QRPSPOTS.COM and IHAB Do it Again!

Wow! Great way to bring together a lot of ham radio ops on a Saturday using all sorts of technology!  Way to go! QRPSPOTS.COM is normally used by QRP ops to spot each other when we are out operating portable or to alert others of band openings. It was ALIVE with reports and updates from all over the USA and even a few DX ops adding input too! In addition, several QRP reflectors were buzzing with updates and info. What a great community effort this turned out! Congrats to all and thanks to QRP ARCI for helping get the word out.

iHAB Logo
Iowa High Altitude Balloon Project

One of the 4 States QRP bunch, Terry WA0ITP, provided the 20m beacon again and has some great info on his informative website.

But for me, the coolest thing was listening in on the streaming webcast of  VE3EN and his wonderful IC-7700. Sure wish I had thought of recording a bit or doing a screenshot to share here. But what a treat to listen in and hear the beacon’s signal right up until touchdown. Thanks Kevin for a fun way to eavesdrop on this event since the lawn mowing crew took over my condo’s yard and didn’t allow me to put an antenna out today. There is a ton of info and creative website construction on Kevin’s website and it is worth spending some time looking at the solar cycle data.

Congrats to the team for a successful event today and for bringing so many hams together for a good learning experience and something out of the ordinary. Well done W0OTM, well done indeed!

Toe Dipping & Antenna Modeling

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!

FOBB Ain’t Broke… SO…

Various QRP related email reflectors and lists are full of chatter about the Flight Of the BumbleBees (FOBB). Comments about the CW being too fast and the weather being too hot at this time of year make it sound like a broken event. IMHO it is far from being broken! It is probably the premier QRP event of the year. And I say, if it ain’t broke… yep, you guessed it, don’t fix it.

Sunday the bands were full of QRP ops, both home based and portable, so the activity really did make a BUZZ despite band conditions that have not been all that helpful to hf qrp contacts.  The weather was HOT, but hey, find some shade, altitude or water and go for it. Historically this is the time of year for this event and as others have commented, it keeps our activity up during the summer time when vacations and mowing the grass take their toll on ham radio activity.

As far as fast cw, I’m not fast (not even close hi hi), but it sure is fun listening to the buzz on the bands rather than QRN and a high noise level with only a few weak signals. Certainly I am not a hard core contester. My cw skills are still in need of practice, but isn’t that what events like this provide? I often have to listen multiple times to get the callsign and info but that repetition and practice pushes my speed and confidence level up every time I try. After listening to a fast op several times I have the info I need and then I jump in and have fun making a contact at speeds faster than my comfort zone. Most of us slow guys can send faster than we can receive, right? Come on in, the water is fine, and FUN!

My XYL, Connie and I drove over to Honeymoon Island State Park on the Gulf Coast in Dunedin, Florida. This is a very pretty beach, not overly crowded most of the time and has been one of the top rated beaches in the US for several years. The weather cooperated, there was no sign of the BP oil spill that has run so many tourists to other locations, and we snagged a primo spot to operate right next to the water.The only negative, if you call it that, was that the view was sometimes distracting, but sure was enjoyable.

K4UPG Distracting View from my FOBB 10 Site
K4UPG Distracting View from my FOBB 10 Site
K4UPG Honeymoon Island FOBB Site July 2010

My trusty Sierra and Buddistick provided plenty of action so I never switched over to my mini-bac Delta Loop backup antenna. I also stuck to 20m the whole contest since 40m has been in such poor condition here in Florida lately.

One of the great things about these events is the leveling of the playing field. It is fun to contact the guys that write the articles, create the websites and design the equipment that we use for our hobby. My score was modest at 26 QSO’s, 18 Bumblebees and 17 states and provinces but it was one fantastic day of activity for me! Being able to connect with the big guns of QRP was a thrill too!

W8DIZ Stops By to say Hello to K4UPG
K4UPG search and pounce FOBB 10

For me, one of the highlights was when W8DIZ rode over to meet me as I was setting up my site. Diz lives about 3.5 miles from Honeymoon island and is a regular bicycle visitor of this great beach location. I’ve been a customer of his toroid and kit business and have benefited from the info he has shared, not to mention being one of the movers and shakers of the Famous Flying Pigs QRP group. Diz I was honored that you took time out from a busy family day to swing by and say HI! Thanks for the help getting our screen house up too!

Thanks to Adventure Radio Society and the guys that put this event on for all of us. We appreciate the effort it takes and you deserve the very best of 73’s from all of us.


Kelly K4UPG  BB #10