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

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.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

September Second Saturday Sprint

This time the Second Saturday Sprint, sponsored by the Google+ QRP Field Operators Community, fell on the same date as the SEARS Rocket Launch in Samson, Alabama. It is not unusual for me to setup my radios at the rocket launch. This time Bob WB4BLX and Vic K4GXV came up from Panama City to watch the rockets. My setup for the SSS was the Elecraft KX2 and an inverted L antenna with the Chameleon Hybrid at the base. I ran 10 watts which counts as QRO for the SSS.

The Inverted L Antenna, up one pole and across to the other one,

I don't think conditions were the best. There were loud signals but some of them lost copy on me quickly. In the Second Saturday Sprint, you have two hours, 2 to 4 PM, your local time to make as many contacts you can. You get more credit for working other QFO members but I had no luck finding them this time.

The Chameleon Hybrid Base for the Inverted L.

I have friends that chase me while I am portable. This time I worked W4RYZ the club station in Panama City. Bob WB8PAF was the operator. Then, Mike KM4ELJ also found me. He was at home in Youngstown, Florida. I heard Tom WD0HBR in Dothan, Alabama but he lost me. I also heard John W8JER calling from Sturgis, Michigan but he did not hear me. All of this was on 40 meters. I did work a couple more on 40. First was AK4NY doing SKCC in Georgia and then WD8ARZ mobile in Tennessee on SSB. On the second hour I went on 20 CW. I worked WA2BQU in New Jersey on 14.061. Then F6EJN and VE3DZP operating SKCC.

The Elecraft KX2

The Second Saturday Sprint gives you credit for non-sprint contacts including other events like the SKCC Weekend Sprint and also casual contacts. This is just the type of operating that I do for Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RaDAR).  The Second Saturday Sprint runs May through October. I may miss the final one in October. They have been a lot of fun. Jim K0RGI says he will advertise the SSS more widely next year.

P. S. I sure missed Suzy on this outing. She was at home with Linda. I also missed the saltwater advantage I get around Panama City,

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Working the SO 50 Satellite Portable from EM70 Lynn Haven, Florida

About 7 AM today, Bob KK4DIV and I worked a SO-50 satellite pass..We both got a couple of contacts. I admit to being a neophyte at this. is a great reference. I have a few confirmed contacts at this point. You can get the job done in many ways. The Saudi Oscar 50 bird requires a VHF uplink and a UHF downlink. The downlink receiver needs to change frequency during the pass to adjust for the doppler effect .I have a Yaesu FT-60 HT which allows memories to have VHF/UHF pair. That is convenient but not mandatory. Bob KK4DIV used a FT-8800 mobile rig successfully today. He took advantage of the dual watch feature. I purchased an Elk antenna but Bob used a tape measure yagi he made for fox hunts. So you may already have something usable. I found out today why they recommend duplex. Duplex allows you to hear your own signal returned on the downlink. I forgot to change the channels for the doppler. So when I threw my callsign out they heard me but I did not hear them, That was bad form on my part. I have a duplexer on order. That way I can hook two HTs to the same antenna for duplex. Bob got away without a duplexer with the FT-8800.

Working satellites outdoors portable fits in the style of operating I like. In fact, Eddie ZS6BNE enjoys operating Sats and he put in a Sat bonus for the RaDAR Challenge. Field Day has a Sat Bonus as well. I am going to take credit for my Sat contact at Gulf Islands National Seashore for the Five Star Activator NPOTA bonus. The AMSAT-NA awards are based on working four digit grid squares. I see that moving among the grid squares can be lots of fun and helpful to the other ops. I am using LOTW to log and confirm contacts. I got started with LOTW doing NPOTA. I look forward to learning more about Sat ops and experimenting with equipment. I had a good time operating with Bob today. It was worth getting up early. Enjoy the videos. 

Bob KK4DIV's Yaesu FT 8800 box and tape measure yagi

Greg's Elk Antenna and Yaesu FT 60 HT


Monday, August 29, 2016

US Islands QSO Party and NPOTA SS08 Activation

Saturday happened to be the W/VE Islands QSO Party sponsored by the US Islands Award Program. I decided to combine an expedition for the QSO Party with a NPOTA activation of the Okaloosa Island unit of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. A "twofer" you can say. This is a little over an hour from Panama City, just west of Destin, Florida. I am still having a problem with the Icom 7100 that started on Field Day. Therefore, I decided to take the Icom 7300 out instead. I operated 40 and 20 meters using the Bravo 7K vertical. I got some pretty good reports with the antenna about 50 feet from the saltwater bay. The rough contact count is about 45 contacts with most of them from NPOTA chasers. I did work an island in Georgia on 40 and one in Virginia on 20. I also sent an APRS message to Bob KK4DIV to satisfy one of the NPOTA Five Star Activator criteria. APRS messaging is very new to me but it worked using a Yaesu FTM-100DR rig. This is my fourth SS08 activation from this site. I did two other SS08 activations from Naval Live Oaks further west.  This National Parks On the Air is lots of fun and I hope to take advantage of it for the rest of 2016.  Checkout the videos including the one by Bob KK4KIV who received the APRS message. Thanks for the help Bob!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Huntsville Hamfest 2016

Linda and I attended the Huntsville Hamfest and met up with our friends John W8JER and Micky KE8ASK. They drove down from Sturgis, Michigan and we drove up from Panama City, Florida. I gave a presentation for the National Parks On The Air Forum at Noon on Saturday. It went well. I had a mixture of slides and videos. One video, about the Naval Live Oaks Biodiversity Festival, was made and narrated by Bob KK4DIV. There were some activators in the audience that chimed in. I would not have made it through without my buddy John K4KQZ from Tennessee who helped kickoff the videos at the laptop.

The four of us attended the gathering on Monte Sano on Saturday night hosted by Craig NM4T. There was delicious BBQ and lots of conversation. The show and tell included fldigi running on a Raspberry Pi 3 and the new LNR magnetic loop. I showed my Elecraft KX2.

At the show, I picked up another Jardillier French Made Special Forces Key. Those are hard to find. I think Neil the vendor there is the only one that has them for sale. I also got a MFJ 40 meter loaded whip for the KX2 and mini-banana plugs that fit the counterpoise connection. Linda out spent me on jewelry. Well that's OK.

I had some drama with my Chevy Avalanche. It had a terrible squeak. Fortunately I visited Russell Brothers Repair Shop before leaving town. The mechanic there narrowed it down to a lifter. His advice was to add Marvel's Mystery Oil. This eliminated the problem by the time I was halfway back to Panama City.

Linda and I enjoyed the fellowship with John and Micky and look forward to their stay in Panama City this winter. John has a new Subaru that practically drives itself. My only photo from the hamfest was this one that Micky took.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Second Saturday Sprint and NPOTA Activation on Okaloosa Island

It was a worthwhile trip to Okaloosa Island near Destin, Florida on Saturday. Several events came together including:

  1. National Parks on the Air. The site is part of Gulf Islands National Seashore SS08. The contacts count toward a NPOTA activation.
  2. SO-50 Satellite Pass. A contact via the satellite counts toward Five Star Activator Recognition on the NPOTA Activator Award
  3. Second Saturday Sprint. The QRP Field Operators Google+ community sponsors the SSS which is 2 to 4 local time on the second Saturday of May through October.
Elecraft KX2
My setup was under a scraggly pine in the picnic area. I ran 100 feet of coax to be closer to the bay on the North shore of the island. Prior to the sprint, I worked W4RYZ, K4LIX and N4VSP back in Panama City, Florida.  At 2 PM on 40 CW I worked Kelly K4UPG #105 in Tennessee, followed by W4RYZ again and Tom WD0HBR in Dothan, Alabama.

On 20 CW I worked K0RGI #101 and founder of the Second Saturday Sprint in Wisconsin. Next I worked Pat N0SHU #102 in Missouri. A few minutes later I worked Kelly K4UPG #105 again on a second band. Previous Sprints were hit and miss for the members but working Kelly, Pat and Jim on the same afternoon was lots of fun.

The N6BT Bravo 7K vertical

A bird Hi Hi.

I got a NPOTA run going on 20 SSB it started with Jim K0RGI. The run lasted for 24 contacts. Then the sprinkle of rain got heavy and Suzy and I packed up quick. That was about 20 minutes before 4 PM.

A thundershower shut us down
The SO-50 Satellite pass was successful got at least one contact. I am still working on a level of comfort to get the calls in my head, adjust the antenna, and the rig all at the same time.

All in all quite a day at the park and on on the radio. Suzy and I enjoyed the sunshine while it lasted.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Pedestrian Mobile with the Elecraft KX2

I believe Wayne N6KR of Elecraft realized a life-time dream with the introduction of the KX2 ultra-portable. We thought the KX3 was small. The KX2 is small enough to hold in your hand like like a Handie Talkie. In fact it is an HF HT. I have been using two whip antennas the MFJ 1820t for 20 meters and the MFJ 1817t for 17 meters. I also use a 13 foot drag wire.with both There is a mini banana plug socket on the rig for ground. If the drag wire gets yanked the plug will pull out.  Beyond the antenna there is a built-in microphone. So plug in the whip and the drag wire and you are ready for SSB Pedestrian Mobile. Today, I used a key strapped to my belt to do CW. The controls are in the natural spot to tune and do PTT with your thumb.
Elecraft KX2, whip and drag wire

Small key for /PM
Suzy and I have been taking walks in the neighborhood and have managed a contact most times. Today, I went to a near-by park and did pedestrian mobile on 17 meters. I copied my friend John W8JER in Michigan. John heard me but I got drowned out by QRM. My CW contact was with Mike KM4ELJ. He was about twenty miles away.

It is a nice kind of freedom to go pedestrian mobile this quick and easy. Did I mention that the internal Li-Ion battery will last 5 to 8 hours. Consider this rig for pedestrian mobile and of course the traditional portable ops. This is a dream come true Wayne!