Tuesday, October 29, 2019

2019 Illinois QSO Party recap

Calling CQ, rinse and repeat

Alexander/Pulaski county line operation

I stuck with the same operating plan as the last 2 years by starting at the Alexander/Pulaski county line. This location is at boat ramp on the Cache River wildlife area that is seldom used. My travels started at 8AM and took 2.5 hours to get there which cut me a little close on setup time but I was mostly ready to go by 11:35. I ate a quick bite and got the logging PC and headset ready. AA0Z Kyle was operating as a rover this year so I sent him a text message and we met up on 80 meters and made an official contact right at the Noon start. Once again 40 meters was long and in-state contacts were tough but I was able to work the northern half of the state. People need to try 80 meters earlier in the day for in-state contacts. I operated until 2:30 and then did a quick tear down with a 40 minute drive to my next location. Here are pictures from this location. 

Antenna was a 40 meter dipole fed with ladder line to an AH-4 tuner. 

Pulaski/Johnson/Massac county line operation

This county line operation started at 4:30 by using an inverted L fed by the AH-4 tuner. I have a narrow area to erect the antenna and the dipole would not have been a good fit for the space. 40 meters was in better shape now but I think a bunch of folks were already starting the move to 80 meters. After a good run on 40 meters I went to 80 meters. Search and pounced on 80 CW and gained some new multipliers. Then I started a run on 80 phone that lasted for an hour and ended 10 minutes before the contest ended. 

I did have a weird thing happen on CW from this location. When I first tried CW the radio would briefly key the radio and unkey. At first I thought I had RF getting into the keyer but the display on the keyer looked normal. I must have bumped the speed control on the keyer because it was set for 136WPM. I bet the stations I tried to contact were wondering what was happening!

My score was down from last year as I hit 56K this year. 

Scoring history for ND9E
2019 56K (rover)
2018 86K (rover)
2017 71K (rover)
2016 31K (rover)
2015 9.8K (rover)
2014 71K (portable)

Map of Illinois counties contacted

Map of states contacted

Sunday, September 1, 2019

US Islands QSO Party, WWFF and POTA weekend

On Saturday August 24th, the annual US Islands QSO Party was scheduled and I combined two of the islands with WWFF and POTA parks to help drive up contact points for the USI QSO Party. My original plan was to hit 4 islands along the Mississippi River near Alton IL but things changed along the way. 

Original plan: 
Cora Island MO006R
Ellis Island MO003R
Chouteau Island IL003R
Walker Island IL019L

I started at Cora Island MO006R which is also part of the POTA program as K-0374. 40 meters was very kind to me so I stuck with it for most of this location. Advertising the POTA program on the DX cluster is what boosted the QSO count. 68 contacts were made with 5 of them being islands. Logging this year for the USI QSO Party was done on N1MM+ which worked well on my small Winbook PC. Below is a picture of my standard portable setup. 31 ft mast with an AH-4 tuner using tape measure radials.

My stay at Cora Island went long so I decided to skip Ellis Island since it was not part of WWFF or POTA and therefore it would be hard to get many contacts there so I went onto Chouteau Island in Illinois. 

Chouteau Island IL003R is also a park in the WWFF and POTA programs. KFF-4116 for WWFF and K-4116 for POTA. I primarily worked this location as a park but used the USI Facebook group to let the island chasers know where to find me. 80 contacts were made here with all but one on 40 meters. 
Contact was made with 4 islands from this spot.

It was decided to skip Walker Island and get home to mow the grass as the weather forecast did not look good for the next two days. Turns out this was a good call as we received multiple inches of rain on Sunday and Monday.


For only operating from two locations this needed to generate 5 different logs not counting LOTW. 

Cora Island- USI rover log for MO006R, POTA log for K-0374 (Big Muddy)

Chouteau Island- USI rover log for IL003R, WWFF log for KFF-4116 and POTA log for K-4116

Cabrillo logs went to USI and ADIF logs went to POTA and WWFF. Then the Cora Island log had to be uploaded to LOTW as a different location since it was in Missouri and under a different county. 


It was a good outing even if it didn't go as planned. There wasn't any radio or antenna issues. I got the usual stares at the big antenna attached to the truck but ever since I started putting signs in the window saying "amateur radio" people have pretty much left me alone. See the links below to these fine organizations. 

US Islands program US Islands.org

World Wide Flora and Fauna (USA) WWFF-KFF

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Activation of KFF-4134 Kaskaskia State Fish and Wildlife Area in Illinois- ND9E

ND9E successfully activated KFF-4134 with 46 contacts made. Once I was setup I checked the noise level and was surprised with only a S2-S3 noise level on 20m. The lake I was at is a cooling lake for the Baldwin power plant so I was concerned that the noise level would be high. So I started on 20 meters and quickly put 31 phone contacts in the log. I switched to 40 meter phone and had a tougher time getting contacts. Noise level was slightly higher but only S5. I know towards my last few contacts that lightning crashes were starting up somewhere in the country. There were 2 park to park contacts made. Logs were uploaded to WWFF and POTA. 

This activation appears to be the first one for WWFF and the second for POTA. 

Here is a map made showing my contacts. It is made with the website DYIMAPS.COM. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Field Day 1D operation

2019 ARRL Field Day

I had other commitments throughout the weekend but I was able to get on the air for a few minutes. My station was my normal home setup and I didn't have time to hookup the batteries so I was a 1D operation. I made 20 contacts so this was mainly just a quick test of my equipment. Sounds like everyone had a pretty good Field Day in our region. Temps were lower than normal and of course folks got rained on. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

7 Area, New England and Indiana QSO Parties

The weekend of May 4th was a big weekend for state QSO parties with the 7 area, NEQP, INQP and DEQP all happening on Saturday and the NEQP continuing into Sunday. I had carved out some time to work these events but plans are always subject to change.

This year my plan was to put up my 80 meter doublet mainly for getting the Indiana contacts as I had just experienced the Missouri QSO Party where 40 meters was way long for in state contacts. It also has been monsoon season here in the St. Louis area which left my yard standing water in the spots where I always setup the 80 meter doublet so I had to just use my 31ft vertical.

7 Area QSO Party 

This event started early in the morning and I was able to make contacts on 20, 40, and 80 meters on phone, cw and digital. I made 40 contacts for a point total of 3210. 

Indiana QSO Party

Well just like the MOQP, 40 was long and my contacts were all on 80 meters phone and cw.

I made 5 contacts for a point total of 45.

New England QSO Party

I did not get to spend much time on this event and I was unable to play on Sunday. My contacts were on 20, 40 and 80 meters on phone and cw. 

I made 18 contacts for a point total of 392. 

What is nice about these contests is that all 3 QSO parties use the same exchange if you are out of state. I used N3FJP for logging. Rig control was not setup since I could only have one program talking to the rig so I just changed the mode and band manually in each program. It was easy to keep up with the changes. I am looking forward to this same weekend next year. 


Monday, March 25, 2019

LiFePO battery purchase for FT-818

I recently purchased this battery to go with a FT-818 that I have been playing with the last month. It is a Bioenno Model# BLF-1203A which has a 12 volt 3 ah rating. Hamsource was having a Facebook special on it for $55. Hamsource webpage

I decided to test it out on a West Mountain CBA IV battery analyzer mainly so I could see the discharge curve everyone brags about on these batteries. Below are the results. You can see that the discharge is much flatter than a lead-acid battery and the steep drop off at the end of life. At the end of the test you can see the voltage dropped to zero! That appears to be a function of the battery management board built into the battery module. As soon as the charger was plugged back in the battery woke up. 

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Carolina in my mind

The Carolina QSO Parties

Sorry, I couldn't resist using this title as this weekend was both the South and North Carolina QSO Parties. I didn't do much score wise for these events but it was nice to get back to working QSO Parties from home.

Operation was mainly 40 meters and I was hoping for more on 80 meters but I may need to check out my vertical antenna. It has never been very good on 80 but something seems worse now so it is time for some antenna maintenance. The antenna is a 33ft antenna from DX Engineering and I will be looking into adding 10 feet to it and maybe install my LDG-100 remote tuner.

South Carolina QSO Party (Saturday)

CREATED-BY: N3FJP's SCQP Contest Log (Out of State) 2.3
QSO:  7182 PH 2019-02-23 2008 ND9E      59  IL       NC8N      59  AIKE
QSO:  7186 PH 2019-02-23 2010 ND9E      59  IL       W9DC      59  OCON
QSO:  7191 PH 2019-02-23 2013 ND9E      59  IL       WN4AFP    59  GVIL
QSO:  7244 PH 2019-02-23 2017 ND9E      59  IL       KF4GDX    59  PICK
QSO:  7036 CW 2019-02-23 2027 ND9E      599 IL       N4CW      599 GRWD
QSO:  7041 CW 2019-02-23 2029 ND9E      599 IL       N4AW      599 ANDE
QSO:  3848 PH 2019-02-24 0036 ND9E      59  IL       KI4MJK    59  CKEE
QSO:  3864 PH 2019-02-24 0038 ND9E      59  IL       WW4SF     59  DORC

North Carolina QSO Party (Sunday)

CREATED-BY: N3FJP's NCQP Contest Log (Out of State) 3.0
QSO:  7225 PH 2019-02-24 2033 ND9E              IL     K4MN              CUM
QSO:  7187 PH 2019-02-24 2055 ND9E              IL     WB4QOC            CAB
QSO:  7180 PH 2019-02-24 2058 ND9E              IL     N4ATJ             GAS
QSO:  7044 CW 2019-02-24 2100 ND9E              IL     K4MN              CUM
QSO:  7041 CW 2019-02-24 2101 ND9E              IL     KG4IKQ            MCD
QSO:  7037 CW 2019-02-24 2104 ND9E              IL     W4NC              FOR
QSO:  7070 PH 2019-02-24 2109 ND9E              IL     KK4NHC            AVE
QSO:  7070 RY 2019-02-24 2112 ND9E              IL     KK4HEG            GAS
QSO:  7070 RY 2019-02-24 2118 ND9E              IL     W4SDJ             CHE
QSO:  7179 PH 2019-02-24 2124 ND9E              IL     W4BBT             FRA
QSO:  7190 PH 2019-02-24 2128 ND9E              IL     W4SNC             IRE
QSO:  7229 PH 2019-02-24 2132 ND9E              IL     W4BFB             MEC
QSO:  7242 PH 2019-02-24 2133 ND9E              IL     W4DW              ORA
QSO:  3852 PH 2019-02-25 0037 ND9E              IL     K8AC              ASH
QSO:  3857 PH 2019-02-25 0038 ND9E              IL     W4DW              ORA
QSO:  3882 PH 2019-02-25 0047 ND9E              IL     W4YK              HEN
QSO:  3536 CW 2019-02-25 0049 ND9E              IL     N3CZ              BUN
QSO:  3545 CW 2019-02-25 0054 ND9E              IL     K4MN              CUM
QSO:  3547 CW 2019-02-25 0055 ND9E              IL     K4BSK             MEC