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

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Meetup at Rocky Bayou State Park

Last Saturday, Dennis WA6QKN and I drove over to Rocky Bayou State Park near Niceville, FL to meet up with Tom WD0HBR. Tom had some time in the area while his wife Sandy took a class in Valparaiso. Tom had found a spot in the picnic area that overlooks the bayou. The area is under many oak trees. Tom set up his Youkits HB-1B with a random wire antenna. Dennis and I set up my Elecraft KX3 with a 40 meter Off Center Fed Dipole (OCF). The OCF had very low SWR on 40 meters and between 2 and 2.5 to 1 on 20 meters. The OCF is a popular one from China via eBay. Dennis was interested in my KX3 since he has one on order. I managed to make a dozen contacts which is enough to activate the park for Parks On The Air (POTA).  Dennis took lots of great photos in this album. It was nice to do portable ops with a couple of friends.


Dennis WA6QKN

Rocky Bayou

Suzy. She enjoyed lunch and a walk!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Chasing Memories From My Teenage Days in Ham Radio UPDATED

One of my teenage ham radio memories was a  program on Alabama Educational Television. The program was received at my Dothan, Alabama home directly from WDIQ Dozier, Alabama about 60 miles away. There was no cable back then. The show played a part in my getting my license or at least increasing my knowledge of amateur radio. It was wonderful that ham radio had an on-air TV presence.The format of the show was a segment on electronics theory followed by a segment of Morse code.

This is me back in the 60's. A few years before getting my ham license and Novice call WN4JFW.

Initial Google searches were unsuccessful as it was pre-internet and I had little to go on. I did think the main instructor was named Herb. I had listened to Don Keith's QSO Today Podcast.and he mentioned that he worked for Alabama ETV while attending the University of Alabama. I enquired with Don via email. This was Don's response:

Good morning, Greg,

Thanks for the note.  Indeed I do remember the show, though I only saw a few segments. I was already a ham then…got my license in ’61 when I was 13.  The host was Herb Coleman and it was done right here in Birmingham at the WBIQ channel 10 studios.  His call is W4AVX and he is apparently still alive and kicking, living in Mobile:

I give the show credit for there being so many active hams in our area.  That and, of course, the fact that “ham” is BirmingHAM, Alabama’s middle name!

A friend of mine, Jim Brinson K4WOP, was also on the show occasionally as a kid, helping with the teaching of Morse code. He is still very active and I sometimes chat with him on CW.  See

I actually paid my way through college partly by working at Alabama Public TV, at the production facility at the University of Alabama.  Part of my job (In addition to saying, “This program comes to you from the University of Alabama” in my best announcer-ish voice) was to do the legal station identification. We had to name all the stations around the state and I especially enjoyed saying “Dozier” and “Mount Cheaha.”
 Now I put google back to work and I found this in the June 1969 Popular Electronics Archive:

Herb Coleman's QRZ page has this note about the show:
Later I enjoyed teaching classes in morse code and electonic theory for obtaining an amateur license. A highlight for me was having the opportunity to teach morse code and electronic theory on public television during the late '60's and early 70's. The program was called "Electronics and The Radio Amateur".
A deeper Google search yielded this picture of Herb. I am pretty sure it is the same, Herb. It is from West End High School in Birmingham.

Herb is now retired and living in Mobile, Alabama. He had a lot to do with the engineering side of TV in Birmingham. I certainly appreciate his help to educate me about electronics and ham radio. I still hold out for a clip of the show on video. I hear there are none. Still, I search YouTube. Hi Hi!


I received an email from Herb Coleman W4AVX himself. He was complimentary of the post. Herb confirmed the picture above is him. This memory chase went right back to the source. Thanks, Herb!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park Activation

I operated from Topsail Hill Preserve State Park near Miramar Beach, Florida on Saturday, October 14th. The park is POTA KFF-3664. I originally was going to the rocket launch in Samson, Alabama. I replanned when my wife was asked to work in Miramar at the last minute. The volunteer taking my money saw my Field Day T-Shirt and was very in tune with ham radio and emergencies.

I was not too ambitious and worked right out of the parking area using the van for shade. The rig was the Elecraft KX2. I chose to use the Bravo 7K vertical antenna. It requires no trees or stakes in the ground. I got weak reports on 40 meters but it did OK on 20 meters. At first, I was targeting the QRP ARCI Fall QSO party but did not hear much activity. I ended up working two other POTA stations. The rest was a hodgepodge of including FISTS and NAQRPCC anniversary stations. I heard DX activity on 10 meters SSB but no luck. I did snag one station on 15 CW and one on 17 meters SSB. The total was 17 contacts which will net a POTA activation. I had good conversations with the Park staff and a camper from Kentucky.

There are plenty of State Parks here in Northwest Florida to activate. My plan is to meet up with Tom WD0HBR from Dothan at Rocky Bayou State Park near Valparaiso, Florida. He will be visiting that area on Saturday, October 21st.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Get Ready for the November 4th 2017 RaDAR Challenge

RaDAR Is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio

RaDAR Challenge Rules

1. Aim

The RaDAR “Challenge” is a unique event aimed at promoting the use of Rapidly Deployable
Amateur Radio stations. Categories 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, not only with power supply and communications equipment but food, water, protective clothing and shelter, not forgetting the first aid kit.

2. Date and Time

00:00 UTC to 23:59 UTC on Saturday 1 April 2017,
00:00 UTC to 23:59 UTC on Saturday 15 July, and
00:00 UTC to 23:59 UTC on Saturday 4 November 2017

24 hours will give equal opportunity to the international community of RaDAR operators.
RaDAR operators can define their own operating time schedule. The 24 hour period remains but it’s up to each individual to plan his / her MAXIMUM, SINGLE PERIOD, FOUR HOUR ops. He/she should take propagation into account with the ultimate goal of intercontinental RaDAR to RaDAR communications in mind. (10 bonus points!)

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 FM
repeaters should preferably not be used for the purpose of the challenge.

4. Suggested HF calling frequencies

See 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, QTH 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

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.

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 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 QSO’s before moving then please feel free to do
so but the QSO’s in excess of five per deployment point can not be counted for

9. Bonus points (All categories)

Five (5) points 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.
Five (5) points for the first intercontinental (DX) QSO
Ten (10) points for the first successful intercontinental (DX) RaDAR to RaDAR

10. Log Sheets

Log sheets must be submitted by 15 April 2017, 29 July and 18 November 2017 and
sent by e-mail to

Note: A photo of the station should accompany every log entry including each new
location that moveable RaDAR stations visit.

The above is an excerpt from SARL 2017 Contest Manual

Please visit and Google+ 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

Monday, October 2, 2017

St. Vincent Island USI Qualification Expedition Succeeds

I love it when the plan, the weather, and propagation come together!

A team from Panama City ARC successfully qualified St Vincent Island, Florida, FL006, for the US Islands Award Program on Saturday, Sept 30th. The team members included Jim K4LIX, Bob WB8PAF, Bob KK4DIV, Phil N4STC, Greg KG4LFS, Dennis WA6QKN and Greg N4KGL. The qualification required 25 contacts. However, the team made 128 contacts in just over two hours including 29 states, Canada, Germany, and Belgium. The contacts also counted for Parks On The Air KFF-0257. St. Vincent is only accessible by boat. The team used the St. Vincent Island Shuttle to get to the island. Our time was limited to four hours on the island and two hours operating time. The team is eager to do more expeditions.

An outstanding video by Bob KK4DIV

I chose to take the Icom 7100, a Bioenno 40 AH battery and my 100-foot loop matched with the Icom AH-4 Tuner. This combination worked fine business on 40 meters and 20 meters. We were making one contact per minute average. We made 50 contacts on 40 meters to my surprise. It helped we got mentioned on the North Florida HF Traffic Net. It also helped that the recent solar activity had the SFI at 90 and the critical frequency was above 7 MHz. It was easy to make the short contacts back to Panama City and neighboring counties. The 100 ft loop is 30 feet across, 20 feet high and the bottom is 10 feet above the ground. It has proved itself as an all-around performer since the last Field Day. The footprint is 30 feet long which was chosen to fit in a camping spot at Falling Waters State Park.

Thanks to the team for making this expedition a success!

Three 30 foot poles supporting the 100-foot loop

The Icom AH-4 tuner matches the loop at the center bottom via a short 300-ohm feedline.

The base of the Icom 7100 and the Bioenno 40 AH battery.

Bob WB*PAF operates and Dennis WA6QKN logs.