Posts Tagged ‘Polar Bear QRP Club’

Giving Out Points Again!

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.

Ground Mount Closeup

Ground Mount Closeup

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.

crappie pole

Crappie Pole End Supports

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?

Computer Does Not Save Time

Remember when we used to think computers would save us time?


Why did we think the computer would save us time?

I spent the last 6 hours running updates, fixing the problems the updates created and figuring out how to install the updates that would not install automagically. Grrrrrrr!

Think I need some time to play radio, but I won’t be taking a SDR radio with me for a bit. Grrrrr…. need to recover from the 26 reboots and all the time wasted surfing and reading the small print.

Good thing there is a QRP ARCI event this weekend and the following weekend is our Polar Bear Moonlight Madness Event. Grrrr! I’m ready for some CW. CU on the bands!


Kelly K4UPG PB #173

Duh: Learning Curve #5 Old Lessons Remembered

POLL RESULTS SO FAR:  West Virginia is in the lead for best Ham Radio QTH in the USA… One more week of voting… Have you voted yet? Here’s the link to vote!

Last weekend I played in the QRP Afield event and had fun with fellow Polar Bear QRP Club members on the air. It was a great time. Once again, the antenna tweak won out and under the influence of a great blog post by Polar Bear #20 VA3SIE, Martin in Ontario about the 88ft Doublet, I caved in and put one together the night before the event. Oops, I did it again! But this time I had excellent results and the antenna worked as advertised.  LESSON: Sometimes it pays to follow your heart and not your head.

cd logo

Civil Defense Logo

I also remembered how I learned a lot as a young teen aged ham via the Civil Defense program. Remember that time?

Watching a weather report about tornadoes reminded me of a great learning experience. The Palm Sunday Tornadoes of 1965 hit the counties north and east of my home in Elwood, IN. At only 15 yrs old, I was the assistant emergency coordinator and ran the 6 meter emergency communications net on Sundays.  Our county and city Civil Defense teams had setup equipment and were ready for disasters and those tornadoes reeked havoc on our area.

Palm Sunday Tornado Map

Path of the Palm Sunday Tornadoes

Our teams rolled out the emergency vans, and the adults helped this young ham handle traffic for the state police and other government emergency responders.  The old yellow CD Gonset Goonie Bird rig is still something I remember fondly. I loved running that thing!

LESSON: Give the young hams some responsibility and empower them. They will be there when the time comes and will never forget how older folks treated them as peers and gave them an opportunity to do something important. I bet that kind of opportunity will still attract young people to our great hobby. We need them! They need us!


The Yellow Goonie Bird

Duh: Learning Curve #2

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

Duh: Learning Curve #1

This is the first of a weekly (Lord willin’) post of some of the lessons learned in the last week of playing radio in the field and on the workbench. I will be sharing my good and some of the not so good lessons with ya so ya don’t fall into the same holes that I have.

Our monthly Polar Bear QRP Club outing was last weekend, and I hustled to put together a new C Pole antenna using Niel W0VLZ’s description. After gathering all the parts I set about preparing them. With the 100F temperatures and high humidity, that was a chore since I don’t have a garage with my condo and use my back porch as the workshop. I also have a less than full set of tools and to trim the 3/4 inch PVC pipe to fit the bases of the 16.5 ft Black Widow Crappie poles I had to resort to my Buck knife.

LESSON: Plan ahead and borrow the tools I need!!! YIKES.

I was a bit surprised how heavy the treated 1×4 lumber was. It certainly is not an antenna that is well suited to portable ops where it has to be carried very far.

LESSON: Think about how something is to be used BEFORE using it!

Got the C pole components loaded into the car and transported to the nearby lakeside park in our development. It is a nice quiet spot with towering pine trees and without too many curious visitors, so its a nice QRP portable site. Got my new Coleman shelter set up and went to work on the C Pole. Oops… another lesson. In preparing the PVC to fit into the crappie poles, I only tested the two pvc poles fit into ONE of the two crappie poles. After lugging the framework, antenna wire, coax, balun,  and poles about 100 yds to my site, I discovered crappie pole #2 had a big drop of fiberglass inside the open end of the pole and the PVC would not fit at all.

K4UPG Polar Bear Site Aug 2010

K4UPG Polar Bear Site Aug 2010

C Pole setup

C Pole Aborted Setup by Ninja wannabe K4UPG

LESSON: Check ALL the parts and do a trial setup BEFORE lugging the stuff across the wet grass and wasting time attempting to set it up.

LESSON: Don’t use a new antenna for the first time when the goal is get on the air and have fun!

For the Polar Bears, it was a frustrating weekend for most of us. Propagation was spotty and noise level was as high as the heat. At least I did reconnect with my antenna lovin’ PB friend Aaron, N9SKN/2 working from his hotel parking lot in NJ and had a couple nice ragchews including Julio NP3CW who was 599 and despite two guys calling CQ on top of us was able to be copied well. Great QRP signal Julio.

As you can see, I went ninja and tied a piece of old tee shirt around my head as a sweatband. Actually I was emulating our Alpha Bear, Ron WB3AAL after I read of his early Appalachian Trail exploits and saw a photo of him in his youth and ninja radio mode. Well I tied it TOO TIGHT and left it on TOO LONG and came home with a painful big red stripe on my forehead that lasted for several hours and hurt like all git out.

Ouch Head

Ouch Head for the Web… Don't try this at home! Grrrrrrr!

LESSON: Baby Polar Bears should not try to be like the Alpha Bear and wear an unapproved homebrew sweatband. These can be hazardous to one’s health and well being. Don’t try this at home kids!


Beef n Pepper Jack Cheese Wrap K4UPG style

p. s. For our Summer Picnic Events, we are supposed to send a picture of our sammich that we have for lunch. So here is mine!

Until next time…


Kelly K4UPG Polar Bear #173

Cannot Get Enough QRP Portable

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.


Grrrrr! The Polar Bears Are On The Loose!

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’.


Kelly K4UPG

PB #173

QRP Community

What is it about low power operators that binds us together? I’ve been reflecting on that a bit lately.

As a student of anthropology and culture, I see a bit of a tribal influence among the amateur radio ops of the world. We tend to cluster into tribes based upon our modes of operation and other specialized pursuits like contesting, fox hunting, award seekers, etc. Each tribe has its own special characteristics, culture, jargon and social structure.

What I enjoy most about the QRP tribe is that the Elmer spirit is still very much alive and well. Although we all are a bit competitive and like to think we have a line on the best way to do QRP, there is a healthy amount of sharing of information, expertise and even hardware. Groups like Adventure Radio Society, NAQCC, Flying Pigs, Polar Bears, AZ Scorpions, NE QRP, North Georgia, 4 States, etc breed healthy competition and provide us with sources of information and expert assistance when needed. I sure am enjoying getting to know, both on air and in person, some of the people that make these groups work.

My recent connection with Diz W8DIZ while operating the FOBB, prompted me to go back and read the history of the Flying Pigs and to read through the archives of the Bacon Bits Newsletter. There is real gold and a wealth of interesting info that’s been recorded and made available freely. Other clubs have the same heritage. I say a BIG THANK YOU to all the QRP groups for sharing their experience and stories. It makes me feel proud to be part of the tribe!

What about you? What do you enjoy about QRP? Leave a comment and share your thoughts and story.

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