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

Monday, August 31, 2015

St George Island Expedition

St George Island Florida has both a State Park and a Lighthouse on different parts of the Island. St George is FL007S in the US Islands directory. Saturday was the W/VE Island QSO Party. Linda my wife and Suzy our Basset made this a get-away weekend spending Friday and Saturday night at the St George Inn which is a block from the Lighthouse.  First of all, the island is very popular with dog owners as dogs are welcome on the beach. So Suzy was right at home, she enjoyed the bed at the hotel, the beach and met many other dogs over the weekend, There is access to the beach right behind the Lighthouse.

Bob KK4DIV and wife Carla

This expedition became a Panama City ARC Club event as well. I operated with the club call W4RYZ. Bob KK4DIV and his wife Carla arrived Saturday morning from Panama City. Bob used a portable generator to power his FT-450 rig. I had contacted the Lighthouse Association and had permission to use the light as support for an antenna. However, the Lighthouse did not open for climbing because of lightning in the area. I setup at one of the pavilions near the beach instead. I used the Icom 7100 on battery power and a Chameleon Hybrid Micro with a whip. I got in an hours operating and picked up five islands.

Setup from the beach pavilion looking toward the light.
 I went to pickup Linda and Suzy and had lunch. On our return, Vic K4GXV his wife Sally KD4UUN, Bob WB4BLX and his wife Linda KG4TJL arrived from Panama City. I decided it was time to setup an antenna on the Lighthouse. I was not as easy as it sounds. I took 150 feet of line to the top of the light. The line became a huge tangled ball. So I had to unravel it which must have taken 30 minutes. After that I got Vic and Bob's assistance to deploy a Chameleon Tactical Dipole Lite. It was inverted vee style with the top about 55 feet up. A ham is always wanting to try something like this right! I setup at the base of the light and worked four more islands. I also worked KK4DIV on four additional bands. I had 23 contacts for the day and nine islands. I figure I got a good percentage of the islands that were active.

That is me up there untangling a ball of line before dropping it over the side.
On Sunday Linda, Suzy and I returned to the beach behind the light. Suzy enjoys the sand but does not want to get in the water. Although, she got close and the waves chased her back. I setup with the KX3 and the Chameleon Vertical. I got seven contacts on 20 meters. One was Fred VE3FAL. Fred was using the You Kits TJ2B hand held rig.

Suzy meets the surf.
Thanks to the St. George Island Lighthouse Association for having us hams. And thanks to Jim the Lighthouse Keeper for his assistance.

The view of the beach from the Lighthouse



Thursday, August 27, 2015

Planning for St George Island Ops Saturday 29 August

The US islands W/VE QSO Party on Saturday 29 August has turned into to a get away trip to St. George Island, Florida for Linda and me. Suzy is going too. I enquired and got permission to use the St. George Lighthouse for an antenna support. I am having a self debate on antennas to use. I am thinking currently to use a 20 meter dipole as the main antenna and then a sloping 60 foot wire to the ground for the other bands.The sloping antenna is the Chameleon Hybrid Micro. I will use a single line over the lighthouse railing. I guess I will go with my Field Day portable station based on the Icom 7100 and a 40 amp hour battery. The WX is touch and go with thunderstorms predicted.



I will be operating under our club call W4RYZ for Panama City ARC. There will be other ops from our club setting up at the State Park or helping me out at the Lighthouse. The US Islands W/VE QSO Party is 1200z 29 August – 0300z 30 August, 2015. 15 Hours. I will be focusing on 1500 to 2100 or 10 am to 5 pm Eastern Time. Our operating frequencies are 14.250-14.260 (main) 7.250, 21.350,and 28.450 mHz phone.  The US islands designator for St George Island is FL007S.

More on the QSO Party information is at http://www.usislands.org/ Information on the Lighthouse is at http://www.stgeorgelight.org/ and the State Park at https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/St-George-Island I am looking forward to many contacts including RaDAR operators.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Huntsville Hamfest Report

I was pleased to attend the Huntsville Hamfest this year. My wife Linda joined me. We met up with John W8JER and his wife Micky KE8ASK from Sturgis Michigan. I also met my buddy John K4KQZ from Columbia Tennessee.  Saturday in addition to shopping, I attended the QRP presentation on portable antennas by Craig NM4T.

Monte Sano QRP Event

The highlight of the trip was the QRP BBQ that Craig puts on Saturday Night at the cabins on Monte Sano. There were three RaDAR Ops there.  First was Don KK4QAM and his wife Carol. I found out Carol is KK4VBT, a General Class, and likes JT-65. Second was Steven N0TES AKA Wise Seeker on Google+. He owns Alpha Antennas. The third is Craig NM4T known as the "Huntsville Guy." There were LNR radios to try out including the Mountain Topper and the LD-5. Of course there were LNR antennas in the trees. 

Craig gave us some tips on island operating like "Buddies in the Caribbean" along with videos. We also heard about SOTA. I gave a short talk on the K-Tor pedal power generator and the supercapacitor bank. Jerry N4EO volunteered to do some pedaling. Thanks Jerry!

In the shopping department, I got an LNR 40/30/20 End Fed to go along with my LNR Mountain Topper. My best deal was a copy of the Stealth Amateur Radio book by Kirk Kleinschmidt for $4. It lists for about $150 used or $200 new on Amazon. 

Sorry I just did not get many photos. The one above is by Steven. 


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Skeeter Hunting in Alabama

I combined a trip to my Parent's in Dothan, Alabama and the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt event. The house is where I grew up and has many tall pines. So I went with the 40/20 fan dipole in the front yard.. I used my Big Shot sling shot to get the center support line over a limb. There were higher limbs but my choice was up about 30 feet high. I did not start hanging the antenna until the start of the hunt. It takes a bit of time to secure the dipole ends and so forth. I did did not get the first contact until a hour had past.



The conditions could have been better. there was plenty of QSB. On 20 CW I worked a string of six including KX0R, W2LJ, N3AQC, NE5DL, WD8RIF and N3CU. I checked 15 meters CW and I worked N9SE doing SKCC.Then I mixed in 20 SSB and picked up three doing the Maryland/DC QSO Party. On to 40 CW Iworked N5GW doing the hunt. Not much more there so I went to 40 SSB. I worked K9HAM running a net on 7.285 and AK4YF on 7.255. My final jump was to 15 CW and worked N3AQC doing the hunt. I heard KC5FM/M a mobile skeeter on 20 SSB but he could not hear me. I also was called by someone on SSB too weak to copy. So lets see I count 9 CW contacts and 8 were Skeeters. There were 5 SSB contacts and none were Skeeters. So that was 14 over two and a half hours as I packed up 30 minutes early.



I was assisted by my Dad, Tom WD0HBR and Suzy our basset puppy. We took advantage of the shade. I enjoyed mixing up CW and SSB. The KX3 is a fine rig for that.Thanks to Larry W2LJ for setting up a nice QRP event. The local skeeters in the yard found me I did not need to hunt for them!



72,

Greg N4KGL


Sunday, July 26, 2015

FOBB 2015: Friends In the Swarm

Flight of the Bumblebees is one of several QRP events that draw a big following. I decided to go to St Andrews State Park which is one of my favorite spots for portable ops. I chose the North Side of the park by Grand Lagoon. I have even a specific picnic table I like right on the water. This was a big outing for Suzy our seven month old basset. I was a little concerned with the heat.

Suzy
First off my favorite picnic table was occupied. So I picked another further away from the water. The shade was good as it is under a good stand of trees. So I used the pine trees tho do an inverted L with the 60 foot wire that comes with the Chameleon Hybrid Micro. I got the vertical point about 25 feet high and the rest was sloping some what. I was 20 minutes behind the start. It turned out some adults threw a water bottle not at Suzy but in her direction. That got her a little skittish. So I heard a buddy Bobby AK4JA but Suzy decides she will feel safe on top of the picnic table right in front of me. I sent the worse code. It really took Suzy a while to get comfortable with the scene. I had a nice string of twenty on 20 meters. The 11th contact was KS4L randy who I met at the Huntsville Hamfest.

Elecraft KX3

The 21st contact was on 40 meters it was Jim K4AHO who I have met at the Orlando hamfest. He is in the QRP group there with Kelly K4UPG. My 25th contact was Larry W2LJ. It just would not have been a QRP event without Larry. Larry blog is http://w2lj.blogspot.com/ Two contacts later was Craig NM4T booming in from Huntsville. Craig is know as the Huntsville QRP Guy. He sets up the Monte Sano event on the Saturday night of the Huntsville Hamfest. My 32nd contact was Sandy W5TVW who I met on the air on Saturday during the RaDAR Meetup.

Chameleon Hybrid Micro. I used two 25 foot radials on the ground.
All together I had 39 contacts. 30 on 20 meters and 9 on 40 meters. I did not have much trouble being heard. So I think the Chameleon inverted L was a good choice as well as the Elecraft KX3. Suzy eventually discovered that under the table was just fine. She had a good time overall. So I was pleased and enjoyed the many familiar calls. It is pretty amazing what QRP to QRP can do. Now how about that Skeeter Hunt August 9th!

Picnic area under a stand of pine trees.

The view toward Grand Lagoon with a pirate ship in the distance.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Pedal Power QSOs

I have a 58 Farad supercapacitor bank that worked well at Field Day. It was charged using a solar panel. That is a great setup. I made five natural power QSOs at Field Day with the supercapacitor and the KX3. I ran into the K-Tor website and decided to try the "Power Box" which uses pedals. Pedals are much easier to deal with than a hand crank. A human powered generator would work if there are clouds or it is after dark.



The "Power Box" threw me at first as it puts out 110 volts DC. Yes DC. I have learned that most chargers and wall warts are the switching type. Those devices can operate on DC as well as AC. Now the "power Box is rated at 20 watts. You can use what ever charger you device would normally use to convert the 110 volts DC to the correct charging voltage.



In my case I am using a 10 watt charger to charge the supercapacitor as if it were a battery. Now I don't plan to charge the capacitor from zero volts to working voltage. I can do that with a solar panel. The supercapacitor loses about one percent a day due to the balancing circuit. That is pretty good really. So the main thing is to replace what I use to make QSOs. I found it takes about four minutes to go from 13 volts to 12 volts with the 210 ma draw from the KX3 on receive. It takes about 1.5 minutes of pedaling to put that energy back.



I had a QSO with KP4CPC today and the voltage went down from 13 volts to 10 .75 volts running five watts CW. OK it seems it took five minutes of pedaling to get it back to 13 volts. The charger was putting out 700 ma. I may find another charger that would double that current. But hey exercise is part of the RaDAR game. So there you go! Actually a cool night would be better for pedaling but I was just testing.



I think this device will be interesting for the next Field Day and makes a good educational tool. In fact, I might get others to do the pedaling!

RaDAR On The Air Meetup for July

The weather today is 90 degrees Fahrenheit in Panama City, Florida which feels like 103 F.  I setup Field Day style my front yard. I used the Icom 7100 at 90 watts on SSB and 40 watts on CW. My go box has a healthy 40 ah battery. The antenna was the Chameleon Hybrid Micro 5 to 1 transformer with the 60 foot wire setup as an inverted L using two 30 foot Jackite poles.



The first hour was on 40 meters. My first contact was Jim K4LIX from nearby Callaway Florida. Second was a RaDAR operator Don KK4QAM in Sweetwater Alabama. Nice to do RaDAR to RaDAR with Don. Then was W5TVW Sandy in Hammond Louisiana. He had a great signal with an Icom 703. We chatted for quite a while. Don does portable operating so we have a lot in common. I did a QSY to 40 CW and worked W5TVW again. We exchanged SKCC numbers.



The second hour was 17 meters. I started on 18.157.5 and worked N4ANF Gary in Colorado. Then I had a string of locals calling. They included Ron KM4ELJ, Bob WB4BLX, Jaque KK4LUW and Jim K4LIX again. It is nice to get participation from our local club members. Then I picked up Dan WB5OER in Galena, Texas. The last SSB call was Marv operation W4RYZ the Panama City Club station. QSY to CW and I worked Jim NM1W and exchanged SKCC number. Next was K4LIX again and the last station was K4ISW Lee in Virginia.



So I can't complain. I don't think many wanted to bear the heat. I had some shade that helped. I believe I will take this antenna arrangement to the State Park for Flight of the Bumblebees on Sunday. Suzy was out there with me and Bob WB4BLX came by on his bike for a eyeball QSO.

RaDAR is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio! Find out what the other RaDAR Ops did at https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/109283065808971118728