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

Monday, December 5, 2016

Portable Ops at Dec 3rd Samson, AL Rocket Launch

I squeezed in some amateur radio at the Southeast Alabama Rocketry Society (SEARS) launch in Samson, Al. My goal was to QSO with my friends on 40 meters. I used a 40 meter dipole 9 feet above the field to take advantage of NVIS propagation.  My rig was the KX2 at 10 watts.



I had success working:

  • Bob WB4BLX in Panama City (85 miles) CW
  • Bob W5RE in Crestview, FL (49 miles) CW
  • Tom WD0HBR in Dothan, AL (50 miles) CW
  • Phil N4STC in Panama City, FL (85 miles) SSB
  • Steve N4VSP in Lynn Haven, FL (85 miles) SSB
  • Bob KK4DIV in Chipley, FL (48 miles) SSB 
Thanks Guys!

KK4DIV was running 5 watts to Chameleon Loop from the Falling Waters State Park. I was very pleased. This antenna is a good choice for 40 meters particularly the close in contacts. I can shorten it up for higher bands as well. I forgot the stakes that came with the poles but I improvised. The poles breakdown into 3 foot sections that are pack-able. Here are a few more photos from the launch.

Russ Roberts R2D2

R2D2 Launch


Roy Houchin's Christmas Rocket

Suzy meets Toby who lives with Mike AI4NS


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving Day Portable Outing at Port St Joe, Florida

It happened that my wife had to work the first part of the day in Port St Joe. Suzy and I took advantage of the time to do some pedestrian mobile and satellite operating. Port St Joe has many good operating spots. I chose Frank Pate Park which has a boat landing and pavilion on the bay front. I had good luck all day and enjoyed the nice weather. The operations included

  • working three stations on a SO 50 satellite pass
  • working Jim K4LIX on 40 meters SSB back in Panama City (about 40 miles)
  • working Ken N4KS in New Smyrna Beach, Florida (268 miles) using the KX2 and a whip on 40 meters CW.
  • working Tom WD0HBR in Dothan (100 miles) with the KX2 and a NVIS dipole on 40 CW.
  • working Phil N4STC in Panama City and Ron KK4DWE in Lynn Haven on  40 SSB.
  • listening to the FO 29 linear transponder satellite using the FT 817 for the first time
  • visiting with Norm K4NEB who lives in PSJ.
I don't think it could get much better. We later had Thanksgiving dinner back in Panama City. I am blessed in my family and my hobby. It was a much better day than I expected. I got most of the operating on the GoPro.
















Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The November 5th 2016 RaDAR Challenge from Opal Beach, Florida

The RaDAR Challenge originated with Eddie ZS6BNE in South Africa a number of years ago. It encourages portable operating but with a twist that you should be able to move quickly and redeploy. In the challenge, you make five contacts on the amateur bands and move to the next location to continue making contacts. When you put a time constraint like four hours, your operating skill, the equipment pack-up with the antenna all need to be optimized for the challenge. The size and weight of the equipment is particularly important when you transition between locations on foot. Since there are many choices of radios, antennas and operating frequencies you tend to experiment with new ideas from challenge to challenge. The RaDAR challenge is the first Saturday of April and November and recently the third Saturday of July.

A view of Opal Beach
My choice for the November 5th 2016 RaDAR Challenge was Opal Beach on Santa Rosa Island Florida. It is part of the National Park Service's Gulf Islands National Seashore.  This was helpful since National Parks On the Air encourages activators and chasers during the 2016 celebration of the National Park Service Centennial. My contacts count toward the activation and there were chaser stations actively seeking my contacts. The Opal beach site has wonderful access to saltwater. In particular, the North shore on the Sound provided a path over saltwater toward the North and also extending toward the East and West. I am have become a believer in the saltwater effect for antennas.




This was the second challenge that I have used the KX2 from Elecraft. The internal battery and internal tuner are very advantageous for portable operating. I tried two new antennas this year. The first was a short loaded whip. This allows the KX2 to be operated like a handy talkie while standing or walking. This is known as "pedestrian mobile" operating. The four foot whip is augmented with a 13 foot wire attached to the rig ground that trails on the ground. This is the most minimalistic antenna I have found.  I have had surprising success with it walking around the neighborhood. At Opal Beach I could count on the saltwater effect for enhancing low angle radiation from the vertical whip and reducing ground losses.

The Elecraft KX2 in used as an HF Handi Talkie
I am fortunate to have a cadre of chasers in Panama City and some in Alabama. I usually start on 40 meters to make contact with them. It takes high angles of radiation to work them when they are beyond ground wave. Opal Beach is 80 miles from Panama City. An antenna that enhances high angle radiation is called a Near Vertical Incidence Skywave antenna or NVIS. I used a low dipole this time for 40 meters. I recently read that a low dipole is deployed over saltwater, the reflected signal off the water can enhance NVIS. I chose to deploy mine right on the surf. The center was at about eight feet and the ends about six feet over the waters edge.

40 meter NVIS Dipole
I have recently gotten into using the FM satellites with Eddie ZS6BNE influence. I timed my four hours operating period to coincide with an SO 50 pass. Making a satellite contact is a bonus for the RaDAR challenge. I packed a Yaesu FT 60 HT for this purpose and an Elk log periodic antenna. The Elk when disassembled is packs into a small bag.

The Elk Sat Antenna

A first for my RaDAR operating was getting the rig and all these antennas into a backpack. I previously used carts to carry heavy poles and even a QRO rig. I was not encumbered with that this year. Carts are tough to roll on the beach.

All the gear fit in one backpack including the dipole supports and theSat antenna

So how did all this work out. I walked a kilometer to my first location which was a point extending out into the Sound on the North side of the island. The four hour clock started. I setup the NVIS dipole right over the edge of the surf. I could not find anyone on 40 the first half hour. But my luck changed when I found my Dothan friend Tom WD0HBR in QSO with anther station. The thing was he was visiting in Birmingham and using QRP with an attic antenna. We had a solid QSO. I got a big kick out of that. I got a couple more CW contacts and finished the five on 40 SSB. I missed my Panama City buddies unfortunately.

The point on the Sound surrtounded by saltwater

I continued back along the North shore the way I came and put the whip on the KX2 and operated pedestrian mobile style. I was able to work five in ten minutes on 20 CW. They were NPOTA chasers and several were in California. I actually had to disappoint some chasers when I went QRT to move to the third location (same as the first). At the third location, I went with the KX2 and the whip on 20 SSB. I did not get a string started by calling CQ. But, I did get five by hunt and pounce. Several were other NPOTA stations. W4VIY was also doing the Gulf Islands National Seashore at Fort Pickins at the West end of Santa Rosa Island. I was probably working him ground wave. The last fifteen minutes was the SO 50 satellite pass. It was very busy, but I snagged the one contact I needed for the RaDAR Sat bonus by working KK4FEM.

Pavillions on the site
I was lucky it all came together in regard to equipment, the site, the propagation and the weather. I did miss having RaDAR to RaDAR contacts this time. I would also liked to have Suzy leading the way, but dogs are allowed on the beach there. If you are interested in RaDAR visit visit Eddie's Blog and Google+ RaDAR Community. For National Parks On the Air visit ARRL NPOTA Info and Google+ NPOTA Community

Greg N4KGL

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Planning for the November 5th RaDAR Challenge

The upcoming RaDAR Challenge is November 5th 2016 UTC. My plans are to operate at the Santa Rosa Day Use Area of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. I will have an azimuthal path over salt water to just about all locations including the US, South Africa and the UK. I can use a vertical antenna to take advantage of the low angle propagation. I will be on foot making five contacts and moving at least one kilometer before making more contacts. I could go with the KX2 and a whip or a plethora of other possibilities. I may get some help from NPOTA chasers. This site is SS08 for National parks On The Air. I will need to pick a four hour window to operate per the RaDAR Challenge rules.

I am hoping for some RaDAR to RaDAR QSOs especially DX. I may do a satellite pass and also PSK 31 for bonus points. I appreciate all contacts to help me work five and move. Thanks to Eddie ZS6BNE for the Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio concept. Please visit zs6bne.wordpress.com and https://plus.google.com/communities/109283065808971118728 for more info about RaDAR.

You are also encouraged to enter your RaDAR Op Plan at http://radarops.co.za/index.php/planned-ops/

Greg N4KGL




Get Ready for the November 5th 2016 RaDAR Challenge

RaDAR Is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio

1. Aim
The RaDAR “Challenge” is a unique event aimed at promoting the use of Rapidly Deployable Amateur Radio stations. This challenge is for all licensed radio amateurs not limited to South Africa. A RaDAR operator can take part in any of the three defined categories (see point 7) which may be changed at any time during the challenge. The
points system is so structured as to encourage portable RaDAR operations, especially moveable RaDAR stations. Moveable RaDAR stations rely on fixed and portable stations as a point of contact using channelised frequencies. “Search and pounce” techniques are also allowed.

2. Date and Time
From 00:00 UTC to 23:59 UTC on Saturday 5 November 2016. 24 hours will give equal opportunity to the international community of RaDAR operators. RaDAR operators can define their own operating time schedule or remain active for the full 24 hours.

3. Bands and Modes
All amateur bands are allowed including cross band contacts via amateur radio satellites.
Modes – CW, SSB, AM, FM or any legal digital mode. QSOs via terrestrial repeaters will NOT be allowed.

4. Suggested HF calling frequencies
See http://zs6bne.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/radar-calling-frequencies/ for the latest international list of frequencies. The WARC bands can be used considering this is a RaDAR Challenge and not a contest as such. It provides better opportunities for RaDAR contacts during difficult propagation conditions. Recommended digital modes frequencies – Refer to the South African Radio League Contest Manual, General Rule 15.

5. Exchange
The RaDAR challenge requires more than a minimalistic information exchange. Accurate information exchange is considered more important than a large QSO count.
Call sign, name, RS(T) report, QTH and grid locator. Note the grid locator can change as RaDAR operators are allowed to move position at any time. The grid locator of six characters is acceptable but should preferably be accurate to 10 characters for higher
position accuracy. Smartphone applications are generally used to establish more than a 6-character grid locator. If working non-participating stations, call sign, name, RST and QTH is acceptable.

6. Scoring
1 point per QSO.
Individual QSOs – per mode, per band, per satellite, per call sign.
If the moving RaDAR station has moved the required distance (see point 7) contact can be made with a previously worked station, again.

7. Categories and multipliers
The following multipliers are applicable to determine the final score. If category/mode of transport changes were made during the challenge, than calculate accordingly.

X 1 – RaDAR Fixed station (At home or in another building)
X 2 – RaDAR Field station (Portable – away from home)
X 3 – Moving RaDAR station – See modes of transport below.

Modes of transport and required movement distances (moving RaDAR stations only)
Vehicles, motorcycles and motorboats etc. (Motorised transport) – 6 km
Bicycles – 2 km
On foot and paddle canoes – 1 km
Wheelchairs – 500 m
Aeronautical mobile stations are considered moving stations and can communicate at any convenient time.

Note: Moving RaDAR stations can move at any time but are required to move to the next destination after five contacts have been made from the present location. The move needs to cover the required distance before further contacts are allowed to be made. This requirement tests the ability to rapidly re-deploy your amateur radio field station.

9. Bonus points (All categories)
Five (5) points (The equivalent of five QSOs) for a minimum of one satellite or any digital modes QSO involving a computer, smartphone or digital modes device. (For clarity thereafter 1 point per Satellite / Digital modes QSO).
Five (5) points for the first successful same continent RaDAR to RaDAR QSO (As may be confirmed by the extensive information exchange.
Five (5) points for the first intercontinental (DX) QSO
Ten (10) points for the first successful inter continental (DX) RaDAR to RaDAR QSO (As may be confirmed by the extensive information exchange).

10. Log Sheets
Log sheets must be submitted by 12 April 2016  and sent by e-mail to edleighton@gmail.com.

See https://zs6bne.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/11046905_10152762072212759_727315224761083499_n.jpg for a log sheet specifically designed for the 2016 RaDAR contest.
Note: A photo of the station (JPG format) MUST accompany every log entry. A photo is required for each new location that moveable stations visit. These photos are used to promote amateur radio and the RaDAR concept showing where amateur radio can be used to communicate from and in the many different ways.

The above is an excerpt from from http://www.sarl.org.za/Web3/Members/DoDocDownload.aspx?X=20151130131559djqp8afPgb.PDF

Visit zs6bne.wordpress.com and https://plus.google.com/communities/109283065808971118728 for more info about RaDAR.

You are also encouraged to enter your RaDAR Op Plan at http://radarops.co.za/index.php/planned-ops/

I encourage all hams to participate a. Let us know your plans and results. Good luck and be safe!

Greg N4KGL
www.N4KGL.info





Monday, October 24, 2016

Kansas and Oklahoma Operations

On a family trip last week, I was able to work in some ham radio. I activated the Santa Fe Trail TR11 for National Parks On the Air on October 18th. This was my first try at operating from he center of the USA. I had 25 contacts. The cool thing was I worked my friends Bob WB4BLX and Vic K4GXV in Panama City, Florida and Tom WD0HBR in Dothan, Alabama. I used the KX2 at 10 watts and the Bravo 7K vertical. The Santa Fe Trail site was three miles East of Baldwin City, Kansas. The site still has wagon ruts there from the eighteen hundreds.





On October 19th I was able to work Bob KK4DIV from Lawrence Kansas via the SO-50 Satellite. Bob was in Lynn Haven, Florida. Last, I made a couple of contacts pedestrian mobile on 20 meters with the KX2 and the whip antenna from my Aunt's backyard in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They came pretty easy. The weather was mostly sunny the whole trip and I got some good visiting in with the relatives out there. Suzy enjoyed the prairie!

Greg N4KGL






Monday, October 10, 2016

October Second Saturday Sprint with the KX2 Pedestrian Mobile

The Second Saturday Sprints (SSS) run May through October. They are sponsored by the QRP Field Operators Google+ Community. I have enjoyed each one this year. They are 2 to 4 PM your local time. Of course, you get the most credit to work other QFO ops but you may or may not find them. There are no worries. The SSS gives credit for working other events and even casual contacts. This is the same strategy I use for Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RaDAR). You are looking for other RaDAR ops but you will take anything you can find to get five contacts and then move to the next location. By the way the next RaDAR Challenge in November 5th.

The view of the bay from Kinsaul Park
I have been having lots of fun using the Elecraft KX2 with the MFJ loaded whips for 20 and 40 meters. The whips are around four feet long. I use a 13 foot counterpoise wire dragging on the ground. Expectations would be low for such an antenna but you may be surprised. I used this arrangement for the October SSS at Kinsaul Park in Lynn Haven, Florida. I got 4 contacts on 20 meters CW and six on 20 meters SSB. I was running 10 watts. This was over the course of an hour and a half. I was free to move holding the KX2 in my hand. I gave Suzy a walk or did she walk me? I also sat on a park bench for a few of the contacts.  It helped that the SKCC Weekend Sprint, a FISTS Sprint and the Pennsylvania QSO Party were concurrent with the SSS.  Thanks to a local, Phil N4STC, for one of the 20 meter SSB contacts. I also worked Don KK4DWC and Ron KK4DWE via 2 meter FM simplex.



The KX2 with the MFJ loaded whip

It will be a while before the SSS start again in May of next year. Jim K0RGI says he will advertise it more widely. His infrastructure for collecting the scores is nicely done. I do have the November and April RaDAR Challenges coming up. I may just go pedestrian mobile for the November Challenge. The KX2 and the whip antenna are certainly minimal gear to carry.

Suzy