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

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Huntsville Hamfest 2016

Linda and I attended the Huntsville Hamfest and met up with our friends John W8JER and Micky KE8ASK. They drove down from Sturgis, Michigan and we drove up from Panama City, Florida. I gave a presentation for the National Parks On The Air Forum at Noon on Saturday. It went well. I had a mixture of slides and videos. One video, about the Naval Live Oaks Biodiversity Festival, was made and narrated by Bob KK4DIV. There were some activators in the audience that chimed in. I would not have made it through without my buddy John K4KQZ from Tennessee who helped kickoff the videos at the laptop.

The four of us attended the gathering on Monte Sano on Saturday night hosted by Craig NM4T. There was delicious BBQ and lots of conversation. The show and tell included fldigi running on a Raspberry Pi 3 and the new LNR magnetic loop. I showed my Elecraft KX2.

At the show, I picked up another Jardillier French Made Special Forces Key. Those are hard to find. I think Neil the vendor there is the only one that has them for sale. I also got a MFJ 40 meter loaded whip for the KX2 and mini-banana plugs that fit the counterpoise connection. Linda out spent me on jewelry. Well that's OK.

I had some drama with my Chevy Avalanche. It had a terrible squeak. Fortunately I visited Russell Brothers Repair Shop before leaving town. The mechanic there narrowed it down to a lifter. His advice was to add Marvel's Mystery Oil. This eliminated the problem by the time I was halfway back to Panama City.

Linda and I enjoyed the fellowship with John and Micky and look forward to their stay in Panama City this winter. John has a new Subaru that practically drives itself. My only photo from the hamfest was this one that Micky took.




Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Second Saturday Sprint and NPOTA Activation on Okaloosa Island

It was a worthwhile trip to Okaloosa Island near Destin, Florida on Saturday. Several events came together including:

  1. National Parks on the Air. The site is part of Gulf Islands National Seashore SS08. The contacts count toward a NPOTA activation.
  2. SO-50 Satellite Pass. A contact via the satellite counts toward Five Star Activator Recognition on the NPOTA Activator Award
  3. Second Saturday Sprint. The QRP Field Operators Google+ community sponsors the SSS which is 2 to 4 local time on the second Saturday of May through October.
Elecraft KX2
My setup was under a scraggly pine in the picnic area. I ran 100 feet of coax to be closer to the bay on the North shore of the island. Prior to the sprint, I worked W4RYZ, K4LIX and N4VSP back in Panama City, Florida.  At 2 PM on 40 CW I worked Kelly K4UPG #105 in Tennessee, followed by W4RYZ again and Tom WD0HBR in Dothan, Alabama.



On 20 CW I worked K0RGI #101 and founder of the Second Saturday Sprint in Wisconsin. Next I worked Pat N0SHU #102 in Missouri. A few minutes later I worked Kelly K4UPG #105 again on a second band. Previous Sprints were hit and miss for the members but working Kelly, Pat and Jim on the same afternoon was lots of fun.

The N6BT Bravo 7K vertical

A bird Hi Hi.


I got a NPOTA run going on 20 SSB it started with Jim K0RGI. The run lasted for 24 contacts. Then the sprinkle of rain got heavy and Suzy and I packed up quick. That was about 20 minutes before 4 PM.

A thundershower shut us down
The SO-50 Satellite pass was successful got at least one contact. I am still working on a level of comfort to get the calls in my head, adjust the antenna, and the rig all at the same time.

Suzy
All in all quite a day at the park and on on the radio. Suzy and I enjoyed the sunshine while it lasted.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Pedestrian Mobile with the Elecraft KX2

I believe Wayne N6KR of Elecraft realized a life-time dream with the introduction of the KX2 ultra-portable. We thought the KX3 was small. The KX2 is small enough to hold in your hand like like a Handie Talkie. In fact it is an HF HT. I have been using two whip antennas the MFJ 1820t for 20 meters and the MFJ 1817t for 17 meters. I also use a 13 foot drag wire.with both There is a mini banana plug socket on the rig for ground. If the drag wire gets yanked the plug will pull out.  Beyond the antenna there is a built-in microphone. So plug in the whip and the drag wire and you are ready for SSB Pedestrian Mobile. Today, I used a key strapped to my belt to do CW. The controls are in the natural spot to tune and do PTT with your thumb.
Elecraft KX2, whip and drag wire

Small key for /PM
Suzy and I have been taking walks in the neighborhood and have managed a contact most times. Today, I went to a near-by park and did pedestrian mobile on 17 meters. I copied my friend John W8JER in Michigan. John heard me but I got drowned out by QRM. My CW contact was with Mike KM4ELJ. He was about twenty miles away.




It is a nice kind of freedom to go pedestrian mobile this quick and easy. Did I mention that the internal Li-Ion battery will last 5 to 8 hours. Consider this rig for pedestrian mobile and of course the traditional portable ops. This is a dream come true Wayne!

Suzy

Monday, August 1, 2016

Flight Of The Bumble Bees 2016

The Adventure Radio Society Flight of the Bumblebees is a four-hour event held annually on the last Sunday of July. It is open to all radio amateurs. The Bumble Bees are portable stations operating QRP (5 watts or less) and using CW mode (Morse Code).

This year like 2015 I went to St. Andrew State Park near Panama City, Florida. My BB number was 62. I got my favorite picnic table right on the Grand Lagoon. I put a Chameleon Hybrid base and the whip plus extension up right on shore. We will take any help we can get from the saltwater effect for verticals. Suzy was my buddy like last year.

Elecraft KX2

I had almost exactly the same number of contacts as last year. 38 total of which 32 were on 20 and 6 on 40 meters. 25 were fellow Bumble Bees. This was a hunt and pounce effort for the most part. I did work WB4BLX, K4GXV and the club W4RYZ (Bob WB8PAF operating) who were local. I also worked Jim K4LIX was local and also a Bumble Bee.



This year I used the new KX2 instead of the KX3. The nice thing is the KX2 internal battery lasted for the whole four hour event. This eliminates the external battery. This event shows what can happen when the QRP ops show up. The conditions were not as good as last year due to the waning solar cycle. I didn't hear anything on 15 or 10 meters. Even with the oppressive heat and humidity, this is still a fun event.

Suzy



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