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 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