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

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Rockets & Radios at the Samson Alabama Launch

I met Chris VA3ECO and his wife by chance at Conservation Park last Winter while Suzy and I were doing RaDAR. Chris has returned to Florida for this Winter. We were pleased that he came up for the January 14th Rocket Launch in Samson. Chris had done some rocketry in Ontario from his boat on a lake since cleared land is hard to find. He got quite a rocket show from our SEARS rocket club members. I did a launch of my Big Boy for Chris and Chis launched my Estes Stealth,

Chris VA3ECO and Big Boy

Greg's Big Boy launch on an E20 motor

Chris and the Estes Stealth

Stealth Launch on a C6-0
Chris put together this video of the launches.



Radio-wise, I setup my Elecraft KX2 for 40 meters. I did not have any luck getting back to my buddies in Panama City or Dothan, However, the NVIS Dipole did well to at longer distances to  Florida and Georgia. I had the honor to work KM4ZVC/AG for his first HF QSO as a new General Class.

The Elecraft KX2 shaded by the LowePro case


The 40 meter NVIS dipole

Suzy with the N6BT Bravo in the background

Suzy enjoyed trips up and down the road on the farm. I took her off the leash for some of that. I also did a SO 50 satellite pass. I got K3GDS at grid FN00 and N8IUP at grid EN81. The launch site is EM61.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

N4KGL Amateur Radio Highlights for 2016

Here are my 2016 Amateur Radio highlights

The 2016 ARRL National Parks On The Air  event was awesome. I was not close to many National Park Sites. However, Gulf Islands National Seashore SS08 was nearby. I activated SS08 eight times as N4KGL. Bob KK4DIV, Mike AI4NS and I activated SS08 as N4P at the Biodiversity Festival. We had a booth at the festival where we did a real-time propagation experiment and got lots of young people on air. Beyond that, I made a day trip to the Jimmy Carter High School in Plains, Georgia. I also stopped by the Natchez Trail on a trip to Nashville, and activated the Santa Fe Trail on a trip to Kansas.



I was able to do all three RaDAR Challenge Events April, July and November. A new portable operating activity started this year called the Second Saturday Sprint which is April through October. It gives you credit for anyone you work. That fits in with RaDAR style ops nicely. I did Field Day with the Panama City ARC as usual.



I got the Elecraft KX2. Now I use it for all my portable ops. I like the small size, light weight, up to 10 watts, internal battery, and internal tuner. That is hard to beat. I found I could attach a whip and counterpoise and operate it as a hand-help for pedestrian mobile. Even 40 meter contacts are possible with the whip.



I started learning how to use the amateur satellites for portable operating. So now I include a satellite pass on most outings. It is a different mindset for the radios. I have used several. The most recent is the Kenwood TH-D72A which is capable of full duplex. It is also very capable doing APRS with an internal GPS.



Another new discovery was the World Wide Fauna and Flora Program which has a National Program called KFF. I have done some activations already. It is going to encourage me to visit all the State Parks here in Northwest Florida. It applies to National and State Parks. This can be the replacement for National Parks On The Air.



Linda and I enjoyed Micky KE8ASK and John W8JER on their visit in during the winter. We also met up with them at the Huntsville Hamfest also along with Craig NM4T at the Monte Sano gathering. I gave a talk on NPOTA at the hamfest.



With respect to the blog and YouTube I now use the GoPro Session to document my outings. I learned that I can't talk that well but that's me. Of course, Suzy has been my companion on most outings. She will draw a crowd and cons them for belly rubs. She definitely gets RaDAR and is leading the way between stops. I actually know she is the star of this blog and pulls in the hits.
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Sunday, January 1, 2017

My Last National Parks On The Air Activation

The ARRL 2016 National Parks On The Air Event has concluded with the years end. It was a very popular amateur radio event to help celebrate the National Park Service Centennial. So I decided to squeeze in one more activation. I chose the closest site for me. It is the Okaloosa Island Day Use Area which is a little more than an hours drive just West of Destin, Florida. It is part of Gulf Island National Seashore which is designated SS08.l upload my logs to Log Book Of The World LOTW and the World Wide Fauna and Flora system. Note the NPOTA SS08 is KFF-0661 under WWFF. This is my eighth SS08 activation and the sixth time at this Okaloosa Island site.



The weather was a bit chilly at 55 degrees (F) and cloud cover. I started with a SO 50 satellite pass which netted two contacts. On HF I used the Elecraft KX2 running ten watts to a N6BT Bravo 7K vertical. I used 100 feet of RG-8 to get the antenna close to the saltwater shore on the North side. I did not go with my NVIS antenna for 40 meters since foF2 was not above 7 MHz. That nixed any HF contacts back to Panama City.  I was able to use the longer skip on 40 meters. I snagged Craig NM4T near Huntsville which was as short as I could get. It was a surprise and pleasure to work Craig my buddy and the Huntsville QRP guy. Also Suzy was my buddy once again.

So my total is 60 contacts. Several were the first SS08 for the chasers. The breakdown was

  • 40 CW (6)
  • 40 SSB (12)
  • 20 CW (20)
  • 20 SSB (20)
  • SO 50 (2)

NPOTA has been a great experience. It ended too soon. My plan right now is to continue my start with the WWFF-KFF for portable activations. It has hunters which are the equivalent to chasers in NPOTA.. You can take credit for 2016 NPOTA activations in that system by submitting your logs. The nice thing about KFF is that it includes National and State Parks. There are lots of State Parks in Northwest Florida for sure.

Elecraft KX2

N6BT Bravo 7K Vertical

Suzy

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Yes you can POTA After NPOTA!

Northwest Florida is loaded with State Parks. See this map. WWFF-KFF is an on-going program that can fill in the void when National Parks On The Air NPOTA 2016 concludes. KFF activators need 10 contacts from a state or national parks and more. Hunters can just register and get rewards without sending their logs. I have done a couple of activations recently. You can also send in applicable activation logs you have back to January 2016. I sent in my NPOTA logs to Jason for a couple of additional activation credits.



Here is a note from Jason W3AXX who is the KFF coordinator.

We at parksontheair.com have taken the momentum of the National Parks on the Air program, added National Wildlife Refuges/Parks/ Recreation Areas, and State Parks of all 50 states.
There are free awards, and a nice community ready to go in 2017.
It is a permanent program and part of the World Wide Flora and Fauna, which has international backing and active all over from Europe to Australia since 1993.
Please find the "click here" to get started on the parksontheair.com main page. https://www.facebook.com/groups/parksontheair/If you have any questions, please send an e-mail to w3aax@outlook.com.
73 44 W3AAX - Jason

Saturday, December 24, 2016

St Andrews State Park Florida Activation KFF-1917

I was off on Friday, December 23rd. I decided to activate St Andrews State Park Florida KFF-1917 for the World Wide Fauna and Flora program. It is the closest State Park to my home QTH. I have so many antenna choices that picking one can be difficult. This time I chose the PY1AHD Alexloop which is a magnetic loop for HF. There was also a SO 50 satellite pass. So I packed my KX2 the Alexloop with tripod, and the Elk antenna disassembled into one backpack. Suzy and I walked to my favorite picnic table which is right next to the Grand Lagoon. I always try to be as close to saltwater as I can to enhance low angle vertical radiation. My results were


  • 40 meter CW (3)
  • 40 meter SSB (4)
  • 2 meter FM simplex (3)
  • 20 meter CW (8)
  • 20 meter SSB (5)
  • VHF/UHF SO-50 Sat (1)
  • 24 total
The HF contacts were good for 10 watts and the Alexloop. My DX contact was CU3AA in the Azores 3300 miles away. I spotted myself on DX Summit which brought some WWFF hunters who found me. My cadre of local chasers included WB4BLX, W5RE, K4LIX, N4STC and N1HQ. The good news is that Northwest Florida has many State Parks. They will be popular with the WWFF hunters. Merry Christmas!

Greg N4KGL





Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Okaloosa Island Activation for NPOTA and WWFF-KFF

Being December, this is the last month for the 2016 ARRL National Parks On The Air Event. I got another activation done on December 11th. It was the Okaloosa Island Area for the Gulf Islands National Seashore which counts for SS08. I was also recently introduced to the World Wide Fauna and Flora Program by Jason W3AAX who is the National Coordinator for the United States Program which is designated KFF. WWFF has activations and chasers similar to NPOTA and SOTA. The sites for activation includes all State Parks in addition to the National Parks and also some Wildlife preserve areas. This gives all of us USA portable operators lots of opportunities. WWFF looks promising for Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RADAR) operators. Jason mentioned their may be the possibility for a RADAR Award in KFF. I made this outing a WWFF-KFF activation as well as NPOTA. The Gulf Islands National Seashore is designated as KFF-0661. There is an impressive map of the KFF entities here.



My rig was the Elecraft KX2. I also used the QRPWorks Sidekar. My antenna was a adjustable dipole supported by 9 foot poles. I use this antenna for NVIS on 40 meters to improve my chances of working friends back in Panama City which was about 45 miles to the East. The antenna worked well as I got 599 reports from K4GXV and WB4BLX in Panama City on 40 CW. However on 40 SSB I was not workable funny right. I later checked the Eglin Ionogram Station which would be about 20 miles from the island. I found that the foF2 critical frequency was 7.025 at 1715 UTC. So I believe I had good NVIS on the CW end of the band but NVIS failed on the SSB part of the band above the critical frequency. Of course the antenna worked well at longer distances on 40 meters.

40 meter NVIS Dipole

























I had several of surprises. First I was called by Don KK4QAM a RADAR buddy in Sweetwater Alabama on 40 CW. I did not know Don had taken up CW. I also worked Don on 40 SSB. Second I worked a friend Bob W5RE in Crestview, Florida on 40 PSK-31. I used the PSK capabilities of the KX2 with the help of the SideKar. I have a tiny wireless keyboard for the SideKar that works very well. Bob was keying in his info on his Elecraft K3S. So neither one of us used a PC. Last surprise was a call out on 146.52 FM pulled in W5RH who was practically in sight on the bay. It is nice that he monitors the calling frequency.

Elecraft KX2 and QRPworks SideKar

A couple of notes. First, I used a Traveler Headset I got used. I found an adapter for the the KX2 from K6VHF on Ebay. It did a good job. Second, I used the Fast Log Entry (FLE) Software recommended for WWFF. It is an easy way to enter your contacts from paper or from a simple text file. I used ADIF Master to add a FREQ field to the ADIF output and I was able to also upload the file to LOTW for NPOTA.

All together I had 41 contacts. 3 on 40 CW, 12 on 40 SSB, 1 on 40 PSK, 11 on 20 CW, 13 on 20 SSB and 1 on 2 FM Simplex. I also adjusted the dipole for 20 meters so it got the job done for the activation. I tried 10 meters but none of the contest signals were strong enough to work. Suzy was my buddy. There were few people their as the weather was chilly with the cloud cover. The sun did come out before the day was over. This was my seventh activation of SS08. Perhaps I will get one more in before NPOTA concludes.



Monday, December 5, 2016

Portable Ops at Dec 3rd Samson, AL Rocket Launch

I squeezed in some amateur radio at the Southeast Alabama Rocketry Society (SEARS) launch in Samson, Al. My goal was to QSO with my friends on 40 meters. I used a 40 meter dipole 9 feet above the field to take advantage of NVIS propagation.  My rig was the KX2 at 10 watts.



I had success working:

  • Bob WB4BLX in Panama City (85 miles) CW
  • Bob W5RE in Crestview, FL (49 miles) CW
  • Tom WD0HBR in Dothan, AL (50 miles) CW
  • Phil N4STC in Panama City, FL (85 miles) SSB
  • Steve N4VSP in Lynn Haven, FL (85 miles) SSB
  • Bob KK4DIV in Chipley, FL (48 miles) SSB 
Thanks Guys!

KK4DIV was running 5 watts to Chameleon Loop from the Falling Waters State Park. I was very pleased. This antenna is a good choice for 40 meters particularly the close in contacts. I can shorten it up for higher bands as well. I forgot the stakes that came with the poles but I improvised. The poles breakdown into 3 foot sections that are pack-able. Here are a few more photos from the launch.

Russ Roberts R2D2

R2D2 Launch


Roy Houchin's Christmas Rocket

Suzy meets Toby who lives with Mike AI4NS