Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pelican 1200 for Elecraft KX3 Case

After I published my video of my portable operation, I have received several questions about the case that I use for my Elecraft KX3.


I did a bunch of research before I landed on what I use - which is the Pelican 1200.  I bought this based on my specific needs - mostly it is used in my car to get from work to the park.  But I have also taken it on numerous camping trips, etc.

As usual, let me know if you have any questions - I am happy to help!

My 5 Minutes of Fame!

I like listening to the podcast of Ham Nation - which is both in video format and audio format - during my commute to the office.  Every other week they have a segment with user supplied videos.

So I submitted my video of my lunchtime operation to Dale (K0HYD).  

As a side note, I met Dale on the local repeater within the last couple of months.  He lives near my QTH.  My 9 year old daughter wanted to see me talk to to someone, so I put a call out and Dale came back.  Our call signs are very similar which was neat.  He also talked to my daughter which he actually remembered, and you will see him mention in the episode.

Anyway, my video was played on Ham Nation last night.  Kindof a thrill for me!

Here is the link to Ham Nation on YouTube:


I have several more videos about ready to publish to my YouTube channel.  Be sure and subscribe to my channel so you don't miss anything.....

N0HYD on YouTube <= Visit NOW!


Monday, August 11, 2014

QRP 1,000 Miles per Watt....from the Campground

KX3 bathed in light from my red headlamp
The kids are starting back to school this week, so we thought we would get in one more family outing before life gets crazy.  So last week we went camping from Wednesday morning until Saturday morning.  Its great to be at the campground during the week - almost nobody else is there!

It rained every night - the days were hot and humid.  We spent most afternoons out on the lake in my Dads boat he loaned to use - nice and cool with lots of swimming and tubing.

Friday night I had time to play radio!  I setup the KX3 running on internal batteries on the picnic table.  Hooked up the portable QRP antenna that I lashed up to the canopy and I was off to the races.

I used my headlamp with a red light to see what I was writing and the radio controls.  This worked exceptionally well - and kept the bugs away.  I have used the white light before and it really draws in the bugs!

When I turned the rig on it was on 20 meters - I expected it to be dead since it was about 03:45 UTC (10:45 PM local) - but I immediately heard signals.  As I tuned around, I was hearing DX everywhere!

I listened to some of the exchanges, and could tell it was a contest - RST and Serial was the exchange.  Turns out it was the Worked All Europe HF Contest.

So I dove into the mix and started pouncing!  Wow it was fun....

UA7K - Russia (I think, could not find in QRZ)
UW2M - Ukraine (1,172 miles per watt)
UT0U - Ukraine (1, 134 miles per watt)
AI6O - California
K1XM - Massachusetts
UY5ZZ - Ukraine (1,115 miles per watt)
RW1A - Russia (1,091 miles per watt)
RM5D - Russia (1,091 miles per watt)
YP9W - Romania (1,139 miles per watt)
HA8VV - Germany (1,055 miles per watt)
S57DX - Slovenia (1,054 miles per watt)
HG7T - Hungary (1,091 miles per watt)
HG8R - Hungary (1,115 miles per watt)
DJ5MW - Germany (1,004 miles per watt)
SN6A - Poland (1,019 miles per watt)

I finally shut it down at 05:21 (12:21 AM local time) - but the band was still hoping.  I did tune around 40 meters and heard some signals, but the antenna just needs to be longer for good 40 meter operation.

What a blast!  Almost everyone came back to me on the first call - only 3 times did I have to repeat my call.  Everyone I called, I worked!

It was fascinating to think about working Russia and Ukraine with all the tensions in that part of the world right now - guys are still having fun playing with the radio.

I am really enjoying dipping my toe into these contests - it is a great way to work a bunch of stations - and some DX to boot.

Nick KE0ATH working 2 meters
Nick (KE0ATH) also did some operating on 2 meters using a collapsible portable J-pole that we built together.  He had a blast.  He is working on putting together a go-box 2 meter station for camping and outdoor adventures.









Be sure and check out, and subscribe to my YouTube channel - I am working on several more videos - stay tuned!



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Video of My Lunchtime Portable Operation

Yesterday, I shot a bunch of video while I was out operating during my lunchtime QRP session.

I got it all edited and it is ready for you to view!  This is my first video, so any comments or helpful advice is more than welcomed.



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lunchtime Portable - It's been a while!

After reading about Mike, VE3WDM going portable, it got my blood pumping to get back out for some lunch time QRP operations!

So last night I tracked down the coax and put the gear in the Pilot.  It has cooled off a bit this week, it was only 83 deg here when I arrived at the park.  I quickly got the Portable QRP Antenna put up and was on the air!

I worked a total of 6 stations during my one hour of operation.  20 meters was decent stateside, but 17 meters was a disappointment.  17 meters has typically been my favorite band for some lunch time DX!

Here is the run down of todays activity:

W1AW/9 20 meters into Indiana
KW7D 17 meters Paul in New Mexico

I called CQ and...

K7TAN answered me - Don was in Idaho, we had a brief QSO which was nice.

Then back to search and pounce...

K6TW was activating W6/CT-003 Mt. San Antonio which is east of Los Angeles.  I would really like to be a SOTA activator sometime!

W1AW/9 this time on 17 meters

and finally...

W0FV was calling CQ on 20 meters and was very loud!  Doug was in Grand Junction, CO - we had a brief contact as he gave me a 359 RST.  Thanks for pulling me out Doug!

Then it was time to head back to work, so I quickly pulled everything down and headed back to the office.

Another fun lunch time portable QRP session in the books!

Monday, July 28, 2014

IARU HF World Championship 2014 Results

Click to Enlarge - I am towards the bottom!
A couple weeks ago the IARU HF World Championship 2014 was held.  It started at 7:00 AM local time on Saturday morning and ended 7:00 AM local time on Sunday morning.

I have been wanting to work a big contest, and I was able to squeeze a few hours of "shack time" into my schedule on Saturday.

I hit the ground running on Saturday morning right when the contest started.  I did a bit of band hopping for the next 90 minutes.  Then I was able to get back on about 3:00 pm local for an hour, then back on again about 11:00 pm local for an hour or so.

I worked 55 stations during this limited operating time.  I worked mostly stateside stations, but I was able to pick up a couple DX contacts as well.

The only HQ station I worked was W100AW - which was a thrill.  I also worked stations in Canada, Bermuda, Europe, Jamaica and Brazil.  I also worked Hawaii several times, which I had never done before.

Here is the breakdown per band:
40 Meters: 34 Contacts
20 Meters: 5 Contacts
15 Meters: 15 Contacts (This would have been more productive if I had more time in the afternoon)
10 Meters: 1 Contact

The good news about my high noise level at the QTH is that if I can hear them, I can almost surely work them.  I think I only called 2 people that I did not end up working.

I operated "search and pounce" the entire contest.  Starting at one end of the band and working my way to the other end.  One thing I found interesting is that I would finish scanning from end to end, then start over.  On the next pass I would hear stations I didn't hear on the first past.  Very interesting!

The other thing I was happy to see is that I was not last!  I uploaded my scores to 3830scores.com and as you can see in the image above, I was not last.

I will officially submit my score to the contest, just to eventually see my call sign in print.

This was very fun!  I know I will never by a big gun contest station, but contests are a great way to improve your CW speed, operating skills, and have lots of fun!


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Random Antenna Musings and Power Line Noise

As I have shared in the past I have a 66' dipole in the attic fed with ladder line.  I live in a HOA controlled neighborhood so my antenna options are pretty limited.

Last night I set WSPR up running 2 watts on 20 meters.  Started about 2200 UTC.  Wow it really seemed open.  My 2 watts was spotted multiple times into Europe, Alaska and all over the USA.  This antenna does not have a problem getting out.

The problem with my antenna setup is on receive.  I have minimum S5 noise on 40 and 30 meters.  Typically S7 on 20 meters.  Interestingly enough 15 is quieter and 10 meters is typically S2 or so.  The noise is static with some noticeable "crackling".

Last night on WSPR was a great example.  I was getting heard ALL over, but I was only decoding about 2 or 3 stations - all in the USA.  Also on PSK31 or JT-65 I see guys working DX that I can't even here or see on the waterfall - my noise level is just too high.

Sometime soon I am going to cut all the power to my QTH and see what the noise level is.  If significantly reduced, I will see what I identify as noise sources in my QTH.

Beyond that, less than a 1/4 mile as the crow flies I have identified some very noisy power lines.  They are so noisy that it they will completely blank the AM radio in your car when you drive past them.

Here is a picture of where my house sits in relation to the power lines (my dipole runs parallel to the power lines):

Blue marker is my QTH - Red line is power line (X's are noisy poles)
I will be contacting the utility company at some point, but first I want to see how much of the noise is coming from my own QTH.

I think the other problem with my poor receive performance is that fact that the antenna is in the attic.  I have been thinking about some solutions to get some wire outside the house to see if that can help.

I have to be very stealth, for both the happiness of the XYL and the HOA :)

I was thinking about setting up a long wire using the 9:1 UNUN that I use for my Portable QRP Antenna - only using trees and setting it up as an inverted L.

You can see in the picture below, I have 2 trees that are taller than my house.  The tree on the left, which is the front of the house will hold the vertical portion of the wire, and then it will run horizontal to the tree on the right, which is in the back of the house.  

Red markers are trees - red line would be horizontal leg of inverted L
I am thinking if I use like a 22 or 24 gauge grey wire it should be almost invisible.  The horizontal leg will be about 25' fee in the air.  All told I should be able to get about 70-80 feet of wire for the inverted L.

I will probably wait until the leaves drop this fall to make it easier to fish the wires through the trees.  I just wonder how much of a difference getting wire in the clear will make to my receive quality and noise issues.

I guess that's enough rambling for today.  If you have any thoughts I would be happy to hear them!