Sunday, May 29, 2016

IL QSO Party 2016 Location

We are going to be operating from County Line Shelter on Rend Lake for the 2016 IL QSO party.  We rented out the shelter for the whole day.  This straddles Jefferson and Franklin counties, as the county line runs right through the parking lot.  Looking at previous contests, these counties didn't have a lot of activity, so hopefully we will be a desired station this year.

Google Earth map.  

Pano of the area

20m and 40m trees for dipoles pointing east/west, north/south

Operating we have bathrooms!

Listen for us on the air!

Friday, May 27, 2016

How to Survive Dayton Hamvention

During the SLSRC club show and tell presentation, I created a few slides of my experience from Dayton and how to "survive the hamvention".  This is the talk I gave on 5/27/16.


Dayton 2016

Dayton 2016.  It's the grand daddy of all ham shows, and it's a 6 hour drive away.

Justin (KE0HXL) and I started out from STL around 1:30p on Thur afternoon.  We ran into some traffic on Hwy 70 and decided to head south from Indy through Cincy and up from the south to Dayton.  Not sure if that was any faster, but we didn't hit any construction traffic, so it made for a better ride.  We forgot that we lost an hour with the time change, so it took us 6 hours to get to the hotel.  Google maps says 5h 40m without the time change, so we made pretty good time.

We stayed south of town, down by the Dayton mall.  If you go to Dayton, I suggest you stay down there, as there are lots of dinner locations around the mall.  Plus it's a nice area.  Getting to Hamvention is only a 30 min drive.  Friday morning we hit a little bit of rush our traffic around 7am, but Sat and Sun were smooth sailing.

Friday morning was spent in the flea market.  We made one quick round before the first forum at 9:15am as good deals in the flea market go fast.

Friday was spent popping in and out of forums and roaming the inside booths.  We hit most of the contesting forums along with some QRP and Emergency Communications classes.

Sat we concentrated on getting good deals at the vendor tables and knocking down our shopping list for good deals.  Both Justin and myself got a push up military mast good for 40ft, which we got a great deal on.  Here is a picture of it about 20 foot in the air.

Here is the other stuff I purchased.

Solder tips and steel wool
Two Radiowavz blauns
MFJ Speaker
Heat shrink tubing
20ft grounding strap
20 PL-259 solder ends
Grounding straps with crimp ends
2 8" barrel connectors
30 misc crimp ends
Repeater directory

Sunday we did one more tour through the whole inside and walked as much outside as we could before heading for home around 1pm.  Before we left, we walked through the DARA emergency communications van and I pulled out my recorder to capture the awesomeness.

I created a full walk through video of entering in door #27, walking past every booth and then out the front door.

On the way back we checked out our IL QSO party spot on a 2 county line.  I think this year we will do well due to more trees and better operating conditions.  Got to defend that 1st place finish from last year!

I created a presentation for my local club on how to survive Datyon, so I'll post it for all to see.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

IL QSO Party Results

The IL QSO Party results are in.  1st place, two county line.  Yep, that's what 21K in points get you these days!  Plus a certificate with a buck.  Is that their state deer?

Maybe we can get 22K in 2016???  We will be on a 2 county line, not the same one as 2015, but one that is more towards the center of the state with a bathroom!

NM12 - Jefferson Memorial National Expansion (Gateway Arch) National Parks on the Air

Scott (ND9E) and myself activated the Gateway Arch (Jefferson Memorial National Expansion) on April 23rd. Our activation was part of the National Parks on the Air program, celebrating 100 years of the National Park Service. After some coordination lunches and sharing of a Google spreadsheet, we had a basic plan of attack, we just needed to secure the permits and no rain!

Our operating location for the day

Displaying the SLSRC banner to help promote the club

Scott's NPOTA banner with him operating

We ran on solar and battery the whole day

Scott in the operating chair

We had great weather the whole day.  We arrived on site around 7am and started operating around 9:30.  We made around 200+ contacts in the 6 hours we operated.  I thought we were going to run about 75+ an hour since the NM12 is a sought over national park, but with the band conditions, we made far less than the goal.  We did have a great pipeline directly into OH on 40m!  We tried digital for a while, but didn't have any takers.

Here is a video I made for the NPOTA team which was playing in the background in the ARRL booth at Dayton.

Monday, May 9, 2016

2016 Update

Where have I been!?!?!  Have I vanished?  I have not posted anything since the beginning of Dec 2015.  Work, life, laziness, etc. has all gotten in the way of my blog posting, but I haven’t abandoned it!  I’m here to give an update on everything ham related since the end of 2015.  Also, I’ll go into more details on most of these items with a separate blog post in the near future.

  1. In March 2016 I purchased a Flex 6500 for my shack.  It’s an awesome radio!  I love the SDR functionality plus I needed a good base radio for the shack.  Now to get a better antenna.  I’m currently looking for houses with more backyard space, so a full size 40m and up dipole should be easy to put up soon, as space with large trees are in the new house requirements!
  2. The first week in April, Justin (KE0HXL), Chris (WX5CW), Kevin (K0KEV) and myself all took off to Union Ridge Conservation Area just west of Kirksville to participate in the MO QSO party.  We were stationed on a 3 county line (Putnam, Adair & Sullivan) for the whole weekend and operated as W9W.  I’ll save the story for the blog post and YouTube video, but we didn’t do as well as we should because of a series of antenna failures due to high wind. Band conditions were not the best for the weekend.  We learned a lot and will be back at it next year!
  3. Back on April 23rd, Scott (ND9E) and myself activated the Jefferson Expansion Historical Memorial (Gateway Arch).  It took quite a bit of planning, which Scott took care of most of it.  I just showed up, helped setup and operated.  Band conditions were again not the best, but we did end up making around 250 contacts during the afternoon. I plan on activating other National Parks in the future, so more to come...
  4. I’m going to Dayton 2016!  Justin and myself will be making the trek, so if you see us, say hello!
  5. I missed working the New England, IN, DE and 7QP QSO parties this year because of Mother’s day and other prior commitments as that weekend did not work out of my schedule.  I think dragging out the flex and setting up in a remote location away from the city yields some of the best operating conditions for things like this since the bands have not been in the best shape.  Next year I’ll be ready, as I just didn't plan very well for the weekend.
  6. I’ll be participating in the NA RTTY and the NA QSO party this year to get ready for the IL QSO party in Oct. Not sure where I'll be operating at for these events, but I'll be in it.  
  7. Since I like operating portable, I’m going to build a go-kit for each of my HF radios, Flex included.  Two kits, a contesting portable kit with my Flex and then a “go kit” with my KX3 and 100W amp with Singalink.  In Dayton, I’ll research some battery boxes and other go kit items.

This should be all of it.  Look for more detailed blog posts on some of the above items in the next few months.  Follow me on /u/framaram in /r/amatuerradio.