Posts Tagged ‘20m’
Nice weather and an open schedule allowed for some radio time this weekend. The QRP ARCI Fall QSO Party made some buzz so I loaded up the gear and headed out by the lake. I put up an 88ft doublet in an inverted vee. I shoot a line over a tree limb at about 40ft and use that for the center and have two 17ft Crappie Poles that I use for end supports. That allows me to reorient the antenna to suit the conditions.
One of the things I threw together is a simple mount for the crappie poles. I use a 2ft piece of PVC with a couple bolts inserted at right angles to one another at the base to keep the pole from going all the way through to the ground. The PVC is attached to a 3ft piece of aluminum angle iron that with 3 stainless steel hose clamps.
The poles are pretty limber and take a bit of a bend but do a good job of handling the 24 gauge teflon wire I use. As you can see in the pictures, the mounts do the job and don’t cost as much as commercial counterparts.
So it was a good day and I made a few contacts, enjoyed the outdoors and had a nice picnic lunch with my XYL down by the lake between QSO’s. The bands were pretty decent and I gave points to 20 of the more serious contestants out there.
Kelly K4UPG PB #173
p.s. The Polar Bears will be out and on the air next weekend. Give a listen, hear?
Spent my birthday participating (casually) in the Straight Key Century Club Weekend Sprint. My Lake Fredrica neighborhood site was where I set up my shelter and 3 antennas. I had a 40m dipole fed with twinlead up 40 ft and running E-W. An End Fed Halfwave for 20m was nearly vertical suspended by a nearby tree. A twinlead 44 ft doublet on my 20 ft Jackite with the ends at 16 feet was setup running N-S to give me a bit of a mini-smorgasbord of antenna choices. Since it was really sunny, I hooked up my ACME GC100 Solar Charger and VW Solar Panel.
Bands were decent with 40m quiet and some DX coming through early from Eu stations. Nice to hear that again. 20m came alive and was pretty much the go to band for the majority of the day. I did check 15m a couple times but did not hear much and no one replied to my CQ’s.
In the middle of a QSO, my Jackite pole decided to collapse but I was able to finish the QSO with one end of the dipole about 4 feet above the ground. hi hi
The highlight of the day was my last QSO with EA3NO, Lluis in Spain. As the special station for the sprint there was a lot of competition but Lluis hung in there with my weak signal and pulled me out of the crowd after a couple attempts. THANK YOU FOR THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT Lluis!
Still wondering what a CPG is? Contest Point Giver! I am a really casual contester. Really the only reason I participate is that contests offer a fairly good opportunity to make some QSO’s. When you are QRP you have to do a lot of listening, plus pounce and search, but serious contesters will dig out weak signals to make the QSO’s so it is fun. I enjoy giving out points and reading the mail on ops that are faster than my cw comfort zone. Good practice, eh?
Here’s some photos from the day. Enjoy!
Kelly K4UPG PB #173 SKCC #5415
Had a great time setting up the C Pole antenna in a tree suspended configuration. My good friend and cohort, Jim Diggs, K4AHO came by with his AIM 4170 Antenna Analyzer and we were ready to tune the antenna and get a feel for it.
LESSON: A good analyzer makes tuning an antenna fast, simple and accurate! The AIM 4170 gave us a TON of info (most of it going over my head) and let us see how the C Pole was doing in several areas. Take a look at this output! (Click on the image for a larger version)
LESSON: I followed Niel’s directions, but did not have a small plastic coffee container so used a Quart Coke bottle instead. So I call it a Coke Choke and it seems to work well. Here’s a photo to show it off!
I think this one is a keeper. Goes up easily, hears well and loads nicely too. I made a few brief contacts and called it a day, but look forward to more C Pole action in the days ahead.
Kelly K4UPG PB #173
p.s. Don’t forget to vote in the Ideal Ham Radio QTH poll on the blog!
Sunday I got the itch to get online. That means backyard portable when you live in an antenna restricted condo. So I put a card table up in the back porch and my 20 ft Jackite and 20m End Fed Half Wave in between the buildings.
Doggone noise and weak band conditions ruined the day so I decided to experiment with the new C Pole antenna that Neil W0VLZ had suggested. To get rid of a hunk of fiberglass gel inside the barrel of one of the Black Widow Crappie poles I used my cheapo Harbor Freight rotary tool which is a lame imitation of a Dremel tool but gets the job done. A few minutes of fitting and I was good to go.
I’m pretty impressed with it though conditions did not allow for any QSO’s yet. I cut the wire a bit longer than Niel’s directions but it tuned up 1:1 at 13.889 on my MFJ 207 Analyzer. At 14.060 it was a bit over 1.4:1 which is plenty usable. Next time out I’ll do a bit of trimming and be right on the money! Compared to the EFHW in a 20 ft L configuration, it did seem a bit noisier but with condx so difficult it would be hard to tell without some instrumentation.
LESSON: The C Pole is a pretty fine design. I need to work on the physical setup to improve the way the antenna hangs. The crappie poles I used were a bit too flimsy on the top section and leaned inward from the weight of the wire. A better tippy top support system is needed.
LESSON: Niel’s C Pole base design and specs worked very well. Lacking an empty plastic coffee can, I used a quart diet soda bottle of the same dimension and it worked very well for the balun section. With winds of approximately 15 mph and gusts to 20+ the antenna was stable and I did not use the spikes for the outriggers that I had prepared. Great work Niel. The weight of the base makes it a good choice for backyard or campground use.
LESSON: The C Pole would be a fantastic portable antenna sans the earth side supports. Chuck Carpenter W5USJ has posted a picture of this configuration. Take a look. One point hanger and spreaders at the top and bottom and simple stake to the ground for anchoring it and you are good to go. I will be testing this next time out by the lake. Winner!
LESSON: The off center fed dipole folded like this and deployed vertically is a good compact option for antenna restricted hams. I bit more work on the frame and support system may pay good dividends in stability and efficiency.
Hope to fly this new antenna in its tree configuration this weekend. I’ll update my results then.
Kelly K4UPG PB #173
Now into the third week of my sabbatical, I am surprised how much I want to get out and operate my QRP portable gear. Guess I have deprived myself over the years of being a confirmed workaholic and avoiding time off, vacations, and time for my favorite hobby.
This should be a good weekend for QRP portable. The Polar Bear QRP Group will be out for another Polar Bear Summer Picnic Event and Polar Bears from Spain to the West Coast of the US will be out looking for BSO’s. Grrrrr! I am PB #173 and we’re over 200 members now. With the new Twitter and APRS connections to QRPSPOTS.COM which also point to the excellent spotting site of K3UK with a section for FISTS/QRP Ops to spot and sked one another, there are plenty of ways to use technology to help find each other. Add in a few other contests and state QSO parties, and there should be some buzzing going on this weekend. Makes me wonder when the FOBB results will be announced! Buzzzz Buzzzzz
I’ll be out and if all goes well I will be field testing a new C Pole antenna based on the suggestion I received from Neil W0LVZ. I added some switchable capacitance to my BLT+ and have rewound the main toroid to see if I can push the range a bit more with it so will have a delta loop and probably my W3EDP in the air too. I love playing with antennas and am still amazed when the ones I build actually make contacts!
Give a listen for me on the QRP watering holes on 40m, 30m and 20m Saturday morning. I’ll be self spotting on QRPSPOTS and the K3UK sites to make it easier for you to find me. Let me know how my newest antenna is workin’.
Various QRP related email reflectors and lists are full of chatter about the Flight Of the BumbleBees (FOBB). Comments about the CW being too fast and the weather being too hot at this time of year make it sound like a broken event. IMHO it is far from being broken! It is probably the premier QRP event of the year. And I say, if it ain’t broke… yep, you guessed it, don’t fix it.
Sunday the bands were full of QRP ops, both home based and portable, so the activity really did make a BUZZ despite band conditions that have not been all that helpful to hf qrp contacts. The weather was HOT, but hey, find some shade, altitude or water and go for it. Historically this is the time of year for this event and as others have commented, it keeps our activity up during the summer time when vacations and mowing the grass take their toll on ham radio activity.
As far as fast cw, I’m not fast (not even close hi hi), but it sure is fun listening to the buzz on the bands rather than QRN and a high noise level with only a few weak signals. Certainly I am not a hard core contester. My cw skills are still in need of practice, but isn’t that what events like this provide? I often have to listen multiple times to get the callsign and info but that repetition and practice pushes my speed and confidence level up every time I try. After listening to a fast op several times I have the info I need and then I jump in and have fun making a contact at speeds faster than my comfort zone. Most of us slow guys can send faster than we can receive, right? Come on in, the water is fine, and FUN!
My XYL, Connie and I drove over to Honeymoon Island State Park on the Gulf Coast in Dunedin, Florida. This is a very pretty beach, not overly crowded most of the time and has been one of the top rated beaches in the US for several years. The weather cooperated, there was no sign of the BP oil spill that has run so many tourists to other locations, and we snagged a primo spot to operate right next to the water.The only negative, if you call it that, was that the view was sometimes distracting, but sure was enjoyable.
My trusty Sierra and Buddistick provided plenty of action so I never switched over to my mini-bac Delta Loop backup antenna. I also stuck to 20m the whole contest since 40m has been in such poor condition here in Florida lately.
One of the great things about these events is the leveling of the playing field. It is fun to contact the guys that write the articles, create the websites and design the equipment that we use for our hobby. My score was modest at 26 QSO’s, 18 Bumblebees and 17 states and provinces but it was one fantastic day of activity for me! Being able to connect with the big guns of QRP was a thrill too!
For me, one of the highlights was when W8DIZ rode over to meet me as I was setting up my site. Diz lives about 3.5 miles from Honeymoon island and is a regular bicycle visitor of this great beach location. I’ve been a customer of his toroid and kit business and have benefited from the info he has shared, not to mention being one of the movers and shakers of the Famous Flying Pigs QRP group. Diz I was honored that you took time out from a busy family day to swing by and say HI! Thanks for the help getting our screen house up too!
Thanks to Adventure Radio Society and the guys that put this event on for all of us. We appreciate the effort it takes and you deserve the very best of 73′s from all of us.
Kelly K4UPG BB #10
My favorite QRP group is the Polar Bear QRP gang! We have a good time and enjoy outdoors activities and trying to connect with one another at least once a month with some kind of activity. To escape some of the heat, I got an early start on the day. I wanted to try out a new mini-bac antenna configuration and knew it would take some time to get it up into the trees. BOY WAS THAT AN UNDERSTATEMENT! It was 110 ft doublet with a 40 ft feedline that was setup as a ladder line. Not an easy one to get up single-handed. Thanks to some tall trees, was able to get it up about 40-45 feet in the pine trees. It loaded great on 40m, but was disappointing on 20m so I ended up setting up my W3EDP in an L from my 20 ft Jackite pole to a nearby cedar tree at about 35 feet. The sun chased me into the treeline where I settled in to chase bears.
My xyl Connie took a picture that shows the mini-back feedline hanging in the breeze after I shifted positions and setup the W3EDP in the shade. Grrrrr!
Was able to work a couple of the Polar Bears, Mike W3MC in MD and Guy N7UN up in the mountains on a trail(?) in NJ. I heard VA2SG but he was at ESP level briefly then faded away. I did hear a few others working him though. WA8REI was working Guy but I could not hear him at all and ended up tail ending their QSO to connect with N7UN.
Got to work a few others through the QSB and poor signal strength on 20m including Pastor Les, K4NK in SC, KE5SBZ, Ed in TX, N1FJ in MA, and Phil W3HZZ in Atlanta so it was a nice way to spend a few hours outdoors in the heat.
Connie brought me a picnic lunch and we enjoyed the osprey and bald eagle show as they fished Lake Fredrica.