for the festival participants. Our activity demonstrated how radio waves bounce (or refract) off the ionosphere to enable long distance contacts. The activity was in three parts:

  1. Discuss layers in the ionosphere skip, the skip zone, sunspots and the sunspot cycle.
  2. Give them the opportunity to talk to our contacts on the air.
  3. Have them plot a contact, measure the distance and record the distance. They could see the pattern of the skip and skip zone develop.



Mike AI4NS used some graphical aids to perform step 1. Greg N4KGL operated the N4P station for Part 2. Bob KK4DIV assisted the participants in plotting the contacts on a map for part 3. We were also assisted by Patrick KD0DVH and his wife. Thanks Mike, Bob and Patrick!



We  activated  Naval Live Oaks as part of Gulf Islands National Seashore (SS08) for National Parks On The Air. We paced our contacts as visitors arrived. We got most of them on the air. We had help from out NPOTA contacts to carry the other side of the conversation. We also did some hunt and pounce. A contact with 4V1G in Haiti was super. We also chatted with KC1CXC aeronautical mobile near the Dominican Republic. His commercial flight left Aruba and he was headed to Philadelphia.



Our 20 meter contacts were mostly between 600 and 900 miles from the data. We had additional contacts between 900 and 1800 miles. The skip zone was about 600 miles. We had one exception at 400 miles and one ground wave contact with Pensacola Florida.



The rig was my Icom 7100 and a 40 amp-hour LiFePO4 batter assisted by a 100 watt solar panel. The antenna was a N6BT Bravo 7K vertical. Our graphical aids came from a Propagation 101 presentation by Lee Jennings ZL2AL now a Silent Key. The maps were from CQMaps.



The reactions of the kids to speaking on the air were varied and memorable. Some of them were very young. I feel involving the participants enhanced their experience. So we felt pretty good about the day. The band conditions could have been better. But hey that how is the ionosphere rolls. Thanks to the National Park Staff for inviting us. If we had another opportunity we would do it again. Perhaps this idea would work for Jamboree On The Air (JOTA). Please checkout these YouTube videos.