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Hamcation 2013 and QRP
Feb 10th, 2013 by kmack

One of my favorite events is the Orlando Hamcation. This year I didn’t really have a “get list” so could enjoy more time with fellow QRP ops. Our Central FL QRP Group regular Jim Diggs K4AHO helped us get a QRP Forum and Jim Stafford W4QO came in from Georgia to help bring a good session about working DXCC with QRP. Wow! Jim also did a lot of recruiting of QRP ops as he manned the QRP ARCI booth and allowed us to hang out and assist. We had quite a good turnout of QRP Ops from FL and all over the US and a few overseas members too!

 

W4QOatHamcation2013QRPForum CFLQRPHamcation2013 Crowd at Hamcation 2013 QRPARCI booth Hamcation2013demoN4KGL  Carl AA2JZ brought some of his homebrew masterpieces and along with some QRP rigs W4QO displayed we got a lot if interests and questions on what was in the Altoids tins.

After the QRP Forum, Greg N4KGL gave us a demo of his Alex Loop and KX-3 at a nearby picnic table. The weather and bands were both cooperative and we were all impressed with the way the antenna and rig set up and operated!

Thanks to all who joined in the fun. Check out our Central FL QRP Group blog for details on our outings.

Duh: Learning Curve #5 Old Lessons Remembered
Sep 23rd, 2010 by kmack

POLL RESULTS SO FAR:  West Virginia is in the lead for best Ham Radio QTH in the USA… One more week of voting… Have you voted yet? Here’s the link to vote!

Last weekend I played in the QRP Afield event and had fun with fellow Polar Bear QRP Club members on the air. It was a great time. Once again, the antenna tweak won out and under the influence of a great blog post by Polar Bear #20 VA3SIE, Martin in Ontario about the 88ft Doublet, I caved in and put one together the night before the event. Oops, I did it again! But this time I had excellent results and the antenna worked as advertised.  LESSON: Sometimes it pays to follow your heart and not your head.

cd logo

Civil Defense Logo

I also remembered how I learned a lot as a young teen aged ham via the Civil Defense program. Remember that time?

Watching a weather report about tornadoes reminded me of a great learning experience. The Palm Sunday Tornadoes of 1965 hit the counties north and east of my home in Elwood, IN. At only 15 yrs old, I was the assistant emergency coordinator and ran the 6 meter emergency communications net on Sundays.  Our county and city Civil Defense teams had setup equipment and were ready for disasters and those tornadoes reeked havoc on our area.

Palm Sunday Tornado Map

Path of the Palm Sunday Tornadoes

Our teams rolled out the emergency vans, and the adults helped this young ham handle traffic for the state police and other government emergency responders.  The old yellow CD Gonset Goonie Bird rig is still something I remember fondly. I loved running that thing!

LESSON: Give the young hams some responsibility and empower them. They will be there when the time comes and will never forget how older folks treated them as peers and gave them an opportunity to do something important. I bet that kind of opportunity will still attract young people to our great hobby. We need them! They need us!

Goonie

The Yellow Goonie Bird

Duh: Learning Curve #3–Coke Choke Works!
Sep 9th, 2010 by kmack

Had a great time setting up the C Pole antenna in a tree suspended configuration. My good friend and cohort, Jim Diggs, K4AHO came by with his AIM 4170 Antenna Analyzer and we were ready to tune the antenna and get a feel for it.

LESSON: A good analyzer makes tuning an antenna fast, simple  and accurate! The AIM 4170 gave us a TON of info (most of it going over my head) and let us see how the C Pole was doing in several areas.  Take a look at this output! (Click on the image for a larger version)

C Pole Plot

K4UPG C Pole Scan Results

LESSON: I followed Niel’s directions, but did not have a small plastic coffee container so used a Quart Coke bottle instead. So I call it a Coke Choke and it seems to work well. Here’s a photo to show it off!

Coke Choke

Coke Choke Ready for Duty

I think this one is a keeper. Goes up easily, hears well and loads nicely too. I made a few brief contacts and called it a day, but look forward to more C Pole action in the days ahead.

72,

Kelly K4UPG PB #173

p.s. Don’t forget to vote in the Ideal Ham Radio QTH poll on the blog!

Toe Dipping & Antenna Modeling
Aug 9th, 2010 by kmack

Tin Foil works!

I still think the tin foil does the magic!

After years of neglect, this analog era ham is willing to admit I only understand a bit about digital electronics. (Yep! Pun intended.) Well into the second week of my sabbatical leave, I have begun to plot out a course of study to get up to speed on the state of the art that I have so long neglected. Should be fun. There seems to be a good bit of open source help online these days and I have my trusty ARRL Handbook, Extra Class study guide, Antenna Handbook and assortment of other aids.

Any suggestions from the veteran techies out there will be greatly appreciated.

I am a learn by doing/hands-on sort of guy and find deep theory puts me into a semi-catatonic state after a few minutes.  For me, it’s a whole lot more fun to take a stab at things and find out if they smoke, and it also makes a lot more sense when I can dink and tweak and see what that actually does. But since that is a bit expensive, perhaps I should learn how to use software like spice to do simulations? Any recommendations for how to learn this software?

Another area of toe dipping will be learning to do antenna modeling. For years I’ve looked at those charts and made little sense out of them. HA… I like to throw wire out and see what happens, but in the summer heat, maybe it is wiser to do a bit of modeling from my air conditioned den?

Wild Delta Loop Model

Thanks WX7S-- Your site looks AWESOME for learning this stuff!

I’ll try to share some of the learning curve, but would love to hear from some of you that have gone before. Shortcuts are nice. WX7S your site looks like a great place for me to start! Thanks for the effort it takes to do that.

This weekend (Sat 14 Aug 2010) the Central Florida QRP Group will gather for breakfast at 0730 (Denny’s in Sanford, FL) and off to Sylvan Lake Park in Sanford, FL at 0900 EDT to operate. If you like cw and qrp or are just plain curious… come join us!

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