Author: AE4RM

2018…

2018…

My Family

Well, its another new year. As I get older, the years come faster and faster. The best part of my year is Christmas. That is when I have my whole family together and reminds me how much I miss having my daughters home, or at least near by.

Something new for me in 2018 is I am now the National Coordinator for the US program of World Wide Flora and Fauna. WWFF-KFF for short. Basically I am to promote WWFF in the US, coordinate the addition of new parks to the system, make sure logs get updated, and give out awards. The US is quite large and has a lot of members of WWFF-KFF so this is not a one man job and I have help with all of this. Actually, we have a team put together. If you want to find out more about it you can check out the WWFF-KFF web page.

My personal goals around ham radio include to activate at least 2 parks a month. That means I’ll need to make 44 contacts from each park. I’ll be combining my new hobby of camping with this. That way I have over 24 hours at the park to get my contacts. Also, if I pick a strategic campsite, I can drive to another close park and get another activation.

My other goal is to increase my CW speed to 20 WPM. Right now I’m at 10-12 wpm conversationally and 15 wpm if I’m just doing contest exchanges. I’d like to be able to hold a conversation in CW without having to write everything down. I am scheduled to go back to the next level of CW Academy in March/April, so we will see how it goes.

I have personal goals outside of ham radio for 2018 as well, but I’ll keep those to myself for now.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year and I hope to get you in my log in 2018.

73/44,
Roger

Monthly QRP Outing

Monthly QRP Outing

Every month the Lake Wales Amateur Radio Club has their QRP outing. It is normally at Crystal Lake Park in Lake Wales. This month was no exception. It was a really good turnout as well. 10 of my fellow hams showed up and we had 6 radios set up.

One of the goals of the monthly outing is to test new set ups you may have and this month I had one. I bought a SpiderBeam 12m (40′) push up pole. I’ve had an end fed half wave antenna for quite some time now but have not been able to use it since at the State Parks and other places I go you are not allowed to use the trees for supports. This gave me the opportunity to test my new set up.

My drive on mount consists of a 3 foot 2×12 with a floor flange and 1″ pipe, 3 feet long. I used hose clamps to mount the SpiderBeam to the pole and a bent piece of stiff wire to hold the antenna end. Instead of driving on the board I put it under a picnic table, pushed up the pole, and it worked great! I made 15 CW contacts, most of them DX on 15 meters. Since the CQ WW contest was going on, that helped quite a bit.

I can use this set-up at the State Parks and not worry about having to tie the antenna to anything. Also, if I have continued success I may sell my Buddipole system since I won’t be using it anymore. I prefer the EFHW antenna and it performs much better. I do not need a tuner on 10/20/40 meters and the KX3’s internal tuner matched the wire on 15 and 30 meters. Best part, I didn’t have to drop and raise the antenna to make band adjustments!

AE4RM Station during 2017 CQ WW

Also, since it was CQ WW weekend, I set a goal of 100 contacts. I’m not a big contester and I only operate an hour of so at a time so 100 contacts on a weekend is a lot for me. Especially since I am operating on the KX3 (I did go up to 10 watts). I also used a new logging program, Skookum Logger. It is for the Mac and worked great. It may not have all the bells and whistles of N1MM+ but I would say it is very comparable to N3FJP’s logging program. I’m still learning it but it has a lot of great features and interfaced with the KX3 and my WinKeyer with no issues at all.

Overall, it was a good ham radio weekend.

Hillsborough River State Park – Take 2

Hillsborough River State Park – Take 2

I went camping again at Hillsborough River State Park. I am really enjoying the combination of ham radio and camping.  This time, I was able to relax more and take in the sites of the park. I walked one of the trails that went by some rapids and then over a boardwalk. It was very nice. Sam enjoyed it too!

The River

 

12m SpiderBeam Mast

I was able to test out my new SpiderBeam 12m pole too. This is the first time I was able to use my End Fed Half Wave (EFHW) dipole since you are not allowed to tie anything to trees at the State Parks. IT did great. SWR of 1.2 or less across 40m and 20m and it had a SWR of 4:1 on 30m, well within the tunable range of the KX3. I made 17 contacts on 20m and 10 contacts on 40m bringing my park contact total to 40… I need 44 to make it count for WWFF so I’ll have to go back one more time.

I was planning on activating 2 other parks as part of this trip but I caught my daughters cold and cut the trip short. With the threat of rain, I didn’t want to chance getting sicker.

I go again in a few weeks, this time to Alafia River State Park. Should be a cool adventure. I hope to hit Manatee River State Park as well as part of that activation.

Thanks to all chasers who contacted me.

Also, since it is Thanksgiving, I thought I would share my favorite Thanksgiving video clip…

73 and 44

Happy Thanksgiving,

Roger

Camping and Ham Radio

Camping and Ham Radio

I’ve decided to start camping again. I had everything I needed except the tent so I got one. This is a great way to get out in nature AND enjoy ham radio. The Florida State Parks that are campsites are all one the WWFF – Parks on the Air (POTA) list. My goal is to camp at all the ones in Florida over the next 2 years. I have 4 or 5 within an hour of me so I should have a good start.

I’ve already camped at Hillsborough River State Park and going back again next week. I had a good time and when I went a few weeks ago it was kinda my trial run – just to make sure I had everything I needed and Sam, my German Shepherd, liked camping as well (she did as long as we went on a walk every few hours).

POTA has an award for activating parks from 00:00 – 08:00 GMT. By camping at these sites, I should be able to earn the award. Also, I can chose a campsite close to other parks and activate multiple parks in a few days and instead of staying at an expensive hotel, I just pitch the tent!

My time at Hillsborough River State Park was great, I even had a visitor, a deer, show up at my site! I made the required amount of contacts, took notes of what I needed for a multi night stay, and called it a success!

I’ll be going next week for a few nights and hope to activate 3 or 4 parks. It looks like the weather will be great.

I plan on starting to update the blog more often again. Life kinda got in the way since Irma. BTW, no damage here from the storm except for some branches down (no made into firewood for camping).

I hope to see you on the air!

73,
Roger

Hurricane Irma Prep and she stops my streak

Hurricane Irma Prep and she stops my streak

Well, Irma has stopped my streak. If you don’t know it, I live in Central Florida and in the path of Irma. So starting Tuesday we took down my antenna garden (its not big enough to be a farm). The new R-9 vertical came down first and then Thursday I took down the Alpha-Delta DX-CC and yesterday the 2m j-pole came down and the tillable mast is tilted down. The area where the antenna garden normally is looks barren.

The geomagnetic storm hasn’t helped any either. I did try a little bit Tuesday to get a contact but could not put the time in with hurricane prep. I even tried Wed again and nada. But again, I didn’t put much time into it.

If you are wondering about my family and me during the hurricane, we are going to shelter in place. We have secured the homestead as well as we could, our weakest point being a picture window we couldn’t get the plywood to board up. We have a generator to run the well after we lose power (the powers that be say to be ready to be without power for 5-7 days at a minimum) and we have plenty of water and “hurricane food.” I even broke out the zombie apocalypse supplies in case they are needed.

I do worry out my daughters who will be exposed to the hurricane as well. Tiff, my oldest, is in Orlando so she looks like she is going to be far enough away from the eye where she may get tropical force winds. She has her “Harry Potter” room under her stairs she bunkers down in. Then there is Tori, up in Gainesville. She’s in a second floor apartment but the structure is cement block and if Irma keeps her current path she’ll get tropical force winds as well.

Over all, my family is as ready as we can be and amateur radio has taken a backseat to the immediate needs. I do derive a little comfort knowing that even if the power is out and communications is down I’ll be able to communicate with the outside word and get messages to loved ones through ham radio. I can set up my portable ops here at home if needed. Also, I have my portable VHF radios that the hams at the  EMS have who are backup communications to them so I’ll have constant updates to the county information and will be able to contact them as well if we have an emergency.

Well, in the words of REO Speedwagon, we’ll be “Riding the Storm Out….”

Rag Chew

Rag Chew

In ham radio a long conversation is called a rag chew. I’ve had my 3 first real rag chews on CW this week. Each one lasted 20+ minutes and I was able to copy the code fine. In fact, I had a harder time sending the code then copying for some reason. Probably because I was going “off-script.” I usually have a little script I follow for each contact and I was sending just what came to mind including weather, radio and antenna type and family info. It was a blast!

Its a great start to the week because tonight is the unofficial start of CW Ops class. We have a shakedown tonight to make sure our Skype works, mics and headsets work, and of course, we have out keys set up right. I’m looking forward to this as I really like CW and would like to send and receive at 15 words a minute.

The streak is now at 15 days!

Its Been A While

Its Been A While

It’s been a few days since I updated my blog and QSO count. My DX streak did end early. Conditions Thursday were just awful. I was able to keep my QRP QSO streak going!

I just had my longest and best QSO on CW. Thank you to Mike, K1OV, who was very patient and sent slowly. I have two notebook pages of copy from our QSO! We went for almost 30 mins. That is a long QSO for me, especially using CW. My sending was actually worse than my copy tonight. I was able to copy his code quite well but my fist just wasn’t there tonight. I think it might be because I’m switching between the keyed and the bug.

Overall, I’m happy with my CW progress. Monday we start CW Ops training. that is 8 weeks of “intense” CW training where we meet 2 times a week via Skype with an instructor. Wish me luck.

Thanks for reading and 73!

Whew…

Whew…

I thought today my QRP streak would end early. It was storming last night so I couldn’t get on the radio and this afternoon I’ll be at my daughters. That left early this morning to get my contact in.

My first contact was DX, KH6LC in Hawaii. But I had to use 10 watts to get him so not officially QRP. Then I heard JM7OLW in Japan. He never heard me until I pumped it up to 110 watts and then it was rough. But I was able to get him in the log, but still no QRP contact for the day.

So I decided to call CQ on 7055, the SKCC calling frequency with 5 watts using my J-36 key. Thankfully, after a few calls Al, N9YHF, answered me from NC. He gave me a 569 and I’ll take it. My streak goes on!

I’m going to set up my WSPRlite on 20 meters when I’m gone and see how the propagation is today.

Its only 7:20 am so I’m going to see if I can get a QRP DX call in before I have to get ready to go. Thanks for following my escapades!

 

72

One Week

One Week

My streak is continuing. I’m at one week with both a CW and CW DX contact. I wasn’t sure about today’s. Last night at 00 hour it was storming and stormed until I went to bed. Then this morning I an obligation I had to meet and when I got home I just had to lay down. When I got up, it was raining again, but I was able to get a POTA park,, KFF-3111 and my DX was Hawaii. But you think, “Roger, Hawaii is part of the US!” It is a state but as far as DXCC is concerned, Hawaii is a separate entity and has its own DXCC number and that is what I’m going by.

I hope to get back on at 00 hour today to get my contact for the 27th as tomorrow I’ll be gone most of the day visiting my daughter up in Gainesville. Its a 3 hour ride each way so most of my day will be gone.

I can hear thunder, so time to unplug again. 72 everyone!

New Page On Site – Watch My Streak

New Page On Site – Watch My Streak

I’ve added a new page to my blog site – my current streak. I’d like to thank John, K3WWP, for allowing my to copy the format he has for his 23 year streak. I’ll try to update my streak numbers daily and the stats monthly (after I figure out how the couch the numbers in MacLoggerDX).

XK150I’m on day 6 of my streak. Not only have a made a QRP CW contact for six days in a row, I’ve made a DX (log distance – out of country) contact as well with 5 watts! Today is was YK150YUKON! They have a cool QSL card I’m going to send for.

We’ll see if I can keep this streak up for a month. If I do, I’ll extend it from there. I’m taking a page from John’s notebook as well and ZI’m trying to make my contact when the UTC clock turns to 00:00 each day. Right now that is 8:00pm EDT and will be at 7:00 EST when the clocks change. It just gets it done and I don’t have to worry if its storming tomorrow or if the bands are poor.

Wish me luck as I try to continue this streak.