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

Thursday, January 1, 2015

N4KGL's 2014 Ham Radio Blessings

Ham Radio is a combination of friends, equipment and events. I had a blessed time with Ham Radio in 2014.

Greg N4KGL doing pedestrian mobile on a fishing bridge 
In regard to friends, it was a pleasure to get to know John W8JER and Michelle better from Michigan. They spent their second winter down here. They attended several rocket launches. John and Michelle got married on the beach on Valentines day 2014. John brought his home brew mag loop and had good sucess with it from the condo and from the rocket launch site. John and Michelle are arriving on January 1st for another Winter. 

Michelle and John Raifsnider W8JER getting married on the beach
I had good times with Tom WD0HBR in Dothan, Alabama. We made many 40 meter CW contacts between Dothan and my portable locations. We meet up for eyeball QSOs usually on Sunday afternoon when I visit my Parents in Dothan. We also meet for the Headland Alabama tailgates in April and October.

Tom WD0HBR assisting on a Portable Ops in Dothan
Locally, I have many friends at the Panama City ARC.  Marv KK4DKT the club president and I attended the Orlando Hamcation together.  Bob KK4DIV and Phil N4STC and I did some fox hunting including vehicle fox hunts. There is a gang of locals that support the RaDAR ops including Bob WB4BLX, Don KK4DWC and Jim K4LIX. I had fun with Jason N4JTC. Jason is a technical wizard. He built a payload for one of my rockets that had a smartphone and a Baofeng HT on board. The payload rocket launch was a success at Samson, AL and some interesting data was collected.

Bob KK4DIV out Fox Hunting

j\Jason N4JTC and the Rocket payload.

On-line there is another category of friends. The RaDAR community is growing on Google+ I can't mention all the buddies there. It is a privilege to collaborate with Eddie ZS6BNE and Marcus NX5MK on organizing RaDAR activities.  Of course, there is Craig NM4T the Huntsville QRP Guy. Craig always cooks up great events for the Monte Sano gathering during the Huntsville hamfest. I did not make Huntsville this year but Craig came down to Panama City. We made a fun outing to St Andrews State park together to operate portable.

Craig NM4T on portable ops in Panama City

In terms of equipment, you know one thing leads to another. I got an Icom 7100 at the first of the year. I had it in mind using it as a Field Day radio and a base rig. Well, I could not resist making it a portable rig in a go box. This led to getting a large 30 amp hour LiFEPo4 battery, a SGC 237 tuner, a 100 watt solar panel and so on. I did get to use the setup at Field Day and a number of outings. You may be surprised the rate of contacts is about the same at 100 watts as 10 watts. How about that! I am using the KX3 as my go to for a portable rig. It is withstanding to the salt spray and some high heat under the Florida Sun. The AlexLoop proved itself the go to antenna for portable ops over and over this year. 

Icom 7100 Go Box

Elecraft KX3

The AlexLoop Magnetic Loop

I read Tom N6BT's book "Array of Light" during the year. His accounts of verticals on the beach peaked my interest in his Bravo 7K off center fed vertical dipole. I really do like it as it is self supporting with the tripod I purchased with it. Indeed, it does very good job near the salt water. As one thing leads to another I got a second Bravo 7K and made the two bravos into a parasitic array. 

N6BT Bravo 7K Verticals as parasitic array

As far as events this year, I had my first SOTA activation at Dowdell Knob near Pine Mountain Georgia. I was blessed with perfect weather. I logged a good number of contacts and I enjoyed the hams that dropped by. 

View from Dowdell's Knob on SOTA Activation

Surprise ham visitors at Dowdell's Knob
With my focus on Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RaDAR) I am heading out portable anytime I can. I get out at lunch time often from work. This year I got to visit state parks in St George Island and Port St Joe Florida. Of course, my favorite is St Andrews State Park near Panama City. In fact, I made it to Sandy Point in St Andrews several times as it has a wide azimuth of saltwater. I am constantly preparing for the April and November RaDAR Contests. This year I did well on both making it to three locations by foot in the four hours of each contest. 

Portable ops location at St George Island State park

N4KGL at Saint Andrews State Park for the RaDAR Contest
I mentioned the RaDAR Community. We got some publicity this year as an article I wrote with the help of Eddie and Marcus got published in the October 2014 CQ Magazine. The RaDAR community is well over 600 members now. We have monthly On-The-Air Meetups and now have a RaDAR Rally achievement program.

RaDAR Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio
Well it was such a good year I can't cover it all. You are welcome scan this blog. I am blessed with good friends, great outdoor opportunities for portable ops and mostly good weather. I am looking ahead to more of the same and maybe some surprise opportunities in 2015. I thank all those endure my posts, read my blog and chat with me on the air.

Happy New Year!

Greg N4KGL