Saturday, November 14, 2020

KFF-4105 Washington County State Recreation Area- ND9E


ND9E activation of KFF-4105

It was time to do another park activation and clear the cobwebs from the equipment. It was also time to take a break from projects at home so this location was chosen because it was the closest to my house and it had not been activated for WWFF. The drive was just over an hour and then a 20 minute setup put me right about noon time. I checked out the bands and looked for park to park contacts while I ate lunch. I started calling CQ on 40 phone around 1815z and 40 meters did not disappoint. 55 contacts were logged on 40 meters and then I went to 20 phone. I never seem to get a good run going on 20 but wound up with 72 contacts total for the day with a total on the air time of 75 minutes. 

I ran into a strange noise on the 40 meter band that I first thought that it was someone messing with me but it turned out to be around 15Khz wide so I think it was something local like a pump or motor. It lasted just long enough that I gave up on my 40 meter run. I ran into the same noise on 20 meters but not as strong. 

72 contacts, 75 minutes air time, 2 park to park contacts. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

2020 Illinois QSO Party-ND9E


Alexander/Pulaski County line

This years plan was the same as the previous 2 years with a start on the Alexander/Pulaski county line. I arrived in plenty of time to setup a 40 meter doublet to the AH-4 tuner. Everything worked as I hoped except the guy lines on each end of the antenna took turns falling down. Operating time was about 2 hours and 45 minutes. I tore everything down and moved to my final location which was the 3 county corner of Pulaski, Johnson and Massac. 

Pulaski, Johnson, Massac County corner

At this location there used to be a farm road along the trees next to the farmers field. Over the last 5 years this road has slowly been taken over by the trees and the crops. I normally set up an inverted L down this farm road. This year the farmers soybeans had not been harvested yet so I had no path for the antenna. I settled on putting up my 31ft vertical that I use for park activations. I knew this antenna will work for 80 phone so I felt good about putting it up but I had never tried this antenna on 80 CW. Turns out the AH-4 can't match this antenna on 80 CW. There was a lot of activity on 80 CW the last 90 minutes of the contest so I missed out on that action. I did make contact with some local hams on 146.55 so it was good to get those multipliers. 

Overall it was still a good outing but my score was way down from last year. I will need to find a spot next year to replace this 3 county corner. 

ND9E's Contest Summary Report for ILQP
 Created by N3FJP's Illinois QSO Party Contest Log
 Version 4.1

 Total Contacts = 340
 Total Points = 25,515

 Operating Period: 2020/10/18 17:03 - 2020/10/19 00:36

 Total op time (breaks > 30 min deducted): 5:24:13
 Total op time (breaks > 60 min deducted): 5:24:13

 Avg Qs/Hr (breaks > 30 min deducted): 62.9

 Total Contacts by Band and Mode:

 Band       CW     Phone     Dig   Total       %
 ----       --   -----     ---   -----     ---
   80        0      13       0      13       4
   40       65     256     0     321      94
    2        0       6         0       6        2
               --    -----     ---   -----     ---
 Total     65     275     0     340     100

 Total Contacts by State \ Prov:

 State       Total     %
 -----       -----   ---
 IL            140    41
 GA             24     7
 PA             18     5
 TX             14     4
 OH             11     3
 AL             10     3
 IA              9     3
 NC              9     3
 OK              8     2
 FL              7     2
 IN              7     2
 MI              6     2
 MN              6     2
 ON              6     2
 VA              6     2
 WI              6     2
 MO              5     1
 MS              4     1
 SC              4     1
 CA              3     1
 CO              3     1
 DE              3     1
 KY              3     1
 MA              3     1
 MD              3     1
 ME              3     1
 NH              3     1
 NM              3     1
 NY              3     1
 KS              2     1
 LA              2     1
 NE              2     1
 TN              2     1
 WV              2     1

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

POTA activation of K-7368 Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site-ND9E


K-7368 Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

Recently I was looking at the POTA map for Illinois and noticed some new dots on the map and one of them was only 10 minutes from my house! I have been wondering when Cahokia Mounds might make it on the POTA list. Local officials have been trying to get this location under the National Park System for years and it sounds like they are getting closer. This site has been a grade school field trip destination for decades. There is some pretty cool history to this place.

I have not done a park activation in almost 10 months so I set up everything in the driveway the day before and all went well so I was clear to activate the next day. My operating position was my truck as usual using an S-9 vertical with my AH-4 wire tuner. 3 radials at 31 ft long. Radio was an IC-7100 running through a PowerGate with a 35aH battery that fed a DC booster. 

I opened on 20 meters at 1913z but only could drum up 14 contacts with 3 park to parks.

Switched to 40 meters and ran 103 contacts with 3 more park to park contacts. 40 started off slow but really picked up towards to end. Maybe next time I can attempt a late shift activation. 

Noise levels here were about a S3 on 40 meters so that was a pleasant surprise. I did not get any west coast stations which is normal but what was not normal was I did not have any Texas contacts. I guess everyone was getting prepared for the hurricane. 

73 Scott

Monks Mound

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Rig control is back after lightning damage!

The radio used in my shack is an ICOM 7200 that uses a CT-17 interface for rig control. This interface and the serial port card in my PC are the weakest link when it comes to surviving lightning. Usually a nearby lightning strike takes out the RS232/TTL converter chip in the CT-17 interface. This is a 10 minute job to take the cover off of the box and pop the IC out of the socket and insert a new one. Sometimes the serial port card on the PC goes out but that has only happened twice.

So we had just finished Field Day and the storm hit the next day just before the 13 Colonies got started. I had made my first contact for the 13 Colonies and was making my second contact when I noticed my log was missing the mode and frequency information. I quickly changed the IC in the
CT-17 but that didn't fix it so I switched COM ports and that didn't fix it. After a few minutes of troubleshooting and expecting the worse, I determined that the 5 volt regulator on the board was bad. I did a quick web search and found out that part is discontinued. The specs showed it was nothing special so I was going to substitute a different part but I found old stock from an Ebay seller. I purchased 3 from Ebay but it took 2 weeks to get here from California.

The regulators arrived and that night I installed it and we had 5 volts again! LED on the CT-17 was nice and bright. When I plugged in the remote cable from the rig the LED got very dim. Rig control still didn't work. Well crap. So I grabbed my IC-703 QRP rig and hooked it up and I still had no rig control. This told me that the IC-7200 radio was probably ok. I tried the other COM port again with no luck. I measured the output of the new regulator and it was 2 volts. I removed the RS232/TTL IC and the voltage came back up to 5 volts.

Another new IC was installed and rig control was back! Not sure if one of my spare IC's was bad or the low voltage made it go bad but the final body count was 1 regulator and 2 IC's. 

Monday, July 6, 2020

13 Colonies chase

July 1

I started chasing the 13 colonies and bonus stations on July 1st and was happy to easily get 3 stations the first day. K2K-20 CW, K2B- 20 CW and WM3PEN- 80CW

July 2

K2G- 20 PH, K2E-15 PH, K2L-40 PH, K2J-40 PH

It has been nice to work folks again on 15 meters!

July 3

K2K-30 CW, K2M-15 CW, K2M-30 CW, K2D-40 CW, K2G-40 CW, K2A-40 CW, K2H-40 PH,
K2H-40 CW, K2F-40 CW, K2C-20 CW and K2I-20 CW. 

I could work more stations to fill in band slots and modes but I have other things going on to spend time on. No need to send in for certificate because I don't have any place to put it! 

It is a great event that I look forward to each year. 

Sunday, June 28, 2020

2020 ARRL Field Day-ND9E

2020 Field Day

I did not have time to setup portable or even put up a portable antenna at home this year so I decided to stay home and operate as a 1D station like the majority of folks. Glad the ARRL changed the 1D rule for this year. 

Operating time was Saturday evening and Sunday morning. I started on 40 meter PSK31 and had so much fun that I didn't try 20M until 10PM. It was nice to operate on 10 and 15 meters again. Lots of folks are saying the bands were horrible but if you get 6, 10 and 15 meter openings it couldn't have been too bad. 

I had my normal trouble getting California and western stations but I never spent any time on 20 meters during Saturday afternoon. 

My final score was 750 per the ARRL. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Winter Field Day 2020

This was my 5th Winter Field Day event which was scaled down from previous years efforts. I was not able to operate the entire time and some other operators had other commitments so this was a
1 Home station this year.

I had planned to at least get an 80 meter wire antenna up but mother nature decided to flood a good part of my backyard so I had to use my 32 foot vertical which hurts me on 80 meters.

I was able to operate some Saturday evening so I missed the chance for any 20 meter operating and 40 meters was about dead so I had to limp along on 80 meters. Sunday morning I was able to make 20 and 40 meter contacts and I mainly focused on PSK31. Operating was done only on 20, 40 and 80 meters. I tried Sunday for any 15 meter contacts but had no takers. I did learn that on my IC-7200 I could use the manual notch filter (MNF) to knock down some of the monster PSK31 signals and restore my waterfall display. Usually the MNF is used to notch out birdies or someone that is tuning up near your frequency.

The station setup was a IC-7200 radio, LDG tuner, Signalink USB for digital, K42 CW reader for CW and the ground mounted vertical.

 Total Contacts by Band and Mode:

 Band       CW   Phone     Dig   Total       %
 ----            --      -----        ---     -----       ---
   80           4         1           24      29        29
   40           7        14          30      51        50
   20           6         8            7       21        21
                  --      -----         ---    -----       ---
 Total        17       23          61     101      100

Final results

Operator ND9E
17 CW contacts
23 Phone contacts
61 digital contacts
9 multipliers

Total claimed score was 4722