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

Friday, November 24, 2017

Portable Activation Guide: Join Us or Chase Us

I got inspired to create an online Portable Activation Guide for sites nearby Panama City Florida. Click on this link or the image.


This Portable Activation Guide is an aid to local and visiting hams in the Panama City, Florida area. Use it to choose a site and an activation program for your outing. We are blessed with many beautiful sites nearby. Some are on the saltwater gulf or bay which can enhance radio propagation. Our weather allows activations year round.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Team of Two for the November 2017 RaDAR Challenge

I am happy to report that the plan, the weather, and the radio propagation came together nicely for the November 4th, 2017 RaDAR Challenge, RaDAR is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio. It originates with Eddie Leighton ZS6BNE in South Africa. I was pleased to have Dennis WA6QKN as a teammate. Our venue was St. Andrews State Park near Panama City, FL. We operated at four locations within the four hour period. We traveled one kilometer by foot between locations. It was necessary to make five contacts before moving to the next stop.




Location 1 was the parking lot at the Jetties area. I chose to take a gamble and do an FO-29 satellite pass. I felt it was a gamble since I have not been too active on satellites lately. Fortunately, I made nine contacts. Among the contacts were Bob KE4AL in Dothan and Chris VA3ECO in Ontario. They had a heads up I was on satellite. Chris is my Elmer for linear satellites.



Location 2 was one kilometer North at a clearing near the turpentine mill. I chose 40 meters. Dennis and I erected a 40-meter dipole supported by three ten-foot fiberglass poles. The rig was the KX2 running ten watts.The low dipole supports NVIS. We were able to work Tom WD0HBR and Don K1DC my friends in Dothan, Alabama 75 miles away on CW.  We got a couple more CW contacts and worked Don KK4DWC in Southport on SSB.



Location 3 was Sandy Point. It is on the Grand Lagoon shore and gives us a wide azimuth over saltwater. I chose the Chameleon whip with transformer and two counterpoise wires for vertical polarization. Verticals on the salt water are always a great performer. We operated 20 SSB. We picked up Jim K4LIX local and four more. Two were in Canada including Chris VA3ECO. We had roughly 45 minutes left in the four hours when we packed up.



Location 4 was the picnic area still near Grand Lagoon. We chose the Chameleon vertical again. I spotted us on DX Summit as WWFF KFF-1917. It created a pile-up which was just what we needed on 20-meter CW. The chasers included two stations from Spain, one from Canada and Joe N2CX who was at a park in New Jersey.



I often make three locations in the four hours and am struggling to make the fourth. This time we made four which is par for the course. I think Dennis made the four locations possible with his help with the gear. We took turns pulling the cart. Maybe RaDAR on foot is a little like golf. We did enjoy four great venues in one outing. The only thing we lacked was a RaDAR to RaDAR contact. Tom G0SBW heard us in the UK but missed working him. There were a number of other RaDAR operators active. You can find their reports on the RaDAR Community on Google+. Welcome back to Lucy M6ECG!

Dennis WA6QKN


Friday, November 3, 2017

Detailed Nov 4th RaDAR Challenge Plan for WA6QKN and N4KGL

RaDAR is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio. Dennis WA6QKN and I will be teaming up for the Nov 4th RaDAR Challenge. We have chosen to operate at St. Andrews State Park near Panama City, FL from 1400 - 1800 UTC or 9 AM to 1 PM CDT. We will set up portable and make five contacts. Then we will walk at least one kilometer to the next location. As a team, we will combine our contacts so both WA6QKN and N4KGL call signs count. The exchange is RST, name and grid square. If grid square not known QTH will do. See the rules at http://www.n4kgl.info/2017/10/get-ready-for-november-4th-2017-radar.html All chasers welcome and appreciated.

The first stop will be at the parking lot near the Jetties. Pin A on the photo. I will operate the FO-29 Linear satellite pass using N4KGL call. Dennis WA6QKN will be on 146.565 FM Simplex as these simplex contacts count. While we transition we will monitor 145.210 W4RYZ repeater.

The second stop Pin B on photo will be near the boat ramp on Grand Lagoon in the second hour. I will start on 40 meters HF see frequencies below. I will work my way down the list as needed. It is an anyway which way we can situation to make contacts. So bear with us. For local ops 146.565 FM simplex is good at each stop.

The third stop Pin C will be at Sandy Point in the third hour. I will start on 20 meters HF and work up. Additional stops are a maybe. We might even keep going after four hours.

St. Andrews State Park is POTA KFF-1917. Watch for spots on DX Summit. If you are operating portable or chasing give me a heads up. RaDAR to RaDAR is a top priority.

FO-29 will be visible from Panama City, on Saturday, November 4 09:03:16 AM 1403 UTC
Starting in the S (172°)
Ending in the NNW (345°) at 09:19:43 AM
Maximum elevation: 66°

7.029.5 CW
7.296 LSB

14.059 CW
14.346 USB

18.081.5 CW
18.157.5 USB

W4RYZ Repeater145.210 - 100 hz tone
146.565 FM Simplex

St. Andrews State Park

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Nov 4th RaDAR Challenge Plan N4KGL & WA6QKN

For the first time, I will do a team effort for the RaDAR Challenge. Dennis WA6QKN and I will use our own calls and combine our contacts. We will make at least five contacts together and move by foot to the next location. We will only take credit for contacting a station once per band per mode. We may run a VHF station and HF station concurrently. This team effort is an experiment and perhaps the rules can be amended in the future to account for RaDAR teams.

Our chosen site is St. Andrews State Park near Panama City, FL. I have shown three stops A, B & C on the photo below. The distance between them is one kilometer. We will progress through the stops A-B-C-B-A as far as we can in 4 hours. The four hour period will be 1400 - 1800 UTC. We have the option to extend our outing and keep going after the four hours if we like. RaDAR transitions over 24 hours count for the special WWFF-KFF POTA RaDAR Awards. The park is reference KFF-1917.


At the first stop A, I will attempt to work five stations on the FO-29 linear satellite on SSB. This will require my Icom 910H and an Arrow Antenna. the pass info is
FO-29 will be visible from Panama City, on Saturday, November 4 09:03:16 AM
Starting in the S (172°)
Ending in the NNW (345°) at 09:19:43 AM
Maximum elevation: 66°
I will return the sat gear to the van after the pass. The 1st sat contact will count as a bonus.

We will rely on a KX2 at ten watts on HF. The HF antennas will include a low 40-meter dipole with 10-foot poles, an N6BT Bravo 7K vertical and an Alex Loop magnetic loop. I have a beach cart to carry the antennas that will double as a table.

I provide more details to coordinate local and RaDAR to RaDAR contacts as we get closer. Good luck to all participants and chasers. Be Safe!

Greg N4KGL

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Meetup at Rocky Bayou State Park

Last Saturday, Dennis WA6QKN and I drove over to Rocky Bayou State Park near Niceville, FL to meet up with Tom WD0HBR. Tom had some time in the area while his wife Sandy took a class in Valparaiso. Tom had found a spot in the picnic area that overlooks the bayou. The area is under many oak trees. Tom set up his Youkits HB-1B with a random wire antenna. Dennis and I set up my Elecraft KX3 with a 40 meter Off Center Fed Dipole (OCF). The OCF had very low SWR on 40 meters and between 2 and 2.5 to 1 on 20 meters. The OCF is a popular one from China via eBay. Dennis was interested in my KX3 since he has one on order. I managed to make a dozen contacts which is enough to activate the park for Parks On The Air (POTA).  Dennis took lots of great photos in this album. It was nice to do portable ops with a couple of friends.

Tom WD0HBR

Dennis WA6QKN

Rocky Bayou

Suzy. She enjoyed lunch and a walk!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Chasing Memories From My Teenage Days in Ham Radio UPDATED

One of my teenage ham radio memories was a  program on Alabama Educational Television. The program was received at my Dothan, Alabama home directly from WDIQ Dozier, Alabama about 60 miles away. There was no cable back then. The show played a part in my getting my license or at least increasing my knowledge of amateur radio. It was wonderful that ham radio had an on-air TV presence.The format of the show was a segment on electronics theory followed by a segment of Morse code.

This is me back in the 60's. A few years before getting my ham license and Novice call WN4JFW.

Initial Google searches were unsuccessful as it was pre-internet and I had little to go on. I did think the main instructor was named Herb. I had listened to Don Keith's QSO Today Podcast.and he mentioned that he worked for Alabama ETV while attending the University of Alabama. I enquired with Don via email. This was Don's response:

Good morning, Greg,

Thanks for the note.  Indeed I do remember the show, though I only saw a few segments. I was already a ham then…got my license in ’61 when I was 13.  The host was Herb Coleman and it was done right here in Birmingham at the WBIQ channel 10 studios.  His call is W4AVX and he is apparently still alive and kicking, living in Mobile:https://www.qrz.com/db/W4AVX

I give the show credit for there being so many active hams in our area.  That and, of course, the fact that “ham” is BirmingHAM, Alabama’s middle name!

A friend of mine, Jim Brinson K4WOP, was also on the show occasionally as a kid, helping with the teaching of Morse code. He is still very active and I sometimes chat with him on CW.  See https://www.qrz.com/db/K4WOP

I actually paid my way through college partly by working at Alabama Public TV, at the production facility at the University of Alabama.  Part of my job (In addition to saying, “This program comes to you from the University of Alabama” in my best announcer-ish voice) was to do the legal station identification. We had to name all the stations around the state and I especially enjoyed saying “Dozier” and “Mount Cheaha.”
 Now I put google back to work and I found this in the June 1969 Popular Electronics Archive:


Herb Coleman's QRZ page has this note about the show:
Later I enjoyed teaching classes in morse code and electonic theory for obtaining an amateur license. A highlight for me was having the opportunity to teach morse code and electronic theory on public television during the late '60's and early 70's. The program was called "Electronics and The Radio Amateur".
A deeper Google search yielded this picture of Herb. I am pretty sure it is the same, Herb. It is from West End High School in Birmingham.

Herb is now retired and living in Mobile, Alabama. He had a lot to do with the engineering side of TV in Birmingham. I certainly appreciate his help to educate me about electronics and ham radio. I still hold out for a clip of the show on video. I hear there are none. Still, I search YouTube. Hi Hi!

UPDATE:

I received an email from Herb Coleman W4AVX himself. He was complimentary of the post. Herb confirmed the picture above is him. This memory chase went right back to the source. Thanks, Herb!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park Activation

I operated from Topsail Hill Preserve State Park near Miramar Beach, Florida on Saturday, October 14th. The park is POTA KFF-3664. I originally was going to the rocket launch in Samson, Alabama. I replanned when my wife was asked to work in Miramar at the last minute. The volunteer taking my money saw my Field Day T-Shirt and was very in tune with ham radio and emergencies.





I was not too ambitious and worked right out of the parking area using the van for shade. The rig was the Elecraft KX2. I chose to use the Bravo 7K vertical antenna. It requires no trees or stakes in the ground. I got weak reports on 40 meters but it did OK on 20 meters. At first, I was targeting the QRP ARCI Fall QSO party but did not hear much activity. I ended up working two other POTA stations. The rest was a hodgepodge of including FISTS and NAQRPCC anniversary stations. I heard DX activity on 10 meters SSB but no luck. I did snag one station on 15 CW and one on 17 meters SSB. The total was 17 contacts which will net a POTA activation. I had good conversations with the Park staff and a camper from Kentucky.



There are plenty of State Parks here in Northwest Florida to activate. My plan is to meet up with Tom WD0HBR from Dothan at Rocky Bayou State Park near Valparaiso, Florida. He will be visiting that area on Saturday, October 21st.