Monday, February 28, 2011

J6/N4LA ... St Lucia QSL Card Update

Your J6 Cards are ready to ship !!

For those of you that worked me ( J6/N4LA )  while I was on St Lucia ...
All QSL request I have received are ready to be mailed out !!
As you can see from the picture above ... I still QSL the old fashioned way !!
Hand written ... One at a time

A special thanks to those stateside stations 
that sent a SASE and a dollar or two.
That really helps to cover the postage that was missing with some QSL request.

The picture above shows some of the cards I received from our St Lucia ops
Yes the Buddipole Antenna System works well ... 
as you can see by all the cards
It's the perfect travel antenna .. as it easily fits in a suitcase
I had many QSL confirmations via LOTW as well ... 
which really saves a lot of time and money !!

A special thanks to Budd & Chris at Buddipole
who made this DXpedition possible
N7UN / Guy
for all the organizing & foot work he did behind the scenes
The entire J6 Team ... what a great bunch of guys !!

We all met as strangers .... We all departed friends forever

73 de N4LA

N7UN / Portable... Ice Station Zebra

Last week, my good friend Guy N7UN decided to operate portable. 
The picture above is his portable set up.
Looks like it's still cold up in New Jersey !!
Below is a short write up from Guy about his portable op ......

It was a last minute decision to cross-country ski to the middle and setup operation on the frozen Waywayanda Lake in northern NJ.  Fortunately temperatures have been well below freezing for many weeks now so the lake was solid. Temperatures were in the mid 20's but there was very little wind and the ample sunshine kept me more than warm for the 4 hours of operating.  I had over 30 qsos from Europe to California on 20m CW and a few 20m SSB contacts.  My operating equipment was:

28' Jackite pole supporting a lightweight inv-vee dipole on 20m.  My ski poles supported the dipole ends.
K2 at 5 watts powered by a 4 amp-hr LiIon battery
Homebrew PowerFilm 12w solar panel to help out
Portable 5 ft Beach Shelter "tent"
Crazy Creek Hexalite backpackable chair
Lt wt 5' x7' tent footprint for a "ground tarp"

On this type of /p operation, I use a Palm key, a pencil and spiral notebook for manual logging.  Total backpack weight with water and food was 22 lbs.

Advice:  Take a big hammer to make sure you get the guy stakes deep into the ice!  And really good sunglasses are a requirement.  Sun glare off of the snow is very hard on the eyes without very good sunglasses.

Great job Guy ... Thanks for the picture and info !!
You can find more info on Guys portable ops at


Saturday, February 26, 2011

N4LA ... A Nice Day For Portable Ops !!

I decided to go out and explore the property behind my qth today.
 I found a really nice spot for portable ops. 
I live on a small ridge line here in Randolph county.... 
and this afternoon I found the highest spot on the ridge line...
 it's located about 1/2 mile behind my home qth.
 I set up my qrp gear and operated for just over an hour....
the picture above is what I took out on the trail today.

1. 100 ft of masonry twine & a golf ball ... works great for limbs up to 35 ft
2. Clipboard and note pad for logging
3. 6 ft X 8 ft ground cloth
4. My backpack for the entire qrp station
5. My antenna 28 ft Radiator & 3 X 16 ft radials
6. Splitter for headphones and cw reader
7. Earbuds
8.. Power cord for A123 battery ... Not Used Today
9 .MFJ CW Reader ... in case my brain freezes up !!
10. Palm Mini Paddle
11.  Elecraft KX1 Transceiver

I had 4 contacts within an hour ... 

N5PJ ... Perry in OK ... 20 meters
N0EVH ...  John in MO... 20 meters
HA7UG ...  Laci in Hungary ... 20 meters
WB3AAL ... Ron in PA ... 40 meters

Not bad ...  for a speaker wire vertical and 2 watts !!

73 de N4LA / qrp

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Solar Cycle 24 Is Alive !!

At 0144 UTC on February 15, 2011 the first X class solar flare of solar 
cycle 24 occurred. It was an X2.2. It produced a sudden ionospheric 
disturbance (SID) and attendant radio blackout that has wiped out the 
shortwave radio spectrum as high as approximately 35000 khz on the sun 
facing side of the earth.

73 & GUD DX,
Thomas F. Giella, NZ4O
Lakeland, FL, USA

Monday, February 14, 2011

Time to get " Radio-Active"

Feb 14 2011  New M Class Solar Flare !!

We just had another large M class solar flare explosion at approximately 
1727 UTC on February 14, 2011. It produced a sudden ionospheric disturbance 
(SID) and attendant radio blackout that has wiped out the shortwave radio 
spectrum as high as approximately 10000 khz.

73 & GUD DX,
Thomas F. Giella, NZ4O
Lakeland, FL, USA

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Spring is almost here ??

Qrp to Qrp on 30 meters !!

( Pic ...My speaker wire doublet and Qrp gear )

We had a spring like day today here in North Carolina and I decided to take a short hike this afternoon...
 I also decided to take my Qrp gear with me.
 As you can see in the picture above, the set-up is small and portable.

( Pic ... Unpacking my Qrp station )

Most of the time when I'm operating on the trail...
 I take a light weight tarp along ... that way, my gear and I will have a clean dry place to sit.

( Pic .. My entire Qrp station including computer )

So you're probably wondering whats my Qrp station consist of ?
The rig is a fully loaded Elecraft KX1 .... 
I use a ( A123 ) lithium 12 volt battery pack for maximum TX power ... 
For logging, I use a little Lenovo netbook ... 
The headset is Heil Quietphones ...
My CW keyer is the Palm Mini Paddle ... 
The antenna of the day was a simple homebrew multi-band  doublet, 
made from speaker wire, and strung up as a inverted V.

( Pic .. Speaker wire Qrp antenna & feed line )

So I guess the final question is ... 
Did I make any Qrp contacts today ?
The answer is yes ... one contact
I had about and hour to set-up and operate, so time was limited today
But, I had a really nice qso with Ralph / WB8DQT in Mason, Michigan on 30 meters.
Ralph was also running Qrp / 5 watts from a little Ten Tec 20/40 Qrp rig.

( Pic ... The operating position ... WB8DQT de N4LA )

As soon as my qso with Ralph was complete, I packed up and went home.
I know it's quite a bit of effort for only one single contact ...
 but the thrill  for me comes from the sum total of the effort itself !!
It's not the quantity of contacts made .. it's the quality of the experience I enjoy. 
Thanks for the nice 30 meter Qrp contact this afternoon Ralph !!


73 de N4LA

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

J79 / Dominica.. "Buddies In The Caribbean" ... Pic of the Day !!

Black Sand Beach
(Click on the pic to enlarge)
Dominica Pic of the day ... From: Guy / J79UN
Here's a pic of Chris/J79HFP, Steve/J79AT, and Guy/J79UN climbing down from the Red Rock Cliffs (where some scenes from Pirates in the Caribbean were filmed) to Blacksand Beach on the north shore of Dominica.  They setup portable with BP verticals.  Guy was on 17 CW and Chris/Steve were on 20 SSB.  Both had great runs for about 2 hrs of operation.  
This was a unbelieveably scenic site !!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Can We Really Predict Radio Propagation ?

Strange Propagation ?

I guess by now, we all know as Amateur Radio Operators ... 
Solar Weather and Radio Propagation
 is very hard to predict.

Below is this past weekends observation & forecast :

Space Weather Message Code: WARK05
Serial Number: 676
Issue Time: 2011 Feb 05 0020 UTC
EXTENDED WARNING: Geomagnetic K-index of 5 expected
Extension to Serial Number: 675
Valid From: 2011 Feb 04 1930 UTC
Now Valid Until: 2011 Feb 04 0330 UTC
Warning Condition: Onset
 & ......
On Friday February 4, 2011 recurrent trans-equatorial coronal hole #436(#433) was in geo-effective (Earth facing) position and impacted Earth's magnetic field in a negative manner, producing a Kp of 6 (moderate geomagnetic storming conditions).

The end result was a reduction in the F2 layer maximum usable frequency (MUF) that negatively effected propagation conditions on 10, 12 and 15 meters.
Notice the predicted END RESULT on 10-12 & 15 ?

I'm certainly no expert on Solar Weather ...
But I have noticed over the years 
that at the onset of high solar activity
we sometimes tend to have enhanced HF conditions
 on the Ham Bands for a day or so!!
This past weekend was no exception !!!
Over the weekend I worked 21 new band countries on 7 different bands

Below is my list from this weekend :

10 Meters 
TR8 - Gabon
VP8 - South Orkney

12 Meters 
J79 - Dominica
TJ3 - Cameroon
TR8 - Gabon
HP1 - Panama
LU7 - Argentina
VP8 - S. Orkney
KH2 - Guam

17 Meters
PJ4 - Bonaire
VP2 - Montserrat

20 Meters
PJ4 - Bonaire

30 Meters
PJ2 - Curacao
VP8 - S. Orkney
XT - Burkina Faso
S9 - Sao Tome
A4 - Oman
C6 - Bahamas
A3 - Tonga

40 Meters
TJ3 - Cameroon

160 Meters
VP8 - S. Orkney

All I can say is .... What a fun weekend on the Radio !!
Notice that's new band countries 
all the way from 10 meters to 160 meters ... Wow !!
I'm just wondering if anyone else noticed these Enhanced conditions
 this past weekend ?

73 de N4LA