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

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Our April 6th 2019 RaDAR Challenge Plans

Dennis WA6QKN and I do the RaDAR Challenge together. We are going to use bikes to move between stops this time. The prescribed distance is two kilometers. I am not a regular bike rider. I did rent a bike last weekend and rode a couple of kilometers. I found out I am not in RaDAR shape as I huffed and puffed over the hill. However, if I stick to the flat roads I should be fine.



For a venue, the Top Sail Preserve State Park near Destin Florida is high on the list. The trails are paved. It has a beach and a lake for the scenic view. For the RaDAR challenge, you pick a four hour period within the 24 hour UTC day. It turns out we will overlap the annual Florida State Parks On The Air Operating Event. Our park will also be on the Parks On The Air POTA reference list. We will need all the help we can get to get our five contacts before each move.

The gear will likely be the Elecraft KX3 running ten watts.  The main antenna will be a Windcamp Gypsy adjustable dipole with fiberglass support poles. They get the antenna about ten feet above the ground. I can slip the support poles into my backpack as shown. Of course, we will also take an Elk antenna and an FM HT for the RaDAR satellite bonus.


Planning is half the fun for the RaDAR Challenge. Our plans can always be tweaked down to the last moment. Be sure to make your plans to operate the RaDAR Challenge in the field or as a chaser. Our call will be N4KGL. See the RaDAR Challenge rules at http://radarops.co.za/index.php/radar-rules/ and also visit the MeWe RaDAR Community at https://mewe.com/join/radarrapiddeploymentamateurradio

Get Ready for the April 6th 2019 Radar Challenge

RaDAR Is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio


RaDAR Challenge Rules from http://radarops.co.za/index.php/radar-rules/

1. Aim
The RaDAR “Challenge” is a unique event aimed at promoting the use of Rapidly Deployable Amateur Radio stations. Categories (Fixed / Field / Moving) 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, with not only power supply and communications equipment but food, water, protective clothing and shelter.
2. Date and Time
RaDAR operators define their own operating time schedule. It’s up to each individual to plan his / her MAXIMUM, SINGLE PERIOD, FOUR HOUR ops. He / she should consider propagation with the ultimate goal of inter-continental RaDAR to RaDAR communications in mind.
00:00 UTC to 23:59 UTC on Saturday 6 April 2019, Saturday 13 July 2019 and on Saturday 2 November 2019. Twenty four hours will give equal opportunity to the international community of RaDAR operators.
3. Bands and Modes
All amateur bands are allowed including cross band contacts via amateur radio satellites. Modes – CW, SSB, FM or any legal amateur radio digital mode. As from 2019 the WARC bands will be INCLUDED. The RaDAR Challenge is not a “contest” as such, it’s an individual challenge.
QSOs via terrestrial FM repeaters should preferably not be used for the purpose of the challenge.
4. Suggested HF calling frequencies
See https://zs6bne.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/radar-calling-frequencies/ 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 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 (For determining your own success rate)
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.
8. Moving RaDAR stations
Modes of transport and required movement distances (moving RaDAR stations only)
Vehicles, motorcycles and motorboats (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 (Changes for 2018) : Moving RaDAR stations need to make five QSO’s before moving to the next deployment point, thereafter they are required to move to their next destination. 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 QSOs before moving then please feel free to do so but the QSOs in excess of five per deployment point can not be counted for points.
9. Bonus points (All categories)
Five (5) points for a minimum of one satellite OR digital modes QSO involving a computer, smart phone 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 inter-continental (DX) RaDAR to RaDAR QSO.
10. Log Sheets
Log sheets must be submitted by 13 April 2019, 20 July 2019 and 16 November 2019 and sent by e-mail to edleighton@gmail.com Note: A photo of the station should accompany every log entry including each new location that moveable RaDAR stations visit. The results and photos are used to promote RaDAR and amateur radio.
Please visit http://radarops.co.za/ zs6bne.wordpress.com and MeWe 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
www.N4KGL.info




Thursday, January 31, 2019

N4Y 2019 Winter Field Day Fun

Our two transmitter Winter Field Day at Falling Waters State Park, Florida went to plan with the exception that Bob KK4DIV and Tom WD0HBR could not attend. The attendees included Phil N4STC, Marv KK4DKT, Melissa KK4SYL, Chris VA3ECO, Dennis WA6QKN, Bob WB8PAF, Greg N4KGL, and Greg's XYL Linda.  The temps were cool and dipped to freezing Sunday morning, but it was tolerable. We enjoyed pizza on Friday night. Chris VA3ECO brought Margot's Chili for Saturday night. Chris cooked breakfast each morning with eggs and sausage. Phil N4STC cooked Bubba burgers for lunch. We had a great time telling stories Saturday night around the campfire.

N4Y Falling Waters SP Campsite


Phil N4STC cooks burgers
Band conditions were good with plenty of WFD stations to work. We made contacts on CW, phone, and digital on 80, 40, and 20 meters. On 15 meters we got CW and digital contacts. Therefore our multiplier was eleven, Our contacts were 56 on digital, 46 on phone and 38 CW. We worked 40 states and Canada. Chris made a contact on the CAS4A linear satellite for 1500 bonus points. Phil ran an Icom 7300 with a loop antenna. Greg ran an Icom 7300 to a myantennas.com 80-10 end-fed antenna. Chris used his own laptop and Yaesu 857 for the digital contacts. The Winter Field Day event continues to grow. I am sure we will come back next year for more fun. There are more photos here.




Our Saturday night campfire

Greg and Dennis operating

Melissa Spinning




Tuesday, January 15, 2019

N4Y Winter Field Day Operations Jan 26/27

A group of my ham friends, their family members and I will camp and participate in Winter Field Day using call sign N4Y at Falling Waters State Park. The park is near Chipley, FL. We have three campsites reserved. Campsite 5 has plenty of space and borders a large field. We can extend an end-fed antenna into the field. Campsites 11 and 13 are adjacent which will make more room for antennas. We anticipate running two stations.  We will be 2O or 2 Oscar for two transmitters/outdoors. Our rigs will be on battery/solar power. We will use CW, SSB and PSK-31 digital. We will also go for the amateur satellite bonus. Temps will be in the 50s in the day and the 30s at night. That's is a Florida Winter.
Purpose: To foster Ham camaraderie, field operation, emergency operating preparedness, and just plain on the air, outdoor fun in the midst of winter for American, Canadian and DX Amateurs. Don’t let those winter doldrums keep you locked up in the house… get out and play some radio!! 
When: Winter Field Day runs for 24 hours during the last full weekend in January each year from 1900 UTC (2pm EST) Saturday to 1900 UTC (2pm EST) Sunday. For 2019, the dates are January 26th and 27th. Station set-up may commence no earlier than 1900 UTC (2pm EST) on Friday, January 25th.

We are hoping for a big on the air turnout. The event seems to grow each year.

Greg N4KGL

Falling Waters SP Campsite 5
Note there is limited parking. If you plan to visit please park at the main parking lot and hike in or let us know and we will shuttle you into the campground.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Watch Your Solar Cycles or a Solar Cycle is A Terrible Thing To Waste,

I reviewed how my lifetime lined up with the solar sunspot cycles this weekend. As we know, HF propagation is much better on 20 meters and up during the maximum of an eleven-year average cycle. I made a table of my life's solar cycles below. I am not sure if there is any significance that I was born at a solar cycle minimum. Cycle 20 was on the high side when I operated as a novice around 1967/68. I remember that the fifteen-meter band was very active. I also remember listening to phone stations running AM on 10 meters. My modest backyard vertical got me plenty of DX. I missed the maxes for Cycles 21, 22, and 23. In fact, I was off the air for twenty-five years and my license expired. In 2008 I got relicensed and that was the minimum for Cycle 24. The max came roughly in 2014. So I have experienced one cycle when I was more enlightened on what was going on with propagation. Now we are poised for Cycle 25. It may be lackluster or it may be better than the last one. We will see. Anyway, while we are at the cycle bottom we can plan for better times on HF. Being 65 now, it looks like I will be in my early 70s for this one. I hope to be retired and enjoying it to the fullest.






Friday, November 23, 2018

If the Antenna Fits Use It: Myantennas.com 80-10 End Fed Half Wave

My backyard in Panama City, FL got cleared of trees and a storage building due to Hurricane Michael. My 80-meter doublet that was supported by a large pine tree is no more. I now have an open slate for antennas. Of course, a tower and a beam are possible.  But short of that what could I do.

I finally decided to try the myantennas.com 80-10 EFHW 1K. I have used it for Field Day with success. EFHW is End Fed Half Wave. For 80 meters an EFHW is roughly 130 feet. Fed from the end it has a high impedance and requires a matching transformer. I am pretty sure the myantennas.com EFHW has a 49 to 1 Unun in the box. On the harmonics, the antenna is a multiple of a half wave and has the same impedance at the end. That covers 80, 40, 20 and 10.  However, the antenna is quite usable on 30, 15, 17 and 12 meters also. I checked the SWR on all bands in the shack. The SWR is under 2 to 1 on the lower half of 80 meters, 40 meters, 20 meters, 30 meters, 15 meters, and 12 meters. 30 meters is under 2.4 to 1. This is the closest to a tuner-less antenna I have used.


myantennas.com 80-10 EFHW 1K



Physically, I took advantage of my patio cover, camo poles and my scraggly popcorn tree that made it through the storm, I had previously wanted to cut that tree. I used a 16-foot camo pole at the feed point, a 20-foot camo-pole, and the tree limb to support 80 feet of the antenna. The last 40 feet of the wire slopes to the back fence at a 90-degree angle to the rest.





This link gives some insight into the radiation pattern. I should do my own EZNEC model for my particular layout. Anyway, we will see how it plays out on the bands. Since I am not a DXer or Contester I think it will do fine.






Tuesday, November 6, 2018

N4KGL RaDAR Challenge Report November 2018.

Our RaDAR team, Dennis WA6QKN, Suzy and I, had ideal weather for the Nov 3rd, 2018 RaDAR Challenge. Our venue was Topsail Hill Preserve State Park near Desitin Florida. The paved trails and the cart we used made our transitions easy.


Our first location at the main parking lot at Topsail Park.
Our first location, EM60UI79AA, was at the main parking lot. I attempted a SO-50 Satellite contact but had no luck squeezing in. FM satellites are very congested, particularly on weekends. Likewise, an attempt to make a RaDAR to RaDAR QSO with Pat N5VMO in Arkansas failed on our end. If you don't have the PSK-31`setup working before the event don't expect it to work in the challenge.

The one-kilometer transition was easy even with the cart loaded with the Icom 7100, 30 AH battery and antennas.
We got our first five contacts on 40 meters CW using a low 40-meter dipole. The rig was an Icom 7100 running about 70 watts. The rig was set up on the dog stroller we use as a cart. I faintly heard the letters "kot". That was VA3KOT John Corby calling from Ontario, but the propagation just was not right for a contact. We did work WW1USA from the World War 1 Museum in Kansas City, MO.

Our second location in the park.
Then, it was off to the second location, EM60UI67PU, one kilometer away via the park trails. Suzy loves the trek. We set up a 20-meter dipole this time. With some effort, we got the five contacts on CW. A surprise was a call from CS7AFI in Portugal. That counts for the intercontinental DX bonus.

Dennis WA6QKN logging contacts.
The third location, EM60UI58TT, was on the trail to Campbell Lake. We used the Chameleon vertical whip antenna for 20-meters supported by the cart and two quarter-wave radials. This time we got a string of five SSB contacts by calling CQ POTA. The contacts included Puerto Rico and Ontario.

Dennis surveys Cambell Lake. It is a coastal dune lake.
We still had time left, however not enough to get to a fourth location. Instead, we treated ourselves to the view at Campbell Lake. It was beautiful. Then we had the return walk to the parking lot. My Fitbit registered 10,000 steps for the day.

Suzy makes her own contact and gets a belly rub.
Dennis and I have done several challenges and have made it to four locations in four hours. Usually, we have a few locals and chasers but not this time. We are frankly hard to follow if we go to search and pounce. Also, propagation would be difficult back to Panama City. This outing we enjoyed the break from the hurricane recovery in Panama City. It will be a long time before the clean-up and repairs are done. Things improve a little bit every day there.

Note A RaDAR email group is picking up interest at https://groups.io/g/RaDAR Please join if you are interested in Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RaDAR).