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K4UPG FOBB 2013 Antenna on da Ground!
Jul 31st, 2013 by kmack

Grrrrrrrr! and then more Grrrrrrrr’s! FOBB 2013 was a gud one! Grrrrrr!

Anticipated rain and thunderstorms and was not disappointed. Accordingly, I took up my backpack and walked about 1/2 mile to set up under a small pavilion in our housing development’s lakeside park. So far, so good. Originally I planned to have an EFHW for 40m and another one for 20m. Upon unpacking, realized my 40m wire was in my other pack at home. SHUCKS. I had already put a shot over a 40′ high branch and pulled up a paracord to hook to the wire which was not available. Oh well… it happens even to the best of us, eh?

Grrrrr! So I tried to set up the 20m EFHW and after another great shot with my 1 1/2 oz sinker and pulling up a line realized the tree wasn’t going to give me a good shot as it was too close and not very high. Grrrrrrr=ed a bit more!

K4UPG site FOBB Pic

K4UPG FOBB 2013 BB#23

Rethinking mode kicked in and was glad I got out early so all the wasted time did not mess me up. Pulled out my handy 20 ft Jackite and a 17 ft crappie pole and decided to give up on a typical K4UPG “hang ‘em high” antenna and do a very Lazy L. I tried to orient it for a bit of slope towards 330 degrees which shoots from FL to Iowa and provides decent coverage of most of the US. Turned out that low antenna worked great but I think the band was pretty doggone decent for a change too.

So about 15 min before FOBB start time fired off a CQ and made a contact and shot the breeze for a bit to warm up. Nice QRP to QRP contact but not counted for contest. Just for grins. I did notice a few “early out of the blocks ops” were calling CQ BB about 10 min before the clock struck go! Grrrrrrrrr! Sync those watches gentlemen!

Contest Started:

First station heard was Cam out in California N6GA but no joy when I responded to his CQ as there was a mini-pileup on him. Grrrrr… Heard a few more 6′s during the day but no peep from Rem Bear or any others I recognized. I did end up with eight PB’s for the day though and a great TU and Grrrrr to my fellow PB’s: AF40 Chuck- PB 153 TN my last contact of the day (more later); Snowbird FL Bear Don K3RLL PB 187 in PA with his new KX3; Jeff K9JP PB 175 in MI was the loudest signal of the day and blew my ears out till I got the RF and AF turned down Grrrrr! didn’t recognize you as a PB… sri bout dat; N1EU Barry in NY PB 336 got a Grrrrr!; N3AAZ John in MD PB 276 sri 2 ya… missed a Grrrrr!; W1PNS Pete in MA PB 348 got a Grrrrrr!; W5ESE Scotty beam me up Bear PB 287 missed a Grrrr too; WA8REI a perennial PB contact for me gave me a PB 21 style Grrrrrrr! I was closing a contact and Blackjack Bear called me on the guy’s freq so kept it REAL short and sweet as I felt like if we tried to QSY there was too much traffic and we’d not make the connex. Sri Ken Bear was a messy QSO cuz of that. Missed hearing Larry W2LJ this time and listened fur some of you udder PB’s but no connex. Grrrrrr!

All in all worked 25 QSO’s in 17 states and all of them were BB’s! Lightning came up as I was finishing my QSO with AF4O and it was TOO CLOSE. Almost blew me out of my seat but I held onto the key and finished up. Sitting there holding the wire and I started singing, “Antenna on the ground, antenna on the ground, when da lightning is around get your antenna on da ground” to the tune of the famous “Pants on the Ground” song by “General” Larry Platt.

Thus ended a nice outing after 2 hrs and 45 minutes but I truly enjoyed this one. Great number of participants and bet I could have almost doubled the numbers if the lightning did not end the day. Was hearing a lot of new calls just prior to shutting down. At least I got to give the serious contesters some points this year. Maybe next year will be my turn fur sum extra Q’s ? Grrrrrrr!

72 from Orlando, Kelly K4UPG PB 173

QRP TTF 2013 Contest Point Giver Report!
May 4th, 2013 by kmack

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

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!

72,
Kelly K4UPG

Hamcation 2013 and QRP
Feb 10th, 2013 by kmack

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!

 

W4QOatHamcation2013QRPForum CFLQRPHamcation2013 Crowd at Hamcation 2013 QRPARCI booth Hamcation2013demoN4KGL  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.

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

Central Florida QRP Meetup 8 October 2011
Oct 4th, 2011 by kmack

This coming Saturday at the Melbourne Hamfest and ARRL FL State Convention QRP ops from around the state will gather for a time of eyeball QSO’s, bragging, show ‘n tell and maybe even some operating from the picnic tables in the park next door!

Tailgating

Looking for Something?

Get there early and do your tailgating and swapping so you can gather at noon near the front entrance. Look for K4UPG’s gawdy yellow hat and come up and say HI! Some of us want to go to lunch together and depending on the number we have a couple places in mind that are nearby the event site.

So come one and all (even the curious) and join the fun.

GATHERING: Front entrance to Auditorium

DATE: Saturday, 8 October 2011

TIME: 12:00-12:15 EDT

Bring some gear if you want to play radio in the park or on the beach later in the day!

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!

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

Giving Out Points Again!
Oct 17th, 2010 by kmack

Nice weather and an open schedule allowed for some radio time this weekend. The QRP ARCI Fall QSO Party made some buzz so I loaded up the gear and headed out by the lake.  I put up an 88ft doublet in an inverted vee. I shoot a line over a tree limb at about 40ft and use that for the center and have two 17ft Crappie Poles that I use for end supports. That allows me to reorient the antenna to suit the conditions.

Ground Mount Closeup

Ground Mount Closeup

One of the things I threw together is a simple mount for the crappie poles. I use a 2ft piece of PVC with a couple bolts inserted at right angles to one another at the base to keep the pole from going all the way through to the ground. The PVC is attached to a 3ft piece of aluminum angle iron that with 3 stainless steel hose clamps.

crappie pole

Crappie Pole End Supports

The poles are pretty limber and take a bit of a bend but do a good job of handling the 24 gauge teflon wire I use.  As you can see in the pictures, the mounts do the job and don’t cost as much as commercial counterparts.

So it was a good day and I made a few contacts, enjoyed the outdoors and had a nice picnic lunch with my XYL down by the lake between QSO’s.  The bands were pretty decent and I gave points to 20 of the more serious contestants out there.

72,

Kelly K4UPG PB #173

p.s. The Polar Bears will be out and on the air next weekend. Give a listen, hear?

Computer Does Not Save Time
Oct 13th, 2010 by kmack

Remember when we used to think computers would save us time?

angry

Why did we think the computer would save us time?

I spent the last 6 hours running updates, fixing the problems the updates created and figuring out how to install the updates that would not install automagically. Grrrrrrr!

Think I need some time to play radio, but I won’t be taking a SDR radio with me for a bit. Grrrrr…. need to recover from the 26 reboots and all the time wasted surfing and reading the small print.

Good thing there is a QRP ARCI event this weekend and the following weekend is our Polar Bear Moonlight Madness Event. Grrrr! I’m ready for some CW. CU on the bands!

72,

Kelly K4UPG PB #173

Duh: Learning Curve #5 Old Lessons Remembered
Sep 23rd, 2010 by kmack

POLL RESULTS SO FAR:  West Virginia is in the lead for best Ham Radio QTH in the USA… One more week of voting… Have you voted yet? Here’s the link to vote!

Last weekend I played in the QRP Afield event and had fun with fellow Polar Bear QRP Club members on the air. It was a great time. Once again, the antenna tweak won out and under the influence of a great blog post by Polar Bear #20 VA3SIE, Martin in Ontario about the 88ft Doublet, I caved in and put one together the night before the event. Oops, I did it again! But this time I had excellent results and the antenna worked as advertised.  LESSON: Sometimes it pays to follow your heart and not your head.

cd logo

Civil Defense Logo

I also remembered how I learned a lot as a young teen aged ham via the Civil Defense program. Remember that time?

Watching a weather report about tornadoes reminded me of a great learning experience. The Palm Sunday Tornadoes of 1965 hit the counties north and east of my home in Elwood, IN. At only 15 yrs old, I was the assistant emergency coordinator and ran the 6 meter emergency communications net on Sundays.  Our county and city Civil Defense teams had setup equipment and were ready for disasters and those tornadoes reeked havoc on our area.

Palm Sunday Tornado Map

Path of the Palm Sunday Tornadoes

Our teams rolled out the emergency vans, and the adults helped this young ham handle traffic for the state police and other government emergency responders.  The old yellow CD Gonset Goonie Bird rig is still something I remember fondly. I loved running that thing!

LESSON: Give the young hams some responsibility and empower them. They will be there when the time comes and will never forget how older folks treated them as peers and gave them an opportunity to do something important. I bet that kind of opportunity will still attract young people to our great hobby. We need them! They need us!

Goonie

The Yellow Goonie Bird

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