Sunday, February 14, 2021

Winter Field Day 2021-ND9E

 Another Winter Field Day approached and I did my normal process of watching the weather, making grand plans and then making a last minute decision. Here is how it all played out for 2021. 

About 6 days out my plan was to setup a 30 foot mast and put up a 80 meter doublet antenna. I would operate from an ice fishing tent on my deck and run on generator power. The weather guessing people thought that we would have a little rain on Saturday with temperatures in the mid 30's. The radio setup would be the IC-7100 running into an AH-4 ICOM tuner. N3FJP would be the logging program and I would be using FLDIGI for PSK-31. 

At around 2 days out the weather forecasts were starting to say more rain was possible along with some wind. Now I am wondering how waterproof the ice fishing hut would be so research would show that my model of tent would leak at the seams unless it had been waterproofed. There was not time to properly waterproof the tent and now they were saying that we would have at least an inch of rain so I decided that either I had to operate as a home station or move the operating position to the uninsulated garage. I could claim more bonus points by operating as an indoor station away from home and long as I still set up the temporary antenna so a garage operation it would be!

Now with the plan finalized I proceeded with setting up the mast and antenna Friday afternoon. I got the cables run into the garage before it got dark and then setup the radio in the garage. Saturday morning I would just have the generator to get setup. 

Saturday morning I started up the propane heater and took the generator outside and placed it under the eve of the garage to keeping it out of the rain. I had a 20lb propane tank tied to the generator but could not get it to start which was frustrating since I had tested this a month earlier. I did get it to run on a 1 lb bottle so this would be a test to see how long that would run. 


The Baja generator ran 3 hours on a 1 lb propane bottle. Ran another 7 hours on the 20 lb tank. 

The Bioenno inverter ran the radio for 6 hours on Sunday morning and was still at 75% charge.

The EMI filter that I built worked well on suppressing the generator and inverter noise. Also the ferrites from Palomar Engineering took the rest of the noise out of the radio. 

Waterproof your connections! AH-4 tuner, tuner control cable and taped up coax connections.

80 meter doublet

Guy rope tensioners


Saturday, February 6, 2021

EMI filtering for inverter generators


I had purchased a Baja inverter generator for ham radio use and so I didn't have to lug around my 3500 watt generator which is overkill for just running a radio. The Baja runs on a propane tank as shown above or the Coleman green bottles. I knew when I purchased this that there was good chance I would get EMI noise in the radio and boy does it put out some noise! 

I built some filtering based on these two great write ups.


First I built the filter box capable of 10 amp loads. Testing showed that this filter knocked down about 50% of the noise and my noise blanker on my IC-7100 would take care of the rest but I wanted to eliminate some more noise before it got to the radio. 

Next I added some products from Palomar Engineers to each end of the extension cord.

Using the filter box and the ferrites took care of all of the EMI from both the Baja inverter generator and the Bioenno inverter shown above. I tested the generator with and without a ground rod connection and it did not make any difference. It does help to get as much separation as possible between the generator and the radio. 50 feet worked well. 

IC-7100 External memory keypad


ICOM has provisions on the IC-7100 to use an external keypad to activate the voice and CW memory keyer slots. This mainly frees up the screen on the control head for other uses and still allows the memory keyer to work. This plugs into the microphone jack. The advanced manual has the schematic for this but it is mainly 4 switches and 4 resistors. There is a menu item in settings to turn on for external keypad use. 

Since it uses the microphone jack and I still needed to use the mic I found a RJ-45 splitter on Amazon that parallels all 8 wires on each port. 

Here is the board with the switches and resistors soldered on. Nothing fancy needed here. Just point to point wiring. 

Sunday, December 13, 2020

ARRL 10 meter contest-2020

 There were only about 2 hours available to play in the ARRL 10 meter contest this weekend. Luckily I picked the 2 hours that the band was open in Illinois. I heard nothing on the band Saturday night and all day Sunday so my only activity was Friday evening. Not much to show here but it was nice to operate on 10 meters again. 

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