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

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Get Ready for the November 4th 2017 RaDAR Challenge

RaDAR Is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio

RaDAR Challenge Rules

1. Aim

The RaDAR “Challenge” is a unique event aimed at promoting the use of Rapidly Deployable
Amateur Radio stations. Categories 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. RaDAR operators are encouraged to be self-sufficient during each challenge, not only with power supply and communications equipment but food, water, protective clothing and shelter, not forgetting the first aid kit.

2. Date and Time

00:00 UTC to 23:59 UTC on Saturday 1 April 2017,
00:00 UTC to 23:59 UTC on Saturday 15 July, and
00:00 UTC to 23:59 UTC on Saturday 4 November 2017

24 hours will give equal opportunity to the international community of RaDAR operators.
RaDAR operators can define their own operating time schedule. The 24 hour period remains but it’s up to each individual to plan his / her MAXIMUM, SINGLE PERIOD, FOUR HOUR ops. He/she should take propagation into account with the ultimate goal of intercontinental RaDAR to RaDAR communications in mind. (10 bonus points!)

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 FM
repeaters should preferably not be used for the purpose of the challenge.

4. Suggested HF calling frequencies

See for the RaDAR
Calling channels, the latest suggested international list of calling frequencies

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. The grid locator of six characters
is acceptable but should preferably be accurate to 8 or 10 characters for higher
position accuracy (especially for moving RaDAR stations).

6. Scoring

1 point per QSO. Individual QSOs could be per mode, per band, per satellite, per
grid location. If the moving RaDAR station has moved the required distance contact
can be made with a previously worked station, again. Suggestions have been made to call CQ including grid location, for example CQ RaDAR from grid KG34acXXyy, to help callers determine whether it is possible for a new contact with a previously worked moving RaDAR station

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 (in a building away from home)
X 2 – RaDAR Field station (camping)
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 can be made.
This requirement tests the ability to rapidly and successfully re-deploy your amateur
radio station. If it be gentlemanly to make further QSO’s before moving then please feel free to do
so but the QSO’s in excess of five per deployment point can not be counted for

9. Bonus points (All categories)

Five (5) points 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.
Five (5) points for the first intercontinental (DX) QSO
Ten (10) points for the first successful intercontinental (DX) RaDAR to RaDAR

10. Log Sheets

Log sheets must be submitted by 15 April 2017, 29 July and 18 November 2017 and
sent by e-mail to

Note: A photo of the station should accompany every log entry including each new
location that moveable RaDAR stations visit.

The above is an excerpt from SARL 2017 Contest Manual

Please visit and Google+ RaDAR Community for more info about RaDAR.

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

Greg N4KGL

Monday, October 2, 2017

St. Vincent Island USI Qualification Expedition Succeeds

I love it when the plan, the weather, and propagation come together!

A team from Panama City ARC successfully qualified St Vincent Island, Florida, FL006, for the US Islands Award Program on Saturday, Sept 30th. The team members included Jim K4LIX, Bob WB8PAF, Bob KK4DIV, Phil N4STC, Greg KG4LFS, Dennis WA6QKN and Greg N4KGL. The qualification required 25 contacts. However, the team made 128 contacts in just over two hours including 29 states, Canada, Germany, and Belgium. The contacts also counted for Parks On The Air KFF-0257. St. Vincent is only accessible by boat. The team used the St. Vincent Island Shuttle to get to the island. Our time was limited to four hours on the island and two hours operating time. The team is eager to do more expeditions.

An outstanding video by Bob KK4DIV

I chose to take the Icom 7100, a Bioenno 40 AH battery and my 100-foot loop matched with the Icom AH-4 Tuner. This combination worked fine business on 40 meters and 20 meters. We were making one contact per minute average. We made 50 contacts on 40 meters to my surprise. It helped we got mentioned on the North Florida HF Traffic Net. It also helped that the recent solar activity had the SFI at 90 and the critical frequency was above 7 MHz. It was easy to make the short contacts back to Panama City and neighboring counties. The 100 ft loop is 30 feet across, 20 feet high and the bottom is 10 feet above the ground. It has proved itself as an all-around performer since the last Field Day. The footprint is 30 feet long which was chosen to fit in a camping spot at Falling Waters State Park.

Thanks to the team for making this expedition a success!

Three 30 foot poles supporting the 100-foot loop

The Icom AH-4 tuner matches the loop at the center bottom via a short 300-ohm feedline.

The base of the Icom 7100 and the Bioenno 40 AH battery.

Bob WB*PAF operates and Dennis WA6QKN logs.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

St. Vincent Island Florida Expedition Planned

It will be the closest I have come to a DXpedition. The Panama City ARC is planning to qualify St. Vincent Island, Florida on Sept 30 13:00 - 15:00 UTC. The call will be W4RYZ. We will call CQ US Islands Florida New until 25 contacts. Then we will use FL006. The Island is also Parks On The Air KFF-0257. We will operate primarily 40 and 20 SSB. Other bands and modes will be used based on openings.

Qualification means we are the first to operate from the island for the US Islands Awards Program. We need at least 25 contacts to qualify the island, We have a team of seven club members going. We will have two or more stations running. Access to the Island is only by boat. We will take the St. Vincent Island Shuttle from the Indian Pass landing.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Chameleon F Loop Magnetic Loop WSPR Baseline Test

This is is one in a series of tests using WSPRlite Beacons to study the Salt Water Effect. The Salt Water Effect is gaining a propagation advantage by placing vertically polarized antennas near the salt water shore.I often setup on the salt water shore with good results. However, now I am experimenting with a WSPR test methodology to quantify the effect. WSPR is Weak Signal Propagation Reporter.

This test was intended to show that two Chameleon F Loop magnetic loops are similar in their WSPR spots. This is a precursor to doing a WSPR test that places one loop at the salt water shore and one inland. I placed my loop and one provided by Bob KK4DIV on the field at Kinsaul Park in Lynn Haven Florida. I spaced them out at some distance from the bay and far enough apart not to have interaction between the two antennas.

Note, I have upgraded the firmware of my WSPRlite beacons so that if they are started at the same even minute their transmissions will be synchronized. This will enhance the credibility of the results. Also, we lost lots of time because one loop was tuned to 30 meters instead of 20 meters. This was Greg's Boo Boo. Of course, it was a good trouble shooting exercise. Thanks to Bob KK4DIV and Cory N4UVR for their assistance on the field!

There were eight transmissions from the two beacons over the course of an hour. Unfortunately, there seems to have been interference on the N4KGL beacon during the second half of the test.

The delta of the average SNR for simultaneous spots is shown above for N4KGL - W4RYZ. The numbers on the header are the deltas in decibels. Eight out of the twelve values are within two dB. Below are the values for the distance bins in kilometers. I will use a view like the one above to gauge the difference in average SNR when I locate one beacon at the salt water shore and one inland in a future test.

I am doing my data analysis in Microsoft Access. I will refine the queries and views as this effort progresses.

Greg N4KGL

Monday, August 28, 2017

W/VE Islands QSO Party and Parks On The Air at Okaloosa Island, Florida

Dennis WA6QKN and I had lots of ham radio fun on Saturday at the Gulf Islands National Seashore Okaloosa Island Day Use Area near Destin, Florida. The US Islands organization sponsored the W/VE QSO Party that day. Okaloosa Island is US Islands FL003S. Also, this site is part of the National Park System and counts for Parks On The Air as KFF-0661. I was concerned initially when I saw a lot of vehicles at my favorite picnic area. It turns out that Marine recruits were having a drill and picnic before they leave for boot camp. No worries as we had plenty of space for our setup. 

The Marines were our neighbors
I choose my vertical oriented 100-foot loop for the antenna. It is the one I built for Field Day. It went up smoothly with the three fiberglass poles. We used a sledgehammer to drive the angle iron stakes for the poles. That hammer would be heavy for RaDAR. The rig was my Icom 7100 running 100 watts using a 40 AH Bioenno LiFePO4 battery. An AH-4 tuner matches the loop impedance to 50 ohms for the rig. I am pleased with the ease of erecting the loop and antenna. It did a great job on 40 and 20 meters and even the high bands 17, 15 and 10 meters. 

The 100 foot horizontally polarized loop antenna used three 31 foot poles for support.
As the day went on the bands started sounding decent. We operated only SSB. We worked a number of Kansas and Ohio QSO party stations. They dominated the bands. The other W/VE Island stations were hard to find. I did get called by Scott ND9E operating from an island in Missouri..Later, I answered a CQ from VA3TIC on an island in Ontario. Dennis saved me the chore of logging all day. That was a great help.

Greg N4KGL. Photo by Dennis WA6QKN.
In regard to Parks On The Air, I worked KFF-1077 in Arkansas. That counts for POTA Park to Park. I spotted myself for POTA and a couple of Croatian stations came right back. For grins, we checked the high bands. To my surprise, there was an opening to Brazil on 10 meters! I also worked Suriname on 17 meters. The highlight of the day was snagging KH6TU in Maui Hawaii operating the Hawaii QSO party on 15 meters.

Dennis and I worked in a  repeat of the Saltwater Effect experiment with two WSPRlite Beacons and N6BT Bravo 7K verticals. Dennis did a lot of the setup and tear down of the verticals. We left one Bravo 7K vertical unattended on the beach at the bay. It was right over the salt water. Fortunately, it did not attract any undue attention. The second vertical was across the park road on a grassy spot. 

Dennis models the saltwater shore Bravo 7K vertical with a WSPRlite beacon.
Of the 66 stations receiving both beacons, all but one had a better average SNR on the salt water shore vertical over the inland vertical. There were 52 stations that copied the salt water shore vertical and did not copy the inland vertical at all. The salt water shore vertical got across the Atlantic and down to Brazil where the inland vertical did not. I am getting more and more confident that the salt water effect is real and measurable. The beacon that was a loser in past tests won today. Prior to this test, I measured the output of the beacons into a dummy load and they are both the same.

The inland Bravo 7K vertical with a WSPRlite beacon.
Despite the sticky weather, Dennis and I had a great day and Suzy did as well. It was well worth the trip from Panama City. I introduced Dennis to the QSO Today Podcasts on the trip home. We listened to Eric Guth 4Z1UG interview Art Bell W6OOB.

.Suzy hams it up with Dennis

Thursday, August 24, 2017

N4KGL Operates Solar Eclipse QSO Party

Monday, August 21st was the Solar Eclipse across the USA. I setup for the Solar Eclipse QSO Party at Kinsaul Park in Lynn Haven, Florida. I had a short turnaround time since I had just got back from the Huntsville Hamfest Sunday Night. I was pleased to get all the gear packed up and then setup at the field. It included the 100-foot vertical loop I built for Field Day, the Icom 7100 transceiver and my laptop computer. I also deployed two Bravo 7K verticals each with a WSPRlite beacon.

My 100-foot circumference loop antenna with Icom AH-4 tuner 
The goal of the Solar Eclipse QSO Party was to maximize activity on the HF bands This would provide lots of data for the Reverse Beacon Network, PSKReporter, and Weak Signal Propagation Reporter databases for the scientist to study. My WSPR Beacons contributed. I also called CQ on CW many times which was captured by the Reverse Beacon Network.  I did get answers to my CQs including fifteen contacts of 20 meters and three on 20 meters. I will turn the log I made using the N1MM+ logging software.

I could not discern any dramatic effects of the eclipse on my reception. However, at the maximum, I had a Canadian contact on 40 meters. It is unusual for me to work that distance on 40 meters in the daytime. As the sky got darker, many small birds and dragonflies joined us. The birds used the radials on the Bravo 7K verticals to roost.

The N6BT Bravo 7K verticals with WSPRlite beacons

I enjoyed getting a visit from Bob KK4DIV in the morning. My wife Linda also came by and we enjoyed looking at the eclipse together. The maximum was about 85% at 1:38 PM. The were lots of clouds during the day but there were enough breaks to see the solar eclipse.

My gear under the canopy.

I had a second reason for the two vertical with WSPR beacons. I wanted to see if the spots would be similar. My previous salt water effect tests assume the two setups are equivalent. The simultaneous spots compared very well. However, one beacon had almost double the spots of the other. It could be the beacon or the antenna. It also could be that there was another station on the same frequency for one beacon. Oh well, this will mean more tests to sort this out.

The station.

I think the process of setting up the gear outside for various events is good practice for what ever situation may come up. This setup was pretty much my Field day setup. You always want to get to the field with all the gear you need right down to those coax barrel adapters. This time I was successful.

Linda observing the Solar Eclipse

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

N4KGL Solar Eclipse QSO Party Plans

I am plan to participate in the Solar Eclipse QSO Party (SEQP). Ham activity captured by RBN, PSKreporter, and WSPR will be used by scientists to understand the effect of the eclipse on HF propagation via the ionosphere. They want to maximize activity on the ham bands to get lots of data. CW and digital modes are best. SEQP logs will also be collected. There are bonuses for being outside and public place. 

The Solar Eclipse QSO Party is 9 to 5 CDT. The eclipse will be maximum in Panama City at 1:38 PM I plan to operate from St Andrews State Park.The grid square there is EM70DD. I can take advantage of the salt water effect on the South shore of Grand Lagoon. I will use my Icom 7100 to a Chameleon vertical antenna mainly on 20 meters CW. When I CQ, it should be picked up on RBN. The SEQP exchange includes grid squares. I will log with N1MM+ and submit my log for analysis.

The SEQP also encourages WSPR.I plan to deploy two WSPRlite beacons each to a Bravo 7k Vertical along the shore line. I am double checking the beacons to support my salt water effect study. The spots for the beacons should be similar.

These are my plans as of now. It will be interesting to experience the eclipse effects on propagation in real time. Consider operating if you can. It is in the interest of science you know.

Greg N4KGL