Tag: QRP

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

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.

Going for a Record

Going for a Record

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K3WWP – John. From his QRZ page

There is an amazing ham radio operator on the bands. His name is John Shannon, K3WWP. Besides being one of the founding members of the North American QRP CW Club and FISTS  member where he wrote articles for the monthly newsletter for over 20 years, he holds the “unofficial record” for  the most consecutive days with a QRP QSO (low power contact). He is currently at day 8,419. Thats over 23 years!!!! For 23 years, everyday, he has managed to make a CW contact using less power than a nightlight. You can see his current streak on his home page.

John is also working on another record. He is currently at over 1,620 days with a DX (International) contact. Once again, over 4 years! This guy is amazing. And at 72 years young he shows no sign of slowing down.

Besides making his daily QRP contacts, John also keeps up a diary online. Notice, I didn’t say blog. He was “blogging” online before it became popular. His diary goes back to April of 2006. It is his online journal of his ham radio escapades. It is something we can all learn from.

So, if you know me, you know I like goals to shoot for. Its one of the reasons I have all the certifications I received when I was working. Its why I like the NAQCC challenges. It why I like to chase DX and get that rare QSL card. I like to have a goal in front of me that I can go for.

Am I going to break John’s record? I highly doubt it. 23 years is a long time. Yet, Being 50 as of this Thursday, and starting now, I could break his record by the time I am John’s age! Yet, I was always taught to make my goals SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. So, my first goal is to have a CW QSO every day until the end of September. Including my current streak that would put me a 37 days. A far cry from 23 years but you have heard that old saying, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Well, that 27 days will be my first bite.

In all actuality, I do not realistically think I can meet or even come close to John’s record. I can, however, set a personal best and compete against myself.

So, here is to the first step in a journey of 8,419 steps.

NAQCC-WFL Outing

NAQCC-WFL Outing

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The view from our operating position at Anclote Park

Friday I went out to Anclote Park for the monthly NAQCC-WFL outing. NAQCC-WFL stands for North America QRP CW Club – West Florida. Being in Lakeland, I can attend the WFL or FL outings as they both are just as far from me. I almost wonder if we need a Central Florida chapter, but thats a subject for a different post.

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Ron – N9EE

It was almost a 2 hour drive and I left the house a little before 7:00 am for the 9:00 meeting. The only other member that showed up was Ron, N9EE. Three members if you include Sam! It is the first time I’ve met Ron and we had a good “meeting of the chapter.”

Ron set up his FT-817 and wire dipole and I set up my KX3 and Buddipole antenna. Band conditions were not that great and we had our antennas too close as we both got interference from each other even when

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Mag Loop Antenna

on different bands. I made one solid contact to Mark, AF4NW, in North Carolina. Ron had made a few contacts. Ron also had he friends mag loop antenna and he tried that out. We were not very successful and we were not 100% sure we were tuning it right. Receive signals were a good 2-3 S-units lower than his dipole.

Overall, I had a good time. It was a long drive. In fact, drive time was greater than the time spent with the radio. Yet, I plan on attending these on a regular basis. I think its good to get out and meet other people and have some fun on the radio at the same time.

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Of course, where ever I am, Sam will not be too far away!
Shhhh… I’m WSPRing

Shhhh… I’m WSPRing

When I’m waiting for my KX3 to get fixed under warranty at Elecraft (the’ve had it 10 days so far, but I’m not bitter), I acquired a K2 and a very good price. I mentioned it on my last entry. I’ve found out it is an older one and I’m going to send it to Don Wilhelm once I get my KX3 back. He updates K2s to the latest and greatest at a fraction of the price of Elecraft. It will be equivalent to the current K2s once he is done. He’ll also be able to fix the low output on 20 meters I found I have.

Meanwhile, I’ve been playing a lot with the digital modes. The new FT8 is really cool and fast. I like it a lot better then JT65. It only takes 1:15 – 1:30 to complete the average exchange as opposed to 5 minutes with JT65. It also has a neat feature called auto sequence that will actually complete the QSO for you instead of you just sitting there watching paint dry waiting the minute for each exchange (15 seconds in the case of FT8). You really seem to need it in FT8 because the exchanges go so fast.

The mode I”ve really been playing with is WSPR. That stands for Weak Signal Propagation Reporting. It basically beacons out a signal at low power for 2 minutes, then listens for 6 minutes in 2 minute increments for signals. You then go the the WSPR website and can look and see who has heard your signal and whose you have heard plotting nicely on a map. What you see above is where my signal has been heard this morning on 40 meters. All throughout the USA and all the way to Australia!

What WSPR is really good for is seeing how band conditions are and how your antennas are working. I currently have 2 antennas – a fan dipole up 30 feet in an inverted V and a Cushcraft R9 Vertical. I can compare where the two antennas have been heard using WSPR to see which is the best to reach a particular area.

Why don’t you give FT8 and WSPR a try, I think you will like them.

Local Park Activations Planned

Local Park Activations Planned

This week I plan on activating 4 parks and hopefully getting 10 contacts at each one. Monday or Tuesday I plan on going back to Alafia River State Park. I’ve been there once and did my first activation there but I only got nine contacts and need 10 to make it “official.” I also want to go through another complete set-up with no pressure of getting to other parks again.

Then, later in the week I plan a three park run – Colt Creek, Fort Foster and Hillsborough River State Parks. It is 80 miles round trip so if I get an early start I should be able to do it. Once again, there is no pressure, this is just a personal goal in preparation for activating parks further away.

I’m planning a Space Coast run, if the stars align, for July. I plan on working 3 parks the first day and 3-4 parks the second day. It’s about 30 mins from park a to b. Another 30 mins from park b to c, and so on, so this is doable and a good challenge for me. It’s far enough away where I have to be prepped and have everything I need but close enough where I can get home in 2-3 hours if needed (or someone come to me).

I’ve also added another tool to my arsenal. I have a mag mount and Hamstick antennas for 20, 30 and 40 meters so if I go to a place that is not “ham friendly” I should be able to at least operate from my truck.

Here goes nothing…..