Sunday, February 18, 2018

Moraine View State Recreation Area- KFF-4099 activation

Once again I found myself in Central IL with time to kill so I went to the Moraine View State Park located outside of Bloomington. As you can see we had a little bit of snow with temperatures around 32 degrees. There was no snow when I started the activation but it came down fast for about an hour. Just enough to make everything look pretty and the roads slick!

I started on 40 meters and quickly racked up 57 contacts in about 45 minutes. By this time the snow had fallen and I sat there debating whether to retune the antenna for 20 meters. Finally I retuned for 20 and began calling CQ and spotting on the Facebook thread. In 20 minutes I managed only 1 contact. I know that during the one 20 meter QSO the signal was up and down so maybe the band conditions were not the best or at least not good with my antenna set up. I usually like to use a 31 foot mast for my vertical but the type of trip I was on I needed to have nothing in the bed of the truck so I was using a shorter whip with the Wolf River coil. The noise level on 40 meters was S0 to S1 so this was a nice spot to operate. 

All of my tape measure radials and antenna whip/coil are wet so my next task is to dry off everything and spray with WD40. Hopefully I will have another road trip with an activation in a couple of weeks. 73 & 44

Friday, February 9, 2018

Kickapoo State Recreation Area- KFF-4097 activation

On February 3rd I was in the area of Danville IL with a couple of hours on my hands so I made the short drive west to the Kickapoo State Recreation Area. The park was pretty quiet with it being winter but the area has a lot to offer folks in the warmer weather. Today it served this ham radio portable operator! I set up in the truck again and used my Wolf River coil with about a 10ft rod along with 3 ground radials. Since the coil was still tuned for 20 meters from my last activation I decided to start there.

20 meters

20 meters was a battle from the start and I only made 5 contacts as that band was up and down. It reminded me of 6 meter openings where you better make the contact quick.  Folks in the WWFF Facebook group were waiting for me to go to 40 meters so I gave up on 20 meters.

40 meters

I found a spot on 40 meters, started calling CQ plus spotted myself on the Facebook group. 40 was much better but it was also up and down somewhat. I made 45 contacts and then my wife texted me that I could pick her up anytime. I had planned to operate at least 2 hours but since I also once again picked a frequency that the foreign broadcasts use and I was slowly starting to have trouble making contacts. My 50 contacts satisfied my ham radio itch for the day so I packed up to retrieve my wife and go to dinner. 

I doubt I am ever back to activate the park again but is was a good place to operate from and easy to get to. 

Operating spot is the blue circle.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Winter Field Day 2018

New plan for 2018!

The past few years Winter Field Day has been at my house either in my basement or in a tent on my deck. Last year Kyle-N0KTK joined me at my house and we operated from the tent so we could claim the outdoor bonus points. We realized that 2 people trying to cover the entire 24 hour event was close to impossible so we made plans for at least 3 people for 2018. We also decided to move to a state park so we could help drive up the QSO rate with the Parks on the Air program. We thought about the plan throughout the year and here is how the new plan unfolded. 


Kyle recruited Justin- KE0HXL for this years WFD. Kyle and Justin have been working together on portable deployments for years and they definitely have the setup sequence down to a science. I tried to stay out of their way as much as possible but probably still slowed them down. Justin brought a RV that we used to get some sleep and do some cooking. They had scoped out the campground at Babler State Park in St. Louis County MO and had reserved 2 spots which each had electric and concrete pads. This gave us room for multiple trucks, the camper and the operating tents. Also the campground folks understood what we were doing and gave us their blessing on putting up antennas in the trees. 

Camper and generator (far left)

Operating tents- ladder line and balun in lower right corner

Operating positions

This was a 2 Outdoor operation which means we could only have 2 stations on the air at a time. We planned that one person would be handling logistics or sleeping so we stuck with 2O. The larger tent had ICOM equipment and the smaller red tent had Kyle's Flex setup. The red tent is for ice fishing and it is somewhat insulated and very easy to heat compared to the larger tent. Sorry that I forgot to take pictures of the operating stations. 


Our main antennas were a 10-80m Windom up at about 40 feet. Kyle ran almost the entire time on this antenna. We also had a 80m horizontal loop that was over uneven ground and had various tree heights. On average I would say that it was up about 30 feet and in a rectangle shape. Justin and I mainly used this antenna. This was my first event using a loop and it worked great. A 160m trapped dipole went up but none of us could get it to tune so we did not get any 160m multipliers this year. We will need to solve this for next year. A vertical with a ICOM AH-4 tuner was set up for band scanning and for some digital operations. 
Sky loop antenna if you look hard enough!

ND9E 2O MO on the air!

We used my call mainly so I could get credit for the Parks on the Air and Grid Chase programs. Kyle was the main QSO machine for the entire event. He mainly ran the whole time he operated. Justin and I took turns looking for multipliers and I had a small run on 80 meter phone. I did some PSK31 runs also after Justin got my FLDIGI working with N1MM. Kyle and Justin and very versed in N1MM and this was only my second time running it. 

IC-7100 failure

Late Saturday afternoon as I was getting up from sitting on a plastic chair while at a plastic table.  I touched the back of my IC-7100 control head and received a static shock. I thought at the time, "that was not cool" and went to do something else. When I returned to the radio I noticed that I no longer had any transmit audio (or power) on phone. Digital and CW still worked fine. Needless to say I was not happy now with my situation. I thought about it for awhile and decided to do a partial reset from the main menu. It worked! Now I had transmit audio and power while learning a lesson on controlling static for the future. 

Final results

We operated about 18 hours of the 24 hour event. If we had 160 meters working we might have had an incentive to stay up the entire time. We operated right up til the end of the event and immediately began tearing down. We were packed up in about 2 hours and on our way.

Only about 10 ARRL sections short!

17,810 was our raw score with low power

Final claimed score with bonus
1500 points - remote
1500 points- emergency power
1500 points- outdoors
13 multipliers
22,310 claimed final score