Monday, December 26, 2016

Parks on the Air - KFF-xxxx

World Wide Flora & Fauna

Now that the National Parks on the Air program is winding down (not a contest) it seems to me that the natural continuation would be to switch over to the KFF part of the WWFF program. WWFF has been around awhile but it was treated as an overseas program. The KFF program is the U.S. arm of WWFF and should excite the NPOTA folks who have honed their portable operations plus it greatly opens up the possibilities as many state parks are included. I have 6 or 7 parks I can activate now within an hour drive of St. Louis. 

Logging is only done by the activators and if you want a certificate as a chaser you only need to register on the WWFF webpage. Then watch your totals on Logsearch and when you reach one of the certificate thresholds you click that button and they will email you a high quality certificate in PDF format. As the NPOTA folks begin uploading their logs to WWFF there will be many chasers with awards waiting for them. There are also awards for activators!

Go to the KFF page and look at the large list of parks available and make your plans!

Here is the link to the WWFF main page.

Here is the link to the KFF US page. 

Sample certificates

Sunday, December 18, 2016

NPOTA, FM simplex contest, Tennessee QSO Party and 2017


Now that the weather has finally decided to turn towards winter I am slowing down on my NPOTA chasing with it mostly happening on weekends. I kept revising my chasing goal for NPOTA confirmations throughout the year. My first goal was 100 which was pretty easy to hit. Then I thought 200 parks would be realistic with my work schedule. As I passed 200 and the new parks to me were slowing down I said 250 would probably be my peak. My family has reminded me of each goal along the way with many eye rolls.. This weekend I hit 350 confirmed parks and I can safely say I will not be reaching 400!

This has been a great program and a lot of fun especially the activations. My final activation will be back at Grant House on New Years Eve. I started the year there so I might as well finish there! Many hams are wondering what will entertain us next year. I will feel a little lost after the first of the year rolls around like I did after the ARRL Centennial event was over but it is time for NPOTA to end. My plans for 2017 will shift to the WWFF program for the US. Most of the NPOTA locations are part of this plus many more state parks will be available.

Plans for 2017


Missouri QSO Party

Numerous hamfests!

Illinois QSO Party

2 meter FM Simplex contest

The Lewis and Clark Radio Club held its first 2 meter FM simplex contest on 12/17. This was patterned off of the St. Louis and Suburban Radio Clubs (SLSRC) series of successful 2 meter contests. I had plans to be mobile for this but had been watching the weather forecast all week and wouldn't you know it the weather folks got the forecast correct. Unfortunately we had a freezing rain event so I decided to operate from home instead. Small turn out for the contest but it was their first one so I expect more in the future. I ran 10 watts from the IC-706 to maximize the points for my 20 contacts. 

2016 Tennessee QSO Party

Not much to report here. It was my first time operating in this contest so I got a participation award. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

HP13 KFF-0734 George Rogers Clark National Historic Park activation

I had been wanting to get another unique activation completed for NPOTA and WWFF so I had been looking at which locations I could do in a day trip from the St. Louis area and not need a permit. My options were MN39 George Washington Carver or HP13 George Rogers Clark. Since HP13 mapped out to be a 3 hour drive one way vs. 4+ hours for MN39 I decided on HP13. 

Contact was made with the great folks at George Rogers Clark and as long as I operated from my vehicle I did not need a special use permit. So all was set for the activation and as long as it didn't snow that day the activation was a "go". 

Got on the road at  8 AM figuring I would arrive around 11:15 AM with some time to setup and eat lunch. I stopped in at the visitors center to let them know my plans and that I was planning to take the tour after I was done with the activation. They suggested that I wait no longer than 3:45 PM to start the tour. 

The setup and lunch did not take long but then I noticed the time on my phone said 12:45 PM. I failed to factor in the time change when crossing from Illinois into Indiana. So now it was 1 PM and I needed to tear down at 3:30 PM so I could make the final tour so my operating time was cut short. 

I started on 40 meter phone at 1 PM and made around 60 contacts and then the contacts slowed down. I scanned the cluster and made a couple park to park contacts. At 2 PM I got started on a 20 meter phone run making 74 contacts until another QSO slowly kept changing frequency until they were almost on the same frequency. At that point I could not hear any chasers anymore and it now was       3 PM and I wanted to finish out on 40 meters so I switched to 40 meters and ran until 3:30 PM. Tear down started and I was in the visitor center by 3:50 PM. 

197 contacts made including the following:

42 different states contacted
Mexico and Azores countries contacted
Ontario and Saskatchewan provinces contacted
Springfield Armory
Point Reyes National Seashore
Frederick Law Olmsted
Wekiva National Wild and Scenic River

Something that impressed me was that when I went in for the tour they produced a NPOTA binder that had questionnaire sheets that asked for number of contacts made, states, countries and parks contacted. The are keeping that info as historical data for future park anniversaries. I followed up with the park the next day with an email with a breakdown of my contacts.I also gave them one of my laminated NPOTA signs that I put in the truck windows during the activation. 

Arrived home around 7:45 PM and started uploading logs. Had around 90 immediate confirmations. This year long event had definitely made people proficient with LoTW!

If I had to make a change to this activation it would have been to leave home earlier to account for the time change therefore allowing more operating time. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Favorite Phone app for RaDAR activations- Post #3

RaDAR is an interesting group that is based around rapid deployment of portable stations. Unfortunately I have been focusing on NPOTA activations this year but I will get back to RaDAR next year. Visit the link below for more information.

RaDAR Google group

Now the phone app for RaDAR!

Part of the exchange for RaDAR is the grid square you are operating from. The more resolution on the grid square the better. Probably many folks have never seen a grid square like this. See the grid square at the bottom of the screen shot.

There are plenty of apps that can display this level of detail. Check your Apple Store or Android Play Store for new apps being added frequently.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

BF04 Fort Donelson NPOTA activation

The National Parks on the Air program has really excited me this year. I enjoy chasing the parks and I am currently sitting with 298 confirmed parks as of 11/5/16. What I have enjoyed more is being an activator of the parks as I like the planning and execution of the activation. The pileups are fun but putting it all together and making it work is the fun part for me!

My wife Andrea and most excellent traveling buddy(same person) went along for the 4 hour drive from Illinois to Dover TN. She has family there so she got to do some visiting and did some exploration of the park. I setup in the upper parking lot near the cannons along the river.

I found a spot on 40 meters for phone operation and self spotted on the cluster. Within 2 minutes the pileup hit with the first QSO at 1850Z and the last 40m QSO at 2000Z. 123 40m QSO's were logged.
Sometime during the 40m pileup I made contact with Jim KT4FQ and he said he was in the area and he asked if it was OK to stop by for a visit and I said "come on by". When he arrived I was ready to switch to 20 meters anyway so I took a break. It was great to visit with him and learned how we both are from Illinois and his dog provided some entertainment for my wife. Jim is on the left and that is me on the right.

Now it was time to get on 20 meter phone and show some love for a different part of the world. Jim stuck around and helped me pick out call signs from the pileup. We started 20m at 2033Z and went until 2140Z and made 124 20m phone contacts. I probably should have made another run on 40m but it was time to pack up and head back north and check into a hotel for the night.

The map below is hard to read but here are what the colors mean:

Aqua color= states contacted with 40 meters only
Yellow color= states contacted with both 20 and 40 meters
Dark Blue= states contacted with 20 meters only

Set up in the truck was similar to my Grant House NS73 and Ozark Waterway RV05 activations. The radio was a IC-7100, Heil BM-10 headset, 31 foot S-9 telescoping mast with 33 feet of spiral wound wire and an ICOM AH-4 tuner. I set out 2 tape measure ground radials one at 31 feet and the other at 16 feet long. At the last minute before we left Illinois I loaded my battery box with DC booster on the truck. Turns out that was a good call since my truck is noisy on 40m with the motor running but the noise blanker takes care of most of it. When I realized that I had a S0 noise level it would be a shame to add noise to that so I ran off the battery while on 40 meters. When I went to 20 meters I connected the power to the truck and ran the engine. Below is a pic of how the antenna setup looks but I forgot to take a picture so this one is from Grant House.

Below is a picture of the logging setup. WinBook running Windows 10 with N3FJP software with rig control. Bluetooth keyboard also has a touchpad instead of a mouse. The board that hooks under the steering wheel that the keyboard is on can be purchased from Amazon.

The trip was a great success due to the wonderful weather, band conditions, and getting to meet Jim. Mostly, thanks to my wife Andrea for putting up with this ham radio hobby. She does not fully understand it but she knows it makes me happy.

247 contacts
229 minutes on the air
42 states
3 provinces
Puerto Rico

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Favorite phone apps- Part 2 Google Maps

Google Maps is probably a favorite tool for a lot of people. I like to use it mostly for planning routes but I sometimes use it for navigation.

Recently for the 2 meter Simplex contest held by the SLSRC and the ILQP I used Google Earth to plot my operating locations by adding pin symbols and labels.

You save the KMZ file from Google Earth to your Google Drive and then follow these steps.

Open Google Maps

Select "menu"

Select "Your places"

Select "maps"

Select "Create Map" at bottom left

Import KMZ file from your Google Drive

Now you should have a map similar to this one.

Now during the contest, you can view this map on your phone or tablet and choose the navigation feature(blue arrow). You can tell it to navigation from your location to a spot on the map. Move the map around to the pin/label you want and select it. Now it will navigate to your next operating spot.

I also used this for the ILQP. This time I paired the phones bluetooth with my truck radio. Now I have turn by turn directions coming through the trucks sound system. It worked great!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

2016 Illinois QSO Party

Sunday October 16th was the Illinois QSO Party and this was my 5th year operating as a rover station. We had beautiful weather and even better conditions on 40 meters. I will attempt to share my observations, what worked well and what needs improvement.

The Plan
I planned to operate as a rover again this year. I was starting on the 3 county corner of Massac, Johnson and Pulaski. This is a secluded spot along a gravel road on the edge of a state conservation area. I have operated from this spot 4 and 5 years ago field day style but the last 3 years the spot has become overgrown. This year there is a construction project going on in the area and 2 large culverts were now taking up much of the parking area. There was room to get my truck off the road safely so I sat in the truck for about 2 hours. I operated all on 40 meters with most contacts on phone but I also did some CW search and pounce.  Antenna was a 31ft S9 fiberglass mast with 33ft of spiral wound wire going to a AH-4 tuner. Picture below shows the truck and culverts.  

Next I drove through Pulaski County making a few contacts and then parked at a spot in Alexander County. Originally the plan was to stay in Alexander for 1 hour but I was the only operator in that county and another operator had Union County well covered so I decided to spend more time in Alexander. Again mostly made 40 meter phone contacts with some CW mixed in.

After Alexander County I drove through Union County making a few contacts with the most important contact being with K9IUQ. Stan was the main operator handing out Union County points but no one else was in the county to work him. We made a 2 meter contact and we were both happy to be able to claim Union as a multiplier.

Since I skipped the planned stop in Union County that gave me extra time on the Jackson and Williamson County line. This spot is on the spillway for Crab Orchard Lake which borders Carbondale. Had a great run on 40 meter phone until about 6:30PM. 

Final leg of the journey was to head to the Franklin and Jefferson County line at Rend Lake. The W9W team was set up there and the plan was to get there just before the contest ended and work each other so we could each claim those counties as multipliers. Turns out Dennis KM9O was just a few miles behind me and we kept working each other on 2 meters as we crossed the county lines. I made it the W9W compound at 7:53PM. We squeaked out some contacts on multiple bands before the contest ended at 8PM. The W9W team had a great spot and set up. They even had a cheddar cheeseburger ready for me when I arrived!

What worked
The set up in the cab of the truck has evolved over the years. It is an ICOM IC-7100 with a homebrew audio/PTT box. This homebrew box has headphone jacks that are independent of the main volume control. The headphone jacks are driven by a 3 watt amplifier that is hooked up to the rigs discriminator audio. There is also a nice big PTT button that is just in the right spot as you drive down the road. I also run 2 voice recorders as back ups to when I have a logging problem.

The Android tablet was great for the Google Map navigation and it also ran the APRSDroid app. The cell phone in the picture below is an old phone that I just use as a clock mainly running the app called Hamclock. 

When operating stationary, I set up a steering wheel tray table for the keyboard and used a GearTie to make a hanger for the Winbook tablet that was for logging. Normally I use an Android tablet for casual logging but HamLog does not handle a QSO Party very well so I used a Winbook tablet running Windows 10 and got the N3FJP program talking to the IC-7100. Worked great and I will use this set up more often.

Laminated flip cards to help me keep track of which county I am in plus they have the phonetics on them also after I become a little numb.

The antenna mount in the truck bed has served me well over the last 5 years and in 2 different trucks. Everything is right where I need it to be for quick antenna changes. I can convert from the 102" whip to the 31ft S9 mast in about 5 minutes. 

Running 2 meters can be a distraction at times but it does help with multipliers especially if you can do some coordination with other rovers. 



Room for improvement
As hams, we are rarely ever happy with our antennas. The AH-4 tuner is a great solution to many  mobile antenna problems and its combination with a 102" whip is great for 20 meters and above but not so great for 40 meters. I realized this last year and did not learn my lesson. I flirted with the idea of using resonators while being mobile this year but abandoned the idea as I ran short on time while prepping the truck. I lost too many points and multipliers when I could hear the stations but they could not hear me. 

I need to be set up with a NVIS dipole when stationary. Again, I knew this but took the easy way out by using the vertical. 

My operating style has shifted more towards running with less search and pounce. NPOTA activations have helped with that problem but I need to do better. 

I must eat and drink more during the contest. I haven't learned this lesson yet!

Still need a 80 meter solution when mobile but I know this can be challenging. The last hour of the contest tends to shift to 80 meters. 

Allow more time for stationary operation. 2 hours for a 3 county corner is not long enough. It would also allow time to get on 20 meters.

I need to allow time to go after the 5 DX multipliers. 

I completely forgot to bring up the county hunter web page for spotting. I did this last year but not this year. Moron


Total claimed score 36,295
States worked 28
Provinces worked 2
IL counties worked 55
Total multipliers 85
Total QSO points 427

362 days to plan for the next one!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Favorite phone apps when operating portable-Part 1 - HamClock


This simple Android app is great for portable operations. Imagine sitting in one spot for hours running a pile up or bored calling CQ. After awhile I become numb in the head and forget where I am. Maybe it is just me. 

This app lets you customize 4 or 5 lines of text. I used this last during a NPOTA activation at NS73. 

It also works in landscape mode. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

160 mile contact on 446.00 FM

Today while driving to work and letting the IC-880 scan for signs of life on the repeaters I caught the tail end of a simplex QSO. I was only hearing one side of the QSO and finally heard someone sign as aeronautical mobile. I was surprised to see it come up on 446.0Mhz. The call was AJ8L and he was delivering a plane to Springfield IL. I made contact with him while he was over Champaign IL and I was just coming into St. Louis. Looks like the distance was around 160 miles. He had a great signal but we had to cut it short as they were dropping altitude as they approached Springfield.

Short but fun QSO to break up the morning drive time.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

2 Meter Simplex Contest

This past weekend I participated in a 2 meter FM simplex contest here in the St. Louis metro area. This is a 3 hour contest that is based on working unique zip codes. Think of it like a state QSO party but rather than working counties you work zip codes. It is a great way for folks to get their feet wet in contesting and allows tech license holders to get on the air.

It has rules that count different power levels as multipliers and also it also allows mobiles to claim the zip codes they operated from as multipliers. This is something state QSO parties could implement to help encourage more mobile and rover operations.

I made 29 contacts which was not great but I still had fun.

Setup was a IC-7100 running 40 watts. I used a headset for mobile operation and let the radio record the freq, QSO audio and time stamp on the SD card. Very handy for contesting. Antenna was a 5/8 wave antenna on the the center of the roof.

Congratulations to the St. Louis & Suburban Radio Club for hosting this contest and I look forward to more of these.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Tennessee QSO Party

I decided since it was a long weekend that I would participate in the TNQP this year. My original plan was to set up a 40 meter loop antenna in the yard. This turned out to be quite a challenge by myself. I had to fallback to putting up a 40 meter dipole. The apex was at 32 feet with the end sloping to the ground. Basically a high inverted V configuration.

Antenna worked well but now I wish I had put up the 80 meter dipole since everyone switched to 80 meters around 6PM.

It was a fun way to spend the afternoon.

I made 48 contacts for a score around 4200. Lots of CW action.

MaxGain fiberglass push up mast. 

I get to take it all down on Monday. 
OK, I guess it really is a doublet antenna!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

NS73 Ulysses S Grant National Historic Site activation 8/25/16

N0KTK Kyle and myself activated NS73 on the official 100th anniversary of the NPS. As you can see this was Field Day style. Main antenna was a 40 meter and 20 meter dipoles. We tried a 20 meter ground vertical with not much luck. The bands seemed to go dead for about an hour mid afternoon and started picking back up about the time to tear down and pack up.

We did make contact with 9 NPS units, 33 states, 2 Canadian provinces and Puerto Rico.

The rangers at Grant House are very easy to work with but they do ask that you apply for a special use permit which they will waive the fees.

Below is a picture of me wishing for a nap!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

RV05 NPOTA Activation

The Ozark National Scenic Riverway is located in south central Missouri and covers a large number of square miles. Access from St. Louis is a long drive through a lot of twisting roads. After a 3 1/2 hour drive we arrived at the Alley Mill which is located in Alley Spring MO. This trip was planned mainly using Google Earth as the rules for a scenic waterway is you must operate within 100 feet of the water. I picked the out flow of the Alley Spring before it feeds into the river because these are prime floating and partying area once the weather turns warm and I was hoping that the folks would not be on this section of water. Luckily I was correct and the location worked ok but there was a 100 foot tall rock wall about 125 feet to my east. It is hard to tell if that impacted my signal or not.

I set up in a parking spot that was 40 feet from the waters edge. Operation was from the truck as it was a 95 degree day and there was not much room to set up a table. I was able to operate for 2 hours and 14 minutes and made 134 contacts. 40 meters was my main band but I did make 20 contacts on 20 meters. I could have operated longer but I had a long drive home and this was more of a scouting mission than a long activation.

Equipment used

Power source:  truck
AH-4 tuner
32 foot fiberglass telescoping mast on trailer hitch mount
wire was spiral wound on mast
Samsung Android tablet
Hamlog app
bluetooth keyboard
Pigtail interface from Pignology
Heil BM-10 headset
Homemade PTT switch

Hard to see in the picture above but the tablet is hanging on the steering wheel. The keyboard is below it on a steering wheel tray table. IC-7100 control head is on a cupholder mount. 

PTT switch worked great. Switch is very sensitive so no finger fatigue. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Quick and dirty PTT switch

I am planning a NPOTA activation tomorrow and I wanted another PTT switch other than the one on the headset. I picked up a couple of momentary switches and planned on using one mounted in a small box. Looking at the switch I wondered if it would fit any common PVC tubes. It does not but it does fit into a 3/4" PVC Tee. Fits in my hand pretty well. I will try it out!

I do need to find a way to provide the cable some strain relief.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

150 NPOTA contacts!!!

After a successful weekend as a chaser I was able to reach 150 confirmed park contacts! The National Parks on the Air is a great program for amateur radio. As for the NPS, I have learned so much about the park system this year and the history it represents. I love reading about the different units as I work them.

I hope to do some more activations this summer and all the way to New Years Eve!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

20 meter elevated vertical build and testing

Reason for project

Operating during a few state QSO parties and Winter Field Day showed the advantage of using a NVIS 40 meter dipole. This works great for pulling in the county multipliers or surrounding states but causes a low number of state multipliers. My thought was that I needed something on 20 meters to help grab the east and west coast states since I usually cannot put up a high dipole. 

The mast

I use a Max-Gain 32 foot push up mast with a drive on mast holder. This allows me to pull up a inverted V dipole. I have made various PVC adapters to fit the top section of this mast. 
These adapters include: Dual band 2M/70CM antenna, 2M yagi and arms to pull up dipoles.

New PVC adapter

A PVC adapter was made that allows the use of a MFJ 17 foot telescoping antenna to be top mounted on the Max-Gain mast. The adapter has a 3/8x24 threaded fitting for the antenna connection. It has a support guide about 18" above the base to provide support for the antenna and to take the wind loading off of the 3/8 x 24 mount. The 3 tuned radials hook onto to a cable tie with plastic S-clips. The radials have banana plugs that plug into the ground side of the 3/8 x 24 fitting. The PVC dog leg on the bottom is for pulling up the dipole.

Finished product

Here is a picture of it in the air with the base at about 25 feet. Height to the tip of the antenna would be around 40 feet. The 3 radials also act as guy anchors which I have at about a 45 degree angle. During the first measurement I had the antenna at 16.5 feet which should have been just right for 14.225Mhz but it measured resonant at 14.9Mhz. I lowered the mast and extended the antenna to 17 feet. This brought the resonant point to 14.110Mhz which is lower than I wanted but it turns out the VSWR is acceptable for the entire band. 1.25:1 or less for the entire band. Measurements were made with a RigExperts AA-54. I am able to save and view my VSWR graph on the PC but I cannot find a way to display it here on the blog. 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

NPOTA NS55 contact


I had a few minutes to set up the IC-703 with a MFJ loop tuner in the driveway this afternoon. Made a contact with ND4Z who was operating from NS55. This park is the Ninety Six National Historic Site in South Carolina.

Radio power output was set to kill. Well 10 watts which is kill for that radio!

Loop antenna was peaked in on the ND4Z signal. What fun!!!!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Dayton Hamvention weekend

I made hotel reservations back in May 2015 hoping that I would be able to attend Hamvention 2016. Things at home and at work seemed to be quiet so I attended the 2016 Hamvention along with my wife Andrea.

The trip to Dayton

We left home around noon on Thursday hoping to beat rush hour traffic in Indianapolis but some perceived road construction in Terre Haute delayed us by 30 minutes, When I mean perceived road construction, there was a nice warning sign telling folks they had 6 miles to merge into one lane. Seems that most people panicked and created this massive backup. We did not see any active construction or accident. Crazy. After that delay we ran into the Indy rush hour. They have this crazy interstate merge and split on the east side of town! The rest of the trip was uneventful. Our hotel reservations were at the Drury Inn and that place never disappoints.

Hamvention Parking

This is the second time we have parked around the corner from Hara at a church that runs a shuttle service. It works out great with parking at the church being $7 per day, We never had to wait on a shuttle and if you have a boat anchor purchase to deal with you can call them and they will come pick it up for you. See below for details. 


We arrived at Hara around 8:30AM and began walking the flea market area. I was not in the market for any used gear or parts so we wound up just strolling  the area with Andrea providing color commentary! It was very entertaining. We grabbed some lunch and while standing there eating we saw one of the man-pack guys walking through dragging a wire counterpoise. I made the comment that this was not the place for that foolishness when we heard a thud and moaning. A woman got her feet tangled in his cool counterpoise and she face-planted into the asphalt. This guy was more dangerous than 10 scooters!

After that eventful lunch we went inside where my wife setup for people watching from the arena stands while I went exploring the vendors. I purchased another MFJ 16 foot telescoping antenna so I can try to make a rotatable dipole.

On Saturday, we headed back to Hara so I could attend the NPOTA forum. It was more of a celebration of what NPOTA has become so far this year. NPOTA has become a great event! I purchased a DV Thumb from NW Digital for use on Fusion and DStar systems.

I enjoyed playing with the new IC-7300 SDR radio. It is a very cool entry level radio. There are many players now in the SDR sandbox. The new KX2 caused quite a buzz. It was Saturday before I could even get close to touching one. Sounds like many were sold during Hamvention.

Check out the redesigned cases from iPortable.

I loved how they handled this mobile antenna install. My wife is a little nervous now.

Best part of the trip was that my wife and best friend got to come along!(same person)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

NM12 Activation at Gateway Arch

On 4/23/16 N0KTK and ND9E/0 activated the Gateway Arch NM12 for National Parks on the Air. This was a higher than normal activation for me as the park superintendent requested more than a short activation as it was National Parks Week. We operated for approximately 5.5 hours and had beautiful weather. However we had the same challenge as everyone else had today and that band conditions were not great. We mainly stuck to 40 meters and worked a lot of Ohio and Michigan stations. Another challenge was the foot traffic at the Arch! A running joke was that we gave out more directions on how to get to the Arch then we gave out QSO's!

The activation antenna was an inverted V on 40 meters. We used 2 sets of batteries along with 2 different solar panels. The plan was to hopefully run 2 stations but the foot traffic asking for directions was too great. We had to block off the area with cones and construction fencing for safety reasons. Picture below gives you an idea how it worked out.

 Here is the solar setup.  The black rectangle on the canopy is a 30w foldable panel made by AllPowers.

The panels are 50w each and will keep up with most any portable operation.

Here is a link to video produced by Kyle N0KTK.

A huge thanks to N0KTK Kyle for his help planning this event and helping to make this activation happen. Thanks Kyle!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Playing with some solar stuff

Finally got some time to play with a 30 watt foldable solar panel made by Allpower and a solar charge controller made by FlintHills Radio KI0BK. I used the charge controller during the Winter Field Day event with a 50w panel with great success. Below is the 30w Allpower panel.

I could not quite get the battery to fully charge with this setup and it turns out the solar panel output voltage is not high enough but after reading more about the panel it is designed to be put directly across a 12 volt battery or load without a controller. I will be trying that out very soon during a portable operation for NPOTA.

Below is a picture of the KI0BK controller. I will also say that they are great people to deal with.

FlintHills Radio link

There is a multi-turn potentiometer to adjust the float voltage. That is all you have to do. The LED will be red while charging and it will turn green when fully charged and floating.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Missouri QSO Party as K0E

I participated in the MOQP as a rover station using the call sign of K0E. This was held on the April 2nd and 3rd weekend. The weather was nice and dry but a bit windy on Saturday afternoon.

Here is a picture of the K0E rover vehicle at the Madison County MO location. This is a 33ft mast being fed with an AH-4 tuner.

When mobile, I use the same tuner but use a 102" whip. So for antenna options I have the 102" whip, or for short term stationary operating I put a 16ft telescoping in place of the 102" whip. Then when sitting on a county line for a hour or more I setup the 33ft mast which of course works best. Saturday evening while at the Dunklin, Pemiscott and New Madrid county line intersection I saw this 33ft mast almost bent over 90 degrees due to the wind.

The antenna platform I use is very crude but it has served me well. I have the tools I need to change antennas all within easy reach. See next set of pictures.
Antenna plate is bonded in the corners and to the truck frame. AH-4 tuner is mounted underneath. PVC item is the trailer hitch mount for the 33ft mast. 33 ft mast(green) can be seen on the right. 16ft mast is inside the angled PVC tube on the right. 
 Pin for trailer hitch mount.
 Wrenches for 102" whip.
Magnetic tray holds antenna clip and spare hardware. 

The main enjoyment in this hobby for me is putting things together but operating is not one of my strengths. This year I made about 180 fewer contacts due to the change in the county line rule, some poor planning on my part including adding more counties to activate on Sunday and of course we have to blame band conditions! That is what we do, right?

I believe my final score will be around 18K for this year which is almost half from last year. Next year I may need a different strategy such as operate as a fixed portable station using my own call. K0E will need to be picked up by someone else in 2017 and hopefully it will allow more stations to gain the "E" letter for the ShowMe certificate and this will hopefully reduce the number of complaints stating that they could not find the "E" stations. 

Special thanks to the W0MA "BEARS" group from Boeing for hosting a wonderful QSO Party. 
Also thanks to the couple of fixed stations that stayed on 40 phone throughout the contest. This sure helped me find contacts as I passed through counties.