Friday, February 23, 2024

RadioActive At K-4183


I feel like I am off to a good start so far this year.  I just completed my 3rd park activation for the year.  All three have been at Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area in central Indiana, just north of Camp Atterbury.  My first trip this month was on February 11th when we got a day of unseasonal weather, meaning it was warm and sunny!  I was able to setup the KX2 and the AX-1 antenna and I worked 18 contacts, with four of them being Park to Park contacts. This was set up at the Parking Area 11A down by Stone Arch Lake, and it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon.  I got started at about 1PM and pulled stakes and headed back home at about 2PM, as the temperature was starting to drop again.  I was even visited by a flock of grouse, that started drumming and startled me pretty good!  

Parking Area 11 by Stone Arch Lake
My second activation at this location was on February  22, I ran down to the park when I got off work at 4PM.  By 5PM I was setup and operating, same setup using the KX2 and the AX-1 antenna.  I was able to work 24 stations in about 30 minutes, before it started getting dark. Best DX was Iggy EA2BD calling me from Pamplona Spain!! He gave me a 449 for the report and I was pretty happy to log that one!  This was a quick run down and a quick run back home.  Didn't see another person the whole time I was down there.  It's still pretty chilly and too cold to go fishing, at least for now.  My next activation at Atterbury was February 23rd, this evening. Once again I headed down right after work.  

This time I decided to try a new spot, new this year anyway, and I set up at Beaver Bottom Lake.  I was also happy to see the Indiana DNR had already dropped the Porta Potty at this location!  I was in position in the parking lot, with the KX-2 and the AX-1 antenna once again.  The AX-1 Antenna works on 17m and 20m.  I have been using it pretty much only on 20m the last few outings.  I still like to use my hitch mounted Eagle One vertical but when in a hurry the AX-1 can't be beat for ultra quick set up and tear down. 

Fishing Docks at Beaver Bottom
Beaver Bottom Lake at Atterbury

So tonight I operated from about 4:40PM to about 5:10PM, the going was much slower than the day before, best DX was Utah and Arizona.  The best contact was with Jay AJ4AY.  I met Jay almost 25 years ago, at a Flying Pigs QRP Club Field Day event at Caesar Creek State Park in Ohio.  He drove all the way up from Mobile Alabama to hang out with the Flying Pigs that weekend. 
We had the best time, and I've QSO'd with Jay a few times over the years.   It was great to hear his fist, and knowing we were both still above ground, and walking around.  One of the coolest things about amateur radio is you never know who you will bump into.  Thanks for working me Jay!  I loved it!!

Anyway that about wraps it up, I ended up with 14 contacts, and the breeze blowing off that lake was cold, so I packed it up until next time.  I am shooting for 30 activations this year, will try to do Atterbury one more time before March.  Once DST comes back on the 10th of March, I'll have more daylight to work with, and will start going out further to some other parks. 

73 de KB9BVN from K-4183 - Beaver Bottom Lake

BTW I LOVE those little 3D printed paddles that Bruce N9DBJ gave me.  They are great in the outdoors and hold up very well. 

Friday, February 16, 2024

POTA - I finally got to 1000!!!

Well it's been a few months since I blogged and I blame it on the weather, having too many things to get done this winter around the house, and taking care of my wife after her successful surgery.  Turned the page on another birthday, hoping to be retired by this time next year, God willing and the creek don't rise. 

This morning I worked my 1000th different park in the Parks on the Air program.  The next award is at 1500... which seems like a long long way off.  I started in POTA in June of 2020.  Last year I had 15 park activations, which means I took my portable station to 15 different parks, and made at least 10 contacts each outing.  That brings my total up to 33 activations.  My goal this year is to hit 25 parks, and I already knocked one down last weekend. 

My hunting began about a week after my first POTA activation in June 2020.  I am not tearing it up or setting the POTA world on fire.  POTA has over 43,000 registered radio amateurs out there hunting, and activating.  I am BARELY in the top 2500. 

I am very happy to hit this milestone. I am ready to start plotting my other 24 park outings for this year. The Elecraft KX-2 with the AX-1 antenna is working out very well.  I can now carry my entire setup in a padded Lowe bag and it weighs less than 5 lbs.  I can have it setup in less than 5 minutes.  The AX-1 only works 17m and 20m bands, so I still have the Eagle One hitch mounted vertical to work the other bands. 

Glad to have that one in the logbook.  

73 de KB9BVN

Monday, November 6, 2023

Fun with Special Events - Godzilla!!

This weekend, from 00:00Z november 4th through 00:00 November 6th is a special event weekend.  Yes, we are celebrating the 69th anniversary of the debut of Godzilla on the big screen.  So I operated W9G, along with some others like Wayne AC9HP, Bryan K0EMT, Joe N3XLS and Mac KD9GZJ. 

When seventeen vessels blow-up and sink nearby Odo Island, Professor Kyohei Yamane, his daughter Emiko Yamane and the marine Hideto Ogata head to the island to investigate. Soon they witness a giant monster called Gojira by the locals destroying the spot. Meanwhile Emiko meets her boyfriend, the secluded scientist Serizawa, and he makes she promise to keep a secret about his research with oxygen. She agrees and he discloses the lethal weapon Oxygen Destroyer that he had developed. When Gojira threatens Tokyo and other Japanese cities and the army and the navy are incapable to stop the monster, Emiko discloses Serizawa's secret to her lover Ogata. Now they want to convince Serizawa to use the Oxygen Destroyer to stop Gojira

Godzilla (Gojira originally) was released by Toho Studios in Japan in early 1954.  The movie was redubbed in English and renamed Godzilla and released in the United State during the summer of 1954.  Toho Studio spent just over $250,000 to make the monster masterpiece and was one of their biggest hit movies with a gross box office of about $575,000 world wide. 

I was able to rustle up 40 contacts and spent maybe 3 or 4 hours total working on the Special Event.  Radio station used was the old K2 and the infamous attic dipole with my trusty, but never rusty, Vibroplex keyer. 

KB9BVN Running 8 watts CW - 40 Contacts in US and Canada

This is my second year to be part of team Godzilla.  Next year will be the 70th Anniversary and we're hoping to do a really special and fun event to commemorate the happening.  Maybe I'll get a chance to work you! 

QSL's for this Special Event are only available via email.  Trust me they will be suitable for printing and keeping.  Designed by QSL Engineer, Wayne Michael AC9HP in his secret imaging laboratory somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.  They are keepers! 

So the logs have been updated and turned into Godzilla Central.  I can't wait to do it again next year.  

Go Go Godzilla!! 

73 de KB9BVN

Friday, October 27, 2023

Back at Atterbury with the AX-1 Antenna

Today was a great day, here it is October 27th, the temperature was ALMOST 80 degrees, with mostly sun all day. I had to work today so it was paining me to inhabit my office while seeing what a glorious day it was outside.  4PM couldn't get here soon enough. 

So I packed up the KX2 and accessories and loaded up the SUV and headed 25 miles south to K-4183 Atterbury Fish and Wildlife.  I got there and set up my table and chair, deployed the 16 foot radial and installed the AX-1 antenna. 

Once I got comfortable, with pencil, logbook and my 3D printed key I got from Bruce N9DBJ in September, I hit the tune button on the KX2 and like magic the antenna and radio were matched at 1:1 for my frequency.  I was running 14057 Khz on 20m this evening.  At 4:55PM EST KB5EDR of Texas was the first hunter in the logbook.  He gave me a solid  559 RST on the exchange. 

By the time I was finished for the night it was only 5:30PM and I had logged 23 contacts, 1 of which was a Park to Park with Ron KC2PSA at K-2049 Marsha P. Johnson State Park in New York,  I also bagged a couple of Zombie's, the Zombie Shuffle is a QRP CW event that runs the Friday before Halloween. I happen to be Zombie 916. 

Anyway, this is what the map looks like and the reverse beacon report.  As usual this was an awesome activation, I got to enjoy nature, saw some deer, some squirrels, and LOTS of bow hunters parked around the area. 

I may try to go out and activate with the little antenna and sideband. Is that crazy sounding or what? 

My QSO Map today, K1XD was in Utah. 

And here is the Reverse Beacon Report - Not bad for 5 watts

Thanks for reading, I am having a blast with this little radio and this little antenna.  The Solar Cycle is perfect right now for weird and wonderful things to happen with a wet noodle antenna and a few watts of RF. 

73 de KB9BVN

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

QRP Park Activation with AX-1 Antenna

When I got off work yesterday afternoon, I noticed the weather was incredible.   When I woke up this morning the temperature was a frosty 34F and the ground was covered with the first real frost of the season. I started wondering if  my POTA trips were going to be over for the year. 

My KX-2 was purchased used from a ham friend in Kansas a few months back, he also included the AX1 portable antenna. Tonight I brought the AX-1 with me to the beautiful Brown County State Park.  I had just watched an excellent YouTube video by Tom Witherspoon K4SWL on how to use the AX-1 antenna during a Parks on the Air activation earlier in the day, at lunchtime actually.  So I got the bug to give this short whip antenna a try. 

My wife decided to go with me, so we loaded up a couple chairs, some drinks, and headed to Brown County State Park, about an hour away.  Normally I would not try this on a weeknight, especially an hour drive away, but I wanted to see if I could have any success with this antenna setup.  The seed, or bug, had been planted. 

By the time we got there, found restrooms that were open, and got set up it was about 5:30PM local time. Set up was easy, took the KX2 out of the Lowe carrying case, attached the AX-1 Antenna, and pluggd in one 14 foot radial wire to the ground jack on the KX2.  The internal antenna tuner liked it and I had a 1:1 SWR on 14053 Khz. We found a beautiful overlook up high in the park and a conveniently placed picnic table.  So I logged in to the POTA spotting page on my phone and spotted myself on 20m (14053 Khz).  

KX2 and AX1 Antenna at Brown County State Park

Brown County State Park is in Brown County Indiana, grid EM69vd and is just outside of Nashville Indiana.  The park has been called "The little Smoky Mountains" because of the beautiful vistas, and the high rolling hills.  Covering almost 17,000 acres, there is plenty of room to spread out. 

I think I had sent out maybe three CQ's and was answered by KC3WOA in Maryland.  He sent us a 599 signal report, which made me very happy!  Over the next 35 minutes I worked 10 other stations, including AL7KC in North Pole Alaska (339), G4ELZ in England (449), W8TK in Arizona (579) for my furthest stations of the outing.  I was STOKED to work England and Alaska on this little low power setup and the AX-1 antenna.  

All in all it was a short, but good outing.  The park was activated using the KX2 and the little AX-1 antenna.  The band conditions were good, and the operators out there hunting me had some really good ears.  

Reverse Beacon was picking up my QRP in a lot of places! AX-1 was Getting OUT! 

After about 40 minutes or so we packed it up and headed toward home.  The sun had started going down and the breezes up there were getting chilly, I had enough contacts to activate the park (my 31st activation) so I was very happy with the outing. 

Beautiful Overlook - Leaves will be peak in about a week. 

Another Vista at Brown County State Park

72 de KB9BVN

Saturday, October 21, 2023

30th POTA Activation is in the Books

KB9BVN in the Wild

What a glorious October day in Indiana.  Got out of the house about 8:30, and headed to K-4183 Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area. I was totally setup next to Stone Arch Lake and on the air by 9:35AM. I started out on 40m this morning and within 10 minutes I already had 10 contacts, 2 of which were operators in other parks.  

The band was wide open so I stayed put on 7065Khz and called CQ POTA every so often.  I had decent internet coverage so I was able to post my location on the POTA Spotter page, that always helps to bring the contact numbers up. 

I stayed an operated the radio for about 45 minutes, the temps were in the mid 40's and it was just a beautiful day to be outdoors.  I noticed quite a few deer hunters parked all over the place. This is bow season in Indiana, and also squirrel season.  If I make it out again this fall, I will be wearing my hunter orange hat for safety sake. 

POTA Spotting Page on the Web

Most of my contacts were maybe a couple states away.  The furthest today was Rhode Island (N1BS)  and Texas (KJ5W).  The spotting page shows the mode and the location of the park activator along with the frequency they are operating on. This makes it QUITE easy to find parks and work them as hunters.  

My station today was the venerable Elecraft KX-2, Eagle One Vertical antenna mounted to my trailer hitch, and two 16 foot radial wires laid out north/south.  Today I was running 9-10 watts. 

Anyway, this is now logged and in the books in the vast POTA mainframe. #30 for me, I'm averaging 10 activations per year...definitely not tearing up the record book. 

73 de KB9BVN