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

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Natchez Trace Parkway NPOTA Activation

I was able to snag another activation while on a trip to Nashville with my wife. The Natchez Trace Parkway PK04 is over 300 miles long. The parkway's Northern end is in Tennessee near Nashville. As it was a stop on the way home, I planned for about an hour of operating to get ten contacts.



As time was a premium, I used a simple setup off the back of the truck. My rig was the Icom 7100 and battery in a tool box. I have added the Icom AH-4 Tuner to my box. I ran a 36 foot wire from the tuner to a 30 foot pole. I had two 25 foot wires as a counterpoise.



I operated on 20 meters. I worked as much DX as stateside including Canada, Austria, Slovenia, Mexico and the UK. I did not get spotted and that was just as well with the short time. I ended up with five SSB contacts and six CW contacts. It took an hour and a half.



We traveled about 30 miles on the parkway and it is a refreshing change from the interstate. We saw some wild turkeys along the way. Our stop was at the Garrison trail which can be used for horses. NPOTA can be catch as you can. This is my fourth activation.


Monday, April 4, 2016

N4KGL April 2nd RaDAR Challenge

There are now three annual RaDAR Challenges. They are the first Saturday of April, July, and October. You can practice Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio at any time, However, the challenge puts the focus on a 24 hour period and encourages RaDAR to RaDAR contacts. The unique aspect of RaDAR is movement. You make five contacts before departing for the next location. This is a stress test for your portable radio gear and your operating skills.



After reviewing the many sites here in Northwest Florida I chose Port St. Joe Florida. They have a trail system among several parks. There are many factors that could affect your plans. Those include be the propagation conditions or the weather. We had a downpour on Friday that ended. However, the overcast and stiff winds shortened my outing to three locations.





I decided to use my RaDAR Rover also know as a dog stroller. Suzy our basset does not ride in it. I loaded it with my Icom 7100 rig and a 40 amp-hour battery. Ordinarily you would go light and small for on-foot RaDAR. But the cart can handle the weight. I have several antenna options with the rover including the Alexloop, a Chameleon Hybrid base with MIL whip and the extension. I also can use a sixty foot wire with the base.







I have some local hams that will chase me. So 40 meters is the band of choice for NVIS or possibly ground wave contacts. At my first location at Jetty park, I worked Bob WB4BLX in Panama City and Tom WD0HBR with the Alexloop. I was weak but we got it done. I find the mag loop can be used for NVIS. The whip is not so good for NVIS. However I did work three more stations further out in Florida, Alabama and Virginia.


 

Suzy and I transitioned to the second location at Frank Pate Park. I decided to use the Chameleon Base and a sixty foot wire over a tree limb. I worked five more stations on 40 meters including Don KK4DWC in the Panama City area. It turns out Suzy meets and greets fellow dog lovers and their dogs. So you have to factor that in.


The third location was back at Jetty Park. I did not want to get too ambitious and the winds were wearing on us. I used the whip on 17 meters there. I worked two Hungary stations, NI6BB the Battle ship Iowa in California and a Oregon station. I was also pleased to work N5AQM/QRP in Arizona.




I was headed out for the fourth location but Suzy was balking a bit and I think she was telling me this was enough for the day. The winds really beat us up. I had fun and look forward to more RaDAR operating. The choices are many for the site and the equipment. Usually I get another RaDAR operator but not this time. However, I was pleased to hear that a local ham Mike, KM4ELJ, did get out and made five contacts from North Bay County. If you are interested in RaDAR please checkout the RaDAR Community and Eddie ZS6BNE's Blog.



Sunday, March 27, 2016

Rainy Day RaDAR

I had ambitious plans for Saturday. I wanted to explore Salinas Park in Gulf County, Florida. The steady showers and thunderstorms nixed that plan. However, since my wife was working there in Port St Joe for the day, I needed to make the best of it. I decided to go to Jetty Park first. It had a small pavilion to shield me from the rain, The antenna I chose was the Alexloop mag loop. I have found that a mag loop will work well under pavilions even if they have a metal roof.

The pavilion at Jetty Park
I had arranged a RaDAR to RaDAR attempt with Eddie ZS2BNE in South Africa on 12 meters CW. I was near the saltwater of the marina which was on the path toward South Africa. At the scheduled time Eddie was there, faint but he was there. I pulled out my report as 419. So what a pleasure to hear you Eddie. Hopefully, we can R2R during the April 2nd RaDAR Challenge. RaDAR is the Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio concept that Eddie introduced in South Africa. Now, RaDAR has gone global.



The Alexloop

The Elecraft KX3

My operating was sparse during the day as I went QRT when the thunder rolled in. At the Jetty Park, I also worked a Virginia station on 30 CW and Italy on 17 meters SSB, The Italian gave me a 58 report. I later setup the Chameleon F Loop under a pavilion at Frank Pate park, I snagged a Colorado contact on 17 meters. The mag loops help out on rainy days. It was not the rain that kept me QRT but the lightening.

The Chameleon Mag Loop

Suzy

My plan is to return to Port St Joe for the April 2nd RaDAR Challenge. We will see how the weather shapes up. The forecast looks better than this weekend. It is still raining today, Easter Sunday

Pelicans and Gulls on the Jetty

A line of gulls waiting out the rain

Boats in the marina

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Planned Site for My April 2nd RaDAR Challenge Outing

I am planning to use the Port City Trail in Port St. Joe, FL for the April 2nd RaDAR Challenge. If I am lucky Suzy and  I can make six transitions among four locations on foot or paw.  The locations are one kilometer apart.That will be 7 stops and 35 contacts. I am counting on plenty of chasers. Port St Joe has a great trail system and access to the saltwater bay. N4KGL











Sunday, March 13, 2016

Get Ready for the April 2nd 2016 RaDAR Challenge

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 2 April 2016. 24 hours will give equal opportunity to the international community of RaDAR operators. RaDAR operators can define their own operating time schedule or remain active for the full 24 hours.

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 12 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





Plains Georgia NPOTA Activation by N4KGL

I traveled to Plains, Georgia to activate the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site designated NS40. I had coordinated with the NPS Rangers by phone and got the go ahead. I setup at the Plains High School with houses the Jimmy Carter Museum.




One constraint was to not use trees. Therefore I chose the N6BT Bravo 7K vertical. It has a nice tripod and is self contained. It does require setting the element lengths and coils based on the band. However the settings are repeatable and no tweaking is required. The rig was the Icom 7100.




I made 12 contacts on 40 CW, 6 on 40 SSB, 5 on 20 CW. On 20 phone the pileup hit. I had 138 contacts in about 80 minutes. I am not that good at pile ups but I eventually tried going by call area and that helped alot. I did not know if the vertical was going to work well inland. But it was good enough.



I did cover 370 miles round trip in one day. But it was worth it. My wife and I may return to go through the museum and the sights there. I did like the passenger train that runs through the town. It makes several sightseeing stops.  I have my eye on the Selma to Montgomery Trail and two Tuskegee NPOTA sites in Alabama. I think they will be in high demand like Plains.

BTW, Suzy liked everything but the train horn.  She got special attention even from the Park Ranger.



During the three hours I operated I was contacted by 161 stations in 40 States, 5 Canadian Provinces and Puerto Rico, Aruba and England. On 20 SSB there were 138 contacts in 80 minutes. It would have been better if I was quick on the draw.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Falling Waters Picnic

The Holmes County ARC sponsors a ham picnic each March at the Falling Waters State Park near Chipley, Florida. The weather was absolute perfection this year with the temperature near 70 degrees FL. Ewan N4LIMI and Dee KB4UUA were great hosts. Fried Chicken is served about noon and there are plenty of sides and desserts brought by the attendees. A highlight is the left foot code contest. I caught Bob W5RE toe tapping code on my Go Pro.


Bob is an great ham that I enjoy working on CW when I am portable. Bob recently did National Parks on The Air from the Florida Everglades.

N4KGL Chameleon F Loop and Alexloop

For me it was a special time as the Raifsniders, Micky and John W8JER, who are my friends visiting from Michigan, the Spanns, Sandy and Thomas WD0HBR, who are my friends from Dothan and my wife Linda were all there. It was the first time the Raifsniders and Spanns had met in person.

Tom WD0HBR operating his MFJ 9040

John W8JER behind his DIY Mag Loop
I brought perhaps too much gear. I had the Chameleon F Loop and the Alexloop setup. It would have been a time to compare them. However, with all the picnic activity I only used the Chameleon. I did works some DX on 15 meters quite easily. Also, I brought the pedal generator and supercapacitor bank to power my Elecraft KX3. I got several takers with pedaling including Sargent Mac KI4ARI.

Suzy

Falling waters into the sinkhole

Of course, Suzy enjoyed the picnic and got some ham for her treat. I took a hike to the Falling Waters with John and Micky. It turned out there was quite a flow of water falling in the sink hole. Some days it is just a trickle. Don KK4DWC, Sargent Mac KI4ARJ and Barb, and I were the only Bay County representatives. I hope more attend next year.

Barbra KI4ARI and Sargent Mac KI4ARJ

Don "Mr. Grumpy" KK4DWC