Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Grayson Highlands ... A Great Place For Portable Ops !!

Back on October 1st ... I took the family up to southwest Virginia for a overnight camping trip. We visited the Grayson Highlands State Park near the community of Volney. Unfortunately, I was unable to take any radio gear due to lack of space in our vehicle. We were car camping at the park campground .... and with my wife and 2 daughters, I had no room for slightest bit of radio gear. My number 1 priority was to make them as comfortable as possible. We had a great overnight stay... beautiful weather, except for the wind and cool temps ... Friday night we had winds in excess of 30mph ... and Saturday morning we woke up to a chilly 36F degrees !! I was out of the sleeping bag at 5:30AM and quickly built a nice warm fire for the girls.The park has access to numerous hiking trails, including the Appalachian Trail. The Hiking and backpacking areas are awesome with lots of wild ponies to view...  and the overall view itself is almost magical. I've been up and down the east coast, and this has to be one of the prettiest places I have ever seen. If you like to do portable ham radio ops, this is heaven !!.. or if you like hiking and backpacking ... this is the perfect place to visit. I've made the trip to Grayson several times over the years ... but never with a portable HF rig. I hope the next time I go ...  I'll be RADIO ACTIVE !! .. To view more of my photo's from The Grayson Highlands State Park in SW Virginia  CLICK HERE .
73 from N4LA

Saturday, October 16, 2010

5R8RJ ... Madagascar in the log !!

I headed off to the Birkhead Wilderness Area today about 11:30 AM to operate portable and test my new 17 meter Par End Fedz from LNR Precision. It was a beautiful day with temps in the high 60's and plenty of sunshine. My portable set-up included my Yaesu FT-857 D ...  (TX power was 50 to 100 watts depending on propagation of course) ... A123 Battery Pack from Buddipole ...  31 ft Jackite fiberglass mast ... with a 17 meter End Fedz dipole ... mounted completely Vertical on the mast. All contacts were SSB... from 16:20 Z to 18:30 Z .... Conditions were good, but I missed the European peak .. as I arrived a little too late in the day. But, late is better than never ... and at the end of the day, I still ended up with a total of 11 contacts .... which is not too bad at all !!

Call   /  my signal  /  location

1. IK4UPI / 42 / Italy
2. KE7PZX / 59 / Washington
3. WB5HOW / 55 / Texas
4. IW2CLM / 56 / Italy
5. XM7CPR / 56 / BC Canada
6. UA6BRD / 58 / EU Russia
7. KP2/N1WON / 59 / US Virgin Islands
8. N0CD / 57 / Colorado
9. 5R8RJ / 56 / Madagascar
10. CO6LC / 59 / Cuba
11. EA3BOX / 52 / Spain

The most exciting part of the trip was when I heard 5R8RJ in Madagascar calling cq w/ no takers ... I worked him on the 2nd call ... and received a 56 signal report .... Guess the new antenna is a Keeper !!!

For photo's of the operation ... CLICK HERE 

*** A special thanks goes out to Taylor... my photographer and 11 yeaer old daughter ... who joined me on the hike !!

73 de N4LA

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Reminder ... St Lucia (J6) Ultra-light DXpedition ... Coming Soon !!

The "Buddies in the Caribbean" DXpedition group which specializes in 100 watt or less low power radios and the Buddipole portable antenna systems is back again to St Lucia (J6) on Dec 5 – 13, 2010.  The north shore Villa location was magnificent on our first visit in Feb 2010 and we want to demonstrate "ultralite" dxpeditioning into magnificent "vista" locations, operating a field portable battery-only radio with backpackable, lightweight antennas and most of all "having fun" with a new group of operators.
The eight operators are:  Budd/W3FF, Guy/N7UN, Wey/K8EAB, Bill/W7ZT, Todd/N4LA, Kent/K4MK, Gary/NX8L, and Tom/W4OKW.  There will be 3 villa stations in operation on 160-10m using CW, SSB, and RTTY.  At the same time, several teams will be battery-only, field portable either from St Lucia beaches or scenic mountain tops.  They group is applying for a unique J6BP callsign for the ARRL 10m contest on Dec 11-12th.  QSL via LoTW, eQSL, or mail to the operator’s home callsign (SASE required).

The group goal will be to work stations from all over the world using Buddipole antennas and other newly-developed Buddipole antenna accessory products.  The Buddipole antenna system is designed to be a lightweight and versatile way to put an efficient station on the air in minutes in almost any terrain.  By utilizing an interchangeable series of custom-made components, the user is able to configure dozens of antenna designs optimized for their particular operating needs.  The group in St Lucia expects to operate dipoles in various configurations, verticals, vertical beams, mini-yagis, and other antennas only using Buddipole parts.  Several new products will make their debut including a lightweight rotor, super capacity power supply, LiFePo4 battery packs, folding capacity hats, and shockcorded masts. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Guest at W4TJE's QTH in SW Virginia ... WoW !!

As many of you know ... I've had a sked on 15 meters ( 21.217 ) ..every weekkend ...with my old childhood friend...  Jack ( W4TJE )  ... since 1992 when I first became a Ham. Jack and I grew up in the same home town and have played radio since we were kids. Over the years Jack has sent me plenty of interesting photos from his QTH in SW Virginia .... If anyone is thinking of going camping or operating portable in the mountains of SW Virginia . You may want to think twice. This is a photo Jack sent me ... taken from one of his wildlife cameras that he monitors daily. These bears were spotted down his drive ...just below his house. I don't think I'll be operating portable from his QTH any time soon !!

DL1DF ... Franks BIG signal from the mobile !!

As most of you know ... I like to showcase various contacts ... or a particular station that gets my attention while on the air. Well Frank, ( DL1DF ) from Germany certainly got my attention, with a big signal from his mobile this morning on 15 meters.... He was a real 5 and 9 on the S-meter of my old FT-1000D ... Congrats to Frank for a outstanding signal into North Carolina !!

SJ2W Contest Station

I talked to Mike at his contest station SJ2W in Sweden this morning on 15 meters ... Man, he had a BIG SIGNAL ...15 to 20 db over S9 at times ... which was 2 to 3 S-units stronger than any other signal on the band. Mike has a 6 over 6 stack on 15 meters and more big yagis and towers being installed as money becomes available. You can't even imagine how much it cost to build a station like this ... or the amount of work required to get it on the air !! If you like to homebrew.. much of Mikes equipment is homebrewed by himself and friends. He also has a great Blog at ... .. where you can follow his installations. Don't forget to look at the PICTURE GALLERY as well . It sure looks cold there !!! Take a look at these SNOW PICTURES ... How would you like to work on antennas in that kind of weather ? ... All I can say is ...  Mike you are a better man than I am !!