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

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Dennis Walker WA6QKN Is A Silent Key

It is a great sadness to learn that Dennis Walker, WA6QKN, passed away on June 12th, 2021. Dennis was 74 years old. He grew up in California and served in the Air Force. He worked many years at the Navy Lab in Panama City as a civil service employee. Dennis retired from the government but continued to work for defense contractors until recently. A number of years ago, Dennis overcame a severe bout with cancer. 


Dennis's favorite hobby was ham radio. He was involved with repeaters and packet radio in the past. In recent years, Dennis enjoyed operating amateur radio on the outdoors. Dennis and I enjoyed many outings together, putting parks and islands in the air. Dennis was the ultimate friend, a team player, and was always ready to help others. Dennis is survived by his wife, Lana.


If you follow this blog and my YouTube channel you have seen that Dennis and I had lots of fun together. He is greatly missed.

Greg N4KGL

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Florida QSO Party From Falling Waters State Park

The object of the Florida QSO Party is for all stations to work Florida and Florida stations to work everyone. Florida counties are multipliers. Some counties don't have hams active in the party. Mobiles usually operate in those counties as they rove across the state. Washington County is one of the more rare counties. Since I was camping in Washington County, I was in the Expedition Category. I got plenty of kudos for handing out Washington County. On Saturday, we had a heavy thunderstorm for the first few hours. After the storm passed, I operated from the truck since everything outside was wet. I got fifty SSB contacts. Sunday was a better weather day and I worked 122 more contacts. I had 23 Florida Counties, 39 states, Italy, and the US Virgin Islands. That was enough to feel like the portable station was doing well. I used the Icom 7100, an Icom AH-4 tuner, and a one-hundred-foot inverted-L antenna on 30-foot poles.

My portable setup with Suzy enjoying the sun.

I certainly will keep the Florida QSO party on my list. The setup is a good one for doing Parks on The Air while camping with our travel trailer.

 

My Icom AH-4 Remote Tuner



The poles supporting the Inverted L extend into an adjacent field.

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Friday, April 9, 2021

April 2021 RaDAR Challenge Report

For this RaDAR challenge,  I chose to operate from Solomon Park near my Dothan, Alabama home. The weather was perfect for operating outside. My video below shows my setup time was ten minutes. I used the SOTABeams Band Hopper link dipole supported by a SOTABeams Tactical 700 telescoping pole. It took a while to get my first five contacts. Conditions were not that good. Then I made a one-kilometer walk, returned to the park, and finished with five more contacts. 



On 20 meters CW, I worked John VA3KOT in Ontario. He was not operating portable due to their COVID lockdown. John suggests there could be a Canadian chapter of RaDAR. Sven VA3SVN sent a note he and a friend operated portable during the challenge. Chris VA3ECO had an adventurous RaDAR Challenge from his island location in Ontario. Please watch the videos below. 



Note, RaDAR is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio which originated in South Africa by Eddie ZS6BNE and his friends. Eddie gave a talk on RaDAR at the March 2021 QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo. Also, see http://radarops.co.za/


Chris VA3ECO


N4KGL's 2021 POTA Chase Royale

I plan to do Parks On The Air (POTA) activations while camping at seventeen state parks in 2021. I’ll keep a tally of on-the-air contacts I make with friends and local club members. Please register with me at lanekg@gmail.com to get my schedule and receive notifications. The next activation will be at the end of June.


For the POTA Chase Royale I’ll give out points as follows.

·       From Home: One Point per Band per Day per Park

·       Park to Park: Two Points per Band Per Day per Park

I’ll share a spreadsheet of your scores as we go. I will issue certificates at the end of 2021. Of course, my logs will be uploaded to the POTA Database for your hunting credit. Find out more about POTA at parksontheair.com



If all goes as planned, I will visit the following parks:

Cheaha SP, AL
Clinton SP, KS
East Bank COE, GA
F. D. Roosevelt SP, GA
Falling Waters SP, FL
Frank Jackson SP, AL
Keystone SP, OK
Lake Charles SP, AR
Lake Lurleen SP, AL
Meaher SP, AL
Oak Mountain SP, AL
Petit Jean SP, AR
St George Island SP, FL
Stockton SP, MO
T. O. Fuller SP, TN
TomBigbee SP, MS
Top Sail SP, FL
Unicoi SP, GA


Friday, March 5, 2021

Get Ready for the next RaDAR Challenge April 3rd, 2021

The next RaDAR Challenge is April 3rd, 2021, UTC. RaDAR is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio. Movement is encouraged between portable deployments via foot or various conveyances. Operate in a four-hour window of your choosing. No specific venue is required, although parks are a natural choice. You may operate any band and mode except repeaters. Satellite and digital contacts are encouraged with bonus points. Remember it is five contacts and move. Get into the flow zone. Detailed rules are available at http://radarops.co.za/index.php/radar-rules/ Portable operators and chasers are welcome to participate. Make your plans and share!


Greg N4KGL

Vintage Radios Used for the Classic Exchange CX Event

March 2nd was my first time participating in the Winter Classic Exchange CW event. I loved it, especially the drift and chirp I heard on the air.  Your multiplier in the event is the sum of the ages of your gear. I used my three oldest radios, including the Ameco AC-1 transmitter, Heathkit HW-8 transceiver, Drake 2-NT transmitter, and the Drake 2-C Receiver; this gear gave me a 235-year multiplier. Twelve of my twenty QSOs were QRP. Also being crystal controlled on the AC-1 and the 2-NT presented a challenge. This event was a great warm-up for Novice Rig Roundup also this month. 

Drake 2-NT Transmitter & Drake 2-C Receiver estimated age 54 years each.

Ameco AC-1 Transmitter estimated age 51 years.

Heathkit HW-8 Transceiver estimated age 38 years counts as 76 years.





Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The February SKCC Weekend Spritathon from the Dothan Shack

For the Straight Key Century Club February WES, the theme was boat anchors, another name for vintage rigs. I operated from the Dothan Shack sixteen hours on Saturday of the thirty-six possible hours for the WES. There were a couple of slack hours for lunch and dinner. I decided to stop at one hundred contacts. 


The first 45 contacts were using the Drake 2-NT and the Drake 2-C which let me give out a nine tube bonus to the other ops. I did not work any other tube stations, although I think they were out there. You have to run when you use xtals instead of hunt and pounce. By the way, I ran right through a storm of RTTY QRM. About mid-course, I switched to the Elecraft KX3 and KXPA-100 and did some hunt and pounce. 

My WES Stats


I worked two Dothan locals, Alton W4IDH and Tom WD0HBR. I also worked Costa Rica for a DX contact. The pace really picked up when 80 meters opened up Saturday night. We all had room to spread out. See the attached score. The SPC count of 33 was pretty good. It is nice to see how popular the SKCC is and have so many ops show up on straight keys and bugs

Example Crystals for the Drake 2-NT

Saturday, February 6, 2021

My 2021 Winter Field Day Experience, N4KGL

Our Winter Field Day venue for 2021 was Three Rivers State Park, Florida on Lake Seminole. Four other hams from the Panama City area had campsites there as well. We chose to operate under our own calls. I decided to operate QRP using my Icom 705. 

I considered about eight different antenna options and could not make up my mind. I consulted my antenna mentor, Myron WV0H in Colorado, and he suggested two more options; a loop and an inverted-L. I took his advice on the inverted-L. I implemented my inverted-L with a 100-foot radiator supported by three Jackite 31-foot poles. I had about 27 feet vertical and about 73 feet horizontal elevated at 31 feet. I used Myron's favorite wire which was 26 gauge. This thin wire presents almost no load on the poles and is practically invisible. The counterpose was 31 feet long elevated at about ten feet. That length was just what I had handy. My Icom AH-4 matches the inverted-L antenna on 80 through 6 meters. 

I had WFD contacts on 80, 40, and 20 meters. I did not feel it was a struggle making contacts even on SSB at ten watts. I believe this setup will be my Field Day go-to from here on out. It took up about half of the horizontal distance of my previous go-to which was an 80 meter End Fed Half Wave. I also did not have to support the EFHW transformer with my camo pole tripod mast. Those camo poles are heavy and take up a lot of room in the truck.


Given all this, I made 54 contacts. I did not get into a good rhythm until Sunday. Of course, we had interested visitors, great social time, and I took Saturday night off. As you expect, we all dealt with interference among our stations. Score-wise my contacts would be the equivalent of 108 contacts at 100 watts. It was enough to get a taste of the action. The bands were quite busy. For me, it is the experience, not the score. 

My gear in the tent

All the campers including Ryan K1OSE, George W4GHG, Daniel K1MDA, and Bob KK4DIV said they had fun and are looking forward to the ARRL Field Day in June. Chris VA3ECO did not come down to Florida this year. However, he braved the elements in Ontario and drove out on a lake ice road to make his WFD contacts. All of us are going to have our scores applied to the Panama City ARC aggregate score.

Daniel K4MDA in his gazebo.

Linda and I have our own travel trailer now and we can take Suzy, our basset She has a blast greeting the campers and claiming our bed. Linda and I continued to East Bank Campground, also on Lake Seminole, for a few extra days of camping. We liked that campground so much it may be my venue for ARRL Field Day in June. While at East Bank, I deployed the same inverted-L I used for WFD. I had some good QRP QSOs there. I am glad o many hams from our club enjoyed WFD from the field and some from home. We are looking forward to more camping and radio including the Florida QSO Party in April and the ARRL Field Day in June.

Chris VA3ECO doing WFD in Ontario


The inverted-L antenna deployed at East Bank Campground.




Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Looking Forward to Winter Field Day 2021

Winter Field Day this year is Jan 30/31. It starts Saturday, 1 PM CDT and lasts 24 hours. The event is similar to the ARRL Field Day and is growing every year. The purpose is 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 Hams. This year due to COVID, individual stations can contribute their score to a club and the score will be aggregated in the WFD results.  The WFD rules are at https://www.winterfieldday.com/ 



I plan to operate Winter Field Day camping at Three Rivers State Park near Sneads, Florida as a QRP station, call sign N4KGL. I will park our trailer at site 13 and have the adjacent site 11 to pitch an operating tent on. There are fellow hams camping at four other sites in the park. We all will be using our own calls and contributing our scores to the Panama City ARC. We are usually joined by Chris VA3ECO, but he is not making it down this winter, He will be roughing WFD from Ontario. Dennis WA6QKN usually joins us also, but he is dealing with health issues.


I will be using my Icom IC-705 transceiver at 5 watts on CW and 10 watts on the phone and digital modes. I have a hefty Bioenno 40 AH battery which should cover the whole event running QRP.  I'll focus mostly on CW but will try for at least one contact on all bands and modes for the multiplier.I will use my Toughbook laptop for logging running N3FJP WFD software, I'll try the PSK-31 digital mode using another laptop with the Ham Radio Deluxe/DM 780 software.  The antenna will be a 100 foot 26 ga wire in an inverted L configuration supported by three 31 foot Jackite poles. The antenna can be matched on the 80 through the 6-meter bands with the Icom AH-4 tuner. I am rusty on the FM amateur radio satellites, but I try will them using my Kenwood DM-710 and an Elk antenna. The ISS cross-band repeater is expected to be operational. 

The weather forecast at this time is 63 degrees F and cloudy for the Saturday 1 pm start and falling to 51 degrees at midnight.  Starting about 3 am, showers are expected for the rest of the event and warming back up to 70 degrees F. This is pretty mild weather so I should make it through in short pants.