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

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Winter Field Day 2019

WFD 2019 - ND9E

We went with the same basic plan as last year meaning we would set up at the same location with the antennas basically the same as last year. The second year at the same location goes so much easier as you know which trees supported the Windom antenna as an example. We went with the 10-80m Windom and the 80 meter loop as our main antennas.

Friday night we got the pull strings in the trees and the camper leveled and plugged in so it could warm up. 

On Saturday we had 2 people available to start at 8AM by getting the Windom antenna in the air. We tried an untested inverted L as a multi-band antenna with the primary goal being a way to get on 160 meters. I use this same balun on my inverted L at home but there is definitely a sweet spot when tuning it and we did not have time to mess with it any longer so that will get tested once it warms up. Plan B was to put up the 80 meter loop we used last year. After the antennas were up we set up the generator, access point, and shelters. We added another ice fishing tent this year as it should be easier to heat. We also put thick moving blankets on the concrete pad first before putting the shelter down. This seemed to greatly help the heating issue and I know my feet were warmer this year! The shelter you see on the left held 2 operators and the one on the right was for a single operator. We had the normal PC issues just before the contest started such as N1MM needed updated again, working through the error messages and finally getting the section entries to be accepted. We got on the air about 20 minutes late but we were off and running. One operator working on phone contacts while the other one knocked out some multiplier hunting. 

We got some relief in the evening when AE0TT came to help out and he had some good runs on 80m phone. By Midnight pretty much folks were in bed for the night. We still need to solve the night shift operator issue but I am not sure there is enough activity to keep someone awake. 

Sunday morning I woke up to the sound of sleet hitting the camper which made it hard to get out of bed but things needed to get started again so we got up and started the generator and turned on the heat in the tents. AA0Z began operating while the eggs were cooking. 2 operators finished out the event and we started tearing down. My son Simon came to the park to help tear down antennas and tents plus he helped haul stuff back home. Thanks Simon!

AA0Z N1MM wifi access point below
(just plug it into power and let the laptops all sync up)

Final results

Operators AA0Z, KE0HXL, AE0TT, ND9E
22 CW contacts
374 Phone contacts
103 digital contacts
15 multipliers
1500 bonus points for emergency power
1500 bonus points for being outside
1500 bonus points for being away from home
Total claimed score was 23,070

Sunday morning indoor and outdoor temps below

AE0TT operating by the glow of the laptop screen

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

2018 Illinois QSO Party recap

Alexander/Pulaski County line

The day started out with a 2.5 hour drive to the bottom of the state to an area called Mounds IL. There is a parking lot that has the Alexander and Pulaski county line passing through it. This will be the second year for this location and it also is part of the WWFF park program. The park designation is KFF-0283 Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge. I arrived about 30 minutes late as I made a wrong turn due to trust issues with the directions from Garmin since it was a different route from last year. I started setting up at 10:30AM and was done by 11:10 so that gave me time to eat lunch and record canned CQ phone scripts into the IC-7100 radio. My plan was to operate 2.5 hours from this location.

Antenna was a low 40 meter doublet. The picture below would make you wonder why the center was not higher. I forgot that I had shortened the ladder line so I raised the center until I ran out of ladder line. I need to make an extension for next time.

40 meters was a little long at the start of the contest as I made a test with W9W up at Rend Lake and 40 meters would not work but 80 meters worked great. Too bad most folks think 80 meters is only good once it starts getting dark. If you can't make 40 meters work for local communications you should try 80 meters. I never did make it up to 20 meters and as you can see from the picture above I was sitting in a hole.

Above is a picture of the AH-4 tuner with the ladder line feed.

Massac/Johnson/Pulaski County line

This is my 5th year of operating from this location. Luckily the farmer had just finished with the bean harvest there but it sure was dusty. This location no longer allows a safe deployment of a dipole/doublet without working in the roadway or trespassing on the farmers property. I have a 12 foot wide farm road to operate on so I park on the corner and run a wire to the north. It is set up as an inverted L. 25 feet vertical section with about 50 feet of horizontal section. This set up has worked great now for two years. It is easier to set up than the doublet. 

I operated here about 3.5 hours and made my last contact about 15 minutes before the end of the contest. Everything was torn down and packed up by 8:30 PM and then I was off for my McDonald's drive thru feast in Vienna IL. 

I have not processed my log yet but I had fewer multipliers than last year but had a higher score mostly due to working more CW this year. 

Looks like my claimed score will be around 90K for this year and if that score holds up to the scoring folks this will be my best score yet for ILQP.

 Placed 3rd in the Rover category. 

Saturday, October 20, 2018

2018 Illinois QSO Party prep

This is be mostly pictures with captions. The ILQP is Sunday the 21st starting at 1700z and ends at 0100z. Looks like a good weather day so at least we won't get soaked like last year!

I will be doing the same route as last year as a rover station. This means I can be mobile and still operate from county lines and corners. Operation will be mostly 20 and 40 phone.

I will start at the Pulaski/Alexander county line in an area that is also KFF- 0283 Cypress Creek for WWFF. I will then move to the county corner of Pulaski, Johnson and Massac which is KFF-4112 Cache River.  Operation will be mostly 40 and 80 phone.

There will be an update sometime early next week on how the contest went.

Took my LED headlamp out of the center console of my truck and I guess someone forgot to remove the batteries again. Vinegar and alcohol fixed it up. 

SOTA wire winders are great for cables and ropes. Here are my guy ropes for the pushup mast on the left and on the right is my end fed wire for my Inverted L. The Inverted L will be fed by an AH-4 tuner.

The 40 meter doublet all nice a neat in its bag. It will not look like this tomorrow evening but that is what Monday is for. Winding up all the ropes and wires. 

The mobile contesting console installed on the left. The rats nest on the right is a 35ah battery, DC booster and powergate. This ensures that the IC-7100 always has 14 volts and full power output even if I shut the engine off for awhile. Not seen in these pictures is the 110 watt GE RangR VHF radio that will primarily be used for any simplex contacts and chat with others in the area on the repeaters. This radio has its own 35ah battery in the rear seat floorboard. 

Push-up mast, 2 painters poles, 2 meter antenna, AH-4 tuner and concrete blocks. I find setting up 3 masts by yourself is enough of a challenge and trying to get the stakes for the end guys in the right spot is hard for me so this year I am going to try using only the concrete blocks. I needed the blocks for my second operating location anyway because it is all rock and I can't get a stake driven through the rocks. 

Monday, August 6, 2018

Beaver Dam State Park KFF-0981

My plan for the day was to attend the West Central Illinois Hamfest located in Carlinville IL. and then head to Beaver Dam State Park for a parks activation.

At the hamfest I got to meet Jim N9JF who is a very active park activator and ILQP big-wig. It was great to swap ILQP stories about the miserable rain we endured last year and to discuss the upcoming IL200 Challenge. This is the bi-centennial for the state and there is a program starting on Aug 9th to activate and chase every IL county by December. More on this hopefully in later posts.

I drove about 15 minutes from the hamfest to the park and made a slow drive around it looking for a parking spot I could back in to and stay out of peoples camping and picnic spots. I found a spot by an empty pavilion and got setup. Unfortunately I had little cell service so I could not spot myself like I had wanted so I started on 40 meters and only got 10 in the log in the first hour. This was going to be a long activation to get at least 44 contacts. I switched to 20 meters and someone spotted me but I never could get a run started. I made around 20 contacts on 20 meters and then was able to see some Facebook posts that said folks couldn't hear me on 20 meters so I switched back to 40 meters. I finally had to start begging for any contact to get my 44. Amazing when you announce "last call" for anyone listening you start knocking off the contacts. Maybe next time instead of calling CQ CQ I will start with "last call everyone"!

It took 2.5 hours to get 46 contacts. Still a great day hamming.