Monday, July 20, 2015

A memorable QSO with Kylee at ND0C

While doing a SOTA activation from Monarch Ridge South Lynn got a pleasant surprise when she was called by Kylee from the station of Randy, ND0C. We could hear Kylee better than she could hear us and Lynn was fading completely out at times on Kylee's end. If not for that I do not think Randy would have stepped in.

Here is a video of the QSO:

It really made our day! Thanks Kylee and Randy!


UPDATE: The final curtesy of a QSO is the QSL. I love it when someone takes the time to fill out a card for a QSO and put it in an envelope so it does not get damaged. I really love the fact that Hams are taking more of a personal approach to their card designs these days. 

Notice: QRP Station!!!

All the right info and readable

Love the note from Kylee!!!!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Gipsy Windcamp portable Dipole Antenna

I recently picked up a Gipsey Antenna from Windcamp. A good friend, W0MNA Gary, showed me one of these not too long ago. I was curious so found one on the Internet and picked it up here. I think it was around 70 dollars.

The antenna manual

This antenna is simple, a 1 to 1 balun and two wire winders with wire that are pre-marked and tuned for 40 through 10 meters.

What impressed me was the high quality of the product. The 1 to 1 balun and wire winders are machines very nicely. It is a little heavy at almost 1 pound (14 ozs) but I though if nothing else I would through it in the jeep along with the KX1 for that just in case moment.

The contents save the stow bag and small loop to support the center that is almost useless (I added the orange velcro and BNC adapter)

I did attach a velcro strap in order to have a way to support the center and also a pl-259 to BNC connector for the coax as that is what I had out at the time.

Close up

Color coded and easy to read. Idiot Proof!

Just unroll to the band you want (Red = 28 - 29 MHz)

Attach your support line to the hole on the other end of the winder

The feed end of the dipole

Attached to the 1 to 1 balun

I connected both ends of the dipole and hoisted it up to about 25 or 30 feet and used it in an inverted-vee configuration. No surprises and it works as advertised, just like any other dipole. I checked it on each band and it was broad enough for SSB and CW operations.

Although it is not an optimum SOTA antenna it can certainly be used very effectively anywhere there are trees to support it just like any other dipole. The only draw back may be that over time the wire connector may bend and break but it would be simple enough to just feed the wire into the hole on the post.

72 Frank

Sunday, July 12, 2015

"A Winning Antenna Design" or "A New OCF Carolina Windom"

This antenna is based on a design by K4IWL and published in 2005 in an article named "A Winning Antenna" from a newsletter called "QRP Expressions." I have not seen any other issue of that news letter during my search of the Internet. I attempted to contact K4IWL but received no response so I do not want to republish the article by I can link it here.

It is similar to a Carolina Windom or an Off-Center-Fed design but I really like the radiation pattern that comes from the 10 feet of coax that hangs down from the 4 to 1 balun to a choke or line isolator. I will not rehash the design as it is included in the link above.

I did not make the 4 to 1 Balun as described in the article but rather used one from KI6J. Stu offers them as kits here. Those little kits are hard to beat for price. You can wind Stu's balun to be a 1 to 1, 4 to 1 or 9 to 1. I ordered another one for another linked dipole I am thinking about.

I used BNC connectors that I already had on hand and a piece of PVC pipe that was a shipping container for a whip antenna in its past life. It is 1 inch OD so it fit the washers I planned to use as end caps. I did not have screws and bolts to attached the BNC connectors to the washer so I used brass nails, solder and some glue.

The glue I used throughout the project is JB Weld Plastic Weld and I cannot say enough good things about it. It does require setup time but it secured everything I needed it to, metal and plastic.

Washers, BNC Connectors and brass nails.

Ferrites to be used for the line isolator (12 inches worth)

These numbers do not mean much to me but this is what I used

RG-58 U used for the line isolator/choke (I used about 14 inches)

Washers with the holes drilled out

Ferrets and coax going in to the pipe

The end connector going together

The ends are glued to the pipe

Perfect fit

Finished product

The 4 to 1 balun kit


add a 25 foot wire and 41 foot wire, 10 feet of coax and a feed line and it is ready to go

I tried it in the backyard and it worked fine. It is flat on 20 and about 1.7 to 1 on 30 meters and tuned all bands 80 through 6 meters no problem with an Elecraft T1 tuner. Of course the disadvantage is it takes some space to put this thing up. It is heavy at 1 pound 12 ozs and you need to be able to support it. However, on the right summit this thing should work very well.

I hope to get it up to a summit soon. I am positive it will out perform anything I have used in the past.  Thanks to K4IWL for the article/design and Stu, KI6J, for the balun kit.

If you plan to make this antenna please check this link as there is some additional information about the design.

Good luck


UPDATE 16 July 2015: After getting some good advice (see comments) I went back and made a 4 to 1 Voltage Balun using a T106-2 (red) core toroid and 26 bifilar turns of 20 AWG enameled magnet wire. This is different that the original design but is recommended on the link I included above. I have not tried it yet but tested the balun and it seems to be flat at 50 ohms. I will update this entry when I test it.

Toroid wound and installed

The final product

UPDATE 18 July 2015: I was having all kinds of problems with the 4 to 1 balun in the small tin so I decided to use a pill bottle which did three things. Made it more light weight, gave me more room to work with and finally, it allowed me to attach a rope support and to tie off the antenna wire making it easier to adjust if needed. This helped a lot. I also decided to try David's other suggestion and use a 1 to 1 curruent balun instead of the ferris and coax. This saved a lot of weight and made the overall package much smaller. 

Pill Bottle Balun

Another view

1 to 1 current Balun


I strung this up in the backyard and it performed well. I worked a few SOTA stations then decided to test another antenna. More to come.

Thanks David VE7EZM/AF7BZ


Monday, July 6, 2015

SOTA Activation of Summit 9036 or W0C/FR-125 5 July 2015

I did not post an alert to the SOTA website because I was not sure we would be activating anything or not.

Lynn and I headed out but knew the road would still be closed to the TH of summit 9036 so we figured we would just walk around. Of course we had all our gear just in case. Upon arriving to the road to the TH, just past Lake George Colorado, there was already a pickup truck parked and a sign that said road closed due to flooding. It stated that it would reopen when it dries out and that currently there was a rick of getting stuck. Well the road was in better shape than it usually is in the winter! In fact the last time we did this one I was unable to make it down the "opened" road for fear of getting stuck in about 2 feet of snow. A quick test of the GPS indicated that the summits was only 2.09 miles as the crow flies so we decided to try for it. Of course it was more like 2.5 to 3 miles one way due to the winding road and trail but that was ok. Regardless, we did over 17,000 steps according to Lynn's fitbit.

There was no wind and a few clouds. By the time we got to the summit there was a good amount of cloud cover which was good as we would had been in direct sunlight. We hydrated well and even stopped for lunch before we tackled the last 300 vertical feet. I think that helped a lot since we were both on little sleep thanks to fireworks.

We pressed on and got setup on a nice rock outcropping. I chose this spot due to the large tree next to it which allowed me to deploy the end fed in a vertical configuration.

Lynn went first on SSB and drummed up a few QSOs then I went on 20 meter CW and had a good pileup and one Summit to Summit QSO.

I used all the pictures (even the one of Lynn's thumb) in the video so here it is:

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Mount Rosa 3 July 2015 W0C/FR-034

Lynn and I decided to do Rosa a few days ago. Unfortunately, Steve, wG0AT and the goat boys could not join us. The road to get to the back TH was in worse shape than I have seen it in. We had three water crossing, in the past there had been none. After the first one I should had pulled over and just hiked the mile to the TH but I pressed on. The Jeep did fine but I think I was pushing the limits of the stock Rubicon. or maybe just the driver. We were the only vehicle at the TH as everyone else hiked in. Even the Hummer pulled over, ha.... (when we returned to the TH another 2 door Rubicon was just pulling up) Definitely a Jeep Trail.

The only vehicle at the TH

Steve and I did Mount Rosa from St Mary's Falls last year and it was the toughest hike I have done with SOTA. 15 miles and almost 5K feet elevation gain. This hike was about two miles and about 1K of gain. The first 500 feet take you through the forest until you reach a plateau and it is a simple right turn and head to the summit for another 500 feet of vertical gain. The views are normally great but the clouds started forming as we headed up. It is about this time I started to think if it rained I would most likely not be able to get the Jeep down the trail as the water would be way too deep. I was not worried about waiting for the next day for the storms to subside as I would have HF, VHF and UHF communications if I needed anything. We had enough food and shelter for an over nighter.

Our Route profile

Our Route, GPS track

On the summit there was a lot of trash that I gathered up and Lynn packed out. There had also been a pretty good size fire pit. I do not have a problem with that but if you are going through the effort to pack food and beer to the summit you should pack it out.

Some People!!!!

Once on the summit I could not get the recorder working which is why the first part of Lynn's activation is not in the video. I also cannot get my GoPro 3 Plus Black Edition to mate with my Mac Pro so I am using the GoPro Hero. I like the 3 plus better because it is so light. I am not sure what I am going to do about fixing that. I sure do not want to buy another one. I believe this is a Mac vice GoPro issue.

Lynn's KX3

Nice views

Rosa with cloud cover

Weather moving in

Here is the video:

Thanks Chasers and Activators
72 Frank

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Pikes Peak with Gary, W0MNA and Martha, W0ERI

Gary, W0MNA and Martha, W0ERI manage to get through Colorado Springs about once a year and when they do we usually get together for fellowship and a SOTA activation.

Lynn is off for school break and I was looking for a reason to burn up some leave time so we decided to take Martha and Gary up Pikes Peak.

The weather was about as good as it gets. 55 to 60 degrees, slight breeze, plenty of sun and no threat of an electrical storm.

Gary deploying the antenna

Martha makes sure Gary does it right

View from our shack

Lynn, KC0YQF

Gary fixing a switch

Martha running the pileup

The crew

Gary had an End Fed antenna that he supported with two 16 foot painters poles. It worked very well. There was enough snow left that we could just jam them into a snow bank or wedge them between a few rocks. With hardly any wind it was a no brainer.

Martha and Gary have a good system when activating. They each work the chaser in tandem by using an interconnected headphone/microphone combination. This works pretty good and I think they have perfected this technique.

Gary and Martha redefine teamwork

End Fed support with two poles up 14,131 feet!

Gary logging QSOs

Martha is also very efficient!

Team Kansas

While Gary and Martha was on HF Lynn tried 2 meters but no takers. I also tried 2 meters with no results. After Gary and Martha finished with 20, 40 and 10 meters Lynn took over on 20 meter SSB. The QSB was pretty deep at times but Lynn managed a few QSOs. Thanks Chasers for hanging in there to work Lynn:


Better half of Team Colorado

Lynn's KX3

After Lynn and I took a stab at 20 meter CW real quick and Scotty, KG3W was waiting for me (thanks Scotty):

K6EL Summit to Summit (Thanks El)

N5GW? (not sure what I wrote on this call and did not have my audio recorder with me) may be NS6?? or something similar. I blame the altitude.


Gary and Martha next tot he COG Railway Car

Lynn living on the edge

On the way down this fellowed stopped to ask about Peanut and Boo. Apparently he is a big fan!

A fan of Boo and Peanut
It had been a long time since Gary and Martha had been up Pikes Peak so I am glad they wanted to go. It is not my favorite due to the crowds and the fact that you can drive up but I could not have asked for a more perfect day and company. There are a few other summits near by but we will save them for their next visit.

Thanks Chasers and thanks Martha and Gary for the fun time and fellowship!