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

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The December RaDAR Rally On-The-Air Meetup from Florida

Bob KK4DIV and I located at Leslie Porter Wayside Park EM70EG20. My intended location St Andrews State Park. However that park was consumed with a foot race. Bob and I chose our pedestrian moble setups. Bob used his FT-817 backpack with a coil and whip. I used the KX3 with the Alexloop. The weather was favourable with blue skies and cool but not cold temps.

N4KGL's Alexloop at the bay side.
I was on 20 SSB for the first 40 minutes. I worked Bob KK4DIV (he was 60 over S9), Don KK4DWC in Southport FL, then John W8JER in Sturgis, Michigan. John will be coming to Panama City in January to escape the snow. Next was Scott ND9E who was doing RaDAR at EM48XO97FA followed by Phil N4STC/M in Panama City. I switched to 20 CW to finish the first hour. I worked Shawn W5HMB in Mississippi, Rick ND9DX in Illinois. Then I heard a combination of Pat NQ0N in Missouri and Pat N5VMO in Arkansas.  Both Pats were a little weak and there was QRM to boot.

The second hour I went to 15 SSB and worked John W8JER and his friend Denny N8JGG both in Sturgis. Then I heard Tom G0SBW and got his call right finally.  It was fine business to do a intercontinental \PM to \PM RaDAR QSO.

N4KGL on the bridge over the bay.

At this point Bob and I ventured onto the old bridge over the bay next to the new one. We made it to the peak in the middle. I worked Jack N1HQ in Panama City, FL on 20 meters SSB. Then on 15 meters CW a nice solid copy QSO with John VA3KOT in Ontario. John was a RaDAR Chaser due to the weather up there. We exchanged grids and SKCC numbers. John said I bent his S meter. So the top on the bridge is going to be on my return to list. I also worked Preston WA6OEF in California.

Bob KK4DIV/PM was also on the bridge.


So why not check our more bands. I worked FM/F9IE in Martinique on 12 meters SSB. Then W0ANT in Colorado and KY7M in Arizona on 10 meters SSB contest. I went to 17 meters SSB and posted on the RaDAR Spotter page. I was called by ND9E Scott for second QSO and he was on his third RaDAR location for the day which was EM58AS38XC. I worked two more on 17 meters SSB. They were W0PZD in Arizona and N5RK portable in Texas.

Lots of good reports on the Alexloop. So LOOP plus SALT WATER equals FUN. I was pleased to met several RaDAR folks on the air. Likewise, a nice time with Bob KK4DIV doing RaDAR at the same time and same park. Perhaps we could have walked enough for a second location. We will try for that next time. It was a bit of exercise with the \PM gear.

73s and have fun with RaDAR! N4KGL

Wayside Park in Lynn Haven, Florida.

Monday, December 8, 2014

RaDAR Rally on the Weekend

On Saturday, I operated from the SouthEast Alabama Rocketry Society launch in Samson, Alabama.  It was a very foggy morning. I setup a 40 meter dipole and the rig was my Icom 7100 on a 30 amp hour battery. As we know the dipole is a a great performer for portable ops if you can get it up in the air. I got the center up about 30 feet with a Jackite pole. The ends were at little less than 20 feet using the smaller fiberglass poles. I used a 70 foot run of coax to locate the antenna 40 feet behind the flight line. On this coax I did not have the ferrite beads for a choke but hey it worked fine anyway, I actually started out on 15 meters. The SWR was over 2 to 1. The Icom 7100 does not have a tuner so I used a compact MFJ 901b tuner. I recently picked up this tuner at our local club.  The tuner worked fine and I am going to include it in my high power go box.




I had a advertised that I would be on 40 meters among the RaDAR community and local hams. It was a pleasure to make a RaDAR to RaDAR contact with Bob KK4DIV. He was camping with the family at Laurel Hills in Northwest Florida. Bob was using his FT 817 and a random wire in a tree. His signal was solid copy and up to S7 at my location. Note this contact qualifies for a 5 point bonus in the RaDAR Rally. I also worked two Panama City Florida hams Bob WB4BLX and Vic K4GXV on 40 meters SSB.

Bob KK4DIV's setup on his camping trip.
I spent saturday night in Dothan, Alabama with my Parents. On Sunday afternoon. I setup the Alexloop and the KX3 in the backyard, I got five contacts in on 20 and 10 meter CW. The best contacts was with Bert F6HKA. Bert is an outstanding operator and is a Senator member in the Straight Key Century Club.


So I picked up five Rally points, one point per QSO, at each location. I toyed with moving to a second location each day to pick up five more at two points each, But I ran short on time. You can find out more about the Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RaDAR) Rally at this link.


My launch of a Warthog rocket on a G motor.




Thursday, December 4, 2014

Rallying the Saltwater Effect

Last Sunday, I made yet another outing to St. Andrews State Park near Panama City Florida. My goal was to take advantage of the salt water effect for vertical antennas. On the North side of the park there is a pier over the Grand Lagoon. I got out to the end and setup with the Alexloop. I made my five contacts for the RaDAR Rally rather quickly. These included with my report VE3AXW Ontario 53, SM5AQD Sweden 55, AJ2I New Jersey 57, KF4WMB Virginia 57, K4GXV Florida 59. This is not bad for the Alexloop at 10 watts SSB. Note that SM5AQD called me. So having five contacts at the pier, it was time to move 1 kilometre to Sandy Point.


The Alexloop at the end of the pier.


Sandy Point has many angles over salt water. I actually brought two N6BT Bravo 7K vertical dipoles. and set them up as a parasitic array for 10 meters. They hopefully were pointed to the Northeast. First contact was  EA5NW who was impressed with my signal but I did not get a S value. Followed by G4ZWY 55, NP3RE 59, EA9IB 57, and N1GGG 45. Around noon I redirected the array toward the Northwest. I worked AC7AV Eric in Washington State for about 30 minutes. He gave me a 58. I dropped the reflector and he noted a small drop but not all that noticeable. I also had the the Alexloop on a switch. The Alexloop had a S unit or two drop below the verticals on receive. The loop was quieter than the vertical. Eric had no problem working me on the loop. Getting close to pack up time, I was called by KC1CMF running 10 watts in Massachusetts who gave me a 59. Then  KD0VNQ in Colorado gave me a 44. My last contact was Phil N4STC who was local. He gave me a 59 and did not notice much change when I dropped the reflector. But when I put the reflector between me and Phil the signal went down to 55.

Two N6BT Bravo 7K vertical dipoles. one is a parasitic reflector


It is a bit hard to be scientific but I found that the DX came easy on this outing including stations calling me. I would put the Bravo 7K ahead of the loop but on my test I could still carry on the QSO with the loop. I think the gain of the array is modest and was not that noticable state side. I would like to have a DX contact report with and without the reflector. The front to back on the array is dramatic in any case.

The KX3 on my beach cart that doubles as a table.


As you may know Sandy Point at St Andrews State Park is my favorite portable QTH. Since Sandy Point was my second location on this outing, the first five QSOs counted two points in the RaDAR Rally. I did have a local fisherman Ron  witness the DX contacts. I had a boater pull in and ask what I was doing. I saw a dolphin out in the channel and of course the pelicans. This is hard to beat. I have since learned that there is a shuttle boat to Shell Island across the bay from the park. The shuttle will start running in March. I think that would make a fun excursion for RaDAR to operate from the park and the island on the same outing. You can find out more about the Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RaDAR) Rally at this link.

The pier was at the dock area and then I walked to Sandy Point. Shell Island is across the channel to the South-East.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

N4KGL Outing for the RaDAR Rally On-The-Air Meetup


Today was the RaDAR Rally On-The-Air Meetup. This two hour event is a chance to make portable contacts but in particular meetup with other RaDAR operators. So where to operate? It is hard to resist a trip to Sandy Point in St. Andrews State Park near Panama City Florida. I always want to take advantage of the salt water effect for vertical antennas. The Google Earth view below shows a 43 degree angle toward the UK and a 110 degree angle toward South Africa. 

St Andrews State Park

So what to pack? Since I have been having fun with the N6BT Bravo 7K and I now had a second, Why not take both. Maybe I can try a parasitic array with the Bravos. It turns out they both slip nicely into the beach cart. I also packed the Alexloop for back up.

The beach cart had two Bravo 7Ks and the back pack had the KX3.

As I headed toward the beach I realized the the steady North wind made it refrigerator weather and I was dressed a bit light. But onward for a one kilometre walk to Sandy Point. Reaching the Point I deployed one Bravo 7K vertical for 20 Meters. I checked the local repeater and talked to Bob KK4DIV. He was deployed for the Meetup from a bayside park in Lynn Haven, Florida. I made a contact with Bob on 14.346 our first meetup frequency. I called CQ RaDAR and a RaDAR op came back. It was John VA3KOT and a after a few repeats we got our grids exchanged. Continuing, I got a call from RaDAR op Mike, AC4MV. I thought he was local as his signal was S9 but Mike was in West Virginia. Mike is a member of our local club and spends time in Panama City working on his boat.

The Bravo 7K setup for 20 meters near the surf.

Continuing two local hams gave me a call Bob WB4BLX from his home and Jim K4LIX from his mobile. After 40 minutes, it was time to go to 20 CW I did not hear RaDAR ops but did pick up Marty KB2HHW in Tennessee.
the beach cart makes into a table.

The first hour concluded and it was time to go to next band. I decided on 10 meters. I had thought about using the second Bravo as a parasitic array but with the time short and the weather being uncomfortable I reset the single Bravo to 10 meters. I also passed up on opportunity to move since I already had five contacts. You get double the QSO point from the second location in the RaDAR Rally.

This was not sunset but just a brief appearance of the Sun,

On 10 meters  I got a surprise call from a local Jim ND9M. Jim spends a good part of the year as VP9JM from Diego Garcia where he works. So am chatting away with Jim and I get a call from Eddie ZS6BNE in South Africa. He was weak but readable except for some QSB. He gave me a 519 and I gave him 529. Hey it was a please to work Eddie the originator of RaDAR. Maybe the saltwater was helpful. I was running 10 watts with the KX3. I did make use of our RaDAR spotter page. I got an error on the few tries. It did not like an extra space on my callsign.

Pelicans on the return trip. They get some handouts from the fishermen.

I appreciate the efforts of the other RaDAR ops I did not QSO with including Lucy M6ECG, Tom G0SWB, Don KK4QAM, and Pat NQ0N among others.

Greg N4KGL

Using Two N6BT Bravo 7Ks Verticals as a Parasitic Array.

I have been enjoying my N6BT Bravo 7K antenna. Tom N6BT says these antennas make good parasitic arrays. He has used them from the beach on DX-peditions. So I recently purchased a second Bravo 7K. Tom provided a procedure for setting up an array. I am using the non-driven Bravo 7K as a reflector.

On Friday, I extended my lunch with an hour of leave. The first step is to hook up the reflector to the coax and tune it for a frequency below the operating frequency. Tom recommends 27.800 for 10 meters CW. The other Bravo is down at this time. When the reflector is tuned remove the coax and put in a short at the feedpoint on the coil box.  Now it is time to put up the second Bravo which will be the driven element. The spacing between the verticals is six feet for 10 meters. Since the reflector is so close to the driven element it does effect the tuning. I used an analyser. I did have to shorten the driven element from the usual length and set the SWR dip for 28.100.

I had only a short time for contacts.  I found the rejection from the back to be striking. A station pounding in from New England went way down when I walked the reflector around in his direction. I did a CQ to see what the Reverse Beacon Network would give me. For HK6F in Columbia I got RBN of S/N 17 db on the front and 6 db on the back  While it was pointed South I worked XE2JS in Northern Mexico with a 57 copy on me running 10 watts SSB.  I also got a 57 from CD3HSC in Chile.

OK this was not a scientific evaluation but it is promising. I look forward  to setting a parasitic array on the beach to take advantage of some gain plus the saltwater effect. It will be my reverse DX-pedition. You can find some analysis of vertical arrays on N6BT.com .




Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The RaDAR Rally is starting now!


The RaDAR Rally is a new achievement program for amateurs practising Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio. It is available any-time anywhere and includes portable as well as fixed stations. The RaDAR concept was originated by Eddie ZS6BNE and continues to be refined. If you are interested in portable amateur radio visit the Google+ RaDAR Community.



Sunday, November 2, 2014

N4KGL End Fed Antenna Configuration for Rapid Deployment

The combination of an end fed wire and a 9 to 1 unun is very popular. For me I discovered that any wire I tried with the 9 to 1 unun would match with the KX3 internal tuner on any band with or with out a counterpoise. I tried end fed wires with various counterpoises with the KX3 internal tuner and it would match some bands and not with others. I guess it comforting to know in a rapid deployment that you can get a match and start radiating a signal without fiddling with the wires. Now from a scientific view this may be less comforting. I can't make any claims to efficiency or radiation patterns.

The 9 to 1 unun is at the bottom. The box at the top is a LNR end fed matchbox.


The unun I use is from Balun Designs. There is a chart on their site that shows SWRs and various lengths. I don't seem to get SWRs shown but by pressing tune on the KX3 I will get a match. I actually have used the 9 to 1 without a counterpoise and have gotten great reports. However, I do find that it the SWR is more stable and lower if I use a counterpoise. You can get a feel for this by touching the ground terminal on the unun and seeing how the SWR changes on an analyser. I don't think what the wire length or counterpoise is is that critical. I adopted 100 foot as that is how my roll of ribbon cable came. I did go back to the manual and it seems that four 30 foot wires for a counterpoise fits their recommendation.

counterpoise wires spread out.
 As for the wires I use two conductors from 28 gauge computer flat cable for the radiator. This wire is light and well behaved. I can wind it up in figure 8 fashion between my thumb and little finger on one hand. Likewise the counterpoise is a 30 foot length of ribbon cable with 8 conductors. Four radials are slit out. I can
 wind it up in the same way.

Ribbon cable for radiator on left and counterpoise on the right.

Here is the data from a little study I did. SWRs on the right are with my hand touching the ground to see the change in SWR. I take it that if my hand touching makes little difference I have an better ground. The value to the left of the slash is SWR and to the right was the R value on of my Ten Tech FG-01 SWR analyser.


As far as the supports I have been using a Jackite 31 foot pole near the rig and a 20 foot pole at the far end. There are details about those poles at this link.


I get great results on 40 meters with the 100 foot length of radiator.  That is usually why I go with this configuration is to cover my 40 meter contacts. It does work OK on other bands as well.