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

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Rocket Launch Portable Ops

It was a pleasant surprise to have Marv KK4DKT and his wife Melissa to make the trip from Panama City FL to Samson AL for the Feb 25th SouthEast Alabama Rocketry Society (SEARS) Rocket Launch. I had setup my Portable Inverted U Doublet before he arrived. Marv arrived and setup his new Buddipole. Marv operated on 20 meters SSB. He did not have any luck with the Buddipole initially. Conditions were not the best. Then Marv switched to the vertical configuration and snagged a station operating off of a frozen lake combining ice fishing with portable ops.

This was Marv's first launch and he saw lots of launches including my Gizmo rocket on an I sparky motor. Marv and Melissa were a great help spotting the two pieces of my Estes Tornado rocket that got carried away in the stiff breeze we had.

My operating included QRP on 30 and 40 meters. I had several contacts with poor reports for my signal. Then on 40 I had a 559 report from John W3BNO in Huntsville AL. Of course portable ops at the rocket launch is perhaps doing too many things at once for my brain power. Also my portable inverted U got one arm removed when a rocket drifted by under chute. There actually was no damage as the arm was a friction fit with a little bit of tape. So the arm came off and was suspended by the 26 gauge antenna wire.

Enjoy the photos.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Portable Inverted U Doublet

After locating some 20 foot crappie poles, I wanted to try a new way to use them. The idea was to mount them on the military mast poles I have. I had used the military mast off a hitch mount on the truck to support hamstick dipoles before. With two 20 foot poles that yields a 40 foot span, plenty for a full size dipole at 20 meters.

Now as for mounting the crappie poles on the mast. I found that a 1.5 inch PVC four way fitting slides nicely onto the military mast. I had to take the mast into Home Depot to find that out. Then I needed some short lengths of PVC out the sides. Well Home Depot sells 2 foot lengths. Very handy! The 20 foot crappie pole fits into the 1.5 inch PVC and the butt end won't go through. When the PVC length is put into the fitting this secures the poles into the fitting. Cheap and easy!

I thought I would try a 40 meter dipole with the ends hanging down. Well yes it can work but the ends hang down so close to the ground I needed to tie them off with a guy. line. That is fine but I could support the ends with more poles if that is the case.

The next idea was a shortened dipole on 40 and hope I could use it on 30 and 20 meters also. I setup a dipole or doublet I have that has reels to adjust the length. I just eyeballed a length that would keep the ends above head level. So 40 foot across the top and the reels hang straight down. This is the inverted U shape that W4RNL wrote about. After I took it down, one end was 27 feet and the other 25 feet. So next time I'll make them 26 and 26 for the total length of 52 feet.

And now the happy ending. I setup the HB1B and the BLT tuner. The doublet is fed with 300 ohm line. It did tune on 40, 30, 20 and 10 meters. So now to try it out. My first contact was W4FO in Tampa on 30 meters, next was K4GXY in Lakeland on 40 meters and last why not take advantage of the DX contest. So on 20 meters I worked PJ4X Bonaire, PJ2T  Coral Cliff Curacao, and then TI5W in Costa Rica. OK enough to say this one works and I will keep it in mind for future portable ops. All this was in my driveway at home. Keep in mind this one will get some looks from passer-bys.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Orlando Hamcation 2012

I enjoyed the trip from Panama City to Orlando for the Hamcation. I was traveling with Marv KK4DKT who is an excellent navigator. We arrived on Friday afternoon. Marv headed straight to the Buddipole booth to buy a Buddistick. Instead he bought the Mini Buddipole which gives you many more options and packs in a small bag. The booth was staffed by Budd W3FF, Chris W6HFP, Dan WZ1P and Steve WG0AT. I actually did not realize it was Steve the "Old Goat" until it was over. Next, I got a real good look at the Elecraft KX3. I like that radio!

Friday night Marv and I setup a buddistick in our third floor room at the La Qunita. I checked out 20 meters which was dead, 30 meters had a few stations and the 40 meters which was packed. It was an underdog effort considering at 40 meters the Buddistick efficiency is reduced and our counterpoise was inside the room. So it was a joy to have a solid QSO with W9UK in PA. I was using the HB1B at 5 watts.

The highlight for me was meeting Kelly K4UPG and friends at lunch on Saturday. I also sat across from Rex Harper from who sells the tuna tin QRP kits. Kelly and I have a lot in common of course with QRP. We read each others blog His is He hopes next year they will have some QRP specific activities. I took my Miliwat "Pixie" like transceiver in the sandwich container for show and tell.

My best find at the Hamcation was a French Jardiller Miniature key. According to the web, they were made in Issy, Les Moulineaux, France and were manufactured for the French military and the French Post Office. The key was also used by the South African military and possibly the French Foreign Legion. The key is old new stock. It looks like it will just the right size for portable ops.

We were exhausted (spent the money) on Saturday afternoon and returned to the hotel. In the parking lot Marv setup his new Buddipole. He setup for 10 meters initially. The SWR checked good on first try. He heard some strong DX from Chile. But did not squeeze in a contact. Then he setup on 20 meters and worked North Dakota. He was pleased how easy it was to switch bands. He is going to get a lot of use out of the Buddipole for Portable Ops.

All went well. Saturday was my birthday after all. Marv QSOed with several hams on 146.520 on I10 heading back to Panama City.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Cheap Thrills

I took up Ebay seller JoeBird66 on the  MiniWat QRP CW Transceiver  for $21.99 which was $24.99 shipped.  It is a pre-assembled 200 milliwatt rig which runs off of a 9 volt battery and is crystal controlled at 7.030. It is easy to hookup, just antenna, audio and key. I used a sandwich container to house it. Upon power up It had significant broadcast interference. I used my BLT tuner to get some filtering. The BCI is still audible but I consider it a bonus feature. I was able to work my friend Tom WD0HBR across town in Dothan, AL on Sunday. It was a minimal QSO as there was QRM drowning me out. However,  I later worked WB4AQL in Alpharetta GA about 250 miles from Dothan. He did not seem to have any trouble and gave me a 459. He was running a HW-101. Well it shows you don't have to spend a lot of money to have fun. That QSO was equivalent to 1250 miles per watt. Bear in mind this type of rig requires some luck and a dose of patience. I did really enjoy using it and look forward to more QRPp.