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!
This is the first of a weekly (Lord willin’) post of some of the lessons learned in the last week of playing radio in the field and on the workbench. I will be sharing my good and some of the not so good lessons with ya so ya don’t fall into the same holes that I have.
Our monthly Polar Bear QRP Club outing was last weekend, and I hustled to put together a new C Pole antenna using Niel W0VLZ’s description. After gathering all the parts I set about preparing them. With the 100F temperatures and high humidity, that was a chore since I don’t have a garage with my condo and use my back porch as the workshop. I also have a less than full set of tools and to trim the 3/4 inch PVC pipe to fit the bases of the 16.5 ft Black Widow Crappie poles I had to resort to my Buck knife.
I was a bit surprised how heavy the treated 1×4 lumber was. It certainly is not an antenna that is well suited to portable ops where it has to be carried very far.
Got the C pole components loaded into the car and transported to the nearby lakeside park in our development. It is a nice quiet spot with towering pine trees and without too many curious visitors, so its a nice QRP portable site. Got my new Coleman shelter set up and went to work on the C Pole. Oops… another lesson. In preparing the PVC to fit into the crappie poles, I only tested the two pvc poles fit into ONE of the two crappie poles. After lugging the framework, antenna wire, coax, balun, and poles about 100 yds to my site, I discovered crappie pole #2 had a big drop of fiberglass inside the open end of the pole and the PVC would not fit at all.
K4UPG Polar Bear Site Aug 2010
C Pole Aborted Setup by Ninja wannabe K4UPG
For the Polar Bears, it was a frustrating weekend for most of us. Propagation was spotty and noise level was as high as the heat. At least I did reconnect with my antenna lovin’ PB friend Aaron, N9SKN/2 working from his hotel parking lot in NJ and had a couple nice ragchews including Julio NP3CW who was 599 and despite two guys calling CQ on top of us was able to be copied well. Great QRP signal Julio.
As you can see, I went ninja and tied a piece of old tee shirt around my head as a sweatband. Actually I was emulating our Alpha Bear, Ron WB3AAL after I read of his early Appalachian Trail exploits and saw a photo of him in his youth and ninja radio mode. Well I tied it TOO TIGHT and left it on TOO LONG and came home with a painful big red stripe on my forehead that lasted for several hours and hurt like all git out.
Ouch Head for the Web... Don't try this at home! Grrrrrrr!
Beef n Pepper Jack Cheese Wrap K4UPG style
p. s. For our Summer Picnic Events, we are supposed to send a picture of our sammich that we have for lunch. So here is mine!
Until next time…
Kelly K4UPG Polar Bear #173
Now into the third week of my sabbatical, I am surprised how much I want to get out and operate my QRP portable gear. Guess I have deprived myself over the years of being a confirmed workaholic and avoiding time off, vacations, and time for my favorite hobby.
Grrrrr! The Polar Bears Are On The Loose!
This should be a good weekend for QRP portable. The Polar Bear QRP Group will be out for another Polar Bear Summer Picnic Event and Polar Bears from Spain to the West Coast of the US will be out looking for BSO’s. Grrrrr! I am PB #173 and we’re over 200 members now. With the new Twitter and APRS connections to QRPSPOTS.COM which also point to the excellent spotting site of K3UK with a section for FISTS/QRP Ops to spot and sked one another, there are plenty of ways to use technology to help find each other. Add in a few other contests and state QSO parties, and there should be some buzzing going on this weekend. Makes me wonder when the FOBB results will be announced! Buzzzz Buzzzzz
I’ll be out and if all goes well I will be field testing a new C Pole antenna based on the suggestion I received from Neil W0LVZ. I added some switchable capacitance to my BLT+ and have rewound the main toroid to see if I can push the range a bit more with it so will have a delta loop and probably my W3EDP in the air too. I love playing with antennas and am still amazed when the ones I build actually make contacts!
Give a listen for me on the QRP watering holes on 40m, 30m and 20m Saturday morning. I’ll be self spotting on QRPSPOTS and the K3UK sites to make it easier for you to find me. Let me know how my newest antenna is workin’.
What is it about low power operators that binds us together? I’ve been reflecting on that a bit lately.
As a student of anthropology and culture, I see a bit of a tribal influence among the amateur radio ops of the world. We tend to cluster into tribes based upon our modes of operation and other specialized pursuits like contesting, fox hunting, award seekers, etc. Each tribe has its own special characteristics, culture, jargon and social structure.
What I enjoy most about the QRP tribe is that the Elmer spirit is still very much alive and well. Although we all are a bit competitive and like to think we have a line on the best way to do QRP, there is a healthy amount of sharing of information, expertise and even hardware. Groups like Adventure Radio Society, NAQCC, Flying Pigs, Polar Bears, AZ Scorpions, NE QRP, North Georgia, 4 States, etc breed healthy competition and provide us with sources of information and expert assistance when needed. I sure am enjoying getting to know, both on air and in person, some of the people that make these groups work.
My recent connection with Diz W8DIZ while operating the FOBB, prompted me to go back and read the history of the Flying Pigs and to read through the archives of the Bacon Bits Newsletter. There is real gold and a wealth of interesting info that’s been recorded and made available freely. Other clubs have the same heritage. I say a BIG THANK YOU to all the QRP groups for sharing their experience and stories. It makes me feel proud to be part of the tribe!
What about you? What do you enjoy about QRP? Leave a comment and share your thoughts and story.
Had a good day in the park with Jim K4AHO and Wally KG4LAL. Spent a good bit of time testing a couple tuners for End Fed Half Wave antennas using Jim’s AIM 4170. Wow is that thing a great tool for tweaking antennas! Info overload!
I built an antenna tuner based on AA5TB’s design for an end fed half wave antenna. I am using a 3 ft or so counterpoise on the ground as Steve suggests. On the analyzer in a test lashup it was a bit touchy to hand capacitance but tuned well even up to 21Mhz. Since I am not thinking of backpack size I used a pretty good sized enclosure for it. I am using an air variable 6-160pf cap instead of a polyvaricon like Steve used since space is not a big issue. I also used a T68-6 toroid instead of the T50-2 Steve used.
When I mounted it in a plastic box the sensitivity seemed to increase. I have not put a LED SWR bridge in the box yet, as I was waiting to see how it worked before adding more variables. Today I was able to put an AIM 4170 analyzer on it and it did tune the antenna… seems that the air variable I used is perhaps a tad small. It is almost fully meshed on 40m cw and on 20m it acts like even at minimum capacitance the sweet spot is very narrow and hard to tune.
Here's the innards
My question(s) are:
1) Is the hand/body capacitance normal? If not, what might cause it to
be so touchy?
2) Would my parts layout be part of the issue?
3) Does the DPDT switch (mini toggle) I added for later use with the SWR
bridge add significant capacitance to the circuit? I was able to match a
21Mhz load on the raw test setup, but not once it is in the box.
4) I have a small bus wire for a ground, do I need to increase that?
5) Is the plastic box the problem? Would it be better in a metal enclosure?
6) Am I asking too many questions? Sorry, this is how I learn. Build,
SWR bridge I want to use
Thanks for your wisdom and experience on this one.
Great weather, great site, and despite so-so band conditions but we made over 25 contacts to be able to submit our qualification of Hontoon Island, Deland, Florida as an official island to be listed and activated as a US Island On the Air.
The main picnic area near the ferry landing
The team consisted of Wally Crew, KG4LAL, Jim Diggs, K4AHO and Kelly, K4UPG. We used the special event callsign K4T on operated on 20m cw and ssb, 30m cw and a few unsuccessful attempts at 40m & 15m cw. Jim was our secret weapon on 20m with his good cw, K-1 and a Par End Fed antenna in vertical configuration on a 33 ft MFJ telescoping mast. Without his contribution we would not have been successful! So a big thank you Jim for your good operating skills and equipment that made it happen in less than 8 hours at QRP levels.
FL481 is ready for future activations!
Thanks to the Polar Bear QRP group, QRP-L members, 4 States QRP Group, GORC, QRP Spots, US Islands organization and HF Packers that helped out by listening and attempting to connect with our effort on Hontoon Island. It was fun to work as a team!
Look out Hontoon Island the Polar Bear of Florida is coming your way! Good Friday, 2 April 2010 Polar Bear QRP member #173 (aka K4UPG) will attempt to qualify Hontoon Island as a US Island on the Air by making 25 contacts including at least 2 DXCC entities.
Hontoon Island is a beautiful place for some QRP Portable Ops
Activity will start about 1400Z after the ferry ride over to the island. Plan is to use special callsign K4T for recognition.
Look for us on 30m cw (10.106-10.116 MHz) and 20m cw 14.050-14.070 MHz and on the hour we will check 15m 21.060-21.070. If anyone shows up to assist, will also attempt ssb on 14.250-14.260 MHz island corridor. All ops will be QRP so we’ll need your help to pull us out!
Fishing is good!
If things go well, our Central Florida QRP group may consider this as a new operating site! If you are in the area, come on and check it out with us.
Hontoon Island closes when the sun goes down!
Thanks to Florida State Parks for the fine pictures!
P.S. We did it 4.2.2010! Over 30 QSO’s update coming! I am TIRED!
WANTED: QRP Ops fer CW or SSB
This Saturday 6 Feb 2010 1400 -2400 UTC
Sylvan Lake Park in Sanford, FL
PLS RSVP if you can make it!
The WX guesser’s are predicting a very nice day for our annual FYBO Event (Freeze Your Buns Off!). RULES HERE
Some of the gang will meet at 0700 for breakfast at the Sanford Cracker Barrel (I-4 & SR 46 on the NE corner)
We could use some operators to fill time slots and loggers to help us keep up with the logging chores. If you like Field Day, you’ll like this event. (it’s just more fun!)
Shifts are available… PLEASE let us know if you can attend and help us in our first Multi-Station Multi-Operator event. The NM QRP guys are offering a PRIZE to the QRP Multi-Multi challengers with the best score.
The GatorCon guys need your help to put us over the top.
Leave a comment or send an email and let us know if you will be attending!
Thanks and 73,
Kelly K4UPG Jim K4AHO Don K3RLL (ex WA3ZBJ)
Wally KG4LAL Larry KJ4BR Matt W1MDG
on behalf of The Central FL QRP Group (aka the GatorCon guys!)
GatorCon Guys Luv QRP! How about you?
Lately I have been experimenting with a number of portable antennas for hf in the field for my QRP operations. The mini-bac Delta Loop configuration and the W3EDP have been fun and seem to work well. Of course, my go to antenna has been my trusty Buddistick, but since I am a tweaker, I continue to try new options.
Would you take a minute and complete a brief poll? Or better yet, leave me a comment AND take the poll? How about it? Let me know what you think? How do you deploy your favorite antenna? Now it’s your turn… Please take the poll, you may answer with your TWO (2) favorite choices and feel free to comment by clicking on the COMMENT link.
What's Your Favorite HF Portable Antenna?
Total Voters: 90
12/20/09 Update. Went out to the lake with my mini-bac Delta Loop and had some fun on 40 and 20 m this afternoon. Nice antenna for multiband use.
Several Polar Bears gathered at Lake Sylvan Park, Sanford, Florida and heated up the airwaves with their beary strong QRP signals! Grrrrrrr! Who says global warming is upon us?
Central Florida QRP Group members, Jim Diggs K4AHO, Don McBride WA3ZBJ, and Kelly McClelland K4AHO are also known as PB#185, PB #183 and PB #173 and were looking for BSO’s with fellow Polar Bear QRP Club members. We are still working on some of the other guys including Wally Crew KG4LAL, Matt W1MDG, and Larry to get PB numbers and get involved with the pack on the ice floes of Central Florida.
The Novembear Polar Bear Moonlight Madness Event turned out to be a fun time. Our group had our traditional very early breakfast and headed out to Sylvan Lake Park in Sanford, FL. Our normal pavillion was already taken so we moved to the B (for BEAR) area and setup shop. It was a bit more difficult to setup antennas but we managed to get 3 verticals, a 40m inverted V and a mini-bac delta loop into the air. We also managed to stomp on each other with cross mod from time to time.