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

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Get Ready for the November 4th 2017 RaDAR Challenge

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 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

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

10. Log Sheets

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

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 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

Monday, October 2, 2017

St. Vincent Island USI Qualification Expedition Succeeds

I love it when the plan, the weather, and propagation come together!

A team from Panama City ARC successfully qualified St Vincent Island, Florida, FL006, for the US Islands Award Program on Saturday, Sept 30th. The team members included Jim K4LIX, Bob WB8PAF, Bob KK4DIV, Phil N4STC, Greg KG4LFS, Dennis WA6QKN and Greg N4KGL. The qualification required 25 contacts. However, the team made 128 contacts in just over two hours including 29 states, Canada, Germany, and Belgium. The contacts also counted for Parks On The Air KFF-0257. St. Vincent is only accessible by boat. The team used the St. Vincent Island Shuttle to get to the island. Our time was limited to four hours on the island and two hours operating time. The team is eager to do more expeditions.

An outstanding video by Bob KK4DIV

I chose to take the Icom 7100, a Bioenno 40 AH battery and my 100-foot loop matched with the Icom AH-4 Tuner. This combination worked fine business on 40 meters and 20 meters. We were making one contact per minute average. We made 50 contacts on 40 meters to my surprise. It helped we got mentioned on the North Florida HF Traffic Net. It also helped that the recent solar activity had the SFI at 90 and the critical frequency was above 7 MHz. It was easy to make the short contacts back to Panama City and neighboring counties. The 100 ft loop is 30 feet across, 20 feet high and the bottom is 10 feet above the ground. It has proved itself as an all-around performer since the last Field Day. The footprint is 30 feet long which was chosen to fit in a camping spot at Falling Waters State Park.

Thanks to the team for making this expedition a success!

Three 30 foot poles supporting the 100-foot loop

The Icom AH-4 tuner matches the loop at the center bottom via a short 300-ohm feedline.

The base of the Icom 7100 and the Bioenno 40 AH battery.

Bob WB*PAF operates and Dennis WA6QKN logs.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

St. Vincent Island Florida Expedition Planned

It will be the closest I have come to a DXpedition. The Panama City ARC is planning to qualify St. Vincent Island, Florida on Sept 30 13:00 - 15:00 UTC. The call will be W4RYZ. We will call CQ US Islands Florida New until 25 contacts. Then we will use FL006. The Island is also Parks On The Air KFF-0257. We will operate primarily 40 and 20 SSB. Other bands and modes will be used based on openings.

Qualification means we are the first to operate from the island for the US Islands Awards Program. We need at least 25 contacts to qualify the island, We have a team of seven club members going. We will have two or more stations running. Access to the Island is only by boat. We will take the St. Vincent Island Shuttle from the Indian Pass landing.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Chameleon F Loop Magnetic Loop WSPR Baseline Test

This is is one in a series of tests using WSPRlite Beacons to study the Salt Water Effect. The Salt Water Effect is gaining a propagation advantage by placing vertically polarized antennas near the salt water shore.I often setup on the salt water shore with good results. However, now I am experimenting with a WSPR test methodology to quantify the effect. WSPR is Weak Signal Propagation Reporter.

This test was intended to show that two Chameleon F Loop magnetic loops are similar in their WSPR spots. This is a precursor to doing a WSPR test that places one loop at the salt water shore and one inland. I placed my loop and one provided by Bob KK4DIV on the field at Kinsaul Park in Lynn Haven Florida. I spaced them out at some distance from the bay and far enough apart not to have interaction between the two antennas.

Note, I have upgraded the firmware of my WSPRlite beacons so that if they are started at the same even minute their transmissions will be synchronized. This will enhance the credibility of the results. Also, we lost lots of time because one loop was tuned to 30 meters instead of 20 meters. This was Greg's Boo Boo. Of course, it was a good trouble shooting exercise. Thanks to Bob KK4DIV and Cory N4UVR for their assistance on the field!

There were eight transmissions from the two beacons over the course of an hour. Unfortunately, there seems to have been interference on the N4KGL beacon during the second half of the test.

The delta of the average SNR for simultaneous spots is shown above for N4KGL - W4RYZ. The numbers on the header are the deltas in decibels. Eight out of the twelve values are within two dB. Below are the values for the distance bins in kilometers. I will use a view like the one above to gauge the difference in average SNR when I locate one beacon at the salt water shore and one inland in a future test.

I am doing my data analysis in Microsoft Access. I will refine the queries and views as this effort progresses.

Greg N4KGL

Monday, August 28, 2017

W/VE Islands QSO Party and Parks On The Air at Okaloosa Island, Florida

Dennis WA6QKN and I had lots of ham radio fun on Saturday at the Gulf Islands National Seashore Okaloosa Island Day Use Area near Destin, Florida. The US Islands organization sponsored the W/VE QSO Party that day. Okaloosa Island is US Islands FL003S. Also, this site is part of the National Park System and counts for Parks On The Air as KFF-0661. I was concerned initially when I saw a lot of vehicles at my favorite picnic area. It turns out that Marine recruits were having a drill and picnic before they leave for boot camp. No worries as we had plenty of space for our setup. 

The Marines were our neighbors
I choose my vertical oriented 100-foot loop for the antenna. It is the one I built for Field Day. It went up smoothly with the three fiberglass poles. We used a sledgehammer to drive the angle iron stakes for the poles. That hammer would be heavy for RaDAR. The rig was my Icom 7100 running 100 watts using a 40 AH Bioenno LiFePO4 battery. An AH-4 tuner matches the loop impedance to 50 ohms for the rig. I am pleased with the ease of erecting the loop and antenna. It did a great job on 40 and 20 meters and even the high bands 17, 15 and 10 meters. 

The 100 foot horizontally polarized loop antenna used three 31 foot poles for support.
As the day went on the bands started sounding decent. We operated only SSB. We worked a number of Kansas and Ohio QSO party stations. They dominated the bands. The other W/VE Island stations were hard to find. I did get called by Scott ND9E operating from an island in Missouri..Later, I answered a CQ from VA3TIC on an island in Ontario. Dennis saved me the chore of logging all day. That was a great help.

Greg N4KGL. Photo by Dennis WA6QKN.
In regard to Parks On The Air, I worked KFF-1077 in Arkansas. That counts for POTA Park to Park. I spotted myself for POTA and a couple of Croatian stations came right back. For grins, we checked the high bands. To my surprise, there was an opening to Brazil on 10 meters! I also worked Suriname on 17 meters. The highlight of the day was snagging KH6TU in Maui Hawaii operating the Hawaii QSO party on 15 meters.

Dennis and I worked in a  repeat of the Saltwater Effect experiment with two WSPRlite Beacons and N6BT Bravo 7K verticals. Dennis did a lot of the setup and tear down of the verticals. We left one Bravo 7K vertical unattended on the beach at the bay. It was right over the salt water. Fortunately, it did not attract any undue attention. The second vertical was across the park road on a grassy spot. 

Dennis models the saltwater shore Bravo 7K vertical with a WSPRlite beacon.
Of the 66 stations receiving both beacons, all but one had a better average SNR on the salt water shore vertical over the inland vertical. There were 52 stations that copied the salt water shore vertical and did not copy the inland vertical at all. The salt water shore vertical got across the Atlantic and down to Brazil where the inland vertical did not. I am getting more and more confident that the salt water effect is real and measurable. The beacon that was a loser in past tests won today. Prior to this test, I measured the output of the beacons into a dummy load and they are both the same.

The inland Bravo 7K vertical with a WSPRlite beacon.
Despite the sticky weather, Dennis and I had a great day and Suzy did as well. It was well worth the trip from Panama City. I introduced Dennis to the QSO Today Podcasts on the trip home. We listened to Eric Guth 4Z1UG interview Art Bell W6OOB.

.Suzy hams it up with Dennis

Thursday, August 24, 2017

N4KGL Operates Solar Eclipse QSO Party

Monday, August 21st was the Solar Eclipse across the USA. I setup for the Solar Eclipse QSO Party at Kinsaul Park in Lynn Haven, Florida. I had a short turnaround time since I had just got back from the Huntsville Hamfest Sunday Night. I was pleased to get all the gear packed up and then setup at the field. It included the 100-foot vertical loop I built for Field Day, the Icom 7100 transceiver and my laptop computer. I also deployed two Bravo 7K verticals each with a WSPRlite beacon.

My 100-foot circumference loop antenna with Icom AH-4 tuner 
The goal of the Solar Eclipse QSO Party was to maximize activity on the HF bands This would provide lots of data for the Reverse Beacon Network, PSKReporter, and Weak Signal Propagation Reporter databases for the scientist to study. My WSPR Beacons contributed. I also called CQ on CW many times which was captured by the Reverse Beacon Network.  I did get answers to my CQs including fifteen contacts of 20 meters and three on 20 meters. I will turn the log I made using the N1MM+ logging software.

I could not discern any dramatic effects of the eclipse on my reception. However, at the maximum, I had a Canadian contact on 40 meters. It is unusual for me to work that distance on 40 meters in the daytime. As the sky got darker, many small birds and dragonflies joined us. The birds used the radials on the Bravo 7K verticals to roost.

The N6BT Bravo 7K verticals with WSPRlite beacons

I enjoyed getting a visit from Bob KK4DIV in the morning. My wife Linda also came by and we enjoyed looking at the eclipse together. The maximum was about 85% at 1:38 PM. The were lots of clouds during the day but there were enough breaks to see the solar eclipse.

My gear under the canopy.

I had a second reason for the two vertical with WSPR beacons. I wanted to see if the spots would be similar. My previous salt water effect tests assume the two setups are equivalent. The simultaneous spots compared very well. However, one beacon had almost double the spots of the other. It could be the beacon or the antenna. It also could be that there was another station on the same frequency for one beacon. Oh well, this will mean more tests to sort this out.

The station.

I think the process of setting up the gear outside for various events is good practice for what ever situation may come up. This setup was pretty much my Field day setup. You always want to get to the field with all the gear you need right down to those coax barrel adapters. This time I was successful.

Linda observing the Solar Eclipse

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

N4KGL Solar Eclipse QSO Party Plans

I am plan to participate in 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.


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


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 I happen to have two Bravo 7K verticals made by I could deploy a Bravo 7K with a WSPRlite beacon at two test locations simultaneously. SOTAbeams has a web based tool at 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 

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 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!


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.