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

Sunday, April 8, 2018

April 2018 RaDAR Challenge and Florida State Parks On The Air Contest.

The April RaDAR Challenge coincides with the Florida State Parks On The Air Contest. The FLSPOTA Contest is sponsored by the Lakeland ARC. Thanks to Matt NJ4Y who is one the organizers. RaDAR can play well with other events like the FLSPOTA Contest. My usual venue for RaDAR is a Florida State Park anyway. The first Saturday of April last year was perfect weather. This year the forecast for rain got worse the closer we got to the day. I even considered bailing out. However, why not start and see what happens. The forecast for rain was correct by the way.

The Chameleon vertical deployed quickly while it was raining
In Northwest Florida, we are blessed with many state parks. Since RaDAR encourages movement, we moved by vehicle and visited five parks along the coast in succession.  My buddy Dennis WA6QKN is on my RaDAR team so we braved the rain together. We operated out of the van. I call it Sonic Style because we are like the two guys in the Sonic commercials.

Greg N4KGL

Dennis WA6QKN

When it is raining, you want to minimize your antenna setup time. The antenna of choice for this situation was the Chameleon whip and the 5-to1 transformer. It was mounted to a four-foot pipe plugged into an umbrella stand base.The Icom 7100 in the van had an LDG IT-100 tuner that let us operate multiple bands the Chameleon vertical. Although we know this is not the best antenna for 40 and 60 meters, we still made contacts on those bands.

Grayton Beach setup

Here are some notes from our stops:

  • St Andrews State Park:. We made three CW contacts on 20 and one on 40. Then I called out on 60 meters SSB. We were heard by two locals, each named Bob, W5RE, and WB4BLX. We QSY and worked them on 40 CW. I did the SO-50 pass at during the light rain. I think I got Matt NS4Y operating as K4LKL.
  • Camp Helen State Park: It was raining pretty good. We did a quick setup with the Chameleon vertical. We go one 20 SSB and four 40 meter SSB contacts.
  • Deer Lake State Park; This park is small. It does have beach access if you walk. We operated out of the parking lot. Our first contact was KD8JA operating FLSPOTA Contest close by from Henderson Beach near Destin FL. In summary, we had two 40 meter SSB, two 40 meters CW and one 20 meters CW.
  • Grayton Beach State Park: We missed the entrance to this one and did some extra driving. The rain had thankfully passed by We set up the low 40-meter dipole and a resonant 20-meter vertical ground plane. We did CQ FLSPOTA mostly. We got four on 40 SSB and five on 20 SSB.
  • Top Sail Preserve State Park: We set up the low dipole for 40 meters and quickly make five CW contacts with SKCC stations.

Dennis and I felt we had a full day of ham radio fun despite the adverse weather. Thanks to chasers like Chris VA3ECO that tried but did not find me. We listened to a QSO Today Podcast on the way home. The podcast was Episode 168 with Dennis Verrecchia N6KI about Army MARS during the Vietnam War. Dennis WA6QKN in the van with me shared his own story of setting up phone patches for operators in Vietnam to the US while he was stationed in Guam.

Suzy's lunchtime

The sand dunes at Deer Lake
See more photos at https://photos.app.goo.gl/d2IWwcdlX1hPMXEd2



Thursday, April 5, 2018

Florida State Park Marathon for FLSPOTA Contest & RaDAR Challenge April 7th

Dennis WA6QKN and Greg N4KGL will start at St. Andrews State Park near Panama City, Florida, head West along the Gulf Coast activating as many Florida State Parks as we can in eight hours. We will try to get at least five and up to ten contacts at each park. Our kick-off will be the SO-50 satellite pass at 1300 UTC/ 9 AM CDT. While still at St. Andrews, we will try the HF bands below and 2 meter FM Simplex on 146.565. Then we will hit the road with stops at Camp Helen, Deer Lake, Grayton Beach, Eden Gardens, Top Sail and other state parks as time permits. We will be passing out the park info for FLSPOTA, POTA, and RaDAR at each park. watch our progress via APRS under callsign N4KGL on https://aprs.fi

40 meters 7.200 LSB, 7.050 CW
20 meters 14.250 USB 14.050 CW
15 meters 21.300 USB 21.050 CW
10 meters 28.450 USB,  28.050 CW
60 meters Channel 4: 5371.5 USB (Not for Contest or Challenge credit) 
We will monitor the AC4QB repeater at 145.330 ( Not for Contest or Challenge credit )
Although there are times and frequencies listed above, the better way to know where we are is to enter our calls as triggers in HamAlert https://hamalert.org/login Please register and you can also get the HamAlert App for Android. 
If you want to chat with us and other RaDAR Ops get the WhatsApp App. Go to this link to join the RaDAR Chat https://chat.whatsapp.com/BS1fAbRG2E5LTpeRGWzI8Q Spots are appreciated at https://www.dxwatch.com/

The RaDAR Challenge Rules are at http://radarops.co.za/index.php/radar-rules/ and FL State Parks On The Air rules are at http://flspota.org/rules/  Also see Parks On The Air (POTA) at https://parksontheair.com/

This replaces our previous plan to go to St George Island. Let us know if you will be out portable or chasing.us.

Good Luck and be safe,

Greg N4KGL

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

RaDAR Challenge and Florida State Parks On The Air Plans have changed


Please see newer post at http://www.n4kgl.info/2018/04/florida-state-park-marathon-for-flspota.html
.  
Please post on the Google+ RaDAR community if you will be active for the RaDASR Challenge.

Good luck and be safe,

Greg N4KGL

Monday, March 26, 2018

RaDAR Challenge Plans and Preparations for April 7th

I am getting excited about going to St George Island State Park for the April 7th RaDAR Challenge. I coined this venue "RaDAR Heaven" in my video below of last April's RaDAR Challenge. This year, I will be assisted by Dennis WA6QKN and Suzy. In RaDAR, you are required to make five contacts before moving to the next location. We will transition on foot and paw between stops. We will alternate between the beach on the South Shore and a picnic area on the North Shore during the four-hour window of the challenge. Well considering the loadout for antennas and gear  I will use the dog stroller. I call it the RaDAR Rover.



St George Island, of course, is surrounded by saltwater. I am counting on the "saltwater effect" for vertically polarized antennas to help with RaDAR to RaDAR DX. The beach on the Southside has a good shot over saltwater for Eddie ZS6BNE and his friends in South Africa. I tested an elevated vertical this weekend in the front yard. It uses an MFJ 1979 telescopic whip about 17 feet long. I am using a set of adjustable dipole elements as radials. We will set this antenna up right at the surf on the beach.



Bob WB4BLX, a local ham, has clued me in on a 60-meter net that operates on channel 4 in the mornings. I know several hams in the group that checks in. I tried my Gypsy dipole which is about 10 feet above the ground for 60 meters Sunday. The dipole is basically 40 through 10 meters. However, there are four feet of extra wire in each winder. I used the extra length and a tuner to get on 60 meters. I got an S-9 report from Sandy W5TVW in Lousiana. That is promising



 April 7 and 8th will also be the Florida State Parks On The Air Contest as well. The list of state parks being activated on the event website. As an activator, we can draw some contacts. It is nice to be chased. St. George Island is K-0635 for Parks On The Air POTA. A satellite pass will factor in. I have not determined which sat or pass will be timely. Working a sat is a bonus for the RaDAR Challenge and FL State Parks On The Air.



I have recommended that chasers use HamAlert. On CW, I can just CQ de N4KGL and you will be pushed a notification. On SSB I can self-spot of DXWatch.com or someone else may spot me and you will be pushed a notification. There are several notification options in HamAlert. With the on and off nature of RaDAR bear with us. If a CQ does not work I will hunt and pounce. QSOs with friends during the event are greatly appreciated. If you want to brush up on the details of RaDAR Challenge see the rules at http://radarops.co.za/index.php/radar-rules/ Join us on the air!

Our ops will be in the inset part of the map.

Friday, March 23, 2018

RaDAR on the Field Radio Podcast

Thanks to John Jacobs W7DBO for allowing me to talk about Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio and the RaDAR Challenge on his Field Radio Podcast. Take a look at all of John's podcasts and videos there. The topics are interesting for any outdoor amateur radio operator and the production is excellent. John hinted that he may go out for the April 7th RaDAR Challenge and make a video about it. Check back on Field Radio Podcast for that.



The goal of Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RaDAR) is to practice communication via amateur radio under difficult circumstances, in many different ways, being ever ready, and independent of external resources until it becomes second nature. The unique aspect of RaDAR is adding movement to outdoor operating. That is stations rapidly deploy, move with all necessary gear and redeploy. This is a stress test of operating capabilities but can be enjoyable and rewarding when undertaken in the great outdoors.
Thanks to Eddie ZS6BNE for originating and refining RaDAR over the years. Eddie discusses his ham radio story and RaDAR on QSO Today Episode 28


Eddie Leighton ZS6BNE
Check out this video Eddie and his son made.



Here are the key links for RaDAR

RaDAR Ops

Google+ Community

Eddie ZS6BNE Blog
https://zs6bne.wordpress.com/category/radar/

Join us for the April 7th, 2018 RaDAR Challenge!

73

Greg N4KGL


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

California Trip Report

Linda and I flew out to Chico, California for my youngest Daughter's wedding. So ham radio was not the top priority. Also, the weather was cold, wet, and windy for the most part. However, I did work in some operating. First of all, I packed the Elecraft KX2, batteries and just about every portable antenna I have. I had no issues with anything at TSA security. We went through the TSA Pre-check line. I did not have to take anything out of my bags and even kept my shoes on.

The Elecraft KX2 is a great travel radio


A rainbow right out our hotel window.

At the hotel, I got a 4th-floor room with an East facing window by luck. That is what I wanted. I set up the Alexloop in the window. I ran the WSPRlite beacon for a while. It was not getting back to KK4DIV's receiver in Panama City but did reach Auburn, Alabama. I made a CW contact or two. But for the whole trip, I heard little on CW. I am a late adopter on FT-8. So this was an opportunity to use it. I actually worked through making contacts on FT-8 with the software and a Signalink interface for the KX2. I made a few QSOs but being indoors I made a lot of calls that were unanswered.

The Sacramento River

My setup at Bidwell Sacramento River State Park

I went out to the Bidwell Sacramento River State Park near the end of the visit. I decided to use the Gypsy dipole on 20 meters. I had taken a set of pole sections that I cut in half to fit in the suitcase. The sections make three poles that support the dipole at about ten feet off the ground. A park ranger came by and said it was a good thing I was not using the trees. So bringing the pole set paid off. I had not really advertised the visit to the park as a POTA activation. The internet on the smartphone was flaky so I could not spot myself. I heard very few CW signals and managed only one fleeting contact. But on 20 SSB, the ARRL SSB DX contest was underway. I did get two Hawaiian and an Alaskan station. I wrapped up with a JH8 in Japan. Having worked Japan on SSB, I called it a success. I had thought about a SOTA activation on this trip, but the weather worked against that. Also, the distance to an easy peak was at least three hours away.



In any case, Linda and I spent quality time with our Daughter Emily and her new husband Nathan. Emily showed us Bidwell park right in town. I saw some redwoods there.  Perhaps, the next trip will have better weather for ham radio and sightseeing.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Choosing Portable Radio Gear for Airline Travel.

A trip out of state via an airline raises the question of what you want to pack for radio gear. It is a little different than driving to the local park. You could pack lots of goodies up to the airline limits but the gear would be a burden to lug around. Fortunately, there are good options for portable radios like the Elecraft KX3 and Yaesu FT 817. In my opinion, the Elecraft KX2 has really nailed it for size and performance. It is smaller than a shaving kit, runs 10 watts all modes 80 through 10 meters and includes an internal tuner.

Elecraft CS 60 Case

Elecraft CS 60 Case



The KXBT2 lithium-ion battery fits inside the KX2. I also have a spare. As far as I can tell the batteries can go in my carry-on bag with the rig. Also per the quote below my 10 ah, LiFePO4 could go as well. It is 120 watt-hours.
Effective January 15, 2018, each Customer is permitted up to a maximum of 15 PEDs and a maximum of 20 spare lithium-ion batteries per person. Loose or spare cells or batteries (including power banks) must be protected from short circuit and transported in carryon baggage only. If the lithium-ion cells or batteries exceed 100 watt-hours, only 2 cells or batteries not exceeding 160 watt-hours each are permitted. Cells or batteries that exceed the 160 watt-hour limit are not allowed as checked or carryon baggage.
Elecraft KX2, MFJ whip, and AlexMic

Next, I will include my MFJ whips for 40, 20 and 17 meters.  They let me use the KX2 like a handi-talkie for HF. I use a short counterpoise wire with the whips. This is the ultimate in portability. I even do CW while walking with the KX2 paddle. I treat the paddle like a straight key.

Alexloop on tripod
My experience tells me the next go-to antenna is the PY1AHD Alexloop with a tripod. It is easy to set up in the room, on the hotel grounds or in the park. It will work 40 through 10 up to 20 watts SSB. This would be a good place to draw the line. Just have fun. If I get going on FT-8, it would help to make contacts out of the room with the Alexloop.


LNR EFT 40/20/10 Trail Friendly EndFed Antenna
The next tier to go includes LNR Trail-Friendly End Fed. It is very light and fits in your palm and why not the Wind Camp Gypsy Adjustable dipole. Of course, I better pack throw line and a throw bag. Beyond that, I have more options including the BuddiStick, Chameleon products including the Hybrid Micro and their whips. All good but the weight and bulk will start adding up. I have poles to support the adjustable dipole But that would go too far I suppose. Everyone can make their own choices, but I just have too many.


Sunday, February 11, 2018

My Vintage Drake Station for the Novice Rig Roundup

Back in the late 60s, my amateur radio novice station used a Drake 2-C receiver. The transmitter was a loaned Hallicrafters HT-6. After upgrading to general class, I added the Drake T-4XB transmitter. So I had a mix of the Drake 2-line and the Drake 4-line

Phil N4STC enjoys working on older gear
It is a long story, but I foolishly let my original Drake 2-C and Drake T-4XB go. Of late, I was able to find another Drake 2-C on eBay and later the Drake 2-NT. This would be the ideal Novice station of the day. As required by the FCC the transmitter is crystal controlled and DC input power can be set to 75 watts.

The Hayseed Hamfest capacitor can replacement on the Drake 2-NT
It seemed a good idea to replace the electrolytic capacitors as that is usually what goes bad in vintage rigs. I got recap kits for the 2-C and 2-NT from Hayseed Hamfest. I let Phil N4STC replace the caps as he really knows what he is doing. The 2-NT transmitter came to life immediately after the recap. The 2-C receiver lit up but there was no hiss. Phil tapped a tube and it came to life. The tube was loose in the socket.


Note on the video, I can increase the relay delay on the 2-NT to cut down the relay clicking.

The pair works like a transceiver together. The 2-NT has the TR relay. The 2-NT also has mute and sidetone lines to the 2-C. You can use spot feature to find your transmitted signal on the receiver. I bought some crystals from AF4K. Note, crystal operating is a different game today. You will be unlikely to raise anyone calling CQ off your frequency. They don't tune around for a reply to a CQ like we did in the Novice days.

N4KGL testing the Drake 2 Line
So we ended up the session with a contact with Harry WA1GXC in Rhode Island on 20 CW. He just happens to be a Drake collector, the Drake 4 line in particular.a big thanks to Phil N4STC. He made my day! It happens to be my Birthday today so a great present this was. I now look forward to Novice Rig Roundup March 3rd to March 11th.


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Do you know where your Ham Buddies are?

HamAlert is phenomenal! I can keep up with my buddies when they get on the air.  They can keep up with me IF they setup HamAlert. I try to let them know where I am when I operate portable. It is difficult task via email. In the perfect world, all of them would use HamAlert.

What is HamAlert?

HamAlert is a system that allows you to get notifications when a desired station appears on the DX cluster, the Reverse Beacon NetworkSOTAwatch, or PSK Reporter. No need to keep checking these resources manually if you're looking for a certain callsign, DXCC, CQ zone, IOTA island, SOTA summit or WWFF reference.
You can receive alerts via Email, Push notification, SMS or URL GET/POST. You can also filter spots by various criteria, including:
  • DXCC (both actual and callsign home DXCC)
  • Callsign
  • IOTA group reference
  • SOTA summit reference
  • WWFF division/reference
  • CQ zone
  • Continent
  • Band
  • Mode
  • Time and days of week
  • Source
  • Spotter callsign and DXCC
Furthermore, you can set limits on the number of alerts in a certain time period so you don't receive duplicate spots, but are still notified if for example the station changes to another frequency.
I registered for HamAlert at this link. The following screens are from the website. You can do the same with the HamAlert app for your smartphone. I use the app as the destination for most of my alerts. Note I can monitor KFF Parks On The Air activations, monitor myself and a list of callsigns for my buddies. I only monitor KFF on the weekend. There are lots of activations going on.


Here are the details on my buddies list.


It turns out for those that run FT-8, I get too many alerts. So I set up limits. I could change the limits for the weekend to get all the alerts.


Below are spots shown on my Android smartphone. It is great to know that Tom G0SWB is on CW even if I am not near the rig. He is brushing up on his CW.


Your settings will be according to your preferences. If you want to find N4KGL your chances are pretty good with HamAlert. BTW,  send TEST DE YOURCALL on CW and you will trigger RBN. The alert comes back immediately. Note on SSB, I can spot myself on DX Cluster and the alert goes out. Easy!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

My new Fitbit Ionic Watch is a RaDAR Assistant

RaDAR Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio encourages combining physical activity with amateur radio. Sadly, exercise has not been a habit with me other than walking Suzy on weekends. I have been able to do the one kilometer walks during the RaDAR Challenge, but pulling the cart was taxing.

Now enter the Fitbit Ionic Watch. It was my Christmas gift from Linda. The watch puts much of the Fitbit technology on your wrist. It tracks steps and measures your heart rate. It also has a built-in GPS. There are apps that measure your exercise. It can do this without your smartphone but it does sync with my android phone. That is where the statistics are available.


The Fitbit tracks your daily steps and encourages you to set goals and do more. It expects me to do 250 steps each hour between 9 AM and 6 PM. I have to get out of my chair at work to make that happen. It gives me credit for walking up stairs and general activity. Packing up for Winter Field Day showed up as an activity.



The American Heart Association recommends 10K steps per day. My normal steps per day would be around 3K. However, by doing two 10 minute and one 15 minute walk at work I am getting up around 7K. This should pay off on the RaDAR Challenge as I am improving my one-kilometer pace. I did get 10K steps once at a rocket launch.

The walk exercise app lets me know when I have reached a kilometer. My exercise path is recorded by the watch GPS. I can review it later on my watch or PC. This will be handy for the RaDAR Challenge. Oh yes, the watch can play MP3 files through Bluetooth earbuds. I have some code practice files in mine.


Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Flow State via Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RaDAR)

In QSO Today Podcast Episode 127 Booke Allen N2BA discussed "Flow State". Here is a quote.
Flow is the most addictive, non-chemically induced state that you can create
naturally. Of course, it is chemically induced but you create the chemicals yourself in your brain. Flow is that state that athletes talk about when they’re in the zone that you get when you're playing a game. Flow is when you get in that state when you have a challenge that exactly it matches your ability that it absorbs your entire being but doesn't demand more. If the challenge is too easy then used drop into a state called boredom and if the challenge is too hard, you move into its state called stress. Your goal is to do something that takes your entire being.
Booke Allen N2BA


Here is a quote from Eddie Leighton the originator of the Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio concept.
RaDAR is a challenge when compared to any other contest. Moving stations are required to move the specified distance after every 5 contacts (The first 5 contacts could be made from the starting point). This will test rapid deployment and re-deployment. Each operator will use his own initiative to achieve his / her goals. 
Eddie Leighton ZS6BNE


I discovered the flow state during my first RaDAR Contest (now called RaDAR Challenge) in April of 2013. In my blog post, I stated, "I had the most fun I ever had in Ham Radio."  When you put a time constraint on RaDAR it will challenge you, particularly on foot. Within the four hours, you must walk briskly to conserve as much time for operating the radio. You may be on the sandy beach or you may be on a road. You are impacted by the weight of gear is you are carrying. It has to be everything you need at the next location. When you set up you must select an antenna if you have more than one. If you are using trees for the antenna you better spot that limb you need quickly. You will choose a band and mode you believe will net five contacts. You will assess what you hear on the band. If you have no luck you better choose the next band quickly. You leverage on what activity there is on the air. You look for other RaDAR operators for RaDAR to RaDAR contacts. You may decide to make a digital contact or a satellite contact for bonus points. Your outcome will depend on your preparation and practice between challenges from a gear and operating perspective. In any case, you may achieve the Flow State when the challenge exactly matches your abilities and you are completely consumed. I consider I am really there when I can make four deployments within the four hours.

It works for me! I look forward to every RaDAR Challenge. They are the first Saturday in April and November and the third Saturday of July. If you are interested please visit the home of RaDAR at http://radarops.co.za/ and the RaDAR Google Plus community. Also, listen to Eddie ZS6BNE's QSO Today Episode here and to Brooke Allen N2BA's QSO Today Episode here. My thanks to Eric Guth 4Z1UG for making these and the other 178 and counting QSO Today Podcasts




Wednesday, January 31, 2018

N4Y 2018 Winter Field Day Report

We had a great experience doing Winter Field Day at Falling Waters State Park, Florida.  The participants were Bob KK4DIV and his stepson Michael, Chris VA3ECO, Dennis WA6QKN and myself N4KGL. Our call was N4Y, the category was 2O, and the section was Northern Florida. Our power output was at QRP levels less than 10 watts and 5 watts on CW. Our power source for the radios were batteries.

Greg N4KGL's tent and 100 ft loop antenna




We arrived Friday, January 26th for the night. The 24-hour event started Saturday at 1PM CST. Both Bob and I had campsites across the road from each other. We both used tents. The social part of the event was fun. Chris volunteered to be the camp cook. He cooked eggs for breakfast and Saturday night he warmed up his wife's chili. Dennis supplied ice cream on Friday Night and key lime pie on Saturday night. Bob's Stepson Michael rode his bike around the park. However, he picked up quite an interest in the radios. Michael made some on-the-air contacts. He is now all fired up to get his license. There were plenty of hands to help with the setup. Tom WB0HBR and his wife Sandy came up on Friday afternoon. 

Michael (future ham) and Chris in the eight-person tent


On the technical side, Bob used his Yaesu FT 817, and an off-center-fed dipole hung from the trees. I used an Elecraft KX3 with a PX3 Spectrum Scope. My antenna was a 100-foot loop 30 feet across and 20 feet vertical supported by three 30 foot poles and fed at the bottom center with some ladder line. My initial plan was to use the Icom AH-4 tuner and an Artcraft adapter box. The box and tuner work fine, but it was just too cumbersome to use for the pace of the event. I switched the Icom tuner for a Chameleon 5 to 1 transformer and used the internal tuner in the KX3.

Chris VA3ECO preparing breakfast. Thanks Chris!
As you would expect QRP takes more effort to make contacts than 100 watts. We did get 20 CW, 21 digital and 20 SSB contacts. I was impressed that Bob's FT 817 with 5 watts got almost all the digital contacts and some on SSB. Our QRP contacts do count twice what it would have been at 100 watts per the rules. 74% of our contacts were on 40 meters. The rest were 13% each on 20 and 80.

Bob KK4DIV operating
Bob used 10 by 10 canopy for his operations. He had a four-person tent that he and Michael slept in.  On my side, we used a 14 by 10 tent for operating and sleeping. It fit the bill. We got several inches of rain Saturday night into the morning. There was some water seeping in on the floor of the eight-person tent. The water chased Chris out to his car as he was sleeping on the floor with a foam pad.

Dennis WA6QKN operating
The event was enjoyed by all, and we would do it again next year. Chris is just down for the Winter from Canada. All this is good practice for the ARRL Field Day in June. I have a reservation for the same site plus the adjacent one. However, I am considering switching to a pair of campsites across the road that are next to a large open field. I feel that Winter Field Day is growing based on the on-the-air activity. We are looking forward to both events in the coming year.

Michael warms his hands
More photos are at this link.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Anticipating Winter Field Day Jan 27/28

In less than two weeks, it will be Winter Field Day. I have a campsite at Falling Waters State Park near Chipley Florida reserved for Friday and Saturday night. WFD is a 24-hour event starting at 1 PM CST Saturday, January 27th. Our call will be N4Y,  category 2O for two transmitters outside. Our ARRL section is Northern Florida (NFL).



Amateur Radio Field Days have an emergency preparedness angle, but they are lots of fun to plan and do. It is also an opportunity for social activity among hams. This WFD I have partners Bob KK4DIV, Dennis WA6QKN, and Chris VA3ECO among others. Bob KK4DIV has the campsite across the road from mine.

Staging the KX3/PX3
I always wanted to do a QRP Field Day. Well, this is my chance. My primary rig will the Elecraft KX3. The WFD rules define QRP as 5 watts on CW and 10 watts peak for digital and phone. The gear will be powered by LiFePO4 batteries from Bioenno. I have enough battery for a 100 watt Field Day so running QRP should not be an issue. An adjunct to the Elecraft KX3 will be the Elecraft PX3 spectrum scope. In addition to spotting signals, it has a text display and a keyboard interface that helps you do PSK-31 without a computer. It also supports keyboard macros that will apply to CW as well. I will run the N3FJP Winter Field Day Log on a laptop.

A view of the 100-foot loop
The antenna will be a 100-foot loop 30 feet across 20 feet vertical fed at the bottom with an Icom AH4 tuner. This antenna takes up only 30 linear feet, needs no trees. and was designed to fit the campsite. The antenna has carried the day many times since ARRL Field Day last June. I am using an ArtCraft box to control the AH-4 from the KX3.




We will be trying for one satellite contact during WFD for bonus credit. We will see if the sats can be worked among the trees. For shelter, I plan to use a Coleman 8 person tent. I am not expecting brutal cold, but there may be some rain. I have spent the least amount of time on what to eat.

Eight Person Tent


Even if you are warm and snug at your shack, N4Y welcomes your call.  For WFD you would be 1H one transmitter at home. If you are going remote for WFD post your plans on the Amateur Radio Field Day Google Plus Community




Friday, January 5, 2018

ARRL 2018 Grid Chase EL79 New Years Day Activation

The 2018 ARRL Grid Chase is a year-long activity focused on working grid squares. The goal is to work as many unique grid squares as possible. Contacts must be uploaded to Logbook Of The World by both parties to get credit. The scores are available on International Grid Chase web page. Scores are reset monthly, but totals for the year will be kept. It is not necessarily a portable event. However, you can generate some interest in your portable ops by activating grid squares with fewer hams. My home QTH in Panama City is EM70. Our neighboring grid square EL79 is mostly salt water. That makes it a good candidate. 

The van with the loop antenna behind it
Dennis WA6QKN and I decided to activate Grid Square EL79 on New Years Day. We chose to travel to St. George Island State Park about 70 miles from Panama City. The park is KFF-0635. The temperature was in the 30s with some wind. To pull this off, we operated Sonic style (ala the TV commercial) which was Dennis and me in the front seats of the van. We used the Icom 7100 with its own battery. The antenna was the 100 ft loop supported by three poles. EL79 is sought by satellite operators who routinely chase grids. So I brought my portable satellite gear. We had a special request from K6FW for a contact from California.

Dennis and escaped the cold in the van."Sonic" style
We planned to start with a SO-50 Sat Pass. Then we allocated two hours on HF followed by a SO-91 Sat Pass. So here is how it went.
  • 4 contacts on SO-50
  • 23 contacts on 40 meters
  • 60 contacts on 20 meters
  • 7 contacts on AO-91
  • 94 contacts total 44 have been confirmed on LOTW
  • According to the Grid Chase page, we had 30 unique gids.
  • There have been 151 QSO for EL79  in Grid Chase
The satellite setup with a Kenwood TH-D72a HT and an Elk antenna.

It started slowly on both 40 and 20 meters. The spots eventually kicked in. On 20 meters it was a monster pileup. So I am calling it a success. The loop antenna has been a winner every time I have used it. Dennis WA6QKN was a great buddy and a big help with antenna setup and logging. So expect a return sometime this year. I also plan to do some activations of EM61 in Alabama. There are not many hams in that grid.

Here is a video covering my portable satellite gear.