Posts Tagged ‘great outdoors’

That ol’ Summertime Classic

That's how I think of it, anyway ..... right up there with BBQs, lemonade, ice cold beer, pretzels, watermelon, ice cream and swimming pools ..... The 2018 Flight of the Bumblebees has been announced!  Thanks to Rich Fisher for putting this on from year to year, this event, along with QRP To The Field has gotten me "into" portable QRP operations more than anything else.



OK, so maybe I'm an Amateur Radio and QRP nerd, but what is more sublime than sitting somewhere in a nice shady spot on a hot summer day, making contact after contact with QRP friends around the USA and the rest of the world? The breeze in your face, the Bumblebees buzzing, the bands hooping with CW?

That's right ....... nothing!

This year, the last Sunday in July falls on July 29th and the contest runs from 1700 to 2100 UTC. So grab your radio, a hunka wire and make like a bee and get out to the field and pollinate those frequency bands! Get out of that musty ol' shack and enjoy the beautiful weather and sunshine. These are the things I dream about while I'm shoveling the pile of frozen over, rock hard slush that the snow plow leaves at the end of my driveway after every big snowfall.

For the rules, please go to http://arsqrp.blogspot.com/

For the roster, please go to https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1OzR8FvgVX9J2U0BsjPPg7uzqbuv4C93IAmf7hr8_5GY/edit#gid=0

72 de Larry W2LJ - Bumblebee # 12
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

It’s been a long, long time.

It has indeed been a long time since I've moved to this new work location. The old work QTH was in Warren, NJ and the new is in Whitehouse Station, NJ. Same job, same company, different campus.  I am about 10 miles (more or less) farther west into the interior of New Jersey than I used to be. It adds about another 10 minutes to my commute.

There are two of us in my department. Things were easier in Warren, as we both worked from the same (and only) building on campus.  We staggered our lunch breaks so that one of us was always on duty. Here, at the new work QTH, we are split between two buildings, each one of us minding our own store, so to speak. Unless you master bi-location, you can't manage both buildings at the same time with one man.

That led towards a hiatus in lunchtime QRP operations as it just seemed not the greatest idea to spend so much time away from the desk. I know, it's time I'm entitled to (it's only an hour) and I really should get away from the desk to remain fresh in the afternoon.

So I decided to take advantage again, beginning this week.

I went out to the car yesterday and hooked up the KX3 to the Buddistick. I heard a lot of stations on 20 Meters, but got no answers to any of my calls.  I know the equipment works, I figured it was just a bit of "rust" on my part. But, boy howdy, was it hot yesterday! It reached into the upper 80s (about 30C) here at lunchtime and since I was parked outside, it was hot like an oven in the car. It was a double negative experience - too hot and skunked on contacts.

Not one to be deterred, my little eye spied on something that I had forgotten. This campus has picnic tables!  Many of the employees go out to eat outdoors on the nice days. There are plenty of tables, they are spaced widely enough apart where conversations cannot encroach on one another.

It dawned on me that this would be the perfect place to set up the KX3 and the magloop! Sure, I'd probably get some stares from the other lunchers, and maybe from some of the employees who take advantage of their lunch break to walk the perimeter of the campus - but what they heck? Right? It's not like I haven't been stared at before. It's not like people haven't come up to me to ask, "What is that?" before, so tossing self-consciousness into the wind, I decided to set up at one of the tables today.

I chose a table towards the end of the line of tables, the one with no umbrella. Sure, it would be a little hotter with no shade, but it's less than an hour and besides, there's be no metallic umbrella ribs to possibly interact with the magloop.

Before hunting for a QSO, I decided to call CQ for a bit on both 20 and 17 Meters.  I really didn't expect anyone to answer, although there's no reason why anyone wouldn't. I just wanted to conduct a little Reverse Beacon Network experiment.

Experiment done, I went back to 20 Meters and found the "sweet spot" with the loop's tuning capacitor. (I was able to set up in under four minutes, by they way. Almost as fast as setting up the Buddistick on the car.) Tuning the KX3 around, there were a bunch of loud stations.  Finally, I came upon GI4DOH, Rich in Northern Ireland.  He had a strong signal and a great fist, so I gave him a call.  He came back to me on the first shot!  He was 559+ here in NJ, and I got a 559 in return.


According to his QRZ page, the loop that Rich is using is a receive only loop.  This was not a loop to loop QSO.

After working Rich, I popped on up to 17 Meters.  There I heard OE3DXA, Wern in Austria calling CQ. Again, loud signal, great fist, so I gave him a call.  Just as with GI4DOH, I gave him a 599+ report but this time I got a 599 in return.  Both QSOs were solid with no repeats asked for with regard to info, so I am assuming I was at or near Q5 copy. (Even if the 599 in return wasn't exactly accurate.)


It was time to pack it in, and I was satisfied with the two DX QSOs for the day.  With regard to my Reverse Beacon Network experiment, this was where the loop was allowing my signal to be heard:


As for spectators, I did get one guy who stopped to ask, "What is that? And what are you doing?" I explained that it was Amateur Radio and an Amateur Radio antenna. In response, I got the (what seems to be standard) "People still do that?" question.

I went into "pitch" mode and explained that yes, Amateur Radio is alive and well, and that for a lot of people in the Caribbean right now it's the only way they can get word out to their families abroad, that they are OK after the hurricanes.

So it was a successful day, I'm happy and it looks like there might not be rain for the rest of the work week.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

FOBB 2017 – ICYMI

Just in case you missed it - THE Summer QRP Classic - The Flight of the Bumblebees is on!  The event is on Sunday, July 31st from 17:00 to 21:00 UTC.


To get a Bumblebee number, you have to first to to the Bee database to see what's been assigned:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1r0ICCSjbErmIfRQz2U7hZJkSccuQ5ukHEtVXzmOF5eM/edit#gid=119767365

Send an e-mail to [email protected] and be sure to include your first name, call sign, the field location you plan to operate from and your three top choices for a Bee number.

Keep in mind that you are encouraged to participate in the FOBB as a home station - but only Field Stations can have a Bee #.

After you've sent KI6SN your request, be sure to keep an eye on the roster at the link above. That's where you will be able to determine what number you've been assigned.

The rest of the rules can be found at http://arsqrp.blogspot.com/2017/07/announcing-ars-2017-fobb.html

FOBB is, was, and continues to be the best Summer Outdoor QRP event, bar none. It's the equivalent of the Masters, or Wimbledon or Tour de France of the QRP Summer contest season. Get out there, get some sunshine and some breeze in your hair and have fun!

I can hear wings buzzing already!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

FOBB 2017 – ICYMI

Just in case you missed it - THE Summer QRP Classic - The Flight of the Bumblebees is on!  The event is on Sunday, July 31st from 17:00 to 21:00 UTC. To get a Bumblebee number, you have to first to to the Bee database to see what's been assigned: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1r0ICCSjbErmIfRQz2U7hZJkSccuQ5ukHEtVXzmOF5eM/edit#gid=119767365 Send an e-mail to [email protected] and be sure to include your first name, call sign, the field location you plan to operate from and your three top choices for a Bee number. Keep in mind that you are encouraged to participate in the FOBB as a home station - but only Field Stations can have a Bee #. After you've sent KI6SN your request, be sure to keep an eye on the roster at the link above. That's where you will be able to determine what number you've been assigned. The rest of the rules can be found at http://arsqrp.blogspot.com/2017/07/announcing-ars-2017-fobb.html FOBB is, was, and continues to be the best Summer Outdoor QRP event, bar none. It's the equivalent of the Masters, or Wimbledon or Tour de France of the QRP Summer contest season. Get out there, get some sunshine and some breeze in your hair and have fun! I can hear wings buzzing already! 72 de Larry W2LJ QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Amateur Radio …. sort of

Today was a busy day with a lot of commitments and a lot of chores and not much time for Amateur Radio. So what does an intrepid Amateur Radio op do?  Put his tail between his legs and slink off into the distance?  No, he does the next best thing  - he engages in related activities.

I had a class this morning that meets one Saturday a month. It started last September and ends next month, and it runs from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. You can see that that's a good chunk of the day. So it was SOTABEAMS WSPRLite to the rescue!  It's kind of like a Ronco counter top oven - "set it and forget it". So I hooked up my WSPRLite to my W3EDP, set it up for 200 milliWatts on 20 Meters and let it go to town!


I figured that I'd let it run, see how the W3EDP gets out and still do the things I had to do today.

This WSPRLite is so cool!  It's a software defined WSPR beacon in a package about half the size of an Altoids tin.  It's powered by the USB port of your computer.  You pick the band and power output and hook it up to your antenna.  You wait until 2 seconds past any even minute and you press the little black button on the right to kick things off.  The beacon transmits for 110 seconds and then waits for the next opportunity when the frequency is clear.  I set it so that it would randomly transmit about 20% of the time; and you can let it run for up to three days if you want.

In the meantime, yesterday, while checking my e-mail, I saw that Joe Everhart N2CX co-founder of the NJQRP Club was going to be activating Edison State Park for Parks on the Air.  It's designator is KFF-1615 and it's all of about 15 minutes from my house. So I e-mailed Joe back with my cell phone number and told him to text me when he got there; and I would come out and meet him.

After class I came home and broke out the lawnmower and got the front yard done. As I was walking to the backyard, I felt my pocket buzz. I whipped out my phone and read a text that Joe was on site and setting up. I dropped the lawnmower like a hot potato and high tailed it to the park. After all, what QRPer in his right mind would miss the opportunity to talk with a QRP Legend, right? When I got there, I saw Joe had finished setting up and was operating from his car.


If you click on the picture to get a better view, you will notice that mounted at the rear of the car was Joe's 16 foot crappie pole.  He had a loading coil attached and ran wire to the top. He told me that this arrangement seems to work for him as well as a full blown 31 foot mast secured via a drive on mast support. And who am I not to take him at his word?  Joe is quite the QRP innovator. It seems that not an issue of "QRP Quarterly" goes by without some kind of juicy tidbit from Joe. And if N2CX says it works, then by golly, you can be assured that it works!



When I got there, Joe was making contacts on 40 Meters with his KX3.  He noticed the same thing that I think we're all keenly aware of, that 20 Meters seems to stink, lately. Anyway, we kibbitzed for a few minutes and then I took my leave after Joe's son Kevin took a few photos of us together.  After all, he came all the way to Edison from his home to make QSOs and put KFF-1615 on the air, not shoot the breeze with W2LJ!


When I got home, before I started on the back yard, I raced downstairs to the shack and hooked up the KX3 to the HF9V and went looking for Joe.  I listened on 7.034 MHz, where I saw him operating from during our visit, only to hear not a peep. Figuring that he changed bands, I checked both 30 Meters and then 20 Meters,  Bingo on 14.062 MHz (goundwave)!  I got Joe in my log and helped him towards making the minimum number of contacts he needed to qualify for an activation.

Before resuming lawn duty, I decided to check WSPRNet, to see how the WSPRLite was getting out.


It was getting out all right!  Into the midwest USA and into Europe on 200 milliWatts!  The W3EDP seems to be doing OK!


It turned out to be a good day, after all.  I got to attend my class, got my chores done and got to hob-nob with a QRP giant - while giving my wire antenna a check out at the same time!

And here I thought the day would be a bust, Amateur Radio-wise!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!


Amateur Radio …. sort of

Today was a busy day with a lot of commitments and a lot of chores and not much time for Amateur Radio. So what does an intrepid Amateur Radio op do?  Put his tail between his legs and slink off into the distance?  No, he does the next best thing  - he engages in related activities.

I had a class this morning that meets one Saturday a month. It started last September and ends next month, and it runs from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. You can see that that's a good chunk of the day. So it was SOTABEAMS WSPRLite to the rescue!  It's kind of like a Ronco counter top oven - "set it and forget it". So I hooked up my WSPRLite to my W3EDP, set it up for 200 milliWatts on 20 Meters and let it go to town!


I figured that I'd let it run, see how the W3EDP gets out and still do the things I had to do today.

This WSPRLite is so cool!  It's a software defined WSPR beacon in a package about half the size of an Altoids tin.  It's powered by the USB port of your computer.  You pick the band and power output and hook it up to your antenna.  You wait until 2 seconds past any even minute and you press the little black button on the right to kick things off.  The beacon transmits for 110 seconds and then waits for the next opportunity when the frequency is clear.  I set it so that it would randomly transmit about 20% of the time; and you can let it run for up to three days if you want.

In the meantime, yesterday, while checking my e-mail, I saw that Joe Everhart N2CX co-founder of the NJQRP Club was going to be activating Edison State Park for Parks on the Air.  It's designator is KFF-1615 and it's all of about 15 minutes from my house. So I e-mailed Joe back with my cell phone number and told him to text me when he got there; and I would come out and meet him.

After class I came home and broke out the lawnmower and got the front yard done. As I was walking to the backyard, I felt my pocket buzz. I whipped out my phone and read a text that Joe was on site and setting up. I dropped the lawnmower like a hot potato and high tailed it to the park. After all, what QRPer in his right mind would miss the opportunity to talk with a QRP Legend, right? When I got there, I saw Joe had finished setting up and was operating from his car.


If you click on the picture to get a better view, you will notice that mounted at the rear of the car was Joe's 16 foot crappie pole.  He had a loading coil attached and ran wire to the top. He told me that this arrangement seems to work for him as well as a full blown 31 foot mast secured via a drive on mast support. And who am I not to take him at his word?  Joe is quite the QRP innovator. It seems that not an issue of "QRP Quarterly" goes by without some kind of juicy tidbit from Joe. And if N2CX says it works, then by golly, you can be assured that it works!



When I got there, Joe was making contacts on 40 Meters with his KX3.  He noticed the same thing that I think we're all keenly aware of, that 20 Meters seems to stink, lately. Anyway, we kibbitzed for a few minutes and then I took my leave after Joe's son Kevin took a few photos of us together.  After all, he came all the way to Edison from his home to make QSOs and put KFF-1615 on the air, not shoot the breeze with W2LJ!


When I got home, before I started on the back yard, I raced downstairs to the shack and hooked up the KX3 to the HF9V and went looking for Joe.  I listened on 7.034 MHz, where I saw him operating from during our visit, only to hear not a peep. Figuring that he changed bands, I checked both 30 Meters and then 20 Meters,  Bingo on 14.062 MHz (goundwave)!  I got Joe in my log and helped him towards making the minimum number of contacts he needed to qualify for an activation.

Before resuming lawn duty, I decided to check WSPRNet, to see how the WSPRLite was getting out.


It was getting out all right!  Into the midwest USA and into Europe on 200 milliWatts!  The W3EDP seems to be doing OK!


It turned out to be a good day, after all.  I got to attend my class, got my chores done and got to hob-nob with a QRP giant - while giving my wire antenna a check out at the same time!

And here I thought the day would be a bust, Amateur Radio-wise!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!


To help with your NPOTA withdrawal

There IS a Parks On The Air program that has been up and running for a while.  In the USA, POTA is part of the World Wide Flora and Fauna program, which is international in scope.  Like NPOTA, WWFF was devised in order to get Amateur Radio ops off their duffs and into the Great Outdoors. I love their catch phrase - "Make nature your shack!"


POTA is the United States arm of WWFF and POTA encompasses not only NPOTA, but State Parks as well.  So if NPOTA was difficult for you as an activator, POTA should be easier as it will include many places that were not part of POTA.

Take for instance, the Great Swamp Wildlife Refuge (KFF-0454)  here in NJ.  I drive through it every time I go up to HP28, Morristown National Historical Park (KFF-0746), which is part of NPOTA.  Since the Refuge is administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, it was not part of NPOTA - but it IS part of POTA. My favorite portable operating spot, Washington Rock State Park, is also part of POTA (KFF-1635).

Activation requirements for WWFF are a bit stricter. For a valid activation, WWFF requires 44 QSOs, while NPOTA required only 10.  Happily, according to my good friend Greg N4KGL, POTA also requires only 10 QSOs for a valid activation. A good day's worth of portable operations should cover you. If you're bound and determined to work towards Activator awards, then you have a good program here to fill your heart's desire.. Me? I'll just be happy to have the "excuse" to go out and put some NJ parks on the air.

I've only just registered and have not looked into all the details about how to upload logs and stuff; but I am bound and determined to put some parks in New Jersey on the air this coming Spring and Summer for the chasers that are really into this.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!


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