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.