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

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

2016 Field Day Comments

The Panama City ARC operated 2F at the Bay County EOC using callsign W4B. We have been doing Field Day there for a number of years. I setup an outside station. The other station was in an air conditioned classroom. I always operate battery even though it does not help under the F category. So here are some comments on this year.

The outdoor station

1. There was no rain or threat of rain. I thought it always rains on Field Day! Of course it was hot. It did not bother me much except for setup and teardown. I was glad to have Phil and Steve helping me with the gear.

The 130 foot doublet

2. The 40 amp hour LiFePO4 battery charged with a 100 watt solar panel did a great job. There was plenty of sunshine. I ran up to 100 watts with no problem.

3. The 130 foot doublet antenna performed well. I started with the SGC 237 tuner. It seemed to work at first, but later it would not finish tuning. So I am unsure of what is up there. I changed the Icom AH-4 tuner and it worked perfectly.

4. The Icom 7100 was doing great. However, the power dropped to a few watts. The base part happened to be in the direct sun. I hope it returns to normal. I switched to The Icom 7300. It worked awesome. I enjoyed the spectrum display even on the crowded bands.

5. I helped get two granddaughters of Don KK4DWC get on the air, That was a joy!

6. Doug Helms KM4TOF is a new ham and he got his first QSOs on our Field Day station. He was doing a good job and said operating was addictive.

7.  The 500 foot Skyloop was setup in the front parking lot and required 150 foot of coax. However it was "SuperFlex" a very low loss type that Phil N4STC provided. The loop did well on 40 meters. 80 meters only had a few stations and I heard nil on 160 meters.

The alternative energy setup with solar panels, supercapacitor and the KX3.
8. I did an educational activity on the supercapacitor bank. I also used the supercapacitor for the alternative energy bonus. I got five contacts with the KX3 for the bonus. The supercapacitor was being charged by solar panels. There has been lots of interest in the solar/supercapacitor setup.

9. The inside folks had fun too. Bob Leasko WB8PAF operated at least 23 of 24 hours steady on CW. That will help our score.

10. OK time to start planing for next year! There will be more about the Panama City ARC Field day on the site after the logs are reviewed and the pictures are gathered.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The 2nd Second Saturday Sprint.(SSS)

Jim K0RGI has come up with a new sprint concept for field ops and their chasers. It is the Second Saturday Sprint (SSS). Visit the QRP Field Ops Community on Google+.  The Sprints are May through October. So get your member number and join us. Mine is 103.

Bravo 7K vertical
For the June 11th SSS Suzy and I returned to Kinsaul Park in Lynn Haven Florida. There were some thunderstorms passing through. Fortunately, I was in a pavilion and could keep the gear dry. My rig was the Elecraft KX3. The antenna was the N6BT Bravo 7K. I also used the Alexloop.

In the SSS you can contact other QRP Field Ops members but you also get credit for other events and casual QSOs. I scored a contact with Pat N0SHU #102 in Missouri at the start on 20 CW. I had five contacts with locals via 2 meters simplex. I used a HT with an Elk Log Periodic for those. I had five SKCC contacts. One on 40 meters and the rest on 20 CW. A couple more local HF contacts including N1HQ #104 gave me 13 QSOs total. We will see how I do on a score. I did run 10 watts so that is a 1.5 multiplier verses the 7 multiplier for 5 watts.

Elk antenna and HT used for 2 meter simplex.
These SSS sprints are a lot of fun.Thanks for all the locals who helped out. I also enjoyed seeing Jason N4JTC who stopped by.


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Testing Field Day Antennas

I am offering a couple of new antennas for our club field day. Of course, it is best to test them before the event to know at least that they tune up. I was able to do that on Saturday.

Feedpoint for 160 meter loop
The first is a dream antenna. That would be a 160 meter full wave loop. Chameleon Antennas has an 80 meter Skyloop and Carl will fix you up with a 160 meter version.  It is 500 feet long and it has a 4 to 1 balun. We deployed it on an open field. It would not have been possible with out the fiberglass poles Mike KM4ELJ provided. They are 28 feet tall and are fairly rigid at the top. They are designed for flags. Mike  has ten of them and we used seven. We setup the supports 80 feet from a central point. This approximates a circle. It did not take long to deploy. But one hitch was that a boater had parked a truck on our wire when we were not looking. We are near a boat ramp. The boater had left. Fortunately Mike had a floor jack in his truck and jacked up the truck and freed our wire. The antenna SWR was about 3 to 1 on 160, less that 2 to1 on 80. A bit high on 40 and less that 1.5 to 1 on 20. We will be using a short coax run and a tuner. We made some 80 meter contacts with good reports. The layout won't be as easy at our Field Day location. We will be working around parking lots and ponds on the property. Thanks to Mike KM4ELJ and Jim K4LIX for help with the setup.

One of the 28 foot flag poles

The second antenna was a 130 foot doublet I got from DX Engineering. I followed their instructions and cut a 1/8 wave section of 300 ohm feedline adjusted for velocity factor, That was about 31 feet. I have an Icom AH-4 tuner which I like as it integrates well with my Icom 7100. It can feed balanced line antenna like the doublet. Deploying this antenna is fairly easy. I use a mast made of camo poles with a tripod at the center and four Jackite fiberglass poles to support the legs. It tuned on 80 through 10. I skipped around and made contacts on 80, 40 and 20. I think we are good.

130 foot doublet
Icom 7100 and the Icom AH-4 Tuner
Our club also has a NA4RR Hex Beam also for field day. It will be on a portable tower. Of course we may have even more antennas but the loop, doublet and hexbeam are a good combo for three transmitters. The Panama City ARC plans to be 3F from the Bay County EOC Our callsign will be W4B. The EOC has indoor air conditioned space but we will also have a battery powered outdoor rig as well. If you like antennas Field Day is a good time to try them out.

Suzy supervised our testing.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

N4P National Park Biodiversity Festival Special Event Report

"I love it when a plan comes together" applies to our of N4P operation on May 21st. Our team operated N4P as one of the exhibits at the Biodiversity Festival at Naval Live Oaks near Gulf Breeze, Florida. We provided a science based activity for the festival participants. Our activity demonstrated how radio waves bounce (or refract) off the ionosphere to enable long distance contacts. The activity was in three parts:

  1. Discuss layers in the ionosphere skip, the skip zone, sunspots and the sunspot cycle.
  2. Give them the opportunity to talk to our contacts on the air.
  3. Have them plot a contact, measure the distance and record the distance. They could see the pattern of the skip and skip zone develop.

Mike AI4NS used some graphical aids to perform step 1. Greg N4KGL operated the N4P station for Part 2. Bob KK4DIV assisted the participants in plotting the contacts on a map for part 3. We were also assisted by Patrick KD0DVH and his wife. Thanks Mike, Bob and Patrick!

We  activated  Naval Live Oaks as part of Gulf Islands National Seashore (SS08) for National Parks On The Air. We paced our contacts as visitors arrived. We got most of them on the air. We had help from out NPOTA contacts to carry the other side of the conversation. We also did some hunt and pounce. A contact with 4V1G in Haiti was super. We also chatted with KC1CXC aeronautical mobile near the Dominican Republic. His commercial flight left Aruba and he was headed to Philadelphia.

Our 20 meter contacts were mostly between 600 and 900 miles from the data. We had additional contacts between 900 and 1800 miles. The skip zone was about 600 miles. We had one exception at 400 miles and one ground wave contact with Pensacola Florida.

The rig was my Icom 7100 and a 40 amp-hour LiFePO4 batter assisted by a 100 watt solar panel. The antenna was a N6BT Bravo 7K vertical. Our graphical aids came from a Propagation 101 presentation by Lee Jennings ZL2AL now a Silent Key. The maps were from CQMaps.

The reactions of the kids to speaking on the air were varied and memorable. Some of them were very young. I feel involving the participants enhanced their experience. So we felt pretty good about the day. The band conditions could have been better. But hey that how is the ionosphere rolls. Thanks to the National Park Staff for inviting us. If we had another opportunity we would do it again. Perhaps this idea would work for Jamboree On The Air (JOTA). Please checkout these YouTube videos.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The N4P National Park Special Event will be May 21st at Naval Live Oaks, FL

There are a couple of things coming together. First
The National Park Service and National Geographic have teamed up this year to host a National Parks BioBlitz throughout the country in celebration of the National Park Service Centennial. Gulf Islands National Seashore, in partnership with Okaloosa Science and the University of West Florida, will host a BioBlitz species identification and Biodiversity Festival on May 21, 2016, at the park's Naval Live Oaks Area in Gulf Breeze, Florida.
Gulf Islands National Seashore is home to many different plants and animals.
Craig McDonnell
and second

In 2016, the National Park Service (NPS) will celebrate its 100th anniversary, and radio amateurs will be able to help mark the occasion with the ARRL National Parks on the Air (NPOTA) event.

As a result, there will be a special event station using callsign N4P at the NPS Biodiversity Festival at Naval Live Oaks on May 21st. We will be doing National Parks On The Air but with a twist. We will involve the participants in a real time science experiment by collecting data on radio wave skip while operating on 20 meters. The participants, many being youth, will help us make contacts. They will also plot the contacts on a grid square map. The distance will be read from the map and logged. Over the day, we hope to see a pattern of the skip distance and the skip zone. N4P will be SS08 Gulf Islands National Seashore for NPOTA. However, we would like chaser's four digit grid square in addition to their state for plotting the contacts. Please be patient and slow the pace so we can get those kids on the air. Listen for us around 14.265. Greg Lane N4KGL and Bob Plank KK4DIV will operate N4P and assist the "scientists" who participate in the experiment.

The First Second Saturday Sprint (SSS)

Jim K0RGI has come up with a new sprint concept for field ops and their chasers. It is the Second Saturday Sprint. Visit the QRP Field Ops Community on Google+.  The Sprints are May through October. So get your member number. Mine is 103.

For May I had a nice mix of contacts at 5 watts on 40, 20 and 2 meters. A dozen in all. I was glad to reach members Kelly K4UPG and Pat NQ0N. I have a cadre of local chasers that help. Suzy and I enjoyed the nice weather in a park in Lynn Haven, Florida by St. Andrews Bay. The rig was the Elecraft KX3 and the antenna was the Bravo 7K vertical next to the water.

I like that other events and casual contacts count. This is a good concept for QRP Field Ops. Thanks to Jim K0RGI for setting up this event. I am sure it will grow month by month.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

NPOTA Activation at Naval Live Oaks

Naval Live Oaks near Gulf Breeze Florida is part of Gulf Islands National Seashore. The NPOTA designator is SS08. I am planning to support a BioBlitz/Biodiversity Festival event at Naval Live Oaks on May 21st. So the trip was in part to check out the site prior to the event and I might as well make it an activation.

My antenna choice was the Bravo 7K from It worked very well for my activation at the Jimmy Carter Plains Georgia site. It has the advantage of being self supporting. Neither NLO or the Georgia site wanted me to use the trees. I find the Bravo 7k works fine on 40 meters but not so well for the close in contacts. This is because a vertical has a null for the high angles required for NVIS.
I did locate the Bravo 7K as close the the shore as I could without being in the way.. The picnic area has saltwater on the south side.

The rig this time was the Icom 7100 that packs up with a tuner and battery in a toolbox. I used my dog stroller to get the gear to the picnic area. Suzy does not need the stroller. I started on 40 meters. I actually worked three other activators at PK04, RC04 and HP17. I worked W4MQC who was maritime mobile. KM4ELJ, Mike, was able to pull me in. He is near Panama City. A highlight was working Tom WD0HBR from Dothan, Alabama. His rig was a Frog Sounds at one or two watts. I think he came in better on my end that I did on his with 50 watts.

I had more than the ten contacts required on 40 but I went to 20 meters to test out the antenna. I had three on CW. Then on SSB I got a string going. I stopped before it became a pile up. I want to save some for the May 21st event. I will use this same setup then.

The weather was nice and sunny. I got a little burned as I never got around to using the sun-screen. Suzy found some shade under the picnic bench. The park filled up as it was a great time to be outdoors.