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

Friday, May 19, 2023

A Dose of Alabama Parks On The Air

Linda, Suzy and I camped at Frank Jackson State Park near Opp Alabama. We were joined by Bob KK4DIV and his wife Carla. Bob, Carla and I followed through on our plan to activate Memorial Island for the US Islands One Day Getaway on Saturday.  I was pleased to do four POTA activations at Frank Jackson. I also drove over to Florala State Park K-1040 which was my 50th unique POTA activation. 

The view of Memorial Island from our campsite

It was good to exercise my gear including the Icom 705, Elecraft KXPA-100 amp. I used the N6BT V8 vertical for most of my campsite contacts. On the island and at Florala I used the Alexloop magnetic loop for portability. I mied the modes, SSB, FT8 and CW. Tom WD0HBR and Sandy dropped by on Saturday also. Tom cast a worm lure in the lake, but it was too weedy where we were..

Bob KK4DIV and Carla from Lynn Haven, Florida

I'll take any excuse to go to Frank Jackson. I consider it very scenic. Bob and I plan to return for next year's One Day Getaway.

Lake Jackson at Florala, Alabama


Monday, April 3, 2023

My RaDAR Rally Experience, April 2023

I have been doing Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio for a decade now. Thanks to Eddie ZS6BNE for coming up with the concept. It is portable amateur radio on steroids. I have introduced RaDAR Rally. This is just some fine-tuning of Eddie's RaDAR Challenge Rules. The RaDAR Rally is the first Saturday of April and November, but I revised the rules to allow the following Sunday as an alternative date.

This waterfall is the Falling Waters' namesake.

On Sunday, April 2nd, Chris VA3ECO and I did the RaDAR Rally. Chris was in Ontario. I chose Falling Waters State Park in Northwest Florida. Choosing a park on the POTA list is very helpful for RaDAR. Falling Waters State Park is reference K-1864.

RaDAR Rally allows all bands and modes, including a digital mode FT-8. Chris and I tried out FT-8 at our first deployment at 10 am. We found each other right away. We used a trick Chris discovered using the TX-5 message to exchange an eight-digit grid square for making it a RaDAR to RaDAR contact. 

Suzy is always game for RaDAR.

My basset hound Suzy has been my companion on most of my RaDAR adventures. She loves to take to a trail on the transitions. She likes even more to meet and greet the parkgoers. After five contacts, we move to the next deployment. On foot, the required distance is one kilometer. This time I did four deployments and three transitions. 

The HamPack packs up the Icom 705, Alexloop, and a laptop.

I have used my Icom 705 and the Alexloop for my portable operations lately. All the gear fits into the HamPack backpack Alex PY1AHD bundles with the latest Alexloop. The magnetic loop deploys fast and can quickly change bands as needed. This time, all my contacts were in the 20 meters band.

This Alexloop is my go-to antenna for RaDAR and POTA.

I used three different modes FT-8, SSB, and CW. I am a novice on FT-8, and the 20-meter band was congested. I spent over an hour making my five contacts. I had better luck at other times. At a second stop, I jumped on 20 meters SSB. I did hunt and pounce between POTA and Missouri QSO party stations. I had one reply to my CQ. I got five in ten minutes. At a third stop, I spotted myself on the POTA app; I had five contacts in six minutes. In the RaDAR Rally, you are working against the four-hour clock. After the third walk, I had a short time left. I got the last contact on SSB at the last minute. Even one contact at the last stop helps your score.


Contacts are one point except RaDAR to RaDAR which are three. Stop one was seven points with the RaDAR to RaDAR with Chris. Stop two was five, stop three was five, and stop four was one for eighteen total.. I did a total of four stops which is a multiplier. Therefore the score was seventy-two. I was surprised to learn Chris had the same score as I did.

Chris VA3ECO does RaDAR Rally in Ontario

Suzy and I went home thinking what a great day we had at the park. Par for the course, as they say.

73,

Greg N4KGL


Thursday, March 23, 2023

Introducing the RaDAR Rally

 Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio, or RaDAR, was conceived by Eddie Leighton ZS6BNE in South Africa. Eddie has promoted RaDAR for many years. Eddie still sees value in RaDAR but has terminated the RaDAR Challenge rules as of 2023. I am introducing the RaDAR Rally event on the first Saturday of April and November. Please see https://radarrally.blogspot.com/ for the rules. The first RaDAR Rally will be on April 1st, 2023

The following video was recorded during our March 20, 2023, Beginner's Academy Zoom meeting.


Thursday, March 16, 2023

Get Ready for the New RaDAR Rally, April 1st 2023

Background: Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio, or RaDAR, was conceived by Eddie Leighton ZS6BNE in South Africa. Eddie has promoted RaDAR for many years. Eddie still sees value in RaDAR but has terminated the RaDAR Challenge rules as of 2023. I am introducing the RaDAR Rally event on the first Saturday of April and November. The RaDAR Rally rules streamline RaDAR contacts and minimize administrative effort.

RaDAR Rally Rules:

Dates:  The first Saturday of April and November

Time: Choose a four-hour operating period during the UTC day. RaDAR groups.io is available to announce your outing and coordinate with other RaDAR operators. Note that the four-hour duration creates an urgency that demands optimized equipment and operating strategies.

Where: You may choose any venue where you can legally and safely operate. Parks are a natural choice. RaDAR can be combined with Parks on the Air, POTA. You may also be interested in the POTA Roving Award.

Goal: RaDAR encourages a challenging and rewarding portable operating experience by promoting the rapid deployment of your station and physical exercise while moving between deployments. 

Deployment & Movement: RaDAR deployments are at fixed locations of your choice. Your movement between deployments must be non-motorized, such as walking, bicycling, canoeing, or similar conveyances. Mixed conveyances for an outing are allowed. The minimum distance for walking or canoeing is one kilometer, and bicycling is two kilometers. You must make at least five contacts to move to the next deployment. A deployment location can be reused during an outing. 

Contact Exchange: If you call CQ RaDAR, the exchange is both station's signal report and location. RaDAR to RaDAR contacts will exchange a maidenhead grid square of at least eight digits. If you are hunting contacts, the called station's activity determines the exchange. You may work a station on multiple bands/modes at a deployment location and work them again on another deployment. You can use any means to spot your activity.

Bands and Modes: All amateur bands and modes are allowed except terrestrial repeaters.

Scoring: The QSO points are three for RaDAR to RaDAR contacts and one for others. Up to five contacts count at a deployment' The number of deployments within four hours after your first contact is used as a multiplier. The final score equals the total QSO points times the number of deployments. The last deployment must have at least one contact. Your score is for your satisfaction and monitoring improvement. Please share your experience on social media, including RaDAR groups.io.

Logging: A log should be kept, but it is unnecessary to be submitted. You may use the online RaDAR Log to share your activity.

Chasers: RaDAR Ops appreciate ham friends who help them get those five contacts required to move. Since RaDAR ops bounce between operating and moving often with low power and compromise antennas, they are like rare DX. Please chase them. The QSO will make their day and yours.

Point of Contact: Questions or comments can be directed to Greg Lane N4KGL; my email is good on QRZ.com. 




Monday, March 13, 2023

N4KGL's 2023 Novice Rig Roundup Report

I operated the two weekends of the Novice Rig Roundup. My rig was the Drake 2-NT transmitter on crystal control and the Drake 2-C receiver. The output power was about 30 watts to my 130-foot 80-10 end-fed about 35 feet up.

My Drake 2 Line

I was pleased to work 26 other NRR stations among the 41 total QSOs. I enjoyed their chirp, and they heard mine. 15 Meters was the best with 22 contacts, 40 meters with 17 contacts, and 2 contacts on 80 meters. Those hams were all around the US, in 28 unique states.

The Nye Station Master key and some crystals

CW is a fun mode still. At least 200 hams were nursing their novice rigs for the event. There were Drake, Heathkit, and Eico, among others. Most use tubes.

This year I enjoyed working friends Tom WD0HBR in Dothan and Bobby AK4JA in Georgia. Classic Exchange is another fun event where the multiplier depends on the age of your rigs, 

73,

Greg N4KGL

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Drake 2-C Repair Just in Time for the 2023 Novice Rig Roundup

Novice Rig Roundup is March 4-12 this year and is now underway. My Drake 2 Line, the 2-NT transmitter, and the 2-C receiver is my go-to novice rig. I used a Drake 2-C as a Novice Class ham in the late 60s. I get to recreate that novice experience using crystals for the 2-NT. It is challenging when you have a few choices of frequencies, and you can't move around with a VFO.

The Drake 2-NT transmitter and Drake 2-C receiver work smoothly together like a transceiver.

Sadly I let my original Drake 2-C go, so I bought a replacement from eBay. Phil N4STC now SK did a partial recap for me when I got the receiver. However, a hum developed that I lived with, but eventually, it was overwhelming the audio. The usual suspect is electrolytic capacitors, which was the case this time.


This is the 12-volt DC power supply circuit board in the Drake 2-C. The large electrolytic caps were the issue. 

There is a sidebar to this story. I bought a digital storage oscilloscope for my birthday. The good news is you can get a lot of bang for your buck these days. I purchased a new Instek GDS1102B two-channel 100 MHz digital storage oscilloscope for less than $300. The scope is a great value considering we hams may spend $300 on an antenna analyzer.

The Instek 1102B. Note I had not compensated the probe.

The scope came in handy. Sure enough, the 12-volt DC power supply in the 2-C had a six-volt 120 Hertz AC component. There were two 1000 uF capacitors to do the filtering. One failed open they both had a cracked case. I ordered replacement caps from Mouser, and they arrived the day before NRR started. So a little soldering and mechanical maneuvering did the job. Yet the scope still shows one volt of AC on the 12 volts DC. That causes a minor hum, and I choose to go with it and get on the air for NRR.

Before: This is a terrible output for a DC Supply. 


After: Replacing the caps improved it, but there still is about a volt of AC.

I have eighteen NRR contacts from Friday night and Saturday. Among the contacts were friends Tom WD0HBR in Dothan, Alabama, and Bobby AK4JA in Newnan, Georgia. Most of these hams share my love of vintage rigs and the Novice days. This may inspire me to dig into other vintage rigs I have that need work. The scope is not required, but it sure is helpful. Note I am a novice at using a scope, but it is intuitive. I am pleased with my purchase.


Tuesday, January 31, 2023

2023 Winter Field Day Camping in Georgia

Our WFD site was the Eastbank COE Campground in Southwest Georgia. Chris VA3ECO who is on a winter visit to Panama City, FL, joined me. We were a 2-transmitter outdoor Georgia (2O GA) entry. The camp site was adjacent to some green space that had room for both the Buddihex hex beam 20 - 6 meters and the MyAntennas.com 80-10-meter end-fed. A new wrinkle was using a Low Band Systems QuadPlexer to let both our transceivers use the same antenna at the same time, but different bands. We used a Quickset Clam Venture screen shelter for the operating hut. We closed it in with panels to keep warm. Chris spent Friday and Saturday in the shelter. Linda and I were in our trailer.

A drone view of the campsite.

We were ready by show time at 2 pm EST on Saturday. There was a CAS-4b satellite pass just after 2 pm. We had an Icom 9700 ready with Chris' Arrow antenna. We used a CSN Sat box to track the pass and adjust the rig for doppler. Chris snagged W4R also in Georgia on the sat pass. That was a great start to Winter Field Day and qualifies for a bonus.

The Buddipole Buddihex hex beam at sunset

Chris focused on PSK-31, and I focused on CW. We both did some phone. I had an unexpected run of 150 contacts on 20 meters SSB. 10 and 15 meters were open during the day. The Buddihex was outstanding. We used the end-fed for 80 and 40 meters. Eventually we got all band and mode combinations for 80 through 10. Then Chris tuned he end-fed on 160 and got a digital contact for a total multiplier of 16. Altogether we had just over 500 contacts.


Chris' Yaesu 857

It was not all operating, we ate at the Mexican Restaurant on Friday night, Chris cooked eggs each morning and Margot sent us some chili for supper on Saturday night. It was nice to hang out with Chris. He was a big help with the setup and operating. Pretty much this was a plan that came together and made for a great Winter Field Day experience. I hope to return to the same campsite for ARRL Field Day in June and have some more fun.

VA3ECO and N4KGL





Tuesday, January 24, 2023

N4KGL Winter Field Day 2023 Plans

The WFD location for N4KGL is at Site C-33 at the Eastbank COE Campground, Georgia. Visitors, please let them know my name and site number at the gate. Chris VA3ECO and I are the primary operators. We will be a 2-transmitter outdoor Georgia (2O GA) entry. Our main antennas will be a Buddihex hex beam 20 - 6 meters and a MyAntennas 80-10 meter end-fed. We will be experimenting with a QuadPlexer to allow both transceivers on the same antenna but different bands, Chris will focus on PSK-31, and I will focus on CW. We will also operate phone mode and go for as many bands/modes as possible. We will set up starting at 2 pm Friday and begin operating at 2 pm Saturday through 2 pm Sunday. Chris and I are members of the Panama City ARC, and I am also a member of the Wiregrass ARC. Good Luck to all for Winter Field Day.