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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Field Day 2017: Final Plans

I am a bit obsessive about Field Day but Why Not! In my teen ham years, I remember the local club dropped off a generator and left Field Day to four of us teenage hams. We knew how to string up some dipoles and did Field Day on our own. That does not seem to happen anymore.

This year I will be doing Field Day at Falling Waters State Park near Chipley, Florida. I reserved the call N4Y for the event. I can't invite the general public to the camping area. However, we welcome all the campers.

Prior to Field Day on Friday, I will operate as N4KGL and the contacts will count for KFF-1864 Parks On The Air. Friday night is informally known as QRP Night We will look for other groups participating on CW QRP frequencies.

Our Field Day starts at 1800 UTC or 1 PM CDT Saturday. It is 24 hours but due to checkout time being 1 PM Sunday I will tear down at 11 AM.

The rig will be my Icom 7300 and a 30 by 20 ft vertical loop. The bottom wire is 10 feet above the ground. It is fed at the bottom center with an AH-4 tuner. I have 100 AH of battery power and a solar panel. I also will have a rig on 2 meters and a 4 element yagi.

We will be one transmitter (Class B) One or two-person portable: Rick NZ2I will be the second op. The Section is Northern Florida NFL So our exchange is 1B NFL on CW and One Bravo North Florida on phone

Phone contacts count one point each.
CW contacts count two points each.
Digital contacts count two points each

The power multiplier will be 2 X for less than 150 watts. I am bailing out on QRP this time.

We should qualify for at least for these bonuses:
  • 100 points Publicity. I submitted a story to the Washington CountyNews
  • 100 points for being on on emergency power. I have us covered with 100 AH of batteries plus a solar power assist.
  • 100 points for being in a public place
  • 100 points for a public information table.
  • 100 Points for Section Manager Message and up to 100 points for message handling. I am working with Phil N4STC to relay messages via 2-meter simplex. He will be Field Day Mobile.
  • 100 bonus points for Field Day groups making a minimum of five QSOs without using power from commercial mains or petroleum-driven generator. I can use the supercapacitor setup for this.We can charge it up with a human power generator or solar.
  • 100 points for social media. I posted to the Google+ Field Day Community.
  • 50 points for submitting via the web.
There are a few more possible bonuses like youth operators, and so forth. See

The Panama City ARC will be at the Bay County EOC as usual operating with a the W4B callsign. Phil N4STC of Panama City will be Field Day mobile. There will also be KE4FD operating in Bay County contact K4LIX Jim for info.

Good Luck on FD,

Greg N4KGL 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

June Second Saturday Sprint

Today was the Second Second Saturday Sprint for June. The SSS is sponsored by the Google+  QRP Field Ops Community and runs from May through October. I decided to deploy the Field Day Loop in the front yard. I got out early and set it up. I captured the setup on video. I also used an ArtCraft AH4 Interface box successfully with the Icom AH-4. This allows me to initiate tuning of the AH-4 from the Elecraft KX2.

I took on a challenge today I chose to operate QRP. I also decided to feed the loop from the bottom corner for vertical polarization. I knew that was not the best idea for 40 meters. It was OK on 20 meters. It is preferred on 15 meters for the loop, but no signals heard on 15.
N4KGL Field Day Loop
I started on 40 CW and was glad to hear my friend Don KK4QAM in Sweetwater, Alabama. This was followed by local contacts with Mike KM4ELJ, Bob KK4DIV, and Don KK4DWC. Bob KK4DIV was set up at Under The Oaks Park about 12 miles away. Next was 20 CW, I had four SKCC contacts and one casual contact. I went to 2 meters and worked KK4DWC Don, N1HQ Jack, N4FA Charlie all on simplex. I rounded the two hours out with Jack N1HQ on 20 SSB. He lives on my street. I was pleased to work N9XG doing SOTA on 40 CW and KJ4UHR on 40 SSB in Kentucky.  It felt like the bands were weak, but I can't complain about a page of contacts.

The Icom AH-4 for tuning the loop

The ArtCraft AH-4 interface box

I will go back to feeding the loop at the bottom center for Field Day. But, I had to give the bottom corner feed a try. I will be setting up at Falling Waters State Park on Friday afternoon, June 23rd with the same antenna. That evening will be QRP Night. So basically I will be ready ahead of time. I can do some contacts for Parks On The Air Saturday morning. I will kick off Field Day using the call N4Y and category 1A. at 1800 UTC Saturday.

The Elecraft KX2

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Overnight POTA Activation and Field Day 2017 Dry Run

I did my first overnight camping trip at Falling Waters State Park Florida. This was a POTA activation for KFF-1864 and a dry run for Field Day 2017. I was at campsite 11 which will be the same campsite for Field Day. I was glad to see that the loop antenna fit well. I placed it in in the center of the pull-in area. It did get the interest up of the neighboring campers. They came by for a chat and said they were quite impressed with the push-up process. Of course, they did not know what it was for until they asked. Doug my immediate campsite neighbor is going to put photos of the antenna on his travel blog. He and his wife Barbara travel in an A-shaped camping trailer. Doug says Linda and I could have lots of fun camping.

I had a mix of contacts including working my friends in Panama City, POTA chasers, and museum ships. A highlight was working EA8ARI at EAFF-0079. This qualifies for WWFF Park to Park awards. I also worked KH6ZM in Hawaii on 40 meters CW. I had 56 contacts total. The antenna performed well for US and DX.

Photo by Doug Peterson
I slept in the tent-cot I brought. It is an easy setup. Thanks to Rick NZ2I for the idea. The one test I did not get was enduring a downpour. It thinks it would disrupt operating. We will see what Field Day brings. I am real confident I have the right piece parts gathered. The Icom 7300 was a joy to operate. I will operate Field Day with a few friends. The callsign will be N4Y. I am ready to go.

Photo by Doug Peterson

Doug's camping trailer.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Mission: Field Day 2017 Update

Saturday, I set up the Field Day loop antenna again in the front yard. This was an opportunity to test the antenna with the Icom AH-4 tuner. While I was there, I substantially pulled together much the gear I would use in Field Day. This included the Icom IC-7300, battery, my solar panel and the 10 ft by 10 ft canopy and so forth. It is helpful to see and use them together. It helps build confidence that my pack up will be complete. The video below gives the tour. I only made a few contacts on 40 and 20, but I am feeling good about the loop. I did have a good QSO with Tom WD0HBR in Dothan on 40 meters. The loop tuned well on 40 through 10 meters. So I am going to stick with the Icom AH-4 tuner.

My location for Field day this year is Falling Waters State Park in Chipley, Florida. I have reserved the same campsite I will use for Field Day for this Friday night, June 2nd as a pre-Field Day test. I can get the feel on how my gear and the antenna will fit. Who knows I might get new ideas or discover adjustments. It also will be an opportunity to activate Falling Waters for the Parks On The Air Program WWFF-KFF. The park is reference KFF-1864. Here is the announcement:

KFF-1864 Activation by N4KGL
From: Saturday, June 3rd 2017, 12:00 am UTC
To: Saturday, June 3rd 2017, 4:00 pm UTC 
I plan to camp out and activate KFF-1864 Falling Waters State Park in Northwest Florida. I will operate mostly 40 and 20 meters using CW and SSB. This is a warm up for ARRL Field Day as I will use the same site for that event. I will spot on DX Cluster see See WWFF-KFF Parks On The Air details at I should be in the range of the AC4QB 145.330 repeater. Chasers welcome. I submit the logs to WWFF and you automatically get credit.
Greg N4KGL
Note: Field Day is June 24-25, 2017. I will be using callsign N4Y. My category is 1A, and the section is Northern Florida NFL.

Monday, May 22, 2017

N4KGL Field Day Loop Antenna Refinements

On Sunday afternoon I spent some more time on my Field Day Loop. I measured it out and put the insulators at the right places. I also setup a feed point at the bottom center and the bottom corner. I made a 300-ohm jumper to the AH-4 tuner. I have not tested it with the AH-4 yet. Thanks to Myron WV0H for help with analysis of this antenna. 

This is a 100 ft wire loop 30 ft across by 20 ft high. The bottom wire is 10 ft above the ground. It is NVIS antenna on 40 meters and has 39 deg elevated lobes broadside on 20 meters when fed at the bottom center. It has low angle radiation on 20 through 10 meters when fed a the bottom corner. The three poles are strapped to angle iron driven in 1ft in the ground. The poles allow raising the loop in push-up fashion. It is designed to fit in a camp site without using trees or extending beyond the bounds of the camp site. I can use the Icom AH-4 tuner or a matching transformer with a tuner at the rig. The 300-ohm feedline and the tuner can be switched from bottom center to bottom corner.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The May 2017 Second Saturday Sprint

The 2017 Second Saturday Sprints sponsored by QRP Field Ops Google Plus Community began on May 14th. These are two hours 1900 UTC to 2100 UTC. See the rules at this link. The goal is to work other members of the group. However, any contacts you make will count. Therefore you can leverage off of other events. This is good practice for RaDAR style ops. I leveraged off of SKCC contacts and Arkansas QSO Party. Likewise I have a cadre of local chasers. They had no problem working me in town on HF. I also made contacts with them on 2 meter simplex.

Note the three poles for the loop antenna.

I setup in the front yard of my house. I wanted to test an antenna configuration for the upcoming Field Day. The antenna is a 30 ft long by 20 ft high loop supported by three 30 ft fiberglass poles. The motivation for the loop is to stay within the confines of the camp site at Falling Waters State Park. I anchored the poles with a length of angle iron. I pound them in the ground about one foot and strap the poles to them. I can attach the wires at the top of the poles and push the poles up. There is no weight at the top other than the wire going across. This is pretty easy to erect. The loop is fed at the bottom center which is about ten feet high. I used a Chameleon 5 to 1 transformer at the feed point and 30 feet of  RG-8X to the tuner which is an LDG IT-100. The rig was my Icom 7100 on battery.

The Chameleon 5 to 1 transformer at the bottom center of the loop
For the sprint I started on 40 meters. There was very little activity on the band perhaps due to conditions. I did snag local chasers Rick NZ2I, Bob WB4BLX and Bob KK4DIV. So I don't think I can draw any conclusions about the antenna on 40. I hope on the next test the band is more active. On 20 meters the band was better. I worked six stations out of town with no problem I also got WB4BLX, KK4DIV and Phil N4STC near by. So I will give the loop antenna a passing grade on 20 meters.

Angle iron at the base of the Jackite 31 ft poles.

Myron WV0H kindly did some analysis on the antenna configuration. The analysis indicated that using larger coax like LM400 would be beneficial to reduce losses. I have many options for feeding and matching the antenna. I may try 300 ohm line as well. Note, I plan to dry run Field Day on June 2nd at the Falling Water Camp site. Then I can custom fit this antenna to the site. Of course I have many antenna options to consider.

Operating from the shade

I am looking forward to future Second Saturday sprints. I hope to work some members next time. I also did some satellite work earlier in the day. I met with Bob KK4DIV and Bob WB4BLX behind the PCARC Club house. I was able to get three on FO29. So I got a good dose of ham radio on Saturday.

FO 29 linear Satellite Ops. Photo by Bob KK4DIV

Friday, April 28, 2017

Mission: Field Day 2017

I decided to do this year's June 24/25 ARRL Field Day apart from the local club. I have a camp site reserved at Falling Waters State Park near Chipley, Florida just South of I-10.  The funny thing is I am not a camper so we will see how that goes. Being new to camping, I better stay out of trouble, Therefore, I plan on keeping my antennas out of the trees and within the limits of the camp site.

For planning purposes lets say I have 30 feet of linear space for an antenna. So I envision a 30 foot long and 20 foot tall vertical loop. I can support that with two 31 foot Jackite poles. The bottom of the loop will be ten feet off the ground and fed at the bottom center with an Icom AH-4 tuner. It seems I have read that in a wooded area horizontal polarization is better. Myron WV0H modeled the loop and says it will be a good NVIS antenna on 40 meters and has a 39 deg lobes broadside on 20 meters. That should do fine for Field Day. Of course, I better try to setup and test this antenna with the tuner before the event.

I have an Icom IC-7300 that gets light use so I am leaning toward using it for the event. I like the spectrum scope to help walk across the bands. I am likely going non QRP but the jury is still out. I will be all non-commercial power using LiFePO4 batteries from Bioenno with solar assist. The site is partial shade.I have a 10 by 10 foot pop up canopy with a bug screen. For sleep, if I get any I have a new tent cot.

I have some buddies that will drop by and possibly operate. I actually reserved the call N4Y November 4 Yankee. Maybe they will bring some food because Suzy and I will get hungry. There are more details to work on. If you are not out on your own for Field Day check in with your local club. Our Panama City ARC will operate from the Bay County EOC.

Friday, April 7, 2017

RaDAR Challenge Heaven at St. George Island Florida

Sometimes things just work out to your favor. This was the case for my Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RaDAR) Challenge outing on Saturday April 1st. I chose St. George Island State Park in Florida. This is a beautiful park with beaches on the South side and bay front access on the North side. The weather was stellar with clear blue skies. Contrast that with Julian OH8STN operating RaDAR in Finland. He endured freezing rain but still had a good time.

The beach on the South side of St. George Island.
I thank Eddie ZS6BNE of South Africa for originating RaDAR. The RaDAR Challenge now occurs the first Saturday of April, the third Saturday of July and the first Saturday of November each year.  I have been participating since April 2013. The RaDAR challenge is a 4 hour stress test for your portable equipment and operating skill. In the Challenge, you make five contacts and move to another location. The distances vary by the transportation mode. I was on foot which is requires one kilometer. I chose to use my Icom 7100 for the expected difficult conditions. The battery and rig are heavy but a dog stroller I have made moving the gear very easy.

Picnic area on the North side of St. George Island.
Eddie was not able to practice RaDAR on foot this year. He recently was bitten on the foot by a large dog while jogging. However, Eddie was operating portable and focusing on RaDAR DX. That influenced me to choose St George Island. I subscribe to the salt water effect. This is that low angle radiation is enhanced for vertically polarized antennas at the shoreline or over saltwater. St George Island has a clear shot toward South Africa over the Gulf.

My first stop was on the beach. I had a schedule prearranged to walk through the bands on CW from 10 meters to 20 meters. I could not hear Eddie. He could hear me but I was too weak to work. However, I did QSO with Eddie's friend John Kramer ZS5J on 15 and 17 meters. I still needed five contacts to move. Then I worked Rubin AC2RJ on 20 meters. I was unaware he was chasing me but that QSO helped get the five. He made a RaDAR video from his end.

On my second stop, I set up my low dipole on forty meters. That enabled me to work chasers close by. That included Mike KM4ELJ near Panama City and Tom WD0HBR in Dothan, Alabama. A pleasant surprise was Craig NM4T The Huntsville QRP Guy. He worked me from his home in Alabama. It just happened that April 1st was the Florida State Parks On The Air Contest sponsored by the Lakeland ARC. I made a string of 16 contacts that counted toward that contest. I worked two other Florida State Parks including K4LKL which was the bonus station for the contest. The operator was a friend Matthew KK4FEM.

I timed my third stop to coincide with a SO 50 pass. Making a satellite pass counts toward a bonus for the RaDAR Challenge. I envisioned getting my five contacts all on the pass. The sat was so busy that I lucky to get one contact. Matthew KK4FEM came through for me. I picked up the remaining four on 20 SSB using the low dipole measured out for the band. This completed the four hours. But there is more.

The World Wide Fauna and Flora program for the USA, WWFF-KFF, has awards for radar. making three transitions in 24 hours qualifies for a Warthog award, four is the Rhino award and six for the Cheetah award. I had enough for the Warthog but one more stop would give me the Rhino. So another one kilometer walk and I got five contacts on 20 CW. Two were WWFF chasers from Croatia. See my Rhino Award here. But there is more.

On the way home, I passed by a small Florida State Park where the Florida Constitution Museum is located. I spent one hour there and got ten contacts. That is enough for a WWFF-KFF activation. I certainly was blessed with a wonderful day to practice RaDAR, the Florida State Parks On the Air and World Wide Fauna and Flora all on the same day.Doing RaDAR you learn to leverage off of other activities going on at the time. Propagation conditions for my ops were better than expected.

I was also pleased that Julian OH8STN, Tom G0SWB, Mickey NY2MC, Scott ND9E, and Rubin AC2RJ among others practiced RaDAR in unique ways. Some others just could not make it out. We all look forward to the July 15th RaDAR Challenge. Of course, it is unbearably hot then in Florida. The tables will be turned.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Thanks to Chris VA3ECO for Elmering

I met Chris and his wife Margot by chance at a Conservation Park in Panama City in February of 2016. I was doing portable ops and Chris recognized that I was a fellow ham. The couple spends the Winters of late in the Panama City. I have been getting started with amateur satellites. My HF operating started almost 40 years ago. I would not need elmering there but sats are different, in particular the linear sats. It just happens that Chris has done quite a bit with the linear birds like FO-29. He offered to get me going.

Chris VA3ECO at an Elmer session

I had tried using a single FT 817 for FO-29. I could hear the stations. I liked what I heard. There can be many QSOs going on at the same time unlike the FM birds. Some ops can pull off using one rig but the dopplers had me lost. Then, I took a leap and got an Icom 910H on eBay. This was my most expensive buy on eBay. Fortunately, the radio was as described and working perfectly. That is if you know how to operate it. There is some complexity with understanding the satellite mode and so forth. I tried to get something going without the aid of computer. I still could not pull that off.

My Icom 910H setup for portable sat ops.

I have had some challenges getting the software control programs going in the past. Of course it is doable but the forums are filled with tales of woe. The software of choice for satellite rig control is SatPC32. I like software that you can get started without reading the manual. Well this program is a little non-intuitive at first.

An Arrow satellite antenna

Well, this is where Chris came in. He helped me update the Kelps and some other particulars. Then he met me at a parking lot and was my co-pilot for a pass of the XW sats. He knew about the fine tuning you use for the Doppler. These are things that would have taken me awhile to learn since I did not know what I did not know. We even did a second outing for more fun.

Well to complete the story Chris is now back in Canada. It is my turn to go solo on the linear sats. Last Saturday I was at the Samson, Alabama rocket launch and Chris agreed to meet me on a FO-29 pass.  I had success contacting Chris on two passes. I also got several more contacts. The ops are very friendly on the linear birds. This will be lots of fun. Thanks to Chris for being an Elmer to a senior ham. Hi Hi.

Chris has a home on an Island at Echo Bay on Lake of the Woods in Ontario. It happens to be a rare grid. So Chis is popular on the sats. He has a HF station as well. In fact his station is setup for remote operation. Chris did a talk for the Panama City ARC while he was here. He did a live demo of remote operating from our clubhouse. He has documented his remote setup here.

Oh yes, Chris is into lots of other interesting activities like model planes and drones. He has some great videos on YouTube. Check them out. He even does some rockets so he enjoyed coming to our launches in Samson.

73 to Chris and Margot

Greg N4KGL

Chris at a Samson, Alabama Rocket launch.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Planning for the April 2017 RaDAR Challenge

The April 1st Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RaDAR) Challenge has been on my mind. See RaDAR Challenge rules here. My top choice for a site is St. Andrews State Park nearby. The saltwater access is generous there. I should have azimuths over salt water for most of the world. I have had lots of luck from this site domestic and DX. However, the Sunspots are not favorable for the high bands this year.

To be bold, I could go pedestrian mobile using the Elecraft KX2 and a whip antenna.  I use the KX2 as a hand-held. It is the lightest configuration I can imagine. There would be almost no setup time. I might go for it. Of course, a backup antenna might be wise. It would likely be my self supporting dipole.

I also will go for the Satellite Bonus if there is a pass of an FM Bird. This could influence the four hour window I choose. It would require taking my Elk Sat antenna. The Elk also comes in handy for 2 meter FM simplex. The Digital Modes bonus is a possibility also.

I have three stops in mind as shown. I will be on foot. The stops are at least one kilometer apart. By choosing a State Park I will be eligible for WWFF-KFF Radar Awards. The Warthog Award is three stops, Rhino is four and the Cheetah is six in a 24 hour period.  I hope to get at least three stops in during the four hours. I could stay longer than four hours to go for the Rhino or Cheetah.

It will be five contacts and move one kilometer for the four hours. I am hoping for DX including RaDAR to RaDAR DX. As you can see five contacts and go, the walking, the bonuses all combine to be the a formidable.challenge. I am counting on a cadre of chasers and other RaDAR ops to help. We will see what factor weather plays. There might be a April shower. Sadly, Suzy is not allowed on the State Park beaches. Oh well I might think about other sites.

Consider getting out portable on April 1st. You can be fixed or move via any mode under RaDAR. The distances vary with the mode. Good luck!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Get Ready for the April 1st 2017 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 1 April 2017. A 24 hour window will give equal opportunity to the international community of RaDAR operators. RaDAR operators are suggested to chose a four hour operating period during the 24 hour window,.

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 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 8 April 2017 and sent by e-mail to

See 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

Visit and for more info about RaDAR.

You are also encouraged to enter your RaDAR Op Plan at

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

Greg N4KGL

Monday, February 6, 2017

Camp Helen, Florida Activation

The one-year National Parks On The Air program concluded in December 2016. It encouraged me to visit several National Park sites. Now the World Wide Fauna and Flora program can fill the gap as it covers National and State Park sites. The closest state park other than St Andrews State Park to me is Camp Helen. I have known about it for years but had made few visits. Sunday was my opportunity to visit and activate the site for WWFF. It is reference KFF-1845. Fortunately it was T-shirt weather in February. I am also beginning to renew my Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RaDAR) mindset. It is a program that adds motion to portable operating. The next RaDAR challenge is the first Saturday in April. The question of what site and what gear to use will be pondered right up to the event.

40 Meter NVIS Dipole

Elecraft KX2

First, I checked in with the Park Staff. It took a few minutes for them to grasp what I was doing. But once they did they made me and Suzy very welcome. I decided to get the ten required contacts for a WWFF-KFF activation at the first stop. I used The NVIS 40 meter dipole which is only nine feet off the ground. The central area of the park seems to have good elevation above the surrounding area. I am sure that was why it was picked way back when. All around the site offers access to the beach, lakes and many trails.

I was fortunate to have many elements come together that help when I do activations and RaDAR.  I worked several friends who chase me. This included Mike KM4ELJ in Youngstown, FL, AK4JA Bobby in Georgia. He worked me on a tube QRP rig. Likewise, Tom WD0HBR in Dothan, Alabama. That is a motivation for 40 meter NVIS. It turns out at 11:30 or so it is usually the peak in the foF2 frequency. It was just just over 7 MHz. I worked Bob WB4BLX on 2 meters simplex with the aid of the Elk antenna. I also worked him on 40 CW.

 I have been getting into Amateur Satellites lately. I make the Sats part of my portable outings. Eddie ZS6BNE, the originator of RaDAR, made them a bonus for the RaDAR Challenge. I worked the 1 PM pass of SO 50. It had a 45 degree elevation. The central part of the park is open enough to have visibility of the pass. I heard my signal well on the duplex mode of the Kenwood TH-D72A. I got three contacts including XE1SEW DX.
The second part of my outing was to walk and talk using the Elecraft KX2 and a loaded whip on 20 meters. This is also known as pedestrian mobile. I forgot the counterpoise initially and had an answer to a CQ without it. I was able to do hunt and pounce with success. I did not keep a good log. However, I did work the Virgin Islands and St. Martin. Those were a shot over the lake. There is a trail that follows the lake shoreline. I also worked the Maritime net on 14.300 and a Vermont station in the QSO party. The KX2 and whip are the most portable of my configurations. Suzy enjoyed the walk.

 I have to think the Camp Helen site would make a nice Field Day location. It has a variety of buildings as well as an open area. There is even a wooden water tower that offers some elevation for antennas. Oh just thinking! I any case, I hope to return to Camp Helen often and activate more of the Florida State Parks close by.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Winter Field Day 2017

Winter Field Day happened to fall on a SEARS rocket launch day at Samson, Alabama. Chris VA3ECO and I did about 2.5 hours of operating when we weren't distracted by rocket launches. The weather was about 50 degrees. With a breeze, that was enough to keep us honest. We had fourteen QSOs with a mix of CW and phone for 120 points. However, the bonuses stacked up giving us a total  a total of 6120.
  • 1,500 points for not using commercial power.
  • 1,500 points for setting up outdoors.
  • 1,500 points for setting up away from home.
  • 1,500 points for satellite QSO(s).
Chris VA3ECO operating
The rig was my Icom 7100 at less than 100 watts with a 40 AH LiFePO4 battery. The antenna was the Chameleon 5 to 1 transformer and 65 feet of wive as an inverted L. This was good enough to give us a taste of the action. Below are a few rocket photos and the sound from the AO 85 satellite QSO. The satellite QSO was not until Sunday morning.

Chris' launch

Greg's launch of a three engine cluster with the Loc Viper rocket

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Rockets & Radios at the Samson Alabama Launch

I met Chris VA3ECO and his wife by chance at Conservation Park last Winter while Suzy and I were doing RaDAR. Chris has returned to Florida for this Winter. We were pleased that he came up for the January 14th Rocket Launch in Samson. Chris had done some rocketry in Ontario from his boat on a lake since cleared land is hard to find. He got quite a rocket show from our SEARS rocket club members. I did a launch of my Big Boy for Chris and Chis launched my Estes Stealth,

Chris VA3ECO and Big Boy

Greg's Big Boy launch on an E20 motor

Chris and the Estes Stealth

Stealth Launch on a C6-0
Chris put together this video of the launches.

Radio-wise, I setup my Elecraft KX2 for 40 meters. I did not have any luck getting back to my buddies in Panama City or Dothan, However, the NVIS Dipole did well to at longer distances to  Florida and Georgia. I had the honor to work KM4ZVC/AG for his first HF QSO as a new General Class.

The Elecraft KX2 shaded by the LowePro case

The 40 meter NVIS dipole

Suzy with the N6BT Bravo in the background

Suzy enjoyed trips up and down the road on the farm. I took her off the leash for some of that. I also did a SO 50 satellite pass. I got K3GDS at grid FN00 and N8IUP at grid EN81. The launch site is EM61.