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

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Two Hundred Elmers via QSO Today Podcasts

The QSO Today Podcast hosted by Eric Guth 4Z1UG is approaching two hundred episodes. It is quite a feat producing a weekly podcast consistently for almost four years. The secret is that Eric enjoys doing the interviews as much as his listeners enjoy hearing them. The fact is that Eric and I learn something new in each episode. Eric says the guests are the movers and shakers of amateur radio. He is right, and there is an endless list in this hobby. Eric starts with how each guest started in ham radio. From there, Eric explores the unique talents and accomplishments of each guest. There is a tier of guests you have heard of like Bob Heil K9EID and Wayne Burdick N6KR. But the guest list is deep and wide. They include QRPers, DXers, contesters, homebrewers and more.


I am getting about an hour of access to these guests per episode. It is access that only those who run in their circles would have. Eric is on a mission to capture an oral history of the ham radio experience. He gives older guests priority. I was sad to hear about the recent passing Art Bell W6OBB. Eric recorded Art's story about two years ago. Art had an exceptional story in ham radio and broadcasting.

I particularly enjoy guests that played a role in or witnessed history first hand. Examples are

  • Laurie Margolis, G3UML who reported and scooped the invasion by Argentina of the Falkland Islands starting the Falklands war in 1982, 
  • Vjollca Belegu, Z61VB, Kosovo’s first YL ham radio operator, who survived a dark period in Kosova’s history when lives and ham radio were derailed, and 
  • Dennis Vernacchia, N6KI who gives his story of Army Mars during the Vietnam War. 

Likewise, I am in awe of accomplishments of sight-impaired hams like Ron Milliman K8HSY and Jim Kutsch KY2D. I learned about contributions of YLs like Carol Perry WB2MGP and Ellen White W1YL. Don't miss Dennis Blanchard's K1YPP story of ham radio and the Appalachian Trail. Explore the philosophy of life and ham radio with Mike Rainey AA1TJ. Also, learn the origins of RaDAR with Eddie Leighton ZS6BNE.

Eric Guth 4Z1UG QSO Today's host

I missed out on the hobby for 25 years and never had Elmers in the realm of DXing, Contesting and homebrewing. Now I know what Mult-Multi, SO2R, and WRTC are about. I previously had no clue. If you want to enjoy these podcasts for their Elmer value, you will just have to find the time. I take advantage of time in my vehicle. Frankly, I am guilty of binge listening. I pick up more gold nuggets on the second listen. I am on a quest to recall the stories from just the name and call. It is my memory exercise.

Thanks to Eric and his guests, for these podcasts. Please accept my congratulations in advance for two hundred episodes. They are enhancing my ham experience immensely.

73,

Greg N4KGL
Panama City, Florida

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Wiregrass ARC Headland Alabama Tailgate April 2018

I enjoyed attending the April 28th event on the Square in Headland, Alabama. It was an opportunity to visit with Tom WD0HBR and my other ham friends from the Dothan area. I started with breakfast at Hardees at 7 AM and then went over to the site. I brought Suzy with me this year. She worked the crowd for belly-rubs. I did not stay for the whole event as I needed to also visit my Mom who lives in Dothan.

I have been hearing many references to the ARC-5 military line of radios on QSO Today Podcast. Don K1DC brought his line of ARC-5 gear to sell. It was my first chance to see this famous gear close up. I did not bring it home, but enjoyed the tour by Don.

Don K1DC ARC-5 gear

Don K1DC ARC-5 gear
Another friend, Robert KE4AL, brought his Icom 910 rig to do demos for amateur satellites. Robert tunes his rig manually instead of using computer control to adjust for doppler. He showed me how it is done on a linear satellite pass. I will try to repeat this technique with my Icom 910. BTW, Robert is going with Matt NJ4Y on July 6-8 to the Dry Tortugas, grid EL84, in the Florida Keys.  They will be doing HF and satellites.

Robert KE4AL works a Sat

KE4AL's Icom 910
I usually bring something to demo. This year, I operated my Elecraft KX2 from a park bench. The rig was setup like an HF HT with a 40 meter MFJ loaded whip and  a nine foot counterpoise wire. With Tom WD0HBR as my witness, I worked Jim, K4VRT in Tallahassee, Florida. Jim was the net control for the Sunrise Net on 7.123. Jim copied all my info. We all know a four foot whip is very inefficient antenna on 40 meters, but you can have success never-the-less.

The scene at the Square in Headland

The scene at the Square in Headland
I have to say the social side on amateur radio is a big benefit of the hobby. It was nice to visit with my friends at the Headland Tailgate.on a beautiful April day.

Suzy sunning



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.