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

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.