Last weekend was a fun one for me. I had an open day following a morning commitment, and then I was free to operate in the QRP TTF event. I had originally planned to strike out to a nearby trailhead for the extra multiplier but a hastily planned meeting nixed that plan. So I operated from the park area by Lake Fredrica in our housing development. It is my favorite spot due to the nicely spaced tall pines and open area to a sandy beach on the lake. The lake is spring fed and one of the clearest natural lakes in the area despite being surrounded by civilization. It is also a nice quiet RF location free of most appliance generated noise that is so common these days.
Being a dedicated Contest Point Giver, I set out to give some points to the serious ops among us. What a treat to casually listen, and try to improve my cw copying speed by listening to all the exchanges going on during events like this one. I love the fact that the SOTA gang was included and there were a few Florida QSO Party ops on 20m where I spend most of my time. It was also Polar Bear QRP monthly outing time and I got to Grrrrrr to several of my fellow Polar Bear ops. Thanks and an extra long Grrrr to Larry W2LJ, Perry N5PJ, Barry N1EU, and John N0EVH and hope I did not miss any other PB’s.
My view of the lake K4UPG
In the end, I had a fun day. Seems the bands were not solid, but I’ve gotten used to that in this current solar cycle. I kept hearing the same stations over and over. Now and then a new call would appear but most of the time they disappeared before I could work them with my Sierra at 2.4 watts. Even with my jumper dipole up at 45 feet I suspect my signal isn’t always loud enough to attract much attention. So I search and pounce and enjoy reading the mail and waiting to pounce. I did collect 14 different states and give myself a bit of multiplier for that fortunate turn of events.
Nothing like spending time outdoors doing something that I love. I especially appreciate my fellow QRP ops and the fun we have making QSO’s with limited power and gear.
CU on the air!
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!
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.
Great weather here in Orlando for a good afternoon of QRP Portable. The QRP To The Field contest is always a good time to get out and give out a few more points to the serious contesters. I enjoy the concentrated QRP contacts and hearing my virtual friends once again. Every QRP event has a few regulars that are almost always heard. This year the bands were only so-so in Florida with lots of QSB on 20m which was by far the best for the day. It was solid at times and then signals would suddenly drop to the noise level which made RST reporting fun!
Mt. Cedar Tree: Just above sea level
Because of band conditions, I spent most of the 4 hours on 2om, but I did check 15 and 10m on an hourly basis. To do that, I pulled out my Ten Tec Argonaut 509 and used a Buddistick with the base up about 12 ft. I called CQ about 50 times on 15 m but heard almost nothing on 10m all day. On 15m I heard a couple Eu (IV4 and DK) stations but was not getting a response to my calls and only heard 1 or 2 US stations so I assume the band conditions here weren’t quite right for those two bands.
Managed 18 QSO’s in 4 hrs of switching between my Wilderness Sierra to an EFHW, Delta Loop for 20m, and the Buddistick / Argonaut combo for 15 and 10m. 40 m was full of Florida QSO Party stations and a couple of nearby (within 4 miles) stations were pounding my receiver and causing the AGC to go nuts when I tuned across them so I only managed a single contact on 40 before retreating back to 20m.
I’ll be looking to give out more points in upcoming contests. So call CQ and I’ll be out there lookin’ fer ya!
Buddistick on the way up
BREAKING NEWS! Mack has rebooted and W4AX.com is back online. It is a huge blessing and thanks again to Mack and the host of others who serve all of us! YAHOOO>>> Grinches lose! W4AX.COM is online again! Belay my last!
A few years ago, we did not know the term, Software Defined Radio but now it has become one of many new technologies that we hams are learning to adapt to our needs. As an antenna restricted condo dweller, I’ve found it most helpful for being able to listen to the bands at various times through the day.
W4AX.com during IARU CW contest
Yesterday I learned my favorite site, W4AX.com is shut down due to abuse by non-hams and other constraints. A big thanks to Mack, W4AX and others who are the unsung heros that provide services like these and have allowed access to others over the years. The Reverse Beacon Network is another great service and we often forget the time and expense that our fellow hams have put into keeping them going. As a blogger with multiple sites, I understand the challenges and resources it takes all too well.
I’ll miss being able to check the bands 24 x 7 on my favorite site, but perhaps it will prompt me and others to set up our own SDR site and share it with others. I salute those who like Mack paved the way for new technology to provide access to so many hams. Sorry that the burden got too heavy to keep it going, but know your work was appreciated by many. I’ll be sure to let others who are working behind the scenes know that they are appreciated too.
Blessings gang of pioneers and Happy Holidays to you all!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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!
Kelly K4UPG, Jim K4AHO, Ren KG4BAS and the Central FL QRP Group!
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.
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!
Kelly K4UPG PB #173
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?
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!
Yep, it is confirmed now for sure. Compulsive Antenna Disorder has haunted me since I was first licensed and ran a coax fed 80 meter dipole on multiple bands without a tuner. The first time the symptoms were noticed by my family and friends was when I got a couple OO tickets for out of band harmonics. Hmmmm… what’s up with that? So a bit of reading and the antenna tweaking began and that’s when it all started.
Soon thereafter I tried to load up a nifty pin from my Junior Prom Boutonnière that reminded me of a triple stacked halo for 1296 Mc (MHz for the newer ones amongst us). Then it was the handheld yagis for 432 Mc that we used with some military surplus gear that used dynamos so we could chase tornadoes. (We thought if it bounced off the moon, it should bounce off of a tornado!) The saucer sled that became a parabolic for listening to satellite telemetry and on it goes… Compulsive Antenna Disorder has had a firm grip on me for some time now.
Am I dreaming? Thanks wiki images!
As a QRP operator, I am always looking for more antenna power. I know that somewhere out there simply MUST be a silver bullet, that magic QRM and pileup busting antenna that makes my 2 watts output sound like a full gallon.
I can say one thing for sure, I know a lot of non-silver bullet antennas, as I have a box full of them.
But they still make a few QSO’s at times and I’m having fun along with a bit of frustration and disappointment as I deal with my CAD affliction.
I’m told that much like telegraph key collectivitis there is no known cure or relief. I share in your grief brothers and sisters…