Archive for the ‘hf’ Category

2021 Colorado SOTA and 14er Event

Steve/WG0AT operating from the summit of Mount Herman (W0C/FR-063)

The Summits On The Air (SOTA) program originated in the United Kingdom but has propagated to most countries around the world. The program came to Colorado on May 1st, 2010 with Steve/WGØAT sending a CQ from Mount Herman, just west of Monument. Today, the SOTA program in Colorado (called WØC-SOTA) is very active with roughly 180 activators that operate from Colorado summits.

To celebrate our 10th AnniversaryWØC-SOTA is organizing a 10-10-10 Event with a challenge for Activators and Chasers alike. (Activators operate from summits, Chasers try to contact them.)

Activator challenge: Activate 10 (or more) 10K feet (or higher) summits (in Colorado/WØC) within 10 days.

Chaser challenge: Chase Activators on 10 different (or more) qualifying WØC summits (10K or higher) within the 10 days.

Event Date: We will kick-off the event in conjunction with the Colorado 14er event on August 7th, 2021 and conclude on August 16th.

Everybody is invited to participate, either as an Activator or a Chaser. Block off these days in your calendar now and start planning for how you can participate. Feel free to operate as much or as little as you would like. It is all about having fun messing around with radios. Any HF, VHF or UHF band can be used for making SOTA contacts, with the most popular ones being 40m (CW & SSB), 20m (CW & SSB) and 2m (FM).

Note that the recommended 2m FM frequencies for the 14er event have changed to:

146.580 FM   North America Adventure Frequency
146.550 FM    Simplex Alternate
146.490 FM    Simplex Alternate
146.520 FM    National 2m FM Calling Frequency
(as needed, please don’t hog the calling frequency)

There will be a leaderboard on the W0C-SOTA website showing all participants who meet one of the challenges. More details will be announced on the WØC-SOTA Website as soon as they are hashed out.

For more information on the SOTA program in general, see the worldwide SOTA website.

Full Disclosure: May 1 is actually the 11th Anniversary, but the COVID-19 Pandemic interfered in 2020, so we are catching up.

The post 2021 Colorado SOTA and 14er Event appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Parks, Summits and Roadtripping

Getting out on the road and exploring is always fun, especially if you have ham radio on board. Joyce/K0JJW and I have been doing quite a bit of travel lately and we just completed our longest road trip so far with our RV.

Overview of the trip: Colorado to Key West, Florida and back again.

Our main destinations for the trip were four national parks: Congaree NP, Biscayne NP, Everglades NP, and Dry Tortugas NP. This determined the main route but we also found plenty of other things to do along the way. We started in Colorado, cut the corner across New Mexico into Texas, then east through Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. Then we headed south to Florida and ended up in Key West. Our return trip followed the gulf coast back to Texas, then back home.

Travel Philosopy

Planning a trip is full of trade-offs, so it is useful to have a general approach that the participants agree on. Our approach to this trip was to not drive too far every day but drive enough to hit the various places we wanted to visit. We are still working to find the right balance. This trip lasted 39 days, covering 6000 miles, which is about 150 miles per day. Some days we drove very little and other days were longer, maybe 400 miles.

Although the trip was created around the national parks, we filled in with interesting stops along the way. In particular,  we like to camp at state parks: the campgrounds are great and there’s usually something interesting about the park to enjoy. And did I mention they are natural Parks On The Air (POTA) opportunities? We also tried to work in some Summits On The Air (SOTA) activations that are relatively easy to access.

Rocky Victoria

Our recreational vehicle (RV) is a 2018 Winnebago Paseo, built on a Ford Transit chassis. We named her Rocky Victoria, using non-standard phonetics, but usually just refer to her as “Rocky”.

Rocky Victoria is our Winnebago Paseo RV.

Compared to your typical car or SUV, this Class B RV is huge. Compared to other RVs, this vehicle is small, about 22 feet long, usually fits in a standard parking space. With all of the normal RV stuff installed (stove, microwave, sink, refrigerator, toilet/shower combo, bed, etc.) there is not a lot of room left for personal gear.

Rocky fits us really well because it is easy to drive, getting in and out of places without much hassle. Also, setup and tear-down time at a campsite is minimal. One limitation is poor ground clearance, which is fine for forest service roads in good condition but not appropriate for offroad use. This affects what SOTA and POTA activations we do.

Radio Gear

We have an ICOM IC-2730A in Rocky, for normal 2m/70cm FM comms while running down the road. The antenna (not visible in the photo) is just a short whip on the driver’s side of the hood.

Rocky is not a big RV so by the time we load up all of our stuff, it is full. So the radio gear (and everything else we take along) must follow the backpacker principle of “take only what you need, use what you take.” No room for extra stuff you don’t use.

For this trip, we took along two ham stations:  A basic VHF SOTA station and a capable, picnic-table POTA station.

VHF SOTA Station

The VHF SOTA station is very compact and easy to carry. It covers the 2m and 70cm bands on FM, which is usually sufficient for us. The RF output power is only 5W, so it does not have the punch of one of our higher power radios. Not a bad tradeoff though.

Two Yaesu FT-1DR 2m/70cm handheld transceivers
Arrow 3-element Yagi 2m antenna
Two RH 770 dualband SMA antennas
HT chargers and other accessories

Picnic Table POTA Station

The POTA station is built around the FT-991, which is a 100 watt transceiver (HF/VHF/UHF) that is reasonably compact. We use a 20 Ah LFP battery to power the radio so it is portable and independent of the RV power sources.

Yaesu FT-991 Transceiver (HF, 6m, 2m, 70cm)
End-fed halfwave antennas for 40m, 20m, 17m, 15m, 10m
Roll-up j-pole antenna for 2m/70cm
20-foot fishing pole to support antennas
Two 25-foot lengths of RG-8X coaxial cable
12V, 20 Ah LFP Battery (Bioenno Power)

Joyce/K0JJW operates the picnic-table POTA station.

The POTA station does a great job at a campsite, usually on a picnic table. The POTA station fits inside my Kelty backpack so it can be taken for a hike. It is a bit heavy for a typical SOTA summit but works OK for drive-up and short-hike summits. It can also be set up inside the RV if required.

Single-band end-fed halfwave antenna (PAR EndFedz) for 20 meters.

Typically, we are going to try operating on 20m or 17m so that the halfwave antenna easily hangs from the fishing pole support. Depending on conditions, we often have to use 40m which takes a little more work to hang. Not a huge problem, though.

Collapsible fishing pole for supporting wire antennas.

For portable operating, I’ve tended to use a variety of end-fed wire antennas supported by a non-conductive pole of various sizes. For this trip, we used a 7 meter (21 feet) telescoping fishing pole that collapses to about 30 inches.  This pole will fit into my SOTA backpack.

20m halfwave antenna supported by the fishing pole mounted on the RV. (The 20m halfwave needs to be hung at an angle to be supported off the ground.)

To support the fishing pole directly from the RV, I attached a short length of plastic pipe to the ladder. It is a simple matter to slide the pole into pipe, resulting in the top of the pole being about 26 feet off the ground.

A short piece of plastic pipe is attached to the RV ladder so the fishing pole can be easily inserted.

The combination of the two stations gives us a lot of options for ham radio operating.

Summits On The Air

We activated three summits along the way: Mount Scott (W5O/WI-002) in Oklahoma, Choctaw County HP (W5M/MS-001) in Mississippi, and Monte Sano Mountain (W4A/HR-002) near Huntsville, AL.

Monte Sano Mountain is just east of Huntsville, AL inside Monte Sano State Park.

Monte Sano Mountain turned out to be a unique location because it is located in the Monte Sano State Park. The park surrounds the summit, which is broad and flat. We determined that the park campground is within the activation zone, so we camped there and did both SOTA and POTA activations.

Parks On The Air

We did a number of POTA activations along the way. This was done opportunistically, typically in the afternoon after we had set up our campsite. Our radio operating used SSB on 20m or 40m, along with a few 2m FM contacts.

K-0688  Lake Meredith National Recreation Area   US-TX
K-1090  Lake Chicot State Park   US-AR
K-1048  Monte Sano State Park  US-AL
K-0017  Congaree National Park US-SC
K-1832  Anastasia State Park  US-FL
K-0024  Everglades National Park  US-FL
K-0635  St. George State Park  US-FL
K-2992  Brazos Bend State Park  US-TX

Every one of these activations was a lot of fun. There’s nothing like sitting outdoors in the sunshine working a pileup of enthusiastic POTA hunter stations.

Summary

In this post, I emphasized the ham radio activity during this trip. Radio operating was not our main goal but it was a big part of the overall experience. Joyce and I had a fantastic time touring this section of the country, and we are looking forward to our next trip.

73 Bob K0NR

The post Parks, Summits and Roadtripping appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Celebrating 10 Years of Summits On The Air in Colorado

Steve/WG0AT on a SOTA activation with pack goat Rooster.

The Summits On The Air (SOTA) program originated in the United Kingdom but has propagated to most countries around the world. The program came to Colorado on May 1st, 2010 with Steve/WGØAT sending a CQ from Mount Herman, just west of Monument. Today, the SOTA program in Colorado (called WØC-SOTA) is very active with roughly 180 activators that operate from Colorado summits.

To celebrate our 10th AnniversaryWØC-SOTA is organizing a 10-10-10 Event with a challenge for Activators and Chasers alike. (Activators operate from summits, Chasers try to contact them.)

Activator challenge: Activate 10 (or more) 10K feet (or higher) summits (in Colorado/WØC) within 10 days.

Chaser challenge: Chase Activators on 10 different (or more) qualifying WØC summits (10K or higher) within the 10 days.

Event Date: We will kick-off the event in conjunction with the Colorado 14er event on August 7th, 2021 and conclude on August 16th.

Everybody is invited to participate, either as an Activator or a Chaser. Block off these days in your calendar now and start planning for how you can participate. Feel free to operate as much or as little as you would like. It is all about having fun messing around with radios. Any HF, VHF or UHF band can be used for making SOTA contacts, with the most popular ones being 40m (CW & SSB), 20m (CW & SSB) and 2m (FM).

There will be a leaderboard on the W0C-SOTA website showing all participants who meet one of the challenges. More details will be announced on the WØC-SOTA Website as soon as they are hashed out.

For more information on the SOTA program in general, see the worldwide SOTA website.

Full Disclosure: May 1 is actually the 11th Anniversary, but the COVID-19 Pandemic interfered in 2020, so we are catching up.

 

The post Celebrating 10 Years of Summits On The Air in Colorado appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

New Antenna: The Following Footprints Are of My CW Signals (2021-March-14 @ 04:00 to 04:20 UTC).

The following footprints are of my CW signals on 2021-March-14 at about 04:00 to 04:20 UTC.

Click on this image to see a larger version of this image:
Footprint of NW7US Test CW Transmissions, Using New OCF Antenna

Location: EM89ad – Ohio
Antenna: OCD (Off-center Dipole)

Description of Antenna:

This is an off-center dipole, with the two legs running East-East-South (approximately 125 degrees of North), and West-West-North (about 306 degrees on the compass). The westward wire (leg) is approximately 107 feet in length, while the eastward leg is about 95 feet in length.

These legs (an off-center-fed dipole) is directly connected to about 90 feet of 450-ohm ladder line, which is hanging directly below, vertically, the feed point. The feed point is 50 feet above the ground.

The ladder line terminates (at the 12-feet-above-ground point) to a 4:1 current balun. This current balun then connects to a 100-foot LMR 50-ohm coax, which is running into the radio shack. It is connected via an antenna switch to my Icom IC-7610 transceiver. I am transmitting a 100-watt CW signal using an Icom IC-7610, in the following format:

TEST TEST TEST DE NW7US NW7US NW7US

The Reverse Beacon Network reports any spotting of this test transmission. The beta mapping interface, at http://beta.reversebeacon.net/main.php, then maps the resulting spots. To learn more about the RBN, visit http://beta.reversebeacon.net/index.php, or, http://reversebeacon.net/index.php.

I show the 20-, 30-, 40-, 60-, 80-, and 160-Meter band footprints.

I’ve been capturing these CW transmission spots, at different times of the day, today. I’ll get data from several days, at regular intervals, and create a overview of how the antenna appears to be working during this month and under these propagation conditions.

73 de NW7US dit dit

..

Radio Fun on Threemile Mountain (W0C/SP-107)

Lately, for the ARRL January VHF contest, I try to find a SOTA summit to activate. Operating time is usually just a few hours, so it does not make for a big score. The main advantage is for VHF SOTA (Summits On The Air) because there is a lot more activity on 2m CW and SSB. This year, I wanted to go for the mountaintop trifecta of SOTA, POTA (Parks On The Air) and VHF contest in one activation.

Threemile Mountain is an easy SOTA summit: easy to access via forest service roads and an easy hike.
Joyce/K0JJW operating the portable station on 2m FM.

Threemile Mountain (W0C/SP-107) emerged as the activation summit because it is not too far from our cabin and accessible in the winter. (This time of year, the roads to many of our favorite summits are blocked.) For POTA, it is located in the Pike National Forest (K-4404). Because it is a short hike, I concluded that I could carry the Yaesu FT-911 and the 20 Ah Bionno battery. This would cover all the bands, give us more RF punch and still have plenty of battery capacity.

The portable station with 100 watts on HF, 50 watts on 2m/70 cm.

I carried quite a collection of antennas which gave us plenty of operating choices. We started out on 2m and 70 cm FM, working mostly local stations. This quickly got us enough contacts for SOTA and POTA points. We used a rollup J-pole for 2 meters and 70 cm, until it became intermittent and the SWR went wild. Then we switched to the Arrow 3-element Yagi for 2 meters.

Bob/K0NR operating from Threemile Mountain.

About that time, I decided to see what was happening on 2m SSB. There were a number of contest stations on the air, mostly from the front range cities (Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, …). I worked a bunch of them using 50 watts from the FT-991 to the 2m Yagi antenna (horizontally polarized).

The QSO between K0NR on Threemile Mountain (DM78) and Larry/N0LL near Smith Center, Kansas (EM09).

Suddenly, I was surprised to hear N0LL from Kansas calling me. I’ve worked Larry before from Colorado but it usually was from a really good location such as Mt Herman or Pikes Peak. Even then, we often had to switch to CW to complete the contact. Today he was louder than many of the Denver stations. We easily worked on SSB, which turned out to be a new personal best DX for me from a SOTA summit (372 miles).

We deployed both the SOTA and POTA flags today.

After things slowed down on 2m SSB, I decided to make some HF contacts. The North American QSO Party (SSB) was active, so I decided to set up for 20m and see who I could work. Running 100 watts to an endfed halfwave kept me competitive with the contest stations. Then I moved up to 17m SSB and worked non-contest POTA and SOTA chasers.

Bob/K0NR and Joyce/K0JJW hanging out on the summit of Threemile Mountain.

We both accomplished the three-in-one mountaintop activation for SOTA, POTA, and the VHF contest. I also worked the NA QSO Party, so that makes it four-in-one, but who is counting?  The January weather cooperated with us with almost no wind on the summit, about 28 degrees F. We sat there in the sunshine and just enjoyed the view before hiking back down.

73 Bob K0NR

The post Radio Fun on Threemile Mountain (W0C/SP-107) appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

A Different Approach to a New Year: the Ham Systems Think!

What is the most important aspect of life?  Having fun! (Of course!).

Perhaps it is unusual to wax philosophical in an amateur radio forum, but I am going out on a limb to share a perspective that hopefully is refreshingly new and full of life:  Systems thinking — an amateur radio approach.

What I’m sharing herein, I find very intenseinvigoratingchallenging, and motivational! The more I think about amateur radio with this perspective–the Systems Thinking perspective–the more fun I’m able to define, and then accomplish.

In my opinion, this approach to life is REVOLUTIONARY! Why isn’t this knowledge distributed far and wide?  Why aren’t these precepts taught in the schools for young children, so that they can be equipped for a life full of accomplished purpose?  Perhaps it is due to the deceptive simplicity of approaching life with the perspective of Systems Thinking.

SYSTEMS THINKING AND AMATEUR RADIO

Systems Thinking and Ham Radio

Amateur Radio as a Service – a System, not a Collection

What is Systems Thinking?

In a very simplistic sense, a system is any group of parts that make up one complex whole.  Each part cannot function as the whole, and each part interacts with other parts, such that this behavior affects that end result which is expressed by the whole.

Think about a motorcycle.  Let’s play with that thought: I disassemble my motorbike in your living room.  Once the bike completely taken apart and the parts are scattered all over your living room floor, can any one of those parts support my riding it out to the countryside, and back again?  No.  Only the bike can act, when it is made whole again, as a motorbike.  But, even if the individual parts, doing their part well, try to be the bike all by themselves, but fail, in the end realize that the parts are very important.  Each part has a place and a job.  Each part belongs.

By now, as you think about this, you probably realize that there is a difference between collections, and systems, of course.  A bag of rocks is not a system.  A motorcycle is a system.  A bag of motorbike parts is not a motorbike.  The assembly of the motorbike parts does make a motorcycle.

What does this have to do with amateur radio?

The amateur radio service (hobby) is a system, not a collection.  There are many parts–and one of the most important component of the amateur radio system is you and me.  We interact with each other, exchanging knowledge, reports, friendships; we each function, lending our functioning the the autonomous self, the amateur radio service.

It takes more than one of us to make up the amateur radio service.  It would take at least two amateur radio operators, at the most extreme emaciated existence as a public service. It is obvious that one ham, all by herself, does not make the amateur radio service.  No one of us is the amateur radio service, by ourselves.  We need each other in order to have a ham radio community–the amateur radio service.  Ourselves, our radios, antennas, computers, knowledge, schedules, and so on, are all parts of the big system with which we participate in our community.

Let that sink in.

Ponder the long-term repercussions of this revelation:  We need each other, and we need our resources (time, skills, knowledge, radios, etc.).

How do we shape our System?  What will elevate our System so that it is effective?  And, so we begin to do this, SYSTEMS THINKING.

Please read, and ponder these thoughts, as you read through this article:

https://thesystemsthinker.com/a-lifetime-of-systems-thinking/

Additionally, you should check out this video–it is  great!

Bonus (not necessary but still VERY good deeper dive):

In my estimation, Dr. Russell Ackoff is amazingly wise, and inspiring!

SYSTEMS THINKING

At the moment, I am studying and trying to implement system thinking.  It is the topic I am mostly studying right now.

The following is an introduction to Systems Thinking:

https://thesystemsthinker.com/

Download this useful paper that helps you understand system thinking:

http://nw7us.us/systems-thinking/Introduction-to-Systems-Thinking-IMS013Epk.pdf

I would very much like to hear your thoughts on all of this.  Seriously.  Take your time.  But, let’s start wading through this pool of refreshing water…

Happy New Year!

Tomas Hood
NW7US

Addendum:  I do not necessary agree with every perspective, conclusion, or point made by Dr. Russell Ackoff.  Never-the-less, the overarching idea of systems thinking seems valid, and is worth considering.

 

POTA: Arkansas River Headwaters State Park (K-1208)

The Arkansas River Headwaters is a unique recreation area that follows the upper Arkansas River in Colorado, extending roughly from Leadville to Pueblo. POTA has it listed as the Arkansas River Headwaters State Park, but the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website shows it as the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area. This area is a bit unique, a cooperative effort involving Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Bureau of Land Management, and the US Forest Service. See map here.

Joyce/K0JJW working the pile from POTA K-1208

Joyce/K0JJW and I decided to activate this park earlier this week, enjoying a nice sunny day. We operated from the Collegiate Peaks Overlook, which has a picnic area and an excellent view of Mount Princeton and adjacent peaks.

The wire antenna is supported by a SOTAbeams mast inserted into a drive-on mount.

For POTA, our standard station configuration is the Yaesu FT-991 transceiver driving an end-fed halfwave antenna, usually on 20m or 15m. We have a collection of end-fed halfwave antennas that cover 40m and up.  We have bigger and smaller transceivers available to us, but the FT-991 is small enough to be portable but includes an antenna tuner and has 100 watts of output available. (Typically, we run about 50 watts of RF output on battery power.) Our power source is a Bioenno 12V 20aH LFP battery.  This battery is lightweight and compact, capable of running the FT-991 for hours.

Bob working VE4RBH and AG7KO on 20 meters.

We set up our station on a convenient picnic table. We had hoped to lash the mast to a conveniently-located post or tree, but none were present. Our backup plan was the drive-on mount, held by the front tire of the truck. The 20m band was alive so we just set up on that band and never looked back. We also worked some of the locals on 2m FM. It is always fun to see who shows up on that band.

Here’s Joyce working AA5UY in Louisiana.

I don’t think we have really optimized our POTA setup but we have found an approach that works well. Never underestimate a properly-fed halfwave antenna up in the air.

73 Bob K0NR

The post POTA: Arkansas River Headwaters State Park (K-1208) appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.


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