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

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Weekend Wrap Up

Saturday, I made a trip to Headland Alabama for the Wiregrass ARC tailgate.  It was also a chance to visit my Parents in Dothan. The tailgate was on the square in Headland. I met some folks from the Wiregrass club including Jim KC4HW and James KE4GWW. I was joined at the event by my Dothan buddy Thomas WD0HBR. With the weather being beautiful I took advantage of the town square to try some QRP. I setup an end fed half wave for 20 meters from a bench to a 18 foot crappie pole. I made a couple of contacts. I had some visitors take a look at the QRP setup. I was pleasantly surprised to see a couple of Panama City Hams Steve N4VSP and Henry the tailgate. To top off a good time I won the main prize a FT-1900 2 meter radio. As they say it was worth the drive.

Sunday, I did some backyard operating trying out the Ten Tec R4020, SOTA Tuner, crappie poles and end fed wire. I thought an inverted L configuration would be a good one. But, even though the tuner LED would dim, the R4020 complained and would not load up. So after trying a few things I had good success with using a bead balun between the tuner and the radio and putting a 17 foot wire on the counterpoise terminal of the tuner. In fact this configuration works for a 66 foot full wave on 20 meters. I have several crappie poles taped to "step in" electric fence posts. This allowed me to get close to a half square configuration. See W0YSE diagram.

One post was not tall enough. Note the full wave 20 meters is a half wave on 40 which loads up fine. So two bands without getting out of the chair. I worked N0GBR who was running 1 watt from Omaha, N5URL from Okahoma City, and AE0SL all QRP ops.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

N4KGL Beacon Launch is a Bust

The 14.060 beacon rocket launched on October 15th but the payload bay broke into two pieces removing the antenna from the transmitter. The electronics did a free fall and the transmitter board has a bend in it. I have decided low power rocket construction is not going to cut it on a high power rocket. (you would think I'd know that!) The motor was an I161 and the rocket did have excellent boost and hang time. So next try I will do something better for the payload section. Jason N4JTC and Sonny KK4CVV came to the launch in Samson, AL. Jason launched his Hornet rocket also shown. See Jason's Blog at for more coverage of the launch. If you tried to hear the beacon, sorry it did not work.

More pictures from the launch are at this link.

Friday, October 7, 2011

SOTA Tuner Delight

The SOTA tuner is a kit from It is designed for end fed half wave wires. It consists of an SWR indicator with an LED and a parallel tuned circuit for the matching. It turns out I had built a SWR indicator previously from so I just used that board instead of the supplied parts. There was a hiccup on the first checkout and I sent an please help email to I a reply from Ken LoCasale WA4MNT with corrected instructions. The corrections were: 

1. - Tap the toriod at 4 turns, not 6 turns.
2. - Run a ground jumper from the BNC ground lug to the counterpoise ground lug.

Note the corrected instructions are now on the web site. After the corrections were made the SOTA works like a champ. 

In my backyard test I ran a 33 ft wire for 20 meters to a limb 10 feet high. I worked KD2JC Joe in Howell NJ with no problem.  Then I put a Black Widow 13 foot pole up to support the mid point of the wire. My next QSO was CO2KK in Cuba. OK 20 meters is good so how about 40 meters. I doubled the wire to 66 foot and moved the pole to the mid point. I snagged W4UOR Bill in NC right off the bat. My tests used 4 to 5 watts with the Ten Tec R4020. During my testing I found the tuner works fine without a 1/4 wave counterpoise. I was using a six foot BNC cable and I figure it supplies the necessary counterpoise.

The small size of the tuner is a definte plus. Now  I can get a lighter packup for QRP with this arrangement. Along these lines, notice in the pictures that I taped the Black Widow pole to an electric fence post which has a stake at the end.  I also used a fence post to hold the tuner. This lets me move the rig around without disturbing the antenna wires. So maybe on the next outing I'll venture from the parking lot out to the beach.

St. George Island Parks On The Air

Linda and I combined the visit to the K4L Lighthouse Expedition with operating at the St George State Park on the East end of the island. I did parking lot portable since they won't let you walk on the sand dunes. My first contact was with K4L on 6 meters. I used two whips from my Buddistick kit as a rotatable dipole. Then I switched to using 20 meter ham sticks as a dipole. I was very pleased to work Darren M1CZZ in England. The QSO went on for several exchanges. I was lucky to make all five contacts in 1.5 hours before sunset. Linda got a chance to read her Kindle on the beach.

Oct 6th 2011 Between 2100Z  and 2225Z

K4L           58/59     50.125     St. George Lighthouse Expedition
M1CZZ       57/59    14.270     Oldham England
W5FBS      55/59    14.261     Oklahoma City OK
KC5JTN/M  56/58    14.265     Austin TX
EA3FTA                 14.258     Spain

Visit to K4L St. George Lighthouse Expedition

Linda and I made the trip to St. George Island FL to visit the St George Lighthouse Expedition. We found the lighthouse was decorated with dipoles and a vertical. There were a couple of rigs outside and a couple in the keepers house.  Lots of interesting gear. The operators are friendly and are working pretty hard making contacts.  You can find out more about K4L at Maybe you can work them on the air. I worked them on 6 meters from the other end of the island.
Charlie Wooten from Panama City was there. He is a member of the DX club and also the Panama City ARC. The lighthouse also has a small museum and gift shop. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Under The Oaks Park Portable Ops

I met up with Marv KK4DKT at Under The Oaks Park in Parker FL for some portable operations. The morning temps were cool and very welcome for the first day of October. We were surprised to find that there was a festival going on at the park. Marv put up his 20 meter dipole in a oak tree near the water. The activity on 20 meters was mostly the California QSO party. Marv snagged a Costa Rica TI8 station pretty early with his rig. I was able to work a MI station on CW using the R4020. Then the last QSO was a CA station using my IC-703 on SSB. Marv by the way showed me some new knots for the antenna supports.  The park really is very nice with many trees and a view of the water. So looking forward to another visit. A non-festival day will be a lot quieter. Enjoy the pictures as the view was great. Note I was using my tongue for fine tuning.

Greg N4KGL