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

Monday, April 23, 2018

QRP To The Field 2018 "A River Runs Through It"

Bob KK4DIV and I went to Dead River Landing in Walton, County, FL for QRP To The Field.
QRPTTF is an annual operating event to encourage QRPers and SOTA stations to get out of the house and operate portable “from the field” or a summit, and of course, have fun. Find a nice operating location for yourself, or combine it with some buddies for a day-long adventure.


The theme for this year was "A River Runs Through It". Thus we chose the Dead River Landing on a slough of the Choctawhatchee River. We used Dead River in our exchange. This venue was ideal having a pavilion by the river under oak trees. The oak trees were just the ticket for a 40-meter OCF dipole. We also had an elevated 20-meter vertical for a while and later traded it for a 20-meter dipole.



Bob and I operated under our own calls. This QRP event was 5 watts CW and 10 watts SSB. Bob works SSB. He used a new Yaesu FT 891. I used the Elecraft KX2. Since we were working concurrently on two bands, interference between the rigs can be an issue. Bob's rig on 20 meters was raising the background noise in my rig of 40 meters. It was an opportunity to use some band-pass filters I purchased from DX Engineering.  We put the 40-meter filter on my rig. It did not cure the noise. However, putting the 20-meter band-pass filter on Bob's rig cured the noise.This will come in handy for a multiple transmitter Field Day.

Bob KK4DIV

In QRPTTF, rivers and SOTA locations count as multipliers in addition to their SPC. I did not hear a flood of TTF stations, but I ran across them during the day. In terms of rivers, I worked

  • KC9RH/P Town Creek GA
  • KB4QQJ Haw River NC
  • KJ5FA Big Tiny Creek AR
  • WB5BKL Colorado River TX?
For SOTA I worked
  • KC4WZB W4G/NG-027 GA
  • N5DRG W5T/DE003 TX
  • WC6J W6/NS290 CA
  • WG4I W4C/EM001 NC
Additional SPCs included AL, FL, OH, MD, IN, KY, TN, MO, SC, MI

In summary

  • 40 CW 15
  • 40 SSB 5
  • 20 CW 4
  • 20 SSB 1
  • Total 25
Bob, Suzy and I had a good time. The weather was comfortable and the river was very scenic. I will definitely add this venue to my list for future operations. On the return trip, Bob and I listened to the Dennis Blanchard K1YPP QSO Today on which Dennis talks about his 2100 mile hike of the Appalachian Trail. You will find more photos at this link.

Bob's Yaesu FT 891
Greg's KX2


Sunday, April 8, 2018

April 2018 RaDAR Challenge and Florida State Parks On The Air Contest.

The April RaDAR Challenge coincides with the Florida State Parks On The Air Contest. The FLSPOTA Contest is sponsored by the Lakeland ARC. Thanks to Matt NJ4Y who is one the organizers. RaDAR can play well with other events like the FLSPOTA Contest. My usual venue for RaDAR is a Florida State Park anyway. The first Saturday of April last year was perfect weather. This year the forecast for rain got worse the closer we got to the day. I even considered bailing out. However, why not start and see what happens. The forecast for rain was correct by the way.

The Chameleon vertical deployed quickly while it was raining
In Northwest Florida, we are blessed with many state parks. Since RaDAR encourages movement, we moved by vehicle and visited five parks along the coast in succession.  My buddy Dennis WA6QKN is on my RaDAR team so we braved the rain together. We operated out of the van. I call it Sonic Style because we are like the two guys in the Sonic commercials.

Greg N4KGL

Dennis WA6QKN

When it is raining, you want to minimize your antenna setup time. The antenna of choice for this situation was the Chameleon whip and the 5-to1 transformer. It was mounted to a four-foot pipe plugged into an umbrella stand base.The Icom 7100 in the van had an LDG IT-100 tuner that let us operate multiple bands the Chameleon vertical. Although we know this is not the best antenna for 40 and 60 meters, we still made contacts on those bands.

Grayton Beach setup

Here are some notes from our stops:

  • St Andrews State Park:. We made three CW contacts on 20 and one on 40. Then I called out on 60 meters SSB. We were heard by two locals, each named Bob, W5RE, and WB4BLX. We QSY and worked them on 40 CW. I did the SO-50 pass at during the light rain. I think I got Matt NS4Y operating as K4LKL.
  • Camp Helen State Park: It was raining pretty good. We did a quick setup with the Chameleon vertical. We go one 20 SSB and four 40 meter SSB contacts.
  • Deer Lake State Park; This park is small. It does have beach access if you walk. We operated out of the parking lot. Our first contact was KD8JA operating FLSPOTA Contest close by from Henderson Beach near Destin FL. In summary, we had two 40 meter SSB, two 40 meters CW and one 20 meters CW.
  • Grayton Beach State Park: We missed the entrance to this one and did some extra driving. The rain had thankfully passed by We set up the low 40-meter dipole and a resonant 20-meter vertical ground plane. We did CQ FLSPOTA mostly. We got four on 40 SSB and five on 20 SSB.
  • Top Sail Preserve State Park: We set up the low dipole for 40 meters and quickly make five CW contacts with SKCC stations.

Dennis and I felt we had a full day of ham radio fun despite the adverse weather. Thanks to chasers like Chris VA3ECO that tried but did not find me. We listened to a QSO Today Podcast on the way home. The podcast was Episode 168 with Dennis Verrecchia N6KI about Army MARS during the Vietnam War. Dennis WA6QKN in the van with me shared his own story of setting up phone patches for operators in Vietnam to the US while he was stationed in Guam.

Suzy's lunchtime

The sand dunes at Deer Lake
See more photos at https://photos.app.goo.gl/d2IWwcdlX1hPMXEd2



Thursday, April 5, 2018

Florida State Park Marathon for FLSPOTA Contest & RaDAR Challenge April 7th

Dennis WA6QKN and Greg N4KGL will start at St. Andrews State Park near Panama City, Florida, head West along the Gulf Coast activating as many Florida State Parks as we can in eight hours. We will try to get at least five and up to ten contacts at each park. Our kick-off will be the SO-50 satellite pass at 1300 UTC/ 9 AM CDT. While still at St. Andrews, we will try the HF bands below and 2 meter FM Simplex on 146.565. Then we will hit the road with stops at Camp Helen, Deer Lake, Grayton Beach, Eden Gardens, Top Sail and other state parks as time permits. We will be passing out the park info for FLSPOTA, POTA, and RaDAR at each park. watch our progress via APRS under callsign N4KGL on https://aprs.fi

40 meters 7.200 LSB, 7.050 CW
20 meters 14.250 USB 14.050 CW
15 meters 21.300 USB 21.050 CW
10 meters 28.450 USB,  28.050 CW
60 meters Channel 4: 5371.5 USB (Not for Contest or Challenge credit) 
We will monitor the AC4QB repeater at 145.330 ( Not for Contest or Challenge credit )
Although there are times and frequencies listed above, the better way to know where we are is to enter our calls as triggers in HamAlert https://hamalert.org/login Please register and you can also get the HamAlert App for Android. 
If you want to chat with us and other RaDAR Ops get the WhatsApp App. Go to this link to join the RaDAR Chat https://chat.whatsapp.com/BS1fAbRG2E5LTpeRGWzI8Q Spots are appreciated at https://www.dxwatch.com/

The RaDAR Challenge Rules are at http://radarops.co.za/index.php/radar-rules/ and FL State Parks On The Air rules are at http://flspota.org/rules/  Also see Parks On The Air (POTA) at https://parksontheair.com/

This replaces our previous plan to go to St George Island. Let us know if you will be out portable or chasing.us.

Good Luck and be safe,

Greg N4KGL

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

RaDAR Challenge and Florida State Parks On The Air Plans have changed


Please see newer post at http://www.n4kgl.info/2018/04/florida-state-park-marathon-for-flspota.html
.  
Please post on the Google+ RaDAR community if you will be active for the RaDASR Challenge.

Good luck and be safe,

Greg N4KGL

Monday, March 26, 2018

RaDAR Challenge Plans and Preparations for April 7th

I am getting excited about going to St George Island State Park for the April 7th RaDAR Challenge. I coined this venue "RaDAR Heaven" in my video below of last April's RaDAR Challenge. This year, I will be assisted by Dennis WA6QKN and Suzy. In RaDAR, you are required to make five contacts before moving to the next location. We will transition on foot and paw between stops. We will alternate between the beach on the South Shore and a picnic area on the North Shore during the four-hour window of the challenge. Well considering the loadout for antennas and gear  I will use the dog stroller. I call it the RaDAR Rover.



St George Island, of course, is surrounded by saltwater. I am counting on the "saltwater effect" for vertically polarized antennas to help with RaDAR to RaDAR DX. The beach on the Southside has a good shot over saltwater for Eddie ZS6BNE and his friends in South Africa. I tested an elevated vertical this weekend in the front yard. It uses an MFJ 1979 telescopic whip about 17 feet long. I am using a set of adjustable dipole elements as radials. We will set this antenna up right at the surf on the beach.



Bob WB4BLX, a local ham, has clued me in on a 60-meter net that operates on channel 4 in the mornings. I know several hams in the group that checks in. I tried my Gypsy dipole which is about 10 feet above the ground for 60 meters Sunday. The dipole is basically 40 through 10 meters. However, there are four feet of extra wire in each winder. I used the extra length and a tuner to get on 60 meters. I got an S-9 report from Sandy W5TVW in Lousiana. That is promising



 April 7 and 8th will also be the Florida State Parks On The Air Contest as well. The list of state parks being activated on the event website. As an activator, we can draw some contacts. It is nice to be chased. St. George Island is K-0635 for Parks On The Air POTA. A satellite pass will factor in. I have not determined which sat or pass will be timely. Working a sat is a bonus for the RaDAR Challenge and FL State Parks On The Air.



I have recommended that chasers use HamAlert. On CW, I can just CQ de N4KGL and you will be pushed a notification. On SSB I can self-spot of DXWatch.com or someone else may spot me and you will be pushed a notification. There are several notification options in HamAlert. With the on and off nature of RaDAR bear with us. If a CQ does not work I will hunt and pounce. QSOs with friends during the event are greatly appreciated. If you want to brush up on the details of RaDAR Challenge see the rules at http://radarops.co.za/index.php/radar-rules/ Join us on the air!

Our ops will be in the inset part of the map.

Friday, March 23, 2018

RaDAR on the Field Radio Podcast

Thanks to John Jacobs W7DBO for allowing me to talk about Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio and the RaDAR Challenge on his Field Radio Podcast. Take a look at all of John's podcasts and videos there. The topics are interesting for any outdoor amateur radio operator and the production is excellent. John hinted that he may go out for the April 7th RaDAR Challenge and make a video about it. Check back on Field Radio Podcast for that.



The goal of Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RaDAR) is to practice communication via amateur radio under difficult circumstances, in many different ways, being ever ready, and independent of external resources until it becomes second nature. The unique aspect of RaDAR is adding movement to outdoor operating. That is stations rapidly deploy, move with all necessary gear and redeploy. This is a stress test of operating capabilities but can be enjoyable and rewarding when undertaken in the great outdoors.
Thanks to Eddie ZS6BNE for originating and refining RaDAR over the years. Eddie discusses his ham radio story and RaDAR on QSO Today Episode 28


Eddie Leighton ZS6BNE
Check out this video Eddie and his son made.



Here are the key links for RaDAR

RaDAR Ops

Google+ Community

Eddie ZS6BNE Blog
https://zs6bne.wordpress.com/category/radar/

Join us for the April 7th, 2018 RaDAR Challenge!

73

Greg N4KGL


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

California Trip Report

Linda and I flew out to Chico, California for my youngest Daughter's wedding. So ham radio was not the top priority. Also, the weather was cold, wet, and windy for the most part. However, I did work in some operating. First of all, I packed the Elecraft KX2, batteries and just about every portable antenna I have. I had no issues with anything at TSA security. We went through the TSA Pre-check line. I did not have to take anything out of my bags and even kept my shoes on.

The Elecraft KX2 is a great travel radio


A rainbow right out our hotel window.

At the hotel, I got a 4th-floor room with an East facing window by luck. That is what I wanted. I set up the Alexloop in the window. I ran the WSPRlite beacon for a while. It was not getting back to KK4DIV's receiver in Panama City but did reach Auburn, Alabama. I made a CW contact or two. But for the whole trip, I heard little on CW. I am a late adopter on FT-8. So this was an opportunity to use it. I actually worked through making contacts on FT-8 with the software and a Signalink interface for the KX2. I made a few QSOs but being indoors I made a lot of calls that were unanswered.

The Sacramento River

My setup at Bidwell Sacramento River State Park

I went out to the Bidwell Sacramento River State Park near the end of the visit. I decided to use the Gypsy dipole on 20 meters. I had taken a set of pole sections that I cut in half to fit in the suitcase. The sections make three poles that support the dipole at about ten feet off the ground. A park ranger came by and said it was a good thing I was not using the trees. So bringing the pole set paid off. I had not really advertised the visit to the park as a POTA activation. The internet on the smartphone was flaky so I could not spot myself. I heard very few CW signals and managed only one fleeting contact. But on 20 SSB, the ARRL SSB DX contest was underway. I did get two Hawaiian and an Alaskan station. I wrapped up with a JH8 in Japan. Having worked Japan on SSB, I called it a success. I had thought about a SOTA activation on this trip, but the weather worked against that. Also, the distance to an easy peak was at least three hours away.



In any case, Linda and I spent quality time with our Daughter Emily and her new husband Nathan. Emily showed us Bidwell park right in town. I saw some redwoods there.  Perhaps, the next trip will have better weather for ham radio and sightseeing.