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

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Watch Your Solar Cycles or a Solar Cycle is A Terrible Thing To Waste,

I reviewed how my lifetime lined up with the solar sunspot cycles this weekend. As we know, HF propagation is much better on 20 meters and up during the maximum of an eleven-year average cycle. I made a table of my life's solar cycles below. I am not sure if there is any significance that I was born at a solar cycle minimum. Cycle 20 was on the high side when I operated as a novice around 1967/68. I remember that the fifteen-meter band was very active. I also remember listening to phone stations running AM on 10 meters. My modest backyard vertical got me plenty of DX. I missed the maxes for Cycles 21, 22, and 23. In fact, I was off the air for twenty-five years and my license expired. In 2008 I got relicensed and that was the minimum for Cycle 24. The max came roughly in 2014. So I have experienced one cycle when I was more enlightened on what was going on with propagation. Now we are poised for Cycle 25. It may be lackluster or it may be better than the last one. We will see. Anyway, while we are at the cycle bottom we can plan for better times on HF. Being 65 now, it looks like I will be in my early 70s for this one. I hope to be retired and enjoying it to the fullest.

Friday, November 23, 2018

If the Antenna Fits Use It: 80-10 End Fed Half Wave

My backyard in Panama City, FL got cleared of trees and a storage building due to Hurricane Michael. My 80-meter doublet that was supported by a large pine tree is no more. I now have an open slate for antennas. Of course, a tower and a beam are possible.  But short of that what could I do.

I finally decided to try the 80-10 EFHW 1K. I have used it for Field Day with success. EFHW is End Fed Half Wave. For 80 meters an EFHW is roughly 130 feet. Fed from the end it has a high impedance and requires a matching transformer. I am pretty sure the EFHW has a 49 to 1 Unun in the box. On the harmonics, the antenna is a multiple of a half wave and has the same impedance at the end. That covers 80, 40, 20 and 10.  However, the antenna is quite usable on 30, 15, 17 and 12 meters also. I checked the SWR on all bands in the shack. The SWR is under 2 to 1 on the lower half of 80 meters, 40 meters, 20 meters, 30 meters, 15 meters, and 12 meters. 30 meters is under 2.4 to 1. This is the closest to a tuner-less antenna I have used. 80-10 EFHW 1K

Physically, I took advantage of my patio cover, camo poles and my scraggly popcorn tree that made it through the storm, I had previously wanted to cut that tree. I used a 16-foot camo pole at the feed point, a 20-foot camo-pole, and the tree limb to support 80 feet of the antenna. The last 40 feet of the wire slopes to the back fence at a 90-degree angle to the rest.

This link gives some insight into the radiation pattern. I should do my own EZNEC model for my particular layout. Anyway, we will see how it plays out on the bands. Since I am not a DXer or Contester I think it will do fine.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

N4KGL RaDAR Challenge Report November 2018.

Our RaDAR team, Dennis WA6QKN, Suzy and I, had ideal weather for the Nov 3rd, 2018 RaDAR Challenge. Our venue was Topsail Hill Preserve State Park near Desitin Florida. The paved trails and the cart we used made our transitions easy.

Our first location at the main parking lot at Topsail Park.
Our first location, EM60UI79AA, was at the main parking lot. I attempted a SO-50 Satellite contact but had no luck squeezing in. FM satellites are very congested, particularly on weekends. Likewise, an attempt to make a RaDAR to RaDAR QSO with Pat N5VMO in Arkansas failed on our end. If you don't have the PSK-31`setup working before the event don't expect it to work in the challenge.

The one-kilometer transition was easy even with the cart loaded with the Icom 7100, 30 AH battery and antennas.
We got our first five contacts on 40 meters CW using a low 40-meter dipole. The rig was an Icom 7100 running about 70 watts. The rig was set up on the dog stroller we use as a cart. I faintly heard the letters "kot". That was VA3KOT John Corby calling from Ontario, but the propagation just was not right for a contact. We did work WW1USA from the World War 1 Museum in Kansas City, MO.

Our second location in the park.
Then, it was off to the second location, EM60UI67PU, one kilometer away via the park trails. Suzy loves the trek. We set up a 20-meter dipole this time. With some effort, we got the five contacts on CW. A surprise was a call from CS7AFI in Portugal. That counts for the intercontinental DX bonus.

Dennis WA6QKN logging contacts.
The third location, EM60UI58TT, was on the trail to Campbell Lake. We used the Chameleon vertical whip antenna for 20-meters supported by the cart and two quarter-wave radials. This time we got a string of five SSB contacts by calling CQ POTA. The contacts included Puerto Rico and Ontario.

Dennis surveys Cambell Lake. It is a coastal dune lake.
We still had time left, however not enough to get to a fourth location. Instead, we treated ourselves to the view at Campbell Lake. It was beautiful. Then we had the return walk to the parking lot. My Fitbit registered 10,000 steps for the day.

Suzy makes her own contact and gets a belly rub.
Dennis and I have done several challenges and have made it to four locations in four hours. Usually, we have a few locals and chasers but not this time. We are frankly hard to follow if we go to search and pounce. Also, propagation would be difficult back to Panama City. This outing we enjoyed the break from the hurricane recovery in Panama City. It will be a long time before the clean-up and repairs are done. Things improve a little bit every day there.

Note A RaDAR email group is picking up interest at Please join if you are interested in Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RaDAR).

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Top Sail Preserve State Park will be the N4KGL RaDAR Challenge Venue

The next RaDAR Challenge is Saturday, Nov 3rd, 2018. Dennis WA6QKN, Suzy and I will form a RaDAR team using callsign N4KGL. We have chosen Top Sail Preserve State Park for our venue. Top Sail is on the Gulf Coast near Destin, Florida. Top Sail has paved trails through the park. Those will be ideal for on-foot or on-paw RaDAR. Per RaDAR rules, we will make five contacts and then move one kilometer to the next location.

We have chosen to start with a SO-50 Satellite pass at 1545 UTC from the parking area. The park is in grid EM60.  We hope for at least one sat contact for the RaDAR bonus. If we get five on the sat we would be ready to move. Most of our operations will be on 40 and 20 meters HF. Note Top Sail is K-3664 for POTA, Parks On The Air.

We will proceed on the trails toward Campbell Lake, stopping every one kilometer to make our five contacts. We will be using a dog stroller to carry the Icom 7100 100 watt rig and battery, It takes little effort to push the stroller even with heavy gear. The stroller can support a vertical. A dipole also can be used by attaching a PVC conduit mast to the stroller. The dipole ends will be supported by 10-foot poles.

We have four hours to make contacts The radar exchange includes RS(T), name and location. The location is preferably a grid square of six digits or more. We will use these frequencies

7.029.5 CW
7.296 LSB

14.059 CW
14.346 USB

However, if there is no luck on those frequencies, we will hunt and pounce. The pace is so rapid it is difficult to spot ourselves. We will do the best we can. Check DX Summit for N4KGL and K-3664. Ham Alert is a good idea. Set that up ahead of time for N4KGL. RaDAR Ops can use a RaDAR group on WhatsApp. Ask me for the invite link.

In any case, the weather forecast for Saturday is looking ideal here in Northwest Florida. We hope for some RaDAR to RaDAR contacts. Those are always a challenge but very rewarding. If RaDAR interests you please check out the RaDAR group and the  Google+ Community

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Columbus Day Weekend Camping and Ham Radio At Falling Waters SP

Linda and I camped at Falling Waters State Park on Columbus Day Weekend 2018. On the following Wednesday, Hurricane Michael came through our hometown, Panama City, Florida. Most of Bay County got walloped. We were fortunate the damage was not very extensive at our house. We have moved back in.

Linda in front of the 13 ft camper
It is notable that we rented a 13-foot camping trailer for the weekend. The camper was light enough to pull with the van. This was our first outing with a camper. It all went smooth. Falling Waters is an excellent camping destination with clean facilities.

Campsite 5 at Falling Waters
I will also note, the campsite was one I chose for its amateur radio potential for future Field Days. The site had room enough for a 40-meter OCF antenna. The back of the site is a large open field. I extended a 132 foot end-fed into the open field. That is about as good as it gets.

The field directly behind campsite 5
There were ham radio activities to keep me busy. I activated the park for POTA. I had sixteen contacts on Saturday and twenty-one on Sunday. They were mostly 40 meters SSB. Saturday was the Leaf Peepers QRP event. Dennis WA6QKN joined me. We knocked our selves out and only found four other leaf peepers. The band conditions were degrading. A geomagnetic storm was coming on.

The waterfall at Falling Waters State Park
My luck improved for the two-hour Peanut Power Sprint on Sunday. I had twenty-five contacts, Eighteen on 40 meters and seven on 20 meters. Eighteen were fellow nuts. I had twelve SPCs. Note, I worked Larry W2LJ on both 20 meters and 40 meters. My category was salted running five watts portable. I used the 40-meter OCF antenna. I was pleased to do well considering the band conditions.

Keegan, Justin, and Amy

On the family side, my Daughter Amy visited us and brought her family. We had a cookout and visited the waterfall.  On Monday, they were evacuating the park for Hurrican Michael. We thought it might not be as bad as predicted. It was worse, CAT 4/5 as we know. We rode out the storm in Dothan, Alabama with my Mother. Not very bad on us up there other than power was out for days. I came back to Panama City for the days and spent the nights in Dothan. We got the tree on the house removed and eventually power was restored. Things are getting better every day, but a long road for the residents of Bay County.

Hey, we are looking forward to the Winter Field Day and June Field Day and future camping at Falling Waters!.


Greg N4KGL

Friday, October 26, 2018

Something Old and Something New after Hurricane Michael

Fortunately, our home survived Michael fairly well and we have moved back in. I must start over with outside antennas because the trees came down. Actually, it will be easier to work amateur satellites from the backyard.

I have picked up some vintage treasures from eBay including an original Ameco AC-1. I also have an SDRPlay RSP-2 Software Defined Radio that I have not found a good use. So why not use the Ameco AC-1 to transmit and The RSP-2 for receive. I will need a transmit/receive switch to keep from damaging the SDR. For that, I am using an MFJ 1708B RF Sense SDR Receiver TR Switch. I am letting it switch on RF sense. The AC-1 is set up for 40 meters and uses crystals to set the frequency. I get four watts RF out.

Ameco AC-1
Being rock bound or crystal controlled can be challenging because pretty much you have to call CQ at 4 watts or get lucky that a station calling CQ is close enough to the crystal frequency to hear you. However, I happen to have a 7.123 MHz crystal which is the frequency for the daily Sun Rise CW net. The SRN net is friendly to all check-ins. They will remember you between check-ins and chat a bit. I QNIed this morning using the AC-1/SDR combo. I got a report of 339 but the NCS, K4AXF in Virginia, copied all my info and repeated it for the net.

SDR Play RSP-2 in the foreground.

I enjoy the glow of the 6V6 and the 6X5 tubes just like the novices did for their first QSO .way back when. You know the RSP-2 is a pretty good receiver for a little over one hundred dollars. I am using the free HDSDR software on my laptop. You could homebrew some transmitters and use the RSP-2 for the receiver. You can't monitor your transmitted CW with it because the SDR latency will throw you off. I need a mute circuit for an external speaker so I don't have to mute the speaker myself.

The MFJ SDR TR Switch

My antenna was my 30 ft horizontal, and 20 ft vertical loop fed a the bottom center. The lower wire is ten feet above the ground. Hurricane Michael took all my trees I used for antenna support. So this loop that I constructed for Field Day comes in handy. It uses three 31 ft Jackite poles for support. I already had an SGC tuner just outside the house back wall. I ran 300-ohm balanced feedline between the loop and the tuner. The antenna tunes nicely on 40, 30, 20, 17, and 15 meters.

The Field Day loop comes in handy after Hurricane Michael. It replaces the 132-foot doublet I had in the trees. Now no trees.

HDSDR software on the laptop

BTW, I used VIZ Isotap II Isolation and switched autotransformer to avoid getting shocked. I am not sure if it was necessary, but I did it anyway. If you are wondering I have several AC-1s. This one is an original and worked on the first try.

VIZ isolated autotransformer

Monday, September 24, 2018

Vintage Hallicrafters Tube Receiver Snagged at the Pensacola Hamfest

Dennis WA6QKN and I took a trip to the Pensacola, Florida Hamfest on Saturday. I spotted a Hallicrafters tube receiver that I could not pass up. It was very clean and had the back and bottom in place. It looks like a Hallicrafters S38-D. But it is actually a 5R10A model. I picked it up for only $35.

Hallicrafter 5R10A Receiver

The Hallicrafters 5R10A is a Superheterodyne, general coverage receiver that is used for the reception of AM and CW signals. The 5R10A receiver incorporates 5 tubes in its circuit and has 4 bands with continuous coverage from 540 KHz to 31 MHz. The first band covers 540 KC to 1650 KC, the second band covers from 1.65 MHz to 5.1 MHz, the third band covers from 5 MHz to 14.5 MHz, and the fourth band covers from 13 MHz all the way up to 31 MHz. The Intermediate Frequency(IF) of this receiver is the standard 455 KHz.

Hallicrafter 5R10A Receiver back

It will be an adventure checking this radio out and seeing what restoration is needed. It is likely to need the electrolytic capacitors replaced. The radio is a 5 tube AC/DC type with no transformer. An AC/DC radio has no power transformer, one side of the power line could be at (or near) chassis potential and if any metal part of the radio comes in contact with you, a shock may result. I have picked upVIZ ISOTAP II from eBay which is a tapped transformer and provides and isolated output. This will reduce the shock hazard. If I touch the chassis and ground in the shack, it won't kill me. Plenty of caution is in order and this can be helped by replacing the two wire cord with a three-wire cord with ground.



This was Suzy's first hamfest and she really enjoyed it. Other hams from Panama City attended. Jim K4LIX had a vendor table. Cory N4UVR and Phil N4STC also attended.  Phil N4STC won the main prize, an Icom 7300. Congrats Phil! Dennis and I took w side trip to Fort Pickens on the way home. Perhaps there will be some future portable operations there.

Ft Pickens near Pensacola

Monday, September 17, 2018

Take me back to those Novice Days with the Ameco AC-1

The Ameco AC-1 was a popular first transmitter kit for amateur radio novices in the 50s. I heard the AC-1 mentioned on several QSO Today podcasts from hams who are my senior. I am infected with the nostalgia of those times. I acquired an assembled AC-1 clone from eBay at a reasonable price.

15 watt 80/40 meter transmitter using 6v6 oscillator on "shoebox" style chassis. Xtal control.
I tried the AC-1 into a dummy load and could not get any RF power out. This was a mystery as the seller showed the rig putting five watts into a dummy load. Thinking it could be operator error, I kept trying. I consulted with Tom WD0HBR. He inspected it and gave me some checks to do. The B+ and filament voltage was good. I read online you can use a milliamp meter in the key circuit as a tuning aid. At least, with the milliamp meter, I saw something to dip. It tuned up fine a couple of times. However, when I wanted to put it on the air, I could get little output. This was definitely harder than it should be. With some checking of the output circuit, I found the antenna loading capacitor shorts when the plates start to mesh. This could explain the tuning issue. I will look into obtaining a replacement capacitor.  It is true that you learn more radios when they don't work.

I have a vision of using the Ameco AC-1 with my SDRPlay RSP-2 Software Defined Radio. This would be a nice combination of old technology and new technology. We will look forward to that when I get the AC-1 going.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Ham Contacts with Friends during My Kansas Vacation

I also QSOed with Jim K4LIX in Panama City and Bobby AJ4KA in Georgia.

Thanks everybody!

Greg N4KGL

Monday, September 10, 2018

Packet Radio for My Field Day Messages

I missed the heyday of amateur packet radio during the 80/90s. However, there is now some local interest in Bay County, Florida since Bob KK4DIV set up a packet BBS on the two-meter band. I am now active on packet using a hardware Terminal Node Controller (TNC) and an older radio. The TNC is a Timewave PK-96. I found a new PK-96 with a USB interface at Ham Radio Outlet. There are many used TNCs on eBay, but I wanted the convenience of a USB interface to the computer.

Diagram from this Packet Introduction
I am interested in packet radio to transmit radiogram messages off my site during ARRL Field Day in June. Radiograms are worth ten points each up to 100 points. Also, a message to the ARRL section manager is worth 100 points.

I could not find many software programs for Windows 10 to talk to the serial port on hardware TNC except for Putty. However, my favorite tool is the Outpost Packet Message Manager that runs on Windows 10. It makes handling messages just like an email client. That is perfect for entering the Field Day messages and have them ready for a bulk transfer to a BBS. Outpost can support NTS style messages. I expect all my messages will be for local delivery except for the Section Manager message. The routing to the final destination could be via sneakernet or email

I believe I am set for doing the message passing via packet in Bay County. However, I am planning Field Day at Falling Waters State Park in Washington County at least 50 miles away. If I can't get back to Bob's BBS on simplex, I may try using a mobile packet station located off the Field Day site as a relay. In fact, the mobile packet station can store the messages in its own personal maildrop and forward them when it is in range of a BBS, Using a local repeater is another idea.

Winlink may even be the better approach since you can get messages out via HF. By ARRL Field Day, I may be set up for Winlink as well.

I find that using packet has given me some perspective on digital communications that I missed. It helps me understand APRS type packet radio also. I am exchanging messages locally for fun. You know if our phones and internet are out of service during a disaster, packet radio could come in handy.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Get Ready For the November 3rd 2018 RaDAR Challenge

RaDAR Is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio

RaDAR Challenge Rules from

1. Aim
The RaDAR “Challenge” is a unique event aimed at promoting the use of Rapidly Deployable Amateur Radio stations. Categories (Fixed / Field / Moving) 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, with not only power supply and communications equipment but food, water, protective clothing and shelter.
2. Date and Time
RaDAR operators define their own operating time schedule. It’s up to each individual to plan his / her MAXIMUM, SINGLE PERIOD, FOUR HOUR ops. He / she should consider propagation with the ultimate goal of inter-continental RaDAR to RaDAR communications in mind.
00:00 UTC to 23:59 UTC on Saturday 7 April 2018, Saturday 14 July 2018 and on Saturday 3 November 2018. Twenty four hours will give equal opportunity to the international community of RaDAR operators.
3. Bands and Modes
All amateur bands are allowed including cross band contacts via amateur radio satellites. Modes – CW, SSB, FM or any legal amateur radio digital mode. As from 2018 the WARC bands will be excluded even though the RaDAR Challenge is not a “contest” as such.
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 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 (For determining your own success rate)
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.
8. Moving RaDAR stations
Modes of transport and required movement distances (moving RaDAR stations only)
Vehicles, motorcycles and motorboats (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 (Changes for 2018) : Moving RaDAR stations need to make five QSO’s before moving to the next deployment point, thereafter they are required to move to their next destination. 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 QSOs before moving then please feel free to do so but the QSOs in excess of five per deployment point can not be counted for points.
9. Bonus points (All categories)
Five (5) points for a minimum of one satellite OR digital modes QSO involving a computer, smart phone 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 inter-continental (DX) RaDAR to RaDAR QSO.
10. Log Sheets
Log sheets must be submitted by 14 April 2018, 28 July 2018 and 10 November 2018 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 results and photos are used to promote RaDAR and amateur radio.
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

Friday, August 24, 2018

Bye bye Miss AMSAT Pie: Roved the satellites on the levee, But the levee was dry

On my recent trip to the Lawrence, Kansas, I took advantage of the EM28/EM29 gridline running across Riverfront Park on the Kansas River. I did AO-92, and AO-91 FM satellite passes. My ops will apply to the AMSAT Rover award. At the entrance to the park, I crossed a railroad track and a levee. After looking at the options along the gridline, the levee had an excellent view of the pass. My gear was the Yaesu FT-60 and an Elk antenna. The AO-92 pass yielded five confirmed contacts and three more on the AO-91 pass. The AO-91 pass had two trains passing making QRM. I also did HF ops on 20 meters between the passes. I worked Tom WD0HBR in Dothan, Don KK4DWC in Panama City, Florida and Fred VE3FAL in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I will be looking for more roving opportunities in the future to achieve more rover award points. The reference to the song American Pie got a flurry of comments on Twitter. Apologies to Don Mclean

The levee

Suzy Rock Climbing
The Kansas River

Friday, August 17, 2018

Parks On The Air Activation for Clinton State Park, Kansas.

I had the opportunity to do a Parks On The Air (POTA) activation at Clinton State Park, K-2332, while on vacation visiting relatives in Lawrence, Kansas. It has been a while since I did POTA. POTA is now administered on the website. Jason W3AAX and his team have done an outstanding job of providing the notifications, spots and logging for the program.

POTA at Clinton State Park, Kansas

My rig for this activation was the Elecraft KX2. I added the Elecraft KXPA100 amplifier for the first time in the field to give me up to 100 watts. The antenna was the N6BT Bravo 7K vertical. I feel the vertical was a better choice than a low dipole for 20-meters. The vertical did perform well in all directions.

The Elecraft KX2 paired with the Elecraft KXPA100 amplifier

My contact rate was about 20 per hour. I was pleased that so many stations support POTA even for a weekday activation. I had six Canadian contacts. I worked N4EX/P at K-0027 for a park to park contact. I got support from friends including Jim K4LIX and Dennis WA6QKN. I got a surprise call from AK4JA in Georgia. I am pretty sure he was running a homebrew tube QRP rig.

The N6BT Bravo 7K vertical

The venue at Clinton was on a large field with a few trees. That is a good formula for a vertical. The weather was warm with some clouds holding the temps down. Suzy was my partner. I had only a few visitors. After about two and a half hours Suzy was actually ready to get back in the van. I finished up with an AO-85 satellite pass. No joy, my HT did not break through the pileup for Robert KE4AL doing a grid-line.

Suzy chilling in the shade of the van.

I hope to pick up my activations as we move toward the fall. POTA is lots of fun. Try it!

The scene at Clinton.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Flight of the Bumblebees 2018 was a QRP Swarm

You can have fun with QRP even at the bottom of the solar cycle. The annual Flight of the Bumblebees last Sunday is a good example. The bumblebees are portable stations. I had 34 contacts of which 21 were with fellow bumblebees. All of them were using five watts or less.

Bravo 7K Vertical
This year I chose Carl Grey Park in Panama City, Florida as my venue which is on the shore of North Bay. I like to place my vertical antenna on the saltwater shore. My vertical this time was the N6BT Bravo 7K. I setup up the vertical for 20 meters which was the most active band. I also set up a low dipole for 40 meters. The rig was the Elecraft KX2.

Twenty-seven contacts were on 20 meters. I was also pleased to get four on 15 meters. 40 meters had a lot of static crashes and not many stations. However, I did work Steve KF5RY in Texas, Randy KB4QQB in North Carolina and Bob WB4BLX here in Panama City,

Elecraft KX2
It is nice to work your QRP friends on FOBB. Shel KF0UR in Colorado was on, He is with the QRPWorks who makes Elecraft Accessories. I worked Kelly K4UPG. He is a QRP ringleader in the Orlando area.  I worked Randy KB4QQJ in North Carolina on 40, 20 and 15. He heads up the Great Outdoor Radio Club, GORC. In the West, I got Steve KF5RY in Texas on 40 and 15 and Myron WV0H in Colorado. These two are on the RaDAR Community. Local friends included Bob WB4BLX on 20 and 40 and Bob WB8PAF on 20.

Dennis WA6QKN
I better not leave out Dennis WA6QKN who assisted me with logging. He is getting pretty good with CW copy. We also had a friendly squirrel come by to share my lunch. Suzy would have liked that, but I did not bring her this time. The weather held out right up to the last hour. We could see some lightening in the North. In the end, a stiff breeze came up and turned over my Bravo 7K vertical. I never dreamed that could happen, but there was no damage.

The scene along North Bay at Carl Grey Park

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Stepping out for the Summer 2018 RaDAR Challenge

The Summer RaDAR Challenge is particularly challenging in Northwest Florida due to the July heat and humidity. Nevertheless, I chose to do RaDAR on foot this time. I picked a venue that included the Hathaway Bridge and extends to Carl Grey Park in Panama City. This area is on North Bay which provides a shot over saltwater to the rest of North America.

I toyed with the idea of operating HF pedestrian mobile from the top of the Hathaway Bridge using the Elecraft KX2 and an MFJ 20 meter whip. I did a test prior to the challenge. I found that the whip that normally tunes well with the KX2 internal auto tuner, did not tune well on the bridge. The SWR did not get below 3.8 to 1. I suspect that it was the metal railing that extends the length of the bridge. Also, the bridge has no stopping signs for pedestrians. It makes operating HF pedestrian mobile a challenge for me. However, I did manage a contact with Steve WG0AT. I was terrible sending code while walking.

My plan got refined to use only the Alexloop for my HF antenna. I held it in my hand while standing for locations 1 and 2. I had the Elecraft KX2 in an open camera case on my side. For locations 4 and 5, I held the loop while sitting on a park seat. This approach made my antenna setup time essentially zero. It also minimized the weight of my pack up.

I always like to make contacts with Tom WD0HBR when I am portable. The question was, could the Alexloop get my signal to Tom's QTH seventy-five miles away on 40 meters? The answer is in the video below.

My four-hour operating window for the challenge was 10 AM to 2 PM local time. That time coincided with the IARU HF Championship. When I checked 20 meters at 10 AM, I could not find a clear spot due to the contest. I decided to QSY to 15 meter SSB and pick up five local contacts.

After my walk to the top of the Hathaway Bridge, I worked five more local contacts on 2 meters FM Simplex. I had trouble getting the fifth contact, but Linda KG4TJL rescued me. She is Bob WB4BLX's XYL.

I returned to the same spot I used for location 1 to be my location 3. This time I got on 20 meter SSB and worked five locals including Bob KK4DIV, who was also doing the RaDAR Challenge around Panama City. He decided to drive between locations. Bob KK4DIV Bob WB8PAF and I used magnetic loops for our HF antennas.

I headed to Carl Grey Park for location 4.  It had some needed shade while still on the bay. I decided to join in on the IARU contest to get five SSB contacts. I did hunt and pounce. After five contacts, I took a meandering walk in the park area to get one kilometer and returned to the same spot for location 5.

At location 5, I got four more contest stations on CW and then an SKCC station answered my CQ for the fifth contact.

The RaDAR Challenge offers a bonus for the first Satellite contact. My four hour period was ending with an AO-85 satellite pass. I used a Yaesu FT-60 HT and an Elk antenna that I had been carrying. I was successful to contact two friends. They are Robert KE4AL in Dothan and Jim K4LIX here in Panama City.

I have always said, if you take more than an Alexloop for an antenna on the RaDAR Challenge you are taking too much. Well, this time I used just the Alexloop for HF and did fine. This RaDAR Challenge I made it to five locations. That is my personal record. I hear Myron WV0H had eight locations. He is a roadrunner Hi Hi

Thanks to all the locals for the contacts. They include Phil N4STC, John KN4PMA, Jim K4LIX, Jack N1HQ, Don KK4DKT, Bob WB8PAF, Bob WB4BLX and his XYL Linda KG4TJL. I have a Fitbit watch that tracks my steps. With the challenge, I had a 10K step day.

I am looking forward to the November 3rd, 2018 RaDAR Challenge. Please join us and do RaDAR to RaDAR. It will be cooler here in Florida. Note, Eddie ZS6BNE the originator of RaDAR, has written a new book called the RaDAR Game. You can download it at.this link. The RaDAR Google+ community is at

RaDAR is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio. Bob KK4DIV's video is below.