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

Sunday, November 20, 2022

N4KGL's 2022 Fall RaDAR Challenge Outing

RaDAR is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio. For the Fall RaDAR Challenge, Suzy and I made three stops in three hours at Geneva State Lake in Southeast Alabama on Nov 10th, 2022. The site was on the Parks On The Air POTA list, and we benefited from the POTA hunters. I had to talk them out of their grid square for the RaDAR exchange. We made at least five contacts before moving to the next stop. Suzy enjoyed our two one-kilometer walks on the trail around the lake. We should have done one more stop; we had an hour left.

Our first and third stops at Geneva State Lake in Alabama

At the first stop, I had seven 20-meter SSB contacts; then a one-kilometer walk, I got five more on 20-meter SSB. We walked one kilometer back to the first stop, and I worked one Alabama and one Georgia station on 40 meters SSB. I switched to 20 meters CW and worked eight. I needed to work more than five to get the grid squares. Asking for a grid square from a CW POTA hunter is difficult as they don't expect the request.

Geneva State Lake was an excellent venue for RaDAR. Since I spotted myself on the POTA list, the contacts came quickly. The Alexloop magnetic loop and the Icom 705 fit in my backpack and were both portable and efficient for RaDAR-style operating.

The view of the lake from the pier.

Suzy, our Basset, and my RaDAR Companion

Monday, August 22, 2022

Skeeter Hunt: My First Use of the Buddipole Buddihex Hex Beam

The annual NJQRP Skeeter Hunt QRP Event on August 21st was my first opportunity to try out the BuddiHex Hex Beam by Buddipole Antennas. The assembly took some extra time being the first time. The quality and design of the antenna are excellent. I set it up for 20, 15, and 10 meters for this event. I spent three hours hunting skeeters. I found seventeen of them on 20 meters, including the head skeeter Larry W2LJ. The band conditions were not great for QRP but had a great time. Thanks to Tom WD0HBR for assistance with the Buddihex and for sitting in with me during the event.

I look forward to more opportunities to use the Buddihex, in particular, Winter and ARRL Field Day.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

POTA Fun with Icom 705, Alexloop, and a Saltwater Venue

I had fun this morning doing a Park On The Activation from my favorite spot at St. Andrews State Park near Panama City, Florida. There happens to be a picnic table right next to Grand Lagoon. That spot views the rest of North America over the saltwater. I believe saltwater enhances low-angle radiation for vertically polarized waves. My rig was the Icom 705 at ten watts into the AlexLoop magnetic loop. 

The Alexloop magnetic loop was about twelve feet from the water.

The results speak pretty well for this effect. I had 56 contacts,  48 on 20 meters, 6 on 17 meters, and 2 on 40 meters. To the west was NU7J in Washington State, to the south was ZF5T in the Grand Cayman Islands, and to the north was Chris VA3ECO in Ontario. The furthest contact on 40 meters was AA5UZ in Louisiana on CW. This was the best activation I have had with the Alexloop.  

I used the Icom IC-705 at ten watts powered by a Bioenno 3AH battery.

The view toward the East over Grand Lagoon.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

I used Five Watts, Battery, Hand Key, and Paper Log for 2022 ARRL Field Day

Our 2022 ARRL Field Day was at a campsite at Falling Waters State Park, Florida. When packing up the Icom 7300 and a laptop, it struck me. Why not go for the 1B category five watts battery. So I saved a few pounds by taking the Icom 705 and paper log sheets instead. This year like last year Rick NZ2I was my second operator. Bob KK4DIV, Daniel K4MDA, and Scott KF7MYF also did Field Day at the same park so there was a coordination of who was on which band.

2022 ARRL Field Day

Our campsite had plenty of room for antennas. I used a vertical with a remote tuner for 20, 15, and ten meters. I also used a SOTABeams 80/40/30/20 link dipole. It did 15 meters as well. Half of the dipole was within the campsite and the other half extended into an adjacent field.

The Quickset Shelter worked well for us.

We operated outside in a screen shelter. It looked bad at the beginning as there was a first-class thunderstorm. We got on just thirty minutes late, but the rain help cool things off. I went strictly CW and avoided SSB. Having no laptop eliminated digital modes. I did hunt and pounce. There were plenty of running stations so it was a matter of staying in the chair. I managed 103 CW contacts. 20 meters was the best band with 58 followed by 20 on 40, 14 on 15, 7 on 80, and 4 on 10 meters. 

The rig was an Icom 705 which barely drained our 40 amp-hour Bioenno battery in the battery box.

CW is two points per contact and the five watts battery has a multiplier of five. So without bonuses, the score was 1030. On last year's Field Day Rick and I had 166 contacts for 562 points. So the QRP gamble paid off, fewer contacts for more points works for me.

The SOTABeams Tactical 7000 telescoping pole supported the SOTABeams 80/40/30/20 link dipole. We ran one end to the volleyball net on the field.

I enjoyed socializing with Rick, Bob, Daniel, and Scott. We stayed for a few extra days and I did two POTA activations. For Winter Field Day in January, there is motivation to work all bands and modes for the multiplier. However, for ARRL Field Day I like sticking to CW.

Suzy basks in the sun near the sign Daniel K4MDA made for us.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Lassen Volcanic National Park POTA Activation

Linda and I took a plane ride from Panama City, Florida to Sacramento, California to visit our daughter Emily in Chico, California the first week of June. I worked in three Parks On The Air (POTA) activations in the valley including Woodson Bridge K-3597, Adobe K-3596, and Bidwell Sacramento River K-1128.  Emily went with me to the first activation so she knows what it is about now. We saw pelicans in the Sacramento River. How about that?

My gear was my Icom 705 and my SOTABeams link dipole. QRP seemed tougher in Northern California than in Florida. It may have been band conditions. The best contacts were to the North/South and not to the East. I got the required ten contacts at each park. I learned to be mindful that the UTC day rolled over at five pm. I had to get ten contacts before the UTC day rollover or after.

The POTA highlight was a trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park K-0049. There was some drama when I got lost in some rustic territory on the trip to the park. The Garmin GPS wanted me to take unpaved roads. I knew I was in trouble, but after about 45 minutes I came upon two men who sent me in the right direction. I entered the park from the Loomis Ranger station at the North end of the park. It was a short distance to Manzanita Lake where I set up a picnic table to operate. There was no cellular service anywhere in the area so I could not spot myself. It also was a Monday and stations on 20 meters were sparse. However, I got four on SSB and three on CW. With 20 meters waning my hope for the last three was 40 meters. I begged some SSB stations to give me contacts and that completed the ten needed. 

The lake was particularly scenic at 5800-foot elevation. I had daylight to drive the thirty-mile park road to the exit on the South. I saw the snow-capped mountains and the road reached the 8500-foot level so there was plenty of snow there. I saw and smelled the boiling Sulphur Springs on the South end of the park. The park and the trip back to Chico were miles of winding roads. I saw some great sights we don't have in Florida.


Greg N4KGL

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

One Day Island Getaway with the Alexloop and the Icom 705

One Day Getaway (1DG) is the US Islands Programs' excuse to operate ham radio from an island on the second Saturday of May. Since I chose to camp at Frank Jackson State Park, Alabama, I had easy access to Memorial Island, USI AL021L, in Lake Frank Jackson. Bob KK4DIV and his wife Carla also camped at the park. They operated from the other end of the island. I minimized my packup with the Alexloop and the Icom 705 which all fit in Alex's Ham Pack. I did search and pounce on 20 meters SSB for fifteen POTA stations. I also got one 40-meter SSB POTA contact and five 20 Meter CW contacts. A few of the contacts took extra repeats to get the info across and some did not. Overall, I had plenty for a POTA activation. I also worked our friend Chris VA3ECO on his island in Ontario. Bob, Carla, and I enjoyed the scenery and had a good time.

Alex PY1AHD's Ham Pack contained the Alexloop and Icom 705

My view from Memorial Island at Frank Jackson State Park

View over the water at Lake Frank Jackson

Sunrise view from our campsite at Frank Jackson State Park

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Awesome RaDAR to RaDAR QSO

Chris VA3ECO and I both participated in the Spring RaDAR Challenge on Saturday. We had radically different venues. Chris was on foot on a frozen Canadian lake, and I walked in my Garden District neighborhood in Dothan, Alabama. Finding another RaDAR op is challenging. However, I contacted Mike WB8ERJ doing POTA in Ohio on 20 meters SSB. I needed Mike's grid square, which he pulled right up on his Raspberry Pi. His next contact was Chris VA3ECO. I could hear Chris. Then Mike let us make our RaDAR to RaDAR contact. We exchanged our respective grid squares. Chris and I both entered our contact in the online RaDAR log that Eddie ZS6BNE created. So we got the QSL checkmark for having matching information, including the grid square. Communicating effectively is one goal of RaDAR. Chris had a phenomenal five stops in four hours with a one-kilometer walk in between. I made two stops. I did not think HF conditions were very good. I wonder what Chris's secret was for making all those contacts. He said his legs were aching when he was done.

Chris VA3ECO doing on-foot RaDAT on a frozen lake in Ontario.

Chris VA3ECO is operating RaDAR on the ice.

Greg N4KGL's set up in Solomon Park in Dothan, Alabama

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

RaDAR: Get Ready to be Challenged!

The next RaDAR Challenge is April 2nd, 2022 UTC. RaDAR is Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio fostered by Eddie Leighton ZS6BNE. The RaDAR “Challenge” is a unique event aimed at promoting the use of Rapidly Deployable Amateur Radio stations.  RaDAR is a step up from how you have been operating portable. Also, there is no limitation on your outdoor venue. Please give it a go, the more participants we have, the more fun it will be. Chasers are very helpful and now a RaDAR category. 

The rules have been refined after some new ideas were tested in the November 2021 Challenge. Be sure to give the rules a careful read. Also, please see the How-To for RaDAR Online Logging 

Here are some highlights from the rules:

There are four categories:

  • Category A – A FULL twenty-four-hour RaDAR Challenge.
  • Category B – The standard RaDAR challenge. It’s up to each individual to plan his / her MAXIMUM, SINGLE PERIOD, FOUR HOUR ops.
  • Category C – A 2-hour RaDAR Sport sprint, starting time 14:00 LOCAL TIME. This is a physically demanding challenge.
  • Category D – A RaDAR Chaser station. Without these stations, RaDAR operators will find difficulty in maintaining quick QSOs per deployment.

There are multipliers based on your portable situation:

  • 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.

Options (Fixed, Field, or Moving) may be changed at any time during the challenges.

The Moving category has specified transition distances:

  • Bicycles – 2 km.
  • On foot and paddle canoes – 1 km.
  • Wheelchairs – 500 m (The four-hour challenge only).
  • Vehicles, motorcycles, and motorboats (motorized transport) – 6 km.

Aeronautical mobile stations are considered moving stations and can communicate at any convenient time.

Note: Motorized transport is only allowed for the twenty-four and four-hour challenges and not for the two-hour RaDAR Sport sprint. The RaDAR Sport sprint is more of a physical challenge.

Moving RaDAR stations need to make at least five QSOs 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. 


Callsign, 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

Logging may be done online during the course of the event. Logging by all participants is encouraged because matching QSOs will receive a bonus point.

Good Luck and stay safe,

Greg N4KGL

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Riding the Classic Exchange Time Machine

I had a great ride on the Winter CW Classic Exchange (CX).Time Machine. As a Novice in 1967, we were limited to crystal control CW transmitters and 75 watts max. The Drake 2-C was my Novice receiver. If I had been ham in the 50s, I might have started out with the Hallicrafters S-38. They were famous broadcast and shortwave receivers but not the best for ham radio because of the wide bandwidth. The  Ameco AC-1 two tube crystal controlled transmitter would be similar to the homebrew transmitters the early hams started with. The CX Exchange has a multiplier equal to the total age of the gear you use. I had to get at least three contacts to count the radio's age in the multiplier. Transceivers count double their age. My equipment totaled up to 336 years.

The Classics Operating Position

The bands were kind to me for the QRP contacts with the Ameco AC-1 and the Heathkit HW-8. I got some 589 reports, and QRPers were calling me back. Crystal control is a challenge, too, since I have a limited number of crystals. I can't match their frequency unless someone lands on my spot. So I called CQ or hoped they would hear me. The most exciting part was using the Hallicrafters S-38C with the Ameco AC-1. That is the oldest combination. I listened to a dozen stations in the bandwidth, and I had to pick out which ones talking to me. Thanks to Bobby AK4JA for my third AC-1/S-38C contact.

So the CX time machine took me back to my teenage ham days and even before my time as a ham. I definitely got a kick out of it, as did all those who participated. No SDRs were used in this event. I like to say the ionosphere does not care how old your gear is. 

I am looking forward to the Novice Rig Roundup from March 5th to March 13th. 

73, Greg N4KGL 

The Hallicrafter S-38C, I estimate 70 years old. It works well

The Ameco AC-1, I estimate 52 years od.

Heathkit HW-8 Transceiver  2-3 watts 39 years X 2 = 78 years
Drake 2-NT Transmitter, 75 watts Crystal, Controlled 55 years
Drake 2-C Reciever 55 years
Ameco AC-1 Transmitter Crystal Controlled  3 watts 52 years
Icom 703 Transceiver 10 watts 13 years X 2 = 26 years
Hallicrafters S-38C Reciever 70 years
Multiplier Total Years = 336

Drake 2-NT and Drake 2-C 5 contacts
Heathkit HW-8 Transceiver 5 contacts
Ameco AC-1 and Drake 2-C 3 Contacts
Ameco AC-1 and Hallicrafters S-38C 3 contacts
Icom 703 Transceiver 4 Contacts
Total contacts = 20
Bonus = 500 points for using Ameco gear
Score = 336 years X 20 contacts + 500 point bonus = 7220