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

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

N6BT V8 Vertical Dipole Installation

I just installed an N6BT.com V8 vertical antenna in my backyard. I had not settled on a home antenna since Hurricane Michael took my trees and the storage building. Unfortunately, I still have high voltage power lines across the back of the lot. I am not in an HOA neighborhood. A tower and a beam would be effective but that would be a significant investment.

N6BT V8 installed in the backyard.
 I have had good experience with N6BT antennas. I use the N6BT Bravo 7K when activating parks. It is a remarkable performer on the saltwater shore. However, it has also done the job over the ground in the parks. The N6BT vertical antennas evolve. Instead of using coils and adjusting element lengths like the Bravo 7K, The V8 uses a remote tuner, in this case, the MFJ 993BRT. Tom Schiller N6BT calls this antenna a vertical dipole. The ancestor to this antenna was a vertical dipole with a horizontal section at both ends for capacitive loading. As Tom says, the top element was extended, and the top flat section was removed. On the lower element, it was shortened and extended horizontally. So there you have it. This is very asymmetric vertical dipole indeed. The good news is that the antenna is complete and does not require ground radials.




Please watch my YouTube video that covers the details of the installation. The biggest issue was the tuner, which is from MFJ. The one I received was DOA. It did not do anything. I supplied the 12-volt power via a bias T on the transmitter end of the coax. Yet, I did not hear any relay clicks when RF was applied, so tuning never started. I did get lucky after removing the cover, there were some switches hidden under a circuit board. This board would be for the desktop version of this tuner. One of the switches is labeled power. I pushed that switch, and the relays clicked when 12 volts was applied. I left it like that and put the cover back on, and now the tuner works as intended.

The MFJ 993BRT remote tuner mounted.
Initially, the antenna did not tune on 40 CW. After playing around with the hairpin coil, it finds a match on 40 CW. So it tunes quickly from 60 meters and up. On 80 meters the tuner struggles. It will quit trying after a while. Strangely if a reapply RF, the SWR is good. In any case, 80 meters will be the exception for my operating. Since I now have a remote tuner in the middle of the yard, I could experiment with some wires to make a doublet or maybe turn the V8 into an inverted L for the low bands. I do have a tree on each side fence line to run a wire to. I think I will find out what the stock antenna will do first.

The hair-pin coil
I have consistent noise from those powerlines. It sounds like arcing, and I should call the power company. Short of that, I have a W6LVP broadband loop mounted on a short post with a rotator in the front of the house. This antenna is much quieter, and I can null the noise to some degree. Therefore the V8 is mainly a transmit antenna. I am delighted with the W6LVP loop.

The antenna slips into a PVC pipe buried 18 inches.
I have had several rag-chew QSOs on 40 CW for a start. If the solar cycle gets cranking, I will be ready for the high bands. I am a little nervous about lightening. However, I can lift off the vertical section of the antenna and lay it on the ground. Then the antenna is much less of a target.

The N6BT Bravo 7K predecessor to the V8
The bottom line, I am going to enjoy this antenna. I can now get on the HF bands from the house. Thanks to Tom N6BT for an antenna solution that works for my situation. This antenna is available exclusively from Ham Radio Outlet. The tuner is a separate purchase.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Fun with the Bumble Bees

Flight Of The Bumblebees 2019 was a fun time with on the air friends and local friends. I was at Carl Grey Park in Panama City, Florida. The activity was brisk for the first two hours of four and fell off after that. My first contact was Larry W2LJ. I also worked friends Steve KF5RY, Steve WG0AT, Shel KF0UR, Jim W4QO, and Ed WA3WSJ. In town, I worked WB8PAF and Jim KW4UT, who was using an HW-8. 20 meters dominated. I just picked up Georgia and Alabama on 40 meters. The grand total was 46 contacts and 28 Bumblebees. I was assisted on-site by Dennis WA6QKN and Ron KK4DWE. Phil N4STC and Jim KW4UT came for a visit.

My N6BT Bravo 7K vertical antenna is positioned on St Andrews Bay for the saltwater effect.
My gear was the Elecraft KX2 at 5 watts CW. The internal battery almost carried the whole event.   The 20-meter antenna was the N6BT Bravo 7K on the St Andrews Bay shoreline. My 40-meter antenna was the SOTA Beams 40/30/20 Band Hopper link dipole.



In the scheme of things:
  • 2016 38 QSOs 25 BB
  • 2017 61 QSOs 37 BB
  • 2018 34 QSOs 21 BB
  • 2019 46 QSOs 28 BB
This year was the second-best out of four years. I am still impressed with what 5 watts will do even at Solar Minimum.


Shel KF0UR one of my contacts was on Mt. Blodgett in Colorado Springs, CO, at 8000 feet MSL

WA6QKN on the left and N4KGL on the right hard at it.




Suzy has ears for CW.



Wednesday, July 24, 2019

N4KGL July 2019 RaDAR Challenge Report

For the July 13th, 2019 RaDAR Challenge, I chose to transition between stops on my new bike. I experimented with different ways to carry the gear on the bike. I found my Jackite Pole to be unwieldy at its four-foot collapsed length. So I invested in the SOTABeams Tactical 7000 mast. Its collapsed length is 23 inches, and it is 23 feet extended. I carried the mast and an angle iron stake in a gun sling across my back. I pound in the stake in the ground to anchor the mast. I also made use of bags on the rear bike rack and a backpack. The rig was the Elecraft KX2. My antenna of choice was the SOTABeams Band Hopper link dipole for 40/30/20 meters supported in the middle by the Tactical 7000.

My Raleigh Venture Bike setup for RaDAR
There was rain in the forecast influenced by tropical storm Barry. Happily, we did not get a drop of rain. The venue was Kinsaul Park in Lynn Haven, Florida. I did all the operating from the park but took my rides in the neighborhood. In the four hours for the RaDAR Challenge, I did three stops with five contacts each and made two bike rides in between stops.



There were not many RaDAR operators out except for John VA3KOT. I did not pick him up. So I took advantage of SKCC contacts on 40 meters CW and some IARU contest contacts of 20 meters. A highlight was working my ham friend Curtis WB4SHX in Mississippi purely by chance on 40 meters SSB. I mixed in some local contacts from N4STC and N4VSP. Unfortunately, I did not get a contact on the SO-50 satellite pass at the end of the four hours.

The SOTABeams Tactical 7000 mast and the SOTA Beams Band Hopper link dipole deployed. 
My Elecraft KX2 resting on the rear bike cargo rack
RaDAR is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio. Thanks to Eddie ZS6BNE for the RaDAR Concept. The challenges continue to be fun.  The next RaDAR Challenge is the first Saturday in November. Check out the RaDAR group on MeWe.

The first two-kilometer transition by bike

The second two-kilometer transition by bike

Monday, July 15, 2019

Radio Camping at Kolomoki Mounds State Park

Linda and I camped at Kolomoki Mounds State Park near Blakely, Georgia for two nights starting on July 2nd. The campground is next to beautiful Lake Kolomoki. We did not have any cell coverage for our AT & T phones. What a shock!



I did a Parks On The Air (POTA) activation for K-3726 with 33 QSOs. I used the Elecraft KX2 with 10 watts in the beginning and later with the 100-watt amp. I ran across Bobby AJ4KA in Newnan on 40 meters CW by chance. He was running a homebrew tube rig on a dummy load by accident he said. I gave him a health and welfare message since we had no internet.



The campsite had liberal space for an antenna. I used the SOTAbeams Band Hopper 40/30/20 link dipole. I also did a SO-50 sat pass using callsign W3ZM/4 for the AMSAT 50th Anniversary Celebration. I got three contacts including Jim K4LIX in Panama City.



I took a couple of bike rides up steep 80-foot hills. It almost killed me on the way up but coming down was fast and sweet. Linda and I also took in the park museum and learned what the mounds were all about. They are pretty neat unless you are getting sacrificed at the Chief's funeral.



So we had a successful trip and gave the Georgia gnats something to do. I recommend this park for a getaway.

44/72/73,

Linda & Greg N4KGL

Saturday, June 29, 2019

N4KGL July RaDAR Challenge Plans

The next RaDAR Challenge is July 13th, 2019. I am planning to transition between stops via bicycle. The prescribed distance is 2 kilometers. Port St. Joe Florida has a system of trails through the city that is perfect for RaDAR. I will likely start at the Florida Constitution State Park. It will be valid for RaDAR and Parks On The Air (POTA) credit. There are plenty of good stops at other city parks.


I am exploring options for carrying the radio gear on the bike.  I now have bags on the rear for the KX2 and accessories. I also have a sling to wear across my back for a Jackite pole. The pole can support the SOTAbeams 40/20 link dipole. Of course, the details will be hashed out as we get closer to the date. The date in July was chosen to give those at high latitudes some better weather for their RaDAR outing. Let us know your plans guys; John, Julian, Fred, and Mickey. Post on the MeWe RaDAR Group. RaDAR is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio.







N4Y 2019 ARRL Field Day Report

On June 22-24 we had successful camping and ARRL Field Day adventure at Falling Waters State Park near Chipley, Florida. Dennis WA6QKN and Greg N4KGL operated a one-transmitter, two-operator, category B Field Day station using emergency power. Contacts came easy using the Icom 7300 and the myantennas.com 130 ft end-fed antenna. Conditions were good. It was just a matter of staying in front of the rig. Us old guys did take time off to sleep and run over to Chipley for meals. The heat and humidity were challenging. We had no rain this year.

Dennis WA6QKN




We had 131 contacts on 40, 20, 15 and 2 meters. We also got 750 points in bonuses, including alternative energy contacts and message passing. Phil N4STC parked about 20 miles away and received out messages via packet radio. Thanks, Phil!



We enjoyed visitors, including Tom WD0HBR and XYL Sandy, Dan K4MDA, Rick NZ2I, Richard KN4OQT, and Patricia KN4PLT. We had three non-ham visitors from the campsite next door. Linda, Greg's XYL, came for the event.

Dan K4MDA on right and Dennis WA6QKN.

We will likely return to Falling Waters for the 2020 January Winter Field day and the 2020 June ARRL Field Day.

Linda at the camper door


Monday, June 10, 2019

N4Y 2019 ARRL Field Day Operations

Dennis WA6QKN and Greg N4KGL will operate a category B one transmitter ARRL Field Day station on June 22/23 from Falling Waters State Park near Chipley, Florida. Our callsign will be N4Y. Our rig will be an Icom 7300 powered by Bioenno LiFePO4 batteries replenished by solar panels. Our primary antenna will be a 132-foot end fed extending into an adjacent field. We will attempt a satellite contact, five alternate power QSOs and pass NTS style messages. We hope for lots of contacts and camping fun. Good luck on Field Day!


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

N4KGL RaDAR Challenge Report April 2019.

The first RaDAR Challenge this year was April 6th. For RaDAR, Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio, you make five contacts and move a prescribed distance to the next location. This is repeated as many times as possible during a four hour period. This year to try something new, Dennis and I used mountain bikes to move between locations. I had not been bike riding in many years. I rented a couple of mountain bikes for the challenge.We chose Topsail Hill Preserve State Park in part because it has nice paved trails around the park.

Our first location at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park


I chose the Elecraft KX2 and the Alexloop magnetic loop to keep it light and minimize setup time. All the gear fit in our backpacks for the bike ride.I generally have good contacts with the Alexloop even on 40 meters. However, dismal band conditions made it a struggle to make the five contacts.



 At the first location I tried a AO-92 FM sat pass to no avail. This is not uncommon due to the congestion on the weekend passes. On HF, we picked up three Missouri stations, one on 20 CW and two on 40 CW. Fortunately, Glenn KD2JA was in the same park working the Florida State Parks On The Air Contest and gave us a local contact on 40 and 2 meters to finish out the five. Then, we did the two kilometer bike transition to the next location in the park. The bands were still poor. We got one QRP contact on 20 meters to Tennessee and two more contacts with Glenn KD2JA in the park. Our four hours ran out before we got five contacts. This is the first time we did not do at least three locations in the challenge  That's the way it goes.



To make the best of the day, Dennis and I took a ride after the challenge and went on an dirt trail. That was fun. Perhaps we will incorporate bikes in our RaDAR routine more often.

Click the image above for a panoramic view of the lake taken by Dennis.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Our April 6th 2019 RaDAR Challenge Plans

Dennis WA6QKN and I do the RaDAR Challenge together. We are going to use bikes to move between stops this time. The prescribed distance is two kilometers. I am not a regular bike rider. I did rent a bike last weekend and rode a couple of kilometers. I found out I am not in RaDAR shape as I huffed and puffed over the hill. However, if I stick to the flat roads I should be fine.



For a venue, the Top Sail Preserve State Park near Destin Florida is high on the list. The trails are paved. It has a beach and a lake for the scenic view. For the RaDAR challenge, you pick a four hour period within the 24 hour UTC day. It turns out we will overlap the annual Florida State Parks On The Air Operating Event. Our park will also be on the Parks On The Air POTA reference list. We will need all the help we can get to get our five contacts before each move.

The gear will likely be the Elecraft KX3 running ten watts.  The main antenna will be a Windcamp Gypsy adjustable dipole with fiberglass support poles. They get the antenna about ten feet above the ground. I can slip the support poles into my backpack as shown. Of course, we will also take an Elk antenna and an FM HT for the RaDAR satellite bonus.


Planning is half the fun for the RaDAR Challenge. Our plans can always be tweaked down to the last moment. Be sure to make your plans to operate the RaDAR Challenge in the field or as a chaser. Our call will be N4KGL. See the RaDAR Challenge rules at http://radarops.co.za/index.php/radar-rules/ and also visit the MeWe RaDAR Community at https://mewe.com/join/radarrapiddeploymentamateurradio

Get Ready for the April 6th 2019 Radar Challenge

RaDAR Is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio


RaDAR Challenge Rules from http://radarops.co.za/index.php/radar-rules/

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 6 April 2019, Saturday 13 July 2019 and on Saturday 2 November 2019. 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 2019 the WARC bands will be INCLUDED. The RaDAR Challenge is not a “contest” as such, it’s an individual challenge.
QSOs via terrestrial FM repeaters should preferably not be used for the purpose of the challenge.
4. Suggested HF calling frequencies
See https://zs6bne.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/radar-calling-frequencies/ 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 13 April 2019, 20 July 2019 and 16 November 2019 and sent by e-mail to edleighton@gmail.com 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 http://radarops.co.za/ zs6bne.wordpress.com and MeWe 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
www.N4KGL.info




Thursday, January 31, 2019

N4Y 2019 Winter Field Day Fun

Our two transmitter Winter Field Day at Falling Waters State Park, Florida went to plan with the exception that Bob KK4DIV and Tom WD0HBR could not attend. The attendees included Phil N4STC, Marv KK4DKT, Melissa KK4SYL, Chris VA3ECO, Dennis WA6QKN, Bob WB8PAF, Greg N4KGL, and Greg's XYL Linda.  The temps were cool and dipped to freezing Sunday morning, but it was tolerable. We enjoyed pizza on Friday night. Chris VA3ECO brought Margot's Chili for Saturday night. Chris cooked breakfast each morning with eggs and sausage. Phil N4STC cooked Bubba burgers for lunch. We had a great time telling stories Saturday night around the campfire.

N4Y Falling Waters SP Campsite


Phil N4STC cooks burgers
Band conditions were good with plenty of WFD stations to work. We made contacts on CW, phone, and digital on 80, 40, and 20 meters. On 15 meters we got CW and digital contacts. Therefore our multiplier was eleven, Our contacts were 56 on digital, 46 on phone and 38 CW. We worked 40 states and Canada. Chris made a contact on the CAS4A linear satellite for 1500 bonus points. Phil ran an Icom 7300 with a loop antenna. Greg ran an Icom 7300 to a myantennas.com 80-10 end-fed antenna. Chris used his own laptop and Yaesu 857 for the digital contacts. The Winter Field Day event continues to grow. I am sure we will come back next year for more fun. There are more photos here.




Our Saturday night campfire

Greg and Dennis operating

Melissa Spinning




Tuesday, January 15, 2019

N4Y Winter Field Day Operations Jan 26/27

A group of my ham friends, their family members and I will camp and participate in Winter Field Day using call sign N4Y at Falling Waters State Park. The park is near Chipley, FL. We have three campsites reserved. Campsite 5 has plenty of space and borders a large field. We can extend an end-fed antenna into the field. Campsites 11 and 13 are adjacent which will make more room for antennas. We anticipate running two stations.  We will be 2O or 2 Oscar for two transmitters/outdoors. Our rigs will be on battery/solar power. We will use CW, SSB and PSK-31 digital. We will also go for the amateur satellite bonus. Temps will be in the 50s in the day and the 30s at night. That's is a Florida Winter.
Purpose: To foster Ham camaraderie, field operation, emergency operating preparedness, and just plain on the air, outdoor fun in the midst of winter for American, Canadian and DX Amateurs. Don’t let those winter doldrums keep you locked up in the house… get out and play some radio!! 
When: Winter Field Day runs for 24 hours during the last full weekend in January each year from 1900 UTC (2pm EST) Saturday to 1900 UTC (2pm EST) Sunday. For 2019, the dates are January 26th and 27th. Station set-up may commence no earlier than 1900 UTC (2pm EST) on Friday, January 25th.

We are hoping for a big on the air turnout. The event seems to grow each year.

Greg N4KGL

Falling Waters SP Campsite 5
Note there is limited parking. If you plan to visit please park at the main parking lot and hike in or let us know and we will shuttle you into the campground.