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Duh-tective sends his confession and apologies!
Aug 27th, 2011 by kmack

Made one of those last minute decisions to go out and operate in the last minute announced QRP-ARCI Welcome to QRP Event. Packed my trusty Sierra and End Fed Half Wave with Stuner (ala Stu KI6J) and went down to the lake park to take over the shelter. Hurricane Irene’s leftover wind gusts of up to 30 mph made the launching of antenna supports a bit more challenging than normal, but I used a bit heavier sinker than normal and only need one do-over shot to get my two lines in the air.

QRP ARCI Welcome Aug 11

K4UPG setup for QRP ARCI Welcome to QRP Event 2011

Ran my EFHW in a L configuration with the vertical side up to about 33 feet and the horizontal side going to a nearby tree that was well placed for hanging my antenna. I started on 40 m and shortly after light off worked QRP contest regular W4BAI and felt good about the day. But either the band or the connection quickly began to let me down with signals diminishing quickly into the noise floor. Reluctantly shortened the antenna to switch to 20m and for some reason signals there were even lower in strength… and the antenna was not loading. Hmmmm! Could not get the LED to even dim–what could cause that? Changed my coax from rig to tuner, double checked the banana plugs and all seemed well there, but no match and the signals I heard were WAY down in the mud. I tried to check freq with a QRL? on several spots and called CQ until I was tired of pounding brass with no response heard. No fun…

Then the DUH-tective showed up and solved the problem.

Seems I had not switched the band module in the Sierra and it was still on 40m but the antenna was a 20m EFHW. DUH… my sincere apologies to anyone that got qrm’ed by my QRL’s and CQ’s into a mis-matched antenna. This is one time that I was glad to be running QRP at only 2.4 watts out. A quick band switch and I worked another contest regular K0ZK and then in the next QSO worked NE5DL for both QRP ARCI and SKCC number exchanges in two different QSO’s. Had a bit of distraction in the middle of our first QSO as the rain started and was pounding into my back as the 30 mph winds sent the rain horizontally! A bit more with Dave and I called it a day before the rig got wet. Good thing the DUH-tective showed up.

Black Racer Buddy

My sole visitor was a Black Racer about 4 ft away from me!

Hey, I was outdoors, saw a nice looking 3+ft long Black Racer snake about 4 feet from my operating position and made a couple QSO’s despite the goof ups. Who could ask for more?

I am thinking Flight of the Bumblebees in STYLE this year !
Jul 24th, 2011 by kmack

FOBB Ride

K4UPG demonstrates how to get to FOBB in STYLE!

While everyone is thinking about antennas, staying cool and planning for the upcoming FOBB, I been checkin out a new ride! What do you think? Buzz- Buzz! Does this shout FOBB or what?

Now I can settle down and get ready for FOBB action with my untested top secret antenna. It will be all out for me again this year! Lookin’ for my friends out there on the ether and praying we don’t get lightning again like we did in 2009.

The last few years 20 meters has been the go to band, but it sure has not sounded very good here in Central Florida during the contest hours, so it will require being ready to shift bands to take advantage of the conditions.

BumbleBee #010 is gonna be listening for you all and lookin’ for the promised post of last year’s results too. CUL and 72– K4UPG

Give a Hoot? How NOT to Avoid Mosquito Bites!!
May 31st, 2011 by kmack

The Hoot Owl Sprint sponsored by the QRP-ARCI requires one to operate from 2000-2359 local time. The objective (?) is to test our ability to operate QRP Portable in the night hours, portable if possible. I chose a secret location with TALL pine trees next to an alligator occupied lake in the SE suburbs of Orlando for my site. Knowing the place is prone to giant mosquitos, I planned to use my screen house enclosure. Weather was HOT and WINDY with gusts of over 25mph so that killed option to hide from the critters inside my screen house. SHUCKS.  But, the good news was the wind also blew the mosquitos out of the air so I settled in for operating from my portable table in the middle of the tall trees.

Wind did blow Ole’ Murphy in and added a couple hours to getting my 88 ft doublet up into the pines as my 1 oz sinkers hung in mid-air. The tension on the line with all that wind equaled the weight of the sinker and once it got up over the 60 ft limb it merely hung in space and didn’t descend no matter how many things I tried. Very frustrating! Eventually my Scottish and Irish nature won out over nature and I settled for a 45 ft high perch for my antenna in a slight horizontal vee config favoring NNW direction. From FL this is not a bad direction to point as it covers the better part of the USA! So with my jeans and a light jacket to break the wind, I began my contest effort, missing the first hour due to delay in getting the antenna up, so it was really dark by the time I made my first contact which was my good friend and fellow Polar Bear QRP group member the Hill Billy Bear, AF4O in Tennessee.

What a mess, I had just turned the rig on and had not even setup my BLT+ tuner but heard a quick CQ from AF4O and wanted to make the contact. I didn’t notice until afterwards that I was still in SWR position and not in operate, so the contact I made with him was thru the LED SWR Bridge which must have reduced my 2+ watt output to the lowish milliwatt range. How’s that for QRPp? Amazing that we even connected and my keying was so poor as the wind was blowing so hard the tuner was getting airborne during our brief exchange! Finally settled down and taped it to the table for the rest of the evening. Thanks for hanging in there with me Chuck! Operating in a strange place, in the middle of nowhere in the dark was a bit unsettling I was to learn.

The night effort was fun and I got to work several Polar Bear friends, Larry W2LJ, Hank WQ8RP using his club call,  and Martin VA3SIE/VE2/P  (what fun to send that call each time, eh?) Sure worth the effort to get out and experience the wierd band conditions. 20m was open until midnite but was pipelining to various parts of the country with STRONG sigs until it shifted to another region without much warning. It was either good or bad like that all evening but much more reliable than 40m here in the FL area.

ouch

Achilles HEAD shot

The lesson of the night was an itchy one. I was well covered from potential mosquitos and the wind was in my favor. BUT, they found my Achilles heel (or should I say Achilles HEAD?) They managed to bite my head without my noticing in the upside down U-shaped area where the cap adjuster is in the back. I am sporting about a dozen (almost the same as my 3 hr QSO total of 13) bites that itch like crazy in that small area that was not well covered by clothing or insect repellent. So next time I go out contesting in the night, I’ll be prepared… Look out, I’m ready for ya skeeters. Grrrrrrrr!

QRP in the Park–LAKELAND, FL
May 3rd, 2011 by kmack

How Do You Do It?

QRP In the Park–Lakeland
is your chance to show the rest of us how you do it!
 

CFL QRP Group

Lots of ways to do QRP!

For the past several months we have considered traveling to nearby communities in Central Florida to help QRP operators connect with one another. We’ve gotten a good response from hams in Lakeland and Port Orange areas, and we hear of active groups in the Melbourne and Daytona Beach areas. Lakeland has an advocate, Ren KG4BAS who contacted us about getting together and a possible Central Florida QRP Group in Lakeland. WAHOO!

 

 

We’re excited to see the interest and look forward to our first meet up Saturday 14 May, 2011 at Lake Parker Park in Lakeland at 0900. Here’s directions from Ren:
I-4 West to exit 32.

Make left onto 98S and go .4 miles to Griffin Rd.

Make left and go .7miles to the end of Griffin Rd.

Make  right onto Lakeland Hills Blvd and go .3 miles to Granada.

Make  left onto Granada and go .2 miles to Gate 2 entrance of Lake Parker on left.

Make left into entrance and go to the first Gazebo on the right. 

Hope you can join us. Bring something to drink and snack on, your QRP gear, operate, show n tell, get ideas for your portable ops and enjoy the outdoors.

Questions? Contact Ren or Kelly K4UPG.  See ya in the park!

72,
Kelly K4UPG, Jim K4AHO, Ren KG4BAS and the Central FL QRP Group!

Why Do We Do It?
Apr 24th, 2011 by kmack

Another QRP To The Field is in the books. Some may wonder why we do it…why spend the time and energy to take our rigs outdoors and operate? Guess if you have never done it, you will never know! The weather made things tough for many parts of the country, but it was sure sweet to live in Florida for this one. Sunny and a warm 87F with a bit of breeze down by the lake made my day a very special one.

K4UPG QRPTTF 2011 Site

K4UPG QRP TTF Lake Fredrica 2011

The bands were fair to poor, but who cared? I was enjoying my hobby, making a few contacts, giving out points to the more serious contesters and spending time in the outdoors. It is a bunch of fun to make contacts with 2 watts and change, use a straight key and launch an antenna up about 35-40 feet in the pine trees.

Between QSO’s the ospreys provided some entertainment as they swooped down into the lake to snag a fish for their dinner while 4 guys on jet skis raced around our little lake. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon. That’s why I do it! How about you?

Ham Radio Needs a Super Hero!
Mar 15th, 2011 by kmack

What if we had a super hero for ham radio? Many hams are sci-fi fans and love movies and TV shows like Star Trek, Star Wars, Superman and all those other great gadget filled plots. Who hasn’t grown up dreaming of flying to the rescue of the world?

Garb

Wanted: Super Hero (tks to Wiki Commons)

If we were to design our own super hero, what would be the unique abilities and powers that he or she would have? Imagine the cw speed that a super hero could handle while building a surface mount kit using heat vision or x-rays. Hmmmm…. Antenna man? Sparks? Capt. Hertz? Contester Supremo? Commander QRP? Elmer? What would we call this super hero?

It’s your chance to sound off… let’s hear your thoughts. Leave a comment and dream on…

Anticipation – – – HAMCATION & IDGOTAES
Jan 21st, 2011 by kmack

DEAL

Tailgate action as K4UPG buys a MFJ 207

Wahoo! It is that time of year again. I am counting down the days to one of my favorite ham radio activities… Orlando Hamcation is coming on Feb 11-13.

After reading the editorial in the new issue of World Radio Online a cord was struck that resonated with this here ham. I realized that I have a common disease. The article says, “Seems there are a lot of radio amateurs suffering from IDGOTAES.” OH NO… I have it. Throughout the month of December and most all of January, I’ve been sidetracked with other priorities and without realizing it have become afflicted with IDGOTAES. ( “I Don’t Get On the Air Enough Syndrome” )  This is a bad one and only can be cured by some serious outdoor QRP activity if you are a true portable QRP op like me.

Praise the Lord, there’s some good opportunities to get on the air coming up and one cannot find a better place to stock up on goodies than the vendors, swap tables and tailgate are  of HAMCATION. So kick off the winter snow-bound blues and git on down here and enjoy with me.

Feeding

Feeding frenzy at the vendor area of Hamcation!

tailgate

Tailgate area is HUGE!

We’ll be holding an unofficial gathering of QRP types on Saturday Feb 12, 2011 at Hamcation. Let’s meet up at noon at the QRP ARCI booth and swap stories and get to know one another. Look for the wild eyed guy in the bright yellow cap that says K4UPG on it and his very distinctively white haired partner Jim K4AHO won’t be far away! Be there and let’s get over this dreaded disease together as we plan some Central Florida QRP Group outings for the rest of the year.  QNI? Ya hear?

72,

Kelly K4UPG PB #173

Balancing Act
Dec 7th, 2010 by kmack

balancing work and life demands

When Work Gets in the Way of Ham Radio

Every now and then we hit one of those seasons of life where our work gets in the way of our hobby. For the past month, seems like work has overtaken the time and my radios have sat idle for WAY TOO LONG.

Thankfully, this weekend brings some relief and our Central Florida QRP group will take to the outdoors for our monthly outing. No one will be able to complain about the weather being too hot either, as the northland has sent us a reminder of why we moved to Florida. When it gets below 55F we get cranky and it looks like it will barely go above that temperature this weekend.

So look out for us this Saturday, 11 December 2010 about 1500-2000 UTC on the QRP watering holes on 40m, 30m, 20m and who knows where else. We’ll be out there with rusty fists on the keys once again. YAHOO!

72,

Kelly K4UPG PB #173

Central FL QRP Group
Nov 21st, 2010 by kmack

Calling all Central Florida QRP Ops… there’s a small group of us in Orlando that like to gather together on the 2nd Saturday of the month for some breakfast, show n tell, and portable ops in a nearby park.

CFQRP1b 111310

Antenna Tweakers

cflqrp

Operating site

K3RLL

K3RLL in action with KX-1

We just had a nice time of antenna tweaking and operating down by Lake Sylvan. There’s still room for more of you, so mark your calendars and plan to join us on the 10th of December 2010. Leave me a comment if you’d like me to send an email reminder to join us, or if you’d like to get on our list for future outings. Snowbirds are welcome too!

72,

Kelly K4UPG PB #173

Good Customer Service is NOT Dead!
Nov 5th, 2010 by kmack

Recently I began a project for a wire vertical antenna and it called for a 20 ft fiberglass or non-conducting pole/mast of some sort. Not to worry as I have a trusty 20 ft Jackite pole in a nice green color. I put the antenna together but the vertical wire was too long and so there was considerable slack wire swinging in the breeze. After some head scratching, I measured my 20 ft Jackite and found it was only 18 ft long!!! YIKES! Did it shrink?

My 20 Foot Jackite Pole

Did it shrink? Nope, it is all good to go!

Thanks to the internet, I was able to send an email to Jackite products and ask if that was normal. In a short time, I received a very nice response from the Jackite vp and an offer that was over the top and way more than I was expecting. It was more than I could accept as I’ve been quite happy with the product otherwise. Turns out that it was a small quality control issue that I can tweak and correct personally.

I get no monetary or other gain out of this, but did want to give credit where credit is due. This level of customer support is often lacking in today’s busy world. I am glad to give a shout out to this company and its products! They do the job and the company stands behind them with good service. Outstanding job Jackite!

72,

Kelly K4UPG PB #173

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