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

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 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