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

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Yes you can POTA After NPOTA!

Northwest Florida is loaded with State Parks. See this map. WWFF-KFF is an on-going program that can fill in the void when National Parks On The Air NPOTA 2016 concludes. KFF activators need 10 contacts from a state or national parks and more. Hunters can just register and get rewards without sending their logs. I have done a couple of activations recently. You can also send in applicable activation logs you have back to January 2016. I sent in my NPOTA logs to Jason for a couple of additional activation credits.

Here is a note from Jason W3AXX who is the KFF coordinator.

We at have taken the momentum of the National Parks on the Air program, added National Wildlife Refuges/Parks/ Recreation Areas, and State Parks of all 50 states.
There are free awards, and a nice community ready to go in 2017.
It is a permanent program and part of the World Wide Flora and Fauna, which has international backing and active all over from Europe to Australia since 1993.
Please find the "click here" to get started on the main page. you have any questions, please send an e-mail to
73 44 W3AAX - Jason

Saturday, December 24, 2016

St Andrews State Park Florida Activation KFF-1917

I was off on Friday, December 23rd. I decided to activate St Andrews State Park Florida KFF-1917 for the World Wide Fauna and Flora program. It is the closest State Park to my home QTH. I have so many antenna choices that picking one can be difficult. This time I chose the PY1AHD Alexloop which is a magnetic loop for HF. There was also a SO 50 satellite pass. So I packed my KX2 the Alexloop with tripod, and the Elk antenna disassembled into one backpack. Suzy and I walked to my favorite picnic table which is right next to the Grand Lagoon. I always try to be as close to saltwater as I can to enhance low angle vertical radiation. My results were

  • 40 meter CW (3)
  • 40 meter SSB (4)
  • 2 meter FM simplex (3)
  • 20 meter CW (8)
  • 20 meter SSB (5)
  • VHF/UHF SO-50 Sat (1)
  • 24 total
The HF contacts were good for 10 watts and the Alexloop. My DX contact was CU3AA in the Azores 3300 miles away. I spotted myself on DX Summit which brought some WWFF hunters who found me. My cadre of local chasers included WB4BLX, W5RE, K4LIX, N4STC and N1HQ. The good news is that Northwest Florida has many State Parks. They will be popular with the WWFF hunters. Merry Christmas!

Greg N4KGL

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Okaloosa Island Activation for NPOTA and WWFF-KFF

Being December, this is the last month for the 2016 ARRL National Parks On The Air Event. I got another activation done on December 11th. It was the Okaloosa Island Area for the Gulf Islands National Seashore which counts for SS08. I was also recently introduced to the World Wide Fauna and Flora Program by Jason W3AAX who is the National Coordinator for the United States Program which is designated KFF. WWFF has activations and chasers similar to NPOTA and SOTA. The sites for activation includes all State Parks in addition to the National Parks and also some Wildlife preserve areas. This gives all of us USA portable operators lots of opportunities. WWFF looks promising for Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RADAR) operators. Jason mentioned their may be the possibility for a RADAR Award in KFF. I made this outing a WWFF-KFF activation as well as NPOTA. The Gulf Islands National Seashore is designated as KFF-0661. There is an impressive map of the KFF entities here.

My rig was the Elecraft KX2. I also used the QRPWorks Sidekar. My antenna was a adjustable dipole supported by 9 foot poles. I use this antenna for NVIS on 40 meters to improve my chances of working friends back in Panama City which was about 45 miles to the East. The antenna worked well as I got 599 reports from K4GXV and WB4BLX in Panama City on 40 CW. However on 40 SSB I was not workable funny right. I later checked the Eglin Ionogram Station which would be about 20 miles from the island. I found that the foF2 critical frequency was 7.025 at 1715 UTC. So I believe I had good NVIS on the CW end of the band but NVIS failed on the SSB part of the band above the critical frequency. Of course the antenna worked well at longer distances on 40 meters.

40 meter NVIS Dipole

I had several of surprises. First I was called by Don KK4QAM a RADAR buddy in Sweetwater Alabama on 40 CW. I did not know Don had taken up CW. I also worked Don on 40 SSB. Second I worked a friend Bob W5RE in Crestview, Florida on 40 PSK-31. I used the PSK capabilities of the KX2 with the help of the SideKar. I have a tiny wireless keyboard for the SideKar that works very well. Bob was keying in his info on his Elecraft K3S. So neither one of us used a PC. Last surprise was a call out on 146.52 FM pulled in W5RH who was practically in sight on the bay. It is nice that he monitors the calling frequency.

Elecraft KX2 and QRPworks SideKar

A couple of notes. First, I used a Traveler Headset I got used. I found an adapter for the the KX2 from K6VHF on Ebay. It did a good job. Second, I used the Fast Log Entry (FLE) Software recommended for WWFF. It is an easy way to enter your contacts from paper or from a simple text file. I used ADIF Master to add a FREQ field to the ADIF output and I was able to also upload the file to LOTW for NPOTA.

All together I had 41 contacts. 3 on 40 CW, 12 on 40 SSB, 1 on 40 PSK, 11 on 20 CW, 13 on 20 SSB and 1 on 2 FM Simplex. I also adjusted the dipole for 20 meters so it got the job done for the activation. I tried 10 meters but none of the contest signals were strong enough to work. Suzy was my buddy. There were few people their as the weather was chilly with the cloud cover. The sun did come out before the day was over. This was my seventh activation of SS08. Perhaps I will get one more in before NPOTA concludes.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Portable Ops at Dec 3rd Samson, AL Rocket Launch

I squeezed in some amateur radio at the Southeast Alabama Rocketry Society (SEARS) launch in Samson, Al. My goal was to QSO with my friends on 40 meters. I used a 40 meter dipole 9 feet above the field to take advantage of NVIS propagation.  My rig was the KX2 at 10 watts.

I had success working:

  • Bob WB4BLX in Panama City (85 miles) CW
  • Bob W5RE in Crestview, FL (49 miles) CW
  • Tom WD0HBR in Dothan, AL (50 miles) CW
  • Phil N4STC in Panama City, FL (85 miles) SSB
  • Steve N4VSP in Lynn Haven, FL (85 miles) SSB
  • Bob KK4DIV in Chipley, FL (48 miles) SSB 
Thanks Guys!

KK4DIV was running 5 watts to Chameleon Loop from the Falling Waters State Park. I was very pleased. This antenna is a good choice for 40 meters particularly the close in contacts. I can shorten it up for higher bands as well. I forgot the stakes that came with the poles but I improvised. The poles breakdown into 3 foot sections that are pack-able. Here are a few more photos from the launch.

Russ Roberts R2D2

R2D2 Launch

Roy Houchin's Christmas Rocket

Suzy meets Toby who lives with Mike AI4NS

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving Day Portable Outing at Port St Joe, Florida

It happened that my wife had to work the first part of the day in Port St Joe. Suzy and I took advantage of the time to do some pedestrian mobile and satellite operating. Port St Joe has many good operating spots. I chose Frank Pate Park which has a boat landing and pavilion on the bay front. I had good luck all day and enjoyed the nice weather. The operations included

  • working three stations on a SO 50 satellite pass
  • working Jim K4LIX on 40 meters SSB back in Panama City (about 40 miles)
  • working Ken N4KS in New Smyrna Beach, Florida (268 miles) using the KX2 and a whip on 40 meters CW.
  • working Tom WD0HBR in Dothan (100 miles) with the KX2 and a NVIS dipole on 40 CW.
  • working Phil N4STC in Panama City and Ron KK4DWE in Lynn Haven on  40 SSB.
  • listening to the FO 29 linear transponder satellite using the FT 817 for the first time
  • visiting with Norm K4NEB who lives in PSJ.
I don't think it could get much better. We later had Thanksgiving dinner back in Panama City. I am blessed in my family and my hobby. It was a much better day than I expected. I got most of the operating on the GoPro.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The November 5th 2016 RaDAR Challenge from Opal Beach, Florida

The RaDAR Challenge originated with Eddie ZS6BNE in South Africa a number of years ago. It encourages portable operating but with a twist that you should be able to move quickly and redeploy. In the challenge, you make five contacts on the amateur bands and move to the next location to continue making contacts. When you put a time constraint like four hours, your operating skill, the equipment pack-up with the antenna all need to be optimized for the challenge. The size and weight of the equipment is particularly important when you transition between locations on foot. Since there are many choices of radios, antennas and operating frequencies you tend to experiment with new ideas from challenge to challenge. The RaDAR challenge is the first Saturday of April and November and recently the third Saturday of July.

A view of Opal Beach
My choice for the November 5th 2016 RaDAR Challenge was Opal Beach on Santa Rosa Island Florida. It is part of the National Park Service's Gulf Islands National Seashore.  This was helpful since National Parks On the Air encourages activators and chasers during the 2016 celebration of the National Park Service Centennial. My contacts count toward the activation and there were chaser stations actively seeking my contacts. The Opal beach site has wonderful access to saltwater. In particular, the North shore on the Sound provided a path over saltwater toward the North and also extending toward the East and West. I am have become a believer in the saltwater effect for antennas.

This was the second challenge that I have used the KX2 from Elecraft. The internal battery and internal tuner are very advantageous for portable operating. I tried two new antennas this year. The first was a short loaded whip. This allows the KX2 to be operated like a handy talkie while standing or walking. This is known as "pedestrian mobile" operating. The four foot whip is augmented with a 13 foot wire attached to the rig ground that trails on the ground. This is the most minimalistic antenna I have found.  I have had surprising success with it walking around the neighborhood. At Opal Beach I could count on the saltwater effect for enhancing low angle radiation from the vertical whip and reducing ground losses.

The Elecraft KX2 in used as an HF Handi Talkie
I am fortunate to have a cadre of chasers in Panama City and some in Alabama. I usually start on 40 meters to make contact with them. It takes high angles of radiation to work them when they are beyond ground wave. Opal Beach is 80 miles from Panama City. An antenna that enhances high angle radiation is called a Near Vertical Incidence Skywave antenna or NVIS. I used a low dipole this time for 40 meters. I recently read that a low dipole is deployed over saltwater, the reflected signal off the water can enhance NVIS. I chose to deploy mine right on the surf. The center was at about eight feet and the ends about six feet over the waters edge.

40 meter NVIS Dipole
I have recently gotten into using the FM satellites with Eddie ZS6BNE influence. I timed my four hours operating period to coincide with an SO 50 pass. Making a satellite contact is a bonus for the RaDAR challenge. I packed a Yaesu FT 60 HT for this purpose and an Elk log periodic antenna. The Elk when disassembled is packs into a small bag.

The Elk Sat Antenna

A first for my RaDAR operating was getting the rig and all these antennas into a backpack. I previously used carts to carry heavy poles and even a QRO rig. I was not encumbered with that this year. Carts are tough to roll on the beach.

All the gear fit in one backpack including the dipole supports and theSat antenna

So how did all this work out. I walked a kilometer to my first location which was a point extending out into the Sound on the North side of the island. The four hour clock started. I setup the NVIS dipole right over the edge of the surf. I could not find anyone on 40 the first half hour. But my luck changed when I found my Dothan friend Tom WD0HBR in QSO with anther station. The thing was he was visiting in Birmingham and using QRP with an attic antenna. We had a solid QSO. I got a big kick out of that. I got a couple more CW contacts and finished the five on 40 SSB. I missed my Panama City buddies unfortunately.

The point on the Sound surrtounded by saltwater

I continued back along the North shore the way I came and put the whip on the KX2 and operated pedestrian mobile style. I was able to work five in ten minutes on 20 CW. They were NPOTA chasers and several were in California. I actually had to disappoint some chasers when I went QRT to move to the third location (same as the first). At the third location, I went with the KX2 and the whip on 20 SSB. I did not get a string started by calling CQ. But, I did get five by hunt and pounce. Several were other NPOTA stations. W4VIY was also doing the Gulf Islands National Seashore at Fort Pickins at the West end of Santa Rosa Island. I was probably working him ground wave. The last fifteen minutes was the SO 50 satellite pass. It was very busy, but I snagged the one contact I needed for the RaDAR Sat bonus by working KK4FEM.

Pavillions on the site
I was lucky it all came together in regard to equipment, the site, the propagation and the weather. I did miss having RaDAR to RaDAR contacts this time. I would also liked to have Suzy leading the way, but dogs are allowed on the beach there. If you are interested in RaDAR visit visit Eddie's Blog and Google+ RaDAR Community. For National Parks On the Air visit ARRL NPOTA Info and Google+ NPOTA Community

Greg N4KGL

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Planning for the November 5th RaDAR Challenge

The upcoming RaDAR Challenge is November 5th 2016 UTC. My plans are to operate at the Santa Rosa Day Use Area of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. I will have an azimuthal path over salt water to just about all locations including the US, South Africa and the UK. I can use a vertical antenna to take advantage of the low angle propagation. I will be on foot making five contacts and moving at least one kilometer before making more contacts. I could go with the KX2 and a whip or a plethora of other possibilities. I may get some help from NPOTA chasers. This site is SS08 for National parks On The Air. I will need to pick a four hour window to operate per the RaDAR Challenge rules.

I am hoping for some RaDAR to RaDAR QSOs especially DX. I may do a satellite pass and also PSK 31 for bonus points. I appreciate all contacts to help me work five and move. Thanks to Eddie ZS6BNE for the Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio concept. Please visit and for more info about RaDAR.

You are also encouraged to enter your RaDAR Op Plan at

Greg N4KGL

Get Ready for the November 5th 2016 RaDAR Challenge

RaDAR Is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio

1. Aim
The RaDAR “Challenge” is a unique event aimed at promoting the use of Rapidly Deployable Amateur Radio stations. This challenge is for all licensed radio amateurs not limited to South Africa. A RaDAR operator can take part in any of the three defined categories (see point 7) which 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. Moveable RaDAR stations rely on fixed and portable stations as a point of contact using channelised frequencies. “Search and pounce” techniques are also allowed.

2. Date and Time
From 00:00 UTC to 23:59 UTC on Saturday 5 November 2016. 24 hours will give equal opportunity to the international community of RaDAR operators. RaDAR operators can define their own operating time schedule or remain active for the full 24 hours.

3. Bands and Modes
All amateur bands are allowed including cross band contacts via amateur radio satellites.
Modes – CW, SSB, AM, FM or any legal digital mode. QSOs via terrestrial repeaters will NOT be allowed.

4. Suggested HF calling frequencies
See for the latest international list of frequencies. The WARC bands can be used considering this is a RaDAR Challenge and not a contest as such. It provides better opportunities for RaDAR contacts during difficult propagation conditions. Recommended digital modes frequencies – Refer to the South African Radio League Contest Manual, General Rule 15.

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, QTH and grid locator. Note the grid locator can change as RaDAR operators are allowed to move position at any time. The grid locator of six characters is acceptable but should preferably be accurate to 10 characters for higher
position accuracy. Smartphone applications are generally used to establish more than a 6-character grid locator. If working non-participating stations, call sign, name, RST and QTH is acceptable.

6. Scoring
1 point per QSO.
Individual QSOs – per mode, per band, per satellite, per call sign.
If the moving RaDAR station has moved the required distance (see point 7) contact can be made with a previously worked station, again.

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 (At home or in another building)
X 2 – RaDAR Field station (Portable – away from home)
X 3 – Moving RaDAR station – See modes of transport below.

Modes of transport and required movement distances (moving RaDAR stations only)
Vehicles, motorcycles and motorboats etc. (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: Moving RaDAR stations can move at any time but are required to move to the next destination after five contacts have been made from the present location. The move needs to cover the required distance before further contacts are allowed to be made. This requirement tests the ability to rapidly re-deploy your amateur radio field station.

9. Bonus points (All categories)
Five (5) points (The equivalent of five QSOs) for a minimum of one satellite or any digital modes QSO involving a computer, smartphone 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 (As may be confirmed by the extensive information exchange.
Five (5) points for the first intercontinental (DX) QSO
Ten (10) points for the first successful inter continental (DX) RaDAR to RaDAR QSO (As may be confirmed by the extensive information exchange).

10. Log Sheets
Log sheets must be submitted by 12 April 2016  and sent by e-mail to

See for a log sheet specifically designed for the 2016 RaDAR contest.
Note: A photo of the station (JPG format) MUST accompany every log entry. A photo is required for each new location that moveable stations visit. These photos are used to promote amateur radio and the RaDAR concept showing where amateur radio can be used to communicate from and in the many different ways.

The above is an excerpt from from

Visit and for more info about RaDAR.

You are also encouraged to enter your RaDAR Op Plan at

I encourage all hams to participate a. Let us know your plans and results. Good luck and be safe!

Greg N4KGL

Monday, October 24, 2016

Kansas and Oklahoma Operations

On a family trip last week, I was able to work in some ham radio. I activated the Santa Fe Trail TR11 for National Parks On the Air on October 18th. This was my first try at operating from he center of the USA. I had 25 contacts. The cool thing was I worked my friends Bob WB4BLX and Vic K4GXV in Panama City, Florida and Tom WD0HBR in Dothan, Alabama. I used the KX2 at 10 watts and the Bravo 7K vertical. The Santa Fe Trail site was three miles East of Baldwin City, Kansas. The site still has wagon ruts there from the eighteen hundreds.

On October 19th I was able to work Bob KK4DIV from Lawrence Kansas via the SO-50 Satellite. Bob was in Lynn Haven, Florida. Last, I made a couple of contacts pedestrian mobile on 20 meters with the KX2 and the whip antenna from my Aunt's backyard in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They came pretty easy. The weather was mostly sunny the whole trip and I got some good visiting in with the relatives out there. Suzy enjoyed the prairie!

Greg N4KGL

Monday, October 10, 2016

October Second Saturday Sprint with the KX2 Pedestrian Mobile

The Second Saturday Sprints (SSS) run May through October. They are sponsored by the QRP Field Operators Google+ Community. I have enjoyed each one this year. They are 2 to 4 PM your local time. Of course, you get the most credit to work other QFO ops but you may or may not find them. There are no worries. The SSS gives credit for working other events and even casual contacts. This is the same strategy I use for Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RaDAR). You are looking for other RaDAR ops but you will take anything you can find to get five contacts and then move to the next location. By the way the next RaDAR Challenge in November 5th.

The view of the bay from Kinsaul Park
I have been having lots of fun using the Elecraft KX2 with the MFJ loaded whips for 20 and 40 meters. The whips are around four feet long. I use a 13 foot counterpoise wire dragging on the ground. Expectations would be low for such an antenna but you may be surprised. I used this arrangement for the October SSS at Kinsaul Park in Lynn Haven, Florida. I got 4 contacts on 20 meters CW and six on 20 meters SSB. I was running 10 watts. This was over the course of an hour and a half. I was free to move holding the KX2 in my hand. I gave Suzy a walk or did she walk me? I also sat on a park bench for a few of the contacts.  It helped that the SKCC Weekend Sprint, a FISTS Sprint and the Pennsylvania QSO Party were concurrent with the SSS.  Thanks to a local, Phil N4STC, for one of the 20 meter SSB contacts. I also worked Don KK4DWC and Ron KK4DWE via 2 meter FM simplex.

The KX2 with the MFJ loaded whip

It will be a while before the SSS start again in May of next year. Jim K0RGI says he will advertise it more widely. His infrastructure for collecting the scores is nicely done. I do have the November and April RaDAR Challenges coming up. I may just go pedestrian mobile for the November Challenge. The KX2 and the whip antenna are certainly minimal gear to carry.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

September Second Saturday Sprint

This time the Second Saturday Sprint, sponsored by the Google+ QRP Field Operators Community, fell on the same date as the SEARS Rocket Launch in Samson, Alabama. It is not unusual for me to setup my radios at the rocket launch. This time Bob WB4BLX and Vic K4GXV came up from Panama City to watch the rockets. My setup for the SSS was the Elecraft KX2 and an inverted L antenna with the Chameleon Hybrid at the base. I ran 10 watts which counts as QRO for the SSS.

The Inverted L Antenna, up one pole and across to the other one,

I don't think conditions were the best. There were loud signals but some of them lost copy on me quickly. In the Second Saturday Sprint, you have two hours, 2 to 4 PM, your local time to make as many contacts you can. You get more credit for working other QFO members but I had no luck finding them this time.

The Chameleon Hybrid Base for the Inverted L.

I have friends that chase me while I am portable. This time I worked W4RYZ the club station in Panama City. Bob WB8PAF was the operator. Then, Mike KM4ELJ also found me. He was at home in Youngstown, Florida. I heard Tom WD0HBR in Dothan, Alabama but he lost me. I also heard John W8JER calling from Sturgis, Michigan but he did not hear me. All of this was on 40 meters. I did work a couple more on 40. First was AK4NY doing SKCC in Georgia and then WD8ARZ mobile in Tennessee on SSB. On the second hour I went on 20 CW. I worked WA2BQU in New Jersey on 14.061. Then F6EJN and VE3DZP operating SKCC.

The Elecraft KX2

The Second Saturday Sprint gives you credit for non-sprint contacts including other events like the SKCC Weekend Sprint and also casual contacts. This is just the type of operating that I do for Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RaDAR).  The Second Saturday Sprint runs May through October. I may miss the final one in October. They have been a lot of fun. Jim K0RGI says he will advertise the SSS more widely next year.

P. S. I sure missed Suzy on this outing. She was at home with Linda. I also missed the saltwater advantage I get around Panama City,

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Working the SO 50 Satellite Portable from EM70 Lynn Haven, Florida

About 7 AM today, Bob KK4DIV and I worked a SO-50 satellite pass..We both got a couple of contacts. I admit to being a neophyte at this. is a great reference. I have a few confirmed contacts at this point. You can get the job done in many ways. The Saudi Oscar 50 bird requires a VHF uplink and a UHF downlink. The downlink receiver needs to change frequency during the pass to adjust for the doppler effect .I have a Yaesu FT-60 HT which allows memories to have VHF/UHF pair. That is convenient but not mandatory. Bob KK4DIV used a FT-8800 mobile rig successfully today. He took advantage of the dual watch feature. I purchased an Elk antenna but Bob used a tape measure yagi he made for fox hunts. So you may already have something usable. I found out today why they recommend duplex. Duplex allows you to hear your own signal returned on the downlink. I forgot to change the channels for the doppler. So when I threw my callsign out they heard me but I did not hear them, That was bad form on my part. I have a duplexer on order. That way I can hook two HTs to the same antenna for duplex. Bob got away without a duplexer with the FT-8800.

Working satellites outdoors portable fits in the style of operating I like. In fact, Eddie ZS6BNE enjoys operating Sats and he put in a Sat bonus for the RaDAR Challenge. Field Day has a Sat Bonus as well. I am going to take credit for my Sat contact at Gulf Islands National Seashore for the Five Star Activator NPOTA bonus. The AMSAT-NA awards are based on working four digit grid squares. I see that moving among the grid squares can be lots of fun and helpful to the other ops. I am using LOTW to log and confirm contacts. I got started with LOTW doing NPOTA. I look forward to learning more about Sat ops and experimenting with equipment. I had a good time operating with Bob today. It was worth getting up early. Enjoy the videos. 

Bob KK4DIV's Yaesu FT 8800 box and tape measure yagi

Greg's Elk Antenna and Yaesu FT 60 HT


Monday, August 29, 2016

US Islands QSO Party and NPOTA SS08 Activation

Saturday happened to be the W/VE Islands QSO Party sponsored by the US Islands Award Program. I decided to combine an expedition for the QSO Party with a NPOTA activation of the Okaloosa Island unit of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. A "twofer" you can say. This is a little over an hour from Panama City, just west of Destin, Florida. I am still having a problem with the Icom 7100 that started on Field Day. Therefore, I decided to take the Icom 7300 out instead. I operated 40 and 20 meters using the Bravo 7K vertical. I got some pretty good reports with the antenna about 50 feet from the saltwater bay. The rough contact count is about 45 contacts with most of them from NPOTA chasers. I did work an island in Georgia on 40 and one in Virginia on 20. I also sent an APRS message to Bob KK4DIV to satisfy one of the NPOTA Five Star Activator criteria. APRS messaging is very new to me but it worked using a Yaesu FTM-100DR rig. This is my fourth SS08 activation from this site. I did two other SS08 activations from Naval Live Oaks further west.  This National Parks On the Air is lots of fun and I hope to take advantage of it for the rest of 2016.  Checkout the videos including the one by Bob KK4KIV who received the APRS message. Thanks for the help Bob!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Huntsville Hamfest 2016

Linda and I attended the Huntsville Hamfest and met up with our friends John W8JER and Micky KE8ASK. They drove down from Sturgis, Michigan and we drove up from Panama City, Florida. I gave a presentation for the National Parks On The Air Forum at Noon on Saturday. It went well. I had a mixture of slides and videos. One video, about the Naval Live Oaks Biodiversity Festival, was made and narrated by Bob KK4DIV. There were some activators in the audience that chimed in. I would not have made it through without my buddy John K4KQZ from Tennessee who helped kickoff the videos at the laptop.

The four of us attended the gathering on Monte Sano on Saturday night hosted by Craig NM4T. There was delicious BBQ and lots of conversation. The show and tell included fldigi running on a Raspberry Pi 3 and the new LNR magnetic loop. I showed my Elecraft KX2.

At the show, I picked up another Jardillier French Made Special Forces Key. Those are hard to find. I think Neil the vendor there is the only one that has them for sale. I also got a MFJ 40 meter loaded whip for the KX2 and mini-banana plugs that fit the counterpoise connection. Linda out spent me on jewelry. Well that's OK.

I had some drama with my Chevy Avalanche. It had a terrible squeak. Fortunately I visited Russell Brothers Repair Shop before leaving town. The mechanic there narrowed it down to a lifter. His advice was to add Marvel's Mystery Oil. This eliminated the problem by the time I was halfway back to Panama City.

Linda and I enjoyed the fellowship with John and Micky and look forward to their stay in Panama City this winter. John has a new Subaru that practically drives itself. My only photo from the hamfest was this one that Micky took.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Second Saturday Sprint and NPOTA Activation on Okaloosa Island

It was a worthwhile trip to Okaloosa Island near Destin, Florida on Saturday. Several events came together including:

  1. National Parks on the Air. The site is part of Gulf Islands National Seashore SS08. The contacts count toward a NPOTA activation.
  2. SO-50 Satellite Pass. A contact via the satellite counts toward Five Star Activator Recognition on the NPOTA Activator Award
  3. Second Saturday Sprint. The QRP Field Operators Google+ community sponsors the SSS which is 2 to 4 local time on the second Saturday of May through October.
Elecraft KX2
My setup was under a scraggly pine in the picnic area. I ran 100 feet of coax to be closer to the bay on the North shore of the island. Prior to the sprint, I worked W4RYZ, K4LIX and N4VSP back in Panama City, Florida.  At 2 PM on 40 CW I worked Kelly K4UPG #105 in Tennessee, followed by W4RYZ again and Tom WD0HBR in Dothan, Alabama.

On 20 CW I worked K0RGI #101 and founder of the Second Saturday Sprint in Wisconsin. Next I worked Pat N0SHU #102 in Missouri. A few minutes later I worked Kelly K4UPG #105 again on a second band. Previous Sprints were hit and miss for the members but working Kelly, Pat and Jim on the same afternoon was lots of fun.

The N6BT Bravo 7K vertical

A bird Hi Hi.

I got a NPOTA run going on 20 SSB it started with Jim K0RGI. The run lasted for 24 contacts. Then the sprinkle of rain got heavy and Suzy and I packed up quick. That was about 20 minutes before 4 PM.

A thundershower shut us down
The SO-50 Satellite pass was successful got at least one contact. I am still working on a level of comfort to get the calls in my head, adjust the antenna, and the rig all at the same time.

All in all quite a day at the park and on on the radio. Suzy and I enjoyed the sunshine while it lasted.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Pedestrian Mobile with the Elecraft KX2

I believe Wayne N6KR of Elecraft realized a life-time dream with the introduction of the KX2 ultra-portable. We thought the KX3 was small. The KX2 is small enough to hold in your hand like like a Handie Talkie. In fact it is an HF HT. I have been using two whip antennas the MFJ 1820t for 20 meters and the MFJ 1817t for 17 meters. I also use a 13 foot drag wire.with both There is a mini banana plug socket on the rig for ground. If the drag wire gets yanked the plug will pull out.  Beyond the antenna there is a built-in microphone. So plug in the whip and the drag wire and you are ready for SSB Pedestrian Mobile. Today, I used a key strapped to my belt to do CW. The controls are in the natural spot to tune and do PTT with your thumb.
Elecraft KX2, whip and drag wire

Small key for /PM
Suzy and I have been taking walks in the neighborhood and have managed a contact most times. Today, I went to a near-by park and did pedestrian mobile on 17 meters. I copied my friend John W8JER in Michigan. John heard me but I got drowned out by QRM. My CW contact was with Mike KM4ELJ. He was about twenty miles away.

It is a nice kind of freedom to go pedestrian mobile this quick and easy. Did I mention that the internal Li-Ion battery will last 5 to 8 hours. Consider this rig for pedestrian mobile and of course the traditional portable ops. This is a dream come true Wayne!


Monday, August 1, 2016

Flight Of The Bumble Bees 2016

The Adventure Radio Society Flight of the Bumblebees is a four-hour event held annually on the last Sunday of July. It is open to all radio amateurs. The Bumble Bees are portable stations operating QRP (5 watts or less) and using CW mode (Morse Code).

This year like 2015 I went to St. Andrew State Park near Panama City, Florida. My BB number was 62. I got my favorite picnic table right on the Grand Lagoon. I put a Chameleon Hybrid base and the whip plus extension up right on shore. We will take any help we can get from the saltwater effect for verticals. Suzy was my buddy like last year.

Elecraft KX2

I had almost exactly the same number of contacts as last year. 38 total of which 32 were on 20 and 6 on 40 meters. 25 were fellow Bumble Bees. This was a hunt and pounce effort for the most part. I did work WB4BLX, K4GXV and the club W4RYZ (Bob WB8PAF operating) who were local. I also worked Jim K4LIX was local and also a Bumble Bee.

This year I used the new KX2 instead of the KX3. The nice thing is the KX2 internal battery lasted for the whole four hour event. This eliminates the external battery. This event shows what can happen when the QRP ops show up. The conditions were not as good as last year due to the waning solar cycle. I didn't hear anything on 15 or 10 meters. Even with the oppressive heat and humidity, this is still a fun event.