Monday, September 25, 2023

The Year in far


Well here it is...summer is over, autumn has begun here in Central Indiana.  Where did the time go.  Summer and Fall are my two favorite seasons, I suppose Spring is right up there as well, let's just say my absolute dislike of Winter is a very strong emotion. I could literally do without it.  When I was a young whippersnapper I loved winter, we used to camp outside and sleep in tents, on the ground, while it was snowing, blowing, and freezing, and we loved it.  As I take more trips around the sun on spaceship Earth, I find my love of winter has waned and ebbed to the point of no return.  Give me the sun on my face, 80 degrees, and a slight breeze and I am about as happy as "a pig in a cool mud waller on a hot sunny day".  Now that paints a picture.

Speaking of pigs, and by pigs I do mean ham, as most of you know I am a ham radio operator.  Yes indeed, I am licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, of these United States of America,  to build, repair, operate, and otherwise twiddle with all kinds of radio stuff.  My main interest in the hobby, as most of you know, is using Morse Code on the air to communicate with other hams using the same.   It's my favorite thing to do in the hobby. 

Well a few years ago, a group popped up calling themselves Parks on the Air, or POTA for short.  I started getting involved with this group in June of the dregs of the pandemic.  We were working from home those days, and to minimize the amount of exposure to others around me, I started going to the woods to operate portable, usually by myself.  POTA has over 5000 registered national parks, state parks, and fish and wildlife areas in their database.  Lucky for me, one of the registered locations is a mere 20 minutes from my home.  The Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area is known in POTA as site K-4183.  

Atterbury FIsh and Wildlife Area - K-4183

My goal in 2023 was to try and get out to the parks and wild life areas at least 12 times, fire up my radio, pitch my antenna, and make at least 10 CW contacts.  Today, was my 12th outing of 2023.   This year I have activated 6 different parks, made over 200 CW contacts from those parks, and with any luck I hope to go out at least 3 more times before it gets too cold. 

Elecraft KX-2, Logbook, Coffee

This is my radio setup.  I bought this Elecraft KX-2 transceiver, used, a couple month ago.  It is totally self contained.  It has an internal lithium battery pack, an internal antenna tuner, can transmit CW, Voice, and a couple of digital data modes.  Just add an antenna, the CW paddles are already attached.  This radio is capable of outputting 10 watts of RF power to the antenna system.  My antenna is a 33 foot tall vertical antenna that collapses down to about 4 feet tall.  It's called an Eagle One, and I mounts to the trailer hitch on my SUV. That is all I need to carry to the field now. 

Before I got the KX-2, I had to carry all this stuff! 

Eagle One Antenna - Hitch Mount

The KX-2 is an amazing little radio from a US company called Elecraft, in northern California.  I have made contacts with this radio, that antenna, 5 watts of power to stations all over the United States, in South America, Europe, and even Russia.  It is very well designed and has become my favorite radio to use, even at home. 

So today I went to Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area and set up in what they call parking area 11A.  Atterbury is a public hunting area, and throughout the acreage they have made about a dozen crushed rock pull off areas for hunters to park and not be hanging out in the roadways.  The area was nice and shaded, I got there about 11:15AM, and by 11:45AM I had the antenna up, radio connected, coffee on the table, log book ready, and a fully charged battery in the KX-2.  Lots of dead and dying poison ivy. 

The fabled Parking Area 11A

Ham Radio Truckster, with antenna deployed

Dead and dying Poison Ivy - The only good thing about Winter coming

And of course, this is I, the happy Ham-ster getting ready to flood the world with 10 watts of radio power.  I started at 11:45AM and it took an hour and 5 minutes to make the 10th contact in the logbook.  The bands were very quiet this morning, didn't seem to have much bounce and that is how radio waves make it around the world, we have to have some atmospheric bounce for radio wave propagation to work well.  

The Happy Ham-ster KB9BVN

By about 1:45PM I had a mere 24 contacts in my logbook, but I had made contact with operators in California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, New Mexico, Vermont, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, and Canada.  So my 12th activation of 2023 was in the books and has been logged with POTA. 

Atterbury is a cool place, they have 5 or 6 fishing lakes, acres and acres of woods and prairie, great for rabbits, squirrel, coyotes, deer, raccoons, and possums.  Before the military took the area over pre-WWII, there was a small rural community here.  This is one of the old cemeteries left from those days. 

Old Cemetery at Atterbury

Another Cemetery

Old Iron Bridge Leading out of the hunting Area

Sunday, April 30, 2023

GMRS Radio For Sale

I have a Radioddity GM-30 for sale.  I bought this about 6 weeks ago to learn about the GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) band.  

Radioddity GM-30 - bought it about 7 weeks ago.  It comes with two batteries.

BL-13UV Battery 2200 mAh 7.4 vdc
BL-13UV Battery 1500mAh 7.4 vdc
3db gain antenna, Radioddity RD-332 - replaces stock rubber duck

Charger (USB-C)

Programming Cable
Programming software is free from the Radioddity Website.

Radio also comes with the stock rubber duck antenna.
Works perfectly.  Advertised as 5w.

Radio - $39.99
Antenna - $15.99
Programming Cable - $12.99
Extra 1500mAh Battery - $15.99

Total New:  $84.96 plus tax plus shipping 

Asking $70.00 for all, with original boxes, manuals etc. 

I am selling it because I am on the fringe of the local GMRS repeater, so I am going to buy a mobile 25w GMRS rig and setup a home base station.   Email me if interested at 

Sunday, April 16, 2023

A Week of Vacation Comes to an End


I have been on paid time off since Good Friday (PTO). Old timers like me used to call it vacation.  I could not have asked for better weather either. It's been sunny and in the 70's and lower 80's all week. For Indiana this time of year, that is very unusual.  

Never mind the fact my town was hit by multiple tornadoes on the 31st of March.  THAT was something else.  Fortunately our home was completely spared.  My wife and I were huddled in the walk in closet clutching flashlights, and my 2m radio, listening to the severe weather net, the tornado sirens, and our cell phones sounding alarms, many prayers were being said and thank God many were answered. 

Whiteland Indiana - Morning of April 1st 2023

We felt the house shake for a couple minutes and then it was all over except for the torrents of rain and flashes of lightning.  No damage anywhere.  Our neighbors to the east were not so lucky.  Whiteland Indiana and most of Johnson County was without power for 24-72 hours. We lost 47 utility poles, estimated 28 homes, and a 25,000 sq foot warehouse just disintegrated and was spread over 10 square miles.  No lives were lost.  THAT was a miracle. NWS says we had a EF3 tornado rip through our little burg.  We hope we never have to experience that again. 

So with Easter weekend upon us, we were very busy with family gatherings, church, and feasting on grilled and roasted goodies.  

On Wednesday April 12th, I headed to Atterbury Fish and Wildlife to activate K-4183 again.  This would be my 17th time here, you get an award for 20 so that's my goal.  I was using the K1 and the Eagle One antenna and a set of plastic paddles a friend of mine made on his 3D printer.  

Elecraft K1 Radio at 5 watts

I made a quick 18 contacts in about an hour, most of them on 40m.  Not bad for the first outing of the year.

Happy Campers 
On Thursday April 13th, my wife and I took off for Brown County State Park K-2155 - it was a GLORIOUS day.  Sunny, 80's, redbud trees blooming, just perfect.  We had a great day!  I setup on the highest hill I could find and using the K1 and Eagle One, I managed to make 12 contacts in about 35 minutes.  We packed up the station and headed to the park office to buy fishing licenses.

This was my second activation of the year, and it was successful.  It took almost one hour but I logged twelve CW stations of which seven were Park to Park contacts.  Ten were on 20m and two were on 30m.  Managed to get a couple of "hard to get" states, Vermont from W2RON, and South Dakota from KC0MYW, both on 20m.  We had a great time visiting the Nature Center at the park, they have a really nice setup, a bird watching room, and displays of snakes, turtles, and many other animals. When I was a boy, some fifty years ago, this nature center even had a black bear cub for observing.  All in all a great day! 

Then on Saturday April 15th, I headed back to K-4183 Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area for my 18th activation of this park entity.  This time I setup my station at the Mink Meadow Marsh.  The morning was bright and sunny, with temperatures in the low 60's and a slight breeze.  I did a little mushroom hunting but came up empty...we've had four great warm and sunny days, the mushrooms ought to be popping up any minute now. 

Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area - Franklin Indiana

Once again I deployed my Elecraft K1, Eagle One vertical, and those little plastic paddles.  This was the first day of the "Support Your Parks" event so I knew there would be hundreds of parks on the air.  I had my first ten contacts in about 15 minutes.  Operating QRP at 5 watts and all CW, I managed to be heard in IL, Ontario, NJ, VA, WV, MI, NC, PA and TN during the first 15 minutes.  I was operating on 7067 Khz.  I ended up with a total of 20 contacts in about 50 minutes.  Of the 20 contacts made, four of them were "Park to Park" contacts.  

SUV Antenna Mount - POTA at K-4183
I woke up this morning, Sunday April 16th, with intentions to head out again today and activate another park, but it was 60 degrees and starting to rain.  Weather forecast is calling for possible snow showers by evening with temperatures dropping steadily throughout the day.  Plus we are now in a high wind warning until some time tomorrow.  Not what I call weather fit for radio from the park.  

So we're staying home today and doing some chores around the home front.  I have been off work for ten days, and LOVED every minute of it.  I could not have asked for better weather.  Monday is a workday and I feel like I am ready for it.  <grin> 

I may do some POTA hunting this afternoon.  This is the last day of the "Support Your Parks" event weekend, so there are tons of stations out there operating from the great outdoors.  I still need just Alaska and Hawaii contacts to complete my "Worked All States" for POTA.  Maybe today I'll finally nail those those two down.  No easy feat at 5 watts.  
So until the next time, 73 and here's to good DX! 

73 de KB9BVN

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Where did the time go

Well I have been working and just doing what we do when we get real busy. I have not been to a POTA park since November 2022.  I have been hunting pretty hard all winter and finally hit the 700 parks hunted the first week of February.  

So far I successfully hunted at least one park every day this year.  The weather around here is going to be breaking soon and I can not wait to get back in the Activator chair.  As of today, March 2 2023, I am at 762 unique parks worked.  I expect to hit over 800 by the end of the month. These have all been QRP CW from my attic dipole...

Also this winter I bought a GMRS license.  I know I know...but the local VHF scene around here is pretty dead, and the GMRS repeaters seem to be fairly lively.  I bought my first GMRS radio and I have been having fun learning about GMRS, repeaters, and all the different radios.  You have Baofeng, Btech, Wouzon, Tiradio, Radioddity, Midland, Motorola $$$, and a few other lesser known brands to look over.  Luckily Youtube to the rescue.  Look up a Youtuber named NotARubicon.  He's a ham out in southern California that does radio reviews. ALL kinds...ham, FRS, GMRS, shortwave receivers, and a lot more. 

I got interested in the Radioddity GM-30, cheap enough at $39.99 from Amazon.  This little HT is 5w, can be charged via USB-C, receives VHF, and transmits on FRS and GMRS frequencies, comes programmed with the 30 GMRS channels, including 8 channels for GMRS repeaters.  It's been fun to play with. 

Setting it up was pretty easy, the programming software is a freebie from the Radioddity website at just download that and get a program cable (RD-201) and you are off and running.  It can be programmed via the keypad but there is no fun in that.  I also bought the higher gain antenna (RD-332) and it made a big difference in reaching out and touching a repeater. 

I am in Central Indiana and within the footprint of the Indy 600 repeater on 462.600 Mhz.  This repeater is part of the Midwest GMRS network of linked repeaters.  So at any given time I can talk with other operators in Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and occasionally operators from Long Island New York, and Iowa.  

They have a family net every two weeks, and a regional net every two weeks.  They get so many checkins on the regional net it takes about three hours to get through it all.  It's been fun learning about this radio service, but I have NOT gone to the dark side and some of my ham buddies think.  

Well that is it for now, hoping to get back to the parks this month sometime, depending on weather. I look forward to posting my adventures here as they unfold. 

73 de KB9BVN

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

McCormick's Creek State Park - POTA!

Last weekend Wayne AC9HP and I got up early on Sunday morning and headed to McCormick's Creek State Park to do a POTA park activation.  The day was perfect, sunny, clear, slight breeze and temperatures in the mid to upper 70's.  This park is about an hour and twenty minutes from my home QTH, and is one of the most popular state parks in Indiana.  

Founded in 1916, this is Indiana's first state park, and it is rich in geological treasures.  This part of the state was at one time part of an ancient shallow sea, and the stopping spot for glaciers that brought down granite from Canada.  There are several caves on the property, as well as sink holes, and fossils to be examined by the park visitors.  The most notable feature in the park is the waterfall on McCormick's Creek as it races toward the west fork of the White River. 

Park Entrance, Pay Here $7 for Hoosiers, $8 for out of state

We arrived at about 9AM and stopped at the Canyon Inn for breakfast.  Let me warn you in advance about the Canyon Inn.  This is the Inn  that is in the state park.  The state subcontracts the management and services of the Inn.  The Inn used to be a Sanitarium that folks would come visit and stay for the mineral waters, springs, and fresh air.  So the rooms are very small. The prices are very high. 

We had breakfast in the dining room, mainly because it was convenient.  Two eggs, one biscuit, two slices of bacon, and about a half cup of French fried potatoes (they tried to pass the fries off as potatoes O'Brien), and no coffee cost almost $13.00, being a tight fisted ham, notorious for being cheap, I was aghast...but we ate it, it was good, it was hot, and the waitress was very nice.  When the state ran things here 25 years ago, you could stay here for about $35 a night, now it's more like $170 a night. We did not stay here, we were just visiting for the day. 

I sat up my operations from the parking lot of the Deer Run shelter area.  I had enough coax with me to mount the Eagle One antenna to my SUV and then run the cabling over to a conveniently located picnic table, in the shade.  It was a very peaceful location, virtually no drive by traffic, and no other folks within earshot or eyesight.  Wayne sat up his operation about 100 yards away, he was using his IC-705 and end fed antenna.  We both operate QRP.

The bands were mostly up and down and the QSB on 20m was slow and steady.  Florida stations would be booming in and then within 10 minutes, they'd be gone...then 10 more minutes they'd be back.  It was a little frustrating.  My K2 was pushing about 10 watts to the vertical, and I was able to get my first 10 contacts in about 35 minutes.  20m was doing well at first and then it fizzled a bit so I finished up on 40m.  KC4HCH was at a park down in Alabama, so he was my only Park to Park contact on this outing. 

This is only my second park to activate, and it was great fun.  I bought an annual pass at the entrance gate. $50 a year and it gets you in to all the Indiana State Parks for the year.  I hope to get out more now that the weather is a little more predictable and hit as many of the Indiana State Parks as I can. 

Best 73 de KB9BVN


Sunday, April 10, 2022

Just hanging around...

This weekend has been a mixed bag of weather.  Saturday (yesterday) it was snowing and sleeting in the morning and today it was sunny and almost 65F.  I had too much to do today so I didn't get to got out and play POTA today.  I did manage to get one of my Vibrokeyers working again, I have another one sent to Vibroplex for clean up and repair currently.  A few months ago I accidentally knocked them off the desk and messed them both up.  

Here's a look at the one I have working now, pictured here with my Elecraft K1 (SN 1205), I built the K1 20 years ago after buying it from Wayne Burdick N6KR at the 2002 Dayton Hamvention. 

My Elecraft K1 and the Vibrokeyer SN 216228, made in 1960

As I had previously noted, my K1 needed some technical care beyond my ability, so I sent it to Dale Putnam WC7S of Quality Electronics in Cheyenne Wyoming.  He did a great job getting the filters set just right, the offset just right, and put a good alignment on it for me.  Very reasonable fee too.  If you have a K1 or even a K2 that needs  checked out, send it to Dale.  You can always contact Dale at this email address 

One other thing of note, I was issued the following award from Parks on the Air this week. I got the certificate today.  This is for HUNTING 400 different Parks or references.  It took me about 2 years of very casual hunting to get that many in the log book. 

POTA Award for hunting 400 different Parks 

I am currently at 412 different parks hunted, with 533 total hunted contacts, 40 states, with 401 contacts on 40m, 28 on 30m, 102 on 20m, 9 on 17m, and one each on 15m and 12m. These are all QRP contacts from my home with the K2, or K1, or Hilltopper rigs. 

Looks like the weather is going to start getting better later this week, once Easter weekend is over I will be doing more activating from the parks in Indiana, and maybe a few in Ohio and Kentucky.  

Happy Easter to you all!