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Double Dip Weekend August 2012
Aug 13th, 2012 by kmack

Homebrew Buddipole inspection

Homebrew Buddipole inspection

Great weekend of QRP Portable fun. Saturday our Central FL QRP group had some new ops join us and we had a good time comparing antennas and rig setups at Sylvan Lake Park in Sanford, FL. As is typical, we did more talking than operating but did manage to sneak a few qso’s in on 20 and 17 meters. The contesters in Europe were hot and heavy on 15 m too so made for a fun day despite the heat and high humidity. I was a bit disappointed to not be able to snag any fellow Polar Bear QRP ops on 30m but the band did not stay open long and the other stations were operating on alternative bands.

Sunday after church was the first annual NJQRP Skeeter Hunt.  So glad to work Skeeter Hunt promoter and fellow Polar Bear, Larry, W2LJ before the lightning ran me off. Larry was my last QSO of the day as a thunderstorm started making LOTS of noise and it was my signal to pull down the 31 ft Jackite and wire and get out from under the shade of the 50 ft tall pine trees down by the lake! YIKES… just made it too!

I ran my Sierra at 2.4 watts out into an end fed half wave suspended as a sloper from the 31 ft Jackite pole in a WNW direction. I normally use the trees to get a bit more height for my wire, but the Jackite goes up and down faster and with storms coming, I chose the simple and fast way to git ‘er done. Turned out to be a good choice. Band conditions were pretty good on 20m and I was hearing a good bit of activity. After 1800 the Caribbean, Central and South American SSB stations were causing a good bit of QRM down here in FL. They all seem to run power and gain antennas so we learn to listen through the chatter here in FL.  The approaching storm was obvious as QRN increased with distant lightning stirring up the noise and crashes. Nonetheless, the signals were pretty good despite the distractions and there were some SKCC, FISTS and other cw fans out there having fun too which made the band busy.

I built a simple key and am posting  a photo of my K4UPG Knee Cap Key. Used the lid of a bulk black peppercorn jar and made a simple non-iambic key with paper clips, standoff and a bit of wire. It actually worked fairly well, but not good enough to use for the whole contest. As a long time CPG (Contest Point Giver) I decided that was a good way to give myself some points so took advantage of the bonus points! It did inspire me to try a more substantial lid and make a strap to use it as a leg key for portable ops.

K4UPG Skeeter 2012

Umbrellas for the rig and the op!

 

 

It was fun to hear so many familiar calls and work a few of our fellow Polar Bear Ops who were out for the fun too. Sure appreciate the effort to put this event on the calendar and process the results. Thanks to the NJQRP group for the support of our niche in the hobby and to you Larry for the time you devote to contests, blogs and getting us all out and on the air.

Here’s my results before the storm drove me for cover:

Date Time Call Band Pwr RST RCV SPC Nr
8/12/2012 17:12 N0SS 20 CW 2.4 559 579 MO #122
8/12/2012 17:17 W0EA 20 CW 2.4 559 559 IA #22
8/12/2012 17:23 NK9G 20 CW 2.4 559 559 WI #75
8/12/2012 17:25 VE3WDM 20 CW 2.4 559 559 ON #15
8/12/2012 17:37 KQ2RP 20 CW 2.4 449 439 NJ #27
8/12/2012 17:39 AB4PP 20 CW 2.4 579 599 NC #79
8/12/2012 17:42 N0JRN 20 CW 2.4 559 559 MO 5W
8/12/2012 17:46 N3AO 20 CW 2.4 449 559 VA #109
8/12/2012 17:49 W4MPS 20 CW 2.4 599 559 NC 5W
8/12/2012 18:00 KR9Z 20 CW 2.4 449 449 IL #10
8/12/2012 18:06 AA4GA 20 CW 2.4 579 569 GA #2
8/12/2012 18:08 N7UN 20 CW 2.4 579 559 NJ 5W
8/12/2012 18:14 WF4I 20 CW 2.4 559 559 NC #71
8/12/2012 18:18 K3RLL 20 CW 2.4 449 339 PA #21
8/12/2012 18:31 KX0R 20 CW 2.4 449 359 CO #69
8/12/2012 18:36 W2LJ 20 CW 2.4 579 599 NJ #4

A good time was had by me!

72,
Kelly K4UPG

QRP TTF 2012
Apr 29th, 2012 by kmack

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!

Just above sea level

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!

72,

Kelly K4UPG

BS goin' up

Buddistick on the way up

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!

QRPSPOTS.COM and IHAB Do it Again!
Oct 2nd, 2010 by kmack

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!

I am a CPG
Sep 13th, 2010 by kmack

Spent my birthday participating (casually) in the Straight Key Century Club Weekend Sprint. My Lake Fredrica neighborhood site was where I set up my shelter and 3 antennas. I had a 40m dipole fed with twinlead up 40 ft and running E-W. An End Fed Halfwave for 20m was nearly vertical suspended by a nearby tree. A twinlead 44 ft doublet on my 20 ft Jackite with the ends at 16 feet was setup running N-S to give me a bit of a mini-smorgasbord of antenna choices. Since it was really sunny, I hooked up my ACME GC100 Solar Charger and VW Solar Panel.

Bands were decent with 40m quiet and some DX coming through early from Eu stations. Nice to hear that again. 20m came alive and was pretty much the go to band for the majority of the day. I did check 15m a couple times but did not hear much and no one replied to my CQ’s.

In the middle of a QSO, my Jackite pole decided to collapse but I was able to finish the QSO with one end of the dipole about 4 feet above the ground. hi hi

The highlight of the day was my last QSO with EA3NO, Lluis in Spain. As the special station for the sprint there was a lot of competition but Lluis hung in there with my weak signal and pulled me out of the crowd after a couple attempts. THANK YOU FOR THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT Lluis!

Still wondering what a CPG is? Contest Point Giver! I am a really casual contester. Really the only reason I participate is that contests offer a fairly good opportunity to make some QSO’s. When you are QRP you have to do a lot of listening, plus pounce and search, but serious contesters will dig out weak signals to make the QSO’s so it is fun. I enjoy giving out points and reading the mail on ops that are faster than my cw comfort zone. Good practice, eh?

Here’s some photos from the day. Enjoy!

72,

Kelly K4UPG PB #173 SKCC #5415

What Would You Do? Antenna ideas anyone?
Aug 12th, 2010 by kmack

We purchased our condo before I got back into ham radio. Like most in Orlando, we have antenna restrictions. I can put up portable or temporary antennas but cannot mount anything to the building permanently. I’d love to be able to get on the air without all the hassles of dragging gear to the porch, setting up an antenna and then tearing it all down again. It takes so much time to setup and tear down that it turns a few minutes of operating into a long process.

Here’s the layout I have to work with at the QTH…

The front yard

The front yard view... I am next door down from the blue car

backyard view

Preferred antenna site is the backyard

The buildings run north and south and these photos are shot facing due north. My condo is ground floor, second from the south end of the building. Yes, that is a big electrical transformer box and a major underground feeder line runs to it from the north.

I’ve used my Buddistick with some success but it doesn’t like being so close to the buildings and the swr is higher than when it is out in the open. I also have run a doublet inverted vee fed with twinlead but the north south orientation is not very favorable from my Florida QTH and sends most of my rf into the two buildings. My W3EDP works fairly well as an inverted L with my 20′ Jackite pole and I’ve used end fed halfwaves as slopers and inverted vees but again the directivity is not favorably oriented. I have a 3 foot magnetic loop propped against the wall but it is not working as well as I’d like yet. (i.e. the outdoor antennas work LOTS better so far)

Thought I’d ask ya’ll for some input.

Any outrageous ideas or thoughts for  me? Send me a comment and let me know.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

FOBB Ain’t Broke… SO…
Jul 26th, 2010 by kmack

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.

72,

Kelly K4UPG  BB #10

NEScaf Filter Saves the Day
Jul 5th, 2010 by kmack

As one of the many antenna restricted condo owners of America, I cannot operate as often as I’d like. The hassle of putting up and taking down temporary antennas wastes time, isn’t always practical and generally spoils the fun for us.

Great that we have some holidays and time off as it allows a bit more opportunity to get on the air. The MI QRP group hosted a 4th of July Sprint and although the hour was late (7-11PM EDT) since I did not have to go to work Monday, I took advantage of the chance to work a few of my fellow QRP ops.

Rain and lightning welcomed my efforts to set up an antenna. So I forsook my normal setup and settled for a twinlead 44 foot doublet hung from my 20 foot Jackite pole which was bungee cord strapped to a ladder in the back yard of our condo. The antenna ran north south so much less than ideal, but at least I could get on the air.

NEScaf Filter

Freshly Built NEScaf saved my bacon!

The day was saved by my freshly built NEScaf filter. As one of the lucky ones, I recently received the latest edition of this great kit provided by the NE QRP bunch. It enabled me to listen to cw despite the high QRN and background hash from neighbor’s TV’s, computers and air conditioners. What a joy it is to actually hear stations through the noise. This is a must have accessory for the condo based QRP op! I am still learning to use it well, but am mega-impressed with the capabilities it offers. With this audio filter, I could null out the QRN and peak the CW signals making for much more relaxed and enjoyable copy. The extra audio boost helps my little Sierra audio too. Keep watching for the next round of kits!

QRP TTF 2010 * Disappointed in Orlando!
Apr 25th, 2010 by kmack

On the road again… happy feet dance! K4UPG is loaded and ready for a good day by the lake operating the QRP To The Field event for 2010.

Packed up and ready to roll

K4UPG ready to roll to QRP TTF site

Kitchen Sink Approach

Loaded with ALL the options!

Then came the wind knots in the antenna launching rig! I wanted to get a doublet up as high as possible. Took nearly 2 hours to get my antennas up in the air. LESSON LEARNED: It is really helpful to have another person along to help untangle all the knots that wire and string seem to make all by themselves.  Getting  the antenna up quickly is a key to portable ops. Grrrrr!

Wind knot

One of several tangled messes that delayed the antenna deployment

LESSON TWO: After a delayed start, I spent a lot of time moving my portable table to keep out of the direct sun! With temperatures in the upper 80′s it was HOT and direct sun causes my Sierra to drift a bit which makes qso’s more difficult. Need to get a sun shade setup and not waste time moving my position.

The band conditions were pretty poor and I did not hear as many stations as I had hoped. The ones I did work were tough going and seemed like others could not hear me responding to their CQ’s.  I didn’t even hear a lot of Florida QSO party ops, but sounds like others that were farther away did. In 5 hrs I managed three whole qso’s with TTF stations. I did hear one Polar Bear– Martin operating as VA3OVQ but he could not hear me when I replied to his CQ.

Don't fee the Gator!

Warning sign about 30 feet from my operating site!

It was fun to be outdoors and playing radio! I did not get eaten by our neighborhood gator either! Maybe next time out will be better contact-wise.

Feb 2010 PBMME is History
Feb 27th, 2010 by kmack

Grrrrrr!

Tuff day on the ice floes in Central Florida. I was not able to use my
target location because of rain and wind direction, so I operated from
the back porch of our condo with my Sierra and SST working through my
Buddistick up about 15 ft on a painter’s pole. Temp hovered in mid to
upper 40′s but with the wind and dampness it felt colder at times.

Band condx were poor with brief bright spots when the QSB let up and
signals sounded fairly decent. I started on 30m but it was pretty quiet
so I tweaked the antenna in the rain for 20m and found it even
quieter… :-( Back to 30m after checking 40m which also was noisy and
almost no signals heard.

First QSO was K9DP Dan in Smithville, TN… He was 569 until QSB hit
hard but we had a 25minute ragchew that was nice. He gave me a 599 and a
couple others did later making me wonder why they could hear me better
than I was hearing them? Then read the mail for a bit on a few other
stations but didn’t get a rise when I tried to connect. Tried to connect
with K9QB but after a few weak QRZ’s we both moved on for better luck.

Finally heard a PB on 20m, WD4MSM, Barry in Indiana working someone
else. When they finished the QSO I called Barry and we had a short QSO
although the QSB was up and down and made copy tough at times. It was
good to be able to Grrrrowllll. Tried to find others and even using the
QRP Spots and K3UK spotting pages could not connect. Then I called CQ
and Guy rose out of the Band N7UN was in the log… Good to connect with
another Bear but the copy deteriorated quickly so we kept it very short.
Thanks Guy for digging my signal out. Next was Frank,, KB3AAG to finish
my day. His signal totally got lost in the noise and so it was a short
QSO to end the day.

Whew… many antenna changes, tweaks and lots of tuning, listening,
trying to hear today. I think the bands were pretty void of activity
except for us QRP types. Not often that happens, eh?

Thanks to all who went out and gave it a go. Missed talking to our
Canadian and West Coast guys this time… let’s keep trying. Also quiet
without Ken Bear raising a ruckus from MI and no Alpha Bear on the AT…
See ya in March… Grrrr!!!!

72,
Kelly K4UPG PB #173

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