Saturday, July 11, 2020

Newest Activation

It was Friday and it was 4PM...quitting time at work for me.  Due to COVID I have been working from home for the last four months, so I was ready to get out of the house.  I grabbed my POTA activation go-kit and headed south back to K-4183, Atterbury State Fish and Wildlife Area. 


I arrived there at about 5PM EDT and started getting things set up.  This would be an activation attempt using the Eagle One hitch mount antenna, the Elecraft K2, and LDG Z11 autotuner.  I got started out on 30m, tuned to 10.115 Mhz by 5:30PM EDT.   The band was a little weak at first, but after about 20 minutes or so things changed and the contacts were rolling in. 


By 5:56Pm EDT I was at 12 contacts on 30m and ready to move to the 40m band.  I had worked nine different states, from New York to Texas running about 10 watts from the K2.  The hunters had great ears tonight, and I thank them for working my activation.  My RST reports ranged from 229 to 599 with  a couple of  339s thrown in for good measure. 

Here is a bugs eye view of my antenna: 

Eagle One Vertical...hitch mounted on my POTA Mobile


At about 6PM I was ready to jump down to 40m and give that a try, started out a little weak but the band did begin to improve a little for me toward the end of my session.  I managed to work another 10 hunters on 40m.  RBN was really starting to look good. 



At about 6:30PM EDT, my friend and fellow POTA activator, Wayne AC9HP showed up ready to operate.  By this time I was tired of sitting at the picnic table and decided to let Wayne use my K2 and his Blue Racer to see if he could squeeze out an activation. 

Wild about POTA activations!  KB9BVN es AC9HP 

Wayne was working the hunters on 30m and 40m as well and by the time we stopped he had about 15 contacts in the log, plenty good for an official activation of K-4183.  I think Wayne liked my K2 pretty well, Ivin W9ILF and I are trying to coerce him in to building one for POTA use.  



Wayne has only been at CW for a relatively short time but he has progressed quickly, and can run that Blue Racer bug like a champion.  So after his activation we started packing up.  With the Eagle One hitch mount and the Go Kit I can be deployed in less than 15 minutes and torn down in about the same.  This antenna is no wonder wire, but it is certainly easy for a one man operation to set up and take down.   My son Andrew N9AWM, has loaned me his FT-857D so I can try some SSB contacts the next time I go out.  My K2 does SSB but I don't have a microphone for it. 

We cleaned up the site, and decided it was time for dinner.  So off to the Diner in New Whiteland for a home cooked meal.  I might add it was delicious.


Last but not least. I used the tools at https://qsomap.org to create neat map of the contacts I made tonight from Central Indiana.  This is a really cool tool to map out contacts.  In the midst of all this activating I realized a new state!  

KB9BVNQSO Map from K-4183 on JUL 10 2020

Arizona is now in the log thanks to W7WXX/P working me on 30m.  Now I  am down to the last ten.  I hope to finish this three year quest for WAS QRP CW by the end of 2020. 

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

My POTA Hunter Station


KB9BVN POTA Hunter Station - K1, Ten Tec Paddles, Battery, and LDG Z11 Autotuner

Yes indeed.  This is my POTA Hunter station I use when I am working from home.  It sits on my desk and is connected to a dipole in my attic.  This K1 is serial number 1205, I bought this radio as a kit from Wayne Burdick N6KR at the Dayton Hamvention in 2002. It took me about 3 weeks to build it in my spare time. It is a 4 band unit, 15m, 20m, 30m, and 40m.  With the LDG Z11 I can tune my attic dipole on all four bands.  On 40m it is capable of about 7 watts, and 5 on the other three. 

Since I started POTA hunting on June 22nd of this year I have used this little setup to log almost 50 different Parks on the Air activators, I just got my Gold Certificate this weekend (30 parks) and I hope to get my Diamond Certificate (50 Parks) before the end of this week. 

POTA Gold for 30 Different Parks in the Logs

I have already shown you what I use when I go out activating parks.  The bands are not hot but I'm still making contacts and I owe a BIG part of it to the incredible ears out there that can pull me out of the weeds for those tough ones.  

This has been so much fun and has really reactivated my interest to get out there and operate portable/remote or picnic table.  Give it a try! 

73 de KB9BVN
Brian

Monday, July 6, 2020

QRP-ARCI Summertime Home Brew Sprint


QRP-ARCI Summertime Home Brew Sprint is here! 

The annual QRP-ARCI Summertime Home Brew Sprint is this coming Sunday, July 12, from 20:00Z to 23:00Z. This is your chance to use your home brew station (if you built it from a kit, it also counts as home brew) for a neat sprint and a chance to win a certificate! 

You can read all the rules and get all the details by visiting the QRP-ARCI website.  Logging is simple and easy, just go to https://qrpcontest.com  and follow the instructions there. 

Entry may be All-Band, Single Band, High Bands (10m-15m-20m) or Low Bands (40m-80m-160m), and remember this is a QRP contest!  Earn extra point multipliers for low power.  If you can't QRP you can still join in the fun! 

Get on any of the HF bands except the WARC bands and hang out near the QRP frequencies.  Work as many stations calling CQ QRP or CQ TEST as possible, or call CQ QRP or CQ TEST yourself!  You can work a station for credit once on each band.

I am going to be using my 5w K1 (built in 2002) or my 900 mW Norcal 40A (built in 1998). 

I hope to work you on the air!

de KB9BVN
Brian





Saturday, July 4, 2020

Happy Fourth of July!

Today there is no radio, just hanging out with friends and family and enjoying the celebration of our nation's independence.  It's a great place to be.  I thank God and the founding fathers for giving us this great nation.  Long may she live!


Thanks to Thomas Jefferson!  Nothing says "Happy Fourth of July! " like a grilled bacon cheeseburger and fresh garden veggies!


Have a great day everyone! Enjoy the fireworks tonight if you can find any!  

73 de KB9BVN


Friday, July 3, 2020

QRP CW - Activated!

This being the national day of observance for the 4th of July National Independence holiday, I was not working.  So I met up with Wayne AC9HP and Bruce N9DBJ and we went to the Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area to throw up some antennas and get on the air.  This is park K-4183 in the POTA (Parks on the Air) program. 

I arrived at about 8:30AM and started setting up my new POTA portable system.  The humidity was about 80% and the temperature was hovering around 80 F.  Wayne and Bruce had not yet arrived.  I was very happy to find that I could deploy my Eagle One vertical antenna on my hitch mount, without the assistance of anyone else....making the dream of solo POTA runs possible.  Notice the POTA sticker now proudly displayed on my POTA Mobile.  I feel so fancy now. 


My Eagle One vertical on the Hitch of my POTA Mobile

I had also packed my K2 and LDG Z11 tuner this time, instead of the ever trusty and faithful K1.   This ended up being a great combo for me today.  However there were issues.....

LDG, makers of fine amateur radio equipment, and incredible antenna tuners, really shined today.   So with everything all setup and ready to go for operation, I hit the tune button for 40m at 5 watts and got....WHAT?? RED LIGHTS???  I NEED GREEN LIGHTS!!!  WHAT THE HECK??!!...same thing on 30m, 20m, 15m, 17m, and 80m,  Nothing would tune.  Dejected?  Are you kidding?  I'm sitting in the sweaty humidity of central Indiana, and my patience is non-existent.  I just BOUGHT this new antenna and now it won't work on any band.  I am thinking of throwing everything in the trash and moving to Mexico.  

POTA Portable Station at K-4183 on July 3, 2020

OK, so things were not going well...I started wondering what it could be, so I checked the coax connections, I disconnected and reconnected all the cables, I talked nice to my K2, I said some prayers that I might retain my sanity and figure this out...when I saw it.  You have GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.  On my Z11 auto tuner, there are two coax connectors....one is PLAINLY marked ANTENNA, and the other is marked TRANSMITTER.  It became apparent to me that I, an Extra Class Amateur Radio Operator, licensed by non other than the federal government of these United States of America...had the cables in the wrong connectors.   The LDG took the abuse like a rock solid pro.  Thankfully I was only running 5w for tune up.  So I swapped them...and just like that...things started working.

Don Wilhelm built K2...about 15 years old 
I had the first 10 contacts in the book in about 12 minutes on 7062 Khz,  I was getting spotted on the POTA spotting site and boy was I ever happy.  The Eagle One and this tuner were working very well.  40m hasn't really been very open in the morning the last few days, so I was thrilled to see it working this morning.  I stayed on 40m for about a half an hour total and then moved over to 30m, hit the tune button and I was golden on 10115 Khz.  I started working POTA hunters almost immediately,  the vertical seemed to be doing decent in all directions as I worked Maine, Louisiana, Texas, Kansas, as well as Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.  I was running 5w on 30m, so I was pretty happy with those results.  I then moved to 17m, hit tune, and I was green to go.  I worked three or four stations on 18090 and got them in the log.  By now it was pushing 11AM and I went QRT to go see if I could help Bruce N9DBJ out with his setup.

CW Morse Straight Key
Bruce N9DBJ was running  a KX2 at 5w in to a LNR end fed antenna.  He is sort of new to CW and was doing a great job.  Kudos to the hunters that went QRS for him and showed patience while he made the contact.  Bruce also had a real nice straight key from CW Morse.  Seemed to be very smooth in action and worked well with the KX2.  I think we were working 20m for most of the time and he was very close to having his 10 contacts the last time I looked. 

Wayne was running his LNR Mountaintopper 3 Band radio into his W9PDC end fed antenna and was knocking off contacts as fast as he could CQ.  Today he brought his new Blue Racer bug from Vibroplex.  I have tried off and on to use a bug for at least 10, maybe 15 years and I have been unable to master it. 
Vibroplex Blue Racer

I sound like a stuttering machine gun...unreadable but Wayne has mastered the bug in no time.   He was also successful in activating K-4183 today.  All in all it was a great morning to be out working portable.  We ended up in search of pizza but landed at a nice Mexican place and feasted on Fajitas and chips with salsa.  Now I think I need a nap. 

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Field Day 2020 - QRP CW

This year Field Day was really something new. With the COVID-19 issues across the nation, the ARRL made several rules changes and in my opinion, saved the event and made it a lot of fun.  I was pretty busy over the weekend but I did manage to get a few hours in.   Sunday was a big surprise in that 15m was wide open from my QTH to New England.  I was able to log 48 contacts total for my efforts but I also knocked out a few states for my WAS efforts.  I was also able to log a few more Parks on the Air sites as well. 

My station was the Elecraft K2 at 5 watts, into my attic dipole.  I also had a LDG Z11 tuner that used to belong to Phil Wilcox WB8ABE.  Phil, unfortunately, is in hospice care now with Alzheimer's disease.  Best wishes and our prayers go out to his family during these trying times.  Phil proudly served his country in the United States Marine Corps, and worked for Western Electric in Ohio.  Phil loves Field Day, and running QRP CW with the Flying Pigs QRP Club International at our Field Day location in Caesar Creek State Park between Dayton and Cincinnati. 

Phil WB8ABE and I building a Field Day dipole (2005)



Phil and I just chilling...Field Day 2005

We have sure enjoyed some great Field Day gatherings.   This week I got my Eagle One vertical and the hitch mount for my SUV all put together, and I am planning on heading out to two parks this coming Friday, July 3rd.  I hope to activate K-4183 Atterbury Fish and Wildlife again, and then move over to the west and visit K-4215 Morgan-Monroe State Forestry.  I am going to be using my K2, LDG tuner, and the new Eagle One vertical for the maiden voyage.  I hope the weather cooperates, we had rain and storms almost the entire Field Day weekend here. 

One other thing on the POTA front, I have qualified for the next Hunter Certification.  I am now a Silver Level Hunter! 


Well that's it for now, hope to hear you on the air, if you are able, give a listen for KB9BVN on Friday from the parks.  Will likely be working 20, 30, and 40m...go to the POTA spotting website and look for me! 

73 de KB9BVN
Brian 


Sunday, June 28, 2020

POTA - Parks on the Air

Here it is June 2020,  so far we've survived COVID-19, adjusted to working at home instead of driving 74 miles a day to get to the office and back, cancellation of Four Days in May and just about every other hamfest that was supposed to happen this spring and summer...and maybe even into the fall, and I find I have been exposed to something that has brought a lot of fun back in to the ham radio hobby for me.  

POTA, Parks on the Air, was started up after the ARRL National Parks on the Air events back in 2016.  POTA says, "This group was inspired by the outstanding work of Sean Kutzko (KX9X) and Norm Fusaro (W3IZ) from the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) in 2016." right on their website. 

So about a week ago, my friends Ivin W9ILF, Wayne AC9HP, and Paul W9PDC talked me into going out and trying to activate a park with them.  I live about 20 minutes north of an eligible park so we decided to head there.


Atterbury Fish & Wildlife Area is dedicated to providing quality hunting and fishing opportunities while maintaining 4,950 acres of upland game habitat, marsh, running creeks, and shallow impoundments.  This Park is known as K-4183 in POTA parlance. 



Atterbury Fish & Wildlife Area was purchased by the state from Camp Atterbury, an army training installation established in 1942. In 1969, wildlife management efforts began on over 5,400 acres. The remaining military area, a training facility for the National Guard and Army Reserve units, coordinates with Atterbury Fish & Wildlife Area to authorize limited hunting on military property when not in conflict with training operations. In October of 2010, 1,250 acres were released to the Indiana National Guard in exchange for 1,990 acres of surplus land from the Indiana Department of Corrections in Putnam County, Indiana. Presently the property totals 4,950 acres.

Most revenues used in land acquisition, development, operation and maintenance of Atterbury Fish & Wildlife Area are derived from the sale of hunting, fishing and trapping licenses. Funds are also received from the federal Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson programs to aid fish and wildlife restoration. These funds are derived from taxes levied on sport hunting, shooting, and fishing equipment. Indiana hunters and fishermen are proud to provide this property for the enjoyment of all people.

So, POTA has two kinds of activities.  Today we were going to be Activators.  That means we would each setup in the Park and activate the park by making at least 10 contacts...ala Field Day.  So I setup on 30m using my Elecraft K1 I built in 2002, my Parkwood paddles I bought from Richard Meiss WB9LPU, and an end fed 30m antenna I borrowed from Ivin when I could not get my PAC 12 to tune up.  In about an hour or so I had 14 contacts, California to Florida.  

Ivin W9ILF was set up using his Argo 5 on 30m with the same antenna I borrowed, running 5 watts CW, and he had his contacts done in about an hour as well.  

Wayne AC9HP was breaking in a brand new LNR Mountaintopper 3 Band LCD radio, and a fantastic end fed antenna that Paul W9PDC had made for him.  This antenna worked on 10, 15, 20, and 40 meters with no tuner.  Wayne stayed on 20m and 4w of CW for his effort and knocked out his contacts in a little over an hour.  

Paul W9PDC has a great QRO setup with his FT 891, his Wolf River Coil antenna, and a couple of radials.  He ran SSB on 40m and in about 2 hours he had over 100 contacts.  

We started at about 9:30AM and by noon we were bug eaten, hot, and called it a day.  It was the most fun day I have had in a long time. 

The other kind of POTA activity is being a Hunter.  That means you look for Parks on the Air to make contact with.  The POTA website has a great spotting page so when I am working at home I now have my K2 turn on and at the ready.  If I see a CW spot pop up, I go for it.  In my first week of hunting I have now logged 20 parks.  I just got an award for the first ten and I couldn't be more tickled. 


POTA offers tons of certificates and awards, so if you love the wall paper like I do, you're in for a big treat. 

For my next outing I have two new antennas to try out.  I bought a Eagle One vertical with the hitch mount for my SUV.  Many of the POTA activators have had great luck with this antenna and I hope it can work out for me.  I plan on using it with my K2 or K1, my LDG Z11 antenna tuner, and my Parkwood paddles. 

Another antenna I have now is a W9PDC end fed antenna...it's a 66 foot radiator and he took a few screenshots of the NanoVNA analysis.  feast your eyes on this.  Looks good on 10, 15, 20, and 40m with the attached UNUN.  This is what Wayne AC9HP was using with his Mountaintopper.  I can't wait to go and try it out. 


Well anyway, sorry I have been gone off the blog for a few months, we just had too many thing going on at once.  We've been blessed with another new grandson, Joe, and he makes 13.  We have another grandson coming in August as well....and playing with the grands is more fun than the Dayton hamfest! 

73 de KB9BVN
Brian Murrey