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

Monday, November 8, 2021

Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RaDAR) Challenge November 2021

I used a dog cart to ferry my gear for this challenge. This was a choice among many ways to carry my gear. The dog cart does minimize the packing and unpacking and the weight of the gear was not an issue. I packed the Icom 7100, LDG IT-100 tuner, and a 40 AH Bioenno Battery. So you could say it was Field Day on wheels. I used the SOTABeams 40-30-20 link dipole on two stops and a Chameleon vertical whip on the other stop. 

RaDAR Rover

Eddie ZS6BNE has done an excellent job of creating online real-time logging for RaDAR. This gives everyone a clue of who is doing RaDAR and where they are on the bands. Chasing RaDAR ops is indeed a challenge as is operating in the field. I absolutely love the Panasonic CF-19 Toughbook because I can read it easily in full sunlight, unlike my phone. 

A snip from the online RaDAR logging System

Through the planning process, I discovered Forever Wild Trails in Dothan, Alabama. It has bike/hiking trails. However, I took advantage of the open area at the Beaver Flats area. That was best for the cart idea. I think it is a nice area nearby for portable ops in general.

One of my one-kilometer transitions at Forever Wild Trails in Dothan, Alabama

There are not as many chasers for RaDAR as for SOTA and POTA. Therefore it helps to recruit friends to look out for you. I was helped out by Tom WD0HBR, Al N4IDH, Doug WB4JPG, and Bobby K4AGR. Ken KB4XT in Enterprise, AL also looked for me. Likewise, it was nice to have contacts with Florida friends Jack N1HQ and Bob KK4DIV. They were operating RaDAR from the field. I also enjoyed RaDAR to RaDAR with Mickey N2MC who was doing POTA/RaDAR from New York State.


The weather was nice for being outdoors, cool and sunny. Suzy soaked up the sun on the stops. However, she is always ready to make a transition. She ran into some admirers along the way.


Eddie ZS6BNE has enhanced the rules with new categories for doing RaDAR like a two-hour sprint. I stuck with the four-hour challenge I have been doing for years. I see an uptick in interest this time. You may want to check out the RaDAR Group for more reports.


Friday, November 5, 2021

N4KGL's RaDAR Challenge Plans for Saturday Nov 6th

I plan to start on Saturday, Nov 6th at 1600 UTC, 11:00 CDT and continue for four hours. will be using the New RaDAR rules available at https://zs6bne.wordpress.com/2021/10/11/the-new-radar/

My venue will be Beaver Flat Trail part of Forever Wild Trails on the West side of Dothan, AL I will be making five contacts followed by a one-kilometer walk and repeat. I will be off the air while walking.




My priority on the HF bands will be 40, 20, and 17 meters, CW and SSB. I will also be on 146.52 FM simplex.  I like 7.031 and 14.061 on CW. For those in Panama City, 40 meters, NVIS is the best bet.

Note your grid square is part of the RaDAR exchange. Please give me six or more digits like EM71gf.

I plan to use the online RaDAR log in real-time at http://www.radarops.co.za/zsportal/  Option 2  Chasers can enter a RaDAR log online also and we both get credit. You need a PIN to enter your log. Contact Eddie ZS6BNE at edleighton@gmail.com for the PIN. 

You can check my RaDAR log for my most recent frequency. On CW, you should also see me on Reverse Beacon Network http://www.reversebeacon.net/srch.php. Ham Alert can help too. See https://hamalert.org/about

RaDAR is challenging for the ops and chasers! RaDAR Chaser is now a RaDAR category.

If you have plans to chase or operate in the field let me know at lanekg@gmail.com The more ops and chasers there are, the more fun the RaDAR Challenge will be. 

Good Luck, 

Greg N4KGL

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Why RaDAR?

You will have more options in RaDAR for the upcoming Nov 6th RaDAR Challenge according to the new draft rules. Note there are new categories and online logging and evaluation. Eddie ZS6BNE is in the process of finalizing the rules and his online web pages. So please standby for updates. Below is a slide show entitled Why RaDAR? It includes some of the new RaDAR ideas coming.


Thursday, October 14, 2021

More Camping, POTA and SOTA

Linda, Suzy, and I made a camping trip from late September into October; FDR State Park, GA, Unicoi State Park, GA, and Cheaha State Park, AL. On our way to FDR State Park from Dothan, AL we had our first blowout on a trailer tire. This was disappointing since I replaced all the tires with Goodyears recently. The good news was we were safely back on the road in a couple of hours. 

Dowdell's Knob SOTA Summit

At FDR state park, I did a POTA activation with seventy-seven contacts. I also did a SOTA activation from nearby Dowdell's Knob WG4/CE-004. It is an easy drive-up summit. I had good success with the Icom IC-705 and the Alexloop. I was running five watts because I set five watts as the max and forgot how to raise it to ten watts. Even at five watts, I got contacts on 40, 30, 20, 17, and 15 meters for a total of twenty-one. I also used the IC 705 for a two-meter simplex contact on 146.520 MHz.

The activation stats for our stops while camping

Always a joy when my buddies chase me.

Unicoi State Park in North Georgia was a change of scene. Unfortunately, it rained for most of our stay. I got in a POTA activation. Also, the Peanut Power Sprint, a two-hour QRP event, was on October 3rd. I was Nut 113 and I worked twenty-one other QRP Nuts mostly on 40 meters. I had to bring the rig into the trailer to escape from the rain. When camping, I look for other parks in the area I can do POTA from. I found Smithgall State Park. I went during a brief break in the rain. To speed my setup I went with the Alexloop again. I was pleased to get seventeen contacts and four on 40 meters SSB. 

A view along the trails in Unicoi State Park, Suzy enjoyed the trails.

Our last camping stop was at Cheaha State Park. I had no internet to spot myself on the POTA Site. I did hunt & pounce taking advantage of the SKCC WES and several QSO Parties for a total of nineteen contacts. I ran ten watts and the Alexloop yet again. Due to a calendar miscalculation, we had to leave the park a day early. So I missed doing the SOTA summit right there in the Cheaha State Park. Oh well, a reason to go back.

Sunset at Cheaha Mountain, the highest mountain in Alabama.

So the next event for me is RaDAR on November 6th. Eddie ZS6BNE has come up with New RaDAR Rules. I will likely go with the IC 705 and the Alexloop mag for a manageable pack up, quick setup, and rapid band changes. 

Suzy stays dry at the Smithgall State Park POTA activation.


Thursday, August 12, 2021

My APRS Pico Balloon Flight, July 2021

I launched a pico balloon from Oklahoma on July 20th, 2021. It carried a Skytracker payload developed by Bill Brown, WB8ELK. I got APRS reports from it for ten days. The SSID was N4KGL-11. It cruised above 28,000 feet and gave us much entertainment. Boy, this pico balloon flight was fun!


The launch was over Keystone Lake at Keystone State Park, Oklahoma

The ten-day flight started in Oklahoma did a trip to Mexico and back, then to the Gulf of Mexico, and was last heard from in Colorado. 


This is the solar-powered Skytacker payload developed by Bill WB8ELK It only weighs 12 grams.


The balloon Bill supplied was similar to a party balloon. It was underinflated intentionally. I used a party tank of helium from Walmart. It had about three grams of free lift beyond the weight of the payload. 

A short launch video.

Here is a recorded talk for Beginner's Academy. I gave about the experience.



Saturday, August 7, 2021

Our Month-Long Camping and Ham Radio Adventure, July 2021

Linda, Suzy, and I took a month-long camping adventure that was a mash-up of camping, family, sightseeing, and ham radio. The primary motivation was to visit relatives in Kansas and Oklahoma. We camped in a 24-foot travel trailer. All our stops were at state parks. I planned the stops to be a little over two hundred miles apart to make the travel not so taxing. Of course, this was a great opportunity to activate each state park on the journey for the Parks On The Air (POTA) program.



I really had to make some choices among my rigs and antennas. Even the weight of the ham gear becomes a factor when towing a trailer. I choose the Icom 705 for QRP with an option to use the Elecraft KXPA100 to get to 100 watts. The antennas were the Alexloop mag loop, SOTABeams Band Hopper link dipole, and the N6BT Bravo 7K vertical. With this gear, I could pick and choose based and the time and space I had at each campsite. 

The 100-watt setup at Lake Lurleen State Park in Alabama

POTA is one of my favorite portable outdoor activities. I had a great time activating the state parks. I did thirteen activations among the nine state park stops for 482 contacts total. The POTA hunters were very appreciative of my activations. I appreciate their help. 

My POTA Activations



I was also chased by ham friends from Florida, Canada, and Colorado.

Contacts with friends via Ham Radio

Along the way, I operated in the Summer RaDAR Challenge from Stockton State Park Missouri, 


and the Flight of the Bumblebees from Keystone State Park, Oklahoma. 



The highlight of the trip was launching an APRS pico-balloon payload from Oklahoma. I tracked it on APRS for ten days. I'll do a separate post with the details.


Our goal was met with a week's stop in both Kansas and Oklahoma for visiting relatives. Linda and I also visited Elvis's Birthplace in Tupelo, Missippii, and his Graceland home in Memphis. We enjoyed the Museum of the Automobile next to Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas.

A view of Lake Bailey at Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas

Linda on the porch swing at Elvis's birthplace home in Tupelo, Missippii

Suzy had many walks to meet and greet other campers. She also claimed the bed and the couch in the trailer as hers.

Suzy in the trailer



73,

Linda and Greg




Tuesday, June 29, 2021

ARRL Field Day at East Bank Campground in Georgia

Linda and I are trailer camping during our retirement. So a campground was our Field Day venue. I chose East Bank COE Campground on Lake Seminole. It is not that close to Panama City or Dothan, but it did have ample green space for antennas. 


Site A-10 at East Bank Campground

Fortunately, Rick NZ2I came all the way from Callaway, Florida, to join me to make a two-person 1B GA entry.

Rick NZ2I, a great friend

We made use of a Clam Venture screen shelter that was very easy to set up and did fine. We also made use of an Icy Breeze portable air conditioner. We had one brief shower when setting up. Otherwise, the weather was good but hot. 

The new Clam Venture Screen Shelter


My setup this time was the Icom 7100 and three antennas, an Inverted L with the Icom AH-4, the SOTABeams 40-30-20 link dipole, and the Bravo 7K vertical. Rick NZ2I arrived about an hour before the start and helped finish the antenna installs.


The Bravo 7K vertical did great to the West Coast and Canada


During the day, we had plenty of contacts on 20 meters. Rick made some phone contacts. Each antenna did well, including the vertical. Unfortunately, the PL-259 on the AH-4 got erratic and then failed. The other two antennas carried on. Unusual for me, I had some success with PSK-31 on 20 meters. 

The Icom 7100 was the rig this year.

A prospective ham from nearby Grand Ridge came by. He saw us on the Field Day Locator. He has been doing quite a bit just receiving with a Baofeng, including satellites. We think he is pretty close to getting his license. 

We had a couple of visitors

We took a liberal supper break and had pizza. Rick cooked apple cinnamon dessert using his dutch oven. It was delicious. Then we got on 40 meters and finished out one hundred contacts, including Myron WV0H in Colorado on CW. 



On Sunday morning, we got sixty-six more contacts. 15 meters opened up, and that's always exciting. We had enough fun to call it done by 10 am. Rick needed to get back to Callaway, FL. My attempt for the satellite bonus failed. I tried the 70-degree elevation pass of AO-91. I heard myself briefly through the satellite but no luck with getting a contact.

It is nice to hear wall-to-wall activity on HF. Ham radio is very much alive, CW phone and digital. So hopefully, every ham got a taste of Field Day. Make sure you got it covered next year. If you don't like the heat, there is always Winter Field Day. Bob KK4DIV and I have reservations for Pine Log State Forrest for Winter Field Day near Panama City. Come join us!

Sunset over Lake Seminole