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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!

Duh-tective sends his confession and apologies!
Aug 27th, 2011 by kmack

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.

QRP ARCI Welcome Aug 11

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.

Black Racer Buddy

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?

Why Do We Do It?
Apr 24th, 2011 by kmack

Another QRP To The Field is in the books. Some may wonder why we do it…why spend the time and energy to take our rigs outdoors and operate? Guess if you have never done it, you will never know! The weather made things tough for many parts of the country, but it was sure sweet to live in Florida for this one. Sunny and a warm 87F with a bit of breeze down by the lake made my day a very special one.

K4UPG QRPTTF 2011 Site

K4UPG QRP TTF Lake Fredrica 2011

The bands were fair to poor, but who cared? I was enjoying my hobby, making a few contacts, giving out points to the more serious contesters and spending time in the outdoors. It is a bunch of fun to make contacts with 2 watts and change, use a straight key and launch an antenna up about 35-40 feet in the pine trees.

Between QSO’s the ospreys provided some entertainment as they swooped down into the lake to snag a fish for their dinner while 4 guys on jet skis raced around our little lake. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon. That’s why I do it! How about you?

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

Polar Bear Summer Picnic Event Jun 2010
Jun 19th, 2010 by kmack

My favorite QRP group is the Polar Bear QRP gang! We have a good time and enjoy outdoors activities and trying to connect with one another at least once a month with some kind of activity. To escape some of the heat, I got an early start on the day. I wanted to try out a new mini-bac antenna configuration and knew it would take some time to get it up into the trees. BOY WAS THAT AN UNDERSTATEMENT! It was 110 ft doublet with a 40 ft feedline that was setup as a ladder line. Not an easy one to get up single-handed. Thanks to some tall trees, was able to get it up about 40-45 feet in the pine trees. It loaded great on 40m, but was disappointing on 20m so I ended up setting up my W3EDP in an L from my 20 ft Jackite pole to a nearby cedar tree at about 35 feet.  The sun chased me into the treeline where I settled in to chase bears.

Abandoned mini-back doublet feedline hangs in foreground

My xyl Connie took a picture that shows the mini-back feedline hanging in the breeze after I shifted positions and setup the W3EDP in the shade. Grrrrr!

Osprey perched right above my head...cell phone picture

Was able to work a couple of the Polar Bears, Mike W3MC in MD and Guy N7UN up in the mountains on a trail(?) in NJ. I heard VA2SG but he was at ESP level briefly then faded away. I did hear a few others working him though. WA8REI was working Guy but I could not hear him at all and ended up tail ending their QSO to connect with N7UN.

Got to work a few others through the QSB and poor signal strength on 20m including Pastor Les, K4NK in SC, KE5SBZ, Ed in TX, N1FJ in MA, and Phil W3HZZ in Atlanta so it was a nice way to spend a few hours outdoors in the heat.

Connie brought me a picnic lunch and we enjoyed the osprey and bald eagle show as they fished Lake Fredrica.

Had to drink extra coffee to copy speedy W3MC's signal

This is the life... outdoors and ham radio...making QSO's...PTL!

K4UPG Back in Action!
Jun 6th, 2010 by kmack

Many work responsibilities have kept me off the air more than I’d like lately.

But we did manage to break away for a few days with family in Tennessee over Memorial Day. It was great to have an opportunity to get together with Chuck, AF4O the Hillybilly Bear and fellow Polar Bear QRP group member. We had an opportunity to work a bit of QRP portable in the Chickasaw State Forest in West Tennessee. It is a very natural and beautiful location and Chuck took me to his special spot in a very old and interesting cemetary set deep in the very tall hickory tree forest. Wow! I believe the latest date on the grave markers was 1927 and there were many from the early and mid 1800′s. It is a lovely and isolated spot.

K4UPG running a 30m EFHW sloper from the edge of the forest cemetary

Chuck said to bring along a screen shelter and I sure was glad I did! This was also a great spot for deer flies, hornets and other interesting biting bugs!

He had a nice setup and was running a random wire on 20m which he launched by throwing an antique glass insulator from an old telephone pole over a tree branch. He has a better arm than I do… think that heavy insulator would have broken my arm!

Back at the in-laws home in Jackson, I had some time to operate deck portable and was ably assisted by my niece Chloe. Conditions were horrible, but it was fun to be outside and hearing some sweet dits and dahs for a bit.

Now I am gearing up for the next outing of the Central Florida QRP group. The weather is HOT and the summer thunderstorms are back, but life and radio must go on… cu on the air!

72,

K4UPG

AF40 downs a Mountain Dew and doesn't miss a character of CW

Chloe gives me advice on copying cw through the QRN

Polar Bear on Hontoon Island
Apr 1st, 2010 by kmack

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.

Main pic

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!

***************************************************************************************

Hontoon Fishing spot

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.

Closing Time is Dusk

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!

Oil Change Parking Lot QTH
Feb 16th, 2010 by kmack

45F a bit of sun and a lot of wind! Today I escaped being selected for jury duty so opted to get the oil changed in my car! I called and my shop was not too busy and said, “come on down!” So I packed my 30m SST, BLT+ tuner and accessories and took off. Instead of sitting in the waiting area and reading out of date magazines and watching silly game shows, I walked out to the parking lot and threw some wire into a couple small trees. I only got the main 46 feet wire up about 15 feet on one end and sloped it through another small tree and out to my camping table. I ran a counterpoise of 23 feet to the same small tree and hooked up my trusty BLT+ tuner.

My Oil Change Parking Lot QTH for 30m

My Oil Change Parking Lot QTH for 30m

A quick tune found a couple week signals. I tuned the antenna a bit, called CQ with no luck, then heard a decent 579 signal calling CQ. Bill, NG3O in Columbia, MD replied and although I wasn’t strong (539) he thought he could copy me. He sure did a great job and we enjoyed a nice QSO for almost 30 minutes. Sure is pleasant to work a good fist without any QRM. He said I was his first Oil Change Parking Lot QSO.

A few minutes later, I connected with Rudy, W8RJW in Columbia, SC. He was a strong 589 and gave me a 559. We had a nice qso for several minutes too. It was a fun way to pass the time while I waited on my car maintenance to be done.

The band got pretty quiet afterwards and though I heard a few more stations, it was time to pull the plug, take down the wire and go home. I think I have figured out a new way to pass time when the opportunity is present. Hope you will give it a try too!

72,

Kelly K4UPG

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