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

Saturday, December 26, 2015

RaDAR Roving at Conservation Park

I changed my original plan to visit Topsail State Park and decided to make a first visit to Conservation Park near Panama City Beach, Florida. Conservation Park has a extensive network of unpaved trails. They make for easy passage and are popular with bike riders. The scenery is mostly pine trees and low brush. I did encounter some small ponds.

This was an opportunity to take Suzy for the walk and use the dog stroller for the gear. The dog stroller can handle quite a load and the top makes for a table. The Alexloop was my only antenna. The loop was on a short piece of pvc conduit above the stroller. My nick name for this affair is the RaDAR Rover. I had the Icom 7100 inside the rover with a battery. I also had a new yaesu FTM-100DR radio that I put on the top of the stroller. I had a two meter ground plane for that radio. It just turns out the RaDAR Rover is very convenient to traverse the trails. There is no setup of antennas at stops. I made a couple of SSB contacts while in motion.

I made contact with Les W8YCM/6Y5 in Jamaica at the trail head on 18.157.5. Then we treked to a convenient spot with a bench. There I did have five contacts. First was Bob WB4BLX in Panama City on 10.113 CW. That was followed by WD8MHT Raul in North Carolina on 10.115 CW. Next I was called by Kelly K4UPG/P in Sanford Florida. That was great, I know Kelly and gave him a heads up I would be on 30 meters. Then on 17 meters SSB I worked 6Y9/100IARU and K9BHP in Chicago. Well that was my five contacts and time to hit the trail.

We made a big loop that returned us to the stop with the bench. On that trail I stopped for one QSO with Chris WD1W in Vermont. He was quite impressed I was using a dog stroller. At the stop I worked Gary KB1WY on 17 SSB. At that point I got a call that my wife needed me. I started out for the trailhead. Along the way and in Motion I had another QSO with Les W8YCM/6Y5. He put 6Y5CN on the mic for another contact. To put a cap on this I heard Budd W3FF tricycle mobile in California. He could hear me somewhat but I had no problem copying him.

Now a new twist on this outing. I used the Koomot app for the first time. I heard about it from RaDAR friend Pat Hopkins. It can record the path or "tour" on a map and show photos where they are taken. This is a interesting way to document a RaDAR outing. Try the link

Also, I have to say Suzy our one year old basset is a natural at RaDAR. She loves heading out on the trail. We put in almost four miles today. She is now taking a well deserved nap.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Planned National Parks On The Air Activation on Jan 1st 2016

I plan to activate the Gulf Islands National Seashore SS08 located on Okaloosa Island, Florida on Jan 1st 2016 from 15:00 UTC to 21:00 UTC.  I will be using 40 - 17 meters CW and SSB. I will operate on or close to HF Pack Frequencies.

The rules for NPOTA activators and chasers is at There are already many planned activations starting on January 1st. Go to and click on all upcoming events.


Greg N4KGL

Sunday, December 13, 2015

National Parks On The Air Test Run

I am pretty excited about the 2016 ARRL National Parks On The Air Event. I have one designated NPS Unit within an hour's drive from Panama City. It is The Okaloosa Island Unit of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. I decided to go ahead and operate from there as a test run for an activation I hope to make at the first of January 2016. If you look at Google Maps the park is not very large. Its main feature is the shoreline on the bay. It is popular with kite surfers.

I had done lots of study of the site using Google Maps. I picked out a picnic area for operating. I wanted to take Suzy of course. A study of the rules says she cannot be on the beach, but can at the picnic area. More on that later. Arriving at the site I had a pleasant surprise. There was a scraggly fifty foot pine with a picnic table beneath it. I could not have asked for better to deploy the Chameleon Tactical Dipole Lite. I shot a line over a high limb with my Big Shot slingshot first thing. The sixty foot legs of the dipole or doublet stretched out perfectly to neighboring palm trees.

A pine in just the right place for the Chameleon Tactical Dipole Lite.

The next antenna I deployed was the Chameleon vertical consisting of a Hybrid base and the MIL Whip/Extension. This amounts to a 18 foot vertical. I wanted it as close to the saltwater as possible. I ran 100 feet of RG-8 coax over a sand dune toward the shoreline. It was still fifty feet from the water. That was OK as I did not want to have a antenna interfering with anyone walking on the shore.

The Chameleon Vertical about 50 feet from the saltwater bay.
My visit coincided with the December RaDAR Roundup and I advertised my plan on for the RaDAR Community. I was able to switch between the vertical and doublet. The rig was the Icom 7100 with a hefty 40 amp-hour battery. The temp was in the seventies. It was mostly overcast with a cool breeze. Bottom line I could not ask for much more from a portable location.

The Icom 7100 control head.
Now for operating. I had a great run of contacts on 17 meters SSB using the vertical. The bay was between me and stations from the Northeast to the Northwest. So  I will give the saltwater some credit for the performance of the vertical. The highlight of the day was a call from RaDAR operator Micky NY2MC. He was deployed on a mountain at a fire tower in New York State. He was using a a Alpha antennas 13 foot whip. We had a nice QSO. It was not a struggle at all. I switched to the tactical dipole briefly and Micky said the vertical was at least a S unit stronger.

The Icom 7100 base, battery and a LDG IT-100 the tool box.
The other string of contacts was a reach back to the Panama City area. This calls for a NVIS antenna and this is where the Tactical Dipole Lite comes in handy. I contacted the club station W4RYZ in Panama City. Bob Leasko was the operator there and he gave me details on the Christmas party at the club that I was missed. I also contacted Vic K4GXV and Bob WB4BLX. WB4BLX was mobile in his truck. I was pleased to get a call from friend Tom WD0HBR in Dothan. He called on his 5 watt QRP station using a fifty foot wire antenna.

The view toward the bay.
I sampled the other bands and worked a few ten meter contest stations. I dialed back the power to five watts and worked. W2JK QRP portable in New York on 14.060. My operating wound up with a QSO with Les W8YCM/6Y5 in Jamaica. You can find Les on 18.157.5 most days now.

I did learn things on the test run. A careful reading of the signs said I needed to pay the "Iron Ranger" a vehicle fee. It was $15 for a week.  I complied and found out the "Iron Ranger" was a pay box. I might want to invest in an annual pass. Anyway, this requirement was missed in my advance research. I just happened to have exactly $15 dollars in my wallet. Late in the day a Sheriff's Deputy drove by and stated NO PETS IN THE PARK! I said I thought dogs could be in the picnic area but not on the beach. He said NO DOGS! So I put Suzy in the truck. It was time to pack up anyway. A park volunteer came by and asked what I was doing and she thought it was cool. She said the officer was in error on the pets policy. She said she would tell the Deputy.

I say this test run for National parks On The Air was a great success. I had more than the ten contacts that are required to activate the NPS unit. I am getting setup with Log Book Of The World which is necessary to claim credit for activating or chasing. I think NPOTA will be very popular. However, you know the tough weather is going to affect operating in the parks in the Northern USA. So it may really get going in the summer of 2016. I hope to return and activate the Okasoola Unit on January 1st or 2nd if weather permits and Suzy does not get kicked out. Hi Hi

Greg N4KGL

Friday, December 11, 2015

RaDAR Roundups Start December 12th 2015

RaDAR is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio. The RaDAR Roundup encourages contacts between RaDAR fixed, field and moving stations. The Roundup will be the second Saturday of the month except April, July and November. The RaDAR Challenge is the first Saturday of those months. If you will be in the field or moving please post your Roundup plans on the RaDAR Ops website twenty four hours in advance if possible. Please exchange grid squares during RaDAR ops. Good luck and be safe!  Note please utilize the RaDAR Ops site  on any day not just the Roundup day. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

National Parks On The Air Is Coming in 2016

The ARRL National Parks on the Air (NPOTA) event runs in parallel with the National Park Service's centennial. The program runs from 0000 UTC January 1, 2016 through 2359 UTC December 31, 2016.

Goals of National Parks on the Air

a) Promote the capabilities of Amateur Radio to the general public through operations at eligible NPS Administrative Units.

 b) Promote the NPS Centennial and the heritage of the National Park System through Amateur Radio.

 c) Encourage portable Amateur Radio operation from as many of the 408 officially-listed National Park Service administrative units and the 25 recognized Affiliated Areas as possible. Checkout this NPOTA/SOTA map.

See the rules at Note: You will have to use Logbook Of The World..This will be nice for Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RaDAR) operators as activators since there will be a lots of chasers looking for you. 

As far as I can tell, the Okaloosa Day Use Area which is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore is the closest opportunity for me. It is 1.5 hours west of Panama City. There are several other National Seashore sites between here and Mississippi.

The Okaloosa Day Use Area, open from 8:00 am to sunset, is located on the Northside of US Highway 98 near Fort Walton Beach, FL. This quiet water area features white sandy beaches, calm waters, picnic tables, a boat launch, parking, and public restrooms with outdoor showers. Currently, there are no fees collected at this area.

I would like to be there on January 1st to kick off NPOTA. Of course, I can go anytime in 2016 and multiple times as I read it.  I like the fact it has the saltwater bay on the North shore. This will facilitate taking advantage of the saltwater effect for vertical antennas. Some horizontal antennas would also be in order.

Greg N4KGL