Posts Tagged ‘Wilderness Radio Sierra’
Duh: Learning Curve #4 Oops I did it again!
Ever see one of those tie bars or pins that say, “IYKDWYBDYKGWYBG” My dad had one back in the days when men wore ties. The thing used to bug me cause he didn’t tell us what it meant right away. We tried guessing for a few days before he got tired of 7 kids all ganging up on him.
It is the famous “If You Keep Doing What You’ve Been Doing, You’ll Keep Getting What You’ve Been Getting!” Not sure who gets the credit for that one, but it sure stuck with me all these years. Of course, I’ve heard my bosses recite it a few times along the way too.
That’s what this series of posts is about. Not repeating mistakes I’ve made. Maybe you can learn from my mistakes and save a bit of time. Or maybe you’ll just get a laugh and some relief from knowing someone else made the same mistake you’ve made. HA!
Well, last night, I did not follow my own advice. I put together a new antenna a few hours before the NAQCC Sprint and set it up. LESSON: As previously mentioned, don’t try to use a brand new antenna in a contest.
Ooops I did it again. Strike TWO! It was a disappointing night and too late to try to get another antenna up before the 2 hour sprint was over. So no contacts for me, I’m still scratching my head. Was it the antenna, me, or the band conditions? BUT… I don’t think I’ll pull that one again. Unless I have a hole in my head…
p.s. Don’t forget to take the poll on my blog for the best ham radio QTH in the USA! It is on the left side column.
I am a CPG
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
Antenna Ideas: Please Keep ‘em Coming!
After last week’s plea for antenna ideas for my antenna restricted condo, I received a good number of comments both on and off blog. Thanks for those… great food for thought. That is why I enjoy our QRP community. We don’t hesitate to share ideas with one another.
This morning as I took my daily walk around the lake, I met our condo association president. He graciously is allowing me to sink a pipe that will serve as a base to set up my Jackite poles in the backyard. I will be able to pop a cap on the top and keep the dirt and water out and just slide my fiberglass poles into the mount and be on the air in no time. YAHOO… that is a pretty good solution for now.
But being the antenna tweak that I am, I continue to look for the best alternatives I can find. I’ve started to put together the parts for the C Pole antenna that Niel W0VLZ pointed out to me. He has a fine site with lots of good QRP info too.
So, do you have another idea that can top that one? Or maybe you have a thought for what kind of vertical setup I might use with the new mount?
I’m standing by for my next project assignment.
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.
FOBB Ain’t Broke… SO…
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
End Fed Tuner Success… sort of
Had a good day in the park with Jim K4AHO and Wally KG4LAL. Spent a good bit of time testing a couple tuners for End Fed Half Wave antennas using Jim’s AIM 4170. Wow is that thing a great tool for tweaking antennas! Info overload!
I built an antenna tuner based on AA5TB’s design for an end fed half wave antenna. I am using a 3 ft or so counterpoise on the ground as Steve suggests. On the analyzer in a test lashup it was a bit touchy to hand capacitance but tuned well even up to 21Mhz. Since I am not thinking of backpack size I used a pretty good sized enclosure for it. I am using an air variable 6-160pf cap instead of a polyvaricon like Steve used since space is not a big issue. I also used a T68-6 toroid instead of the T50-2 Steve used.
When I mounted it in a plastic box the sensitivity seemed to increase. I have not put a LED SWR bridge in the box yet, as I was waiting to see how it worked before adding more variables. Today I was able to put an AIM 4170 analyzer on it and it did tune the antenna… seems that the air variable I used is perhaps a tad small. It is almost fully meshed on 40m cw and on 20m it acts like even at minimum capacitance the sweet spot is very narrow and hard to tune.
My question(s) are:
1) Is the hand/body capacitance normal? If not, what might cause it to
be so touchy?
2) Would my parts layout be part of the issue?
3) Does the DPDT switch (mini toggle) I added for later use with the SWR
bridge add significant capacitance to the circuit? I was able to match a
21Mhz load on the raw test setup, but not once it is in the box.
4) I have a small bus wire for a ground, do I need to increase that?
5) Is the plastic box the problem? Would it be better in a metal enclosure?
6) Am I asking too many questions? Sorry, this is how I learn. Build,
Thanks for your wisdom and experience on this one.
NEScaf Filter Saves the Day
As one of the many antenna restricted condo owners of America, I cannot operate as often as I’d like. The hassle of putting up and taking down temporary antennas wastes time, isn’t always practical and generally spoils the fun for us.
Great that we have some holidays and time off as it allows a bit more opportunity to get on the air. The MI QRP group hosted a 4th of July Sprint and although the hour was late (7-11PM EDT) since I did not have to go to work Monday, I took advantage of the chance to work a few of my fellow QRP ops.
Rain and lightning welcomed my efforts to set up an antenna. So I forsook my normal setup and settled for a twinlead 44 foot doublet hung from my 20 foot Jackite pole which was bungee cord strapped to a ladder in the back yard of our condo. The antenna ran north south so much less than ideal, but at least I could get on the air.
The day was saved by my freshly built NEScaf filter. As one of the lucky ones, I recently received the latest edition of this great kit provided by the NE QRP bunch. It enabled me to listen to cw despite the high QRN and background hash from neighbor’s TV’s, computers and air conditioners. What a joy it is to actually hear stations through the noise. This is a must have accessory for the condo based QRP op! I am still learning to use it well, but am mega-impressed with the capabilities it offers. With this audio filter, I could null out the QRN and peak the CW signals making for much more relaxed and enjoyable copy. The extra audio boost helps my little Sierra audio too. Keep watching for the next round of kits!