Friday, January 29, 2016

Winterfest, NPOTA and Winter Field Day


Winterfest is the name of the hamfest that is held by the St. Louis Suburban Radio Club (SLSRC) each January. It is always a great time to meet up with friends. Each year I stay longer and longer as I seem to have plenty of folks to talk to. Winterfest was in a different room this year so that messed with some minds and you know how hams love change! I think it worked very well plus this room had carpeting which made it easier on my feet. I bought a Dentron Jr. Monitor which is a 300 watt mobile tuner. I hope to try it out during Winter Field Day. Kudos to SLSRC on a great event!


I have not had much time to spend as a chaser so far with only 15 contacts so far. I hope to put a HF rig in the work truck soon and I plan to work some stations during my lunch breaks. 

I have had some activity as far as being an activator. I will be activating NS73 Ulysses S Grant House again on Feb 20 from 1PM to 4:30PM. I also plan on multiple activations from the Lewis and Clark Historic Trail soon. 

I received an interesting call this week from a person from another NPS unit asking if I would like to come activate their location sometime in the spring. It seems that the NPS folks are talking to each other and getting into this activity. My guess is they are in competition with each other during 2016 to see who can get whatever activity driven into their parks. 

NPOTA should be even better as spring comes and folks can start camping and operating into the night. 

Winter Field Day

I have been spending time on preparing for this event. The last 2 years I have participated from inside the shack but this year I wanted to get outside. I was not able to get a partner for this outing so I will set up the tent and antennas in my backyard this year. Weather shows a high of 60F so it is hard to call it winter but that is out of my control! I plan on operating from batteries with solar panels. Antennas will be a 80 meter dipole and a 2m/440 antenna as I hope to gain some multipliers with those 2 bands. I may put up a 20m vertical depending on how well the dipole does on 10, 15 and 20 meters. The nice thing about operating from home is you have a lot of resources available!

I hope to take a lot of pictures.  

Saturday, January 2, 2016

NPOTA activation at NS73

Activation day finally arrived. I arrived at the Ulysses S Grant Historic Site located in St. Louis MO. around 1830z and promptly checked in with the front desk. They had no idea what I was there for but the special use permit took care of their questions. I spent some time explaining my operation and handed them some more of the tri-fold pamphlets from the ARRL.

The first mistake of the day was forgetting my tablet that I was all setup to log with using HamLog so back to the trusty fallback of paper. Things should go better now. As I was setting up I realized that I had borrowed a PL258 connector for another project. I am trying to travel without taking the entire shack with me now but I started looking at my spare cables with no luck. I had thrown my IC-706 in the truck as a spare and remembered that I used to have some spare stuff in that bag. Luckily I found the connector and learned another lesson.

I logged my first contact at 1927z and did not get a break in the action until 2140z. I have been on the receiving end of a pile up for a state QSO party but nothing as relentless as this one. I am glad I asked my second eldest son to come take some pictures as I would not have had time to do it myself.

The break at 2140z was because all of the sudden 20m got very quiet and I was thinking that another stinking solar flare had hit. I looked in my rear view mirror and saw the top of my antenna, Took a couple of seconds to realize that the telescoping S9-31 mast had lowered itself. I guess once one section dropped suddenly they all started collapsing. The mast must of known I needed a break! Thanks mast!

I could have called it quits at this point but I wanted to spend some time on 40m so I raised the mast and started calling CQ at 2155z and by 2159z the pile up was back. I was fighting a S9 noise even with the noise blanker on but we squeaked out another 48 contacts before I had to go QRT so I could tear down, pack up and go inside the visitor's center to get my Passport book stamped.

It was a great day to be on the air! Thanks ARRL for getting this setup up!

45 states worked
6 provinces
219 total contacts
287 minutes

Now for some pictures. (looks like a Chevy commercial)

 S9-31 mast

 Love the IC-7100 radio!