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

Sunday, April 5, 2015

N4KGL's April 2015 RaDAR Challenge Report

This is my report on my April 2015 RaDAR Challenge outing at St Andrews State Park near Panama City, Florida. I made six stops on my journey. RaDAR is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio. There is a RaDAR Challenge the first Saturday of April and November.

Stop 1 was EM70DD21GT. This is at the picnic area on the North side of the park. My mind set was to work 40 meter NVIS. I used the Chameleon Hybrid Micro with the 60 foot wire. I took advantage of some tree limbs and the feed point was a tripod with a few feet of PVC. My first CW contact was Virginia which was weak both ways. Then I worked Florida that was 599. I took advantage of three FM simplex contacts to bail me out of this location.






I transitioned to Stop 2 on foot using a cart to carry my gear.Stop 2 is at EM70DD31KK which is Sandy Point. This is my favorite places in the park. I setup the Chameleon Hybrid Micro on a tripod. I caught Budd W3FF in California on 18.157.5. Budd uses his base to help out portables and pedestrian mobiles. I picked up four more SSB contacts on 17 meters to complete the five. The expected shower happened and I was glad to have my Sportsbrella as a shelter.




I walked back toward my first location and took advantage on a picnic table directly on the shore of Grand Lagoon. This was Stop 3 at EM70DD21GV. I used the Chameleon Hybrid Micro again and located the antenna right on the salt water on a tripod. I worked two on 17 meter SSB with 59 reports. Then I reached out to a local Don KK4DWC and managed a 40 meter contact. The was about 20 miles away in Southport.




After the first three stops I was feeling pretty beat up by the stiff winds. I was not sure I would stay. I took a 6 kilometer drive around the park and stopped at a store. This counted as a transition and I decided Stop 4 would be from the pier on the North side of the park at EM70DD23GC. I setup the Alexloop and made three local contacts with N4STC, N1HQ and K4LIX on 17 meters SSB. Then I lucked into two Italy contacts also on the same band to complete the five.


The weather was looking better and I decided to take the Alexloop to Sandy Point which is Stop 5 at EM70DD31LK. This was an easier walk with lighter gear and without the cart. In fact I had left my table somewhere and was wondering if I would find it. It turned out Bob KK4DIV was just starting this RaDAR outing at a park in nearby Lynn Haven. I worked Bob and another Lynn Haven ham Ron KK4DWE on 17 SSB. After that I worked Missouri. Then I finally caught up with John W8JER in Sturgis Michigan. John and Micky had returned to their home there after a three month stay in Panama City Beach. Micky has her general class now, her call is KE8ASK. I worked her for my fifth contact.



Now the weather was beautiful and I decided to head South to the Jetties area. Stop 6 was at EM70DC29DX. This was a great stop as I worked four DX stations. Argentina, Costa Rica, Brazil and Chile all on 10 meter SSB.  I was definitely getting some low angles with the Alexloop off the salt water.


I had about a 1.5 kilometer walk to the truck on the North side. I looked at two spots that I thought I left the table. No luck but as I was walking back to the truck I spotted it on the pier where I had taken a photo of the pelicans.. So I was really glad to have it back.

The 24 hour window for the RaDAR Challenge let me make six stops instead on my usual three for the four hour RaDAR Contest from previous years. Twice the fun right! I used the Chameleon for three stops with a wire once and a whip twice. I was very pleased. I also used the Alexloop which made for a lighter pack up at three stops. I think it would be interesting to use the Chameleon with a whip as a pedestrian mobile in the future. All my contacts were at 10 watts except one. I get great audio reports on the KX3. With the compression the KX3 has great punch on SSB.

I had one RaDAR to RaDAR contact with Bob KK4DIV nearby. I find the local contacts help. Some know I will be out there and some don't. This makes RaDAR a local club effort and builds interest in RaDAR. I would have enjoyed RaDAR to RaDAR DX but the timing and spotting is a challenge. This year as this it was the Easter weekend made it a non-starter for many to get out. Also April is still rough weather in the Northern latitudes. I do know Eddie ZS6BNE had a great outing with his Grandson. Also Tom G0SBW and Lucy M6ECG got out in the UK.

I enjoyed getting outdoors to a beautiful park for RaDAR. There are not many other reasons I would be walking so many kilometers. You also meet the public. They were really nailing me on what I was doing this time. One person's Dad was a ham and he took several pictures to show his Dad. Here are few more photos.







Saturday, March 28, 2015

N4KGL's Journey for the RaDAR Challenge on April 4th

I have decided my journey for the April 4th RaDAR Challenge will be through St Andrews State Park near Panama City, Florida. I will arrive at 8 AM and will have until sundown to make the most of it. There are two piers, a gazebo at the jetties and best of all Sandy Point. I could trek on the sand between stops or I could chose an internal road. I know the Alexloop will be the lightest pack-up or I could bring a vertical. I'll be taking advantage of the salt water effect to the max and will be looking for local, US and DX RaDAR contacts.The weather forecast is for warm temps and gusty breezes.  I included some photos of past trips to St Andrews below. Click here for more info on RaDAR challenge and define your own journey!











Saturday, March 14, 2015

April 4th 2015 RaDAR Challenge: Define your Journey!


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 4 April 2015 and from 00:00 UTC to 23:59 UTC on Saturday 7 November 2015 - 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 14 April 2015 and 17 November 2015 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 2015 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 fromhttp://www.sarl.org.za//Document_Store/CONT_20150101_SARL_Contest_Manual_2015.pdf

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

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

Greg N4KGL
www.N4KGL.info




Saturday, March 7, 2015

RaDAR Challenge: Have it Your Way!

The previous Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RaDAR) Contests were four hour events on the first Saturday of April and November. The contests were a specific four hour time slot which worked for me and I did enjoy working against the clock. However, for operators all around the globe a specific time slot does not work. Eddie ZS6BNE has evolved the RaDAR contest into the RaDAR Challenge which will be a 24 hour event on the same days. That will to give us the maximum flexibility to schedule our operations. Likewise RaDAR is about motion. Make five contacts and move! How you move is up to you. I will let the graphics below tell the story. Funny, I had thought about doing RaDAR ops for Field Day. Moving during Field day is non-traditional but not precluded by the rules. Now with the RaDAR Challenge being 24 hours I can have a Field day RaDAR style in April. I really would like to hit all my favorite spots in one day. Of course now the challenge is getting April 4th set aside.




If this idea appeals to you visit Eddie's Blog and the Google+ RaDAR Community.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Follow up on the QSO Today Podcast

In the podcast for QSO Today with Eric Guth I could not remember my "Elmer" Doug Snellgrove of Dothan's call from my Novice days in the late 60s. My Dad worked with Doug at the Post Office and my Dad went to Doug to get me started in ham radio. Doug gave me the Novice test and loaned me a HT-6 transmitter for my Novice station. My novice call was WN4JFW. When Forrest WB4SVX back then and now N4FRQ living in Mobile Alabama, heard the podcast he noted that Doug's call was K4DR. A google search brought up his QSL on a site of antique QSLs. Further searches came up with the info below.  Doug's other hobby was photography. I note there is a Doug Snellgrove Memorial B&W Photography Award given each year at the Dothan Peanut Festival.



Birth: 
Apr. 4, 1919
Chancellor
Geneva County
Alabama, USA
Death: 
Sep. 7, 1990
Alabama, USA

Married to Cathlene Napier.
Son Stephen Dennis, daughter Jennifer.
Parents Thomas Abraham Snellgrove and Eula Stokes.

Information from the Wiregrass Archives in Dothan: (submited by Rachel Dobson)Joseph Douglas "Doug" Snellgrove was a semi-professional photographer who created a visual record of SE Alabama and SW Georgia in the 1960's through 1980's. He was particularly interested in color photography of flowers and black-and-white photography of rural lifeways. He made many photographs of rural tourist attractions, such as Westville in Georgia and Landmark Park near Dothan. Mr.Snellgrove was a World War II Army veteran, and worked for the US Postal Service from 1958 until his retirement in 1978. Born in Chancellor, Alabama, Snellgrove was a lifelong resident of Dothan, alabama, and a member of the Cloverdale United Methodist Church.
The "D. Snellgrove Collection" of his photographs is in the Wiregrass Archives at Troy University, Dothan Campus. 
 
http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Snellgrove&GSiman=1&GScnty=60&GRid=100648947&



Monday, February 23, 2015

QSO Today with Greg, N4KGL

I had the honor of doing a QSO Today Podcast with Eric Guth 4Z1UG. Eric has quite a impressive list of podcasts with hams. Some you may know and others you would not. But they all have a great personal stories. Eric combines great interview skills with his technical skills to do the podcast. My podcast covers more than ham radio and you will hear how it all ties together. All this reminds me how blessed I am to have the support of my wife, parents and friends. Thanks Eric and everyone enjoy the rag chew!

Podcast Link: http://goo.gl/XbzGRO
iTunes Store: http://goo.gl/CvLNmV
Stitcher: http://goo.gl/uhf1XZ
Show Notes: http://www.qsotoday.com/podcasts/n4kgl

Eric Guth 4Z1UG


Sunday, February 8, 2015

N4KGL RaDAR Meetup Ops for February 2015

Saturday, February 7th, was the Monthly On-The-Air Meetup for the RaDAR community. I was not too ambitious on a location. I chose my front yard since I needed to help out with Suzy our basset puppy. As the bands included 40 and 15 meters I decided on a 40 meter dipole. The 40 meter dipole covers 15 on the third harmonic. I also paralleled a 20 meter dipole on the same coax. This makes quite a yard display. I used a tripod structure made from "camo" poles to hold up the center and fiberglass poles for the four dipole ends. The center being only about 24 feet up I would say it qualifies as a Near Vertical Incident Skywave NVIS antenna on 40 meters.

Greg N4KGL's setup in his front yard.
Center pole for the dipoles. Note there is a rollup 2 meter slim-jim antenna at the top.
A 28 watt solar panel just for fun. It topped off the battery so it was putting in more than I was using.
My first QSO was actually line of sight to my neighbor K4GXV Vic at the end of my street. My next CQ yielded a call from KK4SGF in Albany Georgia which is 130 miles away. I'd say that was NVIS. Then, I found Tom G0SWB warming up the 21.350 15 meters frequency. Tom was Pedestrian Mobile. He was between S3 and S6 with fairly good copy. We exchanged grid squares. His was JO01MS49GV. I believe he was running 20 watts and I was running 12 watts. It is a joy to work a /PM DX station. Below is a selfie video of Tom's Pedestrian Mobile gear. Warning it might be scary for small children.


I jumped back to 40 CW and ran across AK4JA Bobby in Newnan, Georgia. This was fun because I have worked Bobby several times including 60 meters. I also met Bobby for breakfast when he was in Panama City a while back. We exchanged SKCC numbers. Bobby is one to watch for as he often runs QRPp. Fred VE3FAL was monitoring the meetup on Google+. The -21C wind chill in Thunder Bay, Ontario would not allow an outing there. But never the less Fred suited up with his PRC 104 radio and stepped outside into the weather.  We pulled off a QSO back on 21.357 15 meters. His grid square was EN58HH.


Note Fred worked KK4QAM Don in Alabama at the end of the video. Don is another RaDAR op and he setup a homemade Buddistick for the meetup.

Don KK4QAM's Homemade Buddistick
My last QSO was with Mike VE3EDX on 21.063. He sent Grrrrr which is a good sign he was a Polar Bear op. You never know who you will run into. Well it was not in the cards to redeploy and my setup was fairly heavy with the camo poles. I have had good success with the 40/20 dipole combo. It is handy if you can pull it up with a tree limb. I did that for my SOTA outing.

Eddie ZS6BNE was doing a mountain RaDAR adventure in South Africa that started well before the RaDAR meetup. Details to follow he says. I like this photo from the outing he shared.

Eddie ZS6BNE enjoying RaDAR/Mountain Ops
Eddie is the originator of the Shack In a Sack concept in South Africa. This later became known as Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio or RaDAR. Eddie's life adventure in Amateur Radio is the subject of a recent podcast on QSO Today with Eric Guth.

So this was my take on the RaDAR meeting. Not a lot of QSOs but it is hard to beat working my friends doing RaDAR pedestrian mobile. The last photo is Suzy a RaDAR beginner.