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

Sunday, February 27, 2011

St. Joseph Peninsula State Park Florida POTA Activation

ham-stick dipole up 20 feet
 I was able to activate a park for Parks On The Air (POTA). The St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is located near Port St. Joe in North West Florida. With the temps approaching 70 degrees and lots of sunshine it could not have been a better day. I started out with my ham-stick dipole for 40 meters and the Sierra which puts out 2 watts on that band. I worked K4AHO Jim in Orlando. I did not have any more luck on 40 meters so I switched to 20 meters with my SST at 3 watts and changed the ham-sticks to 20 meters. It was a tough go a first because There was a DX contest dominating the frequency range of my SST. I did manage too sneak in a contact with DL8UKE. Then things picked up working the FISTS K6JSS/2 station. This was followed by KB3AAG Frank in Delphene, PA and W5HNS, Henry.

Of course the other visitors at the park were interested in the setup at least two thought I was tracking tagged fish. The mast with the ham-stick dipole makes a good combination for this type of ops since it stays within the foot print of the truck.

Wilderness Sierra on my lap shack

Pelican sunning at the park.

N4KGL Radio Beacon Rocket Feb 12th Launch Report

Thanks to all who were listening for the N4KGL/B beacon on 14.060 MHz which was launched at 1730 UTC on Saturday Feb 12th from the SouthEast Alabama Rocketry Society (SEARS) Launch Site in Samson, AL. Here is my report:

The boost on the H123 motor went well and apogee is estimated to be 1500 feet. There was no excessive tilt due to the trailing antenna wire. The ejection charge went off near apogee and the four foot diameter chute deployed. At that point something began free falling. As the items left under the chute were being pushed by the wind I had to keep my weak eyes on that part. The chute part landed three minutes after pushing the button to launch. So I thought there was a three minute hang time for the beacon but that was not the case because the recovered part under the chute was the booster and not the beacon payload. After getting back to the flight line the beacon was still transmitting on the ground. At that point I found my rotatable dipole could null out on the signal and give a line on the beacons direction. I took the SST-20 and started walking around with just a little wire as an antenna. So it was helping the location effort but someone found the beacon payload before I did. The payload was intact and undamaged. There was no damage to the trailing wire. The forces at apogee ejection caused the payload to separate. The payload was connected with a cardboard tube that had two screws instead of a glue joint and the cardboard screws tore from the screws.

Here are the reports

WA2OQJ Jim Long Island NY: warbly signal 559 gone at 1731 I also monitored the Beacon freq. at launch time and within seconds of the quoted launch time 1730 utc I was treated to the sound of N4KGL/B coming out of my FT-817's speaker! 559 sig rpt here in Long Island NY. I give it a 9 tone wise only because the chirpy/warbly sound I could not be sure was from the transmitter itself or the because of the speed of the rocket's ascent.

WJ5O Bill Troy AL: I heard two beacon message ID's abt 41 seconds after the launch....Very clear and easy copy... Ground mounted vertical antenna.

N0WX Mike Northfield MN: Heard the beacon clearly at 17:31z rst 567 some chirp on signal. Strong enough that a qso would have been easy. Had to use narrow filter to block other stations 72 Mike

VE3GTC Graham Embrun, ON: I could occasionally "hear" a signal that would be on the right
frequency and at the right time but could only make out the occasional G
or K or L. The signal report for the Rocket Beacon would be RST 228 or
in SINPO 13442.

AB9CA/4 Dave Loxly, AL: I made a recording from about 1725 to 1735 in case you want to hear what it sounded like from here. I was likely in the skip zone although at one point I hear something in there that could be you. It is just a brief letter that is immediately wiped out by the QRM.

K4KQZ John Columbia TN: No Copy Lots of QRM

I am estimating the beacon was in the air for one minute. It takes 10 seconds to get to apogee based on simulations and then the payload would have taken 50 seconds to fall. That would be 30 feet per second in free fall. The payload had the CG in the center and would have a good bit of drag since the payload would be mostly horizontal. The one minute duration fits with the report from WA2OQJ Jim.

I was very pleased with the reports from NY and MN and in particular W5JO in Troy AL because he would be direct wave instead of skip. So what I have learned is the design of the rocket is appropriate for the task. I will have to rework at the construction so the payload stays with the rocket. The hang time next try would be less maybe two minutes instead of three minutes. The chirp may have been because I am running a 12 V transmitter on 9 volts. The battery was the same one I had done testing with. So a fresh one might do better.

Thanks to all who were listening and thanks to John K4JGH, Cliff K4CTO, Dick K3IJD, and Dr. Roy Houchin and his friend Projestus who assisted in the launch and the recovery. 


Panama City, FL

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

N4KGL Beacon Rocket Launch Planned for Feb 12th

I plan to launch the N4KGL Beacon Rocket at approximately 1730 UTC 11:30 Central on Saturday February 12th from the Samson, AL launch site. The CW Beacon will be on 14.060 and identify as N4KGL/B. The power is 1 watt. The expected altitude is 1500 to 1700 feet and the flight time will be 80 to 100 seconds. If preparations are on schedule I'll send a post to at 1700 UTC. If there is a change of plans I'll post it to I would love to get any reports via or Please give the UTC time and note any variation of the signal. I will also have my SST QRP rig on at the site and may give a CQ 14.060 + or - after the rocket is recovered.

The launch is with SouthEast Alabama Rocketry Society SEARS and my N4KGL blog is

Greg N4KGL

Sunday, February 6, 2011

N4KGL Beacon Rocket Version 2

 The N4KGL Beacon Rocket has been revised to have an improved payload design and rocket booster. The payload incorporates the toroid transformer instead of the Par Matchbox.  This makes the payload lighter and more streamlined. In the payload top down there is a 9V battery, ID-O-Matic 2 code identifier, 20 meter CW transmitter with 14.060 MHz crystal and the toroid transformer antenna coupler. Near the rocket mid point will be attached the 33 foot wire antenna which will trail the rocket.

The antenna coupler matching is required because the antenna is a end fed half wave having a high impedance and the transmitter output is a low impedance. I may replace the 9V battery with a 11 AAAs to get the power up from 1 watt to 2 watts.

The rocket booster is a 3 inch diameter section with fins having a 38 mm motor tube. It has a dandy transition from 3 inch to the 2.2 inch BT-70 payload tube. The booster will have a 4 foot diameter parachute. I plan to recover the payload and the booster together for now. Thanks for Cliff Oliver of SEARS for loaning me the booster.

I did a simulation with a H123 aerotech reload and I get an altitude of about 1700 feet and a 100 second hang time.  This seems like a good plan.

I am going to test the beacon today by having the payload near the ground and the end of the 33 foot wire about 25 feet high.

If all goes well the maiden launch will be at the February 12th SEARS launch from Samson, AL. I will announce the launch via QRPSpots.


Ground test results from Panama City FL

02/06 18:13N4KGLSignal was a 229 with HF9V on the ground.WB3AAL
02/06 18:0914060.0N4KGL599 into EPA with beam at 30 ft up.WB3AAL
02/06 18:0314060N4KGLvia @N4KGL: N4KGL 14.060 1800 UTC QRP Gnd testing rocket beacon 1w frm FL cpy?N4KGL