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Lakeside Ops
Mar 14th, 2010 by kmack

After a couple days of HEAVY rain, it was good to see the sun again. Following a great breakfast and heavy discussions of antenna theory, propagation, politics and diets, we hit the field next door. The wind was very strong gusting in the mid 20′s most of the day. This made launching antennas a bit complicated, but it did help dry out the ground.

Bart MFJ 936B at the lake

Tiny Loop goes into action

Bart AI4NF brought his new MFJ 936B Loop tuner and setup very quickly. It seems to hear very well and soon the sound of cw was in the air. 20m was pretty active and eventually a signal was even heard on 10m! What a blessing! We did learn that the antenna was coupling to the metal frame of the card table and made it difficult to tune. After putting it on the small cooler it tuned more normally, with a very sharp and obvious peak when in resonance. Later we put the cooler on top of the table and that solved most of the problem and eliminated some of the ground coupling and loss.

I got to test my clone of Nick WA5BDU’s End Fed Halfwave Matching Device. It worked great and I was able to tune sloping half wave antennas on 40 and 30 meters. This tuner is unique in that it is simply a toroid and does not use a capacitor at all! On the bench it tunes 3-12Mhz at 1:1-3 to 1 half wave antennas. Next outing I hope to test the 80m halfwave and see it theory and practice agree.

Great day to be out at the lake even if it was windy!

Lakeside in March

K4UPG on 30m lakeside in SE Orlando, FL

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

Who’s Polar Bear Enough?
Feb 26th, 2010 by kmack

Yahoo! This weekend is another outing of the Polar Bear QRP Group. Who will venture out into the winter weather and once again seek to contact fellow Polar Bears for a nice BSO?

Which of the intrepid bunch of QRP crazed Polar Bears will overcome the cold and actually enjoy the challenge of punching a peanut whistle signal through another weekend’s RTTY contest bunch?

Will the sunspots be with us and bounce our signals out of the neighborhood and enable us to contact our Polar Bear cuzzins in Canada (VG3SIE/P) on the mountain tops, in Alaska on the ice floes( KL7WP & KL8DX ) , in Scotland in the highlands ( MM0CWJ & MM0FMF ), outside Buckingham Palace ( 2E0RKY ), in Spain’s coastal range ( EB3EPR ), or in a dark snow den in New Jersey ( N7UN/2 ) On a windy slope in Utah ( AD7KG )?Will our Ohio Bears freeze their acorns off in the park ( WB2DFC ) ? What will it take to get a signal into the Goat Den to our pals Rooster and Peanut and the old Goat himself ( WGØAT )? Will the Revenuers catch up to Hillbilly Bear in the park at Chickasaw ( AF4O ) ? Who will connect with K3YTR and the 2m HT from the hospital bed in Pottstown? Can anyone guess which antenna trick will be used by our Illinois Bear (N9SKN) ? How will the Florida Bears fare with the rain and cool wind from the northwest can it dampen their signals ( K4UPG & KC4TM ) ? And how about the Alpha Bear ( WB3AAL )on the Appalachian Trail with his snowshoes and 4 wheel drive truck for backup?

STAY TUNED FOR UPDATES… Grrrrrr!

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

Nite Ops QRP Portable Style
Nov 25th, 2009 by kmack

Having fun playing radio in the backyard at my in-laws! Extra fun since I cannot keep an antenna up full time so being able to get on the air when I can is a treat.

Entered my first SKCC SKS Sprint and the rain drove me to cover but managed to make a decent first showing for a QRP guy with rusty CW.

I put together a W3EDP antenna of 84 feet and a parallel 17 foot countepoise that sloped up to about 35 foot high branch. I used #24 teflon wire and some 1/4 in plastic tubing cut into 7 in pieces which I taped to the wires as spacer. Lightweight and nearly invisible in the air makes it a good candidate for QRP portable ops. It’s long, but seems to hear well and worked even after I bent it into an L when I had to get under cover from the rain! Hope to do more testing  with this one.

Earning my Polar Bear wings by being out in the COLD. This Florida Bear ain’t used to below 40 degree wx. Brrrr and Grrrrrr!

Nite Ops from the backyard

Nite Ops from the backyard

Nite Ops from the Deck

Nite Ops from the Deck

PBMME first outing PB #173
Oct 3rd, 2009 by kmack

Grrrrrrr! Brand new Polar Bear #173 ventured out to Lake Fredrica today to stir up some fellow PB’s on the air. Setting up the mini bac Delta Loop Beartenna went well and I started on 40m. The band was OK, but I couldn’t seem to raise any BSO’s with my fellow Polar Bears. After a few minutes I switched to 20m with my Wilderness Sierra and WOW! The band was full of California ops in some sort of contest. Most of them blew me away with their fast CW and very strong signals but it was good to hear so much cw activity and the band was pretty good.

I setup my trusty Buddistick for 30m and almost got a perfect SWR. My Wilderness SST on 30m was hearing a good bit of activity and I managed brief qso’s with fellow Polar Bear QRP members W05X and N9SKN despite pretty heavy QSB on both signals. I heard W6BBQ and WG0AT but could not get a reply when I called them.

A bit later the band opened to Europe and I also was hearing West Coast (California and Washington) stations. I came back to S57MU and he gave me a 559 into Slovenia! Not bad for 2.1 watts out and it was a good way to end a fun day.

Thanks to the Polar Bear QRP Group for allowing this baby bear to participate. I look forward to future portable events and I’ll keep workin’ on a super-duper Beartenna so I can hear ya’ll even better. Grrrrr!

PBMME Oct 09 portable site at Lake Fredrica Orlando, FL

PBMME Oct 09 portable site at Lake Fredrica Orlando, FL

Tuning for Bears on 30m

Tuning for Bears on 30m

My project this week was a Ten Tec 1051 Noise Bridge. I used a Ten Tec enclosure and it all went together quickly and even worked on the first try! It is a sweet tool for tuning an antenna when using a tuner without putting a signal on the air. I think it will help me and my BLT+ find the sweet spot a good bit faster than doing it otherwise. In the future, I plan to upgrade it to a full RX bridge so I can do some measurements too. Here it is…

TT 1051 rear view

TT 1051 rear view

TT 1051 Noise Bridge simple front view

TT 1051 Noise Bridge simple front view

Magnetic Loop Test Number 2
Sep 7th, 2009 by kmack

The antenna restricted condo dweller (me) continues to look for a viable alternative to get on the air without having to go outside (think rain) and setup and tear down a portable antenna. I built a new frame for the magnetic loop and tried a few different styles of feed and resonating.

Ended the day with a 1.12 swr on 30m with this setup. I tried (fingers crossed) a dual section polyvaricon cap that I had on hand. It is mounted on a lexan square just below the gap on the mag loop at the top. After some time spent with an exciter loop, I decided to try the gamma match approach and regrouped. Using two stainless steel hose clamps to clamp the 12 guage solid copper wire I used for the gamma match. (actually the same wire I used for the exciter and 1/5 of the  10 ft. length of the tubing used) I cleaned up the copper tubing with a bit of fine grit sandpaper and tightened the braid to the main loop. Then I connected and soldered the center connector to the 24 in 12 guage wire for the gamma match. I drug the end of the gamma match and watched my antenna analyzer for a dip. Once I found the sweet spot, I cleaned up the copper tubing with sandpaper and clamped the wire while adjusting for best match. I then adjusted the distance of the gamma match wire from the loop and fine tuned for the lowest swr on the analyzer. After a good match, I put my Wilderness SST on the antenna and though the band was not loaded and had lots of QSB, I tried to answer a CQ from WB3YIP and getting no answer called CQ myself just to see if anyone would pounce on me! No contact yet, but at least the capacitor did not blow up yet! Sort of fun seeing what it will handle. More later as I get further along in the project. Thanks to CW-Code Warriors Yahoo Group for the help and encouragement they have offered.

Here is the 2nd iteration of the mag loop in my living room

Here is the 2nd iteration of the mag loop in my living room

The gamma match in test state

The gamma match in test state

The polyvaricon capacitor-- will it last or burn up from high voltage?

The polyvaricon capacitor-- will it last or burn up from high voltage?

Central Florida QRP Group Sept 12, 2009 Meeting Announcement
Aug 25th, 2009 by kmack

Sylvan Lake Park CFL QRP Group getting setup

Sylvan Lake Park CFL QRP Group getting setup

The Central Florida QRP Group meeting will be at The Cracker Barrel, Saturday, September 12th at 7:30 AM on Hickman Drive, Sanford.   The Cracker Barrel is very close to the I4 and Hwy 46 junction, 1 light to the east (toward Sanford and turn East(left), down about a block on the left).

MAP to Cracker Barrel Click Here

Please bring your “Show and Tell” if you like. At approximately 9:00 AM we will reconvene at The Sylvan Lake Park, Picnic area “A” to setup our QRP rigs and operate a bit.  The Sylvan Lake park is on Lake Markham Road off Hwy 46 approximately 4 miles West of the I4/Hwy 46 Junction.

MAP to Sylvan Lake Park Click Here

If you can’t make the breakfast come join us at the Sylvan Lake Park. We will plan future activities of the CFQG.
We look forward to seeing you there.

72

Jim Diggs
K4AHO

Weekend Buildathon
Apr 20th, 2009 by kmack

Starting to look like something good!

Starting to look like something good!

Spent my weekend building my Wilderness Sierra kit! What a fun kit and a real looker too! Now to get the KC-2 installed and align and calibrate things! Yahoo! Stay tuned for updates.

Now that's a looker! Top view before KC-2 Install

Now that's a looker! Top view before KC-2 Install

Beautiful layout pre-KC2 install

Beautiful layout pre-KC2 install

Gorgeous packaging! Wait until the KC-2 is installed.

Gorgeous packaging! Wait until the KC-2 is installed.

Central Florida QRP Group Outing and more…
Apr 12th, 2009 by kmack

Our central Florida weather has been favorable, but the bands have not been nearly as good unfortunately. Despite difficult band conditions the newly formed Central Florida QRP group had a successful first outing. After an early breakfast we setup our gear in a pavilion at Sylvan Lake Park in Sanford, FL. We did some antenna tweaking, tested a couple new rigs and an Elecraft antenna tuner and had a good time.

I got to put my newly built SST for 30meters on the air for the first time. K4AHO brought his OHR WM-2 and I was able to peak it up. Thanks Jim, for helping Matt tweak his antenna and for letting me borrow the WM-2 for the tuneup! We are all looking forward to our next opportunity to get out. We’ll be meeting for breakfast and time in the park on the 2nd Saturday each month. We’d love for you to join us if you are in Orlando for vacation or live in  the area.

I also had a couple hours of fun participating in my first Straight Key Century Club (SKCC) Weekend Sprint event. I only connected with one qso but had some great cw practice and read the mail of several good ops in qso’s. I’ll be better prepared next time!

Stay tuned for more news and enjoy the photos.

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