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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

N4KGL Solar Eclipse QSO Party Plans

I am planning to participate the Solar Eclipse QSO Party (SEQP). Ham activity captured by RBN, PSKreporter, and WSPR will be used by scientists to understand the effect of the eclipse on HF propagation via the ionosphere. They want to maximize activity on the ham bands to get lots of data. CW and digital modes are best. SEQP logs will also be collected. There are bonuses for being outside and public place. 




The Solar Eclipse QSO Party is 9 to 5 CDT. The eclipse will be maximum in Panama City at 1:38 PM I plan to operate from St Andrews State Park.The grid square there is EM70DD. I can take advantage of the salt water effect on the South shore of Grand Lagoon. I will use my Icom 7100 to a Chameleon vertical antenna mainly on 20 meters CW. When I CQ, it should be picked up on RBN. The SEQP exchange includes grid squares. I will log with N1MM+ and submit my log for analysis.


The SEQP also encourages WSPR.I plan to deploy two WSPRlite beacons each to a Bravo 7k Vertical along the shore line. I am double checking the beacons to support my salt water effect study. The spots for the beacons should be similar.

These are my plans as of now. It will be interesting to experience the eclipse effects on propagation in real time. Consider operating if you can. It is in the interest of science you know.

Greg N4KGL

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The August Second Saturday Sprint

The 2017 Second Saturday Sprints are sponsored by QRP Field Ops Google Plus Community. They occur May through October each year. The sprints are two hours 1900 UTC to 2100 UTC. See the rules at this link. The goal is to work other members of the QRP Field Ops group. However, any contacts you make will count. Therefore, you can leverage off of other events like the SKCC Weekend Sprint.. Likewise, I have a cadre of local chasers. They find me on HF and 2 meters simplex. This is good practice for RaDAR ops where you need five contacts anyway you can get them before moving to the next stop.

N6BT Bravo 7K Vertical

My favorite picnic table next to Grand Lagoon
This month, I chose to operate QRP portable from St. Andrews State Park. I was involved with salt effect tests during the first part of the day. Dennis WA6QKN assisted. I continued using the Bravo 7K vertical for the sprint. The rig was the Elecraft KX2 running 5 watts. I am enjoying the Alex-Mic I ordered from HRO. It provides an amplified speaker and a microphone.

The Elecraft KX2

My new Alex-Mic


I cycle through 40 CW, 40 phone, 20 CW and 20 phone, My out of town contacts included PA and Orlando on 40 CW, PA and ON on 20 CW, and PA, OK and FL and 20 Phone. The rest of the contacts were local chasers including Bob WB4BLX, Don KK4DWC, and Steve N4VSP. I had fifteen contacts for the two hours. The Bravo 7K vertical did well. I was right on the shore of Grand Lagoon taking advantage of the salt water effect.

Suzy



A Test of the Saltwater Effect for Vertical Antennas using WSPR

Saturday, August 12th
1620 UTC to 17:20 UTC
St Andrews State Park near the boat ramp on Grand Lagoon. 
The antennas were two identical N6BT Bravo 7K verticals each with a WSPRlite Beacon on 20 meters running 200 milliwatts.


Vertical 1: WSPRLite callsign N4KGL located on the Grand Lagoon shore (salt water)
Vertical 2: WSPRLite callsign W4RYZ located on a dirt area near about 700 feet inland.


The Bravo 7K verticals were at the endpoints of the line above.

The overhead view of the inland location

The beacons were started at the same even minute, and both had a 20% duty cycle. Over the course of an hour, each beacon transmitted seven times. However, to my disappointment only the first transmission was simultaneous. The simultaneous reports showed a mean 10 dB SNR advantage for Vertical 1 at the shore using DXplorer. The shore vertical also showed a DX10 advantage in the average distance 2960 km vs 2386 km. I did further analysis taking an average SNR for receiving stations common to both beacons over the test. The SNR-DELTA was well in favor of the shore vertical as shown in the table below. 


I surmise that the overwhelming difference is due to reduced ground losses. The dirt in this area is sandy and has a conductivity of 1 milli-mho. The salt water has a conductivity of 1500 milli-mho. Note since the Bravo 7K has a tripod we put it over the shallow water at the shore.

Now to increase the confidence in the data perhaps the test could be repeated switching the position of the two verticals. Also, I would consider increasing the duty cycle to 100% to get more simultaneous spots. Note this test was a two ham effort. I could not have pulled it off without the assistance of Dennis Walker WA6QKN. We had fun doing it.

I think my favorite spot to operate at the Grand Lagoon shoreline is well chosen. It does seem to supercharge a vertical. The Bravo 7K has never the less served me well at National Parks for NPOTA that were inland. It has an advantage that it does not require trees for support.

Shore Bravo 7K vertical

Inland Bravo 7K vertical

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Flight of The Bumblebees 2107: A Fun Packed Four Hours!

The Flight of the Bumblees is sponsored by the Adventure Radio Society each July. This year brought the most QRP operators I can remember together. At least 122 Bumblebee registered. Even with the Solar Cycle in the pits, twenty meters was buzzing with QRP stations.

The dipole. It was double this size for 40 meters.

The N6BT Bravo 7K right on the salt water
I chose St. Andrews State Park this year. I have a favorite picnic table directly on the South shore of Grand Lagoon. I parked the N6BT Bravo 7K vertical setup for twenty meters directly on the shore. This gave me a shot over salt water for most of North America. This year I also had the weather going for me. It was partly sunny and hot but the breeze across the water made it tolerable. I also had the assistance of my friend Dennis WA6QKN.

Dennis WA6QKN
I ran the Elecraft KX2 at 5 watts. I used the QRPWorks SideKar with a mini keyboard to generate the CW macros for the KX3. I also used the AlexMic I just received.  It had the volume we needed as the boat traffic was very noisy.

Elecraft KX2 and accessories
I actually called CQ for most of the time. It was more productive than my usual hunt and pounce. This was my best FOBB yet. Here is a summary.

20 meters: 29 BB out of 50 contacts
40 meters: 8 BB out of 11 contacts
Total: 37 BB and 61 Contacts

I had contacts from Panama City ARC members including Bob WB4BLX, Jim K4LIX and Jim KW4UT. Dennis WA6QKN had as much fun as I did. He was assisting with setup, tear down and looking up BBs as we went. The vertical was potent of 20 meters. We switched to a 40 meter half wave dipole for 40 meters.  So it all came together I am thankful for many great contacts including friends Larry W2LJ, Steve KF5RY and Jim K0RGI. Suzy was a good buddy and had fun too.

Dennis WA6QKN and Suzy

Suzy


WSPR Comparison: Vertical vs. Dipole.

I recently obtained two WSPRlite beacons. My trip to St Andrews State Park Sunday for FOBB 2017 Flight Of The BumbleBees was an opportunity for an antenna comparison using WSPR. I compared a vertical vs. a dipole. The vertical was my N6BT Bravo 7K Vertical located directly on the South shore of Grand Lagoon. Grand Lagoon is salt water. This puts the salt water between the antenna and most of North America. The dipole was a 20-meter dipole about ten feet above the grass near the shore of Grand Lagoon. Dennis WA6QKN and I set up the antennas and hooked up the WSPRLites.

The N6BT Bravo 7K set for 20 meters and shore of Grand Lagoon

The 20 meters half wave dipole at 10 feet above the grass near the shore.

The beacons ran for one hour period between 1526 and 16:36 UTC. The dipole actually ran two minutes less. The dipole also had an extra six feet of RG-8X feed line. Using DXplorer from SOTABeam I got the following results:

Best 10 DX spots
       Vertical 2593 km average distance, max distance 3650 km
       Dipole 2057 km average distance, max distance 3410 km

Total Spots
        Vertical 150
        Dipole 87
Vertical WSPR Map

Dipole WSPR Map


My quick analysis indicates the vertical had the edge over the dipole in distance and total spots. You could have helped the dipole by more height but the ten-foot height is easy with my support poles and requires no trees. In any case, this sets the stage for future experiments including the vertical by the salt water shore vs the vertical located inland. My theory is a vertical on the salt water shore is hard to beat. We will see what the numbers say.

UPDATE: I looked at the simultaneous spot on DXplorer web site. They are listed here. Tom WD0HBR

By my count, looks like you had 34 simultaneous spots and for 21 of them the vertical showed a 10db or greater advantage.  In only 13 instances was the advantage less than 10db and only once did the dipole out performed the vertical. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Location Location Location

I have wondered if I could gather empirical evidence that operation on the salt water shore is better than inland for vertically polarized antennas. I have lots of opportunities to operate at the salt water shore here in Northwest Florida. I try to have the salt water between myself and the desired contacts. For example, the North Shore at St Andrews State Park basically covers the US and Canada but also Europe and Japan. The theory says the low angle radiation is enhanced at the salt water shore for verticals. DXpeditions often use verticals from their island locations. I have found that on the salt water shore I can hold down the frequency with low power if I am using a vertical. I often get a string going. I also noted a signal increase on a station when I was doing pedestrian mobile as I approached the shoreline. 



I purchased two SOTAbeams WSPRlite beacons with the idea of doing comparisons of salt water shore locations versus inland locations. WSPR is Weak Signal Propagation Reporter. You can see WSPR reports on http://wsprnet.org/drupal/. I happen to have two Bravo 7K verticals made by N6BT.com. I could deploy a Bravo 7K with a WSPRlite beacon at two test locations simultaneously. SOTAbeams has a web based tool at DXplorer.net to aid with comparisons.

The WSPRLite and a USB battery pack


Sunday, I checked out one SOTAbeams WSPRlite beacon running 200 milliwatts on 20 meters in my front yard using a Bravo 7K vertical. I was pleased with the WSPRlite It was easy to configure with my callsign and grid using the computer. To use the WSPRLite I just hooked it up to the antenna, plugged it into a USB power pack and pushed the button on an even minute.I was getting results shortly on WSPRnet. I also tried out DXplorer.net. 

The Bravo 7k Vertical hooked up to the WSPRlite in tmy front yard.


I have realized I will need a second callsign for the second beacon. I ask the club to borrow their call W4RYZ. I can even locate the two antennas/beacons a wavelength or so apart and see if they if their reports agree. This could be done inland and at the shore. Then I could try one inland and one at the shore. 

The spots on WSPRnet.org. I later got spotted in Germany

I realize there will be nuances in doing comparisons. We will just see where it goes. It will take some time to pull this off. Check this blog for future reports.This looks like the science fair project I never got to do. They did not have science fair at my school in the old days.

Greg N4KGL

Julian OH8STN describes the WSPRLite Antenna Comparison Methodology in this excellent video

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Try a QSO Today Podcast! You will be glad you did!

QSO TODAY

Eric Guth 4Z1UG interviews an interesting ham each week for about an hour. These podcasts have been a source of education and inspiration to me. I am learning that the Ham Radio universe is much larger than I thought. Now I am working my way through the 150+ episodes already in the archives.


I recommend these particularly if you are wondering what to do next in the hobby. You can pick these up through iTunes or STITCHER. However, I have been downloading them from the podcast list. I spend at least three hours a week driving, and these podcasts have made the drive enjoyable.

Greg N4KGL

Monday, July 17, 2017

In Memorium: Kenneth Lamar Lane

My Dad, Kenneth Lamar Lane, passed on July 12, 2017. He was ninety years of age. The obituary is here. What Dad did for me would take up a book. However, Dad's interest in electronics I can share here. He was not an engineer or even a ham radio operator. His career was at the Post Office.

Kenneth Lamar Lane My Dad.
I believe his first foray into kit electronics was the component stereo systems including Knight Kit amplifiers and receivers. He built several of those kits while on vacation at Panama City Beach. Dad sent my Mom and I, to the beach while he built kits in the motel room. I remember that Dad had an FM receiver before the local station in Dothan made its first FM broadcast. We were tuned in for the first one. There was an audio distribution system in the house. There were speakers from one end to the other.

Knight Kit Stereo Components
Dad built several Heathkit color TVs. These kits made leading edge electronics affordable. We probably had a remote control TV long before the neighbors. The grandest kit was the Heathkit Projection TV. The big screen TV is prevalent now, but it was unusual back then. Dad converted our garage to a den by himself. This became the home of the projection TV.


An ad for the HeathKit GR-4000 Projection TV

I know I helped out with some of the kit building, but I can't remember which ones. One kit that intrigued me was the Knight Kit AM Wireless Broadcaster. I was broadcasting to radios around the house and tried to foster an audience around the block.

The Knight Kit AM Broadcaster

The most exciting kit to me was the Knight Kit Star Roamer. The Star Roamer was my ticket to the world. I listened to the BBC, VOA, and Radio Havana. I heard some amateurs I am sure. I also heard the CBers loud and clear. I figured out that some were near by. I rode my bike around the neighborhood and saw the CB antennas in the yards. I came home and said, Dad, I want to be a CBer. Dad said no you don't. You want to be a ham radio operator.

His son Greg and the Knight Kit Star Roamer
Dad had a fellow employee at the Post Office Doug Snellgrove who was a ham. At one time, he held the call K4DR. Mr. Snellgrove set me on the course for the novice class license. I passed the test at his house when I was twelve. I was not really knowledgeable enough to get a rig on my own. Somehow, Dad decided that the Drake 2C receiver was a good start. We picked one up in Pensacola. Mr Snellgrove loaned me an Hallicrafters HT-6 Transmitter and many crystals. Magically, a HyGain 18-AVQ vertical showed up in the yard. So I was getting lots of behind the scenes help.



All this ham radio stuff kept me out of trouble during my teen years. It helped me get interested in math and physics at school. I eventually had to decide what my career was going to be. I had an answer Electrical Engineering. Not that I knew what EE was, but I figured it had something in common with ham radio. I was fortunate my parents sent me to Georgia Tech. I got the degree in four years. Dad's interest in electronics and his support was invaluable in setting a good course for my life. I have been using that degree for 40 years. At the funeral, there were many more remarkable stories about Dad. He was a great role model and always was ready to help friends and relatives with those technical problems.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Get Ready for the Next RaDAR Challenge July 15 2017

RaDAR Is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio



RaDAR Challenge Rules

1. Aim

The RaDAR “Challenge” is a unique event aimed at promoting the use of Rapidly Deployable
Amateur Radio stations. Categories 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. RaDAR operators are encouraged to be self-sufficient during each challenge, not only with power supply and communications equipment but food, water, protective clothing and shelter, not forgetting the first aid kit.

2. Date and Time

00:00 UTC to 23:59 UTC on Saturday 1 April 2017,
00:00 UTC to 23:59 UTC on Saturday 15 July, and
00:00 UTC to 23:59 UTC on Saturday 4 November 2017

24 hours will give equal opportunity to the international community of RaDAR operators.
RaDAR operators can define their own operating time schedule. The 24 hour period remains but it’s up to each individual to plan his / her MAXIMUM, SINGLE PERIOD, FOUR HOUR ops. He/she should take propagation into account with the ultimate goal of intercontinental RaDAR to RaDAR communications in mind. (10 bonus points!)

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 FM
repeaters should preferably not be used for the purpose of the challenge.

4. Suggested HF calling frequencies

See http://zs6bne.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/radar-calling-frequencies/ for the RaDAR
Calling channels, the latest suggested international list of calling frequencies

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. The grid locator of six characters
is acceptable but should preferably be accurate to 8 or 10 characters for higher
position accuracy (especially for moving RaDAR stations).

6. Scoring

1 point per QSO. Individual QSOs could be per mode, per band, per satellite, per
grid location. If the moving RaDAR station has moved the required distance contact
can be made with a previously worked station, again. Suggestions have been made to call CQ including grid location, for example CQ RaDAR from grid KG34acXXyy, to help callers determine whether it is possible for a new contact with a previously worked moving RaDAR station

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 (in a building away from home)
X 2 – RaDAR Field station (camping)
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 can be made.
This requirement tests the ability to rapidly and successfully re-deploy your amateur
radio station. If it be gentlemanly to make further QSO’s before moving then please feel free to do
so but the QSO’s in excess of five per deployment point can not be counted for
points.

9. Bonus points (All categories)

Five (5) points 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.
Five (5) points for the first intercontinental (DX) QSO
Ten (10) points for the first successful intercontinental (DX) RaDAR to RaDAR
QSO.

10. Log Sheets

Log sheets must be submitted by 15 April 2017, 29 July and 18 November 2017 and
sent by e-mail to edleighton@gmail.com

Note: A photo of the station should accompany every log entry including each new
location that moveable RaDAR stations visit.


The above is an excerpt from SARL 2017 Contest Manual

Please visit zs6bne.wordpress.com and Google+ RaDAR Community for more info about RaDAR.


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

Greg N4KGL
www.N4KGL.info





Thursday, June 29, 2017

Field Day 2017: The Experience

We used the call N4Y and our category was 1B in Northern Florida. Our site was at Falling Waters State Park in Northwest Florida. You may have noticed from my previous posts that I put extra effort into Field Day preparations this year. I came up with the loop antenna to fit the bounds of the camping site. I tested the loop several times in my yard. Then I went to the Falling Waters State Park campsite on June 2nd and did a dry run  All that effort paid off on the actual Field day. I was worried about thunderstorms, but fortunately, the rain held off.

Our Banner for N4Y Field Day at Falling Waters State Park
The social side went well. Tom WD0HBR and wife Sandy who has a license visited Friday. Rick NZ2I came up on Friday night. Rick made smores that night, cooked eggs for breakfast and venison chili for lunch on Saturday. My friend Dennis WA6QKN came up for a good visit on Saturday. Bob KK4DIV came up on Sunday and made a great video. Several of my visitors saw the falling waters namesake of the park. The recent rains had a significant stream to pouring into the sinkhole.


Video by Bob KK4DIV

Friday night we made a few contacts as a test. The Icom IC-7300 and the antenna were doing fine. Saturday morning pre-Field Day, I could hear very little on 40 or 20 meters. Usually, the bands are buzzing on Saturday morning. I expected to pick up a few stations making test calls. I panicked. I rechecked everything and changed out some coax. I even put up a separate dipole to see if I could hear anything. I guess the world was on radio silence. The bands, fortunately, came alive at the start of Field Day.

Rick NZ2I camp cookie and operator


The excellent breakfast Rick prepared.
I am a hunt and pounce operator. That worked well on 40 and 20 meters CW where the stations filled the IC-7300 spectrum scope. They came right back to my call. On SSB there was too much competition for each station calling CQ. It took some effort to snag one. So CW was more productive. Also, CW counts two points for each QSO versus one point for Phone. Rick and Dennis helped me log on Saturday. Rick passed 11 messages to Bob WB4BLX at the Bay County EOC. Those were worth a total of 200 bonus points.

Dennis WA6QKN


I was on my own Saturday Night. I turned in about 10 PM, and I got up at 5 AM. Sunday morning there was different propagation on 40 meters. I picked up several new sections. I was delighted to see that the 15 meters band was open also. I picked up more contacts there.

Campsite 11
Then I setup for the alternate energy bonus. I use a supercapacitor instead of a battery for energy storage. The rig was the Elecraft KX2. I adapted the KX2 to the AH-4 tuner and the loop using an Artcraft interface box. Since it was overcast, the solar panel charged the supercapacitor very slowly. So the K-Tor pedal generator came into play. Ten minutes of pedaling raised the voltage from 9 to 13 volts. I made four 20 meter CW contacts very quickly. The rig kicked down from ten to five watts as the voltage went down.  After the fourth contact, the rig crashed at 9 volts. Bob KK4DIV manned the generator and charged the supercapacitor back up to 13 volts. I made the 5th contact. Each contact was 20 points for a total of 100 bonus points. Perhaps I should have been QRP the whole time.

The alternate energy gear including a 58 Farad supercapacitor


Bob KK4DIV pedaling the K-Tor generator
Everything was going to plan. I allocated two hours to tear down starting at 11 AM Sunday to make the 1 PM checkout time. Packing took every minute of it. The little part that went wrong was this. I was packing up the screen for the pop-up canopy. It is at least 40 feet long. I was stretching it out to fold it up. I said to myself; I will get this done. All of a sudden I fell and landed flat on my back. I had walked backward right over the fire ring I was lucky and had no injury. Good thing the fire ring was not hot! I finished packing and got out on schedule.

The Icom IC-7300 rig
The total contacts were 138, 120 on CW and 18 on phone. The total points were 258. I had 850 points for bonuses to include emergency power, alternate energy, public place, publicity, information table, social media, section manager message, and ten messages passed.

Wow, this was fun! I plan to reserve the same campsite next year and possibly the adjacent one. I might entice a few more ops to join me. You can count on that I will be planning Field Day right up to the next one.

73,

Greg N4KGL


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 http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Field-Day/2017/2017%20Rules.pdf

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.